|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:33-37 Men's language discovers what country they are of, likewise what manner of spirit they are of. The heart is the fountain, words are the streams. A troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring, must send forth muddy and unpleasant streams. Nothing but the salt of grace, cast into the spring, will heal the waters, season the speech, and purify the corrupt communication. An evil man has an evil treasure in his heart, and out of it brings forth evil things. Lusts and corruptions, dwelling and reigning in the heart, are an evil treasure, out of which the sinner brings forth bad words and actions, to dishonour God, and hurt others. Let us keep constant watch over ourselves, that we may speak words agreeable to the Christian character.
Verses 36, 37. - Matthew only. Verse 36. - But (δέ); and (Revised Version). The adversative particle hints at the contrast of ver. 35 to their ordinary ideas about the importance of words. I say unto you, That every idle (ἀργόν); i.e. effecting nothing, morally useless; 2 Peter 1:8 (cf. καταργεῖ, Luke 13:7). Word (ῤῆμα); see ver. 37, note. That men shall speak, they shall give account thereof (ἀποδώσουσι λόγον: cf. 1 Peter 4:5) in the day of judgment (Matthew 10:15, note).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But I say unto you,.... This form of speaking is used, the more strongly to asseverate the truth of what is after said; and the rather, because men are apt to indulge a liberty with their tongues; fancying no great crime is committed, when only words are spoken, and no facts done;
that every idle word that a man shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. By an "idle word" is meant, what the Jews call, , "light conversation", and , "vain discourse", as the Hebrew Gospel of Munster reads it here; frothy language, unprofitable talk, which, though it does not directly hurt God or man, yet is of no use to speaker or hearer; and yet even this, in the last general and awful judgment, if not forgiven, and repented of, must be accounted for; and much more such horrid blasphemies the Pharisees had vented against Christ, and the Spirit of Christ. The Jews (d) have a saying pretty much like this,
"That even , "for any light conversation", which passes between a man and his wife, he shall "be brought to judgment".''
(d) R. Jonah apud L. Capell. in loc.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
36. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment—They might say, "It was nothing: we meant no evil; we merely threw out a supposition, as one way of accounting for the miracle we witnessed; if it will not stand, let it go; why make so much of it, and bear down with such severity for it?" Jesus replies, "It was not nothing, and at the great day will not be treated as nothing: Words, as the index of the heart, however idle they may seem, will be taken account of, whether good or bad, in estimating character in the day of judgment."
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