Matthew 7 Bible Commentary

John Lightfoot’s Bible Commentary

(Read all of Matthew 7)
2. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

[With what measure ye mete.] This is a very common proverb among the Jews: In the measure that a man measureth, others measure to him. See also the tract Sotah, where it is illustrated by various examples.

4. Or 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?

[Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye, &c.] And this also was a known proverb among them: "It is written in the days when they judged the judges, that is, in the generation which judged their judges, When any [judge] said to another, Cast out the mote out of thine eye; he answered, Cast you out the beam out of your own eye," &c.

"R. Tarphon said, 'I wonder whether there be any in this age that will receive reproof: but if one saith to another, Cast out the mote out of thine eye, he will be ready to answer, Cast out the beam out of thine own eye.'" Where the Gloss writes thus; "Cast out the mote, that is, the small sin that is in thine hand; he may answer, But cast you out the great sin that is in yours. So that they could not reprove, because all were sinners."

9. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

[Will he give him a stone?] Here that of Seneca comes into my mind; "Verrucosus called a benefit roughly given from a hard man, panem lapidosum, 'stony bread.'"

12. Therefore 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.

[Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, &c.] A certain Gentile came to Shammai, and said, 'Make me a proselyte, that I may learn the whole law, standing upon one foot': Shammai beat him with the staff that was in his hand. He went to Hillel, and he made him a proselyte, and said, That which is odious to thyself, do it not to thy neighbour: for this is the whole law.

13. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

[Broad is the way.] In these words, concerning the broad and narrow way, our Saviour seems to allude to the rules of the Jews among their lawyers concerning the public and private ways. With whom, "a private way was four cubits in breadth; a public way was sixteen cubits." See the Gloss in Peah.

14. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

[Gate.] Under this phrase are very many things in religion expressed in the Holy Scripture, Genesis 28:17, Psalm 118:19,20, Matthew 16:18, &c.; and also in the Jewish writers. 'The gate of repentance' is mentioned by the Chaldee paraphrast upon Jeremiah 33:6; and 'the gate of prayers,' and 'the gate of tears.' "Since the Temple was laid waste, the gates of prayer were shut, but the gates of tears were not shut."

Strait gate, seems to be the Greek rendering of Pishpesh, a word very usual among the Talmudists: "With a key he opened the little door, and out of Beth-mokad" (the place of the fire-hearth) "he entereth into the court." Pishpesh, saith the Aruch, is a little door in the midst of a great door.

15. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

[In sheep's clothing.] Not so much in woolen garments as in the very skins of sheep: so that outwardly they might seem sheep, but "inwardly they were ravening wolves." Of the ravenousness of wolves among the Jews, take these two examples besides others. "The elders proclaimed a fast in their cities upon this occasion, because the wolves had devoured two little children beyond Jordan. More than three hundred sheep of the sons of Judah Ben Shamoe were torn by wolves."

16. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

[By their fruits ye shall know them.] That is a proverb not unlike it. A gourd, a gourd, is known by its branch.

29. For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

[As one having authority, and not as the scribes.] It is said with good reason, in the verse going before, that "the multitude were astonished at Christ's doctrine": for, besides his divine truth, depth, and convincing power, they had not before heard any discoursing with that authority, that he did. The scribes borrowed credit to their doctrine from traditions, and the fathers of them: and no sermon of any scribe had any authority or value, without The Rabbins have a tradition, or The wise men say; or some traditional oracle of that nature. Hillel the Great taught truly, and as the tradition was concerning a certain thing; "But, although he discoursed of that matter all day long, they received not his doctrine, until he said at last, So I heard from Shemaia and Abtalion."