Matthew 7:11
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) If ye then, being evil.—The words at once recognise the fact of man’s depravity, and assert that it is not total. In the midst of all our evil there is still that element of natural and pure affection which makes the fatherhood of men a fit parable of the Fatherhood of God. We mount from our love to His, abstracting from our thoughts the evil of which we cannot but be conscious.

Give good things to them that ask him.—The context shows that the “good things” are spiritual and not temporal gifts, the wisdom and insight which we all need, or rather (as in the parallel passage of Luke 11:13) the one gift of the Holy Spirit, which, in its sevenfold diversity, includes them all.

7:7-11 Prayer is the appointed means for obtaining what we need. Pray; pray often; make a business of prayer, and be serious and earnest in it. Ask, as a beggar asks alms. Ask, as a traveller asks the way. Seek, as for a thing of value that we have lost; or as the merchantman that seeks goodly pearls. Knock, as he that desires to enter into the house knocks at the door. Sin has shut and barred the door against us; by prayer we knock. Whatever you pray for, according to the promise, shall be given you, if God see it fit for you, and what would you have more? This is made to apply to all that pray aright; every one that asketh receiveth, whether Jew or Gentile, young or old, rich or poor, high or low, master or servant, learned or unlearned, all are alike welcome to the throne of grace, if they come in faith. It is explained by a comparison taken from earthly parents, and their readiness to give their children what they ask. Parents are often foolishly fond, but God is all-wise; he knows what we need, what we desire, and what is fit for us. Let us never suppose our heavenly Father would bid us pray, and then refuse to hear, or give us what would be hurtful.Ask, and it shall be given you ... - There are here three different forms presented of seeking the things which we need from God - asking, 'seeking, and knocking. The latter is taken from the act of knocking at a door for admittance. See Luke 13:25; Revelation 3:20. The phrases signify to seek with earnestness, diligence, and perseverance. The promise is, that what we seek shall be given us. It is of course implied that we seek with a proper spirit, with humility, sincerity, and perseverance. It is implied, also, that we ask the things which it may be consistent for God to give - that is, things which he has promised to give, and which would be best for us, and most for his own honor, 1 John 5:14. Of that God is to be the judge. And here there is the utmost latitude which a creature can ask. God is willing to provide for us, to forgive our sins, to save our souls, to befriend us in trial, to comfort us in death, to extend the gospel through the world. Man "can" ask no higher things of God; and these he may ask, assured that he is willing to grant them.

Christ encourages us to do this by the conduct of parents. No parent turns away his child with that which would be injurious. He would not give him a stone instead of bread, or a serpent instead of a fish. God is better and kinder than the most tender earthly parents; and with what confidence, therefore, may we come as his children, and ask what we need! Parents, he says, are evil; that is, are imperfect, often partial, and not unfrequently passionate; but God is free from all this, and therefore is ready and willing to aid us.

Every one that asketh receiveth - That is, every one that asks aright; that prays in faith, and in submission to the will of God. He does not always give the very thing which we ask, but he gives what would be better. A parent will not always confer the "very thing" which a child asks, but he will seek the welfare of the child, and give what he thinks will be most for its good. Paul asked that the thorn from his flesh might be removed. God did not "literally" grant the request, but told him that his "grace" should be "sufficient" for him. See the notes at 2 Corinthians 12:7-9.

A fish - A fish has some resemblance to a serpent; yet no parent would attempt to deceive his child in this. So God will not give to us that which might appear to be of use, but which would be injurious.

11. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him!—Bad as our fallen nature is, the father in us is not extinguished. What a heart, then, must the Father of all fathers have towards His pleading children! In the corresponding passage in Luke (see on [1231]Lu 11:13), instead of "good things," our Lord asks whether He will not much more give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him. At this early stage of His ministry, and before such an audience, He seems to avoid such sharp doctrinal teaching as was more accordant with His plan at the riper stage indicated in Luke, and in addressing His own disciples exclusively.

Golden Rule (Mt 7:12).

Ver. 9-11. Asking is but a verbal expression of an inward desire; no man desireth that which is evil, but that which he at least apprehends to be good, that is, suitable unto his wants. As earthly parents, knowing that their children, though through weakness of understanding they may ask that which is really evil for them, yet will not give them any such things, and gratify their ignorance; so neither will your heavenly Father, knowing what you truly need, and what is truly good for you, give you any thing which he knoweth is not suitable for you, but noxious to you: but if you ask any thing which is either absolutely good for you, and cannot be evil, or which your heavenly Father knoweth to be good for you under your present circumstances, you may be assured, considering he is your Father, and hath as great a kindness for you as an earthly father for his child, and that he is your heavenly Father, and therefore hath a sufficiency to give, will give good things to you asking them of him: and this you may be assured of from that good will and inclination which you, though you come infinitely short of the perfection and good inclinations of your heavenly Father, find in yourselves towards your children; for you derive from him, as his children, all that goodness and benignity which you have. If therefore we in prayer ask any thing of God, which may be good or evil under different circumstances, and receive it not, we may conclude, that though we thought what we asked bread, yet indeed it was a stone; though we thought it a fish, yet God saw it was a scorpion; and account that God answered our general desires, which were for some good, by denying our specific request. If ye then being evil,.... As all mankind in general are, both by nature and practice: they are conceived in sin, shapen in iniquity; are evil from their youth, and transgressors from the womb; are corrupt, and do abominable things; and such these Jews were Christ speaks unto; and who, very likely, has respect chiefly to the evil of covetousness they were addicted to. The argument is taken from the lesser to the greater, and runs thus; that if ye, who are but men, men on earth, yea evil men, not over liberal and beneficent, nay covetous and niggardly,

know how to give good gifts unto your children; can find in your hearts, having it in the power of your hands, to give suitable provisions for the support and sustenance of your children;

how much more shall your Father, which is in heaven; who is omniscient and omnipotent; who knows the persons and wants of his children, and what is proper for them, and is able to relieve them, being Lord of heaven and earth,

give good things to them that ask him? Not only temporal good things, as meat, drink, and clothing; but all spiritual good things; every supply of grace; all things pertaining to life and godliness. In Luke 11:13 "the Holy Spirit" is mentioned, and so seems to design his gifts and graces, everything that is necessary for the spiritual and eternal good of his people: but for these things he must be inquired of, and sought after; and it is the least saints can do to ask for them; and they have encouragement enough to ask; for it is but ask and have.

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 7:11. Πονηροὶ ὄντες] although ye, as compared with God, are morally evil.[427] Comp. Matthew 19:17. Even Kuinoel has given up the false rendering, niggardly (in conformity with Proverbs 23:6; Sir 14:5).

οἴδατε διδόναι] not soletis dare (Maldonatus, Wetstein, Kuinoel), but ye know, understand, how to give (1 Timothy 3:5, and see note on Php 4:12), not as referring, however, to the disposition (de Wette, Fritzsche), which in so doing is rather presupposed, but appropriately pointing to the thoughtful nature of paternal love, which, in spite of the πονηρία, understands how to render possible the giving of good gifts to children.

δόματα ἀγαθά] wholesome gifts, in contrast to the stone and the serpent. For the second ἀγαθά, Luke 11:13 has πνεῦμα ἅγιον—a later substitution of the particular for the general. For the inference a minori ad majus, comp. Isaiah 49:15.

[427] Chrysostom appropriately says: ταῦτα δὲ ἔλεγεν οὐ διαβάλλων τὴν ἀνθρωπίνην φύσιν, οὐδὲ κακίζων τὸ γένος, ἀλλὰ πρὸς ἀντιδιαστολὴν τῆς ἀγαθότητος τῆς αὐτοῦ (of God) τὴν φιλοστοργίαν τὴν πατρικὴν πονηρίαν καλῶν. It is not original sin, but the historical manifestation of the sin of all men, which is spoken of, of which, however, original sin is the internal, natural root. Comp. Matthew 15:19; John 3:6.Matthew 7:11, πονηροὶ, morally evil, a strong word, the worst fathers being taken to represent the class, the point being that hardly the worst will treat their children as described. There is no intention to teach a doctrine of depravity, or, as Chrysostom says, to calumniate human nature (οὐ διαβάλλων τὴν ἀνθρωπίνην φύσιν). The evil specially in view, as required by the connection, is selfishness, a grudging spirit: “If ye then, whose own nature is rather to keep what you have than to bestow it on others, etc.” (Hatch, Essays in [48]. Gr., p. 81).—οἴδατε διδόναι soletis dare, Maldon. Wetstein; rather, have the sense to give; with the infinitive as in Php 4:12, 1 Timothy 3:5. Perhaps we should take the phrase as an elegant expression for the simple δίδοτε. So Palairet.—δόματα, four times in N. T. for the attic δῶρον, δώρημα; δομ. ἀγαθὰ, gifts good not only in quality (bread not stone, etc.) but even in measure, generous, giving the children more than they ask.—πόσῳ μᾶλλον, a fortiori argument.—ὁ πατὴρ, etc., the Father whose benignant nature has already been declared, Matthew 5:45.—ἀγαθὰ, good things emphatically, insignia dona, Rosenm., and only good (Jam 1:17, an echo of this utterance). This text is classic for Christ’s doctrine of the Fatherhood of God.

[48] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.11. good things] For this St Luke (Luke 11:13) has “the Holy Spirit,” shewing that spiritual rather than temporal “good things” are intended.Matthew 7:11. Ὑμεῖς, you) Christ rightly excepts Himself, and no one else.[311]—The ὑμεὶς; here refers to ἐξ ὑμῶν, of you, in Matthew 7:9.—πονηροὶ, evil) An illustrious testimony to the doctrine of original sin. Cf. the evil one,[312] Matthew 6:13. The Panegyric of Gregory[313] Thaumaturgus (p. 20, 146), has a similar confession of the evilness of human nature, with an emphasis rare in that age. Man is addressed as evil in the Scriptures. See ch. Matthew 10:17, and John 2:25.[314] It is wonderful therefore that Holy Scripture should have ever been received by the human race. Bread and fish are good things; man is evil, prompt to commit injury.[315]—οἴδατε, ye know) Distinguishing bread from a stone, etc. It is wonderful that this understanding (intelligentiam) has remained in us. We are so evil. Cf. Job 39:17[316] with the preceding verses.—ἀγαθὰ, good things) both harmless and profitable things.[317]—τοῖς τέκνοις ὑμῶν, to your children) especially when they ask you.—ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, which is in the heavens) In whom there is no evil.—τοῖς αἰτοῦσιν, to them that ask) sc. His children; for where true prayer begins, there is Divine sonship.

[311] What man of you, Matthew 7:9, implies that all but Himself are included in His words.—(ED.)

[312] Men who are devoid of a godly disposition imitate him.—B. G. V.

[313] GREGORY, surnamed THAUMATURGUS, or the wonder-worker, was born at Neo-Cæsarea, in Cappadocia. He was originally a heathen, and highly educated, in the learning of the ancients. He afterwards embraced Christianity, and studied under Origen. Having taken orders, he was ordained Bishop of his native city about 239. He died between 264 and 271. He was a man of high attainments and great piety. Several valuable works of his are still in existence; that alluded to here, is his Panegyric on his master Origen, edited by Bengel, A.D. 1722.—(I. B.)

[314] E. B. and the later editions add Matthew 16:23, Romans 3:4, etc.—(I. B.)

[315] It is in fact wonderful that a human father, when his son asks him for a fish, does not offer him a serpent.—V. g.

[316] Where the Vulgate has—Privavit enim eam Deus sapientiâ nec dedit illi intelligentiam—and E. V. “Because God hath deprived her of wisdom, neither hath He imparted to her understanding”—(I. B.)

[317] And therefore also the Good Spirit Himself. V. g.

In the original the expressions used are, Malus, malitiam, male audit.—As the first of these = the Evil One, I have rendered the others so as to correspond with it.—(I. B)Verse 11. - Parallel passage: Luke 11:13. If ye then being evil. Application of the thought of vers. 9, 10, with further emphasis on the evil of human nature. If you with your moral worthlessness (Matthew 6:13, note), etc. (cf. also Matthew 12:34). Being (gyros). The presence here in the parallel passage of Luke of his common word ὑπάρχοντες points to St. Matthew's form of the sentence being the more original. Know; intuitively (οἴδατε). Notwithstanding, then, the evil bent of fallen human nature, there is some good still remaining. How much more shall your Father which is in heaven. "In quo nulla est malitia" (Bengel). Give good things. Observe:

(1) In the parallel passage in Luke, "the Holy Spirit," or, more strictly, an outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Πνεῦμα Αγιον). The historian of the early Church not unnaturally singles out that gift which ultimately produces all others; but St. Matthew, keeping to the general subject of wisdom, etc., in the treatment of our brethren, uses a more distributive expression which yet includes the particular gift asked for.

(2) Is the omission of the word "gifts" in this clause to be accounted for by our Lord not wishing to suggest that the grace asked for is so given as that it can afterwards be possessed apart from the Giver?
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