A Midrash on Torah Observance
Last Updated 3/24/00
CHAPTER 7:1-29 TEXT:
Judge not, that ye be not judged.For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
NOTE: At this level of Torah fundamentals, we find great unity between the teaching of the Pharisees (as exemplified by Paul's letters and the Talmud) and those of the Essenes (as exemplified by James's letter).(1) As mentioned earlier, Yeshua had one foot in each of these camps.
7:1 Do not judge, or you too will be judged ...
As throughout this midrash, Yeshua's admonition is a reflection of Pharasaic opinion:
7:2 ... with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again
This is the same standard as found in the Talmud:
The Torah is the "perfect law of liberty" that we are to judge by:
7:3-5 Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye ...
Paul and James had similar messages about double standards:
Again, Yeshua's words are a reflection of the teachings of the Pharisees:
7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs
What is it that is "Holy" that we can misuse? The topic has not changed -- it is the Torah.
A similar sentiment is found in the Talmud:
7:7 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find ...
Ask for what? Money, fame or happiness? No, the spiritual man seeks spiritual things in the form of the truth and blessings of the Torah:
The prime example of what we are to pray for was given to us by Yeshua. He prayed for us to become one (a unity - Hebrew: echad) with the Father, as He is echad with the Father:
7:12 Do to others what you would have them do to you ...
This time Yeshua is directly quoting Hillel, the grandfather of Gamliel, who taught Paul:
(Yes, we can actually thank the Pharisees for the "Golden Rule" that we all teach our children!)
7:12 ... for this is the law and the prophets.
Yeshua does not say, "for this replaces the Law and the Prophets." He clearly said that He did not come to do that (Matthew 5:17-21). He is summarizing His teachings that the whole of Torah is given for the good of man - to establish and improve His relationship with God and with his fellow man. It is by learning and following God's Torah that we "do what is right unto others."
James had a similar way of summarizing what true faith is:
James brings together several of these points in one section of his letter. He reiterates the idea of "do unto others," but says that if you show favoritism you sin. He then states that you cannot pick and choose what parts of the Torah (the "royal law") you feel like keeping, as it is a unity:
Paul and James agree that knowing the Torah is not enough - we are to DO the Torah:
Paul and James also state that wilfully violating the Torah is tantamount to blaspheming God:
7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate
The question at this point is, "Has God indicated to us which the straight and correct gate is, and what the broad ways of destruction are -- or do we simply pick what sounds good to us?"
Of course the answer is that He has given us the Torah as our guideline to define sin, how to live, how to sanctify ourselves, and how to learn more of Him.
7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits
What are these "fruit" we shall know them by? They are certainly not "miraculous manifestations," as Satan and his angels can and do perform miracles as God allows. Nor are the fruits simply "good results" such as healed marriages, release from addictions, etc. Even secular, pagan and atheistic groups and cults can and do get good results.
The key here is that the fruits are coming from "the tree." What is the tree? In Judaism the Torah is called the Tree of Life. As mentioned in our notes to chapter 3, the phrase "to bring forth fruit" in a Hebraic spiritual context, refers to deeper spiritual insight and teachings.
The question is, are the fruits (teachings) true to the Torah, or are they in opposition to it, as Yeshua warned about at the beginning of this sermon? (5:17-20) As with any good teacher, Yeshua is "closing the loop" to his argument, summarizing with what He began with. This is expounded on (with a warning) in the next section:
7:21-29 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord ...
These verses have often been used by some groups to point a finger at other "apostate" or "more liberal" groups who "claim the name of Christ." But what is Yeshua's criteria for those who fall into this group?
At the beginning of this midrash (Matthew 5:17-20), Yeshua had given three examples to make a point about Torah still being in effect.
Here at the conclusion of His midrash, He again shows in three different ways, who falls in this category of those, "He does not know."
He describes them as follows:
Regarding the first, Matthew 7:21-- At the time Yeshua spoke, where was the Father's will to be found? Only in the Torah (and its extension through the rest of the Tenakh).
Concerning, what He next says in verse 23 -- How is iniquity (sin) defined even in the "New Testament?" It is the breaking of Torah:
The word for "iniquity" in verse 23 is "lawlessness," from the Greek anomia. Yeshua clearly states that those who practice lawlessness will not enter into His kingdom. What "law" are these people violating with their "lawlessness?" As it has been clearly shown, the context of Matthew 5:17 through 7:29 is that of "religious law" - the Torah.
Lastly, in verse 26, when Yeshua, says, "these sayings of mine," He is in no way stating that "His commandments" now replace those of the Father's. Such a statement would immediately disqualify Him as being the Messiah. Yet, this doctrine (usually in a roundabout way) is taught in many places today.Yeshua's sayings are those of the Father - they are One. If you have heard Him you have heard the Father, and vice-versa. He makes this clear throughout all four gospel accounts.
Paul also reminds us that this does not change for believers in Messiah. The Torah remains:
7:26 every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not ...
Yeshua concludes His midrash about the Torah (that began in Matthew 5:17-20) with a warning to those listening. His words about the house being knocked down, mirror those found in the Talmud, which equates "these sayings of mine," to the Torah:
7:28-29 For he taught them as one having authority
Yeshua is teaching and making definitive rulings on the Torah. Rabbis in His day would typically teach "in the name of" of another Rabbi who preceded them -- even if the other Rabbi was long since deceased. Yeshua taught in His own name. The "authority" He has, stems from the fact that He IS the Torah in the flesh -- as John's Gospel says in its Hebrew context:
At the time John wrote this, the term "Word" was equated both with God and with the Torah. In fact the last book of the Torah, is called Devarim (Deuteronomy) and means "words."
1. The name "James" is a Christian supplantation. The actual name in the Greek text is Jacob, from the Hebrew "Ya'acov." The name "James" was most likely added at the time the "King James" Bible was created.