This is a passage of scripture often employed by liberal Christian concepts for the purpose of polarizing conservative Christians, through the means of political correctness and statements designed to force the submission of conservative perspectives, as to cause them to bow to the will of anti-profiling believes. While it is certainly true, not everyone using this passage does so because of lesser moral or spiritual values; it is quite unfortunate that it is often used in just such a setting. Yet the question still remains…are those who use this passage for the purpose of defending themselves from the opinion of others accurate in doing so from a biblical sense of the word? And does both definition and syntax behind the word “judge”, truly mean what they intend for it to represent? It is our plan to take a closer look at the definition, syntax and context of this scriptural content. We will analyze its true theological placement, in order to understand what Jesus was genuinely teaching His disciples.
Example: General Comment: “I do not think that true Christians should use vulgar lanquage.”
Example: General Response: “We live in a free America and I don’t think there is anything wrong with expressing ourselves and what we really think about something. After all, everybody does it and who are you to judge whether or not a person is a true Christian by how they talk? Remember what the Bible says…”Judge not less you be judged.”
It is without question that North American Christians, often self-interpret various passages of from holy writ in a method uniquely fitted to their own personal opinions and personalities. As one who holds a Doctoral in Biblical theology, I find that this is only equal to the frequency by which many people self-medicate. My grandmother on my father’s side was named Ida. Ida would take two aspirin every few hours of each day whether she needed them or not. When asked by my dad if she took them for a headache, she replied, “I take them just in case I get one.” It is a free country of course and her constitutional rights provided her that choice, as with each one of us for that matter, even if that choice is not based upon accurate information. However, one must sincerely ask themselves the question; does having constitutional freedom also mean that one is automatically correct in their perspective of scripture? Although every american does in fact share democratic privilege, at least for the present, does that make their choice of belief spiritually correct? More importantly…does the word of God itself agree with their opinion? Believe it or not, most contemporary Christian believers bother little with this kind of accuracy. As a result we often hear statements like…”I believe,” “That’s my opinion” or “I don’t care what the bible says.” This is why I’ve chosen to focus on the scripture from Matthew 7:1; as it is often used as a type of warning, telling all opponents to stay clear of making comments about their lifestyle, comments or actions.
And we will investigate this together because of the methodolgy commonly utilized by such individuals to defend such personal perspectives, can be rather intimidating at times. And as many of us can attest, the rules of engagement by such individuals are often a one way street, allowing them to say or do anything but forbidding an equal response. Especially when that one way street is used for the purpose of claiming that anyone who should point out a spiritual or moral fault in someone else is automatically just as guilty of a fault as the one their pointing the finger at. This is of course often used to silence any conservative voice or concepts. After all, no one wishes to endure the bullying and verbal gang violence that usually results whenever someone attempts to maintain decency or trys to invoke conservative scriptural protocol. But what if such brutal methods could be counteracted and such liberal concepts could be disproven?
The word “Judge” in Matthew 7:1; (also found in the parallel passage of LK 6:37.), derives its orgin from the Greek word “Krino” (kree-no.) It means…[ To distinqish, decide (mentally or judicially), to try, to condemn, punish, avenge, conclude, damn, decree, determine, esteem, judge, go to sue at law, ordain, call in question, sentence to.] Now, with so many definitions to one word seemingly endorsing the common concept of the passage from Matthew 7:1; surely this becomes clear evidence that it is in fact designed for personal and even public defense against spiritual and moral accusations. But did you see what just happened there? We did what most modern believers do when they look for something that agrees with their pre-determined opinion…we ignored altogether the very things that didn’t agree with our mindset. You see, the reason why there is so many different variations of definition to this one Greek word “Krino,” is because the Greek language is just as subjective to syntax and context as any other language. But typical to form, we have a tendency (just as with the English language,) to pick and choose the definition we think sounds right for a given scripture, rather the definition that actually applies. Example: In 1991, I had a conversation with a visiting minister named Ignacio Martinez, who went simply by Nacho. Nacho, was operating at the time, under my apostolic auspices in Monterrey, Mexico and was a local pastor there. The conversation we had resulted from a major conflict taking place between the spiritual elders under his rule. They were debating over the contents of Acts 1:26; as it refers to the apostolic “lot” falling on Matthias in the stead of Judas who had betrayed Christ. You see the meaning of the Greek word “lot” or (Kieros), had created quite a stir among the protestant elders there in Monterrey because part of the definition means to cast forth bits of wood in a manner of divination. In the limited 75 verb language they speak in Mexico, and being there exist there no word for “lot”, they were simply translating it as “luck.” The protestant brethren in Monterrey saw “luck” as witchcraft and the elders there found the passage from ACTS both impossible to believe or to preach to their congregations. After all, who would wish to promote witchcraft as a spiritual means by which to follow God’s divine will and spiritual callings? And who could blame them? This is where understanding definition, context and syntax, comes into vital play. Syntax defines a sentence and is often based upon context. It describes the setting for a particular definition of a word to be placed within the text in question. In this case, “lot” (Kieros), also translated “heritage”, “portion” and “part.” When the elders heard of the alternate definitions and came to realize how important it was to use the word “lot” within its proper syntactical setting, they rejoiced and found it easy to both accept and teach their people that Matthias had received his portion of apostolic ministry by means of the Holy Spirit and not by the power of witchcraft! In Matthew 7:1 and Luke 6:37; the syntax is anything but what we’ve come to accept it to be in contemporary Christian circles. In fact, it relates more to the definitions we did not choose to see in our example, than the ones we had a predisposition to look for.
Let us consider for a moment that Matthew was not written originally with chapters but rather as pages to a letter. In reality, any first year bible college student will come to understand this to be fact. With that said, we can temporarily remove the chapter headings of Matthew 6 & 7, and simply watch the verses of scripture from both harmoniously blend together as one. Here, Jesus is speaking to His disciples about the futility of worry. Worry, that often results from the lack of finances and provision. He assures them that their every need will be taken care of by their heavenly Father and further assures them of God’s perpetual observance regarding their day to day lives and how He witnesses their needs first hand. He reminds them that the Gentiles seek after all these things regardless of what it takes to obtain them and yet as His disciples, they are not to follow this same pattern but are to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, in order that all their necessities would be added unto them. He instructs them to take no thought of tomorrow for the thoughts of wicked men will be sufficiently evil towards one another tomorrow. In other words, they should not spend their time trying to devise a method by which to obtain their financial needs at the expense of another as the Gentiles do.
Next, Jesus says the all too misused passage…”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. Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that 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 from thy brother’s eye.” The context of this passage appears to be indicating something that is hindering the proper admistration of helping a brother with a fault. That hinderance is the lust for wealth; Jesus in fact went as far as to indicate that once the beam (plank of wood), was out of their eye and they were no longer motivated by their greed, they could in fact assist in the restoration of a brother. Keep in mind that this passage is still relating to the means by which a Christian is to obtain necessities and provision and that it is wrong to achieve them at the expense of your brother’s suffering.
The context of chapter 7 is no different than that of chapter 6, in that it becomes increasingly evident that Jesus is referring to their means by which to acquire sustenance through the process of going before dogs (Gentile Judges), or casting their pearls before swine (hiring Gentile attorneys), who will in turn rend from you most of what you gained from suing a brother in a court of law. Remember, that in looking at the definitions of the word “Judge,” we also saw alternate meanings of the word such as…[Judicially, avenge, punish, decree, sentence to and go to sue at law.] Jesus tells His disciples instead that they should “Ask and it shall be given, seek, and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.” Jesus further encourages His followers to remember that should they go after someone to exact any form of retribution from them, the heavenly Father will in turn exact retribution from them to the same degree they utilized on a brother. For He indeed forgave our debt as sinners, we should also therefore forgive the others their debt in His likeness, less we expect to receive God’s anger and wrath. “And we you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mk 11:25. In fact, the passages in Matthew 7:1 and Luke 6:37; is relating to any and all trespasses you may have accrued against a brother. This corresponds to Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane about God forgiving our trespasses against Him, as we forgive those that trespass against us. In Matthew 18:23-35; the same topic comes back into play as Jesus relates the story of the King (Which represents God) and the two servants (which represent brothers in the Lord,) settling financial debts with eachother.  “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.  When he began reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents;  And he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.  So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.  And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave his debt.  But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, Pay what you owe.  So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, Have patience with me, and I will pay you.  He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt.  When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place.  Then his lord summoned him and said to him, You wicked servant! I forgave you all the debt because you besought me;  And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?  And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt.  So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
It is quite apparent from this previous example that Jesus gave His disciples a warning in Matthew 7:1; that there should always be present within the heart of every believer a willingness to forgive the debt of a brother on any level regardless of what we consider to be too much to forgive. The story of the King and his servants, is truly designed to place the emphasis on the massive debt our heavenly Father has forgiven us regarding our sin, versus the small debt of someone’s trepass against us in this present, temporal life.
Stop to consider the details of the story. In the time of the early disciples, a “Talent”, was a measure of weight close to 130lbs. Usually made of silver, 1 single Talent was roughly worth 15 years of wages to the average worker. “Ten Thousand Talents”, is roughly worth 150.000 years of wages to the typical laborer. To throw the first servant into jail, is therefore the equivalent of 3,000 life sentences. On the other hand, a “Denarii”, is a small silver coin, roughly worth a single days wage to the average worker. The second servant of the story is thrown into jail for a mere 100 days worth of wages. One “Talent”, is worth 5,475 denarii, and 10,000 Talents is worth 54,750.000 denarii. Now we can better understand the significance of the forgiveness the King initially gave to the first servant and the Lord of our salavation gave to us, in the forgiveness of our sins. We can also better understand the pettiness of any debt we should hold against a brother that has wronged us, as we see the underlying concept of this passage is to point out that the first servant only became angry with the second and exacted payment because he was not merciful like his own master who had forgiven him his debt. It also shows us that we will be held accountable for our unforgiveness when we stand before the judgment seat of God one day.
Jesus’ now famous words in Matthew 7:12; become all too clear…”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.” Let me reiterate that this study is not designed to indicate that the syntax behind any of the scriptures I’ve referred to as being only applicable to finacial trepasses. Ouite the contrary, it is the context itself that dictates the syntactical necessity of forgiving any and all indebtedness where a brother in the Lord has wronged you.
Does this mean that someone who owes you money should not pay it? No! They should pay it if they are by any means capable but the context in these passages, particularly Matthew 7 & 18, revolve around exacting payment on the basis of vengence, to do harm or to advance oneself at the expense of another for personal pleasure. Getting the beam or plank of wood out our own eye, will allow us therefore to deal with any speck of sawdust in our brother’s eye according to Matthew 7. A situation that cannot effectively be accomplished otherwise.
Finally: As to the matter of genuinely judging a brother in their faults or sins for the purpose of bringing true restoration and enlightment, there is an entirely different concept, context and syntax. And it is all designed for pointing out the truth, to them that are either following after or participating in false Christianity, which is often the guise of man-made religion and self righeousness. True Christian judgment is for the purpose of setting a holy example for others to follow. Here we find the word of God shifts its gears in a direction referred to in John 7:24; as “Righteous Judgment.” In John 7:16-24; Jesus is addressing Jewish people within the temple on the Sabbath, amidst a feast. The subject matter or context of the verses here refer to the doctrine of Jesus versus the doctrine of Moses. Jesus addresses the fact that some individuals (perhaps Pharisees), became angry at Him because He healed someone on the Sabbath, when all devout Jews abstain from working. Jesus further iterates that they would have had no problem in their Mosaic doctrine with circumcision of the flesh on the Sabbath, to make the man acceptable to God. But on the other hand, accuse Him of breaking the law of Moses for making the man whole on the Sabbath day. Here Jesus rebukes them openly for their concept of holy writ and doctrines of men. He then commands the people and the Pharisees of the necessity to “Judge Righeous Judgment,” by means of His doctrine. Here the definition of the word “Judge” is somewhat altered from the original “Krino” we studied earlier in this discourse, to “Krisis”…meaning, [For or against, divine law, accusation, condemnation, damnation, judgment or decision by tribunal.] Notice that the context requires the syntax to emphasize the definition “Divine Law.” Jesus is saying that Divine law overrides all of the additional laws the Tulmad had added to the original Torah. That God’s law of judgment was to show mercy toward the man, while man’s law was the judgment of anger and wrath. There is a “Divine Law” of God that we as Christians are to judge the doctrine and beliefs of others by. A “Righteous Judgment”, in accordance with the scriptures that Christ and the early church setforth under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. That particular judgment is designed to determine whether or not any given individual is living their lives in accordance with the lifestyle of Jesus and His disciples. This “Righteous Judgment,” cannot be the result of personal opinion, but that of comparison to the word. As a result, we are commanded to be on guard against anyone or anything that claims Christianity but does not live upto its genuine biblical expample through actions, communications or lifestyle. The very word “Righteous” in this passage is the Greek word “dikaisune,” meaning…[holy, innocent, equity of character or action in its execution.] Jesus had previously warned his disciples to beware the doctrine of the Pharisees because their doctrine was deadly poison to all who receive it. He told the Pharisees to their faces that their teachings were full of “Dead men’s bones,” and “pulled men down to the grave.” He went further in Matthew 7: 15; Commanding His disciples to “Beware” the teachings of “False Prophets”who came in “sheep’s clothing” but were in reality “ravening wolves.”
Utilizing today’s contemporary theology of “Judge Not Less Ye Be Judged,” such ravening wolves should be permitted a voice within our Christian, society, in order to spread their scriptural beliefs to everyone, simply because we live within a democratic society of equality and this requires the lack of spiritual profiling. Here, once again, is where a “Divine Law” disagrees with man’s law. Political correctness is a killer to the divine laws of God and is just as polarizing to the Christian faith as was the Jewish law in Jesus’ time. Jesus indicates in verses 16-23 of Matthew Chapter 7, that true believers have a responsibilty to be FRUIT INSPECTORS. Inspectors of the beliefs and lifestyles of others they encounter within the Christian realm. “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but every corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not everyone that says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my Father which is in heaven.”
By verse 22; Jesus begins to inform His disciples that enjoying His gifts and His name, does not necessarily constitute a genuine relationship with God. In verse 23; Jesus goes even further to indicate that He will not personally recognize them as His own bride to the Father, if He never had a genuine relationship with them. A sign that one can claim Christianity here but may not be accepted by Him there at the judgment for lack of obedience to His will. Too often the title “Christian” is loosly utilized to make some people feel better about themselves, however remember that the name Christian was first used in history during Paul’s time in the city of Antioch, Syria. There it was exclusively used to describe those believers who were striving to be like Christ himself in holiness and righeousness.
The context here in Matthew 7:22-23; is God’s will. The syntactical concept in this passage is…all judgment of God’s will is to be based upon His divine law and not on our personal opinions of what a Christian should be. Ultimately disarming the right for one to live as they please and still maintain themselves as true believers that will be accepted by Him. The consequence of disobedience in this passage is Jesus’ personal refusal to accept us into heaven and therefore casting us into the lake of fire because He never truly enjoyed intimacy with us. Thus the words…”I never knew you,” as being likened by syntax to the biblical sense of a man knowing a woman for the purpose of conception. This is the same concept utilized by God to inform Abraham at Isaac’s altar of sacrifice that he had been accepted as God’s spiritual wife, through the process of obedience to the will of God. “Now I do KNOW that you fear the Lord.” Gen 22:12. God certainly knows everything that is transpiring in the heart and mind of His servant Abraham, so the definition of the word “Know,” by no means represents God suddenly becoming aware of hidden knowledge. But it does in fact imply God’s immediate unity with Abraham in a marital like intimacy upon the moment of Abraham’s following through with his test of obedience to offer Isaac upon the altar. This action on Abraham’s part to do the “Divine” will of God makes him one with God and that’s God version of marital relationship.
Ultimately then, as the result of His words being received by His disciples in Matthew 7, Jesus likens all who hear them and do His commandments, to a wise man which built upon the rock, the same rock He will later declare His church is to be built upon. He told them, the rains descended, the floods rolled in, the winds blew hard and beat upon that house but it did not crumble. The opposite effect is depicted in this same story regarding all who builds upon the sands of disobedience.
Example Question: If I have the spiritual obligation to be a fruit inspector regarding Christian behavior & the characteristics of others who claim to believers, should I address their bad fruit in a public forum such as here on Facebook?
Example Answer: There is certainly a great difference between what should be judged for doctrine sake with “Righteous Judgment,” for the purpose of defending or clarifying the true Christian theology and its principles as a whole and something that we may personally have a disagreement with because it is our opinion of how a Christian should conduct or portray themselves to others. In other words, should someone publically denounce the saving, delivering or healing power of Jesus or should deny the presence of the Holy Spirit and His workings, then that individual has declared open season on themselves and all true believers should be willing and ready to mercifully and lovingly direct them to the truth. But should the conversation turn ugly, one should always attempt to take the disagreement out of the public forum, to protect the character of true the Christian disagreement from the observation of non-believers. In Facebook’s case, take your disagreements to the party’s ‘Inbox’ for private discussion. The bible teaches us that this is a more Christ-like and ethical way to handle disagreement when possible. Because Facebook is not governed as the church is by Elders that can step in and resolve the situation biblically, and because most individuals in rebellion against the truth would not usually recognize such authority anyhow, it is fruitless to banter back and forth through Facebook postings. Most open disagreements windup as public arguments that serves only to deface the true believer as well as the false believer. Don’t lower yourself to such disgrace in public. While you certainly have a democratic right to address such issues openly, practical wisdom and scriptural protocol requires discretion. If you can influence an individual via private ‘Inbox’ messaging, then you may be able to prevent their public humiliation and help them to realize that “Correction is not rejection but merely redirection.” As we have already learned in this discourse, we must always remember that true correction of biblical truth is not designed for our personal gain or satifaction but is primarily as the Apostle Paul put it…”That you may benefit in all things.”
With that said, the next time someone says to you out of context…”Judge not less ye be judged,” take into consideration the ignorance by which they speak and realize the importance of a genuine bible lesson for their benefit and not for your pleasure.
Also remember that we are indeed called by God to judge the tree by the fruit it bears, according to the righeous standards of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. There is absolutely nothing wrong with defending the true faith for the purpose of preventing someone else from eating of the forbidden fruit of disobedience to the will of the Father, but we must do so in love and mercy, as the Lord alone is owner of the vineyard and the master of the orchard. He alone can say whether or not a tree is to be cut down and cast into the fire of eternal suffering. Let us all strive then to obey the will of the Lord for ourselves, not adhering to a compromised image of the dear son through liberal or permissive Christianity. But rather folllowing hard and longingly after our beloved husband Christ Jesus who is returning for a bride without blemish or wrinkle.
Dr. Larry Hinson ThD. DD.