Currently I’m reading Matthew, the first book of the New Testament. I’ll be posting a verse or series of verses that I find worthy of memorization. While many people use various translations, I’m from the old school. I believe that any scripture memorization should only be from the King James Version.
Matthew 7:1 KJV Judge not, that ye be not judged.
My initial comments – Here is another difficult verse to understand. It sounds straight forward and clear; however, elsewhere in the bible we learn not to be around wicked men. Don’t we have to form some form of judgement to do that? Thankfully, the commentaries below clarify the true meaning of the passage for me. Robert’s Word Pictures explanation sums it all up in a very quick manner.
The People’s New Testament commentary explains it this way:
Mat 7:1 –
Judge not, that you be not judged. The term ‘judge’ is used in more than one sense, but Christ’s meaning is plain. 1. He does not prohibit the civil judgment of the courts upon evil doers, for this is approved throughout the whole Bible. 2. He does not prohibit the judgment of the church, through its officers, upon those who walk disorderly, for both he and the apostles have enjoined this. 3. He does not forbid those private judgments that we are compelled to form the wrong-doers, for he himself tells us that we are to judge men by their fruits. (See Mat 7:15-20.) What he designs to prohibit is rash, uncharitable judgments, a fault-finding spirit, a disposition to condemn without examination of charges.
Robert’s Word Pictures explains:
Mat 7:1 –
Judge not (mē krinete). 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 (prejudgment) is unfair, captious criticism.
Mat 7:1 –
Judge not …- This command refers to rash, censorious, and unjust judgment. See Rom 2:1. Luke Luk 6:37 explains it in the sense of ‘condemning.’ Christ does not condemn judging as a magistrate, for that, when according to justice, is lawful and necessary. Nor does he condemn our ‘forming an opinion’ of the conduct of others, for it is impossible ‘not’ to form an opinion of conduct that we know to be evil. But what he refers to is a habit of forming a judgment hastily, harshly, and without an allowance for every palliating circumstance, and a habit of ‘expressing’ such an opinion harshly and unnecessarily when formed. It rather refers to private judgment than ‘judicial,’ and perhaps primarily to the customs of the scribes and Pharisees.
Mat 7:1 –
Judge not, that ye be not judged – These exhortations are pointed against rash, harsh, and uncharitable judgments, the thinking evil, where no evil seems, and speaking of it accordingly. The Jews were highly criminal here, and yet had very excellent maxims against it, as may be seen in Schoettgen. This is one of the most important exhortations in the whole of this excellent sermon. By a secret and criminal disposition of nature, man endeavors to elevate himself above others, and, to do it more effectually, depresses them. His jealous and envious heart wishes that there may be no good quality found but in himself, that he alone may be esteemed. Such is the state of every unconverted man; and it is from this criminal disposition, that evil surmises, rash judgments, precipitate decisions, and all other unjust procedures against our neighbor, flow.
Mat 7:1 – Judge not, that ye be not judged. This is not to be understood of any sort of judgment; not of judgment in the civil courts of judicature, by proper magistrates, which ought to be made and pass, according to the nature of the case; nor of judgment in the churches of Christ, where offenders are to be called to an account, examined, tried, and dealt with according to the rules of the Gospel; nor of every private judgment, which one man may make upon another, without any detriment to him; but of rash judgment, interpreting men’s words and deeds to the worst sense, and censuring them in a very severe manner; even passing sentence on them, with respect to their eternal state and condition. Good is the advice given by the famous Hillell (u), who lived a little before Christ’s time;
‘Do not judge thy neighbour, (says he,) until thou comest into his place.’
It would be well, if persons subject to a censorious spirit, would put themselves in the case and circumstances the persons are in they judge; and then consider, what judgment they would choose others should pass on them. The argument Christ uses to dissuade from this evil, which the Jews were very prone to, is, ‘that ye be not judged’; meaning, either by men, for such censorious persons rarely have the good will of their fellow creatures, but are commonly repaid in the same way; or else by God, which will be the most awful and tremendous: for such persons take upon them the place of God, usurp his prerogative, as if they knew the hearts and states of men; and therefore will have judgment without mercy at the hands of God.
Perhaps, now, you can see the value of using commentaries in bible study.