Matthew 7:1 is the first verse of the seventh chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament and is part of the Sermon on the Mount. This well-known verse begins the discussion of judgmentalism.
- Judge not, that ye be not judged.
The World English Bible translates the passage as:
- Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged.
For a collection of other versions see here: Matthew 7:1
This verse, which appears in a similar form in Luke’s Sermon on the Plain, begins a discussion about how a person should relate to their fellows. Daniel Patte feels that this is a natural progression from the earlier discussion of how one should have a positive outlook for oneself to how one should also have a positive opinion of others.
The judge mentioned in this verse is generally considered to be God. France notes that the author of Matthew frequently shifts to the passive tense when an action is carried out by God. This verse parallels Matthew 6:14, which states that the forgiving will themselves be forgiven.
The term translated as judge, krino, also implies condemnation not just judging. In this verse Jesus warns that one who condemns others will themselves be condemned. The rest of the Bible, including the very next verse, make clear that all manner of judgment is not being condemned. Thus while this verse is sometimes presented as an argument against all forms of disapprobation, most scholars believe that the context makes clear that this is a more limited decree. Obeying Christ's commands in this chapter does not preclude assessing another person's basic character—whether one is a dog (v. 6) or a false prophet (v. 15), or whether one's life shows fruit (v. 16)—since Scripture repeatedly exhorts believers to evaluate carefully.
Morris states it is an attack on the hasty and unfair judgments, and as the further verses show it is also an attack on the hypocrites who criticize others while ignoring their own faults. A wide array of forms of judging are presented favourably elsewhere in the New Testament. The decisions of legal court are seen as valid, the censoring of erroneous believers appears throughout the Bible, and the need for self judgment frequently praised. Some Christians do not accept this view. Some interpreters see this verse as an attack on the judicial powers of the state and the church and a call for radical egalitarianism. This view was embraced by many Anabaptist groups. As Luz notes this verse also had an important impact on the theology of asceticism and monasticism. Rather than judge those in the world some Christian thinkers have argued that it is better to withdraw from it.
- Patte, Daniel. The Gospel According to Matthew: A Structural Commentary on Matthew's Faith.
- France, R.T. The Gospel According to Matthew: an Introduction and Commentary. Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1985.
- Zondervan NIV (New International Version) Study Bible, 2002, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA; footnote to Mt 7:1.
- Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to Matthew. Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 1992.
- Luz, Ulrich. Matthew 1-7: A Commentary. trans. Wilhlem C. Linss. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortess, 1989.
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