Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Matthew 7:3

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And why beholdest thou the mote … - A mote signifies any “light substance,” as dry chaff, or fine spires of grass or grain. It probably most usually signified the small “spiculae” or “beards” on a head of barley or wheat. It is thus placed in opposition to the word “beam.”

Beam - The word used here signifies a large piece of squared timber. The one is an exceedingly small object, the other a large one. The meaning is, that “we are much more quick and acute to judge of small offences in others, than of much larger offences in ourselves.” Even a very “small” object in the eye of another we discern much more quickly than a much larger one in our own; a small fault in our neighbor we see much more readily than a large one in ourselves. This was also a proverb in frequent use among the Jews, and the same sentiment was common among the Greeks, and deserves to be expressed in every language.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
We must judge ourselves, and judge of our own acts, but not make our word a law to everybody. We must not judge rashly, nor pass judgment upon our brother without any ground. We must not make the worst of people. Here is a just reproof to those who quarrel with their brethren for small faults, while they allow themselves in greater ones. Some sins are as motes, while others are as beams; some as a gnat, others as a camel. Not that there is any sin little; if it be a mote, or splinter, it is in the eye; if a gnat, it is in the throat; both are painful and dangerous, and we cannot be easy or well till they are got out. That which charity teaches us to call but a splinter in our brother's eye, true repentance and godly sorrow will teach us to call a beam in our own. It is as strange that a man can be in a sinful, miserable condition, and not be aware of it, as that a man should have a beam in his eye, and not consider it; but the god of this world blinds their minds. Here is a good rule for reprovers; first reform thyself.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

And why beholdest thou the mote - Καρφος might be translated the splinter: for splinter bears some analogy to beam, but mote does not. I should prefer this word (which has been adopted by some learned men) on the authority of Hesychius, who is a host in such matters; Καρφος, κεραια ξυλου λεπτη, Karphos is a thin piece of wood, a splinter. It often happens that the faults which we consider as of the first enormity in others are, to our own iniquities, as a chip is, when compared to a large beam. On one side, self-love blinds us to ourselves; and, on the other, envy and malice give us piercing eyes in respect of others. When we shall have as much zeal to correct ourselves, as we have inclination to reprove and correct others, we shall know our own defects better than now we know those of our neighbor. There is a caution very similar to this of our Lord given by a heathen: -

Cum tua praevideas oculis mala lippus inunctis:

Cur in amicorum vitiis tam cernis acutum,

Quam aut aquila, aut serpens Epidaurius?

Hor. Sat. lib. 1. sat. 3. l. 25-27

"When you can so readily overlook your own wickedness, why are you more clear-sighted than the eagle or serpent of Epidaurus, in spying out the failings of your friends?"

But the saying was very common among the Jews, as may be seen in Lightfoot.

Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, 465

If you will take hold of the work earnestly and, without making any apology for sin, will condemn sin in the flesh and reach up in faith and hope for divine grace and right judgment, you may overcome those deficiencies in your character which disqualify you for laboring in the cause of God. You have not advanced or improved for many years. You are further today from the standard of Christian perfection, from possessing the qualifications which should be found in the minister of the gospel, than you were a few months after you had received the truth. 3T 465.1

God is displeased with those who are not intelligent in regard to the Christian religion and yet are trying to lead others. You are correctly represented by the man who sought to pull out a mote from his brother's eye when a beam was in his own eye. First set your own heart in order, and reform your own character; obtain a connection with God, and gain a daily Christian experience; then you may bear a burden for souls who are out of Christ. 3T 465.2

There are but few of the brethren who have taken more time to read different authors than you have, and yet you are very deficient in the qualifications necessary for a minister teaching the truth. You fail to quote, or even read, the Scriptures correctly. This should not be. You have not advanced in mental culture and have not secured a growth of grace in the soul which would shine out in your words and deportment. You have not felt the necessity of reaching up for higher and holier attainments. 3T 465.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 62

Both of you need to soften your hearts and be imbued with the Spirit of Christ, that you may, while living in an atmosphere of cheerfulness and benevolence, help those about you to be healthy and happy also. You have imagined that cheerfulness was not in accordance with the religion of Christ. This is a mistake. We may have true Christian dignity and at the same time be cheerful and pleasant in our deportment. Cheerfulness without levity is one of the Christian graces. You should guard against taking narrow views of religion, or you will limit your influence and become an unfaithful steward of God. 4T 62.1

Forbear reprimanding and censuring. You are not adapted to reprove. Your words only wound and sadden; they do not cure and reform. You should overcome the habit of picking at little things that you think amiss. Be broad, be generous and charitable in your judgment of people and things. Open your hearts to the light. Remember that Duty has a twin sister, Love; these united can accomplish almost everything, but separated, neither is capable of good. 4T 62.2

It is right that you should both cherish integrity and be true to your sense of right. The straight path of duty should be yours from choice. The love of property, the love of pleasure and friendship, should never influence you to sacrifice one principle of right. You should be firm in following the dictates of an enlightened conscience, and your convictions of duty; but you should guard against bigotry and prejudice. Do not run into a pharisaical spirit. 4T 62.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 92

He who devotes himself to arduous public labor in the cause of humanity often finds little time to devote to his own family and, in one sense, is left almost without a family and without fireside, social influences. It has been thus with Brother -----. His mind has been constantly taxed. He had little opportunity to win the affections of his children or to give them needed restraint and guidance. 5T 92.1

There are many in the college who need a thorough conversion. Let none seek to discern the mote that is in their brother's eye, when they have a beam in their own eye. Each should cleanse his own soul-temple from its defilement. Let envy and jealousy go with the accumulated rubbish. Exalted privileges and heavenly attainments, purchased for us at an immense cost, are freely presented for our acceptance. God holds us individually accountable for the measure of light and privileges He has given us. And if we refuse to render unto God the improvement of the talents committed to our trust we forfeit His favor. 5T 92.2

Professor ----- would have served you well had he not been flattered by some and condemned by others. He became confused. He had traits of character that needed to be suppressed. In their enthusiasm some have given him undue confidence and praise. You have placed the man where it will be difficult for him to recover himself and find his true position. He has been sacrificed by both parties in the church, because they failed to heed the admonitions of the Spirit of God. This is injustice to him. He had newly come to the faith, and was not prepared for the developments which have been made. 5T 92.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 296

Could none of those who have made themselves detectives see the tendency of the position they have taken in endeavoring to become a controlling power? Where was their clear spiritual eyesight? Why could they discern a mote in the eye of a brother, while a beam was in their own eye? Oh, if ever a temple upon earth needed purifying, the institutions in Battle Creek need it now! Will you not seek God most humbly, that you may give the Laodicean message with clear, distinct utterance? Where are God's watchmen who will see the peril and give the warning? Be assured that there are messages to come from human lips under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. “Cry aloud, spare not, ... show My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek Me daily, ... as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God.” TM 296.1

We are soldiers of Christ. He is the Captain of our salvation, and we are under His orders and rules. We are to wear His armor; we are to be marshaled only under His banner. We are to subdue not our brother soldiers but our enemies, that we may build up Christ's kingdom. We are laborers together with God. We are to keep on the whole armor of God, and work as in view of the universe of heaven. Let every man do his duty, as given him of God. TM 296.2


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Ellen G. White
Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 125-9

Even the sentence, “Thou that judgest doest the same things,” does not reach the magnitude of his sin who presumes to criticize and condemn his brother. Jesus said, “Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” MB 125.1

His words describe one who is swift to discern a defect in others. When he thinks he has detected a flaw in the character or the life he is exceedingly zealous in trying to point it out; but Jesus declares that the very trait of character developed in doing this un-Christlike work, is, in comparison with the fault criticized, as a beam in proportion to a mote. It is one's own lack of the spirit of forbearance and love that leads him to make a world of an atom. Those who have never experienced the contrition of an entire surrender to Christ do not in their life make manifest the softening influence of the Saviour's love. They misrepresent the gentle, courteous spirit of the gospel and wound precious souls, for whom Christ died. According to the figure that our Saviour uses, he who indulges a censorious spirit is guilty of greater sin than is the one he accuses, for he not only commits the same sin, but adds to it conceit and censoriousness. MB 125.2

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