Matthew 7:3
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
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(3) Why beholdest thou the mote . . .?—The Greek noun so translated means a “stalk” or “twig” rather than one of the fine particles of dust floating in the sun to which we attach the word “mote.” The illustration seems to have been a familiar one among the Jews, and a proverb all but verbally identical is found as a saying of Rabbi Tarphon. Like illustrations have been found in the proverbs and satires of every country, all teaching that men are keen-sighted as to the faults of others, blind as to their own. The Gracchi complain of sedition, and Clodius accuses others of adultery. We all need the wish—

“Oh, wad some Power the giftie gie us,

To see oursels as others see us!”

But considerest.—There is the same contrast as between “seeing” and “considering” in Matthew 6:26; Matthew 6:28. Our own faults require the careful scrutiny which we never give them: the faults of others we should be content to glance at.

Matthew 7:3-5. And why beholdest thou the mote, &c. — In particular, why do you open your eyes to any fault of your brother, while you yourself are guilty of a much greater? — The word καρφος, here rendered mote, according to Hesychius, may signify a little splinter of wood. This, and the beam, its opposite, were proverbially used by the Jews to denote, the one, small infirmities, the other, gross, palpable faults. And how wilt thou say, &c. — With what face can you undertake to reprove others for smaller faults, while you are guilty of much greater yourself, and are neither sensible of them, nor have the integrity to amend them? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam, &c. — It is mere hypocrisy to pretend zeal for the amendment of others, while we have none for our own. Correct, therefore, the errors of thy judgment, and the enormities of thy life. And then — When that which obstructed thy sight is removed, thou shalt see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye — And mayest attempt it with more decency, and a greater probability of success. We may lay it down as a fixed and certain truth that the more we advance in genuine piety and virtue ourselves, we shall be the better able to form a correct judgment of the conduct of others, and the better qualified, both in point of skill and authority, to reprove and reform any thing that we may see amiss in their dispositions or behaviour. Our judgment of their character and actions will be the more charitable, and for that reason so much the more just: our rebukes will be the more mild, prudent, and winning; and our authority to press a reformation upon them so much the more weighty. “How happy would the world be, if all who teach the Christian religion would conscientiously observe the precept given them here by their Master.”

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.And why beholdest thou the mote ... - A mote signifies any "light substance," as dry chaff, or fine spires of grass or grain. It probably most usually signified the small "spiculae" or "beards" on a head of barley or wheat. It is thus placed in opposition to the word "beam."

Beam - The word used here signifies a large piece of squared timber. The one is an exceedingly small object, the other a large one. The meaning is, that "we are much more quick and acute to judge of small offences in others, than of much larger offences in ourselves." Even a very "small" object in the eye of another we discern much more quickly than a much larger one in our own; a small fault in our neighbor we see much more readily than a large one in ourselves. This was also a proverb in frequent use among the Jews, and the same sentiment was common among the Greeks, and deserves to be expressed in every language.

3. And why beholdest thou the mote—"splinter," here very well rendered "mote," denoting any small fault.

that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?—denoting the much greater fault which we overlook in ourselves.

See Poole on "Matthew 7:5".

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye?.... By "mote" is meant, any little bit of straw, or small splinter of wood, that flies into the eye, and does it damage, hinders its sight, and gives it pain; and designs little sins, comparatively speaking, such as youthful follies, human frailties, and infirmities, inadvertencies and imprudencies; which may be said to be light faults, in comparison of others: and though not to be vindicated, nor continued in, yet not to be severely looked upon and chastised. To scrutinize diligently into, aggravate, dwell upon, and sharply reprove the lighter faults of others, is a conduct, which is here inveighed against, and condemned by Christ; and more especially, when it may be said with the greatest truth and justice to such,

but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye: by the "beam" is meant, greater sins, grosser abominations, and such as were more peculiar to the Pharisees; as pride, arrogance, a vain opinion of themselves, confidence in their own righteousness, hypocrisy, covetousness, and iniquity; things they did not advert to in themselves, when they loudly exclaimed against lesser evils in others. Such men must be of all persons inexcusable, who condemn that in others, which either they themselves do, or what is abundantly worse.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Matthew 7:3. Κάρφος, a minute fragment of twig, wood, or straw, which, in entering the eye (see Wetstein), becomes the figurative representation of a slight moral fault; δοκός, again, is the figure by which a heinous[425] fault is denoted. Comp. Lightfoot, p. 307; Buxtorf, Lex Talm. p. 2080. Tholuck prefers to find the point of comparison in the pain caused by the splinter or beam in the eye. This is inadmissible, for otherwise it could not be said, in reference to the beam in the eye, οὐ κατανοεῖς, i.e. thou perceivest not, art not aware. It is the magnitude of his own moral defects that the self-righteous man fails to discover. The brother, as in Matthew 5:22. Notice, further, the arrangement of words so appropriate to the sense in the second clause.

[425] The view of Theophylact, Baumgarten-Crusius, and several others, that the beam in a man’s own eye is calculated to make him conscious of his incapacity for recognising the faults of others, is foreign to the context. Luther correctly observes: “That He may the more earnestly warn us, He takes a rough simile, and paints the thing before our eyes, pronouncing some such opinion as this,—that every one who judges his neighbour has a huge beam in his eye, while he who is judged has only a tiny chip, (and) that he is ten times more deserving of judgment and condemnation for having condemned others.”

Matthew 7:3-5. Proverb of the mote and beam. Also current among Jews and Arabs (vide Tholuck).—κάρφος, a minute dry particle of chaff, wood, etc.—δοκός, a wooden beam (let in, from δέχομαι) or joist, a monstrous symbol of a great fault. A beam in the eye is a natural impossibility; cf. the camel and the needle eye. The Eastern imagination was prone to exaggeration. This is a case of tu quoque (Romans 2:2), or rather of “thou much more”. The faults may be of the same kind: κάρφος, a petty theft, δοκός, commercial dishonesty on a large scale—“thou that judgest doest the same things” (Romans 2:2); or of a different sort: moral laxity in the publican, pride and inhumanity in the Pharisee who despised him (Luke 18:9-14).—βλέπεις, οὐ κατανοεῖς: the contrast is not between seeing and failing to see, but between seeing and not choosing to see; ignoring, consciously overlooking. The censorious man is not necessarily ignorant of his own faults, but he does not let his mind rest on them. It is more pleasant to think of other people’s faults.

3. the mote] The English word is either connected with mite (the coin) from a Latin root (minutum), or mite (the insect) from an Anglo-Saxon root meaning “to cut,” “sever,” or from one meaning “to eat.” The Greek word = a “dry particle” of dust, wool, &c.

beholdest … considerest] It is the contrast between judging from the outside, and examination of the heart. The Greek verbs in this, and the Greek prepositions in the following verses, convey this contrast.

Matthew 7:3. Ἐν τῷ ὀφθαλμῷ, in the eye) In that part of the body which is the most noble, the most delicate, and the most conspicuous.—ἐν τῷ σῷ, in thine own) See Romans 2:21; Romans 2:23.

Verses 3-5. - The heinousness of censoriousness as a hindrance to one's self and to one's work for others. Verse 3. - Parallel passage:Luke 6:41. And why - when it is so contrary to common sense - beholdest thou the mote, etc.? A Jewish proverbial saying, e.g. Talm. Bab., 'Bab. Bathra,' 15b, Rabbi Jochanan ( third century A.D.),expounding Ruth 1:1, says, "A generation which when under judgment (שנשפט) judgeth its judges. When one saith to a man, Cast out the mote out of thine eyes, he saith (in answer), Cast out the beam out of thine eyes." In Talm. Bab., 'Erach.,' 16b, "Out of thy teeth" seems to be the right reading. In these verses the "eye" is usually taken as belonging solely to the illustration, and as not itself representing any one object. It may be so, but it has been used so recently (Matthew 6:22) of the spiritual sense that it is more natural to take it so here. In this case the thought of the passage is of faults existing in a man's spiritual sense hindering his spiritual vision. The censorious man sees any fault, however small, readily enough in others, but does not see the much greater fault which he himself as a matter of fact has - his own censoriousness. This censoriousness is not a slight, but a great hindrance to his own spiritual vision, much more to his being of use in removing hindrances from the eye of another. The mote; τὸ κάρδος; Latt. festucam; any small vegetable body. The English word is from the Anglo-Saxon mot, "a small particle" (cf. further Luke 6:41, note). Observe that our Lord allows that there is something wrong with the brother's spiritual vision, just as he allows that the unmerciful servant had a real debt owing to him. That is in thy brother's eye (Matthew 5:22, note). Our Lord is here speaking of the relation of believers to fellow-believers. He tacitly contrasts the censoriousness of the Pharisees towards fellow-Jews (John 7:49). But considerest not (οὐ κατανοεῖς). With any attention of mind; contrast Romans 4:19 (Abraham gave earnest consideration to his own age, and yet believed). The beam. So huge a piece of wood is there in thine own eye. That is in thine own eye. The order of the Greek lays still more emphasis on the fact that, though in thy very own eye there is a beam, thou payest no regard to that (cf. ver. 5, note). Matthew 7:3Beholdest (βλέπεις)

Staring at from without, as one who does not see clearly.

Considerest (κατανοεῖς)

A stronger word, apprehendest from within, what is already there.

Mote (κάρφος)

A.V. and Rev. The word mote, however, suggests dust; whereas the figure is that of a minute chip or splinter, of the same material with the beam. Wyc. renders festu, with the explanation, a little mote. In explaining the passage it is well to remember that the obstruction to sight is of the same material in both cases. The man with a great beam in his eye, who therefore can see nothing accurately, proposes to remove the little splinter from his brother's eye, a delicate operation, requiring clear sight. The figure of a splinter to represent something painful or annoying is a common oriental one. Tholuck ("Sermon on the Mount") quotes from the Arabic several passages in point, and one which is literally our Lord's saying: "How seest thou the splinter in thy brother's eye, and seest not the cross-beam in thine eye?"

Beam (δοκὸν)

A log, joist, rafter; indicating a great fault.

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