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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 5

Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New TestamentMeyer's Commentary

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Matthew 5:1 . αὐτῷ ] is wanting in Lachm., after B. Correction, with a view to improve the style.

Matthew 5:5 . Lachm. Tisch. have this verse before Matthew 5:4 , but on too weak authority (D, 33, Lat. Verss. Syr cur Or. Eus. and other Fathers). A logical bringing together of the πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι and of the πραεῖς .

Matthew 5:9 . αὐτοί ] bracketed by Lachm., deleted by Tisch. 8, wanting in C D א , 13, 134, Lat. Verss. Syr. Hil. But how easily would the omission occur in writing, since here the similarly ending υἱοί follows (otherwise in Matthew 5:4 ff.)!

Matthew 5:11 . ῥῆμα ] is deleted by Lachm. and Tisch. 8, after B D א , Vulg. It. and other Verss. and some Fathers. But as the word is altogether unnecessary as far as the meaning is concerned, it might easily be omitted, especially after the syllable PON.

ψευδόμενοι ] is wanting only in D, Codd. of the It., and some Fathers, including Origen. Suspected, indeed, by Griesbach, and deleted by Fritzsche, Tisch. 7; wrongly, however, since the word is quite decisively attested (again restored by Tisch. 8). A definition that appeared so much a matter of course might easily be passed over.

Matthew 5:13 . βληθῆναι ἔξω καί ] Lachm. Tisch. 8; βληθὲν ἔξω , after B C א , 1, 33. An attempt to help out the style.

Matthew 5:22 . εἰκῆ ] is wanting in B א , 48, 198, Vulg. Aeth. Or. and some other witnesses. Expressly rejected as spurious as early as Jerome and Augustin. Retr. i. 19, and Pseud.-Athan. Iren. and Hil. place it after ὀργ . Deleted by Fritzsche, Lachm., Tisch. It is an inappropriate addition, resulting from bias, although of very ancient date (already in Syr. It. Eus.).

Matthew 5:25 . The second σε παραδῷ is wanting only in B א , 1, 13, 124, 127* Arm. Aeth. 13, 124, 127* Chrys. Hilar. Arn. Deleted by Lachm. and Tisch. 8. Passed over as unnecessary, because its emphasis was mistaken.

Matthew 5:27 . ἐῤῥέθη ] Elz. adds τοῖς ἀρχαίοις , for which, however, decisive testimony is wanting. Taken from Matthew 5:21 ; Matthew 5:33 .

Matthew 5:28 . ἐπιθ . αὐτήν ] Elz.: ἐπιθ . αὐτῆς , against decisive testimony. א , 236, Clem. Or. Chrys. Isid. Tert. have no pronoun at all. So Fritzsche and Tisch. 8. But the testimony for αὐτήν is too strong, and the omission might easily have arisen from its being unnecessary.

Matthew 5:30 . βληθῇ εἰς γέενναν ] Lachm. and Tisch.: εἰς γέενναν ἀπέλθῃ , after B D? א , Curss. and many Verss. and Fathers; it is uncertain whether also in Or. Correctly; the Received reading is derived from Matthew 5:29 .

Matthew 5:31 . ὅτι ] is wanting in B D L א , Curss. Vulg. It. Chrys. Suspected by Griesbach, deleted by Lachm. and Tisch. Rightly. An addition that easily suggested itself. See the exegetical remarks on Matthew 2:23 .

Matthew 5:32 . ὃς ἂν ἀπολύσῃ ] Lachm. and Tisch. 8 : πᾶς ὁ ἀπολύων , after B K L M Δ Π א , Curss. Vulg. It. and other verss. A change made in accordance with Matthew 5:22 ; Matthew 5:28 ; Luke 16:18 .

μοιχᾶσθαι ] Lachm. and Tisch. 8 : μοιχευθῆναι . So B D א , Curss. Theoph. Or. Chrys. Theod. A gloss (to be seduced to adultery) to distinguish it from μοιχᾶται , which follows. Lachm. has afterwards καὶ ὁ ἀπολελυμένην γαμήσας , after B and some Curss., connected with the reading πᾶς ὁ ἀπολύων at the beginning of the verse.

Matthew 5:39 . ῥαπίσει ] B א , 33: ῥαπίζει ; so Tisch. 8. Correctly; the future is a conformation to Matthew 5:41 .

Matthew 5:42 . δίδου ] Lachm. and Tisch.: δός , after B D א , 13, 124, Clem. The Received reading is taken from Luke 6:30 .

Matthew 5:44 . τοῖς μισοῦσιν ] Elz.: τοὺς μισοῦντας , against the best and most numerous witnesses. To exchange, with Lachm. and Tisch., the whole passage from εὐλογ . to μις . ὑμᾶς , after B א , Curss. Copt. Syr cur and many Fathers (including Or. Eus.), and to explain it as an interpolation from Luke, is too bold, since in Luke 6:27 f. the sentences stand in different order. Omissions, however, caused by the Homoeoteleuta might easily occur. ἐπηρεαζόντων ὑμᾶς καί is, however, very suspicious; it is wanting in B א , Curss. and many Verss. Or. (five times; he has the words twice, but then καὶ διωκ . ὑμᾶς is wanting); also in Cypr. Aug. Lucif. and in others stands after διωκ .; it therefore betrays itself as an interpolation from Luke 6:28 .

Matthew 5:47 . ἀδελφούς ] φίλους , in E K L M S Δ Π , Curss. Arm. Goth. Bas. Lucif., is a gloss.

ἐθνικοί ] Elz.; Matthaei and Scholz have τελῶναι , against B D Z א , Curss. Verss. and Fathers. Brought hither from Matthew 5:46 .

Matthew 5:48 . ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς ] Lachm. and Tisch.: ὁ οὐράνιος ; also approved by Griesb., in accordance with very important witnesses. Is to be preferred; the Received reading flowed as a gloss from Matthew 5:45 .

Verse 1

Matthew 5:1 . See on the Sermon on the Mount, the exposition of Tholuck, ed. 5, 1872. [Achelis, Die Bergpredigt , 1875.] Luther’s exposition (sermons of 1530), which appeared in 1532.

τοὺς ὄχλους ] see Matthew 4:25 . The evangelist does not determine either the time or place precisely, yet he by no means agrees with Luke 6:17 .

The μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ are not the twelve apostles (Fritzsche, Hilgenfeld), against which Matthew 9:9 is already decisive, but, besides the first four that we selected (Matthew 4:18 ff.) His disciples generally, “qui doctrinam ejus sectabantur,” Grotius.

εἰς τὸ ὄρος ] The article is not indefinite: upon a mountain (Luther, Kuinoel), which explanation of the article is always incorrect (Bengel on Matthew 18:7 ), but also not generic; upon the hilly district , or on the heights (Ebrard, Bleek), as ὄρος in the singular (on the plural, comp. Matthew 18:12 , Matthew 24:16 ) in the N. T. is always only a single hill , as in classical writers; but τὸ ὄρος designates that hill which is situated in the place, where Jesus saw the ὄχλους . Comp. John 6:3 ; Euth. Zigabenus: τὸ ὄρος τὸ πλησίον . Others (Fritzsche, de Wette) make it the well-known hill; comp. Delitzsch: “the Sinai of the New Testament;” Ewald: “the holy hill of the gospel history.” These are arbitrary presuppositions, opposed to the analogy of Matthew 14:23 , Matthew 15:29 . It is a misuse of the article, however, to assume that in the Gospels the same mountain is always designated by τὸ ὄρος (Gfrörer, heil. Sage , I. p. 139; B. Bauer; Volkmar). Tradition points out the “mount of beatitudes” as near the town of Saphet; see Robinson, Palestine , III. p. 485. Comp. also Schubert, III. p. 233; Ritter, Erdk . XV. 1, p. 387; Keim, Gesch. J . II. p. 236.

Verse 2

Matthew 5:2 . Ἀνοίγειν τὸ στόμα ] after פָּתַח פֶּה ; Vorstius, de Hebraismis, p. 703 ff. Individual instances also amongst classical writers; Aristophanes, Av. 1720; Aeschylus, Prom. 612; Lucian. Philops. 33. This phrase belongs to the distinctly descriptive style of narrative, and denotes of itself nothing else than the opening of the mouth to speak, where the connection alone indicates whether in this descriptive element the emphasis of solemnity, of boldness, or the like is contained or not. Comp. on 2 Corinthians 6:11 ; Ephesians 6:19 . Here, where the first extensive discourse of Jesus, which forms the great programme for the membership of His kingdom, follows, the solemn character of the moment, “He opened His mouth,” is not to be mistaken; compare Matthew 13:35 . A similar indication of purpose in Job 3:1 , Daniel 10:16 , Acts 8:35 ; Acts 10:34 , but not in Acts 8:14 . Luther well says, “There the evangelist makes a preface and shows how Christ placed Himself to deliver the sermon which He intended; that He goes up a mountain, sits down, and opens His mouth, that men may see that He was in earnest.”

αὐτούς ] τοὺς μαθητάς . Jesus at first directed His discourse to the entire circle of His disciples, but kept also in view the ὀχλοί , who, according to Matthew 7:28 , pressed after Him, and became hearers of the discourse; see also Luke 6:20 ; Luke 7:1 .

Verses 3-10

Matthew 5:3-10 . The beatitudes in general , in order to set forth, first, in a general way, the moral conditions of future participation in the Messiah’s kingdom. “That is, indeed, a fine, sweet, friendly beginning of His teaching and sermon. For He does not proceed, like Moses, or a teacher of the law, with commands, threats, and terrors, but in a most friendly manner, with pure attractions and allurements, and pleasant promises,” Luther.

μακάριοι ] “Initiale hoc verbum toties repetitum indicat scopum doctrinae Christi,” Bengel. What the blessedness is ( אֲשְׁרֵי ) which He means, is stated by all the causal sentences [395] with ὅτι in Matthew 5:3-10 , viz. that which is based on this , that they will attain the salvation of the kingdom , which is nigh at hand.

οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι ] the עֲנָוִים , אֶבְיוֹנִים (see Isaiah 61:1 ; Isaiah 66:2 , and the post-exilian Psalms 37:11 ) were those who, according to the theocratic promise of the O. T., had to expect the Messianic blessedness (Luke 4:18 ). Jesus, however, according to Matthew, transports the idea of the poor (les miserables) from the politico-theocratic realm (the members of the oppressed people of God, sunk in poverty and external wretchedness) into the purely moral sphere by means of the dative of more precise definition, τῷ πνεύματι (comp. Matthew 5:8 ): the poor in reference to their spirit, the spiritually poor that is, those who feel, as a matter of consciousness, that they are in a miserable, unhappy condition; comp. Isaiah 57:15 ; Proverbs 29:23 . The ΠΤΩΧΕΊΑ intended is then subjectively determined according to the consciousness of the subject, so that these latter (comp. Matthew 5:4-6 ) are conceived of as those who feel within them, the opposite of having enough, and of wanting nothing in a moral point of view; to whom, consequently, the condition of moral poverty and helplessness is a familiar thing, as the praying publican, Luke 18:10 (the opposite in Revelation 3:17 ; 1 Corinthians 4:8 ), was such a poor man. We have neither to supply an “ also ” before τῷ πνεύματι , nor, with Baur, to explain it as if it meant οἱ πτωχοὶ , ἀλλὰ τῷ πνεύματι πλούσιοι ; comp. 2 Corinthians 6:10 . Chrysostom is substantially correct (comp. Theophylact): οἱ ταπεινοὶ κ . συντετριμμένοι τὴν διάνοιαν . Comp. de Wette in the Stud. von Daub und Creuzer, III. 2, p. 309 ff.; de morte expiat . p. 86 f. Jerome strikingly says: “Adjunxit spiritu , ut humilitatem intelligeres, non penuriam.” Comp. ὑψηλὸς πνεύματι , Ecclesiastes 7:8 . They are not different from the μὴ βλέποντες in John 9:39 . They know that in point of knowledge and moral constitution they are far from divine truth. The declaration that such are blessed, however, at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, is in perfect accordance with the fundamental condition of participation in the kingdom of the Messiah, the ΜΕΤΑΝΟΕῖΤΕ , with the call to which both Jesus and John began their public appearance. The ΠΤΩΧΕΊΑ Τῷ ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΙ , is the precondition of ΠΛΟΥΤΕῖΝ ΕἸς ΘΕΌΝ (Luke 12:21 ), and of becoming a true ΠΛΟΎΣΙΟς Τῷ ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΙ (Barnabas 19). These poor people are humble, but we are not to say that πτωχ . τ . πν . signifies the humble (in answer to Kuinoel and older interpreters); for which reason we have not to appeal to Isaiah 66:2 , where רוּחַ does not agree with עָנִי . Fritzsche, in a way that is not in harmony with the moral nature and life of the whole discourse, limits the meaning to that of discernment: Homines ingenio et eruditione parum florentes; ” so also Chr. Fritzsche, Nov. Opusc . p. 241, in which meaning (consequently equivalent to οἱ πτωχοὶ τῇ διανοίᾳ , as Origen, de princ . iv. 22, calls the Ebionites) the saying was already made a subject of ridicule by Julian. Older Catholics (Maldonatus and Corn. a Lapide), after Clement of Alexandria and many Fathers, taking ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΙ of the self-determination , misused our passage in support of the vow of voluntary poverty . On the other hand, Calovius strikingly remarks: “Paupertas haec spiritualis non est consilii , sed praecepti .” Others (Olearius, Michaelis, Paulus) connect τῷ πνεύματι with μακάριοι : the poor are spiritually happy . Opposed to this is the position of the words and Matthew 5:8 . Moreover, no example is found in the N. T. or in the Jewish writings, where, in the case of beatitudes, to the ΜΑΚΆΡΙΟς , or אַשְׁרֵי , or טֹוּבֵי , any more precise designation of fortune was immediately subjoined. Comp. especially, Knapp, Scripta var. arg . pp. 351 380. According to Köstlin, p. 66, the τῷ πνεύματι , which is not expressly read in the Clementines (see Homily xv. 10) and Polycrates ii. (as also τὴν δικαιος . Matthew 5:6 ), is said to be a limiting addition proceeding from later reflection, one of the many changes which must be assumed as having taken place in the original collection of discourses; comp. also Hilgenfeld, Ewald, Bleek, Wittichen, Jahrb. f. D. Theol. 1862, p. 323; Holtzmann, p. 176; Schenkel, and others. But see on Luke 6:23 .

ΒΑς . Τ . ΟὐΡ .] the kingdom of heaven belongs to them (see on Matthew 3:2 ), namely, as a certain possession in the future . Comp. the following futures . Observe in all the beatitudes, Matthew 5:3-10 , the symmetrically emphatical position of αὐτῶν , αὐτοί ; it is just they who .

[395] These causal sentences justify also the usual enumeration of the Makarisms as the “ seven beatitudes.” For vv. 3 and 10 contain the same promise, which, therefore, is to be counted only once in order to retain the number seven; comp. Ewald, Jahrb . I. p. 133; also Köstlin and Hilgenfeld. Others, like Weizsäcker and Keim, counting ver. 10 specially with the others, arrive at the number eight . But Delitzsch, to bring out an analogy with the Decalogue, reckons, besides the μακάριοι in ver. 11, the χαίρετε κ . ἀγαλλ . also in ver. 12, as “the full-sounding finale,” and in this way knows how to force out ten beatitudes.

Verse 4

Matthew 5:4 . Οἱ πενθοῦντες ] Comp. Isaiah 61:2 ; Isaiah 57:17 f. After Chrysostom, these have frequently been understood as those who mourned over their own sins and those of others. These are not excluded, but they are not exclusively or specially meant by the general expression (Keim). They are generally those who are in suffering and distress . Think, for example, of Lazarus, of the persecuted Christians (John 16:20 ; Hebrews 12:11 ), of the suffering repentant ones (2 Corinthians 7:9 ), and so on; for that no unchristian πενθεῖν , no λύπη τοῦ κόσμου , is meant, is (2 Corinthians 7:10 ) understood of itself from the whole surroundings. The πενθοῦντες shall, Romans 8:18 , 2 Corinthians 4:17 , John 14:13 , be comforted as a matter of fact in the Messiah’s kingdom by the enjoyment of its blessedness (Luke 2:25 ; Luke 16:25 ), therefore the Messiah Himself is also called מְנַחֵם (Schoettgen, Hor. II. p. 18; Wetstein, I. p. 665). According to the beatitudes, which all refer to the Messiah’s kingdom, there is no mention of temporal comfort by the promise of the forgiveness of sins, and so on. This in answer to Kienlen in the Stud. u. Kritik. 1848, p. 681.

Verse 5

Matthew 5:5 . According to Psalms 37:11 , where the LXX. have οἱ δὲ πραεῖς κληρονομήσουσι γῆν . The πραεῖς (Matthew 11:29 , Matthew 21:5 ) are the calm, meek sufferers relying on God’s help, who, without bitterness or revenge as the ταπεινοὶ κ . ἡσύχιοι (Isaiah 66:2 ), suffer the cruelties of their tyrants and oppressors. The opposite is χαλεποί (Plat. Pol . vi. p. 493 B), πικροί (Dem. 315, 5), ἄγριοι , and the like; Plat. Def . p. 412 D: πραότης κατάστασις κινήσεως τῆς ὑπʼ ὀργῆς · κρᾶσις ψυχῆς σύμμετρος . Comp. 1 Peter 3:4 . The very ancient popular (Genesis 15:7 f.) theocratic conception: to come into possession of the land (of (Palestine) (in Psalms 37 : after the expulsion of their haughty enemies), has been raised to its antitypical Christian idea, so that the Messiah’s kingdom and the receiving possession of it is intended. Comp. on Galatians 3:18 ; Ephesians 1:11 .

Verse 6

Matthew 5:6 . Concerning πεινῆν and διψῆν , which regularly govern the genitive with the accusative , where the object is conceived as that which endures the action, see examples of this rare use in Kypke, Obss . I. p. 17; Loesner, Obss . p. 11; and especially Winer, p. 192 [E. T. 256]. The metaphorical meaning (Isaiah 55:1 ; Psalms 42:3 ; Sir 51:24 ) of the verbs is that of longing desire . See Pricaeus and Wetstein in loc. ; as regards διψ ., also Jacobs, ad Anthol . VI. p. 26, VIII. p. 233. The δικαιοσύνη , however, is the righteousness , the establishment of which was the aim of Christ’s work, and the condition of participation in the Messiah’s kingdom. They are designated as such whose “great earnestness, desire, and fervour” (Luther) are directed towards a moral constitution free from guilt. Luther, besides, strikingly draws attention to this, that before all these portions of the beatitudes, “faith must first be there as the tree and headpiece or sum” of righteousness.

χορτασθήσονται ] not generally regni Messiani felicitate (Fritzsche), but, as the context requires, δικαιοσύνης : they will obtain righteousness in full measure, namely, in being declared to be righteous (Romans 5:19 ; Galatians 5:5 , and remarks thereon) at the judgment of the Messiah (Matthew 25:34 ), and then live for ever in perfect righteousness, so that God will be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28 ). Comp. 2 Peter 3:13 . On the figurative χορτάζ ., Psalms 17:15 ; Psalms 107:9 .

Verse 7

Matthew 5:7 . Οἱ ἐλεήμονες ] the compassionate (Hebrews 2:17 ; Hom. Od . v. 191) in general, not, as de Wette arbitrarily limits it, in opposition to the desire for revenge and cruelty against the heathen , which were contained in the ordinary Messianic hopes.

ἐλεηθήσονται ] that is, in this way, that they get assigned to them the salvation of the Messiah’s kingdom, which will be the highest act of the divine compassion , Luke 1:72 ; Romans 9:16 ; Romans 5:17 . The divine maxim, which lies at the foundation of the statement, Matthew 7:2 ; Matthew 25:35 . Kienlen is wrong when he says the ἐλεηθ . refers to the forgiveness of the sins which still cleave even to the regenerate; it points to this, that the entire bestowal of Messianic salvation is the work of divine grace, which follows in its procedure its own moral rules (faith working by love ).

Verse 8

Matthew 5:8 . Οἱ καθαροὶ τῇ καρδίᾳ ] denotes the moral blamelessness of the inner life , the centre of which is the heart, in conformity with the view that πᾶσα ἁμαρτία ῥύπον ἐντίθησι τῇ ψυχῇ , Origen, Hom, in Joh . lxxiii. 2. Comp. Psalms 73:1 ; Psalms 24:4 ; 1Ti 1:5 ; 1 Timothy 3:9 ; Plat. Crat . p. 403 E, ψυχὴ καθαρά , p. 405 B, al . How this purity is actually attained (by justification and the sanctification of believers) remains even now left over to the future.

τὸν θεὸν ὄψονται ] certainly refers, according to the analogy of all the other beatitudes, to the αἰὼν μέλλων , but is not (in accordance with the Oriental idea of great good fortune in being an intimate friend of the king’s, 1 Kings 10:8 ; Esther 1:14 ) to be taken as a typical designation of the Messianic happiness in general (Kuinoel, Fritzsche, and others), nor as an inward seeing of God ( knowledge, becoming conscious of God, inmost fellowship with God), as de Wette also understood it to mean direct spiritual fellowship with God here on earth and there in heaven; but, as the words do not allow us to understand it differently: of the seeing of God who gloriously reveals Himself in the Messiah’s kingdom, a seeing which will be attained in the condition of the glorified body , Revelation 7:15 ; Rev 22:4 ; 1 John 3:2 ; Hebrews 12:14 . Passages like Exodus 33:20 , John 1:18 ; John 6:46 , Colossians 1:15 , Romans 1:20 , 1 Timothy 6:16 , are not opposed to it, because they refer to seeing with the earthly eye. The seeing of God, who, although Spirit (John 4:24 ), has His essential form of manifestation (Philippians 2:6 ), will one day be the consummation of the προσαγωγή obtained through Christ (Romans 5:2 ). Comp. Clem. Hom . xvii. 7.

Verse 9

Matthew 5:9 . Οἱ εἰρηνοποιοί ] not the peaceful ( εἰρηνικοί , James 3:17 , 2Ma 5:25 ; or εἰρηνεύοντες , Sir 6:7 ), a meaning which does not appear even in Pollux, i. 41, 152 (Augustine thinks of the moral inner harmony; de Wette, on the contrary, of the inclination of the contemporaries of Jesus to war and tumult; Bleek reminds us of Jewish party hatred), but: the founders of peace (Xen. Hist. Gr . vi. 3. 4; Plut. Mor . p. 279 B; comp. Colossians 1:20 ; Proverbs 10:10 ), who as such minister to God’s good pleasure, who is the God of peace (Romans 16:20 ; 2 Corinthians 13:11 ), as Christ Himself was the highest Founder of peace (Luke 2:14 ; John 16:33 ; Ephesians 2:14 ff.).

υἱοὶ θεοῦ κληθής .] again a characteristic designation of community in the future kingdom of the Messiah , so far, namely, as the participators in it have obtained the υἱοθεσία , a relation which begins with their reception into the kingdom; comp. on Luke 6:35 . If we import the conception of being loved by God (Kuinoel), or of resemblance to God (Paulus, de Wette), and the like, then we are not in harmony with the expression, and, contrary to the context, we identify it with the conception of the temporal Sonship of God, as it appears in John as a being begotten by God; in Paul, as adoption; see John 1:12 ; John 1:14 . Certainly this temporal Sonship is the moral premiss of that future one; but it is only the latter which can here be meant; comp. Romans 8:19 ; Romans 8:23 .

κληθήσονται ] What they are is designated as expressly recognised by the (honourable) name in question, by which they are called. That καλεῖσθαι does not stand for εἶναι , see Fritzsche on i. 16; Winer, p. 571 f. [E. T. 769]. Comp. Eur. Hec . 625: ὁ δʼ ἐν πολίταις τίμιος κεκλημένος ; and Pflugk on the passage; Hom. Il . ii. 260; and Nägelsbach in loc .


In the beatitudes, Matthew 5:3-9 , the various characteristic designations of the Messianic happiness ingeniously correspond to the various designations of the subject, so that in the first declaration, Matthew 5:3 , the subject of the promise, the kingdom of the Messiah, is named expressly, and as a whole , and in the following it is always those individual sides of the happiness of this kingdom that are brought forward which correspond to the subjects designated. Thus, to those who mourn corresponds the state of being comforted; to the patient sufferers, who now allow themselves to be oppressed, the future condition of possession and mastership; to the hungry, that of being filled; to the merciful, the receiving of mercy; to the pure in heart, the seeing of God, of which no impure person is capable; to the founders of peace, the sonship of God, who Himself in His own Son has reconciled men to Himself, and to one another. Merely different beams of light from the same glory. At the close, after the seven independent beatitudes, in Matthew 5:10 , which is the foundation and transition to the following direct address, the Messiah’s kingdom is once more expressly named, and as a whole , as in the beginning, Matthew 5:3 . In this way Matthew 5:3-10 form an ingenious and profound harmonious whole . To this unity and completeness belongs also the series of the subjects , which, taken together , set forth the whole position (Matthew 5:3-5 ) and the whole endeavours and life (Matthew 5:6-9 ) of the future member of the kingdom. For as to his position , he is full of lowly feeling (Matthew 5:3 ), a bearer of suffering (Matthew 5:4 ), in quiet patience (Matthew 5:5 ). But as to his endeavours and life: full of fervour after moral perfection (Matthew 5:6 ), he cherishes towards others the feeling of compassionate love (Matthew 5:7 ), and by the purity of heart which he attains (Matthew 5:8 ), his outward actions tend towards peace (Matthew 5:9 ), whether he also suffer persecution (this by way of transition to Matthew 5:11 ) for righteousness’ sake all springing from the one root, faith in his Lord.

Verse 10

Matthew 5:10 . Comp. 1 Peter 3:14 ; 1 Peter 4:14 .

δικαιοσύν ., as in Matthew 5:6 ἕνεκ . δικ ., is, as to substance, not different from ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ , Matthew 5:11 . In communion with Christ there is righteousness, and in this ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ is expressed the full Messianic consciousness , [396] the certain holy self-feeling of which for the persecuted begins (Acts 9:4 ).

To take the αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλ . τ . οὐρ . differently from Matthew 5:3 (Kienlen in d. Stud. u. Krit . 1848, p. 678: Matthew 5:5 is the entrance into the kingdom of God; Matthew 5:10 , the consummation in the same, comp. Lange) is purely arbitrary. See rather the preceding remark.

[396] This putting forward the person as Lord and Master is, in Weizsäcker’s view, p. 151, a reason for regarding ver. 11 f. as a later explanation to the original text. But even in the whole train of the discourse that follows from ver. 17 onwards, such a personal assertion comes out strongly enough; comp. especially the constant symmetrical recurrence of ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν , and immediately in ver. 17 the expression of the Messianic consciousness, ἦλθον , κ . τ . λ .

Verses 11-12

Matthew 5:11-12 . Comp. Isaiah 51:7 ff. Application of Matthew 5:10 to the disciples. To explain ὀνειδίζειν , to make reproaches (Wurm, Dinarch . p. 77), and διώκειν (comp. 1 Corinthians 4:12 ), with Beza, Raphel, and Wolf, of indignities and accusations before the court , is an unwarrantable limitation. The whole of the hostility which is to assail His disciples stands even now before the soul of the Lord, and He prepares them for it; there is accordingly no reason to see in Matthew 5:10-12 an addition by the evangelist (Hilgenfeld).

The ψευδόμενοι , which is to be defended as genuine (see the critical remarks), easily and appropriately connects itself with καθʼ ὑμῶν , so that the latter forms with ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ an emphatic correlative; the whole participial definition, however, from εἴπωσι to ῥῆμα , is appended as a statement of modality, “in their speaking falsely against you for my sake ” that is, because you belong to me , which is their motive for making lying statements against you . On ψεύδεσθαι with κατά , contra , comp. James 3:14 ; often thus amongst Greek writers.

Verse 12

Matthew 5:12 . Ὁ μισθός ] comp. κατεργάζεται , 2 Corinthians 4:17 , and remarks thereon. The article denotes: the reward which is destined, kept in readiness for you (Matthew 25:34 ; Colossians 1:5 ), and that for the indignities, persecutions, and lies borne through faith in me.

ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς ] is great in heaven. A reference to the book of life (Fritzsche, Gratz), Philippians 4:3 , Revelation 3:5 ; Revelation 20:15 ; Revelation 21:27 , Daniel 12:1 , is not yielded by the text, which only presents the idea that the reward is laid, up in heaven until the future communication of it, which begins with the establishment of the kingdom, and therefore not ἔσται , but ἐστί , is to be supplied; and this is to be taken not as irrespective of time (de Wette), but as present.

γάρ ] assigns the reason from the recognised certainty (Matthew 10:41 ) that to the prophets , who formerly were persecuted in like manner (Matthew 23:29 ff.), great reward is reserved in heaven for future communication in the kingdom of the Messiah.

The prophets (comp. Matthew 7:12 ) are a typical example for the disciples. On the conception of μισθός , which κατὰ χάριν λογίζεται (Romans 4:4 ), comp. Matthew 20:1 ff.; Luke 17:10 ; see generally Weiss in d. Deutsch. Zeitschr . 1853, p. 40 ff.; Bibl. Theol. p. 104 ff.

Verse 13

Matthew 5:13 . Τὸ ἅλας τῆς γῆς ] A figure of the power which counteracts corruption, and preserves in a sound condition the effect which salt has upon water (2 Kings 2:20 ), meat, and such like. Thus the ministry of the disciples was destined by the communication of the divine truth to oppose the spiritual corruption and powerlessness of men, and to be the means of bringing about their moral soundness and power of life. An allusion to the use of salt in sacrifices (Mark 9:49 ) is not hinted at here (in answer to Tholuck). Comp. rather Colossians 4:6 ; Theodoret, Heracleon (in Cramer, Cat . p. 33): ἅλας τ . γῆς ἐστιν τὸ ψυχικὸν ἄρτυμα . Without this salt humanity would have fallen a prey to spiritual φθορά . Fritzsche, overlooking the positive efficacy of salt, derives the figure only from its indispensable nature . Observe, moreover, how the expression τῆς γῆς , as a designation of the mass of the inhabitants of the earth, who are to be worked upon by the salt, is as appropriately selected for this figure as τοῦ κόσμου for the following one. And Jesus thus even now throws down the thought of universal destination into the souls of the disciples as a spark to be preserved.

μωρανθῇ ] will have become savourless , Mark 9:50 : ἄναλον γένηται ; Dioscorides in Wetstein: ῥίζαι γευσαμένῳ μωραί .

ἐν τίνι ἁλισθήσεται ;] by what means will it again receive its salting power? Theophylact: διορθωθήσεται . Laying figures aside: If you, through failing to preserve the powers bestowed upon you, and by allowing them to perish, become in despondency and torpidity unfaithful to your destiny and unfitted for your calling, how will you raise yourselves again to the power and efficiency appropriate to your vocation, which you have lost. [397] Your uselessness for your calling will then be an irreparabile damnum! “Non enim datur sal salis,” Jansen. Grotius well says, “ipsi emendare alios debebant, non autern exspectare, ut ab aliis ipsi emendarentur.” Augustine, de serm. in mont . Matthew 1:16 . Luther differently: Wherewith shall one salt? Erasmus, Paraphr.: “quid tandem erit reliquum, quo multitudinis insulsa vita condiatur?” Putting figure aside: Who, then, will supply your place? However appropriate in itself this meaning might be, nevertheless εἰς οὐδὲν ἰσχύει stands opposed to it. [398] See also Mark 9:50 .

ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρ .] ab hominibus “ obviis quibusque ,” Bengel.

[397] Whether the salt can really become quite insipid and without power, and thus lose its essential property, is not at all the question. Jesus puts the case. We need not therefore either appeal, with Paulus, to the salt which has been exposed to the weather and become tasteless, which Maundrell ( Reise nach Pal . p. 162; Rosenmüller, Morgenland, in loc .) found in the district of Aleppo, or make out of the common cooking salt, saltpetre (Altmann, Vriemoet), or asphalt (v. d. Hardt, Schoettgen), or sea-salt (Ebrard).

[398] This εἰς οὐδὲν ἰσχύει , etc., clearly sets forth its utter uselessness for the purpose for which it was designed , not the exclusion from the community, or the being rejected by Christ (Luther, Chemnitz, and others), to which the idea, “ it is fit for nothing but,” is not appropriate. It would be different if Christ had said βληθήσεται ἕξω , etc. Theophylact understands exclusion from the dignity of teacher; Chrysostom, Erasmus, and others, the most supreme contempt. Observe, moreover, that the expression ἰσχύει ( has power for nothing except, etc.), and so on, contains an acumen in its relation to the following passive βληθῆναι , etc.

Verses 13-16

Matthew 5:13-16 . The course of thought: The more important and influential your destined calling is, all the less ought you to allow yourselves to be dispirited, and to become faithless to your calling through indignities and persecutions; you are the salt and the light! Weizsäcker rightly claims for this section (in answer to Holtzmann, Weiss) originality in this connection, in which it attaches itself with great significance to the last beatitude and its explanation.

Verse 14

Matthew 5:14 . Τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου ] As the natural light illumines the world, which in itself is dark, so are ye intended to spiritually enlighten humanity . Christ is principaliter the Light (John 1:4 ; John 9:8 ; John 9:12 , al .); the disciples mediate (Ephesians 3:9 ), as the mediators of His divine truth to men; and all Christians in general are, as those who are enlightened, also, on their part, bringers of light, and light in the Lord (Philippians 2:15 ; Ephesians 5:8 ).

οὐ δύναται πόλις , κ . τ . λ .] If you would desire timidly to withdraw into concealment (comp. Matthew 5:11 ; Matthew 5:13 ), then that would be conduct as opposed to the purpose for which you are destined as if a town set on a hill should wish to be concealed, or if one were to place (Matthew 5:15 ) a light under a bushel.

No definite town is intended; Saphet has been conjectured; see, on the other hand, Robinson, Pal . III. p. 587. We are not to think of Jerusalem (whose destination the disciples are, in the opinion, of Weizsäcker, to realize, p. 336). It is just any city in general situated upon a hill .

Verse 15

Matthew 5:15 . Ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον ] Fulgentius, Matthew 3:6 : “ lucernamque modio contegit .” The article denotes the grain measure that is at hand in the house . On μόδιος , comp. Plut. Demetr . 33. It was one-sixth of the μέδιμνος , the μέδιμνος , according to Boeckh, 2602 Paris cubic inches [nearly 12 gallons English]. What Hebrew measure did Jesus mention? most probably מְאָה , as in Mark 13:33 .

The καί is the consecutivum: and, and thus, that is, placed upon the candlestick; comp. Matthew 4:19 ; Maetzner, ad Lycurgum, p. 253. On the lamps which were in domestic use, and the candlesticks upon which they were placed, see as regards the Greeks, Hermann, Privatalterth. Matthew 20:23 ; Becker, Charikl. II. p. 214 ff.; as to the Greek expression λυχνία , Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 313.

Verse 16

Matthew 5:16 . Οὕτω ] like a burning lamp upon its stand.

τὸ φῶς ὑμῶν ] the light, of which you are the trusted possessors. This shines before men , if the disciples come forward publicly in their office with fidelity and courage, do not draw back, but spread abroad the gospel boldly and freely.

ὅτως ἴδωσιν ὑμῶν , κ . τ . λ .] that they may see the excellent works done by you . These are not their virtues in general, but, in accordance with the whole context from Matthew 5:11 , their ministry as faithful to its obligations, their specific works as disciples , which, however, are also of a moral nature.

καὶ δοξάσωσι , κ . τ . λ .] that He has made you fit (2 Corinthians 3:5 ) to perform such works, they must recognise Him as their author; comp. Mat 9:8 ; 1 Peter 2:12 . The opposite, Romans 2:24 .

τ . πατ . ὑμῶν τ . ἐν τοῖς οὐρ .] see on Matthew 6:9 . This designation of God, which Christ gives forth from the fundamental standpoint of His gospel, already presupposes instructions previously given to the disciples upon the point. Observe, moreover, that here it is not ὑμῶν which, as formerly, has the emphasis.

Verse 17

Matthew 5:17 . [399] A connection with what precedes is not to be artificially sought out. Jesus breaks off and introduces the new section without any intermediate remarks , which corresponds, precisely to its pre-eminent importance (for He shows how the Christian δικαιοσύνη , having its root in that of the Old Testament , is its consummation). On μὴ νομίς . ὅτι ἠλθ ., comp. Matthew 10:34 .

] never stands for ΚΑΊ (see Winer, p. 410 [E. T. 549 f.]; comp. on 1 Corinthians 11:27 ), but is always distinctive . Here, to abrogate the one or the other. I have to abrogate neither that nor this. The νόμος is the divine institute of the law, which has its original document in the Pentateuch. The further Old Testament revelation, in so far as its final aim is the Messiah and His work, is represented by οἱ προφῆται , who make up its principal part; accordingly, ΝΌΜΟς and οἱ προφῆται summarily denote the whole Old Testament revelation (comp. Luke 16:6 ), partly as a living divine economy, as here; partly as γραφή , as in Luke 24:27 ; Acts 24:14 ; Acts 28:23 ; Romans 3:21 . Moreover, in the expression tow ΤΟῪς ΠΡΟΦΉΤΑς we are not to think of their predictions as such (the Greek Fathers, Augustine, Beza, Calovius, and others; also Tholuck, Neander, Harnaek, Bleek, Lechler, Schegg, and others), as nobody could imagine that their abrogation was to be expected from the Messiah, but, as the connection with νόμος shows (and comp. Matthew 7:12 , Matthew 22:40 ; Luke 16:29 ), and as is in keeping with the manner in which the idea is carried out in the following verses, their contents as commands , in which respect the prophets have carried on the development of the law in an ethical manner (Ritschl, altkath. Kirche , p. 36 f.). In νόμος , however, to think merely of the moral law is erroneous, as it always signifies the entire law, and the distinction between the ritualistic, civil, and moral law is modern; comp. on Romans 3:20 . If, afterwards, sentences are given from the moral law , yet these are only quotations by way of illustration from the whole , from which, however, the moral precepts very naturally suggested themselves for quotations, because the idea of righteousness is before the mind. He has fulfilled the entire law, and in so doing has not destroyed the slightest provision of the ritualistic or civil code, so far as its general moral idea is concerned , but precisely everything which the law prescribes is raised to an ideal, of which the old legal commands are only στοιχεῖα . Theophylact well illustrates the matter by the instance of a silhouette, which the painter Οὐ ΚΑΤΑΛΎΕΙ , but carries out to completion , ἀναπληροῖ .

καταλῦσαι ] often employed by classical writers to denote the dissolution of existing constitutions (specially also of the abrogation of laws, Isocr. p. 129 E; Polyb. iii. 8. 2), which are thereby rendered non-existent and invalid; comp. 2Ma 2:22 ; John 7:23 ; also ΝΌΜΟΝ ΚΑΤΑΡΓΕῖΝ , Romans 3:31 ; ἈΘΕΤΕῖΝ , Hebrews 10:28 ; Galatians 3:15 .

The ΠΛΉΡΩΣΙς of the law and the prophets is their fulfilment by the re-establishment of their absolute meaning, so that now nothing more is wanting to what they ought to be in accordance with the divine ideas which lie at the foundation of their commands. It is the perfect development of their ideal reality out of the positive form, in which the same is historically apprehended and limited . So substantially, Luther, Calvin (comp. before them Chrysostom; he, however, introduces what is incongruous), Lightfoot, Hammond, Paulus, Gratz, de Wette, Olshausen, Ritschl, Ewald, Weiss, Hilgenfeld; likewise Schleiermacher, L. J . p. 314 ff., and others. Comp. Tholuck (who, however, brings together the too varying elements of different explanations), also Kahnis, Dogmat . I, p. 474, who understands it as the development of what is not completed into something higher, which preserves the substance of the lower. This explanation, which makes absolute the righteousness enjoined and set forth in the law and the prophets, is converted into a certainty by the two verses that follow. The matter is represented by πληρ . as a making complete (John 15:11 ; 2 Corinthians 10:6 ), in opposition to καταλῦσαι , which expresses the not allowing the thing to remain. Others (Bretschneider, Fritzsche): facere quae de Messia pre-scripta sunt; others (Käuffer, B. Crusius, Bleek, Lechler, Weizsäcker, after Beza, Eisner, Vorst, Wolf, and many older interpreters): legi satisfacere , as in Romans 13:8 , where, in reference to the prophets , πληρ . is taken in the common sense of the fulfilment of the prophecies (see specially, Euth. Zigabenus, Calovius, and Bleek), but thereby introducing a reference which is not merely opposed to the context (see Matthew 5:18 f.), but also an unendurable twofold reference of πληρ . [400] Luther well says: “Christ is speaking of the fulfilment , and so deals with doctrines , in like manner as He calls ‘ destroying ’ a not acting with works against the law, but a breaking off from the law with the doctrine .” The fulfilling is “showing the right kernel and understanding, that they may learn what the law is and desires to have.”

I did not come to destroy, but to fulfil; the object is understood of itself, but the declaration delivered in this general way is more solemn without the addition of the pronoun.

[399] Special writings upon the passage: Baumgarten, doctrina J. Ch. de lege Mos. ex oral. mont . 1838; Harnack, Jesus d. Christ oder der Erfüller d. Gesetzes , 1842; J. E. Meyer, über d. Verhältn. Jesu und seiner Jünger zum alttest. Gesetz . 1853. See especially, Ritschl, altkathol. K . p. 35 ff.; Bleek in d. Stud. u. Krit . 1853, p. 304; Lechler, ibidem , 1854, p. 787 ff.; Weiss, ibidem , 1858, p. 50 ff., and bibl. Theol. § 27; Ewald, Jahrb . X. p. 114 ff. The collection of sayings is to be simply regarded as the source of this section, not any special treatise upon the position of Jesus towards that law (Holtzmann); comp. Weiss in d. Stud. u. Krit . 1864, p. 56 f.

[400] Vitringa, who compares נמר , even brings out the meaning “to expound.” The explanation of Kuinoel goes back to the legi satisfacere, but gives as meaning, docendo vivendoque stabilire. Comp. Keim, “to teach the law, to do it, and to impose it.” The older dogmatic exegetes, who explained it by satisfacere, here found the satisfactio activa. See, for example, Er. Schmid and Calovius; recently, Philippi, vom thät. Gehors. Chr. p. 34; Baumgarten, p. 15. On the other hand, B. Crusius and also Tholuck. According to Bleek, p. 304, Christ has fulfilled the moral law by His sinless life, the ceremonial law by His sacrificial death, by means of which the prophecies also are fulfilled. According to Lechler, Jesus fulfils the law as doer, by His holy life and sacrificial death; as teacher, in teaching mankind rightly to understand and fulfil the commandments.


The Apostle Paul worked quite in the sense of our passage; his writings are full of the fulfilment of the law in the sense in which Christ means it; and his doctrine of its abrogation refers only to its validity for justification to the exclusion of faith. It is without any ground, therefore, that this passage, and especially Matthew 5:18 f., have been regarded by Baur ( neutest. Theol. p. 55) as Judaistic , and supposed not to have proceeded in this form from Jesus, whom, rather in opposition to the higher standpoint already gained by Him, (Schenkel), the Apostle Matthew has apprehended and edited in so Judaistic a manner (Köstlin, p. 55 f.), or the supposed Matthew has made to speak in so anti-Pauline a way (Gfrörer, h. Sage , II. p. 84); according to Hilgenfeld, in his Zeitschr . 1867, p. 374, Matthew 5:17 is indeed original, but in accordance with the view of the Hebrew gospel; Matthew 5:18 f., however, is an anti-Pauline addition; Weizsäcker sees in Matthew 5:19 only an interpolation; but Schenkel finds in Matthew 5:18 f. the proud assertion of the Pharisee, not Jesus’ own conviction. Paul did not advance beyond this declaration (comp. Planck in d. theol. Jahrb . 1847, p. 268 ff.), but he applied his right understanding boldly and freely, and in so doing the breaking up of the old form by the new spirit could not but necessarily begin, as Jesus Himself clearly recognised (comp. Matthew 9:16 ; John 4:21 ; John 4:23 f.) and set forth to those who believed in His own person and His completed righteousness (comp. Ritschl). But even in this self-representation of Christ the new principle is not severed from the O. T. piety, but is the highest fulfilment of the latter, its anti-typical consummation, its realized ideal. Christianity itself is in so far a law. Comp. Wittichen, p. 328; Holtzmann, p: 457 f.; Weizsäcker, p. 348 f.; see also on Romans 3:27 ; Galatians 6:2 ; 1 Corinthians 9:21 .

Verses 17-48

Matthew 5:17-48 . Messianic fulfilment of the law by the setting forth of which Jesus now, after He had made clear to the disciples their high destiny, desired to establish, before all other things the relation of Sis ministry to the religion of the Old Testament , introducing it, indeed, with μὴ νομίσητε , κ . τ . λ .; because the thought of an abrogation of the law by the Messiah (which was actually current among the Jews, upon the basis of Jeremiah 31:31 , see Gfrörer, Jahrh. d. Heils , II. p. 341), and therewith a renewal of religion from the very foundation, might easily suggest itself so as to become highly injurious, and might give to the work of the disciples themselves an altogether perverted direction, as it was, moreover, maliciously laid hold of by their enemies in order to accuse the Lord (Matthew 26:61 ) and His disciples (Acts 6:14 ; Acts 21:21 ). The more designedly Jesus introduces and carries through this part (of His discourse), the less does it suffice to assume the occasion thereto as arising from the law retiring into the background in His daily life, and from a neglect of the law thus inferred (Keim); or from this, that Jesus was accustomed to set out, not from the law, but from the universal truths of faith, from testimonies of nature and life (Weizsäcker, p. 346). In this way the twice sharply emphasized “destroy” especially would appear altogether out of proportion.

Verse 18

Matthew 5:18 . Ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν ] for verily ( ἀμήν = ἀληθῶς , Luke 9:27 ), that is, agreeably to the truth, do I tell you. What He now says serves as a confirmation of what preceded. This form of assurance, so frequently in the mouth of Christ , the bearer of divine truth, is not found in any apostle .

ἕως ἂν παρέλθῃ , κ . τ . λ .] until heaven and earth shall have passed away . These words of Jesus do not indicate a terminus, after which the law shall no longer exist (Paulus, Meander, Lechler, Schleiermacher, Planck, Weizsäcker, and others), but He says: onwards to the destruction of the world the law will not lose its validity in the slightest point , by which popular expression (Luke 16:17 ; Job 14:12 ) the duration of the law after the final catastrophe of the world is neither taught nor excluded. That the law, however, fulfilled as to its ideal nature, will endure in the new world, is clear from 1 Corinthians 13:3 ( ἀγάπη ); 1Pe 1:25 ; 2 Peter 3:3 ( δικαιοσύνη ). The unending authority of the law is also taught by Bar 4:1 ; Tob 1:6 ; Philo, vit. Mos . 2. p. 656; Joseph, c. Ap . ii. 38, and the Rabbins. See Bereschith R . x. 1, “omni rei suus finis, coelo et terrae suus finis, una excepta re, cui non suus finis, haec est lex.” Schemoth R . vi., “nulla litera aboletur a lege in aeternum.” Midrash Cohel . f. 71, 4, (lex) “perpetuo manebit in secula seculorum.” The passage in 1 Corinthians 15:28 is not opposed to our explanation; for if God is all in all, the fulfilled law of God yet stands in its absolute authority .

ἕως ἂν πάντα γένηται ] not: until all the prophecies are fulfilled, that would then be down to the Parousia (Wetstein, J. E. Meyer, comp. Ewald); nor even till all is carried out theocratically which I have to perform (Paulus), or what lies shut up in the divine decree (Köstlin), or even until the event shall occur by means of which the observance of the law becomes impossible, and it falls away of itself (Schleiermacher); but, in keeping with the context, until all which the law requires shall he accomplished (Matthew 6:10 ), nothing any longer left unobserved. This sentence is not co-ordinate to the first ἕως , but subordinate (Kühner, ad Xen. Mem . i. 2. 36): “So long as the world stands shall no iota [401] of the law pass away till all its prescriptions shall be realized.” All the requirements of the law shall be fulfilled; but before this fulfilment of all shall have begun, [402] not a single iota of the law shall fall till the end of the world. Fritzsche: till all (only in thought) is accomplished . He assumes, accordingly, agreeably to the analogous use of conditional sentences (Heindorf and Stallbaum, ad Plat. Phaed . p. 67 E; Kühner, II. 2, p. 988 f.), a double protasis: (1) ἕως ἂν παρέλθῃ , κ . τ . λ ., and (2) ἝΩς ΓΈΝΗΤΑΙ . But the parallel passages, Matthew 24:34 , Luke 21:32 , are already opposed to this; and after the concrete and lively ἝΩς ἊΝ ΠΑΡΈΛΘῌ ΟὐΡΑΝῸς Κ . Γῆ , this general and indefinite ἝΩς ἊΝ ΠΆΝΤΑ ΓΈΝΗΤΑΙ would be only a vague and lumbering addition. As correlative to ἝΝ and ΜΊΑ , ΠΆΝΤΑ can only mean all portions of the law , without, however, any definite point of time requiring to be thought of, in which all the commands of the law will be carried out, according to which, then, the duration of the present condition of the world would be conformed. This thought is rendered impossible by the nearness of the Parousia, according to Matthew 24:29 ; Matthew 24:34 , as well as by the growth of the tares until the Parousia, according to Matthew 13:30 . The thought is rather, the law will not lose its binding obligation, which reaches on to the final realization of all its prescriptions, so long as heaven and earth remain .

Observe, moreover, that the expression in our passage is different from Matthew 24:35 , where the permanency of the λόγοι of Christ after the end of the world is directly and definitely affirmed, but that in this continued duration of the ΛΌΓΟΙ of Christ the duration of the law also is implied, i.e. according to its complete meaning (in answer to Lechler, p. 797); comp. on Luke 16:17 . “The δικαιοσύνη of the new heavens and of the new earth will be no other than what is here taught,” Delitzsch. So completely one with the idea of the law does Jesus in His spiritual greatness know His moral task to be, not severed from the latter, but placed in its midst.

[401] Ἰῶτα , the smallest letter, and κεραία , horn , a little stroke of writing (Plut. Mor . p. 1100 A, 1011 D), especially also in single letters (Origen, ad Psalms 33:0 ), by which, for example, the following letters are distinguished, כ and ב , ר and ד , ה and ח . See Lightfoot, Schoettgen, and Wetstein. Both expressions denote the smallest portions of the law; see ver. 19.

[402] In this is contained the perpetually abiding obligation of the law; for that condition of things, in which no part of the law remains unfulfilled, in which, consequently, all is accomplished, will never occur until the end of the world. Of the πάντα , moreover, nothing is to be excluded which the law Contains, not even the ritualistic portions, which are to be morally fulfilled in their ideal meaning, as e.g. the Levitical prescription regarding purification by moral purification, the sacrificial laws by moral self-sacrifice (comp. Romans 12:1 ), and so on, so that in the connection of the whole, in accordance with the idea of πλήρωσις , not even the smallest element will perish, but retains its importance and its integral moral connection with the whole. Comp. Tholuck; Gess, Christi Pers. und Werk , I. p. 292; and before him, Calvin on ver. 17.

Verse 19

Matthew 5:19 . Conclusion from Matthew 5:18 . On ὃς ἐάν with the conjunctive of the aorist, denoting that which was probably to happen in the future ( the contingent futurum exactum ), see Winer, p. 287 f. [E. T. 385]; Kühner, II. 2, p. 929; ἐάν for ἄν , see Winer, p. 291 [E. T. 3 90].

λύσῃ ] like καταλῦσαι , Matthew 5:17 ; [403] Fritzsche and Arnoldi (after Castalio, Beza, Wolf, and others): transgressus fuerit , on account of the ποιήσῃ in the opposition; comp. also Ritschl, p. 40. But this ΠΟΙΉΣῌ partly forms a very appropriate antithesis to the ΛΎΣῌ in our sense, which, after ΚΑΤΑΛῦΣΑΙ in Matthew 5:17 , would be abandoned only from arbitrariness; partly there is by no means wanting between ΛΎΕΙΝ and ΔΙΔΆΣΚΕΙΝ an appropriate, i.e. a climactic, distinction (they shall declare it to be of no authority, and teach accordingly); partly it is not credible that Jesus should have declared that the transgressor of the law was ἐλάχιστον ἐν τῇ βας . τ . οὐρανῶν , see Matthew 11:11 . Doing ( ποιήσῃ ) and teaching ( διδάξῃ ) refer, as a matter of course, without it being necessary to supply any object besides the general word “ is ” (translated: whosoever shall have done and taught it ), to that which is required in the smallest commandment, and that in the sense of the πλήρωσις , Matthew 5:17 .

ΤῶΝ ἘΝΤΟΛῶΝ ΤΟΎΤΩΝ ΤῶΝ ἘΛΑΧΊΣΤΩΝ ] ΤΟΎΤΩΝ points back to what is designated by ἸῶΤΑ and ΚΕΡΑΊΑ in Matthew 5:18 , not forwards to Matthew 5:22 ; Matthew 5:28 (Bengel); ἘΛΑΧΊΣΤΩΝ refers, therefore, not to the Pharisaic distinctions between great and small commandments (see especially, Wetstein, p. 295 f.), but to what Jesus Himself had just designated as ἰῶτα and ΚΕΡΑΊΑ , those precepts which in reality are the least important. They stand, however, in accordance with the ΠΛΉΡΩΣΙς of the law, in essential organic connection with the ideal contents of the whole, and can therefore be so little regarded as having no authority, that rather he who does this ( ΛΎΣῌ ), and teaches others to act in this manner ( ΔΙΔΆΞῌ ), will obtain only one of the lowest places (one of the lowest grades of dignity and happiness) in the kingdom of the Messiah. He is not to be excluded (as Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Calovius, Wolf, Bengel, and others have misinterpreted the meaning of ἐλάχ . κληθ .), because his antinomianism is not a principle, not directed against the law as such, but only against individual precepts of the law, which in themselves are small , and whose importance as a whole he does not recognise. [404] Comp. 1 Corinthians 3:15 .

Note the correlation of τῶν ἐλαχίστων … ἐλάχιστος … μέγας .

[403] Comp. on λύειν in the sense of abrogating, overturning of laws , John 7:23 ; Herod, iii. 82; Demosth. xxxi. 12. 186. 14. Ebrard (on Olshausen) erroneously explains it: “the mechanical dissolution of a law into a multitude of casuistical and ritualistic precepts.” The τούτων τῶν ἐλαχίστων should have prevented this view. Amongst Greek writers also the simple verb represents the compound that has preceded it; comp. on Romans 15:4 .

[404] Ver. 19 stands in so essential a connection with the discourse, that the supposition of Olshausen, that Jesus had in view special acts of an antinomian tendency on the part of some of His disciples, appears just as unnecessary as it is arbitrary. Köstlin and Hilgenfeld find here a very distinct disapproval of the Apostle Paul and of the Paulinites , who break free from the law; nay, Paul, thinks Köstlin, was actually named by Jewish Christians the smallest (Ephesians 3:8 ), as he so names himself (1 Corinthians 15:9 ). A purely imaginary combination.

Verse 20

Matthew 5:20 . Γάρ ] Unnecessary difficulties have been raised on account of this connection (Ritschl and Bleek, who even declare δέ to be more appropriate), and the obvious sense passed over (de Wette, who, as well as Hilgenfeld, refers back to Matthew 5:17 ). Jesus does not state any ground for recognizing why there must be distinctions of rank in the kingdom (Ritschl), which must be understood as a matter of course; but He assigns the reason and how important was that for the vocation of the disciples! for the ποιήσῃ κ . διδάξῃ which He had just uttered, in accordance with its necessary connection: “For if ye do not unite acting with teaching, then can ye not enter into the kingdom, being upon the same stage of righteousness as the scribes and Pharisees” (Matthew 23:2 f., Matthew 23:14 ).

περισς . πλεῖον is to be rendered: shall have been more abundant than . [405] Comp. περοσσεύειν ὑπέρ τινα , 1Ma 3:30 .

ἡ δικαιοσύνη ὑμῶν ] your moral righteousness , as in Matthew 5:6 ; Matthew 5:10 , not the justitia fidei (Calovius), although the truly moral life rests upon the latter.

τῶν γραμματ . κ . Φαρις .] well-known comparatio compendiaria for τῆς δικαιοσύνης τῶν , κ . τ . λ ., Kühner, II. p. 847. It is understood, besides, as a matter of course, that Jesus here has in view the false righteousness of the Pharisees in general , so that nobler manifestations, like Gamaliel, Nicodemus, and others, do not determine His general judgment.

[405] These men thought and appeared to make themselves prominent by abundant acts of δικαιοσύνη , whilst they “ceremonialem et forensem morali missa tutati sunt” (Bengel). An abounding in righteousness on the part of His disciples in a higher degree and measure of morality, which πλεῖον , however, in accordance with the actual relation of the thing compared, contains in itself an essentially quite different kind of δικαιοσύνη , is required by Christ on the ground of faith in Him. That external righteousness, whilst the heart is impure, “does not belong to heaven, but to hell” (Luther).

Verse 21

Matthew 5:21 . There now follow on to the end of the chapter six neither five (Hilgenfeld) nor seven (Köstlin) antithetic examples of the fulfilling of the law of Jesus, not merely derived from the Decalogue, or from its second table (Keim), but from the Pentateuch generally; not, however, of an antinomian kind, consequently not in opposition to the divine law itself (Chrysostom and many Fathers, Maldonatus, Neander, Bleek, Socinians and Arminians), but opposed, indeed, to all the manifold limitations and one-sided apprehensions and applications of the same, as it was represented and followed out in life by the common traditional Judaism, and specially by the Pharisees , without insight into the deeper unity and the purely moral absolute meaning. Comp. also Hofmann, Schriftbew . I. p. 599 f.; Harless, d. Ehescheidungsfrage , 1861, p. 7 f.; Weiss, Keim. That use of the law produced a false legalism , without sincerity and virtue, in opposition to which Jesus wishes to develope and assert the true and full righteous morality out of the divine law.

ἠκούσατε ] from the law which is read before you (John 12:34 ; Romans 2:13 ; Galatians 4:21 ; Acts 15:21 ), and from the instruction which you have received regarding its exposition.

τοῖς ἀρχαίοις ] may grammatically be taken not only as a dative (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, Luther, Erasmus, Grotius, Wetstein, Bengel, and many others; also Tholuck, Neander, de Wette, Ritschl, Bleek, Weizsäcker), but also as an ablative: by the ancients (see Kühner, II. 1, p. 368 f.; Winer, p. 206 [E. T. 277]); so Beza, Piscator, Schoettgen, Raphel, and many; also Paulus, Kuinoel, Fritzsche, Olshausen, Baumgarten, Ewald, Lechler, Keim. On the first rendering, which most obviously suggests itself (Romans 9:12 ; Romans 9:26 ; Galatians 3:16 ; Revelation 6:11 ; Revelation 9:4 ), the ancients are the Jewish generations of earlier times (before Christ), to which Moses and his followers (Matthew 23:2 f.), the scribes, spoke (de Wette, Ritschl), not simply the Israelites in the time of Moses, to whom the latter spoke (Neander, Bleek); on the latter view it is Moses (who would not have to be excluded, as Keim maintains), and his ancient expositors learned in the Scripture; for there follow their sayings, which are partly without , partly accompanied with , additions proceeding from the scribes. The decision between these two views is given not merely by the constant usage of the N. T., which joins ἐῤῥέθη with the dative, but also by the antithesis ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν , in which ἐγώ corresponds to the logical subject of ἐῤῥέθη , and ὑμῖν to τοῖς ἀρχαίοις ; the latter consequently cannot itself be the subject. Luther therefore rightly renders: that it is said to them of old time . [406] Pointless objections are made by Keim, II. p. 248, who even finds in this view something opposed to the sense; because the people of the present day have not yet heard of that which was enjoined on them of old time , but of what has been enjoined upon themselves. On the other hand, it is to be recollected that it was precisely a peculiarity of the Jewish method of instruction, and still is so, to refer the present generation to those of old time, to inculcate upon the former the παράδοσις which had been common in ancient times, and had been already given to their forefathers. Thus the people of the present time have certainly heard in the synagogues what was said to them of old time . Comp., moreover, Diodorus Siculus xxii. 20 : καλῶς εἴρηται τοῖς παλαῖοις , ὅτι , κ . τ . λ .

οὐ φονεύσεις ] Exodus 20:12 . The prohibition refers to the act , though not by itself, but as the effect of anger, of hostility, and so on; for there is also a putting to death which is permitted, nay, even commanded. The Pharisaic explanation and application of the legal saying was confined to the literal prohibition of the act; the fulfiller of the law lays open the whole disposition that deserves punishment, which, as the ethical condition of the act, was aimed at by the prohibition of the latter. The following words contain a traditional addition , although one not alien to the law, by the scribes, who interpreted that prohibition externally.

κρίσις , according to Matthew 5:22 , opposed to the Sanhedrin, is the local court , found, according to Deuteronomy 16:18 , in every city of Palestine, to which it belonged to take cognizance of and to punish even murder ( execution by the sword ), 2 Chronicles 19:5 ; Josephus, Antt . iv. 8. 14. According to the Rabbins, it consisted of twenty-three members; according to Josephus, of seven. See generally, Tholuck, Keil, Arch . II. p. 250 ff. To the higher court of justice, the Sanhedrin , Matthew 5:22 , it belonged to take cognizance also of crimes punishable by stoning .

[406] Instead of ἐῤῥέθη , Lachmann and Tischendorf have, after B D E K V, the form ἐῤῥήθη . Both forms are found in Plato (see Heindorf, ad Gorg . p. 46), to whom, however, Schneider, ad Pol. V. p. 450 A, everywhere assigns the latter as the proper one. The first is the more common in the later Greek, and therefore to be preferred in the N. T. See in general, Lobeck, ad Phryn . p. 447. Comp. on Romans 9:12 ; Galatians 3:16 .

Verse 22

Matthew 5:22 . I, on the other hand, as the fulfiller of the law, already declare unrighteous anger to be as worthy of punishment as the act of murder was declared to be to those of old time; as still more worthy of punishment, however, the expression of such anger in injurious language , to which I, in the worst cases, even assign the punishment of hell. Observe (1) that Jesus does not at all enter into the question of murder itself , by which He makes it to be felt that it was something unheard of amongst those who believed on Him; (2) that for the same reason He does not mention any outbursts of anger in acts , such as ill-usage and the like; (3) that the abusive words, which are quoted by way of example, represent different degrees of outbursts of anger in speech, in accordance with the malignity of the disposition from which they proceed; and (4) that κρίσις , συνέδριον , γέεννα , illustrate different degrees of greater culpability before God (for κρίσις and συνέδριον are also analogical representations of divine , although temporal , penal judgment), down to the everlasting damnation; so that (5) as the general moral idea in the concrete discourse, whose plastic ascent in details is not to be pressed, the highest and holiest severity appears in the point of unlovingness (comp. 1 John 3:15 ), and therein lies the ideal consummation of the law, οὐ φονεύσεις , not only in itself, but also in the antithesis of its traditional threat, ὃς δʼ ἂν φονεύσῃ , etc.

ὁ ὀργιζόμ .] has the emphasis of opposition to φονεύειν .

τῷ ἀδελφῷ ] does not go beyond the popular conception (a member of the nation, comp. Matthew 5:47 ), out of which grew at a later time the representation and designation of Christian brotherly fellowship. The conception of the πλησίον from the point of view of humanity, Luke 10:29 , is not contained in the ἀδελφός .

If εἰκῆ were genuine (but see critical remarks), then this idea would be contained in it, that Jesus does not mean simply being angry, but the being angry without a reason (Romans 13:4 ; Colossians 2:18 ), the anger of mere passionateness, without moral justification; εἰκῆ would stand as equivalent to ἀλογίστως (Polyb. i. 52. 2), παραλόγως (Polyb. i. 74. 14), ἀσκόπως (Polyb. iv. 14. 6). There is, moreover, a holy anger, which has its basis in what is right, and in its relation to the unholy world. Comp. on Ephesians 4:26 . But never ought it to be unloving and hostile anger; and that such an anger is here meant is shown by the context, therefore εἰκῆ would not even be an appropriate closer definition.

ῥακά ] as Jerome and Hesychius already correctly interpret it, is the Chaldee רֵיקָא , vacuus, that is, empty head!

At that time a very common word of opprobrium. Buxtorf, Lex. talm. p. 2254; Lightfoot, Hor. p. 264; Wetstein in loc. That it is, so far as regards its idea, of the same nature with μωρέ that follows, speaks rather in favour of than against this common interpretation. Comp. κενός (James 2:20 ; Soph. Ant. 709), κενόφρων (Aesch. Prom. 761), κενόκρανος (Sibyll. iii. p. 418). Ewald thinks of the Aramaic רקעא , and interprets it: rascal.

μωρέ ] נָבָל , fool, but in the moral sense (Hupfeld on Psalms 14:1 ), as the virtuous man was rightly regarded as wise (comp. Xen. Mem. iii. 9. 4) and the wicked as foolish; therefore equivalent to “wicked,” and thus a stronger word of opprobrium, one affecting the moral character, than ῥακά ; see Wetstein.

εἰς τὴν γέενναν ] literally: into hell, [407] which is to be regarded as a pregnant expression from the idea of being cast down into hell. Winer, p. 200 [E. T. 267]; Buttmann, p. 148 [E. T. 170], Plastic representation with the increasing liveliness of the discourse, instead of the more abstract dative. No example elsewhere. γέεννα , properly גֵּיא הִנּם , or הִנֹּם ) גֵּיא בֶן־הִנֹּם , name of a man otherwise unknown; other interpretations, as “ valley of howling ,” are arbitrary), a valley to the south of the capital, where the idolatrous Israelites had formerly sacrificed their children to Moloch (2 Kings 23:10 ; Jeremiah 7:32 ; Jeremiah 19:2 ); Ritter, Erdk . XVI. 1, p. 372; Robinson, Pal . II. p. 38, The name of this hated locality was transferred to the subterranean abode of the damned. Lightfoot, Hor.; Wolf on the passage; Eisenmenger, Entdecktes Judenthum, II. p. 323 ff. So always in the N. T., where, however, it is found only in the Synoptics and James.

[407] The attributive genitive τοῦ πυρός (Matthew 13:42 ; 2 Thessalonians 1:8 ), as an expression of the specific nature, is to be explained from the well-known popular representation of hell (comp. Matthew 3:11 , Matthew 18:8 f., Matthew 25:41 , and elsewhere). The explanation of Kuinoel, who follows the older interpreters, “is dignus est, qui in valle Hinnomi vivus comburatur ,” is, irrespective of the illegality of burning alive, opposed to the constant usage of γέεννα as signifying hell , which usage also forbids us to think of the burning of the body in the valley of Hinnom (Michaelis) after execution, or at least of a casting forth of the latter into this detested place (B. Crusius, comp. Tholuck).

Verse 23

Matthew 5:23 f. Ἐὰν … προσφέρῃς ] If thou, then, art about to present thy sacrifice ( δῶρον , Matthew 8:4 , Matthew 15:5 , Matthew 23:18 , also in the LXX., Apocrypha, and Greek writers); consequently, art already occupied with the preparation of the same in the temple. [408] This explanation is required by the words ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ θυς . ( ad aram ), Matthew 5:24 .

ἐπὶ τὸ θυσιαστ .] to the altar , in order that the priests may offer it upon the same.

κἀκεῖ μνησθῇς , κ . τ . λ .] “inter rem sacram magis subit recordatio offensarum, quam in strepitu negotiorum,” Bengel. The injured part is the ἀδελφός ; differently in Mark 11:25 , where forgiveness is required.

ἔμπροσθ . τοῦ θυσιαστ .] A closer definition added to ἐκεῖ .

πρῶτον ] in the first place (Matthew 6:33 ), before everything else, what thou now hast to do. Compare τότε afterwards. It is to be connected with ὕπαγε (Luther, Erasmus, Castalio, Bengel, and many others; also Gersdorf, p. 107; de Wette, Ewald, Arnoldi, Bleek). Comp. Matthew 7:5 , Matthew 13:30 , Matthew 23:26 . The connection with διαλλάγ . (Beza, Calvin, Er. Schmidt, and many others; also Kuinoel, Fritzsche, Tholuck, and others) overlooks the essential moment which is contained in the connection precisely by the ὕπαγε , the unavoidable, surprising, nay, repellent removal of oneself from the temple. For that ὕπαγε is not here merely an appeal, age , is shown by the context through the words ἄφες ἐκεῖ , etc. In Matthew 18:15 , Matthew 19:21 , also, it means abi .

διαλλάγηθι ] be reconciled , deal so that a reconciliation may begin with him who has been injured by thee. Comp. 1 Samuel 29:4 , and on the passage 1 Corinthians 7:11 . In this way the act of sacrifice receives the moral foundation of a disposition pleasing to God, by which it is no mere external work, but is at the same time λογικὴ λατρεία , Romans 12:1 . Flacius well remarks, s.v. munus: “Vult primam haberi rationem moralium, secundum ceremonialium.” Moreover, the distinction asserted by Tittmann to exist between διαλλάσσειν and καταλλάσσειν , that the former denotes the removal of mutual hostility, the latter that of one-sided enmity ( Synon . p. 102), is decidedly erroneous. Fritzsche, ad Rom . I. p. 276 ff.

[408] The severance of the Jewish believers from the temple service was only to begin at a later time, John 4:21 . The Catholic exegesis knows, indeed, how to find here the permanent sacrifice of the Eucharist, regarding which Christ is said in the passage before us to have given a law which is for ever valid, Döllinger, Christenthum und Kirche , p. 250 f., Exodus 2:0 .

Verse 25

Matthew 5:25 f. The precept, to be reconciled with the injured person in order not to be cast into hell by God the judge, is made clear by the prudential doctrine of satisfying a creditor in order not to become liable to imprisonment. To abide merely by the prudential doctrine itself which the words convey (Theophylact, Vatablus, and others, including Paulus), is opposed to the context (Matthew 5:21-24 ); to take the φυλακή , however, as the representation of purgatory (many Catholics, not Schegg), or of Sheol (not Gehenna) (Olshausen), is forbidden by the idea of the judgment which also excludes the vague and indefinite “transference of that which is destructive for the external life to that which is destructive in a higher sense” (de Wette). Luke 12:58 has the precept in quite a different connection; but this does not justify us in not regarding it in the present passage as belonging to it (Pott, Kuinoel, Neander, Bleek, Holtzmann, Weiss, and others), since it may be given here and there as a popular symbolical proverb; while precisely here it is most clearly and simply appropriate to the connection.

εὐνοῶν ] be well disposed that is, inclined to satisfy him by making payment or composition.

τῷ ἀντιδίκῳ σου ] The opponent (in a lawsuit) is to be conceived of as a creditor (Matthew 5:26 ). The injured brother is intended; comp. Matthew 5:23 . Explanations of the Fathers referring it to the devil (Clement of Alexandria), to God (Augustine), to the conscience (Euth. Zigabenus), see in Tholuck.

ταχύ ] without delay, without putting off , Matthew 28:7 f.; John 11:29 ; Revelation 2:16 . “Tarda est superbia cordis ad deprecandum et satisfaciendum,” Bengel.

ἕως ὅτου ] If by ταχύ it was intimated that the compliance should begin without delay, so it is now stated that it shall remain till the extreme termination: even until thou art with him on the road to the judge even then still shalt thou yield compliance. Not of itself (in answer to Tittmann, Synon . p. 167), but, in virtue of the context, is ἕως the inclusive “until,” as according to the context it may also be exclusive (comp. on the passage, Matthew 1:25 ).

The servant of justice ( ὑπηρέτης ) belongs to the representative of the legal act; and who is meant thereby, is evident from Matthew 13:41 f.

βληθήσῃ ] The future , which might be dependent on μήποτε (Winer, p. 468 f. [E. T. 629]; Buttmann, neut. Gr . p. 201 [E. T. 233]; see on the passage, Colossians 2:8 ), taken independently , gives the appropriate emphasis to the tragic closing act.

In Matthew 5:26 is by no means contained the finality of the condition of punishment, but its non-finality; since the ἀποδιδόναι , that is, the removal of the guilt of sin, is for him who is in this φυλακή an impossibility, Matthew 18:34 , Matthew 25:41 ; Matthew 25:46 , etc. ἕως states, then, a terminus which is never reached. Comp. Matthew 18:34 .

The quadrans is ¼ As in copper, or 2 λεπτά , ¾ of a farthing (Mark 12:42 ); see an the Roman coins in circulation amongst the Jews, Cavedoni, bibl. Numismat . I. p. 78 ff.

Verse 27

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

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

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

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

ἐπιθυμεῖν ] with the accusative , is rare and late. Comp. Exodus 20:17 ; Deuteronomy 5:20 ; Jdt 16:22 ; see Winer, p. 192 [E. T. 255]. Even if αὐτήν were spurious, it could not be explained with Fritzsche: “ut adsit mutua cupiditas .”

Verse 29

Matthew 5:29 . [409] Unconditional self-denial , however, is required in order not to stumble against the prohibition of adultery in its complete meaning, and thereby to fall into hell. Better for thee that thou decidedly deprive thyself of that which is so dear and indispensable to thee for the temporal life, and the sacrificing of which will be still so painful to thee, than that thou, seduced thereby, and so on. In the typical expression of this thought (comp. on Colossians 3:5 ) the eye and hand are named, because it is precisely these that are the media of lust; and the right members, because to these the popular idea gave the superiority over the left, Exodus 29:20 ; 1 Samuel 11:2 ; Zechariah 11:17 ; Aristotle, de animal. incessu , 4. The non-typical but literal interpretation (Pricaeus, Fritzsche, likewise Ch. F. Fritzsche in his Nov. Opusc . p. 347 f., Arnoldi) is not in keeping with the spirit of the moral strictness of Jesus; and to help it out by supplying a limitation (perhaps in the extreme case , to which, however, it cannot come; comp. Tholuck) is arbitrary. The view, however, which is, indeed, also the proper one, but hyperbolical , according to which the plucking, out is said to represent only the restraining or limiting the use , does not satisfy the strength of the expression. So Olshausen, comp. already Grotius. Only the typical view, which is also placed beyond doubt by the mention of the one eye, satisfies the words and spirit of Jesus. Yet, having regard to the plastic nature of the figures, it is not the thought “as is done to criminals ” (Keim), but merely that of thoroughgoing, unsparing self-discipline (Galatians 5:24 ; Galatians 6:14 ; Romans 8:13 ).

σκανδαλίζει ] a typical designation, borrowed from a trap ( σκανδάλη and σκανδάλεθρον , the trap-spring), of the idea of seducing to unbelief, heresy, sin, etc. Here it is the latter idea. The word is not found in Greek writers, but in the LXX. and Apocrypha, and very frequently in the N. T. Observe the present . What is required is not to take place only after the completion of the seduction.

συμφέρει γάρ σοι , ἵνα , κ . τ . λ .] not even here, as nowhere indeed, does ἵνα stand instead of the infinitive (comp. Matthew 18:6 ), but is to be taken as teleological: it is of importance to thee (this plucking out of the eye), in order that one of thy members may be destroyed, and not thy whole body be cast into hell .” Thus Fritzsche alone correctly; comp. Käuffer. The alleged forced nature of this explanation is a deception arising from the customary usage of the infinitive in German.

καὶ μὴ ὅλον … γέενναν ] namely, at the closely impending establishment of the kingdom; comp. Matthew 10:28 . Matthew 5:30 is the same thought, solemnly repeated, although not quite in the same words (see the critical remarks). “Sane multos unius membri neglecta mortificatio perdit,” Bengel.

[409] Comp. Matthew 18:8 f.; Mark 9:43 ff. Holtzmann assigns the original form to Mark. On the other hand, see Weiss.

Verse 31

Matthew 5:31 f. [410] In Deuteronomy 24:1 there is stated as a reason for the dismissal which is to be carried out, עֶרְוַת דָּבָר , something hateful , loathsome (see Ewald, Alterthum . p. 272; Keil, Archäol . II. p. 74 f.; Gesenius, Thes . II. p. 1068). This was explained by the strict Rabbi Sammai and his adherents as referring to adultery and other unchaste behaviour; but the gentle Rabbi Hillel and his school as referring to everything in general that displeased the husband (Josephus, Antt . iv. 8. 23; Vita , 76). Lightfoot, p. 273 ff.; Ewald, Jahrb . X. p. 56 ff., 81. Rabbi Abika went still further, who allowed dismissal if the husband found a more beautiful woman; see Wetstein. To these and other (see Othonis, Lex. Rabb . p. 504) ill-considered principles for Hillel’s doctrine had become the prevalent one

Christ opposes Himself, and draws out from the original and inmost nature of marriage (comp. Matthew 19:4 ff.) a firm rule, preserving the sanctity of the idea, and admitting only that as a ground of separation by which the nature of marriage and its obligations is, as a matter of fact , directly and immediately destroyed. [411]

ἀπολύσῃ ] not repudiare constituerit (Fritzsche after Grotius), but will have dismissed . In this is implied the oral declaration of dismissal, the accomplishment of which as a fact is to take place by means of a letter of divorce. The command to give the letter of divorce, moreover, the use of which was already in existence before the law, is only indirectly implied in Deuteronomy 24:1 ; comp. on Matthew 19:7 . The Greek expression for the dismissal of the woman is ἀποπέμπειν , Bekker, Anecd . p. 421; Bremi, ad Dem. adv. Onetor . iv. p. 92. On the wanton practice of the Greeks in this matter, see Hermann, Privatalterth . § 30.

ἀποστάσιον ] departure , that is, by means of a βιβλίον ἀποστασίου , Deuteronomy 24:1 ; Matthew 19:7 ; Mark 10:4 ; Jeremiah 3:8 . In Demosthenes, 790. 2, 940. 15, it is the desertion of his master, contrary to duty, by a manumitted slave; Hermann, l.c. , § 57. 17.

The formula of the letter of divorce, see in Alphes. in Gittin , f. 600; in Lightfoot, p. 277. The object of the same was to prove that the marriage had been legally dissolved, and that it was competent to enter into a second marriage with another man (Ewald, l.c. ). Observe, moreover, how the saying of the scribes, which has been quoted, is a mutilation of the legal precept, which had become traditional in the service of their lax principles, as if it, beside the arbitrary act of the man, were merely a question of the formality of the letter of divorce .

[410] The assertion that, if Jesus had delivered this declaration here , the discussion regarding divorce in ch. 19 could not have taken place (Köstlin, p. 47; Holtzmann, p. 176 f.), has no foundation, especially as in Matthew 19:3 , Mark 10:2 , the discussion is called forth by the Pharisees; comp. Weiss. Olshausen and Bleek also find in ch. 19 the historical position for the declaration, which Hilgenfeld regards as a non-original appendix to what precedes; which is also substantially the judgment of Ritschl, who regards the metabatic δέ in ver. 31 as introducing an objection to vv. 29, 30.

[411] Comp. Harless, Ehescheidungsfrage , p. 17 ff.

Verse 32

Matthew 5:32 . Παρεκτὸς λόγου πορν .] that is, except (see on 2 Corinthians 11:28 ) if an act of whoredom, committed by the woman during marriage (consequently adultery , John 8:41 ; Amos 7:17 ; Hosea 3:3 ; Sir 26:9 ; Sir 14:12 ), is the motive ( λόγος , comp. Thuc. i. 102, iii. 6, lxi. 4; and see on Acts 10:29 ). In spite of the point of controversy which lies at the foundation, Paulus and Gratz are of opinion most recently especially, Döllinger, Christenthum und Kirche , p. 392 ff., 460 ff., Exodus 2:0 (comp. Baeumlein in the Stud. und Krit . 1857, p. 336) that by πορνεία , which does not mean adultery, [412] whoredom before marriage is meant, so that the man, instead of a virgin, receives one who is no longer so. [413] The correct view is already to be found in Tertullian, and in the whole old exegetical tradition, where, however, on the Catholic side, the permission was limited only to separation a toro et mensa . On the subject, comp. the explanation which was specially called forth on a later occasion, Matthew 19:3 ff. But in Mark 10:11 , Luke 16:18 (also 1 Corinthians 7:10 f.), this exception is not expressed, not as if Jesus had at the beginning made greater concessions to the pre-Christian Jewish marriages, and only at a later time completely denied the dissolubility of marriage (Hug, de conjugii christ. vinculo indissolub . 1816, who therefore declares, in Matthew 19:9 , μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ to be spurious), nor even as if that ΠΑΡΕΚΤῸς , Κ . Τ . Λ . , were a later modification, and not originally spoken by Christ (Bleek, Wittichen, Weiss, Holtzmann, Schenkel, and others), but Mark and Luke regard this exception by itself, understanding it as a matter of course; and rightly so, [414] since adultery eo ipso destroys the essence of all marriage obligations; comp. Weiss in d. Zeitschr. f. christl. Wissensch . 1856, p, 261. But as the exception which Jesus here makes cannot become devoid of meaning by means of Leviticus 20:10 (in answer to Schegg, see John 8:3 ff.), so also it is not to be annulled on critical grounds, which in view of the witnesses is impossible (in answer to Keim here and on Matthew 19:9 ). The second half of the verse also, καὶ ὃς , κ . τ . λ ., cannot be condemned with Keim on the authority of D and Codd. in Augustine.

ΠΟΙΕῖ ΑὐΤῊΝ ΜΟΙΧᾶΣΘΑΙ ] “per alias nuptias, quarum potestatem dat divortium” (Bengel), although, according to that principle, she is still the wife of the first husband; therefore the man also, if he marries again, ΜΟΙΧᾶΤΑΙ (Matthew 19:9 ).

ΚΑΊ ] not causal, but and , and on the other side.

μοιχᾶται ] because he has intercourse with a person who, according to the divine law, is the wife of another. That by ἈΠΟΛΕΛΥΜΈΝΗΝ , a woman who is dismissed illegally , consequently not on account of adultery , is intended, was understood as a matter of course, according to the first half of the verse.

[412] It means in general every kind of whoredom (Dem. 403. 26, 433. 25, 612. 5). Where it specially refers to adultery ( μοιχεία ) this is clear from the context, as here and Matthew 19:9 . Thus, for example, it means also the idolatry of the people of God, because that is adultery against Jehovah, πορνεία , as in Hosea 1:2 ; Ezekiel 16:15 ; Ezekiel 23:43 .

[413] How can one seriously suppose that Jesus could have laid down so slippery an exception! indelicate, uncertain, unwise, a welcome opening to all kinds of severity and chicanery, especially considering the jealousy of the Jews. And the exception would have to hold good also in the case of marriages with widows!

[414] But by the circumstance that Jesus here expressly quotes as an exception this actual ground of separation, which was understood as a matter of course, He excludes every other (comp. especially Calovius); and it is incorrect to say that, while He grants one actual ground of separation, He still allows several others (Grotius, de Wette, Bleek, and others; comp. also Werner in d. Stud. u. Krit . 1858, p. 702 ff.), which is quite opposed to the point of view of moral strictness , from which He excepts only that case in which the actual dissolution of the marriage in its innermost nature is directly given. That Christ bases His answer on the question of divorce purely upon the nature of the divine ordinance of marriage as it was already given at the creation ( una caro , Matthew 9:5 ), not upon its object , is of decisive importance for the legislation in question, where we have also to observe that the altered form of divorce (the judicial ) can make no change in the principles laid down by Jesus. Otherwise the legislation relating to marriage is driven on and on, by way of supposed consistency, to the laxity of the Prussian law and that of other lands (comp. the concessions of Bleek). Moreover, as regards malicious desertion, the declarations of Christ admit of application only so far as that desertion quoad formam , consequently according to its essential nature, is fully equivalent to adultery, which, however, must always be a question in each individual case. It cannot be shown from 1 Corinthians 9:15 that malicious desertion was regarded as a reason for dissolving Christian marriage. See on the passage. Of that case of separation, where the man commits adultery, Christ does not speak, because the law, which does not know of any dismissal of the man on the part of the woman, presented no occasion to it. But the application of the principle in the case of adultery on the part of the woman to that of the man as a ground of divorce rightly follows in accordance with the moral spirit of Jesus; comp. Mark 10:12 ; Galatians 3:28 ; 1 Corinthians 11:11 .

Verse 33

Matthew 5:33 . Πάλιν ] as in Matthew 4:7 .

οὐκ ἐπιορκήσεις ] Doctrinal precept, according to Exodus 20:7 ; Leviticus 19:12 . It is not to the eighth commandment that Jesus refers (Keim, following an artificially formed scheme), but the second commandment forms the fundamental prohibition of perjury.

The Pharisaic tradition made arbitrary distinctions between oaths that were binding (by Jehovah) and those that were not binding (comp. also Philo, de Spec. Legg . p. 770 A). See Lightfoot, p. 280; Eisenmenger, II. p. 490; Wetstein on Matthew 5:36 ; Michaelis, Mos. Recht , V. p. 141 ff., upon their loose principles regarding this matter. The second half of the precept quoted (formulated after Numbers 30:3 ; Deuteronomy 33:22 ) was so weakened by them, that special emphasis was laid upon the words τῷ κυρίῳ , and other oaths were deprived of their obligatory powers.

Verses 34-36

Matthew 5:34-36 . Μὴ ὀμόσαι ὅλως ] to swear not at all (the adverb placed emphatically at the end, compare Matthew 2:10 ), dependent upon λέγω ὑμῖν (comp. Plat. Phaed . p. 59 E, Menex . 240 A), in which the command is implied (Jacobs, ad Anthol . X. p. 200; Kühner, ad Anab . v. 7. 34; Wunder, ad Soph. O. C. 837), interdicts all kinds of swearing in general; [415] not merely that of common life , which is at variance with reverence for God (Luther, Calvin, Calovius, Bengel, Fritzsche, Ewald, Tholuck, Harless, Hilgenfeld, Keim, and others), nor even merely oaths regarded “ ex Judaeorum sensu ” (thus Matthaei, doctrina Christi de jurejur . Hal. 1847). The simple prohibition, given, however, to the disciples, and for the life of fellowship of true believers, and in so far not less ideal than the requirements that have preceded, appears from the words themselves (comp. James 5:12 ), and also from Matthew 5:37 . Christianity as it should be according to the will of Christ, should know no oath at all: τὸ μὴ ὀμνύειν ὅλως ἐπιτείνει μάλιστα τὴν εὐσέβειαν , Euth. Zigabenus. To the consciousness of the Christian, God should always be so vividly present, that, to him and others in the Christian community, his yea and nay are, in point of reliability, equivalent to an oath. His yea and nay are oath enough. Comp. on ὅλως , prorsus (= παντελῶς , Hesychius), Xen. Mem . i. 2. 35: προαγορεύομεν τοῖς νέοις ὅλως μὴ διαλέγεσθαι , Oecon. Matthew 20:20 . Accordingly, it is only in the incomplete temporal condition of Christianity, as well as in the relation to the world in which it is placed, and to the existing relations of the department of public law, to which it conforms itself, that the oath has its necessary, indeed (comp. Hebrews 6:16 ), but conditional and temporary existence. Christ Himself has sworn (Matthew 26:63 f.); Paul has frequently sworn (Romans 1:9 ; 2 Corinthians 1:23 ; 2 Corinthians 11:3 f.; Galatians 2:20 ; Philippians 1:8 ); nay, God swears to His own people (Genesis 22:16 ; Genesis 26:3 ; Numbers 14:23 ; Isaiah 45:23 ; Luke 1:73 ; Acts 7:17 ; Hebrews 6:13 ). Therefore Anabaptists and Quakers are wrong in rejecting an oath without any exception , as was already done by Justin, Irenaeus, Clement, Origen, Chrysostom, Jerome, and other Fathers. The various but altogether arbitrary explanations of those who here recognise no absolute prohibition may be seen in Tholuck. The direct oath, by God , is not indeed expressly mentioned along with others in what follows; its prohibition, however, is implied, just as a matter of course, and entirely, first of all in the general μὴ ὀμόσαι ὅλως , as it is the reference to God which constitutes precisely the fundamental conception and nature of the oath, and, as in the doctrine here discussed, Matthew 5:33 , the direct oath is contained not only in οὐκ ἐπιορκ ., according to Leviticus 19:12 , but also expressly in ἀποδώσεις τῷ κυρίῳ , etc. If Christ, therefore, had intended to forbid merely the oaths of common life, He would, instead of the altogether general statement, μὴ ὀμόσαι ὅλως , have made use of a form of expression excluding oaths to be taken in relation to the magistracy (probably by a παρεκτός , as in Matthew 5:32 ). It is true, indeed, that in the special prohibitions which follow, He mentions only indirect oaths, consequently not those that are valid in a court of justice, but just because the prohibition of the direct oath was already contained in μὴ ὀμός . ὅλως , first of all and before all other kinds of oaths; and His object now is simply to set forth that even indirect swearing fell under the general prohibition of swearing. And He sets this forth in such a way, that in so doing the prohibition of the direct oath forms the presupposition of His demonstration, as it could not otherwise be expected after μὴ ὀμόσαι ὅλως . What a scanty πλήρωσις of the law and one altogether out of keeping with the ideal character of the points which preceded would it have been had Jesus only intended to say: I forbid you “ the wanton oaths of the streets, of the markets ” (Keim), in all their forms!

μήτε ἐν τῷ οὐρ ., κ . τ . λ .] not to swear in general, nor (specially) by heaven, nor by earth. See on μὴ … μήτε , Klotz, ad Devar . p. 709; Kühner, II. 2, p. 828 f.; Winer, p. 454 [E. T. 612]; also Baeumlein, Part . p. 222.

The kinds of swearing censured by Jesus were very common amongst the Jews; Philo, de Spec. Legg . p. 770 A; Lightfoot, l.c. ; Meuschen, N. T. ex Talm. illustr . p. 58.

θρόνος θεοῦ and ὑποπόδιον … αὐτοῦ ] (Isaiah 66:1 ; Matthew 23:22 ).

τοῦ μεγ . βας .] of Jehovah (Psalms 48:2 ; Psalms 95:4 ; Job 13:18 ff.; therefore the holy city, Matthew 4:5 ).

μήτε [416] ἐν τῇ κεφαλῇ ] Not merely the Jews ( Berachoth , f. 3. 2; Lightfoot, Hor . p. 281), but also the heathen (Eur. Hel . 835), swore by their head . Dougtius, Anal . II. p. 7 f.; Wetstein on the passage. Comp. the exposition of Virg. Aen . ix. 300.

ὀμνύειν is by the Greek writers connected with κατά τινος , or with the accus. (James 5:12 ). Here, as in Matthew 23:16 ff., Jeremiah 5:7 , Daniel 12:7 , with ἐν (in harmony with the idea that the oath cleaves to the object appealed to, comp. on ὉΜΟΛΟΓΕῖΝ ἘΝ , Matthew 10:32 ), and with ΕἸς (directing the thought; comp. Plut. Oth . 18), after the Hebrew נִשְּׁבַּע ב׳ .

ὅτι οὐ δύνασαι , κ . τ . λ .] for thou art not in a condition to make one single hair (if it is black) white or (if it is white) black . There is, of course, no allusion to the dyeing of hair. Wolf, Köcher, Kuinoel, and others incorrectly render it: thou canst not produce a single white or black hair . On such a signification, what means the mention of the colour? The meaning of the whole passage is: “Ye shall not swear by all these objects; for all such oaths are nothing less than the oath directly by God Himself, on account of the relation in which those objects stand to God.” In the creature by which thou swearest, its Creator and Lord is affected.

[415] Comp. West in the Stud. u. Krit . 1852, p. 221 ff.; Nitzsch, christl. Lehre , p. 393 ff.; Werner in the Stud. u. Krit . 1858, p. 711 ff.; Wuttke, Sittenl . II. § 277; Achelis in the Stud. u. Krit . 1867, p. 436 ff. Jerome had already remarked, with striking simplicity: “evangelica veritas non recipit juramentum cum omnis sermo fidelis pro jurejurando sit.” The emphatic ὅλως forbids, however, the limitation only to the forms of the oath that are afterwards mentioned (Althaus in d. Luther. Zeitschr . 1868, p. 504, and already Theophylact, 1), so that the oath by the name of God would remain unaffected; in like manner, the restriction of the prohibition to promissory oaths (Ficker in the same Zeitschr . 1870, p. 633 ff., and already Grotius).

[416] If μηδέ were here the reading (Fritzsche), then the meaning would be: not even by thy head; see Hartung, Partik . I. p. 196. But this reading is neither critically admissible as it has only א ** in its favour nor exegetically necessary, since the series of negations is symmetrically continued with μήτε ἐν τ . κεφ . ς ., which symmetry is not interrupted by ὀμόσῃς , because the latter does not stand before ἐν τῇ κεφ . ς . Matthew might have written μηδέ (comp. also Bornemann, ad Xen. Anab. iii. 2. 27; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 123), but he was not obliged to do so.

Verse 37

Matthew 5:37 . Let your manner of asseveration be affirmation or negation, without an oath . The repetition of the ναί and οὔ is intended to make prominent the earnest and decisive nature of the assurance. [417] Similar examples of חְן חְן and לֹא לֹא in the Rabbins, in Lightfoot, and Schoettgen, p. 41. Comp. the ΝΑῚ ΚΑῚ Οὒ ΠΥΘΑΓΟΡΙΚΌΝ in Ausonius, Idyll . 17 : “Si consentitur, mora nulla intervenit est est; Si controversum, dissensio subjiciet non .” As a matter of course, by this representation other asseverations made, however, without an oath are not excluded.

τὸ δὲ περισς . τουτ .] whatever is more than yea and nay ( τούτων ), that is swearing .

ἘΚ ΤΟῦ ΠΟΝΗΡΟῦ ] Euth. Zigabenus: ἘΚ ΤΟῦ ΔΙΑΒΌΛΟΥ : auctorem habet diabolum . So Chrysostom, Theophylact, Beza, Zwingli, Castalio, Piscator, Wetstein, and others; also Fritzsche, Keim. Comp. Joh 8:44 ; 1 John 3:8 ; 1 John 3:12 . Others (Luther, Calovius, Bengel, Rosenmüller, Kuinoel, Paulus, Tholuck, de Wette, Baumgarten Crusius, Ewald, Bleek, and others) take ΤΟῦ ΠΟΝΗΡΟῦ as neuter , so that it would have to be explained: is in the category of evil , is sinful. Comp. the use of ἘΚ ΤΟῦ ἘΜΦΑΝΟῦς , ἘΚ ΤΟῦ ΕὐΠΡΕΠΟῦς , etc., Matthiae, p. 1334. But how insipid and devoid of meaning is the closing thought if this be the meaning! how energetic if ΠΟΝΗΡΌς , Matthew 13:19 ; Matthew 13:38 , is intended! And by this energetic rejection of the oath amongst the ideal people of God, to whom the completed law applies, there is no opposition to the Old Testament sacredness of an oath. But if under the completed law the mere yea and nay are to have the weight and reliability of an oath, then this highest moral standard and ordinance of truthfulness would be again taken away and perverted by him who nevertheless should swear; while the yea and nay would again be deprived of the guarantee of truthfulness, which, like all opposition to the truth, would be diabolical (John 8:44 ). The oath by God could not be rejected by Jesus, in and by itself , as ἘΚ ΤΟῦ ΠΟΝΗΡΟῦ , for it certainly rests upon the divine law; but (in answer to Keim) it has, upon the standpoint of the ΠΛΉΡΩΣΙς of the law, given way to the yea and nay, therefore its re-establishment would only be a desertion of these higher stages, a falling away from the moral ΤΕΛΕΙΌΤΗς , up to which Christ means to fulfil the law. This could not proceed from God, but only from the enemy of His will and kingdom. In a similar way, as Theophylact rightly saw, circumcision in the O. T. is ordained of God, and is worthy of honour; but to uphold its validity in Christianity to the injury of faith, and of righteousness by faith, is sinful, devilish; 2 Corinthians 11:3 ; 2 Corinthians 11:14 . So also with sacrifices, festival days, prohibition of meats, and so on.

[417] In answer to Beza’s erroneous explanation, “let your affirmative discourse be yea , and your negative, nay; ” and, in answer to Grotius (comp. also Erasmus), who takes the second ναί and οὔ to refer to the act which corresponds to the assurance, so that the meaning would be: “fidem a nobis praestari debere in promissis etiam injuratis,” see Fritzsche on the passage. According to Hilgenfeld, the original text is said to have been, in accordance with the quotations in Justin ( Apol . i. 16, p. 63) and the Clementines (Rom. 3:55, 19:2): ἔστω δὲ ὑμῶν τὸ ναὶ ναὶ , καὶ τὸ οὒ οὔ . Comp. Jam 5:12 ; 2 Corinthians 1:17 . Matthew would appear again to introduce an assurance like an oath. Keim also deems the form of statement as given by Matthew to be less correct.

Verse 38

Matthew 5:38 . Ὀφθαλμὸν … ὀδόντος ] supply δώσει , which supplement is presupposed as well known from the saying referred to (see Exodus 21:24 ). In the usual formula (comp. also Leviticus 22:20 ; Leviticus 24:20 ; Deuteronomy 19:21 ) is expressed the jus talionis , the carrying out of which was assigned to the magistracy (comp. 12. Tab.: “si membrum rupit, ni cum eo pacit, talio esto”). Instead of seeking and asserting this right before the magistracy, the Christian, in the feeling of true brotherly love, free from all desire of revenge, is to exercise self-denial, and to exhibit a self-sacrificing spirit of concession. Comp. 1 Corinthians 6:7 . This principle of Christian morality, laid down absolutely as an ideal, by no means excludes, under the determining circumstances of sinful life, the duty of seeking one’s legal rights, as is clear, moreover, from the history of Christ and His apostles. That Jesus, moreover, is speaking against the misuse by the Pharisees of the legal standard, as a standard within the sphere of social life , is a groundless supposition of Luther, Beza, Calvin, Calovius, Bengel, B. Crusius, Keim, and others, especially as in Matthew 5:40 κριθῆναι follows. But certainly the Pharisees may, unlovingly enough, in cases occurring in social life, have claimed those rights before the magistracy, and have influenced others also to practise similar unloving conduct. Glosses in reference to the payment in money of legal talio , see in Lightfoot.

Verses 39-40

Matthew 5:39-40 . Τῷ πονηρῷ ] is neither to be understood of the devil (Chrysostom, Theophylact), nor, as neuter (Augustine, Luther, Castalio, Calvin, Ewald, and others), of injustice; but, in accordance with the antithesis ἀλλʼ ὅστις σε ῥαπίζει , etc., and with Matthew 5:40-41 : homini maligno .

Christ names first the right cheek, although the blow most naturally strikes first the left, but after the common fashion of naming the left after the right.

κριθῆναι ] to go to law . Vulgate well renders: in judicio contendere . Comp. on 1 Corinthians 6:1 ; Romans 3:4 ; and see Wetstein, Nägelsbach on the Iliad , p. 305, Exodus 3:0 . It refers to legal controversy, not to the extra-judicial beginnings of contention (de Wette; also Beza, Grotius, Kuinoel, and others), by which the distinction between the two cases, Matthew 5:39-40 , is quite overlooked.

χιτῶνα ] כְּחֹנֶת , the shirt-like under-garment, tunica; on the other hand, ἱμάτιον ] שִׂמְלָה , בֶּגֶד , the mantle-like over-garment, toga, which also served for a covering by night, and might not therefore be retained as a pledge over night; Exodus 22:26 ; Deuteronomy 24:13 . The ἱμάτιον was more valuable and more indispensable than the χιτών ; that is the point which, according to Matthew, Jesus has in view. It is different in Luke 6:29 (according to the order of succession in covering the body).

λαβεῖν ] by the lawsuit, which follows from κριθῆναι ; whilst the pettiness of the object is not opposed to this, seeing that the method of illustration is by way of concrete example.

Verse 41

Matthew 5:41 . Ἀγγαρεύειν , passed over from the Persian (see Gesenius, Thes . I. p. 23) into Greek, Latin ( angariare , Vulgate, Augustine, Ephesians 5:0 ), and into the Rabbinical dialect ( אַנְגַרְיָא , Buxtorf, Lex. Rabb. p. 131; Lightfoot on the passage), to force into transport service. The Persian arrangements respecting post messages, instituted by Cyrus, justified the couriers ( ἄγγαροι ) in making requisitions from station to station of men, or cattle, or carriages for the carrying on of their journey, Herodotus, viii. 98; Xenoph. Cyrop. viii. 6. 17; Josephus, Antt. xii. 2. 3. See Dougtius, Anal. II. p. 9 f. Here it refers to continuing a forced journey, comp. Matthew 27:32 .

μίλιον ] One thousand steps, or eight stadia, one-fourth of a German mile. A late word found in Strabo.


The spirit of the ethics of Jesus, His own example (John 18:22 f.) and that of the apostles (Acts 23:3 ; Acts 16:35 ; Acts 26:25 ; Acts 25:9 f.), require us to recognise, in these manifestly typical representations, Matthew 5:39-41 , not precepts to be literally followed, but precepts which are certainly to be determined according to their idea . This idea, which is that of love, yielding and putting to shame in the spirit of self-denial, and overcoming evil with good, is concretely represented in those examples, but has, in the relations of external life and its individual cases, the measure and the limitation of its moral practice. Comp. on Matthew 5:38 . Luther appropriately lays emphasis here upon the distinction between what the Christian has to do as a Christian , and what as a worldly person (in so far as he is in a position or an office, and so on). The Lord leaves to the state its own jurisdiction, Matthew 22:21 .

Verse 42

Matthew 5:42 . A precept (in opposition to selfishness) which does not stand indeed in essential connection with what precedes, but which is still brought into connection with it through the natural connection of the thoughts. According to Ewald, who here lays weight ( Jahrb . I. p. 132 f.) upon the number seven in the quotations of the O. T. laws, there must have stood after Matthew 5:41 in the original collection of sayings the following words: ἠκούσατε , ὅτι ἐῤῥήθη · οὐ κλέψεις , ἀποδώσεις δὲ τὸ ἱμάτιον τῷ πτωχῷ · ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν · τῷ αἰτοῦντι , and so on, and then, Matthew 5:40 . The command that is wanting was put together from Exodus 20:15 ; Deuteronomy 24:12 f. A very thoughtful conjecture, which is followed by Holtzmann; but unnecessary, for this reason, that the contents and order of the sentences, Matthew 5:40-42 , attach themselves to one fundamental thought; and improbable, because not merely an omission, but also a transposition, is assumed, and because τῷ αἰτοῦντι , κ . τ . λ ., does not correspond to the prohibition of thieving as its fulfilment.

δανείς .] That Jesus did not think of lending out at interest , appears from Exodus 22:24 ; Leviticus 25:37 ; Deuteronomy 15:7 ; Deuteronomy 23:20 ; Ewald, Alterthumer , p. 242 f. [E. T. 181].

Verse 43

Matthew 5:43 . Τὸν πλησίον σου ] In Leviticus 19:18 , רֵעֲךָ denotes a member of the nation, whereby the proselyte also is included with others; hatred towards the heathen, however, is not conceived of by the legislator as an antithesis that follows of itself, and therefore we may all the less assume that Jesus Himself introduced into the law hatred of one’s enemies, as an abstraction from the national exclusiveness, in which the law keeps Judaism towards heathenism, as if it commanded this hatred (Weiss, Bleek). The casuistic tradition of the Pharisees, however, explained Leviticus 19:18 , as the antithetical τ . ἐχθρόν ς . shows, of a friend, and deduced therefrom (perhaps with the addition of passages like Deuteronomy 25:17-19 , comp. Malachi 1:3 ) the antithesis (which confessedly was also a principle of the common Hellenism), see Stallbaum, ad Plat. Phil. 110, p. 154; Jacobs, ad Del. epigr. p; Matthew 144: καὶ μισήσεις τὸν ἐχθρόν σου , by which was meant not the national enemy (Keim), but the personal ( σου ) private enemy, in opposition to the law (Exodus 23:4 f.; Leviticus 19:18 ) and to the pious spirit of the Old Covenant (Psalms 7:5 ; Psalms 35:13 f.; Job 31:29 ; Proverbs 24:17 ; Proverbs 24:29 ; Proverbs 25:21 f.; comp. Genesis 45:1 ; 1 Samuel 24:7 ; 1 Samuel 18:5 ; 2 Kings 6:22 ). Jesus Himself also may have understood the Pharisaic addition only to refer to private enemies, as is clear from His antithesis, Matthew 5:44 ff.

Verse 44

Matthew 5:44 . Observe the entire love which is here required: disposition, word, act, intercession; “primo fere continetur tertium, et secundum quarto” (Bengel). But it is as ἀγαπᾶν ( to esteem highly ), not as φιλεῖν ( amare ), that we are required to love our enemy. Comp. on John 11:5 . It rests upon the clearness and strength of the moral will to separate between the person of the enemy and his hostile disposition towards us, so that the latter does not prevent us from esteeming the former, from blessing it, and applying to it acts of kindness and intercession. The Christian receives this moral clearness and strength, and the consecration of enthusiasm thereto, in his self-experience of the divine love of one’s enemy in Christ (Matthew 18:21 ff.; Ephesians 4:32 ; Philippians 2:1 f.; 1 John 4:10 f.).

Verse 45

Matthew 5:45 . Ὅπως γένησθε υἱοὶ , κ . τ . λ .] is commonly understood, in keeping with the ὅτι τὸν ἥλιον , κ . τ . λ ., that follows, of the ethical condition of similarity to God , according to which the child of God also exhibits in himself the divine disposition and the divine conduct (Ephesians 5:1 f.). But the correct interpretation is given by Matthew 5:9 , and is supported by γένησθε (for γίνεσθαι is never equivalent to εἶναι ). What is meant is, as in Matthew 5:9 , the obtaining of the coming salvation in the kingdom of the Messiah , which, according to the connection, as in Matthew 5:9 , is designated as the future sonship of God, because the participators in the Messianic blessedness must necessarily be of the same moral nature with God as the original type of love; therefore the words that follow, and Matthew 5:48 .

τοῦ ἐν οὐραν .] See on Matthew 6:9 . As to the thought, comp. Seneca, de benef . Matthew 4:25 : “Si deos imitaris, da et ingratis beneficia; nam et sceleratis sol oritur, et piratis patent maria .”

ὅτι ] is not equivalent to ὅς , but the simple as (for), stating that ὅπως γένησθε υἱοὶ , κ . τ . λ ., is rightly said. Fritzsche here inappropriately (comp. already Bengel) drags in the usage of εἰς ἐκεῖνο ὅτι (see on John 2:18 ; John 9:17 , etc).

ἀνατέλλει ] transitive, Hom. Il . v. 777; Pind. Isthm . vi. 5, v. 111; Soph. Phil . 1123; Diod. Sic. xvii. 7; LXX. Genesis 3:18 ; Sir 37:17 ; Clem. Cor . I. 20.

τὸν ἥλιον αὐτοῦ ] “Magnifica appellatio; ipse et fecit solem et gubernat et habet in sua unius potestate” (Bengel). The goodness of God towards His enemies (sinners) Jesus makes His believers feel by the experimental proof of His all good administration in nature a proof which, like every one derived a posteriori in favour of a single divine attribute, is, on account of opposing experiences (God also destroys the good and the evil through natural manifestations), in itself insufficient, but, in popular instruction, has its proper place, and is of assured efficacy, with the same right as the special consideration of individual divine attributes in general.

Verse 46

Matthew 5:46 . Argumentum e contrario in favour of the command to love one’s enemy; for the mere love of one’s friend belongs to no higher stage of moral life than that of the publicans and heathens.

In what follows neither is a μόνον to be supplied after τοὺς ἀγαπ . ὑμᾶς , nor is ἔχετε to be taken for ἕξετε (both in answer to Kuinoel and others). Jesus opposes the doctrine, “ Love them who love you ,” and views the reward , as in Matthew 5:12 ; Matthew 6:1 , as a possession, preserved in heaven with God, to be realized in the kingdom of the future.

οἱ τελῶναι ] the tax-gatherers (partly natives, partly Romans), who were employed in the service of the Roman knights, who farmed the revenues. They were generally greatly hated amongst the Jews on account of their severity and avarice, especially, however, for being the servants of the Roman power . Wetstein on the passage; Keim, II. p. 217 f.

Verse 47

Matthew 5:47 . And if ye shall have welcomed your brethren alone (saluted them lovingly), what special thing have you done? The conception, “ to act in a friendly manner ” (Luther, Tholuck, Bleek, Hofmann), is not the significatio , but certainly the adsignificatio of ἀσπάζεσθαι , as often in classic writers. Comp. ἀσπάζεσθαι καὶ φιλεῖν , Stallbaum, ad Plat. Ap . p. 29 D, and Rep . 499 A.

τοὺς ἀδελφ . ὑμῶν μόνον ] is not to be limited to the members of families and other close associations (Tholuck and others), as was already done by the reading φίλους , approved of by Griesbach; but it refers to the members of the nation , and applies to the national particularism of the Jews; consequently the national antithesis is οἱ ἐθνικοί . Comp. Bleek.

τί περισσόν ] what preference? what distinguishes you above others, “ut decet filios Dei,” Bengel. Comp. Romans 3:1 ; Soph. O. R. 841. Instead of τί περισσόν , Justin, Apol . i. 15, quotes τί καινόν , which substantially agrees with τί περισσόν , and belongs only to another form of the idea, not to a higher point of view (Hilgenfeld). See Ritschl in the Theol. Jahrb . 1851, p. 490 f.

Verse 48

Matthew 5:48 . Ἔσεσθε ] imperatively.

οὖν ) draws a deduction from Matthew 5:44-47 , where the emphatic ὑμεῖς forms the sublime antithesis to the last-mentioned publicans and heathens. The highest summary of the unending obligation of Christian love.

τέλειοι ] ἐν μηδενὶ λειπόμενοι , James 1:4 . Euth. Zigabenus well remarks: οἱ μὲν ἀγαπῶντες τοὺς ἀγαπῶντας αὐτοὺς ἀτελεῖς εἰσιν εἰς ἀλάπην : οἱ δὲ τοὺς ἐχθροὺς , οὗτοι τέλειοι . Comp. Luther: “after the example of the heavenly Father, who does not piece nor divide His love,” and already Ignatius, ad Philad. , interpol. 3. Thus the closing admonition stands in close relation to what precedes. Others (Beza, Fritzsche, Kuinoel, Ewald, who also regards Matthew 7:12 as originally belonging to this passage): integri, sine vitiis in general, without exclusive reference to the commandment of love. They consider the verse as the top-stone of the whole discourse, directed from Matthew 5:20 onwards against the Pharisees. But this anti-Pharisaic tendency is still continued also in ch. 6, and the pointing to the example of God would at least not be appropriate to Matthew 6:27 ff. and to Matthew 6:31 ff.

ὥσπερ ] equality of the moral modality , Matthew 5:45 , by which the relation of the adequate degree is not required, and yet the ideal task, the obligation of which is never exhausted (Romans 13:8 ff.), is for ever made sure. Observe, moreover, how this ὥσπερ corresponds, indeed, to the Platonic conception of virtue ( ὁμοιοῦσθαι τῷ θεῷ ); the latter, however, is surpassed, on the one side, by the specific requirement of love as similarity to God; and, on the other, by the idea of God as the heavenly Father .

Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Matthew 5". Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hmc/matthew-5.html. 1832.
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