Matthew 7:7
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) Ask, and it shall be given.—The transition is again abrupt, and suggests the idea that some links are missing. The latent sequence of thought would seem to be this, “If the work of reforming others and ourselves,” men might say, “is so difficult, how shall we dare to enter on it? Where shall we find the courage and the wisdom which we need?” And the answer is, In prayer for those gifts.

Here, once more, the words are absolute and unqualified, and yet are clearly limited by implied conditions. It is assumed (1) that we ask for good gifts—for “bread” and not for a “stone,” for a “fish” and not for a “serpent;” and (2) that we ask, as Christ has taught us, in His name and according to His spirit. Otherwise we may ask and receive not, because we ask amiss.

The three words imply distinct degrees of intensity. There is the “asking” in the spoken words of prayer, the “seeking” in the efforts and labours which are acted prayers, the “knocking” at the gate with the urgent importunity which claims admission into our Father’s house.

Matthew 7:7-11. Ask, &c. — The exhortation contained in these verses may be considered as connected with the caution given in those immediately preceding, and then the sense of it will be, If you be at a loss to know who are and who are not proper subjects of reproof or admonition; or to whom you may with propriety speak of the higher truths of Christianity, even of those of experimental religion, and therefore want wisdom to guide you in these difficulties, ask, and it shall be given you, &c. Or the passage may refer to the whole preceding discourse, and Christ might intend thereby to prevent his disciples from being discouraged by the holiness of the doctrine, and the strictness of the precepts he had been inculcating, and therefore thus directs them to apply to God for supernatural aid; and assures them, if they did so with fervency, importunity, and perseverance, they should not apply in vain. But, independent of their connection with what precedes or follows in this most admirable sermon, these verses contain a most important direction and encouraging exhortation to the people of God to seek help of him in all difficulties whatsoever, and all those aids of his Spirit, and other blessings necessary to their salvation. Seek, and ye shall find — Add to your asking your own diligent endeavours in the use of all other appointed means; and knock — Persevere importunately in that diligence, and your efforts shall not be in vain. What you ask shall be given you, provided you ask what is agreeable to God’s will: the spiritual blessings which you seek, in this way, you shall find: and the door of mercy and salvation, at which you knock, shall certainly be opened to you. For every one that thus asketh, receiveth, &c. — Such is the goodness and faithfulness of God to his children.

Our Lord next, to give his followers greater assurance of obtaining from God the blessings which they should ask and seek aright, illustrates the divine goodness by reminding them of the imperfect goodness and bounty of men to their offspring. What man is there of you, or, among you; τις εστιν εξ υμων ανθρωπος. The words are very emphatical, and give great strength to our Lord’s argument. As if he had said, I appeal to yourselves, is there a man among you, in all this numerous assembly, who, if his son ask bread of him, will give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, &c. — Can you imagine any father could be so unnatural as to deny necessary supplies to his hungry child; and instead thereof give him what would be useless or hurtful, would starve or poison him? Consider, “if the wickedest wretches among yourselves, the most peevish, weak, and ill-natured of you all, will readily give good gifts to their children when they cry for them, how much rather will the great God, infinite in goodness, bestow blessings on his children who endeavour to resemble him in his perfections, and for that end ask his grace and other spiritual and heavenly blessings?” If ye then, being evil — If you, imperfect and evil as you are, and some of you tenacious, froward, and unkind, yet know, being taught by natural affection, to give good gifts to your children — If you find your hearts disposed and ready to communicate the best of what you have for their relief and sustenance, how much more will your almighty and most beneficent Father in heaven, who has a perfect knowledge of all your wants, and can with perfect ease supply them, and who himself has wrought in your hearts these benevolent dispositions, be ready to exceed you in so expressing his kindness, as freely to give all needful good things to them that by fervent prayer ask them of him.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.

7. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you—Though there seems evidently a climax here, expressive of more and more importunity, yet each of these terms used presents what we desire of God in a different light. We ask for what we wish; we seek for what we miss; we knock for that from which we feel ourselves shut out. Answering to this threefold representation is the triple assurance of success to our believing efforts. "But ah!" might some humble disciple say, "I cannot persuade myself that I have any interest with God." To meet this, our Lord repeats the triple assurance He had just given, but in such a form as to silence every such complaint. See Poole on "Matthew 7:8". Ask and it shall be given you,.... This is to be understood of asking of God in prayer, for such things as are wanting; whether of a temporal nature, as food and raiment, which Christ, in the former chapter, had warned against an immoderate and anxious concern for; or of a spiritual nature, as grace, and wisdom to behave in a proper manner, both towards God and men: and such, who ask according to the will of God, in the name of Christ, and under the direction, guidance, and influence of the Spirit, who ask in faith and fear, and with submission to the divine will, shall have what they ask for; not as what they deserve, but as a free gift.

Seek, and ye shall find. This is still meant of prayer, and of seeking God, his face and favour: which such shall find, who seek in a right way, by Christ, and with their whole hearts, diligently:

knock and it shall be opened unto you as beggars do, who use much importunity for relief and assistance. So men should stand and knock at the door of mercy, which will not always be shut against them. Faith in prayer is a key that opens this door, when a poor soul finds grace and mercy to help it in time of need. Our Lord's design is to express the nature, fervour, and constancy of prayer, and to encourage to it.

{3} Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

(3) Prayers are a sure refuge in all miseries.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 7:7-9. The new passage concerning prayer begins, without any trace of connection with what goes before. Comp. note on Matthew 7:1. It is otherwise in Luke 11:9, which, however, does not affect Matthew’s originality (in answer to Holtzmann, Weiss, Weizsäcker), nor does it warrant the opinion that some connecting terms have been omitted. Influenced by a later tradition, Luke has given the sayings in a connection of his own, and one that, so far as can be discovered, has no claim to be preferred to that of Matthew.

αἰτεῖτε, ζητεῖτε, κρούετε] Climax depicting the rising of the prayer into intense fervour, that “he may thereby urge us all the more powerfully to prayer” (Luther).

Matthew 7:8. The obvious limitation to this promise is sufficiently indicated by ἀγαθά in Matthew 7:11 (1 John 5:14), just as the childlike, therefore believing, disposition of the petitioner is presupposed[426] in Matthew 7:9-11.

Matthew 7:9. ] or, if that were not the case, then, in the analogous human relation must, and so on.

τίς ἐστινμὴ λίθον ἐπιδ. αὐτῷ] Dropping of the interrogative construction with which the sentence had begun, and transition to another. A similar change in Luke 11:11. See Fritzsche, Conject. p. 34 ff.; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 243 f. [E. T. 284]. This irregularity is occasioned by the intervening clause, quem si filius poposcerit panem. The sentence is so constructed that it should have run thus: ἢ τίς ἐστιν ἐξ ὑμῶν ἄνθρωπος, ὃν ἐὰν αἰτήσῃ (i.e. ὅς, ἐὰν αὐτὸν αἰτήσῃ, see Kühner, II. 2, p. 913), ὁ υἱὸς αὐτοῦ ἄρτον, λίθον ἐπιδώσει αὐτῷ (without μή); but after the relative clause the construction with μή supersedes that at the beginning of the sentence.

μὴ λίθον ἐπιδ. αὐτῷ] surely he will not give him a stone? With regard to the things compared, notice the resemblance between the piece of bread and a stone, and between a fish and a serpent; and on the other hand, the contrast with regard to the persons: ἐξ ὑμῶν ἄνθρωπος, and ὁ πατὴρ ὑμ. ὁ ἐν τ. οὐρανοῖς.

[426] The specific determination of prayer that will certainly be heard, as prayer offered in the name of Jesus (John 14-16), was reserved for a further stage of development. Comp. on Matthew 6:13, note 1. It is not the divine relation to men in general (Baur), but to His own believing ones, that Jesus has in view. Comp. Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 67 f., ed. 2.Matthew 7:7-11. Admonition to prayer: presupposes deferred answer to prayer, tempting to doubt as to its utility, and consequent discontinuance of the practice. A lesson more natural at a later stage, when the disciples had a more developed religious experience. The whole subject more adequately handled in Luke 11:1-13.7. Ask, and it shall be given] The connection is again difficult. The verse may be the answer to the disciples’ unspoken questions: (1) “How shall we discriminate?” or (2) “Who are fit to receive these divine truths?” The words of Christ teach, (1) that discernment will be given, among other “good things,” in answer to prayer; (2) that prayer in itself implies fitness, because it implies desire for such truths.Matthew 7:7. Αἰτεῖτε, ask) Ask for gifts to meet your needs.—ζητεῖτε, seek) sc. the hidden things which you have lost, and return from your error.—κρούετε, knock) sc. ye who are without, that ye may be admitted within. See 2 Corinthians 6:17, fin. Ask, seek, knock, without intermission.[307]

[307] Never cease, I pray thee, Reader, to turn such a promise to thy advantage, as often soever as the opportunity presents itself.—V. g.Verses 7-11. - Ask, and it shall be given you, etc. Parallel passage: Luke 11:9-13. Nearly verbally identical, but in the son's request, reads "egg" and "scorpion" for "bread" and "stone," and reverses the order of the sentences. In Luke the verses are closely connected ("and I say unto you") with the parable of the friend at midnight, which itself immediately follows the Lord's Prayer. It seems probable that, as with the Lord's Prayer (ch. 6:9-13, note), so with these verses, the original position is given in Luke; yet, as also with the Lord's Prayer, Matthew's form of the individual clauses may be the more original (cf. ver. 11, note). With the general promise contained in these verses, cf. Mark 11:24. The connexion with the preceding verse is probably not

(1) pray for others who have no apparent capacity for receiving the truths of the gospel (Weiss); nor

(2) in answer to the question suggested by ver. 6, if this be the measure of the Divine dealings, what bounties can sinners expect at God's hands? Let them, nevertheless, ask of God, and it shall be given them (cf. Alford); but

(3) in close connexion with the whole subject from vers. 1-6, you feel conscious of want of wisdom for the true and loving judgment of others without censoriousness - ask for this special grace. With this connexion ver. 12 follows on naturally; i.e. the key to the right treatment of others may be found in one's own feelings and wishes; from the perception of what we desire to receive from others we may learn what others ought to receive from us. Verse 7. - Ask... seek... knock. Gradation in urgency. Further, the three clauses think of the Giver, the sphere in which the gift lies, the obstacles in the way of obtaining it.
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