MAX KLEIN BIBLE MINISTRIES
The Gospel of Matthew: Chapter Five
A verse-by-verse commentary by Max Klein
Matthew 5:1-2. When he saw the multitudes [and took an estimate of the situation], he went up into a mountain [unknown], and when he was seated, his disciples came to him. And having opened his mouth, he kept on teaching [the imperfect tense means that he repeated many times] them, saying [the content of his teaching]:
Ἰδὼν δὲ τοὺς ὄχλους ἀνέβη εἰς τὸ ὄρος· καὶ καθίσαντος αὐτοῦ προσῆλθαν αὐτῷ οἱ µαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ· 2 καὶ ἀνοίξας τὸ στόµα αὐτοῦ ἐδίδασκεν αὐτοὺς λέγων,
The multitudes contained a large group of people possibly as high as 100,000. In order to properly handle such a large group as this, Jesus would have to organize and train a team. So, Jesus Christ realizing that he needed a trained team separated himself from the crowds. And he did so by going up into a mountain with his disciples. (It would be impossible for a large crowd to follow a person quickly into a mountain.)
Jesus Christ undoubtedly not only taught his disciples about the Mosaic Law, but also about the transitional period of His 33 years and even some information about the Church Age since they would need to understand the transition from the Law to Grace. John 1:17, “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized though Jesus Christ.” Thus, more is given to the Church Age believer than to the Old Testament believer.
Jesus sat down to get comfortable that he might be able to teach under the best possible conditions. He then taught his disciples as if he were carrying on a conversation with them (His method was firm, dogmatic, but did not contain ranting or shouting. Furthermore, Jesus did not clown around, but taught accurately using illustrations and parables to communicate his point.
By way of application, it is not the pastor’s responsibility to handle the administration of a local church, but to study and teach and to establish policy. It takes a team to accomplish God’s task on earth in the Church Age. This explains why God the Holy Spirit gives different gifts to different people.
The grammatical organization of the first two verses:
Aorist participle “saw” followed by an aorist indicative “went.”
Aorist participle “seated” followed by an aorist indicative “came.”
Aorist participle “opened” followed by an imperfect indicative “kept on teaching.”
Can you see the pattern established? One would expect the last verb in this group of verbal forms to be an aorist, but it isn’t. This breaking off from what is expected puts emphasis on the imperfect indicative “he kept on teaching.” All this action was designed for one thing, namely to teach his disciples.
5:3. “Blessed are [happinesses to] the destitute ones in spirit [unbelievers who realize the need for salvation] because theirs is the kingdom of heaven [after their response to the gospel message].
Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύµατι, ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.
When an unbeliever realizes that he is destitute of spiritual assets or any assets which would qualify him to enter into a relationship with God, he is ready for the gospel.
5:4. “Blessed are [happinesses to] those who mourn [experience sorrow, a form of undeserved suffering] for they shall be comforted [by application of the appropriate truths or doctrines to their suffering].
µακάριοι οἱ πενθοῦντες, ὅτι αὐτοὶ παρακληθήσονται.
When the believer is under great undeserved suffering, the only comfort is from what truth has been metabolized in the soul.
5:5. “Blessed are [happinesses to] the humble [great Jewish believers] because they will inherit the Land [of Israel in the Millennium].
µακάριοι οἱ πραεῖς, ὅτι αὐτοὶ κληρονοµήσουσιν τὴν γῆν.
Daniel 12:13, “ But you [Daniel is about 90, but will live even longer] go your way [keep on living your life] till the end be [of your life]; for you shall repose [great happiness and tranquility in dying: dying grace], and shall stand [in resurrection body] in your lot [a special piece of land that is allotted to him in accordance with the Abrahamic Covenant], at the end of the days [end of the Great Tribulation].”
5:6. “Blessed are [happinesses to] those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [to learn and execute the spiritual life and so produce experiential righteousness] because they shall be made full. [If the believer desires God’s word, God will provide whatever it takes to satisfy that desire.]
µακάριοι οἱ πεινῶντες καὶ διψῶντες τὴν δικαιοσύνην, ὅτι αὐτοὶ χορτασθήσονται.
God will always meet your capacity.
5:7. “Blessed are [happinesses to] the ones showing mercy [applying grace to others] because they will receive mercy [logical progression: grace in action from God in the form of blessing].
µακάριοι οἱ ἐλεήµονες, ὅτι αὐτοὶ ἐλεηθήσονται.
The believers who apply grace to both the unbeliever and other believers have the capacity to receive an increase in blessing from the Lord. This is not a tit for tat: blessing for blessing - if I bless others, God will bless me. You cannot enter into a business arrangement with the Lord! (Lord, I’ll give 10% of my measly income to the church, if you will agree to double my bank account.) The Lord does not bless in this manner, but rather on the basis of capacity.
5:8. “Blessed are [Happinesses to] the pure in the heart [in the mentality of their souls] because they shall see God [develop a great relationship with God].
µακάριοι οἱ καθαροὶ τῇ καρδίᾳ, ὅτι αὐτοὶ τὸν θεὸν ὄψονται.
Pure in the Mentality of the Soul:
1. The believer has metabolized doctrine circulating in his stream of consciousness (doctrine in his frame of reference, memory center, categorical and vocabulary storage, wisdom department and good norms and standards in his conscience) from which comes, right thinking and motivation.
2. The believer is free of blackout and scar tissue of the soul. (Ephesians 4:18)
3. The believer is free of garbage in his subconscious, not like the Exodus generation who projected, from their subconscious, hatred and murder lust toward Moses. Psychologically, self-righteous people repress their mental attitude sins and lusts into their subconscious, and then accuse someone else of their very own sins and lusts. This little psychological trick is called “repression followed by projection.”
5:9. “Blessed are [happinesses to] the peace makers [to reconcile: mature believers who evangelize both by the life and by the lip] for they will be called, ‘Sons of God’ [recognized and rewarded with a special title].
µακάριοι οἱ εἰρηνοποιοί, ὅτι [αὐτοὶ] υἱοὶ θεοῦ κληθήσονται.
Arrogant believers may evangelize by the lip, but they are unable to evangelize by their lives for the unbeliever can see through their façade of self-righteousness. Only the advanced believer has the integrity and virtue to impress the unbeliever, and so, many unbelievers are willing to listen to the gospel message of reconciliation presented by such a believer.
5:10. “Blessed are [happinesses to] those who are persecuted because of righteousness [the underserved suffering of a mature believer] because theirs is the kingdom of heaven [He will live with the Lord in great blessing and happiness in the eternal state].
µακάριοι οἱ δεδιωγµένοι ἕνεκεν δικαιοσύνης, ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.
The mature believer has the capacity and motivation to handle any kind of suffering that may come his way. He also knows that passing these tests of suffering advances him spiritually and will qualify him for greater blessing in time and in eternity. You may want to read “Christian Suffering” by R. B. Thieme Jr.
5:11. “Blessed are [happinesses to] you when people insult and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
µακάριοί ἐστε ὅταν ὀνειδίσωσιν ὑµᾶς καὶ διώξωσιν καὶ εἴπωσιν πᾶν πονηρὸν καθí ὑµῶν [ψευδόµενοι] ἕνεκεν ἐµοῦ·
The mature believer shares in the suffering of Christ. As Christ was persecuted so the mature believer will also be persecuted. Evil unbelievers and believers will persecute the great believers. (Saul, a believer sought David’s life). Though he suffers, the mature believer is happy. True happiness is not based on the circumstances of life, but on the believer’s relationship with the three members of the Trinity. If the believer has love for God the Father, the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus Christ, he will also possess the happiness of God.
5:12. “Rejoice and be exceedingly happy for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
The persecution of great believers is nothing new. Satan doesn’t like believers who reach occupation with Christ. So, he will motivate those who are under his authority to persecute such believers.
χαίρετε καὶ ἀγαλλιᾶσθε, ὅτι ὁ µισθὸς ὑµῶν πολὺς ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς· οὕτως γὰρ ἐδίωξαν τοὺς προφήτας τοὺς πρὸ ὑµῶν.
5:13. “You [the advanced or mature believer] are the salt of the Land [of Israel], but if the salt has become tasteless [insipid], how [by what] can it be made salty again? It is no longer good [has ability] for anything except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
Ὑµεῖς ἐστε τὸ ἅλας τῆς γῆς· ἐὰν δὲ τὸ ἅλας µωρανθῇ, ἐν τίνι ἁλισθήσεται; εἰς οὐδὲν ἰσχύει ἔτι εἰ µὴ βληθῆναι ἔξω καὶ καταπατεῖσθαι ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων.
As salt has the ability to preserve and add flavor to food, so the mature believer is the basis for the blessing and preservation of his nation. As salt which has lost its ability to preserve and to savor food is worthless so the believer who enters into reversionism becomes worthless to his nation and to those around him. Rather than being a preserver of his nation through advance to maturity, he as a believer in apostasy becomes the basis for God to judge his nation. Rather than being a blessing to others, he becomes a cursing by association. In the ancient world, insipid salt was thrown out onto the street and trampled under the foot by those who passed by. Like insipid salt which is trampled underfoot, so the reversionistic believer will experience self-induced misery and be the recipient of divine discipline.
The Lord Jesus Christ as the one who controls history uses his power to preserve and to bless a client nation if that nation has a sufficient number of mature believers. In other words, the Lord blesses people, groups and nations because of their association with great believers. Elijah once complained that only he was faithful to the Word. However, the Lord reminded him that there were 7000 who had not bowed a knee to Baal and for that reason Israel would be preserved (1 Kings 19:10, 14, 18). Moses was so great that the Lord delivered the Jewish people from the Egyptian bondage. 1 Corinthians 10:1-2 presents the baptism of [identification with] Moses, “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses [identified with Moses and so delivered] in the cloud and in the sea.” Moses was identified with the cloud or Jesus Christ, and the people were identified with Moses, and so the people were able to pass through the sea unharmed. Later at Mount Sinai the Lord threatened to destroy all the Jews and to make a new nation from the loins of Moses, but Moses interceded on behalf of the Jews and the Lord changed his mind (listened to the intercession of Moses) about destroying the nation (Exodus 32:7-14). Did the Jews learn from their Mount Sinai experience? After the Jews had heard the report regarding giants in the land from the reconnaissance team, they refused to go into the land of milk and honey. Again, for a second time, the Lord threatened to destroy all these Jews to a man and then to manufacture a new nation from the loins of Moses, but again Moses interceded on behalf of the Jews and the Lord pardoned them (Numbers 14:11-20).
5:14. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Ὑµεῖς ἐστε τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσµου. οὐ δύναται πόλις κρυβῆναι ἐπάνω ὄρους κειµένη·
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness [live under Satanic thinking], but will have the Light of life [eternal life]” (John 8:12). Jesus Christ is appointing his disciples as lights of the world, the ones who will be responsible to give the light (the gospel) to the ‘Lost Sheep of Israel’.
Jesus is called the light of the world because his thinking illuminates. This illumination begins with the gospel and continues with Bible teaching. When an unbeliever believes in the Lord Jesus Christ as his savior, he receives some light into his soul. As the believer learns the word of God under his spiritual life, he acquires more and more light [more and more divine thinking].
If the believer is going to effectively give out the gospel to the unbeliever, he must have light (knowledge about the Lord Jesus Christ) in his soul. He must be constantly “walking in the Light” that is learning God’s Word under the authority of God the Holy Spirit. A lighted city on a mountain at night can be seen for miles around and is very beautiful. So, it is with the mature believer. By contrast a believer without metabolized doctrine in his soul is darkened and cannot be seen. The reversionistic Christian (the ignorant believer constantly living out of fellowship) has little if any light in his soul to properly witness either by mouth or by his life.
5:15: nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket [a large clay pot], but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house [by analogy the world of unbelievers].
οὐδὲ καίουσιν λύχνον καὶ τιθέασιν αὐτὸν ὑπὸ τὸν µόδιον ἀλλí ἐπὶ τὴν λυχνίαν, καὶ λάµπει πᾶσιν τοῖς ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ.
An advanced believer living the spiritual life is a light on a lamp stand which light is radiated. From such a believer, the unbeliever will hear the gospel clearly presented, and when in contact with such a believer be the recipient of impersonal love.
By contrast the believer in reversionism is a lamp under a basket giving out no light. The apostate believer is one of the following: a self-righteous legalistic pain in the butt, an emotional non-thinking irrational idiot or some type of hell raiser. If this type of believer does evangelize, he will usually present the gospel incorrectly. However, even if he should get the gospel correctly presented, his life will not impress the discerning unbeliever.
The Christian is either going to become the salt and the light of the client nation or he will become insipid and a lamp under a basket. To become great he must keep advancing, if not he will retrogress. One is either going forward or backward.
If the Christian goes backward, he will enter the Eight Stages of Reversionism.
This process is the way of the reversionistic believer. Reversionism is the way of life the believer chooses when he turns away from God’s plan, will, and purpose for his life and returns to a former belief, a former viewpoint, a former modus operandi. The reversionist (the back slider) has not lost his salvation, but he is under the influence of Satan’s cosmic system. By his own volition he involves himself in sin, Satanic good and evil and suffers the consequences of self-induced misery and divine punishment. Reversionism takes place in 8 stages, as follows:
1. Reaction and Distraction:
If the Christian does not know the Ten Problem Solving Devices or their equivalent, he has no way to solve the problems of this life. If he cannot solve problems, he will react emotionally to difficulties, problems, pressures, calamities, disasters and catastrophes relating to people and circumstances. When the believer reacts, he does so through the sins of emotion and arrogance such as jealousy, bitterness, vindictiveness, implacability, hatred, vilification, self-pity, inordinate ambition and competition, worry and fear, maligning, judging and gossip etc.
Distraction from the spiritual life can be caused by apathy or indifference. Also, the believer can be distracted from his spiritual life by possessing false values. Anything that is more important than learning and executing the spiritual life is a false value. False values lead to false priorities. If the believer has false priorities, he will organize his life around those false priorities and be distracted from God’s plan. Reaction and distraction produce the stress of unhappiness. Under stress, the believer attempt to find happiness.
2. A Frantic Search for Happiness
In this state of stress, the believer is unhappy. The unhappy believer will try to compensate for his unhappiness by pursuing some form of pseudo happiness. This pseudo happiness promised by the sin nature whether it be something innocuous like traveling or pursing an active social life cannot make the believer happy.
The believer can only be happy when he is fulfilling God’s plan for his life. However, the believer out of fellowship doesn’t realize this, and so tries to find happiness by seeking to gratify his lusts. (A lust is any desire originating from the sin-nature and has many different forms. For example, the believer may develop a particular lust pattern for power, approbation, crusading (trying to force his personal beliefs and ideas onto others), wealth, chemicals (alcohol and drugs) sex or crime.) Though none of these things can produce happiness in the believer’s life, he is convinced that they will. He is deceived by his own sin nature which promises him happiness through pursuing some lust.
3. Operation Boomerang
Whether the believer succeeds in obtaining the object of his lust or not, his unhappiness will only intensify. If he obtains his objective, his unhappiness intensifies because it did not bring him the happiness that he was expecting. On the other hand, if he does not obtain his objective, he remains convinced that it would have made him happy, and so, continues in his attempt to get it. He throws the boomerang again and again, but he never hits the target; instead, it always comes back to hit him in the head. These expectations and frustrations which do not bring happiness to the Christian only intensify his unhappiness.
4. Emotional Revolt of the Soul
Seeking pseudo-happiness which results in frustration and depression leads to stage four: emotional revolt of the soul. This is where the believers thinking, decisions and action are all subordinate to emotion. If he feels good, he thinks he is spiritual. If he weeps when singing a hymn, he must love God. If he feels that he loves a person of the opposite sex, he proposes marriage. There is no divine thought circulating in the soul. The reversionistic believer does not make decisions on the basis of truth or principle, but on subjective thinking, feelings and emotions. He has no control over the emotional sins such as fear, worry, self-pity etc. He rejects confession of sins and the learning the word of God because these things are mental processes and as such do not stimulate him emotionally. As emotion gains dominance over the mentality of the soul, it becomes more and more difficult for the believer to reverse his downward spiral since Christians under emotional revolt of the soul become very arrogant and self- centered. In their arrogance they demand things from God and people. When they are suffering either through their own self-induced misery or from divine discipline, they go to prayer which is not even a problem-solving-device and expect or even demand a solution to their self-induced suffering.
Emotional revolt means that emotion replaces thought as the criterion by which one makes judgments and decisions. The believer becomes irrational, egocentric and unstable through emotion for emotion in itself is an empty physiological response; it contains no doctrinal content, no mental function, no norms and standards, and no common sense.
Many Christians fail because of their emotions.
1 Corinthians 3:1-3, "And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual persons [believers filled with the Spirit], but as unto carnal [fleshly, belonging to the sin nature], as childish ones in Christ. I gave you milk [basic doctrine] to drink, not solid food [protocol plan], for you were not yet able [to receive it], moreover even now, you are still not able [to receive solid food]. For you are still carnal, for while [there is] jealousy and strife among you, are you not carnal and keep walking in conformity with men [unbelievers]?"[Expects a yes for an answer].
"O, you Corinthians, our mouths [means of communication by Paul, Apollos, and Timothy] have been opened face to face with you; our right lobes have been enlarged [we were prepared]. Therefore, you have not been hindered by us [Paul, Apollos, Timothy], but you have been hindered by your emotions." (2 Corinthians 6:11-12).
“For many keep on walking [living out of fellowship] whom many times I kept on telling you and now even weeping I say [that they are] the enemies of the cross of Christ whose end is destruction [die the sin unto death] whose god is their emotions and whose glory is in their shame. They who keep on concentrating on earthly things.” (Philippians 3:18, 19)
5. Locked-in Negative Volition
Once emotion becomes the criterion for one’s life, he is no longer interested in learning God’s word. So, he begins to live his life by emotion, not thought. In effect, he locks himself into the closet of negative volition. As a result of the first four stages of reversionism, the believer suffers loss of Biblical priorities, Biblical norms and standards and loses control of his life and destiny. This can lead to permanent negative volition toward learning God’s word. If the believer rejects learning God’s word, he can never understand God’s will, plan and purpose for his life. Therefore, he cannot grow spiritually. As a result, all his works are dead works and human good, totally unacceptable to God. He is operating in the energy of the flesh rather than in the power of metabolized doctrine and in the power of God the Holy Spirit.
In his rejection of God’s word he becomes arrogant; he will become proficient in the use of the arrogant skills, so called because they are something that one practices so well that he comes to use them without even thinking, just as one learns to ride a bicycle. There are three arrogance skills, namely:
Self-justification (One may justify his sins like anger by thinking to oneself, ‘I have a right to be angry or he made me angry.’
Self-deception (Once the believer rationalizes away his sins, he lies to himself.)
Self-absorption (completely controlled by his emotional mental sins)
Under self-justification, believers are not taking responsibility for their sins. This automatically brings about self -deception; these believers lie to themselves regarding their spiritual status. They assume that they are great believers when in reality they are totally failing in the spiritual life. Without the power of the spiritual life, these believers succumb to emotional and mental sins which is the third arrogance skill of self-absorption.
6. Black-out of the Soul:
Since the believer in the 6th stage of reversionism has little or no metabolized doctrine in his soul, he has no protection against believing false information. In this status, the believer will believe Satan’s false propaganda (Ephesians 4:17, 18; 1 John 2:11, 1 Timothy 4:1). Only truth in our stream of consciousness is an adequate defense against false doctrine. False information believed and stored in the stream of consciousness will eventually remove all truth previously learned and stored there.
In demon influence, the soul of the unbeliever or reversionistic believer is infiltrated by false doctrine, called the "doctrine of demons" in 1 Tim 4:1 which comes through the vacuum of the mind, “ But the Spirit [the Holy Spirit is the teacher of Bible doctrine] explicitly teaches that in latter periods of time [between the 1st and 2nd Advents] some [believers] will withdraw from doctrine, concentrating on deceitful personalities [demon evangelism through false teachers] and doctrines from demons.”
"Therefore, I communicate this, and because of the Lord, I insist that you no longer walk as the Gentiles [unbelievers] walk in the vacuum of their mind [faculty of thinking]." (Ephesians 4:17)
7. Scar Tissue of the Soul
"They are darkened in their way of thinking; they have been alienated from the life of God because of ignorance which is in them, because of the scar tissue of their right lobes." (Ephesians 4:18).
The believer is alienated from the spiritual life that is ‘from the life of God’ for two reasons namely ignorance of God’s plan and hardness of the mentality of the soul. Ignorance begins the process; scar tissue or hardness of the mentality finishes the job. Blackout of the soul merely explains the mechanics of how the believer accumulates false ideas, concepts and doctrine when there is ignorance of God’s plan.
At this point there is no truth in the compartments of the soul: no truth in the frame of reference, memory center, vocabulary storage, categorical storage, in the conscience, momentum [produced by the power of metabolized doctrine in the compartments of the soul and the power of the Holy Spirit, maintained and accelerated through the deployment of the 10 Problem Solving Devices], and wisdom departments (Ephesians 4:18; Jeremiah 7:25-27). Whatever truth resided in the soul in the past has now been replaced by the false principles and beliefs. The soul was designed to function on truth, not in falsehoods. In this state the believer is extremely antagonistic to the truth and to those who teach the truth. By rejecting doctrinal teaching, he has rejected the mind of Christ, the thinking of his Savior (1 Corinthians 2:16).
8. Reverse Process Reversionism
This is the final stage of reversionism, a combination of the sixth and seventh stages. It is the antithesis of being an invisible hero. Everything that is worthwhile and valuable in life is rejected; everything that is useless and nonsensical is accepted. Prolonged residence out of fellowship causes a complete reversal of all mandates, all priorities, and all norms and standards related to the protocol plan of God.
2 Timothy 3:2-5 states, “For persons will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, slanderers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful ones and anti-establishment [totally irresponsible]. Verse 3. Unloving [no capacity for love], implacable, malicious gossips, without self-control, violent and brutal [unreasonable in thinking and action], not lovers of intrinsic good [no spiritual values and skills]. Verse 4. Treacherous [disloyal], thoughtless types [insensitive], having become pumped up with arrogance [manifests itself in legalism, socialism, crusader arrogance, activism, and civil disobedience], lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God [false priorities]. Verse 5. Holding to a superficial form [outward appearance] of the spiritual life, but they themselves have disregarded its power; avoid such ones as these.”
5:16. “Let your light shine before men in such a way [by continued advance in the spiritual life] in order that they [the unbelievers] may see your good production [the unbeliever can see to some extent the true capacity of the mature believer], and glorify your Father who is in heaven [by believing in Christ].
οὕτως λαµψάτω τὸ φῶς ὑµῶν ἔµπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ὅπως ἴδωσιν ὑµῶν τὰ καλὰ ἔργα καὶ δοξάσωσιν τὸν πατέρα ὑµῶν τὸν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς.
This is an exhortation to advance spiritually. When the believer advances into the adult stages of the spiritual life, his light will shine before all by lip and by life for not only will he give out the gospel correctly, but also the unbeliever will see to some extent this believer’s humility, integrity, unconditional love, stability and happiness. So, unbelievers desiring the truth will be encouraged to listen to the gospel.
This passage is not talking about the good deeds produced by the Christians who are under the clay basket, the ones who are progressing through the eight stages of reversionism. In religiosity, many times these believers produce a lot of good deeds which are in effect are wood, hay and stubble 1 Corinthians 3:12, 13). In self-righteousness, they show off their good deeds before the unbeliever, hoping to impress him. However, the smart unbeliever is not impressed by the self-righteousness of this type of Christian.
Although this passage is dealing with the unbeliever, by principle it can apply to the believer in apostasy. Sometimes such a believer upon seeing the greatness of a mature believer will be motivated to recover from his apostasy by getting back into fellowship and advancing spiritually. Their recovery also will glorify God the Father who is in heaven.
5:17. “Do not presume that I came [in the 1st Advent] to abolish, abrogate the Law [The Mosaic Law] or the prophets [the rest of the Old Testament]. I have not come to destroy but to fulfill.
Μὴ νοµίσητε ὅτι ἦλθον καταλῦσαι τὸν νόµον ἢ τοὺς προφήτας· οὐκ ἦλθον καταλῦσαι ἀλλὰ πληρῶσαι.
The Greek word “nomizo” is often the type of thinking connected with the ego and with pride. Apparently, some thought that Jesus Christ would do away with the Mosaic Law. To the contrary, he explains and enhances the Mosaic Law in Matthew 5:21-47.
When the Church Age officially began on the Day of Pentecost in June of 30 A.D, the Levitical Priesthood along with its function of sacrificing animals etc. in the Temple should have ended since it no longer had a legitimate purpose (In the Church Age only the royal priesthood is authorized to function). However, the Lord allowed this illegitimate function to exist for 40 years (30 to 70 AD). Finally, in August of 70 A. D. the Levitical Priesthood was forced to shut down when Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed, along with the Jewish temple in Alexandria. These events completely shut down the function of the Levitical priesthood which will not function again legitimately until the 2nd Advent of Christ.
5:18. “For truly [idiom: important point of doctrine] I say to you [the disciples], until heaven and earth [the universe in its present state] have passed away [after human history has been brought to completion], not the smallest letter [a reference to the Hebrew yod, the smallest Hebrew letter] or stroke [a reference to the Hebrew vav which is made with one stroke] shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished [Human history comes to an end; fallen angels and unbelievers are cast into the Lake of Fire; the new heavens and earth along with the New Jerusalem are created.].
ἀµὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑµῖν, ἕως ἂν παρέλθῃ ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ, ἰῶτα ἓν ἢ µία κεραία οὐ µὴ παρέλθῃ ἀπὸ τοῦ νόµου ἕως ἂν πάντα γένηται.
The New Testament is not in focus here since it has not yet been written. This verse is saying that there will be no changes in the Old Testament (the Law and the Prophets) until human history will have been brought to completion. Obviously, in the eternal state most of what is in the Old Testament will not be relevant.
5:19. “Whoever then annuls [infringes on] one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
ὃς ἐὰν οὖν λύσῃ µίαν τῶν ἐντολῶν τούτων τῶν ἐλαχίστων καὶ διδάξῃ οὕτως τοὺς ἀνθρώπους, ἐλάχιστος κληθήσεται ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν· ὃς δí ἂν ποιήσῃ καὶ διδάξῃ, οὗτος µέγας κληθήσεται ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν.
Keeping the commandments of the Law and teaching others to do likewise, implies that the believer was executing his spiritual life as found in the Age of Israel. On the other hand, disobeying these commandments and teaching others to do likewise, implies that the believer was not executing the spiritual life. In any dispensation, if the believer executes the spiritual which execution develops capacity of the soul, he will be rewarded, if not, he will lose his rewards.
After the Church age began, the Old Testament was no longer the source of one’s spiritual life, though we do use it for instruction. The spiritual life of the Church Age believer is taken from the New Testament epistles.
5:20. “For I say to you that if [3rd Class conditional Greek clause] your righteousness does not surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees [very righteous], you will never ever enter [subjunctive of emphatic negation] the kingdom of heaven [the eternal state].
λέγω γὰρ ὑµῖν ὅτι ἐὰν µὴ περισσεύσῃ ὑµῶν ἡ δικαιοσύνη πλεῖον τῶν γραµµατέων καὶ Φαρισαίων, οὐ µὴ εἰσέλθητε εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν.
The 3rd Class conditional Greek sentence puts emphasis on the person’s volition. When a person believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, he receives the imputation of divine righteousness which far exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. If he doesn’t believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, it won’t. The subjunctive of emphatic negation makes it very clear that no member of the human race will ever become a member of the kingdom of heaven without imputed righteousness.
5:21. “You have heard that it was said by men of old [writers and communicators], ‘you shall not commit murder [Exodus 20:13]’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable for punishment [from the government].’”
Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη τοῖς ἀρχαίοις, Οὐ φονεύσεις· ὃς δí ἂν φονεύσῃ, ἔνοχος ἔσται τῇ κρίσει.
Verses 21-47 explains and amplifies the Mosaic Law. The disciples are going to the lost sheep of Israel, and so they must understand the Law well for they will have to deal with people like the rich young ruler, a self-righteous religious unbeliever (Matthew 19).
In this verse we will have a citation of the 6th commandment and later its amplification in verse 22. So, the Mosaic Law not only stated that certain overt actions were sins, but also implied that certain erroneous thoughts were sins as well.
In Israel, murderers whether believer or unbeliever, were to be executed as per the Mosaic Law (Exodus 21:12). Murder is one of the 6 worse sins mentioned in Proverbs 6:16-18, “There are six sins which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him. Haughty eyes [pride], a lying tongue, and hands which shed innocent blood [murder]. A heart that devises wicked plans [evil plotter, conspiracy], feet that run rapidly to evil [since there were no phones one had to run someplace to malign], a false witness who utters lies [perjury], and one who spreads strife among brothers [gossip].”
This verse does not say “You shall not kill.” To the contrary, in the defense of one’s life or the lives of one’s loved ones and one’s own nation, the believer is commanded to kill. For example, if a believer is not willing to fight for his nation when his nation needs him, it is a sin. Initially, the young fighting men of the tribes of Reuben and Gad did not want to assist their brethren in conquering the land on the west side of the Jordan since they already had their lands on the east side. Moses then warned them that if they were unwilling to fight with their brethren to kill the enemy that it would be a sin against the Lord for which they would be punished (Numbers 32:1-23). Numbers 32:23 states, “But if you will not do so [kill the enemy], behold you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out [If a man fails in his responsibility toward his nation, he will fail in his responsibility in marriage and family etc. This would be one way by which this type of person would be punished “your sin will find you out”.].”
5:22. “But I say to you that anyone who is angry [“orgizo”] with his brother shall be liable for punishment [from God], and whoever says to his brother, ‘You bastard’, [calling someone “raka” usually led to a fight] shall be liable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You imbecile [you, mentally retarded believer] shall be liable [to go] into the Gehenna of fire [expression used for the Lake of Fire].
ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑµῖν ὅτι πᾶς ὁ ὀργιζόµενος τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ ἔνοχος ἔσται τῇ κρίσει· ὃς δí ἂν εἴπῃ τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ, Ῥακά, ἔνοχος ἔσται τῷ συνεδρίῳ· ὃς δí ἂν εἴπῃ, Μωρέ, ἔνοχος ἔσται εἰς τὴν γέενναν τοῦ πυρός.
The Greek word “orgizo” means to become angered, enraged, hostile because someone has injured your arrogant pride or to be enraged because of your envy. Anger is a mental attitude sin, and all such sins are punished by God. Furthermore, anger puts the believer out of fellowship with God and so the believer will also be punished for that state of being (in the Church Age this would be tantamount to grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit].
The Greek word “raka” is a Hellenized Aramaic term for utter contempt of a person. In English, it would be equivalent to calling a person a bastard or a “son of a bitch”. If a person called another person “raka”, it would usually result in a fight. If such a fight resulted in damage or personal injury, it would be brought before the Sanhedrin for litigation.
Many Jewish unbelievers would call those who communicated the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ or those who had believed in the Lord Jesus Christ especially family members “morons” mentally retarded or mentally ill. They did this to discourage evangelism and to express their opposition and hatred of the truth. If this attitude continued in their souls, they would die as unbelievers and would be cast into the Lake of Fire after their trial at the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:1-15).
Prior to the reign of Josiah, the Jews worshiped false gods in the Valley of Gehenna. At times they even sacrificed their children. When Josiah became king, he wiped-out these evil demonic temples and turned this valley (glen) into a dump for all kinds of garbage. This garbage would then be burnt. So, whenever a Jew would look toward Gehenna, he would see these fires burning. Because of this, Gehenna became a synonym for the Lake of Fire.
5:23. “Therefore, if [3rd class conditional sentence] you are presenting your gift [food, animal, money etc. offering] at the altar [a part of worship in the previous dispensation], and there [at the altar] you remember that your brother [a fellow Jew] has something against you [because he is the object your anger or hatred etc.],
ἐὰν οὖν προσφέρῃς τὸ δῶρόν σου ἐπὶ τὸ θυσιαστήριον κἀκεῖ µνησθῇς ὅτι ὁ ἀδελφός σου ἔχει τι κατὰ σοῦ,
This is a third-class, hypothetical conditional sentence which provides us with an illustration. Bringing a gift or a sacrifice to the altar was part of worship. (In the Church Age we would say, ‘If you come to a worship service.’) In this verse, the Jewish believer suddenly remembers that he is guilty of committing some sin of antagonism against a fellow Jewish believer. He possibly has some hatred or bitterness toward another believer. So, being out of fellowship he was not able to worship God.
5:24. leave your offering there before the altar and go; [follow a course of action or procedure] first be reconciled to your brother and then come and present your offering.
ἄφες ἐκεῖ τὸ δῶρόν σου ἔµπροσθεν τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου, καὶ ὕπαγε πρῶτον διαλλάγηθι τῷ ἀδελφῷ σου, καὶ τότε ἐλθὼν πρόσφερε τὸ δῶρόν σου.
The believer must take the initiative in his confession of sins. Usually, this involved confessing his sin or sins before a Levitical priest and that would be the end of it. However, other times reconciliation would require going to the fellow Jewish citizen (a brother) to solve the conflict that existed. Maybe you cheated your fellow believer out of some money. Obviously, just naming that sin would not be enough. Also, you have to return those funds to your brother and in that way be reconciled to him.
Verses 23 and 24 deal with worship; verses 25 and 26 deal with a lawsuit.
5:25. “Have kind thoughts [a relaxed mental attitude] toward your adversary quickly while you are with him on the way [while you have contact with him] so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison.
ἴσθι εὐνοῶν τῷ ἀντιδίκῳ σου ταχὺ ἕως ὅτου εἶ µετí αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ, µήποτέ σε παραδῷ ὁ ἀντίδικος τῷ κριτῇ, καὶ ὁ κριτὴς τῷ ὑπηρέτῃ, καὶ εἰς φυλακὴν βληθήσῃ·
This is a case where you are right, and your opponent is wrong. All the same, if you remain hostile (mental murder), you may end up in jail. However, with a mental attitude of impersonal love, you may be able to resolve the problem and stay out of jail (application of the 6th commandment: mental murder).
At this time in Palestine, the economy was based on agriculture. Most were either famers or in related professions. Just before a planting season, the farmer would usually go to the bank to borrow money in order to buy seeds etc., and so he would remain in debt until the harvest at which time he would normally pay-off that debt. If the crop was a failure his enemy (Someone the farmer had become antagonistic and angry toward: mental murder.) could go to the bank and purchase the farmer’s paper of indebtedness, and if that farmer were unable to pay, he could find himself in great trouble. In such a case, if the farmer remained hostile toward the one who now possessed the paper of indebtedness, he more than likely would be taken to court and thrown into jail. If on the other hand, the farmer’s anger and antagonism toward the other person was removed through getting back into fellowship and applying grace-forgiveness, then that farmer would have a better chance of making some type of deal with the one holding the note of indebtedness and so to stay out of prison.
5:26. “Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent [nearly impossible in prison].
ἀµὴν λέγω σοι, οὐ µὴ ἐξέλθῃς ἐκεῖθεν ἕως ἂν ἀποδῷς τὸν ἔσχατον κοδράντην.
In this case a believer with a bad mental attitude (out of fellowship through mental sins of bitterness, anger, hatred etc.) ends up in prison because he refused to forgive the person to whom he was hostile.
5:27. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery [Exodus 20:14];’
Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη, Οὐ µοιχεύσεις.
In verses 27-30 the seventh commandment is used to reveal self-righteousness and mental adultery. Self-righteousness is a sin which has tremendous arrogance associated with it. Wherever religion dominates as was true in Judea at this time, great self-righteousness was produced. Though being extremely arrogant, religious people are always the first ones to condemn overt acts of sin, though involved in the same sin mentally. Should they commit an overt sin, it would always be on the sly. The Jewish religious leaders actually enjoyed stoning to death those caught in adultery; it was an outlet for their cruelty and killer-lust. Most of the religious leaders wouldn’t think of committing overt adultery, but they in their religious finery would take a quick look at a beautiful woman and then quickly turn away as if they were beyond such a temptation. In fact, after turning away, they would then commit mental adultery with her. After their mental adultery had been completed, they would then go around and condemn those who had committed overt adultery. This was unadulterated hypocrisy.
5:28. but [amplifies the 7th Commandment and takes it beyond the overt act] I [the final authority] say to you for your advantage that everyone who [the male Pharisees, scribes and Sadducees were the worst offenders in Israel at this time] looks [a quick glance to get an image of the woman] at a woman with lust [when the person gives the nod to lust from the sin nature, the sin nature gains control of the soul and develops mental fantasies, creating images] has already committed adultery with her in his heart [in the mentality of his soul].
ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑµῖν ὅτι πᾶς ὁ βλέπων γυναῖκα πρὸς τὸ ἐπιθυµῆσαι αὐτὴν ἤδη ἐµοίχευσεν αὐτὴν ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ.
5:29. “If your right eye makes you stumble and it does [1st class Greek conditional clause: assumed to be true: the basis for mental adultery], tear it out and throw it from you [making a point through hyperbole]; for it is better for you [the unbeliever can produce much scar tissue which in turn destroys faith and so cannot believe in Christ] to lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into Gehenna [used for the Lake of Fire].
εἰ δὲ ὁ ὀφθαλµός σου ὁ δεξιὸς σκανδαλίζει σε, ἔξελε αὐτὸν καὶ βάλε ἀπὸ σοῦ· συµφέρει γάρ σοι ἵνα ἀπόληται ἓν τῶν µελῶν σου καὶ µὴ ὅλον τὸ σῶµά σου βληθῇ εἰς γέενναν.
The right eye of a right-handed person is the master eye, the one doing all the work. Since most people are right-handed, the right eye is the illustration here. Each person has a master eye. For example, the left eye of a left- handed person will normally be his master eye. Therefore, if a left- handed person shoots with his right eye, he will be lucky to hit even a large target.
The method of teaching here is teaching by shock. No one who has committed mental adultery is going to rip out his eye that is if he is normal. Also, no normal person is going to cut off his hand (in the next verse) who has committed overt adultery. The Bible does not advocate self-mutilation. Furthermore, mutilation does not stop a person from functioning under lust and committing sins, rather a spiritual solution is required.
Certain sins produce a lot of scar tissue in the soul. This is why certain criminals and terrorist can mutilate and murder a person without any feeling or pity at all. They are totally hardened through their crimes. Scar Tissue (hardness of the heart; stiff necked) is very destructive to the soul; it can even destroy one’s ability to exercise faith. If an unbeliever cannot exercise faith, he cannot believe in Christ even though he may desire salvation at some point. Not only do sexual sins produce scar tissue, but also the sin of rejecting the gospel as well. Esau is a good example. Though Esau undoubtedly heard the gospel many times in his youth from his parents and others as well, he rejected the message over and over. However, when Esau became old, he sought it along with the accompanying eternal blessings, but he did so through tears (emotional revolt of the soul as a result of the buildup of scar tissue), not through faith [already destroyed or covered by scar tissue from his consistent rejection of truth] in the gospel message. Hebrews 12:17, “For you know that even afterwards (in his old age), he desired to inherit the [eternal] blessing [through salvation], he was rejected for he found no place for a change of thinking [The Greek word “metanoia:” to change one’s thinking (about Christ)], though he sought for it [salvation with its eternal blessing] with tears [No one is saved through emotion].
Since all sins were judged on the cross, sin is not the basis for being sent to the Lake of Fire. (This would violate the law of double jeopardy). Hypothetically, if adultery could send a person to the Lake of Fire, then both Abraham and David, two of the greatest believers of the Old Testament would already be in Torments, but they are not.
As these disciples go to the lost sheep of Israel, the greatest barrier to the gospel message will be Jewish self-righteousness developed to the maximum through Judaism. Self-righteous unbelievers are hard to evangelize since they think that they are already righteous enough. Learning that anger is murder, and mental adultery is adultery may help to break through this wall of self-righteousness.
5:30. “If your right hand makes you stumble [overt adultery or rape committed by the unbeliever], cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into Gehenna.
καὶ εἰ ἡ δεξιά σου χεὶρ σκανδαλίζει σε, ἔκκοψον αὐτὴν καὶ βάλε ἀπὸ σοῦ· συµφέρει γάρ σοι ἵνα ἀπόληται ἓν τῶν µελῶν σου καὶ µὴ ὅλον τὸ σῶµά σου εἰς γέενναν ἀπέλθῃ.
Again, Matthew is teaching by hyperbole in order to shock the person involved in adultery or rape. These sins are able to destroy one’s faith through the accumulation of scar tissue. Once a person’s faith has been destroyed, he cannot believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as his savior. The one who cannot believe in Christ will go to Gehenna namely the Lake of Fire. Therefore, Matthew is attempting to shock the unbeliever regarding the dangers of these sins.
5:31, 32. “It has been said [introduces a quotation from Deuteronomy 24:1], ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce [Moses permitted divorce for the hardened believers of the Exodus (Matthew 19:8) because they were self-righteous and legalistic, not because there was any adultery committed. However, the Lord rescinded this.];’ (32) but I say [making a change to Deuteronomy 24:1] to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of adultery [not only did Jesus Christ amend the word “uncleanness” as found in Deuteronomy 24 to mean adultery, but also made adultery a matter of a civil suit rather than a criminal one.], causes her to receive adultery [as a responder whereas her new husband commits adultery when there is no right of remarriage]; and whoever marries a divorced woman [where there is no right of remarriage] commits adultery.
Ἐρρέθη δέ, Ὃς ἂν ἀπολύσῃ τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ, δότω αὐτῇ ἀποστάσιον. 32 ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑµῖν ὅτι πᾶς ὁ ἀπολύων τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ παρεκτὸς λόγου πορνείας ποιεῖ αὐτὴν µοιχευθῆναι, καὶ ὃς ἐὰν ἀπολελυµένην γαµήσῃ µοιχᾶται.
Deuteronomy 24:1-4, “When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it comes to pass [after an elapse of time] that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some ceremonial uncleanness in her [this expression in the Hebrew is unknown to us, but it definitely is not referring to adultery since adultery was a criminal matter under the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 20:10), not a civil one], then let him give her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house [This civil law is not defined for us, but was a legitimate basis for divorce at the time of Moses.], and leaving his house, she may go and become another man’s wife, and if the latter [the 2nd husband] husband turns against [hates] her, and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it into her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband [2nd husband] dies who took her to be his wife. Then her former [1st] husband who sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife, since she has been defiled [had sex with someone else: destroyed the authority of her first husband and establishes hypersensitivity in him if he should remarry her]; for that is an abomination before the Lord and you shall not bring sin on the land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance”.
Matthew 19:7-9, "They [Pharisees] said to Him [because Jesus just spoke against divorce for any reason], `Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate and divorce her?' And He replied to them, `Because of your scar tissue of the soul [Scar tissue from moral degeneracy destroys rapport], Moses permitted you to divorce your wives [even though adultery had not been committed]; but from the beginning [of creation in the garden] it has not been that way. In fact, I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for the reason of adultery [this word includes all unlawful sexual activity] and marries another [woman], commits adultery."
Remember that the Sermon on the Mount in part clarifies and amplifies the Mosaic Law. Since Jewish husbands at the time of Christ were using ceremonial uncleanness as a gimmick for divorce, the Lord explained “uncleanness” as used in Deuteronomy 24:1 is not to be taken as “ceremonial uncleanness”.
Note: We are not dealing with the doctrine of divorce here, but merely explaining the passage, Matthew 5:31-32.
5:33. “Again [another case regarding the Mosaic Law and giving its proper interpretation], you have heard [when the disciples were taught the Mosaic Law] that the ancients were told [a reference to the Old Testament], ‘You shall not make false vows, but you shall fulfill [discharge your obligations] your vows to the Lord’ [a reference to Leviticus 19:12].
Πάλιν ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη τοῖς ἀρχαίοις, Οὐκ ἐπιορκήσεις, ἀποδώσεις δὲ τῷ κυρίῳ τοὺς ὅρκους σου.
Leviticus 19:12, “You shall not swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God; I am the Lord.”
Profaning God can involve a vow or just using God in some way for your cause. So, never make a statement in the name of something or someone that is reliable and try to make that something or someone that is reliable stand responsible for your statement. In other words, don’t use someone reliable [like God] to support your false statements or vows. That is tantamount to profaning God. For example, in a church business meeting some deacon, a pillar in the church as it were, may say regarding some matter, “I have prayed about this for a month and so, I know that it’s God’s will (or God has made known to me) that we should do it this way etc.” How does that person know that his plan is God’s will? It is pure arrogance for a deacon or anyone else to state that God supports his plans. Why does this type of profaning God, successful in so many churches? Well, Christians are generally so ignorant of God’s word that they are afraid to oppose anyone who brings in God as a co-signer to their plans.
A statement is no stronger than the person making it. If a person says I love you by God (by Jerusalem, by his dear departed mother etc.) it still is no stronger than the stability and responsibility of that person. If a person is unstable and irresponsible, his statement is meaningless.
Some don’ts: Don’t make a promise that you do not intend to keep. Don’t say you are going to do something because it is convenient to do so and then weasel out of it later. Don’t tell someone that you love them when you don’t. Don’t perjure yourself by attempting to cover up a lie with an oath by God “I swear by God etc.” On the other hand, a Christian should always keep his word no matter what it cost him, and to always be honest for it is part of his testimony as an ambassador of the Lord.
5:34 - 36. “But I say to you, do not make a promise with an oath at all, neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God [the triumph of the 1st Advent: enthroned at the right hand of the Father] nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet [at the 2nd Advent, His enemies both fallen angels and unbelievers will be made his footstool; this subjection will be completed at the end of His Millennial reign], nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King [the Lord Jesus Christ will rule as the king of the world from Jerusalem during the Millennium]. “Nor shall you make an oath by your head [a Jewish system of taking an oath], for you cannot make one hair white or black [you cannot think red and suddenly have red hair etc.].
ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑµῖν µὴ ὀµόσαι ὅλως· µήτε ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὅτι θρόνος ἐστὶν τοῦ θεοῦ· 35 µήτε ἐν τῇ γῇ, ὅτι ὑποπόδιόν ἐστιν τῶν ποδῶν αὐτοῦ· µήτε εἰς Ἱεροσόλυµα, ὅτι πόλις ἐστὶν τοῦ µεγάλου βασιλέως· 36 µήτε ἐν τῇ κεφαλῇ σου ὀµόσῃς, ὅτι οὐ δύνασαι µίαν τρίχα λευκὴν ποιῆσαι ἢ µέλαιναν.
What you say or promise should be true without taking an oath (Colossians 3:17). Swearing by honorable institutions or people, holy cities etc. will not add to your integrity or lack of it.
5:37. “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no [let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no”; in other words keep your word];’ anything beyond these is out from the evil one [lies are from the father of lies].
ἔστω δὲ ὁ λόγος ὑµῶν ναὶ ναί, οὒ οὔ· τὸ δὲ περισσὸν τούτων ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ ἐστιν.
The content of verses 38-42 comes from 3 verses: Exodus 21:24, Deuteronomy 19:21, and Leviticus 24:20.
5:38. “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’
Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη, Ὀφθαλµὸν ἀντὶ ὀφθαλµοῦ καὶ ὀδόντα ἀντὶ ὀδόντος.
An eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth was a system of justice under the government of Israel. A judge in Israel after considering all the evidence and after listening to the eye witnesses would decide the sentencing, and if someone destroyed the eye of another person, the judge would order the eye of the guilty party removed. It was never to be used to justify retaliation or revenge as it was apparently being used in Jesus’ day. Do not solve evil with evil. Two wrongs do not make a right. If you do, you have lowered yourself to the level of evil.
5:39. “But I say to you, do not retaliate against an evil person, but whoever slaps you [someone who is antagonistic] on your right cheek [insults you], turn the other to him also [apply unconditional love: do not react, retaliate or take revenge].
ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑµῖν µὴ ἀντιστῆναι τῷ πονηρῷ· ἀλλí ὅστις σε ῥαπίζει εἰς τὴν δεξιὰν σιαγόνα [σου], στρέψον αὐτῷ καὶ τὴν ἄλλην·
As believers we put all hostility into the Lord’s hands via the faith-rest drill (Leviticus 19:18; Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:19). We do not retaliate. If we do, we are lowering ourselves to the level of the wrongdoer. Two wrongs do not make a right. Furthermore, by taking revenge, you are saying in effect that you are more capable than God. This is blasphemy!
In the ancient world if a King or dignitary entered a city, he would demand obeisance. If a certain person refused to give obeisance, the dignitary would have that person slapped until he did. If not, he would be killed. (If one is repeatedly slapped, either the person slapped would become angry and try to retaliate and be killed on the spot by the body guard or he would submit in his mentality and do obeisance.) If he submitted, the king or dignitary had defeated the person mentally.
Reacting to being slapped illustrates reacting to the antagonism of another person. If someone slaps you, it is usually because that person is angry and possesses hatred etc. toward you. If you slap the person back (react), it means that you are now angry. (Jesus Christ was repeatedly slapped during his Jewish trials, but he did not react.) Your mental attitude will dictate your overt action. It is natural to respond to a slap with immediate anger. To avoid this natural reaction requires supernatural power in the soul.
5:40. “If anyone wants to sue you and take your open necked shirt with sleeves [the “chiton”: went down to just above the knees], let him have your cloak [the “himation” was a mantel which went over the chiton] also.
καὶ τῷ θέλοντί σοι κριθῆναι καὶ τὸν χιτῶνά σου λαβεῖν, ἄφες αὐτῷ καὶ τὸ ἱµάτιον·
This is a case in which someone is trying to get what belongs to you: using the court system to steal. (It is not a libel or slander suit). Property is only a detail of life. So, if someone really needs it or just lusts for it, give it to him and even more. Today we would say, if he is suing you for your jacket, give him also your pants. Our life is our relationship with the Lord. Do not let your property hinder your testimony before the Lord.
The person suing you thinks that possessing these things will make him happy, but it won’t especially when they are acquired in an incorrect manner. Your willingness to part with these things will alert him to something greater than possessions namely your relationship with the Lord.
Remember that the Lord is preparing the disciples to go out to the lost sheep of Israel. Later in Matthew 10:10, he will tell them to only take one set of clothing. It is not their possessions, but their message that is important.
5:41. “When you are drafted for a year of military service, serve two.
καὶ ὅστις σε ἀγγαρεύσει µίλιον ἕν, ὕπαγε µετí αὐτοῦ δύο.
Some people think that this verse is saying that if someone asks you to walk a mile with them, you should walk two. So, someone demands that you walk them home from a downtown area which happens to be a mile. Then as soon as you arrive at his home, you suggest walking another mile back to the downtown area. That would be hilarious. Rather, this verse is talking about public service.
The Greek word “angareuo” is taken from a noun “angaros” which means to draft someone into the Persian Army. At one time the Jews were living in the Persian Empire. The cognate noun to this verb is “angaros” which means a Persian officer or official. For example let’s say that Darius the Great needs some soldiers. He has troops on the Euphrates and is on his way to the Bosphorus. So he sends his “angaros” to locate some men. Let’s say that this officer is on his way to the Negev by way of Israel. On the way he sees a young farmer who has some good horses. He says to the young man, “You are now drafted into the Persian Army for a short period of time to accomplish a mission. You will deliver some supplies to such and such location a fifty mile journey.” The young Jewish man’s attitude should be that if he needs to go 100 miles or more, he would gladly do it. Believers should have a good attitude toward military service or any other public service required by their nation.
Jesus Christ is talking to his disciples. In effect he is telling them that as they go through the land they may be asked or commanded to fulfill some public service especially in time of disaster. They should do so. Sooner or later a person’s nation will face a crisis. It is a part of one’s Christian service to help his nation in such a crisis. (Roman 13:1-7)
5:42. “Give to him who asks of you [if you can of course], and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
τῷ αἰτοῦντί σε δός, καὶ τὸν θέλοντα ἀπὸ σοῦ δανίσασθαι µὴ ἀποστραφῇς.
There are two types of financial needs regarding people. One person is simply going to ask for help; the other needs only to borrow some money. The one who wants to borrow has some hope. So, loan him what he needs. The other one who asks in desperation is simply in a hopeless situation. So, you must give to him at the time of his desperation if of course you can. Your mental attitude must be of grace. How much you give is a matter of judgment.
God has blessed you so don’t forget that. The person needing help may be a real cluck and totally undeserving and even obnoxious. It is easy to resent someone who asks for help especially when that someone is a total idiot or mishandled money etc.
This passage is not dealing with the following:
1. A pastor who wants you to buy him a car and so forth in order that he may enhance his ministry.
2. An entrepreneur who wants help in funding his seminary project or other projects related to some ministry.
3. A lazy father who asks for help in supporting his family.
Verses 43-47: Operation grace:
5:43. “You have heard that it was said [Leviticus 19:18], ‘You shall love your neighbor, [those you have contact with: only this part is in Leviticus 19:18] and you shall hate your enemy’ [what the Rabbis and Pharisees had been teaching to foment a revolution against the Romans].’
Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη, Ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου καὶ µισήσεις τὸν ἐχθρόν σου.
Legalism sponsors implacability, hostility, hatred etc. Since the shadow of the Romans was over Judah, the religious people had been encouraging jealousy, bitterness, hatred and other sins. These emotional and mental sins became so great that the Jews lost all common sense and reasonableness and so in 70 A.D., they revolted. They did not heed the command in the following verse.
5:44. “But I say to you, love [rather than hate] your enemies [someone who hates you] and pray [rather than maligning them] for those who persecute you [verbal persecution or violence],
ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑµῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑµῶν καὶ προσεύχεσθε ὑπὲρ τῶν διωκόντων ὑµᾶς,
The Law says love your neighbors; Christ added the command to love ones enemies. Impersonal love progresses as we move toward the Church Age. See R. B. Thieme Jr.’s doctrine on “Love.”
1. Verbal opposition: bless them who curse you
2. Mental opposition: do good to those who hate you
3. Overt opposition: pray for those who persecute you
5:45. In order that you [the disciples] may become [obviously, manifestly] sons of your father [similar in thinking] who is in heaven for he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous [believers] and the unrighteous [unbelievers].
ὅπως γένησθε υἱοὶ τοῦ πατρὸς ὑµῶν τοῦ ἐν οὐρανοῖς, ὅτι τὸν ἥλιον αὐτοῦ ἀνατέλλει ἐπὶ πονηροὺς καὶ ἀγαθοὺς καὶ βρέχει ἐπὶ δικαίους καὶ ἀδίκους.
The sun and rain speaks of blessing in an agricultural economy. Our Father in heaven is gracious to all mankind; we as his sons should manifest this graciousness.
In verses 46-48 we have a challenge to develop and apply impersonal love which requires a virtue which can only come from a great spiritual life. Read R. B. Thieme Jr.’s booklets, “Integrity of God” and “Christian Integrity.”
5:46. “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same [most were unbelievers]?
ἐὰν γὰρ ἀγαπήσητε τοὺς ἀγαπῶντας ὑµᾶς, τίνα µισθὸν ἔχετε; οὐχὶ καὶ οἱ τελῶναι τὸ αὐτὸ ποιοῦσιν;
Generally it is true that people are able to love those who love them at least to some extent. If the tax collector the lowest on the social latter was able to love those who loved him, then what merit is there in that? What reward should you expect from God if you are only able to do what the average unbeliever can do?
5:47. “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
καὶ ἐὰν ἀσπάσησθε τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς ὑµῶν µόνον, τί περισσὸν ποιεῖτε; οὐχὶ καὶ οἱ ἐθνικοὶ τὸ αὐτὸ ποιοῦσιν;
Some Christians make a big deal of smiling at and greeting other Christians as if that is a sign of spiritual greatness. Furthermore, they emphasize socializing with other Christians as if somehow that advances a Christian spiritually when even the unbeliever can do that. This they call Christian fellowship! What an unbeliever can do is not the spiritual life and certainly does not prove anything except that a lot of Christians are total idiots when it comes to the spiritual life.
5:48. “Then, [When the Holy Spirit identifies them with Christ, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit beginning on the Day of Pentecost] you will be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. [This verse anticipates the Church Age.]
Ἔσεσθε οὖν ὑµεῖς τέλειοι ὡς ὁ πατὴρ ὑµῶν ὁ οὐράνιος τέλειός ἐστιν.
What is the difference between the Christian and the unbeliever? No unbeliever is in union with Christ. In union with Christ, we are perfect which no one can see. The only way that this perfection (perfect virtue) can be manifested in part is through the spiritual life on earth. So, the believer in the Church Age can do something that no unbeliever could ever do namely to treat others with impersonal love namely to love his enemies and to pray for those who persecute him.