Matthew Chapter 5
Mat 5:1 KJV And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
He went up — Being wearied with exhaustive labor, too weary to minister to the multitudes.
Into a mountain — He did not seek a public place where the largest audience could be gathered, but a place of retirement where he could be alone with his disciples.
Supposedly a site known as the Mount of Beatitudes, sloping gradually, about 60 feet high, situated about seven miles southwest from Capernaum. It is said that on this mountain the last remnant of the Crusaders was destroyed in AD 1187.
His disciples came — Jesus was addressing such of the Jews as had the hearing ear, such as had an inclination to be his disciples. Only the spirit-begotten understand these beatitudes fully. Not addressed to a promiscuous congregation of saints and sinners, but to his earnest and faithful disciples who had left all to follow him. (Russell)
Today there is a park on the mountain where we believe this took place in Arbel, Israel. It is very beautiful and over looks the Sea of Galilee and the town of Magdela. There is remnants of a lone tree on the hill. I saw this tree when I first visited the site in 1985, and in 2018 on a trip we visited the park (which was not there in 85) and the tree was damaged by a storm, they are trying hard to preserve it. There are other trees up there now, but on my first visit there was only one, and we imagined the Lord sitting beneath it as he gave this discourse.
Mat 5:2 KJV And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
The first portion of the Sermon on the Mount is known as the Beatitudes, which means “The Blessings” but can also be understood as giving the believer his “be – attitudes” – the attitudes he should “be.”
All of these character traits are marks and goals of all Christians. It is not as if we can major in one to the exclusion of others, as is the case with spiritual gifts. There is no escape from our responsibility to covet every one of these spiritual attributes.
If you meet one who claims to be a Christian but displays and desires none of these traits, you may rightly wonder about their salvation, because they do not have the character of kingdom citizens. But if they claim to have mastered these attributes, you may question their honesty. (Guzik)
Taught them — A different message; others hold forth the rich, the learned, the influential, as patterns to copy; but Jesus set forth the reverse to attain happiness. The sermon is entirely devoid of anything like oratory; for evidently its object was to instruct, rather than to play upon the emotions of the hearers. Instructed his disciples how they could best make their calling and election sure and win the great prize. His words were simple and easy to be understood. They applied strongly both to the judgment and to the heart. Not with threats of vengeance if the lessons were not learned; and while only the spirit-begotten can fully appreciate them, others may gather precious lessons from the beatitudes. (Russell)
Mat 5:3 KJV Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed — Much more than happy. Happiness usually proceeds from outward causes, while the word blessed here carries with it the thought of great or honorable–blessedness relates to that permanent joy and comfort which results from attaining character in harmony with the divine. The beatitudes designate the particular graces necessary to receive the blessings which the Father designed we should enjoy through Christ.
The contrast between the Ten Commandments and the eight beatitudes illustrates the difference between the Law Dispensation and the Dispensation of Grace.
The poor in spirit — The Foundation of the Palace of Blessedness is Humility.
The Greek word signifies “extremely poor, utterly destitute.”
The first blessed state, in some respects, comprehends all the others. It is the gateway, the hallway of the House of Blessing, from which all the other rooms are accessible.
Not the rich, the learned, the prominent, the rulers, the self-conceited, but those lacking self-esteem, who appreciate their own littleness and imperfection. Humble-minded, and therefore more teachable. While all humble persons will not attain the Kingdom, the Kingdom cannot be attained by anyone who is not humble. God would never accept as a member of the Kingdom class one possessed of the spirit of pride and selfish ambition. A full appreciation of our own spiritual destitution is essential before we will be ready to receive the measures of divine grace provided.
If the success of yesterday makes you fret under the humiliation of today, then beware: you are not as roundly developed spiritually as you should be.
Theirs is the kingdom — They are the prospective kings and priests of the new dispensation. Only the poor in spirit can submit to the discipline and training necessary to fit them for the Kingdom. (Russell)
The poor in spirit recognize that they have no spiritual “assets.” They know they are spiritually bankrupt. With the word poor, Jesus uses the more severe term for poverty. It indicates someone who must beg for whatever they have or get.
Poverty of spirit cannot be artificially induced by self-hatred; it is brought about by the Holy Spirit and our response to His working in our hearts.
The call to be poor in spirit is placed first for a reason, because it puts the following commands into perspective. They cannot be fulfilled by one’s own strength, but only by a beggar’s reliance on God’s power.(Guzik)
Mat 5:4 KJV Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are those who mourn: The ancient Greek grammar indicates an intense degree of mourning. Jesus does not speak of casual sorrow for the consequences of our sin, but a deep grief before God over our fallen state. What do those who mourn actually mourn about? Their mourning is not over just anything, but they mourn over sin. To really be followers of Jesus, we must mourn over our sin and the ruin and separation from God that comes to our life from sin.
For they shall be comforted: Those who mourn over their sin and their sinful condition are promised comfort. God allows this grief into our lives as a path, not as a destination. (Guzik)
They that mourn — The Palace Reception Room is the Chamber of Sorrow–mourning. The sympathetic, who realize their own imperfections, and are touched with pity for the poor groaning creation as they see them dying in sorrow, pain and disappointment.
Necessary for our complete separation from the things of the world, the flesh and the devil. Mourners in Zion, true saints in the nominal church, distressed at the worldliness therein. Mourning, of itself, is not a grace, but it betokens an attitude of mind which is acceptable in the Lord’s sight.
It was this mourning in sympathy that led to Jesus’ tears at Lazarus’ tomb; and to his being called “the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (Isa_53:3) We can cultivate this grace by frequently thinking of others and their interests and seeking to enter into these as though they were all our own.
They shall be comforted — The word comfort does not contain the thought of relief, but rather that of strengthened together, or added strength. Their comforting will begin at once, for their mourning will bring a readiness of mind to hearken for the Lord’s favor. Blessed are those who, being comforted themselves, shall be used of the Lord in the comforting of other members of his Body. (Russell)
Mat 5:5 KJV Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Are the meek — The Palace Library is Meekness. Submissive to the divine will. The teachable; not too proud to learn. Self-controlled, gentle, not easily provoked or irritated, forbearing under injury or annoyance. Meekness is necessary to learn valuable lessons in character-development, to be prepared to be the teachers of the world.
“God resisteth the proud.” (Jam_4:6)
Impossible without the first two graces of a humble mind and the large sympathies of the mourner.
Any wise man may learn something from a child; but anyone who is not meek finds it difficult to learn anywhere.
The blessed meek of verse 5 are the same class who, in verses 10 and 11, are bold and courageous enough to withstand evil and error and champion righteousness and truth.
It is a life work with many to conquer their too-high appreciation of themselves and to obtain the spirit of a sound mind as respects their own talents. Nothing is more dangerous to the child of God than self-conceit; it hinders reformation of the heart, as well as true usefulness to others, and especially usefulness in God’s service.
Shall inherit the earth — Purchased, as well as man, by the great sacrifice finished at Calvary. The reward of this grace, like the others, is future. When God’s Kingdom has come and His will is done on earth as it is in heaven.
Losing houses, lands, parents, children and friends, eventually they will inherit the earth. Under the primary and original covenant, as the Seed of Abraham. As members of Messiah, these will come into the full possession and control of the earth. The Church of the Firstborn is soon to have the entire Inheritance, the land as well as the power, dominion, glory and honor.
“I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance; and the uttermost parts of the earth for a possession” (Psa_2:8)
To bring it to becoming again a Paradise of God, a world-wide Eden. (Russell)
Blessed are the meek: In the vocabulary of the ancient Greek language, the meek person was not passive or easily pushed around. The main idea behind the word “meek” was strength under control, like a strong stallion that was trained to do the job instead of running wild.
To be meek means to show willingness to submit and work under proper authority. It also shows a willingness to disregard one’s own “rights” and privileges.
It is one thing for me to admit my own spiritual bankruptcy, but what if someone else does it for me? Do I react meekly?
For they shall inherit the earth: We can only be meek, willing to control our desire for our rights and privileges because we are confident God watches out for us, that He will protect our cause. The promise “they shall inherit the earth” proves that God will not allow His meek ones to end up on the short end of the deal.
Through the first three beatitudes we notice that the natural man finds no happiness or blessedness in spiritual poverty, mourning or meekness. These are only a blessing for the spiritual man, those who are new creatures in Jesus. (Guzik)
Mat 5:6 KJV Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Hunger and thirst — In a symbolic palace of blessedness the dining room is Hunger for Righteousness. Nothing is more conducive to spiritual hunger than approach to the throne of grace. Manifested by the desire to draw near to God, which the Lord expects before He fulfills His promise that they shall be filled or satisfied.
“As the hart panteth after the water brook.” (Psa_42:1)
After righteousness — That which is right, truth. Righteous heart or character. Righteousness here applies to right in every matter–truth.
Righteousness is so interwoven with its various parts–justice and injustice, truth and error, holiness and sin–that whoever is careless in one element is deficient in all.
So loving righteousness, truth, that they renounce and denounce bondage to creeds and stand forth for the truth.
We find what we seek! Those who desire to find God’s message will be guided of the Lord. Those who approach from the standpoint of cavil, unbelief, antagonism, are equally sure to find what they seek–flaws, contradictions, etc.
They shall be filled — Made holy. The water of life and truth which Christ has furnished satisfied as nothing else could do. Those who drink of it have no cravings for vain philosophies of men which make void the Word of God.
The appetite for truth and righteousness will remain, but the prevalence of truth and righteousness shall be its satisfaction.
Does not imply a miraculous filling. They will make use of their time, knowledge and opportunities for seeking the bread of eternal life which satisfies.
Repeatedly filled as full as the present poor earthen vessel will contain. With the filling comes the enlargement of our capacities, and still further filling and a further enlargement, and so on.
Satisfaction will not be attained fully in the present life; the believer progresses more and more to this satisfaction, receiving the full measure on the other side of the veil. (Russell)
Blessed are those who hunger: This describes a profound hunger that cannot be satisfied by a snack. This is a longing that endures and is never completely satisfied on this side of eternity.
Hunger and thirst for righteousness: We see Christians hungering for many things: power, authority, success, comfort, happiness – but how many hunger and thirst for righteousness?
This is hunger for complete righteousness, not just enough to soothe a guilty conscience. (Guzik)
Mat 5:7 KJV Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
The merciful care and reach out to help those that are in need, without demanding that they deserve such help. For they shall obtain mercy: If you want mercy from others – especially God – then you should take care to be merciful to others. (Guzik)
The merciful — In a symbolic palace of blessedness the door is Mercy.
Those who, having recognized their own need of divine mercy, are merciful and compassionate toward others. Only such could be entrusted with the works of restitution.
A genuine mercy, a forgiving “from your hearts.” (Mat_18:35)
A genuine mercy and not a feigned one; it must cover from sight, and, as far as possible, blot from memory the failings and weaknesses of others.
An outward expression, which men can discern, resulting from an appreciation of righteousness and a hunger and thirst for it in the renewed heart.
It is for God to be just; it is for men to exercise the blessed characteristic of mercy, compassion, forgiveness.
As applied to thought: it is better to be deceived a hundred times than to go through life soured by a suspicious mind. R4919:4
The unmerciful, evil-thinking mind is father to unmerciful conduct toward others.
It is very unbecoming for those who themselves have need of divine mercy to be sticklers in the last degree in the requirement of justice for others.
Jas 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. –If our standard in dealing with others be one of exact justice, we may expect no mercy at the Lord’s hands.
Obtain mercy — Only the merciful shall obtain mercy: “If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Mat_6:15)
The promise of mercy to the merciful is a principle of divine government, because the more generous and loving the heart, the nearer to the perfect condition.
Mat 5:8 KJV Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
In the ancient Greek, the phrase pure of heart has the idea of straightness, honesty, and clarity. This describes someone who isn’t constantly “dirty” from all the little “stains” that come from contact with this world.
i. For they shall see God: In this, the pure of heart receive the most wonderful reward. They shall enjoy greater intimacy with God than they could have imagined.
ii. Ultimately, this intimate relationship with God must become our greatest motivation for purity, greater than a fear of getting caught or a fear of consequences. (Guzik)
The pure in heart — In a symbolic palace of blessedness the window through which we may see God is Purity of Heart.
In his creation, man was made in the image of God, and so was originally pure in heart.
We will be judged according to the purity of the heart, mind, intention, will. Those absolutely cleansed in will and spirit, and, as far as possible, in flesh and tongue. Loyalty to the principles of truth and righteousness, the principles of divine government; loyalty to God and our Lord Jesus Christ and members of his body. Purity of motive, of intention, of effort, of will; in the sense of transparency, of truthfulness; sincere, unsullied, without adulteration
So long as the motives of the new will are honorable, we have the assurance that we will ultimately reach perfection through obedience. If we fail to reach perfection of heart-development during the period of our trial, we shall die the second death. But this does not mean perfection of the flesh.
To be pure-hearted means to be sincere and to utter nothing which we do not mean.
The pure of heart are those whose intentions are pure, whose motives are pure, who desire the best–long for the best. Hence the importance of criticizing or judging our hearts, the necessity of purging from them everything rebellious and sinful. We may be sure that the pure in heart, in intention and endeavor, will make considerable progress in overcoming the weaknesses of the flesh.
The thought is not perfection of conduct, word or thought, but perfection of intention as respects all of these. The honest-hearted, those that have absolutely right intentions. An evil mouth, a mouth which does injury to others, indicates an evil heart.
Psa_24:4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
1Ti_1:5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
2Ti_2:22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
1Pe_1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
They shall see God — Greek, horao, discern.
“Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” (Heb_12:14)
Such have the clearest views of God’s character and plan now; and such shall see him shortly when changed in the first resurrection.
Not only attain the character-likeness of the Lord Jesus, but eventually they shall be made like him and “see him as he is” in the first resurrection. (1Jo_3:2) In the fullness of heavenly glory.
A foretaste comes in the present life: to “comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and know the love of Christ.” (Eph_3:18)
Where God sees the heart pure and true to him and to his spirit and law of love, he will, in due time, give the new body suited to it.
Those who have a double mind, a double will, also have a double vision, a double eye. They see spiritual things cross-eyed, double, and proportionately indistinctly. (Russell)
Mat 5:9 KJV Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: This does not describe those who live in peace, but those who actually bring about peace, overcoming evil with good.
i. One way we accomplish this is through spreading the gospel, because God has entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation (2Co_5:18).
ii. For they shall be called sons of God: The reward of peacemakers is that they are recognized as true children of God. They share His passion for peace and reconciliation, the breaking down of walls between people.
The character traits described in the Beatitudes are not valued by our modern culture. We don’t recognize or give awards to the “Most Pure in Heart” or “Most Poor in Spirit.” Though our culture doesn’t think much of these character traits, they do described the character of the citizens of God’s kingdom. (Guzik)
The peacemakers — In a symbolic palace of blessedness the parlor is represented by the characteristics of a Peacemaker.
Purity of heart toward God manifests itself in peaceable desires and efforts to promote peace in others. To be a peace-maker, one must first be a peace-lover.
The Lord’s people are to sympathize with all and join with none in the warring world.
Not mischief-makers, strife-breeders, lawless. Taking opportunity to help others. We should seek to subdue and calm the passions of men in the coming strife. The great majority of those who have named the name of Christ, even if their hearts are pure and their sympathies large, pursue a reverse course. Even some of the true saints use their tongues to stir up strife.
With perverse natural dispositions, it may require considerable time and practice to learn and love the path which leads to peace amongst God’s people. Not peace at any price, otherwise our Lord and the faithful body might not have suffered.
There are times where “backbone” is necessary, when principle is involved, and when retreat would be absolutely wrong; but these cases are rare. Undoubtedly we can often yield as Isaac did with Abimelech. (Gen_26:12-25)
Combativeness, exercised toward fellow creatures, must be modified by mercy; it must be trained to fight for truth and against error, but not against the ignorant servants of the error.
Fighting against the imperfections and weaknesses of our own natures will leave comparatively little time for assaulting others. If we think the majority less wise than we, let us learn patience and wait, as the Lord does, until they learn the error of their course and amend it. We are never to use the sword, earthly power, in seeking to promote the cause of the Master. (Russell)
Mat 5:10 KJV Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they — To be worthy of this blessing means to develop and possess a character which the enemies of righteousness would deem worthy of persecution. It is not until the Lord’s people have experienced the preceding blessings of his grace that they reach the point where they can “glory in tribulation also.” (Rom_5:3)
Which are persecuted — In a symbolic palace of blessedness the kitchen represents the trials and difficulties incidental to the rounding out of character and proper nourishment and upbuilding spiritually.
Not only in severe persecutions, but also in the lesser ones, when our names are cast out as evil, “when men shall separate you from their company.” (Luk_6:22)
The Lord is looking for those who are so faithful to the principles of righteousness that they will exercise it toward their enemies even when persecuted by them.
For righteousness’ sake — Not for fault-finding and general cantankerousness. For the sake of truth in obedience to the heavenly calling.
Peter, John, Paul and Silas, with backs bleeding and feet fast in the stocks, sang praises to God for the privileges they enjoyed of suffering with Christ. (Russell)
“If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God.” (1Pe_4:16)
Blessed are those who are persecuted: For what sake are these blessed ones persecuted? For righteousness’ sake and for Jesus’ sake (for My sake), not for their own stupidity or fanaticism.
i. Peter recognizes that suffering comes to some Christians for reasons other than their faithfulness to Jesus (1Pe_4:15-16). (Guzik)
Mat 5:11 KJV Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Blessed are ye, when — Addressed to his disciples, all his followers throughout this age. As a result of making the Gospel your all- absorbing theme of life. From the moment of our positive standing up for the Lord and his cause we become stronger in the Lord.
“Blessed are ye” signifies that persecution is a favor from God. His followers must take up their cross if they would follow him. Through much tribulation they must enter the Kingdom. (Mat_16:24; Act_14:22)
We should not court it, but should desire this evidence of our faithfulness. Whoever will faithfully exercise his ambassadorship, and not shun to declare the whole counsel of God, will speedily know something of the sufferings of Christ. Increase the sacrifice daily and you increase the proof daily that you are his; and such as are his he gathers.
When God gives quietness, none can make trouble. (Job_34:29)
Men shall revile you — Thinking you carry matters to an extreme, are too conscientious, give too much time to religious matters, and run not with them to the same excesses as formerly.
Followers of him who “when reviled, reviled not again.”
“Ye shall be hated of all men for my sake.” (Mat_10:22)
God permitted his Son to be reviled to demonstrate the kind of character that was pleasing to him, and he wished to test the loyalty of Jesus himself. The chief opposition to our Lord came from the religious leaders and professors; so also with his followers.
If, under the pressure, they yield and revile in return, and slander and backbite, they are proving themselves unworthy of a place in the Kingdom.
And persecute you — “Whosoever will live godly shall suffer persecution.” (2Ti_3:12)
The faithful followers of the Lord will be unsympathetically viewed, hated and persecuted; for the presentations of truth make manifest errors and hypocrisies. Such trials and difficulties are for the rounding out of character and for nourishing and upbuilding spiritually.
Such experiences, overruled for good, serve to test faithfulness and trust; and the joys of the Kingdom, gained through much tribulation, will more than compensate for every tear and sorrow.
Should be endured faithfully, calmly, rejoicingly.
Things may seem to be going contrary to your welfare, to be working out incalculable harm–but have faith. Persecution implies that the person persecuted possessed qualities that are feared; that the persecutor realizes his own weakness to meet the arguments in a more rational way; that either the persecutors are weak or the arguments of the persecuted are strong. Persecution will come to those who have the courage of their conviction.
It is safe to say that the persecutors are always wrong, even if we cannot say that the persecuted are always right. Sometimes this comes from those who were once brethren in the truth; those who once dipped with us in the dish of divine nourishment at the table of the Lord.
And shall say — Our Lord seems to have taken more notice of the evil-speaking that would come upon his people than of the physical sufferings.
All manner of evil — The call is to ignominy now. Boycotted socially, boycotted in business, slandered in every conceivable manner, and often by those of whom they had least expected it.
Their object in this course is to undermine by prejudice what they fail to meet by fair reasoning and Scripture.
Our opposers do not try to show wherein we have retrograded in life and action, but put forth all their efforts to show what a fearful thing it is to leave the church.
Those who would say all manner of evil falsely, knowing the charges are false, are the very kind who would crucify or burn at the stake, had they the power.
“Woe unto you when all men speak well of you; for so did their fathers unto the false prophets.” (Luk_6:26)
Falsely — We should not be surprised at false charges and false insinuations against the (Russell)
Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake: Jesus brings insults and spoken malice into the sphere of persecution. We cannot limit our idea of persecution to only physical opposition or torture. (Guzik)
Mat 5:12 KJV Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Rejoice — Possible only when we understand that in these trying experiences there is a glorious purpose.
Great is your reward — What we do not get here of prosperity we shall get there, in the Kingdom. The measure of self-sacrifice and sufferings for Christ, endured by each of the consecrated, becomes a measure of the faithfulness of each as ambassadors.
In heaven — In spiritual things, not in temporal matters. And it is this heavenly reward for which you have been called and for which you have entered the race. The rewards of Christ’s discipleship were not to be expected in the present life. All that we may now have is the peace and blessing of the Lord in our hearts, with glorious hopes for the future.
So persecuted they the prophets — And our Lord and the apostles. Being thus in good company in our experiences, we shall be in like good company when the Lord makes up his jewels.
Which were before you — We have reason to believe that the Master would fare no better in the world today than at his first advent, were he to appear as then. (Russell)
Rejoice and be exceedingly glad: Literally, we could translate this phrase to say that the persecuted should “leap for joy.” Why? Because the persecuted will have great reward in heaven, and because the persecuted are in good company: the prophets before them were also persecuted.
d. Why will the world persecute them? Because the values and character expressed in these Beatitudes are so opposite to the world’s manner of thinking. Our persecution may not be much compared to others, but if no one speaks evil of you, are these Beatitudes traits of your life? (Guzik)
Mat 5:13 KJV Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
You are the salt of the earth: Disciples are like salt because they are precious. In Jesus’ day, salt was a valued commodity. Roman soldiers were sometimes paid with salt, giving rise to the phrase “worth his salt.”
b. You are the salt of the earth: Disciples are like salt because they have a preserving influence. Salt was used to preserve meats, and to retard decay, and Christians should have a preserving influence on their culture.
c. You are the salt of the earth: Disciples are like salt because they add flavor. Christians should be a “flavorful” people.
d. If the salt loses its flavor . . . it is then good for nothing: Salt must keep its “saltiness” to be of any value. When it is no good as salt, it is trampled under foot. In the same way, too many Christians loose their “flavor” and become good for nothing. (Guzik)
The salt of the earth — Jesus and his higher law of love, in his own life and in that of his followers.
A healthful, cleansing, preserving element in the midst of a world of moral decay and sinful pollution.
The Christian has a special purpose in the world–to be a preservative power, to have antiseptic qualities, and to draw out all the good qualities of those with whom he is connected. Exerting an influence and power among men of a preservative kind, delaying, if not arresting, degrading tendencies. The preservative influence of God’s people affects not only themselves, but spreads over a considerable space around them.
A symbol of faithfulness and loyalty, and signifies a purifying and preservative quality that is a detriment to corruption. As a savory article of diet, it symbolized hospitality; as an antiseptic, it signified durability, fidelity, purity; as a preservative, it is a symbol of an enduring compact.
Saltness from the Savior’s teachings has a wide influence upon the world. Without it, corruption and a complete collapse would have come long ago. Civilization is merely the arrest of those elements of decay which are at work in the human family, a preserving or salting of the good qualities which have not yet become extinct.
Have lost his savour — That which constitutes the saints the salt of the earth is the fact that they have been salted with the truth.
“Have salt [purity, righteousness] in yourselves” (Mar_9:50). If we have not the salt in ourselves, how can we be the salt of the earth?
How important that we not only have salt in ourselves, but that we continue to retain its healthful properties!
Good for nothing — Absolutely useless except for its intended purpose.
Tit 1:15-16 Weymouth To the pure everything is pure; but to the polluted and unbelieving nothing is pure, but on the contrary their very minds and consciences are polluted. 16 They profess to know God; but in their actions they disown Him, and are detestable and disobedient men, and for any good work are utterly useless.
But to be cast out — If we lose the holy Spirit, there is no way by which we could be renewed again.
Trodden under foot — Destroyed. (Russell)
Mat 5:14 KJV Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
You are the light of the world: Jesus gives the Christian both a great compliment and a great responsibility when He says that we are the light of the world, because He claimed that title for Himself as He walked this earth (Joh_8:12 and Joh_9:5). (Guzik)
Ye are the light — Greek, phos. The same word applied to our Lord. Synonym for truth and righteousness.
You are now so illuminated by the truth that you yourself have become a living representative of it.
By his spirit in us. The Lord’s light shone into a little corner of the world called Palestine, and from his lamp many followers have lighted their lamps. It is the light of God’s truth, shining in our hearts, which shines out upon the world. The light will become brighter in proportion to our realization of our own imperfections to the degree of our consecration to the Lord. Light-bearers for the benefit of others–burning and shining lights, sympathetic and helpful lights.
Christian fellowship is thought to be one of the very best aids to maintaining the light of the Spirit. If we neglect the privilege of prayer, of study, or of fellowship with the Lord through failure to think of him, the illumination of the Spirit will grow dim. But if we should be seduced into worldliness by the spirit of the world, our light would be quenched or extinguished.
Of the world — Not directly, but by a reflex light–through those who possess it–the spirit operates upon, but not in, the world.
Without the Gospel light shining from Jesus and his followers, the corruption of Christendom would be even worse than it is. When the lights have all been extinguished, the great time of trouble will follow. (Russell)
“Burning Embers never die…”
Mat 5:15 KJV Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
Light a candle — He will test us and prove whether we are worthy to shine forth as the sun, enlightening the whole world in a manner with which our little lamps of the present time will in no sense compare.
Under a bushel — Its light would become extinguished. If light does not shine out, it will soon die out. By covering his light, one demonstrates lack of courage, of appreciation, of earnestness.
We should not say, “We know not the man Jesus.” He will withdraw the light from such a one.
On a candlestick — In a position where it may dispel as much as possible of the darkness of this world.
It giveth light — The light is conspicuous because the darkness is general.
In the house — Our lights are to shine in the “household of faith.” So that our own family, our own household, our neighbors, may see it burning. (Russell)
Let your light so shine before men: The purpose of light is to illuminate and expose what is there. Therefore light must be exposed before it is of any use – if it is hidden under a basket, it is no longer useful.
i. Cannot be hidden: Just like a city that is set on a hill, it goes against the very nature and purpose of light for it to be hidden. When a Christian hides his light, he fights himself and the Holy Spirit by never letting his light so shine before men.
ii. But on a lampstand: Even as lamps are placed higher so their light can be more effective, we should look for ways to let our light shine in greater and broader ways.(Guzik)
Mat 5:16 KJV Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
That they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven: The purpose in letting our light so shine by doing good works is so that others will glorify God, not ourselves.
d. A key thought in both the pictures of salt and light is distinction. Salt is needed because the world is rotting and decaying and if our Christianity is also rotting and decaying, it won’t be any good. Light is needed because the world is in darkness, and if our Christianity imitates the darkness, we have nothing to show the world.
i. To be effective we must seek and display the Christian distinctive. We can never affect the world for Jesus by becoming like the world.
e. The figures of salt and light also remind us that the life marked by the beatitudes is not to be lived in isolation. We often assume that those inner qualities can only be developed or displayed in isolation from the world, but Jesus wants us to live them out before the world.
f. Jesus points to a breadth in the impact of disciples that must have seemed almost ridiculous at the time. How could these humble Galileans salt the earth, or light the world? But they did.
g. Jesus never challenges us to become salt or light. He simply says that we are – and we are either fulfilling or failing that responsibility. (Guzik)
Let your light — Of the holy Spirit; its influence is Christianizing, civilizing, uplifting, and produces a regard for right and a respect for God. Not merely the message upon our lips, but also the influence which emanates from our daily lives. It is the duty of every child of God to be very active in the dissemination of the truth.
The darkness “hateth the light.” (Joh_3:19-20)
So shine — That the spirit of devotion pervade every family, every household, including the servants. Flash forth the truth into every nook and corner where dark creeds and black theories have so long lain.
In proportion as the true followers of Jesus have kept their lamps trimmed and burning, a measure of enlightenment has spread throughout the world. All men who are directly or indirectly in contact with these lights of the world have blessings in proportion to their preparation for them.
That they may see — That all those intimately associated with the body of Christ may be able to take knowledge of them, that they have been with Jesus.
Your good works — In accord with the Master’s teachings. Your likeness to the character of the Lord. In our daily lives. Our daily walk and conversation in all the little things of life. Will be a reproof on the sins of the world without one word being uttered on the subject. Not carrying our Bibles in an ostentatious manner, but we are exhorted to show forth in our daily lives the lessons we learn from its precious pages. Whether they account for these works properly or evilly.
Of some our Lord said that they confess with their mouths, but deny with their lives. Our whole lives are to be in conformity with the professions we are making.
Glorify your Father — By honoring the principles of righteousness as they see them exemplified in God’s peculiar people. Recognizing that these are of God, that theirs is the ideal life, they glorify God.
This shining will have an effect upon the world, reproving mankind and setting before them an example of better living, better thinking.
“In the day of their visitation.” (1Pe_2:12)
Mat 5:17 KJV Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets: Jesus here begins a long discussion of the law, and wants to make it clear that He does not oppose the Law of Moses, but He will free it from the way the Pharisees and Scribes wrongly interpreted the law.
b. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill: Jesus wants to make it clear that He has authority apart from the Law of Moses, but not in contradiction to it. Jesus added nothing to the law except one thing that no man had ever added to the law: perfect obedience. This is certainly one way Jesus came to fulfill the law. (Guzik)
To destroy the law — The Jews reasoned that by promising a class everlasting life, even though they were unable to keep the Mosaic Law, was a setting aside of the Law, making void all the prophets. Jesus and his apostles expounded the harmony between Christianity and Judaism.
But to fulfil — Jesus was a Jew, and obligated to every feature of the Law. He fulfilled the Law Covenant–met all its requirements, and obtained its reward, life. That fulfilled it, for that was the end for which it was given. Only a perfect man could meet its conditions, thus proving that Christ’s perfection was not altered by the fact that his mother was imperfect.
But he no more fulfilled all the Law than he did all the prophecies. He fulfilled all connected with the sacrifice, and nothing connected with the Kingdom.
The Gospel of Jesus magnifies the Jewish Law by admitting its righteousness, its reasonableness, and by admitting that the full fault is with humanity. (Russell)
Mat 5:18 KJV For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Even though He often challenged man’s interpretations of the law (especially Sabbath regulations), Jesus never broke the law of God.
c. One jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled: The jot and the tittle were small punctuation marks in Hebrew writing. It is as if Jesus says, “Not one dot of an “i” or not one cross of a “t” will pass away till all is fulfilled. And indeed, Jesus did perfectly fulfill the law.
i. Jesus fulfilled the doctrinal teachings of the law in that He brought full revelation.
ii. Jesus fulfilled the predictive prophecy of the law in that He is the Promised One, showing the reality behind the shadows.
iii. Jesus fulfilled the ethical precepts of the law in that He fully obeyed them and He reinterpreted them in their truth. (Guzik)
One jot — One iota, the smallest letter in the Greek alphabet.
Realizing God’s care in making the shadow should not only give us confidence in its correctness, but lead us to examine closely for the meaning of those shadows.
One tittle — Fine point of a letter. The holy Spirit inspired, in many cases, the exact phraseology.
Every good promise of the holy Scriptures will surely have fulfillment.
In no wise pass from the law — The Law stands exactly as it was given, and applies only to those to whom it was given. The strictness with which the Jews were obliged to obey the Law indicates the amount of reliance which can be placed on its numerous sacrifices and observances.
The typical sacrifices continued until Christ died, for Jesus himself was under the law, a part of which he fulfilled. R5163:3
Note the remarkable similarity with 2Co_3:11. (R.V.)
2Co 3:10-11 CEV In fact, the new agreement is so wonderful that the Law is no longer glorious at all. 11 The Law was given with a glory that faded away. But the glory of the new agreement is much greater, because it will never fade away.
Till — Our Savior did not say the Law should not pass away, but that it should not pass away until it was fulfilled. But he came to fulfill it, so if it was fulfilled in him, it has passed away. The observance of all types must be kept up until their fulfillment at least began; for the keeping of a type is not the fulfillment of it. The fulfillment is reached when the type ceases, being replaced by the reality, the antitype.
All be fulfilled — The Law was neither altered nor amended, but fulfilled and set aside, abolished by our Redeemer. Referring not only to its covenant obligations, but that all the blessings expressed in it typically would also be sure of fulfillment on an antitypical scale. Then the ceremonial, or typical, features of the Law will pass away. (Russell)
Mat 5:19 KJV Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
The commandments are to be obeyed as explained and fulfilled by Jesus’ life and teaching, not as in the legalistic thinking of the religious authorities of Jesus’ day. For example, sacrifice is commanded by the law, but it was fulfilled in Jesus, so we do not run the danger of being called least in the kingdom of heaven by not observing animal sacrifice as detailed in the Law of Moses.
b. Whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven: The Christian is done with the law as a means of gaining a righteous standing before God. One passage that explains this is Gal_2:21 : For if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain. However, the law stands as the perfect expression of God’s ethical character and requirements.
i. The law sends us to Jesus to be justified, because it shows us our inability to please God in ourselves. But after we come to Jesus, He sends us back to the law to learn the heart of God for our conduct and sanctification. (Guzik)
Shall break — If any of the followers of Jesus should violate the Ten Commandments and teach men to do so, it would manifestly be done through ignorance and misunderstanding, marking such as one of the least in the Kingdom, unfit for a position of prominence in the service of the Church.
Shall make little of any commandment of God. Whoever will go contrary to God’s arrangements or will in any respect, we should thereby consider him less.
Of these commandments — The divine law is briefly summed up: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart…And thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Deu_6:5; Lev_19:18; Mat_22:37-39)
The Ten Commandments are but the outer shell, as it were, of deeper sentiments.
The new hope of Gentile Christians does not abrogate God’s law, nor does it release them from the obligations of his law; but our imperfections are covered by Christ’s merit.
Shall teach men so — By example or precept, what is not in fullest accord with the divine plan. It is a responsible thing to be the mouthpiece of God, to make sure that not a word is uttered which would misrepresent the divine character and plan.
Those who hold and teach a measure of error when it was their privilege to have clear truth shall be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.
Those who would keep the divine law most perfectly in heart and life would be most nearly copies of God’s dear Son.
“Love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Rom_13:10)
And teach — The Christian must study the Law, but he studies it as a shadow of better things, as typical of the blessings promised under the greater than Moses–Christ. Harvest Gleanings
Look out amongst you those who are walking the most in the footsteps of Jesus if you want to elect elder brothers and deacons in the Church. (Russell)
Mat 5:20 KJV For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Though the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was impressive to human observation, it could not prevail before God (Isa_64:6).
Jesus shows the true meaning of the law. But this isn’t Jesus against Moses; it is Jesus against false and superficial interpretations of Moses.
a. In regard to the law, the two errors of the scribes and Pharisees were that they both restricted God’s commands (as in the law of murder) and extended the commands of God past His intention (as in the law of divorce).
b. The people Jesus spoke to only knew of the Bible what these scribes had told them. They didn’t – and couldn’t – read God’s Word for themselves. We certainly don’t have the same excuse. (Guzik)
Shall exceed — To be accepted, his followers must be nearer right in heart, have more of the spirit of the divine law, than the Pharisees. The Church’s covenant means more than merely the observance of the Law; it is a covenant to sacrifice; and justice, the divine law, could not demand sacrifice.
Of the scribes — They had the whole Law of God and claimed to believe and teach it; but they distorted it by their traditions and their ignoble, though whitewashed, characters. They were particular respecting the little requirements of the Law, but were careless respecting the spirit of love. This, Jesus termed hypocrisy. (Russell)
Mat 5:21 KJV Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
You have heard it said: These people had not really studied the Law of Moses for themselves. All they had was the teaching on the law from the scribes and Pharisees. In this particular matter, the people had heard the scribes and Pharisees teach “You shall not murder.” (Guzik)
Ye have heard – Or, this is the common interpretation among the Jews. Jesus proceeds here to comment on some prevailing opinions among the Jews; to show that the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was defective; and that people needed a better righteousness, or they could not be saved. He illustrates what he meant by that better righteousness by showing that the common opinions of the scribes were erroneous. (Barnes)
The judgment – This was the tribunal that had cognizance of cases of murder, etc. It was a court that sat in each city or town, and consisted commonly of seven members. It was the lowest court among the Jews, and from it an appeal might be taken to the Sanhedrin. (Barnes)
Mat 5:22 KJV But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
But I say to you: Jesus shows His authority, and does not rely on the words of previous scribes or teachers. He will teach them the true understanding of the Law of Moses.
c. Whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: The teaching of the scribes and Pharisees (“You shall not murder”) was true enough. Yet they also taught that anything short or murder might be allowed. Jesus corrects this, and makes it clear that it is not only those who commit the act of murder who are in danger of judgment. Those who have a murderous intent in the heart are also in danger of the judgment.
i. Jesus exposes the essence of the scribes’ heresy. To them, the law was really only a matter of external performance, never the heart. Jesus brings the law back to the matters of the heart.
And whoever says to his brother, “Raca!” shall be in danger of the council: To call someone “Raca” expressed contempt for their intelligence. Calling someone a fool showed contempt for their character. Either one broke the heart of the law against murder, even if it did not commit murder.
- Commentators have translated the idea behind Raca as “nitwit, blockhead, numbskull, bonehead, brainless idiot.” (Guzik)
Whosoever is angry without a cause — Thereby disobeying the spirit of the command, Thou shalt not kill. Hatred is murder, slander is assassination, and the destruction of a neighbor’s good name is robbery and rapine.
In danger of — Amenable to. Because the spirit of anger is that which, unrestrained, would lead to murder.
The judgment — The judges; a court of seven (some say 23) men, empowered to judge some classes of crimes.
His brother, Raca — Villain. Blockhead.
A slander is a thief according to worldly standards, stealing one’s good name; according to Christian standards, still higher, slanderers are murderers. Thus the very suggestion of slander is to be shunned as of the spirit of Satan. (Joh_8:44)
Thou fool — A moral degenerate. Apostate wretch.
If, aside from the Bible, one reaches a conclusion that another considers wholly illogical, neither should he think nor speak of the other as a fool, but should remember that all present knowledge is incomplete and our reasoning faculties at present imperfect.
Danger of hell fire — Of Gehenna fire. By the aid of brimstone, the bodies of specially detestable criminals were burned with the other refuse of Jerusalem in the valley of Hinnom, or Gehenna, adjoining the city. A living thing was never cast into Gehenna. The Jews were forbidden to torture any creature; thus Gehenna typified the Second Death.
The destruction of the body in Gehenna after death, figuratively, implied the loss of the hope of future life by a resurrection.
The object of this burning in Gehenna was to make the crime and the criminal detestable in the eyes of the people, and signified that the culprit was a hopeless case. (Russell)
Mat 5:23 KJV Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
Gift to the altar — Anything to offer to the Lord, of service, worship or thanks.
Aught against thee — It should be noted that the one addressed is not the brother trespassed against, but the trespassing brother. That someone has been wronged by you in thought, word or deed. (Russell)
Mat 5:24 KJV Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
Leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way: Jesus considers it far more important to be reconciled to a brother than to perform a religious duty. Jesus says we must first be reconciled to your brother. We can’t think that our service towards the Lord justifies bad relationships with others. We should do what Paul commanded in Rom_12:18 : If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. (Guzik)
Leave there thy gift — Do not think that it will be acceptable to God while in your hearts, or outwardly, you are practicing injustice toward others. Be reconciled to — Make amends to; apologize in full. Every moment of delay endangers your spiritual standing with the Lord.
Thy brother — Explanations in full of whatever wrong you have done him.
And offer thy gift — Assured that in such an attitude of heart the Lord will be pleased to accept your offering. (Russell)
Jas 3:8-10 KJV But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
But note that the Apostle calls our attention to the fact that some who have become people of God, some who do Him reverence, fail to take note of the fact that the same tongue with which they sing Divine praises and tell Divine mercy they use to backbite, slander, defame, crush, mortify, scathe, flay their fellowmen! Alas, we realize the truth of the charge! And to realize means to correct on the part of those who are seeking to do the Divine will and to be true disciples of the Redeemer. A fountain cannot send forth at the same opening pure water and brackish. Hence we may know that if with our tongues we are doing injury to our fellowmen we are deceiving ourselves with respect to our real attitude toward God. We may know that God will reject the prayers and worship coming from a heart full of bitterness, anger, malice, hatred, envy, strife, and manifesting itself in acrimonious speech. (Russell)
Mat 5:25 KJV Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
Mat 5:26 KJV Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
Jesus commands us to quickly settle anger and malice with another. When we ignore it or pass it off, it genuinely imprisons us (and you be thrown into prison).
i. Paul expresses the same idea in Eph_4:26-27. When we hold on to our anger against another (do not let the sun go down on your wrath) we sin – and we give place to the devil. (Guzik)
Agree with — Appeal for mercy from. Admit that you have come short of the righteous requirements of the divine law.
Quickly — Before final sentence is pronounced.
If we have wronged a brother and not made it right, we will be obliged to suffer the full penalty of our neglect. (Russell)
Mat 5:27 KJV Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
You have heard that it was said to those of old: Now, Jesus deals with what they had heard regarding the law of adultery. Of course, the teachers of the day taught that adultery itself was wrong. But they applied the law only to the actions, not to the heart.
Mat 5:28 KJV But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart: Jesus explains that it is possible to commit adultery or murder in our heart – or mind, and this also is sin and prohibited by the command against adultery.
i. Jesus is not saying that the act of adultery and adultery in the heart are the same thing. More than a few people have been deceived on this point, and say “I’ve already committed adultery in my heart, so I may as well do it in practice.” The act of adultery is far worse than adultery in the heart. Jesus’ point is not to say they are the same things, but to say they are both sin, and both prohibited by the command against adultery.
ii. Some people only keep from adultery because they are afraid to get caught, and in their heart they commit adultery every day. It is good that they keep from the act of adultery, but it is bad that their heart is filled with adultery.
iii. This principle applies to much more than men looking at women. It applies to just about anything we can covet with the eye or mind.
c. Adultery . . . in his heart: Since Jesus considers adultery in the heart a sin, we know what we think about and allow our heart to rest on is based on choice. Many believe they have no choice – and therefore no responsibility – for what they think about, but this contradicts the clear teaching of Jesus here. We may not be able to control passing thoughts or feelings, but we certainly do decide where our heart and mind will rest. (Guzik)
To desire to do wrong and merely be hindered by circumstances, is in God’s sight as serious, as criminal, as to have really done that wrong. It is not only for the actual transgression that men die, but it is for the disposition to transgress. The inherited taint renders them unfit to live because with such a nature they cannot keep God’s law.
Hath committed adultery — And he who loves and serves money and spends time and talent for it, more than in God’s service, is an idolater. (Russell)
Mat 5:29 KJV And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
Mat 5:30 KJV And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out: Here Jesus uses a figure of speech, and did not speak literally. Sadly, some have taken it so and have mutilated themselves in mistaken efforts in the pursuit of holiness. For example, the famous early Christian named Origen’s castrated himself on the principle of this passage.
i. The trouble with a literal interpretation is that it does not go far enough! Even if you did cut off your hand or gouge out your eye, you could still sin with your other hand or eye. When all those are gone, you can especially sin with your mind.
b. It is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell: Jesus simple stresses the point that one must be willing to sacrifice to be obedient. If part of our life is given over to sin, we must be convinced that it is more profitable for that part our life to “die” rather than to condemn our whole life.
i. This is the one thing many are unwilling to do, and that is why they remain trapped in sin, or never come to Jesus. They never get beyond a vague wish to be better. (Guzik)
Pluck it out — Gladly part with a pleasure or habit contrary to God’s law, though it be as precious as a right eye or a right hand.
Be cast into hell — Greek, gehenna, utter destruction, the Second Death. (Russell)
Mat 5:31 KJV It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:
In Jesus’ day, many people interpreted the Mosaic permission for divorce (Deu_24:1) as granting virtually any reason as grounds for divorce. Some rabbis taught this even extended to allowing a man to divorce his wife if she burnt his breakfast.
Mat 5:32 KJV But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
Whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality: The issue of divorce revolved around a strict or loose interpretation of the word uncleanness in Deu_24:1. Those who wanted to make divorce easy had a loose interpretation. Jesus makes it plain that the idea of uncleanness is sexual immorality, not anything the wife might do to displease the husband.
i. Jesus teaches more fully on marriage and divorce in Matthew 19, but here we see the intent of Jesus: getting back to the intent of the law, instead of allowing it to be used as easy permission for divorce.
c. Causes her to commit adultery: An illegitimate divorce gives place to adultery because God doesn’t recognize the divorce, and sees a new relationship as bigamous. It is possible for a person to have a divorce that is recognized by the state, but not by God. If that person goes on to marry someone else, God considers that relationship adultery because He sees them as still married. (Guzik)
Mat 5:33 KJV Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:
You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not swear falsely” (or purger): The scribes and Pharisees had twisted the law You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain (Exo_20:7) to permit taking virtually every other name in a false oath.
Not performing oaths is perjury—hence verse 37
Mat 5:34 KJV But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne:
Mat 5:35 KJV Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
Mat 5:36 KJV Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
Do not swear at all: Jesus reminds us that God is part of every oath anyway; if you swear by heaven, earth, Jerusalem, or even your head, you swear by God – and your oath must be honored.(Guzik)
Swearing by the hair of the head (Nazarite vow) is a very solemn vow.
Swear not at all — The use of oaths and expletives implies that the simple statement of the user is not to be believed. Nothing in this would prohibit the taking of an oath or affirmation in court.
The fact that one swears what he says is true implies that he does not expect his hearer to believe his simple word, and this in turn presupposes that his word ordinarily is not worthy of belief. (Russell)
Wherever oaths of secrecy are demanded it is safe for God’s people to touch not, taste not, handle not–except as oaths are prescribed by public law.
Mat 5:37 KJV But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
But let your “Yes” be “Yes”: Having to swear or make oaths betrays the weakness of your word. It demonstrates that there is not enough weight in your own character to confirm your words. How much better it is to let your “Yes” be “Yes” and “No” be “No.” (Guzik)
Note the injunction of the Master, “Let your speech be yea, yea, nay, nay”–anything further implies evil. The Master’s meaning evidently is, When you say yes, let it be yes; when you say no, let it be no! Tell the truth! Your friends and neighbors by and by will learn how to value your speech. In other words, be so truthful in all that you say that it will be unnecessary to swear to its truthfulness, or to use any kind of specially forceful language to prove your sincerity–that you are neither overstating nor understating the truth.
Cometh of evil — Of the Evil One. (Russell)
“Putting away falsehood, speak every man truth with his neighbor:for we are members one of another.”–`Eph. 4:25`
Pro 10:19-20 KJV In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise. 20 The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth.
Deu 23:21-23 KJV When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee. 22 But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee. 23 That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the LORD thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth.
Mat 5:38 KJV Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
The Mosaic law did teach an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth (Exo_21:24). But over time religious teachers moved this command out of its proper sphere (a principle limiting retribution for the civil government) and put it in the wrong sphere (as an obligation in personal relationships). (Guzik)
Mat 5:39 KJV But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also: Here, Jesus presents the fullness of the eye for an eye law, and how its idea of limiting revenge extends into the principle of accepting certain evil against one’s self.
i. When a person insults us (slaps you on the right cheek) we want to give them back what they gave to us, plus more. Jesus says we should patiently bear such insults and offences, and not resist an evil person who insults us this way. Instead, we trust God to defend us.
iii. It is wrong to think that Jesus means a physical attack cannot be resisted or defended against. When Jesus speaks of a slap on your right cheek, that was culturally understood as a deep insult, not a physical attack. Jesus does not mean that if someone hits across the right side of our head with a baseball bat, we should allow them to then hit the left side.
iv. It is also wrong to think Jesus means that there is no place for punishment or retribution in society. Jesus here speaks to personal relationships, and not to the proper functions of government in restraining evil (Rom_13:1-4). I must turn my cheek when I am personally insulted, but the government has a responsibility to restrain the evil man from physical assault.
v. Jesus also displayed the principle behind the law in His trials before the Sanhedrin and Pilate. He showed that we are to let God defend our case, not ourselves. (Guzik)
Mat 5:40 KJV And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.
Mat 5:41 KJV And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
c. Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two: Positively, we are told to take command of evil impositions by making a deliberate choice to give more than we are required. At that time, Judea was under Roman military occupation. Under military law, any Roman soldier might command a Jew to carry his soldier’s pack for one mile – but only one mile. Jesus here says, “go beyond the one mile required by law and give another mile out of a free choice of love.” This is how we transform an attempt to manipulate us into a free act of love.
d. Give to him who asks of you: The only limit to this kind of sacrifice is the limit that love itself will impose. It isn’t love to give into someone’s manipulation without our transforming it into a free act of love. It isn’t always love to give or to not resist. (Guzik)
Mat 5:42 KJV Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
If someone comes to you on the street and asks you for a few dollars—we should give it them and not turn away. It is better to be taken advantage than to deny one who truly needs it.
Mat 5:43 KJV Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy”: The Mosaic Law commanded you shall love your neighbor (Lev_19:18). But the scribes and Pharisees added an opposite – and evil – misapplication: an equal obligation to hate your enemy. (Guzik)
Lev 19:18 KJV Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.
Mat 5:44 KJV But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
b. But I say to you, love your enemies: Instead, Jesus reminds that in the sense God means it, all people are our neighbors, even our enemies. To truly fulfill this law, we must love, bless, do good and pray for our enemies – not only our friends.
i. Jesus freely acknowledges that we will have enemies, yet we are to respond to them in love, trusting that God will protect our cause and destroy our enemies in the best way possible, by transforming them into our friends. (Guzik)
These are personal enemies, not against God directly. We have it in our power to forgive and love.
Mat 5:45 KJV That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
That you may be sons of your Father in heaven: In doing this, we are imitating God, who shows love towards His enemies, by sending rain on the just and on the unjust. (Guzik)
Mat 5:7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Mat 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Mat 5:46 KJV For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
Mat 5:47 KJV And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? What do you do more than the sinner? We should regard it as no matter of virtue if we merely return the love that is given to us.
i. Remember, Jesus is teaching us the character of the citizens of His kingdom. We should expect that character to be different from the character seen in the world. (Guzik)
Mat 5:48 KJV Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Therefore you shall be perfect: If a man could live the way Jesus has told us to in this chapter, he would truly be perfect.
• He would never hate, slander or speak evil of another person.
• He would never lust in his heart or mind, and not covet anything.
• He would never make a false oath, and always be completely truthful.
• He would let God defend his personal rights, and not take it upon himself to defend those rights.
• He would always love his neighbors, and even his enemies.
Just as your Father in heaven is perfect: If a man could keep just what Jesus said here, he would truly have a righteousness greater than the scribes and the Pharisees (Mat_5:20), the very thing we must have to enter into God’s Kingdom. But there is only one man who has lived like this: Jesus Christ. What about the rest of us? Are we left out of the Kingdom of God?
i. We see that in this section Jesus was not primarily seeking to show what God requires of the Christian in his daily life. True, Jesus has revealed God’s ultimate standard, and we must take it to heart. But His primary intent was to say, “If you want to be righteous by the law, you must keep the whole law, internal and external – that is, you must be perfect!”
c. Jesus has demonstrated that we need a righteousness that is apart from the law (Rom_3:21-22). As Paul put it in Rom_3:21-22 : But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.
d. What is our current relation to the law, as truly interpreted? We are exposed as guilty sinners who can never make ourselves righteous by our performance of good works – which was exactly the view held by most people in Jesus day – and in our own day.
e. We must remember the fullness of Jesus’ teaching on the law: our command is to love God and our neighbor, and the law will accomplish itself (Mat_22:37-40).
i. The fullness of the interpretation of the law will be honored by love: Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith. (1Ti_1:5) (Guzik)