Matthew 7:18

It is not enough for Christ to spread his own wholesome teaching; he must warn against the dangerous influence of bad teachers. Later in his ministry he had occasion to speak of the pretended shepherds, who were really thieves, or at best hirelings (John 10:10, 12). Here his reference to the tree and its fruit is meant to be applied to the teacher and his work. It shows that he expects people to be watchful over those who assume to be their instructors. Christians are to judge prophets.


1. Work is fruit. A man's true work is not something which he has chosen to do by free selection from any number of possibilities. It is the very product of his being; it is himself thrown out and expressed in action. All real work is a growth from a man's life.

2. The fruit must correspond to the tree. It is not just a miniature tree, but it is "after its kind." The teaching and life-work may not be merely photographs of the mind of the teacher and worker, but they will correspond in kind. This is necessary because it is natural. Christ's parallel goes beyond an illustration, and becomes an argument from analogy. The whole course of nature makes it monstrous to suppose that good work can come from bad men, or bad work from good men.


1. He should not be judged prematurely. We are tempted to form hasty prejudices about people, the results of first impressions. But these are most delusive. A pretentious or an attractive teacher may be worthless. One who vexes and offends us may be a very prophet of God. The present popularity of a preacher is a poor test of the value of his ministrations.

2. His work must be examined. Our Lord distinctly requires this. We are not to judge men in private life and as to their own individual conduct. But when any one takes on him the office of a public teacher he invites examination. It is not incumbent on us to criticize for the sake of the criticism, but we must decide whether a man whom we follow is leading us aright.

3. The test is to be found in final effects. There are snares in the judgment by results. We may look only at external effects; we may be impatient for quick returns; we may mistake quantity for quality. It is necessary to wait for some autumn fruit ripening. Then the question is as to kind and quality. If these are good, the teaching is wholesome. The best form of Christian evidences is the biography of Christian men. Honest missionary reports are an important element in apologetics.

III. THE BAD WORK WILL CONDEMN THE UNWORTHY WORKER. The tree only exists for the sake of its fruit. Its goodly shape, its vigorous growth, its luxuriant foliage, count for nothing, or worse them nothing, for they cumber the ground. What would be a merit in the forest is a fault in the garden. Trees planted for fruit must bear fruit, or they will be useless. It is bad to produce poisonous or worthless fruit; but it is also a matter of condemnation to be barren, like the fruitless fig tree of the parable (Luke 13:6-9). God's test at the great judgment will ignore the fame of popular preaching, the glitter of daring thinking, the honour of exalted position. All will go by the quality of the output. And on this test will follow more than the acceptance or the condemnation of the work. The worker himself will be judged - condemned or rewarded. - W.F.A.

Know them by their fruits.
The two criteria on which men most chiefly rest for the guidance "of their religious opinions would here be of no avail; authority would be claimed by the prophet; and private judgment might possibly lead his votaries astray. Both these useful, but require caution. Let us get a clear conception of the notion of utility as a criterion. It is an acknowledged fact that every human action and word is followed inevitably by certain consequences, which are good or bad. Those acts which produce happiness are useful; those which do not are injurious. We must extend our notion of happiness beyond the ancient conception of it. Christianity. has made happiness in worldly good things alone impossible. It must now include peace with God. This a criterion which cannot be mistaken. Apply this test.

I. As AN ARGUMENT FOR CHRISTIANITY in the widest sense of the word. "When Christianity appeared in the world, Roman civilization had practically failed. The privilege of Roman citizenship had done much — had kindled a feeling of community of interest; but needed a higher sanction. The Incarnation taught men brotherhood; nations which possess this truth have the principle of vitality.

II. Let us apply this test to our ENGLISH CHRISTIANITY. Doubtless there are physical reasons which make the English race so strong; but also moral, latent in our Christianity.

III. As an argument supplying to us each practical reasons for FOLLOWING IN OUR CONDUCT THAT LINE OF DUTY, which conscience tells us to be right. It is a solemn thought that we can be like a good tree or a bad one. It is the uses of a man which determine his status before God.

(J. T. Coxhead, M. A.)

I. The rule laid down by Christ in the text is INFALLIBLE IN CHARACTER AND UNIVERSAL in application. It is true in the natural world as in the spiritual.

II. By their FRUITS ye shall know them.

1. This test is a reasonable one.

2. It is a sensible one.

3. It is a simple one.

4. It is a just one.

5. It is a sure one.

6. It is one which men apply continually in judging of each other's conduct.

7. It is one which the Judge will apply on the final day.

(J. N. Sherwood, D. D.)

I. That THERE IS A STANDARD of good and evil.

1. It is fixed.

2. It is just.

3. It is evidenced by experience.

4. It is knowable.

5. It is practical.

II. By this standard GOD WILL JUDGE.

1. Men cannot plead ignorance, it being written in the hearts of those who have not the Scriptures.

2. Judgment will not be according to profession.

3. Nor with respect of persons.

4. Conscience approves these principles.

5. The Holy Spirit will, if we ask, teach us the will of God.

III. By this standard CHRISTIANS ARE TO judge.

1. False prophets must needs be, they are foretold, and are busy perverting the truth.

2. We must judge them by the Word of God.

(Flavel Cook.)

I. Doubt loosens the moral hold of the principle of the Bible upon our personal obedience.

II. The position of antagonism into which doubting throws a man is, in itself, unfavourable to growth in moral virtue.

III. Doubt presents no incentive to holiness like that which Christianity offers.

(Bishop Cheney.)

We do not usually connect fruitbearing with children. This is a mistake. Notice three things.

I. WHAT ONE FLAVOUR SHOULD THERE BE IN ALL FRUITS? Many different flavours in fruits, yet there is something common to them which makes us approve of them all. This may be applied to children. There are many varieties of disposition, but we can call all children good, if we can detect in them the flavour of godliness — Christlike-ness. That is just the wonderful, beautiful thing about the Lord Jesus; He can he a model for all — for the young and for the old.

II. WHAT PECULIARITIES OF FLAVOUR SHOULD THERE BE IN CHILDREN'S FRUITS? Unselfishness, thoughtfulness, truthfulness, gentleness. These flavours are to be found in our words and in our deeds.

III. WHAT IS THE SECRET WHICH ACCOUNTS FOR THE BEST FLAVOURED AND MOST ABUNDANT FRUITAGE? For even in fruits of one kind of flavour, we find differences, "From me is thy fruit found" — the Lord Jesus, the life.

(R. Tuck, B. A.)


1. Their deception.

2. Their artifice.

3. Their end.

II. THE SATISFACTORY AND EQUITABLE TEST by which they are to be ascertained, Of this rule we remark

(1)that it is infallible;

(2)it is easily comprehended;

(3)it is of universal application — to personal religion and doctrine, etc.;

(4)it will apply to the several views of Christianity which are propagated in the world.

(J. E. Good.)

Monday Club Sermons.
I. That action, and not appearance, is the test that determines the genuineness of religion.

II. The announcement of the law of moral certainties — "A good tree cannot," etc.

III. That mere sincerity is not salvation.

IV. Christ and His gospel are man's only security.

(Monday Club Sermons.)

It has pleased God to make every tree and herb "after its kind." There are three reasons for this: —

1. That people may know what to expect.

2. That diligent work may be rewarded.

3. That great results may be caused to grow out of small beginnings.

4. We reap what we sow.

(E. R. Colder, D. D.)

Expository Outlines.
Conduct indicates character.

I. As illustrated by the WELL-KNOWN COMPARISON which is here employed.

II. In reference to the SPECIAL CHARACTERS which are here described.

1. Their office.

2. Their outward aspect — sanctimonious.

3. Their evil designs. "Inwardly they were ravening wolves."

III. In its general APPLICATION.

1. This is the only true standard by which to judge either ourselves or others. Profession, feelings, are deceptive.

2. According to this rule the decisions of the great day will be regulated.

(Expository Outlines.)

1. Upon the laws of nations.

2. Upon the liberty of nations.

3. Upon the morality of nations.

4. Upon the charity of nations.

5. Upon the literature of nations.

6. Upon the acts of nations.

7. Upon social life and domestic relationships.

8. Upon individuals. Thus judged by its fruits it is a good book.

(J. H. Hitchens.)

Not by our acquired knowledge, or fancied experience, or creed; but by fruits.

I. THE PRIMARY AND IMMEDIATE DESIGN OF OUR LORD IN THE DECLARATION BEFORE US. This text connected with the preceding (vers. 15-20) — "Wherefore." The greater part of the Sermon on the Mount was designed to rectify the errors of the Pharisees.

1. The false prophets whom our Lord condemns were guilty of lowering the standard of moral duty by explaining away the spirituality and extent of the law, and reducing the whole of human obedience to a few unimportant ceremonies.

2. They frustrate the free grace of the gospel by insisting on the meritoriousness of human obedience. Thus did the Judaising teachers in Corinth, Galatia, and Ephesus.


1. The influence of genuine Christianity is always practically holy.

2. Let the actual results of the influence of Christianity upon the world be examined, and it will be found that they are uniformly of a holy and felicitating character.

(J. Savill.)


I. The man who expects to obtain happiness without a holy life.

II. The man who expects to obtain a holy life without a renewed heart.

III. The man who expects to obtain a renewed heart without faith in evangelical truth.

(R. Halley, D. D.)

There is a schoolboy, yawning over his lesson. He sits with his books before him, but he is not working. If we ask him why, he says, "Oh, I hate Latin! .... Well, perhaps you like arithmetic better? .... Oh no, I hate doing sums." "Well, do you like geography? .... Oh no, I hate geography worst of all." The real truth is, he hates work. He is sowing thistles; and by and by, when his school-days are over, the prickles will sting him, and the empty, useless seed be a plague in his neighbours' fields.

(E. R. Conder, D. D.)

The apples appear when the sap is not seen. It is the operative and lively graces that will discover themselves. A man may think well, or speak well; but it is that grace which governeth his actions which most showeth itself.

(T. Manton, D. D.)It is all very fine to plead, as some have done, that they are doing inside work; if their fruit is all within, they will have to be cut down that it-may be got at. A true epistle of Christ is not written in invisible ink, and then sealed up, but it is known and read of all men. A tree of the Lord's right hand planting bears fruit to His glory, visible to all about him.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Those who travel through deserts would often be at a loss for water, if certain indications, which the hand of Providence has marked oat, did not serve to guide them to a supply. The secret wells are for the most part discoverable from the verdure which is nourished by their presence. So the fruitfulness of good works of the believer, amidst the deadness and sterility around him, proclaim the Christian's life.


Able, Bad, Bear, Bring, Can't, Corrupt, Evil, Forth, Fruit, Fruits, Poisonous, Possible, Produce, Tree, Worthless, Yield
1. Do Not Judge
7. Ask, Seek, Knock
13. Enter through the Narrow Gate
15. A Tree and Its Fruit
24. The Wise and the Foolish Builders
28. Jesus ends his sermon, and the people are astonished.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Matthew 7:12-20

     3254   Holy Spirit, fruit of

Matthew 7:15-20

     3203   Holy Spirit, and assurance
     4440   fig-tree
     5173   outward appearance
     8255   fruit, spiritual
     8750   false teachings

Matthew 7:15-21

     1660   Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 7:15-23

     8784   nominal religion

Matthew 7:16-20

     5635   work, and redemption

Matthew 7:17-19

     4528   trees

Matthew 7:18-19

     7027   church, purpose

November 22. "Cast the Beam Out of Thine Own Eye" (Matt. vii. 5).
"Cast the beam out of thine own eye" (Matt. vii. 5). Greater than the fault you condemn and criticise is the sin of criticism and condemnation. There is no place we need such grace as in dealing with an erring one. A lady once called on us on her way to give an erring sister a piece of her mind. We advised her to wait until she could love her a little more. Only He who loved sinners well enough to die for them can deal with the erring. We never see all the heart. He does, and He can convict without
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

January 12. "Ask and it Shall be Given You" (Matt. vii. 7).
"Ask and it shall be given you" (Matt. vii. 7). We must receive, as well as ask. We must take the place of believing, and recognize ourselves as in it. A friend was saying, "I want to get into the will of God," and this was the answer: "Will you step into the will of God? And now, are you in the will of God?" The question aroused a thought that had not come before. The gentleman saw that he had been straining after, but not receiving the blessing he sought. Jesus has said, "Ask and ye shall receive."
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

Judging, Asking, and Giving
'Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4. 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! 5. Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Two Paths
'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: 14. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.'--MATT. vii. 13-14. A frank statement of the hardships and difficulties involved in a course of conduct does not seem a very likely way to induce men to adopt it, but it often proves so. There is something in human nature which responds to the bracing
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Two Houses
'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.... 25. 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.'--Matt. vii. 24, 25. Our Lord closes the so-called Sermon on the Mount, which is really the King's proclamation of the law of His Kingdom, with three pairs of contrasts, all meant to sway us to obedience. The first
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Christ of the Sermon on the Mount
'And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at His doctrine: 29. For He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.'--MATT. vii. 28-29. It appears, then, from these words, that the first impression made on the masses by the Sermon on the Mount was not so much an appreciation of its high morality, as a feeling of the personal authority with which Christ spoke. Had the scribes, then, no authority? They ruled the whole life of the nation with
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

On the Words of the Gospel, Matt. vii. 7, "Ask, and it Shall be Given You;" Etc. An Exhortation to Alms-Deeds.
1. In the lesson of the Holy Gospel the Lord hath exhorted us to prayer. "Ask," saith He, "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? [2135] Or if he ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? [2136] If ye then,"
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

Known by their Fruits.
(Eighth Sunday after Trinity.) S. MATT. vii. 16. "Ye shall know them by their fruits." The religion of Jesus Christ is one of deeds, not words; a life of action, not of dreaming. Our Lord warns us to beware of any form of religion, in ourselves or others, which does not bring forth good fruit. God does not look for the leaves of profession, or the blossoms of promise, He looks for fruit unto holiness. We may profess to believe in Jesus Christ, we may say the Creed without a mistake, we may read
H. J. Wilmot-Buxton—The Life of Duty, a Year's Plain Sermons, v. 2

Casting Blame.
8th Sunday after Trinity. S. Matt. vii. 15. "Inwardly they are ravening wolves." INTRODUCTION.--A Schoolmaster finds one day that several of his scholars are playing truant. The morning passes and they do not arrive. At last, in the afternoon, the truants turn up. The master has a strong suspicion where they have been: however, he asks, "Why were you not at school this morning?" "Please, sir, mother kept me at home to mind the baby." "Indeed--let me look at your mouth." He opens the mouth,
S. Baring-Gould—The Village Pulpit, Volume II. Trinity to Advent

False Prophets
(Eighth Sunday after Trinity.) Matthew vii. 16. Ye shall know them by their fruits. People are apt to overlook, I think, the real meaning of these words. They do so, because they part them from the words which go just before them, about false prophets. They consider that 'fruit' means only a man's conduct,--that a man is known by his conduct. That professions are worth nothing, and practice worth everything. That the good man, after all, is the man who does right; and the bad man, the man who
Charles Kingsley—Town and Country Sermons

A Man Expects to Reap the Same Kind as He Sows.
"Herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit . . . after his kind."--Gen. i: 12. "Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?"--Matt. vii: 16. "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." --Romans viii: 13. A Man Expects to Reap the Same Kind as He Sows. If I should tell you that I sowed ten acres of wheat last year and that watermelons came up, or that I sowed cucumbers and gathered
Dwight L. Moody—Sowing and Reaping

The Mote and the Beam
That friend of ours has got something in his eye! Though it is only something tiny--what Jesus called a mote--how painful it is and how helpless he is until it is removed! It is surely our part as a friend to do all we can to remove it, and how grateful he is to us when we have succeeded in doing so. We should be equally grateful to him, if he did the same service for us. In the light of that, it seems clear that the real point of the well-known passage in Matthew 7:3-5 about the beam and the mote
Roy Hession and Revel Hession—The Calvary Road

Doctrine of Non-Resistance to Evil by Force must Inevitably be Accepted by Men of the Present Day.
Christianity is Not a System of Rules, but a New Conception of Life, and therefore it was Not Obligatory and was Not Accepted in its True Significance by All, but only by a Few--Christianity is, Moreover, Prophetic of the Destruction of the Pagan Life, and therefore of Necessity of the Acceptance of the Christian Doctrines--Non-resistance of Evil by Force is One Aspect of the Christian Doctrine, which must Inevitably in Our Times be Accepted by Men--Two Methods of Deciding Every Quarrel--First Method
Leo Tolstoy—The Kingdom of God is within you

Fifth Lesson. Ask, and it Shall be Given You;
Ask, and it shall be given you; Or, The Certainty of the Answer to Prayer. 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,'--Matt. vii. 7, 8. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss.'--Jas. iv. 3. OUR Lord returns here in the Sermon on the Mount a second time to speak of prayer. The first time He had spoken of the Father who is
Andrew Murray—With Christ in the School of Prayer

Sixth Lesson. How Much More?'
How much more?' Or, The Infinite Fatherliness of God. Or what man is there of you, who, if his son ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone; or if he shall ask for a fish, will 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?'--Matt. vii. 9-11 IN these words our Lord proceeds further to confirm what He had said of the certainty of an answer to prayer. To remove
Andrew Murray—With Christ in the School of Prayer

The Beggar. Mt 7:7-8

John Newton—Olney Hymns

Here Again Arises a Very Difficult Question. For in what Way Shall we Fools...
28. Here again arises a very difficult question. For in what way shall we fools be able to find a wise man, whereas this name, although hardly any one dare openly, yet most men lay claim to indirectly: so disagreeing one with another in the very matters, in the knowledge of which wisdom consists, as that it must needs be that either none of them, or but some certain one be wise? But when the fool enquires, who is that wise man? I do not at all see, in what way he can be distinguished and perceived.
St. Augustine—On the Profit of Believing.

Asking, Seeking, Finding. --Matt. vii. 7, 8
Asking, Seeking, Finding.--Matt. vii. 7, 8. Ask, and ye shall receive; On this my hope I build: I ask forgiveness, and believe My prayer shall be fulfill'd. Seek, and expect to find: Wounded to death in soul, I seek the Saviour of mankind; His touch can make me whole. Knock, and with patience wait, Faith shall free entrance win: I stand and knock at mercy's gate; Lord Jesus! let me in. How should I ask in vain? Seek, and not find Thee, Lord? Knock, and yet no admittance gain? Is it not in Thy
James Montgomery—Sacred Poems and Hymns

Assurance and Encouragement. --Matt. vii. 7, 8
Assurance and Encouragement.--Matt. vii. 7, 8. While these commands endure, These promises are sure; And 'tis an easy task To knock, to seek, to ask: Sinner hast thou the willing mind? Saint, art thou thus inclined? Dost thou expect, desire, believe? Then knock and enter, seek and find, Ask and receive.
James Montgomery—Sacred Poems and Hymns

The Strait Gate;
OR, GREAT DIFFICULTY OF GOING TO HEAVEN: PLAINLY PROVING, BY THE SCRIPTURES, THAT NOT ONLY THE RUDE AND PROFANE, BUT MANY GREAT PROFESSORS, WILL COME SHORT OF THAT KINGDOM. "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."--Matthew 7:13, 14 ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR. If any uninspired writer has been
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

Parting Counsels
'And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: 23. Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. 24. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. 25. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts

Author's Preface.
I did not write this little work with the thought of its being given to the public. It was prepared for the help of a few Christians who were desirous of loving God with the whole heart. But so many have requested copies of it, because of the benefit they have derived from its perusal, that I have been asked to publish it. I have left it in its natural simplicity. I do not condemn the opinions of any: on the contrary, I esteem those which are held by others, and submit all that I have written to
Jeanne Marie Bouvières—A Short Method Of Prayer And Spiritual Torrents

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