What does Matthew 7:29 mean?
ESV: for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.
NIV: because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
NASB: for He was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.
CSB: because he was teaching them like one who had authority, and not like their scribes.
NLT: for he taught with real authority — quite unlike their teachers of religious law.
KJV: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
NKJV: for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
Verse Commentary:
Jesus has concluded what we now call the Sermon on the Mount, found in chapters 5—7 of the gospel of Matthew. Matthew has reported that those who heard Christ in person were "astonished" at His teaching (Matthew 5:28). That description uses a Greek word that literally means being "struck." At least part of their surprise is the way Jesus fully explained the purpose of God's law and commandments (Matthew 5:17), mostly by condemning hypocrisy and shallow, performance-based religion (Matthew 5:20).

Now Matthew adds another reason why Jesus' original audience was so shocked by His words. Since the crowd was mostly made up of Jewish people who participated in Israel's religious system, they had heard a lot of teaching in their lives from many different local Rabbis and teachers. Jewish scholars often taught the Scriptures by presenting multiple viewpoints of any given subject. They might point to different Rabbis, with different views, and leave it to the listener to decide which was closer to the truth. This was not Jesus' approach.

Jesus Christ taught with authority. He stated clearly, even bluntly, what was true and what was false. He called out sin and falsehood and even Israel's religious leaders themselves. He didn't build His arguments on the basis of other people or rely on their reputations. He spoke as One with first-hand, personal, absolute knowledge of the truth (John 3:13).

That's not a surprising approach, given that Jesus is the Son of God. As God incarnate, He knew exactly what God intended in every passage of Scripture and exactly what God wanted from His people. Jesus spoke with authority because all authority—even declaring who will or will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:23)—belongs to Him (Matthew 28:18; Philippians 2:10).
Verse Context:
Matthew 7:28–29 describes the reaction of the crowds after Jesus had finished teaching what we now call the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1–2). They were astonished. They had never heard teaching like His. Accustomed to the more philosophical teaching of the Jewish rabbis, they were shocked to hear Jesus be so authoritative and definitive about truth and error, right and wrong, life and 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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