Nazarene Commentary 2000©

21st Century Paraphrase of the Hebrew Scriptures©
21st Century Version of the Christian Scriptures© [NCMM]

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THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW

CHAPTER SEVEN:
JUDGING AND PROVING

Matthew 7:1-11 – The Nazarene’s Commentary on Neighbor Love Continued

f) Judgment and neighbor love

|| Luke 6:41, 42

MT7:1 “You, 337 condemn not, 338 that you are not condemned. 339
337 You: The following teachings of the Nazarene have a direct bearing on his ongoing commentary on neighbor love.
338 Condemn not: It ought to be clear that a judgmental attitude highly influences neighbor love. One of the most difficult characteristics to overcome for the Friend of the Nazarene with the Transformed Mind is ceasing to be critical of others. Much of this disease is inherited (Romans 5:12). Note how Adam blames his wife and God! (Genesis 3:12) This prideful attitude stems in part from that distortion of being created in the image of God and, therefore, a sense of being the center of the universe. So, our opinions are always exactly correct. This is really self-righteousness, or the attitude of always being in the right, and having the need to express this opinion.
339 Not condemned: The real danger is not the criticism of others, but that condemnation from on High and with such a Finality.
MT7:2 For you will be judged with that ‘judgment’ by which you are judging! 340
340 Judging: This word group “judge” is highly significant in the Bible and occurs over 340 times. There is a Judge, and an Associate Judge, and Book of Judgment, and a Judgment Day, and a Judgment. A study of this word group in a concordance is a must to learn one of the ‘primary doctrines of the Christ.’ (Hebrews 6:1) A basic rule of the Nazarene is that our judgment will be based on our own standards of judgment demonstrated in how we judge others.
See Matthew 18:35 and Galatians 6:1: standards. Two excellent Bible chapters on this subject of judgment are Romans chapters 2 and 14.
Various renderings: GDSP: judged by the standard you judge by; WMS: for exactly as you criticize others you will be criticized; BER: and with that yardstick you measure you will be measured.
The Friend of the Nazarene must struggle hard to remove this judgmental disposition from any dark chambers of the mind and then true liberation comes in the realization that it is not only unnecessary but also God cares little for your opinion of others. On Judgment Day you will not receive a call from ‘the Judge of all the earth’ (Genesis 18:25) asking your opinion on someone.
MT7:3 Why look at the straw-speck 341 in your brother’s eye when you do not consider the rafter in your own eye?
341 Why look at the straw-speck: See Luke 6:42 and 1 Corinthians 4:5: self-examine. Various renderings: WMS: why do you keep watching the tiny speck in your brother’s eye; MOF: and fail to see the plank. How critical we are of the tiniest matters when it involves others but how generously forgiving of our own failings. The absurdum or hyperbole of the Nazarene is actually humorous and we wonder at the facial expressions, tonal emphasis, and gestures when the Nazarene relates this metaphor.
MT7:4 Or, how will you say to your brother: 342 ‘Permit me to exorcise 343 the straw-speck in your eye?’
342 Brother: Luke makes the word “brother” part of the address. Various renderings are: RSV: log; BAS: grain of dust; MOF: by what right; GDSP: just let me get that speck out of your eye. The use of “brother” makes it a religious setting. Religion, by its nature, in an atmosphere of righteousness, spawns a judgmental attitude. No religion is immune from this disease but James 1:26 warns that any ‘formal worshipper’ who fails to guard the judgmental tongue is practicing religion in vain.
343 Exorcise: The Greek is EKBALLO and is used elsewhere for “cast out” or “exorcise” demons. We have chosen “exorcise” because there seems some sarcasm in the Nazarene’s words.
MT7:5 Hypocrite, 344 first exorcise that rafter out of your own eye and then see clearly enough to exorcise the straw-speck in your brother’s eye!
344 Hypocrite: See Luke 6:42. Various renderings: PHI: you fraud.

g) Giving and neighbor love

|| Luke 11:9-13

MT7:6 “You should not give 345 the ‘Holy’ to the ‘dogs.’ Nor throw your ‘pearls’ before ‘swine.’ 346 So they never trample them underfoot and they turn and attack you. 347
345 Give: Obviously “giving” is an important element in neighbor love.
346 Throw your ‘pearls’ before ‘swine’: The Nazarene’s sarcasm may continue here, for in the area of personal judgment one’s own “pearls” are also very “holy” (particularly if one belongs to a self-righteous religion) and so Jesus encourages keeping one’s mouth shut and one’s opinions (no matter how “holy” and pearl-like) to one’s self. Note Proverbs 9:7 and 15:12: reproof.
Various renderings are: BAS: or put your jewels before pigs; NEB: do not feed pearls to pigs. The Nazarene may stress the futility of wasting religious “pearls” on those considered “pigs” from a spiritual (Jewish) standpoint. The whole matter seems contextual with what went before and is an exaggerated absurdum to a highly judgmental and self-righteous people.
347 They turn and attack you: Very often the reaction of people, or your neighbors, to your religious “pearls” is to attack or belittle your strongly held views. So, it is a waste of your time and ultimately damages your neighbor, causing them to behave in an abnormal manner.
MT7:7 Ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find. Knock and doors will open. 348
348 Ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find. Knock and doors will open: This takes a good degree of humility for one does not feel everything resides within one’s self. Note Luke 11:9-13. Various renderings are: MOF: ask and the gift will be yours; TCNT: your prayer shall be granted. All of this is very positive and the Nazarene assures positive results. Compare James 1:5.
MT7:8 For, everyone: The asking receive. The seeking find. The knocking have doors opened. 349
349 The asking receive. The seeking find. The knocking have doors opened: See Luke 18:1-8 on persistence. Various renderings: GDSP: for it is always the one who asks who receives. The person who refuses to ask, search, or knock on doors will find opportunity a rare bird indeed. The initial action produces those opportunities which would lie dormant unless otherwise aroused.
MT7:9 Or, who is the person among you, when a child asks for bread, gives it a stone? 350
350 Asks for bread, gives it a stone: See Jeremiah 29:12: prayer. Another hyperbole or absurdum from the Nazarene. Cannot we expect God to be at least as gracious as humans?
MT7:10 Or, [when the child] asks for a fish, will give it a serpent? 351
351 Serpent: Luke uses the phrase ‘scorpion for an egg.’ The idea is ridiculous but the Nazarene builds confidence that the Father would do no less than respond in kindness and goodness.
MT7:11 So, you, though wicked know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more your heavenly Father gives good 352 to those asking? 353
352 Father gives good: See James 1:17 and the perfect Giver. The Father is a “giver,” not only to His children, but even to the unrighteous, wicked, and unthankful (Matthew 5:45; Luke 6:35). The Father gave mankind ‘the Gift beyond description.’ (2 Corinthians 9:15)
353 To those asking: Luke adds, ‘The Heavenly Father will give Holy Spirit to those asking Him.’ (Luke 11:13) The Nazarene assures, ‘Anything you ask the Father in my name He will give it to you.’ (John 16:23)

Matthew 7:12 – Summary on the Torah’s Fulfillment

MT7:12 “So, everything you want others to do to you, you also do to them. 354 For this is the Torah and the Prophets. 355
354 Everything you want others to do to you, you also do to them: The Golden Rule. This simple statement is among the most well known principles of ideal conduct. Though many famous philosophers and religious founders have phrased something similar, it has always been in the negative. The Nazarene puts it in the positive. So, one may keep the negative rule by living in a cave, but not the Nazarene Rule (Compare Luke 6:31 and Romans 13:10). Various renderings are: GDSP: therefore you must always treat other people as you would like to have them treat you; BECK: do for others everything you want them to do for you; PHI: this is the essence of all true religion.
The Nazarene Saint who has emptied himself of Self will always respond positively to others, seeking their highest good. ‘Love never behaves badly. It always seeks the best interests of others.’ (Romans 13:10 and Philippians 2:4, 7) Ghandi argued with his British occupiers: “When all nations live by the Sermon on the Mount we will have not only solved our problems but those of the whole world.”
We have no difficulty knowing what hurts us. It is a simple matter of refraining from doing to others what hurts us, and going a quantum leap beyond this, and doing those things for others that you would want done for you. Note the context to follow the Golden Rule deals in part with money matters.
355 The Torah and the Prophets: The conclusion to the Nazarene’s subject raised in Matthew 5:17. There is a popular tradition of the great Jewish Rabbi Hillel who was asked to stand on one leg and summarize the Torah. His answer: “What is hateful to thee, do not to another.” Philo the Jew of Alexandria, a contemporary of Paul, gave a similar answer: “What you hate to suffer, do not do to anyone else.” However, the Nazarene goes beyond these negative viewpoints with a positive one, called the Golden Rule. Many religions have a negative expression of this, including the Greek philosophers, as well as Buddha and Confucius. Paul summarizes it: ‘The law is summarized in love of neighbor. Love is the fulfillment of the Law.’ (Romans 13:9, 10) This single verse (Matthew 7:12) serves as the perfect conclusion to the subject introduced in Matthew 5:17, the Law’s fulfillment. Will this Way be easy? The Nazarene proceeds to explain.

Matthew 7:13-23 – The True Disciple

MT7:13 “Enter 356 by the Narrow Gate. 357 For the way to destruction is broad and roomy 358 and many are those entering by it. 359
356 Enter: The person described in the conclusion who ‘hears and does the teachings’ of the Nazarene as found in this sermon, is obviously a true or real disciple. The principles already laid out by the Nazarene may appear daunting to his audience, for it asks each one who will follow to go far beyond the Torah. It asks the would-be disciple to go beyond the letter to the spirit of the Law.
What is expected of the Nazarene disciple? Though this sermon does not dwell on doctrinal points of the Christ, it does allude to or infer several. These are called The Seven Principles and are outlined in the Lord’s Prayer. So, the Friend of the Nazarene would have to accept these primary points. The main thrust of the Mountain Teachings is ‘love your neighbor.’ The Nazarene Saint will have to become a New Person in dealings with neighbors: unselfish selflessness motivated by an interest which seeks the highest good of neighbor will characterize the ‘true disciple’ (For details see the book Nazarene Principles©).
357 Narrow Gate: A gate may lead into a city or a home (Jeremiah 37:13; Acts 12:13, 14). The entrance to the Household of Faith is narrow and restrictive. The gate is the first element to enter such a Household. We might view these teachings of the Nazarene in his Mountain Teachings as part and parcel of this “gate” with its belief system and restrictive requirements, even demands, on that person who would desire ‘to follow the Lamb no matter where he goes.’ (Revelation 14:5) Though possessed of lofty requirements it is really the ideal of the New Person with the Transformed Mind (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:13, 15, 23, 24). The Nazarene is only asking that you be a decent and well-mannered human being. Even when an agnostic evolutionist is asked about the ideal person, a description of Christ (or that person of Jesus’ sermon) is forthcoming. Note Luke 13:24 and the effort needed to get through the ‘narrow door.’ In Luke the ‘narrow door’ is in response to a question whether only a few are being saved. To this Jesus’ exhorts, ‘Strain every nerve’ (GDSP); or, ‘agonize the agony,’ if the literal Greek is favored. The “gate” seems to be that of the “sheepfold” and not a subject about the salvation of all humanity (John chapter 10).
358 The way to destruction is broad and roomy: “Destruction” is often associated with Sheol or the grave in the Hebrew Bible (Job 26:6; 28:22; Proverbs 15:11; 27:20). It is that place all persons will enter with the possibility of escaping at the end of the 1,000 years (Revelation 2:13-15; Job 14:12-15). Those who enter the gate of the sheepfold or household of faith accept the ‘heavenly calling’ (Hebrews 3:1) and are transformed from death to life (John 5:24; 1 John 3:1).
The way to Destruction is “broad and spacious” because it allows for a wide diversity of convictions and beliefs. The Narrow Gate must include the contents of the Nazarene’s Mountain Teachings contained in Matthew chapters 5-7.
359 Many are those entering by it: Paul teaches that “all” descendants of Adam go into Death and that “all” will be resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). However, some find “real life” during their lifetimes (1 Timothy 6:19). They are among the “few” in contrast to the billions who lose that opportunity described by Revelation 20:4, 6.
MT7:14 For, narrow the Gate and cramped the Way leading to Life 360 and few are those finding it. 361
360 Narrow the Gate and cramped the Way leading to Life: Various renderings: KJ: straight is the gate; KNX: how small is the gate; GDSP: the road is hard. The Mountain Teachings demonstrate the narrowness and rigidity of the Nazarene’s requirements for entrance into the Realm of Profession.
361 Few are those finding it: Perhaps “find” applies to the ultimate attainment of the Kingdom of the Father. Note that Daniel 12:2, with reference to the resurrection of the Saints, “many” are mentioned. Whereas, Paul says “all” with reference to all Adam’s children (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). The final tally of the Church will be “few” compared to the totality of those raised at the end of the 1,000 years (Revelation 20:5, 13-15).

MT7:15 You, be alert for false prophets 362 who come to you dressed as sheep 363 but inside are rapacious wolves. 364
362 False prophets: Not only is The Way narrow and cramped but there are deceitful individuals who make the journey even more difficult. The Nazarene describes these as “false prophets.” He uses this designation 4 times in the Gospels (Matthew 7:15; 24:11, 24; Luke 6:26). Peter uses it once (2 Peter 2:1) and John once (1 John 4:1). False prophets disguise themselves, which would indicate some motive (Luke 6:43, 44). Various renderings are: PHI: false religious teachers; GDSP: disguised as sheep; PHI: greedy wolves.
The most often used context in the Nazarene’s teachings where he uses the designation “false prophets” are those who predict ‘the appointed time is near’ (Luke 21:8); or claim, ‘The Christ is here!’ (Mark 13:21) (Or, ‘I am the Anointed.’ Matthew 24:4)
These “false prophets” must also be among those who the Nazarene describes later as ones who say, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not speak before others, exorcise demons, do dynamic works, all in your name?’ (Matthew 7:21-23)
The subject of “false prophets” was one that Moses, a proto-type of Messiah, also took up at Deuteronomy 13:1-10 and 18:20-22, with two identifying characteristics: a) lead others to false gods; and, b) foretell events which do not occur.
363 Dressed as sheep: Paul echoes this when he says that some false brothers from among the Corinthian elders appear as ‘angels of light’ or ‘messengers of righteousness.’ (2 Corinthians 11:3, 14,15) Jude calls them ‘rocks hidden below water.’ (Jude verse 12) The Nazarene foretold their success when he said, ‘For pseudo-anointed and false prophets will rise and give great signs and portents to mislead, if possible, the Elect.’ (Matthew 24:24)
364 Rapacious wolves: Paul uses a similar description when he warns a gathering of elders, ‘After my departure, oppressive wolves, not sparing the flock, will rise among you, speaking twisted things.’ (Acts 20:29) Elsewhere he describes such “false brothers” as ‘pseudo-apostles, deceitful workers who appear as angels of light and servants of righteousness.’ (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)
MT7:16 By their fruitage you will know them! 365 No one ever gathers grapes from thorns 366 or figs from thistles!
365 By their fruitage you will know them: Signs are certainly not a way to recognize true prophets. False prophets are identifiable by: a) an oppressive nature which places burdens on the flock; b) false prophecies about appointed times which prove untrue; c) claim of Christ’s authority as an elitist priesthood or singular channel; d) claims of “signs” as proof of Christ’s backing.
The Nazarene later uses the word “lawless” which would mean breaking the commandments of Christ. This word “lawless” crops up at Matthew 13:41; 24:12. It ought to be clear that one of the major areas of concern when considering “false prophets” is whether what they have foretold comes true or not.
366 No one ever gathers grapes from thorns: Various renderings: NEB: can grapes be picked from briars.
MT7:17 Thus, every good tree bears good fruitage, 367 but rotten trees, wicked fruitage.
367 Every good tree bears good fruitage: See Luke 6:43. Various renderings: a good tree always yields good fruit; WMS: sickly tree… poor fruit.
MT7:18 No good tree bears wicked fruitage, 368 nor a rotten tree good fruitage.
368 No good tree bears wicked fruitage: This infers that a good tree always produces nothing but good fruit. If a tree would produce even one rotten fruit then it would at least call into question its “claims.” Various renderings: TCNT: by the fruit of their lives you will know such men.
MT7:19 Every tree not bearing good fruitage is cut down and thrown into the Fire. MT7:20 And, so, from their fruitage you will know them. MT7:21 Not everyone saying to me, ‘Master, Master!’ 369 will enter the Heavenly Realm but the one doing the will 370 of my heavenly Father.
369 Master, Master: They are clearly Christians who recognize that “Jesus is Lord!” This address of the King is seen of the goats in Matthew 25:44.
370 The one doing the will: It is not enough to confess, ‘Jesus is Lord.’ (Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 12:3) The Nazarene will not accept such a double confession if the life and works are lawless and contradictory to the profession. Not words, but doing the will are vital (James 1:22) and this “doing” involves refraining from slander and caring for the needy (James 1:26-27).
MT7:22 Many will say to me in The Day: 371 ‘Master, Master, did we not prophesy in your name? 372 And, in your name cast out demons? 373 And, in your name did many dynamic works?’ 374
371 The Day: This likely refers to the parousia-Judgment upon the Return of the Lord (Matthew 12:36; 16:27; 24:46-51; 25:1-46; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 John 2:28; 4:17; Revelation 11:18). The word “day” is used often with regard to the Return of Christ in his foretold Parousia (1 Corinthians 1:8; 5:5; 2 Corinthians 1:14; Ephesians 4:30; Philippians 1:6, 10; 2 Peter 3:7, 12; Revelation 6:17). The evidence seems to suggest that both the righteous and unrighteous will have opportunity to express themselves, whether outspokenly or in shame (Daniel 12:2; John 5:29; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 John 2:28).
372 Did we not prophesy in your name: Unfortunately it was false prophecy (Luke 21:8). Various renderings: TCNT: was it not in your name that we taught; PHI: didn’t we preach in your name; TCNT: we did miracles. The word “prophet” literally means “to speak before” others and not necessarily foretell events by inspiration. Men who claim to be “the Anointed,” and speak by Christ’s authority, and point to a multitude of “works,” and preach “Christ is here!” and, “The Appointed Time is near!” may need to reexamine themselves before their Lord actually arrives.
373 Cast out demons: Many are the evangelists and prophetic preachers who point to their exorcisms as signs authorized by Christ. Many of these point to Mark 16:17, ‘And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues.’ (KJV; this is a highly questionable text which is omitted in many translations because it does not occur in older reliable mss). However, a comparison of modern texts all will agree this portion was not among the original words of the Nazarene. Paul states that such signs ‘will cease,’ and are, ‘childish.’ (1 Corinthians 13:9, 11) Paul further identifies ‘the Man of iniquity’… with inworking dynamic works of Satan’s lying signs and portents. (2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10) The Nazarene himself warns that such “signs” are misleading and will be part of the claims of the pseudo-Anointed and false prophets (Matthew 24:11, 24; Mark 13:22).
374 Dynamic works: This is DYNAMEIS in Greek and is usually translated “powerful works” or “miracles.” The term could include any “works” requiring a dynamic effort: international publishing, electronic and satellite communication, great real estate holdings, enormous growth, etc.
MT7:23 And then I shall confess to them: “I never knew you! 375 Get away from me, 376 those working unlawfully!” 377
375 I never knew you: That is, the Nazarene never had a real relationship with these claimants despite their loud protestations to the contrary. The Nazarene Saint need not give a defense before the Judgment of Christ for his works of love and charity will be known by his Lord (Revelation 2:2, 9, 13, 19; 3:1, 8, 9, 15).
Various renderings: TCNT: then I shall say to their faces; RHM: never have I acknowledged you; KNX: you were never friends of mine.
376 Get away from me: A fearsome thing to hear! (Matthew 25:45, 46) Various renderings: TCNT: go from my presence; NEB: get out of my sight that traffic in wrong-doing; PHI: you have worked on the side of evil; BECK: you who are so busy doing wrong.
377 Working unlawfully: There is no accusation that these had buried their talents but all the work and energy they expended were unlawful. They were “workers of lawlessness” but their work is misguided, or unlawful, and not what the Nazarene ordered. In Matthew it is “lawlessness” and in Luke it is “unrighteousness.” Compare Psalm 6:8 and Philippians 1:15 for two kinds of workers. To be a Friend of the Nazarene one must keep the 60 “commandments” found in the Gospels.

Matthew 7:24-27 – Conclusion

|| Luke 6:47-49

MT7:24 “So, everyone who hears these words of mine 378 and does them, 379 will be like 380 a smart person 381 who built a house upon a solid Rock. 382
378 Everyone who hears these words of mine: This would apply in the fullest sense to those right there in the audience who did “hear” these words from the teaching Nazarene. However, others were to “hear” by means of those disciples inspired by the Spirit-Helper who produced the Christian Bible, called the New Testament (John 16:12-14; 17:20).
379 Does them: The “doer” of James’ epistle (James 1:22; 4:17). There is then that effort to learn the teachings of the Nazarene and then that “agony” to do them (Luke 13:24). With such a warning ringing in our hears what else can we do but make it our aim to study carefully these words of the Nazarene, and then one day at a time, to apply them with great vigor. Various renderings: KNX: commandments of mine; PHI: puts them into practice (Luke 6:47, 48; James 1:15).
380 Will be like: The introduction to this sermon began with those pronouncements of favor and blessing and now the Nazarene concludes with a strong parable or illustration. There are only two categories: a) one who knows these words and does them; and, b) one who knows, but does not do them (This may infer a third: those who did not know them. Compare Luke 12:48).
381 Smart person: The Greek is PHRONIMO and is generally translated sensible, prudent, discreet, practically wise, prudent. The Greek also refers to “a male person” with its ANDRI but we have chosen “person.” The modern contemporary usage of “smart” carries the idea well. Various renderings: BER: thoughtful man; NEB: he is like a man who had the sense to build his house on rock.
382 A house upon a solid Rock: The teachings of the Nazarene are a solid, rock-hard basis for developing and directing one’s life, particularly if everlasting life and the Kingdom are in mind. Compare Luke 6:47-49. In Luke the builder “dug and went down deep.” Luke does not mention “sand” but ground without foundation. Note how Paul stresses “foundation” at 1 Corinthians 3:10 and Colossians 1:23.
MT7:25 And the rain came down and the rivers flooded and the winds blew 383 and it did not fall. For it was founded on that solid Rock.
383 The rain came down and the rivers flooded and the winds blew: Each of these – rain, flood and wind – may carry a metaphorical meaning but essentially they describe those daily “hardships” the Nazarene assured would afflict (Matthew 6:34).
MT7:26 And, everyone hearing these words of mine and not doing them will be like a stupid person 384 who built a house on sand.
384 Stupid person: The Greek is MORO (moron) something like Matthew 5:22 where the man is an apostate. This is serious. See Matthew 23:3 and Luke 6:49 on non-performance.
MT7:27 And the rain came down and the rivers flood and the winds blew and struck that house! 385 And it fell! 386 And the fall was great!” 387
385 Struck that house: Naturally, either “house” would be safe and secure without those environmental disasters. But, life is not like that, particularly Christian life with its narrow gate.
386 And it fell: A spiritual collapse by a non-performer. Centering on the Nazarene’s summary of the Torah itself, the Golden Rule, this “moron” is one who knows what is right when it comes to neighbors but refuses or fails to act positively with neighbor love. Why? A single reason: egotism. The “moron,” by the Nazarene’s perception, is a selfish person, whose first reaction is always… Self. The Friend of the Nazarene strives to reach KENOSIS like Christ: “empty self” (Philippians 2:5-7) and so the cultivated inclination is to put the interests of others first (Philippians 2:3,4).
387 The fall was great: It is not just a simple matter of restoring or rebuilding the house. It is much worse. Such words ought to move every Friend of the Nazarene to become thoroughly familiar with these words, perhaps reading them every month as a practice; and, then, by prayer and deep thought, work daily to apply these superior principles.

Matthew 7:28-29 – The Crowd’s Reaction

MT7:28 Now, when the Jesus finished these words, it took place that the crowds were astounded at his teaching. MT7:29 For Jesus was teaching them as one possessed of authority and not as their Copyists.

Nazarene Commentary 2000©

Mark Heber Miller

©2000 All Rights Reserved