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Matthew chapter 7: Five Rules of Reciprocity (Mt 7:1-14); Five Final Warnings (Mt. 7:15-27)
Week 9, Healing and Good Health in the Sermon on the Mount, August 23, 2015
Matthew chapter 7 presents two more segments of the early teaching of Jesus to crowds coming to him from far and wide for medical treatment in the Capernaum area (on the northwest coast of the Sea of Galilee) shortly after beginning his public ministry to the Galilean villagers (for larger immediate context in Matthew, see Mt 4:12-25, 5:1, and Mt chaps. 8, 9, and 10).
Jesus accepts divine authority in “the will of his Father in the Heavens” (7:21-23). He fulfills the Law and the Prophets with new teaching (5:17-48). He urges people to pray for, and actively seek, the rule of the Heavens on earth (6:9-10, 33), and to enter into the Realm itself by doing the Father’s will (5:21, 48; 6:33; 7:21).
Chapter 7 contains two sets of five rules or guidelines for living a good life in the Realm of the Heavens on earth. These 27 verses give a series of sayings that many scholars compare with the wisdom literature of the Hebrew Bible, as in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes (finished 5th to 3rd century BCE), or in apocryphal books like Sirach (200-180 BCE) and Wisdom of Solomon (sometime betw. 250 BCE to 150 CE).
Matthew 7:1-14. Five Rules of Reciprocal Cause and Effect
One. Mt 7:1-2. Avoid continuous criticism.
Do not be continually-criticizing [Greek durative tense, not one instance, but continuing action], lest you be judged by the same criteria you use.
. . . . . Mt 7:3-4. Carpenter’s example. Which is your greater concern?
The speck in your brother’s eye, or the log in your own eye?
Two. Mt 7:6. Pay attention to your pearls.
Do not give injudiciously, lest the receiver turn against you and try to break you.
Three. Mt 7:7-8. Persistence pays -- perpetually.
“Keep-on-asking (continually-be-asking), and it-will-be-given to-you. “Keep-on-seeking (continually-be-seeking), and you-will-find. “Keep-on-knocking (continually-be-knocking), and it-will-be-opened for-you.”
“For everyone continually-asking is-receiving, and everyone continually-seeking is-finding, and to-everyone continually-knocking, it-will-be-opened.”
. . . . . Mt 7:9-11. Trusting son’s example. What man would give his son a stone if he asked for bread? Or would give him a snake if he asked for fish? Well, the Heavenly Father is a lot smarter, and a lot wiser, than we are!
Four. Mt 7:12. The Pragmatic Golden Rule.
Your treatment of others shows how you prefer to be treated! It's like a big sign you carrying around all day (and all night!) prominently on our chest and on your backside.
“Everything you-might-regularly-be-wanting people to-regularly-be-doing to-you (or for-you), thusly also you-should-be-doing to-them.”
Five. Mt 7:13-14. Your choices create your destiny.
Your destiny is determined by which gate you choose to enter, and which road you choose to travel.
Matthew 7:15-27. Five Final Warnings for Life in the Realm
One. Mt 7:15. Pseudo-prophets are predatory wolves.
“Hold-firm away-from pseudo-prophets coming-and-going upon you in clothing of sheep, but from-within are predatory wolves” who can eat you alive, and will.
Two. Mt 7:16-20. Detecting deception.
“From their fruits, you-will-learn-to-recognize them!” . . . . “Every good tree is-making good fruits, while the rotten tree is-making evil fruits.”
Three. Mt 7:21. You only enter the Realm of the Heavens by doing the Will of the Heavenly Father.
“Not everyone saying to-me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will-enter into the Realm of the Heavens,
but [every] one-doing the will of my Father in the Heavens.”
Four. Mt 7:22-23. Everything else amounts to lawlessness.
Outside that will of the Heavenly Father for you, even great things done in the name of Jesus will amount to lawlessness.
Five. Mt 7:24-27. The parable of the two builders.
People hearing and then prudently heeding these words of advice will have good health and security, but those people foolishly hearing and not doing them will have more difficulties and eventual disaster.
Discussion questions. How do these wisdom sayings put necessary human choices and actions into the framework of divine providence?
How could this kind of teaching possibly help poor Galilean villagers (like us) solve routine, everyday problems and needs?
How might people go about finding and "doing the will of the Father in the Heavens" for the unique individuals that they are?
Reader comments and questions. We value any comments and questions, whether in class, or in our extended Internet class.
Copyright © 2015 by Max J. Havlick, Fay M. Havlick, and Matthew Studies Institute, a nonprofit activity of New World Community Enterprises, 16 W. Vermont St., Villa Park, IL 60181-1938, all rights reserved. Marked quotations come from Max’s own word-root translation of the critical Greek text (Nestle-Aland) with reference to scholarly dictionaries and related resources.
Max first presented this outline as basis for discussion in the 9th of 10 sessions on “Healing and Good Health in the Sermon on the Mount” in the Matthew Studies Class at the First Baptist Church of Oak Park, Illinois (American Baptist), on Sunday morning, August 23, 2015. Our American Baptist church is well-known for its racial, ethnic, and theological diversity, and its wide range of activities relating to Christian discipleship and service.
Through Matthew Studies Institute, Max and Fay seek serious students at all levels of background and previous education. In addition to the abundant resources for study in the Greater Chicago area, we also have a massive private library of scholarly and devotional books on the Gospel of Matthew, the Bible in general, and all related subjects.