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Wednesday, June 12th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 5

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Verse 1

Matthew 5:1

Jesus begins this great sermon on "How To Be Happy"

Verse 2

Jesus begins this great sermon with "How To Be Happy"

(Scott Wright - RCC 1/20/2019 pm)

Matthew 5:3 Humility

Matthew 5:4 Contrite

Matthew 5:5 Submissive

Matthew 5:6 Instruction

Matthew 5:7 Compassion

Matthew 5:8 Purification

Pushing to do right!

Matthew 5:9 Cooperation

Matthew 5:10-13 Conviction

Verse 3

Matthew 5:3

Blessed . . The word “blessed” means “happy,” referring to that which produces felicity, from whatever quarter it may come.

KJV John 13:17 makarios = 49 times KJV

blessed = 43; happy = 5; happier =1

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NIV 1 Corinthians 7:30 Chairo = 74 time (kkjv)

rejoice = 26; glad = 14; rejoice = 8; hail = 6 (as in a salutation)

James 5:13 (euthumeo); KJV 4 cheer = 3; merry = 1

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Happy - Are You A Happy Christian (June 3, 2012, Rgv)

(KJV) John 13:17; Acts 26:2; Romans 14:22; James 5:11; 1 Peter 3:14; 1 Peter 4:14;

(NIV) 1 Corinthians 7:30; 2 Corinthians 7:9; 2 Corinthians 7:13; James 5:13;

(ESV) 0

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Verse 5

Matthew 5:5

the meek -- Meekness is the opposite of being out of control. It is not weakness, but supreme self-control empowered by the Spirit (cf. Galatians 5:23). The fact that “the meek shall inherit the earth” is quoted from Psalms 37:11. See NOTE on 2 Corinthians 10:1.

Verse 9

Matthew 5:9

Here, the devil tempts Jesus to trust in worldly power rather than the power of God. The Israelites were also tempted this way in the desert (and afterward, in the land of Israel). In Numbers 13, FSB

Verse 11

Matthew 5:11 vs 11-12 Christian’s Reaction to the World

Verse 14

Matthew 5:14

city on a hill ... Jesus sometimes spoke of current and historical events, cf. Luke 13:2; Luke 13:4; and geographical features, as in Matthew 5:14 where he seems to refer to Hippos, a city on a hill on the east side of the Sea of Galilee.

Verse 17

Matthew 5:17

Jesus speaks of the difference between "paying off" and promissory note and "repudiating" it.

Verse 20

Matthew 5:20

The Pharisees:

See ISBE "Pharisees" 4. In New Testament Times:

When the New Testament records open, the Pharisees, who have supreme influence among the people, are also strong, though not predominant, in the Sanhedrin. The Herodians and Sadducees, the one by their alliance with the Rom authorities, and the other by their inherited skill in political intrigue, held the reins of government. If we might believe the Talmudic representation, the Pharisees were in the immense majority in the Sanhedrin; the na¯?si?¯?’, or president, and the ’abh-be¯?th-di?¯?n, or vice-president, both were Pharisees. This, however, is to be put to the credit of Talmudic imagination, the relation of which to facts is of the most distant kind.

Recently Buchler (Das grosse Synedrion in Jerusalem) has attempted to harmonize these Talmudic fables with the aspect of things appearing in the New Testament and Josephus. He assumes that there were two Sanhedrins, one civil, having to do with matters of government, in which the Sadducees were overwhelmingly predominant, and the other scholastic, in which the Pharisees were equally predominant - the one the Senate of the nation, like the Senate of the United States, the other the Senate of a university, let us say, of Jerusalem. Although followed by Rabbi Lauterbach in the Jewish Encyclopedia, this attempt cannot be regarded as successful. There is no evidence for this dual Sanhedrin either in the New Testament or Josephus, on the one hand, or in the Talmud on the other.

Outside the Sanhedrin the Pharisees are ubiquitous, in Jerusalem, in Galilee, in Peraea and in the Decapolis, always coming in contact with Jesus. The attempts made by certain recent Jewish writers to exonerate them from the guilt of the condemnation of our Lord has no foundation; it is contradicted by the New Testament records, and the attitude of the Talmud to Jesus.

The Pharisees appear in the Book of Acts to be in a latent way favorers of the apostles as against the high-priestly party. The personal influence of Gamaliel, which seems commanding, was exercised in their favor. The anti-Christian zeal of Saul the Tarsian, though a Pharisee, may have been to some extent the result of the personal feelings which led him to perpetuate the relations of the earlier period when the two sects were united in common antagonism to the teaching of Christ. He, a Pharisee, offered himself to be employed by the Sadducean high priest (Acts 9:1, Acts 9:2) to carry on the work of persecution in Damascus. In this action Saul appears to have been in opposition to a large section of the Pharisaic party. The bitter disputes which he and the other younger Pharisees had carried on with Stephen had possibly influenced him.

5. In Post-Apostolic Times:

When Paul, the Christian apostle, was brought before the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem, the Pharisaic party were numerous in the Council, if they did not even form the majority, and they readily became his defenders against the Sadducees.

From Josephus we learn that with the outbreak of the war with the Romans the Pharisees were thrust into the background by the more fanatical Zealots, Simon ben Gioras and John of Gischala (BJ, V, i). The truth behind the Talmudic statements that Gamaliel removed the Sanhedrin to Jabneh and that Johanan ben Zakkai successfully entreated Vespasian to spare the scholars of that city is that the Pharisees in considerable numbers made peace with the Romans. In the Mishna we have the evidence of their later labors when the Sanhedrin was removed from Jabneh, ultimately to Tiberias in Galilee. There under the guidance of Jehuda ha-k??adhosh (“the Holy”) the Mishna was reduced to writing. It may thus be said that Judaism became Pharisaism, and the history of the Jews became that of the Pharisees. In this later period the opposition to Christianity sprang up anew and became embittered, as may be seen in the Talmudic fables concerning Jesus.

II. Doctrines of the Pharisees.

1. Josephus’ Statements Colored by Greek Ideas:

The account given of the doctrines of the Pharisees by Josephus is clearly influenced by his desire to parallel the Jewish sects with the Greek philosophical schools. He directs especial attention to the Pharisaic opinion as to fate and free will, since on this point the Stoic and Epicurean sects differed very emphatically. He regards the Pharisaic position as mid-way between that of the Sadducees, who denied fate altogether and made human freedom absolute, and that of the Essenes that “all things are left in the hand of God.” He says “The Pharisees ascribe all things to fate and God, yet allow that to do what is right or the contrary is principally in man’s own power, although fate cooperates in every action.” It is to be noted that Josephus, in giving this statement of views, identifies “fate” with “God,” a process that is more plausible in connection with the Latin fatum, “something decreed,” than in relation to the impersonal moi?´?ra, or heimarme´?ne¯?, of the Greeks. As Josephus wrote in Greek and used only the second of these terms, he had no philological inducement to make the identification; the reason must have been the matter of fact. In other words, he shows that the Pharisees believed in a personal God whose will was providence.

2. Conditional Reincarnation:

In connection with this was their doctrine of a future life of rewards and punishments. The phrase which Josephus uses is a peculiar one: “They think that every soul is immortal; only the souls of good men will pass into another body, but the souls of the evil shall suffer everlasting punishment” (aidi?´?a¯? timo¯?ri?´?a¯? kola´?zesthai). From this it has been deduced that the Pharisees held the transmigration of souls. In our opinion this is a mistake. We believe that really it is an attempt of Josephus to state the doctrine of the resurrection of the body in a way that would not shock Hellenic ideas. The Greek contempt for the body made the idea of the resurrection abhorrent, and in this, as in most philosophical matters, the Romans followed the Greeks. It would seem that Josephus regarded the Pharisees as maintaining that this resurrection applied only to the righteous. Still even this restriction, though certainly the natural interpretation, is not absolutely necessary. This is confirmed by the corresponding section in the Antiquities (XVIII, i, 3): “They also believe ... that under the earth there will be rewards or punishments, according as they have lived virtuously or viciously in this life, and the latter are to be detained in an everlasting prison, but that the former shall have power to revive and live again.” Josephus also declares the Pharisees to be very attentive students of the law of God: “they interpret the law with careful exactitude.”

3. New Testament Presentation of Pharisaic Doctrines - Angels And

Spirits - Resurrection:

Nothing in the Gospels or the Acts at all militates against any part of this representation, but there is much to fill it out. They believed in angels and spirits (Acts 23:8). From the connection it is probable that the present activity of such beings was the question in the mind of the writer. In that same sentence belief in the resurrection is ascribed to the Pharisees.

4. Traditions Added to the Law:

Another point is that to the bare letter of the Law they added traditions. While the existence of these traditions is referred to in Gospels, too little is said to enable us to grasp their nature and extent (Matthew 15:2 ff; Matthew 16:5 ff; Mk 7:1-23). The evangelists only recorded these traditional glosses when they conflicted with the teaching of Christ and were therefore denounced by Him. We find them exemplified in the Mishna. The Pharisaic theory of tradition was that these additions to the written law and interpretations of it had been given by Moses to the elders and by them had been transmitted orally down through the ages. The classical passage in the Mishna is to be found in Pirk??e’ A¯?bho¯?th: “Moses received the (oral) Law from Sinai and delivered it to Joshua and Joshua to the elders, and the elders to the prophets and the prophets to the men of the great synagogue.” Additions to these traditions were made by prophets by direct inspiration, or by interpretation of the words of the written Law. All this mass, as related above, was reduced to writing by Jehuda ha-K??a¯?dho¯?sh in Tiberias, probably about the end of the 2nd century AD. Jehuda was born, it is said, 135 AD, and died somewhere about 220 AD.

The related doctrines of the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, and the final judgment with its consequent eternal rewards and punishments formed a portion and a valuable portion of this tradition.

5. Traditional Interpretations of the Law by Pharisees (Sabbath, Etc.):

Less valuable, at times burdensome and hurtful, were the minute refinements they introduced into the Law. Sometimes the ingenuity of the Pharisaic doctors was directed to lighten the burden of the precept as in regard to the Sabbath. Thus a person was permitted to go much farther than a Sabbath day’s journey if at some time previous he had deposited, within the legal Sabbath day’s journey of the place he wished to reach, bread and water; this point was now to be regarded as the limit of his house, and consequently from this all distances were to be ceremonially reckoned (Jewish Encyclopedia, under the word “Erub”): The great defect of Pharisaism was that it made sin so purely external. An act was right or wrong according as some external condition was present or absent; thus there was a difference in bestowing alms on the Sabbath whether the beggar put his hand within the door of the donor or the donor stretched his hand beyond his own threshold, as may be seen in the first Mishna in the Tractate Shabba¯?th. A man did not break the Sabbath rest of his ass, though he rode on it, and hence did not break the Sabbath law, but if he carried a switch with which to expedite the pace of the beast he was guilty, because he had laid a burden upon it.

6. Close Students of the Text of Scripture:

Along with these traditions and traditional interpretations, the Pharisees were close students of the sacred text. On the turn of a sentence they suspended many decisions. So much so, that it is said of them later the Text of that they suspended mountains from hairs. This is especially the case with regard to the Sabbath law with its burdensome minutiae. At the same time there was care as to the actual wording of the text of the Law; this has a bearing on textual criticism, even to the present day. A specimen of Pharisaic exegesis which Paul turns against their followers as an argumentum ad hominem may be seen in Galatians 3:16: “He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.”

(1) Messianic Hopes.

It is also to be said for them, that they maintained the Messianic hopes of the nation when their rivals were ready to sacrifice everything to the Romans, in order to gain greater political influence for themselves. Their imagination ran riot in the pictures they drew of these future times, but still they aided the faith of the people who were thus in a position to listen to the claims of Christ. They were led by Rabbi Aqiba in the reign of Hadrian to accept Bar-Cochba about a century after they had rejected Jesus. They were fanatical in their obedience to the Law as they understood it, and died under untold tortures rather than transgress.

(2) Almsgiving.

They elevated almsgiving into an equivalent for righteousness. This gave poverty a very different place from what it had in Greece or among the Romans. Learning was honored, although its possessors might be very poor. The story of the early life of Hillel brings this out. He is represented as being so poor as to be unable sometimes to pay the small daily fee which admitted pupils to the rabbinic school, and when this happened, in his eagerness for the Law, he is reported to have listened on the roof to the words of the teachers. This is probably not historically true, but it exhibits the Pharisaic ideal.

III. Organization of the Pharisaic Party.

We have no distinct account of this organization, either in the Gospels, in Josephus, or in the Talmud. But the close relationship which the members of the sect sustained to each other, their habit of united action as exhibited in the narratives of the New Testament and of Josephus are thus most naturally explained. The Talmudic account of the h??a??bhe¯?¯?ri?¯?m affords confirmation of this. These were persons who primarily associated for the study of the Law and for the better observance of its precepts. No one was admitted to these h??a??bhu¯?ro¯?th without taking an oath of fidelity to the society and a promise of strict observance of Levitical precepts.

The Chabherim - Pharisaic Brotherhoods:

One of the elements of their promise has to be noted. The h??a¯?bhe¯?r promised not to pay ma??a??sro¯?th, “tithe,” or teru¯?ma¯?h, “heave offering,” to a priest who was not a h??a¯?bhe¯?r. They were only permitted to take this oath when their associates in the brotherhood certified to their character. Even then the candidate had to pass through a period of probation of 30 days, according to the “house of Hillel,” of a year, according to the “house of Shammai.” This latter element, being quite more Talmudico, may be regarded as doubtful. Association with any not belonging to the Pharisaic society was put under numerous restrictions. It is at least not improbable that when the lawyer in Luke 10:29 demanded “Who is my neighbor?” he was minded to restrict the instances of the command in Leviticus 19:18 to those who were, like himself, Pharisees. A society which thus had brotherhoods all over Palestine and was separated from the rest of the community would naturally wield formidable power when their claims were supported by the esteem of the people at large. It is to be observed that to be a h??a¯?bhe¯?r was a purely personal thing, not heritable like priesthood, and women as well as men might be members. In this the Pharisees were like the Christians. In another matter also there was a resemblance between them and the followers of Jesus; they, unlike the Sadducees, were eager to make proselytes. “Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte” (Matthew 23:15). Many members of Roman society, especially women, were proselytes, as, for instance, Poppea Sabina.

IV. Character of the Pharisees.

1. Pharisees and People of the Land:

Because the ideal of the Pharisees was high, and because they reverenced learning and character above wealth and civil rank they had a tendency to despise those who did not agree with them. We see traces of this in the Gospels; thus John 7:49: “This multitude that knoweth not the law are accursed.” The distinction between the Pharisees, the Puritans and the ??am ha¯?-’a¯?rec, “the people of the land,” began with the distinction that had to be kept between the Jews and the Gentiles who had entered the land as colonists or intruders. These would, during the Babylonian captivity, almost certainly speak Western Aramaic, and would certainly be heathen and indulge in heathen practices. They were “the people of the land” whom the returning exiles found in possession of Judea.

2. Arrogance Toward Other Jews:

Mingled with them were the few Jews that had neither been killed nor deported by the Babylonians, nor carried down into Egypt by Johanan, the son of Kareah. As they had conformed in a large measure to the habits of their heathen neighbors and intermarried with them, the stricter Jews, as Ezra and Nehemiah, regarded them as under the same condemnation as the heathen, and shrank from association with them. During the time of our Lord’s life on earth the name was practically restricted to the ignorant Jews whose conformity to the law was on a broader scale than that of the Pharisees. Some have, however, dated the invention of the name later in the days of the Maccabean struggle, when the ceremonial precepts of the Law could with difficulty be observed. Those who were less careful of these were regarded as ??am ha¯?-’a¯?rec.

3. Regulations for the Chabher:

The distinction as exhibited in the Talmud shows an arrogance on the part of the Pharisaic h??a¯?bhe¯?r that must have been galling to those who, though Jews as much as the Pharisees, were not Puritans like them. A h??a¯?bhe¯?r, that is a Pharisee, might not eat at the table of a man whose wife was of the ??am ha¯?-’a¯?rec, even though her husband might be a Pharisee. If he would be a full h??a¯?bhe¯?r, a Pharisee must not sell to any of the ??am ha¯?-’a¯?rec anything that might readily be made unclean. If a woman of the ??am ha¯?-’a¯?rec was left alone in a room, all that she could touch without moving from her place was unclean. We must, however, bear in mind that the evidence for this is Talmudic, and therefore of but limited historical value.

4. The New Testament Account;

(1) Their Scrupulosity.

We find traces of this scrupulosity in the Gospels. The special way in which the ceremonial sanctity of the Pharisees exhibited itself was in tithing, hence the reference to their tithing “mint and anise and cummin” (Matthew 23:23). In the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, one of the things that the Pharisee plumes himself on is that he gives tithes of all he possesses (Luke 18:12). He is an example of the Pharisaic arrogance of those “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and set all others at nought.” Their claiming the first seats in feasts and synagogues (Matthew 23:6) was an evidence of the same spirit.

(2) Their Hypocrisy.

Closely akin to this is the hypocrisy of which the Pharisees were accused by our Lord. When we call them “hypocrites,” we must go back to the primary meaning of the word. They were essentially “actors,” poseurs. Good men, whose character and spiritual force have impressed themselves on their generation, have often peculiarities of manner and tone which are easily imitated. The very respect in which they are held by their disciples leads those who respect them to adopt unconsciously their mannerisms of voice and deportment. A later generation unconsciously imitates, “acts the part.” In a time when religion is persecuted, as in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes, or despised as it was in the Hellenizing times which preceded and succeeded, it would be the duty of religious men not to hide their convictions. The tendency to carry on this public manifestation of religious acts after it had ceased to be protest would be necessarily great. The fact that they gained credit by praying at street corners when the hour of prayer came, and would have lost credit with the people had they not done so, was not recognized by them as lessening the moral worth of the action. Those who, having lived in the period of persecution and contempt, survived in that when religion was held in respect would maintain their earlier practice without any arriere-pensee. The succeeding generation, in continuing the practice, consciously “acted.” They were poseurs. Their hypocrisy was none the less real that it was reached by unconscious stages. Hypocrisy was a new sin, a sin only possible in a spiritual religion, a religion in which morality and worship were closely related. Heathenism, which lay in sacrifices and ceremonies by which the gods could be bribed, or cajoled into favors, had a purely casual connection with morality; its worship was entirely a thing of externals, of acting, “posing.” Consequently, a man did not by the most careful attention to the ceremonies of religion produce any presumption in favor of his trustworthiness. There was thus no sinister motive to prompt to religion. The prophets had denounced the insincerity of worship, but even they did not denounce hypocrisy, i.e. religion used as a cloak to hide treachery or dishonesty. Religion had become more spiritual, the connection between morality and worship more intimate by reason of the persecution of the Seleucids.

5. Talmudic Classification of the Pharisees:

The Talmud to some extent confirms the representation of the Gospels. There were said to be seven classes of Pharisees: (1) the “shoulder” Pharisee, who wears his good deeds on his shoulders and obeys the precept of the Law, not from principle, but from expediency; (2) the “wait-a-little” Pharisee, who begs for time in order to perform a meritorious action; (3) the “bleeding” Pharisee, who in his eagerness to avoid looking on a woman shuts his eyes and so bruises himself to bleeding by stumbling against a wall; (4) the “painted” Pharisee, who advertises his holiness lest any one should touch him so that he should be defiled; (5) the “reckoning” Pharisee, who is always saying “What duty must I do to balance any unpalatable duty which I have neglected?”; (6) the “fearing” Pharisee, whose relation to God is one merely of trembling awe; (7) the Pharisee from “love.” In all but the last there was an element of “acting,” of hypocrisy. It is to be noted that the Talmud denounces ostentation; but unconsciously that root of the error lies in the externality of their righteousness; it commands an avoidance of ostentation which involves equal “posing.”

V. Our Lord’s Relationship to the Pharisees.

1. Pharisaic Attempts to Gain Christ over:

The attitude of the Pharisees to Jesus, to begin with, was, as had been their attitude to John, critical. They sent representatives to watch His doings and His sayings and report. They seem to have regarded it as possible that He might unite Himself with them, although, as we think, His affinities rather lay with the Essenes. Gradually their criticism became opposition. This opposition grew in intensity as He disregarded their interpretations of the Sabbatic law, ridiculed their refinements of the law of tithes and the distinctions they introduced into the validity of oaths, and denounced their insincere posing. At first there seems to have been an effort to cajole Him into compliance with their plans. If some of the Pharisees tempted Him to use language which would compromise Him with the people or with the Rom authorities, others invited Him to their tables, which was going far upon the part of a Pharisee toward one not a h??a¯?bhe¯?r. Even when He hung on the cross, the taunt with which they greeted Him may have had something of longing, lingering hope in it: “If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him” (Matthew 27:42 King James Version). If He would only give them that sign, then they would acknowledge Him to be the Messiah.

2. Reasons for Pharisaic Hatred of Christ:

The opposition of the Pharisees to Jesus was intensified by another reason. They were the democratic party; their whole power lay in the reputation they had with the people for piety. our Lord denounced them as hypocrites; moreover He had secured a deeper popularity than theirs. At length when cajolery failed to win Him and astute questioning failed to destroy His popularity, they combined with their opponents, the Sadducees, against Him as against a common enemy.

3. Our Lord’s Denunciation of the Pharisees:

On the other hand, Jesus denounced the Pharisees more than He denounced any other class of the people. This seems strange when we remember that the main body of the religious people, those who looked for the Messiah, belonged to the Pharisees, and His teaching and theirs had a strong external resemblance. It was this external resemblance, united as it was with a profound spiritual difference, which made it incumbent on Jesus to mark Himself off from them. All righteousness with them was external, it lay in meats and drinks and divers washings, in tithing of mint, anise and cummin. He placed religion on a different footing, removed it into another region. With Him it was the heart that must be right with God, not merely the external actions; not only the outside of the cup and platter was to be cleansed, but the inside first of all. It is to be noted that, as observed above, the Pharisees were less antagonistic to the apostles when their Lord had left them. The after-history of Pharisaism has justified Our Lord’s condemnation.

ISBE "Pharisees"

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Smith’s Bible Dictionary


Phar’isees. A religious party or school among the Jews at the time of Christ, so called from perishin, the Aramaic form of the Hebrew word, perushim, "separated". The chief sects among the Jews were the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Essenes, who may be described respectively as the Formalists, the Freethinkers and the Puritans.

A knowledge of the opinion, and practices of the Pharisees, at the time of Christ, is of great importance, for entering deeply into the genius of the Christian religion. A cursory perusal of the Gospels is sufficient to show that Christ’s teaching was, in some respects, thoroughly antagonistic to theirs. He denounced them, in the bitterest language; See Matthew 15:7-8; Matthew 23:5; Matthew 23:13-15; Matthew 23:23; Mark 7:6; Luke 11:42-44 and compare Mark 7:1-5; Mark 11:29; Mark 12:19-20; Luke 6:28; Luke 6:37-42. To understand the Pharisees is, by contrast, an aid toward understanding the spirit of uncorrupted Christianity.

The fundamental principle of all of the Pharisees, common to them with all orthodox modern Jews, is that, by the side of the written law, regarded as a summary of the principles and general laws of the Hebrew people, there was on oral law to complete, and to explain the written law, given to Moses on Mount Sinai, and transmitted by him by word of mouth. The first portion of the Talmud, called the Mishna or "second law", contains this oral law. It is a digest of the Jewish traditions and a compendium of the whole ritual law, and it came at length to be esteemed far above the sacred text.

While it was the aim of Jesus to call men to the law of God itself as the supreme guide of life, the Pharisees, upon the Ppretence of maintaining it intact, multiplied minute precepts and distinctions, to such an extent that the whole life of the Israelite was hemmed in, and burdened on every side, by instructions so numerous and trifling, that the law was almost if not wholly lost sight of. These "traditions" as they were called, had long been gradually accumulating.

Of the trifling character of these regulations, innumerable instances are to be found in the Mishna. Such were their washings before they could eat bread, and the special minuteness with which the forms of this washing were prescribed; their bathing when they returned from the market; their washing of cups, pots, brazen vessels, etc.; their fastings twice in the week, Luke 18:12, as were their tithing; Matthew 23:23, and such, finally, were those minute and vexatious extensions of the law of the Sabbath, which must have converted God’s gracious ordinance of the Sabbath’s rest, into a burden and a pain. Matthew 12:1-13; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 18:10-17.

It was a leading aim of the Redeemer to teach men that true piety consisted, not in forms, but in substance, not in outward observances, but in an inward spirit. The whole system of Pharisaic piety led to exactly opposite conclusions. The lowliness of piety was, according to the teaching of Jesus, an inseparable concomitant of its reality; but the Pharisees sought mainly to attract the attention, and to excite the admiration of men. Matthew 6:2; Mat_ 6:6; Matthew 6:16; Matthew 23:5-6; Luke 14:7. Indeed, the whole spirit of their religion was summed up, not in confession of sin and in humility, but in a proud self righteousness, at variance with any true conception of man’s relation, to either God or his fellow creatures.

With all their pretences to piety, they were, in reality, avaricious, sensual and dissolute. Matthew 23:25; John 13:7. They looked with contempt upon every nation, but their own. Luke 10:29 Finally, instead of endeavoring to fulfill the great end of the dispensation whose truths they professed to teach, and thus, bringing men to the Hope of Israel, they devoted their energies to making converts to their own narrow views, who with all the zeal of proselytes were more exclusive, and more bitterly opposed to the truth, than they were themselves. Matthew 22:15.

The Pharisees, at an early day, secured the popular favor, and thereby, acquired considerable political influence. This influence was greatly increased, by the extension of the Pharisees, over the whole land, and the majority which they obtained in the Sanhedrin. Their number reached more than six thousand under the Herods. Many of them must have suffered death for political agitation. In the time of Christ, they were divided, doctrinally, into several schools, among which those of Hillel and Shammai were most noted. -- McClintock and Strong.

One of the fundamental doctrines of the Pharisees was a belief in a future state. They appear to have believed in a resurrection of the dead, very much in the same sense as the early Christians. They also believed in "a divine Providence" acting, side by side, with the free will of man." -- Schaff.

It is proper to add that, it would be a great mistake to suppose that the Pharisees were wealthy and luxurious, much more that they had degenerated into the vices, which were imputed to some of the Roman popes and cardinals, during the two hundred years preceding the Reformation. Josephus compared the Pharisees to the sect of the Stoics. He says that they lived frugally, in no respect, giving in to luxury. We are not to suppose that there were not many individuals among them who were upright and pure, for there were such men as Nicodemus, Gamaliel, Joseph of Arimathea and Paul.

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Fausset - Bible Dictionary


From perishin Aramaic, perashim, "separated." To which Paul alludes, Romans 1:1; Galatians 1:15, "separated unto the gospel of God"; once "separated" unto legal self righteousness. In contrast to "mingling" with Grecian and other heathen customs, which Antiochus Epiphanes partially effected, breaking down the barrier of God’s law which separated Israel from pagandom, however refined. The Pharisees were successors of the Assideans or Chasidim, i.e. godly men "voluntarily devoted unto the law." On the return from Babylon the Jews became more exclusive than ever. In Antiochus’ time this narrowness became intensified in opposition to the rationalistic compromises of many. The Sadducees succeeded to the latter, the Pharisees to the former (1 Maccabees 1:13-15; 1 Maccabees 1:41-49; 1 Maccabees 1:62-63; 1 Maccabees 2:42; 1 Maccabees 7:13-17; 2 Maccabees 14:6-38). They "resolved fully not to eat any unclean thing, choosing rather to die that they might not be defiled: and profame the holy covenant." in opposition to the Hellenizing faction.

So the beginning of the Pharisees was patriotism and faithfulness to the covenant. Jesus, the meek and loving One, so wholly free from harsh judgments, denounces with unusual severity their hypocrisy as a class. (Matthew 15:7-8; Matthew 23:5; Matthew 23:13-33), their ostentatious phylacteries and hems, their real love of preeminence; their pretended long prayers, while covetously defrauding the widow. They by their "traditions" made God’s word of none effect; opposed bitterly the Lord Jesus, compassed His death, provoking Him to some "hasty words" (apostomatizein) which they might catch at and accuse Him; and hired Judas to betray Him; "strained out gnats, while swallowing camels" (image from filtrating wine); painfully punctilious about legal trifles and casuistries, while reckless of truth, righteousness, and the fear of God; cleansing the exterior man while full of iniquity within, like "whited sepulchres" (Mark 7:6-13; Luke 11:42-44; Luke 11:53-54; Luke 16:14-15); lading men with grievous burdens, while themselves not touching them with one of their fingers. (See CORBAN.)

Paul’s remembrance of his former bondage as a rigid Pharisee produced that reaction in his mind, upon his embracing the gospel, that led to his uncompromising maintenance, under the Spirit of God, of Christian liberty and justification by faith only, in opposition to the yoke of ceremonialism and the righteousness which is of the law (Galatians 4; 5). The Mishna or "second law," the first portion of the Talmud, is a digest of Jewish traditions and ritual, put in writing by rabbi Jehudah the Holy in the second century. The Gemara is a "supplement," or commentary on it; it is twofold, that of Jerusalem not later than the first half of the fourth century, and that of Babylon A.D. 500. The Mishna has six divisions (on seeds, feasts, women’s marriage, etc., decreases and compacts, holy things, clean and unclean), and an introduction on blessings. Hillel and Shammai were leaders of two schools of the Pharisees, differing on slight points; the Mishna refers to both (living before Christ) and to Hillel’s grandson, Paul’s’ teacher, Gamaliel.

An undesigned coincidence confirming genuineness is the fact that throughout the Gospels hostility to Christianity shows itself mainly from the Pharisees; but throughout Acts from the Sadducees. Doubtless because after Christ’s resurrection the resurrection of the dead was a leading doctrine of Christians, which it was not before (Mark 9:10; Acts 1:22; Acts 2:32; Acts 4:10; Acts 5:31; Acts 10:40). The Pharisees therefore regarded Christians in this as their allies against the Sadducees, and so the less opposed Christianity (John 11:57; John 18:3; Acts 4:1; Acts 5:17; Acts 23:6-9). The Mishna lays down the fundamental principle of the Pharisees. "Moses received the oral law from Sinai, and delivered it to Joshua, and Joshua to the elders, and these to the prophets, and these to the men of the great synagogue" (Pirke Aboth ("The Sayings of the [Jewish] Fathers"), 1). The absence of directions for prayer, and of mention of a future life, in the Pentateuch probably gave a pretext for the figment of a traditional oral law.

The great synagogue said, "make a fence for the law," i.e. carry the prohibitions beyond the written law to protect men from temptations to sin; so Exodus 23:19 was by oral law made further to mean that no flesh was to be mixed with milk for food. The oral law defined the time before which in the evening a Jew must repeat the Shema, i.e. "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord, and thou shalt love the Lord," etc. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9.) So it defines the kind of wick and oil to be used for lighting the lamps which every Jew must burn on the Sabbath eve. An egg laid on a festival may be eaten according to the school of Shammai, but not according to that of Hillel; for Jehovah says in Exodus 16:5, "on the sixth day they shall prepare that which, they bring in," therefore one must not prepare for the Sabbath on a feast day nor for a feast day on the Sabbath. An egg laid on a feast following the Sabbath was "prepared" the day before, and so involves a breach of the Sabbath (!); and though all feasts do not immediately follow the Sabbath yet "as a fence to the law" an egg laid on any feast must not be eaten.

Contrast Micah 6:8. A member of the society of Pharisees was called chaber; those not members were called "the people of the land"; compare John 7:49, "this people who knoweth not the law are cursed"; also the Pharisee standing and praying with himself, self righteous and despising the publican (Luke 18:9-14). Isaiah (Isaiah 65:5) foretells their characteristic formalism, pride of sanctimony, and hypocritical exclusiveness (Judges 1:18). Their scrupulous tithing (Matthew 23:23; Luke 18:12) was based on the Mishna, "he who undertakes to be trustworthy (a pharisaic phrase) tithes whatever he eats, sells, buys, and does not eat and drink with the people of the land." The produce (tithes) reserved for the Levites and priests was "holy," and for anyone. else to eat it was deadly sin. So the Pharisee took all pains to know that his purchases had been duly tithed, and therefore shrank from "eating with" (Matthew 9:11) those whose food might not be so. The treatise Cholin in the Mishna lays down a regulation as to "clean and unclean" (Leviticus 20:25; Leviticus 22:4-7; Numbers 19:20) which severs the Jews socially from other peoples; "anything slaughtered by a pagan is unfit to be eaten, like the carcass of an animal that died of itself, and pollutes him who carries it."

An orthodox Jew still may not eat meat of any animal unless killed by a Jewish butcher; the latter searches for a blemish, and attaches to the approved a leaden seal stamped kashar, "lawful." (Disraeli, Genius. of Judaism.) The Mishna abounds in precepts illustrating Colossians 2:21, "touch not, taste not, handle not" (contrast Matthew 15:11). Also it (6:480) has a separate treatise on washing of hands (Yadayim). Translated Mark 7:8, "except they wash their hands with the fist" (pugmee); the Mishna ordaining to pour water over the dosed hands raised so that it should flow down to the elbows, and then over the arms so as to flow over the fingers. Jesus, to confute the notion of its having moral value, did not wash before eating (Luke 11:37-40). Josephus (Ant. 18:1, section 3, 13:10, section 5) says the Pharisees lived frugally, like the Stoics, and hence had so much weight with the multitude that if they said aught against the king or the high-priest it was immediately believed, whereas the Sadducees could gain only the rich.

The defect in the Pharisees which Christ stigmatized by the parable of the two debtors was not immorality but want of love, from unconsciousness of forgiveness or of the need of it. Christ recognizes Simon’s superiority to the woman in the relative amounts of sin needing forgiveness, but shows both were on a level in inability to cancel their sin as a debt. Had he realized this, he would not have thought Jesus no prophet for suffering her to touch Him with her kisses of adoring love for His forgiveness of her, realized by her (Luke 7:36-50; Luke 15:2). Tradition set aside moral duties, as a child’s to his parents by" Corban"; a debtor’s to his creditors by the Mishna treatise, Avodah Zarah (1:1) which forbade payment to a pagan three days before any pagan festival; a man’s duty of humanity to his fellow man by the Avodah Zarah (2:1) which forbids a Hebrew midwife assisting a pagan mother in childbirth (contrast Leviticus 19:18; Luke 10:27-29).

Juvenal (14:102-104) alleges a Jew would not show the road or a spring to a traveler of a different creed. Josephus (B.J. 2:8, section 14; 3:8, section 5; Ant. 18:1, section 3) says: "the Pharisees say that the soul of good men only passes over into another body, while the soul of bad men is chastised by eternal punishment." Compare Matthew 14:2; John 9:2, "who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" compare John 9:34, "thou wast altogether born in sins." The rabbis believed in the pre-existence of souls. The Jews’ question merely took for granted that some sin had caused the blindness, without defining whose sin, "this man" or (as that is out of the question) "his parents."

Paul: regarded the Pharisees as holding our view of the resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:6-8). The phrase "the world to come" (Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30; compare Isaiah 65:17-22; Isaiah 26:19) often occurs in the Mishna (Avoth, 2:7; 4:16): this world may be likened to a courtyard in comparison of the world to come, therefore prepare thyself in the antechamber that thou mayest enter into the dining room"; "those born are doomed to die, the dead to live, and the quick to be judged," etc. (3:16) But the actions to be so judged were in reference to the ceremonial points as much as the moral duties. The Essenes apparently recognized Providence as overruling everything (Matthew 6:25-34; Matthew 10:29-30). The Sadducees, the wealthy aristocrats, originally in political and practical dealings with the Syrians relied more on worldly prudence, the Pharisees more insisted on considerations of legal righteousness, leaving events to God.

The Pharisees were notorious for proselytizing zeal (Matthew 23:15), and seem to have been the first who regularly organized missions for conversions (compare Josephus, Ant. 20:2, section 3): The synagogues in the various cities of the world, as well as of Judaea, were thus by the proselytizing spirit of the Pharisees imbued with a thirst for inquiry, and were prepared for the gospel ministered by the apostles, and especially Paul, a Hebrew in race, a Pharisee by training, a Greek in language, and a Roman citizen in birth and privilege. In many respects their doctrine was right, so that Christ desires conformity to their precepts as from "Moses’ seat," but not to their practice (Matthew 23:2-3). But while pressing the letter of the law they ignored the spirit (Matthew 5:21-22; Matthew 5:27; Matthew 5:38; Matthew 5:31-32). Among even the Pharisees some accepted the truth, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, and John 12:42 and Acts 15:5.

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Verse 21

Matthew 5:21

The key verse to the rest of the chapter is v. 20, about our "righteousness" must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees.

Matt. 5:21-26

Not only NOT murder - but Jesus give 3 forms of violating the spirit of this command.

1) Unjust anger

2) Anger, accompanied with an expression of contempt

3) Anger, with an expression not only of contempt, but wickedness.

Verse 22

Matthew 5:22

Special Study on Hell - for Bible Class

Matthew 5:22; Matthew 5:29; Matthew 5:30; Matthew 10:28; Matthew 11:23; Matthew 16:18; Matthew 18:9; Matthew 23:15; Matthew 23:33; Mark 9:43; Mark 9:45; Mark 9:47; Luke 10:15; Luke 12:5; Luke 16:23; Acts 2:27; Acts 2:31; James 3:6; 2 Peter 2:4; Revelation 1:18; Revelation 6:8; Revelation 20:13; Revelation 20:14;

Hell - (Smith Bible Dictionary)

Hell. In the Old Testament, this is the word generally, and unfortunately, used by our translators to render the Hebrew, Sheol. It really means the place of the dead, the unseen world, without deciding whether it be the place of misery or of happiness.

It is clear that in many passages of the Old Testament, Sheol can only mean "the grave", and is rendered thus in the Authorized Version; see, for example, Genesis 37:35; Genesis 42:38; 1 Samuel 2:6; Job 14:13.

In other passages, however, it seems to involve a notion of punishment, and is therefore rendered in the Authorized Version by the word "hell". But in many cases, this translation misleads the reader.

In the New Testament, "hell" is the translation of two words, Hades and Gehenna.

The word Hades, like Sheol sometimes means merely "the grave", Acts 2:31; 1 Corinthians 15:55; Revelation 20:13, or in general, "the unseen world". It is in this sense that the creeds say of our Lord, "He went down into hell," meaning the state of the dead in general, without any restriction of happiness or misery.

Elsewhere in the New Testament, Hades is used of a place of torment, Matthew 11:23; Luke 16:23; 2 Peter 2:4, etc.; consequently, it has been the prevalent, almost the universal, notion that Hades is an intermediate state between death and resurrection, divided into two parts; one the abode of the blest and the other of the lost.

It is used eleven times in the New Testament, and only once translated "grave". 1 Corinthians 15:55.

The word most frequently used, (occurring twelve times), in the New Testament for the place of future punishment is Gehenna or Gehenna of fire. This was originally the valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, where the filth and dead animals of the city were cast out and burned; a fit symbol of the wicked and their destruction. See Hinnom.

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Hell - (Vine)


represents the Hebrew Ge-Hinnom (the valley of Tophet) and a corresponding Aramaic word; it is found twelve times in the NT, eleven of which are in the Synoptists, in every instance as uttered by the Lord Himself. He who says to his brother, Thou fool (see under FOOL), will be in danger of "the hell of fire," Matthew 5:22; it is better to pluck out (a metaphorical description of irrevocable law) an eye that causes its possessor to stumble, than that his "whole body be cast into hell," Matthew 5:29; similarly with the hand, Matthew 5:30; in Matthew 18:8-9, the admonitions are repeated, with an additional mention of the foot; here, too, the warning concerns the person himself (for which obviously the "body" stands in chapt. 5); in Matthew 18:8, "the eternal fire" is mentioned as the doom, the character of the region standing for the region itself, the two being combined in the phrase "the hell of fire," Matthew 18:9. To the passage in Matt. 18, that in Mark 9:43-47, is parallel; here to the word "hell" are applied the extended descriptions "the unquenchable fire" and "where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched."

That God, "after He hath killed, hath power to cast into hell," is assigned as a reason why He should be feared with the fear that keeps from evil doing, Luke 12:5; the parallel passage to this in Matthew 10:28 declares, not the casting in, but the doom which follows, namely, the destruction (not the loss of being, but of well-being) of "both soul and body."

In Matt. 23 the Lord denounces the scribes and Pharisees, who in proselytizing a person "make him two-fold more a son of hell" than themselves (Matthew 23:15), the phrase here being expressive of moral characteristics, and declares the impossibility of their escaping "the judgment of hell," Matthew 23:33. In James 3:6 "hell" is described as the source of the evil done by misuse of the tongue; here the word stands for the powers of darkness, whose characteristics and destiny are those of "hell."

For terms descriptive of "hell," see e.g., Matthew 13:42; Matthew 25:46; Philippians 3:19; 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Hebrews 10:39; 2 Peter 2:17; Judges 1:13; Revelation 2:11; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:6, Revelation 20:10, Revelation 20:14; Revelation 21:8.

Notes: (1) For the rendering "hell" as a translation of hades, corresponding to Sheol, wrongly rendered "the grave" and "hell," see HADES. (2) The verb tartaroo, translated "cast down to hell" in 2 Peter 2:4, signifies to consign to Tartarus, which is neither Sheol nor hades nor hell, but the place where those angels whose special sin is referred to in that passage are confined "to be reserved unto judgment;" the region is described as "pits of darkness," RV.

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1. The Word in the King James Version

The English word, from a Teutonic root meaning “to hide” or “cover,” had originally the significance of the world of the dead generally, and in this sense is used by Chaucer, Spenser, etc., and in the Creed (“He descended into hell”); compare the English Revised Version Preface. Now the word has come to mean almost exclusively the place of punishment of the lost or finally impenitent; the place of torment of the wicked. In the King James Version of the Scriptures, it is the rendering adopted in many places in the Old Testament for the Hebrew word she’ōl (in 31 out of 65 occurrences of that word it is so translated), and in all places, save one (1 Corinthians 15:55) in the New Testament, for the Greek word Hades (this word occurs 11 times; in 10 of these it is translated “hell”; 1 Corinthians 15:55 reads “grave,” with “hell” in the margin). In these cases the word has its older general meaning, though in Luke 16:23 (parable of Rich Man and Lazarus) it is specially connected with a place of “torment,” in contrast with the “Abraham’s bosom” to which Lazarus is taken (Luke 16:22).

2. The Word in the Revised Version

In the above cases the Revised Version (British and American) has introduced changes, replacing “hell” by “Sheol” in the passages in the Old Testament (the English Revised Version retains “hell” in Isaiah 14:9, Isaiah 14:15; the American Standard Revised Version makes no exception), and by “Hades” in the passages in the New Testament (see under these words).

3. Gehenna

Besides the above uses, and more in accordance with the modern meaning, the word “hell” is used in the New Testament in the King James Version as the equivalent of Gehenna (12 t; Matthew 5:22, Matthew 5:29; Matthew 10:28, etc.). the Revised Version (British and American) in these cases puts “Gehenna” in the margin. Originally the Valley of Hinnom, near Jerusalem, Gehenna became among the Jews the synonym for the place of torment in the future life (the “Gehenna of fire,” Matthew 5:22, etc.; see GEHENNA).

4. Tartarus

In yet one other passage in the New Testament (2 Peter 2:4), “to cast down to hell” is used (the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American)) to represent the Greek tartaróō, (“to send into Tartarus”). Here it stands for the place of punishment of the fallen angels: “spared not angels when they sinned, but cast them down to hell, and committed them to pits (or chains) of darkness” (compare Judges 1:6; but also Matthew 25:41). Similar ideas are found in certain of the Jewish apocalyptic books (Book of Enoch, Book of Jubilees, Apocrypha Baruch, with apparent reference to Genesis 6:1-4; compare ESCHATOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT).

On theological aspect, see PUNISHMENT, EVERLASTING. For literature, see references in above-named arts., and compare article “Hell” by Dr. D. S. Salmond in HDB.

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hádēs; gen. hádou, masc. noun from the priv. a (G1), not, and ideín, the inf. of the 2d aor. eídō (G1492), to see. In Homer and Hesiod the word is spelled Haïdḗs meaning obscure, dark, invisible. Hades, the region of departed spirits of the lost (Luke 16:23).

It corresponds to Sheol in the OT which occurs 59 times. In the NT, Hádēs occurs only 10 times. It is found nowhere in John’s gospel, the epistles of Paul, the Epistle to the Hebrews, or the General Epistles. Three of the occurrences are on Christ’s lips (Matthew 11:23 [with Luke 10:15]; Luke 16:18; Luke 16:23). In two of these, the words are obviously used in a figurative sense: in the case of Capernaum to express an absolute overthrow, a humiliation as deep as the former loftiness and pride had been great; in the case of the Church, to express a security which shall be proof against death and destruction. The third occurrence, in the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), is of a different kind and has even been taken to put our Lord’s confirmation on the Jewish idea of two compartments in Hades, distinct from and yet near one another. In Acts 2:27, Acts 2:31, the word Hádēs occurs in a quotation from Psalms 16:10 in an application of OT faith in the advent of Christ, His death, and His resurrection. Therefore, it has again the meaning of the world of the departed into which Christ passed like other men, but only to transform its nature from a place accommodating both believers and unbelievers to one for unbelievers only (Matthew 11:23; Matthew 16:18; Luke 10:15; 1 Corinthians 15:55; Revelation 1:18; Revelation 6:8; Revelation 20:13-14).

In all the NT passages except Matthew 11:23; Luke 10:15, Hades is associated with death. It expresses the general concept of the invisible world or abode into which the spirits of men are ushered immediately after death. The prevalent idea connected with it in its association with death are those of privation, detention, and just recompense. The thought of the relative reward of good is subordinate, if expressed at all, to the retribution of evil and to the penal character pertaining to Hades as the minister of death. In none of the passages in which the word itself occurs have we any disclosures or even hints of purgatorial fires, purifying processes, or extended operations of grace.

The state of human beings in Hades is immediate and irreversible after death, although it does not constitute the eternal state, for Hades itself later becomes the exclusive place for unbelievers. It is cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14), while the reign of the just becomes paradise (Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 12:4; Revelation 2:7) which is ultimately absorbed into the final heaven (Revelation 21:1). Our Lord conclusively teaches in the story of the rich man and Lazarus that there is no possibility of repentance after death. It is in this light that 1 Peter 3:18-20 should be viewed (cf. phulakḗ [G5438], prison).

Unfortunately, both the OT and NT words have been translated in the KJV as "hell" (Psalms 16:10) or the "grave" (Genesis 37:35) or the "pit" (Numbers 16:30, Numbers 16:33). Hades never denotes the physical grave nor is it the permanent region of the lost. It is the intermediate state between death and the ultimate hell, Gehenna (Géenna [G1067]). Christ declares that He has the keys of Hades (Revelation 1:18). In Revelation 6:8 it is personified with the meaning of the temporary destiny of the doomed; it is to give up those who are in it (Revelation 20:13), and is to be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14).

Syn.: Géenna (G1067), the final destiny of the wicked, hell; tartaróō (G5020), the prison of the fallen angels or evil spirits; ábussos (G12), abyss, the place where the dragon (drákōn [G1404]), i.e., Satan, is bound during the millennial reign (cf. Luke 8:31; Revelation 9:11); límnē (G3041) and toú purós (G4442), lake of fire, the place into which the beast and the false prophet are cast after their defeat by Christ. An additional statement in Revelation 21:8 describes those who have their part in the lake of fire, compare the description of those who are outside the city (Revelation 22:15).

Ant.: parádeisos (G3857), paradise; kólpos Abraám (kólpos [G2859], bosom; Abraám [G11], Abraham), Abraham’s bosom; ouranós (G3772), heaven.



géenna; gen. geénnēs, fem. noun. Hell, the place or state of the lost and condemned (Matthew 5:29-30; Matthew 10:28 [cf. Matthew 23:15; James 3:6]). Represents the Hebr. gā-Hinnom (the Valley of Tophet) and a corresponding Aramaic word. Found twelve times in the NT, eleven of which are in the Synoptic Gospels and in every instance spoken by the Lord Himself. Many times the word Hádēs (G86) is wrongly translated "hell" or "grave." Terms descriptive of hell are found in Matthew 13:42; Matthew 25:46; Philippians 3:19; 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Hebrews 10:39; 2 Peter 2:17; Judges 1:13; Revelation 2:11; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:6, Revelation 20:10, Revelation 20:14; Revelation 21:8. The word Gehenna is derived from the Hebr. expression, gā-Hinnom, Valley of Hinnom (Joshua 15:8; Nehemiah 11:30) which is an abbreviated form of "valley of the son of Hinnom" (2 Kings 23:10; 2 Chronicles 28:3; 2 Chronicles 33:6; Joshua 18:16; Jeremiah 7:31-32; Jeremiah 19:2, Jeremiah 19:6). In the Sept. this name appears variously as pháragx (G5327), ravine, Onom or Ennom (Joshua 15:8); gaienna (Joshua 18:16); Gaibenthom or Gēbeennom (2 Chronicles 28:3); ge Bane Ennom or ge Beennom (2 Chronicles 33:6). Elsewhere we find generally pháragx, ravine, of the son of Hinnom.

This place became so notorious through its evil associations that it was simply called "the valley" (Jeremiah 2:23; Jeremiah 31:40), and the gate of Jerusalem leading toward it "the valley gate" (2 Chronicles 26:9; Nehemiah 2:13, Nehemiah 2:15; Nehemiah 3:13). This valley lay to the south and southwest of Jerusalem. Topographically, it provided the boundary between Judah and Benjamin (Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:16) and the northern limit of the district occupied by the tribe of Judah after the captivity (Nehemiah 11:30), and it lay in front of the gate Harsith of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 19:2).

Religiously it was a place of idolatrous and human sacrifices. These were first offered by Ahaz and Manasseh who made their children to "pass through the fire" to Molech in this valley (1 Kings 16:3; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Chronicles 28:3; 2 Chronicles 33:6). These sacrifices were probably made on the "high places of Tophet which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom" (Jeremiah 7:31 [cf. Jeremiah 32:15]). In order to put an end to these abominations, Josiah polluted it with human bones and other corruptions (2 Kings 23:10, 2 Kings 23:13-14). But this worship of Molech was revived under Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 11:10-13; Ezekiel 20:30). In consequence of these idolatrous practices in the Valley of Hinnom, Jeremiah prophesied that one day it would be called the "valley of slaughter" and that they should "bury them in Tophet, till there be no place to bury" (Jeremiah 7:32; Jeremiah 19:11).

It is also referred to as a place of punishment for rebellious or apostate Jews in the presence of the righteous. Gehinnom or Gehenna is not actually mentioned with this meaning in the OT, but it is this and no other place that is implied in Isaiah 50:11, "in a place of pain shall ye lie down" (a.t.). Furthermore, in Isaiah 66:24 it bears this new connotation and the punishment of the apostate Jews is conceived of as eternal: "They -- . shall look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh." The punishment of Gehenna is implied also in Daniel 12:2, "some to shame and everlasting abhorrence" (a.t.). This particular word "abhorrence" occurs in these two passages only, and the reference in both is to Gehenna. Therefore, Gehenna was always conceived of as a place of both corporeal and spiritual punishment, not only for the Jews, but for all the wicked in the presence of the righteous.

In the NT Gehenna is presented always as the final place of punishment into which the wicked are cast after the last judgment. It is a place of torment both for body and soul as indicated in Matthew 5:29-30, "It is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body go into Gehenna" (a.t.). The Lord Jesus did not have the living in mind here, but the dead, for it is not until after the final judgment that the wicked are cast into Gehenna. At the resurrection, the spirit and the body are united. Both are punished in Gehenna. Gehenna as the last punishment was conceived of also as the worst. It slays both soul (the incorporeal spiritual part of man) and body (the corporeal)-not in the absolute sense of annihilation, but relatively in that it permitted a change of state that could suffer the pain and punishment of Gehenna. Thus in Matthew 10:28, "Fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna" (a.t. [cf. Luke 12:5]). Gehenna is conceived of as a fire (Matthew 5:22; Matthew 18:9); an unquenchable fire (Mark 9:45); a place where "their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:48); a "furnace of fire" (Matthew 13:42, Matthew 13:50); "the outer darkness" (Matthew 8:12; Matthew 22:13; Matthew 25:30); a "lake of fire" (Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10, Revelation 20:14-15; Revelation 21:8). Because fire is often used as an apocalyptic symbol of judgment (especially eschatological judgment) it is difficult to insist that the flames are material. Nevertheless, such a symbol clearly represents a real and painful judgment. Hades, the place of the disembodied wicked spirits, is finally cast into it (Revelation 20:14). In the NT, Hades and Gehenna seem never to be confused together. See Hádēs (G86), the place of the departed souls often translated "hell," but mistakenly so; ábussos (G12), abyss, bottomless pit; tartaróō (G5020), to incarcerate in eternal torment, spoken of the fallen angels.

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tartaróō; contracted tartarṓ, fut. tartarṓsō, from Tártaros (n.f.), the subterranean abyss of Greek mythology where demigods were punished. It is mentioned in the pseudepigraphal book of Enoch as the place where fallen angels are confined. It is found only in its verbal form in 2 Peter 2:4 meaning to cast into or consign to Tartarus. It is part of the realm of death designated in Scripture as She’ōl (H7585) in the OT and Hádēs (G86) in the NT. These angels are being held in this netherworld dungeon until the day of final judgment. Peter’s usage of this term is not evidence either that Christianity was a syncretistic religion or that Peter himself believed in the pagan myths about Tartarus. Peter has adpated a word and not adopted a theology.

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Verse 27

Matthew 5:27

Matt. 5:27-30

Adultery -- Letting your mind dwell on impure thoughts. The solution, and the positive side of this is stated by Paul in Philippians 4:8.

Verse 29

Matthew 5:29

pluck it out and cast it from you -- Jesus was not advocating self-mutilation (for this would not in fact cure lust, which is actually a problem of the heart). He was using this graphic hyperbole to demonstrate the seriousness of sins of lust and evil desire. The point is that it would be “more profitable” (v. 30) to lose a member of one’s own body than to bear the eternal consequences of the guilt from such a sin. Sin must be dealt with drastically because of its deadly effects. - MSB

right eye … right hand -- The right side often stood for the more powerful or important. The eye is the medium through which one is tempted to lust, and the hand represents the physical actions that result from lusting.

cut it off -- Jesus uses deliberate overstatement to emphasize the importance of maintaining exclusive devotion to one’s spouse. Even things of great value should be given up if they are leading a person to sin. (See Mark 9:43-48.)

29–30 The radical treatment of parts of the body that cause one to sin has led some (notoriously the church father Origen) to castrate themselves. But that is not radical enough, since lust is not thereby removed. The “eye” is the member of the body most commonly blamed for leading us astray, especially in sexual sins (cf. Numbers 15:39; Proverbs 21:4; et al.); the “right eye” refers to one’s better eye. But why the “right hand” in a context dealing with lust? More likely it is a euphemism for the male sexual organ. - EBC

Cutting off or gouging out the offending part is a way of saying that Jesus’ disciples must deal radically with sin. Imagination is a God-given gift; but if it is fed dirt by the eye, it will be dirty. All sin, not least sexual sin, begins with the imagination. Therefore what feeds the imagination is of maximum importance in the pursuit of kingdom righteousness (compare Philippians 4:8). The alternative is sin and hell, sin’s reward. - EBC

Verse 31

Matthew 5:31

Matt. 5:31-32

Divorce ... certificate ... They though that their practice of putting a wife away, by their legal standards, gave them the permission to remarry.

Jesus points his disciples to God’s intended plan, for a man and wife to be married for life.

DIVORCE -- Matthew 19:8-9 & Matthew 5:31-32; 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, Luke 16:18, Romans 7:1-3, Mark 6:16-18, Ezra 10:1-3.

Verse 33

Matthew 5:33

Matthew 5:33-37

Swear -- The hypocrisy of swearing on lesson things so their word would not be binding.

The Pharisees made allowances for reservation, since God was not involved, their oath was not binding.

This is not speaking about oaths in a court of law; Cf. Matthew 26:63-64; Consider Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:23

Verse 34

Matthew 5:34

do not swear at all -- Cf. James 5:12. This should not be taken as a universal condemnation of oaths in all circumstances. God Himself confirmed a promise with an oath (Hebrews 6:13-18; cf. Acts 2:30). Christ Himself spoke under oath (Matthew 26:63-64). And the law prescribed oaths in certain circumstances (e.g., Numbers 5:19; Numbers 5:21; Numbers 30:2-3). What Christ is forbidding here is the flippant, profane, or careless use of oaths in everyday speech. In that culture, such oaths were often employed for deceptive purposes. To make the person being victimized believe the truth was being told, the Jews would swear by “heaven,” “earth,” “Jerusalem,” or their own “heads” (vv. Matthew 5:34-36), not by God, hoping to avoid divine judgment for their lie. But it all was in God’s creation, so it drew Him in and produced guilt before Him, exactly as if the oath were made in His name. Jesus suggested that all our speech should be as if we were under an oath to tell the truth (v. Matthew 5:37). - MSB

Verse 37

Matthew 5:37

do not swear at all -- Cf. James 5:12. This should not be taken as a universal condemnation of oaths in all circumstances. God Himself confirmed a promise with an oath (Heb. 6:13–18; cf. Acts 2:30). Christ Himself spoke under oath (26:63, 64). And the law prescribed oaths in certain circumstances (e.g., Num. 5:19, 21; 30:2, 3). What Christ is forbidding here is the flippant, profane, or careless use of oaths in everyday speech. In that culture, such oaths were often employed for deceptive purposes. To make the person being victimized believe the truth was being told, the Jews would swear by “heaven,” “earth,” “Jerusalem,” or their own “heads” (vv. 34–36), not by God, hoping to avoid divine judgment for their lie. But it all was in God’s creation, so it drew Him in and produced guilt before Him, exactly as if the oath were made in His name. Jesus suggested that all our speech should be as if we were under an oath to tell the truth (v. 37). - MSB

Verse 38

Matthew 5:38

Matthew 5:38-42

“eye for eye” ... lex talionis - law of like retribution. (Punishment to fit the crime)

An eye for an eye ... This command is found in Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20, and Deuteronomy 19:21. In these places it was given as a rule to regulate the decisions of judges.

( Illustration: Even in Roman law, an arsonist was burned to death, one who murdered by drowning, was drowned himself, etc.)

Verse 39

Matthew 5:39

Verse 42

Matthew 5:42

Don’t be obsessed with material things; if we have sufficient (the necessary food and clothing) share with those needed. (Our “Give-A-Way Day: practices this verse, v. 42.

Verse 43

Matthew 5:43

Love neighbor -- Hate enemy ..

Romans 12:17-21 ff

A Study of "Enemy" Passages

2190 ἐχθρός [echthros /ech·thros/] adj. From a primary echtho (to hate), hateful (passively, odious, or actively, hostile); TDNT 2:811; TDNTA 285; GK 2398; 32 occurrences; AV translates as “enemy” 30 times, and “foe” twice. 1 hated, odious, hateful. 2 hostile, hating, and opposing another. 2a used of men as at enmity with God by their sin. 2a1 opposing (God) in the mind. 2a2 a man that is hostile. 2a3 a certain enemy. 2a4 the hostile one. 2a5 the devil who is the most bitter enemy of the divine government. Strong’s Enhanced Lexicon

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G2190 ἐχθρός

echthrós; fem. echthrá, neut. echthrón, adj. from échthos (n.f.), hatred, enmity. Hostile, inimical.

(I) In Romans 11:28, enemies, in contrast to agapētós (G27), beloved.

(II) In an act. sense, as a subst., ho echthrós, an enemy, adversary (Matthew 5:43; Matthew 10:36; Matthew 13:25; Luke 1:71; Luke 19:43; Philippians 3:18, "enemies of the cross"); in a pass. sense, a person hated or rejected as an enemy (Matthew 5:44; Matthew 13:28, Matthew 13:39, the adversary, Satan; Matthew 22:44, the adversaries of the Messiah; Mark 12:36; Luke 1:74; Luke 6:27, Luke 6:35; Luke 10:19, Satan; Luke 19:27; Luke 20:43; Acts 13:10; Romans 5:10; Romans 11:28; Romans 12:20; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Galatians 4:16; Colossians 1:21; 2 Thessalonians 3:15; Hebrews 1:13; Hebrews 10:13; James 4:4, of God; Revelation 11:5, Revelation 11:12). Metaphorically (1 Corinthians 15:26).

Deriv.: échthra (G2189), enmity, hatred.

Syn.: enantíos (G1727), opposite, contrary, antagonistic; anósios (G462), wicked, unholy; stugnētós (G4767), hated, odious, hateful; bdeluktós (G947), detestable, abominable; misoúmenos, the pres. pass. part. of miséō (G3404), to hate, hated.

Ant.: phílos (G5384), friend; hetaíros (G2083), companion; oikeíos (G3609), relative, adherent; súntrophos (G4939), one who has been brought up together with someone, comrade; adelphós (G80), brother.


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King James Condordance

G2190 ἐχθρός echthros Total KJV Occurrences: 32

enemies, 19

Matthew 22:44 (2), Mark 12:36, Luke 1:71, Luke 1:74, Luke 6:27, Luke 6:35, Luke 19:27, Luke 20:43 (2), Romans 5:10, Romans 11:28, 1 Corinthians 15:25, Philippians 3:18, Colossians 1:21, Hebrews 10:13 (2), Revelation 11:5, Revelation 11:12

enemy, 11

Matthew 5:43, Matthew 13:25, Matthew 13:28, Matthew 13:39, Luke 10:19, Acts 13:10, Romans 12:20, 1 Corinthians 15:26, Galatians 4:16, 2 Thessalonians 3:15, James 4:4

foes, 2

Matthew 10:36, Acts 2:35

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Arnt & Gingrich - Gk Lexidon

39.10 χθρα, ας f: a state of enmity with someone—‘enmity, being an enemy of.’ οὐκ οἴδατετι ἡ φιλία τοῦ κόσμου ἔχθρα τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστιν; ‘do you not know that being friendly with the world means being at enmity with God?’ Jas 4.4.

39.11 χθρός, ά, όν: pertaining to being at enmity with someone—‘being an enemy, in opposition to.’ ἐχθροὶντες κατηλλάγημεν τῷ θεῷ διὰ τοῦ θανάτου τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ ‘being enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son’ Ro 5.10; κατὰ μὲν τὸ εὐαγγέλιονχθροὶ δἰ ὑμᾶς ‘with respect to the good news, they are enemies for your sake’ Ro 11.28.

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Hayford’s Bible Handbook: Enemy

ENEMY—one who opposes or mistreats another. This word occurs more frequently in the Old Testament than in the New Testament. The reason for this is that the Old Testament is concerned primarily with the existence of Israel as a nation over against the other countries of the ancient world. Before Israel could serve as the channel of God’s grace to the world, its existence as a nation had to be securely established. The enemies of the Hebrew people were thus regarded as God’s enemies, and the reverse was also true (Psalms 139:20-22). In the New Testament, by contrast, the enemies to be overcome are primarily spiritual in nature.

While the Old Testament does refer to charity toward one’s enemy (Exodus 23:4-5; Proverbs 24:17), the New Testament goes further by commanding love for one’s enemy (Matthew 5:44; Romans 12:20). The New Testament looks toward a day when all enemies of good and righteousness will be overcome because of the redemptive work of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:25).

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Verse 44

bless them that curse you -- The word “bless” here means to “speak well of” or “speak well to:” - not to curse again or to slander, but to speak of those things which we can commend in an enemy; or, if there is nothing that we can commend, to say nothing about him. The word “bless,” spoken of God, means to regard with favor or to confer benefits, as when God is said to bless his people. When we speak of our “blessing God,” it means to praise Him or give thanks to Him. When we speak of blessing people, it “unites” the two meanings, and signifies to confer favor, to thank, or to speak well of.

Verse 48

Matthew 5:48

Going On To Perfection (cf. Hebrews 6:1)

Just what is perfection? Paul admonishes us to go on to perfection, but is that possible? We often reason away our imperfections with the rationale, "Well, I’m not perfect...." Others use the common dodge, "There was only one perfect man...." Armed with these ready phrases, we can go through life not squarely facing or accomplishing Paul’s instruction. Will this let us off the hook? Is our Judge in sympathy with our excuses, or will He require performance? We need to know where God stands on the issue of perfection so we can put ourselves in line with Him.

1. What is perfection? Colossians 4:12; Luke 8:14; Ephesians 4:13.

Comment: The context of these passages show perfection to entail completeness, ripeness (like fruit), and the fullness of the stature of Christ. The biblical Hebrew and Greek definitions of perfect and perfection include "without spot or blemish," "complete," "full," "sound," "undefiled," "whole," "mature" and "ripe." These all describe Christ’s character, who embodies all these traits.

2. Does this definition fit what Paul admonishes us to be? Hebrews 5:12-14; Hebrews 6:1-12. Does perfection come easily? What should we expect? 1 Peter 5:10; Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 5:7-9.

Comment: In his analogy Paul compares babies to adults. Little children are unskillful at many tasks, often becoming discouraged and quitting when the going gets tough. A sure sign of approaching maturity is endurance, but this is not passive waiting. Paul urges diligence in becoming perfect and complete, following those who endured great trials. Peter warns us that we will suffer during the perfecting process. We can not expect to escape what Christ Himself endured, learning perfection by the things He suffered.

3. Can we be perfect apart from others? Matthew 5:43-48; Matthew 19:21; Luke 6:39-49; John 17:20-23; Romans 8:35-39; Hebrews 13:5; Psalms 138:8.

Comment: The Bible links perfection with human relationships. Christ urges us to be as perfect as our Father in heaven, and ties the process to how we treat each other. The Kingdom of God is about eternal, peaceful relationships. We cannot withdraw from people and still develop the necessary relationship skills, just as God never leaves us but continues to work with us. Life would be easier for Him if He ignored us, but He works on, helping us develop our relationships with Him. He is the One who works perfection in us.

4. No one really expects "perfection." If we were perfect, however, would it make us everyone’s friends? Psalms 64:2-5; Job 1:1, Job 1:8; Job 2:3; Isaiah 53:3-9.

Comment: Jealousy is the rage of a man! Those who begin to reach a degree of spiritual maturity will constantly suffer the arrows of those who compare themselves among themselves. By God’s own mouth, Job was a "perfect" or mature man, but his friends—and even his wife!—turned bitterly on him when they thought they saw the first sign of imperfection. Christ, the paragon of perfection, was despised more than any man has ever been.

5. What are the fruits of perfection? How can we judge our progress toward it? Luke 8:14-15; Psalms 37:37; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Romans 12:2-3; Acts 3:16; James 1:4; Hebrews 13:21; James 3:2; 2 Timothy 3:17; 1 John 4:17; Matthew 19:21.

Comment: These verses can help us quickly check how we are doing. Is the direction of our life producing peace, soundness, patience, faith and good works? Is our tongue under control? Are we still fearful? Perfect love casts out fear! The young rich man had to be willing to give up what was dear to him for God and man, a fruit he was not willing to produce!

6. Does perfection ultimately mean we are completely without fault? Matthew 5:48; Philippians 2:5; 2 Corinthians 10:5; James 3:2.

Comment: Perfection, as used in Scripture regarding everyday life, means maturity and completeness. We can certainly attain an increasing level of spiritual maturity, yet we cannot truly complete the process until changed into God—until our human nature has been totally changed. Only then can we reach the stated goals of being perfect "as our Father in heaven," having "the mind of Christ," bringing "every thought into captivity," and never uttering a wrong word.

7. Is there hope for us? Philippians 3:12-15.

Comment: Though Paul urges us on to perfection, he was admittedly not completely there himself. He struggled to leave the past in the past and pursue the future. He shows that part of the process is maintaining a perfect attitude—a mind ready, willing and seeking after the prize of the high calling of Christ.

8. What promises are associated with perfection? Proverbs 2:21; Hebrews 11:38-40.

Comment: Those who "go on to perfection" will never be cast out of the land—their inheritance is eternal. Even those we consider spiritual giants in Hebrews 11, mature and complete as they were, will not receive their inheritance ahead of those of us now being perfected. They must wait in their graves for us, and we will inherit God’s Kingdom together!

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Matthew 5". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/matthew-5.html. 2021.
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