I received the following question:

In Matthew 7, why would Christ tell them not to judge? He’s talking to the twelve, right? Was it just not time for them to judge at this point? We know they judged in the Acts period (Ananias & Sapphira — Acts 5, ect.)…? Is it because they hadn’t been instructed for service (Matt 10) at this point? Because they hadn’t been given authority?

In order to answer this one, we have to look at the verse in context. Matthew 7:1-5 reads:

1. “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4. Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5. Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Christ is telling them here, not that they should not judge at all, but rather that they should not judge hypocritically. For if they were to set in order a brother for a speck, when they had a plank in their own eye, they would be hypocrites. But notice that they were not told that they should not judge at all. Rather, they were to judge matters, but to be sure that they were not setting things in order in others’ lives that they had not set in order in their own. Governors in this world often judge in this way, forcing others to do what they themselves will not do. But that is not the way it is to be when God governs! Then, those who rule must rule themselves first, and then others as well. No hypocrisy like this will be allowed.

You are correct that the disciples did not yet have authority to judge, as they would be given authority in the Acts period. Yet that is not what Christ is saying here. Rather, He is anticipating the Acts period, and instructing them that they must set themselves in order first before other people. With the Holy Spirit to help them, they should have had no problem doing this, and did have no problem, as far as we can tell.

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