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THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW
THE BLESSED AND LEGAL COMMENTARIES
Matthew 5:1-2 – The Setting
MT5:1 Observing the crowds Jesus went up into the mountains and after he reclined his disciples approached him.
MT5:2 And Jesus opened his mouth and began teaching them.
Matthew 5:3-12 – Introduction: Attitudes for Happiness
|| Luke 6:20-23
MT5:3“Blessed193the poor as to the spirit194for the Heavenly Realm195is theirs.
Blessed: Perhaps the opening words are among the most well known after the Lord’s Prayer and the Golden Rule. Most of
the key elements in the Beatitudes are expanded in the main body of the Nazarene’s sermon. These subjects are: poverty, comfort, mildness, righteousness, charity, purity, peaceableness, persecution.
The Greek word MAKARIOI is more than the English “happy” or even the KJV “blessed.” The English word “happy” generally means a temporary moment of elation. It is doubtful this is what the Nazarene had in mind. “Blessed”
also falls short unless one thinks of the word as including divine favor. The Greek word here infers a supreme measure of joy because of a divine state of favor before the Father. It is variously rendered: how happy, how blessed. The Nazarene borrows the idea
from the Psalms where the word occurs 28 times, often in a similar vein by David. “Happy” occurs 138 times in the Bible. Luke uses it the most often in the Christian Bible (17 times) and Revelation contains the Seven Apocalyptic Beatitudes,
7 times (Revelation 1:3;14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14).
The poor as to the spirit: This is the most literal reading according to the Greek, but it has been dealt with in various matters. Most prefer to render it, ‘the poor in spirit’ but that is not exactly what the Greek says. A possibility is Blessed the poor Spiritual. Various renderings are: destitute in spirit (RHM), rating themselves insignificant (AMP), those who feel their spiritual need (GDSP), humble-minded (PHI), how blest are those who know that they are poor (NEB), those conscious of their spiritual need (NWT). Perhaps the most direct commentary would be that of Luke who words this introduction simply, ‘Happy are the poor’ (Luke 6:20). Word Studies in the New Testament (Vol 1, page 36): “It is very graphic and appropriate here, as denoting the utter spiritual destitution, the consciousness of which precede the entrance into the Kingdom of God.” The word “poor” occurs 22 times in the Gospels. Perhaps Paul and James draw on the Master’s words when they paraphrase, ‘God chose the poor’? [1 Corinthians 1:27, 28; James 2:5] If we accept Luke’s bias we must understand Jesus’ words here as emphasizing poverty, a condition in which one must depend upon others for the necessities of life. This state is emphasized later in the sermon. The poor ‘spirituals’ have only God to look to for help. Jesus was poor as were his disciples and later Paul. The word group “rich(es)” occurs nearly 200 times in the Bible with the first occurrence at Genesis 14:23 (Abraham) and most often in the OT, Proverbs (12 times) and in the NT, Luke (16 times).
Luke records perhaps another occasion in chapter Luke 6:24 in the very spirit of James 5:1, ‘Happy are the poor’ and then ‘woe to the rich’. The life of Jesus, the example of his Apostles in Acts chs 2-6, and the manner
of Paul, all point to the deep meaning behind the word “poor” here. There is a danger in “riches” which Paul stresses at 1 Timothy 6:17-19. We feel the Greek PTOKHOI ought to remain as “Poor” or “the destitute”
for this is Luke’s view and the “Poor” feature prominently in the Nazarene’s teachings.
Heavenly Realm: (MOF) Literally this is “the kingdom of the heavens” but the Greek BASILEIA may refer to a seat of government in a monarchy or to the realm, domain or territory over which such a kingdom rules. Two views may be present here:
a) an actual place in the future government of the King; or, b) opportunity for entrance into the Realm of Profession, or the Church itself. Sometimes Jesus uses the word “kingdom” to mean that position of rulership in the heavens and other times
he refers to being a subject of the King. There are two kingdoms in the Nazarene’s teachings: 1) the Son’s; and, 2) the Father’s. Compare Matthew 13:41, 43.
The word “kingdom” occurs a total of 366 times in the Bible with 63 in Daniel. In the Nazarene’s teachings “kingdom” occurs 55 times in Matthew, 23 times in Mark, and 45 times in Luke. It is a theme word or key topic of the Nazarene’s
MT5:4Blessed those mourning196for they will be comforted.197
Mourning: Note how Luke 6:21 puts this, weeping. Messiah (the Christ) was anointed to ‘comfort those mourning in Zion.’ (Isaiah 61:1,3; Luke 4:16) Various renderings are: sad (BAS); know what sorrow means (PHI). The world is not an altogether happy place and life dishes out its share of pain. Paul describe it as ‘a season of groaning pain.’ (Romans 8:22) The word group “mourn(ing)” occurs about 100 times in the Bible.
Comforted: Or, consoled, given courage. The comfort is found in God and that Spirit He sends through Christ as the Comforter (John chs 14-16). The word “comfort” is rare in the Nazarene’s teachings but the idea breathes throughout the body of his sayings (Psalms 126:5; 2 Corinthians 1:1-7).
MT5:5Blessed the meek198for they will inherit the earth.199
Meek: Various renderings are: gentle TCNT; patient KNX; humble-minded GDSP; of a gentle spirit NEB; happy are those who claim nothing
PHI. The words of the Nazarene here are a paraphrase of Psalm 37:11 (LXX = HOI DE PRAEIS KLERONOUESOUSI GEN. Note Daniel’s KLERON at Daniel 12:13) The “meek” here are those who will possess the Kingdom (verse 3), will see God
(verse 8) and who will ‘inherit the nations’ as does the Messiah (Psalm 2:8; 72:8; Daniel 7:14, 27). The Nazarene was characterized by a mild-temper but this did not prevent him from displaying his anger or rebuke against the religious powers
as well as his own disciples. The meek are non-confrontational, non-adversarial, non-aggressive, and not given to insisting on their own opinions. Even the Nazarene says, ‘If anyone hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge.’
(John 12:47) Jesus was not judgmental save against those religious teachers who ought to know better (Matthew chapter 23).
Inherit the earth: Note Psalm 2:8. These “meek” inherit the earth as the realm or territory of their rule (1 Corinthians 6:2; Daniel 7:27; Revelation 5:10).
those hungering and thirstingfor righteousness200for they will be filled.201
Hungering and thirsting for righteousness: This whole idea is right out of the Psalms (Psalm 63:1) and repeated in the Apocalypse
(Rev 21:6; 22:17). Various renderings are: being and doing right (WMS); to see right prevail (NEB). Though many men may not thirst for righteousness in a moral sense, they do thirst for justice as seen in the multitude of revolutions throughout history.
The Nazarene disciple must crave right or righteousness as if it were food. It is John who describes those ‘born from above’ as those who do not habitually sin but practice righteousness (1 John chs 2 and 3). This craving is not self-righteous
or overly-righteous but a desire to see justice done with living evidence in the Saint’s life (Amos 8:11).
Filled: Or, “satisfied.” See Luke 6:21.
MT5:7Blessed the merciful202for they will be shown mercy.
Merciful: Various renderings are: compassionate WEY; those who show mercy WMS. The Latin merci (French for “thank
you”) is rooted in the gift paid mercenaries and so its strongest thrust is not forgiveness or judgment withheld as much as it is a gift of charity to the needy. The Nazarene Saint is characterized by a non-judgmental, forgiving and charitable spirit toward those in greater need.
Pure in heart: Various renderings are: clean in heart (BAS); utterly sincere (PHI). This phrase gets to the root of motives
in all that the Nazarene Saint does. There are no hidden agendas or games to be played against others. Utter guilelessness, like that of their Lord, is an attribute of the Transformed Mind (Romans 12:1; Hebrews 7:26). Such a disposition is only learned after
years of tolerance, patience, and that true selfless interest in others called “love”.
They will see: Perhaps the most sublime hope ever given to humans. To see The God is a true prospect for the Nazarene Saint (See 1 John 3:2; Revelation 22:4). “Face” can have a metamorphic tone as a concordance will show (Job 33:26).
The God: In Greek this is TON THEON as it is in John 1:1 and refers almost without exception to the Creator, the Almighty, The God. Though in English “the” is often omitted we feel it wise to include it in all cases where the article appears. The God stands in contrast to other “gods.” (1 Corinthians 8:5, 6)
MT5:9Blessed the peaceable people206for they will be called ‘Sons of The God.’207
Peaceable people: Various renderings are: makers and maintainers of peace (AMP). See Romans 12:18 and James 3:18. The Nazarene Saint
is characterized by a non-adversarial, non-confrontational, and peace-seeking disposition. In Spanish translations this is often pacififadores from which “pacifist” is drawn. Ghandi taught, “I am willing to die for this cause, but there is no cause for which I am willing to kill.” This peaceable disposition is illustrated in the Nazarene’s later words at Matthew 5:22, 39-42. Compare Colossians 3:15.
Sons of The God: This is a phrase used of angels in Genesis 6:1 and Job 2:1 and is the grand relationship of those willing to be peaceable in their natures, to become true children of God (John 1:12,13). This relationship is a feature of John’s Gospel and letters. If one wishes to be styled a child of God then peaceableness must characterize their Transformed Mind (Romans 12:1, 18).
MT5:10Blessed are those persecuted for righteousness.208The Heavenly Realm209 is theirs.
Persecuted for righteousness: The reason for the persecution must be for righteousness and not for some crime or evil as Peter
himself teaches (1 Peter chs 2 - 4). The Nazarene’s audience were persecuted Jews under Roman domination. Additionally, Jesus knew of the future periods of oppression against his own disciples and foretold it at Matthew 24:9-11. Luke uses the word “hate”
at Luke 6:22.
Heavenly Realm: This can mean that ultimate “goal” which Paul sought (Philippians
3:14) and which is promised the Saints (Daniel 7:27) or that opportunity opened up by the Nazarene to enter the Realm of Profession, the Son’s “kingdom”, his Church (Matthew 13:41; 16:18; Colossians 1:13). As Paul writes, persecution is part
and parcel of the Christian way of life (Acts 14:22; 2 Timothy 3:12).
MT5:11Blessed are you when they reproach210 and persecuteand speak evil lies against youbecause of me.211
Reproach: Various renderings are: MOF: denounce; GDSP: abuse; BAS: give you a bad name; WEY: every cruel thing; PHI: slanderous. Often, it is true, the source of this is from the present ruling powers; but, it is also true that this abuse comes from a religious source within one’s own Faith as in the case of the Jewish clergy against the Nazarene (John 16:1,2 and Acts chs 4, 5). The worse kind of reproach is from fellow believers who charge “apostasy” and thus make themselves liable to Gehenna (Matthew 5:2).
Because of me: Elsewhere in the Nazarene’s teachings this is “because of my name” (Matthew 24:9) as historically demonstrated in the Book of Acts. It is the name “Jesus” or “Christ” that brings the reproach and persecution (Acts 2:38; 3:6, 16; 4:7, 10, 12, 17, 18, 30; 5:28, 40, 41; 8:12, 16; 9:14, 15, 16, 21, 27, 28; 10:43, 48; 15:26; 16:18; 19:5, 13; 21:13; 22:16; 26:9).
MT5:12Rejoice and exult212 for your heavenly reward is great!For this is the same way they persecutedthe former prophets.213
Rejoice and exult: See Luke 6:23. Various renderings are: WEY: be joyful and triumphant; WMS: leaping for ecstasy; KN: glad and light-hearted. Luke also adds “excluded or separated.” (Luke 6:23)
The former prophets: Surely, the Nazarene thinks of Elijah and his persecution by Ahab and Jezebel. Compare Matthew 23:35. Even Moses the
Prophet was abused by his sister and other rebels. According to tradition Isaiah was killed by King Manasseh.
Matthew 5:13 – Salt and Light
MT5:13“You are the Salt of the earth.214But if the salt becomes tasteless215 what will it salt?It is useless and thrown outfor men to trample upon.216
Salt of the earth: Compare Mark 9:50 and Colossians 4:6. Salt is a preservative and used for seasoning. As a Nazarene Saint are you strong salt which makes spiritual food tasty and gracious? (Colossians 4:6) Are you a
source of preservation of those words of the Nazarene which have been treasured for hundreds of centuries? Would the sayings of the Nazarene die out if it were dependent on its preservation because of you? Would the effort of skilled copyists and the misery
of isolated Saints become worthless because of your failure to preserve these precious words of the Mountain Teachings?
Tasteless: Various renderings are: MOF: insipid.
To trample upon: The final use is for roads and pathways.
Matthew 5:14-16 – Shining Bright
MT5:14“You are the Light of the world.217A city cannot hide on a mountaintop.
Light of the world: The Nazarene left no written words. He promised a Spirit-Helper which would vitalize the memory of his disciples
regarding everything he spoke (John chs 14, 16). Thus, his disciples were “salt” (as a preservative) and “light” as illuminators (See 2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:5, 6). If it were not for their efforts we would possess nothing of the Nazarene!
Does this effort, for which they gave their lives, and the effort of those later Nazarene copyists, move your heart to become better acquainted with the words of this Mountain Sermon? If it were left to you would these die out or be preserved to enlighten future generations?
At times of special illumination in Jerusalem the clothes of ancient and worthy priests were made into torches and by these the whole Temple was lit and Jerusalem could be seen from miles away.
MT5:15Nobody lights a lamp and then covers it with a basket but [they put it] on a lampstand and thus illuminate the entire household.MT5:16So, let your light shine before menthat they may see your good works218and glorify your Heavenly Father.219
Works: Here the “light” is associated with the disciples’ “work.” This is different from that outward show the Nazarene later counsels against in Matthew 6:1-7.
Father: This is the first occurrence of the Nazarene’s favorite designation for the Creator. He uses “Father” 17 times
in his sermon (Matthew 5:16, 45, 48; 6:1, 4, 6, 8, 9, 14, 15, 18, 26, 32; 7:11, 21). In all the Hebrew Bible there are less than a dozen references to God as Father, so in this one sermon the Nazarene uses it more often than the entire Old Testament. The second
preferred designation is the word “God” (usually The God, TON THEON) and this occurs 6 times in the sermon (Matthew 5:8, 9, 34; 6:8, 24, 30). There is possibly (but not probably) a third designation in YHWH at Matthew 5:33; however, throughout the Gospels the Nazarene prefers first “Father” and then “God.”
Matthew 5:17-20 – The Nazarene Rabbi’s Commentary on the Torah
MT5:17“Do not think I came to destroy220 the Torah221 or the Prophets.I came not to destroy but to fulfill.222
I came to destroy: Probably a charge waiting to be made by the Nazarene’s opposers, the religious hierarchy which prided itself
on the preservation of Moses’ Law.
The phrase “I came” is the only intimation that the Nazarene was sent by God. Jesus confesses in John chs 5-8 that he speaks nothing of his own originality but rather those things taught to him by his Father. Here Christ comes from the Celestial
Realm. He has the brilliance and vocabulary to say anything he wants. The Mountain Teachings are the first public sermon of the Nazarene.
Torah: Or, the “law” referring mainly to that of Moses but including non-Biblical views expressed by the Ancients. Here begins possibly what the crowd and the Nazarene’s disciples wanted to know: where
did Jesus stand on the subject of the Law? Virtually the rest of the sermon is a commentary on the law or Torah with a famous summation of it in Matthew 7:12.
Fulfill: Various renderings: GDSP: enforce; KNX: bring them to perfection. First, the Nazarene as Christ ‘comes’ to set an example of how to follow the Law perfectly. Next, he fulfills all those elements of
the Law which are “shadows” of realities (Hebrews 10:1). Paul writes, ‘Christ is the end of the Law.’ By Christ, the Nazarene Saint is ‘released from the Law.’ (Romans 7:1-5) Paul echoes the Nazarene later when he writes, ‘For all the Law is fulfilled in one statement: “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”’ (Galatians 5:14) Jesus words may be illustrated by a normal human contract with another: there is a difference between arbitrarily and unilaterally ‘destroying’ or breaking the contract and fulfilling your end of the agreement (Galatians 3:14).
The words “I came” are the only hint in the sermon which indicate his overall mission from God (John 4:25).
MT5:18For I tell you this truth: Sooner
would heaven and earth pass away before one iota or a single dot223passes from the Torah and not all of it be fulfilled.
Dot: The Greek word is IOTA. These words are best understood if one watches a skilled Jewish copyist painstakingly copying every ‘dot and tittle’ of the Hebrew manuscript. Such efforts (Romans 3:1) will not go unfulfilled until everything purposed by God in the Law and Prophets is realized.
MT5:19So, anyone who breaks the ‘least’ commandment224and so teaches men will be called ‘Least’ in the Heavenly Realm. But, anyone who obeys and teaches them225will be called Great in the Heavenly Realm.
‘Least’ commandment: The commandments have degrees. Here is described a person who not only violates one of these ‘least’
commands but also teaches others to do so. Such is verging on apostasy from the Law of Moses for which Paul was accused (Acts 21:21). As far as individuals are concerned there are degrees of “great” and “least” in the “kingdom.”
This is something the disciples were aware of, for two of them got their mother to approach Jesus asking him to see to it that they sat at his right and left in the Kingdom. Note Matthew 11:11 where the ‘least’ in the Kingdom is still greater than
John the Baptist. Can the Nazarene mean that a person who breaks even a small law and teaches others to do so will be in the “kingdom” of the heaven, that is, the Father’s Kingdom? Or, does he mean, in the Realm of Profession, the Kingdom/Church?
Teaches them: It would appear that “teaching” is a prerequisite for being among
the ‘great’ in the Realm of Profession (Hebrews 5:12).
MT5:20For I am telling you: If your ‘righteousness’226 does not surpassthe Scribes and Pharisees227you will not enter the Heavenly Realm.228
Righteousness: Is this a tongue in cheek sentence? This subject of “righteousness” is key to both Paul and John. Paul warns of self-righteousness or that righteousness of the Law;
and, John writes of the true righteousness. “Righteousness” means the state of being “right” or correct in attitude, speech and action.
Pharisees: Much the butt of Jesus’ censure and condemnation. Jesus never condemns righteousness itself, but that hypocritical self-righteousness which characterizes religious hierarchies of any kind.
Realm: Or, kingdom. The word occurs 49 times in Matthew.
Matthew 5:21-26 – 1. The Nazarene’s Commentary on Exodus 20:13
|| Luke 12:58, 59
MT5:21“You heard it was said229
to the Ancients:‘Murder not’
but the murderer will be judged.230
It was said: Here begins the first of six rabbinical commentaries by the Nazarene on the spirit of the law, or its fulfillment. James
does something similar at James 2:8, 11.
The murderer will be judged: The first of two commentaries on the
Ten Commandments. It is interesting the Nazarene makes no comment on the abuse of the Divine Name (YHWH) or the Sabbath (Exodus 20:13; James 1:19; 5:6; 1 John 3:15).
I tell you: Anyone angry231 with his brother will be judged.But, anyone saying ‘Raca!’232 to his brotherwill be liable to the Sanhedrin.233But, anyone saying ‘Moron!’234will be liable to the Gehenna235 of the Fire.
Anyone angry: Various renderings are: WMS: harbors malice; NEB: nurses anger; MOF: maligns. It is anger which is the root of murder.
Mere anger makes one liable to judgment though Jesus does not explain what this is. Benjamin Wilson suggests: “The Jews had a Common Court consisting of 23 men.” Later in Matthew 12:36 he warns against speaking the unprofitable, probably about someone else in anger, and how this will not escape the Judgment. Meekness and peaceableness both oppose anger. The Nazarene Saint is on guard against anger which rises out of an egocentric heart.
Raca: NJB: “The Aramaic word raqa, transliterated in Matthew, translated here, means: ‘empty-headed’, ‘nitwit’.” Various renderings are: NJB: fool.
Sanhedrin: Jesus has the Jewish audience in mind and thus Raca! is something worthy of the attention of these judges.
Moron: This is more exact to the Greek word, MORE. Various renderings are: LAM: I spit on you; BER: simpleton; BECK: empty-head; PHI: looks down on his brother as a lost soul; BWD: Apostate; NJB: Traitor!; NJB ftn: “Jewish usage added the much more contemptuous one of ‘apostate’.” Job, Moses, David, Jesus and Paul were all objects of wrathful contempt, often by the very ones professing a relationship with God. It is one thing to be reproached by the Gentile pagans and wholly another to have ‘endured the contradictions of sinners’ among your own fellow worshippers (Hebrews 12:3).
In all the Scriptures the word-group “apostate” occurs most often in the Book of Job as an accusation against that godly man (Job 8:13; 13:16; 17:8; 20:5; 27:8; 34:30; 36:13). In the Christian Bible it occurs as a charge against Paul (Acts 21:21).
“Apostate” is a most dangerous word to use as Jesus makes the consequences clear. Jesus never uses it against his foes.
Gehenna: See various lexicons, dictionaries or commentaries on this word. It alludes to the city dump where the dead bodies of criminals were thrown who were judged unworthy of a resurrection. The dump was kept burning night and day and at the edges were
to be found worms which seem to never die (See Isaiah 66:24).
The Jewish commentator David Kimhi (1160?-1235?), in his comment on Psalm 27:13, gives the following historical information concerning “Gehinnom”: “And it is a place in the land adjoining Jerusalem, and it is a loathsome place, and
they throw there unclean things and carcasses. Also there was a continual fire there to burn the unclean things and the bones of the carcasses. Hence, the judgment of the wicked ones is called parabolically Gehinnom.”
MT5:23And so, when you bring your gift-offering to the Altar236
and right then you remember your brother has something against you237
Altar: The image is one of a Jewish worshipper approaching the Temple and about to hand over his sin-offering or communion gift to
the priest serving at the Temple. The worshipper’s purpose is to give a sacrifice for his sin. In the Christian Age there is another “altar,” a spiritual one associated with the New Covenant (Hebrews 13:10, 12, 15, 16). In these verses the
inspired writer outlines two aspects to this “altar”: a) praise; and, b) charitable care of the Saints. Using Jesus’ teaching, the Nazarene Saint will keep this in mind before offering ‘a sacrifice of praise’ or ‘sharing’
with others in some charity, to pause and ponder whether there is a fellow Saint who holds a grudge. Better to go and make peace with him or her before approaching this spiritual “altar.”
Against you: Apparently a legitimate charge or accusation of which you are aware. Here the Nazarene shows that peaceful relations come before ceremonial worship. Seeking
peace with God through a communion sacrifice is meaningless if relationships with fellows are jeopardized. James writes in a similar vein at James 1:26, 27.
your gift-offering at the Altar.First leave and be reconciled with your brother238and then return and offer up your gift.
Be reconciled with your brother: Here is the “peaceable” of Matthew 5:9. Various renderings: TCNT: be ready to make friends
with; WEY: comes to terms without delay; NEB: if someone sues you come to terms with him promptly.
MT5:25Think well of your adversary,239and quickly, while on the way, so your adversary never hand you over to the judge and the judge to the court-officer and he throw you into prison.
Adversary: Compare a similar thought at Luke 12:58, 59. Compare Leviticus 19:17 with Colossians 3:13. Various renderings are: KNX:
some ground of complaint. Note the singular “you” as if now Jesus’ attention is directed to one individual, singled out in the crowd or among his disciples (who often had personal difficulties), who is not at peace with his fellow. Would not the eye contact of the Nazarene send this worshipper speedily to the door of his brother begging forgiveness?
The context here seems of a material or financial nature for when the worshipper leaves the altar to reconcile with his brother it is over a matter involving a court appearance. It is a financial debt and the Nazarene demonstrates how such matters can take
priority over worship. Financial matters are often one of the chief areas of complaint and the cause of disunity among fellow worshippers. Nothing divides persons more than materialism (the god Mammon) with its greed, covetousness, business deceit, or fraud
(Compare 1 Corinthians chapter 6; Luke 12:58: disputes; 1 Corinthians 6:7: fraud).
MT5:26I tell you the truth: You will not get out until you have repaid the last
Coin: Compare Luke 12:59: debts. How would one ever get out of prison without borrowing from another or selling some property in order to cancel the debt. From the Altar to Prison in one day! Of course, the other person has much to learn from the Nazarene’s
Mountain Teachings about canceling debts if one wants God’s forgiveness.
Matthew 5:27-30 – 2. The Nazarene’s Commentary on Exodus 20:14
MT5:27“You heard it said:241‘Commit not adultery.’242
Heard it said: The Nazarene rabbi’s second reference to the Ten Commandments. Paul also uses this commandment at Romans 2:22.
Adultery: Exodus 20:14. Various renderings: BER: break the marriage vow.
MT5:28But, I tell you: Anyone looking at a woman, desiring her in his heart,243has already adulterated her.244
Heart: Various renderings: TCNT: with impure intention; WEY: cherishes lustful thoughts; WMS: an evil desire; BER: has in his heart
already broken the marriage vow. Compare Job 31:1: looking; James 1:18: sin begins. Perhaps no verse of Scripture has tormented male souls more than this one for nearly all men stand condemned at one time in their life for this deviation and those who deny
this are liars. Jesus does not mean to condemn, for he knows what is in man, nor does he give a command here; but, he merely states the fact or principle: sin begins in the mind (James 1:14, 15). It is mainly married men Jesus has in mind for unmarried men
may look at a single woman with desire for that is the Biblical nature of things (See Song of Songs; 1 Corinthians 7:9).
Adulterated her: Most render this ‘already committed adultery with her in his heart.’
MT5:29But, if your right eye stumbles you,245cut it out246 and throw it away.Better to lose one body-member than your whole body be thrown into Gehenna.
If your right eye stumbles you: The looking part. Compare this with 1 John 2:16 and the desire of the eyes. The first warning to Adam regarding the fruit of the tree: ‘it was desirable to look upon.’ (Genesis chs 2, 3) There is probably no more desirable sight than an attractive woman. Any sin begins with first seeing something and desiring (coveting) it. Here is the place to say “No!” to that New Person within with its Transformed Mind (Romans 12:1; Ephesians 4:22, 23).
Cut it out: Where are all the one-eyed men? Clearly, all take this to be an exaggerated metaphor even as the fire of Gehenna.
MT5:30And, if your right hand stumbles you,247cut if off and throw it away. For it is better one of your limbs be lost than your whole body go to Gehenna.248
If your right hand stumbles you: The eye first sees and then the hand touches or reaches for the desirable object, even as in the case of Adam and Eve (Genesis chs 2, 3). There is the desire of the eye and the pleasure of feeling those sensations through the fingertips. Sin must be stopped by that ‘lamp of the body,’ the eye. It is preferable to avoid those situations which arouse opportunities for this kind of sin. Certainly pornographic material or entertainment ought to be avoided. The Nazarene Saint, male or female, keep their hands to themselves and on guard against undue familiarity with the opposite sex. Note Mark 9:47: kingdom; Colossians 3:5: deaden; Genesis 3:3: touch (Compare Matthew 18:7-9 stumbling).
Your whole body go to Gehenna: Note it is the “body” which goes to “hell-fire” or Gehenna (Note Matthew 10:28).
Matthew 5:31-32 – 3. The Nazarene’s Commentary on Deuteronomy 24:1
MT5:31“But, it was said:‘Whoever releases his woman, let him give her a divorce certificate.’249
Give her a divorce certificate: For the second time the context deals with women and the attitude of men toward them. This is a revolutionary
idea (Matthew 2:14-16; Mark 10:11, 12; Luke 16:18; 1 Corinthians 7:10, 11). Much of the Nazarene’s teachings lead to the emancipation of women. In Mark’s account (Mark 10:12) women are included in this matter of divorce. Female divorce was not covered in the Law of Moses nor in most legislation of nations. Compare the response of the male disciples of the Nazarene at Matthew 19:3-12 where they suggest its better not to marry at all if the only grounds for divorce was adultery. Note Paul’s encouragement of celibacy without condemning marriage (1 Corinthians ch 7).
MT5:32But, I tell you: Any man who divorces his woman250except on account of fornication251causes her to commit adultery.Any who marry the divorced woman commit adultery.
Woman: The Greek is GYNAIKA and like many languages
there is no word for “wife” and the married woman is implied by the context.
is the Greek PORNEIAS which is rooted in “to buy” and first implies prostitution but later includes all forms of sexual improprieties which one might “buy” from a harlot. In the Law of Moses engaged couples who had intercourse were not stoned to death, but the male had to marry the girl, pay a price to her father, and give up his rights of divorce. PORNEIA is the root of “pornography.” The word occurs three times in Matthew (Matthew 5:32, 15:19, 19:9) and occurs once in Mark 7:21. The Apostolic Body warns the Non-Jews of it at Acts 15:20, 29. Paul uses the word most often in seven of his letters. The glorified Christ warns of it in his letters to the “angels” at Revelation 2:14, 20. Revelation 21:8 and 22:15 may infer “fornication” occurs during the 1,000 years, outside of the New Jerusalem. The Nazarene teaches that “fornication” is one of those things which ‘defile’ a person (Matthew 15:9; Mark 7:21). “Fornication” may include unnatural sexual practices as shown by Jude 6, 7.
Matthew 5:33-37 – 4. The Nazarene’s Commentary on Numbers 30:3
MT5:33“Again, you heard it said to the Ancients:‘Break not your vows252but repay your vows to the Lord.’253
Vows: See Numbers 30:3; Deuteronomy 23:23; Ecclesiastes 5:4. Note James 5:12 remembers well this Nazarene teaching.
Lord: Here KYRIOS has the article. Judging from the source of the Nazarene’s quotation of Numbers 30:3 or Deuteronomy 23:23 the Hebrew
text included the Divine Name YHWH (Yehowah, Yahweh, Jehovah; from Exodus 3:15). Did the Nazarene use the Divine Name here? This would be its only occurrence in his entire sermon. Some would argue he did and we respect their view. On the other hand, given the murderously critical attitude of the Jews, who held the utterance of YHWH to be a violation of the Commandment at Exodus 20:7 (See the works of Josephus), if the Nazarene had used YHWH why did the Jews not make a judgment against him as they do in the case of his so-called violations of the Sabbath? Nowhere in the Gospels is Jesus ever condemned for uttering the Divine Name? The Gospels do not record Jesus’ use of YHWH in public or private conversation other than, possibly, in quotations of the Hebrew Bible (See the work Nazarene Principles). In his lengthy prayer of John chapter 17 he uses the word “name” with reference to his Father four times, but never utters the Divine Name, YHWH.
MT5:34But, I tell you: Never make vows!254 Not by heaven forit is the Throne of The God,
Never make vows: This, along with Paul’s (Romans 13:8) and James’ (James 5:12) commentary, raises a serious question regarding business contracts. Some would limit the Nazarene’s remarks to “the practice of light, loose, and indiscriminate making of oaths.” Others would see that Jesus allows agreements based on one’s “Yes” or “a gentlemen’s handshake” as it were. Can anyone argue after reading all the teachings of the Nazarene on the subject of possessions, riches, and property that he strongly encouraged the spirit of Luke 12:33? Compare 2 Corinthians 1:17-20 on promises. The example of the Apostles and disciples recorded in Acts chapters 2 to 6 demonstrates the literalness with which the Nazarene Community accepted Jesus’ teachings on the subject.
By comparing Matthew 5:42 and Luke 6:34 with Luke 12:33 and 18:22-30 it would seem apparent that the Nazarene Saint does not own property and would not be found making a loan to someone, or for that matter, securing a loan from another without deviating from
the Nazarene’s teachings. Jesus led this kind of life and so did his disciples. To read more on this subject compare notes elsewhere on the subject of “riches” and “possessions.” As with the rest of the Nazarene’s Mountain
Teachings this will not set well with a Capitalist Society. In all the history in the Book of Acts there is no case of a Nazarene disciple buying property, even for a church building.
MT5:35nor by earth forit is His footstool,255
nor by Jerusalem for it isthe city of the great King,256
Footstool: See Isaiah 66:1 the source of the Nazarene’s allusion.
The city of the great King: Jesus alludes to Psalm 48:2.
MT5:36nor by your own head for you are unable to make one hair white or black.MT5:37But, let your word be YES for YES and NO for NO. For any more is from the Wicked One.257
Wicked One: There is reason to pause and meditate carefully on the matters of vows or oaths, whether personal
or commercial, because of this danger expressed by the Nazarene.
Matthew 5:38-42 – 5. The Nazarene’s Commentary on Exodus 21:24
MT5:38“You heard it said:‘Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.’258
Eye for eye and tooth for tooth: Ghandi commented that all this Law did was make a world of blind persons. There is no case of this
ever being done literally in the Hebrew Bible. The subject is “revenge” which the Nazarene discourages.
MT5:39But, I tell you: Do not resist259 wicked authority.But, whoever slaps your right cheek,260turn to him the other.
Do not resist: The principle behind the Civil Rights Movement. Compare Romans 12:17 and 1 Peter 2:23: yielding. Most do not see the
Nazarene teaching pacifism, others do. NJB ftn: “The gospel does not forbid reasonable defense against unjust aggression.” Though we do not find the Nazarene making use of this (John 18:22, 36).
The subject may be “wicked authority” represented in either the Roman occupiers or the harsh religious hierarchy. There are three examples within this context of “wicked authority”: a) an insult; b) legal matters; and, c) forced civil
service. Here are the sources for “turn the other cheek” and “go the extra mile.” (Note Mark 15:21: authority)
Slaps your right cheek: An open-handed insult. The Nazarene experiences this (John 18:22).
MT5:40And, the one with a legal settlement against you for your inner garment, let him have the outer.MT5:41And, whoever impresses you to go one mile,261go two.
Impresses you to go one mile: Such rights by the State are current in most countries. For example, in the United States the police
may command one’s vehicle or the fire department may impress one into fire-fighting.
MT5:42Give to those asking262and do not turn away from the one wanting to borrow.
Give to those asking: A hallmark of the Nazarene’s
teachings. Various renderings: MOF: the man who begs; WMS: keeps on begging. Compare Acts 20:35 in a rare allusion or quotation of the Nazarene by Paul. These include interest free loans (See Deuteronomy 23:19 and Luke 6:32-34: loans). Luke the Physician is
stronger on this matter than Matthew the Tax-collector, the former discouraging loans completely and stressing giving. A real test on the Nazarene Saint is the pocketbook and is demonstrated in being ‘liberal’ (Romans 12:8, 13; 1 Timothy
6:17-19). The Nazarene Saint who refuses to share that good bounty God has given is in serious danger (James 1:27; 2:15-17; 1 John 3:16-18).
Luke includes the giving nearer the context of love for enemies. The Good Doctor includes interest free loans and not expecting any repayment (See Deuteronomy 15:7; Proverbs 21:26; Matthew 5:42: giving).
Does all of this suggest a commandment for all Friends of the Nazarene to divest themselves of their possessions or property? Judging from the descriptions in the Book of Acts this was not a command but a voluntary matter. Peter tells Ananias, ‘When
it was unsold, did it not remain your property; and after it was sold, did not the value remain in your control?’ (Acts 5:4) Peter nowhere argues: “Did not the Nazarene teach you to sell everything and give to the poor.” It was completely
voluntary, though one can sense a degree of peer pressure from the Nazarene Community of Saints. Later when Paul argues these matters with the Corinthians and then with Timothy, he never resorts to the authority of the Nazarene about selling all. He merely
tells Timothy, ‘To command the rich’ and then gives a list of strongly suggested items (1 Timothy 6:17-19). Certainly the Nazarene, and also God, encourage a “simple eye” on “guard against covetousness” (Luke 12:15),
always remembering that the Father is paying close attention to how the Nazarene Saint uses material possessions.
Matthew 5:43-47 – 6. The Nazarene’s Commentary on Leviticus 19:18
MT5:43“You heard it said:‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’263
Hate your enemy: The NJB ftn comments: “The second part of this commandment is not found in the law. It is the brusque expression
of a language which has few half-tones and is equivalent to: ‘There is no obligation to love one’s enemy.’” However, one might find the spirit in Psalms 26:5; 101:3; 119:104, 113; 139:21, 22.
MT5:44But, I tell you: Love your enemies264and pray for your persecutors.
Love your enemies: Barclay: “There is no commandment of Jesus which has caused so much discussion and debate as the commandment
to love our enemies.” The Greek for “love” here is from AGAPE and many feel the English “love” does not do justice to this word. Barclay has it: “Seek the highest good of another.” Perhaps the best definition of AGAPE
completely lacks the word in the context: 1 Corinthians 10:24, ‘Seek not for self but for others’ and Philippians 2:4, ‘Look not after self but others.’ AGAPE can be ruled by a) principle; and, b) motive. If the principle
or motive be wrong then the AGAPE is misdirected. If the motive and principle are correct then the AGAPE is pure. There are only 4 occurrences of AGAPAO in the Nazarene’s Mountain Teachings (Matthew 5:43, 44, 46; 6:24). Luke 6:27-35 outlines how this
“love” is demonstrated: 1) pray for; 2) do good to; and, 3) lend without interest (Compare Luke 6:28 and Romans 12:20: enemies). Luke adds ‘pray for insulting’ and ‘do good to hateful.’ (Romans 12:14: bless)
Your enemies are those who do not love you and are most often found among those bowing next to you in prayer or singing loudly God’s praises!
Paul argues that the “law’s fulfillment” is found in “love of neighbor.” (Galatians 5:14) If “love of neighbor” fulfills the law, what does “love of enemy” do? It leaps light years ahead of the Mosaic Law or Torah and puts before the average man a difficult, if not impossible task, unless one is committed to Nazarene discipleship.
MT5:45And so prove to be Sons of your Heavenly Father.265 For His sun rises upon the wicked and the good. And He rains upon the righteous and unrighteous.
Prove to be Sons of your Heavenly Father: See Luke 6:35. Divine sonship does not come by birth as John 1:12, 13 shows. There must
be a “birth from above.” (1 John chapters 3, 4) The strongest proof of this status as a son is to love one’s enemies. As Matthew and Luke show, the Father does good to both the wicked and unthankful. Thus, no Nazarene Saint can argue that
one can withhold goodness from the wicked or ungrateful. It is the tendency to show kindness to those loving you, whereas God’s love is showered on those who might still ignore Him and continue to exist in a sinful state. With the Nazarene these are not mere words, for we see him demonstrating this again and again.
MT5:46For what is your reward if you only love those loving you? Are not tax-collectors doing the same?MT5:47And, what extraordinary thing are you doing if you only greet your brothers?266Are not the Non-Jews267 doing the same thing?
If you only greet your brothers: Various renderings: TCNT: show courtesy to; GDSP: if you are polite to your brothers only; PHI: greetings only within your own circle. There is much of just plain good manners here and this graciousness is across the social board. The ultimate display of hate is to ignore greeting those with the simplest words that might indicate some spark of recognition or respect.
There is an exception which John, a witness to the Mountain Teachings, mentions at 2 John verse 10 in the context of known antichrists and deceivers.
Non-Jews: This is ETHNIKOI in Greek, from which comes the English “ethnic.” The word means non-Jew and possibly rouses a certain feeling of superiority in Jesus’ audience. The Nazarene uses it four times
in his sermon (Matthew 5:47; 6:7, 32).
MT5:48So, you shall be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.268
Perfect: This is the Greek word TELEIOI from TELOS (= “end”)
and may be rendered “complete, mature, fulfilled.”