Matthew 7:7–8

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Matthew 7:7–8 are the seventh and eighth verses of the seventh chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament and is part of the Sermon on the Mount. These verses begin an important metaphor generally believed to be about prayer.

In the King James Version of the Bible the text reads:

7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye
shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh
findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

The World English Bible translates the passage as:

7 "Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will
find. Knock, and it will be opened for you.
8 For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks
finds. To him who knocks it will be opened.

For a collection of other versions, see BibRef Matthew 7:7-8.

Interpretation[edit]

The most common interpretation of these verses, which are also found at Luke 11:9-10, is that they are a return to the issue of prayer, which was discussed in the last chapter and is quite clearly addressed by the subsequent verses. In this view asking, seeking, and knocking are all metaphors for the act of prayer. Hendriksen notes that asking implies humility, an inferior asking for aid from a superior.[1] Morris notes that idea of seeking does not completely mesh with the prayer metaphor. The person praying who prays to God has obviously already decided that it is there that their answers are to be found. Morris feels that seeking in prayer means that the person does not know exactly what they need, and feel that they can seek the answer to this question through God.[2] Fowler feels that the verb seek emphasizes the effort and concentration that must be put into prayer.[3] Hendriksen summarizes this by describing seeking as "asking plus acting."[4] Knocking, according to France, was also a metaphor for prayer in the Jewish literature of this period. Later in Matthew, however, knocking will be a metaphor for gaining admittance to the Kingdom of Heaven.[5] The present imperative tense used for the verbs in these verses. This implies that the asking, seeking, and knocking are all described as continuous actions, and this implies that prayer to be effective should also be a continual habit, rather than an occasional plea. Nolland posits that knocking may be linked to the Narrow Gate metaphor found in Matthew 7:13.

The verse presents prayer as certain to be answered, and the following verses explain why this is. This of course cannot mean that every demand made of God will be met in full. Fowler notes that in Matthew 6:5-13 Jesus has already laid out some rules for proper prayer. These verses thus cannot apply to all prayer, but only those who truly seek God. Christian theology has long tried to address the issue of prayers that seem unanswered. One notion is that God only gives good gifts. Even if you ask for something that will harm you, he will not provide it. Thus a prayer for wealth may not be answered, as such wealth may damage one's spiritual soul.[6]

In Matthew 6:8 Jesus also states that prayer is not necessary as God knows what a person needs even before they ask him. Fowler feels that while prayer is not useful to God, it is useful to humans. If we do not have to toil through continuous prayer before receiving God's grace we will grow soft.[7] The metaphor could also be one for religious study. Schwiezer notes that Rabbis of the period and the Qumran community both put important stress on the pursuit of religious knowledge. Both groups believed that the true believer should strive to get to know God and the Law. The asking, seeking, and knocking, may be searches for knowledge just as much as for aid. This verse can thus be read as a support for inquisitiveness.[8] A third view, rejected by almost all scholars, is that these verses are outlining a specific religious ritual involving asking, seeking, and knocking, and that the verse is not a metaphor at all. Luz notes that this alternate interpretation was central to Gnosticism, and this was one of the defining verses of that branch of Christianity. To Gnostics the continuous seeking for the hidden God was a central part of their faith. By contrast most other Christian groups describe believers as those who have found God, not those who are still seeking.[9] The verse is elaborated upon by saying 92 in the Gospel of Thomas.[10]

The common English expression "Seek and Ye Shall Find" is derived from this verse.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hendriksen, William. The Gospel of Matthew. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1976,
  2. ^ Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to Matthew. Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 1992.
  3. ^ Fowler, Harold. The Gospel of Matthew: Volume One. Joplin: College Press, 1968
  4. ^ Hendriksen, William. The Gospel of Matthew. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1976,
  5. ^ France, R.T. The Gospel According to Matthew: an Introduction and Commentary. Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1985.
  6. ^ Fowler, Harold. The Gospel of Matthew: Volume One. Joplin: College Press, 1968
  7. ^ Fowler, Harold. The Gospel of Matthew: Volume One. Joplin: College Press, 1968
  8. ^ Schweizer, Eduard. The Good News According to Matthew. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1975
  9. ^ Luz, Ulrich. Matthew 1-7: A Commentary. trans. Wilhlem C. Linss. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortess, 1989.
  10. ^ France, R.T.. The Gospel of Matthew. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2007 pg. 280


Preceded by
Matthew 7:6
Gospel of Matthew
Chapter 7
Succeeded by
Matthew 7:9