Matthew 5:27
You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not commit adultery:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(27) By them of old time.—Omitted in the best MSS. If retained, translate as before, to them of old time. It was probably inserted for the sake of conformity with Matthew 5:21. Here the words are simply those of the divine commandment, but it is given as it was taught in the Rabbinic schools, simply in the narrowness of the letter, without any perception that here too the commandment was “exceeding broad.” It is with that teaching, as before, that our Lord contrasts His own.

Matthew 5:27-28. Ye have heard, &c. — Jesus now proceeds in his sermon to the seventh commandment, the true interpretation of which he gives us. Thou shalt not commit adultery — This, as well as the sixth commandment, the scribes and Pharisees interpreted barely of the outward act. But I say unto you, &c. — The command extends not only to unchaste actions and words, but even to looks, and the very thoughts of the heart: for whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her — Whosoever cherishes or indulges unchaste imaginations, desires, and intentions, hath committed adultery with her, &c. — Hath been guilty of a violation of this commandment, which was intended to forbid the corrupt inclinations of the heart, and all irregular desires, as well as the pollution of the body.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.Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery - See the notes at Matthew 5:21. Our Saviour in these verses explains the seventh commandment. It is probable that the Pharisees had explained this commandment, as they had the sixth, as extending only to the external act; and that they regarded evil thoughts and a wanton imagination as of little consequence, or as not forbidden by the law. Our Saviour assures them that the commandment did not regard the external act merely, but the secrets of the heart, and the movements of the eye. He declares that they who indulge a wanton desire, that they who look on a woman to increase their lust, have already, in the sight of God, violated the commandment, and committed adultery in the heart. Such was the guilt of David, whose deep and awful crime fully shows the danger of indulging in evil desires, and in the rovings of a wanton eye. See 2 Samuel 11; Psalm 51. See also 2 Peter 2:14. So exceeding strict and broad is the law of God! And so heinous in his sight axe thoughts and feelings which may be forever concealed from the world! 27. Ye have heard that it was said—The words "by," or "to them of old time," in this verse are insufficiently supported, and probably were not in the original text.

Thou shall not commit adultery—Interpreting this seventh, as they did the sixth commandment, the traditional perverters of the law restricted the breach of it to acts of criminal intercourse between, or with, married persons exclusively. Our Lord now dissipates such delusions.

See Poole on "Matthew 5:28". Ye have heard that it was said,.... These forms of speech, as well as what follows,

by them of old time, have been explained, in ver. 21. The law here mentioned,

thou shalt not commit adultery, is recorded in Exodus 20:14 and the meaning of our Lord is, not that the then present Jews had heard that such a law had been delivered "to the ancients", their fathers, at Mount Sinai; for that they could read in their Bibles: but they had received it by tradition, that the sense of it, which had been given to their ancestors, by the ancient doctors of the church, was, that this law is to be taken strictly, as it lies, and only regards the sin of uncleanness in married persons; or, what was strictly adultery, and that actual; so that it had no respect to fornication, or unchaste thoughts, words, or actions, but that single act only.

{7} Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

(7) He is taken for an adulterer before God, whoever he is, that covets a woman: and therefore we must keep our eyes chaste, and all the members we have, yea and we must avoid all opportunities that might move us to evil, no matter what it costs us.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 5:27 f. From Matthew 5:28-30 it appears that the tradition of the Pharisees limited the prohibition in Exodus 20:14 to adultery proper, and left out of consideration adulterous desires.

βλέπων] he who holes upon a woman, opposed to the actual μοιχεύειν.

γυναῖκα] woman in general, so that it may be a married (Erasmus, Grotius, Tholuck, de Wette, Bleek) or an unmarried one; for the βλέπων is conceived of as a married man, as is clear from the signification of οὐ μοιχεύσεις, which means adultery.

πρὸς τὸ ἐπιθυμῆσαι αὐτήν] not ita ut, etc., not even in accordance with (Weiss), but, agreeably to the constant usage of πρός with the infinitive, to denote the telic reference (Matthew 6:1, Matthew 26:12, and elsewhere): in order to desire her. The βλέπειν, which terminates in lustful desire, which is kindled and felt to be strengthened by gazing on, is designated. Ὁ γὰρ σπουδάζων ὁρᾶν τὰς εὐμόρφους ὄψεις, αὐτὸς μάλιστα τὴν κάμινον ἀνάπτει τοῦ πάθους, Chrysostom. Comp. Augustine: “qui hoc fine et hoc animo attenderit, ut eam concupiscat, quod jam non est titillari delectatione carnis, sed plene consentire libidini.” He who looks upon a woman with such a feeling has already (jam eo ipso, Bengel), in virtue of the adulterous desire with which he does so, committed adultery with her in his heart, which is the seat of feeling and desire. Thus he is, as regards his moral constitution, although without the external act, already an adulterer. Similar proverbs from the Rabbinical writers in Lightfoot and Schoettgen; from the Greek and Roman writers, in Pricaeus. On μοιχεύειν with the accusative, comp. Plato, Rep. p. 360 B.

ἐπιθυμεῖν] with the accusative, is rare and late. Comp. Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:20; Jdt 16:22; see Winer, p. 192 [E. T. 255]. Even if αὐτήν were spurious, it could not be explained with Fritzsche: “ut adsit mutua cupiditas.”Matthew 5:27-30. Second illustration, taken from the seventh commandment. A grand moral law, in brief lapidary style guarding the married relation and the sanctity of home. Of course the Hebrew legislator condemned lust after another man’s wife; it is expressly prohibited in the tenth commandment. But in practical working as a public law the statute laid main stress on the outward act, and it was the tendency of the scribes to give exclusive prominence to this. Therefore Christ brings to the front what both Moses and the scribes left in the background, the inward desire of which adultery is the fruitMatthew 5:27. Ἐῤῥέθη, it has been said) Murder and adultery are equally sins against our neighbour, and so is revenge, and therefore the words, τοῖς ἀρχαίοις, to them of old time, are not expressed but understood in Matthew 5:27; Matthew 5:31; Matthew 5:38; Matthew 5:43, from Matthew 5:21. They are, however, expressed in Matthew 5:33, where our Lord treats of oaths, and, therefore, of our duty to God.Verses 27-30. - The seventh commandment. The verses occur in this form only here, but vers. 29 and 30 are found in Matthew 18:8, 9 (parallel passage, Mark 9:43-47), as illustrations of another subject (vide infra). Verse 27. - By them of old time. Omit, with the Revised Version (cf. ver. 21, note). Thou shalt not (Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18).
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