For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Evil thoughts, . . . blasphemies.—The plural form points to the manifold variety of the forms of guilt under each several head. The order is in some measure an ascending one, beginning with the “thoughts,” or rather trains of thought, which are the first suggestions of evil, and ending in the “blasphemies” or revilings which, directly or indirectly, have God and not man for their object. In this beginning and end we may trace a reference to those “evil surmises” which had led the Pharisees, as in Matthew 12:24, to words which were blasphemy against the Son of Man, and came perilously near to the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
1. "Evil thoughts" These are the first things - these are the fountains of all others. Thought precedes action. Thought, or purpose, or motive, gives its character to conduct. All evil thoughts are here intended. Though we labor to suppress them, yet they defile us. They leave pollution behind them.
2. "Murders." Taking the life of others with malice. The malice has its seat in the heart, and the murder therefore proceeds from the heart, 1 John 3:15.
3. "Adulteries, fornication." See Matthew 5:28.
4. "Thefts." Theft is the taking and carrying away the goods of others without their knowledge or consent. Thefts are caused by coveting the property of others. They proceed, therefore, from the heart, and violate at the same time two commandments - the tenth commandment in thought and the eighth commandment in act.
5. "False witness." Giving wrong testimony. Concealing the truth, or stating what we know to be false - a violation of the ninth commandment. It proceeds from a desire to injure others, to take away their character or property, or to do them injustice. It proceeds thus from the heart.
6. "Blasphemies." See the notes at Matthew 9:3. Blasphemy proceeds from opposition to God, hatred of his character Romans 8:7, and from a desire that there should be no God. It proceeds from the heart. See Psalm 14:1. Mark adds several things to those enumerated by Matthew:
(a) "Covetousness." The unlawful desire of what others possess, this always proceeds from the heart.
(b) "Wickedness." The original here means malice, or a desire of injuring others, Romans 1:29.
(c) "Deceit," i. e., fraud, concealment, cheating in trade. This proceeds from a desire to benefit ourselves by doing injustice to others, and this proceeds from the heart.
(d) Lasciviousness. Lust, obscenity, unbridled passion - a strong, evil desire of the heart.
(e) "An evil eye." That is, an eye that is sour, malignant, proud; or an eye of lust and passion. See Matthew 5:28; Matthew 20:15; 2 Peter 2:14, "Having eyes full of adultery, that cannot cease from sin."
(f) "Pride." An improper estimate of our own importance; thinking that we are of much more consequence than we really are. This is always the work of an evil heart.
(g) "Foolishness." Not a lack of intellect - man is not to blame for that - but a moral folly, consisting in choosing evil ends and the bad means of gaining them; or, in other words, sin and wickedness. All sin is folly. It is foolish for a man to disobey God, and foolish for anyone to go to hell.
murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies—detractions, whether directed against God or man; here the reference seems to be to the latter. Mark (Mr 7:22) adds, "covetousnesses"—or desires after more; "wickednesses"—here meaning, perhaps, malignities of various forms; "deceit, lasciviousness"—meaning, excess or enormity of any kind, though by later writers restricted to lewdness; "an evil eye"—meaning, all looks or glances of envy, jealousy, or ill will towards a neighbor; "pride, foolishness"—in the Old Testament sense of "folly"; that is, criminal senselessness, the folly of the heart. How appalling is this black catalogue!See Poole on "Matthew 15:20".
Murders; inveterate hatred of men's persons, malice prepense, schemes to take away life, all angry and wrathful words, and actual effusion of man's blood.
Adulteries; uncleanness committed between married persons, both in thought, and deed:
fornications; unlawful copulations of persons in a single state:
thefts; taking away from others by force or fraud, what is their right and property:
false witness: swearing falsely, or exhibiting a false testimony to the hurt of his neighbour, either his name, person, or estate:
blasphemies; evil speakings of God or men. To which Mark adds "covetousness"; a greedy and insatiable desire after the things of the world, or the neighbour's goods: "wickedness"; doing hurt and mischief to fellow creatures: "deceit"; in words and actions, in trade and conversation: "lasciviousness"; all manner of uncleanness, and unnatural lusts: "an evil eye"; of envy and covetousness: the vitiosity, or corruption of nature, is, by the Jews (h), called "the evil eye": "pride"; in heart and life, in dress and gesture; and "foolishness"; expressed in talk and conduct.For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 15:19. φόνοι, etc.: breaches of Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Commandments in succession.19. For out of the heart proceed] The enumeration follows the order of the Commandments. Evil thoughts—harmful reasonings—form a class under which the rest fall, indicating, too, that the transgression of the Commandments is often in thought, by Christ’s law, not in deed only. For “blasphemies,” which may be thought to sum up the first table, St Mark, whose order differs slightly, has “covetousness,” thus completing the decalogue, and adds to the list in the text “wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, pride, foolishness.”
The plurals “murders, adulteries,” &c., as Meyer points out, denote the different instances and kinds of murder and adultery. Murder includes far more than the act of bloodshed.Matthew 15:19. Διαλογισμοὶ πονηροὶ, evil thoughts) such as the Pharisees entertained. The article is added in Mark 7:21.—φόνοι, μοιχεῖαι, κ.τ.λ., murders, adulteries, etc.) Sin against the sixth and following commandments. The plural number increases the force.—βλασφημίαι, curses) sc. against our neighbour, combined with false witness. In such enumerations, the absence of the copulative conjunction has often the force of etc., as if he who speaks wished to add more, or to leave more to the imagination.—Cf. Mark 7:22.
 The filth of the draught is not so great as is that of a human heart not yet cleansed. Who is there that thoroughly weighs this consideration? who strives earnestly after true purity? But, as concerns the man who leaves this life destitute of such purity, whither is he rushing? Into the gulf of fire and brimstone. Alas! what a mass of filth that shall be, which is made up of so many impure beings! Be not offended, Reader. Offensiveness of language is profitable to be used in this case. See that thou dost conceive a loathing of the thing itself, and be moved to flee from impurity of heart.—V. g.Verse 19. - Out of the heart proceed. The shameful catalogue which follows is less full than that in St. Mark, which contains thirteen items, while this consists of seven only. These are produced or created by the human will, of which the heart is the symbol. Evil thoughts (διαλογισμοὶ πονηροί). Some would translate the words, "evil machinations." But there is no need to change the usual rendering, which is very appropriate here. Evil thoughts are the preparation of all other sins, and have a pernicious influence on the character. We are very much what we think. That on which our minds are fixed, that which is the chief object presented to our inward sight, shapes our disposition and life. High and noble thoughts elevate and purify; low and mean thoughts debase and pollute. The wickedness in a man springs from within; he is guilty of it. If he admits the tempter, succumbs to his seductions, it is his own will that is in fault, encouraging the evil imagination, and not at once resisting, abhorring, and repelling it. Well may we pray, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10); and remember the wise man's injunction, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23). The enumeration follows more or less closely the second table of the Decalogue.
Compare Plato. "For all good and evil, whether in the body or in human nature, originates, as he declared, in the soul, and overflows from thence, as from the head into the eyes; and therefore, if the head and body are to be well, you must begin by curing the soul. That is the first thing" ("Charmides," 157).
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