What does Matthew 12:35 mean?
ESV: The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.
NIV: A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.
NASB: The good person brings out of his good treasure good things; and the evil person brings out of his evil treasure evil things.
CSB: A good person produces good things from his storeroom of good, and an evil person produces evil things from his storeroom of evil.
NLT: A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.
KJV: A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
NKJV: A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.
Verse Commentary:
Jesus is condemning the Pharisees for accusing Him of casting out demons by the power of the devil instead of by the power of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:24). He is not allowing for the excuse that they just made a mistake or came to the wrong conclusion about Him (Matthew 12:32). They do not have a misunderstanding (John 5:39–40). Jesus is insisting that the Pharisees have spoken evil out of evil hearts. That's how it always works: what's inside one's heart eventually manifests in actions and words (Matthew 12:34).

The previous verse ended with that very principle: what's inside overflows and spills out into the world. The Pharisees have revealed their true intentions and state of mind with what they have said.

Now Jesus adds to the idea. Good people generally produce good things out of a good treasure within them. Evil people generally produce evil things from the evil treasure they carry. The heart of a person reveals the nature of a person by what comes out in their words and actions. In building this principle, Jesus is rejecting two possibilities. Good people do not innocently produce evil words or actions; misunderstandings or hard circumstances are not an excuse for evil actions. In the same way, bad people don't accidentally spew good words despite their spiritual darkness. The fruit always reveals the nature of the tree.

To fully grasp that point, it's crucial to realize Jesus is not using the word "good" to mean sinlessness or perfection. Scripture is clear that nobody but Jesus is good in that sense (Romans 3:23). Jesus is talking about the motives, intentions, and focus of the heart, as well as how people respond to Him as the Son of God. When someone speaks or does evil, it's motivated by an evil thought or intent in their heart.
Verse Context:
Matthew 12:33–37 contains Jesus' harshest rebuke of the Pharisees in this chapter. The immediate context of this criticism is their blasphemy against the Holy Spirit: attributing a miracle of Christ to Satan. Here again, Jesus explains how actions demonstrate a person's inner heart. That includes speech, which is the natural overflow of our thoughts and attitudes. Like a diseased tree, the Pharisees produce bad fruit. They are compared to vipers, associating them the Devil and evil. Echoing His teaching on God's perfect righteousness (Matthew 6:1, 5, 16), Jesus declares we are accountable for every word we say.
Chapter Summary:
Matthew 12 features confrontations between the Pharisees and Jesus over several issues. Among these are working on the Sabbath, healing on the Sabbath, and the source of His power to cast out demons. Jesus counters each argument and rebukes the Pharisees sharply for their obstinate unbelief. He even notes that those who maliciously ascribe His miracles to demons are unforgivable. He warns them, and the rest of their current generation, about the judgment to come. Jesus calls the Pharisees a brood of vipers and rejects their demand for another miracle. All they'll be promised is the sign of Jonah. The Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days. Jesus also states that all who do His Father's will are His family.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 11 depicted Jesus preaching and teaching after sending out His chosen disciples in pairs in chapter 10. Chapter 12 immediately picks up with more confrontation with the Pharisees. Jesus responds to those criticisms and rebukes their evil hearts as the source of their evil words. In the following chapter, Matthew will shift His focus onto Jesus' parables.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
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