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We tried reading through Matthew before ( http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/322002 ) and the thread dissipated after about halfway through. So here it is again in a new format! In case it isn't clear, I welcome comments from everyone, whether you believe or not. Please post your honest opinions on the text!

Thanks to all who participate!

Chapters 1 & 2 were discussed here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/442758

Chapters 3 & 4 were discussed here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/443447

Chapter 5 was discussed here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/445002

Chapter 6 was discussed here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/446060

Matthew 7

1"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

6"Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.

7"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
9"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

13"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

15"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

24"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
28When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
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quozl wrote:
Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

I understand what it is supposed to mean I guess, but this is a terrible comparison really.
First of all, I love brambleberries. In fact there is a number of fruit trees with thorns.
Secondly, "A bad tree cannot bear good fruit" leaves few room for self improvement, let alone redemption.
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I find 11 strange. My son doesn't need to ask me for what he needs: I try to give him what he needs and he can't get for himself before he even has a chance to ask. The only reason can ends up asking is because of my limitations.

Why would I have to ask anything from someone who knows what I need and can't provide for myself?
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HavocIsHere wrote:
quozl wrote:
Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

I understand what it is supposed to mean I guess, but this is a terrible comparison really.
First of all, I love brambleberries. In fact there is a number of fruit trees with thorns.
Secondly, "A bad tree cannot bear good fruit" leaves few room for self improvement, let alone redemption.


I think Jesus may be saying that self improvement may require cutting down the whole tree and planting a new one. In other words, get rid of the assumptions you've built your whole life on. Start over and become a better person.
 
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hibikir wrote:
I find 11 strange. My son doesn't need to ask me for what he needs: I try to give him what he needs and he can't get for himself before he even has a chance to ask. The only reason can ends up asking is because of my limitations.

Why would I have to ask anything from someone who knows what I need and can't provide for myself?


It is strange. Maybe there is something good in the asking not just the receiving.
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hibikir wrote:
I find 11 strange. My son doesn't need to ask me for what he needs: I try to give him what he needs and he can't get for himself before he even has a chance to ask. The only reason can ends up asking is because of my limitations.

Why would I have to ask anything from someone who knows what I need and can't provide for myself?


I don't think this is really what Jesus is getting at, here. The point of the passage is the juxtaposition of the gifts given by evil men and those given by God.

Which is to say, Jesus is saying, even evil men give their children good things- since God is good (and God, and whatnot) the gifts he is capable of giving his children (humanity) are vastly better.

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Quote:
"Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.


um... so to paraphrase...

If you JUDGE someone to be a DOG or a PIG - don't bother teaching them the right way of doing things/fix the error of their ways. It'll just blow up in your face anyway.

Thats...harsh.

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Latria had some great commentary in the older thread. I'll repost what he had to say about Chapter 7 here:

Latria wrote:
The chapter 7 ends what is the first of 5 "sermons" in Matthew. I really like Matthew's organisation of the gospel. It has a good background - message - application - teaching - demonstration etc concept. None of the teachings make sense if we don't see it through the perspective of who Jesus is. Jesus is the true king of Israel that lives out the spirit of being selfless and in solidarity with "his brothers" (see Deuteronomy 17:14-20).

1. The teaching on judging refers to the Pharisees and scribes who "do not practice what they preach" (see Matthew 23:3-4). The judging criteria should be the same for all, so if you want to judge others, make sure you apply the same standards to yourself first. Verse 6 refers to how the teachings should be used on the Jews first and not the Gentiles (dogs and pigs). They do not understand the Jewish laws, and hence waste the pearls.

2. God gives like a good Father, meaning that if you ask for good things (things that are truly meaningful in the kingdom of God) they will be given. Being a father myself, I truly appreciate this. My children ask for all kinds of stuff. But I learn to be a good father when I give only what is good, and not because I cannot withstand the whining. I find it extremely interesting that this teaching is combined with the positive version of the Golden Rule. It shows us the things that we should be asking from God, are the things that are good for others.

3. 4 warnings. I think it is befitting that after all the stuff that is taught, it ends with the exhortation of obedience. Firstly, walk with your eyes open. It takes focus to make sure that you are on the right track. Secondly, be careful of false teachers. Listen to those who show positive fruits of living out Jesus' way. In this case, it refers to those who are peaceful, generous and loving. Thirdly, it is not in superficial acts, but in motivation that counts. Lastly, put everything into practice. The message of life does not take root until it is lived out.
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quozl wrote:
HavocIsHere wrote:
quozl wrote:
Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

I understand what it is supposed to mean I guess, but this is a terrible comparison really.
First of all, I love brambleberries. In fact there is a number of fruit trees with thorns.
Secondly, "A bad tree cannot bear good fruit" leaves few room for self improvement, let alone redemption.


I think Jesus may be saying that self improvement may require cutting down the whole tree and planting a new one. In other words, get rid of the assumptions you've built your whole life on. Start over and become a better person.
The context there specifically relates to (not) following false prophets, not personal repentance and redemption. A prophet is only as good as his prophecy. The good/bad tree is likened to that prophecy. If the prophecy leads to enlightenment, it is good. If it leads to confusion, it is bad. Our personal redemption therefore is like the fruit, not the tree.
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dtolman wrote:
Quote:
"Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.


um... so to paraphrase...

If you JUDGE someone to be a DOG or a PIG - don't bother teaching them the right way of doing things/fix the error of their ways. It'll just blow up in your face anyway.

Thats...harsh.

I don't read it that way at all. I would say it is more like if you judge someone to be a dog or a pig, be cautious with your valuables when you are around them. In the same way that you wouldn't leave a precious heirloom around for the family pet to rip up, don't try to share your precious beliefs with those that will simply mock and abuse you. That is not the same as not trying to teach them the right way of doing things/fixing the error of their ways. Metaphorically, a dog or a pig should be treated differently than a family member. All are to be loved and served, albeit differently.
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Wrayman wrote:
dtolman wrote:
Quote:
"Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.


um... so to paraphrase...

If you JUDGE someone to be a DOG or a PIG - don't bother teaching them the right way of doing things/fix the error of their ways. It'll just blow up in your face anyway.

Thats...harsh.

I don't read it that way at all. I would say it is more like if you judge someone to be a dog or a pig, be cautious with your valuables when you are around them. In the same way that you wouldn't leave a precious heirloom around for the family pet to rip up, don't try to share your precious beliefs with those that will simply mock and abuse you. That is not the same as not trying to teach them the right way of doing things/fixing the error of their ways. Metaphorically, a dog or a pig should be treated differently than a family member. All are to be loved and served, albeit differently.


But how did you judge them a dog or a pig... if you
Quote:
Do not judge, or you too will be judged.


Also - your precious heirloom in this case are beliefs - beliefs that are (apparently) the only way to Heaven. Your reluctance to be mocked and abused are keeping them in hell!

Seems to be some serious dissonance. If you JUDGE someone to be destined for hell - don't bother. But how did you get to the place where you could JUDGE them anyway.

The only other reading I can come up with, is that the teachings are wasted on the gentiles - if so, that was obviously ignored (and still is).
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dtolman wrote:
Wrayman wrote:
dtolman wrote:
Quote:
"Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.


um... so to paraphrase...

If you JUDGE someone to be a DOG or a PIG - don't bother teaching them the right way of doing things/fix the error of their ways. It'll just blow up in your face anyway.

Thats...harsh.

I don't read it that way at all. I would say it is more like if you judge someone to be a dog or a pig, be cautious with your valuables when you are around them. In the same way that you wouldn't leave a precious heirloom around for the family pet to rip up, don't try to share your precious beliefs with those that will simply mock and abuse you. That is not the same as not trying to teach them the right way of doing things/fixing the error of their ways. Metaphorically, a dog or a pig should be treated differently than a family member. All are to be loved and served, albeit differently.


But how did you judge them a dog or a pig... if you
Quote:
Do not judge, or you too will be judged.


Also - your precious heirloom in this case are beliefs - beliefs that are (apparently) the only way to Heaven. Your reluctance to be mocked and abused are keeping them in hell!

Seems to be some serious dissonance. If you JUDGE someone to be destined for hell - don't bother. But how did you get to the place where you could JUDGE them anyway.

The only other reading I can come up with, is that the teachings are wasted on the gentiles - if so, that was obviously ignored (and still is).

Judging gets an inappropriately bad rap based on this scripture. Verses 2 through 5 should get the same attention that verse 1 does. The admonition is to judge righteously, not to not judge at all. Judging that someone is destined to hell is precisely what is warned against. You can righteously judge a person to be a dog or a pig if they show themselves to be. In that case, it would be foolish to not judge them a dog or a pig. You wouldn't want to expose yourself to injury in this case. Think of an alcoholic family member. Getting that person help with their alcoholism may be wiser than baring your soul to them as they are making a mess on the carpet.
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quozl wrote:
Latria had some great commentary in the older thread. I'll repost what he had to say about Chapter 7 here:

I will be continuing my commentaries from Chapter 11 onwards (I stopped at Chapter 10 the last time). Thanks for the high praise.

I tend to be too concise with my words. But that's hard to correct because I cannot tell at which point some people need more explanation.

E.g. Dogs and pigs is the colloquial way to refer to the Gentiles. Any other way to interpret that verse, frankly, misses the point.
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18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

If this is related to false prophets the question I have is "Can a Christian denomination be counted as a false prophet?"

If so then the criteria for being a genuine Christian group seems to be very high - "no bad fruit". Although it could also be argued that any "good fruit" would show that the denomination was not "a bad tree".
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Latria wrote:
E.g. Dogs and pigs is the colloquial way to refer to the Gentiles. Any other way to interpret that verse, frankly, misses the point.


That's a bit dismissive though I largely agree with you. The fact that one chapter later Jesus is casting his pearl before a Gentile swine shows that maybe something more subtle is afoot.

I think that Jesus is talking not just about Gentiles but about what it means to be a Gentile. They are not chosen and they do not believe. In chapter 8 we will see that charge turned back on the Jews, the lost sheep Jesus has come to preach to. Matthew is set up to break down the old paradigm of Jew/Gentile and establish a new one of believer/unbeliever.
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Pinook wrote:
18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

If this is related to false prophets the question I have is "Can a Christian denomination be counted as a false prophet?"

If so then the criteria for being a genuine Christian group seems to be very high - "no bad fruit". Although it could also be argued that any "good fruit" would show that the denomination was not "a bad tree".
I think to a great extent this is relative. If all you know is a bad tree then a better bad tree may look like a good tree. After that, it may start to look like a bad tree at which point a better tree may present itself. And so on and so on. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I believe that we have The Good Tree but I don't think it is all that simple. Non Church members can and do find truth and meaning in other churches and that is not a bad thing. Even within the Church, people can be mislead in various ways. I think that this scripture implies a process and a time investment. You probably can't judge good fruit and bad fruit at first glance. It probably takes some time with the fruit to properly judge its worth. It takes a humble heart and a contrite spirit to be able to accept that you are wrong and turn away from a bad tree. I think that ties in perfectly with the previous verses about the hypocrite finding fault with others while ignoring his own.

I think the whole thing is wrapped up beautifully in verses 24-27. The wise man builds his house upon a rock. A foolish man builds his house upon the sand. If I were marooned on a island, I would build a shelter quickly where ever I could. That would probably be in the sand. I imagine that that follows with a seeker of truth "marooned on an island" as well. After that shelter was built however, I would want to do better. I would want to get working on the house on the rock which will protect me from the coming storm much better but will take a lot of effort to build. That follows the process of the repentant man very well I think.
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