|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:43-48 The Jewish teachers by neighbour understood only those who were of their own country, nation, and religion, whom they were pleased to look upon as their friends. The Lord Jesus teaches that we must do all the real kindness we can to all, especially to their souls. We must pray for them. While many will render good for good, we must render good for evil; and this will speak a nobler principle than most men act by. Others salute their brethren, and embrace those of their own party, and way, and opinion, but we must not so confine our respect. It is the duty of Christians to desire, and aim at, and press towards perfection in grace and holiness. And therein we must study to conform ourselves to the example of our heavenly Father, 1Pe 1:15,16. Surely more is to be expected from the followers of Christ than from others; surely more will be found in them than in others. Let us beg of God to enable us to prove ourselves his children.
Verse 47. - And if ye salute. It seems almost a bathos after "love." But it expresses love publicly showing itself by kindly greeting. Your brethren; with whom you have the fellow-feeling of common origin - in this case not national, but spiritual (cf. ver. 22, note). What do you more than others? (τί περισσὸν ποιεῖτε); Tyndale," What singuler thynge doe ye?" Do not even the publicans? Revised Version, the Gentiles? with the manuscripts. "The form used (ἐθνικός) describes character rather than mere position" (Bishop Westcott, on 3 John 1:7); "hethen men" (Wickliffe). So; Revised Version, the same, with the manuscripts. Τὸ αὐτό, notwithstanding its occurrence in ver. 46 and parallel passage, Luke 6:33, was altered to the commoner οὕτως ποιεῖν.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And if you salute your brethren only,.... This does not mean salutation by embraces or kisses, but by words, asking of each other's welfare, and wishing prosperity and happiness to one another.
"The manner of salutation among the wise men was this (e); he that salutes says, a good day to my lord; and he replies, saying, a good, and long day to my lord: always he that replies doubles the salutation.''
The persons they usually gave their salutations to were those of their own nation, their countrymen, relations, and friends; and who are here designed by "brethren"; meaning, not brethren in the strict sense, but any kindred, acquaintance, or any of their own nation. Some copies read it "friends", who, generally speaking, only partook of such favours.
"A man, (says Maimonides (f),) might not salute his master, nor return a salutation to him in the manner they gave a salutation to "friends": and they return it to one another.''
They were not very free in saluting any persons, as strangers and Gentiles: such advice as this is indeed given (g), "prevent every man with a salutation", or be first in saluting every man; upon which passage their commentators (h) say, even a Gentile in the streets. Accordingly, it is elsewhere (i) observed, that
"R. Abai used to say, let a man be always cunning with fear, for "a soft answer turns away wrath"; and multiply salutation with his brethren, and with his relations, and with every man, even with a stranger in the streets.''
But this proceeded not from any cordial hearty respect, but out of policy, and from fear; and in order to maintain peace; and for selfish ends, and with sinister views: otherwise their salutations were confined to their brethren and kinsfolk after the flesh. Now, this being the case, says Christ,
what do ye more than others? do not even publicans so? Or, as some copies read it, Gentiles or Heathens; and accordingly the Ethiopic version, and the Vulgate Latin so render it: the Arabic renders it "idolaters". Now, what great matter was this to salute their brethren and their friends, when even the very Heathens, who had nothing but the light of nature to guide them, did the same?
(e) Sepher Chasidim, fol. 5. Colossians 2. apud Buxtorf. Florileg. Heb. p. 300, 301. (f) Hilch. Talmud Tora, c. 5. sect. 5. (g) Pirke Abot, c. 4. sect. 15. (h) Jarchi & Bartenora in ib. (i) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 17. 1.
Wesley's Notes on the Bible
5:47 And if ye salute your friends only - Our Lord probably glances at those prejudices, which different sects had against each other, and intimates, that he would not have his followers imbibe that narrow spirit. Would to God this had been more attended to among the unhappy divisions and subdivisions, into which his Church has been crumbled! And that we might at least advance so far, as cordially to embrace our brethren in Christ, of whatever party or denomination they are!
Matthew 5:47 Parallel Commentaries
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