Matthew 12:34
O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
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(34) O generation of vipers.—Better, as in Matthew 3:7, brood of vipers. Here the law which had been pressed in its logical bearing in the preceding verse, is brought in to explain the bitter and evil words of the Pharisees. As long as they were what they were, nothing else was to be looked for. Nothing but the serpent’s hiss could come from the brood of vipers, nothing but bitter words from hearts so full of bitterness.

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.O generation of vipers! - Christ here applies the argument which he had suggested in the previous verse. They were a wicked race; like poisonous reptiles, with a corrupt and evil nature. They could not be expected to speak good things - that is, to speak favorably of him and his works. As the bad fruit of a tree was the proper effect of its "nature," so were their words about him and his works the proper effect of their nature. The "abundance" or fullness of the "heart" produced the words of the lips. "Vipers" are a poisonous kind of serpents, not often a yard long, and about an inch thick, having a flat head. The males have two large teeth, through which a most deadly poison is thrown into the wound made by the bite. They are an emblem of malignity and mischief. These were strong expressions to be used by the meek and lowly Jesus; but they were not the effect of anger and malice; they were a declaration of the true character of the people with whom he was conversing - a declaration most justly deserved. See the notes at Matthew 3:7. 34. O generation of vipers—(See on [1281]Mt 3:7).

how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh—a principle obvious enough, yet of deepest significance and vast application. In Lu 6:45 we find it uttered as part of the discourse delivered after the choice of the apostles.

See Poole on "Matthew 12:35".

O generation of vipers,.... Though they boasted of their being the seed of Abraham, yet their immediate ancestors were no other than vipers, deceitful, hurtful, poisonous creatures; and they were exactly like them: for though they made a fair show in the flesh, and outwardly appeared righteous, yet were inwardly full of the poison of wickedness, envy and malice; and which their pestilential breath, their blasphemy against the Spirit, fully discovered; and gave just cause and reason for so severe a reproof, and such resentment, as here made by Christ.

How can ye, being evil, speak good things? This is not to be expected, nor is it commonly and constantly done; an evil man may sometimes speak good things, or which seem to be so; but these are not his common talk; as he is, so, for the most part, is his language; his speech betrays him: and since these men were by nature evil, were destitute of the Spirit and grace of God, had no good thing in them, how should any good thing come out of them? And since they were so full of wickedness, spite and malice, it is no wonder that they belched out such blasphemous expressions concerning the miracles of Christ;

for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh: a phrase much like this is used by the Septuagint, in Ecclesiastes 2:15. "I spoke abundance", or "much in my heart"; "for the fool out of his abundance speaketh": as there is abundance of folly in him, there is much delivered out by him; and where there is abundance of wickedness in the heart, if the grace of God is wanting to restrain it, much of it will come out by the lips; as is a man's heart, ordinarily is his language.

{7} O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

(7) Hypocrites at length betray themselves even by their own mouth.

Matthew 12:34. Οὐκ ἔστιν θαυμαστὸν, εἰ τοιαῦτα (the preposterous nature of which Jesus has just exposed, Matthew 12:33) βλασφημεῖτε, πονηροὶ γὰρ ὄντες οὐ δύνασθε ἀγαθὰ λαλεῖν. Εἶτα καὶ φυσιολογικῶς ἀποδείκνυσι πῶς οὐ δύνανται, Euth. Zigabenus. For γεννήμ. ἐχιδν. comp. Matthew 3:7.

πῶς δύνασθε] moral impossibility founded upon the wickedness of the heart, although not denying that one may still be open to conversion, and that with conversion the impossibility in question must cease to exist.

ἐκ γ. τ. περισσεύμ. τ. καρδ.] out of that with which the heart is overflowing, so that with the speaking a partial emptying, outflow, takes place. Beck, bibl. Seelenl. p. 68.

Matthew 12:34. Γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν, vide Matthew 3:7. John and Jesus agree in thinking the Pharisees a viper-brood. Both conceive them as morally hopeless. The Baptist wonders that they should come to a baptism of repentance. Jesus thinks them far on the way to final impenitence. But the point He makes here is that, being what they are, they cannot but speak evil. The poison of their nature must come out in their words.

34. generation of vipers] Cp. ch. Matthew 3:7.

abundance] The same Greek word is translated, “that which was left,” Mark 8:8. Words are, as it were, the overflow of the heart.

Matthew 12:34. Τῆς καρδίας, τὸ στόμα, of the heart, the mouth) See ch. Matthew 15:18; Romans 10:9; 2 Corinthians 4:13.

Verse 34. - The first clause is in Matthew only. O generation (ye offspring, Revised Version) of vipers (Matthew 3:7, note). Observe that the figure of the tree had also been used by the Baptist (Matthew 3:10). How can ye. It is against nature. Being evil; i.e. inherently worthless (Matthew 6:13, note); cf. πονηροὶ ὄντες, Matthew 7:11. Speak good things. For out of the abundance; i.e. even to overflowing (περίσσευμα: cf. Mark 8:8, of what remained after all were filled). Of the heart the mouth speaketh. In Ephesians 4:29 there is apparently a reminiscence of this saying in connexion with our ver. 33 (cf. also James 3:10-12). Matthew 12:34
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