The Sermon on the Mount: Miscellaneous Topics
Jesus on a Censorious Spirit
(Matt. 7:1-6)
Based on the Greek Text


    "The sermon turns to the importance of avoiding a judgmental attitude toward others. . . . earlier material in the sermon may be regarded as related generally to the present passage (viz., 5:7, 9, 22, 44; 6:14-15). Possibly this pericope corresponds to the fifth petition (6:12) of the Lord's Prayer (thus, e.g., Bornkamm, NTS 24 [1978]), which concerns forgiving and being forgiven" (WBC:168).


Matthew 7:1

mh krinete ina mh kriqhte.

krinete krinete prog pres s. act imper comm 2 plur krinw "stop judging"

  1. "The habit of censoriousness, sharp, unjust criticism. Our word critic is from this very word. It means to separate, distinguish, discriminate. That is necessary, but pre-judice (pre-judgment) is unfair,, captious criticism" (TWP 1:60).

  2. "should not be taken as a prohibition of all judging or discerning of right and wrong, since elsewhere in Matthew's record of the teaching of Jesus--indeed, already in v 6--the making of such judgments by disciples is presupposed . . . . Furthermore, v 2a assumes the making of fair or charitable judgments and does not entail the avoidance of judgments altogether. . . . unfair or uncharitable judgments should be avoided. A note of humility is suggested too by the immediate context (vv 3-5); one should not judge others more harshly or by a different standard than one judges oneself" (WBC:169).

  3. "7. Human Judgment. From the fact that God's judgment threatens men it is often deduced that no man has the right o judge another, Mt. 7:1 f.; Jm. 4:11; R. 14:4, 10; 1 C. 4:5. This does not imply flabby indifference to the moral condition of others nor the blind renunciation of attempts at a true and serious appraisal of those with whom we have to live. What is unconditionally demanded is that such evaluations should be subject to the certainty that God's judgment falls also on those who judge, so that superiority, hardness and blindness to one's own faults are excluded, and a readiness to forgive and to interceded is safeguarded. The emphatic way in which Jesus extended the law of love in this direction has far-reaching consequences. It means that the Church cannot practice discipline with merciless severity (2 C. 11:24). It means that the Church cannot take up a hard, contemptuous and supercilious attitude towards those whom it regards as sinners. It means that Church discipline must make predominant, if not exclusive, use of means which promote edification and pastoral care. Precisely the unreserved seriousness with which the community takes the concept of judgment in the Gospel is that which enables it to overcome a mere legalism in its religious and moral life" (TDNT 3:939-940 by Buechsel)

krithete kriqhte 1 con aor pass no agent potent subj krinw "in order that you may [not] be judged"

  1. "does not imply that one can avoid judgment by God at the eschatological judgment . . . but merely that the way in which one judges others will be the way one is judged by God at the eschatological judgment . . . strong Jewish parallels in Sir 18:20 . . . . Paul seems clearly dependent on these sayings of Jesus when he writes in Rom 2:1 . . . (cf. 14:4 . . .)" (WBC:169).

Matthew 7:2

en wi gar krimati krinete kriqhsesqe kai en wi metrwi metreite metrhqhsetai umin

krimati krimati 3 instr means neut sg krima, krimatoV, to "with whatever judgment"

krithesesthe kriqhsesqe pred future pass no agent (divine passive) decl indic 2 plur krinw

  1. "a divine passive: God is the acting subject who will judge. Judgment is God's prerogative alone. The formal parallelism between v 2a and v 2b leads naturally to the conclusion that the latter constitutes a synonymous parallelism in the manner of the Psalms. The 'measuring' then has to do with charitable judging" (WBC:169).

metroi metrwi 2 instr means neut sg metron, to "with the measure"

  1. In the NT metron is used several times in the Gospels in sense a., e.g., in the prohibition of of judging, Mt. 7:2 . . .
    The passages which characterise the NT use of metron and metrew refer a. to the judicial work of God in the Last Judgment and b. to the gift of grace allotted to us.

    a. In the proverbial expression en wi metrwi metreite metrhqhsetai umin in Mt. 7:2 (cf. Mk. 4:24 and Lk. 6:38b) there comes to full expression the eschatological seriousness with which Jesus establishes the mh krinete by reference to Rabbinic writings many parallels in working or meaning; in Sota, 1, 7 it runs: . . ., 'with the measure with which a man measures, one (i.e., God( will measure to him.' Nevertheless, in the application of the norm there is a fundamental difference between Jesus and the Rabbis. With the help of this rule the latter establish and regulate human judging; Jesus, however, rejects all judging, and His prohibition is absolute: mh krinete. 'The reason for this contradictory use of the same principle is that Jesus did not see the one and ultimate will of God in the norm which demands retribution.' The reverse side of krinein is forgiveness, which Jesus requires of His disciples in view of God's readiness to forgive.

    At the end of a series of sayings in which the positive duty of exercising forgiveness is set in juxtaposition with the prohibition of judging, Lk. 6:38b has the words: wi gar metrwi metreite antimetrhqhsetai umin. These seem first to be the basis of the divine reward which is certain for those who show mercy. But they should not be related only to v. 38a. They refer to the whole group of sayings including the mh krinete ktl. of v. 37. This solves the difficulty which seems to be presented by the fact that in the preceding words: metron kalon pepiesmenon ktl. (v. 38a), emphasis is laid on the superabundant reward of God, whereas the saying: wi gar ketrwi ktl. stresses 'the quantitative equivalence of retribution,' The form of the ext in Mt. and Mk. is more original than that in Lk." (TDNT 4:633-634 by Deissner).

metreite metreite prog pres s. act decl indic 2 plur metrew "you are measuring"

Matthew 7:3

ti de blepeiV to karfoV to en twi ofqalmwi tou adelfou sou, thn de en twi swi ofqalmwi dokon ou katanoeiV;

blepeis blepeiV prog pres s. act interrog indic 2 sg "why are you looking?"

to karphos to karfoV 2 accus dir obj neut sg karfoV, ouV to

  1. speck, chip, a small pice of straw, chaff, wood, etc.; to denote someth. quite insignificant (A/G:406).

  2. "Not dust, but a piece of dried wood or chaff, splinter (Weymouth, Moffatt), speck (Goodspeed), a very small particle that may irritate" (RWP 1:60).

  3. "refers to a small speck of anything (perhaps here 'sawdust,' given the meaning of dokoV) that may get in a person's eye; here it is used metaphorically to indicate some slight of insignificant shortcoming" (WBC:169).

tou adelphou tou adelfou 2 possess gen masc sg adelfoV, o "your brother"

    "The repeated reference in these verses to 'your brother' indicates that it is primarily the Christian community that is in view" (WBC:169).

dokon dokon 2 accus dir obj fem sg dokoV, to

  1. beam of wood (A/G:202).

  2. "A log on which planks in the house rest (so papyri), joist, rafter, plank (Moffatt), pole sticking out grotesquely" (RWP 1:60).

katanois katanoeiV; prog pres s. act interrog indic 2 sg katanoew

  1. notice, observe carefully (A/G:416).

  2. "katanoew, trans. is closely related to the simple noew, -->948, whose lit. meaning is intensified, 'to direct one's whole mind to an object,' also from a higher standpoint to immerse oneself in it and hence to apprehend it in its whole compass" (TDNT 4:973 by Behm).

Matthew 7:4

h pwV ereiV twi adelfwi sou afeV ekbalw to karfoV ek tou ofqalmou sou