|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
7:14-23 Our wicked thoughts and affections, words and actions, defile us, and these only. As a corrupt fountain sends forth corrupt streams, so does a corrupt heart send forth corrupt reasonings, corrupt appetites and passions, and all the wicked words and actions that come from them. A spiritual understanding of the law of God, and a sense of the evil of sin, will cause a man to seek for the grace of the Holy Spirit, to keep down the evil thoughts and affections that work within.
Verses 20-23. - From within, out of the heart of men; that is, from the reason and the will, of which the heart is the symbol and the labouratory. For the heart ministers the vital fore to the intellect to enable it to understand, and to the will to enable it to live, although the seat of the intellect is in the brain. St. Mark's enumeration of evil things is in a somewhat different order from that of St. Matthew; and he adds to St. Matthew's list (ἀφροσύνη), foolishness, showing how all evil terminates in the loss of all moral and intellectual illumination. All these evil things proceed from within: and defile the man. Dr. Morison, in his admirable commentary on St. Mark, well observes here that "these things have an inward origin, and are vomited forth from the crater of the heart or soul;" and further on he says, "In a little sphere of things, and as regards acts, though not as regards substances or essences, men may be spoken of as creators. Men, that is to say, are the efficient causes of their own choices. If they were not, they would not be really free. If it was not so, there would be no real responsibility." St. Matthew (Matthew 15:20) adds here, "But to eat with unwashen hands defileth not the man." This is the end and scope of the parable, which is to show that unwashen hands and unclean meats defile not a man, but only an impure and depraved will. It seems almost needless to observe that our Lord does not condemn the washing of the hands before meats as a thing in itself in any way wrong. All nations approve of ablutions as tending to cleanliness and health.
"Dant famuli manibus lymphas, Cereremque canistris
Expediunt, tousisque ferunt mantelia villis."
(Virgil, 'Aeneid,' 1:701, 702.) It was thought sordid and mean to sit down to meals with unwashen hands. Whence not the clergy only, but the people, washed their hands before prayer. The moral of all is this, how carefully is the heart to be guarded, instructed, and adorned, seeing that it is the instrument and labouratory of all evil and all good, of all vice and all virtue! "Keep thy heart with all diligent," so that nothing may enter therein and nothing go out therefore and you not be conscious of it, and your reason may not approve; "for out of it are the issues of life."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And he said,.... Continued to say in his discourse; though this is left but in the Syriac version;
that which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man; meaning, not his excrements, which were unclean by the law, Deuteronomy 23:13 but what comes out of his heart, by his mouth; or is expressed in action, as appears by what follows; See Gill on Matthew 15:18.
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