|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
7:1-6 We must judge ourselves, and judge of our own acts, but not make our word a law to everybody. We must not judge rashly, nor pass judgment upon our brother without any ground. We must not make the worst of people. Here is a just reproof to those who quarrel with their brethren for small faults, while they allow themselves in greater ones. Some sins are as motes, while others are as beams; some as a gnat, others as a camel. Not that there is any sin little; if it be a mote, or splinter, it is in the eye; if a gnat, it is in the throat; both are painful and dangerous, and we cannot be easy or well till they are got out. That which charity teaches us to call but a splinter in our brother's eye, true repentance and godly sorrow will teach us to call a beam in our own. It is as strange that a man can be in a sinful, miserable condition, and not be aware of it, as that a man should have a beam in his eye, and not consider it; but the god of this world blinds their minds. Here is a good rule for reprovers; first reform thyself.
Verses 1-12. -
(2) As anxiety about the things of this life hinders us Godwards (ch. 6:19-34), so does censoriousness manwards (vers. 1-12), our Lord thus tacitly opposing two typically Jewish faults. Censoriousness - the personal danger of having it (vers. 1, 2), its seriousness as a sign of ignorance and as a hindrance to spiritual vision (vers. 3-5), even though there must be a recognition of great moral differences (ver. 6). Grace to overcome it and to exercise judgment rightly can be obtained by prayer (vers. 7-11), the secret of overcoming being found in treating others as one would like to be treated one's self (ver. 12). Verse 1. - Parallel passage: Luke 6:37. Judge not. Not merely "do not condemn," for this would leave too much latitude; nor, on the other hand, "do not ever judge," for this is sometimes our duty; but "do not be always judging" (μὴ κρίνετε). Our Lord opposes the censorious spirit. "Let us therefore be lowly minded, brethren, laying aside all arrogance, and conceit, and folly, and anger, and let us do that which is written... most of all remembering the words of the Lord Jesus which he spake, teaching forbearance and brag-suffering; for thus he spake... 'As ye judge, so shall ye be judged,'" Clem. Romans, § 13 (where see Bishop Lightfoot's note; el. also Resch, 'Agrapha,' pp. 96, 136 ft.); cf. 'Ab.,' 1:7 (Taylor), "Judge every man in the scale of merit;" i.e. let the scale incline towards the side of merit or acquittal. That ye be not judged; i.e. by God, with special reference to the last day (cf. James 2:12, 13; James 5:9; Romans 2:3). Hardly of judgment by men, as Barrow (serm. 20.): "Men take it for allowable to retaliate in this way to the height, and stoutly to load the censorious man with censure."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Judge not, that ye be not judged. This is not to be understood of any sort of judgment; not of judgment in the civil courts of judicature, by proper magistrates, which ought to be made and pass, according to the nature of the case; nor of judgment in the churches of Christ, where offenders are to be called to an account, examined, tried, and dealt with according to the rules of the Gospel; nor of every private judgment, which one man may make upon another, without any detriment to him; but of rash judgment, interpreting men's words and deeds to the worst sense, and censuring them in a very severe manner; even passing sentence on them, with respect to their eternal state and condition. Good is the advice given by the famous Hillell (u), who lived a little before Christ's time;
"Do not judge thy neighbour, (says he,) until thou comest into his place.''
It would be well, if persons subject to a censorious spirit, would put themselves in the case and circumstances the persons are in they judge; and then consider, what judgment they would choose others should pass on them. The argument Christ uses to dissuade from this evil, which the Jews were very prone to, is, "that ye be not judged"; meaning, either by men, for such censorious persons rarely have the good will of their fellow creatures, but are commonly repaid in the same way; or else by God, which will be the most awful and tremendous: for such persons take upon them the place of God, usurp his prerogative, as if they knew the hearts and states of men; and therefore will have judgment without mercy at the hands of God.
(u) Pirke Abot, c. 2. sect. 4.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Sermon on the Mount—concluded.
Mt 7:1-12. Miscellaneous Supplementary Counsels.
That these verses are entirely supplementary is the simplest and most natural view of them. All attempts to make out any evident connection with the immediately preceding context are, in our judgment, forced. But, though supplementary, these counsels are far from being of subordinate importance. On the contrary, they involve some of the most delicate and vital duties of the Christian life. In the vivid form in which they are here presented, perhaps they could not have been introduced with the same effect under any of the foregoing heads; but they spring out of the same great principles, and are but other forms and manifestations of the same evangelical "righteousness."
Censorious Judgment (Mt 7:1-5).
1. Judge not, that ye be not judged—To "judge" here does not exactly mean to pronounce condemnatory judgment, nor does it refer to simple judging at all, whether favorable or the reverse. The context makes it clear that the thing here condemned is that disposition to look unfavorably on the character and actions of others, which leads invariably to the pronouncing of rash, unjust, and unlovely judgments upon them. No doubt it is the judgments so pronounced which are here spoken of; but what our Lord aims at is the spirit out of which they spring. Provided we eschew this unlovely spirit, we are not only warranted to sit in judgment upon a brother's character and actions, but in the exercise of a necessary discrimination are often constrained to do so for our own guidance. It is the violation of the law of love involved in the exercise of a censorious disposition which alone is here condemned. And the argument against it—"that ye be not judged"—confirms this: "that your own character and actions be not pronounced upon with the like severity"; that is, at the great day.
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