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Monday, June 17th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 5

Bengel's Gnomon of the New TestamentBengel's Gnomon

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Verse 1

Matthew 5:1 . Ἰδὼν , seeing ) sc. afar off. ὄρος , mountain ) and moreover the higher part of the mountain. There He prayed and selected His apostles; see Mark 3:13-19 ; Luke 6:12-16 . Afterwards he came half way down the mountain; and, as He was coming down with His disciples, He met the people coming up, and sat down there to teach; see note on Luke 6:17 . [166] A mountain, as being a lofty part of the earth, and thereby nearer to heaven, is best suited for the most holy actions. προσῆλθον Αὐτῷ , came unto Him [167] ) The close admittance and docility of recent disciples.

[166] The night, which is mentioned in Luke 6:12 , succeeded to [followed immediately after] miracles, as appears from Mark 3:10 , and preceded miracles, according to Luke 6:18 . What is said in the beginning of Matthew 5:0 is suited to the even-tide, which put a close to both classes of miracles, viz., Seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain: the day following will thus claim to itself the rest of His proceedings, viz., When He was set (seated), i.e. , after the cures recorded in Luke, which he had performed standing, His disciples came unto Him. Harm. , p. 242.

[167] Not only the twelve. B. G. V.

Verse 2

Matthew 5:2 . Ἀνοίξας , κ . τ . λ ., having opened, etc .) A beginning studiously made is great part of a great matter. In commencing narrations of great and deliberate affairs, Scripture uses the phrases, He turned his shoulders, He moved his feet, He raised his eyes, He opened His mouth . See Acts 10:34 . Here the fountain began to pour forth water. Cf. Matthew 13:35 . ἐδίδασκεν , He taught ) He instructed by doctrine, by consolation, by exhortation, by precept. αὐτοὺς , them ) the disciples. For He addresses these, in the hearing of the multitudes; [168] see Matthew 7:28 . The Evangelists have transcribed at full length two discourses of our Lord, as models of all the rest; the one delivered publicly at the commencement of His ministry, that namely which we are now considering; the other privately at its conclusion, recorded in John 13-16. Our Lord’s object in the present discourse is to teach true righteousness (see Isa 63:1 ): and He also declares at the same time, that He came to establish the Law and the Prophets, and exposes the spurious character of the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees. In the exordium, there is firstly, Matthew 5:3-4 , a sweet invitation to the fellowship of true righteousness, and therein of blessedness; secondly, Matthew 5:13-14 , to the communication of it to others. From Mat 5:17 to Matthew 7:12 , there is a treatise, the end of which corresponds with the beginning, even to a word. The conclusion of this discourse, firstly, ch. Matthew 7:13-14 , points out the gate of righteousness; secondly, ch. Matthew 7:15-16 , warns against false prophets, who go themselves, and lead others, into all kinds of error; [169] and thirdly, Matthew 7:24-25 , exhorts us to fulfil these precepts of righteousnesss. The impression produced by the Heavenly Teacher’s discourse on those who heard Him, is described in the two last verses of the same chapter.

[168] [He, however, addressed the latter also at the same time; v. 17. V. g.]

[169] In alia omnia ducentibus et euntibus literally, “leading and going into all other things” sc. other than the strait gate. (I. B.)

Verse 3

Matthew 5:3 . Μακάριοι , blessed ) This initial word, so often repeated, indicates the object of Christ’s teaching. [170] By means, however, of striking paradoxes, blessedness is proposed not only by itself, but inasmuch as, in Christ now present , it is within the reach of all who are capable of receiving Him. There were some such amongst our Lord’s auditors, though undistinguished by the eye of man (see ch. Matthew 9:36-37 , Matthew 11:28 ; Isa 29:19 ), although compared with the rest they were not many in number: for the epithet blessed frequently implies both the excellence and rarity of a thing (as in Sir 31:8 ), from which the expressions, theirs, they , etc., exclude those otherwise disposed: cf. Luke 6:24-26 , where the woes are denounced. Seven however of the μακαρισμοὶ , or predications of blessedness , are absolute , declaring the condition of the godly, as far as regards themselves; two are relative , having respect to the conduct of men towards them. In both cases the kingdom of heaven is placed first, as embracing the whole of the beatitudes. All are enumerated in a most beautiful order. With these may be compared the matter and order of the eight woes, which are denounced against the Scribes and Pharisees, in ch. Matthew 23:13-16 ; Matthew 23:23 ; Matthew 23:25 ; Matthew 23:27 ; Matthew 23:29 . In both cases mention is made of the kingdom of heaven , here Matthew 5:3 , there Matthew 5:13 ; of mercy , here Matthew 5:7 , there Matthew 5:23 ; of purity , here Matthew 5:8 , there Matthew 5:25 ; and of persecution , here Matthew 5:10-11 , and there Matthew 5:29-30 : and undoubtedly the other clauses may also be respectively compared with each other. In the subject , the saints are described as they are now in this life; in the predicate , as they will be hereafter on that day : see Luke 6:25 ; Luke 6:23 . Our Lord, however, frames His words in such a manner, as at the same time to intimate the blessedness of individual saints already commencing in the present life, and to signify prophetically the blessedness of the holy people , which will hereafter be theirs also upon earth: see Matthew 5:5 . οἱ πτωχοὶ , the poor ) A vocative, either expressly or such in meaning (cf. Matthew 5:11 , and Luk 6:20 ). Nor does the pronoun αὐτῶν , their , oppose this view. Cf. Gnomon on Matthew 23:37 . Poverty is the first foundation. He is poor , who has it not in his power to say, this is mine ; [171] and who, when he has anything for the present, does not devise what he will have for the future, but depends on the liberality of another. The riches which are disclaimed by such poverty, are either spiritual or natural, and are either present or absent. Such cardinal and fundamental virtues are despised by the world: whereas those which the world admires as such, are either no virtues, or false ones, or merely the offshoots and appendages of Christian virtues. ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΙ , in spirit) i.e. in their inmost self. This word is to be understood also in the following passages as far as Matthew 5:8 , where the words τῇ καρδίᾳ , in heart , occur. ὅτι , because ) Each kind of blessedness which is predicated corresponds with the previous description of [the character or condition which is] its subject, [172] and is taken, either (1.) from the contrary (for the works of God, 2 Corinthians 4:6 ; 2Co 7:6 ; 2 Corinthians 12:9 , are effected in the midst of their contraries); [173] or (2.) regulated by a law of benignant retribution or exact conformity. [174] ἔστιν , is ) sc. already. The present in this verse, and the future in those which follow, mutually imply each other. ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν , the kingdom of heaven , literally, the kingdom of the heavens ), [175] which, promised in the Old Testament, is actually conferred by the Messiah.

[170] The first word of this discourse announces its whole scope: a great blessedness is here placed before us by the Lord. See Hebrews 2:3 . B. G. V.

[171] i.e. , Has nothing which he can call his own. (I. B.)

[172] Sc. of the present state of the subject. Ex. gr. “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted .” ED.

[173] In the original, “in mediis contrariis,” the full force of which it is difficult to give by a single phrase. Bengel’s meaning is best obtained by a reference to the texts which he gives. (I. B.)

[174] In the original, “a talione benigna proximave convenientiâ,” where talio (talion) is used in a sense cognate with its original derivation from talis, such , but unknown (as far as I am aware) to classical usage. It is one of those peculiar adaptations of words frequently occurring in Bengel, and sanctioned (in its principle) by no less an authority than Horace. See his Ars Poetica, Matthew 5:47-48 . For an example of Bengel’s meaning, cf Mat 5:7-8 of this chapter. (I. B.)

[175] This expression, the kingdom of the heavens , marks the commencement of the discussion (tractatio) in this verse, as it also marks the close of the discussion in Matthew 5:10 . Vers. Germ .

Verse 4

Matthew 5:4 . Παρακληθήσονται , shall be comforted ) The future tense indicates promises made in the Old Testament, and now to be performed; see Luke 16:25 , and 2 Thessalonians 2:16 . The poor and the meek are joined together in Matthew 5:3 ; Matthew 5:5 , as in the frequently-occurring עני ואביון , poor and needy, cf. also ch. Matthew 11:29 .

Verses 4-5

Matthew 5:4-5 . Οἱ πενθοῦντες , κ . τ . λ .) they that mourn , etc. οἱ πρᾳεῖς , κ . τ . λ ., the meek , etc.) Most of the Latins transpose these verses, and certainly the third and fifth verses correspond with each other. Blessed are the POOR in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of HEAVEN; blessed are the MEEK, for they shall inherit the EARTH. עני = πτωχὸς , poor, ענו = πραὖς , meek, especially in Psalms 37:11 , where the inheritance of the earth is spoken of, and ibid. Matthew 5:14 . But this does not interfere with our order of the verses; for Mat 5:4 is subordinate to Matthew 5:3 , and Mat 5:6 to Matthew 5:5 . [176] Mourning has a more widely extended signification than sorrowing for one’s own sins. See Gnomon on 1 Corinthians 5:2 .

[176] For the arrangement, whereby the beatitude of οἱ πραεὶς comes before that of οἱ πενθοῦντες , there are D ac Vulg. Orig. 3, 740 d , Euseb. Canon , Hilary 621 d , 622 a . For the arrangement of the Rec. Text, οἱ πενθ . οἱ πραεῖς , there are of very old authorities B b . ED. By the word αὐτοὶ it is implied that the contraries to these beatitudes shall be portion of those oppositely disposed. Vers. Germ .

Verse 5

Matthew 5:5 . Οἱ πρᾳεῖς , the meek ) Those are here named for the most part, whom the world tramples on. πρᾷος is connected with the Latin pravus , which has frequently the meaning of segnis , slow, sluggish, etc. κληρονομήσουσι , shall inherit ) the future. The meek are seen everywhere to yield to the importunity of the inhabitants of the earth; and yet they shall obtain possession of the earth, not by their own arm, but by inheritance, through the aid of the Father: cf. Revelation 5:10 . In the mean time, even whilst the usurpation of the ungodly continues, all the produce of the earth is ordered for the comfort of the meek. In all these sentences, blessedness in heaven and blessedness on earth mutually imply each other. See Psalms 37:0 (36):11, Οἱ δὲ πρᾳεῖς κληρονομήσουσι γῆν , καὶ κατατρυφήσουσιν ἐπὶ πλήθει εἰρήνης , But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace . This is, indeed, the subject of that whole Psalm; see Matthew 5:3 ; Matthew 5:9 ; Matthew 5:22 ; Matthew 5:29 ; Matthew 5:34 .

Verse 6

Matthew 5:6 . Οἱ πεινῶντες καὶ διψῶντες , κ . τ . λ , who hunger and thirst , etc.) who feel that of themselves they have no righteousness by which they may approve themselves either to God or man, and eagerly long for it. Faith is here described, suitably to the beginning of the New Testament. τὴν δικαιοσύνην , righteousness ) Our Lord plainly declares Himself here to be the author of righteousness. That which is signified here is not the right ( jus ) of the human, but of the Divine tribunal. This verse is the centre of this passage, and the theme of the whole sermon. Our Lord does not say, Blessed are the righteous , as he presently says, Blessed are the merciful , etc.; but, Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness . Pure righteousness will become their portion in due time. (See 2 Peter 3:13 ; Isaiah 60:21 .) χορτασθήσονται , they shall be filled ) with righteousness; see Romans 14:17 . This was the meat of Jesus himself: see John 4:34 ; cf. Matthew 3:15 . This satisfying fulness He proposes to His followers in the whole of this sermon, and promises and offers them in this very verse.

Verse 7

Matthew 5:7 . Ἐλεήμονες , the merciful ) The Greek word ἔλεος , ruth , from which ἐλεήμονες is derived, corresponds to the Hebrew חסך , [177] and does not refer merely to miserable objects.

[177] חֶסֶד … (1) in a good sense, zeal towards any one, love, kindness, specially (a) of men amongst themselves, benignity, benevolence, as shown in mutual benefits; mercy, pity, when referring to those in misfortune: Gen 21:23 ; 2 Samuel 10:2 . LXX. often ἔλεος . GESENIUS. (I. B.)

Verse 8

Matthew 5:8 . Οἱ καθαροὶ τῂ καρδίᾳ , the pure in heart ) Ceremonial purity is not sufficient. Jesus requires, and teaches, the virtue of the heart. Purity of heart includes both chastity and freedom from the other defilements of sin. τὸν Θεὸν ὄψονται , shall see God ) A clear knowledge of God is promised even now, but in words which will be more literally fulfilled in life eternal: see 1 John 3:2-3 ; 1 John 3:6 ; cf. concerning the opposite to purity, 1 Thessalonians 4:5 .

Verse 9

Matthew 5:9 . Εἰρηνοποιοὶ , peacemakers ) They who make all lawful peace between those who are at variance, at discord, or at war. υἱοὶ , sons ) How great is this dignity! Θεοῦ , of God ) who is the God of peace. κληθήσονται , shall be called) i.e. , shall be in name and in reality.

Verse 10

Matthew 5:10 . οἱ δεδιωγμένοι , they who endure persecution ) In the next verse, δεδιωγμένοι signifies, Those who have offered themselves to undergo persecution. Our Lord already announces the treatment which He and His followers will receive from the world. He unfolds this truth, however, gradually. He speaks of His yoke in ch. Matthew 11:29 ; of His cross in Matthew 16:24 . By comparing Mark 8:34 , and Matthew 10:38 , it appears that He speaks of His cross to His disciples alone. ἕνεκεν δικαιοσύνης , for righteousness’ sake ) In the next verse, He says, for My sake; cf. ch. Matthew 10:39 ; Matthew 10:42 , Matthew 16:25 , Matthew 18:5 , Matthew 19:12 ; Matthew 19:29 .

Verse 11

Matthew 5:11 . Ὀνειδίσωσιν , shall revile ) sc. in your presence: understand ἀνθρώποι , men . They inflict insult by words, persecution in fact. ὑμᾶς , you ) Jesus speaks sometimes in the first person plural of Himself, and mankind, taken collectively, when the matter treated of is one plainly external (see Joh 11:7 ), or when He speaks as one unknown (see ch. Matthew 3:15 , Joh 4:22 ); but mostly uses the second person, to signify that He is not on a par with others. See Matthew 5:12-13 ; Matthew 5:20 ; John 6:49 ; John 10:34 ; John 14:9 ; John 20:17 . εἴπωσι , shall say ) sc. in your absence.

Verse 12

Matthew 5:12 . Χαίρετε , rejoice ) Joy is not only a feeling, but also a duty of the Christian (see Php 4:4 ); and in adversity, the highest grade and very nerve of patience. ἀγαλλιᾶσθε , be exceeding glad ) so that others also may perceive your joy. ὅτι , κ . τ . λ , because , etc.) You may therefore rejoice on account of your reward. ὁ μισθὸς , the reward ) sc. of grace . The word Reward implies something further beyond the beatitudes, which spring from the very disposition of the righteous. Therefore it is said, Rejoice . τοὺς προφήτας , the prophets ) who, by bearing witness to Christ, have encountered hatred (see Act 7:52 ), whose reward you know to be great. Persecution has not occurred only in the case of barbarous nations whilst they were being converted to the Gospel, but always in the times of both the Old and New Testament: see 1 John 3:12-13 .

Verses 13-14

Matthew 5:13-14 . Ὑμεῖς , you ) sc. the first disciples and hearers of the Messiah. Salt and light are, in nature, things essential, and of widest use. Frequently in Scripture the same thing is first declared by metaphorical expressions, that our attention may be excited: and then, when we have not understood it as we ought, and in the meanwhile have perceived our blindness, it is disclosed in plain words. τῆς γῆς , of the earth ). τοῦ κόσμου , of the world ) The earth of itself is without salt, the world without light. ἐαν , κ . τ . λ ., if , etc.) It is not affirmed in this passage, that salt does lose its savour; but it is shown what, in such a case, would be the lot of the Salt of the earth. μωρανθῇ , should lose its savour ) Galen, [178] in his observations on Hippocrates, explains ΜΕΜΩΡΩΜΈΝΑ (the perf. pass. part. of this verb) by ΤᾺ ἈΝΑΊΣΘΗΤΑ , i.e., which have no feeling; in Mark 9:50 , we find ἄναλον γένηται , become saltless . It is the nature of salt to have and to give savour; and to this savour are opposed saltlessness, want of taste, value lost. ἁλισθήσεται , shall it be salted ) Impersonal. Neither can the salt (see Mark, cited above) nor the earth be seasoned from any other source. ἔξω , out of doors ) far from any household use. καὶ , and ) sc. and therefore. καταπατεῖσθαι , to be trodden under foot ) There is nothing more despised than one who wishes to be esteemed divine, and is not so. [179] ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων , by men) i.e. , by all who come in its way. This is the force here of the article τῶν .

[178] Hippocrates, the greatest physician of antiquity, was born at the island of Cos in the 80th Olympiad, and flourished during the time of the Peloponnesian War. Galen, second only to Hippocrates, was born at Pergamus, in the Lesser Asia, about the year 131. See ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA. (I. B.)

[179] The mere man of the world is not so much disgraced by his vanity as is such a one. Vers. Germ .

Verse 14

Matthew 5:14 . [180] Ὄρους , a mountain ) Appositely, cf. ver 1. Concerning the thing itself, see Revelation 21:10 .

[180] By the words οὐ δύναται , it is implied that there is no need of a constrained feigning to be what we are not; so also, a light or lamp, provided it is not stifled, cannot but shine. Vers. Germ .

Verse 15

Matthew 5:15 . Καίουσι , do they light ) Impersonal. οἱ καίοντες , those who light must be understood, cf. Matthew 7:16 . ὑπὸ , under) i.e. behind. In Luke 8:16 , we find ὑποκάτω , underneath .

Verse 16

Matthew 5:16 . Ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων , before men ) sc. all men. ὅπως , in order that ) The force of this particle does not so much refer to the verb ἴδωσιν ( they may see ) as to δοξάσωσι ( may glorify ). ὑμῶν ἔργα , your works ) Your works, not yourselves. The light, not the candle. [181] τὸν Πατέρα ὑμῶν , your Father ) Who has begotten you like unto Himself. In the whole of this address, the Son shows God to us as our Father, and that more richly than all the prophets of old.

[181] So there follows [That men may See] Your Father; not yourselves: comp. ch. Matthew 6:2 . Vers. Germ .

Verse 17

Matthew 5:17 . Μὴ νομίσητε , Do not think ) An elliptical mode of speech by Metonomy of the Consequent. [182] Do not think, fear, hope, that I am a teacher like those teachers to whom you have been accustomed, and that I, like them, shall set aside the law. He who thinks the former, thinks also the latter. ἦλθον , I have come ) Our Lord, therefore, existed before He came upon earth, which is implied also in ch. Matthew 8:10 , by εὖρον , I have found . καταλῦσαι , to destroy, to abrogate ) To the compound verb, καταλύειν , to unloose or dissolve , is opposed πληροῦν , to fulfil ; to the simple verb λύειν , to loose , combined with διδάσκειν , to teach , is opposed ποιεῖν , to do , or perform , joined with the same verb διδάσκειν : from which the relative force of the words appears; those are said of the whole law, these of the separate precepts. καταλύειν , to unloose , and λύειν , to loose , both signify to render void. [183] τὸν νόμον ἤ τοὺς προφήτας , the law or the prophets ) Many of the Jews esteemed the prophets less than the law. They are joined also in ch. Matthew 7:12 . πληρῶσαι , to fulfil ) By My deeds and words, to effect that all things should be fulfilled which the law requires. See the conclusion of the next verse. [184] The Rabbins acknowledge that it is a sign of the Messiah to fulfil the whole law.

[182] The consequent that I, like them, shall set aside the law: the antecedent that I am a teacher like those to whom you are accustomed. (I. B.)

[183] The Latin verb solvo , which is used in this passage, represents the Greek λύω far more fully and accurately than any English word can. καταλύω is also more adequately rendered by dissolvo than by any English word. (I. B.)

[184] He was not the founder of a new law; but, by His own obedience, Himself fulfilled the law, and showed how it should be fulfilled by His disciples. Vers. Germ .

Verse 18

Matthew 5:18 . Ἀμὴν , Amen, verily ) Jesus alone employed this word at the commencement of His addresses, to give them greater force and solemnity. No apostle did so. Wagenseil, [185] in his Sota, p. 379, says, that this word had sometimes with the Jews the force of an oath. And wherever חי אני ( I, living ) occurs in the Hebrew, the Chaldee Paraphrast has אנא קים , I, constant : and קים , to confirm , etc., is found there passim for נשבע , to swear . See Louis le Dieu on this passage; and Kimchi interprets אמן , amen , itself by קיום , stability . [186]

[185] John Christopher Wagenseil was born at Nuremberg in 1633, and educated at the University of Altdorf, where he was appointed Professor of History in 1667, and of Oriental Languages about 1675. He died in 1705. The full title of the work referred to in the text is, Sota, hoc est liber Mixlenicus de uxore adulterii suspecta, una cum libri ex Jacob excerptis Gemaræ, versione Latina et commentario perpetuo, in quo multa sacrarum literarum ac Hebræorum Scriptorum loca explicantur. (I. B.)

[186] Firmitas, stabilitas, duratio . BUXTORF. (I. B.)

In the New Testament, however, it is not, strictly speaking, an oath: for it corresponds with ναὶ , yea , and ἀληθῶς , truly ; cf. Luke 11:51 ; Luke 21:3 , with Matthew 23:36 , and Mark 12:43 . It is, however, a most grave asseveration, exclusively suitable to Him who asseverates by Himself and His own truth, and from the dignity of the Speaker, is equivalent to an oath, especially when it is uttered twice, sc. “ verily, verily: ” see note to John 1:51 . The Hebrew word is preserved in all languages. [187] λέγω ὑμῖν , I say unto you ) This formula, frequent and peculiar to the Lord, possesses the highest authority, and denotes frequently a matter declared by Him, which, for special reasons, is neither written expressly in the Old Testament, nor can be clearly proved from any other source, but is first produced by Himself from the secret treasuries of wisdom and knowledge, so that the assent of the hearers may rest on His sole affirmation, and the dull in heart may be deprived of all excuse for the future. The prophets were wont to say in the third person, נאם , [188] saith the Lord; the apostles, It is written; but Christ, in the first person, I say unto you; see Matthew 5:20 ; Matthew 5:22 ; Matthew 5:26 ; Matthew 5:28 ; Matthew 5:32 ; Matthew 5:34 ; Matthew 5:39 ; Matthew 5:44 , ch. Matthew 6:2 ; John 3:3 ; John 14:12 ; John 14:25 , etc. Cf. notes on John 4:21 ; John 14:25 . St Paul, when again and again compelled to speak in the first person, takes especial care not to trench on the Divine prerogative. See Romans 12:3 ; 1 Corinthians 7:6 . Faith is the correlative of this, “ I say unto you ” and by this formula is, suitably to that time ( pro modo illius temporis ), placed, as it were, as the foundation on the very threshold of the New Testament. Christ seldom quotes passages of Scripture, and not except for some special reason: He befittingly rests on His own authority. ἝΩς ἌΝ ΠΑΡΈΛΘῌ , until pass away ) The verb, παρέλθῃ , leaves undetermined the manner of the end of the world. ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ , Heaven and earth ) The whole system of nature. ἸῶΤΑ , jot) iota, yod . Yod, the smallest and most elementary letter in the Hebrew alphabet, and one in which Keri and Kethib [189] very frequently differ, so that it almost appears to be indiscriminately absent or redundant. In the course of the Hebrew Scriptures, 66,420 yods are numbered. The Greeks frequently write the iota below, or omit it altogether. ΚΕΡΑΊΑ , a tittle ) An appendage to a portion of a letter, a mark by which one letter is distinguished from another, as ב , Beth (B), from כ , Kaph (K), or ר , Resh (R), from ד , Daleth (D), or one sound from another, as a vowel point or an accent; in short, anything which in any way belongs to the signification of the Divine will, or assists to declare that signification as revealed in the law. οὐ μὴ , a double negative ) Οὐ ΜῊ always has a subjunctive, and its emphasis ought not to be stretched too far; cf. Matthew 5:20 ; Matthew 5:26 . Οὐ ΜῊ ΠΑΡῈΛΘῌ , shall not pass away ) From hence may be inferred the entireness of Scripture; for, unless the Scripture were entire, it could not be entirely fulfilled. ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου , from the law ) Understand and supply, “ or from the prophets .” The smallest portion of the law is contrasted with the whole world. ἕως ἅν , κ . τ . λ ., until , etc.) For righteousness shall dwell in new Heavens and a new Earth . See 2 Peter 3:13 . πάντα , all particulars ) sc. of the law. Observe the contrast between this and ΜΊΑΝ , one , in the next verse. [190] γένηται , be fulfilled ) They have been fulfilled, and they are being fulfilled by Jesus Christ, [not only in Himself, but] even in Christians: they had not been fulfilled before His coming.

[187] And it (the Hebr. amen ) ought to be retained in translation, as in the end, so also in the beginning of sentences. The same principle holds good of other Hebrew words. Not. Crit .

[188] “ נאם … to mutter, to murmur, to speak in a low voice; specially used of the voice of God, by which oracles were revealed to the prophets. By far the most frequent use is of the part. pass. constr. in this phrase, נְאֻם יְיָ נְאֻם יְהוֹה , צְבָאוֹת . ‘The voice of Jehovah (is);’ or (so) hath Jehovah revealed. This the prophets themselves were accustomed either to insert in the discourse, like the Lat. ait, inquit Dominus, Amos 6:8 ; Amos 6:14 ; Amos 9:12-13 , or to add at the end of a sentence.” Gesenius. (I. B.)


[190] In the original, “Antitheton, unum , in v. seq.” I have endeavoured in this, as in other instances, to give such a rendering as shall convey Bengel’s meaning to the general reader. (I. B.)

“The margin of the Hebrew Bible exhibits a number of various readings of an early date, called קְרִי (to be read), because, in the view of the Jewish critics, they are to be preferred to the reading of the text, called כְּתִיב (written). Those critics have therefore attached the vowel signs, appropriate to the marginal reading, to the consonants of the corresponding word in the text; e.g. in Jeremiah 42:6 , the text exhibits אֲנַוְּ , the margin אנחנו קרי . Here the vowels in the text belong to the word in the margin, which is to be pronounced אֲנַחְנוּ ; but in reading the text אנו , the proper vowels must be supplied, making אֲנוּ . A small circle or asterisk over the word in the text always directs to the marginal reading.” Gesenius, Heb. Gr. Sect. 17. (I. B.)

Verse 19

Matthew 5:19 . Αύσῃ , shall break ) The antithetical word to this is ποιήσῃ , shall do , which occurs further on in this verse. The Scribes, who thought themselves “ great ,” were in the habit of breaking them. The same verb, λύω , occurs in John 7:23 ; John 10:35 . τούτων , of these ) those, namely, which follow in Matthew 5:22 ; Matthew 5:28 , etc. τῶν ἐλαχίστων , of the least ) These precepts, “ Thou shalt not kill ,” etc., are not essentially the least, for in them the whole law is contained. But they are so only inasmuch as, when rightly explained, they regulate even the most subtile affections and emotions of the soul, and the slightest movements of the tongue, and thus, when compared with other precepts, appear to men to be the least. ἐλάχιστος , least ) Referring to the preceding ἐλαχίστων . An instance of Ploce . [191] As we treat the Word of God, so does God treat us; see John 17:6 ; John 17:11 ; Revelation 3:10 . “ A little ” signifies “ almost nothing ,” whence “ the least ” comes to mean “ none at all ” (for they considered anger, for instance, as of no consequence whatever); cf. in Matthew 5:20 , “ ye shall not enter .” ἐλάχιστος ; has a different force in this passage from that which ὁ μικρότερος ( the least ) “ in the kingdom of heaven ” has in ch. Matthew 11:11 . ἐν τῂ βασιλείᾳ τὼν οὐρανῶν , in the kingdom of heaven ) which cannot endure the presence of the unrighteous. ποιήσῃ καὶ διδάξῃ , shall do and teach ) The same order of words occurs in Acts 1:1 . ποιήσῃ , shall do them, sc. all; for it is not lawful to break or neglect even one of them. οὗτος , this man, he ) A pronoun used emphatically. Comp. with this use of οὗτος , ch. Matthew 7:21 (Latin Version [192] ); Luke 9:24 ; John 7:18 . μέγας , great ) All the commandments are of great account to him, especially in their full compass [193] (see Mat 5:18 ); therefore he shall be called great .

[191] See Appendix. The same word employed twice: in the first instance, expressing the simple idea of the word itself; and in the second, an attribute of it. ED.

[192] See Gnomon on Matthew 7:21 , and notes. (I. B.) The Vulgate, referred to, thus renders the οὗτος , etc., which abc Hil. and Cypr. read, but which BZ omit, “Qui facit voluntatem patris, etc., ipse intrabit,” etc. ED.

[193] “Præsertim in complexu suo,” i.e. when considered with reference to all that they involve, as explained by our Lord in this discourse, v. 21, etc. (I. B.)

Verse 20

Matthew 5:20 . Ἐὰν μὴ περισσεύσῃ ἡ δικαιοσὑνη ὑμῶν , except your righteousness shall exceed ) Our righteousness, even though it should satisfy, could never exceed , the requirements of the law; but the Scribes and Pharisees thought that theirs did so. We are bound to surpass their righteousness. Cf. the force of περισσεύσῃ ( abound , or exceed ), with that of περισσὸν ( more than others, exceeding the general standard ), in Matthew 5:47 . We must surpass both Pharisees and publicans: see Matthew 5:48 . ὑμῶν ἡ δικαιοσύνη , your righteousness ) The pronoun, ὑμῶν ( your ), being placed first, is opposed with greater emphasis to the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees. [194] Others read ἡ δικαιοσύνη ὑμῶν . [195] That righteousness is intended, of which specimens are given in Matthew 5:19 ; Matthew 5:22-23 . This language does not make void the righteousness of faith; but the language of Jesus Christ before His ascension, keeps, as it were, the mean between Moses and the apostles. πλεῖον τῶν γραμματέων , κ . τ . λ ., more than the Scribes , etc.) i.e. πλεῖον τῆς δικαιοσύνης τῶν γραμματέων , κ . τ . λ ., more than the righteousness of the Scribes , etc. τῶν γραμματέων , of the Scribes ) Our Lord does not command the righteousness of His followers to be greater than the righteousness of Moses, as if the law of Moses had been imperfect, which promised life to those who performed it, and was (see Romans 7:12 ; Rom 7:14 ) just, holy, good, and spiritual; but greater than the righteousness (which word, however, is elegantly omitted) of the Scribes and Pharisees , who observed ceremonial and legal, but neglected moral righteousness. The Pharisees urged traditions; the Scribes , or Karaei , [196] the letter, which was written, and constantly read out. It seemed to be especially the part of the Scribes to teach ; of the Pharisees to do . Our Lord does not name Moses; but He says impersonally, It has been said . Οὐ ΜῊ ΕἸΣΈΛΘΗΤΕ , ye shall not enter ) See ch. Matthew 18:3 ; John 3:5 ; 1 Corinthians 15:50 .

[194] Which was esteemed in those days as superlatively good. Vers. Germ .

[195] Lachm. and Tischend., with the oldest MSS. Vulg., etc., read ἡ δικαιοσύνη ὑμῶν . For the order ὑμῶν ἡ δικ . there are of good, though later authorities, only L Δ . ED.

[196] Bengel’s words are, “ scribœ sive Karæi , literam, quœ erat scripta et lectitabatur;” where “ scripta erat ” (was written) refers to “ scribœ ” (scribes), derived from the Latin verb scribo, to write : and lectitabatur ( was constantly read out ) refers to “ karœi ,” derived from the Hebrew verb קָרָא , of which Gesenius says, “(4) to recite, to read aloud (from the signification of crying out, see No. 1) anything, with an acc., Exodus 24:7 ; Joshua 8:34-35 ; Joshua 2:0 King’s Matthew 23:2 ; also קָרָא בְסֵפֶר , to read what is written in a book.… Nehemiah 8:8 ; Nehemiah 8:18 ; Nehemiah 9:3 ; Isaiah 37:14 . seqq.… Hence generically to read, Deuteronomy 17:19 ; 2 Kings 5:7 ; 2 Kings 19:14 .”

The Karaites , a sect which existed before the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, have been called the Protestants of Judaism . Their name is derived from the Hebrew קראים , which signifies, according to Calmet, “people perfected in the study of Scripture; people attached to the text, and to the letter of Scripture.” They are, of course, diametrically opposed to the Rabbinists, who zealously maintain the Rabbinical traditions. For an account of their history and tenets, see Milman’s History of the Jews, and Calmet in voc. (I. B.)

Verse 21

Matthew 5:21 . Ἠκούσατε , ye have heard ) From public readings, to which you have given your assent. In the New Testament the teachers are referred to their reading of the law, the people to their hearing of it. See John 12:34 ; Romans 2:13 ; Romans 2:18 . ὅτι ἐῤῥέθη , that it has been said ) An impersonal form of speech, to which is elegantly opposed, I say . Moses said it truly; the interpreters of Moses said it with altered meaning: the hearers did not distinguish the meaning of Moses from that of his interpreters. The name of Moses occurs, but with a less forcible contrast, in ch. Matthew 19:8-9 , sc. Moses permitted, but [ I ] say unto you , where I is not expressed in the original, for there is no contention between Moses and Christ: the Jews had departed from both Moses and Christ. The language of Christ does not exceed the law of Moses (see ch. Mat 7:12 ); for concupiscence, proscribed in Matthew 5:28 , is also prohibited by the law: see Romans 7:7 . He however restores the truths which the Scribes had taken from the law, and clears away the falsehoods which they had added; see Matthew 5:43 . The phrase, “ But I say ,” is an antithetic formula, by which Christ, as if Moses had never existed (for the servant gives place to his Lord), orders all things simply, not in the guise of a Legislator or Interpreter, but as the Son declaring the will of His Father: see ch. Matthew 7:21 , and cf. ch. Matthew 3:17 . The law is perfect: whatever the Saviour prohibits or commands in this passage, the law had previously prohibited or commanded: it judges the secrets of the heart (see Rom 7:14 ); but on account of the hard heart of the people, it more frequently expresses outward acts. Therefore the Lord says, “ But I say unto you ,” not, “ Moses however said unto you .” The Jews were in many things otherwise circumstanced in the time of the Pharisees than in the time of Moses. τοῖς ἀρχαίοις , to them of old time [197] ) sc. the fathers in the time of Moses. The Scribes wished to appear to be in conformity with the ancient and primitive rule. Antiquity should be maintained, but it should be genuine antiquity. [198] ὑμῖν , to you ) This word is antithetic [199] to τοῖς ἀρχαιοῖς , from whence it is evident, that τοῖς ἀρχαίοις ( antiquis ) is not in the ablative, but in the dative case; and the construction is more easy if we render the passage thus, “ it was said TO them of old time , than thus, “ it was said BY them of old time .” οὐ φονεύσεις , thou shalt not kill ) Our Lord begins with the clearest precept. τῇ κρίσει , to the judgment ) The Hebrew דִּין , rendered κρίσις , was the inferior tribunal existing in the several towns, and consisted of twenty-three judges, who had the power of life and death. The dative, τῇ κρίσει , signifies, as far as belongs to [200] the judgment , or municipal tribunal: in like manner, in the next verse τῷ συνεδρίῳ signifies as far as belongs to the Sanhedrim: for ἔνοχος , criminal , is here used absolutely.

[197] E. V. by them of old time. (I. B.)

[198] In fact, it was not in the time of Moses, and to the ancients [“to them of old time”], that the rather lax interpretation of the law was set forth, but in the time of the Scribes and Pharisees, and to the men of that age. The Scribes themselves were the persons who crusted over with the plea of antiquity their own innovations, as generally happens in religious controversies, or when morals are being corrupted. Vers. Germ .

[199] See Explanation of technical terms in Appendix. (I. B.)

[200] In the original, “ quod ad judicium attinet ,” where in the phrase, “quod attinet ,” generally rendered “ with respect to ,” “ as regards ,” etc., attinet seems to have its own more peculiar and precise force of pertains; and to signify, “is the province of,” “comes under the jurisdiction of;” a meaning which appears to coincide with Bengel’s observations on the next verse. (I. B.)

Verse 22

Matthew 5:22 . Πᾶς , κ . τ . λ ., every one , etc.) This is opposed to the lax rule [201] of the Scribes. ὁ ὀργιζόμενος , who is angry ) either with a lasting feeling or a sudden emotion. τῲ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ , with his brother ) This appellation shows the unworthiness of anger. εἰκῆ , without a cause ) This gloss [202] evidently betrays its human origin. [203] He who is angry without a cause is superfluously angry: not even the Pharisees taught that it was lawful to be angry without a cause . Even if there be a cause for being angry, there ought to be no anger. God also forbids us to hate even with cause, in that He commands us to love our enemies . Tertullian de Spectaculis, ch. 16. On the other hand, the magistrate, in killing those who ought to be killed, does rightly, and yet it is never said, Thou shalt not kill without a cause . ἔνοχος ἔσται τη κρίσει , shall be criminal as far as belongs to the judgment or municipal tribunal ) i.e. he is a murderer. Cf. Matthew 5:21 . [204] As he who looks upon a woman to lust after her is an adulterer, so he that hateth his brother ( 1Jn 4:15 ) is a murderer . This verse does not indicate three degrees of human or temporal punishment; for neither was it the part of the municipal tribunal and the Sanhedrim to punish the emotion of anger or the utterance of Raca, nor was the valley of the son of Hinnom the place for any punishment, much less for any punishment inflicted by any other power than that of the municipal tribunal or the Sanhedrim, still less for punishment on account of the abusive epithet of Fool. The judgment, therefore, and the council, are assigned to the emotion of anger and the utterance of Raca, as to the first and second degree of murder, deserving the first and second degree of punishment in hell: and the fiery Gehenna [205] is appropriately assigned to the third degree of murder, the abusive epithet of Fool, and indicates a more fiery punishment in hell. There is, therefore, a metonymy of the consequent for the antecedent. “He is criminal as far as belongs to the tribunal,” etc.; signifying, he is a murderer in the first, second, and third degree. Civil guilt denotes spiritual guilt, both as to the fault and the punishment. εἴπῃ , shall say ) in his heart or with his lips once or continually. Ῥακὰ , Raca ) A Hebrew word, frequently used by Hebrews according to Lightfoot, the force of which no Greek word expresses. It denotes a sort of middle term between anger and the appellation of Fool. [206] Chrysostom on this passage says, that Raka denotes in Syriac the same as “ thou ,” uttered contemptuously: others derive it from the Syrian “RAK,” he spits . An old English Version renders it Fie . Light persons are called ריקים in Judges 9:4 ; Judges 11:3 ; 2 Chronicles 13:7 ; and ΚΕΝῸς , empty or vain , is thus used in James 2:20 . Reproof should reach even the trivial expressions and common manners of mankind, and that specifically; see Matthew 5:34-35 , etc.; 1 Corinthians 15:32 ; James 2:3 ; James 4:13 . τῷ συνεδρίῳ , the Sanhedrim ) or Great National Council of seventy-two Judges, which was held at Jerusalem, and decreed the more severe punishments. ΜΩΡῈ , thou fool ) A most harsh taunt denying common sense, without which a man is incurable and utterly deplorable; cf. μωρανθῇ , in Matthew 5:13 , and the note upon it. The LXX. used the word μωρὸς very sparingly, the Son of Sirach frequently. ἜΝΟΧΟς ἜΣΤΑΙ ΕἸς ΤῊΝ ΓΈΕΝΝΑΝ ΤΟῦ ΠΥΡΌς , he shall be criminal for the fiery Gehenna ) An elliptical mode of speech [207] for, so that he may be consigned to the fiery Gehenna sc. the valley of the Son of Hinnom, where carrion and carcases lie unburied, and at length are burnt. The word γέεννα , Gehenna , does not occur in the Septuagint; in the New Testament it is used by St Matthew, St Mark, St Luke, and St James; but not by either St John, St Paul, St Peter, or St Jude. Hiller (in his Onomata Sacra, p. 811) derives it from the Hebrew נֵּי הַנִּי , the Valley of Lamentation . Concerning the fire of that valley, see Jeremiah 7:31-32 , etc. εἰς , etc. , is used with the same force as in the expression ΕἸς ΚΌΡΑΚΑς , to the ravens . [208]

[201] In the original “sanctione,” a somewhat peculiar expression. (I. B.)

[202] “Which Luther rightly omitted.” Not. Crit .

[203] It is retained by E. M. (I. B.) B Vulg. Origen, omit it, and Lachm. and Tisch. read accordingly. But D abc Iren. 242, 247, Cypr. 306, Lucf. 121, and after ὀργιζομ ., Iren. 165, Hilary 128 (625) retain εἰκῆ . ED.

[204] For whatever is repugnant to meekness and love, is a principle rising up against life, and so breathes the spirit of murder. Vers. Germ .

[205] “γέενναν גֵיאְ (vallis), חִגו ̇ ב Hinnom, the valley at the foot of Moriah, and in which Siloa flows (Jerome on x. 28), on the east of Jerusalem, desecrated by the idolatrous fires of Moloch (Jeremiah 7:31 ; Isa 30:33 ), and called Topheth, from Tuph, the tympanum used to drown the cries of children there immolated.” Wordsworth in loc.

[206] Dreamy indolence (oscitantia) was the reproach usually meant to be conveyed by it, or else a headlong and hasty mode of action. Vers. Germ .

[207] See, on the Locutio Concisa, Appendix. ED.

[208] A phrase used by the Greeks to denote not only the disgrace of the gallows, but the still greater one of remaining unburied. Liddell and Scott . (I. B.)

“Josiah therefore polluted it ( 2Ki 23:10 ); and thenceforward it was the place for casting out and burning all offal and the corpses of criminals; and therefore its name, ἡ γέεννα τοῦ πυρός , was used to signify the place of everlasting punishment.” Alford in loc. (I. B.)

Verse 23

Matthew 5:23 . Ἐὰν οὖν , κ . τ . λ ., if therefore , etc.) Reconciliation is not said to be only then necessary, for the word ἐκεῖ , there ) indicates that you ought to have remembered it before; but the meaning is, Whatever you are doing, even if you have already undertaken the best and most holy and most necessary matter, leave everything until you have been reconciled to your brother: see Ephesians 4:26 . They sin who do not make it up with their brother, until they are just about to receive the Holy Supper. Yet reconciliation is especially necessary, and an examination of the conscience especially imperative on those who are about to perform the most solemn act of devotion. ἐπὶ , to ) For it was the part of the priest to offer on the altar, and afterwards occurs the expression, ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου , before the altar . καὶ ἐκεῖ μνησθῇς , and there rememberest ) The word of God portrays the most hidden secrets of the human heart. In the performance of a sacred rite, the remembrance of offences arises more naturally, than in the noise of human affairs. ἔχει , hath ) as having been offended [by thee].

Verse 24

Matthew 5:24 . Ὕπαγε , πρῶτον , go thy way, first ) placed antithetically to τότε ἐλθὼν , then having come , διαλλάγηθι τῷ ἀδελφῷ σῷ , be reconciled to thy brother ,) that thou mayest be reconciled to God. ἐλθὼν , coming ) not returning ; for the first going being in vain is not reckoned.

Verse 25

Matthew 5:25 . Ἴσθι εὐνοῶν , be friendly ) Seek kindly feeling by showing it yourself. τῷ ἀντιδίκῳ , with the adversary ) to whom you owe money. Cf. Matthew 5:26 . The language is parabolical, it applies principally to an adversary who entertains grave animosity even beyond death. ταχὺ , quickly ) The pride of the human heart is slow in deprecation and satisfaction. ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ , in the way ) sc. to the tribunal. μετʼ αὐτοῦ , with him ) The plaintiff used himself to apprehend the defendant. σε παραδῷ , deliver thee ) Great is the power of the adversary. God, as Judge, prosecutes the demand of him who pleads for justice. φυλακὴν , ward ) where thou thy whole self wilt be the pledge of payment for the debt.

Verse 26

Matthew 5:26 . Ἕως ἄν , until ) The debtor is left to himself; see ch. Matthew 18:34 . It is strange that the expression, ἕως ἄν , should have been urged by those, who hence infer the possibility of payment, rather than τὸν ἔσχατον κοδράντην , the last farthing. τὸν ἔσχατον , the last ) Thus does Divine justice exact everything, not a single farthing more or less than you owe. [209] κοδράντην , quadrantem ) Substantives which express foreign articles are very frequently transferred from one language to another, instead of being translated. [210]

[209] O the vain and most deceitful persuasion of the old man, whereby he supposes that God will only lightly exact the debts due to Him. Nay, unless remission interpose so as to remove utterly one’s countless faults, the uttermost avarice of man does not exercise as great rigour, as the divine justice justly and deservedly maintains. Vers. Germ .

[210] The quadrans , the fourth part of an asse, about a farthing and a half of our money. (I. B.)

Verse 27

Matthew 5:27 . Ἐῤῥέθη , it has been said ) Murder and adultery are equally sins against our neighbour, and so is revenge, and therefore the words, τοῖς ἀρχαίοις , to them of old time , are not expressed but understood in Matthew 5:27 ; Matthew 5:31 ; Matthew 5:38 ; Matthew 5:43 , from Matthew 5:21 . They are, however, expressed in Matthew 5:33 , where our Lord treats of oaths, and, therefore, of our duty to God.

Verse 28

Matthew 5:28 . Ὁ βλέπων , that looketh ) Refer to this expression the right eye mentioned in the next verse. πρὸς , to ) This particle determines the character of the looking. ἤδη , already ) by that very act.

Verse 29

Matthew 5:29 . Ὁ δεξιὸς , the right ) The right, strictly speaking in the case of the hands, is most useful and most precious, thence also, it is mentioned in the case of the eyes, feet, etc. See Zechariah 11:17 ; Exodus 29:20 . σκανδαλίζει , is a stumbling-block to ) so that you should see wrongly; as in the case of your hand , so that you should act wrongly. ἔξελε αὐτὸν , pluck it out ) not the eye absolutely, but the eye which is a stumbling-block, i.e. , make all things hard to thyself, until it cease to be a stumbling-block to thee. Not the organ itself, but the concupiscence which animates the eye or hand is meant: for this is the soul of the eye where that organ proves a stumbling-block; in like manner as soon afterwards the body is said for the [whole] man [soul as well as body]. He who, where his eye proves a stumbling-block, takes care not to see, does in reality blind himself. On the other hand, a man might pluck out his material eye, and yet cherish concupiscence within. A similar mode of expression occurs in Coloss. Matthew 3:5 , where the apostle says Mortify, therefore, your members which are upon the earth; fornication , etc. A negative maxim is frequently expressed by affirming the opposite. See Matthew 5:39-40 , and ch. Matthew 6:17 . βάλε , cast ) with earnestness. The expression βληθῇ , be cast ) in the next verse has reference to this. συμφέρει , it is profitable ) to thy salvation. Not only is it not hurtful, but also it will be glorious. ἀπόληται , should perish ) True self-abnegation is not of less amount than the loss of an eye, etc.: and it is so necessary that it is better to be deprived of an eye itself, than to sin with the eye, unless the sin may be separated from the eye. An eye which is actually plucked out, as in the case of a martyr, will be restored in the resurrection. ἕν τῶν αελῶν σου , one of thy members ) Many, indeed, have been destroyed by neglecting the mortification of one member, as, for example, the gullet. ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου , thy whole body ) If one member sin, the whole man sins and pays the penalty. γέενναν , hell ) of eternal fire. See ch. Matthew 18:8 , etc.

Verse 30

Matthew 5:30 . Χὲιρ , hand ) The matter proceeds from sight to act.

Verse 31

Matthew 5:31 . Ὃς ἂν ἀπολύσῃ , whosoever shall put away ) They held divorce to be an arbitrary matter. [211] ἀποστάσιον , a divorce) i.e. a writing of divorcement. A metonymy which occurs in ch. Matthew 19:7 , and is also employed by the LXX.

[211] δότω does not indicate a command but a permission. [ He may give .] They seemed to think Moses had nothing in view save the observance of certain formalities. Vers. Germ .

Verse 32

Matthew 5:32 . Λόγου , for the cause ) The Hebrew דָּבָר corresponds to the Greek λόγος in the sense of a cause, why anything may be rightly done. [212] ποιεῖ αὐτὴν μοιχᾶσθαι , makes her to commit adultery ) sc. by other nuptials into which the divorce permits her to enter. ἀπολελυμένην , one that has been divorced ).

[212] These words, παρεκτὸς λόγου πορνείας , apply also to the following clause καὶ ὁ͂ ς εἄν ἀπολελ . γαμ , and are to be supplied in it. Vers. Germ .

Verse 33

Matthew 5:33 . Ἀποδώσεις , thou shalt render ) [213] Perjury therefore is the non-performance of promises attested by an oath. Christ, therefore, especially forbids promissory oaths, since men by them asseverate concerning future things, none of which is in their power, see Matthew 5:36 . The human oaths concerning which Moses gives regulations, or which holy men have sworn, have more frequently reference to confirming, more rarely to promising, and in fact more persons perjure themselves with regard to future, than past matters. Wherefore the Romans prudently preferred binding with oath their magistrates at the conclusion, rather than at the commencement of office. ὅρκους , oaths ,) sc. things promised by oath.

[213] E. V. “Thou shalt perform.” (I. B.)

Verse 34

Matthew 5:34 . Μὴ ὀμόσαι ὅλως , not to swear at all ) The ὅλως , at all , extends this prohibition to swearing truly as well as falsely: it does not, however, universally prohibit all true swearing. The right employment of oaths is not only like divorce permitted but clearly established by the law, nor is it here abolished by Christ; see Matthew 5:17 . But the abuse of oaths was extremely frequent with the Jews of that age, to the destruction of their legitimate use, as is clear from the forms of swearing cited in this passage; nor did they think him guilty of perjury who called only creatures to witness in his oath, however falsely he might swear. See Samuel Petit, [214] Variae Lectiones, ch. 16. The following decree of the Jews is to be found in Elle Schemoth Rabba, [215] section 44, As heaven and earth shall pass away, so shall the oath pass away which calls them to witness . There is clearly, however, a prohibition, whilst the prevalent [216] abuse of oaths is forbidden, and their true use restored. Many of the ancient Christians received this command simply and literally, and so much the more readily declined the heathen oaths which they were commanded to take. See however, Revelation 10:6 ; Jeremiah 23:8 ; Isaiah 45:23 , the last of which passages refers to Christian times. On the contrary, there is now-a-days a great danger lest a very small proportion of the number that are made be true, and of the true a very small proportion necessary, and of those that are necessary a very small proportion free, fruitful, holy, and joyful. Many are employed for show, for calumny, for silencing just suspicions. ἐν , by ) That which is sworn by is offered in pledge: it should therefore be in the power of him who swears. He who swears wrongly (Matthew 5:34 ; Mat 5:36 ) is guilty of sacrilege. Therefore, in this sense a man ought not to swear by God, because, in case of his swearing falsely, he pledges himself to renounce God. This, however, it is not in his power to do. But we must swear in that manner which is sanctioned in the Divine law itself, so that our oath should be an invocation of the Divine name. Even the customary formula, So help me God , is not to be taken in the former but in the latter sense, so that the emphasis should fall upon the word GOD. This interpretation is at any rate favourable to him who swears, and makes the matter rather easier. τῷ οὐρανῷ , by heaven ) How much greater is their sin who swear by God Himself! θρόνος , throne ) How great is the majesty of God! God is not enclosed by heaven, but His glory is especially manifested there.

[214] A celebrated scholar, born at Nîsmes in 1594, studied at Geneva, raised at an early age to the Professorship of Theology and of Greek and Hebrew in that city. Died 1645. A man of vast and profound erudition. (I. B.)

[215] i.e. “Mystical Commentary on Exodus,” a rabbinical work in high estimation among the Jews. (I. B.)

[216] “Grassatus,” a word used of a fiercely raging epidemic (I. B.)

Verse 35

Matthew 5:35 . Εὶς , upon ) There is a difference between this and ἐν ( by ) [217] used in the last verse. The Jews were accustomed to pray for all blessings upon Jerusalem. The meanings of the formula therefore was So may the city be in safety, as So may it light upon the city, as [218] πόλις , the city ) the royal abode. τοῦ [219] Μεγάλου Βασιλέως , of that [220] Great King ), (see Psa 48:2 ), i.e. of the Messiah whom ( Mat 5:34-35 ) heaven and earth obey. It is not unbecoming in Him to speak thus of Himself. See ch. Matthew 9:38 , and Matthew 22:43 .

[217] E. V. renders both words “ by ” sc. “by Heaven,” “by Jerusalem,” etc. (I. B.)

[218] Perhaps it may refer to the Jewish custom of praying with the face towards Jerusalem, Daniel 6:10 . ED.

[219] The article has a magnifying force. Not. Crit.

[220] Magni illius regis . E. V. renders it “of the Great King.” (I. B.)

Verse 36

Matthew 5:36 . Κεφαλῇ , head ) Their sin is still graver who swear by their life or their soul. μίαν τρίχα λευκὴν ἠ μέλαιναν ποῖησαι , to make one hair [thereof] white or black ) The dye of human art is not real whiteness or blackness. Not merely is a single hair, but even the colour of a single hair, beyond the power of man.

Verse 37

Matthew 5:37 . Ὁ λόγος ὑμῶν , your conversation ) your daily ordinary speech. ναὶ , ναὶ . οὓ , οὓ , yea, yea; nay, nay ) Let “ yea ,” or, “ it is , be employed to affirm what is true, “ Nay ,” or, “ it is not ,” to deny what is false. [221] Cf. Gnomon on 2 Corinthians 1:17-18 , and James 5:12 . περισσὸν , exceeding, that which exceeds ) Excess is faulty. ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ , of evil ); the word is here in the neuter gender, [and signifies evil in the abstract]: see Matthew 5:39 .

[221] Lit. Let the “ It is ” of fact be also the “ It is ” in your words: let the “ It is not ” of fact be also the “ It is not ” in your words. ED.

Verse 38

Matthew 5:38 . Ὀφθαλμὸν , an eye ) sc. Thou shalt require. In Exodus 21:24 , the LXX. have ὀφθαλμὸν ἀντὶ ὀφθαλμοῦ , ὀδόντα ἀντὶ ὀδόντος , eye for eye, tooth for tooth . The lex talionis was most suitable for punishments, as in the greater injury, murder, and in the less, theft, so also in that which stood midway between them. See Leviticus 24:20 . Mutilation was frequent in punishments without reference to the principle of the lex talionis ; why then should it not be used to carry out that principle itself? Cf. Jude 1:7 . [222] Penalties would avail more, if human judgment did not depart so far from the wisdom, the equity, and the severity of the Divine law.

[222] What had been prescribed to the magistrate, that the Scribes allotted to private vengeance. B. G. V.

Verse 39

Matthew 5:39 . Μὴ ἀντιστῆναι , not to resist ) The infinitive is governed by λέγω , I say , as in Revelation 13:14 . To resist evil is to return injury for injury. ἀλλʼ , but ) Our Lord gives examples of private, legal, and political wrong, Matthew 5:39-41 . ῥαπίσει , shall smite ) elsewhere ῥαπίζειν is to strike with rods , but in this passage as the cheek is mentioned, it means to smite with the open hand. τὴν δεξιάν σου σιαγόνα , the right cheek ) or the left either. See Luke 6:29 . An instance of Synedoche . [223] στρέψον , turn ) It is sometimes advisable to do so literally. [224] The world says, on the other hand, Assert thy courage by a duel. Those who are able ought ere this to have made a stand against this evil, this disgrace of the Christian name, and to have given all diligence that they might do so effectually. One man who becomes a murderer by a duel involves a whole camp in his guilt. Many, so far dilute and extenuate the lessons here given by the Saviour, that they slide down to a level with the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, or even below it.

[223] See Explanation of Technical Terms in Appendix. (I. B.)

[224] Spiritual prudence will teach the children of GOD, when they ought to do so. The words of Christ are not words belonging to the mere human and natural life, but to the eternal life. What seems folly to the world, appears in a quite different light in the eternal Life. Vers. Germ .

Verse 40

Matthew 5:40 . Χιτῶνα , the tunic ) or inner garment. ἱμάτιον , the vest ) or outer robe. These are inverted in Luke 6:29 . (Cf. in the same chapter, Matthew 5:44 , with Matthew 7:16 , for a similar inversion in the case of the grapes and the figs.) The sense remains the same; sc. Give up both . The ἱμάτιον was more precious than the κιτῶν . See Mark 13:16 . σου , thine ) by right.

Verse 41

Matthew 5:41 . Ἀγγαρεύσει ) A word of Persian origin. [225] They who travelled on the public business could press a person into service. See Vriemoet on this passage. [226]

[225] Ἄγγαρος , a Persian word for a royal courier, who had authority to press horses, etc. into his service in execution of his mission. The word אַנְגַרְיָא (angaria) (whence avania and avanie in Ital. and Fr.) is used in the Talmud for any forced work. Connected with this is the Hebrew אִגֶּרֶת (iggereth), a letter.” Wordsworth in loc. (I. B.)

[226] Emo-Lucius Vriemoet, born at Embden, in Friesland in 1699, became Professor of Oriental languages and Hebrew antiquities at Francker, and published many learned works on these subjects. He died in 1764. (I. B.)

Verse 42

Matthew 5:42 . Αἰτοῦντι , to him that asketh ) who wishes you to give to him gratuitously, even though he do not ask with the best claim. δίδου , give ) as God does; see Luke 11:10 . τὸν θέλοντα , him that would ) even though he does not venture to beseech thee vehemently. μὴ ἀποστραφῆς , turn not thou away ) although you have a specious pretext for so doing.

Verse 43

Matthew 5:43 . Τὸν πλησίον , Thy neighbour ) Gataker [227] in his Adversaria miscellanea posthuma, ch. 10. f. 527, remarks, that in Sophocles and Aristotle, all men are indiscriminately called οἱ πέλας [228] μισήσεις τὸν ἐχθρόν σου , [229] thou shalt hate thine enemy ) The Jews abused the precept which had been given in reference to certain accursed nations, as in Deuteronomy 23:7 ; for they had also been commanded to love even their enemies. Christopher Cartwright [230] cites decrees of the Jews concerning the hatred of enemies. See Book 2; Mellif. Heb. ch. 1.

[227] Thomas Gataker was born in London 1574; became Preacher of Lincoln’s Inn in 1601, Rector of Rotherhithe 1611, and died 1654. He was one of the most learned theologians of his time. He subscribed the Covenant, but declared in favour of Episcopacy, and during the Commonwealth preferred the Presbyterians to the Independents. His works are many and various. (I. B.)

[228] i.e. neighbours. (I. B.)

[229] A most vile gloss. B. G. V.

[230] Christopher Cartwright, a learned English divine; born 1602; died 1658. The work here cited is Mellificium Hebraicum, sive observationes ex Hebræorum antiquiorum monumentis desumptæ. (I. B.)

Verse 44

Matthew 5:44 . Ἀγαπᾶτε , love ye εὐλογεῖτε , bless ye καλῶς ποιεῖτε , do ye good to καὶ προσεύχεσθε ὑπὲρ , and pray ye for ) Here are four clauses, the second and third of which are wanting in some of the ancients the second in the Vulgate, the third in Tertullian, [231] De Patientia, ch. 6. Four clauses ought, therefore, to be read, although the third is almost contained in the first, and the second in the fourth by Chiasmus : [232] on which account St Luke transposes them. [233] In Matthew 5:46 , the verb ἀγαπάω , to love , occurs again, and in Matthew 5:47 , the word ἀσπάσησθε , salute , corresponds with εὐλογεῖτε in the present verse. τῶν ἐπηρεαζόντων ὑμᾶς , them which despitefully use you ) ἐπήρεια , [the substantive from which the verb ἐπηρεάζω is derived] signifies an injury inflicted, not for the benefit of the injurer, but for the damage of the injured party. See my notes to Chrysostom on the Priesthood, p. 429. It is, therefore, a sign of extreme hatred. A striking contrast. Pray for such persons as these: obtain by your prayers blessings for those, who take blessings from you.

[231] Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, a native of Carthage, where he became a Presbyter, the earliest of the Latin fathers, flourished in the third century. (I. B.)

[232] See explanation of technical terms in Appendix. (I. B.)

[233] Vulg. Memph. Versions, Orig. 4,329 c ; 351 a ; Cypr. 248, 260, 319, Hil. 303 omit εὐλογεὶτε τ . καταρωμένους ὑμᾶς , καλῶς ποιεῖτε τοῖς μισοῦσιν ὑμᾶς . D cd Lucif. insert these words with Rec. Text (which, however, has τ . μισοῦντας .) ED.

Verse 45

Matthew 5:45 . Ὅπως γένησθε , that ye may become ) When they love their enemies, they become His sons [but] in such a manner as [not to contravene the fact], that they already previously have Him for their Father. [234] An instance of Ploce : [235] Sons become sons, as disciples become disciples. Cf. John 15:8 . Thus, the God of Israel became the God of Israel; 2 Samuel 7:24 . Great is God’s condescension in not disdaining to invite His sons to imitate Him. ὅτι , κ . τ . λ ., for , etc.) Such is the principle upon which the Father is to be imitated. As God treats and rules us, so ought men to treat and rule each other. τὸν ἥλιον Αὐτοῦ , His sun ) A magnificent expression. He both made the sun and governs it, and has it exclusively in His own power. ἀνατέλλει , maketh to rise . βρέχει , raineth, sendeth rain ) It is the part of piety to speak of natural things as received from God, rather than to say impersonally, It rains, it thunders . See ch. Matthew 6:26 ; Matthew 6:30 ; Job 36:27-28 , and chapters 37 41; Psalms 104:0 , etc. Franzius urges this strongly in his treatise on the Interpretation of Scripture, pp. 83, 632. Rain is a great blessing.

[234] i.e. He first loves them, and is their Father already; but they become His sons, and prove their sonship afterwards, when they love their enemies, even as He loved them when still enemies. ED.

[235] See Appendix. ED.

Verse 46

Matthew 5:46 . Τίνα μισθὸν , what reward ) God seeks in us an occasion for giving us a reward. τελῶναι , publicans ) who refer all things to gain; but have none in Heaven.

Verse 47

Matthew 5:47 . Εἃν ἀσπάσησθε , if ye salute ) contrasted with, bless ye , etc., in Matthew 5:44 . The very verb ἀγαπάω , to love , is repeated in Mat 5:46 from Matthew 5:44 ; but as the heathens do not also bless and pray, the verb to salute is put here instead of either blessing or praying. τοὐς ἀδελφοὺς ὑμῶν , your brethren [236] ἐθνικοὶ , the heathen ) The Publicans regard their own interest, the Heathens perform also offices of kindness towards their connections and friends, and more especially towards their blood relations . In Matthew 5:46 , therefore, the example of the Publicans is cited; in Matthew 5:47 , that of the Heathens. τί περισσὸν , what remarkable thing ) [237] such as befits the sons of God. [238]

[236] The margin of Beng. Ed. π and Vers. Germ . prefer φίλους to ἀδελφοῦς : But not so the larger Edition of α . 1734. Lucifer reads amicos , also of second rate Uncial MSS. L Δ . But the oldest MSS. and Vulg. ἀδελφοὺς , fratres. ED.

[237] E. V. What do ye more than others? (I. B.)

[238] He who does nothing but what is customary ought to stand in fear ( soll in Sorge stehen .) B. G. V.

Verse 48

Matthew 5:48 . Ὑμεῖς , you ) In honourable contradistinction to them. τελέιοι , perfect ) sc. in love towards all. [239][240]

[239] See Colossians 3:14 . (I. B.)

[240] Bengel, J. A. (1860). Vol. 1 : Gnomon of the New Testament (M. E. Bengel & J. C. F. Steudel, Ed.) (J. Bandinel & A. R. Fausset, Trans.) (138 185). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.

Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Matthew 5". Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jab/matthew-5.html. 1897.
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