Stop judging: Or “Stop condemning.” Jesus was aware that imperfect humans tend to be judgmental and that many Pharisees of his day set a bad example in this. They judged harshly those who did not live by the Mosaic Law and those who did not follow the unscriptural traditions that the Pharisees promoted. Jesus commanded any who had the habit of judging others to stop it. Instead of continually finding fault, disciples of Jesus should “keep on forgiving” the shortcomings of their fellow man. By doing so, they encourage others to show the same forgiving attitude.—See study note on Lu 6:37.
straw . . . rafter: Jesus here uses striking hyperbole to describe a person who is critical of his brother. He compares a minor flaw to something small like a “straw.” The Greek word karʹphos can refer not only to a “straw” but also to a small piece of wood, so other Bibles render it a “splinter,” or a “speck of sawdust.” The critic implies that his brother’s spiritual vision, including his moral perception and judgment, is defective. By offering to “remove the straw,” he proudly asserts that he is qualified to help his brother see things more clearly and to judge matters correctly. Jesus, however, says that the critic’s own spiritual vision and judgment are impaired by a symbolic “rafter,” a log or beam that might be used to support a roof. (Mt 7:4, 5) Some suggest that this powerful, even humorous contrast, indicates that Jesus was familiar with the work done in a carpenter’s shop.
your brother’s: In this context, the Greek word a·del·phosʹ (brother) refers to a spiritual relationship and denotes a fellow worshipper of God. In a general sense, the term could also refer to one’s fellow man.—See study note on Mt 5:23.
look!: See study note on Mt 1:20.
give what is holy to dogs . . . throw your pearls before swine: According to the Mosaic Law, pigs and dogs were unclean. (Le 11:7, 27) It was permissible to throw to dogs the flesh of an animal killed by a wild beast. (Ex 22:31) But Jewish tradition forbade giving to dogs “holy flesh,” that is, meat of animal sacrifices. At Mt 7:6, the expressions “dogs” and “swine” are used figuratively of people who do not value spiritual treasures. Just as swine have no appreciation of the value of pearls, individuals who do not value spiritual treasures may abuse the one sharing them.
Keep on asking, . . . seeking, . . . knocking: The rendering “keep on” expresses the continuous action indicated by the Greek verb form used here and shows the need for perseverance in prayer. The use of three verbs indicates intensity. Jesus makes a similar point in his illustration at Lu 11:5-8.
bread . . . stone: Jesus may have contrasted bread with stones because bread was a staple in the diet of the Jews and surrounding peoples and the size and shape of loaves could have reminded people of stones. The answer to Jesus’ rhetorical question is: “It would be unthinkable for a father to do such a thing.”—See study note on Mt 7:10.
fish . . . serpent: Fish was a staple in the diet of people living around the Sea of Galilee. Some small serpents may have looked like the fish that were often eaten with bread. The rhetorical question implies that it would be unthinkable for a loving parent to do such a thing.
you, although being wicked: Because of inherited sin, all humans are imperfect and, consequently, comparatively wicked.
how much more so: Jesus often used this line of reasoning. First he presents an obvious fact or a familiar truth, and then he draws an even more convincing conclusion based on that fact, arguing from the lesser to the greater.—Mt 10:25; 12:12; Lu 11:13; 12:28.
the Law and the Prophets: See study note on Mt 5:17.
Go in through the narrow gate: In ancient times, roadways with gates were the means of entry into walled cities. The Bible uses such expressions as road or “path” or “way” to describe people’s life course and conduct. The image of two contrasting roads pictures life courses that are either approved or disapproved by God, determining whether an individual gains entry into God’s Kingdom.—Ps 1:1, 6; Jer 21:8; Mt 7:21.
broad is the gate and spacious is the road: Although some manuscripts read “broad and spacious is the road,” the longer reading has strong manuscript support and harmonizes with the parallelism at Mt 7:14.—See App. A3.
in sheep’s covering: Or “in sheep’s clothing,” that is, disguised in figurative garments and exhibiting sheeplike qualities in order to give the impression of being a harmless member of God’s “flock” of worshippers.
ravenous wolves: A metaphor describing those who are extremely covetous and who exploit others for personal gain.
fruits: Here used figuratively of people’s works, their words, or the results of what they do and say.
lawlessness: See study note on Mt 24:12.
discreet: See study note on Mt 24:45.
rain . . . floods . . . winds: Sudden winter storms are not uncommon in Israel (especially during the month of Tebeth, that is, December/January), bringing high winds, torrential rains, and destructive flash floods.—See App. B15.
were astounded: The Greek verb used here can be defined “to be filled with amazement to the point of being overwhelmed.” The continuous verb form implies that his words had a lasting effect on the crowds.
his way of teaching: This expression refers to how Jesus taught, his teaching methods, which included what he taught, the whole body of instruction in the Sermon on the Mount.
not as their scribes: Rather than quote revered rabbis as an authority, as was the scribes’ custom, Jesus speaks as Jehovah’s representative, as a person having authority, basing his teachings on God’s Word.—Joh 7:16.