Matthew 5:20
Parallel Verses
New International Version
For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

New Living Translation
"But I warn you--unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!

English Standard Version
For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

New American Standard Bible
"For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

King James Bible
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.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

International Standard Version
because I tell you, unless your righteousness greatly exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom from heaven!"

NET Bible
For I tell you, unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the experts in the law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
For I say to you, that unless your goodness will exceed that of the Scribes and the Pharisees, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
I can guarantee that unless you live a life that has God's approval and do it more faithfully than the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Jubilee Bible 2000
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 the heavens.

King James 2000 Bible
For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

American King James Version
For I say to you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

American Standard Version
For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Douay-Rheims Bible
For I tell you, that unless your justice abound more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Darby Bible Translation
For I say unto you, that unless your righteousness surpass [that] of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of the heavens.

English Revised Version
For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Webster's Bible Translation
For I say to 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.

Weymouth New Testament
For I assure you that unless your righteousness greatly surpasses that of the Scribes and the Pharisees, you will certainly not find entrance into the Kingdom of the Heavens.

World English Bible
For I tell you that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, there is no way you will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Young's Literal Translation
'For I say to you, that if your righteousness may not abound above that of the scribes and Pharisees, ye may not enter to the reign of the heavens.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

5:17-20 Let none suppose that Christ allows his people to trifle with any commands of God's holy law. No sinner partakes of Christ's justifying righteousness, till he repents of his evil deeds. The mercy revealed in the gospel leads the believer to still deeper self-abhorrence. The law is the Christian's rule of duty, and he delights therein. If a man, pretending to be Christ's disciple, encourages himself in any allowed disobedience to the holy law of God, or teaches others to do the same, whatever his station or reputation among men may be, he can be no true disciple. Christ's righteousness, imputed to us by faith alone, is needed by every one that enters the kingdom of grace or of glory; but the new creation of the heart to holiness, produces a thorough change in a man's temper and conduct.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 20. - Matthew only. The verse from "except" to the end is quoted verbally in Justin Martyr ('Trypho,' § 105), as being in "the Memoirs." For I say. So far from you my disciples (ver. 13) being right in despising any of the commands contained in the Law, they are all to be specially honoured by you; for your righteousness (i.e. the righteousness you show in observing them; there is no thought here of the imputed righteousness of Christ) must far exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees; otherwise there is no entrance for you into the kingdom of heaven. But wherein lay the superiority of the righteousness which the disciples were to have? Did our Lord mean that his disciples were to painfully toil through the various enactments, ceremonial and other, of the Law as the scribes and Pharisees did, only with more serious and earnest purpose than they? That were in the case of many scribes and Pharisees hardly possible. For notwithstanding our Lord's occasional denunciations, many of them were men of the severest earnestness and the deepest conscientiousness, e.g. Gamaliel and Saul of Tarsus. Our Lord must refer to the Law otherwise than as a system of enactments. His thought is similar to that of his words addressed to Nicodemus (John 3:5), where he says that change of heart evidenced by public profession (cf. Romans 10:10) is necessary for entrance into the kingdom of God (cf. also Matthew 18:8). So here; while the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, even when joined to earnestness of purpose, nevertheless consists in the observance of external rules, there is a higher principle in the Law, by observing which a higher righteousness can be attained. Christ points, that is to say, away from the Law as a system of external rules to the Law in its deeper meaning, affecting the relation of the heart to God (cf. further Weiss, 'Life,' 2:147). Shall exceed; rather, shall abound still more than. The statement is not merely comparative, but implies an abundance (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:10)even in the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. The Jewish spirit reckons up good actions as producing in many cases even a superfluity of righteousness. But the righteousness which Christ's disciples must have needs to be still more abundant. The righteousness; omitted in the Greek (Westcott and Herr) by condensation. The scribes and Pharisees. The most learned (scribes) and the most zealous (Pharisees) in the Law (cf. Nosgen) are here placed in one class (τῶν γραμματέων καὶ Φαρισαίων). Ye shall in no case; Revised Version, in no wise. "The emphatic negative οὐ μή is not elsewhere so rendered in the Authorized Version. The previous versions have in this place simply . ye shall not,' following the Vulgate,. non intrabitis" (Humphry) Enter into the kingdom of heaven (cf. Matthew 18:3; Matthew 7:21). A much stronger statement than that of ver. 19, though some would identify the two. There Christ was comparing one disciple with another; here his disciples with non-disciples. "Such a relaxing for yourselves and others of the commandments will set you low in the true kingdom of obedience and holiness; but this of having a righteousness so utterly false and hollow as that of the scribes and Pharisees will not merely set you low, but will exclude you from that kingdom altogether (ver. 20); for while that marks an impaired spiritual vision, this marks a vision utterly darkened and destroyed" (Trench, ' Sermon on the Mount').

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

For I say unto you,.... These words are directed, not to the true disciples of Christ in general, or to his apostles in particular, but to the whole multitude of the people; who had in great esteem and admiration the Scribes and Pharisees, for their seeming righteousness and holiness; concerning which Christ says,

that except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven. He mentions the Scribes, because they were the more learned part of the people, who were employed in writing out, and expounding the law; and the Pharisees, because they were the strictest sect among the Jews for outward religion and righteousness; and yet, it seems, their righteousness was very defective; it lay only in an external observance of the law; did not arise from a purified heart, or the principles of grace; nor was it performed sincerely, and with a view to the glory of God; but for their own applause, and in order to obtain eternal life: besides, they neglected the weightier matters of the law, and contented themselves with the lesser ones; and as they were deficient in their practice, so they were very lax in their doctrines, as appears from the foregoing verse. Wherefore Christ informs his hearers, that they must have a better righteousness than these men had, if ever they expected to enter into the kingdom of heaven. There will be no admission into heaven without a righteousness: it was the loss of righteousness which removed Adam out of his earthly paradise; and it is not agreeable to the justice of God, to admit man into his heavenly paradise without one; yea, it is contrary to his nature, and would be destructive to the comfort of saints, to receive an unrighteous person into his kingdom and glory. A "pharisaical" righteousness will never bring a person thither; nor will any righteousness of man's, be it what it will, because the best is imperfect; it must be a righteousness exceeding that of the Scribes and Pharisees; and such is the righteousness of the saints: indeed their inherent righteousness, or the sanctification of the Spirit, is preferable to any righteousness of a natural man; it exceeds it in its author, nature, effects, and usefulness; yea, even works of righteousness done by believers are greatly preferable to any done by such men as are here mentioned: but, above all, the righteousness of Christ, which is imputed to them, and received by faith, is infinitely more excellent in its author, perfection, purity, and use; and which is their only right and title to eternal glory; and without which no man will be admitted into that glorious state.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

20. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees—The superiority to the Pharisaic righteousness here required is plainly in kind, not degree; for all Scripture teaches that entrance into God's kingdom, whether in its present or future stage, depends, not on the degree of our excellence in anything, but solely on our having the character itself which God demands. Our righteousness, then—if it is to contrast with the outward and formal righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees—must be inward, vital, spiritual. Some, indeed, of the scribes and Pharisees themselves might have the very righteousness here demanded; but our Lord is speaking, not of persons, but of the system they represented and taught.

ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven—If this refer, as in Mt 5:19, rather to the earthly stage of this kingdom, the meaning is that without a righteousness exceeding that of the Pharisees, we cannot be members of it at all, save in name. This was no new doctrine (Ro 2:28, 29; 9:6; Php 3:3). But our Lord's teaching here stretches beyond the present scene, to that everlasting stage of the kingdom, where without "purity of heart" none "shall see God."

The Spirituality of the True Righteousness in Contrast with That of the Scribes and Pharisees, Illustrated from the Sixth Commandment. (Mt 5:21-26).

Matthew 5:20 Additional Commentaries
Context
Jesus Fulfills the Law
19"Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20"For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Cross References
Matthew 16:12
Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Luke 18:11
The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other people--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector.

Luke 18:12
I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'

2 Corinthians 3:9
If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!
Treasury of Scripture

For I say to you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

exceed.

Matthew 23:2-5,23-28 Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat…

Luke 11:39,40,44 And the Lord said to him, Now do you Pharisees make clean the outside …

Luke 12:1 In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable …

Luke 16:14,15 And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: …

Luke 18:10-14 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and …

Luke 20:46,47 Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love …

Romans 9:30-32 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after …

Romans 10:2,3 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according …

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things …

Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of …

ye.

Matthew 3:10 And now also the ax is laid to the root of the trees: therefore every …

Matthew 7:21 Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom …

Matthew 18:5 And whoever shall receive one such little child in my name receives me.

Mark 10:15,25 Truly I say to you, Whoever shall not receive the kingdom of God …

Luke 18:17,24,25 Truly I say to you, Whoever shall not receive the kingdom of God …

John 3:3-5 Jesus answered and said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except …

Hebrews 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall …

Revelation 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defiles, …

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