Matthew 7:7-12

7.7 Αἰτεῖτε, καὶ δοθήσεται ὑμῖν· ζητεῖτε, καὶ εὑρήσετε· κρούετε, καὶ ἀνοιγήσεται ὑμῖν. 7.8 πᾶς γὰρ ὁ αἰτῶν λαμβάνει, καὶ ὁ ζητῶν εὑρίσκει, καὶ τῷ κρούοντι ἀνοιγήσεται. 7.9 ἢ τίς ἐστιν ἐξ ὑμῶν ἄνθρωπος, ὃν αἰτήσει ὁ υἱὸς αὐτοῦ ἄρτον, μὴ λίθον ἐπιδώσει αὐτῷ; 7.10 ἢ καὶ ἰχθὺν αἰτήσει, μὴ ὄφιν ἐπιδώσει αὐτῷ; 7.11 εἰ οὖν ὑμεῖς πονηροὶ ὄντες οἴδατε δόματα ἀγαθὰ διδόναι τοῖς τέκνοις ὑμῶν, πόσῳ μᾶλλον ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς δώσει ἀγαθὰ τοῖς αἰτοῦσιν αὐτόν.

7.12 Πάντα οὖν ὅσα ἐὰν θέλητε ἵνα ποιῶσιν ὑμῖν οἱ ἄνθρωποι, οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς ποιεῖτε αὐτοῖς· οὖτος γάρ ἐστιν ὁ νόμος καὶ οἱ προφῆται.

7.7 Ask, and it will be given to you; Seek, and you will find; Knock, and it will be opened to you. 7.8 For every asker receives, and seeker finds, and to the knocker it will be opened. 7.9 Or what man is there among you, his son will ask him for bread, instead will give a stone to him? 7.10 Or also if he asks for a fish, will instead give him a snake? 7.11 Therefore, if you being evil know to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father in heaven give good things to those who ask him.

7.12 Therefore, in all things whatsoever as you wish that men would do for you, thus also you do for them; For this is the law and the prophets.

Verse 7 has three instances of a repeated pattern, a second person plural imperative followed by καὶ and a future tense verb (first and last instances in the passive, the middle instance in the active voice). Verse 8 is similar in being highly repetitive in pattern, though there are some noticeable differences. The first two expressions, “asking one” and “seeking one” are participles with a nominative article and a third person singular present tense verb. The third expression uses the same passive form of the verb in verse 7, and relies on a dative singular form of the participle and article (“to the knocking one…”). I guess the immediate question in my mind was, “Why wasn’t the first instance placed in the passive and matched with a dative form as well?” Indeed, the first instance chose to use the verb “receive” rather than “be given”. I don’t see a huge difference in meaning, but the parallelism is a little skewed.

Verse 9 and 10 both have a wonderful construction in which a relative pronoun and a negated noun/verb. Very hard to render word-for-word in English. I have chosen to use a conditional and the word, “instead.”

Verse 11 wraps up 9 and 10, saying that if we know that we will give good gifts to our children, that God certainly will do even better for his children. What must Jesus’ hearers have though when he called them evil? Did they see that the statement was identifying them in relation to God, so describing their distance from God’s holiness, or did they take it as criticism and harsh rebuke? Seems like a harsh statement to me – but it is clear that in comparison to the way God blesses even those who I reject, my own gift-giving is only a shadow of his grace-filled actions.

I was going to leave verse 12 for another post, but the word οὖν made me decide to keep it. This connective indicates that the next comment Jesus makes gains credence from what has come before – that our treatment of others how we would like to be treated should be related to our knowledge of the ultimate gift-giver. If we would give good gifts to our children – and desire good gifts be given to us – then that ought to be the pattern we follow with all those we encounter. We should be open handed – those who ask ought to receive from us. And I might even suggest, without indebting themselves monetarily or personally, though Jesus is not stressing the point here. If we were asking and in need, wouldn’t we want that?

Usually translations add “sum up” or “all” to the last expression “the law and the prophets”. I have chosen not to do so, as it isn’t present – but the words themselves speak clearly enough. This teaching – that we ought take into account how we would desire to be treated when dealing with others – is fully compatible with the law and the prophets. But to be honest, until we truly love others how we want to be loved, we will not treat them the way we would want to be treated.

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About George

I'm interested in theology, languages, translation and various sorts of fermentation.
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