|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.
Verse 5. - Parallel passage: Luke 6:42b. Thou hypocrite (Matthew 6:2, note). The thought here is of the personation of a part (a man free from impediment in his vision)which does not belong to you. First cast out the beam out of thine own eye, In ver. 3 the order of the words lays the emphasis on "thine;" here, on the eye. It is in thine eye, of all places, that the beam now is. And then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. Surely a promise as well as a statement. See clearly (διαβλέψεις, δια- discriminatingly); as in the right text of Mark 8:25, itself after the recovery of full power of sight. See clearly. Not the mote (ver. 3), but to cast out the mote. The verse seems to imply that if the spirit of censoriousness be absent, it will be possible for us to remove "motes" from the eyes of our brothers. Thus the passage as a whole does not say that we never ought to try to remove such "motes," but that this is monstrous and almost impossible so long as we ourselves have a fault of so much magnitude as censoriousness.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye,.... Very rightly does our Lord call such a man an hypocrite, who is very free in remarking and reproving other men's sins, and covering his own; and indeed, one end of his critical observations, rigid censures, and rash judgments is, that he might be thought to be holier than he is. Christ very manifestly points at the Scribes and Pharisees, who were men of such a complexion; and whom he often, without any breach of charity, calls hypocrites. The meaning of this proverbial expression is, that a man should first begin with himself, take notice of his own sins, reprove himself for them, and reform; and then it will be soon enough to observe other men's.
And then shalt thou see clearly, to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye: then will he, and not before, be a proper person to reprove others; all objections and impediments to such a work will then be removed. Our Lord here speaks in the language of the Jewish nation, with whom such like expressions were common, and of long standing (c).
"In the generation that judged the judges, one said to another, , "cast out the mote out of thine eye"; to whom it was replied, , "cast out the beam from thine eye": one said to another, "thy silver is become dross": the other replies, "thy wine is mixed with water".''
"R. Taphon said, I wonder whether there is any in this generation, that will receive reproof; if one should say to him, "cast out the mote out of thine eye", will he say to him, "cast out the beam out of thine eye?" Says R. Eleazer ben Azariah, I wonder whether there is any in this generation, that knows how to reprove.''
From whence it is clear, that these phrases were used in the same sense they are by Christ; and which is still more evident by the gloss upon them: for upon the word "mote", it observes,
"That it is as if it had been said, , "a little sin", which is in thine hand (i.e. which thou hast committed): the other could say to him, cast thou away , "the great sin", which is in thine hand; so that they could not reprove, because they were all sinners.''
Agreeable to these, are some other proverbs used by the Jews, such as
"a vice which is in thyself, do not speak of to thy neighbour,''
(e) or upbraid him with it: and (f) again,
"adorn thyself, and afterwards adorn others.''
Which is produced by a noted commentator (g) of their's, to illustrate the text in Zephaniah 2:1 on which he also makes this remark;
"inquire first into your own blemishes, and then inquire into the blemishes of others.''
The sense of each of them is, that a man should first reform himself, and then others; and that he that finds faults with others, ought to be without blame himself.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. Thou hypocrite—"Hypocrite."
first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye—Our Lord uses a most hyperbolical, but not unfamiliar figure, to express the monstrous inconsistency of this conduct. The "hypocrisy" which, not without indignation, He charges it with, consists in the pretense of a zealous and compassionate charity, which cannot possibly be real in one who suffers worse faults to lie uncorrected in himself. He only is fit to be a reprover of others who jealously and severely judges himself. Such persons will not only be slow to undertake the office of censor on their neighbors, but, when constrained in faithfulness to deal with them, will make it evident that they do it with reluctance and not satisfaction, with moderation and not exaggeration, with love and not harshness.
Prostitution of Holy Things (Mt 7:6). The opposite extreme to that of censoriousness is here condemned—want of discrimination of character.
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