|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:27-32 Victory over the desires of the heart, must be attended with painful exertions. But it must be done. Every thing is bestowed to save us from our sins, not in them. All our senses and powers must be kept from those things which lead to transgression. Those who lead others into temptation to sin, by dress or in other ways, or leave them in it, or expose them to it, make themselves guilty of their sin, and will be accountable for it. If painful operations are submitted to, that our lives may be saved, what ought our minds to shrink from, when the salvation of our souls is concerned? There is tender mercy under all the Divine requirements, and the grace and consolations of the Spirit will enable us to attend to them.
Verse 28. - But I say (ver. 22, note). The bare command forbidding an external action is insufficient. It must extend to the thought. Contrast Josephus ('Ant.,' 12:09. 1), "The purposing to do a thing, without actually doing it, is not worthy of punishment." Generally, however, the sinfulness of wrong thoughts must have been acknowledged (cf. Psalm 51:10, and the tenth commandment; cf. late examples in Schott-gen). Hammond ('Pr. Cat.,' in Ford) says, "In the Law, the fastening of the eyes on an idol, considering the beauty of it, saith Maimonides, is forbidden (Leviticus 19:4), and not only the worship of it" (vide Maimonides, 'Hilk. Ab. Zar.,' 2:2, by whom, however, the thought is, perhaps, rather condemned for what it leads to than per se; and similarly with Job 31:1; Proverbs 6:25). Whosoever; Revised Version, every one who (ver. 22, note). Looketh... to lust after (πρὸς τὸ ἐπιθυμῆσαι). As πρὸς τό with the infinitive (e.g. Matthew 6:1), primarily denotes purpose; this may be equivalent to "looketh in order that he may lust, looketh to stimulate his lust" (cf. Meyer, Trench); but, as Weiss points out, this surely belongs to the refinement, not to the beginning of sin. Hence Nosgen suggests "looketh... lustfully" (cf. James 4:5). Probably this is one of those cases where, as Ellicott says on 1 Corinthians 9:18, πρὸς τό with the infinitive has "a shade of meaning that seems to lie between purpose and result, and even sometimes to approximate to the latter." At all events, it does not express, as εἰς τό would have expressed, the immediate purpose of the look (vide Ellicott, loc. cit.); cf. Matthew 6:1. Her (αὐτήν, B, D, etc.); accusative with ἐπιθυμεῖν, here only in the New Testament. Perhaps the pronoun should be omitted, with א.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman,.... Many and severe are the prohibitions of the Jews, concerning looking upon a woman, which they aggravate as a very great sin: they say (k), it is not lawful to look upon a beautiful woman, though unmarried; nor upon another man's wife, though deformed; nor upon a woman's coloured garments: they forbid (l) looking on a woman's little finger, and say (m), that he that tells money to a woman, out of his hand into her's, that he may look upon her, though he is possessed of the law and good works, even as Moses, he shall not escape the damnation of hell: they affirm (n), that he that looks upon a woman's heel, his children shall not be virtuous; and that a man may not go after a woman in the way, no, not after his wife: should he meet her on a bridge, he must take her to the side of him; and whoever goes through a river after a woman, shall have no part in the world to (o) come: nay, they forbid (p) a man looking on the beauty of his own wife. Now these things were said by them, chiefly to cover themselves, and because they would be thought to be very chaste; when they were, as Christ calls them, an "adulterous generation" in a literal sense: they usually did what our Lord observes, "strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel". We read in the Talmud (q), of , a "foolish saint" and it is asked, who is he? and it is answered, one that sees a woman drowning in a river, and says it is not lawful for me , "to look" upon her, and deliver her. It was not any looking upon a woman, that is forbid by Christ as criminal; but so to look, as "to lust after her"; for such an one
hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. But these men, who forbad external looking upon a woman, generally speaking, had no notion of heart sins; and which was the prevailing opinion of the Pharisees, in Christ's time.
"A good thought, they (r) allow, is reckoned as if done; as it is said, Malachi 3:16. Upon which it is asked, what is the meaning of that, and "that thought" upon "his name?" Says R. Ase, if a man thinks to do a good work, and is hindered, and does it not, the Scripture reckons it to him, as if he did it; but an evil thought, the holy blessed God does not account of it as if done, as is said, Psalm 66:18.''
Upon which words, a noted commentator (s) of their's has this remark:
"Though I regard iniquity in my heart to do it, even in thought, yea, against God himself, as if I had expressed it with my lips, he does not hear it; that is, , "he does not reckon it to me for sin"; because the holy blessed God does not account an evil thought for an action, to them that are in the faith of God, or of the true religion.''
For it seems, this is only true of the Israelites; it is just the reverse with the Gentiles, in whom God does not reckon of a good thought, as if it was done, but does of an evil one, as if it was in act (t). It must be owned, that this is not the sense of them all; for some of them have gone so far as to say (u), that
"the thoughts of sin are greater, or harder, than sin itself:''
by which they mean, that it is more difficult to subdue sinful lusts, than to refrain from the act of sin itself; and particularly, some of them say things which agree with, and come very near to what our Lord here says; as when they affirm (w), that
"everyone that looks upon a woman with intention, it is all one as if he lay with her.''
And that , "he that committeth adultery with his eyes, is called an adulterer" (x). Yea, they also observe (y), that a woman may commit adultery in her heart, as well as a man; but the Pharisees of Christ's time were of another mind.
(k) T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 1, 2.((l) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 24. 1. Sabbat. fol. 64. 2.((m) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 61. 1. Eruvin, fol. 18. 2.((n) T. Bab. Nedarim, fol. 20. 1. T. Hieros. Challa, fol. 58. 3. Derech Eretz. c. 1. fol. 17. 3.((o) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 61. 1. Eruvin, fol. 18. 2.((p) Zohar in Lev. fol. 34. 4. (q) T. Bab Sota, fol. 21. 2.((r) T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 40. 1.((s) R. David Kimchi, in Psal. lxvi. 18. (t) T. Hieros. Peah, fol. 16. 2.((u) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 29. 1.((w) T. Hieros. Challa, fol. 58. 3. Massechet Calah, fol. 16. 4. Vid. Maimon. Issure Bia, c. 21. sect. 2. & Moses Kotsensis Mitzvot Tora precept. neg. 126. (x) Vajikra Rabba, sect. 23. fol. 265. 1.((y) Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 9. fol. 196. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
28. But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her—with the intent to do so, as the same expression is used in Mt 6:1; or, with the full consent of his will, to feed thereby his unholy desires.
hath committed adultery with her already in his heart—We are not to suppose, from the word here used—"adultery"—that our Lord means to restrict the breach of this commandment to married persons, or to criminal intercourse with such. The expressions, "whosoever looketh," and "looketh upon a woman," seem clearly to extend the range of this commandment to all forms of impurity, and the counsels which follow—as they most certainly were intended for all, whether married or unmarried—seem to confirm this. As in dealing with the sixth commandment our Lord first expounds it, and then in the four following verses applies His exposition (Mt 5:21-25), so here He first expounds the seventh commandment, and then in the four following verses applies His exposition (Mt 5:28-32).
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