And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
Verse 1. - And seeing the multitudes; i.e. those spoken of in Matthew 4:25 - the multitudes who were at that point of time following him. He went up. From the lower ground by the lake. Into a mountain; Revised Version, into the mountain (εἰς τὸ ὄρος); i.e. not any special mountain, but "the mountain nearest the place spoken of - the mountain near by" (Thayer); in contrast to any lower place, whether that was itself fairly high ground (as probably Luke 9:28) or the shore of the lake (Matthew 14:23 [parallel passages: Mark 6:46; John 6:15]; 15:29). The actual spot here referred to may have been far from, or, and more probably (Matthew 4:18), near to, the Lake of Gennesareth. It cannot now be identified. The traditional "Mount of Beatitudes" is Karn-Hattin, "a round, rocky hill" (Socin's Baedeker, p. 366), "a square-shaped hill with two tops" (Stanley, p. 368), about five miles north-west of Tiberias. This tradition, dating only from the time of the Crusades, is accepted by Stanley (cf. also Ellicott, 'Hist. Lects.,' p. 178), especially for the reasons that
(1) τὸ ὄρος is equivalent to "the mountain" as a distinct name, and this mountain alone, with the exception of Tabor which is too distant, stands separate from the uniform barrier of hills round the lake;
(2) "the platform at the top is evidently suitable for the collection of a multitude, and corresponds precisely to the 'level place' (τόπου πεδινοῦ, Luke 6:17) to which our Lord would 'come down,' as from one of its higher horns, to address the people." But these reasons seem insufficient. And when he was set; Revised Version, had sat down; as his custom was when preaching (Matthew 13:1; Matthew 24:3; Mark 9:35). His disciples; i.e. the twelve, and also those others out of whom they had, as it seems, just been chosen (Luke 6:12, 20). The word is used of all those personal followers who, as still more distinctly indicated in the Fourth Gospel, attached themselves to him to learn of him, at least until the time of the crisis in John 6:66, when many withdrew (cf. also infra, Matthew 8:21, and for an example in the end of his ministry, Luke 19:37). In English we unavoidably miss some of the meaning of μαθητής, to our loss, as may be seen from the saying of Ignatius, 'Magn.,' § 10, Μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ γενόμενοι μάθωμεν κατὰ Ξριστιανισμὸν ζῇν Came unto him (προσῆλθαν αὐτῷ). Came up to him, and, presumably, sat down in front of him to listen.
And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
Verse 2. - And he opened his mouth. Frequent in the Old Testament; e.g. Job 3:1. A Hebraism, indicating that the words spoken are not the utterance of chance, but of set will and purpose. In the Gospels (in this sense) only Matthew 13:35 (from Psalm 78:2, LXX.); also in Acts 8:35 (Philip); 10:34 (Peter); 18:14 (Paul); Revelation 13:6 (the beast); cf. 2 Corinthians 6. II, of perfect frankness of expression, and Ephesians 6:19, perhaps of courage in the utterance of the Divine message. And taught them. (ἐδίδασκεν αὐτοὺς). That which follows is represented, not as a proclamation, but as teaching, given to those who in some measure desired to follow and serve him. Some progress already made by the listeners, if only in a relation of respect and reverence, is implied in "teaching." The discourse was therefore spoken, not simply to the multitudes, a chance audience, but with primary and special reference to those who had already made some advance in relation to him. The multitudes, however, were standing by, and were amazed at the unique character of his teaching (cf. Matthew 7:28, 29; cf. also Luke 6:20 with Luke 7:1).
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Verse 3 - Matthew 7:27. - THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT. The following may serve as a brief summary.
1. The ideal character of his disciples (Matthew 5:3-10), which must be allowed to appear (Matthew 5:11-16).
2. The relation that they ought to hold towards the religion of the day, of which the Law was the accepted standard (Matthew 5:17 - 6:18).
(1) The fundamental principle of this relation is found in the relation which Christ himself holds towards the Law (Matthew 5:17-20).
(2) Their relation further defined by illustrations taken from the religion of the day, as this is seen in -
(a) Cases deduced directly from the Law (Matthew 5:21-48).
(b) Cases not so deduced (Matthew 6:1-18).
3. General principles regarding -
(1) Their relation to wealth. They must remember that only the single eye receives the light (Matthew 6:19-31).
(2) Their relation to men. They must remember the dangers of differentiating others. They must treat them as they would themselves be treated (Matthew 7:1-12).
4. Epilogue (Matthew 7:13-27). A call to decision and independence of walk (Matthew 7:13-23). Assent is useless if it becomes not action (Matthew 7:24-27). There is little doubt that the two accounts (here and Luke 6.) represent one and the same discourse, the main arguments for this belief being thus given by Ellicott ('Hist. Lects.,' p. 179): "That the beginning and end of the Sermon are nearly identical in both Gospels; that the precepts, as recited by St. Luke, are in the same general order as those in St. Matthew, and that they are often expressed in nearly the same words; and lastly, that each Evangelist specifies the same miracle, viz. the healing of the centurion's servant, as having taken place shortly after the Sermon, on our Lord's entry into Capernaum." Verses 3-16. - 1. The ideal character of his disciples. Verse 3. - Blessed (μακάριοι); Vulgate, beati; hence "Beatitudes." The word describes "the poor in spirit," etc., not as recipients of blessing (εὐλογημένοι) from God, or even from men, but as possessors of "happiness" (cf. the Authorized Version of John 13:17, and frequently). It describes them in reference to their inherent state, not to the gifts or the rewards that they receive. It thus answers in thought to the common אשׁרי of the Old Testament; e.g. 1 Kings 10:8; Psalm 1:1; Psalm 32:1; Psalm 84:5. Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs, is the kingdom of heaven. The first Beatitude is the sum and substance of the whole sermon. Poverty of spirit stands in contrast to self sufficiency (Revelation 3:17) and as such is perhaps the quality which is most of all opposed to the Jewish temper in all ages (cf. Romans 2:17-20). For in this, as in much else, the Jewish nation is the type of the human race since the Fall. Observe that vers. 3, 4 (οἱ πτωχοί οἱ πενθοῦντες, possibly also ver. 5, vide infra) recall Isaiah 61:1, 2. As recently in the synagogue at Nazareth (Luke 4:18, 19), so also here, he bases the explanation of his work on the prophecy of that work in the Book of Isaiah. The poor (οἱ πτωχοί). Πτωχός, in classical and philosophical usage, implies a lower degree of poverty than πένης (2 Corinthians 9:9 and LXX.). "The πένης may be so poor that he earns his bread by daily labour; but the πτωχός is so poor that he only obtains his living by begging The τένης has nothing superfluous, the πτωχός nothing at all" (Trench, 'Syn.,' § 36.). Hence Tertullian ('Adv. Marc.,' 4:14; cf. 15)purposely altered Beati pauperes of the Old Latin to Beati mendici, and elsewhere ('De Idol.,' 12) rendered it by egeni. But in Hellenistic Greek, so far as the usage of the LXX. and the Hexapla goes (vide Hatch, 'Biblical Greek,' p. 73), the distinction seems hardly to hold good. Hatch even infers - on, we think, very insufficient premisses - that these two words, with τακεινός and πραύς (but vide infra), designate the poor of an oppressed country, i.e. the peasantry, the fellahin of Palestine as a class, and he considers it probable that this special meaning underlies the use of the words in these verses. Whether this be the case or not, the addition of τῷ πνεύματι completely excludes the supposition that our Lord meant to refer to any merely external circumstances. In spirit; Matthew only (τῷ πνεύματι). Dative of sphere (cf. Matthew 11:29; 1 Corinthians 7:34; 1 Corinthians 14:20; Romans 12:11). James 2:5 (τοὺς πτωχοὺς τῷ κόσμω) forms an apparent rather than a real contrast; for the dative there marks, not the sphere in which, but the object with reference to which, the poverty is felt ("the poor as to the world," Revised Version; Wiesinger in Huther), or possibly the object which is the standard of comparison, i.e. in the judgment of the world (Winer, § 31:4, a). Christ here affirms the blessedness of those who are in their spirit absolutely devoid of wealth. It cannot mean that they are this in God's opinion, for in God's opinion all are so. It means, therefore, that they are this in their own opinion. While many feel in themselves a wealth of soul-satisfaction, these do not, but realize their insufficiency. Christ says that they realize this "in (their) spirit;" for the spirit is that part of us which specially craves for satisfaction, and which is the means by which we lay hold of true satisfaction. The actual craving for spiritual wealth is not mentioned in this verse. It is implied, but direct mention of it comes partly in ver. 4, and especially in ver. 6. For theirs. Emphatic, as in all the Beatitudes (αὐτῶν αὐτοί,). Is. Not hereafter (Meyer), but even already. The kingdom of heaven (vide note, p. 150). The poor in spirit already belong to and have a share in that realm of God which now is realized chiefly in relation to our spirit, but ultimately will be realized in relation to every element of our nature, and to all other persons, and to every part, animate and inanimate, of the whole world.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Verse 4. - In some, especially "Western" authorities, vers. 4, 5 are transposed (vide Westcott and Hort, 'Appendix'), possibly because the terms of ver. 5 seemed to be more closely parallel to ver. 3 (cf. Meyer, Weiss), and also those of ver. 4 fitted excellently with ver. 6. But far the greater balance of evidence is in favour of the usual order, which also, though not on the surface, is in the deepest connexion with the preceding and the following verses. They that mourn (cf. Isaiah 61:2). Our Lord does not define that which causes the mourning, but as the preceding and the following verses all refer to the religious or at least the ethical sphere, merely carnal and worldly mourning is excluded. The mourning referred to must, therefore, be produced by religious or moral causes. Mourners for the state of Israel, so far as they mourned not for its political but for its spiritual condition (cf. similar mourning in the Christian Church, 2 Corinthians 7:9, 10), would be included (cf. Weiss, 'Life,' 2:142); but our Lord's primary thought must have been of mourning over one's personal state, not exactly, perhaps, over one's sins, but over the realized poverty in spirit just spoken of (cf. Weiss-Meyer). As the deepest poverty lies in the sphere of the spirit, so the deepest mourning lies there also. All other mourning is but partial and slight compared with this (Proverbs 18:14). For they shall be comforted. When? On having the kingdom of heaven (ver. 3); i.e. during this life in measure (cf. Luke 2:25), but fully only hereafter. The mourning over one's personal poverty in spirit is removed in proportion as Christ is received and appropriated; but during this life such appropriation can be only partial.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Verse 5. - Blessed are the meek. In this Beatitude our Lord still quotes Old Testament expressions. The phrase, "shall inherit the earth," comes even in Isaiah 60:21, only two verses before Isaiah 61:1, 2, to which he has already referred. In the present copies of the LXX. it is found also in Isaiah 61:7, but there it is evidently a corruption. It occurs also in Psalm 37:9, 11, 22, 29, 34; and since in the eleventh verse of the psalm it is directly said of the meek: "But the meek shall inherit the land (LXX., οἱ δὲ πραεῖς κληρονομήσουσιν γῆν)," it is, doubtless, from this latter passage that our Lord borrows the phrase. The meaning attributed by our Lord to the word meek is not clear. The ordinary use of the words πραυ'´ς, πραυ'´της, in the New Testament refers solely to the relation of men to men, and this is the sense in which οἱ πραεῖς is taken by most commentators here. But with this sense, taken barely and solely, there seems to be no satisfactory explanation of the position of the Beatitude. Vers. 3 and 4 refer to men in their relation to God; ver. 6, to say the least, includes the relation of men to God; what has ver. 5 to do here if it refers solely to the relation of men to men? It would have come very naturally either before or after ver. 9 ("the peacemakers"); but why here? The reason, however, for the position of the Beatitude lies in the true conception of meekness. While the thought is here primarily that of meekness exhibited towards men (as is evident from the implied contrast in they shall inherit the earth), yet meekness towards men is closely connected with, and is the result of, meekness towards God. This is not exactly humility (ταπεινοφροσύνη, which, as regards God, is equivalent to a sense of creatureliness or dependence; cf. Trench, 'Syn.,' § 42.). Meekness is rather the attitude of the soul towards another when that other is in a state of activity towards it. It is the attitude of the disciple to the teacher when teaching; of the son to the father when exercising his paternal authority; of the servant to the master when giving him orders. It is therefore essentially as applicable to the relation of man to God as to that of man to man. It is for this reason that we find ענוה ענוvery frequently used of man's relation to God, in fact, more often than of man's relation to man; and this common meaning of ענו must be specially remembered here, where the phrase is taken directly from the Old Testament. Weiss ('Matthaus-ev.') objects to Tholuck adducing the evidence of the Hebrew words, on the ground that the Greek terms are used solely of the relation to man, and that this usage is kept to throughout the New Testament. But the latter statement is hardly true. For, not to mention Matthew 11:29, in which the reference is doubtful, James 1:21 certainly refers to the meekness shown towards God in receiving his word. "The Scriptural πραότης," says Trench, loc. cit.," is not in a man's outward behaviour only; nor yet in his relations to his fellow-men; as little in his mere natural disposition. Rather is it an inwrought grace of the soul; and the exercises of it are first and chiefly towards God (Matthew 11:29; James 1:21). It is that temper of spirit in which we accept his dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting; and it is closely linked with the ταπεωοφροσύνη, and follows directly upon it (Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:12; cf. Zephaniah 3:12), because it is only the humble heart which is also the meek; and which, as such, does not fight against God, and more or less struggle and contend with him." Yet, as this meekness must be felt towards God not only in his direct dealings with the soul, but also in his indirect dealings (i.e. by secondary means and agents), it must also be exhibited towards men. Meekness towards God necessarily issues in meekness towards men. Our Lord's concise teaching seizes, therefore, on this furthest expression of meekness. Thus it is not meekness in the relation of man to man barely staled, of which Christ here speaks, but meekness in the relation of man to man, with its prior and presupposed fact of meekness in the relation of man to God. Shall inherit the earth. In the Psalm this is equivalent to the land of Palestine, and the psalmist means that, though the wicked may have temporary power, yet God's true servants shall really and finally have dominion in the land. But what is intended here? Probably our Lord's audience understood the phrase on his lips as a Messianic adaptation of the original meaning, and as therefore implying that those who manifested a meek reception of his will would obtain that full possession of the land of Palestine which was now denied to the Israelites through the conquest of the Romans. But to our Lord, and to the evangelist who, years after, recorded them, the meaning of the words must have been much fuller, corresponding, in fact, to the true meaning of the "kingdom of heaven," viz. that the meek shall inherit - shall receive, as their rightful possession from their Father, the whole earth; renewed, it may be (Isaiah 11:6-9; Isaiah 65:25; Revelation 21:1), but still the earth (Romans 8:21), with all the powers of nature therein implied. Of this the conquest of nature already gained through the civilization produced under Christianity is at once the promise and, though but in a small degree, the firstfruits.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Verse 6. - They which do hunger and thirst. The application of the figure of eating and drinking to spiritual things (cf. Luke 22:30) is not infrequent in the Old Testament; e.g. Isaiah 55:1. Yet the thought here is not the actual participation, but the craving. The Benediction marks a distinct stage in our Lord's argument. He spoke first of the consciously poor in their spirit; next of those who mourned over their poverty; then of those who were ready to receive whatever teaching or chastisement might be given them; here of those who had an earnest longing for that right relation to God in which they were so lacking. This is the positive stage. Intense longing, such as can only be compared to that of a starving man for food, is sure of satisfaction. After righteousness (τὴν δικαιοσύνην). Observe:
(1) The accusative. In Greek writers πεινάω and διψάω are regularly followed by the genitive. Here by the accusative; for the desire is after the whole object, and not after a part of it (cf. Weiss; also Bishop Westcott, on Hebrews 6:4, 5).
(2) The article. It idealizes. There is but one righteousness worthy of the name, and for this and all that it includes, both in standing before God and in relation to men, the soul longs. How it is to be obtained Christ does not here say. For they. Emphatic, as always (ver. 3, note). Shall be filled (χορτασθήσονται); vide Bishop Lightfoot on Philippians 4:12. Properly of animals being fed with fodder (χόρτος); cf. Revelation 19:21, "All the birds were filled (ἐχορτάσθησαν) with their flesh." At first only used of men depreciatingly (Plato,' Rep.,' 9:9, p. 586 a), afterwards readily. Rare in the sense of moral and spiritual satisfaction (cf. Psalm 17:15). When shall they be filled? As in the case of vers. 3, 4, now in part, fully hereafter. "St. Austin, wondering at the overflowing measure of God's Spirit in the Apostles' hearts, observes that the reason why they were so full of God was because they were so empty of his creatures. 'They were very full,' he says, 'because they were very empty'" (Anon., in Ford). That on earth, but in heaven with all the saints -
"Ever filled and ever seeking, what they have they still desire,
Hunger there shall fret them never, nor satiety shall tire, -
Still enjoying whilst aspiring, in their joy they still aspire." ('Chronicles of the Schonberg-Cotta Family,' ch. 9, from the Latin Hymn of Peter Damiani, † 1072.)
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Verse 7. - Our Lord here turns more directly to the character of his followers in relation to men; and in the next three Beatitudes mentions particulars which might be suggested by the sixth, seventh, and ninth commandments. The merciful (οἱ ἐλεήμονες). The mercy referred to here is not so much the almost negative quality which the word usually suggests to us (not dealing harshly, not inflicting punishment when due, sparing an animal or a fellow-man some unnecessary labour), as active kindness to the destitute and to any who are in trouble (cf. Matthew 9:27; Matthew 15:22; Matthew 17:15; Mark 5:19). As compared with οἰκτίρμονες (Luke 6:36), it seems to lay more stress on the feeling of pity showing itself in action and not only existing in thought. To this statement of our Lord's, that they who show mercy to those in need shall themselves be the objects of mercy (i.e. from God) in their time of need, many parallels have been adduced, e.g., by Wetstein. Rabbi Gamaliel (? the second, circa A.D. ), as reported by Rabbi Judah (circa A.D. ), says (Talm. Bab., 'Sabb.,' 151 b), on Deuteronomy 13:18, "Every one that showeth mercy to others, they show mercy to him from heaven, and every one that showeth not mercy to others, they show him not mercy from heaven;" cf. also ' Test. XII. Patr.:' Zab., § 8, "In proportion as a man has compassion (σπλαγχνίζεται) on his neighbour, so has the Lord upon him;" and, probably with reference to this passage, Clem. Rom., § 13, ἐλεᾶτε ἵνα ἐλεηθῆτε. (For the converse, cf. James 2:13.) Calvin remarks, "Hoc etiam paradoxon cum humano judicio pugnat. Mundus reputat beatos, qui malorum alienorum securi quieti suae consulunt: Christus autem hic beatos dicit, qui non modo ferendis propriis malis parati sunt, sed aliena etiam in se suscipiunt, ut miseris succurrant."
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Verse 8. - The pure in heart. Our Lord naturally passes in thought from the sixth to the seventh commandment (cf. vers. 21, 27), finding the basis of his phraseology in Psalm 24:3, 4, "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?... He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart (LXX. ἀθῶος χερσὶν καὶ καθαρὸς τῇ καρδίᾳ) (cf. also Psalm 72:1). Καθαρός (besides speaking of mere physical cleanness, ch. 27:59) specially refers to freedom from pollution, judged by God's standard of what pollution is, whether it be a matter of ceremonial enactment (meats, Romans 14:20; cf. Mark 7:19; cf. leprosy, Mark 8:2, 3; 10:8, et al.) or of ethical relation (John 13:10, 11; John 15:3); cf. Origen.'Hem. in Joh.,' 73:2 (Meyer), "Every sin soils the soul (Πᾶσα ἁμαρτία ῤύπον ἐντίθησι τῇ ψυχῇ)" (cf. also Bishop Westcott, 'Hebrews,' p. 346). In heart. The seat of the affections (Matthew 6:21; Matthew 22:37) and the understanding (Matthew 13:15), also the central spring of all human words and actions (Matthew 15:19); cf. καθαρὰ καρδία (1 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:22), which implies something deeper than καθαρὰ συνείδησις (1 Timothy 3:9; 2 Timothy 1:3). Shall see God. Not in his courts (Psalm 24.) on Mount Moriah, but above; and in one complete vision fully grasped (ὄψονται). The thought of present spiritual sight of God, though, perhaps, hardly to be excluded (contrast Weiss, 'Matthausev.'), is at least swallowed up in the thought of the full and final revelation. Those who are pure in heart, and care not for such sights as lead men into sin, are unconsciously preparing themselves for the great spiritual sight - the beatific vision (Revelation 22:4; cf. 1 John 3:2). In Hebrews 12:14 holiness (ἁγιασμός) is an indispensable quality for such a vision of "the Lord."
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Verse 9. - The peacemakers (οἱ εἰρηνοποιοί). More than "peaceable" (εἰρηνικός, James 3:17; εἰρηνεύοντες, Romans 12:18; Mark 9:50). This is the peaceable character consciously exerted outside itself. The same compound in the New Testament in Colossians 1:20 only: Αἰρηνοποιήσας διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ σταυροῦ αὐτοῦ (cf. Ephesians] 2:14, 15). Christians, in their measure, share in Christ's work, and, we may add, can attain it generally as he did, only by personal suffering. Observe that this Beatitude must have been specially distasteful to the warlike Galilaeans. Mishna, 'Ab.,' 1:13 (Taylor), "Hillel said, Be of the disciples of Aharon, loving peace and pursuing peace," hardly refers to peacemaking, but in Mishna, 'Peah,' 1:1, "These are the things whose fruit a man eats in this world, but which have their capital reward in the world to come: honouring one's father and mother, showing kindness, and bringing about peace between a man and his neighbour, but study of the Law is equivalent to them all." For they; αὐτοί, omitted by א, C, D, 13, 124, Latt., Peshito. Possibly it is an addition inserted from a desire to make this Beatitude harmonize with the others. But more probably it is genuine, and was omitted by accident, either by homoiot, of υἱοὶ (Meyer), or (better) because the scribe forgot the abbot in the emphatic υἱοὶ Θεοῦ, the form of the second clause being peculiar to this Beatitude. Shall be called; by God and angels and men. The children of God; Revised Version, sons of God; to show that the word used here is υἱοὶ, not τέκνα Christ's reference is, that is to say, not so much to the nature as to the privileges involved in sonship. The earthly privileges which peacemakers give up rather than disturb their peaceful relations with others, and in order that they may bring about peace between others, shall be much more than made up to them, and that with the approving verdict of all. They shall, with general approval, enter on the full privileges of their relation to God, who is "the God of peace" (Romans 15:33). Dr. Taylor ('Ab.,' 1:19) has an increasing note on "Peace" as a Talmudic name of God. For language similar to our Lord's, cf. Hosea 1:10 [LXX.], equivalent to Romans 9:26. Here, as often in this Gospel, there may be a tacit contradiction to the assumption that natural birth as Israelites involves the full blessings of sons of God; cf. 'Ab.,' 3:22 (Taylor).
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Verse 10. - Which are persecuted; which have been persecuted (Revised Version); οἱ δεδιωγμένοι. "Those who are harassed, hunted, spoiled. The term is properly used of wild beasts pursued by hunters, or of an enemy or malefactor in flight" (Wetstein). Our Lord, by the use of the perfect, wishes to indicate
(1) the fact that they have endured persecution, and still stand firm; and probably
(2) the condition of temporal loss to which they have been reduced by such persecution. They have "suffered the loss," possibly, "of all things," but they are "blessed." For righteouness' sake (ἕνεκεν δικαιοσύνης). No article (contrast ver. 6), either as indicating that for even a part of righteousness persecution can be undergone, or, and more probably, simply dwelling on the cause of persecution without idealizing it. St. Peter also says, perhaps with a reference to our Lord's words, that they who suffer διὰ δικαιοσύνην are μακάριοι (1 Peter 3:14). For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The same promise that was given to "the poor in spirit" (ver. 3) is here given to the persecuted for righteousness' sake. In the former case, poverty in the sphere of the spirit obtains the fullest possessions; here the same promise is given to temporal loss produced by faithfulness to the cause of righteousness. In ver. 3 our Lord removed all occasion for intellectual and spiritual pride. Here he comforts for temporal and social losses (cf. especially 2 Corinthians 6:10; further see ver. 3, note). Clement of Alexandria, 'Strom.,' 4:6 (p. 582, Potter)
(1) confuses this and the preceding Beatitude;
(2) gives a curious reading of some who alter the Gospels: "Blessed are they who have been persecuted through righteousness (ὑπὸ τῆς δικαιοσύνης), for they shall be perfect; and blessed are they who have been persecuted for my sake, for they shall have a place where they shall not be persecuted" (cf. Westcott, 'Introd. Gospp.,' Appendix C).
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Verses 11-16. - Some critics (e.g. Godet, Weiss) think that vers. 13-16 are no part of the original sermon, but only an interweaving of sayings which were originally spoken at other times. This is possible, but external evidence exists only in the case of vers. 13 and 15 (for vers. 14 and 16 are peculiar to Matthew); and even in the case of these verses it is by no means clear (vide infra) that the occasions on which, according to the other Gospels, the sayings were uttered are the more original. Weiss's assertion ('Life,' 2:144), "The remarks in Matthew 5:13-16, bearing on the calling of discipleship,.., cannot belong to the sermon on the mount, carefully as they are there introduced, for the prophesied sufferings of his followers might have made them disloyal," is wholly gratuitous. In fact, the sufferings have been much more strongly spoken of in vers. 11, 12. The disciples are now addressed directly, and are urged to "walk worthily of the vocation wherewith they are called." The mention of those who have endured persecution leads our Lord to warn his disciples not to faint under persecution in any of its forms; they are but entering on the succession of the prophets; their work is that of purifying and preserving and of illuminating; they must therefore allow their character as disciples to appear, as appear it must if they arc true to their position. There is a purpose in this, namely, that men may see their actions, and glorify their Father which is in heaven. Verses 11, 12. - Parallel passage: Luke 6:22, 23. Verse 11. - As ver. 10 spoke of the blessedness of those who had suffered persecution and had endured it, so this verse speaks of the blessedness of those who are suffering from it at the moment, whether it be in act or word. Whilst Christ still keeps up the form of the Beatitudes, he speaks now in the second person, this and the following terse thus forming the transition to his directly addressing those immediately before him. His present audience was not yet among οἱ δεδιωγμένοι, but might already be enduring something of the reproach and suffering now referred to. Revile (ὀνειδίσωσιν); Revised Version, reproach; as also the Authorized Version in Luke 6:22. "Revile" in itself implies moral error in the person that reviles. Not so ὀνειδίζειν (cf. Matthew 11:20; Mark 16:14). Our Lord purposely uses a word which includes, not only mere abuse, but also stern, and occasionally loving, rebuke. Falsely, for my sake. The comma in both the Authorized (Scrivener) and the Revised Versions after "falsely" is opposed to that interpretation (Meyer) which-closely connects ψευδόμενοι with both καθ ὑμῶν and ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ. Ψευδόμενοι is really a modal definition of εἴπωσιν (Sevin, Weiss), and ἔνεκεν ἐμοῦ goes with the whole sentence "when men," etc. for my sake. In ver. 10 he had said ἕνεκεν δικαιοσύνης; here he directly speaks of himself. In Luke 6. the phrase is transitional, "for the Son of man's sake." In Matthew 4:19 he had claimed to be the Source of power for service; here he claims to be the Object of devotion. His "Messianic consciousness" (Meyer) is, at even this early stage of his ministry, fully developed (cf. also vers. 17, 22). It is possible that Hebrews 11:26 (vide Rendall, in loc.) and 1 Peter 4:14 refer to this expression.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Verse 12. - Rejoice, and be exceeding glad (χαίρετε καὶ ἀγαλλιᾶσθε). Our Lord uses no weaker expressions than those which describe the joy of the saints over the marriage of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7). The first word expresses joy as such, the second its effect in stirring the emotions; this thought St. Luke carries still further in σκιρτήσατε. (For joy felt under persecution, cf. Acts 5:41.) For great. The order of the Greek, ὅτι ὀ μισθὸς ὑμῶν πολύς, does not bear out the emphatic position assigned to "great" in the English Versions from Tyndale downwards (except Rheims), including Revised Version. Is your reward. The doctrine of recompense, which has so large a place in Jewish thought (for a not often-sire example, cf. 'Ab.,' 2:19, Taylor) comes also in Christ's teaching. In Matthew 20:1-16 reward is expressly divested of its merely legal side, and exhibited as ultimately dependent on the will of the great Householder. But here it is mentioned without reference to the difficulties involved in the conception. These difficulties centre round the thought of obligation from God to man. But it may be doubted whether these difficulties are not caused by too exclusively regarding the metaphor of contracting, instead of considering the fact indicated by the metaphor. In God's kingdom every action has a corresponding effect, and this effect is the more certain in proportion as the action is in the sphere of morality. The idea of "quantity" hardly enters into the relation of such cause and effect. It is a question of moral correspondence. But such effect may not unfitly be called by the metaphors "hire," "reward," because, on the one hand, it is the result of conditions of moral service, and, on the other, such terms imply a Personal Will at the back of the effect, as well as a will on the part of the human "servant." (For the subject in other connexions, cf. Weiss, 'Bibl. Theol.,' § 32; cf. also ver. 46; Matthew 6:1, 2, 4, 5, 6.) In heaven. Our Lord says, "your reward is great," because the effect of your exercise of moral powers will be received in a sphere where the accidents of the surroundings will entirely correspond to moral influences. The effect of your present faithfulness, etc., will be seen in the reception Of powers of work and usefulness and enjoyment, beside which those possessed on earth will appear small. On earth the opportunities, etc., are but "few things;" hereafter they will be "many things" (Matthew 25:21). For. Not as giving a reason for the assurance of reward (apparently Meyer and Weiss), but for the command, "rejoice," and be exceeding glad, and perhaps also for the predicate "blessed." Rejoice if persecuted, for such persecutions prove you to be the true successors of the prophets, your predecessors in like faithfulness (cf. James 5:10). So. By reproach, e.g. Elijah (1 Kings 18:17), Amos (Amos 7:12, 13); by persecution, e.g. Hanani (2 Chronicles 16:10), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 37:15); by saying all manner of evil, e.g. Amos (Amos 7:10), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 37:13), Daniel (Daniel 6:13). Which were before you. Added, surely, not as a mere temporal fact, but to indicate spiritual relationship (vide supra).
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.
Verse 13. - Ye are the salt, etc. (cf. a similar saying in Mark 9:50; Luke 14:34, 35). Weiss thinks that St. Luke gives it in its original context; that St. Matthew is right in interpreting it as of special reference to the disciples; and that St. Mark applies it the most freely. It may, indeed, be that its position here is only the result of the inspired guidance of the evangelist; but, on the whole, it seems more probable that so natural a figure was used more than once by our Lord, and that he really spoke these words in his sermon on the mount, as well as on the later occasion indicated by St. Luke. Ye; i.e. the μαθηταί of ver. 1. Are, in fact (ἐστέ); therefore recognize the responsibility. The salt of the earth. It has been disputed whether allusion is here made to the preservative properties of salt or to the flavour it imparts; i.e. whether Christ is thinking of his disciples as preserving the world from decay, or as giving it a good flavour to the Divine taste. Surely a useless question; forgetful of the fact that spiritual realities are being dealt with, and that it is therefore impossible for the one effect to be really separated from the other. Our Lord is thinking of the moral tone which his disciples are to give to humanity. The connexion with vers. 11, 12 is - Persecution must be borne unless you are to lose your moral tone, which is to be to the earth what salt is to its surroundings, preserving from corruption and fitting for (in your case Divine) appreciation. What χάρις is to be to the Christian λόγος (Colossians 4:6), that the Christian himself is to be to the world. If... have lost its savour (μωρανθῇ); so elsewhere in Luke 14:34 only. Salt that has lost its distinctive qualities is here said to lack its proper mind or sense. Salt without sharpness is like an ἄνθρωπος ἄλογος; for man is a ζῶον λογικόν. On the fact of salt losing its virtue, cf. Thomson ('Land and the Book,' p. 382: 1887), "It is a well-known fact that the salt of this country [i.e. Palestine] when in contact with the ground, or exposed to rain and sun, does become insipid and useless. From the manner in which it is gathered [vide infra], much earth and other impurities are necessarily collected with it. Not a little of it is so impure that it cannot be used at all; and such salt soon effloresces and turns to dust - not to fruitful soil, however. It is not only good for nothing itself, but it actually destroys all fertility wherever it is thrown.... No man will allow it to be thrown on to his field, and the only place for it is the street; and there it is cast, to be trodden under foot of men." It should be observed that the salt used in Palestine is not manufactured by boiling clean salt water, nor quarried from mines, but is obtained from marshes along the seashore, as in Cyprus, or from salt lakes in the interior, which dry up in summer, as the one in the desert north of Palmyra, and the great Lake of Jebbul, south-east of Aleppo. Further, rock-salt is found in abundance at the south end of the Dead Sea (cf. Thomson, loc. cit). Wherewith shall it be salted? i.e. not if you will not act as salt, wherewith shall the earth be salted? (apparently Luther and Erasmus); but what quality can take the place of moral tone to produce in you the same result? You are as salt. If you lose your distinctive qualities, where, can you find that which answers to them? It is thenceforth good for nothing. Our Lord here lays stress, not on want of fitness (εὔθετον, Luke), but on want of inherent power. "It is only useful for that purpose to which one applies what is absolutely useless" (Weiss-Meyer).
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
Verse 14. - Matthew only. Ye are the light of the world. After speaking of the moral tone that the disciples were to give to the world, in contrast to sin in its corrupting power, Christ refers to them as enlightening, in contrast to sin as darkness and ignorance. Our Lord further naturally exchanges the term "the earth" (which from its strong materialism had suited the figure of the salt) for "the world" - a phrase which must, indeed, as regards the disciples, be limited to this earth, but as regards the light, need not be limited to less than the solar system. In other words, the simple reason why he exchanges "earth" for "world" is that they are respectively the best suited to the figure employed. Notice that Christ never applies the former figure, of salt, to himself; but the latter, of light, once or twice, especially John 8:12, where, since he is speaking of himself, and not of others, he adds the thought of life being connected with light, a city, etc.; literally, a city cannot be hid when set on a mountain. It seems at first slightly awkward to introduce the figure of a city between those of the sun and the lamp, both these having to do with light. The reason is that the city is not considered as such, but only as an object which can be teen, and which cannot (οὐ δύναται, emphatic) from its physical conditions avoid being seen. There is a true gradation in the thought of influence. The sun must be seen by all; the city, by the whole neighbourhood; the lamp, by the family. Our Lord comes from the general to the particular; from what is almost theory, at best a matter of hope and faith, to hard fact and practice. The influence you are to have - if it is to be for the whole world, as indeed it is, must be felt in the neighbourhood in which you live, and a fortiori in the immediate circle of your own home. Conjectures have been made whether any one city can reasonably be mentioned as being in sight, and so having suggested this image to our Lord. If the exact spot where he was then sitting were itself certain, such conjectures might be worth considering. But, in fact, so many "cities" in Palestine were set on hills that the inquiry seems vain. Safed, some twelve miles north-west of Capernaum, the view from which extends to Tiberias (Neubaur, 'Geogr.,' p. 228), has been accepted by many, but evidence is lacking for it having been a city at that time. Tabor, at the south-west of the lake, has also been thought of, and at all events seems to have been then a fortified town. The view from it is even more extensive than from Safed (vide especially Socin's Baedeker, p. 365).
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.
Verse 15. - Neither do men light a candle, etc. The same illustration comes in Luke 8:16 (Mark 4:21), immediately after the parable of the sower, and again in Luke 11:33, immediately after the reference to the repentance of the men of Nineveh at the preaching of Jonah. All four passages have too much verbal similarity to admit of any of them being absolutely independent. Mark 4:21 has the greatest number of peculiarities. The two passages in Luke agree very closely with each other, but of the two, Luke 11:33 most resembles Matthew. The close agreement here with the context seems to point to this being an original position of the utterance. Of the other two contexts Luke 11:33, if we must choose, seems the more natural. Godet, however, says, "This passage has been placed in the sermon on the mount, like so many others, rather because of the association of ideas than from historical reminiscence" (similarly Weiss). Neither. The inherent position, so to speak, of Christ's disciples, as of a city set on a mountain, is not accidental. It answers to the purpose of their being disciples, as is explained further by the illustration of a lamp. A candle; Revised Version, a lamp (λύχνον); i.e. the flat, saucer-like Eastern lamp, in which sometimes the wick merely floats on the oil A bushel... a candlestick; Revised Version, the bushel... the stand (τὸν μόδιον... τὴν λυχνίαν). Probably rightly, for if the article had been generic (cf. Mishna, 'Sabb.,' 4:2, "One may fill a pitcher [literally, 'the pitcher,' את הקיתון]. and put it under, a [literally, 'the'] pillow, or under a [literally, the] bolster [on the sabbath in order to take the chill off it]," W.H. Lowe, 'Fragment of Pesachim,' 1879, p. 95; cf. also Driver on 1 Samuel 19:13) it would have been found also before λύχνον. "The description applies to the common houses of the people. In each there was one principal room, in which they ate and slept; the lampstand, with its single light, the flour-bin, and the bed, with a few seats, were all its furniture" (Cook, in 'Speaker's Commentary,' on Mark 4:21 ). A bushel (τὸν μόδιον). This is probably equivalent to the seah (so Peshito), which was "the ordinary measure for domestic purposes," and, as slated in the margins of the Authorized and the Revised Versions on Matthew 13:33, held "nearly a peck and a half" dry measure. The Latin modius, here used to render scab, itself held nearly a peck. In Luke 8:16 the vaguer term δκεῦος is used. "Bushel" is retained in the Revised Version probably because it can be used of the vessel apart from all thought of measure; cf. "The Sense represents the Sun no bigger than a Bushel" (Hale , in Murray's 'Oxford Dictionary'). But on a candlestick; Revised Version, but on the stand (ἐπὶ τὴν λυχνίαν); Vulgate, from Old Latin, Neque accendunt lucernam et possunt cam sub modio sed super candelabrum. Candelabrum (cf. "chandelier") meant a stand for either candles or lamps; hence Wickliffe, translating from the Vulgate, could say, "Ne me[n] teen-dith not a lanterne & puttith it vndir a buyschel: but on a candilstik." We still use "candlestick" in the rarer sense when we speak of the seven-branched "candlestick" of the tabernacle, which was lighted by lamps, not candies (cf. Humphry, on Revised Version, in loc.). It giveth Light; Revised Version, it shineth (λάμπει). The Rheims alone of the older English versions renders" shine," thus showing that the same Greek word is used as in the next verse. The Vulgate (followed by Wickliffe and Rheims) renders it in the subjunctive, ut lucent, possibly originally a copyist's error from the luceat of ver. 16. If so, it was apparently made before the time of Tertullian ('De Prescript.,' § 26). The thought is stir primarily of the light itself being necessarily seen rather than of its benefiting others (φωτίζω, Luke 11:36; cf. John 1:9). To all. For in a room none can help noticing it, even though the lamp and the light itself be but small. The negative of this verse is given in Pseudo-Cyprian, 'De Aleat.,' 3, "Monet dominus et dicit: nolite contris tare Spiritum Sanctum, qui in vobis est, et nolite exstinguere lumen, quod in vobis efful sit" (vide Resch, 'Agrapha,' pp. 111, 215).
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Verse 16. - Matthew only. Let your light so shine; even so let your light shine (Revised Version); οὕτως λαμψὰτω τὸ φῶς ὑμῶν. The Revised Version (cf. Rheims) does away with the misinterpretation suggested by the Authorized Version, "so that," for οὕτως refers solely to the method of shining spoken of in ver. 15, "like a burning lamp upon its stand" (Meyer). Our Lord has here no thought of effort in shining, such as may improve the brightness of the light given, or of illuminating others, but of not concealing what light the disciples have. (For a similar οὕτως, cf. 1 Corinthians 9:24.) Yet remember, "A lamp for one is a lamp for a hundred" (Talm. Bab., 'Sabb.,' 122a) and "Adam was the lamp of the world" (Talm. Jeremiah, 'Sabb.,' 2:4 - a play on Proverbs 20:27). Your light. Either genitive of apposition, the light which you are (Achelis), cf. ver. 14; or genitive of possession, the light of which you are the trusted possessors (Meyer, Weiss). The latter is preferable, as the disciples have, in ver. 15, been compared to the lamp, i.e. the light-bearer. Before men (ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων). More than ἐνώπιον, "in presence of," for the position of the lamp "in front of" the people is what our Lord is here emphasizing (cf. John 12:37). That they may see your good works (u(mw = n τὰ καλὰ ἔργα). Your. Three times in this verse. Our Lord lays stress on personal possession of light, personal action, personal relationship and origin. Good works; i.e. of your lives generally (Weiss-Meyer), not ministerially (Mever). "Noble works, works which by their generous and attractive character win the natural admiration of men" (Bishop Westcott, on Hebrews 10:24). And glorify. This is actually done in ch. 9:8; 15:31. St. Peter's language (1 Peter 2:12) is probably due to a reminiscence of our Lord's words. Your Father which is in heaven. The Fatherhood of God is here predicated in a special sense of the disciples, in the same way as the Fatherhood of God is, in the Old Testament, always connected with his covenant relation to his people as a nation (cf. Isaiah 63:16; Isaiah 64:8; Jeremiah 3:4; Deuteronomy 32:6). Our Lord here is not thinking of the original relation of God to being and especially to humanity, in virtue of man's creation in the Divine image (ὁ πατήρ), but of the relation into which the disciples have entered through the revelation of God in Christ; cf. further Bishop Westcott, on John 4:21 (Add. Note) and on 1 John 1:2 (Add. Note); also Weiss, 'Life,' 2:348. The phrase, which occurs here for the first time in St. Matthew (but cf. ver. 9, note), henceforth occurs frequently, becoming of great importance for this Gospel (cf. vers. 45, 48; Matthew 6:1, 9, etc.).
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
Verse 17- Matthew 6:18. - Having spoken of the ideal character of his disciples (vers. 3-10), and of their need of allowing that character to appear (vers. 11-16), our Lord turns to speak of the position that they should hold towards the religion of the day (ver. 17 - Matthew 6:18), of which the Law was the accepted standard. Verses 17-20. -
(1) With this aim he first states summarily and in nucleus the position that he himself holds towards the Law - a statement which was the more necessary as he had already (ver. 11) claimed to be the object of his disciples' devotion. Verse 17. - Matthew only. Think not. Probably the tendency of his teaching was even already seen to be so different from that of the recognized authorities, that some had in consequence formed this opinion (νομίζω) of him which he now repudiates, and which was near akin to the basis of the charge formulated afterwards against St. Stephen (Acts 6:14). In both cases the tendency of the new teaching (Mark 1:27) to abolish temporary forms was perceived by at least those whose powers of perception were quickened through their opposition. That I am come; Revised Version, that I came (ὅτι η΅λθον). Our Lord, both here and in the next clause, lays stress on his coming as an historic fact. The primary reference is probably to his coming forth from private life (cf. John 1:31). Yet in his own mind there may have been a further allusion to his coming from above (cf. John 8:14; and further, Matthew 10:34). To destroy. The connexion between καταλῦσαι here and λύσῃ ver. 19 (vide note) is lost in the English. The Law or the Prophets. The Phrase,'" the law and the prophets," is sometimes used as practically equivalent to the whole of the Old Testament (Matthew 7:12; John 1:45; Romans 3:21; cf. Matthew 11:13; Matthew 22:40; Acts 24:14),and our Lord means probably much the same here, the "or" distributing the καταλῦσαι (cf. Alford), and being used because of the negative. Such a distribution, however, though it could not have been expressed in an affirmative sentence, has for its background the consciousness of a difference in the nature of these two chief components of the Old Testament. Observe that the third part of the Hebrew Scriptures, "the (Holy) Writings" - of which 'Psalms' (Luke 24:44) form the most characteristic portion - is omitted in this summary reference to the Old Testament. The reason may be either that of the three parts it was used less than the other two as a basis for doctrine and for rule of life, or that it was practically included in the Prophets (Acts 2:30). The essential teaching of the Law may be distinguished from that of the Prophets by saying that, while the Law was the direct revelation of God's will as law for the people's daily life - personal, social, and national - the Prophets (including the historical books and the prophets proper) were rather the indirect revelation of his will for them under the fresh circumstances into which they came; this indirect revelation being seen more especially in God's providential guidance of the nation, and in his explanation of principles of worship, as well as in occasional predictions of the future. It is to his relation to the Prophets in this connexion, as an indirect revelation of God's will under changing circumstances (cf. Weiss) that our Lord here chiefly refers. For he is led to speak of his own relation to them from the bearing that this has on the conduct of his disciples. Many, however (e.g. Chrysostom), consider that he is thinking of his relation to them as containing predictions concerning himself. In answer to this it is not sufficient to say (Meyer, Weiss, Alford) that it was impossible that Messiah could be thought to abrogate the Prophets; for, in fact, to many Jews during his ministry (even if not at this early stage of it), and much more to Jews at the time when the evangelist recorded the words, our Lord must have seemed to contradict the predictions about himself as they were then understood. It is indeed true that the prima facie ground that existed for thinking that our Lord's teaching was opposed, not merely to the religion of the day as dependent on the Law and the Prophets, but also to the predictions of Messiah contained in them, is enough to give a certain plausibility to this interpretation. But that is all. The absence in the context of any hint that he refers to his relation to predictions as such quite forbids our accepting it. It was probably derived solely from a misinterpretation of "fulfil" (vide infra), no regard being paid to the train of thought by which our Lord was led to speak of the subject at all. Our Lord says that he is not come to "destroy" the Prophets as exponents of the will of God. I am not come to destroy; emphasizing his statement by repetition. But to fulfil. By establishing the absolute and final meaning of the Law and the Prophets. Christ came not to abrogate the Law or the Prophets, but to satisfy them - to bring about in his own Person, and ultimately in the persons of his followers, that righteousness of life which, however limited by the historical conditions under which the Divine oracles had been delivered, was the sum and substance of their teaching. The fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets "is the perfect development of their ideal reality out of the positive form, in which the same is historically apprehended and limited" (Meyer). Martensen puts the matter thus: "How can he say that not a tittle shall pass from the Law, since the development of the Church shows us that the ceremonial law, that the whole Mosaic dispensation, has been annihilated by the influences proceeding from Christ? We answer: He has fulfilled the Law, whilst he has released it from the temporary forms in which its eternal validity was confined; he has unfolded its spiritual essence, its inward perfection. Not even a tittle of the ceremonial law has passed away, if we regard the Mosaic Law as a whole; for the ideas which form its basis, as the distinction between the unclean and the clean, are confirmed by Christ, and contained in the law of holiness which he teaches men" ('Christian Ethics: General,' § 125); cf. ver. 18, notes, "till heaven and earth pass," "till all be fulfilled."
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.
Verse 18. - Cf. Luke 16:17, "But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one tittle of the Law to fail" (Revised Version). The words are so similar that the two evangelists probably record the same utterance, the difference in the form of the sentence pointing rather to an oral than a written common source. St. Luke places it in an attack on the Pharisees, who had scoffed at our Lord for his parable of the dishonest steward. Verily; ἀμήν (אמן, literally, "established," "sure"). It has hardly been sufficiently noticed by commentators that the New Testament usage of the word "Amen" often slightly differs from that found in the Old Testament. "Amen" in the Old Testament always involves the personal acceptance of the statement to which it refers ("so be it"), whether this be a statement upon oath (Numbers 5:22, perhaps), or a statement of penalties incurred under certain circumstances (Numbers 5:22, probably; Deuteronomy 27:15-26; Nehemiah 5:13); or a statement expressing a pious hope uttered either by another (1 Kings 1:36; Jeremiah 28:6; Jeremiah 11:5 (?); cf. Nehemiah 8:6; cf. also 1 Corinthians 14:16); or by one's self (Psalm 41:13). Hence the LXX. either leaves it untranslated or, with but one exception, translates it by γένοιτο. In Hellenistic Greek, however, it became often used as little more than a mere asseveration ("verily"). The earliest trace of this usage is found in Jeremiah 28:6, where the LXX. renders אמןby ἀληθῶς (Aquila much better πιστθήτω, though generally elsewhere πεπιστωμένως), and it is frequent in the New Testament, cf. especially Luke 9:27, λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν ἀληθῶς, with parallels, ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν (cf. also Luke 12:44 with Matthew 24:47, and Luke 21:3 with Mark 12:43). Yet this usage of "Amen" in Hellenistic Greek does not seem to have ever spread into Hebrew or Aramaic. W. H. Lowe ('Fragm. Pesach.,' p. 70) says, and apparently truly, "The Jews never used 'amen in the sense of 'verily.' They say באמת, be'emeth', 'in truth,' הימנותא, hemanutha, 'Faith!' or אמנם, 'omnam, 'verily.'" If so, the fact is interesting, for it implies that, notwithstanding the usage of "Amen" in Greek, our Lord himself, as speaking Aramaic, probably did not use it in the mere sense of strong asseveration, but rather always with its connotation of his entire concurrence in the statement he was making. In his mouth, that is to say, it always emphasized the thought of his personal acceptance of the statement with its legitimate issue. Observe that it makes no difference (cf. Jeremiah 28:6) whether the "Amen" comes at the beginning or at the end of his utterance. N.B. - Ναί (Luke 11:51; cf. Matthew 23:36) may be taken as intermediate between ἀληθῶς and ἀμήν. Ἀληθῶς states a truth; ναί assents with the intellect; ἀμήν, in at least Hebrew and Aramaic usage, accepts it with all its consequences (cf 2 Corinthians 1:19, 20). Till heaven and earth pass; Revised Version, pass away (παρέλθῃ); and so in the next clause. The same almost archaic sense of "pass" recurs in Psalm 148:6, Authorized Version (Revised Version, "pass away"). Observe that our Lord does not say that the Law will then pass away. He says, not till then; i.e. he affirms, as in Luke 16:17, that it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for the Law. For, in fact, as being constantly fulfilled in its ideal and therefore permanent character, it must necessarily remain in the new world; cf. 1 Peter 1:25 (the everlasting duration of the word of the Lord); 1 Corinthians 13:13 (love); 2 Peter 3:13 (righteousness); cf. Meyer. The belief in the permanence of the Law which the Jews had (vide references in Meyer, and especially Weber, 'Altsynag. Theol.,' §§ 5, 84) here finds its true satisfaction. "The least element of holiness which the Law contains has more reality and durability than the whole visible universe" (Godet on Luke). Comp. also Mark 13:31, "My words shall not pass away" - a claim only seen in its full three when put beside these words about the Law. One jot. The permanence of even every yod (y, j), though the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet, is not infrequently referred to by Jewish writers (cf. e.g. in Lightfoot, 'Hor. Hebr.;' Edersheim, 'Life,' 1.537). Observe:
(1) The mention of yod, evidently because of its small size, is one proof of the fact that the Hebrew characters in use in our Lord's time were much more similar to the usual form under which we know them (Quadrate schrift) than to the form found on the Moabite Stone (Phoenician), where the god is no smaller than other letters (vide Euting's very complete table of forms of the Hebrew alphabet in Chwolsen, 'Corp. Inscript. Hebr.,' 1882; vide pp. 404-415 of the same work for Chwolson's much-controverted theory of the gradual development of the Quadrat-sehrift, roughly from the time of Ezra till the eighth or ninth century A.D., out of old Aramaic forms slightly removed from Phoenician; and for the early history of the Hebrew alphabet generally, see the introduction to Driver's 'Samuel.'
(2) We may, perhaps, see in our Lord's reference to yod and a "tittle" an indication that even already scrupulous care was taken of the text. The objection to this, derived from the non-literal quotations in the New Testament is due to a misunderstanding of Jewish methods of quotation. Or one tittle. So Wickliffe and Tyndale downwards; "apparently a diminutive of tit, small" (Aid. Wright, 'Bible WordBook'); κεραία (κερέα, Westcott and Heft, vide Appendix, p. 151), probably "a horn," then anything projecting like a horn. Used by the early Greek grammarians, like apex by the Latin, to designate:
(1) A little projection in a letter, especially the top, the apex; Nicander, "the top and bottom are each called κεραία (κεραία λέγεται τὸ ἄκρον καὶ ἔσχατον; gloss, κεραία γράμματος ἄκρον); cf. Plutarch, "disputing about syllables and κεραιῶν (λογομαχεῖν περὶ συλλαβῶν καὶ κεραιῶν); " vide Wetstein.
(2) Accents. So Thayer's Grimm; cf. Sophocles' 'Lex.' (1870) s.v. κεραία, "Apex, a mark over a letter, as in 5 (Philon., 2:536. 27);" but Philo in this passage only refers to κεραίαν ἑκάστην, without defining it. This double use of the Greek word forbids absolute certainty as to what our Lord was referring to, especially as the Hebrew word (קוצ, literally, "thorn") of which κεραία is a translation has itself a double sense, viz.:
(1) The end of a letter, especially the "thorn-like" small upward stroke of yod. So most interpreters since Origen (in Wetstein), who says that the Hebrew letters eaph (כ) and beth (ב) differ only by a short κεραία. They also quote the well-known Jewish examples (e.g. in Wetstein) of the effect of negligence in writing similar letters; e.g. if one writes resh (ר) for daleth (ד), "one" (Deuteronomy 6:4) becomes "another;" if heth (ח) for he (ה), "praise" (Psalm 150.) becomes "profane." It must be noticed that the extremities of such Hebrew letters as we possess, which were actually written in our Lord's time on earth, are much more "thorn" "horn"-like than those of our printed texts. I cannot, however, find קוצ actually used in this sense of other letters than yod.
(2) Some distinguishing mark over a letter to indicate care in writing and reading it, or to remind readers of some interpretation or rule attached as a peg to it or to the word of which it forms a part. It was much later, indeed, that such marks became very elaborate, but it is probable that the rudiments of them were known in our Lord's time (for such קוצים, cf. Weber, 'Altsynag. Theol.,' § 27, 2 a, and the article on Akiba in 'Dict. of Christian Biogr.'). If it be objected that our Lord could hardly refer to these marks of traditional explanation as of such permanence, the answer is that in so far as these expressed legitimate issues (vide infra, ver. 21) of the Mosaic Law, he could place them on the same level as that Law itself. Till all; Revised Version, till all things; i.e. all things in the Law - all the requirements of the Law, in contrast to the one "jot" or "tittle" just mentioned. Till all be fulfilled; Revised Version, be accomplished (γ´ενηται). The clause is probably epexegetical of "till heaven and earth pass away." Nothing in the Law shall pass away till heaven and earth pass away, when, with a new heaven and earth, all the contents of the Law will be completely realized (cf. Nosgen) so that even then nothing in the Law shall pass away (vide infra). On the contrary, every part of it, moral or ceremonial (Weiss), shall then, by being fully understood and obeyed in its true meaning, enter on its full and complete existence (γένητα).
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.
Verse 19. - Matthew only. As Christ honoured the Law (ver. 17) so are his disciples to honour it. Whosoever therefore. Seeing that every part of the Law is of permanent value. In this verse our Lord once for all declares his opposition to antinomianism. Every one of the commands in the Law is, in its true and ideal meaning, still binding. Shall break (λύσῃ). Not merely in contrast to "do" (ποιήσῃ vide infra) in the sense of "transgress" (Fritzsche), but "abrogate" (cf. Bishop Westcott, on John 5:18, "Not the violation of the sanctity of the day in a special case, but the abrogation of the duty of observance;" cf. also Matthew 16:19; Matthew 18:18; 1 John 3:8). It expresses, indeed, a less complete abrogation than καταλῦσαι (ver. 17), because, while speaking of himself, the Lord could use the strongest word possible, and that with reference to the whole Law or the Prophets; but here his expression is limited by the inability of any individual disciple to carry out an abrogation even of one command. One of these least commandments. Not necessarily such as the Pharisees reckoned least, in their enumeration of small and great, but such as our Lord himself symbolized by "jot" or "tittle;" those precepts which in reality are the least important (Meyer). Chrysostom strangely says that our Lord here refers, not to old laws, but to those which he was about to lay down; similarly Bengel thinks of vers. 22-28, etc. While the Jews distinguished carefully between small and great precepts, they insisted on the importance of keeping even the smallest; cf. 'Ab.,' 4:5 (Taylor), "Hasten to a slight precept.., for the reward of precept is precept." And shall teach men so. Doing his best to abrogate it, not only in his own person by neglect or violation, but also for others by teaching them to disregard it. He shall be called the least. The Revised Version omits "he, .... the." He is not cast out of the kingdom ("Ubi nisi magni esse non possunt," Augustine), but his want of moral insight (did he consider it "breadth of thought"?) leads to his being called least in the kingdom. It is the converse of the parable in Luke 19:17, etc. There faithfulness in a very little (ἐλαχίστῳ) wins much; here disregard of a very little causes a person to be reckoned (ver. 9, note) as very little - the principle of judgment being that of Luke 16:10, "He that is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he that is unrighteous in avery little is unrighteous also in much." In the kingdom of heaven; i.e. probably in its full and final establishment. The doctrine of grades of blessedness and of punishment hereafter is clearly taught in Scripture (e.g. Luke 12:47, 48). But whosoever shall do and teach them. Similarly the Revised Version; but rather supply "it," i.e. "that which is required in the smallest commandment" (Meyer). The personal performance and conscious spreading of one of the least commandments will be found to involve so much that it gains for the person a high position. Do and teach. For many will perform a command without taking any conscious part in spreading it. The same; Revised Version, he (οῦτος). Why inserted here and not in the previous clause? Partly because of the awkwardness of inserting οῦτος there so soon after οὕτως; partly because our Lord wished to lay stress there on the recompense, here on the person ("he and no other") who receives recompense. On the thought, cf. 'Test. XII. Parr.' (Levi., § 13), "If he teach these things and practise them, he shall share the throne of the king, as also Joseph our brother." It is worth adding Tyndale's remark in his 'Exposition,' "Whosoever shall first fulfil them [these least commandments following] himself, and then teach other, and set all his study to the furtherance and maintaining of them, that doctor shall all they of the kingdom of heaven have in price, and follow him and seek him out, as doth an eagle her prey, and cleave to him as burrs."
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.
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').
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:
Verses 21-48. - (a) Our Lord is still concerned with the relation of himself and his followers to the religion of the day, of which the Old Testament (ver. 17), and more especially the Law (ver. 18), was the accepted standard. But after having spoken of the need of careful attention to (vers. 17,18), and observance of (ver. 19), even the least commands of the Law, he goes on to point out the far-reaching character of these commands, whether they are such as we should call more (vers. 21, 27, 81) or less (vers. 33, 38, 43) impotent. It is essential to notice that our Lord refers to these commands, not merely as statements contained in the Law, but as part of the religion of the day, and that he contrasts their true bearing on life and conduct with that false bearing on this which was commonly predicated of them. By this it is not meant that our Lord was only opposing such narrow glosses and interpretations as had arisen at various times during the centuries after the promulgation of the Law (for these were for the most part perfectly natural and legitimate developments of the earliest possible interpretations of it), still less that he was thinking only of the worst of the misrepresentations of its commands, comparatively recently made by the Pharisees; but that he was now going back, beyond this so far natural and normal development of the earliest interpretations, to the first principles underlying the revelation contained in the Law. While the Jews, not unnaturally, clung to the primary, but temporary, meaning of the Law as a revelation of God's will for them as a nation, our Lord was now about to expound its commands as a revelation of God's permanent will for them and all men as men. Our Lord was now, that is to say, wishing to do more than merely cut off the excrescences that, chiefly through the Pharisaic party, had grown up round the Law, but less than root up the Law itself. He rather cuts down the whole growth that had been, notwithstanding some mere excrescences, the right and proper outcome of the Law in its original environment, in order that, in fresh environment, which corresponded better to its nature, the Law might produce a growth still more right and proper. Verses 21-26. - The sixth commandment. Verses 21-24 Matthew only; vers. 25, 26 have parts common to Luke. Verse 21. - Ye have heard (ἠκούσατε, frequentative aorist). Our Lord does not say, "ye have read" (cf. Matthew 21:42), for he was not now speaking to the learned classes, but to a large audience many of whom were probably unable to read. "Ye have heard," i.e. from your teachers whose teaching claims to be the substance of the Law. So, probably, even in John 12:34, where the multitude say that they "have heard out of the Law that the Christ abideth for ever," which, since this is hardly expressed in so many words in the Old Testament, must mean that the instructions they have received on this subject truly represent the substance of its teaching. So here our Lord says, "You have heard from your teachers (cf. Romans 2:18) that the substance of the sixth commandment is so-and-so." It is thus quite intelligible that in some of these utterances there should be found added to (vers. 21, 43) or intermingled with (ver. 33) the words of a passage of Scripture, other words which are either taken from Scripture, but from another place in it (perhaps ver. 33), or do not occur in Scripture at all, but merely help to form a compendious statement of a definite interpretation (here and ver. 43). It must remain doubtful whether our Lord himself formulated these statements of the popular teaching, or quoted them verbally as current. If the latter, as is perhaps more likely, there remains the at present still more insoluble question whether they were only oral or (cf. the case of the 'Didaehe') had already been committed to writing (cf. in this connexion Bishop Westcott, 'Hebr.,' p. 480). That it was said by them of old time (ὅτι ἐῥῤέθη τοῖς ἀρχαίοις). By; Revised Version, to. Similarly ver. 33. Although "by" may be defended (cf. Madvig, § 39 g), "to" (Wickliffe and Tyndale downwards) is certainly right, because
(a) it is the common usage with a passive verb;
(b) it is the constant usage with ἐῥῤέθη in the New Testament (e.g. Romans 9:12, 26);
(c) the parallelism with ἐγὼ δέ κ.τ.λ., is more exact;
(d) the popular teaching claimed to be, even in its strictest esoteric form of oral tradition, derived ultimately, not from the words of any human teachers, however primitive, but from the words of God spoken by him to them. In the case before us our Lord accepts the popular teaching of the time as truly representing the Divine utterance in the giving of the Law, so far as that utterance was then intended to be understood. Them of old time. This can hardly be limited to "the original founders of the Jewish Commonwealth," to use Trench's curiously unbiblical expression ('Syn.,' § 67.). It probably includes all who lived a generation or more before our Lord's time (cf. Weiss). Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment. The substance, according to the popular teaching, of the sixth commandment (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17). This the current form of it (based partly on Leviticus 24:21; Numbers 35; Deuteronomy 19:12) was that murder was not to be committed, and that if it was committed the murderer was to be brought up for trial. Shall be in danger of (ἔνοχος ἔσται); i.e. in legal danger - legally guilty of a charge which involves the judgment (cf. Matthew 26:66). The judgment; i.e. the local Sanhedrin (cf. Matthew 10:17), of apparently seven men in a smaller, twenty-three in a larger, town (cf. Schurer, II. 1. pp. 149-154). This answers to "the congregation," or "the elders" of the town to which the murderer belonged, before whom he was to be tried (Numbers 35:12, 16, 24; Deuteronomy 19:12).
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.
Verse 22. - But I say unto you. "I" emphatic (as also in vers. 28, 32, 34, 39, 44), in contrast to God, as God's utterance was then conditioned; i.e. in contrast to God's voice to and through Moses (cf. John 1:17; John 7:23; Hebrews 10:28, 29). Christ claims for his words the same authority, and more than the same authority, as for those spoken once by God. The circumstances had altered; the message for τοῖς ἀρχαίοις was insufficient now. Christ brings his own Personality forward, and claims to give a more perfect and far-reaching statement of the sixth commandment than the current form of its teaching, notwithstanding the fact that this current form represented truly the original thought underlying its promulgation. In the following words our Lord speaks of three grades of auger, and, as answering to them, of three grades of punishment. The former will be examined under the several terms employed. Upon the latter it is necessary to make a few remarks here. They have been very variously understood.
(a) "The judgment" means the judgment of God alone, for he alone can take cognizance of mere anger;
(b) "the council" means the judgment of the Sanhedrin, "a publick tryal;"
(c) "the Gehenna of fire" means the judgment of hell (Lightfoot, 'Hor. Hebr.,' in loc.).
(a) "The judgment" means the local court;
(b) "the council" means the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem;
(c) "the Gehenna of fire" means hell (apparently Nosgen, and many other, especially Romish, expositors). It will be noticed that both the above interpretations are inconsistent. They make our Lord pass from literal to figurative language in the same sentence. Besides, in the second it is inexplicable how mere anger could be brought under the cognizance of a human court. For these reasons it is probable that
(3) all three stages express metaphorically grades of Divine judgment under the form of the Jewish processes of law.
(a) "The judgment" primarily means the local court;
(b) "the council "primarily means the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem;
(c) "the Gehenna of fire" primarily means the Valley of Hinnom, where the last processes of judgment seem to have taken place (vide infra). Christ does not say that the sins spoken of render a man liable to any of these earthly processes of law; he says that they render him liable to processes of Divine law which are fittingly symbolized by these expressions. (So Alford, Mansel, and especially Trench, 'Sermon on the Mount,' p. 190). Whosoever is angry; Revised Version, more precisely, every one who (πᾶς ὁ ὀργιζόμενος). This form of expression is specially frequent in 1 John, e.g. 3:3, where Bishop Westcott says, "In each case where this characteristic form of language occurs there is apparently a reference to some who had questioned the application of a general principle in particular cases," (For the thought of this clause, cf. 1 John 3:15.) With his brother. The term "brother" was applied in both Greek and Hebrew, by way of metaphor, to things that possessed merely such fellowship as arises from juxtaposition or from similarity of purpose (cf. of the cherubim, Exodus 25:20, "with their faces one to another," literally, "each (man) to his brother"). It is thus possible that here the thought is of any person with whom one is brought into temporary relation, quite apart from any question of a common source. Yet as this could have been represented by "neighbour" (cf. Matthew 19:19), it seems reasonable to see something more in "brother," and to view it with reference to its implied meaning, "fellowship of life based on identity of origin" (Cremer). To Jews as such the term would doubtless only suggest identity of origin nationally, i.e. a fellow-Jew (cf. especially Leviticus 19:17a with 16, 17b, 18; so even Malachi 2:10); but to Christians of the time when the Gospel was written rather identity of spiritual origin, i.e. a fellow-Christian. Probably when the expression fell from Christ's lips not one of those who heard him imagined that it could have any wider meaning than fellow-Jew or fellow-believer on Jesus, and probably most of them limited it to the former. In fact, Christ seems to have used it as a means whereby to lead up his hearers from the idea of a national to that of a spiritual relation (cf. vers. 47, 48). We are therefore hardly warranted (far-reaching as the word on Christ's lips is) in seeing here any reference to the thought of the universal brotherhood of man, based on the fact of all being children of one common Father (cf. further Bishop Westcott, on 1 John 2:9). Without a cause. Omitted by the Revised Version; Revised Version margin, "many ancient authorities insert without cause." The εἰκῆ, though found in the Old Latin and Old Syriac, is certainly to be omitted, with R, B, and Vulgate, notwithstanding Dean Burgon ('Revision,' p. 358); cf. especially Westcott and Hurt, 'App.' It is redundant, because the two following expressions show that the anger itself is unloving and hostile (cf. further Meyer). There is a holy anger, but that is with a brother's sin, not with the brother himself (cf. Augustine, in Trench, 'Sermon on the Mount'). Shall be in danger of the judgment; i.e. of God's wrath as symbolized by the lowest degree of Jewish trial (vide supra). And whosoever (ὅς δ ἄν). For in this case there was no need for the emphasizing inclusiveness of πᾶς. Raca.
(1) Augustine's explanation (in los.; vide Trench; cf. also 'In Joann. Evang.,' § 51:2; 'De Doctr. Christ.,' 2:11), which he got "a quodam Hebraeo," that Raca is in itself meaningless, and is only an interjection expressing indignation, as "Heu!" sorrow, or "Hem!" anger, or "Hosanna" (!) joy, will hardly commend itself to us to-day.
(2) Nor will Chrysostom's (in loc.; vide Chase's admirable monograph on Chrysostom (1887), p. 133), "As we in giving orders to a servant or to some one of mean rank, say, Go you; take you this message (ἄπελθε σὺ εἰπὲ τῷ δεῖνι σύ), so those who use the Syrian language used Raca, an equivalent to our you (σύ);' seem much better, whether we take him as considering it as meaningless, or as in some way confusing its ending with the Shemitic suffix for "thee" (ka).
(3) Ewald explains it by רקעא, "rascal" (vide Meyer); but
(4) it is more probably the Aramaic ריקא reka "empty;" cf. Hebrew plural rekim, "vain fellows," in Judges 9:4; Judges 11:3. St. James uses its equivalent (ω΅ ἄνρθωπε κενέ, 2:20) in solemn warning; but it was not infrequently used as a mere term of angry abuse (cf. Lightfoot, ' Hor. Hebr.,' in loc., and Levy, s.v.). Buxtorf, s.v., compares a favourite expression of Aben Ezra's, ריקי מוה, "empty-heads," for those who raise senseless objections, etc.; but the simple expression in our text refers rather to moral deficiency thorn to deficiency of brain. The council (vide supra). But; Revised Version, and. The Authorized Version interpolates an emphasis on the climax. Thou fool (Μωρέ).
(1) This is probably the Greek word for "fool," equivalent to the Hebrew nabal (נָבָל), which was often used in the Old Testament of the folly of wickedness (Psalm 14:1; cf. 1 Samuel 25:25). In this sense μωρός is used by our Lord himself (Matthew 23:17 ).
(2) It may be the transliteration (cf. שׁכן, σκηνοῦν) of the Hebrew moreh (מורה), "rebel" (cf. Numbers 20:10). (So Revised Version margin, Weiss. Nosgen.) In favour of this is the parallelism cf. language with Raca. The sense, too, is excellent, "Thou rebel against God!" It is almost equivalent to "Apostate!" But the absence of any evidence that the Jews used moreh as a term of abuse prevents our accepting this interpretation. Field ('Otium Norv.,' 3.) points out that if this interpretation were true, moreh would be "the only pure Hebrew word in the Greek Testament (ἀλληλουι'´α, ἀμήν, and σαβαώθ, as being taken from the LXX., belong to a different class), all other foreign words being indisputably Aramaic, as raca, talitha kumi, maranatha, etc., which, as might have been expected, are retained by the authors of the Syriac versions without alteration. Not so μωρε;, for which both the Peschito and Philoxenian versions have lelo ()... a plain proof that these learned Syrians look it for an exotic, and not like ῤακά, a native word." In either case. the term expresses the absolute godlessness of him who is so addressed. Of the two terms, Raca is more negative, implying the absence of all good, Μωρέ more positive, implying decided wickedness. Shall be in danger of; ἔνοχος ἔσται εἰς. The change from the usual dative to the unique construction with εἰς, indicated by the Revised Version margin, "Greek, unto or into," is doubtless because our Lord no longer refers to the tribunal at which the punishment is ordered, but to the punishment itself into which the condemned man comes (cf. Wirier, § 31:5). Hell fire; Revised Version, the hell of fire; Revised Version margin, "Greek, Gehenna of fire" (τῆν γέενναν τοῦ πυρός). Gehenna is properly "the Valley of Hinnom" (Joshua 18:16b; Nehemiah 11:30), or "of the son of Hinnom" (Joshuaxv. 8; 16:18a; 2 Chronicles 28:3). It is probably the valley on the south-west of Jerusalem (see, however, W. F. Birch, in Palestine Exploration Fund Report, January, 1889, pp. 39, 42, who places it between the two parts of Jerusalem, identifying it with the Tyropoeon Valley of Josephus, neglecting, however, to explain how so central a position is consistent with the "fire." In it was the spot where human sacrifices were offered to Moloch (cf. 2 Chronicles 28:3; and Rawlinson, on 2 Kings 23:10), called the Topheth, "the place of horror" (vide especially Payne Smith, on Jeremiah 7:31); and in it, presumably on the same place, were burnt, according to Jewish tradition (vide especially Kimchi, on Psalm 27:13), the carcases of animals and other offal. There is no direct evidence that the bodies of criminals (as is often stated) were burnt there. But it seems probable that it was in this place that death by "burning," whether it was the later method of "burning" by a red-hot wire, or the earlier (Mishna, 'San-hedr.,' 7:2) of lighting faggots of wood round the condemned person, would be carried into effect. Thus both from the old associations of the valley, and from the then use made of it, the epithet "of fire" would be very naturally added. It seems probable that our Lord here referred primarily to "Gehenna" in this local sense (vide supra), but it is fair to notice that there is no other instance in the New Testament of this literal usage of the word. Elsewhere it is always in the metaphorical sense common in rabbinic writings of the place of final punishment which we usually call "hell."
Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
Verse 23. - Therefore. Seeing that the consequences of an angry spirit are so terrible. For there is no thought here of an unforgiving spirit spoiling the acceptance of the gift (vide infra). Our Lord is insisting that it is so important to lose no time in seeking reconciliation with a person whom one has injured, that even the very holiest action must be put off for it. If thou bring; Revised Version, if... thou art offering; ἐὰν... προσφέρῃς (similarly, πρόσηερε, ver. 24), the technical word coming some sixty times in Leviticus alone. Christ implies that the action has already begun. Thy gift; a general word for any sacrifice. To the altar. Since those to whom he spoke were still Jews, Christ illustrates his meaning by Jewish practices. A perverse literalism has found here a direct reference to the Eucharist. For reasonable adaptations (cf. even in ' Didache,' § 14.) of these two verses to this, see Waterland, 'Doctrine of the Eucharist,' ch. 13. § 4 (pp. 359-362, Oxford, 1868). And there rememberest, etc. For the spirit of recollection may well culminate with the culminating action. Lightfoot ('Hor. Hebr.') shows that even the Jews taught such a postponement of the sacrifice if theft was remembered. He therefore thinks that the stress is on "ought" (τι): "For that which the Jews restrained only to pecuniary damages, Christ extends to all offences against our brother." But he overlooks the fact that, while the Jewish precept had reference to a sin (or even the neglect of some ceremonial rule, cf. Mishna, 'Pes.,' 3:7) vitiating the offering, there is no thought of this hero (vide supra). Thy brother (ver. 22, note). Ought. So from Tyndale downwards. Revised Version, aught, here and apparently always, after the spelling now preferred as marking the difference from the verb.
Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
Verse 24. - First. Joined in the Authorized Version and Revised Version to "be reconciled," and rightly, since the point is not "the unavoidable, surprising, nay, repellent removal of one's self from the temple" (Meyer), but reconciliation. Be reconciled (διαλλάγηθι); here only in the New Testament. There seems to be no essential difference between this and καταλλάσσω (vide Thayer).
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.
Verses 25, 26. - Parallel passage: Luke 12:58, 59. The question of the relation of the two passages, as regards both language and original connexion, is exceedingly difficult. As to the former, the verbal differences seem to be such as would hardly have been made on purpose, and to be rather due to memory; yet the agreement is too minute to be the result of memory of a Gospel only oral. Perhaps memory of a document best satisfies the conditions. As to the original connexion of the verses, they, especially ver. 26, can hardly have been spoken twice. Most critics suppose that St. Luke gives them in their proper context; but if so, it is curious that two of his words, ὑπάγεις ἀπήλλαχθαι, seem to recall our preceding ver. 24. One word might have been a mere coincidence, but hardly two. It is not likely that these words in ver. 24 were derived from Luke, for this supposes a double process in St. Matthew's mind, rejecting them from ver. 25 and placing them in ver. 24. It is more natural also to regard the first clause of Luke 12:58, "As... him," as an expansion of the corresponding clause in our ver. 25 rather than this as a compression of that. This apparent reminiscence in Luke of what is given in our vers. 24 and 25a points to the connexion of vers. 24-26 in Matthew being original, and to it having been broken by Luke or by the framer of the source that he used. A further stage in our Lord's warning. A man must not only seek reconciliation with the injured person (ver. 23), and that in preference to fulfilling the holiest service (ver. 24), but he must do so the more because of the danger of postponing reconciliation. It is noteworthy that our Lord in this verse does not define on whose side the cause of the quarrel lies. Verse 25. - Agree with. And that not with a merely formal reconciliation, but reconciliation based on a permanent kindly feeling towards him (ἴσθι εὐνοῶν). Professor Margoliouth suggests that this is a confirmation of what he thinks is the original text of Ecclus. 18:20, "Before judgment beg off" ('Inaugural Lect.,' p. 23: 1890). Thine adversary. Primarily the injured brother (vide infra), Quickly. For such is not the tendency of the human heart. Whiles. Delay not in making reconciliation while you have opportunity. Thayer compares Song of Solomon 1:12. Thou art. On the indicative, cf. Winer, § 41. b, 3. 2, a, note (p. 371, trans. 1870). In the way with him; Revised Version, with the manuscripts, with him in the way. The right reading implies that the proximity of the persons may perhaps not last throughout "the way." "The way" is the road to the judge, as explained in -Luke. But being on the road to him is here not presented as a possibility (Luke), but as a certainty. For so, in fact, it is. Lest... the adversary (ver. 26, note) deliver thee. Translating from the language of parable to that of fact, it is only if reconciliation has not been made, if the heart is still unforgiving and quarrelsome, that God the Judge will take notice of the offence. And the judge... to the officer (τῷ ὐπηρέτῃ); i.e. the officer whose duty it was to execute the judge's commands (cf. Lightfoot, 'Hor. Hebr.,' for illustrations). The expression here belongs to the figure; but in Matthew 13:41 similar duties are predicated of the angels. If the figure was derived from the synagogue, the officer would doubtless be the chazzan, of which, indeed, ὑπηρέτης is the technical rendering (cf. Schurer, II. 2. p. 66). And thou be cast (καὶ βληθήσῃ). The future indicative (still dependent on "lest") brings out the reality of the danger (cf. Bishop Lightfoot, on Colossians 2:8).
Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
Verse 26. - Thou shalt by no means, etc. A solemn statement of the unrelenting character of justice. The Romanists hold that the verse implies
(1) that if payment can be made, release follows;
(2) and that payment can be made.
The first statement is probable; but as for the slightest hint of the second, it is wholly wanting. Christ affirms that non-reconciliation with a brother, if carried beyond that limit of time within which the quarrel can be made up, involves consequences in which the element of mercy will be entirely absent. The element of mercy can enter up to a certain point of time, but after that only justice. (On "pay," ἀποδῷς, see Matthew 6:4, note.) It will be observed that, in the above interpretation, ἀντίδικος has been consistently explained as a human adversary, for this seems to be the primary meaning here. But it should not be forgotten that, in the parallel passage in Luke, the reference is to God. Offences against man are there represented in their true character as offences against God, who is therefore depicted as the adversary in a lawsuit. That, from another point of view, be is also the Judge, matters not. Both conceptions of him are true, and can be kept quite distinct. It may be the case, indeed, that this reference of ἀντίδικος to God was present to St. Matthew's mind also when he recorded these words, and this would partly account for the terrible emphasis on ver. 26, the pendant to ver. 22. But even if the reference to God were present to St. Matthew's mind by way of application, it is not with him, as it is with St. Luke, the primary. signification of the word. Farthing. The quadrans, the smallest Roman coin.
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
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).
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
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.
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.
Verses 29, 30. - Also in Matthew 18:8, 9 (parallel passage, Mark 9:43-47); the chief differences being
(1) that they are there adduced with reference to "offences" generally;
(2) that the foot is mentioned, as well as the eye and the hand. It seems not improbable that this saying was spoken twice.
The reason why our Lord did not mention the foot here may be either that that member is less immediately connected with sins of the flesh than the other two (cf. Wetstein, in loc., "Averte oculum a vultu illecebroso: arce manum ab impudicis contrectationibus"), or, as seems more probable, that the eye and the hand represent the two sets of faculties receptive and active, and together express man's whole nature. The insertion of the foot in ch. 18:8, 9, only makes the illustration more definite. "The remark in ver. 29f treats of what is to be done by the subjects of the kingdom when, in spite of themselves, evil desires are aroused" (Weiss, 'Life,' 2:149). Verse 29. - Right. Not in ch. 18, and parallel passage. Inserted to enhance the preciousness of the members spoken of (cf. Zechariah 11:17; cf. ver. 39). Offend thee; Authorized Version, do cause thee to offend; Revised Version, cause thee to stumble (σκανδαλίζει σε). Perhaps the verb originally referred to the stick of a trap (σκάνδαλον, a Hellenistic word, apparently equivalent to σκανδάληθρον) striking the person's foot, and so catching him in the trap; but when found in literature (almost solely in the New Testament) it has apparently lost all connotation of the trap, and only means causing a person to stumble (for an analysis of its use in the New Testament, vide especially Cremer, s.v.). Pluck it out, and cast it from thee. The second clause shows the purely figurative character of the sentence. Our Lord commands
(1) the removal of the means of "offence" out of the place of affection that it has long held;
(2) the putting it away so thoroughly, both by the manner of the act and the distance placed between the "offence" and the person, that restoration is almost impossible. In both verbs the aorist brings out the decisiveness of the action. For it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish. It is better to lose one faculty, one sphere of usefulness, one part of those things which normally make a person complete, than that the person himself should be lost. Notice the sixfold personal pronoun in this one verse; "Our Lord grounds his precept of the most rigid and decisive self-denial on the considerations of the truest self interest" (Alford). Should be cast. For to One thy whole person will become as abhorrent as the offending member ought in fact now to be to thee (βάλε βληθῇ).
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.
Verse 30. - Should be cast into hell; Revised Version, go into hell (εἰς γέενναν ἀπέλθῃ), both word and order laying stress, not on the action of the Judge, but on thy departure, either from things of time and sense, or from his presence (Matthew 25:46).
It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:
Verses 31, 32. - Divorce. Verse 31. - Here only. It hath been said (ἐῥῤέθη δέ). This is the only one of the six examples to which our Lord does not prefix "ye have heard," and inserts δέ. Hence Lightfoot ('Hor. Hebr.') writes, "This particle hath this emphasis in this place, that it whispers a silent objection, which is answered in the following verse," i.e. Christ had said even a sinful look is too much; the lawyers said, "But the Law allows divorce, and therefore a married man can after all obtain the woman he desires." But this is strained. The shorter expression is here sufficient, because of the close connexion of this subject with the preceding. Hence, Revised Version, better, it was said also. It is, by the by, curious that the translators of the Authorized Version should have altered the rendering of ἐῥῤέθη, which they had given rightly in vers. 21, 27, and should have preferred the perfect here and in vers 33, 38, 43. Whosoever shall put away, etc. The substance of Deuteronomy 24:1, but leaving out all mention of cause for such putting away. This may be perhaps because our Lord is going to refer to this immediately, or because, in fact, the giving "a writing of divorcement" was now considered as alone of importance. Let him give her; Hebrew, into her hand; i.e. into her own possession (cf. Isaiah 1:1; Jeremiah 3:8). A writing of divorcement. See the translation of such a get in Lightfoot ('Hor. Hebr.').
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.
Verse 32. - (For full notes, cf. Matthew 19:9.) Parallel passages: Mark 10:12; Luke 16:18; apparently the context of Mark represents Matthew 19:1-8, and the context of Luke rather represents Matthew 5:18. Notice here:
(1) Matthew alone, in both places, gives the exception of fornication.
(2) St. Paul refers in 1 Corinthians 7:10, 11 to this saying of our Lord's.
(3) The laxity in this matter of the Hillel school of the Pharisees is well known.
Their theory, indeed, sounds good, viz. that there should be perfect unity in the marriage state; but starting from this premiss they affirmed that if in any single respect the unity was not attained, divorce might follow. For examples, see Lightfoot ('Hor. Hebr.'). Our Lord upholds the school of Shammai. It is said that shameful laxity in divorce still exists among Oriental Jews. Fornication. The reference is to sin after marriage. Contrast Deuteronomy 22:20, 21, where the husband's action is not thought of as divorce. The more general word (πορνεία) is used, because it lays more stress on the physical character of the sin than μοιχεία would have laid. Causeth her to commit adultery; Revised Version, maketh her an adulteress, since the right reading, μοιχευθῆναι, connotes being sinned against rather than sinning (Received Text, μοιχᾶσθαι). (For the thought, cf. Romans 7:3.) And whosoever shall marry, etc. Bracketed by Westcott and Hort, as omitted by certain 'Western' authorities (especially D and Old Latin manuscripts). (On the importance of the 'Western' group in cases of omission, vide Westcott and Hort, 2. §§ 240-242; cf. also Matthew 9:34, note.) The clause closely resembles Luke 16:18b. Her that is divorced; i.e. under these wrong conditions, as Revised Version, her when put away. even though αὐτήν is not expressed. This interpretation, notwithstanding Weiss's stigma of it as "ganz willkurlich," is surely only a plain deduction from the preceding clause. The fact that no such limitation is to be found in Luke 16:18 must not prejudice our judgment here.
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:
Verses 33-37. - Oaths. Matthew only; but cf. Matthew 23:16-22. Verse 33. - By them of old time (ver. 21, note). Thou shalt not forswear thyself (οὐκ ἐπιορκήσεις). These two words are the substance of Leviticus 19:12, which itself (cf. Rashi, in lee.) includes a reference to the third commandment. To them our Lord joins but shalt perform, etc., which is the substance of Deuteronomy 23:23 (cf. Numbers 30:2). (On our Lord's utterance representing the current form of teaching about oaths, cf. ver. 21, note.) This current teaching was the logical deduction from the statements of the Law, and yet the Law had a higher aim.
But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne:
Verse 34. - Swear not at all (cf. James 5:12). Yet, as St. Augustine points out, St. Paul took oaths in his writings (2 Corinthians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 11:31); and our Lord himself did not refuse to answer when put upon his oath (Matthew 26:63, 64). He, that is to say, and St. Paul after him, accepted the fact that there are times when a solemn oath must be taken. How, then, can we explain this absolute prohibition here? In that our Lord is not here thinking at all of formal and solemn oaths, but of oaths as the outcome of impatience and exaggeration. The thoughtlessness of fervent asseveration is often betrayed into an oath. Such an oath, or even any asseveration that passes in spirit beyond "yea, yea," "nay, nay," has its origin ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ; cf. Chaucer, "Sweryng sodeynly without avysement is eek a gret synne" ('Parson's Tale,' § 'De Ira'). Martensen, however ('Ethics, Individual,' § 100), takes the prohibition of oaths as formally unconditional and total, in accordance with the highest ideal of what man will hereafter be and require, and he sees the limitation, which he allows is to be given to these words, in the present conditions of human society. We have an ideal duty towards God, but we have also a practical duty to those among whom we live, and the present state of human affairs permits and necessitates oaths. Hence it was that even Christ submitted to them. Neither by heaven, etc. Our Lord further defines what he means by an oath. It does not mean only an expression in which God's Name is mentioned, but any expression appealing to any object at all, whether this be supraterrestrial, terrestrial, national, or personal. Although God's Name is often omitted in such cases, from a feeling of reverence, its omission does not prevent the asseveration being an oath. Heaven; Revised Version, the heaven; for the thought is clearly not the immaterial transcendental heaven, the abode of bliss, but the physical heaven (cf. Matthew 6:26, Revised Version). Heaven... footstool. Adapted from Isaiah 66:1, where it forms part of the glorious declaration that no material temple can contain God, that "the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands" as St. Stephen paraphrases it (Acts 7:48). The great King is seated enthroned in the heaven, with his feet touching the earth.
Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
Verse 35. - Nor by Jerusalem. The Hebraistic ἐν is here exchanged for the less unclassical εἰς, the reason, perhaps, being that definite direction of one's thought towards Jerusalem was, as it seems, insisted upon by some. "Rabbi Judah saith, He that saith, By Jerusalem, saith nothing, unless with an intent purpose he shall vow towards Jerusalem" (Tosipht., 'Ned.,' 1, in Lightfoot,' Her Hebr.'). So Revised Version margin, toward. For it is the city, etc. (Psalm 48:2).
Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
Verse 36. - For thou canst not, etc. As each of the other objects included a reference to God, so does also thy head. For even that recalls to mind the power of God, since every hair of it bears the stamp of his handiwork.
But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
Verse 37. - Your communication. Similarly, the Authorized Version in Ephesians 4:29, in archaic usage for "talk." Yea, yea; Nay, nay. Christ permits as far as the repetition of the asseveration. The adoption here by a few authorities of the phrase in James 5:12 ("Let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay," τὸ ναὶ ναὶ κ.τ.λ..)is unsuitable; for here the question is not of truthfulness, but of fervency in asseveration. Whatsoever is more than these; "that which is over and above these" (Rheims). There is a superfluity (περισσόν) in more fervent asseverations, which has its origin ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῖ. Cometh of evil. So the Revised Version margin, "as in ver. 39; 6:13.' Revised Version, is of the evil one (vide Matthew 6:13, note; and cf. 1 John 3:12).
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
Verses 38-48. - The two remaining examples of the current teaching of the Law are very closely connected together, and, in fact, our Lord's corrections of them are intermingled in Luke 6:27-36. Yet the subjects are really distinct. In the first (vers. 38-42) our Lord speaks of the reception of injuries, in the second (vers. 43-48) of the treatment of those who do them. Godet's remarks (in his summary of Luke 6:27-45) on the use made by St. Luke of these examples are especially instructive. "These last two antitheses, which terminate in Matthew in the lofty thought (ver. 48) of man being elevated by love to the perfection of God, furnish Luke with the leading idea of the discourse as he presents it, namely, charity as the law of the new life." Verses 38-42. - The reception of injuries. The Law inculcated that the injured should obtain from those who did the wrong exact compensation (on this being properly a command, not merely a permission, vide Mozley, 'Ruling Ideas,' etc., pp. 182, sqq.). Our Lord inculcates giving up of all in-sistance upon one's rights as an injured person, and entire submission to injuries, even as far as proffering the opportunity for fresh wrongs. Verse 38. - An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. No short phrase could more accurately describe the spirit of the Mosaic legislation. Offences against individuals were to be punished by the injured individual receiving back, as it were, the exact compensation from him who had injured him. While this was originally observed literally, it was in Mishnic times (and probably in the time of our Lord) softened to payment of money (vide Lightfoot, 'Hor. Hebr.'). The phrase comes three times in the Pentateuch (Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20; Deuteronomy 19:21). Notice:
(1) The LXX. has the accusative in each case, although only in the first does a verb precede. Probably the expression had already become proverbial in Greek even before the translation of the LXX.
(2) The Hebrew of Deuteronomy 19:21 is slightly different from that of the other two passages, and as the preposition there used (ב) is not so necessarily rendered by ἀντί, that passage is perhaps the least likely of the three to have been in our Lord's mind now. It seems likely, however, that he was not thinking of any one of the three passages in particular. The words served him as a summary of the Law in this respect.
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.
Verse 39. - But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee, etc. The first clause comes here only; the second is found also in Luke 6:29 (for the principle, cf. 1 Corinthians 6:7). We may notice that, while our Lord most perfectly observed the spirit of this command, he did not slavishly follow the letter of it (cf. John 18:22, 23). Nor did St. Paul (cf. Acts 16:35ff; Acts 22:25; 23:3; 25:9,10). We must remember that, while he clothes his teaching with the form of concrete examples, these are only parabolic representations of principles eternal in themselves, but in practice to be modified according to each separate occasion. "This offering of the other cheek may be done outwardly; but only inwardly can it be always right" (Trench, 'Sermon on the Mount'). We must further remember the distinction brought out here by Luther between what the Christian has to do as a Christian, and what he has to do as, perhaps an official, member of the state. The Lord leaves to the state its own jurisdiction (Matthew 22:21: vide Meyer). That ye resist not; Revised Version, resist not, thus avoiding all possibility of the English reader taking the words as a statement of fact. Evil. So the Revised Version margin; but Revised Version, him that is evil (cf. ver. 37; Matthew 6:13, note). The masculine here, in the sense of the wicked man who does the wrong, is clearly preferable; Wickliffe, "a yuel man." (For a very careful defence of Chrysostom's opinion that even here τῷ πονηρῷ refers to the devil and not to man. see Chase, 'The Lord's Prayer in the Early Church'). Shall smite; Revised Version, smiteth, The right reading gives the more vivid present. Ῥαπίζω comes in the New Testament here and Matthew 26:67 only. It is properly used of a stroke with a rod. (For "smiting on the cheeks," cf. the curious rendering of Hosea 11:4 in the LXX; cf. also Isaiah 50:6.) Thee on thy right. Matthew only. Although it is more natural that the left cheek would be hit first (Meyer), the right is named, since it is in common parle, nee held to be the worthier (cf. ver. 29). Cheek. Σιαγών, though properly jaw, is here equivalent to" cheek," as certainly in Song of Solomon 1:10; Song of Solomon 5:13. Turn. The action seen; Luke's "offer" regards the mental condition necessary for the action.
And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.
Verse 40. - The parallel passage, Luke 6:29b, gives the taking of the garments in the converse order. And if any man will sue thee; Revised Version, and if any man would go to law with thee. Notice that "will," "would" (τῷ θέλοντι), implies that the trial has not yet even begun. Do this even before it. And take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. Coat (χιτών), equivalent to tunic, "shirt-like under-garment" (Meyer). Cloke (ἱμάτιον), equivalent to over-cloak, "mantle-like over-garment, toga, which also served for a covering by night, and might not therefore be retained as a pledge over night (Exodus 22:26)' (Meyer). This is put second, as being the more valuable. In Luke, where there is no mention of the law-court, the thought seems to be merely of the violent removal of the garments, taking them as they came. Let him have (ἄφες αὐτῷ). More positive than Luke's "withhold not" (μὴ κωλύσῃς).
And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
Verse 41. - Matthew only. Shall compel thee to go; Revised Version margin, "Gr. impress" (ἀγγαρεύσει). From the Persian. Hatch ('Essays,' p. 37) shows that while the classical usage strictly refers to the Persian system or' mounted couriers (described in Herod., 8:98; Xen., 'Cyr.,' 8:6. 17), the post-classical usage refers to the later development of a system, not of postal service, but of the forced transport of military baggage. It thus indicates, not merely forced attendance, but forced carrying. Hence it is used in Matthew 27:32 and Mark 15:21 of Simon the Cyrenian, "who was pressed by the Roman soldiers who were escorting our Lord not merely to accompany them but also to carry a load." Thus here also the thought is doubtless that of being compelled to carry baggage. There may also be a reference, as Hatch suggests, to the oppressive conduct of the Roman soldiers (cf. Luke 3:14). (For the spirit of our Lord's saying, vide also 'Aboth,' 3:18 (Taylor), where the probable translation is, "Rabbi Ishmael said, Be pliant of disposition and yielding to impressment.") A mile; Revised Version, one mile; but see Matthew 8:19, note. A Roman mile of a thousand paces.
Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
Verse 42. - (Cf. Luke 6:30, 34a, 35.) The connexion is as follows: Our Lord spoke first (ver. 39) of entire submission to injuries; then (ver. 40) of acceptance of loss of property; then (ver. 41) of acceptance of a burden imposed; here of acceptance of a demand for pecuniary assistance. This, in its turn, forms an easy transition to the subject of ver. 43, sqq. Give to him that asketh thee, etc. This verse has been often adduced by unbelievers to prove the incompatibility of our Lord's utterances with the conditions of modern society. Wrongly. Because our Lord is inculcating the proper spirit of Christian life, not giving rules to be literally carried out irrespective of circumstances. Hammond (vide Ford) points out that we have "a countermand" in 2 Thessalonians 3:7, 10. (For the possibility of accounting for the verbal differences between this verse and Luke 6:30 by supposing an Aramaic original, see Professor Marshall, in the Expositor, April, 1891, p. 287.)
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
Verses 43-48. - The treatment of those who injure us. (Cf. supra, ver. 38.) Our Lord now turns from the reception of injuries to the treatment of those who injure us. We are not to injure them in return, nor merely to keep aloof from them, but to show them positive kindness. The Law, in the natural development of it current at the time, taught very differently. Verse 43.. - Matthew only. Ye have heard (ver. 21, note). Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. The first clause is found in Leviticus 19:18, the second is the natural, and, from one point of view, legitimate, deduction from it. "The whole precept, as it stands, undoubtedly represents, and is a summary of, the sense of the Law" (Mozley, vide infra). The meaning of the words "neighbour" and "enemy" has been much discussed. In Leviticus, indeed, the meaning of "neighbour" is clear; it answers to "the children of thy people" in the preceding clause, i.e. it refers to members of the nation; all Israelites are termed "neighbours." The primary sense, therefore, of this whole precept is love to an Israelite, hatred to a non-Israelite (cf. Deuteronomy 25:17-19). As such, the precept was of value in cementing the unity of the nation and preventing greater exposure to the evils, moral and religious, found outside it. But as quoted by our Lord, it has evidently a more private reference. He treats the precept as referring to personal friends (those who act in a neighbourly way) and enemies, and even this is, in some respects, a legitimate summary of the teaching of the Law, in so far as it forms another side of the law of retaliation. In days when public justice was weak much had to be left to the action of the individual, and he who was wronged was bid satisfy justice by retaliating on his enemy. That, however, it was not the only teaching of the Law is evident from Exodus 23:4 (cf. Job 31:29). But as regards both aspects of the precept the time had come for a change. The Jews only too gladly showed obedience to the second part of the precept, making themselves proverbial (cf. Tacitus, 'Hist.,' 5:5. 2; Juvenal, 'Sat.,' 14:103) for their more than incivility to Gentiles, and they seem to have also zealously carried it out towards their personal enemies (cf. Psalm 109.). On the whole subject, vide especially Mozley ('Ruling Ideas,' pp. 188-200), who, however, hardly allows enough weight to passages like Exodus 23:4.
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;
Verse 44. - Parallel passage: Luke 6:27, 28. But I say unto you, Love your enemies. Of all kinds, whether personal or opponents of you as Christians. Bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you. Rightly omitted by the Revised Version as interpolated from Luke, (For the thought, cf. 1 Corinthians 4:12; Romans 12:14.) And pray. In fullest contrast to the continual ill-wishing of the enemy. "They who can pray for their enemies can accomplish the rest" (Weiss, 'Life,' 2:154). Thus to pray is to come very near to the spirit of Christ (cf. Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60). As a modern example: "Some persons had never had a particular place in my prayers, but for the injuries they have done to me" (Burkitt, ' Diary,' in Ford, on ver. 5). For them that despitefully use you, and persecute you. The words, "that despitefully use you and," are to be omitted, with the Revised Version, as in effect interpolated from Luke.
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.
Verse 45. - Parallel passage: Luke 6:35, which is more full, but hardly so original in form. That ye may be the children (ὅπως γένησθε υἱοί); sons (Revised Version); cf. ver. 9, note. The meaning of the clause is not certain. It may be:
(1) Love to enemies is the means whereby you may become possessed of the full privileges involved in the nature of sons. These privileges are more than the mere participation in Messianic glory (Meyer), and are rather all the blessings present and future which belong to sonship.
(2) Love, in order that on each occasion you may become in fact (almost our "show yourselves") sons of your Father, sons corresponding in ethical conduct to your position already received. Your Father. Not "the Father" (cf. ver. 16, note). Which is in heaven: for ὅτι The privileges generally, or the resemblance on each occasion, can only be obtained by behaviour similar to his, namely, kind treatment of those who injure you; for this is what he himself shows. He maketh his sun to rise (ἀνατέλλει). If we may lay stress on the Greek, our Lord expresses the popular notion of the sun ascending. It must, however, be remembered that the word he himself probably used was זרח in hiph. (, Peshito), which contains no thought of motion, but rather of appearance. Sun... rain. The two great sources of maintenance. On the evil and on the good... on the just and on the unjust. The first pair connotes, as it seems, the extreme of evil (Matthew 6:13, note) and good, in each case manifesting itself according to its opportunities; the second, the life and character as tried by the standard, especially the human standard, of just dealing. Notice how, by chiasm, the emphasis is laid on the ungodly alike at the beginning and at the end. Our Lord here brings out God's active love as seen in nature, nourishing and maintaining men, irrespective of the qualities of individuals and of their treatment of him and his laws. The thought is found elsewhere, e.g. in Seneca (vide Meyer), "Si deos imitaris, da et ingratis benelicia; ham et sceleratis sol oritur, et piratis patent maria" (cf. Bishop Lightfoot, on 'Philippians' ["St. Paul and Seneca," p. 281], for a collection of parallels to the sermon on the mount).
For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
Verse 46. - Vers. 46, 47; parallel passage: Luke 6:32, 33. For if, etc. The principle of the Law, reciprocity - love your neighbour and him only - is in reality no better than the principle adopted by those who are renegades to true religion (οἱ τελῶναι), or by those who have no knowledge of it (οἱ ἐθνικοί). Such a principle brings with it no other corresponding effect (μισθός, ver. 12, note) than such as even these receive. You aim at more, the privileges belonging to the sons of God; therefore do more. What reward have ye? i.e. already entered in God's book of account (Winer, § 40:2, a). The publicans; Revised Version margin, "That is, collectors or renters of Roman taxes: and so elsewhere." To this short description little need be added. The Roman system of taxation was to put up the country, or certain productions of the country, at auction, and to "sell" them to any who would undertake to pay the greatest amount of revenue from them (cf. also Josephus's account of the Egyptian method, B.C. 250, 'Ant.,' 12:04. 4; and Sayce's article in the Jewish Quarterly, July, 1890, on a Jewish taxgatherer at Thebes, B.C. 140). This contract was in turn divided and subdivided, those who actually drew the money from the people being generally natives. It thus being the interest of every contractor and sub-contractor to squeeze as much as possible from those under him, the whole system was demoralizing to all engaged in it. In the case of Judaea it was especially so, as there was a strong feeling among religious Jews against the lawfulness of paying taxes to a Gentile ruler (cf. Matthew 22:17, note). It is no wonder, therefore, that we find the native collectors (even of districts where the money raised went to Antipas's treasury, Matthew 9:9, note) classed with "harlots" (Matthew 21:31), "sinners" (Matthew 9:11), the heathen (ver. 4:7; Matthew 18:17). Yet out of these one was chosen to be among the twelve, and to write that Gospel which specially describes the relation of Jesus of Nazareth to the religious expectations of the nation.
And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
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.
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Verse 48. - In Luke 6:36, "Be ye merciful, even as your Father is merciful," we have certainly a reminiscence of the same saying, and, almost as certainly, from the smoothing away of difficulties, a less original form of it. Be ye therefore perfect; Revised Version, ye therefore shall be perfect (ἔσεσθε οϋν ὑμεῖς τέλειοι). The form is based on Deuteronomy 18:13, τέλειος ἔσῃ. While the introduction of ὑμεῖς emphasizes the contrast between Christ's disciples and those who followed the usual deduction from the Law, the position of ἔσεσθε (reversing that of Deuteronomy) shows that still greater emphasis is placed on their "perfection" as something to be attained. Also, while in the parallel passage of Luke the stress is upon the change that must take place (γὶνεσθε) - unless, as is possible, it has the simple meaning "show yourselves" (cf. ver. 45, note) - in Matthew the possibility or even the certainty of attaining it is definitely stated. You shall make this your aim, and shall attain to it. Therefore. A deduction from the principle laid down in vers. 44-47. From the consideration of the example of your Father, and of the insufficiency of being like publicans and heathen. Perfect (τέλειοι). In the Gospels here and Matthew 19:21 only. The word denotes those who have attained the full development of innate powers, in contrast to those who are still in the undeveloped state - adults in contrast to children. Thus the thought here is - Ye shall be satisfied with, and shall attain to, no lower state than that of maturity. But what is it as to which they shall be mature? Surely not the whole Law as illustrated by all the examples since ver. 21; for vers. 31, 32 are excluded by the comparison with God immediately following. It must be the subject with which the sentence is closely connected, vers. 44-47 (cf. Meyer); love to others even though they have done you wrong. In this respect, viz. love to others, you shall admit, says our Lord, no lower ideal than that of' maturity, even such maturity as is found in him who sends sun and rain on all alike. Some (Augustine, Trench) have seen in this a merely relative maturity, itself capable of further development; but the subject rather demands absolute and final maturity. This does not imply that man will ever have such fulness of love as the Father has, but that he will fully and completely attain to that measure of love to which he as a created being was intended to attain. It may, however, be in accordance with true exegesis to see, with Weiss, for such apparently is his meaning, also an indication of further teaching - the nature of the revelation made known by Christ. For whereas "the fundamental commandment" of the Old Testament, "Ye shall be holy; for I am holy" (Leviticus 11:44, 45), was the more negative thought of God's exaltation above the impurity of created beings, our Lord now puts forth "the positive conception of the Divine perfection, whose nature is all-embracing, self-sacrificing love. And in place of the God, for ever separated from his polluted people by his holiness, to whom they can only render themselves worthy of approach through the most anxious abstinence from all impurity, and by means of the statutes for purification contained in the Law, there is on the ground of this new revelation the Father in heaven, who stoops to his children in love, and so operates that they must and can be like him" (Weiss, 'Life,' 2:156). The simple and straightforward meaning of the verse, however, is this - You shall take no lower standard in love to enemies than God shows to those who ill treat him, and you shall, in fact, attain to this standard. Upon this (for the limitation of the meaning to one point makes no real difference) there arises the question which has been of so much importance in all ages of the Church - What is the measure of attainment that is really possible for Christ's disciples upon earth? ought they not to expect to live perfect lives? But the text gives no warrant for such an assertion. No doubt it says that attainment to maturity - to perfection according to creaturely limits - is eventually possible. That is implied in ἔσεσθε (vide supra). But when this attainment can be made is not stated. Many will, indeed, affirm that, as our Lord is giving directions to his disciples concerning things in this life, the attainment also is affirmed to be possible in this life. But this by no means follows. Christ gives the command, and by the form of it implies that it shall be carried out to the full. But this is quite consistent with the conception of a gradually increasing development of love which, in fact will attain maturity, a state in which God's love has ever been; but not immediately and not before the final completion of all Christ's work in us. The words form, indeed, a promise as well as a command, but the absence of a statement of time forbids us to claim the verse as a warrant for asserting that the τελειότης referred to can be attained in this life. Trench ('Syr.,' § 22.) explains the passage by saying that the adjective is used the first time in a relative, and the second time in an absolute, sense. But this does not seem as probable as the interpretation given above, according to which the adjective is in both cases used absolutely. His following words, however, deserve careful attention. "The Christian shall be ' perfect,' yet not in the sense in which some of the sects preach the doctrine of perfection, who, so soon as their words are looked into, are found either to mean nothing which they could not have expressed by a word less liable to misunderstanding; or to mean something which no man in this life shall attain, and which he who affirms he has attained is deceiving himself, or others, or both." Even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect; Revised Version, as your heavenly Father is perfect; so the manuscripts. The epithet, ὁ οὐράνιος, is wanting in Luke, but Matthew wishes to lay stress on their Father's character and methods being different from those of an earthly father. Observe again not "the Father" but your Father; nerving them to fulfil the summons to likeness to him (cf. ver. 16).