What does Matthew 7:10 mean?
ESV: Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?
NIV: Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?
NASB: Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?
CSB: Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?
NLT: Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not!
KJV: Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
NKJV: Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?
Verse Commentary:
Christ has asked, "Would you give your son a stone if he asked for bread?" (Matthew 7:9) as part of His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1–2). Now He asks, "Would you give your son a serpent if he asks for fish?" The main idea is that good human fathers don't harm or spite their children when given requests. Scholars also point out that a large stone can look like a small loaf of bread, and a snake can look like a piece of prepared fish. If so, Jesus is not merely speaking of giving good things, but also the idea that God would not respond to sincere requests with deception and death.

The following verse clarifies why Jesus is asking this. He's answering an unspoken question from His listeners: Why would God listen for my prayers? Why would He give when I ask, answer when I knock, or allow me to find what I seek from Him? This is a common question of skeptics, even today: why would an all-powerful God care about my prayers?

Jesus' rhetorical questions reveal the reason: God is a good Father who would never give evil or emptiness when asked for good. We should notice here that the requests from this imagined child are for bread and fish, the most common foods eaten in this time and place near the Sea of Galilee. In other words, Jesus pictures a request to have a need met, not a request for great luxury or power or fame. A good Father will not turn away such a request if it is in his power to grant it—and all things are within God's power.
Verse Context:
Matthew 7:7–14 describes God as a generous Father eager to give good gifts to His praying children. Jesus commands His followers to continually ask and seek, with confidence that they will receive and find. Christ summarizes the intent of God's commands in the Old Testament: doing for others what we want done for us. This is commonly referred to as "the Golden Rule." The way of Jesus begins by entering a narrow gate and continues down a hard path that leads to life. He commands His followers to take that path instead of the easy road that leads to destruction.
Chapter Summary:
Matthew 7 is the last of three chapters that record what is now known as the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus commands His hearers not to pronounce shallow or hypocritical judgment. He describes God as a generous Father eager to give good things to His children when they ask. He commands His followers to enter the narrow gate and walk the hard road to life. False prophets can be recognized by their fruit, meaning their actions and choices. At the same time, good deeds are not absolute proof that someone has true faith. To live by Jesus' teaching is like building the house of your life on a solid foundation instead of shifting sand.
Chapter Context:
Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount in chapter 5, discussing the Beatitudes and the idea that inner thoughts are very much part of sin and righteousness. Chapter 6 denounced hypocrisy, modeled prayer, and opposed anxiety. Chapter 7 discusses the proper manner of judgment, including how to gauge the teachings of others. Jesus also warns against spiritual self-deception. He concludes with an analogy about foundations and storms. The crowd's amazement at Christ's teachings leads into the miracles and encounters of chapters 8 and 9.
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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