What does Matthew 7:8 mean?
ESV: For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
NIV: For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
NASB: For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
CSB: For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
NLT: For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
KJV: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
NKJV: For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
Verse Commentary:
In the previous verse, Jesus commanded His listeners to ask, seek, and to knock, with the promise that each action would be rewarded (Matthew 7:7). In the following verses, He makes it clear that He is talking about prayer: asking from the Father, seeking from the Father, symbolically knocking on the Father's door. Some commentators suggest these words imply a progression. It's possible that "asking" means making a request, "seeking" implies persistence or fervor, and "knocking" represents continued and ongoing persistence.

In this verse, Jesus doubles down on the promise. Everyone who asks of God receives an answer. Everyone who seeks Him finds Him. The door is opened to everyone who knocks. By including everyone, Jesus shows that God's responsiveness to prayer is not based on the goodness of the one who prays, but on the goodness of God. We all know that among everyone, some are unworthy. God knows that among everyone, everyone is unworthy. Jesus shows that His Father does not only respond to the prayers of the super-religious, like the Pharisees (Matthew 5:20). He is ready to respond to the sincere asking, seeking, and knocking of each of His people.

That universal sense of God's response is especially important when looking at the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19). Elsewhere, the Bible explains that there's enough evidence of God in each person's life that they should be seeking God (Romans 1:20; Psalm 19:1). Those who want God will react to that evidence by searching for Him, and they will find Him.

That also means the context of God responding to the prayers of "everyone" is ultimately grounded in the context of Jesus Himself. He is quoted by John as saying, "No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Some requests are reasonable only from those who can legitimately call God Father. They also presume the person is approaching the "ask, seek, and knock" concept in a truly godly way (Matthew 6:9–13).
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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