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Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Matthew 5

Verse 1

5:1 This and the next two chapters constitute what is commonly called the "sermon on the mount," so called because the verse says that the Lord went up into a mountain. The text does not specifically state why Jesus went up to this place further than to say he did it seeing the multitudes. However, since the distinction is made between the multitudes and the disciples, we may reasonably conclude that the purpose was to be less hindered in the teaching of the ones who were really interested in it, and not moved only by curiosity or desire for temporal favors. Disciples is from MATHETES which Thayer defines, "A learner, pupil, disciple . . . the twelve apostles." The word has a broader or narrower application according to the way it is used, and the connection must always be considered in determining its meaning in a given case. Thayer's remarks included with the definition also show the word sometimes means those who favored Jesus and "became his adherents." That is its most prevalent meaning and the one it has in the present verse.

Verse 2

5:2 Opened his mouth and taught them is very significant. In all of God's dealings with man He has never influenced him in his moral and spiritual conduct except by the use of words, either written or spoken, and hence Jesus followed that plan in talking to his disciples about things pertaining to the kingdom of God. In this great sermon Jesus lays down many principles of life that pertained to the time before the kingdom was set up, and others were to be applied afterward. Where a distinction is necessary to the understanding of any passage I shall so state it.

Verse 3

5:3 Blessed is an adjective coming from the Greek word MAKARIOS, and Thayer defines it simply by the words "blessed, happy." In the Authorized Version it is rendered by. the first 43 times and by the second 6 times. These verses are usually called "beatitudes," and Webster's definition of that word is, "Consulate [complete] bliss; blessedness." It will be well for us to think of the ward in the sense of being happy as that is the more familiar word. To be poor in spirit means to recognize one's need of spiritual help. Such characters are the ones who will accept the kingdom of heaven.

Verse 4

5:4 There could be no happiness in the fact of mourning but it is by way of contrast. The new system that Jesus was about to set up would provide the only genuine relief from the sorrows of this world.

Verse 5

5:5 The word for meek is PRAOS which Thayer defines, "gentle, mild, meek." It is a contrast with the fierce and domineering spirit so often shown by the members of earthly kingdoms, especially the rulers. To inherit is generally defined in the lexicons "to receive by lot." Thayer's definition of this verse is, "to partake of eternal salvation in the Messiah's kingdom." The earth is the same that is referred to in 2Pe 3:13 which the apostle says was promised to the righteous.

Verse 6

5:6 To hunger and thirst after righteousness means to be eager to learn what constitutes a righteous life. It does not stop there, for when a man is hungry he not only seeks to find some food, but also is ready to partake of it. This means that the ones whom Jesus was blessing would be eager to do that which is right.

Verse 7

5:7 The single English word "mercy" is Thayer's definition of the word here. It is defined in the English dictionary to mean to be sparing in inflicting even punishment that is due another. It does not call for endorsement of wrong or for overlooking it, but to be considerate of the other person.

Verse 8

5:8 When disconnected from all qualifying terms the word pure simply means "unmixed"; something that is not combined with any other substance, and hence it could mean either good or bad. An object that has no good in it would be pure evil. When the connection shows it is used in a good sense (as in our verse) it means a heart not mixed up with the evils of a sinful world. The definition of the Biblical heart will be given in another place.

Verse 9

5:9 Every statement of scripture must be understood in harmony with others on the same subject for the words of inspiration do not contradict each other. Jas 3:17 says the wisdom from above is first pure then peaceable, and Paul in Rom 12:18 commands us to live at peace with all men "if possible." The verse here means that disciples are to make every scriptural effort to be at peace with each other, and also to bring about a peaceable settlement between others who are at variance. Such will be called the children of God because He deals with mankind on that principle.

Verse 10

5:10 Thayer defines the original at this place, "to harass, trouble, molest," and he says that it may be done "in any way whatsoever," hence the persecution may be against one's body or his mind. But this must be done because the victim is righteous, and has no reference to accidental affliction, or punishment for wrong doing. These persons have the qualities of the citizens in the kingdom of heaven.

Verse 11

5:11 This verse is similar in thought to the preceding one except that it is considering only the persecution of the mind. The evil things said against a disciple must be done in falsehood to bring him under the application of this blessing.

Verse 12

5:12 This verse continues the thought of the preceding one. It will be nothing new for the Lord's disciples to be treated unjustly, for the righteous prophets were thus treated in forme• years. The rejoicing is to be for having been classed with the righteous prophets. The reward will come after this life is over and the victims have been admitted into heaven.

Verse 13

5:13 The teaching of Jesus contains many illustrations drawn from nature and the customs of mankind. Salt has two outstanding qualities; preservation of articles with which it comes in contact, and rendering food more agreeable to the taste. The lives of true disciples will shed the truth among men by example and teaching, and thus contribute to the salvation of their souls. And next, the trials or hardships of this life will be easier to bear, will "taste better" for having the salt of divine truth mixed with them. But if the salt losses its savour ("to make flat and tasteless") it will not be of any use either as a preservative or palliative. The first it is a pronoun for the earth which cannot be salted if it (the salt) has lost strength. Such salt is fit for nothing but to be trodden upon as the soil of the ground. Likewise. if the disciples of Christ cease to be an influence for good--cease to practice the principles taught by their Master, they will finally be rejected and trodden upon by the Judge.

Verse 14

5:14 Disciples of Christ are the light of the world in much the same sense that they are the salt of the earth. The righteous lives they exhibit and the truth they spread among their fellowmen will reflect the light that comes from the Lord. The hill is the mountain or government of Christ and the light of divine truth shines forth from that exalted position like the glow of light from a city upon a hill.

Verse 15

5:15 It is possible for a strong light to be rendered useless, which would be done if a man lighted a lamp and then put some vessel over it. But men do not do such things in temporal matters; only in spiritual things do they act thus foolishly.

Verse 16

5:16 Jesus does not wish his disciples to act so unreasonably as the description in the preceding verse implies. Let your light shine does not call for any special effort to bring attention to the good light that has been made. If a host just makes a good light and leaves it uncovered, the guests will see it and give proper credit for the favor. Your light and good works are mentioned in direct connection which shows they mean the same. It is not necessary for one to boast of his good works in order to have men see them; all that is necessary is to perform the works. However, the doer of these good deeds for the benefit of others, must also live a good life otherwise or in addition to his benevolence, or his good deeds will be rendered ineffective in the mind of men. ("Let not then your good be evil spoken of.") Glorify is from DOXAZO and Thayer's definition at this place is, "to praise, extol, magnify, celebrate." It is the Greek word for "glorify" in every place in the Authorized Version. The reason men will glorify God for these lives of the disciples is because they know that such conduct is not the natural result of the fleshly motives.

Verse 17

5:17 Jesus lived and completed his work on earth while the law of Moses was in force. He taught that men should respect and obey that law, yet he gave many instructions that were not specifically set forth in that system. That was because he was getting ready to bring into the world another system of laws that were to be different from the old. This opened the way for the critics to charge him with being opposed to the law of Moses. In answer to such erroneous notions he used the difference between destroying and fulfilling. He was not in the world for the first but for the second. The Old Testament writings had predicted that a son of David was to come into the world and give it a new religious law. Because of such predictions, the very things Jesus taught of a different character constituted a fulfilling of the law.

Verse 18

5:18 Verily is from the Greek word AMEN which occurs 150 times in the New Testament. In the Authorized Version it is rendered "amen" 50 times and "verily" 100 times. Thayer defines the word as follows: "surely, of a truth, truly; most assuredly; so it is, so be it, may it be fulfilled." These various phrases define the word according to the connection in which it is used, whether at the beginning or ending of a passage, etc. Till heaven and earth pass is a phrase denoting the certainty of the fulfillment of the law of God. The material universe will pass away, but not until it has served the purpose of the Creator. Likewise, the law will not pass away until it has all been fulfilled. Jot is from IOTA which is the smallest letter of the Greek alphabet and was originally written as a subscript' under the regular line. Tittle is one of the diacritical marks used by the Greeks in their writings. The two terms are used to illustrate the importance that Jesus attached to the law. Even such apparently small points of the law as these will not be dropped until they have been fulfilled.

Verse 19

5:19 The commandments of the law will not be in force in the kingdom of heaven. The thought is that a man who would break the least of these commandments while they are in force shows the wrong attitude toward divine law. Such a person would not rank very high in the kingdom of heaven after it has been set up.

Verse 20

5:20 Exceed is from the same Greek word that is used in 2Co 3:9, and we know that it is there used in the sense of quality and not quantity. Jesus means that his disciples must have a better kind of righteousness than the Pharisees practiced, 'for theirs was done for appearance and came from the lips only. A full description of the Pharisees will be found in connection with the comments at chapter 16:12. The kingdom of heaven was to be entered into only by men who were converted in heart and whose actions were induced by a genuine acceptance of the Lord's corn-mandments.

Verse 21

5:21 In half a dozen places in this chapter Jesus quotes some things that were said in old time which means the time that was regulated by the law of Moses. He does not discredit the authority of the Sinaite lawgiver, but shows how some changes or additions will be made in the teaching for the kingdom of heaven. He being the Son of God and the one who will be the king on the throne of David when the church is set up, it was appropriate that he begin showing some of the contrasts between the two. Those contrasts will generally consist in making a more spiritual application of the ancient laws, and/or in tightening their requirements so as to make them more rigid. One of such items was the law of trial for murder, that such a crime would lay a man under charges to be heard by the judgment. This is from the Greek word KRISIS and I shall give the definition of two lexicons: "The college of judges (a tribunal of seven men in the several cities of Palestine; as distinguished from the Sanhedrin, which had its seat at Jerusalem . . . Mat 5:21-22)." Thayer. "A judgment seat, tribunal, put for a court of justice, judges, i. e. the smaller tribunals established in the cities of Palestine, subordinate to the Sanhedrin; see Deu 16:18; 2Ch 19:5. According to the Rabbins they consisted of 23 judges; but Josephus expressly says the number was seven."--Robinson. Even as serious a crime as murder was considered as only being in danger of facing this secondary court of justice.

Verse 22

5:22 Jesus is teaching that under the standards of right and wrong that he will establish, being angry with a brother without a cause will endanger one before the same judgment seat as murder did in old time. As a further indication of increased strictness, to give way to one's temper to the extent of calling his brother Raca (a term of reproach meaning empty-headed or senseless), would endanger him before the greater court; the council which was the Sanhedrin. Still increasing the picture of responsibility, to accuse a brother of being a fool will put a man in danger of hell fire. According to Thayer, Robinson and Greenfield, the word for fool means "a wicked rebel against the Lord." And it should be noted that all of the evil actions are on condition that they are without a cause. The word hell is from CEHENNA which refers to the lake of unquenchable fire into which the wicked will be cast after the Judgment. A fuller definition of the English word "hell" as it is used in the New Testament will be given in another part of the COMMENTARY.

Verse 23

5:23 Therefore is said because the last subject treated was the sin of showing the wrong attitude toward a brother. Under the law of Moses the Jews were encouraged to bring voluntary gifts to be consecrated to the Lord on the altar of sacrifices. These were in addition to the sacrifices specifically required on stated occasions or for specific purposes. Such an act was supposed to indicate that the giver was very much devoted to the Lord, and yet at the very time he might recall that his brother had a complaint against him. Such a complaint, for instance, could consist of calling him "a fool" according to the preceding verse.

Verse 24

5:24 One command is no more important than another, neither may one duty be made to take the place of another. But the gifts presented at the altar were expected to proceed from the heart, which would not be the case if a man would refuse to make a matter right with his brother. In other words, a ritualistic service should not be treated as a substitute for one of humility and brotherliness. Hence the man was directed to postpone his altar service until he had made. it right with his brother.

Verse 25

5:25 This verse is in the nature of good advice concerning disputes with a fellow citizen on the subject of a debt. A conscientious attorney will advise his client to "settle the case out of court" if possible, which is the gist of this admonition from Jesus. Whiles thou art in the way with him means while they are still out of the jurisdiction of the Judge. A man would better suffer some loss and remain a free man, rather than risk having the case decided against him and then have to spend a term in prison because of being unable to pay the sum assessed. All of this is to be understood in the light of an old law where a man could be put into prison for a debt.

Verse 26

5:26 Had the man offered to settle privately he might have been let off upon the payment of a part of the debt. If he lets it go on through court he may have to lie in prison until the entire debt is paid to which will be added the "court costs."

Verse 27

5:27 This verse introduces another place where Jesus shows that his laws will be stricter than the old ones. The law against adultery pertained to the physical act only as it was pronounced "by them of old time."

Verse 28

5:28 This passage has been strained out of its true meaning. To say it means a man sins if he thinks of the subject of sex at all in connection with a woman would be to fly in the face of much scripture. In 1Co 7:2 Paul instructs a man to marry in order to "avoid fornication," and yet he could not have been in any danger of that sin unless he had been mindful of the subject in connection with some woman. The apostle does not condemn him for the mere fact of that state of mind and hence we should not construe the teaching of Jesus to make it condemn him. The thought is of a man who has no intention of honorable marriage, but who indulges his mind with the subject and who cultivates an imagination on the subject in a case where he knows he could not carry out his inclinations without violating the moral law, either because he or the woman would not be free to consummate the union.

Verse 29

5:29 A physical operation will not cure a moral evil of the mind. If a man were deprived of his natural eyes it would not prevent him from thinking of the woman towards whom he had been looking with evil intent. But the loss of so valuable an organ as the eye is used to illustrate the extent of sacrifice that one should make in order to rid himself of an evil action of body or mind. A friend or an occupation may seem to be as valuable as the eye, yet one should better go on through life without it rather than enjoy it a few years and then he be lost entirely.

Verse 30

5:30 The lesson in this verse is exactly the same as that in the preceding one, using the hand instead of the eye for the illustration. A full definition of the word hell will be given here and may not be repeated in full again. The reader should mark the place for convenient reference when needed. The word comes from three different Greek words in the New Testament. I shall give Thayer's definition, based upon his knowledge of history and of the language: "GEHENNA, the name of a valley on the S. and E. of Jerusalem . . . which was so called from the cries of the little children who were thrown into the fiery arms of Moloch, i. e. of an idol having the form of a bull. The Jews so abhorred the place after these horrible sacrifices had been abolished by King Josiah (2Ki 23:10), that they cast into it not only all manner of refuse, but even the dead bodies of animals and of unburied criminals who had been executed. And since fires were always needed to consume the dead bodies, that the air might not become tainted by their putrefaction, it came to pass that the place was called GEHENNA PUROS [Gehenna fire]." The following are all the places in the New Testament where the word hell comes from GEHENNA. Mat 5:22; Mat 5:29-30; Mat 10:28; Mat 18:9; Mat 23:15; Mat 23:33; Mar 9:43; Mar 9:45; Mar 9:47; Luk 12:5; Jas 3:6. HADES is defined by Thayer as fol-lows: "1, a proper name, Hades, Pluto, the god of the lower regions, the nether world, the realm of the dead . . . it denotes, therefore, in Biblical Greek, Orcus, the infernal regions, a dark and dismal place . . . the common receptacle of disembodied spirits." Following are all the places in the New Testament where the word hell comes from HADES: Mat 11:23; Mat 16:18, Luk 10:15; Luk 16:23; Act 2:27; Act 2:31; Rev 1:18; Rev 6:8; Revelation 20; Revelation 13, 14. The word hell comes from TARTAROO in one place only which is 2Pe 2:4, and the definition is not very different from that of hades. To sum up, HADES is the place where all disembodied spirits go at death regardless of whether they are good or bad. TARTAROO is that part of HADES where the spirits of the wicked go at death. GEHENNA is the lake of unquenchable fire into which the whole being of the wicked (body soul and spirit) will be cast after the judgment.

Verse 31

5:31 The law referred to is in Deu 24:1 which required a man to give his wife a writing that showed she had not deserted him, but that he had compelled her to go away. We know that was the purpose of that law, for the next verse says she may become another man's wife. If she did not have the writing no man would risk marrying her for fear she was a deserter. If the writing had been done the husband was considered as having done full justice to his wife. But Jesus is going to show this to be another instance where his law will be stricter than the old.

Verse 32

5:32 Jesus never taught anything at one time that disagreed with what he taught at another. This verse should be considered in connection with chapter 19:9 which is a fuller statement. The mere putting away of a wife does not constitute adultery, for there may be cases where a man would have to put his wife from him in order that he might live a Christian life. A woman might be guiltless as far as the intimate subject is concerned, and yet develop such a character and conduct herself in such a manner as to prevent a man from doing his full duty as a disciple of Christ; this idea is taught in chapter 10:34-39. But unless his wife also is guilty of immorality the husband is not permitted to marry another. Neither would the wife who is put away for some cause other than immorality have the right to marry another under the regulations of the kingdom of heaven that Jesus was soon to set up.

Verse 33

5:33 Forswear means to make a false oath, or to testify under oath that which one does not intend to fulfill. The reference is to Lev 19:12 where false oaths were expressly forbidden. Jesus cites the saying in contrast between his ruling and the old.

Verse 34

5:34 As to whether an oath is true or false is not the question with Jesus, for he forbids his disciples to make any oath at all. When a man makes an oath he backs it up by the authority of some power supposed to be great enough to make the oath good. That is why Jesus mentions various things by which men might pronounce an oath. The Jewish people had come to think they should not swear by the name of God, but Jesus shows it is as bad to swear by heaven since that is God's throne.

Verse 35

5:35 On the same basis as the above, they should not swear by the earth since it, too, is a part of the seating place of God, being his footstool. Jerusalem was the city of the great King who was God in the old system and will be the city of the new king when the kingdom of heaven is set up.

Verse 36

5:36 If a man cannot even cause one hair of his head to change its color at his will, it would be foolish to rely upon it for making his oath good.

Verse 37

5:37 Yea, yea; Nay, nay means to let the statements be simply that of affirming what is in the positive class and denying the negative. The laws of the state do not require any man to make an oath if he declines to do so, but will accept his affirmation at the same value as an oath. Since that is true, there could be no good reason for wanting to add the oath, which is the reason Jesus said it cometh of evil.

Verse 38

5:38 In a number of places the old law did require the kind of penalty that is described in this verse. That was to be done as a legal act and not a personal one. Jesus teaches that no personal retaliation was to be permitted under the pretense of that law. If a man is actually harmed he has the right to appeal to the law of the land as it is in authority for that purpose (1Ti 1:9-10), but he should not take the law into his own hands.

Verse 39

5:39 The sermon on the mount is largely a document of principles and not specific rules, and the spirit of the teaching is to be followed instead of the letter. This very verse is an indication of the correctness of the aforesaid conclusion, for no one would be expected literally to turn a cheek toward a would-be smiter.

Verse 40

5:40 Men wore inner and outer garments in old time. Using the circumstance as an illustration only, as was done with the cheek, Jesus teaches that if a man insists on having one's outer garment, just let him have the other also.

Verse 41

5:41 Under some peculiar customs of the old times there seems to have been one of providing an escort for a man making a journey. However, the lesson is the same as that contained in the preceding verses which is that the disciples of Christ should show a willingness to be imposed on rather than wanting to impose on others.

Verse 42

5:42 In all of the teaching of the scripture regarding the granting of favors, we should consider what Jesus says in Mat 7:6. We should always try to learn whether the person asking a favor is worthy before granting it. If we find that he is, then we may give him what he asks and lend him what he wishes to borrow.

Verse 43

5:43 The passages that were cited for the saying in this verse are Lev 19:18 and Deu 23:6. Jesus is still on the line of contrasts between his teaching and the old, and that introduces the subject of love which has caused some difficulty with students of the Bible. They think that Christians are required to have love in cases where it seems impossible. The difficulty lies in not understanding that the English word love comes from two words in the Greek New Testament which have different meanings. I shall give the information gleaned from the lexicons and the reader should make note of it for reference. One of the Greek words in verb form is AGAPAO, and it is defined in part as follows: "To love, to be full of goodwill and exhibit the same: Luk 7:47; 1Jn 4:7; with accusative [objective] of a person, to have a preference for, wish well to, regard the welfare of: Mat 5:43; Mat 19:19; Luk 7:5; Joh 11:5; Rom 13:8; 2Co 11:11; 2Co 12:15; Gal 5:14; Eph 5:25; Eph 5:28; 1Pe 1:22, and elsewhere; often in the epistle of John of the love of Christians towards one another; of the benevolence which God, in providing salvation for men, has exhibited by sending his Son to them and giving him up to death, Joh 3:16; Rom 8:37; 2Th 2:16; 1Jn 4:11 . . . of the love which led Christ, in procuring human salvation to undergo sufferings and death, Gal 2:20; Eph 5:2; of the love which God has for Christ, Joh 3:35; Joh 10:17; Joh 15:9; Ephe-sians 1:6. When used of love to a master, God or Christ, the word involves the idea of affectionate obedience, grateful recognition of benefits received: Mat 6:24; Mat 22:37; Rom 8:28; 1Co 2:9; 1Co 8:3; Jas 1:12; 1Pe 1:8; 1Jn 4:10; 1Jn 4:20, and elsewhere. With an accusative [objective] of a thing AGAPAO denotes to take pleasure in the thing, prize it above other things, be unwilling to abandon it or do without it; . . . to welcome with desire, long for; 2Ti 4:8."--Thayer. "To love (in a social or moral sense)."--Strong. In the noun form it is from AGAPE and defined in part as follows: "a purely biblical word. . . . In signification it follows the verb AGAPAO; consequently it denotes 1. affection, good-will, love, be nevolence: Joh 15:13; Rom 13:10; 1Jn 4:18. Of the love of men to men; especially of that love of Christians toward Christians which is enjoined and prompted by their religion, whether the love be viewed as in the soul or as expressed; Mat 24:12, 1Co 13:4-8; 2Co 2:4; Gal 5:6; Phm 1:5; Phm 1:7; 1Ti 1:5; Heb 6:10; Heb 10:24; Joh 13:35; 1Jn 4:7; Rev 2:4; Rev 2:19, etc. Of the love of men towards God; . . . of the love of God towards Christ; Joh 15:10; Joh 17:26. Of the love of Christ towards men: Joh 15:9; 2Co 5:14; Rom 8:35;Eph 3:19. 2. Plural AGAPAI, agapae, love-feasts, feasts expressing and fostering mutual love which used to be held by the Christians before the celebration of the Lord's Supper, at which the poorer Christians mingled with the wealthier and partook in common with the rest of food provided at the expense of the wealthy: Jud 1:12." Thayer. "From AGAPAO; love, i. e. affection or benevolence; specifically (plural) a love-feast."--Strong. The other word for love is PHILEO, a verb, and is defined in part as follows: "1. To love; be friendly to one, Mat 10:37; Joh 5:20; Joh 11:3; Joh 11:36; Joh 15:19; Joh 16:27; Joh 20:2; Joh 21:15-17; 1Co 16:22; Rev 3:19; . . . to love, i. e. delight in, long for, a thing . . . to love to do with pleasure:3. As to the distinction between AGAPAN and PHILEIN: the former by virtue of its connection with AGAMAI, properly denotes a love founded in admiration, veneration, esteem, like the Latin diligere, to be kindly disposed to one, wish one well: but PHILEIN denotes an inclination prompted by sense and emotion, . . . Hence men are said AGAPAN God, not PHILEIN; and God is said AGAPESAI TON KOSMON (Joh 3:16), and PHILEIN the disciples of Christ (Joh 16:27); Christ bids us AGAPAN (not PHILEIN) TOUS ECHTHROUS (Mat 5:44), because love as an emotion cannot be commanded, but only love as a choice . . . As a further aid in judging of the difference between the two words compare the following passages: Joh 11:5; Joh 11:36; Joh 21:15-17 . . . From what has been said, it is evident that AGAPAN is not, and cannot be, used of sexual love."--Thayer. "To be a friend to (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling: while AGAPAO is wider, embracing especially the judgment and the deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety)."--Strong. These definitions are somewhat detailed, and for the convenience of the reader, I shall condense the two and the information of the lexicons will be the authority for the statements. One word means that sentiment of feeling such as a man will have for his wife or other close friend. The other is that feeling of interest that a man can have in another's welfare that would prompt him to try to save him if possible, regardless of his unpleasant disposition that might naturally provoke a feeling of dislike.

Verse 44

5:44 Love your enemies is explained with the note on the preceding verse. Bless is from EULOGEO which Thayer defines, "2. to invoke blessings, Mat 5:44," or to wish something good of another. Curse is from KATA-RAOMAI and Thayer defines it in this place as follows: "To curse, doom, imprecate [ask or wish for] evil on." The clause means that while an enemy is wishing for some evil to come on us, we should be wishing something good for him. Do good to them that hate us does not mean to do him a favor that he could use in the furtherance of his evil intentions, but do something that will actually benefit his soul. To pray for our persecutors denotes that we ask the Lord to help us overcome the evil one with right• eous deeds in the hope of leading him into a reforming of his life.

Verse 45

5:45 Children are supposed to be like their parents in disposition and actions. The disciples of Christ should be like their Father in heaven in that they are not selfish or partial in the bestowal of favors. God gives the blessings of nature on all classes alike, because these favors are not supposed to be rewards for righteous living, and hence their bestowal could not be regarded as an endorsement of their lives.

Verse 46

5:46 Love here is from AGAPAO, and the word is defined in the long note at verse 43. From that it can be seen that Jesus disapproves of the selfishness that would lead us to benefit only those who are willing to benefit us. Even the publicans were willing to do that, although that class of citizens was not thought of very highly.

Verse 47

5:47 To salute means to "pay one's respects to" in the way of polite greeting. We should show that much courtesy even to those who are not in our class; not be "clannish."

Verse 48

5:48 Perfect is from TELEIOS and the simple meaning of the word is "completeness." When anything or person is all that is expected of it, it can be said to be complete and hence perfect. It is taken for granted that human beings are not expected to possess all of the traits that God has, but the spirit of impartiality is one characteristic that man can possess in common with God. If he does then he is complete on that score and hence is like the Father in heaven.
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Matthew 5". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/matthew-5.html. 1952.