Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 31: Matthew, Mark and Luke, Part I, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
MATTHEW 7:24-29; LUKE 6:47-49
24. Every one, therefore, who heareth those saying of mine, and doeth them, I will compare him to a wise man, who built his house upon a rock. 25. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and struck against that house, and it did not fall: for it had been founded on a rock. 26. And every one who heareth those saying of mine, and doeth them not, shall be compared to a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. 27. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and struck against that house: and it fell, and the downfall of it was great. 28. And it happened, when Jesus had finished these sayings, that the multitudes were astonished at his doctrine. 29. For he taught them as having authority, and not as the scribes.
47. Whoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like. 48. He is like a wise man who biult a house, and dug deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the deluge came, the stream dashed against that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded on a rock. 49. And he who hears, and did not, is like a man who built his house on the earth without a foundation, on which the stream dashed, and immediately it fell, and great was the downfall of that house.
Matthew 7:24. Every one, therefore, who heareth As it is often difficult to distinguish the true professors of the Gospel from the false, Christ shows, by a beautiful comparison, where the main difference lies. He represents two houses, one of which was built without a foundation, while the other was well-founded. Both have the same external appearance: but, when the wind and storms blow, and the floods dash against them, the former will immediately fall, while the latter will be sustained by its strength against every assault. Christ therefore compares a vain and empty profession of the Gospel to a beautiful, but not solid, building, which, however elevated, is exposed every moment to downfall, because it wants a foundation. Accordingly, Paul enjoins us to be well and thoroughly founded on Christ, and to have deep roots, (Col 2:7,)
“that we may not be tossed and driven about by every wind of doctrine,”
that we may not give way at every attack. The general meaning of the passage is, that true piety is not fully distinguished from its counterfeit, 485 till it comes to the trial. For the temptations, by which we are tried, are like billows and storms, which easily overwhelm unsteady minds, whose lightness is not perceived during the season of prosperity.
Who heareth these sayings The relative these denotes not one class of sayings, but the whole amount of doctrine. He means, that the Gospel, if it be not deeply rooted in the mind, is like a wall, which has been raised to a great height, but does not rest on any foundation. “That faith (he says) is true, which has its roots deep in the heart, and rests on an earnest and steady affection as its foundation, that it may not give way to temptations.” For such is the vanity of the human mind, that all build upon the sand, who do not dig so deep as to deny themselves.
28. When Jesus had finished these sayings By these sayings I understand not only the discourse which he delivered when he came down from the mountain, but the rest of the doctrine, which had already been made known to the people. The meaning therefore is, that, where he had given the people, on all sides, a taste of his doctrine, all were seized with astonishment, because a strange, indescribable, and unwonted majesty drew to him the minds of men. What is meant by his teaching them as having authority, and not as the scribes, I have already explained. 486
“Qu'on ne peut pas bien discerner la vraye crainte de Dieu, d'avecques une feintise et vaine apparence d’ icelle;” — “that the true fear of God cannot be well distinguished from a dissembling and vain appearance of it.”
A parallel passage in the Gospel of Mark (Mr 1:22) having already occurred, the reader will find Calvin's exposition of these remarkable words at page 247 of this volume. — Ed.