Matthew 7


Our Lord warns men against rash judgment and uncharitable

censures, 1-5.

Shows that holy things must not be profaned, 6;

gives encouragement to fervent persevering prayer, 7-11.

Shows how men should deal with each other, 12.

Exhorts the people to enter in at the strait gate, 13, 14;

to beware of false teachers, who are to be known by their

fruits, 15-20.

Shows that no man shall be saved by his mere profession of

Christianity, however specious, 22, 23.

The parable of the wise man who built his house upon a rock,

24, 25.

Of the foolish man who built his house, without a foundation,

on the sand, 26, 27.

Christ concludes his sermon, and the people are astonished at

his doctrine, 28, 29.


Verse 1. Judge not, that ye be not judged.] These

exhortations are pointed against rash, harsh, and uncharitable

judgments, the thinking evil, where no evil seems, and speaking of

it accordingly. The Jews were highly criminal here, and yet had

very excellent maxims against it, as may be seen in Schoettgen.

This is one of the most important exhortations in the whole of

this excellent sermon. By a secret and criminal disposition of

nature, man endeavours to elevate himself above others, and, to do

it more effectually, depresses them. His jealous and envious

heart wishes that there may be no good quality found but in

himself, that he alone may be esteemed. Such is the state of

every unconverted man; and it is from this criminal disposition,

that evil surmises, rash judgments, precipitate decisions, and all

other unjust procedures against our neighbour, flow.

Verse 2. For with what judgment] He who is severe on others

will naturally excite their severity against himself. The

censures and calumnies which we have suffered are probably the

just reward of those which we have dealt out to others.

Verse 3. And why beholdest thou the mote] καρφος might be

translated the splinter: for splinter bears some analogy to beam,

but mote does not. I should prefer this word (which has been

adopted by some learned men) on the authority of Hesychius, who is

a host in such matters; καρφοςκεραιαξυλουλεπτη, Karphos is a

thin piece of wood, a splinter. It often happens that the faults

which we consider as of the first enormity in others are, to our

own iniquities, as a chip is, when compared to a large beam. On

one side, self-love blinds us to ourselves; and, on the other,

envy and malice give us piercing eyes in respect of others. When

we shall have as much zeal to correct ourselves, as we have

inclination to reprove and correct others, we shall know our own

defects better than now we know those of our neighbour. There is

a caution very similar to this of our Lord given by a heathen:-

Cum tua praevideas oculis mala lippus inunctis:

Cur in amicorum vitiis tam cernis acutum,

Quam aut aquila, aut serpens Epidaurius?

Hor. Sat. lib. 1. sat. 3. l. 25-27.

"When you can so readily overlook your own wickedness, why are

you more clear-sighted than the eagle or serpent of Epidaurus, in

spying out the failings of your friends?" But the saying was very

common among the Jews, as may be seen in Lightfoot.

Verse 4. Or how wilt thou say] That man is utterly unfit to

show the way of life to others who is himself walking in the way

of death.

Verse 5. Thou hypocrite] A hypocrite, who professes to be what

he is not, (viz. a true Christian,) is obliged, for the support of

the character he has assumed, to imitate all the dispositions and

actions of a Christian; consequently he must reprove sin, and

endeavour to show an uncommon affection for the glory of God. Our

Lord unmasks this vile pretender to saintship, and shows him that

his hidden hypocrisy, covered with the garb of external sanctity,

is more abominable in the sight of God than the openly professed

and practised iniquity of the profligate.

In after times, the Jews made a very bad use of this saying: "I

wonder," said Rabbi Zarphon, "whether there be any in this age

that will suffer reproof? If one say to another, Cast out the

mote out of thine eye, he is immediately ready to answer, Cast out

the beam that is in thine own eye." This proverbial mode of

speech the Gloss interprets thus: "Cast out? kisim, the mote,

that is, the little sin, that is in thy hand: to which he

answered, Cast out the great sin that is in thine. So they could

not reprove, because all were sinners." See Lightfoot.

Verse 6. Give not that which is holy] τοαγιον, the holy or

sacred thing; i.e. any thing, especially, of the sacrificial

kind, which had been consecrated to God. The members of this

sentence should be transposed thus:-

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs,

Lest they turn again and rend you:

Neither cast ye your pearls before swine,

Lest they trample them under their feet.

The propriety of this transposition is self-evident. There are

many such transpositions as these, both in sacred and profane

writers. The following is very remarkable:-

"I am black but comely;

"As the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon."

That is,

"I am black as the tents of Kedar,

"Comely as the curtains of Solomon."

See many proofs of this sort of writing in Mr. WAKEFIELD'S


As a general meaning of this passage, we may just say: "The

sacrament of the Lord's supper, and other holy ordinances which

are only instituted for the genuine followers of Christ, are not

to be dispensed to those who are continually returning like the

snarling ill-natured dog to their easily predominant sins of rash

judgment, barking at and tearing the characters of others by evil

speaking, back biting and slandering; nor to him who, like the

swine, is frequently returning to wallow in the mud of sensual

gratifications and impurities."

Verse 7. Ask-seek-knock] These three words include the ideas of

want, loss, and earnestness. Ask: turn, beggar at, the door of

mercy; thou art destitute of all spiritual good, and it is God

alone who can give it to thee; and thou hast no claim but what his

mercy has given thee on itself.

Seek: Thou hast lost thy God, thy paradise, thy soul.-Look about

thee-leave no stone unturned there is no peace, no final salvation

for thee till thou get thy soul restored to the favour and image

of God.

Knock: Be in earnest-be importunate: Eternity is at hand! and,

if thou die in thy sins, where God is thou shalt never come.

Ask with confidence and humility.

Seek with care and application.

Knock with earnestness and perseverance.

Verse 8. For every one that asketh receiveth] Prayer is always

heard after one manner or other. No soul can pray in vain that

prays as directed above. The truth and faithfulness of the Lord

Jesus are pledged for its success.-Ye SHALL receive-ye SHALL

find-it SHALL be opened. These words are as strongly binding on

the side of God, as thou shalt do no murder is on the side of man.

Bring Christ's word, and Christ's sacrifice with thee, and not one

of Heaven's blessings can be denied thee. See Clarke on Lu 11:9.

Verse 9. Or what man is there-whom if his son] Men are

exhorted to come unto God, with the persuasion that he is a most

gracious and compassionate Parent, who possesses all heavenly and

earthly good, knows what is necessary for each of his creatures,

and is infinitely ready to communicate that which they need most.

Will he give him a stone?] Will he not readily give him bread

if he have it? This was a proverb in other countries; a benefit

grudgingly given by an avaricious man is called by Seneca, panem

lapidosum, stony bread. Hence that saying in Plautus: Altera

manu, fert lapidem, panem ostentat altera.-In one hand he brings a

stone, and stretches out bread in the other.

Verse 11. If ye, then, being evil] πονηροιοντες, who are

radically and diabolically depraved, yet feel yourselves led, by

natural affection, to give those things to your children which are

necessary to support their lives, how much more will your Father

who is in heaven, whose nature is infinite goodness, mercy, and

grace, give good things-his grace and Spirit (πνευμααγτον, the

Holy Ghost, Lu 11:13,) to them who ask him? What a picture is

here given of the goodness of God! Reader, ask thy soul, could

this heavenly Father reprobate to unconditional eternal damnation

any creature he has made? He who can believe that he has, may

believe any thing: but still GOD IS LOVE.

Verse 12. Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men].

This is a most sublime precept, and highly worthy of the grandeur

and beneficence of the just God who gave it. The general meaning

of it is this: "Guided by justice and mercy, do unto all men as

you would have them to do to you, were your circumstances and

theirs reversed." Yet this saying may be misunderstood. "If the

prisoner should ask the judge, 'whether he would be content to be

hanged, were he in his case,' he would answer, 'No.' Then, says

the prisoner, do as you would be done to.-Neither of them must do

as private men; but the judge must do by him as they have publicly

agreed: that is, both judge and prisoner have consented to a law,

that if either of them steal he shall be hanged."-Selden. None

but he whose heart is filled with love to God and all mankind can

keep this precept, either in its spirit or letter. Self-love will

feel itself sadly cramped when brought within the limits of this

precept; but God hath spoken it: it is the spirit and design of

the law and the prophets; the sum of all that is laid down in the

Sacred Writings, relative to men's conduct toward each other. It

seems as if God had written it upon the hearts of all men, for

sayings of this kind may be found among all nations, Jewish,

Christian, and Heathen. See many examples in Wetstein's notes.

Verse 13. Enter ye in at the strait gate] Our Saviour seems to

allude here to the distinction between the public and private ways

mentioned by the Jewish lawyers. The public roads were allowed to

be sixteen cubits broad, the private ways only four. The words in

the original are very emphatic: Enter in (to the kingdom of

heaven) through THIS strait gate, διατηςστενηςπυλης, i.e. of

doing to every one as you would he should do unto you; for this

alone seems to be the strait gate which our Lord alludes to.

For wide is the gate] And very broad, ευρυχωρος, from

ευρυς, broad, and χωρος, a place, a spacious roomy place,

that leadeth forward, απαγουσα, into THAT destruction, ειςτην

απωλειαν, meaning eternal misery; intimating, that it is much more

congenial, to the revengeful, covetous heart of fallen man, to

take every advantage of another, and to enrich himself at his

expense, rather than to walk according to the rule laid down

before, by our blessed Lord, and that acting contrary to it is the

way to everlasting misery. With those who say it means

repentance, and forsaking sin, I can have no controversy. That is

certainly a gate, and a strait one too, through which every sinner

must turn to God, in order to find salvation. But the doing to

every one as we would they should do unto us, is a gate extremely

strait, and very difficult, to every unregenerate mind.

Verse 14. Because strait is the gate] Instead of οτι

because, I should prefer τι how, which reading is supported by a

great majority of the best MSS., versions, and fathers. How

strait is that gate! This mode of expression more forcibly points

out the difficulty of the way to the kingdom. How strange is it

that men should be unwilling to give up their worldly interests to

secure their everlasting salvation! And yet no interest need be

abandoned, but that which is produced by injustice and unkindness.

Reason, as well as God, says, such people should be excluded from

a place of blessedness. He who shows no mercy (and much more he

who shows no justice) shall have judgment without mercy.

Jas 2:13.

Few there be that find it.] The strait gate, στενηπυλη,

signifies literally what we call a wicket, i.e. a little door in

a large gate. Gate, among the Jews, signifies, metaphorically,

the entrance, introduction, or means of acquiring any thing. So

they talk of the gate of repentance, the gate of prayers, and the

gate of tears. When God, say they, shut the gate of paradise

against Adam, He opened to him the gate of repentance. The way to

the kingdom of God is made sufficiently manifest-the completest

assistance is promised in the way, and the greatest encouragement

to persevere to the end is held out in the everlasting Gospel.

But men are so wedded to their own passions, and so determined to

follow the imaginations of their own hearts, that still it may be

said: There are few who find the way to heaven; fewer yet who

abide any time in it; fewer still who walk in it; and fewest of

all who persevere unto the end. Nothing renders this way either

narrow or difficult to any person, but sin. Let all the world

leave their sins, and all the world may walk abreast in this good


Verse 15. Beware of false prophets] By false prophets we are

to understand teachers of erroneous doctrines, who come professing

a commission from God, but whose aim is not to bring the heavenly

treasure to the people, but rather to rob them of their earthly

good. Teachers who preach for hire, having no motive to enter

into the ministry but to get a living, as it is ominously called

by some, however they may bear the garb and appearance of the

innocent useful sheep, the true pastors commissioned by the Lord

Jesus, or to whatever name, class or party they may belong, are,

in the sight of the heart-searching God, no other than ravenous

wolves, whose design is to feed themselves with the fat, and

clothe themselves with the fleece, and thus ruin, instead of save,

the flock.

Verse 16. Ye shall know them by their fruits.] Fruits, in the

Scripture and Jewish phraseology, are taken for works of any kind.

"A man's works," says one, "are the tongue of his heart, and tell

honestly whether he is inwardly corrupt or pure." By these works

you may distinguish (επιγνωσεσθε) these ravenous wolves from true

pastors. The judgment formed of a man by his general conduct is a

safe one: if the judgment be not favourable to the person, that is

his fault, as you have your opinion of him from his works, i.e.

the confession of his own heart.

Verse 17. So every good tree] As the thorn can only produce

thorns, not grapes; and the thistle, not figs, but

prickles; so an unregenerate heart will produce fruits of

degeneracy. As we perfectly know that a good tree will not

produce bad fruit, and the bad tree will not, cannot produce good

fruit, so we know that the profession of godliness, while the life

is ungodly, is imposture, hypocrisy, and deceit. A man cannot be

a saint and a sinner at the same time. Let us remember, that as

the good tree means a good heart, and the good fruit, a holy life,

and that every heart is naturally vicious; so there is none but

God who can pluck up the vicious tree, create a good heart, plant,

cultivate, water, and make it continually fruitful in

righteousness and true holiness.

Verse 18. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit] Love to

God and man is the root of the good tree; and from this principle

all its fruit is found. To teach, as some have done, that a state

of salvation may be consistent with the greatest crimes, (such as

murder and adultery in David,) or that the righteous necessarily

sin in all their best works, is really to make the good tree bring

forth bad fruit, and to give the lie to the Author of eternal


Verse 19. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit] What

a terrible sentence is this against Christless pastors, and

Christless hearers! Every tree that produceth not good fruit,

εκκοπτεται, is to be now cut down; the act of excision is now

taking place: the curse of the Lord is even now on the head and

the heart of every false teacher, and impenitent hearer.

Verse 20. Wherefore by their fruits, &c.] This truth is often

repeated, because our eternal interests depend so much upon it.

Not to have good fruit is to have evil: there can be no innocent

sterility in the invisible tree of the heart. He that brings

forth no fruit, and he that brings forth bad fruit, are both only

fit for the fire.

Verse 21. Not every one] ουπας, a Hebraism, say some, for

no person. It is a Graecism and a Latinism too: ουπαντων

θεων, not ALL of the gods, i.e. not ANY of the gods,

HOM. Odyss. Z. 240. So TERENCE Sine omni periclo, without ALL

danger, i.e. without ANY danger. And JUVENAL: Sine omni labe,

without ALL imperfection, i.e. without ANY. See more in Mr.

Wakefield. The sense of this verse seems to be this: No person,

by merely acknowledging my authority, believing in the Divinity of

my nature, professing faith in the perfection of my righteousness,

and infinite merit of my atonement, shall enter into the kingdom

of heaven-shall have any part with God in glory; but he who doeth

the will of my Father-he who gets the bad tree rooted up, the good

tree planted, and continues to bring forth fruit to the glory and

praise of God. There is a good saying among the rabbins on this

subject. "A man should be as vigorous as a panther, as swift as

an eagle, as fleet as a stag, and as strong as a lion,

to do the will of his Creator."

Verse 22. Many will say to me in that day] εκεινητηημερα, in

that very day, viz. the day of judgment-have we not prophesied,

taught, publicly preached, in thy name; acknowledging thee to be

the only Saviour, and proclaiming thee as such to others; cast out

demons, impure spirits, who had taken possession of the bodies of

men; done many miracles, being assisted by supernatural agency to

invert even the course of nature, and thus prove the truth of the

doctrine we preached?

Verse 23. Will I profess] ομολογησω, I will fully and plainly

tell them, I never knew you-I never approved of you; for so the

word is used in many places, both in the Old and New Testaments.

You held the truth in unrighteousness, while you preached my pure

and holy doctrine; and for the sake of my own truth, and through

my love to the souls of men, I blessed your preaching; but

yourselves I could never esteem, because you were destitute of the

spirit of my Gospel, unholy in your hearts, and unrighteous in

your conduct. Alas! alas! how many preachers are there who appear

prophets in their pulpits; how many writers, and other evangelical

workmen, the miracles of whose labour, learning, and doctrine, we

admire, who are nothing, and worse than nothing, before God,

because they perform not his will, but their own? What an awful

consideration, that a man of eminent gifts, whose talents are a

source of public utility, should be only as a way-mark or

finger-post in the way to eternal bliss, pointing out the road to

others, without walking in it himself!

Depart from me] What a terrible word! What a dreadful

separation! Depart from ME! from the very Jesus whom you have

proclaimed in union with whom alone eternal life is to be found.

For, united to Christ, all is heaven; separated from him, all is


Verse 24. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine]

That is, the excellent doctrines laid down before in this and the

two preceding chapters. There are several parables or similitudes

like to this in the rabbins. I shall quote but the two


Rabbi Eleasar said, "The man whose knowledge exceeds his works,

to whom is he like? He is like a tree which had many branches,

and only a few roots; and, when the stormy winds came, it was

plucked up and eradicated. But he whose good works are greater

than his knowledge, to what is he like? He is like a tree which

had few branches, and many roots; so that all the winds of heaven

could not move it from its place." Pirke Aboth.

Elisha, the son of Abuja, said, "The man who studies much in

the law, and maintains good works, is like to a man who built a

house, laying stones at the foundation, and building brick upon

them; and, though many waters come against it, they cannot move it

from its place. But the man who studies much in the law, and does

not maintain good words, is like to a man who, in building his

house, put brick at the foundation, and laid stones upon them, so

that even gentle waters shall overthrow that house." Aboth Rab.


Probably our Lord had this or some parable in his eye: but how

amazingly improved in passing through his hands! In our Lord's

parable there is dignity, majesty, and point, which we seek for in

vain in the Jewish archetype.

I will liken him unto a wise man] To a prudent man-ανδρι

φρονιμω, to a prudent man, a man of sense and understanding, who,

foreseeing the evil hideth himself, who proposes to himself the

best end, and makes use of the proper means to accomplish it.

True wisdom consists in getting the building of our salvation

completed: to this end we must build on the Rock, CHRIST JESUS,

and make the building firm, by keeping close to the maxims of his

Gospel, and having our tempers and lives conformed to its word and

spirit; and when, in order to this, we lean on nothing but the

grace of Christ, we then build upon a solid rock.

Verse 25. And the rain descended-floods came-winds blew] In

Judea, and in all countries in the neighbourhood of the tropics,

the rain sometimes falls in great torrents, producing rivers,

which sweep away the soil from the rocky hills; and the houses,

which are built of brick only dried in the sun, of which there are

whole villages in the east, literally melt away before those

rains, and the land-floods occasioned by them. There are three

general kinds of trials to which the followers of God are exposed;

and to which, some think, our Lord alludes here: First, those of

temporal afflictions, coming in the course of Divine Providence:

these may be likened to the torrents of rain. Secondly, those

which come from the passions of men, and which may be likened to

the impetuous rivers. Thirdly, those which come from Satan and

his angels, and which, like tempestuous whirlwinds, threaten to

carry every thing before them. He alone, whose soul is built on

the Rock of ages, stands all these shocks; and not only stands in,

but profits by them.

Verse 26. And every one that heareth-and doeth them not] Was

there ever a stricter system of morality delivered by God to man,

than in this sermon? He who reads or hears it, and does not look

to God to conform his soul and life to it, and notwithstanding is

hoping to enter into the kingdom of heaven, is like the fool who

built his house on the sand. When the rain, the rivers, and

the winds come, his building must fall, and his soul be crushed

into the nethermost pit by its ruins. Talking about Christ, his

righteousness, merits, and atonement, while the person is not

conformed to his word and spirit, is no other than solemn


Let it be observed, that it is not the man who hears or believes

these sayings of Christ, whose building shall stand, when the

earth and its works are burnt up; but the man who DOES them.

Many suppose that the law of Moses is abolished, merely because

it is too strict, and impossible to be observed; and that the

Gospel was brought in to liberate us from its obligations; but let

all such know, that in the whole of the old covenant nothing can

be found so exceedingly strict and holy as this sermon, which

Christ lays down as the rule by which we are to walk. "Then, the

fulfilling of these precepts is the purchase of glory." No, it is

the WAY only to that glory which has already been purchased by the

blood of the Lamb. To him that believes, all things are possible.

Verse 27. And the rain descended, and the floods came, &c.] A

fine illustration of this may be seen in the case of the fishermen

in Bengal, who, in the dry season, build their huts on the beds of

sand from which the rivers had retired: but when the rain sets in

suddenly; as it often does, accompanied with violent northwest

winds, and the waters pour down in torrents from the mountains; in

one night, multitudes of these buildings are swept away, and the

place where they stood is on the next morning indiscoverable.

Verse 28. The people were astonished] οιοχλοι, the

multitudes; for vast crowds attended the ministry of this most

popular and faithful of all preachers. They were astonished at

his doctrine. They heard the law defined in such a manner as they

had never thought of before; and this sacred system of morality

urged home on their consciences with such clearness and authority

as they had never felt under the teaching of their scribes and

Pharisees. Here is the grand difference between the teaching of

scribes and Pharisees, the self-created or men-made

ministers, and those whom GOD sends. The first may preach what is

called very good and very sound doctrine; but it comes with no

authority from God to the souls of the people: therefore, the

unholy is unholy still; because preaching can only be effectual to

the conversion of men, when the unction of the Holy Spirit is in

it; and as these are not sent by the Lord, therefore they shall

not profit the people at all. Jer 23:32.

From one of the royal household of George III., I have received

the following anecdote:-The late Bishop F. of Salisbury having

procured a young man of promising abilities to preach before the

king, and the young man having, to his lordship's apprehension,

acquitted himself well, the Bishop, in conversation with the king

afterwards, wishing to get the king's opinion, took the liberty to

say, "Does not your majesty think that the young man who had the

honour to preach before your majesty, is likely to make a good

clergyman, and has this morning delivered a very good sermon?" To

which the king, in his blunt manner, hastily replied, "It might

have been a good sermon, my lord, for aught I know; but I consider

no sermon good that has nothing of Christ in it!"

Verse 29. Having authority] They felt a commanding power and

authority in his word, i.e. his doctrine. His statements were

perspicuous; his exhortations persuasive; his doctrine sound and

rational; and his arguments irresistible. These they never felt

in the trifling teachings of their most celebrated doctors, who

consumed their own time, and that of their disciples and hearers,

with frivolous cases of conscience, ridiculous distinctions, and

puerile splittings of controversial hairs-questions not calculated

to minister grace to the hearers.

Several excellent MSS. and almost all the ancient versions read,

καιοιφαρισαιοι, and the Pharisees. He taught them as one having

authority, like the most eminent and distinguished teacher, and

not as the scribes and Pharisees, who had no part of that unction

which he in its plenitude possessed. Thus ends a sermon the most

strict, pure, holy, profound, and sublime, ever delivered to man;

and yet so amazingly simple is the whole that almost a child may

apprehend it! Lord! write all these thy sayings upon our hearts,

we beseech thee! Amen.

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