Matthew 7

The Word Made Fresh

1“Don’t judge others, or you’ll be judged yourself 2in the same way you judge them. The way you judge is the way you will be judged.

3“Why do you see the smudge in your brother’s eye, but ignore the log in your own eye? 4Or how is it that you can tell your brother to let you take the smudge out of his eye while you have a log in your own? 5Don’t be a hypocrite! Take the log out of your own eye first, and then you’ll be able to remove the smudge from your brother’s eye.

6“Don’t give to dogs that which is sacred. Don’t toss your pearls to pigs. They’ll just walk all over them and then attack you.

7“Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you, 8because everyone who asks receives and everyone who searches finds and everyone who knocks has the door opened. 9If your own child asks for a bit of bread, will you give that child a stone? 10If your child asks for a fish, will you give that child a snake? 11So, if you who are less than perfect know how to give good gifts to your own children, don’t you think your heavenly Father knows how to give good gifts to all those who ask?

12“Always do for others in everything whatever you would want them to do for you; both the law and the prophets demand this.

13“The narrow gate is the one you should enter. The wide gate and the wide road are easy, but they lead to harm. Even so, a lot of people choose them. 14It is the narrow gate on the narrow road that leads to life, but only a few find it.

15“Be wary of false prophets. They will come to you like sheep, but then treat you like they are hungry wolves. 16But you can recognize them from their actions. You don’t get grapes from thorns or figs from bramble. 17In the same way, good trees put forth good fruit, but bad trees put forth inedible fruit. 18Good trees can’t produce bad fruit and bad trees can’t bear good fruit. 19That’s why the trees that produce bad fruit are cut down and used as firewood. 20You can always tell what kind of tree it is by the fruit it produces.

21“Not everyone who comes to me saying, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven. Only those who do my Father’s will can enter heaven. 22When their day comes, a lot of them will cry out, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we throw demons out in your name? Haven’t we done a lot of powerful things in your name?’ 23My reply will be, ‘I have no idea who you are – get away from me, you wicked people!’

24“So, everyone who hears what I say and does what I tell them will be like the fellow who built his house on a rock. 25The rains brought floods, and the winds blew strong against that house, but it didn’t collapse because it had been established on the rock. 26In the same way, everyone who hears my words but refuses to obey them will be like the idiot who built his house on sand. 27When the rains fell, and the floods came, and the wind blew against that house, it fell in a huge heap!”

28When Jesus finished speaking, the crowds were astonished. 29He taught like someone who knows what he is talking about – not at all like their scribes.


1-5: Verse one is probably the most misused and misapplied verse in the Gospels. It would better be translated, “Do not condemn, so that you may not be condemned.” It is not good advice to never judge anyone. How can you yourself know how to behave if you don’t judge a particular behavior you see in others to be bad or good? How can Jesus possibly mean that we should never assess the actions and motives of others when he himself just pronounced judgment on the Pharisees and scribes? The point he is trying to make here is simply that we need to be more vigilant of our own words and deeds than we are of others’ words and deeds.

6: Remember that the Sermon on the Mount is basically a tutorial for right living. For first century Jews that included ritual practices foreign to modern readers. “What is holy” is a reference to meat that has been offered as a sacrifice to God; there were restrictive rules regarding who could eat it and when. The admonition about “pearls before swine” is more obscure. It is surely metaphorical, but exactly what “pearls” is meant to communicate, or “swine,” is difficult to guess. I take it to mean something like, “Don’t bother sharing pearls of wisdom (about holiness or righteousness) with people who are unholy; they’ll only make fun of it and perhaps even do you harm.”

7-11: “You can trust God to provide your needs” would be a good summary of these verses. Small loaves of bread resemble stones and some fish resemble snakes in appearance; just so, there will always be people who will try to cheat you, especially in the marketplace. God never deceives or teases in providing for us.

12: Compare Luke 6:31. Matthew emphasizes “in everything,” making the general rule even more universally applicable.

13-14: The sermon moves now to general observations that draw a distinction between this world and the coming Kingdom of God. The first distinction is that those who abide by the lures of this world will never find the Kingdom of God.

15-20: Yet there are some things in this world which point to the next. The fruit-bearing function of trees is an example of the fidelity which will mark the next world. In this world so-called prophets can deceive. Not so in the world to come.

21-23: In the same vein, in this world people may claim to be followers of Jesus. In God’s kingdom words and deeds must resemble each other.

24-27: The famous conclusion to the Sermon on the Mount: those who follow the instructions of Jesus will be able to weather all the storms of life. Those who do not will find themselves blown here and there.

28-29: Finally, Matthew points out that the crowds recognize the difference between what Jesus is telling them and what the scribes have been telling them.


Whenever we face a decision, the question to ask ourselves is not, “What is best for me?” but rather, “What does God want of me?” The answer to the second question answers the first as well.