Some scholars think that Matthew has done a massive bit of editing here, leaving out the transitions and connective tissue that would help make sense of unrelated parts. I do not think that Matthew has haphazardly arranged parts of this single sermon or is pulling pieces from several sermons for the following reasons.
- If 7:7-11 has no connection to the surrounding verses then why not place them in chapter 6 where Jesus teaches concerning prayer?
- While Matthews’ account of this sermon certainly is condensed, every other part of this sermon has a flow to it. I do not think Matthew near the end got lazy and just randomly started throwing pieces in.
- Even if Matthew was getting sporadic in his selection, the Holy Spirit wasn’t.
- The scene Matthew gives us in 5:1 and 7:28-29 is that of a single setting.
- 5:1 forms and inclusio (think parenthesis) with 7:28 marking off the main body of this sermon with the repeated phrase, “the law and the prophets.”
- Finally the strongest and most meaningful word in our text is the little word with which verse 12 begins, “so”. This “so” is the glue that holdes the sermon together.
Here is the breakdown, Matthew 7:1-6 deals with our relations as disciples of Christ to other people, verses 7-11 teaches us about prayer, then in verse 12 we return to how we are to relate to others. What the “so” in verse 12 tells us then is that as we are reading about prayer we have not left the heading of personal relationships. The teaching on prayer relates to how we are to relate to others.
So, how then does this section on prayer relate to what comes before and after it? As you read verses 1-6 you realize your need for grace and wisdom and Jesus tells you prayer is for power to love people. You have a loving heavenly Father eager to give you such good gifts. Your love for others then overflows from His love for you. We are able to love because He first loved us.
This keeps the passage on prayer from being abused as a means to get whatever we want, and it makes the golden rule golden, that is, uniquely Christian.