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Bible Commentaries

G. Campbell Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible
Matthew 5

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-48

In the three chapters beginning here we have the Magna Charta of the Kingdom. This chapter opens with a great revelation of its supreme condition. Character is everything. The first word is suggestive, "Happy." That marks the divine will for man. It also announces that human happiness is conditioned in character. A sevenfold happiness is named. Such character is contradictory to the spirit of every age apart from the Kingship of God, and will result in "persecution." So the King adds an eighth beatitude, and that a double one, for those who because of their loyalty endure suffering.

Such character will result in influence, and that is the divine intention. This is marked by three figures. Salt -that is the opposite to corruption, that which prevents the progress of corruption. Light-that is the gift of guidance, so that those who have lost their way may find the path home. A city-that is the realization of social order and good government. The people who live in the beatitudes will realize this threefold law of influence. The moral code followed. It first recognized the divinity of the Mosaic economy. The Revised Version has an important alteration. Instead of, “Ye have heard that it was said by them," it reads, "to them," thus more clearly marking this recognition. Moses was the mouthpiece, not the author of the words of law which he uttered. The righteousness which the King comes to make possible does not destroy the old, it fulfils; that is, fills to the full.

Neither will the requirements of the new law be less exacting than the regulations of the Pharisee, they will go far beyond-exceed them, touching not only the details of externalities, but the fiber and temper of hidden life.

The first requirement deals with murder. The old said, "Thou shalt not kill." The new declares anger deserves judgment; that is, in the Revised Version the words, "without a cause" are relegated to the margin. "Raca," a term of contempt, deserves the discipline of the highest court. "Fool," a term of insult, deserves Gehenna. Thus no room is left for murder. The supervision of the Kingdom does not begin by arresting a criminal with blood- red hands; it arrests the man in whom the murder spirit is just born.

Of adultery, the old said, "Thou shalt not commit." The new declares, Thou hast sinned in that thou hast looked with desire. These are the most searching words concerning impurity that ever were uttered.

The old safeguarded oaths. The new forbids. The same danger is recognized, taking the name of God to a falsehood, and perjury in any form. In the new Kingdom, character will make the oath unnecessary, and therefore simple affirmation or negation will be sufficient.

Of revenge, the old said, Insist on your own right, and loving your neighbor, hate your enemy, and so secure your safety. The new says, Suffer wrong, and lavish your love on all.

Of temper, the new temper is the outcome of the new relationship to God, and is of love. The love, moreover, is not that kind which "alters when it alteration finds." Its strength is to be in itself, not in the object.

 


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Bibliography Information
Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on Matthew 5:4". "G. Campbell Morgan Exposition on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gcm/matthew-5.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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