Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
Judge not, that ye be not judged.5. Issue and characteristic manifestations of Pharisœism, as wicked harshness and abuse of what is holy. (Inquisitions and Indulgences)
1Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.1 3And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother,s eye. 6Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before [the]2 swine, lest they trample them under [with, Gr. ἐν] their feet, and turn again and rend you.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Connection.—De Wette and Tholuck—as formerly Calvin and Bucer—miss the connection between this and the preceding section. Olshausen suggests, that it lies in the idea that the character of the disciples is in direct opposition to prevailing views. Stier: Transition from a view of the inner man to what was around. Ewald: How the Christian ought to deal kindly and charitably toward those who are without. Heubner: However earnestly and zealously you strive after perfection, be gentle and mild toward others. Our own explanation has been given in another place, and is substantially this. The spirit of anxious, corroding care, in opposition to cheerful confidence in God, marks the final stage of religious perversion, which manifests itself, on the one hand, by fanaticism and harsh condemnation of our neighbor, and on the other, by carnal and callous trifling with what is holy. For, these two extremes of fanaticism and profanity meet, just as spurious asceticism is generally connected with love of the world (Leben Jesu, ii. 2, 623). A passage analogous to that under consideration may serve to throw light both on the connection and the meaning of what otherwise would present some difficulty. In Matt. 24:48 we read, “But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming (worldly-mindedness and worldly care); and shall begin to smite his fellow-servants (fanatical judging), and to eat and drink with the drunken (misspending and profaning of what is holy), etc.” Both these passages evidently bear reference to the judgment to come. Accordingly, we have the following antithesis: Be not surcharged with worldly cares for the morrow, but rather be filled with spiritual anxiety for the day of judgment. Judge not, that ye be not judged.
Matthew 7:1. Judge not.—The word κρίνειν here undoubtedly implies unkind, condemnatory judgment (Theophylact, Kuinoel, Tholuck, and others), as appears from the opposite clause, ἵνα μὴκρι θῆτε. Meyer denies this without reason, although the simile about the mote and the beam, proves that the expression cannot simply mean condemnation. It is general. Meyer is right in controverting the idea, that the word κριθῆτε refers exclusively to the judgment of other men (Erasmus, etc.). He applies it to the judgment to come; but Matthew 7:6 proves that judgment on earth precedes the judgment of the last day. Uncharitable judgment receives its meed here as well as there. Comp. 5:22; 6:14; the parable in 18:23; James 2:13. Heubner: “Judge not. This neither refers (unconditionally) to our private judgment, nor to the official expression of our opinion which we may be bound in duty to give (which, however, may run into the sinful extreme here condemned). Least of all does it apply to the sentence pronounced by a judge (who should always bear in mind that he is under the holy law of God), but to those uncalled-for judgments which are neither dictated by duty, nor prompted by love. Κρίνειν therefore is here equivalent to κατακρίνειν.” Comp. Luke.3
Matthew 7:2. For with what judgment ye judge; i. e., the strict measure of your judgment will be made the standard according to which ye shall be judged (the ἐν is used instrumentally). As professedly you consider it right, you shall experience in your own case whether your standard be true or false. “God in His righteousness exercises the jus talionis. Truth and equity are, so to speak, elastic; and in the moral order of things, an unjust blow will recoil on him who has dealt it.—And with what measure ye mete.—Μέτρον, comp. Luke 6:38.—Μετρήσεται, according to the majority of witnesses; in Luke, ἀντιμετρηθήσεται. A wider application of the idea of our relation toward our neighbor. The simile expresses the general principle, that according to our conduct toward our neighbors shall we receive at the hand of God, whether directly or through the instrumentality of men. In general, the figure, however, applies to harsh and uncharitable judgment.
Matthew 7:3. The mote, the splinter, κάρφος, festuca. “Thus in a Talmudical proverb, the word קִיסֶם, for a small fault (Buxtorf, Lexicon Talm. p. 2080).” Δοκός, trabs, קוֹרָה, hyperbolically for a great fault. “As in Matthew 6, the eye of the body here represents that of the mind; our own sinfulness deprives us of the capacity to judge the moral perversion of others.” De Wette and Meyer deny this reference. But although it is true that the person who has the beam in his eye is characterized as, in a certain sense, seeing clearly, yet his vision is morbid. It also deserves notice, that the text refers to faults which are outwardly apparent. Fanaticism is specially bent on discovering and condemning errors of knowledge, or heresies. Viewed in this light, the mote in the eye might indicate a comparatively trifling dogmatical error, while the beam would refer to the destroying of the whole system and bearing of truth.
Matthew 7:4. Let me pull out the mote. Ἄφε ς, ἐκβάλω (the conjunctive of encouragement). His hypocrisy consists not merely in his refusing to see the beam in his own eye, but also in his disguising his want of charity for his brother under the garb of compassionate zeal.
Matthew 7:5. Thou hypocrite.—He is a hypocrite not merely in the judgment of God, but also in a subjective sense, since he applies not unto himself the measure by which he judges his brother.—Διαβλέψεις. We must not overlook the meaning of the compound verb. Then shalt thou be able to look into it (properly), and really to aid thy brother. But so long as the beam remains in thine own eye, thou art ill fitted to perform the operation upon the eye of another.
Matthew 7:6. Give not that which is holy.—Maldonatus, de Wette, Tholuck, deny that there is any connection between this and the preceding context. Kuinoel, Neander, Bengel, and Olshausen maintain that Matthew 7:6–11 are not in their proper place. Stier suggests that Christ now proceeds to censure the opposite extreme of excessive laxity. Erasmus and Meyer hold that the expression, διαβλέψεις, leads to the idea, that it must still be our endeavor to improve our neighbor, and not to give that which is holy to the dogs. But, as in former cases, the internal connection between this and the preceding passage is, evidently, that the extremes of excessive harshness and of moral laxity generally meet. The outward connection lies in the contrast between the brother whose benefit is apparently the object of the harsh judgments pronounced against him, and the dogs and swine, to whom that which is holy is at the same time prostituted. Indeed, such conduct falls under the injunction, μὴ κρίνετε, since the judgment of sinners is hastened and increased when what is holy is cast before, or even forced upon them (Matt. 13:10). Hence to withhold that which is holy from the dogs, and pearls from swine, is the opposite of judging them, and only what is right and proper in the circumstances.—That which is holy, τὸ ἃγιον.—Von der Hardt, Paulus, and Tholuck refer it to the sacrificial meat, or to the provision of the priests. Meyer controverts this view without adequate grounds. The difference between δὼτε and the βάλητε, which follows, deserves notice. The word διδόναι seems to imply—however horrible it may seem—that the dogs receive it. The expression is evidently symbolical not only of Gospel truth (the provision of the priests), but also of Christian fellowship, and the privileges of the Church, such as the sacraments. But if this διδόναι betokened a most iniquitous laxity, the βάλλειν of pearls before swine is the result of a laxity which almost amounts to madness. Such, then, is the upshot of Pharisaism—profanation of what is holy and good beyond rational belief.—The pearls, an image of what is most precious. According to Gesenius (in Rosenmüller’s Repertorium, i. 128), the figure is applied by the Arabs to well-chosen words or apt sayings. De Wette: A figure of pure conviction, and of the noblest disposition. But if by what is holy we understand the highest religious possessions, the term, pearls, may be applied to the highest moral possessions, which were specially prostituted by the Pharisees. It has been suggested, that the figure alludes to the resemblance of pearls with peas and acorns. Certain it is, that the swine touch with their snouts everything resembling food. As this casting of pearls before swine—however foolish—must have had some show of reason, it may perhaps represent an attempt to satisfy their cravings. And such indeed is the true character of laxity; it prostitutes what is highest and holiest, to satisfy the animal and the devilish propensities in man. Both dogs and swine were unclean animals, according to the law of Moses (see Sept. 1 Kings 21:19; 22:38; 2 Sam. 3:8; 9:8; 2 Kings 8:13; Matt. 15:26; Rev. 22:15, etc.); and, indeed, throughout antiquity generally (Horat. Epist. i. 2, 22: vixisset canis immundus vel amica luto sus). The expression refers to what is impure and wild in our nature; more particularly, the word dogs, alludes to that which is low, unclean, heretical; and swine, to the hostile element, and to stubborn resistance. Augustine regarded the dogs as oppugnatores, or hostile persecutors, and the swine as contemtores veritatis, or unholy persons who were incapable of being impressed by what was spiritual. But the context does not bear out this distinction, as the swine are represented as ultimately the oppugnatores. “St. Bernard was wont to quote this verse, in order to incite the Christian knights to the Crusades. Schröckh, Church Hist. xxv. 114.” Heubner.
Lest they trample them with their feet, etc.—Of course the pearls could not be broken, but only trampled in the mire.—As this refers only to the swine, Theophylact, Hammond, and others, apply the στραφέντες ῥήξωσιν to the dogs. But it applies likewise to the swine. Although nothing is said about the conduct of the dogs, the horrible sin of giving that which is holy to the dogs sufficiently condemns itself, even without mentioning ulterior consequences. Besides, the dogs ultimately become swine, just as that which is holy is further designated as pearls, and the iniquity of the first action passes into the madness of the second. At last the full consequences appear, when the swine turn from the gift to the giver, and rend the profane sinners. It is need less to inquire whether swine can literally rend; at all events, they may tear off the flesh. (Besides, the word ῥήξωσιν, like the dirumpere in the Vulgate, may allude to the disruption and destruction of the communion of the disciples.) Στραφέντες, turning [the again of the E. V. is superfluous], evidently denotes the enmity (Chrysostom) and the fury of the swine, on account of the deception practised upon them. Such, then, are the twofold consequences: that which is holy, with all its treasures, is lost in iniquity and mire; while its unfaithful and vile administrators also perish in their sin.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The passage is evidently intended to describe the judgment awaiting the false spiritualism of those worldly-minded Pharisees and scribes. Hence the passage contains no reference to the proper conduct of the disciples, in opposition to that of the synagogue. They are merely warned against imitating those sinners; the Lord in His mercy concealing under a simile the fearful judgment that awaits all who are guilty of such profanity.
2. It is a historical fact, meeting us both during the Old Testament dispensation (at the destruction of Jerusalem) and in the annals of the Church, that carnal zealots, while pronouncing harsh judgment against their brethren, gave that which is holy to the dogs. Fanaticism and indifferentism were combined in the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, and we meet them but too frequently at later periods; as, for example, in the Inquisition and the traffic in indulgences, and under many other, though perhaps more subtle, forms.
3. We may connect with this passage the prophecy in Revelation, which represents the beast out of the sea as ultimately bearing rule over the external sanctuary (Rev. 13:14).
4. From this disclosure of the lowest depth to which the righteousness of the Pharisees descends, we may profitably look to the opposite path, by which the disciples of Jesus ascend into the kingdom of heaven. Theirs is a gradual progress through suffering to the glorious height of purity and of love, to fellowship with the prophets, and to that final reward which awaits them in the kingdom of God; while the Pharisees, with their spurious sanctimoniousness, are at last degraded to the level of those who are compared to impure beasts, and who become the instruments of judgment upon them.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
“Judge not, that ye be not judged.” For, 1. with your own judgment (according to your own judicial procedure) shall ye be judged; 2. with your measure (of punishment) shall it be measured to you; 3. by your own judgment the beam will be found in your own eye—the greater guilt will attach to you.—By anticipating the judgment of God by our own judgment, we call down judgment upon ourselves. For, 1. we take the place of the Judge (anticipate Him); 2. of the last day (anticipate it); 3. of inexorable justice (anticipate it).—A tendency to judge others is legalism in its full development as hypocrisy.—To take pleasure in judging, is to take no pleasure in saving. Hence it is opposed, 1. to the Gospel; 2. to the Spirit of Christ; 3. to the mercy of God; 4. to our calling as Christians.—Difference between judgment in the way of duty, and in contravention of duty: 1. The former is done in the prosecution of our calling, and accompanied by pity; 2. the latter is done contrary to our calling as Christians, and accompanied by pleasure in condemning.—Wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself, Rom. 2:1.—Needless judgment: 1. Its origin (self-righteousness and want of love, self-exaltation and pride, self-satisfaction and hypocrisy); 2. its various forms (speaking evil, casting suspicion, detracting, putting the worst construction upon matters, calumniating, accusing of heresy); 3. its poisonous fruit (injury of evangelical truth, injury to our neighbor whom we judge, injury to ourselves).—He who judges without mercy, converts both heaven and earth into a place of judgment. To look upon the world with the eye of a judge, is to see it enveloped in the flames of judgment. The consequence is, that we lose, 1. our faith; 2. our love; 3. our hope.—As we measure to our neighbor, we mete out to ourselves.—As we measure to our neighbor, it shall be measured to us, 1. by God; 2. by man.—When tempted to judge, let us remember that everything around may rise up in judgment against us.—The mote and the beam. The judgment about the mote, sinful, 1. because it is an assumption on the part of one who himself needs to be cured; 2. because it is a hypocritical offer of aid, on the part of one who is destitute of love; 3. because it is a lying pretence of ability to help, on the part of one who himself is helpless.—The hypocrite derives his own spiritual greatness from detraction of his brother. 1. His aggrandisement springs from the littleness of his brother; 2. his glory from tarnishing him; 3. his adorning from stripping him; 4. his vindication from condemning him.—If our justification flow from looking to Christ, we shall be owned and exalted; but if from an uncharitable and harsh estimate of our neighbor, we shall only descend lower and lower.—A Pharisee with the beam in his eye attempting to relieve the eye of his neighbor, the most ridiculous, were it not the saddest sight.—“He shall have judgment without mercy who has shown no mercy” (James 2:13).—“Give not that which is holy to the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine;” or, the sin of prostituting what is holy in faith and life: 1. How it is done; 2. how it brings its own condemnation.—Harsh judgment and sinful prostitution of what is holy springing from the same root: 1. as exemplified by the spirit of traditionalism; 3. from history (Pharisaism, Mediævalism, seventeenth century); 4. as apparent from the temptations of our inner life.—The end of false spirituality in profligacy.—The Pharisees at last the prey of dogs and swine.—The goal of the disciples of Jesus, and that of zealots for tradition.
Starke:—Judge not from partiality, James 2:1; nor from suspiciousness or want of love, 1 Cor. 13:7; nor from self-love or censoriousness, Matthew 7:3, 4; nor from envy and malice, Job 31:29; Prov. 24:17; Sir. 8:6.—That ye be not judged, or incur Divine judgment, Rom. 14:10.—To judge is the prerogative of God. Hence, to assume this function without special authority, were to deprive God of His glory, or to have the beam in our own eye.—The Lord here warns young converts of a danger to which they are peculiarly liable: that of judging others, and forgetting themselves. Then He adverts to dangers to which His disciples generally are liable, Luke 9:48. Such passages as 2 Tim. 3:6–10; 1 Tim. 5:1, 13, 19; Gal. 6:1; Rom. 14:4, refer to this zeal without knowledge.—God has reserved to Himself alone to judge the human heart. Learn to know thyself, Gal. 6:1; Luke 18:11.—The best remedy against speaking evil of others, is to look attentively at our own heart and conduct before censuring others.—He who is unspiritual, being under the power of great sins, is incapable of showing to others their transgressions, Rom. 2:19; John 8:4–9.—He who only delights in self, and looks down upon others, is blinded and condemned.—Majus: Rom. 14:1; Prov. 5:21, 22.—Difficilius est, prœstare, quam exigere, melius exemplo docere, quam dictis. Hilarius in h. 1. Hab. 3:15.—Let our reformation commence within, Ps. 50:19.—Dogs, swine; Prov. 9:8; 1 Cor. 10:21; Phil 3:2. Sanctity of the Lord’s table, Rev. 22:15; 2 Pet. 2:20–22.
Gossner:—Self-love makes blind toward ourselves, and sharp-sighted toward the actions of our neighbor.
Gerlach:—The passage refers to the disposition to judge, and the assumption of superiority over our neighbor.
Lisco:—It is a fundamental principle of the kingdom of God, that no indulgence shall be shown to those who have shown no indulgence to others ( Matthew 18:23), but that strict retribution shall be awarded them.—Aspire not to be the spiritual adviser of another, if thine own conscience is not clear, Luke 6:41, 42.—But, on the other hand, prudence and a proper judgment of others are indispensable, if our spiritual welfare is not to be recklessly exposed to danger.—Beware of communicating the gracious experiences of your heart to daring, vicious, or hardened persons.—Brief notes: The word of God is the sanctuary by which all other things are hallowed. The dogs are those who persecute the word, upon whom we may not force what is holy; the swine, those who despise the word, having surrendered themselves to carnal lusts.
Heubner:—Our conduct toward others will be the measure by which God will judge us.—Cast out, or pull out; i. e., do not spare thyself, however painful it maybe; after that, see how thou canst take the mote, etc., i. e., deal gently and cautiously with thy neighbor.—It is a very difficult and delicate matter to improve others, and requires great carefulness.—You do not cast away your pearls to be trodden down by beasts; neither are you to prostitute to unholy persons that which is holy,—the glorious truths of Christianity, the sacraments, and your spiritual experiences.—This, however, does not imply that we are not to seek the spiritual good even of such unholy persons.—Christianity must remain a mystery from the profane world—and yet be publicly proclaimed.
 Matthew 7:2.—[The E. V. reads with the textus rec. ἀντι μετρηθήσεται; hence again. But the oldest MSS., including Cod. B or Vaticanus (as published by Angelo Mai, and by Buttmann), and all the modern critical editors (Griesb., Scholz, Lachm., Tischend., Tregelles, Alf., Wordsw.) read μετρηοήσεται. So also Dr. Lange who omits again in his G. version. The reading ἀντιμετο. was no doubt inserted from Luke 6:38.—P. S.]
 Matthew 7:6. [The definite article in the Gr., as before dogs].
[Dr. DAV. BROWN, in his Com. on the Gospels (Glasgow, 1863), ad loc.: “To ‘judge’ here (κρίνειν) does not exactly mean to pronounce condemnatory judgment (κατακρίνειν); nor does it refer to simple judging at all, whether favorable or the reverse. The context makes it clear that the thing here condemned is that disposition to look unfavorably on the character and actions of others, which leads invariably to the pronouncing of rash, unjust, and unlovely judgments upon them. … What the Lord aims at is the spirit out of which they spring. Provided we eschew this unlovely spirit, we are not only warranted to sit in judgment upon a brother’s character and actions, but in the exercise of a necessary discrimination, are often constrained to do so for our own guidance. It is the violation of the law of love involved in the exercise of a censorious disposition which alone is here condemned. And the argument against it—that ye be not judged’—confirms this: ‘that your own character and actions be not pronounced upon with the like severity;’ that is, at the great day.”—P. S.]
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:III
Directions how to avoid the errors and sins of the Pharisees and scribes, and to enter upon the way which leads into the kingdom of heaven. Practical order of grace.—Conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount.
( Matthew 7:15–23 the Gospel for the 8th Sunday after Trinity.)
7Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened4 [it is opened]. 9Or what man is there of you,5 whom6 [of whom] if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which [who] is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? 12Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
13Enter ye in at [through, διά] the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be [are they] which [who] go in 14thereat: Because [for]7 strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be [are they] that find it.
15Beware of false prophets, which [who] come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gathergrapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17Even so every good tree bringeth forth goodfruit; but a [the, τό] corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither [nor] can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom ofheaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which [who] is in heaven. 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
24Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock8: 25And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.9 26And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which [who] built his house upon the sand5: 27And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
28And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: 29For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the [their]10 scribes.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Connection with the context.—De Wette and Meyer deny the connection with the preceding section.—Heubner correctly: In order to attain the Christian wisdom formerly mentioned, it is absolutely necessary to seek it by prayer.
To our mind, the transition is plain. In the former section, the awful danger of the judgment to come was set before the disciples. Weak, helpless, and conscious of their inability to escape this judgment in their own strength, or to attain the righteousness of the kingdom of heaven, the encouraging call meets them, “Ask, and it shall be given you,” etc. Seek a refuge in the New Dispensation, since the Old is to perish amid such judgments. But the general connection is even more definite. In the Sermon on the Mount, properly so called, the Lord had described the righteousness of the kingdom of heaven; while in its application, or in the practical address which followed it, He had exposed the false righteousness of the Pharisees and scribes, both in doctrine and in life. In the passage before us, He now teaches them how to avoid the way of destruction, and to enter upon that of life. Methodology or order of succession in the kingdom of heaven: 1. What to seek, Matthew 7:7–14; 2. what to avoid, Matthew 7:13–23; 3. the evidence of genuine religion, as exhibited in the parable of the judgment, Matthew 7:24–27.
Matthew 7:7. Ask, and it shall be given you.—The three terms, ask, seek, and knock, αἰτεῖτε, ζητεῖτε, κρούετε, indicate a gradation. Some critics, as de Wette and Meyer, hold that all the three terms refer to prayer, in accordance with the remark of Luther: “By this the Lord exhorts us the more strenuously to prayer.” Somewhat differently, Bengel seems to refer the terms to different acts: “1. Contra indigentiam vestram dona petite; 2. quœrite quœ amisistis occulta, recipientes vos ex errore; 3. pulsate, qui foris estis, ut intromittamini.” [Ask for gifts to meet your needs; seek the hidden things which you have lost, and return from your error; knock ye who are without, that ye may be admitted within.] But Bengel evidently connects the idea of prayer with the second and third degree as well as with the first; and Luther meant to say that the burden and the object of our prayers were increasingly to assume a more definite shape. Tholuck: “In practical application, the term αἰτεῖτε is generally referred to prayer, ζητεῖτε to our endeavors, and κρούετε to the investigation of the Scriptures.” We regard the passage as marking a climax,—the word ζητεῖτε, like בִּקֵּשׁ in Jer. 29:13, 14, indicating earnest desire; and κρούειν perseverance, even though an answer seemed denied. To ask, indicates the want of an object, which can only be obtained by free gift; to seek, that it has been lost; to knock, that it has been shut up—hence this prayer which is both the work of life and the evidence of life.
Matthew 7:8. For every one that asketh, receiveth.—Such, indeed, is the invariable rule. Perseverance in prosecuting that to which we may fairly lay claim, is generally crowned with success even among men. How much more, then, if our object be the kingdom of heaven, and our efforts those of prayer! (The conditions of it appear from the context.) This applies, in the first place, to the subjective bearing of our spiritual efforts. The following verses show that it is equally true objectively, or with reference to Him from whom the blessing is sought.
Matthew 7:9 and 10. Or what man?—The word or does not mark the antithesis,—If it were not so,—but refers to the contrast between the objective and the subjective certitude of prayer.—The sudden turn in the address is exceedingly striking: “Or where is there a man of you whom his son shall ask for bread (and who shall—no!),—he will surely not give him a stone?” The meaning is: However wicked any of you may be, if his son were to ask him for bread, surely he would not give him a stone, etc. Bread and stone, fish and serpent, however similar in outward appearance, are vastly different in reference to the nourishment they afford. There is evidently a gradation in the expressions. The most hardened parent would not meet the entreaty of his child by such cruel deception. It is noticeable that the text does not refer to the possibility of not being heard, but that it sets before us the alternative of a genuine and a deceptive answer. This indicates that, if God were not to hear our prayer, our state would not simply continue what it had been before, but that the heart would become a stone, and meat for the serpent.
Matthew 7:11. Being evil.—Meyer: Although, compared with God, ye are morally evil (πρὸς ἀντιδιαστολὴν τῆς ἀγαθότητος τοῦ Θεοῦ, Euthymius Zigabenus). But this “comparison with God” must not be pressed. We had rather explain it: Before God, measured even according to the human standard, ye are evil. The statement undoubtedly implies the sinfulness of man, both in its universality and in its limitation by traits of humanity and kindness.11
Know how to give good gifts—not, soletis dare (Maldonatus). The reference here is not to the ability of man, in opposition to his actual performance but to the powerful and ineradicable instinct of paternal affection, which, in a certain sense, and for certain purposes, is capable of overcoming even our πονηρία. If the paternal feelings of man are indestructible, how much more will the goodness of God continue for ever!—A conclusion a minori ad majus. Good things; in Luke 11:13, more definitely, the Holy Spirit. The object is here left more indefinite, as opening up in measure as we seek it.
Matthew 7:12. Therefore all things whatsoever ye would.—Ewald maintains that this should have been inserted in Matthew 5:44, before the word ἀγαπᾶτε. The word “therefore” implies, indeed, a reference to the preceding context; which, however, we find in the close of the former verse, where the free mercy of God was set before the disciples. As if it were said: In prayer commit yourself with perfect confidence to the God who giveth every good and perfect gift; but on that very ground imitate Him in your conduct toward your neighbors. God answers prayer, for it is His Spirit who teaches us to pray. Do to your neighbor what is due to him: the demand which he addresses to you will be found in your own heart, in the shape of your demand upon your neighbor. Pray with unbounded confidence, and with the same measure bestow your affection upon your neighbor. You will descry in your own hearts what this measure should be. From this the connection will be evident. The sentence is the ethical counterpart to the promise: “Ask, and it shall be given you,” and is analogous to the addition: “as we forgive our debtors,” in the fifth petition of the Lord’s Prayer. On similar sayings among heathen philosophers, comp. Tholuck. Wetstein quotes the following from the Rabbins: Quod tibi ipsi odiosum est, proximo ne facias, nam hœc est tota lex. There the rule is given negatively, but here positively; and hence in infinitely richer and deeper bearing. De Wette thinks that the injunction to love our neighbor as ourselves, implies much the same thing, viz., moral equality, and does not express the distinctive excellency of Christian morality, which is pure, disinterested love; for it refers not to the matter of our conduct, and we may possibly expect from others something that is evil, such as flattery. But it should be noticed that the statement applies, in the first instance, to the form or mode of our conduct. It is not said, “Do ye even that to them,” but, “Do ye even so to them (οὕτως).” We are not to do to people whatsoever they ask from us, but we are to act toward them according to what we would expect at their hands. The measure of our demands is also to be the measure of our self-denial and devotion. Thus our own heart will tell us, by our requests upon others, what is the request, and what the claim, of our neighbor. In other words, our every demand must become a performance. But this implies the mortification of egotism; and thus, what in the first place referred to the manner, applies also to the matter, of our conduct. Viewed in this light, the statement contains an injunction of love to our neighbor, according to the measure of our love to ourselves. The “peculiarly Christian element” in this injunction, is the novelty of the measure which we are to apply to our love to our neighbor. None of us would ask flattery from our neighbor, knowing it to be such. What we desire from our neighbors is, that they shall be ministers of good, not of evil, angels, not devils, to us: hence our duty toward them corresponds with this our demand.—For this is the law and the prophets.—Matt. 22:39; Rom. 13:9.
Matthew 7:13 and 14. Enter ye in through the strait gate.—First the gate, and then the way (Meyer, Bengel); and not the reverse, as ascetic misunderstanding would have it,—first the way, and then the gate (Calovius: the way,—the life on earth; the gate,—exitus vitœ). Similarly de Wette and Tholuck. Perhaps the mistake has arisen from mixing up this with another figurative expression: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle,” etc., Matt. 19:24. Nor can the expression εἰσέρχεσθαι διά, in Matthew 7:13, determine our interpretation, since the same words are afterward applied to the broad way (εἰσερχόμενοι δι’ αὐτῆς). The figure becomes even more striking, if we recall to mind the former advice, to knock. We see, as it were, two cities before us. The pilgrim must quit the one, which is the old world, over which judgment is to burst (Bunyan’s Pilgrimage), and enter into the other, which is the kingdom of heaven, where alone the soul can find a refuge. Again, viewing the passage in the light of the judgment, which, according to our Lord’s prediction, was to overtake Pharisaism, we may consider ancient Jerusalem as the city which must be forsaken. But there are two gates by which it may be left. One of these is strait,12 being the righteousness of Christ; the road is narrow—the seven beatitudes; and few are they that enter in thereat to eternal life. But there is also a wide gate—the legalism of the Pharisees, and a broad way—that of external Judaism; and many there are which hurry along this road to that awful historical destruction,—the great ἀπώλεια of the Jewish nation. All this is but the outward manifestation of the eternal contrast between the children of light and the children of darkness. In this sense, the gate serves as the figure of their choice; and the way, as that of their walk and conduct. By the strait gate we understand humility, repentance, and renunciation of the world, through poverty in spirit. The wide gate is the self-righteousness of the Pharisees, or the spurious riches of a piety which is combined with the service of mammon. Similarly, the narrow way is the prosecution of those spiritual attainments described in the seven beatitudes; while the broad way indicates that corruption in doctrine and life, which, passing from one extreme to the other, renders the way so wide and ill-defined. The contrast between the goal of these two ways is exceedingly significant. In the one case, it is life; in the other, destruction,—first, as matter of inward experience, then of outward fact, and, lastly, of eternal destiny (rest and unrest, deliverance and destruction, salvation and condemnation). The figurative language of this passage is closely connected with what precedes about the relation of Christians to their fellow-men. It is your duty to devote yourselves to others,—not according to the measure which they demand at your hand, but according as you would have them do to you. You are not to follow the multitude on the broad way, but to seek with the few, the elect, the strait gate, in order to knock at the door of the kingdom of heaven. Such is the transition from the injunction of what we are to seek, to that of what we are to avoid.
Matthew 7:15. Beware of false prophets.—If it is our duty to beware of the dangerous example given us by the great crowd of those who go astray, we must be even more careful against the small but strong influence of false prophets, derived from the powers of darkness. Meyer: “The ψευδοπροφῆται are not Pharisees, nor impostors such as Judas of Galilee (Acts 5:37; Joseph. De Bell. Jud. ii. 13, 4), but false Christian teachers (Matt. 24:11, 24), as appears from Matthew 7:21–23. Comp. Chrysostom, Calvin, Grotius.” But the admonition “to beware” is evidently connected with the last clause of the former verse, “few are they that find it;” showing that these false prophets must somehow stand related to the Pharisees.—The great danger which ye shall have to encounter upon the new or narrow way, will arise from the influence of false prophets. The Lord foresaw that Pharisaism would in part merge with Christianity, when its representatives would become “false prophets,” or heresiarchs. It was easy to infer, that along with such Jewish forms of error, the corruptions of heathen philosophy and mythology would find their way into the Church. The main idea of the simile is the disguise of an old and evil kind under a new garb of piety. They come to you (already) in sheep’s clothing. De Wette: “Not literally in sheep’s skins, which the old prophets wore (Grotius, Kuinoel), but in clothing such as sheep wear, i.e., gentle and meek in their outward appearance.” Bengel: Vestibus ut si essent oves. The expression refers, however, not merely to their gentle and mild exterior, but also to their profession of Christianity—the garb of the lamb; while the term, “inwardly ravening wolves” (Acts 20:29), indicates not only their malice generally, but the old enmity and opposition to Christianity, Matt. 10:16.
Matthew 7:16. By their fruits.—This is the decisive evidence. Jerome, Calvin, Calovius, and others, refer the expression “fruits” to the false doctrine of these prophets; Tholuck, Meyer, and others, to their works.13 But the passage alludes not to the works of ordinary professors, but to those of false prophets. These, as Spener remarks, are schools, institutions, doctrinal principles, etc.; which, of course, are closely connected with their moral characters and conduct (comp. 1 John 4:1). The character of the Ebionite and Gnostic heresies certainly appeared in the works of their professors, in the harsh fanaticism of the one, and the antinomianism of the other, while both exhibited the sectarianism, proselytism, and hypocrisy common to all heresies.
Matthew 7:16–19. Illustration of this principle from nature. At first sight, we might have expected that the idea should be presented in the opposite form. Shall we look for thorns upon the vine, etc.? But the Lord first shows what we should seek, viz., good fruit, such as grapes and figs. Compared with such fruit, the false prophets are thorns and thistles. “Ἄκανθαι, or ἄκανθα, is the general name for all kinds of thorns, of which the most common bears small black berries not unlike grapes, while the flower of the τρίβολοι may be compared with the fig.” The false prophets resemble sharp thorns, from their fanatical and harsh traditionalism; and thistles, from their proselytizing spirit, which takes hold of and clings to every part of your person and dress. Then follows the general law of nature: As the tree, such is its fruit; as the state of mind, so the outward manifestation. Nor can it be other wise. What applies to thorns and thistles, holds equally true of every kind of tree.—By the good tree is evidently meant the fruit-tree. It is not so easy to determine what is meant by the δένδρονσα πρό ν. Σαπρός signifies, in the first place, rotten; but Meyer is wrong in applying the expression to decayed trees, which yielded only unwholesome fruit. Σαπρόν means also what is bad or unuseable; Matt. 13:48, applied to fish (de Wette). Even old wine, if acrid, may be designated as σαπρός. Hence the idea here implied, seems to be that of the old and wild growth of nature, in opposition to the new and precious fruit (comp. Gen. 2 and Col. 2:8. Philosophy κατὰ τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου).—The judgment denounced against false prophets in Matthew 7:19, is intended to give emphasis to the admonition repeated in Matthew 7:20, “By their fruits ye shall know them.”
Matthew 7:21. Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord.—De Wette: “A warning against merely external worship of the Saviour, or merely external communion with Him, Matthew 7:21. Chrysostom, Jerome, Augustine, Maldonatus, and after them Tholuck, erroneously refer this to the false prophets, as if it were a further explanation of the judgment denounced upon them in Matthew 7:19. Meyer regards it as an application of the preceding verses to Christian teachers. But these are only spoken of in Matthew 7:22. In another point also we dissent from this critic. He considers this verse as expressing in plain and literal terms what had been figuratively conveyed in Matthew 7:16. The real connection between this and the preceding verses is as follows: In Matthew 7:15–20, the Lord had spoken of those who taught destructive doctrines (mark the images of wolves, thorns, and thistles); while here He refers to all (whether teachers or taught) who rest satisfied with a mere profession, without reality.”—Not every one, etc. The truly pious, therefore, are among the professors.
Matthew 7:22. Many will say to Me.—This marks another stage, being addressed to those who have done certain things in the name of Jesus, but without His Spirit. De Wette rightly observes, that it does not apply to those who spread dangerous doctrines. Meyer holds that the term prophesied points back to the false prophets of Matthew 7:16. Against this, see, however, 1 Cor. 13:2. In general, the passage is intended further to develop the idea formerly expressed.
In that day.—As in Matthew 11:24, and in Luke 10:12, ἐν ἡμέρᾳ κρίσεως.
Τῷ σῷ ὀνόματι, by Thy name, or through Thy name, not in Thy name (Mark 9:38),—i.e., by means of Thy name.
Prophesied, προεφη τεύσαμεν.—Grotius and Fritzsche understand it as prophesying; Meyer, as referring to the prophetic office of the early teachers, 1 Cor. 12:10. But this included prophesying in the stricter sense.
We have cast out devils, etc., δαιμόν ιαἐξε βάλομεν, etc.—On the difference between this and δυνάμεις πολλά ς, κ. τ. λ., comp. 1 Cor. 12. The latter passage applies more especially to miracles of healing (χαρίσματα ἰαμάτων), while the casting out of devils has its analogon in the ἐνεργήματα δυνάμεων. The last clause of the verse, however, must be taken rather in a general sense than as applying to any particular manifestation. It applies to religious enthusiasm generally, whether operating on the intellect, the will, or the sympathies but of a theurgic character (τῷ σῷ, not ἐν τῷ σῷ), for purposes of self-exaltation, and in the spirit of boastfulness, which Luther points out by repeating, in his version, the expression, “have we not,” three times. But, despite their works, the true foundation is awanting,—Christian love having never been called into exercise: 1 Cor. 13; John 13:34, 35.
Matthew 7:23. And then will I profess unto them.—The expression may mean, explain; although it alludes, no doubt, to their profession, as if the Judge Himself were grieved in having to explain it to those self-deluded persons. At any rate, it indicates that the hollowness of many a fair appearance will only be exposed on that day.
I never knew you.—If the fruit of love does not appear, the inmost individuality of man, that which constitutes his personal character, is not brought out. For practical purposes we may explain it: I never knew you as My people.
Depart from Me—Ps. 6:8; Matt. 25:41—ye that work iniquity.—Not merely on account of what is awanting in them, but as having deceived themselves and others, and unwarrantably used the name of the Lord for the purpose of advancing their own honor.
Matthew 7:24–27. Therefore, whosoever heareth.—This is an inference from the preceding warning, presenting the most terrible form of judgment—that which is to overtake those who feign greatness of faith, or high spiritual advancement. At the same time, it forms also a most solemn and striking conclusion to the whole Sermon on the Mount.
Ὁμοιώσω.—The meaning of the active mood is explained by the passive reading ὁμοιωθήσεται, which is supported by many authorities. The latter evidently signifies, “he shall be esteemed, or treated like.” Accordingly, the active mood here must be rendered: I shall esteem, or treat, him in the judgment (Tholuck and Meyer). The circumstance, that the verb in the active mood generally signifies, to liken (11:16; Luke 13:18–21), would appear to favor the passive reading.
Upon a [the] rock.—Theophylact, Jerome, Olshausen [Alford, Wordsworth], refer this to Christ; others take it in a more general sense.14 But the bearing of the whole passage implies that Christ is the spiritual Rock upon which to build the house. Here it is true more implicite than explicite.
The sand.—According to Olshausen, human opinions; but more properly, according to the connection, all that which is transitory—the teaching and works of man.
The winds.—Bengel: temptations; Meyer: the dolores Messiœ. We take it more generally, as the trials intervening between this and the judgment.
It fell not.—Implying not merely life, but triumph; just as the falling involves not merely ἀπώλεια, but the shame of being rejected.15
Matthew 7:28 and 29. Conclusion of the narrative.—Ἦνδιδάσκων.—The verb εἶναι is added to the participle by way of increasing its force. It frequently denotes duration, continuance: He was teaching.
As having authority, viz., to teach; referring not merely to human authority, nor to capacity (Fritzsche: docendi copia), nor even to Divine mission, but to the full power of the word which is at the same time the full authority of the word.
Οἱγραμματεῖς.—Some codd. add. αὐτῶν. Another reading, still less approved, adds, οἱ φαρισαῖοι. Not that the scribes appeared, in comparison with Jesus, “as having arrogated to themselves the office of teacher” (de Wette); but as wanting the seal of the Spirit, and hence of their Divine mission and authority.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The Messianic character and claims of Christ appear repeatedly throughout the Sermon on the Mount. Not that He overstepped the landmarks of His historical progress by asserting His dignity in so many words, but that the authority of His teaching and person must have been felt by all. Even the beatitudes would show that He who uttered them was a Divine personage. In Matthew 5:11, Christ calls them blessed who are persecuted for His name—an expression which is explained in Matthew 7:10 as equivalent to suffering for righteousness’ sake. His Divine authority further appears when He designates His disciples the salt of the earth and the light of the world, and still more in the declaration that He came to fulfil the law (5:17). In the course of His sermon, He claims the right both of interpreting the law, and of enjoining its obligations upon His disciples: “But I say unto you.” His Divine authority appears still further in the denunciation of the representatives of a spurious and carnal worship. All His admonitions imply the existence of a contrast between men, whose nature is evil, and Himself, who is the Holy One. Finally, His Messianic dignity and office are clearly brought out in the concluding part, Matthew 7:21–23. The people, also, gradually seem to have been more fully impressed with the fact that He was sent from on high, and that all power and authority were committed to Him; although, as yet, the feeling may to a considerable extent have been vague and ill defined.
2. Christ conveys a twofold assurance of the safety of the way on which He would have us enter. He not only gives His own full and personal guarantee, but He illustrates and enforces what He recommends by grounds derived from life, from nature, and from experience. Among them, He adduces, 1. the success of earnest human endeavors ( Matthew 7:8); 2. the affectionate care of earthly parents, although themselves evil ( Matthew 7:9; comp. also Isa. 49:15; Eph. 3:14); 3. the moral duty implied in the ordinary demands which we make upon our neighbors ( Matthew 7:12); 4. the contrast between the highway along which the multitude travels, and the narrow path on which the elect walk ( Matthew 7:13); 5. the natural law, according to which the fruits correspond to the tree, and the contrast between good and bad trees ( Matthew 7:16); 6. the right and proper disposition of things: the evil tree is cast into the fire ( Matthew 7:19); 7. the teaching of experience, as illustrated by the house reared upon the rock, and that erected upon a foundation of sand ( Matthew 7:24).
3. The following are the leading characteristics of the way of salvation: I. In reference to what we are to seek,—(a) Religious aspirations: asking, seeking, knocking (the evidence of true asking is, that it is followed by seeking, just as knocking is the evidence of seeking. The expression, to seek, alludes to the hidden path between the rocks; hence it is said, “Few here be that find it”). (b) Moral aspirations springing from inward sincerity and earnestness. (c) Actual decision: we are to leave the city of destruction, and to enter that of salvation. This forms a transition, II. to what we are to avoid: (1) With reference to that which is without. (a) We are not to be carried away by the multitude,—to avoid that which is easy, mere passiveness. (b) We are not to be led astray by false prophets. Search and try beyond the outward appearance (not as it may appear at the time, but wait for the autumn and the fruits). (2) With reference to that which is within. (a) We are to beware of a dead profession and merely nominal Christianity, which will prove equally discordant with God, with His will, and with Christian duty to our neighbor. (b) Above all, we are to beware of confounding enthusiasm or excitement with spiritual life, love to the Saviour, and fellowship with Him. III. The true test. The prospect into the future, which at the same time implies an examination into the foundation of our present state: (a) Anticipation of the storm which is to burst; (b) of the sunshine which is to follow, and to shed its light either upon a ruin, or on a fabric that has stood the tempest; (c) anticipation of the revelation of Christ as Judge, by receiving Him into our inmost hearts as the foundation of our faith and life.
4. Heresy; dead orthodoxy, or adherence to the letter; and religious fanaticism without spiritual experience: what an awful climax!
5. True prudence consists in spiritual wisdom. In building our house, we must look forward to the ultimate catastrophe and to eternity. What applies to the individual, is equally true of the community. The simile here used has received its grand fulfilment in the contrast presented between the unbelieving and the believing portion of the synagogue at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. (Comp. Rom. 9–11. Leben Jesu ii. 2, 635; iii. 88.)
6. Special remarks.—(1) As to prayer. The words of the Lord imply that every prayer will certainly be heard and answered. Of course, this remark only holds true of genuine prayer,—which presupposes, (a) a right motive (from God); (b) a right spirit (self-surrender); (c) a corresponding expression (filialness); (d) a right object (our salvation in the glory of God, or the glory of God in our salvation). Heubner: We cannot be absolutely certain that our prayers shall be heard, unless they concern the kingdom of God or our own salvation. For temporal blessings we can only pray conditionally (which will, at any rate, be the case in every genuine prayer); nor is the promise of an answer absolute in such circumstances. Still, we are both permitted and encouraged to make known all our requests; and the more necessary the object is which we seek, the more confidently may we hope for an answer.—The Lord bestows temporal gifts even without our supplication; but spiritual blessings are granted only in answer to prayer. (Comp. the passage in the Apolog. of Tertullian about prayer, as the only kind of violence allowed to Christians,—“Hœc vis Deo grata est.”)—“It is remarkable that, despite man’s sinfulness, such love for their offspring remains in the heart of fathers and mothers. A glorious symbol this of the in finite love of our heavenly Father.”—(2) Rule for our conduct toward our neighbor—negatively: Do not unto others what you would not have them do unto yourself. (Tobith 4:15. The opinion of Salvianus on this passage, see in Heubner’s Com., p. 101.) With this, Kant’s celebrated moral principle may be compared: Act in such a manner that your conduct may be capable of being elevated into a maxim applicable to all, or a universal principle. The rule here laid down by the Lord finds an echo in every breast. But it deserves notice, that while others may have expressed it in an imperfect and negative manner, the Saviour alone disclosed it in all its richness and fulness.—(3) The narrow way and the strait gate, the broad way and the wide gate. We must not overlook the historical application of this simile; nor yet its general import, as relating to penitence and impenitence, to faith and unbelief, to sanctification and destruction. Heubner: “Oh! how many go on the broad way! Thus the majority of men hasten to ruin, and will ultimately be condemned.” But Heubner here combines two very different statements, which are not necessarily connected. Does not grace rescue many a soul from the path of destruction even at the last hour? But apart from this, it is well to call attention to the awful prospect set before man in this passage. See the sentences of Augustine, Luther, and others, on the passage, quoted by Heubner, p. 102.—Beware, etc., Matthew 7:15.—The three kinds of false spirits among Christians are here described with marvellous accuracy and delicacy of touch: (1) False prophets, manifestly referring to heretics; (2) false professors; (3) spurious enthusiasts. On the different explanations of fruits, see Heubner, p. 106.
“As the thorns and thistles must have shown, at first sight, that the tree on which they grew was corrupt, it is evidently a mistake to refer that simile to trees which never bare fruit, or to such as are half decayed, but which, as is well known, of times yield some excellent fruit. Undoubtedly, it must apply to degenerate trees. Accordingly, the expression is significant, and indicates that our Lord acknowledged a gradual depravation of nature corresponding to the progress of moral evil in the world, of which the thorns and thistles are the symbol.” (Gen. 3; Leben Jesu, ii. 2, 645.)
In the concluding simile, the contrast between a life of true faith and mere profession is set before us, just as the figure of the twofold building represents, on the one hand, the Church as the great structure reared by Christ, and, on the other, the building raised by the hierarchy.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Directions of the Lord how to seek the kingdom of heaven.—Essential outlines of the way to heaven: 1. Turning to God (to ask, to seek, to knock). 2. Turning away from the world,—(a) to give in love, instead of taking in selfishness; (b) to deny ourselves; (c) not to follow the multitude. We must beware of following the example of the multitude, the teaching of false prophets, the delusions of dead professors, and the deceitfulness of apparent achievements. 3. Rearing our heavenly house upon the Divine Rock.
Ask.—The unconditional promise of answer in every real want, or infinite and prevening love: 1. Expressed in the Divine arrangement: ask—seek—knock; 2. illustrated by a general principle, applicable to temporal as well as spiritual things: “For every one that asketh,” etc.; 3. symbolized and proved by the affection of earthly parents.—Every genuine spiritual aspiration shall be satisfied; “for every one that asketh,” etc.—The characteristics of true prayer. It is, 1. genuine asking; and becomes, 2. earnest seeking; and 3. urgent knocking.—Gradual progress in seeking after the kingdom of God. The search becomes,—1. increasingly definite in reference to its object (a) the gift of God; (b) spiritual treasure; (c) the door of heaven; 2. leads to an increased sense of our own poverty and ruin (want; sense of having lost; sense of standing without, of being lost); 3. increasingly urgent in its manifestations; and hence, 4. results in increasing dependence upon God (He must give, disclose, and open).—The love of an earthly father a dim representation of the love of our heavenly Father: (a) From its character; (b) from the confidence in His disposition which we cherish; (c) from our experience of past benefits.—The ruins of true humanity left in our sinful nature, an indication and proof of our Divine origin.—Christ presupposes the corruption of man, 1. to such an extent, as to speak of it only in connection with promises of salvation; 2. so fully, as to except none; 3. so kindly, that He mentions at the same time any features of genuine humanity still left.
Therefore all things ( Matthew 7:12)—the law and the prophets, as included in the principle laid down by the Lord: “therefore all things,” etc.: 1. Proof of it; 2. inference from it.—This principle, as describing the conduct of Christ Himself (Matt. 5:17, 18); as explaining the nature of true love, Rom. 13:10; as both the gift and the requirement of His Spirit.—The claims of others upon us are pled by the voice in our own hearts.—Our demands the measure of our bestowing upon others.
Enter ye in.—Entrance into life rendered difficult: 1. From certain peculiarities which deter: (a) The gate is strait; (b) the way is narrow; (c) difficult to find; (d) there are few companions on it. 2. By the attractions of the other road: (a) The gate is wide (the principal entrance); (b) the way broad (highway); (c) many walk on it; and do not merely walk, out intend and expect to go into the city by it (εἰσερχόμεν̀οι δι’ αὐτῆς).—Marks of the true way.—Marks of the false way.—We are neither to follow the multitude along the highways, nor false prophets into byeways.—Beware of false prophets: 1. Why? Because they are false prophets, (a) in sheep’s clothing
Very deceptive; (b) inwardly, ravening wolves
Very destructive. 2. By what marks shall we know them? (a) By their fruits. From prophets we expect good fruit, such as figs and grapes; but these yield only the fruits of the wilderness—thorns and thistles. (b) From the judgment which quickly overtakes them.—False comfort flowing from trust in a dead profession.—Dead profession is not rendered better by our surrendering the Christian name, but by a spiritual renewal.—Who shall enter into the kingdom of heaven? 1. He only who confesses the Lord; 2. not every one who outwardly confesses Him; 3. he who proves the truth of his profession by a holy obedience.—Life in Christ, the will of the Father concerning us.—It is one thing to do many works by the name of Christ, and another to do them in the name of Christ.—Even enthusiasm and outward success are not sufficient evidence of our discipleship.—Spurious enthusiasm generally betrays itself by its boastfulness.—Many who appear great in Church and State, will in that day be deprived of their assumed character, and of their claims to respect.—The threefold judgment upon false prophets, dead professors, and zealots and selfish enthusiasts—The judgment implied in the words, “I never know you.” This means: 1. Ye have never known Me 2. never known yourselves; 3. and therefore cannot be known of Me.—To know, to love, and to praise, go hand in hand.
The house built upon the rock, and that reared upon the sand.—The rock and the sand; or the Eternal Word in its compactness and firmness, and the world, resembling particles of sand, without cohesion.—Every spiritual structure shall be tried. 1. The truth of this statement: (a) As proved by experience; (b) even the kingdom of God, or the inner life, has its tempests. 2. Inferences: (a) Many a false building has already been swept away; (b) how careful should we be in rearing our own structure!—The word of Christ a word of power: 1. Of real power (of truth, of love, of life, of the Spirit); 2. of perfect power (of full authority and omnipotence).—The teaching of the scribes and the teaching of Christ. The former powerless, despite their appearance of power, authority, science, and enthusiasm; the latter all powerful, in the midst of deepest outward poverty and contempt.
Starke:—Ask: Ps. 50:15; Isa. 55:6; Ps. 21:2, 3; Zech. 10:1; James 1:5. Seek: Jer. 29:13, 14; Luke 15:5–9. Knock: Luke 13:24; Acts 12:13–16; Rev. 3:20; Gen. 32:26–29.—Augustine: Ideo non vult cito dare, ut tu discas ardentius orare.—He who would show others the way, must himself seek everything from God in prayer: 2 Cor. 3:5, 6; Acts 10:9.—True prayer is converse with God. Ps. 19:14.—Quesnel: O Lord, we ofttimes ask for the stone of temporal possessions, which would make our heart a stone; but, instead of it, Thou hast given us the bread of Thy grace, of Thy word, and of Thy Son: Prov. 30:7.—Foolish children that we are, how often do we regard as a stone what is better for soul and body than the finest bread, and as the poison of serpents, what proves the most blessed medicine for our hearts! Prov. 20:24.—Every earthly parent may help to remind us of the love and faithfulness of God toward His own: Isa. 63:7, 49:15.—Even if it were possible that all earthly parents should forget their duty, yet will God prove a Father: Isa. 49:15.—The affection of parents toward their children, a symbol of the hearing of prayer.—“Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would.” En speculum paratissimum, justitiœ breviarium, compendiosum commonitorium. Jerome.—Each one of us carries in his breast an adviser, judge, and monitor of his conduct toward his neighbor: Ps. 15:3; Matt. 22:39; Eph. 4:25: 1 Tim. 1:5; Gal. 5:14; Rom. 13:10.—Here you have the test of what you owe to your neighbors—the spring of equity and the bond of mutual forbearance.—Selfishness will always find a ready excuse: 1 Cor. 4:7; Luke 18:11.—Enter ye in at the strait gate. There are only two roads which lead to eternity,—that of the world and of the flesh, which leads to hell and condemnation; and that of the Spirit, which leads to heaven and eternal life. Therefore be sure which of these two thou hast chosen.—Strive to enter in at the strait gate: Luke 13:24; Phil. 2:12.—Christians are pilgrims: Ps. 39:12; Heb. 11:13.—In its folly, the world hastens along the broad way to hell, to the sound of music and revelry.—The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to be revealed: 2 Cor. 4:17; Rom. 8:18.—Luther:—It is not the Lord Jesus who makes the road to heaven so strait and narrow, but rather the devil, the world, and our own flesh: Matthew 19:21, 22; Prov. 26:13.—Why is it that so few find the way to heaven? Because of their negligence in seeking, their sloth in striving, their daring in resisting God, and their malice in sinning. Hence their condemnation rests upon their own heads: 2 Pet. 1:8; Acts 14:16; John 8:12; Acts 14:22; Rev. 7:14.—Let us not be offended at the small number of believers, Isa. 1:8; Zeph. 3:12; nor at their many afflictions; but comfort ourselves in view of their blessed end, Zeph. 3:17; Rev. 3:20.—Beware—Phil. 3:18; 1 John 4:1—of false prophets, Jer. 14:14; 23:26; Mic. 3:5–12; Zeph. 3:4; 2 Pet 2:1; Rev. 16:13.—Sheep’s clothing, John 10:5; 2 Cor. 11:13–15; Jer. 23:21.—Ravening wolves, John 10:8–12; Acts 20:29; 2 Tim. 2:17, 18; Ezek. 21:29; Matt. 10:16; 2 Cor. 11:13, 14.—Quœnam sunt istœ pelles ovium, nisi nominis Christiani extrinsecus facies? (Tertullian.)—Hœretici sunt habitu oves, astu vulpes, actu et crudelitate lupi. (Bernhard.)—Trust not every spirit, nor every talker or seducer.—To speak like an angel, to pamper the flesh, to gain the simple by outward devotion, by authority, by age, by tears or groans, to give one’s body to be burned, to do miracles,—are not the signs of a true prophet: the worst deceivers have exhibited all these, Matthew 24:4–11; 2 Thess. 2:9, 10.—Sound doctrine and the fruits of sanctification the evidence of a true prophet: 2 Tim. 4:3, 4; Ezek. 13:18; Jer. 23:25, 26, 32; Hos. 12:1.—Majus:—Every Christian should try the spirits, and recognize the truth: Acts 17:11, the men of Berea.—All who lead us astray from the narrow way are false teachers, Jer. 5:31; Hos. 11:1, 2.—Let no one imagine that there is any Church entirely free from heretics, sectarians, or false teachers.—By their fruits. Luther:—As if He would say,—The appearance of false prophets may be fair, as if it were a precious thing; but wait a while, until it is time to gather and to collect the fruits, and see what you will then find upon them.—Behold the goodness and the severity of God in the fruits of the earth. By reason of sin it bears thorns and thistles, but it also brings grapes and figs.—False teachers are like thorns and thistles. Their teaching affords no consolation, and only wounds the heart and conscience. Song. 5:7.—The marks of false teachers appear in the way they administer their office, in their doctrine, life, and conversation, in their motives, and in the conduct of their disciples, John 15:20. Zeisius.—The hireling and the false prophet.—It is the duty of Christians to prove all things, and to hold fast the word of God, 1 Thess. 5:21; Ex. 18:15.—Quesnel: Love, or rather faith, is the root of the good tree. So long as this root remains healthy, the tree will not yield the corrupt fruit of sin; but if it is awanting, you will in vain look for the fruits of righteousness, 1 Tim. 1:5.—Majus: A wicked person may be transformed into a righteous; but, so long as he remains wicked, he cannot do anything that is good, Matt. 12:34; Philem. 11, 12.—Every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit. John 15:2–6; 2 Tim. 3:9; Isa. 8:20; Rev. 19:20; Gal. 5:12; Matt. 13:30; Ps. 109:2.—Not every one who saith. 1 John 5:12; 1 Thess. 4:3; 1 Pet. 1:15; Matt. 5:19; John 4:23; Rom. 2:13; James 1:22; John 3:16–36.—Quesnel: To call God our Lord, and yet not to honor Him by our works, is to condemn ourselves, 2 Cor. 5:15; Luke 10:28.—Much knowledge, without corresponding practice, entails the heavier judgment; do what thou knowest. Hedinger. John 15:14.—False Christianity makes its boast in words, in knowledge, and appearance—ch. 23:27; 2 Tim. 3:5,—but true religion consists in deed, and is spirit and life. The former may be likened to a painted figure; the latter, to a living man, Matthew 5:16.—Many will say to Me in that day. Matt. 24:36; 1 Cor. 13:1, 2; Phil. 1:15; Acts 19:13; 2 Cor. 11:13; 2 Thess. 2:9; Rev. 13:13.—So deeply rooted is false conceit in our minds, that even in the day of judgment men will not be able to comprehend how they incurred condemnation, Matthew 25:44.—Quesnel: How many preachers are there, who in the pulpit seem to be prophets; and how many ministers whose success is admired, but who, in the sight of God, are nothing, because they neglect His will! Luke 13:26.—Then will I profess unto them,—openly on that day. John 10:14; 2 Tim. 2:19; 1 Cor. 8:3; Matt. 25:12; John 10:27; Ps. 1:6.—Dei agnoscere servare est; Dei agnoscere custodire est; non agnoscere damnare est. Augustine.—The grace of God saves a soul, and not gifts.—Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of Mine, etc. John 3:17.—The Rock is Christ, Matt. 16:18; 1 Cor. 3:11; 10:4; Jer. 17:7; Ps. 118:22; Isa. 28:16; Acts 4:11, 12; Rom. 9:33; 1 Pet. 2:5–7.—To build on Him, is to believe on Him.—At the close of a sermon, we should admonish our hearers to obedience and earnest application of the word.—Quesnel: To employ ourselves in this building, is to be truly wise, Isa. 58:11, 12.—The wisdom of the just appears in their showing their faith by their works.—And the rain descended. Ps. 124:5; 18:5; Rev. 12:15; Jer. 51:1; Eph. 4:14; Ps. 46:6; Isa. 25:4; 32:2; Rom. 8:35.—Quesnel:—By the practice of piety do we make our calling and election sure, 2 Pet. 1:10; 1 Tim. 4:7, 8.—Cramer: True Christians are exposed to many a tempest and storm, but we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.—Perseverance to the end the crowning manifestation of faithful allegiance to Christ, 2 Tim. 4:7, 8; Rev. 2:10.—And doeth them not. James 1:22–24.—Majus: Hypocrisy bears to the world the aspect of a great building, but it has no foundation, and will fall, Luke 18:11–14.—And the rain descended; i. e., adversity and strong temptations befell him, Ps. 32:6; Prov. 16:4. Under such trials a merely external Christianity speedily fails.—This refers to the final judgment, when body and soul shall be destroyed in hell, Gen. 7:21; Ex. 14:27, 28; Job 8:14; Ps. 1:5; 34:22; 73:19.—Quesnel: That fall cannot be repaired again.
Heubner:—Ask grace and the forgiveness of sin. Seek, earnestly aim after, perfection. Knock at the door of heaven, and it shall be opened.—Whatever is needful for our salvation shall be granted in answer to our prayers.—Ask in a childlike spirit for what you may stand in as absolute need of, as of bread, and God will give it you.—“Therefore, all things whatsoever,” etc. In your dealings, put yourself mentally in the place of your neighbor.—The strait gate: true repentance.—“Strait” refers to the anxiety of the heart in the matter.—The wide gate: impenitence.—Appearances deceive.—Beware of mere appearance.—Neither good works alone, nor sound doctrine alone, constitutes good fruits; the latter are the results of both life and doctrine.—A good tree is that which has been ennobled, and refers to a regenerate man; a corrupt tree is that which has degenerated, and means the unrenewed or natural man.—The culture of grace alone can ennoble a man.—A corrupt tree has no place in the garden of God.—“Not every one that saith, Lord, Lord.”—The most splendid talents are oftentimes combined with a wicked heart; the most splendid deeds are ofttimes of dubious value. A man may be the most enthusiastic speaker, the opponent of every injustice and wrong, and the bold champion of all that is good and noble,—yet all from selfishness and unworthy ambition.—Each sin renders a man more untrue to himself.—The future judgment will consist in the manifestation of the secrets of our hearts. Then the game is up, and it will be said: Off with the masks. This applies especially to unworthy ministers.
The pericope, Matthew 7:15–23.—Warning of the Lord against byeways which lead to destruction: 1. Warning against being led astray by others—by false prophets, i. e., either by false teachers, or by any who would seduce us from the truth; 2. against being led astray by our own hearts, by hypocrisy, and mere profession.—Fourfold form of the call of the Lord: (a) As a Divine call; (b) as the utterance of Divine truth; (c) as that of the pure and holy heart; (d) as that of His love and concern for the souls of men.
The pericope, Matthew 7:15–23. Erdmann:—Concerning the true import of human works.—Dräseke: The desire to appear good: 1. Its nature; 2. its origin; 3. its moral character; 4. its unavoidable dangers.—Reinhard:—On the only certain mark of a state pleasing to God. It consists not, 1. in outward decency; nor, 2. in a public profession of the Gospel; nor, 3. in personal attachment to Jesus (?); nor, 4. in extraordinary works (?); but, 5. in faith in Jesus, and in an endeavor to attain holiness by that faith,—our aim being directed toward the reality, rather than the outward form.—Marheineks:—How do we prove ourselves to be true professors of Christ? 1. Not by outward appearances merely, but by the power and life of faith; 2. by works of love; 3. by joy, peace, and hope. Nitzsch:—The true value of good works (Selections of Sermons i., p. 12). Zimmermann:—The tree an image of man (root, stem, marrow, branches, leaves, blossoms, fruit). Fr. Krummacher:—Who enters into the kingdom of heaven (Voices of the Church, Langenberg, 1852, p. 49). Sermons on Matthew 7:15, by Rautenberg, Souchon, Ahlfeld. Höpfner:—Four things necessary to constitute a Christian: 1. Faith makes a Christian; 2. life proves a Christian; 3. trials confirm a Christian; 4. death crowns a Christian.
BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR
THE Sinaitic Manuscript of the Bible, which Professor Tischendorf rescued from the obscurity of the Convent of St Catharine on Mount Sinai, and carefully edited in two editions in 1862 and 1863,* two years after the issue of the third edition of Dr. Lange’s Commentary on Matthew, has been carefully compared in preparing the American edition of this work from Chapter 8 to the close of the Gospel of Matthew. I thought I was the first to do so, but just before I finished the last pages of this volume, I found that Bäumlein, in his Commentary on the Gospel of St. John,** and Meyer, in the fifth edition of his Commentary on Matthew, both of which appeared in 1864, had preceded me, at least in print. No critical scholar can ignore this manuscript hereafter. For it is the only complete, and perhaps the oldest of all the uncial codices of the Bible, or at least of the same age and authority as the celebrated Vatican Codex (which is traced by some to the middle of the fourth century), and far better edited by the German Protestant Professor, Tischendorf, than the latter was by the Italian Cardinal, Angelo Mai. In the absence of a simpler mark agreed upon by critics (the proposed designation by the Hebrew א has not yet been adopted, and is justly objected to by Tregelles and others on the ground of typographical inconvenience), I introduce it always as Cod. Sin., and I find that Dr. Meyer in the fifth edition does the same. As I could not procure a copy of the printed edition of this Codex till I had finished the first seven chapters, I now complete the critical part of the work by adding its more important readings in the first seven chapters where they differ from the textus receptus, on which the authorized English, as well as all the older Protestant Versions of the Greek Testament are substantially based.
*NOVUM TESTAMENTUM SINAITICUM, sive Novum Testamentum cum Epistola Barnabœ et Fragmentis Pastoris (Hermæ). Ex Codice Sinaitico auspiciis Alexandri II., omnium Russiarum imperatoris, ex tenebris protracto orbique litterarum tradito accurate descripsit ÆNOTHEUS FRIDERIOUS CONSTANTINUS TISCHENDORF, theol. et phil. Dr., etc. etc. Lipsiæ, 1863. The text is arranged in four columns and covers 148 folios; the learned Prolegomena of the editor 81 folios. There is besides a magnificent photo-lithographed fac-simile edition of the whole Sinaitic Bible, published at the expense of the Emperor of Russia, in 4 volumes (3 for the Old and 1 for the New Testament, the latter in 148 folios), under the title: BIBLIORUM CODEX SINAITICUS PETROPOLITANUS. Auspiciis augustissimis imperatoris Alexandri II. ed. Const. Tischendorf. Petropoli, 1862. A copy of this rare edition I have also consulted occasionally, in the Astor Library of New York. For fuller information on this important Codex (in the words of Tischendorf: “omnium codicum uncialium solus integer omniumque antiquissimus”), we must refer the reader to the ample Prolegomena of TISCHENDORF, also to an article of HILGENFELD in his Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Theologie, vol. vii. (1864), p. 74 ff. (who is disposed to assign it to a somewhat later age), and to SCRIVENER’S treatise, which I have not seen.
**Hengstenberg, in his Commentary on John, concluded in 1863, pays no attention whatever to this Codex, and is very defective in a critical point of view
7:12.—Cod. Sin. (also B., Z.): ἀφήκαμεν (have forgiven) against the lect. rec.: ἀφίομεν, and the reading of D., E., L., etc.: ἀφίομεν, which may have been taken from Luke 11: 4. Lachm., Tischend., Alford, and Meyer, favor ἀφήκαμεν.
7:13.—Cod. Sin. omits the doxology and the amen in the Lord’s Prayer, with other ancient witnesses and all the modern critical editors, German and English, except Matthaei, whose exclusive adherence to his own Moscow manuscripts gives his edition the character of partiality. It is generally regarded as an insertion from the ecclesiastical liturgies in the fourth century. On the other hand, it is strongly defended as genuine, not only by Stier, as mentioned on p. 122, but also by Scrivener (A Supplement to the authorized English Version of the N. T., vol. i. 1845, p. 155 ff.). Alford’s testimony against it, as quoted on p. 122, is certainly too strong. The importance of the case will justify us in adding here the principal arguments on both sides of the question. It must be admitted that the weight (though by no means the number) of critical testimony is rather against the doxology. Four of the most ancient uncial MSS., Cod. Sin. (4th cent.), Vaticanus (B., 4th cent.), Cantabrigiensis, or Codex Bezæ (D., 5th or 6th cent.), Dublinensis rescriptus (Z., of the 6th cent., containing, of the N. T., the Gospel of Matthew with many lacunæ), and five cursive MSS. (1, 17, 118, 130, 209, of much later date), moreover the ancient Latin versions, and most of the early fathers, especially the Latin ones, including Origen, Tertullian, and Cyprian, who wrote practical commentaries on the Lord’s Prayer, omit the doxology. The other uncial MSS. are here defective, and cannot be quoted for or against. Cod. Alexandrinus (A., 5th cent.) is mutilated from Matt. 1 to 25:6 (its first leaf commencing: ὁ νυμφίος), and Cod. Ephraemi Syri (C., 5th cent.) omits Matt. 5:16 to 7:4 (according to Tischendorf’s edition, which is, however, unfortunately not in fac-simile). Its omission from the text is, moreover, much more difficult to account for than its insertion from the ancient liturgies. But on the other hand, the doxology is already found in the venerable Peschito (of the second century), and the two younger syriac Versions (Philoxeniana and Hierosolymitana), in the Sahidic or Thebaic Egyptian Version (which ranks next to the Peschito on the score of antiquity), the Æthiopie, Armenian, Gothic and Gregorian Versions, in the Apostolical Constitutions, Chrysostom, as well as in nearly all the five hundred or more cursive man uscripts in which the sixth chapter of Matthew is preserved. As to internal reasons, it can hardly be urged that the doxology interrupts the context or the logical connection between vers.12 and 14 (Scholz, Meyer, Alford), for this argument would require us to cancel the whole of 6:13 (Scrivener). No one can doubt the eminent propriety of this solemn conclusion which we are accustomed to regard from infancy as an integral part of the prayer of prayers, and which we would now never think of sacrificing to critical considerations in our popular Bibles and public and private devotions. Probably it was the prevailing custom of the Christians in the East from the beginning to pray the Lord’s Prayer with the doxology, comp. 2 Tim. 4:18. Chrysostom comments on it without the least consciousness that its authenticity is doubtful.
In the seventh chapter Cod. Sin. offers no important deviations from the received text.
Matthew 7:2.—Cod. Sin. sustains with the best ancient authorities ματρηθήσεται, shall be measured, which is now adopt ed by the editors of the Greek text (even Stier and Theile, and Words, worth, who adhere closely to the Elzevir text), against the lect. rec. ἀντι μετρηθήσεται, shall be measured again, or in turn (from Luke 6:38).
πλατεῖα ἡ πύλη.(so B)
τὸ θέλημα (so also B.).
*But it is not certain whether ὅτι or τί was the original reading. Tischendorf remarks, Proleg. xliii. ad membranam iv. exteriorem: “οτι: o litteræ punctum impositum; nescio an ante Cg. jam B imposuerit; obelum vero solus Cg. addidit.” “Οτι στενή, for strait, Is the reading of the text. rec. and retained by Tischendorf and Alford, but it may easily have arisen from ὁτι πλατεῖα, 7:13. Lachmann, Meyer, and Scrivener prefer τί στενή, how strait (Vulgata: quam angusta), which has the balance of external evidence in its favor
 Matthew 7:8.—[It shall be opened according to the text rec.: ἀνοιγήσετα. But some of the oldest authorities, among which is the Vatican Cod. B. (see the ed. of Angelo Mai, and Buttmann), also Lachmann, Tregelles, and Conant, read ἀνοιγεται, it is opened, which seems to correspond better to the preceding receiveth, and findeth. Dr. Conant’s remark is not without force: “The beautiful antithesis, made by the future and present tenses in Matthew 7:7 and 8, is marred at the close by the return to the future, in the faulty form of the Received Text, and in the Versions that follow it. In Matthew 7:7 the imperative is properly followed by the future tense, because the compliance and its reward are both in the future time; but in Matthew 7:8. the present (he that asketh) is properly followed by the same (receiveth), and so of the other two clauses. The propriety and point of expression, which are so striking a characteristic of our Lord’s manner in all His discourses, should not be lost or marred in the version of them.” Tischendorf, Alford, Wordsworth, and Lange in his G. version, adhere to the Received Text. Meyer, otherwise so accurate in all that pertains to verbal exegesis, and Lange take no notice of this difference.—P. S.]
 Matthew 7:9.—[Tregelles edits: ἤ τίς ἐξ ὑμῶν ἄνθρωπος, omitting ἐστιν, on the authority of Cod. Vaticanus as compared by Birch. But both Angelo Mai and Buttmann in their editions of the Vatican Codex give ἐστιν. The discrepancy is solved by the fact that ἐστιν the marginal reading, but not a correctore, as Birch supposed, but a prima manu as Verceilone in the second ed. of the published text, and Buttmann explain.—P. S.]
 Matthew 7:9.— “Ον in Codd. B. C., etc. The Recepta adds ἐάν, if. [Dr. Conant: ‘Of whom; for whom, which is un grammatical. … The construction of the sentence is not, indeed, rhetorically exact; but it belongs to that graceful negligence of art and rule, which is the peculiar charm of the colloquial style, and is no less so in English than in Greek.”—P. S.]
 Matthew 7:14.—“Οτι [for]. This could easily be changed into τί [how strait], which is supported by many authorities and adopted by Griesbach, Lachmann, Scholz.
 Matthew 7:24—[It would be better here and in Matthew 7:25, 26 to leave out the art. in Engl. and to translate “upon rock” and “upon sand,” instead of “a rock” (which might mean some particular rock), and “the sand.” The Greek has בן both cases the definite art. (τὴν πέτραν and τὴν ἄμμον), which here designates classes of substances. Some commentators refer the rock to Christ, as Cornel. à Lapide: “Mystice petra est Christus; unde Glossa ‘Ille ædificat in Christo qui quod audit ab illo facit.’ ” So also Alford and Wordsworth. In this case we ought to translate “upon the rock,” and “upon sand.”—P. S.]
 Matthew 7:29.—[The word one is inserted by the E. V. and rather weakens the force of the expression ὡς ἐξουσἰαν ἔχων. Lange translates: wie im Besitz der Macht.—P. S.]
 Matthew 7:29.—[The critical editions read αὐτῶν, and Lange translates accordingly. Some add: καὶ οἱ φαρισαῖοι.—P. S.]
[Not: “in its inseparable connection with human nature,” as the Edinb. trsl. misunderstands the original: “Bedingtheit durch die Züge der Humanität, der Menschlichkeit.”—P. S.]
[Chrysostom: στενὴ ἡ πύλη, οὐχ ἡ πόλις, strait is the gate, but not the heavenly city to which it leads.—P. S.]
[ALFORD: “The καρποί are both their corrupt doctrines and their vicious practices, as contrasted with the outward shows of almsgiving, prayer, and fasting, their sheep’s clothing to deceive.” WORDSWORTH: “From the fruits of their teaching; not from their acts alone, because acts seemingly virtuous are often nothing more than the sheep’s clothing in which the wolf wraps himself in order that he may deceive and devour the sheep.” WHEDON: “Their fruits—their own actions and the moral tendency of their doctrines.” D. BROWN: “Not their doctrines … for that corresponds to the tree itself; but the practical effect of their teaching, which is the proper fruit of the tree.”—P. S.]
[D. Brown: “the rock of true discipleship, or genuine subjection to Christ.”—]
[D. Brown: “How lively must this imagery have been to an audience accustomed to the fierceness of an Eastern tempest, and the suddenness and completeness with which it sweeps everything unsteady before it!” Chrysostom: “The rain descended, etc. A prophecy verified in the primitive church, bearing all the brunt of the waves and storms of the world, of people, of tyrants, of friends, of strangers, of the devil himself persecuting her, and venting all the hurricane of his rage upon her. She stood firm, because she was built upon a rock. So far from being injured, she was made more glorious by the assault.”—P. S.]