Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Matthew 5:16

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
New American Standard Version
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  1. Adam Clarke Commentary
  2. Bridgeway Bible Commentary
  3. Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible
  4. Jim Brown's Commentary on the New Testament
  5. Charles Box's Commentaries on Selected Books of the Bible
  6. E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes
  7. Calvin's Commentary on the Bible
  8. Brian Bell Commentary on the Bible
  9. The Great Biblical Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide
  10. The Great Biblical Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide
  11. James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary
  12. Chuck Smith Bible Commentary
  13. John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
  14. Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
  15. Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
  16. Darby's Synopsis of the New Testament
  17. Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
  18. Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
  19. The Expositor's Greek Testament
  20. The Expositor's Greek Testament
  21. Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament
  22. F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary
  23. F.B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary
  24. Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
  25. G. Campbell Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible
  26. John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible
  27. William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament
  28. Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
  29. Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
  30. Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
  31. Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
  32. Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
  33. Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
  34. The Bible Study New Testament
  35. Ironside's Notes on Selected Books
  36. Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
  37. John Broadus' Commentary on Matthew
  38. John Broadus' Commentary on Matthew
  39. Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible
  40. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
  41. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
  42. The People's Bible by Joseph Parker
  43. Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
  44. John Trapp Complete Commentary
  45. Kingcomments on the Whole Bible
  46. The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann
  47. Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical
  48. L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
  49. Wells of Living Water Commentary
  50. Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible
  51. Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible
  52. Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible
  53. Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
  54. Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
  55. Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
  56. Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
  57. Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary
  58. People's New Testament
  59. Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
  60. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
  61. J. C. Ryle's Expository Thoughts on the Gospels
  62. Sermon Bible Commentary
  63. Sermon Bible Commentary
  64. Sermon Bible Commentary
  65. Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament
  66. Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament
  67. Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae
  68. Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
  69. Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
  70. The Biblical Illustrator
  71. Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
  72. Expositor's Bible Commentary
  73. The Fourfold Gospel
  74. The Gospels Compared
  75. The Pulpit Commentaries
  76. Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
  77. Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
  78. Vincent's Word Studies
  79. Wesley's Explanatory Notes
  80. Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
  81. Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
  82. E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Agency;   Blindness;   Commandments;   Conscience;   Glorifying God;   Influence;   Instruction;   Light;   Readings, Select;   Religion;   Righteous;   Works;   Zeal, Religious;   Scofield Reference Index - Parables;   Rewards;   Thompson Chain Reference - Christianity;   Glorify God;   Glorifying God;   God;   Good;   Results Demanded;   Work, Religious;   Work-Workers, Religious;   Works;   Works, Good;   The Topic Concordance - Disciples/apostles;   Glory;   Light;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Adoption;   Candlestick;   Conduct, Christian;   Glorifying God;   Hypocrites;   Missionaries, All Christians Should Be as;   Works, Good;  
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Dress;   Ethics;   Glory;   Good works;   Justice;   Lamp;   Light;   Matthew, gospel of;   Peter;   Son of god;   World;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Christians, Names of;   Fatherhood of God;   Light;   Praise;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Glory;   Hutchinsonians;   Knowledge of God (1);   Love, Brotherly;   Means of Grace;   Obedience;   Order;   Profession;   Quakers;   Reconciliation;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Light;   Man;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Candlestick;   Church;   Meat;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Lamps, Lighting, Lampstand;   Matthew, the Gospel of;   Sermon on the Mount;   Works;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Christianity;   Election;   Ethics;   Light;   Mss;   Peter, First Epistle of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Acceptance;   Authority in Religion;   Candle;   Candlestick;   Cellar;   Children;   Children of God, Sons of God;   Consciousness;   Divorce (2);   Evil-Speaking;   Example;   Heaven ;   Ideas (Leading);   Light;   Man (2);   Oaths;   Omnipresence;   Perfection (Human);   Popularity;   Presence (2);   Prophet;   Redemption (2);   Righteous, Righteousness;   Sanctify, Sanctification;   Soul;   Trinity (2);   Winter ;   Worldliness (2);   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Father;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Light;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Candlestick, the Golden;   Glorify;   Good;   Sermon on the Mount, the;   Shine;   Tabernacle;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Imma Shalom;  
Chip Shots from the Ruff of Life - Devotion for June 15;   Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for September 14;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Let your light so shine - Or more literally, Thus let your light shine, Ουτω λαμψατω το φως . As the sun is lighted up in the firmament of heaven to diffuse its light and heat freely to every inhabitant of the earth; and as the lamp is not set under the bushel, but placed upon the lamp-stand that it may give light to all in the house; Thus let every follower of Christ, and especially every preacher of the Gospel, diffuse the light of heavenly knowledge, and the warmth of Divine love through the whole circle of their acquaintance.

That they may see your good works - It is not sufficient to have light - we must walk in the light, and by the light. Our whole conduct should be a perpetual comment on the doctrine we have received, and a constant exemplification of its power and truth.

And glorify your Father - The following curious saying is found in Bammidbar Rabba, s. 15. "The Israelites said to the holy blessed God, Thou commandest us to light lamps to thee; and yet thou art the, Light of the world, and with thee the light dwelleth. The holy blessed God answered, I do not command this because I need light; but that you may reflect light upon me, as I have illuminated you: - that the people may say, Behold, how the Israelites illustrate him, who illuminates them in the sight of the whole earth." See more in Schoettgen. Real Christians are the children of God - they are partakers of his holy and happy nature: they should ever be concerned for their Father's honor, and endeavor so to recommend him, and his salvation, that others may be prevailed on to come to the light, and walk in it. Then God is said to be glorified, when the glorious power of his grace is manifested in the salvation of men.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

38. Christ's people in the world (Matthew 5:13-16)

Salt can be used to preserve food from decay and to give food flavour. Christ's people should have a similar effect upon the world, as they resist the corrupting effects of sin and help make the world a better place to live. But if they do not discipline themselves to develop and maintain this salt-like quality, they will be of no use for God (Matthew 5:13-14).

The followers of Jesus are lights for God in a dark world. Like a city on a hill they will be noticed by all; like a candle on a stand they will give light to others. Just as a candle is not hidden but is put in a place where it gives light, so Christians will not hide themselves but will live and work in places where they can bring people to know and worship God (Matthew 5:15-16).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". "Brideway Bible Commentary". 2005.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Let your light so shine … - Let your holy life, your pure conversation, and your faithful instructions, be everywhere seen and known. Always, in all societies, in all business, at home and abroad, in prosperity and adversity, let it be seen that you are real Christians.

That they may see your good works - The proper motive to influence us is not simply that we may be seen (compare Matthew 6:1), but it should be that our heavenly Father may be glorified. The Pharisees acted to be seen of men, true Christians act to glorify God, and care little what people may think of them, except as by their conduct others may he brought to honor God, yet they should so live that people may see from their conduct what is the proper nature of their religion.

Glorify your Father - Praise, or honor God, or be led to worship him. Seeing in your lives the excellency of religion, and the power and purity of the gospel, they may be won to be Christians also, and give praise and glory to God for his mercy to a lost world.

We learn here:

1.that religion, if it exists, cannot be concealed.

2.that where it is not manifest in the life, it does not exist.

3.that “professors” of religion, who live like other people, give evidence that they have never been truly converted.

4.that to attempt to conceal or hide our Christian knowledge or experience is to betray our trust, injure the cause of piety, and to render our lives useless. And,

5.that good actions will be seen, and will lead people to honor God. If we have no other way of doing good - if we are poor, and unlearned, and unknown yet we may do good by our lives. No sincere and humble Christian lives in vain. The feeblest light at midnight is of use.

“How far the little candle throws his beams!

So shines a good deed in a naughty world!”

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Jim Brown's Commentary on the New Testament

  1. Light of the World
    Matthew 5:14-16 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.  15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
    1. Light illuminates – (from the view point of joy and hope) it can show people what they don’t have and what we DO have!
      1. 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.  15  For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:  16  To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?
    2. 1 John 1:5-7 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  6  If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:  7  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
    3. 1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 
    4. How do we become a light for Jesus??
      1. Exalt God with our lives
      2. Psalms 99:5 Exalt ye the LORD our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy.
      3. Psalms 118:28-29 Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee.  29  O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
      4. Revelation 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
      5. Walk in the joy of the Lord so people see there is a reason for your hope and a difference in your life!
      6. Song about woman who picks up toys as unto the Lord…even the apparent normal life can be extraordinary – if we look at our get to’s and not our have not’s.
      7. Courageous…spoke to remembering with joy what we do have, instead of looking with dissatisfaction at what we don’t have…
      8. Do we walk in contentment with the Lord?
      9. If we choose to not look at whether the glass is half full or half empty, but rather look to the creator of the universe who pours into each glass as HE sees fit, we find contentment.
      10. David is an example…he had it on his heart – his heart was after God’s own heart- and he wanted to build a temple for God but God said NO!  Did he throw a fit, walk about surly, get bitter or do it anyway?  No, he accepted God’s will for his life and made the best of it by collecting the materials needed for the temple.  He walked in a support role subordinate to the man God did call to do it.  Just because we have something on our heart doesn’t mean we’re to do it, rather it may be that God wants us to initiate the work, come along side the work or simply pray for the work and He will accomplish His perfect will.
      11. Remember, it is God who both wills and does of His good pleasure!  (Phil 2:13).
        1. (Contentment) 1 Timothy 6:6-8 But godliness with contentment is great gain.  7  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.  8  And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
        2. Philippians 4:6-7  Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  7  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
        3. Isaiah 26:3-4  Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.  4  Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:
        4. Nehemiah 8:10c for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
  2. Glorify Your Father in Heaven
    1. Matt 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
      1. Isaiah 43:7 Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.
      2. Isaiah 42:8 I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.
    2. John 13:34-35  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  35  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
  3. Conclusion
    Remember your Savior…and see what you “GET” to do for Him!
Copyright Statement
Jim Brown's Commentary on the New Testament is reproduced by permission of author. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Brown, Jim. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". "Jim Brown's Commentary on the New Testament". 2017.

Charles Box's Commentaries on Selected Books of the Bible

Jesus" teaching about influence and law - : Those that exhibit the characteristics of the beatitudes become the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Those with humble and pure hearts can change their world in a positive way for God. Those that hunger for righteousness and show mercy are a bright light for a dark world. God"s people are called on to stand out from the world.

Concerning the Law Jesus said, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the pro-phets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill." (Matthew 5:17) The purpose of Jesus was to "fulfill or accomplish what was in the law and the prophets" concerning the Messiah. In the Old Law there were many predictions concerning the coming, birth, life and death of the Christ. These were all to be fulfilled by Jesus, His sufferings and death. Jesus said that not "one jot or one tittle" (something like a period or comma) would disappear from the Law until it all was fulfilled in Him. The righteousness of the Christian comes from their heart, and is therefore genuine. This righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees and Scribes. Their righteousness was external, and was not true holiness.

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at Public Domain.
Bibliographical Information
Box, Charles. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". "Charles Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". 2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

so = thus.

that = so that.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

16.Let your light shine before men After having taught the apostles that, in consequence of the rank in which they are placed, both their vices and their virtues are better known for a good or bad example, he now enjoins them so to regulate their life, as to excite all to glorify God. That they may see your good works: for, as Paul tells us, believers must,

“provide for honest things, not only in the sight of God,
but also in the sight of men,” (
2 Corinthians 8:21.)

The command, which he gives shortly afterwards, to seek concealment and a retired situation for their good works, (Matthew 6:4,) is intended only to forbid ostentation. In the present instance, he has quite a different object in view, to recommend to them the glory of God alone. Now, if the glory of good works cannot be properly ascribed to God, unless they are traced to him, and unless he is acknowledged to be their only Author, it is evident, that we cannot, without offering an open and gross insult to God, extol free will, as if good works proceeded wholly, or in part, from its power. Again, we must observe, how graciously God deals with us, when he calls the good works ours, the entire praise of which would justly be ascribed to himself.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

Brian Bell Commentary on the Bible

  1. Slide5 Intro: You Are God’s Light The value of light is illumination
    1. Slide6 Last week we took You are the Salt of the earth. But I have one more incredible picture to show you from the famous Salt Artist Rob Ferrel.
      1. This week You are the light of the world. And I thought this would be apropos for our text this morning. Slide7 :)
      1. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. NIV TY Jen
    1. Slide8 The Protestant Reformers cried, Post tenebras lux (After darkness, light) - to signal and celebrate the release of the gospel of grace.
      1. No longer would they labor in the gloom of performance-based salvation.
      1. No more anxious hopes that merit would accrue.
      1. Now they shone self-forgetfully, as do new creations in Christ.
    1. Slide9 Jesus did not speak these words to the philosophical intelligentsia gathered on Mars Hill in Athens. Neither was He addressing the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem nor the

Senate in Rome, though they would have surely considered themselves the light of the world.

      1. No, He preached this Sermon on the Mount to ordinary folks gathered near the shore of Galilee. They were undistinguished in intellect, power, & wealth.

They were, however, distinguished in the way that counts - they were enthralled by Jesus. [And Jesus didn’t wait to give them this title till they had 3 yrs of teaching, but at the very beg of ministry]

    1. Us & them (believers & unbelievers).
      1. Not, this group is better or more important, than that group.
      1. But, Jesus was saying I AM different, thus my people are different & distinct.


    1. Problem in the 2nd verse of the bible/Gen1:2 Darkness. Solution, next verse, Let there be light.


    1. You is emphatic. The bible always seems to give us Identity before behavior...You are...
      1. A light bulb that has power running to it doesn’t try to just shines.
        1. Not by just burns.
    1. Slide11 Light is electromagnetic radiation w/in a certain portion of the electromagnetic

spectrum. [Pink Floyd Album, Dark Side of the Moon]

      1. By light we are usually referring to visible light, which is visible to the human eye and is responsible for the sense of sight.
      1. Visible light is usually defined as having wavelengths in the range between

the infrared (with longer wavelengths red) and the ultraviolet (w/shorter wavelengths blue).

    1. Slide12a Light - φς phos - where we get photo, photograph.
      1. Jesus is saying, you are My image/photo/exposure of Me to our world.
        1. Slide12b Photography: a picture made in which an image is focused onto light-sensitive material & then made visible and permanent by chemical treatment, or stored digitally.
    1. Light is described as a form of energy it is always moving. “When light energy ceases to move, because it has been absorbed by matter, it is no longer light”.
      1. Slide13 Here in this diagram, a beam of light is depicted traveling between the

Earth and the Moon in the time it takes a light pulse to move between them: 1.255 seconds at their surface-to-surface distance. The relative sizes and separation of the Earth–Moon system are shown to scale.

      1. Lights of the world we should be always moving.
    1. What a Compliment - This is a distinctive title which our Lord appropriates to Himself.
      1. Slide14 Jn 8:12 I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.
      1. Jn 9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
      1. Jn 1:4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. vs.9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.


    1. Jn 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
    1. Slide15 It was a title that seemed to be unsuitable even to the highest of all the

prophets (Jn1:8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light)

      1. It must be applied here by our Lord to His disciples only as they shine with His light upon the world.
      2. Nor are Christians anywhere else so called. As if to avoid the august title which the Master has appropriated to Himself.
    1. Oh Christians are said to shine - not as lights (phos) as our translators render it, but as (phosteres) luminaries in the world (Php 2:15 that you may become blameless & harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world)
    1. And John the Baptist is said to have been the burning and shining (not light, as in our translation) but lamp of his day (Jn 5:35 He(Jn) was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light).
      1. Slide16,17 Jesus said, He was the light of the world...and now He says WE ARE!!!
  1. It Is Nothing for us to Boast in - because it is not our light.
    1. It is even still His light given to us when we get to heaven. Rev.22:5 (last mention)

They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light.

      1. Illust: Jesus is the Sun. We are the Moon. We only reflect light.
      1. Slide18 Lunar Eclipse. What casts darkness upon the moon, is the earth getting in between the Moon & the Sun. It’s when we let the world get in between us & Jesus.

IV. Slide19 DON’T HIDE YOUR LIGHT (14b,15)

  1. Again the context (just like the salt losing its savor), A lamp put under a basket has nothing to do w/losing your salvation, the context is your witness (that they may see your good works).
  1. Hide it under a bushel...NO! - Reveal who you are. Reflect Whom you see.
    1. Why are we often tempted to hide our light, rather than let it shine? [fear, embarrassment, shame, awkwardness, being self-conscious, shy, inhibited]


  1. If it was covered, the flame would be extinguished, & it would be no good to those around it. And, it would make us a basket case :)
    1. Light is to be seen: There is no such thing as a secret Christian. We need to be a light at all times. - A lamp that is hidden provides no benefit.
  1. Only we can hide our lights
    1. Science has proved that light can’t be put out by darkness; and Christian History has proved that our light can’t be put out by those of darkness.
      1. The more the light is threatened, the brighter her blaze.
      1. Jn.1:5 (J.B.Phillips Trans) The light still shines in the darkness & the darkness has never put it out.
  1. Slide21 The Value of Light is Illumination.
  1. Slide22 A CITY SET ON A HILL
  1. It’s not for us to lie or hide in concealment. God intends His grace and His gospel to be conspicuous. Built & set up on the mountains brow.
  1. Jewish tradition considered Israel & Jerusalem(as well as God & the law) the light of the world
    1. The city here may be speaking of Jerusalem; or it may be any elevated city at night, whose lights would make it visible to the surrounding countryside.
  1. In order for a biblical lamp to give light...the lamp had to use itself up (i.e. the oil).
    1. Be refreshed often with more oil...a fresh filling of the HS.
      1. You can’t give out unless you’ve received.
    1. Warren Wiersbe said, unless the wick of witness is fed by the oil of the H.S., the light will go out.
  1. Here is the hard part...exposing/revealing your light in your house. It gives light to all who are in the house. [even your dog should know you are a Christian]
    1. He has lit us & set us on a candle stick.
  1. Slide24 Functions of Light
  1. To Expose darkness: Light exposes & reveals Darkness [You & I are light revealers & darkness exposers]


      1. Our lives expose the darkness of ignorance & sin in our world.
      1. Darkness is expelled as soon as you turn on the lights. People are not aware of the darkness they live in if they don’t see the light.
      1. The question is does my life help people see more clearly?
    • Slide25 Paul tells us...Eph.5:8-14 For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! 9 For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.10 Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. 11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. 12 It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. 13 But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, 14 for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
    1. Slide26 To serves as a guide:
      1. I remember years ago I went up in a small plane out of Winchester airport with a friend, just to cruise around. I remember flying over Hemet at night. My friend said watch this...he hit his intercom mic twice & it lit up an airport I couldn’t even see was there. Airport runways helps planes see their runway by the lights. We are guides to people who are in darkness.
    1. Yea but what can one lil Light do in such a dark world?
      1. When the world was its darkest (the flood) God called 1 man, Noah.
      1. When human history was at its darkest, after the flood, God called 1 man, Abraham.
      1. When Israel was at its darkest day down in Egypt, God called 1 man, Moses.

V.  Slide27,28 SHINE B4 MEN (16)

    1. 3 x’s the possessive word your. [your light - your good works - your father in heaven]
    1. 3 places Light of the world, Light to all in your house, Light so shine before men.
      1. It’s allowing God’s light to be on full display in your life.


  1. Our light shines not so much that people may see the light as that they may see other things because of the light.
  1. Our light shines not that people will be attracted to us but to the light Jesus Christ.
    1. We are to dispel darkness. Arise; shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be see upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. (Isa. 60:1-3)
  1. Slide29 We are not called to save the world, we are simply called to shine on men. Revealing to them the truth concerning human life, the possibilities of human life, & the principles that underlie human life. It’s showing them what life may be.
  1. Acts 17:27 so that they(mankind) should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope (i.e. in darkness) for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.
    1. Grope was used once in Homer’s Odyssey, when the hero Odysseus blinds the Cyclops, and the poor monster is left to grope around. [only few other x’s in all Gk lit]
    1. What an interesting picture the Holy Spirit gave to the Athenians.
      1. They were searching for God, but like a blinded Cyclops, they were groping around in the dark for him.
      1. In the gospel, the Athenians had the opportunity for real sight.
  1. Shine & dispel the darkness with loving service.
    1. Make your influence as a Christian felt in the world.
  1. Don’t feel you have to put a Jesus fish on your good works.
    1. Don’t worry/spaz if someone pays you a compliment. You don’t have to say,

It wasn’t me watching your kids, it was the Holy Spirit??? (then it’s all awkward)

    1. They’ll recognize your works are from a different source, diff origin, diff quality.
      1. He is the source of our good works. He’ll take care of it.
  1. Father - how Jesus commonly refers to God; it indicates their relationship & God’s authority


    1. The Fatherhood of Yahweh was a commonly held view throughout Israel’s history before and after the time of Christ. But here, Jesus extends this metaphor to members of the kingdom (see especially v. 45).
  1. (Msg) You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
  1. Has the light of Jesus turned on in your soul?
    1. Have you ever seen windows that haven’t been washed in years?

Maybe that’s a accurate picture of your soul. Do you feel dull in your soul? Allow Jesus to place His light inside you today.

Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". "Brian Bell Commentary". 2017.

The Great Biblical Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide


Went up into a mountain. Let us inquire what mountain this was? "Some simple brethren," says S. Jerome, "think that Christ taught the Beatitudes, and the things which follow, on the mount of Olives. But that was not so." For from what precedes and follows in the Gospel the place must have been in Galilee; in our opinion Tabor, or a similarly lofty mountain. Geographies of the Holy Land, such as Brochard"s Itinerary, say that this mountain is called "Mons Christi," because Christ was wont to pray and preach upon it. It lies westward of Capernaum, three miles distant; it is not far from the Sea of Galilee, and is close to the city of Bethsaida. Its height is so great that from it may be seen the land of Zebulon and Naphthali, Trachonitis, Itura, Shenir, Hermon, and Libanus. It is carpeted with grass and flowers. Here Christ spent whole nights in prayer. Here He called to Him His disciples, and chose twelve of their number whom He ordained and called apostles. Here He taught that compendium of the new law which is called the Sermon on the Mount. Adrichomius says the stone on which Christ sat to preach may still be seen.

Observe, Matthew wished to commence with the preaching of Christ, and to deliver the sum of it at the beginning of his Gospel, which he did by giving an account of this discourse, although it was actually preached some considerable time after. For many events preceded it, which he relates subsequently. The sequence of the history was as follows:—After Christ had restored the hand of a certain man which was withered, on the Sabbath day ( Matthew 12:15), He fled from the anger of the Scribes, and betook Himself to the Sea of Galilee. Here a vast multitude of people flocked to Him, and after He had healed many who were sick, He went up into a mountain, where He remained the whole night in prayer. In the morning He appointed the twelve Apostles ( Luke 6:12). When He had done this He came down from the top of the mountain to a lower level, and there He delivered the sermon which follows, partly to His disciples and partly to the whole multitude. That the people were present at it is plain from chap. Matthew 7:28. Moreover, that this is the same sermon of which S. Luke gives an account in his sixth chapter is clear, because the general thread of each is the same, and because they have the same commencement and the same conclusion. For although Matthew has eight Beatitudes and Luke only four, yet in the eight of the former are comprised the four of the latter; and in S. Luke"s four S. Matthew"s eight are contained.

Moreover, Matthew puts off the vocation of the Apostles, which preceded the sermon, to the tenth chapter; for not as yet has he related his own calling by Christ, which he gives in chap. ix. But it is certain that Matthew as well as the other Apostles was present at the sermon. This sermon was delivered about the middle of May, and the choosing of the Apostles had taken place on the morning of the same day, in Christ"s thirty-second year, and the second year of His ministry.

And opening his mouth. To open the mouth is the Hebrew idiom for to speak. But there is an emphasis in the expression in this place. It means that Christ opened out sublime things—things great and wonderful, and Divine mysteries—concerning which He had hitherto kept silence. So S. Hilary. S. Bernard says, "He opened now His mouth, who afore had opened the mouths of the prophets. Truly was His mouth opened, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."

Blessed are the poor in spirit. Christ commences His discourse with a Beatitude which all seek and covet, though but few find; as David also begins his Book of Psalm, "Blessed is the man," &c.

Blessed, I say, are the poor in spirit, in hope, not as yet of right; blessed are they in the blessedness of the way, not of the country; blessed in the beginning of peace, of virtue, not in the consummation of the crown of glory. Beatitude, says Nyssen, is the special endowment of God; when therefore Christ makes blessed the poor in spirit, He makes them partakers of divinity.

Our Lord alludes here to the words of Moses ( Deuteronomy 33:29), "Blessed art thou, 0 Israel, what people is like unto thee, who art saved by the Lord?" For the poor in spirit are Israel, the elect people who place their hope, their riches, their salvation and happiness in the Lord. For because they despise the riches of earth, and are lords over them, therefore are they Israel, lords with God and in heaven. Moreover, Isidore (lib10, Orig. Litera B.) says, "Blessed means increased. He is said to be blessed who has what he desires, and does not suffer what he would not. He then is truly blessed who has all good things for which he wishes, and who does not wish for anything which is evil." So also Varro (lib4, de ling. Lat.), "He is said to be blessed who possesses many good things, as dives, "rich," comes from divus, "a god," as one who, like God, wants for nothing." And what are the real goods Christ here shows—poverty of spirit, meekness, holy grief, &c.; for they who have these things are blessed, and therefore they always rejoice. Whence Aristotle derives the Greek word μακάριος, happy, or blessed, from χαίρειν, to rejoice, because he who is blessed is always rejoicing.

These eight Beatitudes are, as it were, the eight paradoxes of the world. For the world and philosophers place blessedness in wealth, not in poverty, in loftiness, not in humility, &c. Whence S. Ambrose says, "According to the Divine judgment blessedness begins where man deems misery to begin." Says S. Bernard, "The Truth speaks, which can neither deceive nor be deceived. It is the Truth which says, blessed are the poor in spirit. Are ye so senseless, 0 ye sons of Adam, as so greatly to seek for riches and desire riches, when the Beatitude of the poor has been commended and preached to the world by the mouth of God? Let the heathen, who live without God, seek for riches; let the Jews, who believe in earthly promises, seek them; but with what face can a Christian seek them, after Christ has preached, Blessed are the poor?" Gregory Nazianzen too says, "The riches of monks are in their poverty, their possessions in pilgrimage, their glory in contempt, their strength in weakness, their fruitfulness in celibacy; who have nothing in the world, and who live above the world; who, in the flesh, live out of the flesh; who have the Lord for their portion; who, on account of the kingdom, labour in poverty, and, on account of poverty, are kings." When Simeon Stylites was a keeper of sheep, he heard these Beatitudes of Christ read in church, and straightway he left his sheep and entered a monastery. By-and-by he ascended a pillar, and stood upon it, day and night, eating little, and becoming a wonder to the world, that he might attain to these Beatitudes. The same Simeon was wont to preach twice a day to the crowds who flocked to his pillar, saying only these words—"Despise earthly things; love and desire only heavenly things, which alone will make you blessed." So Theodoret, an eye and ear-witness, testifies in his Life of S. Simeon.

Blessed are the poor. Not all poor; not those who are poor by a pitiable necessity against their will; not they who are poor from vain glory, or from a desire to be at liberty for the pursuit of philosophy, like Diogenes, or that Crates of Thebes, who, as S. Jerome says, threw a vast weight of gold into the sea, saying, "Begone, wicked pleasures, I sink you, that I may not be made to sink by you." But it is the poor in spirit who are blessed, who have a will inspired by the Holy Ghost, tending to spiritual goods. It is poverty voluntarily undertaken for the sake of God and the kingdom of heaven.

Note, there are three sorts of poor1. Those who are so actually, as beggars2. In spirit, but not actually, as Abraham, who was rich in fact, poor in spirit3. Both in fact and in spirit, as the religious, who vow poverty from love and affection for it, and who divest themselves of all their worldly goods. "Do you wish to know," says Nyssen (lib. de Beatitud.), "who is poor in spirit? It is he who exchanges corporeal opulence for the riches of the soul, who is poor for the sake of the spirit, who has thrown off earthly riches like a heavy load, and who would be borne aloft through the air to be with God. If, then, it behoves us to advance to the things above, we must needs be poor and needy in the things which drag us down, that we may become conversant with things supernal."

The word spirit signifies three things:—1. It is opposed to the flesh, and signifies that the subject of this poverty is not the body, but the spirit—that is to say, the will. In this sense spirit is often used in Scripture. As S. Paul (Rom. i9), "God is my witness, whom I serve in the spirit." And Christ says (S. John iv.), "God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth"—meaning, that God must be worshipped, not with outward ceremonies, but with the inward spirit, and with devotion of the mind, according to the saying of Cato—

"If God be Mind, as poets tell,

Then with the mind we worship well."

So also S. Bernard says, "The poor in spirit—i.e., with the will of the spirit, with spiritual intention and spiritual desire, for the alone sake of pleasing God, and the salvation of souls. And Christ uses this expression, in spirit, because of those who are poor by a miserable necessity, not by a laudable will."

2. It is what S. Augustine says, "A rich man, who is able to despise in himself whatsoever there is in him by which pride can be puffed up, is God"s poor man." And S. Jerome says, "The poor in spirit are they who are voluntarily poor because of the Holy Spirit."

3. In spirit signifies the end of this poverty—namely, that the contempt of wealth be referred to the spirit, that, being freed from earthly things, we may the better reach forward to heavenly things.

The root and foundation of blessedness and evangelical perfection are voluntary poverty and humility, just as the root of all sin is pride and covetousness.

Admirably says S. Cyprian (Tract. de Nativ. Christi), "The poor are elected, the proud neglected. Neither haughtiness nor any such thing obtains a place of discipleship near to Christ. Christ, the poor man, despises rich disciples. A poor mother, a poor son, a poor hospice, give plain evidence to those who are exercised in the school of Christ"s Church."

Lastly, S. Bernard (Serm1de Omn. Sanc.): "Consider how prudently Wisdom hath ordained, appointing the first remedy against the first sin, as though she said plainly, "Wilt thou obtain heaven which the proud angel lost, he who trusted in his strength and in the multitude of his riches? embrace the lowliness of poverty, and it shall be thine.""

Anagogically. Francis of Sales, lately Bishop of Geneva, a man equally wise, pious, and holy, says (lib12Theot., c2), "The poor, or beggars in spirit are those who beg—i.e., who have an insatiable hunger and thirst for the Spirit—that is, for increase of love and zeal for God, that He may ever grow and burn in them with constant increase."

Hence I have heard the passage expounded thus: Blessed are the poor in spirit—i.e., blessed are they who are towards God as beggars to the rich, namely those who with as great humility of spirit confess their poverty, and with as much earnestness beg for grace from God, as beggars ask an alms from the rich. Whence S. Chrysostom says, beggars teach us how to pray and ask help of God. By showing their wounds and afflicted limbs they excite compassion.

With sound sense does our Lewis (de ponte, part3, Medit2), give these three degrees of poverty of spirit, that is, of humility. The first is to put off and purify the mind from every blast and breath of vanity, and from all vain and inflated presumption, despising all the pomps of the world. The second, that I should divest myself of all desire to call things my own, by entirely unclothing myself of my own opinions, my own will and other desires. The third and last act of poverty is so to empty myself, make myself so poor that I have nothing at all of my own, but only what God freely gives me. For I have not even so much as to be, my own, but it is of God, without whom I am not. Of myself, therefore, I have nothing else than the nothingness of nature—i.e., not to be, and the negation of grace—i.e., sin.

1. You will inquire whether this poverty of spirit be a precept, or an evangelical counsel? And, 2. How many degrees and kinds of it there are? I answer, it has various degrees, some of counsel, some of precept. The first and highest is to forsake all riches, all transitory things for the sake of the love and imitation of Christ, with inward purpose as well as outward deed, like the Apostles and religious. This degree is of counsel, not of precept. The second is to bear patiently the confiscation of goods for the sake of Christ and the orthodox faith, which is a kind of martyrdom; for he who takes away the means necessary for the support of life, takes away life itself. This is what many rich and nobly born Catholics are suffering this day in England, who would prefer death to the spoiling of their goods. For it is a hard thing indeed to deprive not only yourself but your children and all your posterity of their hereditary possessions, and the rank and position of their ancestors, and reduce all to poverty and obscurity. But all the more honour to them who do it for Christ"s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Such, too, were the Hebrew Christians whom the Apostle praises, "Ye took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing that ye have a better and an enduring substance." ( Hebrews 10:34.)

This degree is of precept, for we are bound for the sake of Christ and the Faith, not only to lose our goods, but to shed our blood.

The third grade of poverty is to bear patiently the spoiling of our goods, or any injustice done to us by those who are powerful, and tyrants, as when any one loses a just suit on behalf of an estate, or other things, because of the power or tyranny of his opponents.

The fourth is when wealth is given to any one by God, not to care for it, to give it up in intention, to be prepared to forsake it if that should be for the greater glory of God. In this grade was Abraham, rich in respect of actual possessions, but poor in spirit.

5. To prefer to be contented with a little in a station where you have greater opportunities of serving God, than one where you can have more wealth but less godliness.

6. To have wealth, but to spend it upon the poor, and pious objects, even to depriving yourself of necessaries.

7. To prefer to be poor rather than acquire riches by means of injustice, irreligion, or any other wickedness. Such was Tobit, who, when he was dying, left this testimony to his son: "Fear not, my son; we are poor it is true, but we shall have great riches if we fear God." Of these grades of poverty, the second and seventh are of precept; the first, the fourth, and the fifth of counsel; the third and the sixth of counsel, or of precept, according to circumstances.

You will ask, secondly, why Christ assigns to poverty of spirit the first place among the evangelical Beatitudes? I answer, the first reason is priori, because this poverty overturns and destroys covetousness, which is the root and well-spring of all evil. ( 1 Timothy 6:10.) Wherefore this poverty restores man, as it were, to the state of innocence, in which nothing was his own, but all things were common to all. For the whole world was Adam"s and his children"s, that from it they might acknowledge, love, and praise God, there being no assertion of property, which is the root of cupidity, quarrels and law-suits. "With the poor, therefore," says S. Gregory, "what the superfluity of very slight pravity defiles, the furnace of poverty purifies."

The second reason is, because this poverty releases men from a thousand distractions and anxious cares which riches, and the desire of riches, bring with them. Wherefore, "poverty is a tranquil harbour," says S. Chrysostom; "it is the training ground, the gymnasium of wisdom." Here comes in that reason of S. Gregory"s (Hom32in Evang.) that "naked with the naked (demons) we must wrestle; for if one who is clothed wrestle with one who is naked, he will soon be cast down to the ground, because he has that by which he may be laid hold of. For what are all earthly things but bodily habiliments, as it were? Let him, therefore, who is about to contend with the devil cast off his garments lest he be worsted. Let him possess nothing in this world by desire; let him require no delectations of fleeting things, lest, where his desires keep him, there he be held until he fall."

Third. Because this poverty causes a man to withdraw himself from all created things, and makes him rest entirely with all his hopes in God his Creator. In the full and perfect love of God, the summit of virtue and the true blessedness of this life consist.

Wherefore, S. Bonaventura writes, in his Life of S. Francis, that when he was often asked by his brethren which was the virtue which especially commends us to Christ our Lord, and makes us pleasing to Him, he was wont to reply with more than his usual energy, "Poverty, for it is the way of salvation, the incentive to humility, the root of perfection; and from it there spring many fruits, though they be hidden and known to but few."

These are the causes why Christ taught us this poverty of spirit both by word and example. Thus did the Blessed Virgin, the Apostles, the Essenes, yea all the first Christians, of whom it was said ( Acts 4:32), "Neither said any of them that ought which he possessed was his own, but they had all things common." Indeed, they vowed this; wherefore Ananias and Sapphira, who broke this vow, were punished by the Apostle Peter with sudden death.

There followed in holy poverty apostolic men and prelates, SS. Anthony, Augustine, Basil, Chrysostom, Jerome, and S. Alexius, who, by an example uncommon in the world, relinquished ample riches, a bride, and poor and a stranger followed Christ, a poor man, to Syria—as it were, a pilgrim upon earth and a citizen of heaven; and at last lived and died unrecognized in his father"s house, being made a laughing-stock to the world, or rather sporting with the world, and making it a laughing-stock. In a later age S. Benedict, S. Bernard, but above all S. Francis, embraced poverty, and taught their disciples to embrace it. S. Francis made it the foundation of his Order. In all his discourses he spoke of it now as his mother, now as his wife, his lady; often, too, he called it his queen, because it had shone with such glorious refulgence in Christ the King of kings, and in His Mother. Hear what he solemnly enjoins upon his friars in his Rule, c6: "Let the brothers appropriate nothing to themselves, neither house, nor place, nor anything; but as pilgrims and strangers in this world, serving the Lord in poverty and humility, let them ask boldly for alms. Neither need they be ashamed, for the Lord made Himself poor for us in this world. This is that sublimity of the deepest poverty which constitutes you, my dearest brethren, heirs and kings of the kingdom of heaven. Let this be your portion, which leads you to the land of the living. And, my dearly beloved brethren, cleaving wholly to this, wish, for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to have nothing else for ever under heaven."

The same S. Francis, exulting in destitution, prayed for it with such fervour that fire seemed to shine from his face. "For this," said he, "is the virtue flowing into us from heaven, which so orders and informs us that we gladly trample upon all earthly things, and which removes every obstacle so that the mind of man may be most freely and speedily united to the Lord God. It is poverty which makes a man"s soul, while it is yet upon earth, hold converse with the angels in heaven. It is this which has fellowship with Christ on His Gross, which is buried with Him in His tomb, which with Him rises again and ascends into heaven. It is this which grants to the souls which love it the power, even in this life, of flying above the heavens, and bestows pinions of humility and charity. Let us go forward, then, to ask the holy Apostles that they will obtain this grace for us from the Lord Jesus Christ, that He, the chief cultivator of poverty, would deign to bestow it upon us."

And as S. Francis lived, so he died, for, divesting himself of his outer garments, he lay upon the earth, saying, "I have done with what is mine, what is yours; may Christ instruct you." Then a brother, who stood by, foreseeing by a divine instinct his death and zeal for poverty, offered him his cord with femorals, and said, "These I lend thee, as a beggar, and do thou receive them by the mandate of holy obedience." With joy did the holy man take them, and, lifting up his hands to heaven, gave thanks to Christ, because, having put off every burden, he was going free to Him, and because, as in life, so in death, he was conformed to Christ crucified, who hung naked upon the Cross.

For theirs, &c.—It is just and congruous that those who for the love of Christ despise the riches of the earthly kingdom should be recompensed with the wealth of the heavenly kingdom, yea indeed, of an earthly kingdom, which by despising they possess and rule, according to the saying of S. Paul, "Having nothing, and yet possessing all things." Wherefore Climacus (Gradu17) does not hesitate to affirm that a poor monk is the lord of the world, and through faith possesses all nations as his servants. And he adds that a poor servant of God loves nothing wrongly, for all things which he has, or can have, he reckons as though they were not, and if it chance that they depart, he counts them as dung. Hear S. Bernard (Serm21in Cant.): "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Let not men suppose that they possess only heavenly things, because they hear them only named in the promise. They possess earthly things likewise, and indeed as though having nothing and yet possessing all things, the less they desire the more are they masters.

Lastly, to a believer there is a whole world of riches. A whole world, indeed, because both prosperous and adverse things are equally his servants, and work together for his good. And so, a covetous man hungers after earthly things like a beggar, the believer despises them as a master. The one by possessing loses, the other by despising keeps. S. Chrysostom gives the reason (Hom57, ad pop.): "God is the poor man"s steward." And S. Francis lays it down in his Rule thus: —"This evangelical poverty is the foundation of our Order. On this the whole superstruction of our Order primarily rests, that by its abiding firm, the Order may be firm; and if it be overturned the Order will be entirely overthrown. In so far therefore as the friars shall decline from poverty, the world shall decline from them. If they embrace my Lady Poverty, the world will feed them, because they are sent for the salvation of the world. There is a bargain between the world and the friars. They owe the world a good example: the world owes them necessary provision. And when becoming false to their trust, they fail to set a good example, the world, as a just censure, will draw back its hand." And indeed it is as good as a great and perpetual miracle to see so many religious men and women of the Order of S. Francis—for in the whole world they number quite a million—who have made profession of poverty, who live honestly and suitably on the alms of the faithful. Truly in this does the Providence of God over His own poor shine gloriously. Here is fulfilled that saying of the Psalmist which S. Francis gave to his brothers as their viaticum in daily life—"Cast thy care upon the Lord, and He will nourish thou." And "They that be rich, want and are hungry, but they that seek the Lord shall not be lacking in any good."

Observe, Christ does not say the kingdom of heaven shall be given them, or shall be theirs, but theirs is the kingdom of heaven, in this present time. That is to say, "By my promise and God"s decree the kingdom of heaven pertains to them, they have a complete right to it, and so they are sure of entering into it, as sure as though they held it in their hands, and were already reigning in it as kings." For so firm is the hope of the promises of God, that by it the faithful as it were hold in their hands the thing promised, according to Heb. xi1, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for," faith, that is, which makes the celestial goods, for which he hopes, subsist in the mind of a believer. For in this way he realizes them to himself, as it were, substantially shows them to himself

The kingdom of heaven. The celestial blessedness is so called, where the blessed reign with God in all felicity and glory, through all eternity. The word kingdom here signifies, 1. The abundance of all good things in heaven2. The high dignity wherewith the blessed are honoured by the Holy Trinity and all angels3. Their regal dignity. For the blessed are kings, who reign not over one Spain, or one Asia, or even over all the earth, but over the whole universe; that is, over all the elements of the sky, over the plants and animals. This empire they have won by their poverty of spirit, wherewith they put under them all earthly goods and desires, where, wearing their golden crowns, they sing joyfully for ever to Christ. "Thou hast made us to our God a kingdom and priests, and we shall reign upon the earth." ( Revelation 5:10, Vulg.) The kingdom of heaven then is the kingdom of God, for the blessed possess the same kingdom which God himself possesses, and in it most happily and most gloriously reign with him eternally.

Blessed are the meek. This is the second Beatitude in the Latin Vulgate followed by SS. Jerome and Augustine, and the rest of the Latin Fathers. But in the Greek Codices, in the Syriac and Arabic versions, followed by S. Chrysostom and the other Greek Fathers it is the third Beatitude, the second with them being, Blessed are they that mourn.

Congruously to the poor in spirit the meek are joined because the poor and lowly are wont to be meek, as vice versâ the rich are proud and often impatient and quarrelsome. Poverty and meekness are neighbours, and related virtues. Whence the Hebrew words עני ani, "poor," ענ anan, "meek," are kindred words. Chromatius adds, "A man cannot be meek unless he be first poor in spirit." He gives the reason, "There cannot be a calm sea unless the winds are stilled. A fire is not put out unless you withdraw the materials by which it burns. So too the mind will not be meek and quiet unless the things which excite and inflame it be put away." The meek are they who are gentle, humble, modest, simple in faith, patient under all injury, who set themselves to follow the precepts of the gospel and the example of the saints. Christ here alludes to Psalm 47:11, "The meek-spirited shall possess the earth, and shall be refreshed with the multitude of peace." Meekness, therefore, 1. Makes us pleasing to God and men2. Like Christ, who says, "Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart." 3. Apt for wisdom and gaining celestial goods. For these the meek heart is fitted to receive, according to what the Psalm says, "Them that are meek shall he guide in judgment, and such as are gentle them shall he learn his way."

The grades of meekness and the Beatitude consequent upon it are these: 1. To converse with all with a meek heart and lips2. To break the anger of others by a meek reply3. To bear with gentleness all injuries and wrongs4. To rejoice in such things5. By our meekness and kindness to overcome the malevolence of our enemies and those who are angry with us, and win them to be our friends.

For they shall possess, &c. Gr. κληρονομήσουσι, i.e., shall possess by inheritance. S. Augustine and the Arabic have shall inherit. The Syriac, shall possess the earth by the right of inheritance. Appositely does Christ promise the earth to the meek, because the meek are often despoiled by the quarrelsome of the goods of the earth. This injury therefore Christ makes up to them by this Beatitude. But what earth does He mean?

1. S. Chrysostom, Euthymius, Theophylact, and S. Augustine, say that the present earth is here promised to the meek, in this way. The world calls blessed those who are strong and who avenge themselves; but I say, Blessed are the meek, and they who bear with patience the good things of this world being torn from them, because although such persons are often oppressed by the world, yet they do often also, by the gift of God, possess their own, firmly and quietly. Or if not, yet the whole world is the meek man"s country. There is an allusion to Moses who was the meekest of men, and who by his meekness obtained for the Hebrews from God the possession of the promised land. This sense is true, but neither full nor adequate. It often fails. We often see the meek deprived of their possessions by the quarrelsome. We may add that Moses promised earthly goods to the Jews, but Christ promised heavenly things to Christians.

Better and fuller with S. Jerome (in loc.), Nyssen. (lib. De Beat., Orat2), S. Basil (on Psalm xiv.), Cyril (in cap58. Isaiah), by earth in this place, understand heaven, which is the land of the living, as this our earth is the land of the dying, as it is said in Psalm xxvii. "I believed verily to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." And Psalm cxlii., "Thou art my hope and my portion in the land of the living."

For in heaven, indeed, is a land not dense, opaque, and earthy, but pure and lustrous. There is the Paradise of roses and lilies, of gems and all delights which refresh the senses of the blessed, for were it not so, the bodies and senses of the blessed, which in this life suffered such dire and awful martyrdoms, would go without their own deserts of pleasure, and only their minds and souls be blessed, which is absurd. Whence S. John beheld, (in Rev. xxi. and xxii.) a heavenly city which was foursquare, whose foundations were laid with jasper and every precious stone. Hence also the Pythagoreans, as Clement of Alexandria tells us (lib5 Stromat.), speak of heaven as α̉ντίχθονα, i.e., the land over against, or opposed to our earth. I say nothing of those philosophers who think that the moon and the stars are inhabited, that there are in the moon populous cities and vast regions inhabited by men called Lunares, from Luna, as Macrobius says, lib1in Somn. Scipionis. See also what Plato says, in Convivio.

By every one of the Beatitudes the kingdom of heaven is promised, but under various names and titles.

And yet again, by earth in this place we may understand the new earth, which is spoken of ( Isaiah 55:17; Revelation 12:1, Revelation 12:2; and 2 Peter 3:13) as that globe of the world which is to be subjected to Christ after the general judgment, as His inheritance, and therefore to the meek as His fellow heirs. For after the judgment, the whole universe—that is, both the heavens and the earth-will be renewed and glorified, and made the possession of Christ and His saints.

A certain holy man, says Salmeron, once said, pleasantly, "Heaven is given to the humble, and earth to the meek; what remains to the proud and the cruel except the misery of hell?"

Anagogically, Hilary says, "To the meek is promised the inheritance of the earth—i.e., of that body which the Lord assumed as his habitation, because through the meekness of our minds Christ dwelleth in us, and we also, when we are glorified, shall be clothed with the glory of His body." And S. Leo (Serm. in Fest. Omn. Sanct.) says, "The land promised to the meek, and to be given in possession to the gentle, is the flesh of the saints, which, as the desert of their humility, shall be changed at the blessed Resurrection, and endowed with the grace of immortality. For the meek shall possess that land in perfect peace, and nothing shall ever be diminished of their rights, when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality."

Finally, the way of attaining to meekness is (1), often to meditate upon its dignity and profit, and upon the unworthiness and unprofitableness of anger. Whence Clement of Alexandria says, that Athenodorus gave this advice to the Emperor Augustus, that if he were angry he should never do or say anything until he had said over to himself the twenty-four letters of the alphabet. "If," said he, "thou art of a lofty mind, a prince is superior to all injuries." Augustus despised the tales of detractors, "For," said be, "in a free State the tongue should be free."

A better way is, to consider the example of those who are meek, and to follow them, but especially the example of Christ crucified, of whom Isaiah foretold (chap53), "He shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb before its shearers, he shall make himself dumb."

Blessed are they that mourn. Arabic, the sad, who mourn, not in flesh but in spirit. For the words, in spirit, are to be understood and repeated in all these Beatitudes. Blessed are they that mourn, not for the loss of wealth, or parents, or friends, but of spiritual things. Grief here is taken as belonging to the saints. It is opposed to those who laugh and overflow with joy on account of mundane prosperity, those whom the world applauds as blessed. To them Christ threatens woe. "Woe to you which laugh now, for ye shall mourn and weep." There is an allusion to Isaiah 55:14, "Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry; behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty; behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed," &c.

This grief too has its own degrees, like the rest of the Beatitudes. They are here called blessed mourners, who bear with patience the troubles and sorrows sent, or permitted to come upon them by God. So Nyssen, de Beatitud. But more blessed are they who mourn and weep on account of their own or others" sins. And most blessed are they who through grief at the perpetual struggle which they carry on with the flesh and concupiscence, and through desire of the celestial country, and especially through love of God and Christ, lament their exile in this earthly land. Thus Paul mourned, "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" In this grief S. Ephraim excelled, who mourns in all his writings, and inspires his readers with holy grief and compunction. S. Macarius, as his Life records, was wont to say to his brethren, "Let us weep, brothers, let our eyes run down with tears before we go where our tears shall burn our flesh." And they all wept. For tears wash us in this world but burn us after death.

For they shall be comforted. Often in this life, but always in the life to come. As in Isaiah 35:10, "Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." Truly does compunction itself wonderfully solace and refresh the mind of him who is pricked with compunction. And if there be unadulterated joy in the world, it is in the contrite mind. Taste, and thou shalt see, for as the heart knoweth his own bitterness, so there is a joy with which a stranger intermeddleth not. So S. Jerome describing the departure of S. Paula, exclaims, "0 blessed exchange! She wept to laugh always: she beheld pools of contrition that she might find the Lord her fountain: she was clothed in sackcloth that now she might wear white robes, and say, "Thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness." She ate ashes as it were bread, and mingled her drink with weeping, saying, "My tears have been my meat day and night," that now she might feed for ever on angels" bread, and sing, "O taste and see how sweet the Lord is.""

Blessed are they that hunger, &c. The meaning both here and in S. Luke, who omits a after righteousness, is the same. Blessed are they who hunger after food and drink, in a spiritual sense, i.e., not from any bodily necessity, but with a spiritual end and intention. They hunger and thirst after righteousness, because they wish by such hunger to increase righteousness in themselves and their neighbours. Maldonatus explains righteousness or justice (justitiam) to mean, on account of justice. Hence S. Luke ( Luke 6:5) opposes these hungry ones to such that are full, sc. with wine and delicacies. Woe to you that are full, for ye shall hunger. The world calls blessed those that are full, but I, says Christ, call those who are hungry and thirsty with maceration of the flesh, so long as it is on account of their eagerness to obtain and augment righteousness, happy. So S. Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine, Hilary, Nyssen, Euthymius, Theophilus, and others. Thus hunger, or famine, is to be understood not in a corporeal, but a spiritual sense ( Amos 8:11): "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will send a famine upon the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the word of the Lord." Also Sirach 24:29: "They that eat me (wisdom) shall yet be hungry, and they that drink me shall yet be thirsty." To these words Christ here alludes.

The1st degree of this Beatitude is to bear patiently hunger or thirst arising from public or private scarcity of food. The2nd, to hunger and thirst in voluntary fasting, that by your fasting, you may make satisfaction for your sins, and gain the grace of God for yourselves and your neighbours. The3is, for the faith of Christ to endure prisons, and in them hunger and thirst, even unto death, as befell some of the martyrs. The4th, to hunger and thirst after righteousness, and the increase of all virtue. Whence S. Leo says, "To love God is nothing else than to love righteousness."

Righteousness1. Righteousness or justice may here be taken for that special virtue which gives to every one their right. As if it were said, "Blessed are they who hunger for justice, who eagerly desire that justice which once fled from the world, according to that verse of Ovid,

"Last, the lands, all wet with slaughter,

Left Astra, Heaven"s own daughter,"

that she may return again to earth, and rule over the whole world, and defend the right. Such are they who, oppressed by tyrants, or unjust men, desire that their rights may be restored. Such are they who see widows and orphans oppressed, and have an ardent longing to see them rescued from injustice, and their oppressors punished. For as Aristotle (Ethics) says, "Neither the evening star, nor the sun shines as brightly as justice." And as Cicero says (lib2de Offic.), "So great is the force of justice, that not even those who feed on evil-doing and wickedness can live in them without some particle of justice."

2. And more fully, take righteousness here to mean a generic term for virtue, yea, the circle of all virtues, because, for it we ought not only to wish, but vehemently to hunger after and covet it, that we may fill our soul with virtues.

Hear what S. Bernard says (Epist253ad Garinum), explaining the insatiable desire of profiting in the righteous. "The just man never deems that he has apprehended, never says it is enough, but is always hungering and thirsting after righteousness; so that if he lived always, he would be always striving, as far as in him lies, to be more just, always endeavouring with all his might to go on from good to better, not merely for a year or some set time, like a hireling, but for ever he would surrender himself to the Divine service. Therefore unwearied zeal in making progress, and constant striving after perfection, is counted perfection." And then he concludes with a reference to Jacob"s ladder.

"Jacob beheld a ladder, and on the ladder angels, but none of them resting or standing still; but all were either ascending or else descending; whereby is given plainly to understand that in the state of this mortal life there can no middle course be found between going forward and going back. For just as our body is perpetually either increasing or decreasing, so also must the soul be either making progress or else going backward."

Well says S. Augustine, "The whole life of a good Christian is holy desire."

For they shall, &c. "God will give here a constant increase of His grace to those who hunger after it." "And in heaven," says S. Bernard, "eternal hunger shall be recompensed with eternal refection."

Blessed are the merciful. Mercy is joined to justice because every work of virtue is either of debt, which is justice, or else of free gift, which is mercy, and because mercy tempers and sweetens justice. Worldlings count those blessed who give little and receive much: but Christ pronounces a paradox, which yet is most true, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" ( Acts 20:35), where I have gone fully into the reasons of this Beatitude, especially this one, "for they shall obtain mercy."

The same celestial Beatitude which Christ promised to the poor in spirit, under the name of the kingdom of heaven, He here promises to the merciful by the name of mercy, because, as the Apostle says ( Romans 6:23), "life eternal is of grace," both because God promises it freely to those who do well and give alms, as because grace is the beginning of good works and merit. For grace prevents and stirs us up to good works, and gives them a divine worthiness and power of meriting. "Life eternal," says S. Augustine (de Corrept. et Gratiâ, c13), "is grace for grace—that is, grace for the merits which grace has conferred," according to that in Ps. ciii., "Who crowneth thee with mercy and compassions" (Vulg.). Whence the Syriac renders, Blessed are the merciful, for mercies shall be upon them. As though He said, To the merciful shall be recompensed, not one but many mercies. God, therefore, bestows upon the merciful life and everlasting glory, which is the highest grace, and is here signified by the name of mercy; for, as S. Augustine says (Epist105), "When God crowns our merits, He does nothing else than crown His own gifts."

The degrees of mercy are: 1. To sympathize with the wretched2. To alleviate corporeal misery by alms3. To bring succour to the ignorance of the mind, or to those who are burdened with sin4. To seek out the wretched, that we may help them5. To deprive yourself of advantages in order to succour them6. To spend all you are and all you have, even life itself, for them, as Christ, S. Paul, and S. Paulinus did.

Symbolically. Merey—i.e., the vision and possession of God, and God Himself, is promised. For the nature of God is nothing else than mercy, according to the words of the fifty-ninth Psalm, "My God my mercy." (Vulg.) Give therefore to the poor, and you receive God. For alms is not so much mercy as a vast interest and usury with God. Whence the saying: "If you wish to be a usurer lend to God." As it is in Proverbs, "He that giveth unto the poor lendeth unto the Lord, and what he layeth out it shall be paid him again." As S. Chrysologus says (Serm42), "God eateth the bread in heaven which the poor man hath received on earth. Give, then, your bread, give your drink, if you would have God for your debtor instead of your judge." Powerfully writes S. Augustine (on Psalm 37), "Consider what the usurer does: he wishes to give little and gain much. Do thou the same. Give small things, receive great. Behold how wonderfully your interest grows. Give temporal things, receive eternal. Give earth, receive heaven." Lastly, S. Chrysostom (Hom32in Epist. ad Heb.) says, "Almsgiving is a virgin who hath golden wings, and is seen of all. She hath a beautiful girdle. Her face is gentle and comely. Her carriage is graceful, and she always stands before the throne of the King. When we are judged, straightway she comes to our aid, and delivers us from punishment, overshadowing us with her wings. God Himself loves her better than innumerable sacrifices."

Blessed are the pure in heart1. A pure heart means a chaste mind, free from all lust and carnal concupiscence. As though He said, Blessed, not those who have a clear intellect, as philosophers, nor yet those who have clean and fashionable clothes, which many cannot have, but who have a pure and chaste mind which all can have. So. S. Chrysostom.

2. And more fully: Blessed are those who have a pure conscience—those, namely, who have cleansed it from every stain of sin, from evil thoughts and desires, from passions and perturbations, from all evil intention, and especially from all duplicity and hypocrisy. Thus if a fountain be pure and unmuddy, so will the waters which flow from it be pure and unmuddy likewise; and if the heart be pure, the actions which spring from it will be pure and clean. So S. Jerome.

3. And most fully: They are in the highest grade of purity of heart, who have cleansed their hearts from all creature love, that their hearts may be like that of an angel—a pure mirror—and shrine of the Deity.

Cassian (lib6 de Instit. Renunc., c10) gives it as a mark of perfect purity of heart when any one has no impure dreams, but all his visions are pure and holy. Moreover, Cassian and Sulpitius, (lib4Vit. Pat., c31) describe the ladder by which we may mount by degrees to this purity. "The beginning of our salvation is the fear of the Lord. Of the fear of the Lord is born wholesome compunction. From compunction proceedeth contempt of possessions, and divesting ourselves of them. From this divesting proceeds humility. Of humility is generated mortification of the will. By mortification of the will all vices are rooted out. When vices are expelled, virtues fructify and increase. By the growth of virtues purity of heart is gained. By purity of heart the perfection of apostolic charity is possessed."

Wherefore S. Anthony, according to S. Athanasius, teaches that purity of heart is the way to prophecy. "If any one would be in a position," he says, "to know future events, let him have a clean heart, for I believe that the soul which serves God, if it shall persevere in that wholeness in which it has been born again, is able to know more than the demons. Such was the soul of Eliseus, who was wont to perform miracles unknown to others."

For they shall see God—i.e., face to face, and shall be blessed with the vision of God. "Cleanness of heart, and purity of conscience," says Chromatius, "will suffer no cloud to obscure the vision of God." Hear S. Leo (Serm. in Fest. Omn. Sanct.): "Let all the mists of earthly vanities pass away, and let the interior eyes be cleansed from all squalor of iniquity, that the purified sight may feed only upon the vision of God." Hence it is plain, as S. Augustine says, that God is seen by the blessed, not with the eyes, but with the heart—i.e., with the mind.

Lastly, this vision of God may be understood to mean the pure and affectionate knowledge which He often imparts in greater degree in this life to the pure in heart than to others. Let, then, every one say, with Herminius, "I had rather die than be defiled in heart."

Blessed are the peacemakers. As though Christ said, The world calls blessed those who bravely wage war, and subdue their enemies, but I pronounce those to be blessed who reconcile those who quarrel and fight, and recall them to peace and union among themselves and with God. This, indeed, is a work arduous and difficult, but one most pleasing to God. So S. Chrysostom, &c. (See S. Gregory, 3 p. Pastor. Admonit24.)

The degrees of this Beatitude are—1. To have or procure inward peace of soul with God2. To cultivate peace with neighbours and friends3. To recall those who disagree to the concord of charity. The4th grade is to make others like ourselves, by instilling into them a zeal for peace, that they too may study to make peace between those who disagree.

There might be a religious order or congregation instituted to promote this object, with great profit to the Church, in the same way that congregations have been instituted for the promotion of the other works of mercy—such as nursing the sick, showing hospitality to strangers, burying the dead, &c. Similarly, there might be founded a congregation of peacemakers, whose office it would be to quell all lawsuits in a city, and to bring back all who quarrelled to concord and charity. For this is an exemplary work of charity, in which one Father (Gaspar Barzaus, of Goa) so excelled, that the lawyers said they should die of hunger, in consequence of his putting an end to all the litigations by which they gained a living. (See his Life, written by Father Trigantius.) In fact, in some cities, such congregations of peacemakers have been founded, by which much harm arising from discords, strifes, hatreds, has been warded from the commonwealth.

For they shall be called, &c., i.e., they shall be sons of God. For God very greatly loveth peace, and for its sake He sent His Son into the world. For He Himself is in His essence peace and union: for God Himself unites and joins in closest union the Three Divine Persons in one and the same undivided Essence and Godhead. Hence God is called the God of peace (Philip. iv.); as, on the contrary, the devil is a god of contention, and they who sow it are sons of the devil.

2. Peacemakers are called the sons of God, because they share in the name and office of Christ the Son of God, whose office it is to reconcile men to God and one another, and to bring to the world that peace which the world cannot give. Whence His name is the Prince of Peace. ( Isaiah 9:6.)

3. Most properly and most fully, the peacemakers shall be called and shall be sons of God and heirs of God in celestial glory, which they shall inherit as the reward of their efforts to make peace. For in heaven all the Saints are, through the beatific glory, sons and heirs of God. "These are the peacemakers," says S. Leo (Serm. in Fest. Omn Sanc); "these who are of one mind, who shall be called by an everlasting title sons of God, and co-heirs with Christ, for this shall be the reward which love of God and our neighbour shall win, that it shall feel no adversity, fear no scandal, but, all the contest of temptation being finished, it shall rest in the most tranquil peace of God."

Blessed are the which are persecuted, &c. This is the eighth and chief Beatitude, subsisting in suffering and patience, whereas the others were placed in action. Whence S. Ambrose says, "He leads thee to the end. He brings you up to martyrdom, and there He fixes the palm of the Beatitudes." For it is more difficult to suffer hard things than to do difficult things, according to the saying, "To act bravely is the part of a Roman, to suffer bravely is the part of a Christian."

Acutely and subtilly does Nyssen (on the Beatitudes) trace out the etymology of persecution, which is a word used of those who run and follow, and strive to surpass those who are before them in a race. And so Nyssen meditates thus, that a holy man and tribulation, or persecution, as it were, are running together, but that when he does not give in to persecution, he, as the victor, runs in front, but persecution follows behind his back, and for that reason is called persecution; because, saith he, their enemies follow the righteous, but do not overtake them, for they are overcome by the patience and constancy of the righteous.

For righteousness" sake. Because they are just, because they are Christians, because they follow after justice, because they keep the law of God, or the statutes of their Order, or defend the property and rights of the Church, and stand up for the rights of orphans, or because they are zealous for the reformation of the clergy or their monastery. For righteousness here has a wide signification, and embraces every kind of virtue, says S. Chrysostom.

Although, indeed, some philosophers seem to have suffered and been killed for the sake of righteousness, as Socrates was put to death because he said, "Many gods ought not to be worshipped but one God only;" yet where there is not true faith nor charity, there neither is true and perfect righteousness, says S Augustine.

1. Blessed, then, are they who suffer for righteousness" sake, because persecution separates us from the world, and unites us to God2. Because we suffer it for the sake of God3. Because by this we become like Christ, who all His life long, unto the death of the Cross, was persecuted by the Jews. "Let us therefore go forth without the camp, bearing his reproach." ( Hebrews 13) The Church has always increased in time of persecution, decreased in prosperity. So too with all the religious orders.

For this cause God sends, i.e., permits, persecution to come upon the faithful, clergy or religious, to cut down the vices which, like tares, spring up in a time of peace, and revive the primitive vigour of virtue. In this way, under the two Philips, Christian Emperors of Rome, the virtue of the faithful languished in peace, and Christians gave themselves up to gluttony, avarice, and pride. Then God sent the Emperors Decius and Valerian, who sharpened the virtue of believers by persecution. This was revealed to S. Cyprian, as he himself declares (lib4, Epist4), "Ye may know that this reproof was given by a vision, that we were sleeping in our prayers. This persecution is the trial and examination of our sins." And (Serm. de Laps.), "A long peace had corrupted the discipline delivered unto us: heavenly correction has raised up prostrate and all but slumbering faith: there was no devoted religion among the clergy, no inward faith in their ministrations, no mercy in works, no discipline in morals," &c. Eusebius gives the same reason for the persecution under Diocletian. (Hist. lib8, c1.)

Wherefore B. Francis Borgia, the third General of the Jesuits, was wont to say, there are three things which preserve the Society of Jesus: 1. The study of prayer2. The union of the members among themselves3. Persecution. And he gives the reasons. Prayer binds us closely to God; concord unites the brethren with one another; persecution separates us from the world, and compels us to act with prudence, that our persecutors may have no handle against us.

For theirs, &c. He begins the Beatitudes with the kingdom of heaven, and He ends them there. He assigns it to the first and last Beatitudes, that we may understand that it is implied in the intervening six. S. Ambrose, indeed, thinks that the heavenly kingdom is a promise to the poor in spirit quoad the soul, which presently migrates from death to heaven; but to those who suffer persecution, quoad the body, which shall be endowed with eternal glory in heaven after the Resurrection. Beautifully and accurately does S. Augustine ( Psalm 94) make God speak thus, "I have something for sale." "What, 0 Lord?" "The kingdom of heaven." "How is it to be purchased?" "The kingdom by poverty, joy by sorrow, rest by labour, glory by vileness, life by death."

Note, 1. That these eight Beatitudes are all connected among themselves. Nor, indeed, is any one blessed who has the first, unless he has the other seven likewise. That I may say all in a word, it is, Blessed are they who despise the good things of this world through poverty of spirit, and its honours through meekness, and its pleasures through mourning, who moreover follow hard after justice and mercy, and come to purity of heart; those also who labour to make others have peace with God and among themselves, and finally who, because of these and other works of righteousness, suffer persecution, for this is the apex of Christian perfection and blessedness.

Again, the first Beatitude disposes to and becomes a step to the second, the second to the third, and so on, as S. Ambrose, Leo, and others teach. For poverty of spirit or humility disposes to meekness, for the humble are meek; meekness disposes to mourning, for the meek soon perceive their own and others" afflictions. Grief or compunction disposes to hungering and thirsting after righteousness. Thirsting after righteousness disposes to mercy, for he who desires to increase in righteousness and holiness does works of mercy. Mercy disposes to purity of heart, because almsdeeds quench sin as water does fire, and increase the charity which loves God alone with a pure heart. Purity of heart disposes us both to be at peace with ourselves, and to promote peace among others, since strifes and wars arise from a heart which is impure and full of covetousness. Lastly, those who promote peace and the other virtues spoken of, fall under the hatred of many who are depraved and covetous, and are persecuted by them, which persecution they nobly endure, and so perfect the crown of these eight Beatitudes, and crown themselves with it.

Observe, lastly, how S. Augustine (lib1de Serm. Dom. in Mont.) beautifully compares the seven Beatitudes to the seven gifts of the Spirit. The fear of God is consonant to the humble, piety to the meek, wisdom to mourners, strength to the hungry and thirsty, counsel to the merciful, understanding to the pure in heart, wisdom to the peacemaker.

Blessed are ye when men shall revile (Gr. ο̉νειδίσωσι) you, &c. Because, i.e., ye follow My faith, My morals, My life. Falsely (Syr. in a lie), because, forsooth, they falsely accuse you as disturbers of the public, innovators, superstitious for making a God of a crucified man and worshipping Him. This, therefore, is the summit of beatitude, to suffer patiently and generously—yea, joyfully—all wrongs and injuries for the sake of Christ, for piety and virtue"s sake.

Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, &c. Rejoice in calumnies, in false accusations, in persecutions, for, 1. By them ye are blessed2. Because there awaits you an ample reward in heaven3. Because ye are like the prophets, such as Isaiah, who, on account of his prophecies, was sawn asunder by Manasseh with a saw; Jeremiah, who was stoned by the Jews to death; and the rest of the prophets, who were almost all put to death in one way or another. He animates His own disciples by the example of the prophets, because by sharing their lot in suffering persecution they were about to become sharers in their society and glory. By this Christ tacitly intimates that they succeeded to the place of the prophets, yea, were superior to them, because they were called to loftier things, to preach, not the Law, but the Gospel, not only to the Jews, but to the whole world. Wherefore He subjoins, Ye are the salt of the earth, &c.

Observe here, as against modern heretics, the word reward (Gr. μισθὸς, hire, wages, Lat. merces) from whence we collect the merit of good works. For the merit is merit of reward, and the reward is the reward of merit.

Listen to S. Cyprian (lib4, Epist6): "The Lord hath willed us to rejoice and exult in persecution, because when the persecutions are accomplished, then are given the crowns of faith, then the soldiers of God are approved, then the heavens are opened to the martyrs."

Thus did S. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, exult, when sent to Rome. Bravely and with alacrity he entered the amphitheatre, and looking round upon the vast multitude of at least a hundred thousand people, he saluted them in a friendly manner, and said, "Do not think, 0 ye Romans, that I am here condemned to the wild beasts on account of any evil deed, for I have committed none, but because I desire to be united to Christ, for whom I insatiably thirst." And when he heard the lions roaring he said, "I am the corn of Christ, let me be ground by the teeth of the beasts, that I may be found pure bread." Read his Epistle to the Romans, in which he begs, and as it were conjures, them, not to hinder his martyrdom nor take away his crown from him. "I wish to enjoy the beasts which are prepared for me. If they will not come to me I will use force. Now I begin to be a disciple of Christ."

This is the thought which S. James proposes to be as it were the theme of his Epistle: "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;" where I have said a good deal upon this subject.

Ye are the salt, &c. That is, you, 0 ye Apostles, who are sitting here next to Me, to whom I have spoken primarily the eight Beatitudes—ye are, by My election and appointment (for I have chosen and appointed you unto this) the salt of the earth, i.e., ye ought to be, and by My grace ye shall be. Christ passes from the Beatitudes to salt, because He delivers His moral teaching after the manner of the ancients, by short, separate maxims, and because the connection here may be easily traced. You, 0 Apostles, whom I choose to be, after My example, humble, meek, &c., shall, in so being, be the salt of the world.

You ask why does Christ call His Apostles the salt of the earth rather than the gold, or silver, or precious stones? I answer, because salt is a thing universally necessary and useful. Salt is as it were the balsam of nature, which preserves and seasons al

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Bibliographical Information
Lapide, Cornelius. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". The Great Biblical Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide. 1890.

The Great Biblical Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide

ye are the salt, &c. That is, you, 0 ye Apostles, who are sitting here next to Me, to whom I have spoken primarily the eight Beatitudes—ye are, by My election and appointment (for I have chosen and appointed you unto this) the salt of the earth, i.e., ye ought to be, and by My grace ye shall be. Christ passes from the Beatitudes to salt, because He delivers His moral teaching after the manner of the ancients, by short, separate maxims, and because the connection here may be easily traced. You, 0 Apostles, whom I choose to be, after My example, humble, meek, &c., shall, in so being, be the salt of the world.

You ask why does Christ call His Apostles the salt of the earth rather than the gold, or silver, or precious stones? I answer, because salt is a thing universally necessary and useful. Salt is as it were the balsam of nature, which preserves and seasons almost all things with which it is mixed, and keeps them from corruption. Thus the Apostles were the salt, i.e., the balsam of the earth.

2. Salt denotes the office, power, and dignity of the Apostles. For salt is the symbol of wisdom. For as salt seasons food and makes it savoury, so does wisdom season the mind and make it wise. Thus in Latin a foolish man is called a man without salt (insulsus) or unsalted, according to the verse of Catullus—

"Not one grain of salt in so big a body."

The Apostles therefore were salt because they corrected the unsavoury morals of the world, and made them wise and savoury.

3. Salt, says Pliny (lib31, c10), contains two elements, of an igneous and watery nature—igneous because it is sharp, like fire, and if it be cast into fire it makes it flare up; and if salt be cast into water it is dissolved in it. The same Pliny adds (c9) that there is nothing more beneficial to the body than salt. The Apostles therefore were the salt of the earth, because by their igneous force they kindled it with the love of God, and by their aqueous flow of words and their wisdom they watered its dryness as with a spiritual dew, and made it fruitful, that it should bring forth the fruit of good works and all virtues.

4. Salt flavours insipid food, and by its pungency renders it pleasant and wholesome. Thus the Apostles have emended the insipid and foolish opinions, mistakes, and customs of men by their forcible language, and made them pleasing to God and the angels.

5. As salt penetrates flesh, and preserves it from corruption by drying up the humours by which flesh is corrupted, so have the Apostles taken away from the minds of men the corruption of fleshly concupiscences, and preserved them for the immortality of everlasting incorruption. So Cicero (lib2de Nat. Deorum) says, "What hath a sow besides its flesh? Chrysippus says that a soul hath been given it for salt, lest it should corrupt." Thus to men who, like sows, were wallowing in flesh and blood, God bath given the Apostles, as it were salt and a soul, which might spiritually animate them, lest they should putrefy.

6. Salt excites thirst. So the Apostles have excited a thirst for heavenly things. Hear S. Hilary. "The Apostles are the preachers of heavenly things and, as it were, sowers of eternity: they bring immortality to all upon whom their speech is sprinkled." Or Euthymius: "Ye have been chosen by Me to cure all the putridity of the world: ye are the salt of the earth."

7. Salt, by its pungency, bites and pricks, dries and burns. Listen to Pliny (lib31, c7): "The nature of salt is igneous, and yet an enemy to fire. Putting it to flight, it dries substances and binds them together. But salt has such power over dead and putrescent substances that by its means they will endure for ages." Thus, too, the Apostles, by their sharp and fiery speech, and by their life, have bitten, pricked, dried up, and shaken off the vices of men. Hear S. Gregory (Hom17): "If we are salt we ought to season the minds of the faithful. As is among brute beasts a rock of salt, so ought to be a priest among the people, that whosoever is joined to a priest, he may be seasoned, as if from a rock of salt, with the seasoning of eternal life." Let priests read that entire homily of S. Gregory"s, and they will find it a golden mirror for their life, that they may be the salt of the earth. Wisely saith S. Chrysostom, "Do you wish to know if the people of any place are righteous? Look what sort of a pastor they have. If you find him pious, just, sound, believe the people will be the same, for they are seasoned with the salt of his wisdom."

But if the salt have lost his savour, &c. If an apostle, if a bishop, if a priest—who ought, like salt, to season the morals of others—shall, through gluttony, uncleanness, fear, or flattery, lose the vigour of his spiritual salt, who shall restore it to him? No one. This may be seen in the case of some of the priests and pastors of the past age, who either led scandalous lives, or else were ignorant and negligent in instructing the people wandering in, or verging upon, heresy. Whence the ecclesiastical order came into sad contempt, whence the heresies of Luther, Calvin, and the rest sprung up, who, says Maldonatus, are like unto unsavoury bugs: when they are alive they bite, when dead they give out an offensive smell.

Trodden under foot, &c. "For it is not he who suffers persecution," says S. Augustine, "who is trodden under foot of men, but he who is so foolish as to fear persecution. For only an inferior can be trodden down; but an inferior he cannot be whose heart is fixed in heaven, although his body may suffer many things upon earth."

Although salt be of an igneous nature, yet it dissolves if it be mingled with water. A good religious priest too is dissolved and becomes effeminate, if he associate too much with women, even pious ones. Hear what the Elder, cited by John Moschus, says in his Spiritual Meadow, c217: "My little children, salt is of water; and if it approach water, forthwith it fails and is dissolved. A monk suffers the same from a woman; and if he approach a woman, he too is dissolved, and comes to such a pass that he is no more a monk."

So too does a priest come to naught if he be too accommodating to people of the world. Let him remember that he ought to be salt, and preserve his vigour, gravity, and liberty in rebuking vices. Let him not be ashamed to profess openly that he is an ecclesiastic and a religious, that is, a worshipper of God, a spiritual person, a despiser of the world, a lover of heavenly things. "Let him enter with another man"s, let him go out with his own," says our S. Ignatius. That is, in the beginning, let him accommodate himself to the disposition and speech of seculars, but afterwards let him dexterously bring them round to spiritual things, to change of character, to sanctity of life. Thus shall he be as the salt of the world.

Ye are the light of the world. Ye are; again this means, ye are by My election and commission what ye ought to be in actual truth. The light of the world, that ye may by the light of your doctrine and evangelical life illuminate the world obscured by the darkness of errors and sins. So S. Hilary.

S. Chrysostom (Hom10 in Epist. ad Timoth.) says, "For this purpose hath He chosen us, that we should be as lights, and act as leaven, that as angels we should be conversant with men on earth, that we should act as men with boys, as spiritual with those who are carnal." The sun is in heaven, but from thence it disperses its rays upon the earth; so do thou be with thy mind in heaven, whilst thy body is on earth, that thou mayest by thy conversation, and the example of thy virtue, illuminate, warm, and kindle it; so shalt thou be a light and a sun to the world.

S. Chrysostom adds something to be pondered deeply: "Assuredly, there would be no heathen, if we Christians took care to be what we ought to be; if we obeyed God"s precepts, if we bore injuries without retaliation, if when cursed we blessed, if we rendered good for evil. For no man is so savage a wild beast, that he would not run forthwith to the worship of the true religion, if he saw all Christians acting as I have said. And that you may learn that it is so, consider how many one Paul drew to the knowledge of God. If we were all like him, how many worlds might we not be able to win?"

A city set on an hill, &c. Christ here compares His Apostles, 1. To salt2. To light3. To a city conspicuous on a mountain. The Church, that is to say, the prelates of the Church. are often compared in the Psalm to the same thing, as Ps. xlvi. and xlviii. and lxxxvii; also Is. lx., lxv., and Ezek. xl. As, therefore, a city upon a mountain cannot be bid, but strikes the eyes of all beholders, so do apostles, prelates, and priests come before the eyes of all men, that if they discharge their office rightly, and preach the gospel more by their lives than by their words, they will attract many to Christ, and have praise of all: but if they do otherwise, they will turn many away from the Saviour and be blamed by all.

Neither do men light a candle, &c. A candle is not wont to be bid under a bushel, i.e., under a vessel, as the Syriac, the Hebrew, and S. Luke have it, of measurement, but it is placed on high on a candlestick. So be ye, 0 ye Apostles! who are placed on a higher step of office and dignity, that ye may enlighten all by your preaching and sanctity.

Allegorically. SS. Hilary, Ambrose, and Bede say, that it is here meant that the light of the Gospel was not to be shut up within the narrow confines of Juda, but to be placed upon the height of Rome, that it might illuminate all the subject nations.

1Candle, Gr. λύχνον, i.e., lamp, torch, candle, anything which gives light; for torches and candles are properly placed upon stands, and in Italy, lamps upon lamp-stands. So also the Hebrew לפיר lappid, which we translate, lamp or lantern, signifies anything which gives a light of flame. Hence lamps and torches, as here and elsewhere in Scripture, signify holy, and especially Apostolic men, who illuminate others by the light of their doctrine and holiness, and who inflame them by the fire of their charity. Whence Christ says of John the Baptist, "He was a burning and shining lamp." (Vulg.) So Enoch and Elias are called two olive-trees, and two candelabra. ( Revelation 11:4.)

Let your light, &c. That they may see, &c. The particle that denotes that the Apostles of Christ and all their followers must be careful to shine both in word and example, not for themselves but for God, in order that they may draw men to God; and by considering this we may reconcile what is here said with Christ"s teaching in chap. vi1, 2, and5. "Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men, that ye may be seen of them." The emphasis is upon these last words, that the Apostles should not do righteous works with any such end in view as being glorified and praised by men; but here Christ commends the doing of good works before men, so this only end be kept in view, that they may glorify God by them. Hear S. Gregory (3 p. Pastor. Admonit36): "Why then is it commanded that our work shall be so done as not to be seen, and yet that it shall be seen, but that what we do must be hidden, so that we ourselves be not praised, and yet must be made manifest that we may increase the glory of our Heavenly Father? For when the Lord forbids our doing our righteousness before men, He immediately adds, lest we should be seen of them; and when, on the other hand, he tells us that our good works should be seen of men, he forthwith subjoins, that they may glorify your Father which is in heaven. Whether, therefore, works should be seen, or not seen, He showed must be according to the end we have in view."

Think not that I am come to destroy (Gr. καταλϋσαι, to dissolve, abolish) the law and the prophets. Christ"s special meaning in this place is that He came to fulfil the moral precepts of the Law by teaching and expounding them more perfectly, and by substituting the sanction of eternal for temporal rewards and punishments, and by adding to things of precept evangelical counsels of perfection, as will be plain from what follows. It is also meant that Christ supplied the imperfection of the Law of Moses by justifying us through faith and the sacraments of the New Law, which He instituted, which the Law of Moses could not do.

Verily I say, &c. Verily, Gr. Amen—i.e., "in truth;" whence Aquila translates the Hebrew amen by πεπιστομενως—i.e., faithfully, truly, certainly. As S. Jerome says (Epist. ad Sophron.), "Amen is the word not of one who swears, but of one who affirms something he is about to say, or confirms something which he has said. In the former case it is prefixed, in the latter it is affixed, as it were a seal." This may be seen from Deuteronomy 27:26, &c., and 1 Corinthians 14:16. Wherefore the LXX translate the word by γενοιτο, may it be done. In this place Amen has the meaning of affirming and gravely asserting.

Moreover, Christ Himself is called Amen, Revelation 3:14: "Thus saith the Amen, the Faithful Witness."

Until heaven pass away. Not by nature and the perishing of nature, but by the mutation of its condition—that is, until heaven be changed from this state of corruption to a new and glorious state at the Resurrection. In other words, before the end of the world, when heaven and earth shall pass away, i.e., shall be renewed, it is necessary that all things which are written of Me in the Law be fulfilled. Or, rather, until heaven pass away means until it wholly perish. The sentence is a hypothetical one, and means, sooner may heaven be destroyed, sooner the earth be riven in twain, sooner the universe come to an end, than the minutest point of the Law not be fulfilled, either in this life or in the life to come. So long, therefore, as heaven and earth shall stand, so long the whole Law shall stand. Heaven and earth shall endure for ever, much more shall the whole Law endure eternally, according to these words of Christ, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." Whence the Greek is in the past tense, έως άν παρέλθη, meaning, the whole frame of the universe shall perish sooner than the Law of God.

Hear S. Irenæus. "Now, of the name Ίησοϋς, Jesus, the letters iota and eta, i and e, make up the number18. These, say the Valentinians, are the eighteen Æons; and this is why the Saviour said, one jot or one tittle, &c."

A similar phrase is used in a similar sense ( Psalm 72:7): "In his days justice shall arise, and abundance of peace until the moon be taken away;" also Psalm 89:37, meaning, "The sun and moon shall endure for ever, much more shall the throne of Christ remain eternally."

One jot. Christ, speaking to Hebrews, said, one yod, as the Syriac has. For the Greek translator substituted the equivalent, iota. Yod in Hebrew, like iota in Greek and i in Latin, is the smallest letter in the alphabet. From the letter yod, although the least, Valentinus, as S. Irenæus testifies, constructed the greatest heresy—viz., that of his Æons, in truth portents of names, rather than names of real existences.

Or one tittle (Vulg. apex) of the law. He calls the apices of the law, not the Hebrew points and accents, which were not invented by the Rabbin until long after the time of Christ, but the tops or little extremities of the letters in which the Law was written.

Till all be fulfilled. All things, that is, which have been spoken concerning Me and My acts, My Church and Sacraments in the Law and the Prophets. Again, all things mean all which have been commanded, or promised, or threatened.

Whosoever therefore shall break, &c. Of these least commandments—viz., which the Law just spoken of commands, or in respect of which I am about to explain and perfect the Law. This is why He subjoins, I say unto you that unless your righteousness, &c. It does not mean, then, that all the commandments of the Law are very small; but that he should be condemned who should break one of even its smallest precepts, or, like the Pharisees, pervert them by a false interpretation, as by teaching, for example, that only outward adultery, not inward concupiscence, was forbidden by the Law. We must observe in this place that commandment is to be taken strictly for a weighty precept binding under the penalty of mortal sin, like the Ten Commandments. For he who shall break one such commandment, although the least in the Decalogue, shall surely be condemned. For it is entirely probable that certain trifling things in the Old Law, although they were commanded by God Himself, bind only under venial sin and temporal punishment. Such, I mean, as taking a bird together with her young ones in the nest, seething a kid in its mother"s milk, &c. Not such as these are here called least commandments, but those which are least amongst the great commandments, such as to look upon a woman to lust after her, which the Pharisees considered a very small thing, and scarcely a sin at all.

Shall be called the least. Shall be accounted the least; shall be looked upon as vile; shall be had in contempt by God and the holy angels, as the last of men, and altogether unworthy to be admitted into the kingdom of heaven, but to be damned and cast into hell. Wherefore S. Chrysostom and Theophylact interpret least to mean not at all, because in heaven there are none who are not great, as S. Augustine says, "all kings of heaven, sons of God."

In the kingdom of heaven. Strictly so called, say S. Chrysostom and Theophylact. But S. Augustine and others interpret the kingdom of heaven here to mean the Church.

But whosoever shall do and teach, &c. Great, viz., a doctor, father, and prince of the disciples whom he has taught. And all the commandments of the Law are reckoned as having been done, when whatsoever has not been done is pardoned by God, says S. Augustine. For a fault is corrected and compensated for by penitence. As S. Bernard says (Tr. de dispensat. et prcept.), "A part of rule is regular correction." When, therefore, the guilty one undergoes this, he fulfils the rule.

Moraliter. Learn from hence the right way and method of teaching, that a doctor should first do what he is about to teach. Christ, says S. Luke, began to do and to teach. He was first Himself poor, humble, meek, a mourner, and then He taught, "Blessed are the poor in spirit." Let a doctor therefore examine his conscience before God before he teach, whether he be poor in spirit, meek, and soon; let him see whether he cleave to the world or to Christ, for that he may be Christ"s he ought to break his pledge of friendship with the world, and be able to say with S. Paul, "If I yet pleased men I should not be the servant of Christ."

For I say unto you that except your righteousness shall exceed, &c., i.e., be more abundant, excellent, full, and perfect. Your righteousness, i.e., your observance of the Law. For it fulfils that which the Law declares to be just or righteous. It also makes us really just before God. As the Apostle says, "Not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified." ( Romans 2:13.)

Ye have heard that it was said, i.e., commanded. Ye have heard, i.e., from the Scribes, teaching and expounding the Law of Moses. Christ here begins to show in detail that He was not dissolving the Law, but fulfilling it, and that Christian righteousness ought to excel Judaic and Pharisaic righteousness. Christ therefore here proposes and prefers Himself and His own doctrine both to the Scribes and Pharisees, who by their δευτερώσεις, or traditions, perversely interpreted the Law, as is plain from verses20,43, and to the Law of Moses itself. For Christ added to the Law precepts of explicit belief concerning God the Three in One, and concerning Christ"s Incarnation, Passion, and Redemption. He moreover supplied the defects and imperfections of the Old Law, for the Law of Moses was given to the comparatively uninstructed Jews, and this Law Christ perfected by His Evangelical Law.

Thou shalt not kill. Many thought that by this law murder only was forbidden, but Christ here teaches that by it even all angry words, blows, reproaches, are forbidden, for such things are, as it were, preludes leading by a direct road to homicide.

But I say unto you, &c. Christ here explains and fulfils the commandment, Thou shall not kill, and teaches that even inward anger is forbidden by it. I say unto you. I decree, assert, and sanction, I who am Legislator of all law, Evangelical, Mosaic, and natural.

Whosoever is angry. The Greek adds ει̉κη̃, rashly, without cause. But the Roman Codices, S. Jerome, and S. Augustine (lib1, Retract., c19) omit it. But those or similar words must be understood. For unlawful anger is what is here treated of; since anger for a just cause, as for example against sin and sinners, is both lawful and praiseworthy. Anger has been for this very purpose implanted in man"s nature, that it should make them brave against vice, and against those things which are really their enemies.

Observe, anger is the thirst for vengeance, and is itself a mortal sin if it deliberately contrive, or wish for, any serious evil of body, or goods, or reputation of one"s neighbour, or rejoice in such evils, even though he deserve them, for he who is angry rejoices in them not as fruits of justice but of revenge. But anger is a venial sin if it desire some trifling calamity to one"s neighbour, even though the anger be violent, and flame out both internally and externally. Lastly, anger is no sin at all if it be assumed from zeal for righteousness, for the extirpation of sin and sinners. Such was the anger of Mattathias when he slew the legate of Antiochus, who was forcing the Jews to sacrifice to idols. ( 1 Maccabees 2:25.) Such was the anger of Christ when He drove the buyers and sellers out of the Temple.

Hear S. Chrysostom on the words in Ps. iv., Be ye angry and sin not: "We may be angry lawfully, for Paul was angry with Elymas, and Peter with Sapphira. But I should not call this anger without qualification. I should call it philosophy, carefulness. The father is angry with his child, but it is because he cares for him. It is he who avenges himself who is rashly angry, but he who corrects the faults of others is of all men the meekest. For even God is angry, not to revenge Himself, but to correct us. Let us therefore imitate Him. Thus to act is divine, otherwise it is human anger." Hear also S. Gregory (on Job v2, Anger slayeth the foolish man): "There is an anger which springs from zeal for righteousness. This is the anger which, because Eli had it not, he roused against himself the vengeance of the wrath of God. For the sword of the eternal Ruler flames against him who is lukewarm in correcting the vices of those who are placed under him."

Shall be in danger of the judgment. Judgment here is to be taken in a somewhat different sense from that in which it occurs just above, Whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment. For there the human tribunal by which men were condemned to death for murder is meant; but here is understood the Divine judgment, which judges and condemns venial anger to temporal punishment, such as purgatory, but deadly anger to eternal punishment, i.e., to hell.

How vile a thing anger is! See S. Basil and S. Chrysostom (Hom. on Anger); Cicero (4Tuscul.), where, among other things, he says, "Is there anything more like to madness than anger—anger which Ennius well calls the beginning of madness? The colour, voice, glare of the eye, impotence of words and deeds, what have they to do with sanity? What is more shameful than Homer"s Achilles—than Agamemnon quarrelling? Anger brought Ajax to madness and death."

But whoso shall say to his brother, &c. Raca1. S. Chrysostom thinks raca here signifies thou, as if any one should say contemptuously to his neighbour, Go thou about thy business, what wouldest thou?—to address any one as thou out of disrespect.

2. Theophylact says raca means one worthy of being spat upon, for רוק rok means spittle; but this would be a worse form of reproach than to call any one a fool, which Christ here places as the worst reproach.

3. Some think raca here is the Greek ρακος, ragged.

4. And more probably, S. Augustine, Rupert, Anselm, and others think raca is an interjection of despising and opposing, and that by it are denoted all the tokens of an evil-disposed mind, whether murmuring, shouting, or spitting, or wrinkling the brow, and so on.

5. And last, S. Jerome, Angelus Caninius, and others think that raca is a Hebrew word, derived from ריק ric, i.e., "empty," though not in brain, as S. Jerome says, for that would be a fool; but empty in purse; so that raca would mean a man of straw, a pauper. So the Vulgate translates Judges 11:3.

Lastly, George Michaelis, the Maronite (in Proœmio Grammaticæ Syriacæ, c. de præstantia Syr. Linguæ) says raca is Syriac, and has three meanings—1. A tortoise, which animal is considered so deformed by the Syrians that they nauseate and abhor it; so too, the Italians, when they would speak of a man slow and deformed, say, pare tartaruga, like a tortoise2. Raca, from rac, "he has spit." For the Syrians, when they would burn any one up with ignominy, call him raco, i.e., "spat upon;" or raca is the same as rauco, i.e., "spittle;" for a Syrian, to show that he made no account of a person, would say, "Thou art but as spittle to me." 3. Raca with the Syrians means one despised, vile, abject, dirty; and this is the sense in which I think the word raca is here used by Christ. Thus far Georgius.

It is certain that raca is more than to be angry, less than to say, Thou fool! Again, raca is ambiguous. It may be venial, or it may be mortal; but to say, Thou fool, is certainly a mortal sin.

In danger of the council. Gr. συνεδριω, from which word the Jews called their highest tribunal the "Sanhedrim." As though Christ had said, "He shall be obnoxious to the judgment of the highest court, the Sanhedrim."

Observe, the Talmudic Doctors, and from them Franc. Lucas, Maldonatus, and others, say that the Hebrews had three courts: The first din mammona, which was a court for the trial of money causes; it was a court presided over by three judges. The second court was din mishpat, or the Court of Judgment, i.e., for capital offences. By this tribunal cases of murder were examined and decided. This court consisted of twenty-three judges. The third was the Sanhedrim, which consisted of seventy-two judges, by which grave causes and crimes were tried, such as heresy, false prophets, idolatry, apostacy, &c. Christ, omitting the first, alludes here to the two latter tribunals, and calls the second the judgment, the third συνεδριον, the Sanhedrim, the council. The meaning is, that the proportion between anger and a reproachful word, and between the punishment of both, was the same as between the judgment of Mishpat and the Sanhedrim, or the highest tribunal—that as the latter excelled the former, so the penalty of an opprobrious word exceeded the penalty of anger. For in this comparison, as is usual, it is not necessary to make everything apply. There is, then, a catachresis in the words judgment and council. For by judgment is signified the lesser fault of anger, and consequently the lesser condemnation and penalty; and by council the greater fault and the severer punishment.

The meaning then is, as a murderer under the Old Law was in danger of the judgment—namely, that his cause should be tried by the criminal judges, and he himself condemned to death; so in like manner anger, which is the first step to murder, is a criminal cause, and consequently pertains not to the lowest tribunal of Mammona, but of Judgment, not human but Divine; so that if it should be intense and voluntary, that is, with a deliberate intention of inflicting death or grave evil upon his neighbour, he should for this be condemned to death, not temporal but eternal.

But if anger should break forth into a rough word, such as raca, a man would sin grievously—grievously I say, because he would manifest anger by an outward sign, which would pertain to the tribunal of the Sanhedrim, to be heavily punished, according to the degree of the fault. But if he should say, Thou fool, it would not be a case for the Judgment, but would render him liable to the damnation of hell.

From this explanation it appears, in opposition to the Stoics and Jovinian, that there are degrees of faults and punishments, that some sins are worse than others, and so deserve a severer punishment from God. Whence there is sin which is venial, and there is sin which is mortal. Consequently, in opposition to Calvin, there is clearly a distinction between hell and purgatory.

But whosoever shall say, Thou fool, &c. Under this word fool, we are to understand all kinds of revilings, calumnies, reproaches, curses, which are mortal sins, if the be uttered grievously to dishonour our neighbour, or if the desire to do him injury and revile him, spring from the heart. For the gravity or triviality of a contumelious word must be weighed by the intention of the speaker. If you say it in joke, or not really to dishonour, but to correct, it is not formal, but material contumely, says D. Thom. (22. q72, art2). Hence parents may severely correct and reprove and rebuke their children, and masters their servants, if it be done with moderation, and for just correction. Thus Christ calls Peter Satan (Matt. xvi23), and Paul calls the Galatians "foolish" ( Galatians 3:1). Again, the gravity of the contumely must be measured by the dignity of the person spoken to. For to say to a grave and honourable man, "Thou fool," is a grave contumely; but to call a man a fool who really is one, is a comparatively light reproach.

Of hell fire. The Arabic has, the fire of hell. S. Jerome observes that Christ here first uses the word Gehenna for hell. It is nowhere in the Old Testament used in that sense. Gehenna is derived from ge, a valley, and Hinnom or Ennon, a Jew so called. Gehenna is the valley of Hinnom. It was a pleasant vale near Jerusalem, in which parents were accustomed to burn their children in sacrifice to Moloch; and they beat drums that their cries and wails might not be heard. Hence the same place was called Tophet, i.e., "a drum." Wherefore, Christ here speaks of the Gehenna of fire, to show that nothing but fire, and that eternal fire, is meant. See Isaiah 3:33, where Gehenna and its torments are graphically depicted. For Tophet is ordained of old, &c.

Ver23.—Therefore, if thou bring thy gift, &c. If thy brother have anything to complain of in thee, any wrong for which to expostulate with thee, as that thou hast called him raca, or fool. This is the force of therefore in this passage. It would appear that the Scribes taught that all sins, and especially violations of the Sixth Commandment, were expiated by sacrifices and offerings at the altar of God, even when no satisfaction was made for a wrong done to one"s neighbour. But Christ teaches the contrary, and sanctions the law of justice and charity, by which He bids that satisfaction must first be made to our neighbour who has been injured by us either in word or deed. Wherefore he subjoins,

Leave there thy gift, &c. This is a precept both of law and of natural religion, which has been by Christ in this place most strictly sanctioned, both because by the Incarnation of Himself He has, in the very closest manner, united us all to Himself and to one another. This greater union, which we have therefore through Christ, demands greater love and unity among Christian brethren: so He has said, "A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another." Furthermore, the sacrifice of the Eucharist is more holy than the ancient sacrifices. It is the gathering together and the communion of the Body, of which we all partake; and therefore we are all mutually united to Christ and one another. Hence it is called communion, that is, the common union of all. Since therefore the Eucharist is a sacrifice, as well as a Sacrament and profession of mutual love and peace, it is necessary that all discord should be done away, and that those who have offended should reconcile themselves to those whom they have offended before this holy Synaxis, lest they be found liars. For in truth he is a liar who takes the Sacrament of union, that is, the Eucharist, and is not in union with, but bears a grudge or rancour against, his neighbour.

This is why it used to be the custom at Mass, that before Holy Communion, Christians were wont to give one another a holy kiss, as a symbol of reconciliation and union, in place of which what is called the Pax is now bestowed.

S. John the Almoner, Patriarch of Alexandria, to fulfil literally this precept or counsel of Christ, was once standing at the altar to say Mass, when he remembered that a certain cleric had conceived a hatred for him, and although he was the offended party, yet he asked his pardon first, and being thus reconciled, he went with him joyfully to the altar and finished the sacrifice, saying with confidence to God, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors," as Leontius records in his Life. He adds that the same John repelled Damianus, a deacon, from Communion, and said to him, "Go first and be reconciled to thy brother." Damianus promised so to do, when the Patriarch gave him the Sacred Mysteries.

Agree, Gr. ευ̉νοω̃ν, i.e., be of good will, Syriac, a friend: with thine adversary, Gr. τω̃ α̉τιδίκω σου, i.e., thine accuser, thy prosecutor, Syriac,Beel dinoch, "the master, or lord of thy lawsuit," Arabic, with him who is at law with thee: the uttermost fathing, i.e., of thy debt.

You will ask, who is this adversary? 1. Tertullian (lib. de Anim), answers, it is the devil. He is Satan, i.e., our adversary.

2. S. Athanasius, or whoever be the author of Qust. S. Script. ad Antioch. (qust26), thinks the adversary means the flesh: for it is an adversary to the soul. "For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh" ( Galatians 5:17). But we must not agree either with the devil, or the flesh, which is what we are here told to do by Christ.

3. The same Athanasius says with better reason, elsewhere, that it is our conscience, for this is our adversary, and stings us when we do ill, until we agree with it, by following its dictates.

4. SS. Augustine, Anselm, and Bede are of opinion that God, or the law of God is meant, for these fight against our lusts. Wherefore clearly we ought to consent unto them, lest we incur the punishments with which they threaten us. But these are mystical, or symbolical interpretations.

Wherefore I say with SS. Jerome, Hilary, and Ambrose, that by our adversary is here meant any one who has been unjustly offended, or injured by us, and is therefore in a position to be able to accuse us before God. With such a one Christ in the preceding verse bade us be reconciled.

Note that there is here a Hebraism, and a parabolical form of expression, in which it is not necessary to adapt every word, but the general scope and meaning is what must be chiefly considered. And these, in this case, are rather hinted at than expressed. The sense then is this:—As a debtor, or one who is accused by a prosecutor before a judge, acts prudently if he agree with his adversary before judgment, and so escape the condemnation of the judge, prison, or infamy, so in like manner do thou act; and if thou hast injured thy brother in any way, as for instance by calling him raca, or a fool, thou hast made thyself a debtor, as it were, to restore him to honour: come in then, and be reconciled with him speedily, before thou be delivered as guilty to God the judge, who by a righteous vengeance shall deliver thee to prison, until thou shalt pay all thy debt. That prison is hell, or purgatory, according to the greater or less heinousness of thy sin. The word until, seems to bear a reference to purgatory, as though it signified terminable punishment, which is purgatory, whereas the punishment of hell has no end.

Farthing. Greek, κοδράντην. This is a word which has been borrowed from the Latin, like many others which are found in the Evangelists, such as prætorium, centurio, &c.

The quadrans, here translated farthing, was the fourth part of the Roman as, and is put for any very small coin. And the spiritual application is, that every debt, even the very least of the fault of anger, must be paid and atoned for after this life, in the place of justice. Wherefore in this life, where is the place for mercy, agreement and pardon, let us be reconciled to our adversary—i.e., whomsoever we have injured, either by word or deed. I have read in a history that a certain servant who had departed this life appeared to his master, who asked him of his state and condition. The servant answered, "I am in that place where every debt is exactly and rigidly reckoned, and where not so much as a straw is overlooked." Doctor Jacobus also relates that a certain religious man, who had departed this life, appeared in vile raiment and with a sad countenance, and said to a companion, "No one believes, no one believes, no one believes how strictly God judges, and how severely He punishes."

Ver27,28.—Ye have heard, &c. . . to lust after her—that is, with the design and object of indulging sinful passion with her—hath already committed adultery with her in his heart. Because by adultery he hath already corrupted her in his mind, and therefore before God, who beholds the heart, he is an adulterer, and as an adulterer he will be punished by Him.

Christ passes from anger to concupiscence, because these two passions have the greatest influence over men. And as He explained the commandment, Thou shall nor kill, to forbid anger, so He here explains Thou shall not commit adultery to forbid concupiscence. For many of the Scribes and Pharisees greatly erred in their exposition of this precept as well as of the former. For although they knew that it was commanded by the tenth precept of the Decalogue, Thou shall not covet thy neighbour"s wife, nevertheless they erred—1. Because they understood it of concupiscence, not altogether internal, but such as is wont to break out in touch, kisses, lascivious words, and such like, according to the maxim, "The law prohibits the hand, not the mind." But this is true of civil and state law, which only punishes external wrongdoing, but not of the law of God, which weighs and chastises the inmost thoughts of the heart. Josephus, the Jewish historian, fell into this very mistake, when, in the twelfth book of his Antiquities, he cites Polybius as saying that Antiochus Epiphanes perished miserably because he had wished to spoil the temple of Diana. Josephus finds fault with Polybius, saying, "To have wished merely, and not to have effected the sacrilege, does not seem a thing worthy of punishment." And R. David Kimchi, cited by Gerebrard (Ps. lxvi.), says, "Even if I should see iniquity in my heart, which I was even prepared to carry out in act, that it should be in the presence of God, and if I should utter it with my lips, yet will not God hear it—i.e., it will not be imputed to me for wickedness. For God does not reckon an evil thought as a work, unless it be against the faith of God and religion." Thus, too, there are many in this day who say, "To think evil is not a sin, but to do evil."

But this is a crass error, known and confuted by Aristotle and other heathens. For free will is the proper test and criterion of goodness and wickedness, of virtue and vice. For if free will seeks what is good and honest, it is itself good and laudable; but if evil, it is evil and blameworthy. Wherefore the external act, as, for instance, of adultery, is not, speaking precisely, a sin in itself (as in plain from the case of idiots being adulterers), unless it proceeded from free will. For from free will it derives all its formal sinfulness.

2. The Scribes erred in thinking that immodest looks, touch, kisses, &c., were not sins of adultery and fornication, but of concupiscence, and so were done against the Tenth Commandment, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour"s wife, but not against the Seventh. In opposition to this Christ here teaches the contrary, and so expounds the Seventh Commandment that all impurity is forbidden by it, because all such things are the road to adultery, and so a kind of beginning of adultery.

3. They were in error who thought that by this commandment only concupiscence in respect to another man"s wife, but not of any unmarried woman, was forbidden. This error Christ here corrects, and teaches that all impurity between the sexes is forbidden by this law.

Vers29,30.—But if thy right eye, &c. It is plain that there are here two parables, taken from the two most excellent and most useful of our bodily members—the right eye and the right hand. And Christ signifies that everything which entices us to sin must be cast away, however dear, precious, and necessary it may be to us. He makes mention of the eye first, because he had just before said, Whoso looketh upon a woman, &c1. Thus, S. Chrysostom (Hom17), by the right eye and hand, understands a woman beloved, such a one as he had just been speaking of, that she must be cast off, if by her look, voice, or gesture she provoke to lust2. S. Augustine (lib. de Serm. Dom. in Mont., lib1), understands any friend and minister, even one who is necessary3. S. Hilary, Theophylact (in loc.), Cyril, Pacian (Epist3), understand parents and relations, that intercourse with them must be cut off, if it leads us into sin4. S. Jerome understands affections and vices of the mind5. Auctor Imperfecti considers that by the right eye and hand the mind and will are meant, which must be called away from carnal pleasures.

But more simply and plainly you may take the right eye and hand to be actually meant, but in such a sense as to subserve the meaning of the parable, and to be parabolically explained. For there is here a continuous parable, in which Christ has regard to concupiscence of sight. Christ is dealing with such an implied objection as this which follows: "You may urge that if the eye and the sight are adulterous when they look upon a woman to lust after her, what then shall I do with the eyes which God has given me to see with?"

Again, it is a metaphor taken from surgery. As those who are sick and injured take care that a surgeon should amputate or remove the most noble and useful of our members, if their remaining imperil the safety of the whole body; so, also, I admonish you, 0 my faithful people, that ye endure any loss whatsoever, rather than commit a sin, especially a deadly sin; that, indeed, whatever is a stumbling-block to you and draws you to sin, although it be as dear and necessary to you as your right eye, you should altogether pluck it out and cast it from you, at whatever cost to you of pain and inconvenience: for example, that ye should put away the sight of an eye, even if modest in other respects, that is, the friendship and society of female relations, a wife, a son, a parent, if they bring upon you peril of sin, i.e., if by other means you are not able to escape sin, for it is better to enter into heaven having one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell. But because it is always possible to escape from sin in some other way than by cutting off a member, it is not lawful to cut it off and so mutilate oneself. Thus it was that Origen, who made himself a eunuch for the sake of chastity, was condemned by the Church. Finally, the concupiscences which have to be cut off and mortified by every one so tenaciously cleave to the eyes and the body, yea, to the soul itself, that they cannot be rooted out without great force and sense of pain, so that they who cut them off suffer as much as if they plucked out an eye or a tooth. They who have gone through it know what it is. Whence it is called mortification, because it produces the feeling and pain of death.

Thus according to the letter, SS. Aquilinus and Andomarus, as is related in their Lives in Surius, who had been blind, and recovered their sight by a miracle, asked of God that they might be again deprived of sight, that they might be free from the distractions and temptations to which sight gives rise. Furthermore it was by a special leading of God that the virgin mentioned in the Spiritual Meadow of Sophronius, plucked out her eyes and sent them to her lover, who persecuted her with his attentions, because he was ravished with the beauty of her eyes. When he received this gift the lover was smitten with compunction, and exchanged his secular for a monastic life.

S. Antonius asked Didymus, a blind man, whom S. Jerome calls his seer, that is, his teacher, if he grieved over his blindness. He was silent for a little while, and nodded; then he said, "A prudent man ought not to grieve because he is without eyes, which are possessed by flies and bees; but he ought to rejoice, because he has greater opportunities for opening the eyes of his mind, by which he may see God and divine things."

Ver31.—It has been said, &c. See what I have written upon the giving a bill of divorce in Deuteronomy 24:1.

Ver32.—But I say unto you, &c. Christ here corrects and settles the law of divorce1. Because the law easily conceded divorce for various causes. But Christ permits it only on account of fornication, if a wife be an adulteress; and from an adulterer the innocent wife is at liberty to depart, according to that maxim, "If a man break his marriage vow that may be broken with him." 2. The Law conceded both to the woman who was put away, and to the husband who repudiated her, the liberty of contracting a second marriage. But Christ denies it to both3. The Law conceded to the husband alone the power of giving a writing of divorcement. But Christ, with respect to this matrimonial right places the man and the woman upon a perfect equality, as S. Paul teaches, 1 Corinthians 7:4.

Except for the cause of fornication. By fornication here some understand any sin whatever, that is, in the form of a sort of spiritual fornication with any creature, leaving God, the Creator and Husband of the Soul. Thus S. Augustine, Origen, in loc. But this is taking it in too loose a sense.

By fornication others understand infidelity. For this is constantly called fornication by the prophets, that is to say, spiritual and mystical fornication.

But expositors, ancient and modern, passim, understand fornication here in its strict, literal sense, as denoting all illicit sexual intercourse.

You will say it is lawful to put away a wife if she endeavour to draw her husband into any sin, as is laid down in the chapter, Qusivi de divortiis, and as Christ Himself sufficiently indicates, ver29. Also if the wife practise sorcery, or compass her husband"s death; so that it is lawful to put a wife away for other causes besides fornication.

I answer, what you say is true, but Christ here assigns fornication as the only cause of divorce, both because it is the only proper cause of divorce, speaking in a strict sense, from marriage, as being immediately destructive of it, whilst the others are general causes, and would absolve a Christian from any union whatever; also because the divorce of even a repentant adulteress is conceded in perpetuity, so that although the wife repent of her adultery the husband is not bound to receive her again to his house, whereas in the other cases he is bound to receive her back again to favour; lastly, because Christ here wishes entirely to exclude all such causes of divorce as the wife"s deformity, poverty, disagreeableness, &c., which were common among the Jews. And to them He is here addressing Himself.

And whoso shall marry her that is put away committeth adultery. Cajetan and others here repeat the words, excepting for the cause of fornication, as though it were lawful for the man putting away the adulterous wife, and for the adulteress herself, to enter again into matrimony. But what S. Paul says ( 1 Corinthians 8:11), is plainly repugnant to this idea. For he there bids the innocent wife remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her adulterous husband. See what I have there said; and this is the constant usage and interpretation of the Church, of which more on chap19:9.

Ver33.—Again, ye have heard, &c. Thou shall perform, i.e., Thou shalt pay, shalt fulfil what thou hast sworn unto the Lord, or by the Lord that thou wilt do. So S. Chrysostom properly explains that by oaths are here meant vows confirmed by an oath, that we are bound to render them, that is, perform them unto God. Suarez explains differently. "If thou desirest to swear, swear by the true God, not by idols."

Ver34.—But I say unto you, &c. Christ here explains and perfects the third precept of the Decalogue, which the Scribes and Pharisees had explained falsely. For, 1. they asserted that an oath became an oath, and was binding, if it were made by God, and called Him to witness, but not so if it were sworn by creatures. Christ here teaches the contrary. For in creatures the Creator is understood, for they were made by God, and all that they have and are is from God. For he who swears, calls God, who is the prime Verity, to witness his oath. He therefore who swears by a creature, either makes that creature a God, which is the sin of idolatry, or else it behoves to understand God the Creator in the oath.

2. The Scribes erred, who thought that by this precept perjury only was forbidden. On the contrary Christ here teaches that by it every oath is forbidden, all irreverence and abuse of the name of God.

But I say unto you, &c. From this passage, the Pelagians, as S. Augustine testifies (Epist89, q5.) taught that no oath was lawful for Christians. The Waldenses thought the same, as we see from the Council of Constance, and the Anabaptists of the present day hold the same opinion, who will not swear in a trial at the bidding of the judge.

But this is an error of faith, which the perpetual practice of the Church, as well as the example of God Himself, of S. Paul, and the Saints condemns, as is plain from Psalm 110:4; Romans 1:9; Philippians 1:8; 1 Corinthians 15:31, &c. Reason itself shows us the same thing; for an oath is an honour to God as the prime Verity, because he who swears appeals to Infallible Truth as his witness. Wherefore an oath is an act of religion, and the highest worship, so that it be done in truth and justice, as Jeremiah says, 4:2.

You will ask, Why, then, does Christ say, Swear not at all? S. Bernard answers (Serm65 in Cant.) that this is not of precept, but only of counsel.

2. Others allow that this is a precept, but one which only forbids perjury.

3. Others think that the command, Swear not at all, applies only to swearing by creatures, not by God. To this opinion S. Jerome inclines.

But all these explanations are forced and incorrect, and are refuted by what follows; for Christ bids us swear not at all, (1) because, as S. Augustine says (de Verb. Apostoli), "False swearing is destructive, true swearing is perilous, swearing not at all is safe." Not at all—i.e., "As far as lieth in thee, that thou shouldst not affect nor love swearing, nor take any pleasure in an oath, as though it were a good thing." Again, to swear is, per se, a moral evil of irreverence with respect to God; just as it is a moral evil, per se, to kill any one; yet there are cases in which it is a duty. So it is with an oath. In Paradise it was not lawful to swear, nor will it be lawful in heaven. So great is the majesty of the Name of God that It must not be called to witness unless necessity compel. For to invoke It about small and worthless things is to make It small and vile, just as would be the action of one who should call the king as witness about a single guinea. Hence the saints were cautious about swearing. In the Life of S. Chrysostom it is recorded as a notable thing that he never swore. The same is testified of S. John the Almoner.

You will ask whether also for Christians it is lawful to swear? For (1) many of the Fathers seem to say that it is not. SS. Jerome, Chrysostom, Euthymius, say that swearing was permitted by God to the Jews, lest they should swear by idols, but is not permitted to Christians. (2) Theophylact and Euthymius are of opinion that an oath was a legal precept of the old law, like circumcision. Wherefore, as the latter has been done away by Christ, so has the former. (3) Others think that an oath was allowed by God to the Jews, as being uninstructed, imperfect, and hard of belief, but has been forbidden to Christians because more perfect things become them as being more perfect, and because they ought to beware of the slightest peril of perjury. That in the same way divorce was permitted to the Jews, lest they should kill the wives whom they hated; and yet Christ takes away this permission from Christians. Thus think S. Hilary (in loc., Can4), S. Ambrose (in Psalm 119, Serm1), S. Basil (in Psalm 13), Chromatius and Origen (in loc., Tract35), Epiphanius (Hres19), S. Athanasius (Serm. de Passione et Cruce Domini), S. Chrysostom (Hom. ad pop.).

If you object that in Holy Scripture God took an oath, as in Genesis 22:16, SS. Athanasius, Basil, and Ambrose answer that such oaths of God were not strictly speaking oaths, but. asseverations only—or promises; or, as S. Ambrose says, God may swear because He is able to fulfil that which He swears, and He cannot repent of it. But a man ought not to swear because he has not any certain power of doing that to which he pledges his oath.

If, further, you object that surely S. Paul swore when he said ( 2 Corinthians 1:23), "I call God to witness upon my soul" (Vulg.), S. Basil answers that this is not really an oath, but only a simple mode of speech, uttered with the appearance and form of an oath as a stronger affirmation.

But I say that not to the Jews only, but to Christians, is it lawful to swear. This is of faith, as is plain from the perpetual sense, use, and practice of the Church. "For of all strife among men"—even Christians—"an oath for confirmation is the end," says the Apostle to the Hebrews 6:16. Moreover, in Scripture there is no affirmative precept for swearing, as there is for praying, sacrificing, loving and praising God, honouring parents, &c., because an oath is not, per se, desirable, but only for the sake of something else, and, as it were, per accidens, in such sort that it is a kind of medicine for unbelief. And there is a negative precept for swearing, namely that you shall not commit perjury or swear by false gods, but only by the true God. There is also a conditional precept that if you swear you shall only swear what is just, true, and necessary.

You may say, Christ here solemnly says to Christians, Swear not at all. I answer, this is true because, per se, it is unbecoming and improper to call the Great and Good God to witness about human disputes on account of men"s mutual distrusts, unless this impropriety may be excused by mutual necessity, as it is often excused by the want of witnesses and other judicial proofs.

To the Fathers who have been cited, I reply that they seem to have spoken in the same sense that Christ did, because they saw men often swearing falsely or unjustly, and, still more frequently, lightly, foolishly and rashly; hence on account of the peril of these things, they forbade an oath to Christians, that they should refrain from it as much as possible. But if any one is careful to avoid such dangers, then it is lawful for him to swear in a case of necessity. This is plain from S. Chrysostom, who, in his homilies to the people of Antioch, frequently and sharply rebuked their habit of rash swearing. And to those who wondered at his so doing, he thus replies. "I say and repeat, as I am accustomed, because ye say and repeat what ye are accustomed." And he declares that he will not cease from this repetition until they leave off swearing. "For a hard knot a hard and constant wedge must be used."

Neither by heaven, &c. It seems that the Jews were wont to swear by heaven and earth, and similar oaths. And because the Pharisees thought that these oaths, being made by creatures, were of small account, Christ here teaches the contrary—viz., that he who swears by heaven or earth, swears by God their Creator, who has placed the throne of His glory in heaven, and his footstool on earth.

Ver37.—But let your communication be, &c.—i.e., a simple affirmation, or negation. For what is more than these, Gr. περισσὸν. The Syriac has, what is added beyond these. In the Hebrew Gospel ascribed to S. Matthew, we have אין אין ain, ain, כן כן ken, ken—that is no, no, so, so. In this passage a simple affirmation or negation is opposed to an oath; so in S. James (v12); and it means that whatever is added to these in the way of swearing, is of evil. So S. Chrysostom and S. Jerome, or rather Paulinus, Epist. ad Celantium.

Of evil. Evil here may be taken either in the masculine or the neuter gender. If the masculine the devil is meant, who, as a ringleader of all iniquity, incites thee to swear without necessity, and so draws thee on by degrees to swear falsely, which is the sin of perjury. So Theophylact, Maldonatus, and others. If you take the neuter, it means cometh of vice, either your own or another"s—that is to say, the custom of swearing arises either from your own vice of levity or irreverence, or else from another man"s incredulity and distrust. Because a man does not believe my simple assertion, I confirm my words by an oath, which, however, is a fault become necessary since the fall of man. So S. Augustine.

Vers38,39.—You have heard, &c. This was the law of retaliation. But I say unto you, Resist not evil. That is, an evil or unjust thing, or an injury done to thee by a wicked man. That is, do not requite evil by evil, injury by injury. Or better, resist not evil, taking evil in the masculine—i.e., the evil man who injures you. The Greek τω̃ πονηρω̃, though both meanings amount to much the same thing.

Note—1. That the ancient lex talionis was just, but in practice it was often unjust, and sprang from a desire of revenge, by which one who had had an eye or tooth plucked out brought before the magistrate the person who had injured him, and demanded, by way of retaliation, that his eye or tooth should be plucked out. But Christ supplies the deficiency of this law and perfects it, by opposing to the lex talionis the law and counsel of patience, and to a disposition thirsting for revenge the law of meekness.

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Bibliographical Information
Lapide, Cornelius. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". The Great Biblical Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide. 1890.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary


‘Ye are the light of the world.… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’

Matthew 5:14; Matthew 5:16

These words contain, in an image at once as simple and as beautiful as Nature could supply, a description of Christianity, and of the manner in which it diffuses itself.

I. God uses human agency.—For the conversion of the world to Himself God uses human agency. When the Almighty was preparing this material world, He said, ‘Let there be light: and there was light.’ But when the Son of God came into the world He selected human agents. ‘Ye are the light of the world.’ This was spoken to men very slightly armed either with intellectual or political power. Hence not only the wise and the great, but all of whatever capabilities who come within range of His light, have, by that very fact, had given them the power and laid upon them the responsibility of shining for God. We may not look with apathy upon the evil which is in the world, as if we were not our brothers’ keepers, and had nothing to do but attend to ourselves. The world is lying in darkness before our eyes, and its conversion depends upon us, and upon such as we are. If ever effected, it must be effected by God’s Spirit indeed, but through man’s agency.

II. Human agents must first receive light.—Our Saviour applies to His disciples an image which, in strictness of speech, only belongs to Himself. He is the light—they only light bearers. The light which they have is His; all which they have they have received. The Light of the World then is waiting to shine in upon and enlighten every mind that begins to be conscious of its darkness, and to desire to be taught of God. Jesus Christ, the light and life, and gladness and joy of the world, is waiting at the heart of every one for the undoing of the bars of prejudice and unbelief; nay, by His Spirit is inviting to, and assisting in, the undoing of these bars, that He may come in with streams of heavenly light.

III. The character and influence of the man who has received light, and so become light.

(a) Light is composed of several distinct rays, the red, the blue, and the yellow, but which, various in themselves, blend into the pure colourless light which is around us. A Christian is not a man who does a right action, or a class of right actions, but who in reliance on Christ acts as He did, and aims at regulating his whole moral nature and blending its discordant elements into one simple desire to please Him.

(b) Further, light cannot fail to be seen. This is its peculiar office. Real Christians, therefore, men and women, who indeed have the light of Christ within them, should be known and seen as lights shining in a dark place; they should be as clear as the stars in the heaven, or the lamps along the road on a dark night; for they are light, and all beside are darkness. And thus it was in earlier days: but in our days and in our land, the surrounding darkness is not so great, and the lights, I fear, not so brilliant. Yet the world is dark around us, and if we are Christ’s we must shine, be seen, and have influence.

(c) Light goes off from the source of light on all sides and in all directions. So from a Christian, light should go forth in all directions and at all times, naturally, not by impulsive emissions, but by regular irradiation.

(d) Light beautifies and gladdens all it falls on. And so wherever the light of Christ’s Gospel shines into the heart of man, and the Holy Spirit makes it to sink in and abide there; whatever that man may have been in character, and whatever he may be in position, it draws out and manifests such beauty of character and gladness of heart, that men cannot fail to see his good works, and glorify his Father which is in heaven.

—Canon Francis Morse.


‘It is related that the watchman of the Calais lighthouse was boasting of the brilliancy of his lantern, which can be seen many miles at sea, when a visitor said to him, “What if one of your lights should chance to go out?” “Never,” he replied. “Impossible!” with a sort of consternation at the bare idea. “Sir,” continued he, “yonder, where nothing can be seen by us, there are ships going to every port of the world; if to-night one of my burners were out, within a year would come a letter perhaps from India, perhaps from some place I never heard of, saying, ‘At such a night, at such an hour, your light burned dim; the watchman neglected his post, and vessels were in danger.’ Ah, sir, sometimes in the dark nights in stormy weather, I look out to sea, and feel as if the eye of the whole world were looking at my light. Go out—burn dim—no, never!” The eye of the whole world is indeed upon many of you. God give you grace “to keep your light so shining before men” that they may be guided by it through the manifold dangers of this world into the haven of eternal rest.’

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Tonight we have the Sermon on the Mount, what a fantastic portion of scripture. Matthew five,

And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he has sat down, his disciples came unto him: and he opened his mouth, and he taught them, saying, ( Matthew 5:1-2 ).

The first thing to notice is that this Sermon on the Mount is not for everybody. The Sermon on the Mount was not for the multitudes. Jesus is not here talking to the multitudes, he is talking to his disciples and unless a person is a disciple of Jesus Christ, they"re going to have an extremely difficult time with the Sermon on the Mount because it really doesn"t have application to them. It has application only to his disciples. So seeing the multitudes, he left the multitudes. He went up into a mountain and when his disciples had come unto him he opened his mouth and he taught them.

Jesus was sitting down; this is a posture of a teacher. In those days the teachers would sit, the students would stand. Somehow things have become all twisted. When they would stand it would be to herald or to proclaim as a herald, a truth. Now Jesus, when he was on the temple mount in John chapter five, stood and cried saying, "If any man thirst". He"s heralding a glorious truth to all people, the proclaiming of the truth, the preaching of the truth that they would stand but in teaching they would sit.

Now Jesus, in the beginning of this message, is describing the people that he is addressing the message to, for he is describing the child of God. Later on he says, "that you might be the children of your Father"( Matthew 5:45 ), and he talks about "your Father". But here is the description, and it is in the form of what are known as beatitudes or the pronounced blessings. Now the word "blessed" literally means "oh, how happy" and because that is the literal meaning of the word "blessed", it seems paradoxical immediately to say, "Oh how happy are the poor in spirit".

Somehow we don"t think of the poor in spirit as being very happy people, and yet Jesus, in beginning his description of the child of God declares

Oh how happy are the poor in spirit ( Matthew 5:3 ):

Notice, and there have been some moderns who have sought to translate this or interpret this because it isn"t a translation but an interpretation; blessed in spirit are the poor, but that is not necessarily a truth. I know many poor people who have a very bitter spirit and poverty does not make for a blessed or a happy spirit necessarily.

Blessed are the poor in spirit [Jesus said] ( Matthew 5:3 ):

First of all, he"s not talking about physical poverty, poor in spirit. This is in opposition to being proud, and this is always the inevitable consequence of a man coming into a personal, real confrontation with God. If you have come into a true confirmation of God in your own life, the result immediately always is that of poverty of spirit. You see a person who is proud and haughty, he is a man who has not had a true encounter with God.

In Isaiah chapter six, upon the death of the popular king Uzziah, when the throne of Israel has been emptied of this great popular monarch, Isaiah writes, "And in the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting on the throne, high and lifted up, and his train did fill the temple...Then said I, woe is me! For I am undone; and I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell amongst a people of unclean lips:" ( Isaiah 6:1, Isaiah 6:5 ). That"s always the result of a man seeing God in truth. "Woe is me! I am undone".

Daniel, when he saw the Lord said, "My beauty was turned into corruption" ( Daniel 10:8 ). When Peter had his confrontation he said, "Depart from me; for Lo, I am a sinful man" ( Luke 5:8 ). The man who truly sees God sees himself in truth.

Jesus said we do err because we so often are comparing ourselves with others around us. And when I look at you, I don"t look near so bad. When I look at your flaws and your faults I"d be, well, I"m not too bad. Look at them. But when I look at the Lord, that purity, that holiness, that righteousness, I say, Oh, God help me. Woe is me, I"m undone. That is what poverty of spirit is. It"s a true evaluation of myself, not in the light of man but in the light of God, where I see the real truth about me and it brings me to that, oh God help me. I need help. The same thing that Paul said, "Oh wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death? ( Romans 7:24 ).

So that"s always the beginning, the beginning consciousness of a man who has a true relationship with God. But Jesus said, really happy is that man. Why? Because he has had a true encounter with God, and as the result, the kingdom of heaven belongs to him. He"s no longer living in just this temporal material realm, but he is now transferred into the kingdom and as a child of God and as a citizen of the eternal kingdom.

Blessed are thy that mourn ( Matthew 5:4 ):

Now that really is even more paradoxical, isn"t it? Happy are they that mourn. But having come to a real awareness of myself in the light of God, coming to that poverty of spirit, my heart is broken over my own condition. I mourn over my failures, over what I see of myself and in myself. But the promise of the Lord is

They shall be comforted ( Matthew 5:4 ).

As the Lord begins to minister to me, the power of his Holy Spirit and his strength, and I begin now to experience those victories of Jesus Christ in my life and that makes me indeed happy. But that doesn"t come until I"ve come to the end of myself, and that place of just mourning in the fact that I have no strength, no ability, no power. I feel that helplessness. I cry out from helplessness and then I begin to experience the glorious power of God, doing in my life what I could not possibly do for myself. And that leads me then to a true evaluation of myself.

Blessed are the meek ( Matthew 5:5 ):

Now that is seeing myself in truth, no longer am I puffed up, no longer am I deceiving myself about myself, and that"s an easy thing for people to do. The word meek can probably best be defined by putting a hyphen in the middle of it: me-ek. It is again looking at myself in the light of the Lord and realizing that I am nothing.

Now it is interesting that these are not characteristics that are really admired by the world. The world admires the aggressor. You see, if this were being written by man, the "blesseds" would be given to, completely different kind of attributes with a man. But because Jesus is describing the child of God, he"s describing those characteristics that are admirable by heaven.

The meek: they shall inherit the eaRuth ( Matthew 5:5 ).

This earth is not the earth that God created. This earth has been spoiled by rebellion against God, but God is going to restore this earth to His original divine intention. Wars are going to cease. Man is going to dwell together in righteousness, in true justice, in peace. And God"s kingdom will come to earth and those who are the children of God will inherit the earth. Jesus said, "And I will say to them in that day, come, ye blessed of the Father, inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you from the foundations of the earth" ( Matthew 25:34 ). Revelation tells us concerning the body of Christ, "And they shall live and reign with him a thousand years on the earth"( Revelation 20:4, Revelation 20:6 ).

Blessed are the meek: they shall inherit the eaRuth ( Matthew 5:5 )

What a glorious place this earth could be if it weren"t for the pollutions that man has brought; if it weren"t for the wars, the hatred, the greed but we will see the earth as God intended it. We will inherit the earth as God intended it. Now, these are more or less what we might call negative characteristics.

Now we get into more or less, well, the fourth of the beatitudes is the benchmark; it"s the sort of the center, the top of the shed. Seeing myself in the light of God, recognizing the truth of my own weakness, having a true evaluation of myself; I begin to hunger and thirst after righteousness.

As Paul the apostle expresses, "I saw the ideal," Romans chapter seven. "I consent to the law that it is good, but how to perform it I can"t discover. For the good that I would do I"m not doing and that which that I would not allow, that is the thing I am doing. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?"( Romans 7:16, Romans 7:18-19, Romans 7:24 ) And in there is that cry, oh God, help. I hunger, I thirst after the ideal but I haven"t been able to attain it. Who will help me to find the ideal?

And Jesus said,

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after the ideal: For they shall be filled ( Matthew 5:6 ).

If you"re hungering and thirsting after righteousness, surely God will answer that hunger and thirst of your heart and you will be filled with the righteousness of God.

Now we come into more positive kind of characteristics.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy ( Matthew 5:7 ).

Now Jesus actually declares that our having been forgiven so much should be the incentive for our forgiving. Having obtained the mercy of God, then we indeed should be merciful, but here he puts it the other way. "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy". Well, we have obtained mercy and that"s really what makes us merciful.

Blessed are the pure in heart: For they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: For they shall be called the children of God ( Matthew 5:8-9 ).

Now this basically ends the description of that child of God. Now in the next beatitude he more or less declares what will be the response and the reaction toward that kind of person from the world. Now reading these characteristics you"d say, oh that guy ought to be, you know, just well-accepted anywhere he goes. Well he would be in any church, but when he gets out in the world it"s another story.

Jesus said, "Don"t be surprised that men hate you, they hated me. Don"t be surprised they didn"t receive you, they didn"t receive me"( John 15:18 ). Now each of these characteristics where surely manifested in the life of Jesus Christ and the world crucified him and he said this will be the response of the word towards that kind of person.

So he said,

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness" sake ( Matthew 5:10 ):

If you are this kind of a righteous person, you"ll be persecuted for being that kind of person. People will take advantage of you, people will run all over you and people will resent you, because you will make them uncomfortable when you are around them because you are doing the right thing and they"re wanting to do the wrong thing. Thus they will begin to project against you their feelings of guilt.

Now, notice Jesus didn"t say, blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely because you are doing something weird. And unfortunately, there are some people who take the name of Christian and then in the name of Christianity do weird things, and because of the weird things they are doing, they come into a certain amount of persecution.

When I was going to Bible college in Los Angeles, I was working downtown at the Title Insurance and Trust Company. I had to ride the streetcar back to my apartment in the evening. Now we had one gal in a class at Bible school who was a real problem to me, she was extremely loud and weird. You know, the kind that wore the long skirt with the dark cotton hose and the hair pulled back straight and no make-up, and she had sung at one time in opera and had a voice for opera. She was loud. I mean, there was nothing moderate about her. When she left, she left louder than anybody else, when she talked she talked louder than anybody else and she was just purely obnoxious as far as I was concerned.

Every once in awhile, she evidently worked downtown L.A. someplace too and she got on the streetcar after I did, but she"d get on the streetcar and she"d look back and spot me. And in that loud, operatic voice she would say, "Praise the Lord, brother". Here"s this weird-looking gal and everybody turns to look who she"s exhorting, and I would turn and look too, you know, and just sort of to the people around me saying hmm-hmm. Sort of sad isn"t it? So I went up to her because of the embarrassment she was causing me. And I told her that I didn"t appreciate her loud exhortations on the streetcar and in the classroom, also because she was very loud in the classroom. And I showed her the scripture "Let the women keep silent in the church"( 1 Corinthians 14:34 ). And she walked away saying, thank you, Lord, for the persecution, you know.

Well the Lord doesn"t say that you"re blessed when you"re persecuted for being an oddball but "for righteousness and for his namesake". And so check out in that persecution that"s coming your way, make sure that it is for the sake of Jesus Christ that the persecution is coming not just because of some weird characteristic.

And Jesus said,

Rejoice ( Matthew 5:12 ),

Now that"s a difficult thing to do when you are being reviled and persecuted for the sake of Jesus Christ, it"s awfully hard to rejoice. In fact, our natural tendency is to mope, well Lord, all right. If that"s the way you"re going to let people treat me, I"m just going to keep quiet, you know, and just sort of sulk because we don"t like to be reviled. We don"t like to be persecuted but Jesus said "rejoice". Can you?

Peter and John in the book of Acts when they were going into the temple, and through the faith of Jesus Christ brought healing to the lame man, and as the result were arrested and brought to trial. Those men that were trying them, beat them and warned them not to speak anymore in the name of Jesus Christ. And it said, "they went their way rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer persecution for Jesus Christ"( Acts 5:41 ). Classic example of this text being fulfilled in the life of the disciples.

Rejoice and be exceeding glad ( Matthew 5:12 ):

Why? Well, first of all,

great is your reward in heaven ( Matthew 5:12 ):

And secondly, you"re in good company.

for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you ( Matthew 5:12 ).

As Stephen, when he was standing before the counsel said, "Which of the prophets have you not slain?"( Acts 7:52 ) You talk about your fathers being so great, our fathers this, our fathers that; but your fathers killed those prophets that God sent unto them. In fact, which of the prophets did they not kill? And you are even worse than your fathers because you killed the one that the prophets were all telling was going to come.

Now Stephen points out that the prophets of God were not really accepted. So rejoice, be exceeding glad, you"re in good company. They had persecuted all of those true prophets of God. False prophets; oh, they were lifted up, they were heralded. Oh, they had it comfortable and nice, but the true prophets of God ran into real problems because people just don"t want to hear God"s truth. They would rather be lulled into a false sense of security, oh, everything"s fine; God wants you to all be prosperous, God wants you to all drive Mercedes. Well who wouldn"t like that doctrine? That sounds great. Hurray, hurray. Go out and order my Mercedes. But the true prophets of God do not sit in such a popular seat.

Now Jesus, next of all declares the influence of the child of God in the earth by declaring,

Ye are the salt of the eaRuth ( Matthew 5:13 ):

Now salt in those days was used basically as a preservative because, they lacked vacuum-sealed packing and because they lacked refrigeration. Whenever they butchered their meat, that portion that they did not roast immediately would have to be salted well, and the salt killed the surface bacteria on the meat and had a preserving affect. It kept the meat from rotting or putrefying.

And Jesus is saying to his disciples, ye are the preserving influence in a world in which you live. You"re the preserving influence. You are the salt of the earth, that preserving influence. And surely true Christianity, wherever it has gone has been a preserving influence in that society. Wherever there is a strong Christian emphasis and a strong Christian voice, that society is being preserved and maintained. But whenever the Christian voice begins to wane, that society begins to deteriorate and ultimately be destroyed.

And take a look at history and notice the preserving influence of Christianity, as long as it remained strong and a dynamic influence within the community, the community was strong and powerful. Look at the United States, we were formed on Christian principles. Tremendously heavy Christian influence in the forming of this nation and thus written into our very Constitution those safeguards to protect that religious freedom, freedom of worship and assembly in all because the Christian influence was strong and we weren"t afraid to say, "One nation under God". But through the years, the Christian voice has been weakened in its influence upon our society. And we can see those rotting forces that are beginning to erode away the very foundations of our democracy, as we see children being exploited for sexual purposes, as we see child pornography being produced and purchased. Now, there"s an interesting thing; pornography, and about many of these other horrible things that are happening and you should know it.

A man in our church who is the head of the Los Angeles police department in the division of child exploitation told me personally that whenever they make a raid on any of these child pornography places, where they"re taking the pictures or where they"re publishing the material; he said whenever they make a raid they always find an abundance of satanic literature and the aspects of satanic worship there. And he said it is also true in the homicides in those vicious homicides he said, we so often discover satanic literature and evidence of satanic worship. He said, "Chuck, it is a spiritual battle that we are in".

It"s just not men who have given themselves over to perverted thinking but it is satanic in its origin. And "We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers"( Ephesians 6:12 ). If we don"t become aware of that, we"re not going to be properly equipped for the battle. We"re going to be making the mistake of trying to fight the spiritual battle with carnal weapons, writing our congressman and things of this nature.

What we need to do is get on our knees before God and begin to pray and seek God"s power and seek a spiritual revival, that will turn this nation right-side up once again, because it is a tremendous spiritual battle that we are in and the forces that we are fighting are actually demonic in nature. And the weapons of our warfare cannot be carnal, but they are spiritual and they are mighty through God to the pulling down of the strongholds of the enemy; but that"s prayer and we need to be doing it more and more and more.

You are the salt of the earth; you"re the preserving influence. But if the salt has lost its savor, if it"s no longer doing its job then it"s good for nothing. If the church is not being a purifying influence within the community, then it"s good for nothing. Those churches that seek to exist as social centers are good for nothing. The church needs to be a dynamic spiritual influence within the community and seeking to bring a spiritual godly influence within the community.

The salt has lost it"s savour is good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under the foot of man ( Matthew 5:13 )

When the salt became unusable, old unusable, they would, threw it out on the pathways so that the rain would dissolve it and the sodium chloride would kill the vegetation. And so they used it to kill the vegetation, to keep the pathways clear from weeds and grass, and thus the salt was "trodden under the foot of man". And Jesus is saying, look, the church is to be the salt of the earth. If it is not the salt of the earth, it"s good for nothing and it will be trampled under the foot of fallen man. And so when Jesus said, "Ye are the salt of the earth" is not just a challenge, it is an ultimatum to the church. You either be what God intends you to be or you"re not going to be, you"ll be "trodden under the foot of man".

Then he said,

Ye are the light of the world ( Matthew 5:14 ).

Now here are those disciples, Peter and John and James, and they were fishermen. They didn"t have much of an elaborate background. And Jesus is sitting there in the Galilee, which is far away from metropolitan Rome. And all of the powers of Rome and the Grecian culture centered around Athens and there on the hillside above the Sea of Galilee, to this sort of motley little crew Jesus says to them, Hey, you are the light of the world. Marvelous. I love it. Oh, the influence that the church should be having in this dark world today. You"re the only light; you"re the only hope.

Paul, when he is describing his commission before Agrippa and talking about his conversion on the road to Damascus, declares that the Lord called him to deliver, really, the Gentiles from the power of darkness and to bring them into the kingdom of light. And so that is constantly the mission of the church; to open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God, that they might receive the forgiveness of their sins and the inheritance among them that are set apart. And so the mission of the church to turn them from darkness to light; "You are the light of the world."

Probably referring to Saphet up on the hills above the Galilee there, Jesus said,

A city set on a hill cannot be hid. And neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on the candlestick that it might give light unto all that are in the house ( Matthew 5:14-15 ).

Little fella had just accepted the Lord and was heading off for a summer camp that did not have a religious base. And he went in to talk to his pastor about it and they prayed together that his life might really be strong for Jesus, while he was there in the camp with all of these other kids. And so after he"d come back from his camping experience the pastor said, Well, how did it go Johnny? He said it went great. He said, ah, that"s good. He said, yup, nobody found out. But the Lord said you don"t light a candle to put it under a bushel, but on the candlestick that it might give light to all that are in the house. The one purpose of light is to give light. Therefore, the one purpose that God has for you is that you might give light to the dark world.

Now, there is a way to which you are to let your light shine. There are many ways by which you can let your light shine, but the way you are to let your light shine,

Let your light so shine before men, that when they see your good works, they will glorify your Father which is in heaven ( Matthew 5:16 ).

Now it is possible for a person to so let their light shine that when people see their good works, they glorify them. Oh isn"t he wonderful. Oh did you see that? Oh isn"t that marvelous? Did you hear what he did? And there is a way by which we can do our good works before men to draw attention to ourself and to bring honor to ourself. And there is something very perverse in our flesh that wants to bring to attention and honor to ourselves. It"s much easier to be a hero before a lot of people than it is to be all by yourself, where but nobody else knows it, you see. It"s very easy to do good and magnanimous deeds when everybody is watching. Oh, did you see what he did? My, isn"t that marvelous? But when there"s no one watching and no one knows that you did it, that"s just a different story.

When we lived in Huntington Beach years ago, we lived right across from the Edison plant where the guys would come who did all of the repair work for Edison and so forth. And of course there were often foggy mornings where you turned your lights on, not to see, but just to let other people see you. And whenever you"re driving in those conditions, it"s very easy to forget that your lights are on and just to walk away and leave your lights on. And so on those foggy mornings I would go over to the Edison plant and I would go around and turn off the lights of all of these cars because, you know, I figured man, if they come back this evening then they"re gonna have dead batteries and everything else. So I would go around and turn off the lights in all of these cars.

But I always thought how sad it is that they don"t know how nice a fellow I am. You know when they get back they"re gonna fire up their cars and drive off and they"ll never know that if it weren"t for my kindness and my goodness, they would"ve had dead batteries when they got out here. I was almost tempted to write little cards and say, Did you know you left your lights on this morning and you would"ve had a dead battery tonight but I came over and turned them off for you. I live right across the street. Somehow we want recognition from man for our good deeds. But Jesus said, "Let your light so shine that when men see your good works they will glorify your father in heaven".

Now, as we move through the gospels and we study the ministry of Jesus Christ, so often we are going to be reading where the multitudes came to Him and he touched them and he healed them and it said, "they went away glorifying God". You see, he did it in such a way that God was glorified as the people saw the good works that he did. So the Christian life is a fine balance. You"re the light of the world but you are to let your light so shine before man, that when they see your good works they won"t be praising and glorifying you but they will be praising and glorifying your Father which is in heaven.

Now Jesus moves into the next section of the Sermon on the Mount as he talks to them concerning the Christian"s relationship to the law. And he declares,

Do not think that I have come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil ( Matthew 5:17 ).

Now, the law required death for disobedience. Jesus came to fulfill the law by dying for our disobedience. He came to fulfill the prophets where Isaiah said, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we"ve turned every one of us to our way; and God laid on him the iniquities of us all" ( Isaiah 53:6 ). He came to fulfill the law and the prophets. I haven"t come to destroy it; I"ve come to fulfill it. And that is why Paul the apostle wrote, "Christ is the end of the law to those that believe" ( Romans 10:4 ); because he has brought us into a new relationship with God that involves our faith in Jesus Christ as the basis for our righteous standing before God for he fulfilled the law. He did not come to bring an end to it but to fulfill it, and he fulfilled the requirements of the law for us, dying in our place.

For verily I say unto you, Until heaven and earth shall pass, not one jot or one tittle shall in any wise pass from the law, until it is all fulfilled ( Matthew 5:19 ).

Now the jot and the tittles were the little punctuation marks and so forth that were placed there, just in the Hebrew letters, those small, little marks that give the a, the vowel pronunciation. "Not one jot or tittle will in any wise pass until it is all fulfilled."

Whosoever [he said,] therefore shall break one of the least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven ( Matthew 5:19 ).

Now, one day Jesus was asked the question, "What is the greatest commandment?" And Jesus answered correctly, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength and with all their mind". And Jesus added, "And the second is just like it; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself". And he said, "in these two are all the law and the prophets"( Matthew 22:36-40 ). This is a summary, a very short summary of all of the law and the prophets; love God with all your heart, love your neighbor as yourself.

Paul the apostle said, "For love is the fulfilling of the law and he who loves has fulfilled the law"( Romans 13:8 ). Now the law was given in negative: thou shalt not, thou shalt not, thou shalt not. Jesus turned it around to the positive: "thou shalt love the Lord thy God, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" and therein is the fulfillment.

[And] if a man would teach others to break the commandments, he will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but he who teaches those to keep the commandments shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven ( Matthew 5:19 ).

But then Jesus said something that must have absolutely blown their minds, for he then said,

For I say unto you, That unless your righteousness shall exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will in no wise enter the kingdom of heaven ( Matthew 5:20 ).

Now that must have been a tremendous shock to his disciples, because as far as they were concerned, no one was more righteous than the scribes and the Pharisees because that"s all these men live for. And these men were constantly displaying how righteous they were by the types of robes that they wore, by the types of borders around their garments and all. And just by their action, they had special little actions in their prayers and all that really indicated a tremendous depth of righteousness.

I mean, these are the guys that Jesus said, "you strain at a gnat"( Matthew 23:24 ). Why would they strain at a gnat? Because the law said, you"re not to eat anything with blood. And so you"d see a Pharisee out on the corner putting his finger down his throat and gagging and straining and pushing and trying to throw up. You"d say, what"s wrong? Oh I was running along and this gnat flew in my mouth. He strained to get rid of the gnat, because of course he didn"t want to eat any meat that wasn"t first of all thoroughly bled and kosher. And now Jesus is saying you gotta be more righteous than those guys if you"re going to enter the kingdom of heaven. But these guys were practicing righteous constantly, this righteous standard of the law.

But then Jesus goes on to illustrate what he meant by that, for he tells them

Now you have heard that it was said by them of old time ( Matthew 5:21 ),

You see, the disciples could not read Hebrew. They only knew what the law said by the teaching of the scribes and Pharisees. The common people did not know the Hebrew language. When they came back from Babylon, they spoke Caldean. Aramaic was the common language of the time of Christ, and Greek, but Hebrew was only for the scholars. Therefore, they really couldn"t read the scriptures in their own languages, in their own language. So they had to depend upon the scribes and Pharisees teaching them and thus "Ye have heard that it hath been said" ( Matthew 5:21 ), you have heard that it had been said, it has been said.

And Jesus gives here five of the teachings of the scribes and Pharisees concerning the law, as they were interpreting it and as they were teaching it to the people. And Jesus shows how, first of all, how they were teaching it and then he declares what was intended when God gave it. And the basic difference between the way they were teaching it and the way God intended it to be was that they were teaching it as purely a physical thing to be fulfilled in a physical way. And Jesus is declaring that God intended it to be a spiritual thing, governing the spiritual attitudes of man and that God is more interested in your attitude than he is the actions.

Now there are many people today who are trying to be so careful in their actions but their attitudes stink. And God is interested in the attitude from which actions spring. And thus, what a person does can be thoroughly disallowed by the attitude in which he"s doing it. A person can be doing all kinds of magnanimous works for God in the church, just busying himself and doing so many marvelous things around the church, but his attitude can be bad. And God totally disregards the things that the man is doing because of the attitude in which he is doing it. God is far more interested in the attitude in your heart than the actions of your outward life.

And they have been interpreting the law to govern the actions of man, where God intended the law to be speaking to the attitudes of man. Thus, in the way that they were interpreting the law, they were able to fulfill it. But in the way that the law was originally intended, because it was intended to govern the spirit of man, the law was actually intended to make the whole world guilty before God and to show man"s guilt. But rather then their reading the law and feeling guilty before God, seeking the mercy and the grace of God, they were so interpreting the law as having fulfilled the law, and thus being very pompous and very righteous and very critical of everybody else. And they were interpreting the law so that they were having this tremendous attitude of self-righteousness and pride looking down then upon everybody else.

And it was manifested, as Jesus said, when the Pharisee went into the temple and said, "Oh Father, I thank you I"m not like other men, for I fast and I pray" and you know, he"s telling God all of his good things. And Jesus said there was a sinner that went into the temple and he wouldn"t even lift his eyes toward heaven but with head bowed he just smote on his chest and said, "Oh God be merciful to me a sinner" ( Luke 18:11-13 ). And Jesus said he went away justified and forgiven. Where the first guy, you know, his prayers meant nothing to God. Now, that"s because they were interpreting the law in a wrong way, only to govern the outward actions of man and not to deal with the spirit of all.

And as you see Jesus making the contrast, he first of all teaches it as they were teachers or shows us how they were teaching it, but then he shows the original intent of the law. And thus, as we see the original intent of the law, we are all made guilty before God.

First of all,

[You"ve been heard] You have heard that it was said by those in the old times that Thou shalt not kill ( Matthew 5:21 );

Actually, literally, thou shalt not murder.

And whosoever shall murder shall be in danger of the judgment ( Matthew 5:21 ):

Now doesn"t the law say that? Yes it does; thou shalt not murder. That is the law. Then why did Jesus have any controversy with that? You know what God intended when he said that? You know what constitutes the violation that thou shalt not murder? Not just taking a club and beating the guy over the head until he"s senseless, not just putting a chokehold on him until he can"t breath anymore, not running your sword through his heart; but Jesus said,

I say unto you ( Matthew 5:22 ),

This is what they"ve been teaching you, but this is what I say, this is what the law was intended to say.

That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment ( Matthew 5:22 ):

You see, it is this ungoverned and unreasonable anger that leads to murder. Now you may have an ungovernable, unreasonable anger but you may have been able to control it but you go around constantly seething, constantly angry, boiling inside. Jesus said, hey, you violated that law already in your heart, in your spirit. But because you"ve never taken a forty-five and blown a guy"s brains out, you go, well man, I"ve never murdered. You know I feel pretty righteous you know. And yet all of this horrible anger can be boiling inside of you.

Whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca ( Matthew 5:22 ),

That is, you vain fellow.

shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if when you are bringing your gift to the altar, and you suddenly remember that your brother has ought against you; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift ( Matthew 5:22-24 ).

Now, in geometry I learned that the shortest distance between two points was a straight line. And that may be true in geometry but not necessarily true in your getting to God. Quite often in our approach of God, bringing to the altar our gift, the most direct approach to God is not a straight line but it is by an offended brother. Go first, be reconciled to your brother and then come and offer your gift.

Now he said,

Agree with your adversary [readily] quickly, while you are in the way with him; lest at any time your adversary deliver you to the judge, and the judge deliver to the officer, and you will be cast into prison. Verily I say unto you, You will not come out until you have paid the uttermost farthing ( Matthew 5:25-26 ).

Of course he"s referring there to the debtors" prison and all. So, get along with people, love people.

Now you"ve that it was said by them of old times, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart ( Matthew 5:27-28 ).

Now the first part, a lot of you can just, you know, square back with self-righteous and say, well, I"ve never committed adultery. But when Jesus interprets it as God intended it, "But I say unto you, whosoever looks about a woman to lust after her, commits adultery in his heart", then suddenly the chest is sucked in and we think, wow. That desire constitutes guilt in the eyes of the Lord.

And you see the difference where the way Jesus was interpreting it; it made us all guilty before God. The way they were interpreting it, it made them very pompous and self-righteous. But the way Jesus was interpreting it; it makes us all guilty. And that"s exactly what the law was intended to do, to make the whole world guilty before God, so that we would not seek to come before God in our own righteousness but that we would seek that righteousness that God has provided for us, that we might have that standing before God in the righteousness before God, in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. So the law was a schoolmaster to drive us to Jesus Christ.

Now Jesus said,

If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of your members should perish, [that your whole] rather than that your whole body should be cast into hell. And if your right hand offends you, cut it off, cast if from you: for it is profitable for thee that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell ( Matthew 5:29-30 ).

Now, let me say that interpreting the Sermon on the Mount or the words of Jesus Christ, that we must take care in interpreting, because if our interpretation of a passage makes the passage ridiculous then we have the wrong interpretation. And in noticing this, "if your right eye offends thee, pluck it out and cast" he"s not speaking literally of just plucking out your eye and throwing it away because through that eye you looked at a gal and you go "ooh eee" you know, that"ll be nice. Because even if you plucked out your right eye and cast it from you, you still got your left eye. If you"re a thief, pickpocket, use your right hand, it offends you, cut it off. If that were literal, you"d develop the skill in the left hand.

So he"s not talking literally of plucking out your eye or cutting off your hand but he is just trying to show to you, because to every one of us, the thought of plucking out our right eye is a very repugnant, repulsive, oh you know, I shudder at that. Eeew, that gives me the chills thinking of plucking out my right eye or taking and running my hand through a band saw. Eeew, you know that gives me the chills thinking my hand lying there on the table with a saw, picking it up and stuffing it in my pocket, you know. And it"s repugnant to me, the thought is repugnant.

But Jesus, by this, deliberately speaking of things that are so repugnant to us, is just seeking to show the importance of entering the kingdom of heaven. And in reality, the most important thing for any of us, more important than a whole body, more important than having all the members of my body intact is that I enter into the kingdom of heaven. And I need to have that kind of primary emphasis in my life, the kingdom of heaven is the greatest goal, the greatest desire, and thus should bring into my life the greatest sacrifices. And I should not be concerned with what sacrifice I may make in a temporal way because I am seeking the eternal kingdom of heaven.

Now the third illustration he said,

It hath been said, That whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, except it to be the cause of fornication, causes her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced commits adultery ( Matthew 5:31-32 ).

Now the issue of Jesus and divorce is a very interesting issue and it is one that is very relevant for today because of the high incidence of divorce. And under the law it said if a man be married to a wife and he finds an uncleanness in her, let him give her a writing of divorcement. In those days, the woman really did not have many rights. If her husband wanted to divorce her, he could divorce her but she could not divorce him. There was no provision for a wife getting a divorce from her husband, but the husband could get a divorce. And they began, as they do today, to interpret the law.

You know how that our laws have been so interpreted now by the courts that they become more liberal all the time. So that if the officer, when he arrests you does not have a probable cause to search you, but without the probable cause he searches you and finds in your possession a forty-five and ballistics tests prove that it was the gun that was used to murder that man just down the street, and you have the man"s watch and wallet in your pocket and all; but the officer didn"t inform you of your rights or he didn"t have probable cause of searching you, you can get off free because we so interpret the law.

In fact, I saw the other day when they let a guy off free because he wore jail clothes when he was on trial and it gave a presupposition of guilty, though he was guilty and they had all the proof to prove that he was guilty. Because they did not let him wear a business suit when he stood before the jury but he was in jail attire, they set him free. The liberalizing of the law through interpretation.

Now, this law of divorce had been extremely liberalized through interpretation. What did the law constitute that he finds an uncleanness in her? And there was one school of rabbi"s under Hallel who interpreted that very strictly as being he found that she wasn"t a virgin when he married her. But the other school of rabbi"s had begun to liberalize that law to the extent that if you found an uncleanness and your wife can constitute that she just didn"t fix your eggs the way you like them in the morning, and that would be an uncleanness in her. I don"t like the way she cooks. Here, you"re through, woman. Writing of divorcement. And they just write out the divorcement and hand it to her and she had no alternative. I mean, he did that, she was gone, she had no recourse, she was out.

That"s why this custom of dowry became popular. For dowry was actually alimony in advance. It was paid to the girl"s father and he would keep it for her in case her husband ever put her out, then she"s got her alimony already set. He paid it before they got married. Dowry is really alimony in advance. Not such a bad deal when divorce is so easy and so liberalized.

So this is the background, a very easy divorce. Just give her writing of bill of divorcement. Any excuse, any uncleanness and that can mean anything; didn"t like the way she combed her hair, didn"t like the way she looked in the morning when she first woke up, and so they had so liberalized the divorce law. And so Jesus is going back more towards the original. But we"ll get more into this when we get to the seventeenth chapter or the nineteenth chapter when we look at the law of Jesus and divorce, because Jesus does then begin to amplify it there a bit. And we"ll not cover it tonight fully but we"ll wait till chapter nineteen.

Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by those of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shall perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Don"t swear at all; neither by heaven; for it is God"s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is God"s footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because you cannot make one hair white or black ( Matthew 5:33-36 ).

That was before Clairol.

But let your yes be a yes; let your no be a no: and whatever is more than this is deceitful ( Matthew 5:37 ).

Now Jesus is talking about that deceitfulness of being able to say no, though it sounds like yes or saying yes when you really don"t mean yes. Basically, Jesus is saying you should be a person of your word. You should not have to take an oath. You should not have to swear to the truth that you are declaring. "I swear on the Bible. I"m telling you the truth, man". Well, you only have to do that if you are basically an untruthful person and nobody trusts you.

But you should be a person of your word. And when you say yes, you should mean yes and when you say no, you should mean no. Let your yes be yes and your no be no and don"t get into these long deceitful kind of well, I would be very happy to do it and I"ll tell you what. I"ll pray about it brother. But you"re really saying no, I really don"t want to. I have no intention of doing it but I don"t want to tell you no because it may offend you. But Jesus said be a person of your word; if you say yes, mean yes; if you say no, mean no. Anything that is more than this is just deceitful to cover up the truth.

Now you"ve heard that it had been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth ( Matthew 5:38 ):

But let me explain the way they were teaching this law. First of all, this law was not given to the common people. This came under the law when God was instructing the judges concerning their judgment in the cases that were brought before them, and there should be equity meeted out from the judges. And he uses the eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth to show that when you judge, make the judgment equitable. Make the judgment fitting the crime. Let the judgment be fitting the crime that was committed. Let it be an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

So he"s just talking about equitable judgment, but it is addressed to the judges, not to individuals. In that portion of the law he is instructing judges, how they are to judge when they are sitting in the judgment seat. But they had begun to interpret it in a personal way and they had liberalized it so it was, you know, now to you, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But not only were they teaching an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth as the possible judgment, but they were saying that it is an obligation.

Now, even today in many of those families, you have these futile things going on; an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth thing, and these feuds go on for generations. You know, they killed a member of our clan, we"re going to kill a member of their clan. They beat up a member of our clan, we"re going to beat up, and we"re duty-bound, we"re honor-bound. And they looked at it as something of which you were duty-bound and honor-bound to do, and it was a violation of honor if you didn"t take the eye for and eye or a tooth for a tooth. They were really, you know, go at it, go get it; you"re honor-bound to do it. But Jesus said, ah, not so. First of all, it doesn"t have a personal vindictive within it but it is something that the judges were to meet out equitable judgment.

But Jesus said,

I say unto you, don"t resist those that are evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also ( Matthew 5:39 ).

Now, there are those who take this resist not evil as a case against police departments but that is a ridiculous, foolish interpretation, and thus, it is not the correct interpretation because Jesus didn"t say anything that was ridiculous and foolish. Again, he"s talking to us and just saying we aren"t to be seeking vengeance for ourselves.

Whosoever smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have the cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him two ( Matthew 5:39-41 ).

In those days, the Roman soldiers could compel you to carry their backpacks a mile. Under Roman law you could be walking down the road and a Roman soldier come to you and he had his backpack on and all he would say, Carry this thing for a mile, and you had to do it under Roman law; you had to carry the thing for a mile. And of course, the Jews hated that yoke of Roman control and government. They were talking rebellion. And boy, it used to really gull them to have to carry that load for that Roman soldier for a mile.

Jesus said, "Look, if they compel you to go a mile, go two". Think of what opportunity you"d have to witness to him in the second mile. He"d wonder, hey you"re different man. What"s going on here?

Give to him that ask, and he that would borrow from thee don"t turn away. Now you have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless those that curse you, do good to those that hate you, pray for those which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, he sends rain on the just and the unjust. ( Matthew 5:42-45 )

God treats all men alike whether good or bad, gives rain to the good and bad people, causes his sun to shine on good and bad people; God isn"t partial in these things. So be like your Father which is in heaven. Bless those that curse you, pray for those that despitefully use you, love your enemies. "Now I say," Jesus said; this they say, this is what I say.

Now, as I pointed out in the beginning, the way they were interpreting the law, the people could feel self-righteous because they were keeping the law. But the way Jesus interpreted the law they were all guilty. Now, as you look at the way Jesus is interpreting the law, do you feel righteous or guilty? And thus you see the true intent of the law was to govern over the attitudes of man. And when your attitude was wrong before God, you were guilty before God and you should then be seeking God"s forgiveness and God"s help. But it"s all in the way that they were interpreting the law and the way the law was intended, intended to govern the attitudes of man.

Now Jesus concludes:

If you only love those that love you, so what? [It"s no big deal.] don"t even the rank sinners do the same? ( Matthew 5:46 )

You know, it"s no big deal if you just go around loving all those that love you, Oh I love you people so much; big deal. You love me? So, it"s only natural that I love you. But Jesus said,

If you only salute your brothers, [you only greet your brothers] what do you more than others? ( Matthew 5:47 )

If you"re only friendly and kind and helpful for those that you know, those that are your brothers, then what are you doing more than anybody else? If you are only loving those that love you, what are you doing more than anybody else?

Now, the inference here is that as a Christian you should be doing more than anybody else and if you"re not doing more than anybody else then how can you really boast to being a Christian? The whole question is what are you doing more than the person who is not a Christian? You should be doing more. And if you only love those that love you, you"re not doing any more than anybody else. If you"re only greeting those that greet you or only greeting your brothers, you"re not doing any more than anybody else. If you"re friendly to those that you know and all, you"re not doing any more than anybody else.

Then comes the capper, and if you haven"t felt like a sinner yet; Jesus said,

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect ( Matthew 5:48 ).

So, strike one. I didn"t make it. I"ve come far from making it, therefore, I need help. And thank God he has provided that help that I needed through forgiveness through Jesus Christ through his shed blood for me.

We"ll wait until the next session to go on with six and seven because we"ll never make it. There"s so much to be said, and if the Lord comes before we get there, I"ll wave at you across the room as we are sitting at the feet of the Master learning more and more of God"s love. For God, through the endless ages to come shall be revealing unto us the exceeding richness of his love and grace towards us in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What a glorious day that will be when we all stand before him complete in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless, that"s "be ye perfect"; that"s just the way He"s going to present you before the Father. Isn"t that neat? Not because I am perfect, but because I am perfect in Him. The Bible says the fullness of the godhead bodily dwells in Christ and you are perfect in him. It"s the same Greek word that is used here; "be ye therefore perfect", same Greek word.

You are complete or you are perfect in Him. To present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding love. That"s just how he"s going to present you when you stand before God, complete in Jesus Christ. Only the grace of God can do that for us. You see, the law of God condemns us all to death. But Jesus said, "I came to fulfill the law" thus He died for us. You see, the whole section here now as Jesus is speaking about the law. I didn"t come to destroy it, I came to fulfill the law and the prophets, and that he did in his death for us who are guilty because the law is spiritual and I am carnal. And thus, the law condemned me. Paul said when the law came, sin was revealed and I died. It destroyed me. It condemned me to death because I was guilty.

So if you are reading the law in such a way, as you feel very smug and self-righteous say, well, I"m not like other men. I"ve never done those horrible things, look again. What is in the attitude of your heart, that"s what God is looking upon. For man may look on the outward appearance but God is looking upon your heart, and that"s what God is interested in tonight, a heart that is broken before him. A heart that grieves over its own sin and iniquity, a heart that hungers and thirsts after God, for they will then be filled with that mercy of God and they will become pure, the pure desire of their hearts for God and for the things of God. Praise the Lord.

Father, we just thank you for the guide to life, the lamp unto our feet, a light unto our path, that we might walk in thy path of righteousness for thy namesake. Thank you Father again, for this privilege of being here tonight and sharing in thy Word. And now Lord, may thy Holy Spirit be with us as we go, watching over, keeping.

And Father, we know not what the day is going to bring forth but in the midst of the turmoil that is now engulfing the Middle East, midst of the bombs and the artillery and rockets, we pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Oh God, we pray more that thy kingdom will come and thy will shall be done here on the earth even as it is in heaven, where men will no longer be killing and destroying men through hatred, greed and war. If where we might all sit down beneath our own vine and fig tree and live in peace in thy kingdom in the world that you desire for us. In Jesus" name we pray, Amen.

May the Lord be with you, give you a beautiful week. May you be filled with the power of his Holy Spirit and may you indeed walk in love, that kind of love that comes from God that overcomes every obstacle and barrier that is built up against it. May you truly love those that hate you and do good unto those that despitefully use you and thus truly demonstrate the traits and the qualities of the children of the kingdom, in Jesus" name. "

Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

The Sermon on the Mount

John 5:1 to John 7:29. The Sermon on the Mount: see Luke 6:20. This sermon is so similar to the sermon reported by St. Luke (Luke 6:20), that it is best to regard them as identically the same. It is true that it has been plausibly suggested that our Lord during His preaching tours often repeated nearly the same sermon to different audiences, and that St. Matthew has given us the sermon as delivered at one place and St. Luke as delivered at another, but the resemblances are so extremely close, and the divergencies for the most part so naturally accounted for, that to regard them as identical is more natural. St. Luke's version is much shorter than St. Matthew's (30 vv. against 107), and it contains nothing that is not in St. Matthew except the four woes (Luke 6:24-26). There are, however, striking parallels to St. Matthew's sermon in other parts of St. Luke's Gospel. No less than 34 vv. scattered through his later chapters correspond to utterances in St. Matthew's sermon, so that altogether the two Gospels contain about 61 parallel vv. The natural inference from this is that, upon the whole, St. Luke gives the sermon as our Lord actually delivered it, and that St. Matthew (or, rather, his authority) has inserted at appropriate places in the sermon other utterances of our Lord dealing with the same or similar subjects. In a literal sense, therefore, St. Luke's report is, speaking generally, the more trustworthy, but St. Matthew's is the more valuable as containing numerous authoritative explanations of its meaning. The discourse was probably what we should call an ordination sermon, delivered, as St. Luke states, immediately after the choice of the twelve apostles (Luke 6:20). St. Matthew, however, inserts it appropriately enough at the beginning of the Galilean ministry, in order to give the reader a general idea of the Master's teaching at this period.

The great interest of the sermon is that it is a more or less full revelation of Christ's own character, a kind of autobiography. Every syllable of it He had already written down in deeds; He had only to translate His life into language. With it we may compare the wonderful self-revelation in John 17, but there is an important difference. There we have His self-revelation as Son of God, holding communion with the Father in a manner impossible to us; here we have Him pictured in His perfect humanity as Son of man, offering us an example, to which, if we cannot in this life completely attain, we can at least approximate through union with Him. In this sermon Christ is very near to us. The blessedness which He offers to the humble and meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, the seekers after righteousness, and the persecuted for righteousness' sake, He first experienced Himself, and then commended to others. And the power by which He lived this life is the very power by which we also must live it—the power of secret prayer (Matthew 6:5.) St. Luke tells us that the night before this sermon was delivered was spent entirely in private prayer (Luke 6:12).

The sermon is very important for a right understanding of Christ's conception of 'the kingdom.' It is 'the kingdom of the heavens.' It exists most perfectly in heaven itself, where angels and glorified saints live the ideal life of love and service, finding their whole pleasure in doing God's will and imitating His adorable perfections. This blessed life of sinless perfection Christ brings down to earth in His own person, and makes available for man. Every baptised Christian is taught to pray, 'Thy kingdom come,' and that is interpreted to mean, Let Thy will be done by men on earth as it is done by angels and saints in heaven. The kingdom, then, is just the heavenly life brought down to earth, and its aim and standard is nothing short of the perfection of God Himself, 'Be ye therefore perfect—especially be ye perfect in love—even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect' (Matthew 5:48). Of this kingdom God the Father is King (cp. the phrase 'kingdom of God,' used by the other evangelists, and the ancient Doxology to the Lord's prayer), but Jesus Himself exercises the immediate sovereignty, being the Father's full representative and endowed with all His powers. He is expressly called King only in Matthew 25:34-40, but His regal authority is sufficiently implied in the Sermon on the Mount, where He appears in the character of a divine legislator (Matthew 5:21.), as the judge of quick and dead (Matthew 7:21-23), and as the sole revealer of absolute truth (Matthew 7:24-26).

The inward and spiritual view of the kingdom, which is prominent in the Sermon on the Mount, is not inconsistent with its identification elsewhere with the visible Church of Christ (Matthew 16:18-19), which includes both worthy and unworthy members (Matthew 13:47). Our Lord identifies His Church with the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 16:18-19), because it is the divinely appointed means of establishing it. To it is entrusted the awful responsibility of implanting and nourishing the spiritual life of God's children. As to unworthy members of the Church, although they are 'in' the kingdom, they are not 'of' it.

The profound impression which the Sermon made at the time has been surpassed by the impression which it made on subsequent generations. The Mount of Beatitudes has become to all the chief nations of the world what Sinai was to Israel, the place where an authoritative moral code, and what is more than a code, an authoritative moral ideal, was promulgated. Not even the most sceptical deny that it shows originality and genius of the highest order, and reveals a character of unequalled moral sublimity. The many parallels and resemblances to this sermon adduced from rabbinical writings, some of which are quoted in the commentary, rather enhance than detract from its unique character. Its use of current rabbinical phraseology only throws into greater prominence its matchless originality and independence. But what struck the hearers even more than its moral splendour and originality, was the tone of authority with which it was delivered (Matthew 7:29). Jesus spoke, not as a scribe dependent on tradition, nor even as a prophet prefacing His words with a 'Thus saith the Lord,' but as one possessed of an inherent and personal claim upon the allegiance and obedience of His hearers. In His own name and by His own authority He revised the Decalogue spoken by God Himself on Sinai, and declared Himself the Lord and Judge of the human race, before whom, in the last great day, every child of man will stand suppliant-wise to receive his eternal recompense. It is sometimes said that the Sermon on the Mount contains little Theology and no Christology. In reality it expresses or implies every claim to supernatural dignity which Jesus ever made for Himself, or His followers have ever made for Him.

Analysis of the Sermon.

I. The Beatitudes. What kind of persons are really blessed or happy (Matthew 5:3-12).

II. The relation of Christ's disciples to the world as its salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16).

III. The relation of the New Teaching to the Law and the prophets as their fulfilment. It repeals ancient ordinances which were imperfect and transitory, expands the moral and spiritual principles of the OT. to their full development, and in so doing enables Judaism to become the religion of the human race (Matthew 5:17-48).

IV. Practical instructions in righteousness for the citizens of the kingdom, forming a striking contrast to the ideas of righteousness current among the Scribes and Pharisees. Alms, prayer, forgiveness, fasting, wealth, freedom from anxiety, rash judgments, reserve in communicating sacred knowledge, persistence in prayer, the two ways, the necessity of good works, stability of character (Matthew 6:1 to Matthew 7:27).

I. The multitudes] viz. those mentioned in Matthew 4:25. A (RV 'the') mountain] The traditional site is the Horns of Hattin, or Mount of Beatitudes, a low, square-shaped hill with two summits, about 7 m. SW. of Capernaum. St. Luke says that the sermon (if indeed he is speaking of the same one) was delivered 'in the plain' (AV), or 'on a level place' (RV). If we wish to harmonise, we can say that 'the level place' was half-way down the mountain.

Was set] The usual attitude of Jewish rabbis in teaching, indicating authority. So in the early church the preacher sat, and the congregation (including the emperor) stood. His disciples] i.e. not only the Twelve, as would be the probable meaning in the Fourth Gospel, but Christ's followers in general. The Twelve had already been chosen, although St. Matthew places the event later (Matthew 10:2-4), and this sermon was their ordination address: see Luke 6:13.

1-12. The Beatitudes. Properly speaking, the beatitudes are seven in number, Matthew 5:10-11, Matthew 5:12, forming an appendix. These three vv. being counted in, the number of beatitudes is raised, according to different methods of division, to eight, or nine, or ten, the last corresponding to the number of the ten commandments. St. Luke has only four, the first, fourth, second and eighth, in that order. As recorded in St. Luke the beatitudes are more paradoxical and startling. They appear to bless actual poverty, hunger, and mourning, and are followed by four woes upon the wealthy and those who receive their consolation in this life. In form St. Luke's beatitudes are possibly more original than St. Matthew's—they are certainly more difficult—but the sense is best expressed by St. Matthew. The beatitudes express, (1) the qualifications necessary for admission into Christ's kingdom; (2) the blessedness or happiness of those who possess those qualifications; (3) in St. Luke expressly, and in St. Matthew by implication, the misery of those who do not. Observe that the qualifications of the citizens of the kingdom are not the performance of certain legal acts, but the possession of a certain character, and that the 'sanctions' or promised rewards, unlike those of the Decalogue, are of a spiritual nature. The beatitudes must have been a painful disillusionment to those whoi believed that the coming kingdom of thé Messiah would be a temporal empire like that of Solomon, only differing from it in its universal extension and unending duration. The virtues here regarded as essential, humility, meekness, poverty of spirit, are the very opposite of those ambitions, self-assertive qualities, which the carnal multitude admired. We cannot doubt that Jesus intended the beatitudes, and indeed the sermon generally, to act like Gideon's test, and to sift out those who had no real sympathy with His aims. Somewhat later He carried the sifting process still further, and some who had stood this test, 'went back, and walked no more with Him' (John 6:66).

Scheme of the Beatitudes (after 'The Teacher's Commentary'):—

1. The poor in spirit (From this fundamental condition the other virtues mentioned grow.)

Scheme of the Beatitudes (after 'The Teacher's Commentary'):—

I. The poor in spirit

(From this fundamental condition the other virtues mentioned grow.)

(The inner life towards God)

(Its outward manifestation towards man)

II. They that mourn

answering to

III. The meek

IV. They that hunger after righteousness

" "

V. The merciful

VI. The pure in heart

" "

VII. The peacemakers


VIII. The patient in persecutions

First Beatitude

3. Blessed] The beatitude type of utterance, like the parable, is not without example in the OT. (Psalms 1:1; Psalms 41:1; Psalms 65:4; Psalms 84:5-7; Psalms 89:15; Psalms 119:1-2; Psalms 128:1-2, etc.), but Christ has made both types peculiarly His own. Beatitudes express the essential spirit of the New Covenant, in contrast to the Old, which was prodigal of denunciations (Deuteronomy 27, 28, 29, etc.). The thunders of Sinai proclaiming the Decalogue form a striking contrast to the gentle voice of the Son of man on the Mount of Beatitudes proclaiming the religion of love. Blessedness is higher than happiness. Happiness comes from without, and is dependent on circumstances; blessedness is an inward fountain of joy in the soul itself, which no outward circumstances can seriously affect. Blessedness consists in standing in a right relation to God, and so realising the true law of a man's being. According to Christ, the blessed life can be enjoyed even by those who are unhappy, a paradox which the ancient world, with the exception perhaps of the Stoics, did not understand. The Greeks thought that the blessed life was possible only for a very few. It was impossible for slaves, for the diseased, for the poor, and for those who die young. Christ taught that it is possible for all mankind, for the meanest slave, and the most wretched invalid, as well as for the wealthy, the prosperous, and the great. He went even beyond the Stoics. They taught that the wise man is blessed. Jesus opened the blessed life to the simple and uneducated.

The poor in spirit] St. Luke, 'Blessed are ye poor.' The expression is difficult, and is interpreted in two ways. (1) 'The poor in spirit' are those who feel themselves spiritually poor, and in need of all things, and so approach God as penitents and suppliants, beseeching Him to supply their needs, clothe their nakedness, and enrich their poverty. Poverty of spirit is the opposite of pride, self-righteousness, and self-conceit; the spirit of the publican rather than of the Pharisee; the spirit of those who wish to learn rather than to teach, to obey rather than to command, and are willing to become as little children in order to enter into the kingdom of heaven. (2) Others, following St. Luke's version, see in the saying a more definite reference to actual riches and poverty. They understand our Lord to mean that a Christian, whether rich or poor, must have the spirit of poverty, i.e. he must possess his wealth as if he possessed it not, and be willing to resign it at any moment without regret, and to say with Job, 'The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.' This interpretation makes a spirit of detachment from the world and all its allurements, of which wealth is for most men the chief, the first condition of the blessed life.

For theirs is the kingdom of heaven] not only 'shall be theirs hereafter,' but 'is theirs now.' The kingdom is here regarded, like eternal life in the Fourth Gospel, as a present possession. Usually it is regarded in this Gospel as something future, manifested only at the end of the world. On 'the kingdom' see prefatory note and Intro.

The rabbinical parallel to this beatitude is chiefly interesting by way of contrast. It runs, 'Ever be more and more lowly in spirit, since the expectancy of man is to become the food of worms.'

Second Beatitude

4. They that mourn] St. Luke (following a different recension of the Sayings) has, 'Blessed are ye that weep now, for ye shall laugh.' That sorrow of the acutest kind (and that is what the Gk. indicates) can minister to blessedness, is a paradox which the world cannot understand, but which is profoundly true in the experience of believers. (1) The sorrows that God sends or permits, if received with humility and submission, ever refine and ennoble the character, and elevate it into closer union with the Father of spirits. Hence the apostle can even 'glory in tribulations also: Knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience' (i.e. tried and proved character); 'and experience, hope' (Romans 5:3-4); and a follower of his can write, 'Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them that have been exercised thereby' (Hebrews 12:11). (2) Those who mourn for the sorrows of others out of Christian sympathy, are rewarded by the very exercise of that sweet act of compassion, and find many comforters in their own real sorrows. (3) Those who mourn for sin with a godly sorrow, saying with the publican, 'God be merciful to me a sinner,' are comforted by the removal of the burden of sin, and the forgiveness of its guilt. (4) Those who mourn for the sins of others, who pray earnestly for their conversion, are often comforted by the success of their prayers.

Comforted] the word implies strengthening as well as consolation. The faculty which is exercised by the true mourner is strengthened by use. Those who bear their sorrows patiently grow in patience; those who sorrow for others grow in sympathy; those who sorrow for their own sin deepen their penitence; those who intercede for the sins of the world grow in the likeness of the great Sin-bearer and Intercessor. The comfort comes from the exercise of the spiritual faculty, and from the consciousness of growing more like God; but there is also that final comfort in the world to come, when 'God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes' (Revelation 7:17).

Third Beatitude (not in St. Luke)

5. The meek] A quotation from Psalms 37:11. The 'earth' is not only the new earth spoken of 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1, but refers also to the present world. The words are a prophecy that meekness will prove a greater power in the world than pride. This was revolutionary doctrine. Judaism meant pride of race and privilege; Babbinism, pride of learning; Roman imperialism, pride of power; Greek culture, either pride of intellect or pride of external magnificence. All agreed that the meek man was a poor creature, and the worldly world thinks so still. Nevertheless, meekness is irresistibly attractive, and exercises a wider spiritual influence than any other type of character. 'He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble and meek.' See further on Matthew 18:4.

Meekness is a virtue which can be exercised both towards God and towards man; and inasmuch as it involves self-control, it is not a weak but an heroic quality. 'He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city' (Proverbs 16:32). A meek man is one who is not easily provoked or irritated, and forbearing under injury or annoyance.

Fourth Beatitude

6. That hunger and thirst after righteousness] St. Luke, 'ye that hunger now.' Righteousness here is goodness or Christian perfection in its widest sense: cp. Matthew 5:48, Psalms 42:1, Psalms 42:2.

Filled] i.e. shall attain completely to the character at which they aim.

Fifth Beatitude (not in St. Luke)

7. The merciful] Our salvation is made dependent upon our showing mercy to every creature that can feel. Every kind of cruel amusement, or cruel punishment, as well as every wanton act of cruelty, is strictly forbidden. It should be remembered that cruel speeches no less than cruel acts are forbidden by this commandment. Words can lacerate more deeply than stripes. By the ancient Greeks and Romans the emotion of pity was generally regarded as a fault, or at least as a weakness. The Stoics were in practice humane men, but they regarded pity in the abstract as a vice. 'The wise man,' they said, 'succours, but does not pity.'

Sixth Beatitude

8. The pure in heart] The 'heart,' both in the OT. and NT., stands for a man's inmost soul, and so the purity here required is not the ceremonial cleanness of the Levitical law, nor even the blamelessness of outwardly correct conduct, but complete purity of inward thought and desire. A thing is pure when it contains no admixture of other substances. Benevolence is pure when it contains no admixture of self-seeking; justice is pure when it contains no admixture of partiality; love is pure when it contains no admixture of lust. A man's heart is pure when it loves only the good, when all its motives are right, and when all its aspirations are after the noble and true. Purity here is not synonymous with chastity, but includes it. See God] Just as the liar does not understand truthfulness, and does not recognise it when he encounters it, so the unholy person does not understand sanctity, and cannot understand the all-holy God. But those who cleanse their hearts understand God in proportion to their purity, and one day, when they are cleansed from all sin, will see Him face to face (Hebrews 12:14; 1 John 3:2-3; Revelation 22:4).

Seventh Beatitude (not in St. Luke)

9. The peacemakers] Peacemakers are, (1) those who reconcile men at variance, whether individuals, or classes of men (e.g. employers and employed), or nations; (2) those who work earnestly to prevent disputes arising or to settle them peaceably (e.g. by arbitration); (3) those who strive to reconcile men to God, and so to bring peace to their souls. They shall be called the children (RV 'sons') of God] Because in this aspect they are especially like their heavenly Father, who has sent peace and goodwill down to earth in the person of His dear Son, who is charged with a message of reconciliation.

Eighth Beatitude

10. Which are persecuted] RV 'that have been persecuted.' The reference is not to past persecutions of OT. saints, but to those of the disciples, which Jesus sees to be inevitable, and graphically represents as already begun.

12. The prophets which were before you] By ranking His disciples with the OT. prophets, Jesus seems to imply that they also are prophets. It is this possession of prophetical gifts by the first disciples which justifies the Church in regarding the NT. as the inspired Word of God: see Acts 11:27; Acts 13:1; Acts 15:32; Acts 21:10; 1 Corinthians 12:28; 1 Corinthians 14:1; Ephesians 2:20; Ephesians 3:5; Ephesians 4:11, etc.

13-16. The relation of Christ's disciples to the world. Nothing corresponding to this section is found in St. Luke's sermon, but parallels occur in Luke 14:34-35 and Luke 11:33. The section is well placed by St. Matthew. The connexion of thought is clear and natural. Having spoken of their persecutions, Jesus proceeds to encourage His disciples by speaking of the greatness of their mission in the world. They are to be the salt of society. Salt preserves food from corruption, and seasons it, making it wholesome and acceptable. So the disciples are to purify the society in which they move, setting a good example and counteracting every corrupt tendency. For this purpose their Christianity must be genuine. Men must feel that they are different from the world, and have a savour of their own. The salt which has lost his savour is the Christianity which is only worldliness under another name. Again, the disciples are to be the light of the world, being the representatives of Him who is the world's true Light (John 8:12). They are to enlighten it as its teachers, and also by the examples of their lives. They are also to be as a city set on a hill, which cannot be hid. In this figure they are contemplated not as individuals but as a visible society, or Church. The old city set on a hill was Jerusalem (Psalms 48:2). This was shortly to be trodden under the foot of men as having lost its savour, and the new society was to take its place. Christ here solemnly warns us that the standard of living in the Church must be visibly higher than the standard of living in the world. A Church which tolerates a corrupt ministry, or laxity of life among its communicante, is not bearing its witness before the world.

13. Wherewith, etc.] i.e. either, 'Wherewith shall the world be salted?' or 'Wherewith shall the salt' (i.e. the disciples) 'be salted?' cp. Mark 9:50; Luke 14:34. Salt in Palestine, being gathered in an impure state, often undergoes chemical changes by which its flavour is destroyed while its appearance remains.

15. A candle] RV 'a lamp': see Mark 4:21; Luke 8:16; Luke 11:33. A bushel (Lat. modius)] RV 'the bushel,' i.e. the one which is kept in the house for measuring the corn or meal for the daily provision of bread. The modius here is probably the Heb. seah = 1½ pecks.

16. Let your light] This is not inconsistent with the command to be humble and to do good by stealth, especially as the collective good works of the Christian brotherhood as a whole are chiefly spoken of. 'Our light is to shine forth though we conceal it,' says St. Hilary. Origen and other writers testify that the good works of Christians did more to convert the world than miracles or preaching.

17-20. Christianity as the fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets. This section is especially appropriate in St. Matthew's Jewish Gospel. St. Luke's sermon, being for Gentile readers, has nothing similar, and in his whole Gospel there is only one parallel v. (Luke 16:17). In one aspect Christ's attitude to the Law was conservative. He regarded Christianity as continuous with, and in a true sense identical with, the religion of the Law and the Prophets. He could even repeat the current teaching of the rabbis that the Law was eternal, and that not a jot or tittle could be taken from it. He severely rebuked such of His disciples as should presume to despise or undervalue the smallest part of the OT. They should not indeed be excluded from His kingdom, but they should be the least in it (Matthew 5:19). On the other hand, He made it clear that this eternal validity did not belong to the Law as Moses left it, but to the Law as 'fulfilled,' i.e. developed, or completed by Himself. He superseded the Law and the Prophets by fulfilling them, and He fulfilled them in all their parts. The spiritual and moral teaching of the Law and of the Prophets He freed from all lower elements and carried forward to their ideal perfection. The political teaching of the Law He completed by laying down the principles of the perfect state. Even the ceremonial law He fulfilled. The Law of Sacrifice was fulfilled in His sacrificial death, and in the spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise and thanksgiving in which His precious death is pleaded. Circumcision became 'the circumcision made without hands,' i.e. Holy Baptism. The Passover became the Lord's Supper. The sanctification which the Law gave to one day in seven, was extended by Christ to every day in the week, and even the sabbath itself was, in a certain sense, perpetuated and continued by Him as the Christian 'Lord's Day.' Even such minor matters as ceremonial ablutions and the distinction of meats received their due fulfilment when Christ made possible the inward holiness which these outward observances symbolised.

Above all, the prophets were fulfilled by Christ in a most comprehensive way. He was not content simply to carry out their idea of the Messiah, wonderful as it was. He improved upon it, or, in His own words, 'fulfilled it.' No careful student of the OT. can fail to see how infinitely the actual NT. fulfilment exceeded the expectation of even the most enlightened OT. prophets. This, and not the mere literal fulfilment of their predictions, is what Jesus meant by 'fulfilling the prophets.'

18. One jot (Gk. iota)] stands for Yod, the smallest letter in the Heb. alphabet. Tittle (lit. 'little horn')] is one of those minute projections by which otherwise similar Heb. letters are distinguished: cp. Luke 16:17. The rabbis taught, 'Not a letter shall perish from the Law for ever.' 'Everything has its end: the heaven and the earth have their end; there is only one thing excepted which has no end, and that is the Law.' 'The Law shall remain eternally, world without end.' Christ uses the rabbinical language in a new meaning of His own (see above).

19. A warning against the disparagement of the OT., now so common.

20. The sense is, 'I mention doing as well as teaching, for unless you practise what you preach, you will be unable, like the Scribes and Pharisees, to enter into the kingdom of heaven.'

21-26. Revision of the Law of Murder (not in St. Luke's sermon, but a parallel to Matthew 5:25-26 occurs in Luke 12:58-59). Christ now shows by a few illustrative examples how the Law is to be understood and practised by His disciples; in other words, how it is to be 'fulfilled.' The old law punished only the act of murder. The Law of Christ condemns the emotion of anger in its very beginnings. Unreasonable anger is declared a crime in itself, to be punished as such by the local tribunal (the judgment). Its mildest expression in word (Raca) is to be considered a capital offence, to be dealt with by the supreme Sanhédrin (the council). Its more abusive expression (thou fool) is worthy of hell-fire. Murder itself is not mentioned as being an impossible act for a disciple of Christ. The language is, of course, rhetorical. Its intention is to mark the immense gulf that separates the morality of the Law from the morality of the Gospel.

The passage is interesting as being the first clear reference in the NT. to Christianity as a Church or Organised Society. The Church is spoken of under Jewish terms ('the judgment,' 'the council,' 'the gift brought to the altar'), but a Christian sense is certainly to be read into them. It is implied that the Church will exercise moral discipline over its members, and that its public worship will be in a certain sense sacrificial: cp. Hebrews 13:10. If it be asked whether the graduated punishments mentioned are temporal or eternal, ecclesiastical or divine, the answer is 'both'; for, according to Christ's promise, the discipline of the Church on earth, when rightly exercised, will be ratified in heaven (Matthew 16:19; Matthew 18:18 cp. John 20:23).

21. It was said by them of old time] RV 'to them of old time.' It was said by God Himself. Hence Christ, in adding to it by His own authority ('But I say unto you'), claims to be equal to God. So also in Matthew 5:28, Matthew 5:32, Matthew 5:34, Matthew 5:39, Matthew 5:43 : see Exodus 20:13. The judgment] i.e. the local tribunals of seven men appointed in every village (Deuteronomy 16:18; 2 Chronicles 19:5, Jos. 'Antiq.'

4.8.14). They appear to have had the power of the sword.

22. Brother] either a fellow-Christian or a fellow-man. Without a cause] RV omits.

Raca (Aramaic)] i.e. 'Empty-head': cp. Judges 9:4; Judges 11:3. The council] i.e. the supreme Sanhedrin of seventy-one members at Jerusalem having cognisance of the most serious offences, such as blasphemy. Thou fool] i.e. 'thou wicked and godless man': see Psalms 14:1. Some think that the word here (more) is not Gk. but Heb. (=moreh, rebel). Hell fire] RV 'the hell of fire,' lit. 'the Gehenna of fire.' 'Gehenna,' i.e. the valley of Hinnom (an unknown person), was the place in or near Jerusalem where children were made to pass through the fire to Moloch, and, according to Jewish tradition, where the bodies of criminals were burnt. Hence Gehenna became a synonym for hell, the place of final punishment.

25. Thine adversary] The injured brother of Matthew 5:22 is now represented under the figure of a creditor who has power to bring the debtor before the judge, and to cause him to be cast into prison. Prison] i.e. divine punishment in general, whether in this world or beyond the grave in the intermediate state (Hades), from which release was regarded as possible (Matthew 12:32). Not, however, in hell (Gehenna), from which there is no release (Matthew 18:8). The idea is that God will exact the full penalty for all offences against the law of love. In 1 Peter 3:19; 'prison' refers exclusively to punishment in the intermediate state: cp. Judges 1:6.

26. Farthing (Lat. quadrans)] about half-a-farthing. Lk (Luke 12:59) has lepton, i.e. about a quarter of a farthing.

27-30. Revision of the Law of Adultery. Jesus expands the Mosaic prohibition of adultery into a law of inward purity of the strictest kind, and gives important counsel to the tempted.

27. By them of old time] RV omits: see Exodus 20:14.

29-30. This saying is found in Mark 9:43, but in a less natural connexion. It is repeated Matthew 18:8. Its meaning is that those who are seriously tempted should discipline themselves with the greatest severity, depriving themselves even of lawful pleasures. Thus certain amusements and certain kinds of reading, in themselves harmless, are to some occasions of sin. Such persons ought to avoid them altogether. Others find drink such a temptation that they ought to be teetotalers. Others find friendships that they value so dangerous that they ought to give them up. This giving up of what is pleasant and lawful, because to us personally it is a spiritual peril, is what our Lord means by plucking out the right eye and cutting off the right hand. Asceticism of this kind is different from the asceticism of those Eastern religions which regard the body as evil. Its principle is that it is better to live a sinless than a complete life.

29. Hell] i.e. Gehenna, the place of final punishment.

31, 32. Revision of the Law of Divorce. Christ restrained the excessive licence of divorce which existed at the time, and declared marriage to be (with possibly a single exception) absolutely indissoluble. Since St. Matthew alone mentions the exception, and all other NT. passages speak of Christian marriage as absolutely indissoluble (Mark 10:2; Luke 16:18; Romans 7:3; Cor Romans 7:10-11), it is maintained by very many, probably the majority, of recent critics, that the words 'except for fornication' both here and in Matthew 19:9 are an interpolation, introduced by Jewish Christians to modify the excessive strictness of the original utterance, and that Christ Himself forbade divorce altogether. On the principles of criticism now generally accepted, this view is highly probable.

If we accept the words 'except for fornication' as authentic, it is best to understand them as meaning 'except for adultery,' and thus to bring our Lord's teaching into line with that of Shammai, who, in opposition to the laxer view of Hillel, who allowed divorce for any, even the most trivial cause, permitted it only for adultery. The other view that 'fornication' here means prénuptial sin, for which, when discovered, a Jewish husband was allowed to repudiate his newly-married bride (see Deuteronomy 22:13.), is not so probable, though it is, of course, possible. The question of remarriage after divorce presents considerable difficulty. The remarriage of the guilty party is condemned by our Lord in strong terms: 'Whosoever shall marry her when she is put away' (or, 'whosoever shall marry a divorced woman') 'committeth adultery.' Whether the innocent party is permitted after a divorce to marry again is a disputed point among Christians. The Eastern Church permits it; the Western Church, upon the whole, forbids it. The stricter rule, though it sometimes inflicts hardships upon individuals, seems the more desirable from the point of view of public policy, seeing that it best maintains the stability of the family, the sanctity and indissolubility of marriage, and the possibility of repentance and reconciliation after sin.

31. See Deuteronomy 24:1, and on Matthew 19:3.

32. Shall marry her that is divorced] i.e. for adultery; or, 'shall marry a divorced woman.'

33-37. Revision of the Law of Oaths. The prohibition 'Swear not at all' is to be taken in its widest sense, and not simply as forbidding the common oaths of conversation. Christ looks forward to a time when truthfulness will be so binding a duty that oaths will no longer be necessary even in courts of justice. This is one of those ideal commands which cannot be fully carried out in the present state of society. Our Lord Himself at His trial allowed Himself to be put on oath (Matthew 26:63). But one day there will come a time when a man's word will be as good as his oath.

33. By them] RV 'to them': see Numbers 30:2; Deuteronomy 23:21, etc.

34. Oaths that did not expressly invoke the name of God were considered less binding than those that did. Jesus cuts at the root of the practice by showing that the oaths 'by heaven,' etc., were really in essence, if not in form, oaths by God.

37. Quoted by St. James (James 5:12). Of evil] RV 'of the evil one,' i.e. the devil: cp. Matthew 6:13.

38-42. Abolition of the Law of Retaliation: cp. Luke 6:29, Luke 6:30. It is a difficulty to some that God should ever have sanctioned the barbarous principle of 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth' (Exodus 21:24). They do not reflect that in its own age this principle represented a farreaching moral reform. The thirst for vengeance is not naturally satisfied with an eye for an eye; it goes on to demand a life. Hence when Moses allowed the injured man to exact an eye and no more, he was imposing a salutary check on private vengeance. Our Lord goes further, and forbids private vengeance altogether. It is true that vengeance contains a good element, viz. righteous anger against wrong, but this is so bound up with personal vindictiveness, and so certain, if gratified, to let loose a man's worst passions, that our Lord forbids it altogether. Christians are not to resent injuries, they are not to attempt to retaliate, they are, in our Lord's figurative language, to turn the cheek to the smiter. Does this forbid us on fitting occasions to expostulate with a wrong-doer, or to bring him to punishment? By no means. There are occasions when in the interests of society, and in the interest of the criminal himself, it is necessary to resist evil and to bring the wrong-doer to justice. Our Lord elsewhere fully recognises this (Matthew 18:15).

38. See Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20; Deuteronomy 19:21.

39. Resist not evil] RV 'Resist not him that is evil,' i.e. the person that would injure you. Right cheek] This is only a figurative illustration of the general principle: cp. Matthew 5:40-41, Matthew 5:42.

40. Thy coat (Gk. chiton)] 'Vest' or 'shirt' would be better. The cloke (himation) is the outer garment, used also as a covering by night: see on John 19:23.

41. Shall compel] RM 'impress.' When Roman troops passed through a district, the inhabitants were compelled to carry their baggage. This compulsory transport was a recognised form of taxation, and is probably what is alluded to here. Translated into modern language, the saying, means that Christians ought to pay their taxes and undertake other public burdens cheerfully and willingly. The word translated 'compel' is Persian, and had reference originally to the royal couriers of the Persian empire, who had power to impress men and beasts for the king's service. In Matthew 27:32 it is used of Simon of Syrene, who was compelled to bear our Lord's cross.

42. Give to him, etc.] Not an exhortation to indiscriminate charity, but to that brotherly love which Christians ought to feel even towards the improvident and wicked. It is right to give to him that asks, but not always right to give him what he asks. The best form of giving or lending is that which helps people to help themselves.

43-48. Hatred of enemies forbidden, love enjoined (Luke 6:27-36). The maxim 'Thou shalt love thy neighbour' is found in Leviticus 19:18. The words 'Thou shalt hate thine enemy' are nowhere found in the Pentateuch, which indeed contains isolated texts of an opposite tendency, e.g. Exodus 23:4. Nevertheless, our Lord's words are a fair general description of a code which allowed the law of retaliation, and preserved the rights of the avenger of blood. Even in the Psalms, which represent a later revelation, personal hatred for enemies is openly expressed (e.g. Psalms 109). The law of love here proclaimed by our Lord in its most comprehensive sense is the most characteristic feature of Christian morality. In the NT. God is revealed as Love, as a Father who loves his children with impartial affection. And as His supreme perfection consists in Love, so those who would be perfect must love their fellow-men, even their enemies, as He loves them (Matthew 5:45).

44. Love your enemies] The word for 'love' is carefully chosen. It is not demanded that we should love our enemies with a natural and spontaneous affection (philein), but with the supernatural Christian love that comes by grace (agapan). Pray for them, etc.] Jesus fulfilled His own injunction when He prayed for those who crucified Him (Luke 23:34): see also Acts 7:60; 1 Corinthians 6:12.

46-48. 'The love Christ enjoins is not to be confused with the good feeling and even affection that may exist between members of the same class, the love that is found even among despised tax-gatherers. But “ye shall be perfeet” in the obligation of universal love.'

46. Publicans] In classical literature 'publicans' are wealthy Bomans who bought from the Roman government the right of collecting the taxes in a certain district. The publicans of the NT. are the actual tax-collectors. In NT. times only duties on exports, not direct taxes, were collected by publicans. Publicans bore a bad reputation among the Jews, partly for their dishonesty and extortion, and partly for their unpatriotic conduct in collecting taxes for a foreign power. The rabbis ranked publicans with cutthroats and robbers.

48. Perfect] Glorious words! The perfection spoken of is the perfection of Love, the supreme virtue both of God and man (1 Corinthians 13:13; 1 John 4:16).

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Their calling5:11-16

Jesus proceeded to clarify His disciples" calling and ministry in the world to encourage them to endure persecution and to fulfill God"s purpose for them.

"Some might think that Matthew 5:11-12 constitute the concluding Beatitude, since these verses begin with the words "blessed are you". But it is noteworthy that only here in the Beatitudes do we meet a verb in the second person (i.e, "blessed are you"). In addition there are36 (Greek) words in this Beatitude compared to a maximum of12words ( Matthew 5:10) in the preceding eight Beatitudes. It is reasonable to conclude that Matthew 5:3-10 are a self-contained introduction to the Sermon, while Matthew 5:11-12 commence the body of the Sermon." [Note: Hodges, 2:2 (Spring1992):1.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Light is a common symbol in the Bible. It represents purity, truth, knowledge, divine Revelation, and God"s presence all in contrast to their opposites. The Israelites thought of themselves as lights in a dark world ( Isaiah 42:6; Romans 2:19). However the Old Testament spoke of Messiah as the true light of the world ( Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:6; cf. Matthew 4:16; John 8:12; John 9:5; John 12:35; 1 John 1:7). Jesus" disciples are lights in the derived sense, as the moon is a light but only because it reflects the light of the sun (cf. Ephesians 5:8-9; Philippians 2:15).

The city set on a hill ( Matthew 5:14) may refer to messianic prophecy concerning God lifting up Zion and causing the nations to stream to it ( Isaiah 2:2-5; et al.). Since God will make the capital of the messianic kingdom prominent, it is inappropriate for the citizens of that city to assume a low profile in the world before its inauguration (cf. Luke 11:33).

The disciples must therefore manifest good works, the outward demonstration or testimony to the righteousness that is within them ( Matthew 5:16). Even though the light may provoke persecution ( Matthew 5:10-12), they must reflect the light of God. For the first time in Matthew, Jesus referred to God as the Father of His disciples (cf. Matthew 5:45; Matthew 5:48; Matthew 6:1; Matthew 6:4; Matthew 6:6; Matthew 6:8-9; Matthew 6:14-15; Matthew 6:18; Matthew 6:26; Matthew 6:32; Matthew 7:11; Matthew 7:21).

"If salt ( Matthew 5:13) exercises the negative function of delaying decay and warns disciples of the danger of compromise and conformity to the world, then light ( Matthew 5:14-16) speaks positively of illuminating a sin-darkened world and warns against a withdrawal from the world that does not lead others to glorify the Father in heaven." [Note: Carson, " Matthew," p140.]

"Flight into the invisible is a denial of the call. A community of Jesus which seeks to hide itself has ceased to follow him." [Note: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, p106.]

The introduction of "good works" ( Matthew 5:16) leads on to further exposition of that theme in Matthew 5:17 to Matthew 7:12.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Darby's Synopsis of the New Testament

Matthew Chapter 5

He then gathers around Him those who were definitively to follow Him in His ministry and His temptations; and, at His call, to link their portion and their lot with His, forsaking all beside.

The strong man was bound, so that Jesus could spoil his goods, and proclaim the kingdom with proofs of that power which were able to establish it.

Two things are then brought forward in the Gospel narrative. First, the power which accompanies the proclamation of the kingdom. In two or three verses, (16) without other detail, this fact is announced. The proclamation of the kingdom is attended with acts of power that excite the attention of the whole country, the whole extent of the ancient territory of Israel. Jesus appears before them invested with this power. Secondly (chaps. 5-7) the character of the kingdom is announced in the sermon on the Mount, as well as that of the persons who should have part in it (the Father's name withal being revealed). That is, the Lord had announced the coming kingdom, and with the present power of goodness, having overcome the adversary; and then shews what were the true characters according to which it would be set up, and who could enter, and how. Redemption is not spoken of in it; but the character and nature of the kingdom, and who could enter. This clearly shews the moral position which this sermon holds in the Lord's teaching.

It is evident that, in all this part of the Gospel, it is the Lord's position which is the subject of the teaching of the Spirit, and not the details of His life. Details come after, in order fully to exhibit what He was in the midst of Israel, His relations with that people, and His path in the power of the Spirit which led to the rupture between the Son of David and the people who ought to have received Him. The attention of the whole country being thus engaged by His mighty acts, the Lord sets before His disciples-but in the hearing of the people-the principles of His kingdom.

This discourse may be divided into the following parts:- (17) The character and the portion of those who should be in the kingdom (Matthew 5:1-12). Their position in the world (Matthew 5:13-16). The connection between the principles of the kingdom and the law (Matthew 5:17-48). (18) The spirit in which His disciples should perform good works (Matthew 6:1-18). Separation from the spirit of the world and from its anxieties (Matthew 6:19-34). The spirit of their relation with others (Matthew 7:1-6). The confidence in God which became them (Matthew 7:7-12). The energy that should characterise them, in order that they might enter into the kingdom; not however merely enter, many would seek to do that, but according to those principles which made it difficult for man, according to God-the strait gate; and then, the means of discerning those who would seek to deceive them, as well as the watchfulness needed that they might not be deceived (Matthew 7:13-23).

Real and practical obedience to His sayings, the true wisdom of those that hear His words (Matthew 7:24-29).

There is another principle that characterises this discourse, and that is the introduction of the Father's name. Jesus puts His disciples in connection with His Father, as their Father. He reveals to them the Father's name, in order that they may be in relation with Him, and that they may act in accordance with that which He is.

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Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(16) Let your light so shine.—The English form of the sentence is somewhat misleading, or at least ambiguous. It is not simply, Let your light so shine that men may glorify; but, “Thus, like the lamp on its stand, let your light shine. . . .” The motive to publicity is, however, the direct opposite of the temper which led the Pharisee to his ostentatious prayers and almsgiving; not “to be seen of men,” and win their praise, but to win men, through our use of the light which we know to be not our own, to glorify the Giver of the light. We have at least a partial fulfilment of the command in the impression made on the heathen world by the new life of the Church when they confessed, in spite of all prejudices, “See how these Christians love one another.”

Your Father which is in heaven.—The name was in common use among devout Jews, but its first occurrence in our Lord’s teaching deserves to be noted. The thought of God as a Father was that which was to inspire men not only when engaged in prayer (Matthew 6:9), but in the activity of obedience. (See Note on Matthew 6:9.)

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

The Beatitudes Illustrated By Events in the Passion

Matthew 5

1. Christ condemned. Pilate washes his hands and declares Christ innocent. "Blessed are the pure in heart."

2. Christ takes up the cross. "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness" sake."

3. Christ falls under the weight of the cross. "Blessed are they that mourn."

4. Christ meekly allows another to share His cross. "Blessed are the meek."

5. Christ comforts the women. "Blessed are the merciful."

6. Christ stripped of His garments. "Blessed are the poor in Spirit."

7. Christ nailed to the cross. Prays for His murderers to His Father. "Blessed are the peacemakers."

8. Christ dead upon the cross. His hunger and thirst after the perfect fulfilment of His Father"s will satisfied. "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness."

—F. A. G. Eichbaum, Subjects for Courses of Sermons, p104.

References.—V.—C. Gore, Church Times, vol. xxxiii1895. p475. R. F. Horton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liv1898, p81. J. Brett, The Blessed Life, p74. V:1.—S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for a Year, vol. ii. (Sermon-Sketches), p9. A. B. Bruce, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxviii1890, p344. J. Stafford Northcote, ibid. vol. xl1891, p317. C. Brown, ibid. vol. lxxiv1908, p137.

A Message to the Church

Matthew 5:1-2

I. The Sermon on the Mount was spoken to the Disciples, to the Church.—It has been so truly said, the Sermon on the Mount was spoken in the ear of the Church but was overheard by the world. The Sermon on the Mount was not, then, primarily spoken to the world at all. Again and again it is true that the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is beyond those who belong to the kingdom of this world. Our Lord"s teaching with regard to forgiveness or resisting evil, or with regard to the simplicity of faith, all these things are confessedly beyond those who belong to the kingdom of the world. But these things are spoken to those who are members of the Body of Christ, in grace, living and walking in the Spirit. When you are dealing with the world at large, then again it may be necessary to make concessions as Moses had to do. It becomes difficult when you speak not only of the State but of the Christian State; the State cannot require the same standard from its members that the Church can and does require from its members. The Sermon on the Mount, let us remember, was spoken to the Church. It was not so impracticable as it seems, because we work not on the scale of time, but on the scale of eternity. No doubt it is true that if the few and evil years of this life were all that you and I had to reckon upon, it would be frankly absurd to set before us such a standard as that in the Sermon on the Mount. Do you not feel and understand how that the Sermon on the Mount does correspond with your own immortality? It is not only here that we progress and grow; there is a Paradise, a heaven beyond, and depend upon it Paradise will be a busy place indeed; there they rest from their labours, but there there will be work, if we may say Song of Solomon, without toil and weariness; surely it is unthinkable that it is only here, where we are so sorely let and hindered, that spiritual growth and progress are possible. It is the very exaltation of the standard of the Sermon on the Mount that speaks to us of our own immortality.

II. Let us also Remember that we are not left to Ourselves.—When you are aiming at holiness you are working in accordance with the will of God; "this is the will of God, even your sanctification "; and surely it is true that when you are working in accordance with the will of God ultimate failure is unthinkable. Depend upon it, God is not an austere Prayer of Manasseh, an unfair Prayer of Manasseh, gathering where He has not strewed and reaping where He has not sowed. The first thing a preacher has to do is to attack that lie in men"s hearts that God deals with us unfairly, to speak to men of the love of God manifest in the way of the world and in life, but above all manifest in Jesus Christ. To preach the love of God, that is how men are brought to repentance. It is the goodness of God that brings men to repentance. The punishment of sin is not an article of Christian faith; we do not say in the Creed, "I believe in the punishment of sin "; we do say that wonderful thing, "I believe in the forgiveness of sin". But why do we not say, "I believe in the punishment of sin"? Because it is a fact of experience; you do not make that an article of faith which is an act of experience. It is the goodness of God that brings men to repentance.

III. And then there is Power.—We have to preach that which St. Paul was expressing when he said, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation". The Gospel is not only good advice and a message of pardon for the past, but it is the coming into men"s lives of a real power, so that they are able to be what in their best moments they desire, what yesterday seemed beyond all hope and imagination. That is what happens that is what one has seen for years happening in men"s lives again and again. And so I say the Sermon on the Mount is not so impracticable as it seems, because we are not left to ourselves. "This is the will of God, even your sanctification."

IV. What Kind of Perfection is it to which we are Called?—"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect," or as St. Luke -gives it in the parallel passage, "Be ye therefore merciful, even as your Father in heaven is merciful". And so we are not all to be perfect in wisdom or to be perfect in power; that no doubt is beyond us—limitation in such respects is of the very essence of our nature; but we are called to be merciful even as God is merciful; to be easy to be entreated, to be compassionate; that ought not surely to be beyond us. True it Isaiah, indeed, that we have not yet attained; nothing is more strange in this strange and perplexing world than the hard measure which again and again we sinners deal out to one another. But in proportion as you draw near to Jesus Christ, Who was the Friend of sinners, so will you be merciful. It is not to be perfect in wisdom or in power—that is indeed beyond us; but you are called to be compassionate, to be easy to be entreated, to be merciful as God Himself is merciful.

Let us remember that it is not as impossible as it seems because we work not on the scale of time but on the scale of eternity; not so impossible as it seems because when we aim at it we are working in accordance with the will of God, and when you are doing that ultimate failure is unthinkable.

Matthew 5:1-2

In a letter to the Westminster Gazette (7 June, 1904), an Old Liberal declares that he can reproduce with absolute fidelity the purport and spirit of some words in a great speech of John Bright at the unveiling of Cobden"s statue in the Bradford Exchange. "I remember," said the orator, "on the morning of my dear friend"s funeral, I was standing beside his coffin, looking at that which contained all that was mortal of the man I had known so long. His daughter, who was in the room with me, said, "My dear father was always very fond of the Sermon on the Mount"." And then Bright"s voice swelled and grew in depth and volume as it was wont to do when he was deeply moved, and he went on, "And I think that my friend"s whole life was a sermon upon that highest and holiest of all texts". He repeated, as only he could have done, the blessings uttered by the Divine lips upon the poor, the mourners, the meek, the hungerers after righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers; and then, in his own severely simple words, summed up the labours of Cobden and his associates in a single phrase, "We tried to put Holy Writ to an Act of Parliament".

References.—V:1, 2.—G. Jackson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. Leviticus 1899, p245. J. R. Cohu, The Sermon on the Mount, p1. V:1-3.—C. J. Ridgeway, The Mountain of Blessedness, p1. A. G. Mortimer, One Hundred Miniature Sermons, vol. ii. p280. T. K. Cheyne, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xliv1893, p376. C. A. Thomson, ibid. vol. Leviticus 1899, p202. V:1-12.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xliii. No2508. V:1-13.—Henry Wace, Some Central Points of Our Lord"s Ministry, p193.

Matthew 5:2

There are no real pleasures without real needs.


No list of circumstances will ever make a paradise.

—George Eliot.

In the ninth chapter of the second book of Sartor Resartus, Carlyle distinguishes happiness and blessedness as follows: "I asked myself: What is this that, ever since earliest years, thou hast been fretting and fuming, and lamenting and self-tormenting, on account of? Say it in a word: Is it not because thou art not happy? Because the thou (sweet gentleman) is not sufficiently honoured, nourished, soft-bedded, and lovingly cared for? Foolish soul! what Act of Legislature was there that thou shouldst be Happy?... There is in man a higher than Love of Happiness: he can do without Happiness, and instead thereof find Blessedness! Was it not to preach forth this same higher that sages and martyrs, the Poet and the Priest, in all times, have spoken and suffered; bearing testimony, through life and through death, of the Godlike that is in Prayer of Manasseh, and how in the Godlike only he has Strength and Freedom? Which God-inspired Doctrine art thou also honoured to be taught; O Heavens! and broken with manifold merciful Afflictions, even till thou become contrite and learn it!"

References.—V:2, 3.—E. M. Goulburn, Three Counsels of the Divine Master, vol. i. p104. F. H. Dudden, Church Times, vol. lvi1906, p571. V:2-4.—E. H. Rogers, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xl1891, p332. V:2, 3, 5.—George Macdonald, ibid. vol. xlii1892, p36. V:2-9.—A. J. Parry, Phases of Christian Truth, p209.

The First Beatitude

Matthew 5:3

I. The Old Testament is full of descriptions of the spirit of the world, the spirit of selfish wealth with its attendant cruelty: and by contrast to this are descriptions of the oppressed poor who are the friends of God. Our Lord took up all this language upon His own lips when, as St. Luke records, He turned to His disciples and said, "Blessed are ye poor... woe unto you that are rich". But all the actually poor are not the disciples of Christ. So our Lord has, as recorded by St. Matthew, gone beneath the surface and based His kingdom, the character of His citizens, not upon actual poverty, but upon detachment The world says, "Get all you can, and keep it". Christ says, "Blessed are those who at least in heart and will have nothing".

II. Christ was detached. The Incarnation was a self-emptying. Then when He had been born a man He set the example of clinging to nothing external. He abandoned ease, popularity, the favour of the great, even the sympathy of His friends, even, last and greatest of all, on the cross, the consolation of the Divine presence. He became utterly naked, poorer than the poorest; therefore in a supreme sense "His was the kingdom of heaven". So we, like Him, are to be ready to surrender, ready to give up; and in proportion to this detachment, in proportion as we do really in will adore the sovereignty of God, and are ready to receive and to give up according to His will, in that proportion are all the hindrances removed by which the royalty of His kingdom is prevented from entering into our hearts and lives.

III. The splendid promise attached to this beatitude brings it into contrast with an old Jewish saying which has many parallels: "Ever be more and more lowly in spirit, for the prospect of man is to become the food of worms". The motive to humility which our Lord suggests is very different.

—Bishop Gore, The Sermon on the Mount, p23.

Poverty of Spirit the Other Side of Greatness

Matthew 5:3

I. It seems to me that this foundation beatitude, on which all the other beatitudes are built up, sets forth a universal law of human life, that it describes the attitude of mind characteristic of the wisest, strongest, best of the human family. The greater a man is in any walk of life the wider his vision, and the keener his insight the greater is his poverty of spirit in the presence of the perfection he has seen.

1. The thesis may be worked out in detail. Take the man of science in the presence of the majesty of nature.

Look at the same thing from the point of view of art.

2. The presence of poverty of spirit is still more manifest in the moral sphere. Here, too, the contrast between the ideal and the real, between what ought to be and what Isaiah, is still more striking. To have seen the ideal of conduct, to have recognized its binding force, and to feel that one has acted contrary to its plain behests, is the form which poverty of spirit takes in the presence of the ideal of moral goodness somehow revealed to us.

3. But the feeling of poverty of spirit is most conspicuous in the religious sphere. If we follow the experience recorded in the Scriptures, we shall find that the deepest form of poverty of spirit is found whenever men obtained the vision of God.

II. Let us try now to see the connexion between the feeling of poverty of spirit and the blessedness of the possession of the kingdom of heaven.

If a man is without the kingdom of heaven, he is in no way concerned with the thought of it. If he is concerned with it, he is already within it.

But the vision of God begets poverty of spirit; indeed, the trueness of the vision is measured by the consequent poverty of spirit. This is the note that seals the possession of the kingdom of heaven. In fact, this is the keynote of all our Lord"s teaching. It is the note of His own life. At every fresh departure in His work He spent the night in prayer and fellowship with the Father, and whenever He needed wisdom and power for His lifework He sought these from the Father. Thus in virtue of His poverty of spirit He was in possession of the kingdom of heaven.

—J. Iverach, The Other Side of Greatness, p1.

Matthew 5:3

Poverty in any shape helps to stir in man a sense of need, a disposition to consider himself as dependent.... The real puzzle of life consists not in the fact of widespread poverty but in that of widespread affluence; in the fact that so many are sufficiently endowed with "goods" as to believe they can live by them, and so cease to look for their true life to God their Father.

—E. Lyttelton.

References.—V:3.—J. Brett, The Blessed Life, p7. J. Iverach, The Other Side of Greatness, p1. J. R. Cohu, The Sermon on the Mount, pp23, 54. W. J. Woods, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxviii. p3. J. Stalker, ibid. vol. lvi1899, p379. W. M. Sinclair, Simplicity in Christ, p113. E. Lyttelton, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p50. W. H. Hutchings, Sermon-Sketches, p42. C. J. Ridgeway, The Mountain of Blessedness, p12. A. W. Potts, School Sermons, p64. Henry Wace, Christianity and Morality, p17. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Matthew I-VIII. p108. W. Sanday, The Anglican Pulpit of Today, p334. F. Temple, ibid. p83. W. Boyd Carpenter, The Great Charter of Christ, p83. S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for a Year, vol. ii. (Sermon-Sketches), p12. B. F. Westcott, Social Aspects of Christianity, p101. J. Oswald Dykes, The Manifesto of the King, p27. Parker, The Inner Life of Christ, vol. i. p149. Davidson, Lectures and Sermons, p551. Parry, Phases of Christian Truth, p209. Jenkins, Eternal Life, p258. Magee, Christian World Pulpit, vol. ii. p353 (1872). Expositor (1Series), vol. i. pp70, 128, and196. A. M. Fairbairn, ibid. vol. viii. p188. Bradley, Christian World Pulpit, 29 June, 1881. C. Morris, Preacher"s Lantern, vol. iii. p503. A. B. Bruce, The Galilean Gospel, p39. Goodwin"s Works, vol. viii. p220. Parker, A Homiletic Analysis of the New Testament, vol. i. p52. See Prof. Tholuck, Commentary on the Sermon on the Mount. V:3, 4.—Archbishop Lang, Church Times, vol. lvii1907, p219. V:3-5.—C. J. Vaughan, Characteristics of Christ"s Teaching, p1. T. D. Barlow, Rays from the Sun of Righteousness, p130. V:3-12.—W. Boyd Carpenter, The Great Charter of Christ, p101. V:3-16.—J. Elder Cumming, The Blessed Life, p11.

The Second Beatitude

Matthew 5:4

The world says "Get as much pleasure as you can out of life; suck it in wherever you can; and hug yourself as close as you can from all that disquiets you or makes you uncomfortable; in a word, get as much pleasure and avoid as much pain as by intelligence and forethought you can possibly do". In startling opposition to this maxim of the world, our Lord puts His maxim, "Blessed are they that mourn". I. What does that mean? Briefly: there are two chief kinds of mourning into which it is the duty of every true servant of our Lord to enter—the mourning for sin and the mourning for pain.

1. We must mourn for sin, for we are sinners.

2. The mourning of sympathy with others" pain. There are moments when a Christian may legitimately, like His Lord, in the garden of Gethsemane, be engrossed in the bearing of "his own burden". But in the main a Christian ought, like his Lord, or like St. Paul, to have his own burden so well in hand, that he is able to leave the large spaces of his heart for other people to lay their sorrows upon.

II. And in proportion to the fullness with which you enter into penitence for sin and into sympathy for the sufferings of men, you shall get, not the miserable laughter of forgetfulness, which lasts but for a moment, but the comfort (or encouragement) of God.

III. There is a false as well as a true mourning. It is possible to be discontented with the world but to lack the courage of faith which makes our discontent fruitful of reform. We are discontented; but our discontent is pride, not the humility of true sorrow. It will not be comforted, it will not thankfully take the Divine offer of absolution. The "woman that was a sinner" made no delay in believing herself forgiven, but set to work at once to show the love which springs of gratitude in the heart of those who accept their release.

—Bishop Gore, The Sermon on the Mount, p27.

Matthew 5:4

We reach happiness only through tears. True bliss does not consist in the absence of tears but in the presence of consolation, and real misery is not so much to weep as to weep without being consoled. If Christianity accords moments to sorrow, it devotes our whole life to joy.


References.—V:4.—J. Brett, The Blessed Life, p35. W. J. Woods, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxviii1890, p95. W. Wynn, ibid. vol. xxxix1891, p179. George Macdonald, ibid. vol. xlii1892, p47. F. W. Farrar, ibid. vol. xlvii1895, p33. W. M. Sinclair, Simplicity in Christ, p139. J. Wright, The Guarded Gate, p29. J. Oswald Dykes, The Manifesto of the King, p45. E. Lyttelton, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p24. C. J. Ridgeway, The Mountain of Blessedness, p57. J. R. Cohu, The Sermon on the Mount, p65. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Matthew I-VIII. p117. E. M. Goulburn, Three Counsels of the Divine Master, vol. i. p118.

The Third Beatitude

Matthew 5:5

I. The world says "Stand up for your rights; make the most of yourself; don"t let any man put upon you". And so we are always standing on our dignity, always thinking ourselves insulted or imposed upon. "Blessed are the meek," our Lord says. The meek—that is manifestly those who are ready to be put upon as far as they themselves are concerned. This is the character of our Lord, Who, "when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously".

II. Of course, from another point of view, we may be quite bound from time to time to assert ourselves. We may have to assert ourselves for the sake of the moral order of the Church and of the world. But no one gets true peace, or has really got to the foundation of things, until, as far as his own dignity is concerned, he is in a position to say, You can wrong God and you can wrong society; and it may be my duty to stand up for God and for society; but me, as far as I am concerned, you cannot provoke. This is the ideal to which we have to attain.

III. And the result of this entire absence of self-assertion is that we can make no claim on the world which God will not at the last substantiate. "Blessed are the meek"—our Lord is here quoting the Psalm—" for they shall inherit the earth". What is an heir? An heir is a person who enters into rightful possession. Now, if we go about the world making claims on society which God does not authorize, refusing to bear what God will have us bear, the day will come when the true Master appears, and we shall be exposed to shame. But the meek, who have committed themselves to Him that judgeth righteously, have nothing to fear. "Friend, come up higher," is all that is before them. They will simply, in steady and royal advance, enter into the full heritage of that which men kept back from them, but God has in store for them.

—Bishop Gore, The Sermon on the Mount, p32.

Matthew 5:5

The history of the world confirms the prophecy that the meek shall inherit the earth. A nation that sells its birthright of peace, and backslides from the front rank of industrialism into the file of filibusterism, makes a poor bargain indeed.

—From Prof. Nitobe"s, Bushido, pp186, 187.

When have we ever before held such a clew to the meaning of Christ"s Sermon on the Mount? "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." In the cruel strife of centuries has it not often seemed as if the earth were to be rather the prize of the hardest heart and the strongest fist? To many men these words of Christ have been as foolishness and as a stumbling-block, and the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount have been openly derided as too good for this world.... It is none the less true that when once the degree of civilization is such as to allow this highest type of character, distinguished by its meekness and kindness, to take root and thrive, its methods are incomparable in their potency.—Fiske, Man"s Destiny, chap. xv.

Could the world unite in the practice of that despised train of virtues, which the Divine ethics of our Saviour hath so inculcated upon us, the furious face of things must disappear; Eden would be yet to be found, and the angels might look down, not with pity, but joy upon us.

—Sir Thomas Browne, Christian Morals.

The declaration of our Saviour that the meek shall inherit the earth may be understood, I think, as verified in the very nature and attributes of meekness. The dross of the earth the meek do not inherit; but all the true enjoyments, the Wisdom of Solomon, love, peace, and independence, which earth can bestow, are assured to the meek as inherent in their meekness.

—Sir Henry Taylor.

Matthew 5:5

Say what you will of Pietism, no one can deny the sterling worth of the characters which it formed. It gave to them the highest thing that man can possess—that peace, that cheerful spirit, that inner harmony with self which can be disturbed by no passion. No pressure of circumstances or persecution of men could make them discontented, no rivalry could provoke them to anger and bitterness. Even the casual observer was touched with an involuntary feeling of respect before such men. I yet remember what happened on one occasion when difficulties arose between the strap-makers and the saddlers in regard to their respective rights. My father"s interests were seriously affected; yet even in conversation the difference was discussed by my parents with such tolerance and indulgence towards the opposite party, and with such a fixed trust in Providence, that, boy as I then was, the memory of it will never leave me.


Describing the character of Mr. Robert Cunningham, minister of Holywood in Ireland during the early part of the seventeenth century, Livingstone declares that "he was the one man to my discerning, of all that ever I saw, who resembled most the meekness of Jesus Christ in his whole carriage, and was so far reverenced by all, even the most wicked, that he was oft troubled with that Scripture, "Woe to you when all men speak well of you! ""

References.—V:5.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Matthew I-VIII. p126. J. Brett, The Blessed Life, p22. W. J. Woods, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxviii1890, p134. W. M. Sinclair, Simplicity in Christ, p163. E. M. Goulburn, Three Counsels of the Divine Master, vol. i. p133. S. A. Tipple, Sunday Mornings at Norwood, p65. J. Oswald Dykes, The Manifesto of the King, p61. E. Lyttelton, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p66. C. J. Ridgeway, The Mountain of Blessedness, p34. J. R. Cohu, The Sermon on the Mount, p74.

The Fourth Beatitude

Matthew 5:6

I. The citizens of the new kingdom "hunger and thirst after righteousness". Everyone knows what appetite Isaiah, what hunger and thirst mean. It is a strong craving, a craving which must be satisfied, or we perish. You cannot forget that you are hungry or thirsty. And in human pursuits we again and again see what is like hunger and thirst. Righteousness, or rather the righteousness, that character which God has marked out for us, the character of Christ—blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after it.

II. We so often feel hopeless about getting over our faults. Let us hunger and thirst after righteousness, and we shall be filled. As our Lord saw of the travail of His soul and was satisfied, Song of Solomon, depend upon it, shall we If you only seriously want to be good, your progress may be slow, but at the last you will be good. Christ is pledged to satisfy, if only you will go on wanting. There is not in the pursuit of goodness any failure except in ceasing to hunger and thirst—that Isaiah, in ceasing to want, to pray, to try.

III. Do you want righteousness seriously, deliberately? Then you can have it, and not for yourself only, but for the world. "Till righteousness turn again unto judgment, all such as are true in heart shall follow it." It is pledged to us. The day will come when the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of righteousness and meekness and truth, shall be an established and a visible fact. Blessed are they that here and now hunger and thirst after righteousness in themselves and in the world: for they shall be filled. Bishop Gore, The Sermon on the Mount, p34.

Matthew 5:6

Grace is a nourishment, and the richness of its sustaining quality is determined by one thing alone—the genuineness of our desire.

—E. Lyttelton.

References.—V:6.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxv. No2103. G. Salmon, Gnosticism and Agnosticism, p124. C. J. Vaughan, Characteristics of Christ"s Teaching, p18. C. G. Finney, Sermons on Gospel Themes, p398. W. J. Woods, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxviii1890, p228. Canon Duckworth, ibid. vol. xlii1892, p303. W. M. Sinclair, Simplicity in Christ, p189. J. S. Swan, Short Sermons, p48. J. Oswald Dykes, The Manifesto of the King, p81. E. Lyttelton, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p75. C. J. Ridgeway, The Mountain of Blessedness, p47. J. R. Cohu, The Sermon on the Mount, p81. J. K. Popham, Sermons, p1. E. M. Goulburn, Three Counsels of the Divine Master, p144. J. Brett, The Blessed Life, p47. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Matthew I-VIII. p135. V:6-8.—T. Disney Barlow, Rays from the Sun of Righteousness, p148.

The Fifth Beatitude

Matthew 5:7

Of course wherever human misery Isaiah, there is also human pity. But, apart from Christ, it was not thought of as a motive force, to be used in redeeming others" lives and in enriching our own.

I. For the disciple of Christ pity is a motive to vigorous action. God in Christ declares His "power most chiefly in showing mercy and pity". Powerful pity is pity which passes from emotion into practical and redemptive action. Of such pity only does Christ say "Blessed are the merciful or pitiful". Compassion which does nothing is in the New Testament regarded as a form of pernicious hypocrisy.

II. And the merciful shall obtain mercy. Here we get a great law of the Divine dealing. God deals with us as we deal with our fellow-men. Do we want to know how our Lord will regard us at the last day? We can find the answer by considering how our face looks, not in mere passing emotion, but in its serious and deliberate aspect, towards our fellow-men.

III. The same law is observable in the treatment we receive at men"s hands. On the whole we can determine men"s attitude to us by our attitude to them. Almost all men have their best selves drawn out towards a really compassionate life. "Perchance for a good man—one who is not only just, but good—some would even dare to die." "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy."

—Bishop Gore, The Sermon on the Mount, p36.

Matthew 5:7

You will find, alike through the record of the Law and the promises of the Gospel, that there Isaiah, indeed, forgiveness with God and Christ for the passing sin of the hot heart, but none for the eternal and inherent sin of the cold. "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy;"—find it you written anywhere that the unmerciful shall?"

—Ruskin, Fors Clavigera, XLII.

References.—V:7.—J. Brett, The Blessed Life, p60. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Matthew I-VIII. p143. C. J. Ridgeway, The Mountain of Blessedness, p60. W. J. Woods, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxviii1890, p310. W. M. Sinclair, Simplicity in Christ, p213. E. M. Goulburn, Three Counsels of the Divine Master, vol. i. p158. Stopford A. Brooke, Short Sermons, pp208, 214. E. Lyttelton, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p81. J. Oswald Dykes, The Manifesto of the King, p101. J. R. Cohu, The Sermon on the Mount, p89. C. J. Vaughan, Characteristics of Christ"s Teaching, p34. V:7, 10, 11, 12.—George Macdonald, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlii1892, p79.

Heart Purity

Matthew 5:8

I. There is such a thing, according to the Holy Scriptures, as heart purity; that is to say, there is such a thing as a state of the human heart, in which the Prayer of Manasseh, the genuine Prayer of Manasseh, the person of the present day and of modern circumstances, entirely loves the will of God, and entirely seeks to do it. There is such a thing as will, mind, and affection, united, not divided, against the tempter and for the will of God.

II. But how shall this thing be? Can I answer better than in the words of our Lord, spoken on an occasion close to the purpose of our present thoughts? "Who then can be saved?" cried the amazed Apostles. Who then can be saved, deep and at the centre, from the love and from the power of sin? "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God."

It is a question of a miracle; the requisite is this action of none less than a Divine Person. We can, in the grace and mercy of God, put ourselves in the way of the action, even as helpless sufferers of old, the blind, the halt, the palsied, the bleeding, put themselves in the way of the Man of Nazareth. The secret is the Wonder-Worker Himself, trusted, welcomed in, summoned by the soul, to be the conquering and liberating Presence in its great need, and in its depths.

III. We shall never do it for ourselves. At the centre of things, man is powerless to be his own transfigurer; he can as soon run, he can as soon soar, from his own shadow. But his Maker and his Redeemer, as man yields himself to God, can lift him from that shadow into light, and set him free indeed.

—Bishop H. C. G. Moule, The Secret of the Presence, p218.

The Sixth Beatitude

Matthew 5:8

I. If we are to take part in the kingdom, there must be singleness of purpose. Purity of heart Isaiah, of course, continually taken in its narrower meaning of absence of sensual defilement and pollution. That is an important part of purity; and may I say a word about the pursuit of purity in this narrower sense? A great many people are distressed by impure temptations, and they very frequently fail to make progress with them for one reason, namely, that while they are anxious to get rid of sin in this one respect, they are not trying after goodness as a whole. For the way to get over uncleanness Isaiah, in innumerable cases, not to fight against that only, but to contend for positive holiness all round, for Christlikeness, for purity of heart in the sense in which Christ used the expression, in the sense in which in the51Psalm a clean heart is coupled with a "right spirit"—that Isaiah, a will set straight towards God, or simplicity of purpose. Our Lord means "Blessed are the single-minded," for they, though as yet they may be far from seeing God, though as yet they may not believe a single article of the Christian Creed, yet at last shall attain the perfect vision; yes, as surely as God is true, they shall be satisfied in their every capacity for truth and beauty and goodness; they shall behold.

II. Any measure of true spiritual illumination, like that of Job when the Lord had answered his questionings, may be described as "seeing God"; and in this sense to see God is a necessary preliminary to repentance, and is requisite for spiritual endurance. But in its full sense it is incompatible with any remaining dissatisfaction; it is the final goal of human efforts, the reward of those who here are content to "walk by faith, not by sight," and it includes in perfection—what in a measure all discovery after search includes—satisfaction for the intellect, and full attainment for the will, and the ecstasy of the heart, in God as He is.

—Bishop Gore, The Sermon on the Mount, p40.

Matthew 5:8

"Hold off from sensuality," says Cicero, "for if you have given yourself up to it, you will find yourself unable to think of anything else." That is morality. "Blessed are the pure in heart," says Jesus Christ; "for they shall see God." That is religion.

—Matthew Arnold.

As I myself look at it, there is no fault nor folly of my life—and both have been many and great—that does not rise up against me, and take away my joy, and shorten my power of possession, of sight, of understanding. And every past effort of my life, every gleam of lightness or good in it, is with me now, to help me in my grasp of this heart, and its vision.


"Intuition," said Amiel, "is the recompense of inward purity."

The remark has often been made that the preeminent, the winning, the irresistible Christian virtues, were charity and chastity. Perhaps the chastity was an even more winning virtue than the charity; it offered to the Pagan world, at any rate, relief from a more oppressive, a more consuming, a more intolerable bondage. Chief among the beatitudes, shone, no doubt, this pair: Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, and Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God; and of these two, the second blessing may have brought even the greater boon.... Perhaps there is no doctrine of Christianity which is exposed to more trial amongst us now, certainly there is none which will be exposed, so far as from present appearances one can Judges, to more trial in the immediate future, than this.

—Matthew Arnold, A Comment on Christmas.

"Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." Blessed are those who have preserved internal sanctity of soul; who are conscious of no secret deceit; who are the same in act as they are in desire; who conceal no thought, no tendencies of thought, from their own conscience; who are faithful and sincere witnesses, before the tribunal of their own judgment, of all that passes within their mind. Such as these shall see God. What! after death, shall their awakened eyes behold the King of heaven? Shall they stand in awe before the golden throne on which He sits, and gaze upon the venerable countenance of the paternal Monarch? Is this the reward of the virtuous and the pure? These are the idle dreams of the visionary, or the pernicious representation of impostors, who have fabricated from the very materials of wisdom a cloak for their own dwarfish or imbecile conception.

Jesus Christ has said no more than the most excellent philosophers have felt and expressed—that virtue is its own reward. It is true that such an expression as He has used was prompted by the energy of genius, and was the overflowing enthusiasm of a poet; but it is not the less literally true [because] clearly repugnant to the mistaken conception of the multitude.... That those who are pure in heart shall see God, and that virtue is its own reward, may be considered an equivalent assertion. The former of these propositions is a metaphorical repetition of the latter. The advocates of literal interpretation have been the most efficacious enemies of those doctrines whose nature they profess to venerate.

—Shelley, Essay on Christianity.

References.—V:8.—J. Oswald Dykes, The Manifesto of the King, p119. E. M. Goulburn, Three Counsels of the Divine Master, vol. i. p169. G. Salmon, Gnosticism and Agnosticism, p53. H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, The School of Christ, p114. C. J. Vaughan, Characteristics of Christ"s Teaching, p53. J. B. Lightfoot, Cambridge Sermons, p34; see also Christian World Pulpit, vol. xliv1893, p309. C. J. Ridgeway, The Mountain of Blessedness, p72. E. L. Hull, Sermons, p145. W. C. Magee, Christ the Light of all Scripture, p105. Stopford A. Brooke, Short Sermons, pp256, 263. E. Lyttelton, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p86. J. R. Cohu, The Sermon on the Mount, p98. J. S. Swan, Short Sermons, p95. B. F. Westcott, The Revelation of the Risen Lord, p96. T. F. Lockyer, The Inspirations of the Christian Life, p144. J. Guinness Rogers, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxviii1890, p337. W. J. Woods, ibid. vol. xxxviii1890, p418. C. A. Vince, ibid. vol. xxxix1891, p12. E. H. Eland, ibid. vol. lix1901, p342. W. T. Davison, ibid. vol. lxvi1904, p337. Bishop E. King, Church Times, vol. lvi1906, p531. Walter C. Smith, Sermons, p50. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Matthew I-VIII. p153. V:8, 6, 9.—George Macdonald, ibid. vol. xlii1892, p61.

The Seventh Beatitude

Matthew 5:9

I. Christ is the Prince of Peace. He brings about peace among men, breaking down all middle walls of partition between classes and races and individuals, by making them first of all at peace with God—atonement among men by way of atonement with God. This is the only secure basis of peace. There are many kinds of false and superficial peace, which the Prince of Peace only comes to break up. "I came not to send peace on earth, but a sword." Peace can never be purchased in God"s way by the sacrifice of truth. But peace in the truth we, like our Master, must be for ever pursuing.

II. Do we habitually remember how it offends our Lord to see divisions in the Christian Church, nations nominally Christian armed to the teeth against one another, class against class and individual against individual in fierce and relentless competition, jealousies among clergy and church workers, communicants who forget that the sacrament of union with Christ is the sacrament of union also with their fellow-men?

III. Christians are to be makers of Christ"s peace. Something we can all do to reconcile individuals, families, classes, churches, nations. The question Isaiah, are we, as churchmen and citizens, by work and by prayer, in our private conduct and our public action, doing our utmost with deliberate, calculated, unsparing effort? If so our benediction is the highest: it is to be, and to be acknowledged as being, sons of God.

—Bishop Gore, The Sermon on the Mount, p42.

Matthew 5:9

"The Lord," said Dr. A. A. Bonar, "does not use me, like His servant, Dr. Chalmers, for great things, but my way of serving the Lord is walking three or four miles to quiet a family dispute."

Just before his death, Cobden and a friend were walking through St. Paul"s Cathedral, when the latter observed that perhaps the name of Cobden one day might be ranked among those heroes. "I hope not" Cobden said, "I hope not. My spirit could not rest in peace among these men of war."

He was an happy reconciler of many differences in the families of his friends and kindred—which he never undertook faintly; for such undertakings have usually faint effects—and they had such faith in his judgment and impartiality, that he never advised them to anything in vain.

—Izaak Walton, Life of Dr. Donne.

Compare Sir Philip Warwick"s account of Hampden"s conduct in a Parliamentary debate. "We had catched at each other"s locks, and sheathed our swords in each other"s bowels, had not the sagacity and great; calmness of Mr. Hampden, by a short speech, prevented it, and led us to defer our angry debate until the next morning."

"This great gift also," says Augustine, "hadst Thou bestowed on Thy good servant, in whose womb Thou, did"st create me, O my God, my Mercy: wherever she could, she showed herself such a peacemaker between factious and quarrelsome people, that, although she listened to many a bitter word from both sides, such as swelling anger pours forth against an absent enemy in the presence of a friend who has to listen to sharp angry talk, she never would repeat to one what another said, unless it were something which might tend to reconcile them."

References.—V:9.—J. R. Cohu, The Sermon on the Mount, p109. J. Oswald Dykes, The Manifesto of the King, p139. E. Lyttelton, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p92. W. G. Rutherford, The Key of Knowledge, p171. C. J. Vaughan, Characteristics of Christ"s Teaching, p71. E. M. Goulburn, Three Counsels of the Divine Master, vol. i. p184. C. J. Ridgeway, The Mountain of Blessedness, p84. W. J. Woods, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxix1891, p108. H. Price Hughes, ibid. vol. xliv1893, p381. G. Body, ibid. vol. liii1898, p220. H. A. Thomas, ibid. vol. Leviticus 1899, p348. H. Hensley Henson, ibid. vol. lxi1902, p372. H. D. Rawnsley, ibid. vol. lxiii1903, p125. F. B. F. Campbell, ibid. vol. lxvi1904, p199. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vii. No422. J. Brett, The Blessed Life, p87. F. Lewis Donaldson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxxiv1908, p185. A. Maclaren, Expositions, of Holy Scripture—St. Matthew I-VIII. p161. V:9, 10.—T. D. Barlow, Rays from the Sun of Righteousness, p172.

Matthew 5:10-11

When St. Francis de Sales was asked which of the beatitudes he preferred, he chose this one, giving it as his reason: "Because their life is hid with Christ in God, and they are conformed to His image and likeness—inasmuch as all through His earthly life He was persecuted for that very righteousness" sake which He came to fulfil".

References.—V:10.—C. J. Ridgeway, The Mountain of Blessedness, p95. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Matthew I-VIII. p171. J. Brett, The Blessed Life, p103. E. Lyttelton, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p98. E. M. Goulburn, Three Counsels of the Divine Master, vol. i. p199. V:10-12.—J. Oswald Dykes, The Manifesto of the King, p161. W. J. Woods, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxix1891, p166. J. R. Cohu, The Sermon on the Mount, p120. C. J. Vaughan, Characteristics of Christ"s Teaching, p88. W. M. Sinclair, Simplicity in Christ, p239.

Matthew 5:11

When immortal Bunyan makes his picture of the persecuting passions bringing in their verdict of guilty, who pities Faithful? That is a rare and blessed lot, which some greatest men have not attained, to know ourselves guiltless before a condemning crowd—to be sure that what we are denounced for is solely the good in us. The pitiable lot is that of the man who could not call himself a martyr even though he were to persuade himself that the men who stoned him were but ugly passions incarnate—who knows that he is stoned, not for professing the Right, but for not being the man he professed to be.

—George Eliot in Middlemarch.

References.—V:11.—J. R. Cohu, The Sermon on the Mount, p45. S. Martin, Rain Upon the Mown Grass, p295. F. D. Maurice, The Prayer Book and the Lord"s Prayer, p331. V:11, 12.—J. Guinness Rogers, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xliv1893, p339. E. Lyttelton, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p106. V:12.—C. E. Jefferson, The Character of Jesus, p243.

Salt Without Savour

Matthew 5:13

I. Each of the three leading words of this short sentence, "Ye are the salt of the earth," appears to have a significance of its own.

1. Ye, "you living men and women". This was one meaning of the Incarnation, that the unseen God should be revealed by and through the "man Christ Jesus ". Christ Himself must be chiefly known—not through His words or even His personal example—but through the men and women who are the living embodiments of His spirit.

2. Ye are the salt. When our Lord calls His disciples—"those who profess and call themselves Christians"—the salt of the earth, He is implicitly warning us against a vulgar error—the error of estimating, or trying to estimate, the real influence of any movement by the simple process of counting heads. The fact is that, from some points of view, it is not so much the quantity of Christians that matters, as the quality, and the failure in the latter respect is often far more grievous than in the former. There was once a city which might have been saved by "ten righteous" if only they could have been found.

3. "Ye are the salt of the earth;" of the earth—not of heaven. True it Isaiah, to earth that we belong—to earth—and even though our spirits soar beyond the stars, on earth our feet are set. Let us never be tempted by any superfine religion to try and forget or ignore this fact. The "good Church-people" are not merely the communicants, but those who carry with them into business and politics, into society in general, whether in the west or the east, the salt of a higher honour, justice, purity, usefulness.

II. "Ye are the salt of the earth." Salt has, we might say, two special functions of its own. In the first place it is a preserving and purifying power. It saves from corruption. It is an influence which is more felt than seen.

Or, once more, salt suggests the notion of something strong and pungent—that which adds taste and flavour to all that it touches. I am afraid that this is not the idea which we always connect with good people. Good people are frequently conceived of, not as the most strenuous souls, but rather as negative and colourless, or, at the best, sweet and consoling, as though our Lord had said, not "ye are the salt," but "ye are the sugar of the earth". Do not let us give in to the notion that there is any natural connexion between goodness and dullness, or goodness and weakness. When our Lord said to His disciples, "Ye are the salt of the earth," He did not mean that they were to be the wits of the world; but surely He meant that they were to bring to it the savour—shall we say—of consecrated intelligence as well as of moral purity.

III. Salt is good; but if the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? The earth needs the Christian religion as much as ever it did; but an insipid and savourless Christianity will not long be tolerated. It is a fearful thing to realize that in us Christ Himself reigns or falls: that by us He is judged, that through us His name is blessed or blasphemed. "If the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted?" For there is something more tragical than Jesus crucified by Caiaphas and Pilate—it is the Christ who is wounded "in the house of His friends".

—H. R. Gamble, Christianity and Common Life, p63.

Matthew 5:13-15

To the personal influence of Christians our Lord commits His cause; in personal influence His Church was founded, and by this it was to stand.

—R. W. Church.

References.—V:13.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Matthew I-VIII. p178. E. Lyttelton, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p113. H. Scott Holland, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lviii1900, p185. D. Fraser, Metaphors in the Gospels, p1. A. Jessopp, Norwich School Sermon, p54. Stopford A. Brooke, Short Sermons, p22. V:13, 14.—F. E. Paget, Helps and Hindrances to the Christian Life, vol. ii. p76. R. H. McKim, The Gospel in the Christian Year, p289. C. J. Vaughan, Characteristics of Christ"s Teaching, p104. V:13-16.—R. W. Church, The Gifts of Civilization, p81. J. Oswald Dykes, The Manifesto of the King, p181. W. M. Sinclair, Simplicity in Christ, p263. W. Boyd Carpenter, The Great Charter of Christ, p133. A. Melville, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xl1891, p360. A. Clayton, ibid. vol. lxx1906, p49. V:13-37.—C. Gore, Church Times, vol. xxxiii1895, p337.

Christ"s Conception of the Christian Life

Matthew 5:14

"I am the Light of the world." That is the assumption which Jesus Christ makes for Himself. "Ye are the light of the world." That is the high assumption which He makes similarly on the part of His disciples. And taken together they declare that there is not only power in His own character adequate to dispel the darkness, but the power of that character reproduced in His disciples is also capable of the same result.

I. In the parable of the lamp and the lampstand there is a great deal of simple, practical instruction as to light shining—whence it proceeds, how it is maintained, and what is to be its nature and outcome.

1. Of course it assumes that in any life the lamp has been kindled by Jesus Christ It assumes, too, that the light is received not for the benefit of the lamp, but for the benefit of those among whom the lamp is placed; that the light is given in order to be diffused. Christ is in us in order that He may be seen through us, in all the activities of our lives and influence of our character.

2. And to such as are already kindled the injunction Isaiah, "let your light shine"; that Isaiah, do not hinder it from shining. Therefore, Christ"s exhortation really calls us to remove all hindrances to the shining of the light in our own lives.

3. Elsewhere in the same sermon, Jesus Christ said: "If thine eye be single," etc. If one is seeking first and only His glory, then there is but little doubt as to the clear shining of the light, and but little doubt also as to its influence.

II. Then the Saviour goes on to speak about a lampstand. What does that mean?

1. I cannot but feel that it illustrates our necessary connexion with the world. You have been set in a family—that Isaiah, you are set upon a lampstand there. You have been put into an office, and that place with all its duties is God"s own lampstand for you.

2. It is well to remember that the appearance of the lampstand has very little to do with the shining. You may have a beautiful lampstand, but it does not make the light shine any brighter. Let your light shine just where you are.

3. It is the darkness which is immediately surrounding us that is to be illumined. "All that are in the house" does not mean all that are in the next street, the next town, or village, or country.

III. If the light is to shine, it Isaiah, of course, necessary to see that the flame is continually fed. The re is need of continual secret assimilation of oil. If we fail to receive a continual ministry of grace to our own hearts, we shall fail when we seek to minister to others.

The cost at which a man becomes a shining light. Of course, it is the oil which feeds the flame, but the wick burns also. You must be consumed also if others through you are going to have light shed upon the pathway, upon the great mysteries and facts of life. Do not forget that it will cost you no less than it cost Jesus Christ, the entire sacrifice of yourself.

--J. Stuart Holden, "Christ"s Conception of the Christian Life," Mundesley Bible Conference, 1908, p63.

Illustration.—I read a very interesting thing the other day in the life of Leonardo da Vinci, who painted the famous picture of the Lord"s Supper. When he had painted this wonderful picture he called in one of his friends to see it He stood back from the canvas with his friend, waiting in silence for his comment on what he himself regarded as his greatest work. His friend"s first words were, "How wonderfully you have painted that silver cup." The painter immediately took his brush and put a great daub of black paint over it. The friend, in consternation, said: "Why did you do that?" "I did that," he replied, "because it was the cup which first attracted your attention, and I do not want anything in my work to detract from the central figure of Jesus Christ I have painted that picture to give men a conception of Him, and if you come and fix upon that which is a mere detail in the picture, and so overlook Him, it must go." I could not but feel that the devotion of that painter of early days to Jesus Christ is as an inspiration and an example to me. If my life is to shine for Christ, if Christ is to be the central figure, if Christ is to be seen in me in all His beauty, other things must be painted out, other things must be sacrifice; they must go. You must for Wisdom of Solomon, for sanity, have some access to the mind and heart of the common humanity. The exclusive excludes itself.

—Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Let Your Light Shine

I would not give much for your religion unless it can be seen. Lamps do not talk; but they do shine. A lighthouse sounds no drum, it beats no gong; and yet far over the water its friendly spark is seen by the mariner. So let your actions shine out your religion. Let the main sermon of your life be illustrated by all your conduct, and it shall not fail to be illustrious.

—C. H. Spurgeon.

Matthew 5:14-15

The whole majesty of humanity raised to its fullness, and every gift and power necessary for a given purpose, at a given moment, centred in one Prayer of Manasseh, and all this perfected blessing permitted to be refused, perverted, crushed, cast aside by those who need it most,—the city which is Not set on a hill, the candle that giveth light to None that are in the house;—these are the heaviest mysteries of this strange world, and, it seems to me, those which mark its curse the most.

—Ruskin, Stones of Venice, vol. ii.

Like a horse after running, a dog after tracking the game, and a bee after storing honey, so a Prayer of Manasseh, after some good deed, does not call others to come and see, but goes on to do another deed, as the vine proceeds to produce grapes season after season.

—Marcus Aurelius.

References.—V:14.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xix. No1109. H. P. Liddon, Christmastide in St. Paul"s, p405; see also Penny Pulpit, No485. W. M. Sinclair, Religion in Common Life, p58. F. Mudie, Bible Truths and Bible Characters, p283. H. Scott Holland, Church Times, vol. lvi1906, p380; see also Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxx1906, p216. J. W. Diggle, Sermons for Daily Life, p37. J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. i. p152. Henry Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. iii. p406. W. G. Rutherford, The Key of Knowledge, pp182-209. R. Rainy, Sojourning With God, p64. W. H. Dallinger, Christian World Pulpit, vol. Leviticus 1899, p52. W. L. Watkinson, ibid. vol. lx1901, p388. V:14-16.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Matthew I-VIII. p188. D. Fraser, Metaphors in the Gospels, p16. E. Lyttelton, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p120. V:15, 16.—J. B. Mozley, Sermons Preached Before the University of Oxford, p262. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxvii. No1594.

Matthew 5:16

Christ doth not say that others hearing your good works, your good story, or your pathetical expressions; but that others seeing your good works may glorify your Father.

—Jonathan Edwards.

"Let your light shine before men," wrote Margaret Gordon to Carlyle, "and think them not unworthy the trouble."

God appoints to every one of His creatures a separate mission, and if they discharge it honourably, if they quit themselves like men, and faithfully follow the light which is in them, withdrawing from it all cold and quenching influence, there will assuredly come of it such burning as, in its appointed mode and measure, shall shine before men, and be of service constant and holy.

—Ruskin, Frondes Agrestes, p71.

Tolstoy, in his Confession, speaks of the faith and practice of orthodox believers in his own circle, men whose religious position was respectable, and whose manner of life in no way differed from the ambitious, vicious conduct of unbelievers like himself. "No arguments were able to convince me of the sincerity of such Song of Solomon -called believers" faith. Only actions, proving their conception of life to have destroyed that fear of poverty, illness, and death, so strong in myself, could have convinced me; and such actions I could not see among them. Such actions, indeed, I saw among the open infidels of my own class in life, but never among its Song of Solomon -called believers."

"A Prayer of Manasseh," said Mozley, "can only be a witness to the Christian faith, if his life can only be accounted for by Christian faith."

Matthew 5:16

The main point nowadays is to be pious in the open air.


"I cannot," said John Wesley"s father to him, "allow austerity or fasting, considered by themselves, to be proper acts of holiness, nor am I for a solitary life. God made us for a social life. We are to let our light shine before men, and that not barely through the chinks of a bushel, for fear the wind should blow it out; the design of lighting it was, that it might give light to all who went into the house of God." "It has struck me often lately," writes Mr. Coventry Patmore in a letter, "that Kempis, whom you are daily reading now, cannot be read with safety without remembering that he wrote his book expressly for the use of monks. There is much that is quite unfit for and untrue of people who live in the ordinary relations of life. I don"t think I like the book quite as much as I did. There is a hot-house, egotistical air about much of its piety. Other persons are so ordinarily the appointed means of learning the love of God, and to stifle human affections must be very often to render the love of God impossible."

References.—V:16.—G. F. Holden, Church Times, vol. lviii1907, p810. B. Reynolds, ibid. vol. li1904, p112; see also Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxv1904, p54. H. Ward Beecher, Sermons (2Series), p244. Henry Wace, Some Central Points of Our Lord"s Ministry, p213. E. Fowle, Plain Preaching to Poor People, Sermon (1Series). J. W. Diggle, Sermons for Daily Life, p79. E. Talbot, Sermons Preached in Leeds Parish Church, 1889-1895, p86. W. Lefroy, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxvi1904, p27. J. B. Mozley, Sermons Parochial and Occasional, p212. W. M. Punshon, Christian Consistency, Sermons, p737.

The Presuppositions of Christianity—The Old Testament

Matthew 5:17

Our Christianity is unique, a thing by itself; but it has not come into existence without any ties with the past. It is original; it is not eclectic; but it has one great root from which it has sprung and of which it claims to be the perfect flower. That is the revelation of God to Israel, recorded in the sacred books of that people, the collection of which we call the Old Testament. To a full and proper understanding of Christianity, a man must know the Old Testament; he must in a measure be familiar with the religion of the Jews. His own faith has blossomed out of that, and owes much to it. It is the presuppositions of Christianity in the Old Testament that we shall look at here. To the rest, Christianity, at any rate in its primitive and purest form, owes nothing directly. Its debts are directly, and in the first instance only, to the Old Testament faith.

I. I would even emphasize the statement in that form as my first point. It is not to Judaism as it existed in Christ"s time that any debt is due. It is to the religion which is enshrined in the Old Testament And the distinction is vital. There is a serious difference between Judaism as Christ found it, and the religion which He recognized as the truth in the much misunderstood sacred books of His people. There was there the revelation which God had given of Himself, and there was alongside of it the Prayer of Manasseh -made version which passed current in the temple and in the synagogue, which was expounded in the schools, and which was practised by the Pharisee. The latter has its modern survival, but it is not Christianity. It is the Judaism of the present day, with the modifications and embellishments which have made it what it is in order to serve a people without a country or a central shrine, at which alone they might perform the rites which ought to be observed, but perforce must lie in abeyance. It is not to that we turn to find the presuppositions of Christianity. That has little to tell us. Our Lord, in fact, repudiated the whole body of tradition, because, as He said, the Scribes and Pharisees made void the law of God by their tradition.

II. Christianity accepts without further discussion or exposition the ripened views of the religion of Israel on many primary religious truths. It takes, for instance, the Old Testament view of God, of Prayer of Manasseh, of the Messiah. These, of course, are views that had only gradually attained to clearness in Israel"s consciousness through God"s continuous teaching. And it is the mature view which Christianity assumes, and to which it adds. But what the Old Testament thus offers, it accepts without demur.

a. The Old Testament never attempts to prove the existence of God. It sets the man down as a fool, i.e. not wrong in his head, but wrong in his will, uttering not what he thinks, but what he wishes, who says there is no God. Its very first book, with its very first words, begins with the assumption of God: "In the beginning God". That is the attitude of the New Testament.

b. So with regard to man: Christianity thinks of man as the Old Testament has taught him to think of him. Man as the New Testament deals with him is man made in the image of God. He is man—no isolated unit, but linked by a thousand ties to all his race who have preceded him and to all his fellow-men amongst whom he lives. He is Prayer of Manasseh, with a physical frame that needs to be nourished, clothed, and cared for; but that is the least of him. He is Prayer of Manasseh, with an intelligence that lifts him high above the beasts that perish. He is Prayer of Manasseh, with an immortal soul fitted for fellowship with God Himself. He is Prayer of Manasseh, with the fateful right of a free will and the dread responsibility which its use involves. He is Prayer of Manasseh, fallen by his own fatal choice. He is Prayer of Manasseh, lost, unable to save himself, but not beyond salvation. That is man as the Christian knows him, but the New Testament offers no proofs. It takes man as it finds him in actual human experience, as does the Old Testament.

c. In the same way the New Testament takes over the whole Messianic hope of the Old. It offers to its students the justification and fulfilment of that hope in Jesus, whom it presents as the Messiah, the Christ. That hope itself was a growth. The seed was the promise to Adam almost immediately after the fall: "The seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent".

III. Turn to a further general consideration. The possession of this great treasure-house of moral and religious truth accounts for many things that seem omissions in Christianity as it appears in what are its own distinctive records and in the teachings of its Founder. "Take away the Old Testament," says John Ker, "and even though the Christianity of the New were left, there would be an immense want in meeting the different moods of feeling and stages of thought in human nature." There is little in the New Testament to stir the patriotic sentiments. There is little to correspond to the book of Psalm. What is there to tell us that phases of thought like those which meet us in the book of Job or of Ecclesiastes are compatible with devoutness? Nothing. But why? Is it because they are alien to Chris tianity? No; but because they are adequately dealt with in the first stages of revelation which Christianity adopts as its own.

—Robert J. Drummond, Faith"s Certainties.


Matthew 5:17

I. Jesus Christ here gives us the secret of every great ministry. We shall never be great preachers if we only discourse upon the topics of the day. He has a poor text who has only the latest anecdote of an evening newspaper. That is not preaching to the times, that is making a livelihood out of lies. He preaches to the times who preaches from eternity. Jesus Christ did not displace the law and the Prophets, He will talk with both of them upon a mountain by and by; they three—Law, Prophet, Redeemer—will meet and reveal the unity of things. The secret of a great ministry is that it founds itself upon the original, the primordial, the initial; its great speech is ab initio, coming up with dews of heaven"s first and only morning upon it. That is preaching.

II. If we follow Jesus therefore we shall hear wonderful speaking.

1. Take, for example, His doctrine respecting worship. That doctrine was taught to one hearer Jesus Christ never kept anything for great assemblies. We keep our little essays for the principal meeting. Ah me! what wonder we are buried so cheaply and so instantaneously forgotten! Jesus revealed the great doctrine of true spiritual worship to one hearer, and she was a woman. The women said all the most beautiful things that are to be found in Scripture, and the things were the more beautiful that the women knew nothing about their beauty. They were words wrung out of agony. Agony is always eloquent. Jesus Christ did not rebuke people for worshipping in special localities. When did He contract history or reduce it by subtraction to some meaner expressiveness? When did He fail to open the bud and show the full flower? If He had destroyed the local notion of prayer He would have created an immense prejudice; He accepted it, enlarged it, glorified it by fulfilment and completion.

2. We might illustrate this text from the more concrete point of what is known as beneficence or good-doing. The Jew thought he had advanced to the very final step in the march of civilization when he gave something to the inoffensive stranger, to the harmless widow and orphan; but Jesus says, If thine enemy hunger, feed him; love thine enemy: go to the positive aspect of thy poor beneficence. Whilst we were yet sinners Christ died for us; not whilst we were becoming sinners, but when we had reached the very depth of our apostasy, and when we had depleted ourselves of all nervous power and all moral restorativeness, when we had lost all self-helpfulness; while we were yet sinners, the blood dripped on us, the red blood of the infinite Redemption. I am not come to destroy your little beneficences and maxims of caretaking respecting the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, but I am come to raise you to that Godlikeness which is kind to the unthankful and to the evil, to that Divinity of love which sheds its showers upon the atheist and the blasphemer.

3. We might illustrate the text by Jesus Christ"s estimate of righteousness. He found a good deal of respectability in His day; there were many persons who were reading pious sentences and observing more or less reputable traditions; He looked abroad upon the whole mass, and having estimated all that was being done by Scribe and Pharisee and Sadducee, He said, Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and of the Pharisees, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

4. Jesus Christ said, You must enlarge your conceptions of the world; of course it was right that you begin with this little place which you call your own land. If there was anything in the world which Jesus Christ was not it was a patriot. A patriot was a very small but frequently a somewhat necessary person. Jesus Christ was not a patriot. Jesus Christ was a philanthropist, a Prayer of Manasseh -lover, a world-redeemer. And beautiful it is to mark the evolution of this thought in the apostolic missionary service.

5. If you will read the law—hard, stiff reading, and equally an education and a successful examination—if you will read the law as given in the Pentateuch, you will see what Jesus Christ has done in the enlargement of men"s ideas and the fulfilment of elementary discipline and propositions. Love, if true, is growing, it will be mighty some day; and then we shall see that though the tithe has not been done away it has been carried up into its proper consummation; it is displaced by love, all-giving love, that wondrous love which says nothing has been given whilst anything has been withheld.

—Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. vii.

Fulfilment, Not Destruction, the Method of Jesus

Matthew 5:17

I. It is evident that our Lord"s critics had been denouncing Him as an intellectual and social anarchist, and one can imagine their evidence.

It is also evident that Jesus keenly resented this charge, and one can understand His reasons. When He was called a revolutionary there was enough truth in the criticism to make it dangerous. He did appear on first sight not to improve but to reverse the past, not to attack abuses but to uproot institutions, and if this had been so it would have been a serious reflection, both upon the wisdom and the work of Jesus. Destruction is not the principle of growth in any province of God"s universe.

Had the opponents of Jesus been able to take a fairer view of His work, they would have found that He was the opposite of what their fears painted. Under His spirit the God of Abraham and Jacob became our Heavenly Father, to be worshipped the world over wherever there was an honest heart.

II. Fulfilment is the guiding principle of all successful progress and ought to control every department of action. When, for instance, we attempt the regeneration of society, repression may be needful as a temporary measure; but repression is a policy of despair. It coerces, but it does not control, it terrifies, but it does not satisfy. We ought to go to the root of the matter and find out the causes which create the vices of the people.

1. The same principle holds in the elimination of sin from an individual life. To sin is to miss the mark; the arrow went astray, and struck the wrong place. Every vice is the inversion of a virtue, it is degenerate goodness. Moralists of the second order would advise a man to put his sins under lock and key: Jesus teaches men to expel them. He would transform temptations to sin and make them incentives to holiness; He would have us concern ourselves not with the destruction of the evil but with the cultivation of the good.

2. With this principle of fulfilment we ought also to approach the erroneous ideas which affect the popular mind and are rivals of the truth. It is wiser to give a man what he is seeking after than to denounce its imperfect substitute. It Isaiah, indeed, of no use to take away unless you can bestow, and therefore the wise missionary of Today finds out what the non-Christian religion means, and shows that it is a prophecy of Christ. It is the unknown God whom men are seeking through many systems and after many fashions; it is the known God whom Jesus reveals and presents to us all.

Just as religion appears to us a fulfilment or a destruction of life, shall we come to love or hate it. If religion be nothing but a refusing and denying, a repressing and mortifying, then it may be a necessity; it is also a burden. But this is not the religion of Jesus as He taught and illustrated it in the life of Galilee. With Him religion was not a bondage, but the breaking of fetters, that the sons of God might enter into the liberty of their Father"s house.

—J. Watson (Ian Maclaren), The Inspiration of Our Faith, p147.

Matthew 5:17

Compare the closing sentences of Max Nordau"s Degeneration: "The criterion by which true moderns may be recognized and distinguished from impostors calling themselves moderns may be this: Whoever preaches absence of discipline is an enemy of progress; and whoever worships his "I" is an enemy to society. Society has for its first premise, neighbourly love and capacity for self-sacrifice; and progress is the effect of an even more rigorous subjugation of the beast in Prayer of Manasseh, of an ever intenser self-restraint, an ever keener sense of duty and responsibility. The emancipation for which we are striving is of the judgment, not of the appetites. In the profoundly penetrating words of Scripture: Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil."

Compare Matthew Arnold"s verses entitled "Progress".

Matthew 5:17

To be misunderstood even by those whom one loves is the cross and bitterness of life. It is the secret of that sad and melancholy smile on the lips of great men which so few understand; it is the cruellest trial reserved for self-devotion; it is what must have oftenest wrung the heart of the Son of Man; and if God could suffer, it would be the wound we should be for ever inflicting on Him. He also—He above all—is the great misunderstood, the least comprehended.


There is still something of self-seeking in the refined disinterestedness which will not justify itself, that it may feel itself superior to opinion.


References.—V:17.—J. R. Cohu, The Sermon on the Mount, p36. W. Boyd Carpenter, The Great Charter of Christ, p151. J. M. Wilson, The Anglican Pulpit of Today, p356. A. Jessopp, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvii1895, p218. Reuen Thomas, ibid. vol. lx1901, p404. H. E. J. Bevan, ibid. vol. lxiii1903, p325. V:17-20.—J. Oswald Dykes, The Manifesto of the King, p203. W. M. Sinclair, Simplicity in Christ, p287. E. Lyttelton, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p125. V:17-26.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Matthew I-VIII. p199. V:17-48.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. liii. No3031. V:18.—Ibid. vol. xxviii. No1660. V:19.—H. P. Liddon, Clerical Life and Work, p355. "Plain Sermons" by contributors to the Tracts for the Times, vol. ix. p64.

True Religion

Matthew 5:20

These words of our Lord are a challenge, an impeachment and an indictment of high treason against those in authority in the Church. No man who uttered such words, under such conditions, could escape retaliation. Had our Lord contented Himself with His wonderful works, He might have walked across Calvary unscathed. But one who could say such things as this, under such circumstances, must come to the Cross. Those who were so challenged were certain to encompass His death. For I want you just to notice who the challenge was made against. It was made against the great religious teachers of the day, the scribes and Pharisees. They were the oracles of the kingdom, and in no case could they enter into the kingdom whose oracles they held. You know how the case stood, how religion had become formal, mechanical. You cannot turn out righteousness from any machine. Directly religion becomes a system, it loses its power. Systematized religion degenerates always, sooner or later, into formalism. It was so then, and has ever been so since.

I. The Scribes were the men who knew all about Holy Scripture. They read it, they learned it, they knew every word of it. And yet, though they knew all about it, they did not know it.

II. And the Sadducees, who were they? They were the Higher Critics of the day. How did the Lord admonish them? He said, You are only haggling over the letter, you are literalists. You do not know the Scriptures, and you do not know the power of God.

III. Then you know about the Pharisees and their punctiliousness, how they were the religionists. They did exactly what they were told in the letter and not the spirit. According to the Pharisees, you might touch the dead body of an ass, but not of a high priest, because that would defile you. And you must not go and eat with unwashed hands. What did our Lord do? He and His disciples deliberately went and sat down to dinner with unwashed hands—deliberately, as an object lesson.

IV. I want you to note that our Lord stands amongst us Today, and says to us, "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven". Is our religion formal? When we worship Christ with ceremony, let it be with understanding too—with the head and with the heart. He loved me, and washed me, and gave Himself for me, and the object of life is to be like Him. If this righteousness is in us, we are right. Take care that your faith does not make you formalists at heart. It must make you like your dear Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

—A. H. Stanton, Unpublished Sermon.

Things No Man Could Say

Matthew 5:20

Things which no man would say or would be allowed to say and retain any reputation for sanity or truthfulness. There are things which we cannot say, as certainly as there are things which we ought not to say.

Yet we are now face to face with a Man who used all the vocabulary of God, a Man who never hesitated to use the language which God alone, according to our interpretation, has permitted Himself to use.

I. Begin where you like, the evidence is forthcoming and is unique.

1. Let us hear Him in one of His simplest speeches; simplest, that Isaiah, when looked upon superficially: "I am meek and lowly in heart". No man has a right to say that; to say "I am meek" is to prove that the speaker is not meek; to claim lowliness may be to abandon it. Never forget the ironies of history. Consider what it is for a man to stand up in any company of his fellows and to say, "I am meek and lowly in heart"! Not a soul would believe him; there is a human instinct, an unwritten transcendental human intuition that says to a speaker, No, for if you were so you would not speak thus; you would leave us to discover your meekness and your lowliness of heart.

2. Take another instance, running on the same line: "I will give you rest". This is a word that no sane man can utter if he be only a man. Who knows the meaning of rest as Jesus Christ used that pregnant word? No man can give another man rest; he can lull him, soothe him, administer opiates to him, and bring to bear upon him the influence of chemical anodynes; he cannot give peace, rest, fulness of peace.

3. Take this instance. "I and My Father are one". If that occurs only once perhaps it was introduced surreptitiously, but it does not occur only once; for the same lips said: "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father". A man may have said that, but he called down upon himself the ridicule of all who heard it; he did not seek the faith of the world, he tempted its distrust and its derision.

4. Hear Him once again, as we might hear Him in every day of His life: "I will raise him up at the last day". A man cannot say that, and be only a man; he is a lunatic, he is the devil, or he is God. You cannot make a commonplace of him; you find no place in history that he can occupy. Can any man in the world stand this test? Not one. If any man has uttered these words he was less than a man or more than a man; and you cannot find a middle place for him.

II. These are some of the passages. Now these passages put Christ in this position; they utterly discredit Him; He is the victim of His own pretensions; He has discrowned Himself in the presence of sober-minded, honourable criticism. If He had claimed less He might have received more. He would sit down nowhere but on the throne. A man may easily cut up his own claims and pretensions, and may be burned by lighting his own certificates and credentials, and go up with them in their own smoky evaporation. But if the words are true they make Jesus Christ more than a man and better than a man; and you cannot remove those words from the record without removing Christ with them.—Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. III. p13.

Matthew 5:20

People have often tried to find a type of life that might serve as a basement type.... The type must be one discontented with society as it is.

—Walter Pater.

References.—V:20.—F. E. Paget, Faculties and Difficulties for Belief and Unbelief, p100. H. S. Lunn, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxviii1890, p382. H. Hensley Henson, ibid. vol. lxv1904, p136. R. W. Hiley, A Year"s Sermons, vol. ii. p28. H. Varley, Spiritual Light and Life, p129. J. B. Mozley, Sermons Preached Before the University of Oxford, p25. Henry Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. iii. p50. A. G. Mortimer, One Hundred Miniature Sermons, vol. ii. p36. V:21.—F. W. Farrar, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liv1898, p232. Hugh Black, ibid. vol. lxiv1903, p7.

Matthew 5:21-22

One of the commonest and most deep-seated, and perhaps not the least pernicious fallacy in our estimate of relative "goodness," lies in our disposition to rank negative above positive virtue—abstinence from wrong above active duty and distinguished service. There is surely a higher and completer decalogue than the purely prohibitory one of Sinai, taught us by One who surpassed and superseded Moses. "Thou shalt" appeals to nobler natures and befits a more advanced civilization than "Thou shalt not". The early Israelites, just emerging from the double degradation of semi-barbarism and of slavery, and soiled with the brutal passions and the slimy sins belonging to both conditions, had first to be taught the difficult lessons of self-denial and forbearance. On Christians is laid the loftier obligation of active and laborious achievement. It is much for the fierce appetites and feeble wills of savages to abstain from the grosser indulgences of the temper and the flesh—not to steal, not to kill, not to lust, not to lie. But the civilization of a cultured and awakened age can rest content in no such formal or meagre conception of moral duties. It cannot acquiesce in mere self-regarding excellence. It feels that there is something at once loftier, more generous, and more imperative than the asceticism which aims simply at the elaboration and development of the spiritual possibilities of a man"s own nature—and that to serve others, even in miry byways, in menial capacities, in damaging and revolting conditions, is a worthier and more Christian vocation than coddling one"s individual soul. Faire son devoir Isaiah, after all, a nobler purpose than faire son salut.

—W. Rathbone Greg, Literary and Social Judgments, pp488, 489.

References.—V:21, 22.—J. R. Cohu, The Sermon on the Mount, p131. H. Scott Holland, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxix1906, p321. J. R. Walker, ibid. vol. lxxiv1908, p378. V:21-24.—E. Lyttelton, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p135. V:21-26.—J. Oswald Dykes, The Manifesto of the King, p223.

Matthew 5:22

You are to distinguish, of course, controversy from rebuke. The assertion of truth is to be always gentle: the chastisement of wilful falsehood may be—very much the contrary indeed. Christ"s Sermon on the Mount is full of polemic theology, but very gentle: "Ye have heard that it hath been said—but I say unto you"; "and if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? "and the like.

—Ruskin; see also Mornings in Florence, § 112.

High cultivation may help to self-command, but it multiplies the chances of irritative contact. In mansion, in hovel, the strain of life is perpetually felt—between the married, between parent and children, between relatives of every degree, between employers and employed. They debate, they dispute, they wrangle, they explode—their nerves are relieved, and they are ready to begin over again. Quit the home and quarrelling is less obvious, but it goes on all about one. What proportion of the letters delivered any morning would be found to be written in displeasure, in petulance, in wrath? The post-bag shrieks insults or bursts with suppressed malice.

—George Gissing.

References.—V:22.—E. Lyttelton, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p141. W. Leighton Grane, Hard Sayings of Jesus Christ, p151.

Memory At the Altar

Matthew 5:23

There are a hundred things we may and ought to do at the altar. We should bow at the altar with reverence of spirit. We should confess at the altar with penitence of soul. We should sing at the altar with glad thanksgiving. We should make our vows at the altar with earnest purpose. But whatever else we do we must there remember. We must yoke memory to worship else worship will be vain.

I. We must remember our relations with our fellows. That is a secret of blessing at the altar. It is an enrichment of our worship that we remember our happy relations with our fellows.

It is essential to our worship that we remember our unhappy social conditions at the altar. Our brother may have a legitimate grievance against us. We have wronged him. And we are called to remember that unwelcome fact at the holy altar. Leave your gift before the altar, go and be reconciled to your brother, then, with clean hands and a pure heart come and offer your gift. Do not forget the gift and the altar when you have righted yourself with your brother. No social service, however obligatory and beautiful, must lead us to neglect the gift and the altar. Our Lord, Who was the servant of all, was supremely the servant of Jehovah.

There must always be a right relationship between our service of humanity and our sacrifice to God.

When I give God His rights I shall hasten to give man his rights. Philanthropy and worship must blend if both are to be effective. It is indeed a short-sighted policy which would abolish the altar and its worship for the service of humanity. Look at the very meaning of the word worship: it means worthship.

II. Passing from the immediate reference of the text, and still holding to its principle, we must remember the general circumstances of our life. Life"s painful circumstances are seen in their true proportions if remembered at the altar.

III. We must remember our sins. This is not a popular doctrine, nor is it a popular practice. Yet it is a deep necessity of the soul that when we bring our gift to the altar we remember our transgressions. Public worship offers us an immense opportunity for the exercise of memory upon our sins. As Benjamin Jowett of Balliol has said, "The advantage of public worship is that it is also private". The privacy of public worship is its opportunity and its charm. If memory be thus exercised, it shall lead us to a great evangelical victory. We shall pass from the vision of our sin to the vision of the blood of Jesus, God"s Song of Solomon, which cleanseth us from all sin.

—Dinsdale T. Young, Messages for Home and Life, p155.

References.—V:23.—J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in Sackville College Chapel, vol. ii. p70; see also Readings for the Aged (4th Series), p148. V:23-25.—E. Griffith Jones, The Cross and the Dice Box, p39. V:24.—C. E. Jefferson, The Character of Jesus, p147. V:25.—H. Rawlings. Christian World Pulpit, vol. lii1897, p299. V:25, 26.—T. Disney Barlow, Rays from the Sun of Righteousness, p1. W. H. Brookfield, Sermons, p58. E. Lyttelton, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p150. V:26.—F. C. Spurr, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlv1894, p117. V:27, 28.—E. Lyttelton, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p157. "Plain Sermons" by contributors to the Tracts for the Times. vol. ix. p295.

Matthew 5:28

But this is not the rule by which we are to judge our past actions, but to guard our future ones. He who has thoughts of lust or passion is not innocent in the sight of God, and is liable to be carried on to perform the act on which he suffers himself to dwell. And in looking forward, he will do well to remember this caution of Christ"s, but in looking backward, in thinking of others, in endeavouring to estimate the actual amount of guilt or trespass; if he begins by placing thought upon the level of action, he will end by placing action on the level of thought. It would be a monstrous state of mind in which we regarded mere imagination of evil as the same thing with action; hatred as the same with murder; thoughts of impurity as the same with adultery. It is not so that we have learned Christ... However important it may be to remember that the all-seeing eye of God tries the reins, it is no less important to remember also that morality consists in definite acts capable of being seen and judged of by our fellow-creatures.


She was unaware that the distance between us and dreadful crimes is much greater often than it appears to be The man who looks on a woman with adulterous desire has already committed adultery in his heart if he be restrained only by force or fear of detection; but if the restraint, although he may not be conscious of it, is self-imposed, he is not guilty. Nay, even the dread of consequences is a motive of sufficient respectability to make a large difference between the sinfulness of mere lust and that of its fulfilment.

—From Miriam"s Schooling, by Mark Rutherford.

References.—V:28.—C. S. Macfarland, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxx1906, p21.

Matthew 5:29

No man ever took his besetting sin, it may be lust, or pride, or love of rank and position, and, as it were, cut it out by voluntarily placing himself where to gratify it was impossible, without sensibly receiving a new strength of character.


References.—V:29, 30.—E. Lyttelton, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p165. J. B. Mozley, Sermons Parochial and Occasional, p1.

Matthew 5:30

Offence in Scripture does not mean sin itself so much as something suggestive of it; something which puts sin in our way, and places us in imminent danger of giving way to it In all such cases our Lord enjoins a decided line upon man.... After all it is not the temptations which meet men, but the temptations which they go to meet, which they purposely find out, and use all kinds of art and management and subtlety to put themselves in the way of, which do the great mischief in moral and spiritual things.


Matthew 5:39

Is not the public air which European nations breathe at this moment, as it has been for several years back, charged with thunder? Despots are plotting, ships are building, man"s ingenuity is bent, as it never was bent before, on the invention and improvement of instruments of death; Europe is bristling with five millions of bayonets; and this is the condition of the world for which the Son of God died eighteen hundred and sixty-two years ago! There is no mystery of Providence so inscrutable as this; yet, is not the very sense of its mournfulness a proof that the spirit of Christianity is living in the minds of men? For, of a verity, military glory is becoming in our best thoughts a bloody rag, and conquest the first in the catalogue of mighty crimes.... There cannot be a doubt that when the political crimes of kings and governments, the sores that fester in the heart of society, and all "the burden of the unintelligible world," weigh heaviest on the mind, we have to thank Christianity for it. That pure light makes visible the darkness. The Sermon on the Mount makes the morality of nations ghastly. The Divine love makes human hate stand out in dark relief. This sadness, in the essence of it nobler than any joy, is the heritage of the Christian.... If the Christian is less happy than the Pagan, and at times I think he is Song of Solomon, it arises from the reproach of the Christian"s unreached ideal, and from the strings of his finer and more scrupulous conscience.

—Alexander Smith in Dreamthorp.

In the Spectator"s review of James Gilmour"s book, Among the Mongols, it is stated: "As for danger, he had made up his mind not to carry arms, not to be angry with a heathen, happen what might, and—though he does not mention this—not to be afraid of anything whatever, neither dogs, nor thieves, nor hunger, nor the climate; and he kept those three resolutions. If ever on earth there lived a man who kept the law of Christ, and could give proofs of it, and be absolutely unconscious that he was giving them, it is this man whom the Mongols he lived among called "our Gilmour"."

References.—V:30.—W. Allen Whitworth, Church Times, vol. xxxiii1895, p538. V:31, 32.—E. Lyttelton, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p174. V:33, 34.—J. H. Jellett, The Elder Song of Solomon, p129. V:33-37.—C. Gore, Church Times, vol. xlii1899, p174. E. Lyttelton, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p185. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Matthew I-VIII. p208. J. Oswald Dykes, The Manifesto of the King, p265. V:36.—W. M. Sinclair, The New Law, p89.

The Law of Revenge

Matthew 5:38-39

Our Lord is here dealing with one interesting prescription of the old law. It had definitely allowed revenge up to a certain point, but no further. It might go to the point of exact reciprocity.

I. Here we must remark that the law of the old covenant was in itself a limitation of human instinct. The savage instinct of revenge is to rush blindly in, and do as much harm to an enemy as can be done. The savage satisfies himself to the full; he kills the man that has done him wrong and his wife and family. Now nothing is more striking in the old covenant than that it checks barbarous habits and puts them under restraint. The point which needs emphasizing is that the old law worked by way of gradual limitation, not of sudden abolition. God dealt with men gradually. Their savage passions are restrained under the Old Testament as a preparation for the time when they were to be brought under the perfect discipline of the Son of man. So now, when the fullness of the time is come, our Lord lays on this passion of revenge a harder and deeper prescription, and says in fact to each of His disciples: A wrong aimed at thee as an individual Isaiah, so far as thy feeling goes, simply to be an occasion for showing complete liberty of spirit and superiority to all outrage. The Lord requires not moderation in revenge, but complete self-effacement.

II. We may notice that this requirement of self-effacement is of the nature of an ascetic prescription, as when our Lord said," If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out; if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off". The instinct of revenge has in it something that is right: something of the passion of justice. It is a true instinct which makes us feel that for wrong done man should suffer wrong. It is derived from the Divine principle of justice. But in our own cases, where our own interests are concerned, this passion of justice has come to be so mixed up with selfishness, and with those excessive demands which spring of selfishness—in a word, it has become so defiled with sin—that our Lord imposes on it an absolute ban; He says: "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, saith the Lord".

III. The requirement which our Lord lays on His disciples is not only made in words. It was enforced, where the enforcement is most striking, in our Lord"s example. You watch our Lord in His Passion; and when you look delicately and accurately at the details of the treatment He received, you observe how almost intolerably hard to bear were many of His trials. Yet "when He was reviled, He reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously".

—Bishop Gore, Sermon on the Mount, p79.

References.—V:38-42.—S. Chadwick, Humanity and God, p313. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Matthew I-VIII. p210. E. Lyttelton, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p193. W. Leighton Grane, Hard Sayings of Jesus Christ, p77. J. Oswald Dykes, The Manifesto of the King, p287. V:38-48.—C. Gore, Church Times, vol. xxxiii1895, p368.

Matthew 5:39

Macaulay admits this placable and forgiving spirit was a redeeming feature of Lord Bacon"s character. "He bore with meekness his high civil honours, and the far higher honours gained by his intellect. He was very seldom, if ever, provoked into treating any person with malignity and insolence. No man more readily held up the left cheek to those who had smitten the right. No man was more expert at the soft answer which turneth away wrath."

There came one time, when I was in Pall Mall, an ambassador with a company of Irishmen and rude fellows; the meeting was over before they came, and I was gone up into chamber, where I heard one of them say, "He would kill all the Quakers". I went down to him, and was moved in the power of the Lord to speak to him. I told him, "The law said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth; but thou threatenest to kill all the Quakers, though they have done thee no hurt. But," said I, "here is gospel for thee: here is my hair, here is my cheek, and here is my shoulder," turning it to him. This came so over him that he and his companions stood as men amazed, and said, if that was our principle, and if we were as we said, they never saw the like in their lives. I told them what I was in words I was the same in life. Then the ambassador, who had stood without, came in; for he said that Irish colonel was such a desperate man that he durst not come in with him, for fear he should do us some mischief; but truth came over him, and he carried himself lovingly towards us; as also did the ambassador; for the Lord"s power was over them all.

—Fox"s Journal.

References.—V:39.—W. Garrett Horder, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlix1896, p117. J. H. F. Peile, Ecclesia Discern, p222. James Moffatt, The Second Things of Life, p21. V:39-41.—Lyman Abbott, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlix1896, p131.

The Second Mile

Matthew 5:41

I. That for which the second mile stands—the overplus of goodness, unselfishness, and service—is seen throughout the whole Gospel. It characterizes, for instance, Christ"s ample interpretation of the old commandment. "Thou shalt not kill" becomes in His lips "Be not angry". The law forbade adultery—He proscribed evil thought. The law condemned false witness—Christ said, "Let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay". In other words, in His interpretation of the old code Christ taught men to go the second mile—not merely to desist from open sin, but to manifest that specific grace of which the particular sin is the moral antithesis. The same principle is seen also in the record of the measure in which God deals out His blessing to His people. He not only bestows pardon but abundant pardon. He gives not only grace but abounding grace. He promises not only victory in life"s conflicts but makes men "more than conquerors".

II. Applied to life"s compulsions, of which every one of us is conscious—those things of which we can never rid ourselves and from which we can never altogether escape—the doctrine of the second mile enjoins the doing of ordinary toil and the fulfilment of ordinary obligation in the spirit of Christian service It demands that we shall not only be honest in our business dealings but generous also, measuring duty not by financial consideration but in the spirit of Christian service. It means that we look beyond second causes and gladly acknowledge God"s will in all life"s restrictions and burdens.

III. But the glory of the second mile is only to be seen in all its fullness as exemplified in Christ Himself. His life, His teaching, His miracles of healing, His gentleness, the purity of the example, which He left us, may be looked upon as the first mile to which the need of men compelled Him. But love constrained Him still further, and the second mile led Him to Calvary! And still day by day does He manifest that same love in His response to our constraints. For if we invite Him for one mile, and compel Him by faith and prayer with that compulsion to which He always so readily yields, to come into fellowship with us, He always goes further and gives "exceeding abundantly above all that we ask". And if we invite Him for the first mile of life, we need have no fear but that He will come with us twain, even through death and beyond. It is Christ who has made the second mile beautiful, and beckons us on to share its glory.

—J. Stuart Holden, The Pre-Eminent Lord, p119.

References.—V:41.—Rocliffe Mackintosh, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxxiv1908, p189. V:43.—W. M. Sinclair, The New Law, p20. V:43, 44.—H. Hensley Henson, Christ and the Nation, p265. Lyman Abbott, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlix1896, p169. V:43-48.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Matthew I-VIII. p214. J. Oswald Dykes, The Manifesto of the King, p311. E. Lyttelton, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p200. G. Macdonald, Unspoken Sermons, p217. V:44.—J. R. Cohu, The Sermon on the Mount, p142. W. G. Rutherford, The Key of Knowledge, p51. V:45.—Henry Van Dyke, Sermons to Young Men, p193. R. F. Horton, Christian World Pulpit, vol11896, p209. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiv. No1414. V:46, 47.—R. W. Dale, The Evangelical Revival, p60.

Love Your Enemies

Matthew 5:44

It is one of the signs of the Divine originality of Christ that, in the midst of a condition of society which throughout the world was based on national selfishness and racial hatred, He ordered the citizens of His kingdom to act on the very opposite principle of treating every human being as a friend.

"In the time of our Lord, and in the last decrepitude of the morality of nations, the selfishness of human intercourse was much greater than the present age can easily understand. Selfishness, therefore, was not a mere abuse or corruption arising out of the infirmity of human nature, but a theory and almost a part of moral philosophy. It was in the midst of all this recognized and authorized sentiment to the contrary that Christ stood up and said, "Love your enemies "."

We may perhaps have been thrown much together with people whose tastes and opinions were quite different from our own. Each fault that we may have committed has probably been watched by keen observers, who, if they are of the world and not of Christ, will score one against us accordingly. It would probably amaze us beyond measure did we know what is said of us, in our absence, by those of our acquaintances who have occasion to mention our names. We cannot live entirely here amongst people possessed by the Spirit of Christ. We are far more likely to meet with enemies, in the general sense of the word, than with friends.

"I say unto you, Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you; and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you." A hard task to us in our natural state. Unaided we cannot think kindly of the offender. Our lips would more easily form themselves into a curse than a blessing.

I. The Holy Spirit of God alone can help us to this calm, tranquil, undisturbed feeling of Christian benevolence which our Lord commands. That is why our Lord commands it with such confidence. He knows that in God"s strength we can get this temper. But He here is urging it for our own sakes.

It is because such boilings of our blood prevent us from being what we should. They are of the devil, not of God. Christ gives us the reason: "That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven".

II. It is no use having right opinions about religion, unless we get the Holy Spirit to enable us to put them into practice. Think how far more deeply men are every moment offending than even our most cruel enemy has injured us. How easily might God take away the unthankful and the evil from sharing His blessings at all! Yet He allows them to rejoice—filling their hearts with food and gladness, and giving them every opportunity of returning to Him before it is too late. If God can do that, to Whom all sin is so utterly abhorrent, why cannot we overlook these miserable little offences which can only affect the things of this life? Oh, pray more earnestly than ever before for this conquering glorious grace of the Holy Spirit in this thing; that we may reach this happy, unruffled, hopeful temper; not that we may grow indifferent to error and wrongdoing, but that, while doing what we can to bring the counsels of the evil to nought, we may remember all the time that the slanderer, the injurious, or the insolent, are all the time our brethren, misguided children of the same great Father, bought by the same precious Blood, needing the same pardon as ourselves.

Matthew 5:44

There is a class of men who see a great many things to be said against their own side, and a great deal for its adversaries. They fulfil the precept, "Love your enemies," but we could almost wish we were among them, that we might have some chance of impartiality and a small portion of their favour.

—Dr. John Ker.

In George Fox"s Journal for1652he describes a riot, in the course of which a rude mason gave him a severe blow on the back of the hand, bruising the flesh and benumbing the arm, "that I could not draw it unto me again. But I looked at it in the love of God (for I was in the love of God to them all, that had persecuted me)."

Matthew 5:44

There are cases, I grant you—cases of impenitent wickedness—where the higher law is suspended, finds no chance to act—where relief from the bond is itself mercy and justice. But the higher law is always there. You know the formula—" It was said by them of old time—But I say unto you". And then follows the new law of a new society. And so in marriage. If love has the smallest room to work—if forgiveness can find the narrowest foothold—love and forgiveness are imposed on—demanded of—the Christian! here as everywhere else. Love and forgiveness—not penalty and hate!

—Mrs. H. Ward in The Marriage of William Ashe.

I preached in Charles Square to the largest congregation I have ever seen there. Many of the baser people would fain have interrupted, but they found, after a time, it was lost labour. One, who was more serious, was (as she afterwards confessed) exceedingly angry at them. But she was quickly rebuked by a stone which hit on her forehead and struck her down to the ground. In that moment her anger was at an end, and love filled her heart.

—Wesley"s Journal (9 May, 1742).

The Just and the Unjust

Matthew 5:45

Why does God cause His sun to rise on the evil as well as the good? why does He send the rain on the unjust as well as on the just? God, because He is God, never acts without reason. There is a meaning and purpose in this matter, as indeed there is a meaning and purpose in all God"s dealings, and in all God"s works; and what you and I want to pray for, is the clear eye and the attentive mind and the enlightened heart to understand these things.

Now there seem to be three reasons at any rate why God causes the sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends the rain on the just and unjust.

I. He Wants us to Believe in His Fatherhood, in its widest meaning. God wants us to realize that He is the Father of all men, whether they be good or whether they be bad, and because God is the Father of all men He must, nay, He loves to show His abundant works of love to all men, so instead of the indifference of Nature, we have before us the great beneficence of God. We see God in the light of a loving Father, making ample, making equal provision for all His children, bad and good. Now God the Father is doing nothing unjust in all this. When He does this He is doing, when you come to think of it, He is doing exactly what a good earthly father would do. Picture to yourself a father who has many children. Some of them may be dearer and closer to him than the others. There may be one son who may love him better than his brothers and sisters, and that one son of his may have won his father"s heart more than all the rest of the family put together. But that father does not confine his attention to the best beloved of the family. No, he exercises his fatherly care over all his children, all of them; he clothes all of them, he feeds all and educates all of them, he tries to set all out in life, he toils for all of them. Why? Because he is the father of them all, and so with God the Father. We are all His children, the worst as well as the best of men. He never forgets us, He never disowns us, He tries to win us wanderers back, by giving us fresh signs of His love and goodwill.

II. The World is not a Place of Judgment, but it is a Place of Probation.—The good and the evil—we know it—the good and the evil are working and living in this world Today, side by side, and Jesus Christ Himself recognized this fact, in that most instructive parable of the tares and the wheat. In that parable He bade us not to judge anybody, but to let the good and the bad remain together unseparated until the harvest—that means as long as this world lasts. The good and the bad are to remain undistinguished.

III. God Wants to Teach us the Length and Breadth of His Forgiving Love.—The gifts and blessings of Nature give us some faint idea of His love. Only a faint idea God bestows all the loveliness of the world upon such sinners as we are. Then, though we wander from God, though we forget God, still the sun shines, still refreshing rain comes. And all this He does, He continues to do, for this reason, to bid us to look up and see that Father, with Whom is no variableness neither shadow of turning. We love change, but God never changes. He always is our Father. He always loves us. In spite of ourselves, in spite of our selfishness, in spite of our sins, God Who hates sin with a hatred of which He alone is capable, God still continues to bless us and give us all we need. He still loves to give good unto men, What a forgiving love that must be!

Matthew 5:45

The sun does not wait for prayers and incantations in order to be induced to rise, but shines out forthwith and is hailed by all; so do not you wait for applause and praise to be induced to do good, but do it of your own accord, and you will be as much loved as the sun.


Matthew 5:45

"But," adds Bacon, after quoting this verse in his essay upon Goodness, "he doth not raise wealth, nor shine Honour and Vertues, upon Men equally. Common benefits are to be communicate with all; but peculiar Benefits, with choice."

Matthew 5:46

It would be a great step in advance for most of us to love anybody, and the publicans of the time of Jesus must have been a much more Christian set than most Christians of the present day; but that we should love those who do not love us is a height never scaled now except by a few of the elect in whom Christ still survives.

—Mark Rutherford"s Deliverance.

If any of the Indians in Georgia were sick (which indeed exceedingly rarely happened, till they learned gluttony and drunkenness from the Christians), those that were near him gave him whatever he wanted. O, who will convert the English into honest Heathens!

—Wesley"s Journal (8 Feb, 1753).

The Distinctiveness of the Christian Life

Matthew 5:47

The drift of this passage is the distinctiveness of the Christian life. Christ has an ideal of His own to offer to the world; His type of goodness is original, is unique, and the lives of those who follow Him are to furnish the proof of it.

The illustration in the text may seem a trivial one; but it is not so. Manners make the man always.

Half the battle of human advancement is gained when men have learned to give to one another not less than they receive from one another. The social equilibrium is maintained on these terms, and the individual life is preserved in well-being and peace.

I. Law and Personal Duty.—The regrettable thing is when with this, the legal standard for society, there is confounded the moral standard for the individual. Israel had never learned to distinguish between personal duty and civic obligation. The standard of mere equity is a noble enough standard in its way, and even when most unpleasing may extort an admiration of a kind. It is not the Christian standard.

II. Retaliation and Non-Resistance.—The non-resistance of injury. "I say unto you, Resist not evil," etc. And here, let us remember, that it is the individual life that is referred to. Christ speaks to the private life, leaving societies and nations free, as they are inherently bound, to maintain right in the world by the final argument if need be. The temper that will not take offence invariably ends by disarming violence. The supreme example, of course, is the Son of man. In His life meekness is a notable trait throughout.

III. The Christian and His Enemy.—Your persecutor is to be loved. No one anywhere is to be hated, and nothing is to be hated but hate.

That is a high pitch of virtue to rise to. But, you observe, we are offered here a ladder of self-discipline by which to rise to it. First comes the injunction, "Bless them that curse you". Then, next, he is to do his enemy good. For, as we all know, nothing is so treacherous as feeling. He is to pray for his enemy. The most real and irrefragable thing in the whole universe is surely the Divine Heart which is the radiant, life-giving core of it. And what does that Heart do but just this: bless its enemies, and load them daily with benefits and yearn over them evermore.

—A. Martin, Christian World Pulpit, vol. LXXII:1907, p88.

The Ministry and the Masses

Matthew 5:47

The relation of working men to the churches is determined by many things, and one of them is worth special consideration. When I think of the impressions received in my artisan days, and compare them with later experience, I have to recognize in crowds of the workers a deep-rooted prejudice, not so much against the office of the ministry as against the men who hold it. That this prejudice is as a stone wall between them, no one who knows the former will seriously question.

The prejudice, not to use a stronger term, exists; and, until they can fight it down, ministers must reckon with it as best they can. Of one thing I am persuaded: it will yield to no assumption of orders; it is impervious to argument; and it is proof against appeals to respect the ministerial office for its own sake. Nothing can make an impression on this prejudice but an example which works out in self-sacrifice, character, and courage. If ministers are to be highly esteemed, it must be for their work"s sake.

I. It is the first of these that goes to the quick of the problem. It is self-sacrifice. Religion must always find its dynamic through the heart. He who holds the heart in the service of religion is a giant as compared with a vastly abler man who but influences the mind. "All men are commanded by the soul." The Koran makes a distinct class of those who are by nature good, and whose goodness has an influence on others, and pronounces this class to be the aim of religion. The light of the saintly spirit which, as it has often been remarked, is a form of the heroic spirit, shines through the wrappings of education and dogma, and reveals to us the synthetic power and beauty of sacrifice. It is not reason or ability, it is not money or mechanism, nor these combined, that can effectually lift the race. Nothing, on our side of the question, can do this but good men. Man is God"s means for acting upon men. Whether God could save the world apart from human agency we know not. This is certain, He has not so far willed to do so. God in Christ is the Supreme Sacrifice for the salvation of the world; and man"s power with man is obedience to the same profound law.

It is one great weakness of our Protestant Churches that we produce so few saints who strike the imagination of the people. We somehow fail, all but entirely, to achieve the type of man and woman which is to the sacerdotal Churches what pageantry or sentiment is in politics. Who, for example, during the last quarter of a century has given nobler hostage to the imagination of the workers than the late Father Dolling? A man who offered his life on the altar of the unreached majority; who lived and moved amid human wreckage and moral hopelessness, probably unmatched on the face of the earth. Broken in health and consumed in little more than half his days; living daily, as we are told, with vagabonds at his table and outcasts sleeping at night under his roof, this man"s life was an incarnation of the divinest of all motives—the redemption of the lowest in the Saviour"s name.

And when he "underwent the ceremony of death" men who rarely speak of the Christian religion without a sneer, and newspapers that exist nearest the ground, bore willing testimony to a sacrifice that finds its way through the imagination to the heart as nothing else can. Father Damien, diseased and rotting among his lepers, and Father Dolling, toiling for the outcasts of London, are of the same spiritual kin. "No Prayer of Manasseh," says a wise teacher, "ever casts the wealth of his life and the crown of his devotion at the feet of Jesus without quickening the earth with diviner life, and uplifting it with a new courage."

II. Next to self-sacrifice character can do much to break down popular prejudice against ministers as a class. One of the first and hardest things they have to do is to convince the masses that they preach what they believe, and, as far as possible, live what they preach. Ministers must make men feel that the message which they claim to have received of the Lord Jesus is for themselves, and, as they believe, for others, nothing less than a matter of eternal life or death. I do not exaggerate when I say that eighteen out of every twenty working men whom I knew intimately in my factory days regarded ministers as men who, like the augurs of ancient Rome, laughed in themselves and to one another over a huge business of make-believe, which it was to their interest to keep in existence as long as possible. I shall say nothing about the unworthy side of the justification for this impression. It has not been to seek in the past, and it can be found Today. Enough for my purpose to remark that the popular idea is a severe idea, of what is fitting between ministerial profession and conduct. The idea may be unfair, it may be absurd, but it is there, and the minister will disregard it only at the cost of his own influence.

III. Then, again, a potent force in the ministry is courage, and it was never more needed.

The courage that is needed preeminently is the courage of the Christian message. "I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation," said the great Apostle. There is no lack of power in the world, but it is not power unto salvation. Civilization means the domination of human intelligence over natural conditions; salvation means civilization quickened into life which can be affirmed of God. Until we grasp the difference between that which is native to Prayer of Manasseh, and that which is the gift of God in Jesus Christ, we may talk never so wisely about progress, but we talk in a circle.

Let our tongue cleave to the roof of our mouth rather than by a word we should encourage any impression that the world has its substitute for the dayspring from on high. Let us pray to be, and pray for, men with the courage of our message.

—Ambrose Shepherd, The Gospel and Social Questions, p171.

References.—V:47.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xviii. No1029. J. Denney, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvii1895, p188; see also vol. lviii1900, p24. C. Silvester Horne, ibid. vol. lviii1900, p17.

Matthew 5:48

"These words," says Julius Hare, "declare that the perfect renewal of God"s image in man is not a presumptuous vision, not like a madman"s attempt to clutch a handful of stars, but an object of righteous enterprise, which we may and ought to long for and strive after.... Be ye perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. This is the angel-trumpet which summons man to the warfare of duty. This, and nothing less than this, is the glorious price set before him. Do our hearts swell with pride at the thought that this is what we ought to be, what we might be? A single glance at the state of the world, at what we ourselves are, must quench that pride, and turn it into shame."

His whole life was but one noble, earnest effort to follow His Master"s call; that call which sets no lower ideal before the Christian than one of absolute, moral beauty, the very Beauty of God Himself. "Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." There is but one way to attain this height, either practically or intellectually; and that Isaiah, to aim ceaselessly at all that is highest, noblest, most beautiful; and of all men I have ever known, this dear brother pursued such an aim most earnestly.

—PÈre Gratry on Henri Perreyve.

References.—V:48.—A. Earle, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liv1898, p132. J. E. Carpenter, ibid. vol. lx1901, p202. F. W. Robertson, Sermons Preached at Brighton (3Series), p143. C. J. Vaughan, Characteristics of Christ"s Teaching, p121. J. Martineau, Hours of Thought on Sacred Things, p72. Prebendary Shelford, Religion in Common Life, p1. J. T. Bramston, Sermons to Boys, p94. Bishop Creighton, University and Other Sermons, p110. W. J. Knox-Little, The Perfect Life, p1. S. Chadwick, Humanity and God, p1. VI.—C. Gore, Church Times, vol. xxxiii1895, p429. VI:1.—F. E. Paget, Sermons on Duties of Daily Life, p251. E. Lyttelton, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p209. J. Oswald Dykes, The Manifesto of the King, p333. H. C. Beeching, Faith, p21. VI:1-5.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Matthew I-VIII. p220. VI:1-9, 10.—H. Scott Holland, Church Times, vol. liii1905, p155. VI:1-18.—W. Boyd Carpenter, The Cheat Charter of Christ, p187.

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. 1910.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Matthew 5:13-16. Disciple functions. It is quite credible that these sentences formed part of the Teaching on the Hill. Jesus might say these things at a comparatively early period to the men to whom He had already said: I will make you fishers of men. The functions assigned to disciples here are not more ambitious than that alluded to at the time of their call. The new section rests on what goes before, and postulates possession of the attributes named in the Beatitudes. With these the disciples will be indeed the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Vitally important functions are indicated by the two figures. Nil sole et sale utilius was a Roman proverb (Pliny, H. N., 31, 9). Both harmonise with, the latter points expressly to, a universal destination of the new religion. The sun lightens all lands. Both also show how alien it was from the aims of Christ to be the teacher of an esoteric faith.



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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Matthew 5:16. . Do ye as they do in cottage life: apply the parable.— , let your light shine. Don’t use means to prevent it, turning the rare exception of household practice into the rule, so extinguishing your light, or at least rendering it useless. Cowards can always find plausible excuses for the policy of obscuration—reasons of prudence and wisdom: gradual accustoming of men to new ideas; deference to the prejudices of good men; avoidance of rupture by premature outspokenness; but generally the true reason is fear of unpleasant consequences to oneself. Their conduct Jesus represents as disloyalty to God— , etc. The shining of light from the good works of disciples glorifies God the Father in heaven. The hiding of the light means withholding glory. The temptation arises from the fact—a stern law of the moral world it is—that just when most glory is likely to accrue to God, least glory comes to the light-bearer; not glory but dishonour and evil treatment his share. Many are ready enough to let their light shine when honour comes to themselves. But their “light” is not true heaven-kindled light; their works are not , noble, heroic, but (Matthew 7:17), ignoble, worthless, at best of the conventional type in fashion among religious people, and wrought often in a spirit of vanity and ostentation. This is theatrical goodness, which is emphatically not what Jesus wanted. Euthy. Zig. says: .

Note that here, for the first time in the Gospel, Christ’s distinctive name for God, “Father,” occurs. It comes in as a thing of course. Does it presuppose previous instruction? (So Meyer.) One might have expected so important a topic as the nature and name of God to have formed the subject of a distinct lesson. But Christ’s method of teaching was not scholastic or formal. He defined terms by discriminating use; Father, e.g., as a name for God, by using it as a motive to noble conduct. The motive suggested throws light on the name. God, we learn, as Father delights in noble conduct; as human fathers find joy in sons who acquit themselves bravely. Jesus may have given formal instruction on the point, but not necessarily. This first use of the title is very significant. It is full, solemn, impressive: your Father, He who is in the heavens; so again in Matthew 5:45. It is suggestive of reasons for faithfulness, reasons of love and reverence. It hints at a reflected glory, the reward of heroism. The noble works which glorify the Father reveal the workers to be sons. The double-sided doctrine of this logion of Jesus is that the divine is revealed by the heroic in human conduct, and that the moral hero is the true son of God. Jesus Himself is the highest illustration of the twofold truth.



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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Shine; let the goodness of your principles be seen in your conduct, that men may be led to honor God, the author of all good. Consistent Christian example is a means of leading men to honor God, and of greatly promoting their highest good.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". "Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.

F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary

THE LORD THEN began to speak to His disciples, though in the presence of the multitude, instructing them in the principles of the kingdom. First of all He showed what kind of people are going to possess the kingdom and enjoy its benefits. In the kingdoms of men today a man needs plenty of self-confidence and ‘pushyness’ if he is to be a success, but the opposite holds good for the kingdom of heaven. This had been already indicated in the Old Testament: Psalms 37:1-40, for instance, especially verse Matthew 5:11, plainly states it; yet the Lord here gives us a much enlarged view of this fact. He really sketches for us a moral picture of the godly remnant who will finally enter the kingdom. Eight things does He mention, beginning with poverty of spirit and ending with persecution, and there is a sequence in their order. Repentance produces poverty of spirit, and there all must start. Then comes the mourning and the meekness induced by a true sight of oneself, followed by a thirst for the righteousness which is only found in God. Then, filled with that, the saint comes out in God’s own character— mercy, purity, peace. But the world does not want God or His character, hence persecution closes the list.

The blessing, contemplated in verses Matthew 5:3-10, is to be fully realized in the kingdom of heaven, when it is established on earth. In each beatitude save the last the godly are described in an impersonal way: in verses Matthew 5:11-12 the Lord speaks personally to His disciples. The “they” of verse Matthew 5:10 changes to the “ye” of verse Matthew 5:11; and now, speaking to His disciples, reward in heaven is promised. He knew that these disciples of His were to pass on into a new and heavenly order of things, and so while reaffirming old things in a clearer light, He began to intimate some of the new things that were soon to come. The change in these two verses is striking and helps to show the character of the “Sermon on the Mount,” in which the Lord summarized His teaching, and related it to the old things given through Moses. In John 13:1-38; John 14:1-31; John 15:1-27; John 16:1-33, which we may call “The Sermon in the Upper Room,” we find Him expanding His teaching and relating it to the full light He would give when the Holy Ghost was come.

In persecution for His sake His disciples were to be blessed, and they were to recognize this and rejoice. Naturally we shrink from persecution but history proves the truth of these words. Those who are identified with Christ fully and boldly have to suffer, but they are sustained and recompensed; whereas those, who try to avoid it by compromise, miss all the recompense, and are miserable. And further, it is when the disciple is persecuted by the world that most definitely he is “the salt of the earth,” and “the light of the world.” Salt preserves, and light illuminates. We cannot be like healthful salt in the earth if we are of the earth. We cannot be as a light lifted up in the world if we are of the world. Now nothing more helps to keep us distinct and separate from the earth and world than persecution from the world, no matter what form it takes. Persecuted for Christ’s sake, the disciple is real salty salt, and he also emits a maximum of light. Does not this word of our Lord reveal to us the secret of much of our feebleness?

Notice too that the light is supposed to shine in things practical, not merely in things theological. It is not that men recognize it in our clear or original teachings expressed in words, but rather in our acts and works. They should certainly hear our good words, but they must see our good works, if we are to be light to them. The word for “good” here does not mean exactly benevolent but rather upright or honest. Such actions find their source in the Father in heaven: they shed His light and glorify Him.

From verse Matthew 5:17 to the end of Matthew 5:1-48 we find the Lord giving the connection between what He taught and that which had been given through Moses. He had not come to annul or destroy what had previously been given but rather to give the fulness of it—for such is the meaning here of the word, “fulfil.” He corroborated and enforced all that had been said, as verses Matthew 5:18-19 show, and not one word that God had spoken was to be broken. And moreover as verse Matthew 5:20 shows, He insisted that the righteousness which the law demanded had in it a fulness which far exceeds anything known or recognized by the superficial scribes and Pharisees of His day. They rendered a technical obedience in ceremonial matters and ignored the real spirit of the law and the object which God had in view. Their righteousness did not lead to the kingdom.

Consequently He proceeded to show that there was a fulness of meaning in the law’s demands that men had not suspected, referring to no less than six points as illustrating His theme. He spoke of the sixth and seventh commandments; then of the law as to divorce in Deuteronomy 24:1, then as to oaths in Leviticus 19:12; then of the law of retribution as given in Exodus 21:24 and elsewhere; and lastly of such a sanctioning of hatred towards enemies as is found in Deuteronomy 23:6.

As to the two commandments He quoted, His teaching evidently is that God has respect not only to the overt act but also to the inward disposition of the heart. What is prohibited is not merely the act of murder or adultery but the hatred and the lust of which the act is the expression. Judged by this standard, who is going to stand before the holy demands of Sinai? The “righteousness” of the scribe and Pharisee utterly collapses. Yet in both cases, having exposed this fact, He added some further instruction.

In verses Matthew 5:23-26, He showed two things of importance: first, no offering is acceptable to God if it be presented while there is unrighteousness manward. We cannot condone wrong towards man by professed piety towards God. Only when reconciliation has been effected can God be approached. Then, second, if the matter which causes estrangement is carried to law, the law must take its course apart from mercy. The Lord’s words here doubtless have prophetic significance. The Jewish nation was about to prosecute their case against Him, turning Him into their “adverse party,” and it will issue in their condemnation. They have not even yet paid the uttermost farthing.

So with the next instance: here He shows us that any sacrifice is worthwhile, if it but leads to a deliverance from the hell that lies at the end.

In the third and fourth cases (31-37) He again shows us that what was ordained through Moses did not express the full mind of God. Both divorce and swearing were permitted, and thus the standard that men had to attain was not made too severe. Both matters are here set in a fuller light, and we see that only one thing is to be permitted to dissolve the marriage bond; and then that men’s word should be so unequivocal and binding, that taking strong oaths, by this or that, is not needed. The man, who backs nearly every assertion by an oath, is a man whose simple word is not to be trusted.

Then again the law stipulated retribution of a very even kind for injury inflicted. It enjoined what we should call “tit for tat”; as also, while calling for love to one’s neighbour, it permitted the hatred of an enemy. This the Lord reversed. He inculcated forbearance and the grace that gives, rather than the insistence upon one’s rights; and also the love that will bless and do good to the enemy. And all this in order that His disciples may be quite distinct from the sinners of the world, and come out in the character of God Himself.

God is presented to them not as Jehovah, the Lawgiver, but as “your Father which is in heaven.” That is to say, He is now presented in a new light. It is this that governs the teachings of the Lord here, for if we know Him in this new way, we discover Him to be marked by benevolence towards the unjust and the evil, and we are to be in our measure what He is. In the ministry of Jesus a new revelation of God was dawning, and it entailed a new standard of perfection. We are to come out practically as sons of our Father in heaven, for the perfection of a son is to be as the Father.

Eight times over does He say in this chapter, “I say unto you,” and on six of these occasions the words are preceded by the word, “But,” throwing

His statement into contrast with what the law had previously said. We may well ask, “Who is this that quotes the holy law of God, and then calmly says, “But I say unto you”—so and so? He actually alters and enlarges the law, a thing that no prophet had ever dared to do! Does this not amount to terrible presumption, bordering on blasphemy?” Yes, indeed, and only one explanation will lift this charge from off Him. But that one explanation is true: here we have the original Lawgiver, who once spoke from Sinai. Now He has come forth in Manhood as Emmanuel. Emmanuel has gone up another mountain, and now speaks not to a nation but to His disciples. He has every right to enlarge or amend His own law.

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Hole, Frank Binford. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". "F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary". 1947.

F.B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary


Matthew 5:10-16

We must expect to be persecuted, if we hold up the pure light of a consistent life amid the evils of the world. Men hate the light which exposes their misdeeds. They will tolerate you only so long as you leave them alone. But the universal testimony of those who have suffered thus is that the Son of man walks through the furnace beside His faithful martyrs.

Our holy lives ought to act as salt to arrest the corruption around us. It is said that the presence of a child has arrested many a crime. A sudden silence should fall on certain kinds of conversation when we enter the room. But it is very easy to lose our saltness, as did Lot in Sodom and the seven churches of Asia. See also Ezekiel 15:2-5. Our lives ought to serve also as light. The spirit of man is a candle. See Proverbs 20:27. We need to be kindled by the nature of God. Men light candles and God will light you. Let us burn and shine as John did, John 5:35. Beware of the bushel and ask God to choose your stand.

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Meyer, Frederick Brotherton. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". "F. B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary". 1914.

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible

5. The Proclamation of the King concerning His Kingdom. Chapters 5-7

1. The Characteristics of the heirs of the Kingdom.(Matthew 5:1-16.)
2. The Confirmation of the Law and its Expansion.(
Matthew 5:17-48.)


In the closing of the last chapter we saw our Lord Jesus Christ surrounded by a great multitude of people, which followed Him and who were attracted by the King’s presence, before whom the various diseases had to flee. If we turn to the eighth chapter we find the continuation of these scenes we had in the last half of the fourth chapter. Between these two chapters are three very important ones, which are as such found only in this Gospel. The contents of the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters are in the form of a continued discourse of our Lord, commonly called “the sermon on the mount,” an expression which the reader knows is nowhere found in the Gospels. If we look through Mark, Luke and John we do not find any such report there of a lengthy discourse; indeed, except a number of fragments in the Gospel of Luke, we find nothing whatever in them about these sayings. When we turn to the Gospel of Luke, we find that the portions of this discourse reported there are in an entirely different setting. We point to that which is generally called “the Lord’s prayer.” In Luke we read (chapter 11) that as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, one of His disciples said unto Him, Lord, teach us to pray, even as John also taught his disciples. And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father, etc. Now in Matthew there is no such incident, but the disciples hear it in a continual flow of speech. We also call attention to the fact that the call of Matthew is reported in the ninth chapter, the call of the twelve disciples in the tenth, here his discourse is placed before these historical events. The Holy Spirit, to carry through the wonderful scope of the first Gospel, has put the words of our Lord together into one continued address to His disciples, in the very midst of the most positive evidences that the King has come and Jehovah is in the midst of His people. When the King is manifest He utters His proclamation. Such is the discourse before us here in Matthew, the proclamation of the Lord Jesus Christ as King. And if the King proclaims, makes known His proclamation, it must be concerning the Kingdom which He came to bring, preached and offered to the people. Let this, then, be the starting-point of our analysis of this discourse. The so-called sermon on the mount is a proclamation concerning the Kingdom, the magna charta of the Kingdom of heavens.

In the next place let us consider three false applications which are being made of the discourse of our Lord before us.

1. The application to the unsaved, unbelieving mass of Christendom and others, as if in the sermon on the mount the way to righteousness is revealed and human nature’s development (as they say) were here shown, for which every man should strive. This, of course, is the grossest error possible. The discourse speaks of the characteristics of persons who are saved, who have redemption. There is nowhere found in it the word redemption, nor is salvation mentioned and pointed out; in other words, the way a sinner is saved is not revealed here, but, as the greater part of the discourse was addressed exclusively to disciples, the Lord is speaking about such who are saved and not sinners. Yet how little this is understood.

In our days more than ever before we notice an astonishing misuse of the sermon on the mount. The saddest of all is that many preachers of various evangelical denominations fall back upon it as the most important document of Christendom; for them it seems to become more and more the Gospel, and the consequences are that we hear in our times more ethical preaching, more about becoming better, doing good, improving your better self, etc., than ever before. It would require much time and a great deal of space to show up all the errors which are springing from this application. It is the Gospel of works and of evolution. And as this is done there is less preaching of the utter corruption of man, his lost condition and utter helplessness to be righteous (that which the discourse makes very clear), and the salvation of God in our Lord Jesus Christ, the absolute necessity of being born again, the reception of eternal life, the new nature. As the teachings of the Epistle to the Romans have been and are being abandoned in Christendom, the false application of the discourse here in Matthew has been taken up. There is therefore a continual increase of teaching about lifting man out of his lost place into a better sphere by means of ethical teachings taken from the sermon on the mount. This is done also under the garb of a social Christianity, union of worshippers (?), the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. Not long ago we were told of a reformed rabbi who read in his synagogue on Saturday portions of the sermon on the mount and preached on it to his hearers. This was hailed as a favorable sign of the progress made toward the lifting up of humanity. Surely, if evangelical preachers (in creed at least) continue to progress in this awful direction by substituting ethical teachings for salvation by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and declare, as not a few have done, “the sermon on the mount is a large enough Bible for us,” a general apostasy from the faith will soon be reached. There is a lifting up of the sinner from his miserable place into sonship and making him the heir of God, but that is never by the sermon on the mount, by striving to obtain the heavenly righteousness revealed here.

2. There are others who give the discourse in Matthew 5:1-48; Matthew 6:1-34; Matthew 7:1-29 an exclusively Christian application.

This is the second false application. We cannot put into the discourse exclusively church teachings and say that all found here is to be applied to the church, and that it is the guide for the church, as some have said. If the Lord had had the church in her heavenly calling and character in mind, the place given to the discourse would be all wrong. The Lord mentions the church the first time in the sixteenth chapter, and if following the sixteenth chapter He had spoken these words we might say that we should find in it the church. He said something to His disciples after He had declared that He would build His church, which applies to the church. A good deal in the sermon on the mount appears mostly in connection with the earth. The meek are to inherit the earth. The church, however, is heavenly. Not here, but in the Epistles, written after the death, resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ and after the Holy Spirit had come down from heaven, do we find all about the church. The magna charta of the church is in the Epistles of Paul, to whom the full revelation of the church was given. Out of this misconception has sprung a good deal of error. People attempt to make the sermon on the mount the standard of their lives; they apply it to themselves in the least details and get into legal bondage. The flesh given so much to legality likes this only too well. Here the greatest mischief comes in, that believers do not see clearly what grace has done, and that their heavenly walk does not spring from a contemplation of a series of descriptions of the character and actions of regenerated persons, but by the fact that we look upon ourselves as lifted into the highest heaven once and for all in the person of our perfect High Priest. A heavenly walk is the outcome of a heavenly contemplation. But this not being seen, professing Christendom, amongst it many true believers, stumble around in the sermon on the mount. In this way it has come about that the “Our Father” (the name next to “Lord’s prayer” given to the prayer, our Lord taught His disciples.) has become the ritualistic prayer of Christendom, repeated at numerous occasions.

3. The last false interpretation is that one, which makes the sermon on the mount exclusively Jewish.

There are not a few who refuse to consider the three chapters in Matthew as having any reference to Christian believers at all and as if there is no application to be made in this direction and the believer could afford to pass them by entirely and not be concerned about it. This is the other extreme and equally wrong.

In our exegesis of the three chapters, (which of necessity we have to condense considerably) we shall always in every part look upon the sermon on the mount as the proclamation of the King concerning the Kingdom. That Kingdom is not the church, nor is the state of the earth in righteousness, governed and possessed by the meek, brought about by the agency of the church. It is the millennial earth and the Kingdom to come, in which Jerusalem will be the city of a great King. We read in the Old Testament that when the Kingdom comes, for which these Jewish disciples of our Lord were taught to pray, the law will go forth out of Zion and the Word of the Lord ¦ from Jerusalem . While we have in the Old Testament the outward manifestations of the Kingdom of the heavens as it will be set up in the earth in a future day, we have here the inner manifestation, the principles of it. Yet this never excludes application to us who are His heavenly people, members of His body, who will share the heavenly throne in the heavenly Jerusalem with Him. Israel ‘s calling is earthly; theirs is an earthly kingdom, ours is altogether heavenly. “In the sermon on the mount we have, then, the principles of the Kingdom of heaven, with very plain references to the millennial earth Yet let it not be thought that this takes from us the application to ourselves which Christians seek in it. The fuller revelation only completes the partial one; the higher blessing but transcends the lower. Through all dispensations God is the same God, and we are ‘blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.’ Of many things we can only argue, indeed a more perfect (or at least a fuller application) to ourselves than to them. To take from Israel what is hers is only to diminish her and not enrich ourselves. Nay, what has been called in this way the spiritualizing of the promises has led most surely and emphatically to the carnalizing of the church.” (F.W. Grant on Matthew, page 70.)

The Kingdom has, then, a heavenly and an earthly side. Both are seen in the discourse, but the earthly is predominant. In itself the discourse is most perfect. The sevenfold division is well known. We mention them here, and will take up each for a very brief consideration.

1. The characteristics of the Heirs of the Kingdom (Matthew 5:1-16).

2. The Law goes forth from Zion . It is confirmed and expounded by the King (Matthew 5:17-48).

3. The better righteousness (Matthew 6:1-18).

4. Kept in the world. Single-eyed, trusting in God (Matthew 6:19-34).

5. The judgment of righteousness (Matthew 7:1-14).

6. Warning against false prophets (Matthew 7:15-20).

7. Warning against false professors (Matthew 7:21-29).

Most of these sections may again be divided into seven parts. The number seven is the perfect number, and as He is the divine King, the perfect King, all that proceeds out of His mouth is perfection. We have seven expansions of the law, seven parts of the better righteousness, and seven petitions in the prayer our Lord taught His disciples.

The first section in the fifth chapter from the first verse to the sixteenth is before us. Seeing the crowds He went up into the mountain, and having sat down, His disciples came to Him; having opened His mouth He taught them. Moses the mediator of the old covenant went up into the mountain where he received the law; but here is a greater one than Moses, the Mediator of a better covenant and the King at the same time. He begins with blessings, the blessings of grace.

The blessings in themselves are most wonderful in their scope and inexhaustible in their meaning. We can but call the attention to a few thoughts in connection with them.

We notice seven beatitudes which show forth the character of those who are the heirs of the kingdom. These are:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens.

Blessed they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.

Blessed the merciful, for they shall find mercy.

Blessed the pure in heart for they shall see God.

Blessed the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.

These seven blessings must be divided into two parts. The division is into four and three. Four is the earthly number and three the heavenly. In the first four we see the characteristics of the heirs of the kingdom in their position in the earth, waiting for the kingdom of the heavens and the inheritance of the earth, and in the last three the inner characteristics as the heirs of the kingdom have them by having become the partakers of the divine nature. Let us remind ourselves once more that the Lord does not speak to unsaved persons, but to His disciples. The blessings do not speak of what a person should be, or strive to be, but what they are. All here is contrary to the natural man, everything is strange to his disposition. It is only the Grace of God in Christ Jesus which can produce this. The gift of God is eternal life in our Lord Jesus Christ. He Himself is the true God and the eternal life, which has been manifested and which is communicated to every one who believes and thus hath the Son. Believing in Him we receive life and are partakers of the divine nature. Here we have the description of one who is in possession of this new nature and as it manifests itself. (The first Epistle of John shows the same characteristics). One has said very pointedly: “At the beginning of His career, Christ draws the picture of the person who is to be the result of His work. This is the ideal man whom the Saviour is to make actual by saving him from sin.” (Western on Matthew) How great then the blindness of those teachers in Christendom who make the sermon on the mount, the beatitudes, the Gospel, and who attempt to reform the world by it.

In the first place let us consider that in the seven blessings we have the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He is the fullest expression of all. He is the highest illustration of these characteristics. It is a most blessed study to see how the Word speaks of Him as the one who was poor and needy, who became poor for our sake. He took that place for us. He could say, “I am poor and sorrowful” (Psalms 69:29). and, “Bow down thine ear, O Jehovah, for I am poor and needy” (Psalms 86:1), and again, “For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me” (Psalms 109:22). And He who humbled Himself receives the kingdom. He was while on earth the man of sorrows and acquainted with griefs. He Himself took our infirmities and bare our diseases. Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus and over Jerusalem, and in that night of deepest gloom He offered both supplications and entreaties to Him who was able to save Him out of death with strong crying and tears (Hebrews 5:7). He was the great mourner and He was comforted; heard because of His piety and raised from the dead. We know Him as the One who was meek and lowly in heart. He did not cry, nor lift up, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street (Isaiah 41:2). And now the earth is surely the Lord’s and the fulness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein (Psalms 24:1-10). Thou madest Him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under His feet (Psalms 8:1-9). As the hungering and thirsting One, He was here, too, hating iniquity and loving righteousness, His meat and drink to do the will of Him who sent Him. And surely He sees and shall see the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied. Mercy and Purity and Peace were embodied in Him.

Every one then who is born of God has by grace these characteristics. Poor in spirit is the very first characteristic. The unsaved sinner knows nothing of it. It is altogether the work of the Holy Spirit. It means to take the right place before God, which is in the dust in absolute helplessness. It is the continued attitude of a saved person in the earth, poverty in spirit and entire dependence upon the Lord. The mourning which comes next should not be made to mean grieving on account of personal sin. It is rather over the results of sin, the present conditions of things in the earth. Thus our Lord grieved and mourned. The comfort is that coming redemption from the presence of sin and entrance into that heavenly inheritance which belongs to us in Christ Jesus. But having taken the true place before God, and knowing the evil and mourning on account of it, what is to be our path on the earth? Blessed are the meek! Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness! This is the way of the heirs of the kingdom, waiting for the manifestation of it.

When we come to the next three blessings, we find the divine origin of the children of God brought out. It would be very helpful to compare these last three beatitudes with the first Epistle of John. God is righteous, God is light and God is love. Everyone who is born of God is righteous, he is in the light and he loves. The love of God which comes down from heaven is perfected in Him. Merciful would stand for Righteousness, purity in heart for Light and peacemaker for Love. These are then called the sons of God and shall see God.

But while all this is a true application or rather a faint outline of that which is so richly told out here, we must not forget that there is also a direct application to the believing remnant of Israel . This remnant of Israel will pass through the great tribulation through which the Church (which of course can never be put into the first part of Matthew) will never pass. They will then be waiting in the midst of great tribulations, persecutions and sufferings for the kingdom to come. When the kingdom at last comes, in the return of the king, the Son of man, they will enter in. Let us look at the first four beatitudes from this standpoint. This people will be poor in spirit. The remnant is described in Zephaniah 3:12-13, “I will leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of Jehovah. The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies, neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth, for they shall feed and lie down and none shall make them afraid.” In Isaiah 66:2 : “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit and that trembleth at my Word.” This elect remnant will mourn in the earth in the evil day. Here is a prophetic description of the mourning of this remnant: “Woe is me! for I am as when they have gathered the summer fruits, as the grape gleanings of the vintage; there is no cluster to eat; my soul desireth the first ripe fig. The godly man is perished out of the earth and there is none upright among men; they all lie in wait for blood, they hunt every man his brother with a net. Their hands are upon that which is evil to do it diligently. ... The son dishonoreth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, a man’s enemies are the men of his own house. (compare with Matthew 24:10 and Matthew 10:21-23). But as for me, I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me” (Micah 7:1-7). They shall then be comforted. Their comfort, however, will not be in the heavenlies, but they shall be comforted in Jerusalem, for He shall come and deliver them from all their enemies and restore the kingdom to Israel . They will be as the meek of the earth and inherit the earth when the king comes. Inheriting the earth is Israel ‘s promise; ours is to rule and reign with Him in the heavenlies over the earth. The thirty-seventh Psalm forms a perfect commentary to this beatitude “Blessed are the meek.” There we find what meekness includes, both in ourselves as believers and the future believing remnant. “Fret not thyself” -- “Neither be thou envious” -- “Trust in the Lord” -- “Delight thyself in the Lord” -- “Commit thy way unto the Lord” -- “Rest in the Lord.” The meek waiting for the Lord are thus described. But it is of the believing remnant we read in that Psalm. Some day it shall be as it is written there: “Evildoers shall be cut off. But those that wait upon the Lord they shall inherit the land. For yet a little while and the wicked shall not be, but the meek shall inherit the land, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace” (Psalms 37:9-11). They will also be hungering and thirsting for righteousness and shall be filled in the day of His manifestation.

The seven beatitudes are followed by two others which describe the heirs of the kingdom as sufferers and persecuted in the earth. Therefore, because we are children of God, the world knoweth us not, for it knew Him not. Do not wonder, brethren, if the world hate you. Our Lord here, too, is the great exemplar. “For to this have ye been called, for Christ also has suffered for you, leaving you a model that you should follow His steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth; who, when reviled, reviled not again; when suffering threatened not” (1 Peter 2:21). The first blessing is for the persecuted for righteousness’ sake, but in the second we read, “Blessed are ye when they reproach and persecute you, and say every wicked thing against you, lying, for my sake. Rejoice and exult, for your reward is great in the heavens, for thus have they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” This second beatitude stands in connection with the last three blessings. In the first the Lord says “They” and that “theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” but in the second He says, “Ye.” In the first it is the kingdom of heaven, in the second it is the great reward in heaven. The latter is more than the earthly glory of that coming kingdom. This finds unquestionably its fulfillment during that time of Jacob’s trouble. There will be the suffering for righteousness’ sake during the tribulation as never before and many will be slain of these faithful Jewish witnesses for His sake. The latter will receive great reward (read Revelation 20:4). It will be the comfort for His earthly people in the coming day of trouble. The suffering of the church, outside of the camp bearing His reproach is revealed in the Epistles.

From the 13th-16th verses (Matthew 5:13-16)we hear what the heirs of the kingdom are in the earth. “Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become insipid, wherewith shall it be salted? It is no longer fit for anything but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot by men.”

This is in reference to the first beatitudes. Salt preserves from corruption. Thus is the heir of the kingdom to be in the midst of all that which is corruption. But what when the salt becomes insipid? It becomes absolutely worthless and is trodden under foot. It was so with Jerusalem, it has become worthless; it has been trodden down by the Gentiles and Christendom will be that, nay is, in the age of Laodicea . Ye are the Light of the world. This is in reference to the last three beatitudes. This is followed by the exhortation: “Let your light thus shine before men so that they may see your upright works, and glorify your Father who is in the heavens.” But what light is it which is to shine? Surely this can mean only the reflection of Him who is the Light. “He does not say let your good works shine, but let your light shine; that is, let Christ shine in your life; not that ye may see your good works, but that men see them; not to your glory, but to the glory of your Father.”

Because it is the God who spoke that out of darkness light should shine who has shone in our hearts, for the shining forth of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). Salt and Light, to preserve and to shine -- this is then our responsibility and our testimony we have. But the salt, the preserving, hindering power will at last be taken away from the earth, and the light will shine no longer. What will be left, but unspeakable corruption and the gross darkness which will cover the earth?

The second section of the great proclamation of the King contains the confirmation of the law and its expansion. We can but give a very brief outline and exposition and will be obliged to guard against digressions, which might be made at almost every verse.

We now see our Lord speaking as the one who is greater than Moses (Hebrews 3:12). Sitting upon the mount, He speaks with greater authority than Moses or any one before Him, because He has greater authority. He who speaks concerning the law and the prophets, confirming and expanding, is the one who gave it to Moses, whose fingers wrote upon the tables of stone, whose Spirit revealed the visions to the prophets and testified in them and through them beforehand, concerning the suffering and the glory that should follow. The question which comes to the Jewish mind after reading the opening of the discourse, the description of the characteristics of the heirs of the kingdom is the question concerning the law and the prophets; that is, the whole Old Testament. Did He then come to set them aside? Did He come to make the law and the prophets void? He states at once that He came not to make void the law and the prophets, but to fulfill, and adds, “For verily I say unto you until the heaven and earth pass away, one iota or one tittle shall in nowise pass from the law until all come to pass.”

A good deal of wrong teaching has been taken from these words; the most erroneous is the one which puts a Christian believer still under the law and teaches from this passage that inasmuch as Christ came not to make void the law so, every believer is obliged to fulfill the law. This is a favored argument with Seventh Day people and others. It springs from forgetting the fact that here we have no teaching concerning the Church or the individual believer as it was made known subsequently in the Epistles. The Epistles make very clear the relation to the law which the true believer sustains, who has eternal life and is in Christ. “So that, my brethren, we also have been made dead to the law by the body of Christ, to be another who has been raised up from among the dead in order that we might bear fruit to God” (Romans 7:4). We are dead to the law, yet the law in itself is not dead; it is as much alive as ever, and holy, just and good. However, the new nature which we have Is the perfect law of liberty; it is something altogether new; yet the old law still exists and has its power, but never for him who is a new creation in Christ Jesus. “The law has been our tutor up to Christ, that we might be justified on the principle of faith, but faith having come we are no longer under a tutor, for ye are all God’s sons by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:24-25). The law could make nothing perfect, but Christ came, and perfection is in Him and through Him. What is the meaning of “to fulfill”? It means to give the fullness, to make full, to fill out the law and the prophets. The wrong interpretation comes generally from having only the ten Commandments in view, but there is more than that and more than the Lord’s full obedience to the law and fulfilling Himself all that which the law and the prophets had spoken concerning Him. In the true sense of the word the meaning is, that He came to make good the whole scope of the law and prophets. He is come to reveal the completeness of that which the law and the prophets had but pointed out. All that which the law and the prophets teach and predict, the fullness, is of Him and will be fulfilled in Him who came and who will come again. The eighteenth verse makes this clear. Even the smallest letter, the Hebrew “jod,” shall come to pass; not even the least letter can be set aside, but all will be accomplished. Here we have one of the strongest words for the verbal inspiration and infallibility of the Bible. Even the “jod” is of Him, and “until the heavens and the earth pass away one iota or one tittle shall in nowise pass from the law till all come to pass.” All then is divine, infallible and will come to pass. What a solemn declaration of the great King this is! This is in full harmony with the entire testimony of the Word. “Forever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in the heavens” (Psalms 119:89). “Thou hast magnified Thy Word above all Thy name” (Psalms 130:2). “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is thy servant warned, and in keeping of them is great reward” (Psalms 19:1-14). In the 119th Psalm the perfection and excellency of the Word is told out in each of the 176 verses, with the exception of two, and the declaration is made, “Thy Word is true from the beginning.” What an awful sin, what a heinous thing, the rejection of the inspiration of the Word of God is!

In the nineteenth and twentieth verses (Matthew 5:19-20) the King speaks of the doing and teaching of the commandments. Here we are, of course, altogether on Jewish ground. Then there is to be a surpassing righteousness, or better righteousness for the one who is to enter into the kingdom of the heavens. Their righteousness was their own and insufficient for the entering into the kingdom of the heavens. But does our Lord here teach that a person is by a better righteousness of his own to enter into the kingdom of the heavens and that he is by his own efforts to produce this righteousness? Certainly not. Still the false application, the ethical teachings in Christendom substituting now so universally the preaching of the glad tidings of our salvation, teaches that man is to lift himself up into heaven by his own righteousness. Our Lord speaks not to sinners here, but to such who are saved, and the saved sinner has a better righteousness than the scribes and the Pharisees, who were only natural men. In possession of his righteousness we do rejoice. “But now without the law the righteousness of God is manifested, borne witness to by the law and the prophets; righteousness of God by faith of Jesus Christ towards all, and upon all those who believe, for there is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth a mercy seat through faith in His blood for the showing forth of His righteousness; in respect of the passing by the sins that had taken place before, through the forbearance of God; for the showing forth of His righteousness in the present time, so that He should be just and justify him that is of the faith of Jesus” (Romans 3:21-26). “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, having sent His own Son in the likeness of flesh of sin, and for sin, has condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law should be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:3-4). And the outflow of the righteousness of God we are in Him, is His righteousness. But these words stand also in relation to Israel, converted at last and entering into the kingdom (Ezekiel 36:25, etc).

And now after He had confirmed the law and made known its immutability, He begins to teach that surpassing righteousness which He demands. He teaches the law in its fullest and deepest spiritual meaning. Here we see all the majesty of the King and the lawgiver. Six times He says “I say unto you.” It is divine “I” of Jehovah, who speaks. And as He speaks here and sends forth the expansions of the law, so will He speak again. Out of Zion shall go forth the law and the Word of the law from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:3). And when that time comes, then surely righteousness and peace will kiss each other, and Israel, new-born, having the laws in their inmost parts and written in their hearts and the Spirit upon them, will walk in His statutes, and nations will be converted.

Not alone does He show in these expansions of the law, in declaring the true righteousness, His divine authority, but He uncovers the human heart and shows its deep corruption and the hopelessness that the natural man could ever attain to such a righteousness. It condemns every human being. As mentioned before, thousands of unsaved persons, Jews and Gentiles have made this first discourse of our Lord in the Gospel of Matthew the standard for what they call “their religion.” It is a sad statement which is now heard from all sides: “The sermon on the mount is my creed,” or “Our preacher preaches only from the Gospels and the sermon on the mount, and never touches the Old Testament or the Epistles” (this was told us), etc. Are these people really honest, and do they know the cutting words of our Lord, words like a two-edged sword, penetrating to the division of soul and spirit, a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart? If they read and are sincere they find themselves all uncovered and naked before Him whose eyes are like flames of fire, before whom indeed all things are naked and laid bare. The words show the sinner his ruin and his corruption. Condemnation comes from every word to the natural man.

Let us look but briefly to the different teachings our Lord giveth, both to show the true righteousness He demands and to uncover the corruption of the heart.

He takes some of the commandments which He wrote on the second table of stone and begins with the commandment: “Thou shalt not kill.” Murder was the first awful fruit after the fall, sprung as it was from envy in the heart. The penalty of murder is the judgment. This, then, is the letter of the law. It dealt with the outward deed, but the heart itself it did not touch. Now He speaks. “I say unto you, that every one that is _lightly angry with his brother shall be subject to the judgment.” (The word “lightly” belongs in here. It was dropped in some manuscripts, but stands in the oldest. It is not angry alone outwardly, but even the remotest feeling of displeasure is meant.) It shall be as if he had committed the deed “thou shalt not kill.” Every one that hates his brother is a murderer (1 John 3:15). “Whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca (a word embodying hatred and contempt) shall be called before the Sanhedrin; but whosoever shall say, Fool, shall be subject to the penalty of the hell fire.” It will be so, no doubt, when the kingdom will be come into the earth; swift judgment will overtake the offender. But the words lay bare the heart and show the impossibility of man to stand before God, who judges the heart, in their own righteousness. The believer being the partaker of the divine nature, is righteous and loves his brother. Only the reception of eternal life, which is Christ Himself, can produce righteousness and love. “Whosoever has been begotten of God does not practice sin, because His seed abides in him and he cannot sin, because he has been begotten of God. In this are manifest the children of God and the children of the devil. Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, and he who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:9-11). The believer walking in the Spirit will in no way fulfill flesh’s lust.

The 23rd and 24th verses (Matthew 5:23-24) refer primarily to Israel ; in principle they are applicable during this Christian age.

The words which follow are: “Make friends with thine adverse party quickly, while thou art in the way with him; lest some time the adverse party deliver thee to the judge and the judge deliver thee to the officer and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say to thee, Thou shalt in nowise come out thence till thou hast paid the last farthing.” The words contain an allegorical exhortation to Israel . It is a short outline of their history the Lord here introduces. Following the expansion of the law concerning murder and hatred, that which they were about to do with their own Brother, it is significant. Israel were the adversaries of Him who had come, and treated the royal Person in their midst as an adversary. They did not agree with Him and have been put into the prison (nationally) under punishment till the last farthing is paid. The lord will perform His whole work (punitive) upon Mount Zion and on Jerusalem (Isaiah 10:12), and then it will be “that her warfare is ended” or, as the marginal reading gives it (Isaiah 40:2), “her punishment is accepted,” and “her iniquity is pardoned and she hath received of the Lord’s hand double “(in blessing) for all her sins.” Thus explained these words fit in the whole.

The next two expansions of the law are concerning purity and divorce. Not alone the deed itself, which was punishable by a severe penalty, is sin, but every one who looks upon a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Out of the heart the transgression comes, and the heart is evil. And this is what so many persons in Christendom say is their creed and standard for “religion”! It is the word which condemns them altogether.

The plucking out of the right eye and the sacrificing of the right hand is, of course, never to be understood in the literal sense, but stands for the inner exercise of the believer, who in self-judgment puts that away which is a snare or a stumbling block. But what sinner can do it or will do it? Let him try it. And while there is in our day an increased boasting in a better morality, a higher standard, and a “social Christianity” is attempted and built upon certain words of our Lord in this discourse, it becomes more and more evident that the lust of the eye and the lust of the flesh are honeycombing all classes of the professing church and are practiced as never before. So it is with divorce. What dreadful things might be mentioned here! Among the Jews the greatest laxity prevailed in this direction. Even now through talmudical laws the marriage relations may be dissolved on a mere pretext. Our Lord says with the voice of authority, binding ever: “Whosoever shall put away his wife except for cause of fornication makes her commit adultery, and whosoever marries one that is put away commits adultery.”

In the fourth place He speaks against swearing, not against oaths such as are demanded by law, but in a profane way. Heaven, earth and Jerusalem are mentioned because these were mostly used in profane swearing. Significant here is the description of Jerusalem as the city of the great King. This will be during the millennial reign. When the kingdom has come praise will be heard in the heavens, in the earth and in Jerusalem . Now the earth is full of swearing and wicked words, but in that coming day the offences will be gathered out of the kingdom.

The law of retaliation comes next (Matthew 5:38). He teaches not to resist evil. This is again a great principle for His disciples. The author of the Numerical Bible says: “There is no supposition of the abrogation of law or of its penalties. The government of the world is not in question, but the path of the disciple in it. Where they are bound by the law, they are bound and have no privileges. They are bound, too, to sustain it in its general working, as ordained of God as good. Within these limits there is still abundant room for such practice as is here enjoined. We may still turn the left cheek to him that smites the right, or let the man that sues us have the cloak as well as the coat which he has fraudulently gained, for that is clearly within our rights. If the cause were that of another, we should have no right of this kind, nor to aid men generally in escape from justice or slighting it. The Lord could never lay down a general rule that His people should allow lawlessness or identify themselves with indifference to the rights of others. He speaks only of what is personal to one’s self -- smite thee, compel thee and sue thee.”

The last expansion brings forth love. “Ye have heard that it has been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those that hate you and pray for those who insult you and persecute you,” etc. (Matthew 5:43-48), ending with “Be ye therefore perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” It is the same exhortation as in Ephesians 5:1 : “Be imitators of God as dear children.” The standard for the heirs of the kingdom is then His own moral perfection.

The day will come when such righteousness and love and perfection as the King here describes will dwell amidst His earthly people and will be manifested in the earth. It will be in the day when the kingdom has come and His will be done in earth as it is in heaven. But every child of God born anew has put before him the highest standard, which includes all that which the King here expounds and that is in possession of Himself, who is the true God and the eternal life, “to walk even as He walked.” “Be ye therefore perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". 1913-1922.

G. Campbell Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible

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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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". "G. Campbell Morgan Exposition on the Bible". 1857-84.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Let your light so shine before men,.... Here Christ applies the foregoing simile to his disciples, and more fully opens the meaning and design of it. His sense is this; that the light of the Gospel, which he had communicated to them, the spiritual knowledge of the mysteries of grace, which he had favoured them with, were to be openly declared, and made manifest before men. Light was not given merely for their own private use, but for the public good of mankind; and therefore, as they were placed as lights in the world, they were to hold forth, in the most open and conspicuous manner, the word of light and life:

that they may see your good works: meaning their zeal and fervency; their plainness and openness; their sincerity, faithfulness, and integrity; their courage and intrepidity; their diligence, industry, and indefatigableness in preaching the Gospel; their strict regard to truth, the honour of Christ, and the good of souls; as also their very great care and concern to recommend the doctrines of grace, by their example in their lives and conversations:

and glorify your Father which is in heaven; that is, that when the ministration of the Gospel has been blessed, for the illumination of the minds of men, to a thorough conviction of their state; and for their regeneration, conversion, sanctification, and comfort; they may give praise to God, and bless his name for qualifying and sending such Gospel ministers to show unto them the way of salvation; and that the word has been made useful to them for communicating spiritual light, life, joy, and comfort, אבינו שבשמים, "Our and your Father which is in heaven", is a name, appellation, or periphrasis of God, frequently used by Jewish writersF19Vid. Misn. Sota, c. 9. sect. 15. & Yoma, c. 8. sect. 9. ; and is often expressed by Christ in these his sermons on the mount.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament



“Ye are the salt of the earth; if the salt may become vitiated, in what shall it be salted? It is yet good for nothing, except having been cast out, to be trodden under foot by the people.” The salt in the ocean preserves it from putrefaction and stagnation. Consequently the ocean is the great conservator of atmospheric purity. Hence sea voyages always improve the health. These Commentaries in that respect have been a blessing to me, giving me eleven thousand miles plowing through oceans and seas. If the salt were not in the ocean, its waters would stagnate, generate malaria, which the winds would carry throughout all the continents and islands, rendering the atmosphere so pestilential as to be uninhabitable by man and beast; thus ultimating in the depopulation of the globe, and the destruction of all the air-breathing animals, turning the world into a boneyard. Hence the tremendous force of our Savior's metaphor, involving the conclusion that if all the Christians were out of the world, the human race would be hopeless, as the inmates of hell, not ignoring the possibility of salvation, but the probability. This illustrates the necessity for the destruction of the antediluvians, as God knew they would never repent, but get worse indefinitely, as every stream falls in its onward flow. I’ve seen this vitiated salt in the vicinity of the Dead Sea. It is an utter and hopeless deadener of the soil, and an incorrigible preventive of all production. We do not want it in the “washes,” as we desire that they shall accumulate soil and become productive. As Jesus here well says, it is fit for nothing but to make walks, for the convenience of people who want to keep out of the mud. O what an appalling truth! The Christian religion is the salt which God uses to save the world. The Holy Ghost is the savor. Therefore when religion is without the Spirit, consisting only of the dead form, it is fit for nothing on earth except to make walks for the convenience of the multitudes traveling down to hell.


“Ye are the light of the world. A city located on a mountain can not be hidden; neither do they light a candle, and place it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before the people, that they may see your beautiful works, and glorify your Father who is in the heavens.” In the Old World, nearly all the cities are built away up on the mountains. The dispersion of the population throughout the country, every man living on his own farm, is peculiar to America, as we see almost nothing of it in the great East, the people as a rule living in cities and villages, and going away into the country to till the soil. We see no wooden houses in the Old World, except thatched huts of the peasantry, which is not at all common, as they more generally use mud, stone, or live in caves. As the stone on the mountains is the most available building material, cities are built on the mountains, the valleys and plains being devoted to agriculture. I am here reminded of the great castles built on all the lofty mountains in Europe and Asia during the Dark Ages, that memorable period of a thousand years, Satan's millennium, during which not one man in a thousand could read or write. As life and liberty were only held by the stern arbitrament of the sword, and there was no civil government on earth competent to protect its citizens, therefore the people erected these formidable castles on all the mountain summits, whither they could fly for refuge, and protect themselves from marauding bands and invading armies. These castles beautifully illustrate the impossibility of hiding a city located on a mountain; whether on sea or land, we see them a great way off. Therefore the light of a true Christian can not be hidden from men or devils. Our Savior's warning here against putting our light under a bushel, and His admonition to us to put it in a conspicuous place, where nothing will obstruct the emission of its hallowed rays in all directions, and their utmost availability in the expulsion of the black darkness with which Satan has enveloped this poor fallen world, are exceedingly pertinent to those holiness people who spend their time in little isolated bands, working hard, with no material to work on, wasting their ammunition on one another when they do not need it.

The bands are all right, but they should work in the Churches, on the streets, or preach from house to house, utilizing the light which God has given them to expel the darkness in which Satan has wrapped his millions while he is leading them to hell. For the sake of the dying millions for whom Jesus bled, when you hold your little band meeting, and wait before the Lord till he fills you with the Spirit, be sure you go out and let your light shine on the people who sit in darkness. For this reason you may glorify God by retaining your membership in a dead, worldly Church, as there you have a precious opportunity to “let your light shine, in order that they may see your beautiful works, and glorify your Father who is in the heavens.” The adjective “beautiful,” here qualifying “works,” means the beauty of holiness. O the power this beautiful holiness wields no tongue can tell! When the Edomites, Moabites, and Ammonites had all united against Judea, King Jehoshaphat went out with his army, not to fight, but to “sing the beauty of holiness.” Meanwhile a hundred thousand voices rang out the “beauty of holiness;” God utterly defeated their enemies, so they fled from the field, leaving the earth burdened with rich spoils. Both in 1895 and 1899, when I was there, I visited the Vale of Berachah — i.e., the Valley of Blessing — where Jehoshaphat assembled all Israel in a three-days' Hallelujah Convention, that they might bless the Lord for his great deliverance.


“Do not think that I come to destroy the law or the prophets; I come not to destroy, but to fulfill. For truly I say unto you, That till heaven and earth may pass away, one iota or one point can in no wise pass from the law until all may be fulfilled. Whosoever may break one of the least of these commandments, and teach the people so, shall be called least in the kingdom of the heavens; but whosoever may do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of the heavens.” This is very plain and explicit. The climax of all the commandments is perfect love; i.e., “Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy soul, mind, and strength, and love thy neighbor as thyself.” Hence, when you experience and verify perfect love, you fulfill the whole law:

“Love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:10)

A terribly wicked delusion is frequently propagated from the pulpit, ignoring the law, and telling the people that as we are not under the law dispensation, we do not have to keep the law, thus loosening the obligations of the popular conscience, which every preacher should endeavor to his utmost to tighten up. While it is true that we are not under the law dispensation, we should remember the words of Jesus, that He came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. Hence, the province of the gospel is to fulfill the law, and the man that doesn't do it is out of harmony with the gospel dispensation. The bloody rites and sacrifices all typified Christ, and received their fulfillment when He bled and died, and normally evanesced. In a similar manner the Decalogue, and all other commandments given to man, must be verified in our experiences and lives. There is some terribly pestilential preaching along this line. Lord help us to be true to the words of Jesus! O what a withering woe He has pronounced on those who break even the least of the commandments and so teach the people! “The same shall be called least in the kingdom” i.e., they shall not be at all recognized as citizens of our Lord's kingdom; while a most inspiring blessing is here pronounced on all who do and teach these commandments: “The same shall be called great in the kingdom” i.e., they shall not only have a place in the kingdom, but as members of the bridehood, shall be promoted to extraordinary honors and emoluments.


“For I say unto you, That unless your righteousness may superabound that of the scribes and Pharisees, you can not enter into the kingdom of the heavens.” The scribes were the pastors of the popular Churches, and the Pharisees the influential members and officers. So you see plainly that our Savior preaches a standard of salvation which throws the popular religion, with its members and preachers, into total eclipse. “But the Churches are better now than then?” On this statement it certainly would be very risky for us to depend. Doubtless some of them were better and others worse. It is certainly very unsafe for us to discount, or in any way evade, the force of our Savior's statement. The safe plan is to take it as He gave it. In that case, you see positively that unless your religion goes ahead of the popular Churches, including pulpits and pews, you are without hope. This reminds us of that remarkable affirmation, “The saved are few.” Instead of taking the preachers and Church members for our paragon as to holy living, we should take Jesus Himself, whose biography we fortunately have transmitted to us by four inspired evangelists, who are now playing on their golden harps. Instead of taking their experiences as our paragon, we should take the infallible Word of God: “You must be born from above;” “Without holiness no one shall see the Lord.”


“You have heard that it was said to the ancients, Thou shalt not murder, and whosoever may murder shall be subject to the judgment. But I say unto you, That every one who is angry with his brother shall be subject to the judgment; and whosoever may say to his brother, You scoundrel, shall be subject to the Sanhedrin; and whosoever may say, Thou fool, shall be subject unto a hell of fire.” In every village there was a committee of three to seven appointed to investigate and enforce the law against criminals, while the graver offenses were referred to the Sanhedrin, the council of seventy elders. Our Lord here refers to these institutions of judicial administration by way of illustrating similar and infinitely graver adjudications in the kingdom of God, adding also that most terrible and dreadful of all retributive judgments, which consigned offenders to hell-fire. Now this word raka, E.V., which means “scoundrel,” and “fool,” which is moros i.e., a natural fool, simpleton, or idiot — and not aphron, used in reference to our Savior and Paul saying, “Thou fool,” “O, ye fools,” which has a spiritual signification, meaning fools for the want of that spiritual illumination which is freely given to all who will receive it appreciatively. Consequently, if you are an aphron i.e., a fool because you reject the light which the Holy Spirit alone can shed on your intellect you alone are responsible for your folly; but moros, which means a natural simpleton, is utterly irresponsible, and consequently becomes a term, like scoundrel, fraught with debasement and reproach. Now why are you in that case, not only in danger of condemnation and the reprobation of the heavenly Sanhedrin, but even exposed to hell-fire, if you apply these epithets to your brother or sister? The solution is easy. The very use of these opprobrious epithets prove demonstratively the indulgence of evil tempers, which, if not sanctified away, will plunge you into hell-fire. The phrase “hell-fire,” here occurring, is gehennan tou puros. This phrase among the Jews originated from the Valley of Hinnom, southwest of Jerusalem, which is a deep gorge, down at the foot of Mt. Zion. From the time of Solomon, Moloch, the Ammonitish god, was worshipped in that valley. His image, in the shape of a man with the head of an ox, his arms reaching up to receive the infants they placed in them for sacrifices, was hollow, and heated by an internal fire, so that the children laid in his arms would be burned to death. The Bible alludes to this appalling idolatry, stating that they caused their children to pass through the fires of Moloch. He was regarded as an evil demon, whose anger was to be appeased by placing these infants in his fiery arms. When Josiah became king, under the happy tuition of the holy prophetess Huldah, he wrought a radical purification from idolatry throughout all the land. So he destroyed the shrine and broke up the worship of Moloch in the Valley of Hinnom, commanding the offal and the dead animals of the city to be thrown into it, which they burned, thus keeping perpetual fires in that valley. In this way it became the symbol of the eternal fires which consume the wicked in the world of despair. Here our Savior refers to the judgment, Sanhedrin, and the perpetual fires in the Valley of Hinnom, all of which were familiar and forcible to His Jewish audience, in order to elucidate the corresponding adjudications and retributions awaiting all the people who indulge in evil and angry tempers. O what a warning, and what an incentive to us all to get sanctified wholly, having all of these angry tempers, which lead us to offer insults to our fellow-travelers in this probationary pilgrimage, expurgated away!



“If therefore you may bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that thy brother has something against you, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then having come, offer thy gift.” This is the missing keystone from the fallen arches of so many Christian characters — some little thing between you and your neighbor, which stands like a mountain between You and God, towering high as heaven, reaching down deep as hell, and projecting its Briarean arms around the world. It can only be taken away by an honest confession. A young lady was in deep agony at the altar. A worker asked her if she had not something that she ought to confess. Rising, she goes to the rear of the audience, throws her arms around her young comrade, and said, with gushing tears, “O Lizzie, please forgive me for everything I have done or said about you!” That moment her face brightens, and she shouts aloud. Lizzie is struck with deep conviction, and rushes to the altar to seek the blessing her companion has so recently found. Will you not cut the work short in righteousness by confessing to everybody, and thus getting every obstruction out of the way, so God can pour on you showers of blessing? Whole Churches thus get stranded, pulpit and pew all blockaded, and no access to a throne of grace. Satan has bagged them solidly, and is dragging them into hell.


“Be thou reconciled with thy adversary quickly, while thou art in the way with him, lest the adversary may deliver thee to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and thou mayest be cast into prison. Truly, I say unto thee, That thou canst not go out from thence until thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.” The symbolism of this paragraph is plain, clear, and forcible, illustrating human destiny by a judicial transaction. Adversary means an opposer, who is endeavoring to resist a trend and turn it the other way. This world is going pell-mell, helter-skelter, down to hell. Jesus came into the world six thousand years ago, in ample time, and with abundant resources, ready to save all who will let Him. Hence He is the Opposer of humanity, rushing headlong to perdition. While in probationary life, you are “in the way with Him.” So lose not a moment in your expedition to be reconciled to Him, lest “the adversary may deliver thee to the judge.” Now, who is the judge? We have already learned that the Son of God will judge the world. He is now bringing into availability all of His omnipotent grace to save you. If you will not let Him, you must quickly stand condemned at His tribunal, dumbfounded, and confessing judgment against yourself, because the very Judge on the bench actually died to save you, and you would not let Him. Thus the Mediatonal Christ is your Adversary, actually blockading hell with His crucified body in order to keep you out. While the Judge in this Scripture is the Judicial Christ to whom the Mediatorial Christ delivers you in case of non-reconciliation, now who is the officer? Satan is the officer of hell. What is the prison? The bottomless pit. So if you will not have the Mediatorial Christ, you must stand before the Judge of quick and dead, who can only turn you over to the devil, with whom you have staid till the last opportunity of escape has fled away. The devil is the officer of hell, and has no other place to put you. Hence, the Pandemonium is your inevitable doom. Will you not hasten to be reconciled, while you are in the way with Him? What about paying the uttermost farthing? The simple truth is, you have nothing to pay with, neither in this world nor in the world to come. Therefore it is utterly impossible for you ever to satisfy the Divine law, which requires a holy heart, as you have already rejected the last opportunity to receive the sanctifying work of Christ.


“You have heard that it was said, Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say unto you, That every one looking on a woman, in order to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart. If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee; for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members may perish, and not that thy whole body may be cast into hell. If thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee; for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members may perish, and not that thy whole body may depart into hell.” “Man looks on the outside, but God looketh on the heart.” The immortal spirit, dwelling in the body, is the man himself, and not the body. God sees our spirit through and through, reading every thought of the heart, diagnosing every emotion of the soul. Hence, the inward thought and volition really constitute the act, and not the outward verification through the body. This exegesis of adultery, locating it in the heart, independently of all physical reciprocation, gives light on the entire problem of sin, as the same is true of murder, theft, and every item of the black catalogue. “Offend” here is scandalizo, from scandalon, “a stumbling-block.” Here you are traveling to heaven, and are sure to get there if you don’t fall, and you can never fall unless you stumble. “Right eye” and “right hand” emblematize all things which we count dear and valuable, and symbolize the unequivocal conclusion that we are to permit nothing conceivable or inconceivable to deflect us from the narrow way. The stumbling precedes the fall. You may fall instantly when you stumble. If you stumble much, you are certain to fall. Hence, the true policy is simply to take away every stumbling-block, and thus clear the road for heaven. This is your only safe economy. Anything else exposes you to an awful risk. When Sister Glide, of Sacramento, California, whose husband is a millionaire, was seeking sanctification, and saw the Salvation Army women running round in their plain, cheap costume, visiting the poor, the sick, and the fallen, distributing tracts and holiness literature, her heart turned away with contempt. Fortunately, grace prevailed. She put on a plain dress and coarse shoes, and put out, loaded with tracts and holiness literature, running into the hovels of poverty, dens of iniquity, and sinks of debauchery; down on her knees, on the dirty floors, praying, and with tearful eyes exhorting them to flee the wrath to come, and at the same time cheering their hearts with temporal benefactions, till God flooded her soul with a sunburst of glory, which has been shining and shouting ever since. Thus she beat the devil at his own game. Dear soul, as I shall meet you at the judgment-bar, I beg you never to leave a handle anywhere for the devil to get hold of. If you do not want to fall and plunge into hell, clear the way of all stumbling-blocks at every cost.


“But it was said, Whosoever may send away his wife, let him give her a divorcement. But I say unto you, That every man sending away his wife, except for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery; and if any one may marry her who has been sent away, he committeth adultery.” A very sad mistake, in the E.V. in this thirty-second verse, has led the popular mind to stray, as, you see from my translation, the prohibition from marrying the divorced woman is not in this passage nor any other. The case here is plain and simple, and very pertinent to those Jews who so frequently sent away their wives for no justifiable cause. Apoleluminen, translated in E.V. “her that is divorced,” is the perfect passive participle, from the verb apoluo, which simply means “send away.” Consequently, instead of “her that is divorced,” the correct reading is, “her that has been sent away;” i.e., this woman who has not been divorced, but simply driven away from home by her husband. The reason why the man marrying her commits adultery is, because she is a married woman, the wife of the man who drove her away from home. Apotasion, the word for divorce, just means apostasy. Now you know that the apostate from the kingdom of God has become a poor, lost sinner, as he was before he was converted. Hence, you see that as apostasy nullifies and reverses the work of grace in the heart, so the divorce, when legally given (not by State law, but the law of God, which permits it only for the cause of fornication), radically rescinds the matrimonial alliance, returning the parties to the ranks of celibacy whence they came, and thus conferring on them marriageable privileges again. So if this “castoff” woman were Scripturally divorced from her cruel husband, she would have a right to marry again, and the man would have a right to marry her “only in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 7:39.) Divorcement is a Divine provision for the benefit of the innocent party, and, as a normal consequence, liberating the guilty also. We see here that fornication is the only justifiable cause for a divorce. This follows as a logical sequence from the very nature of matrimony, which unifies the wedded; since this violation of the matrimonial covenant, in its very nature, destroys the unity, the formal divorce merely ratifying the matrimonial dissolution, which has already taken place, and thus protecting injured innocence. It is really deplorable to see the Bible ignored by the State authorities on all sides, granting divorces for a diversity of causes other than the Scriptural one.

What shall be done in case of the innumerable unlawful marriages? Shall they all separate? We fear that in many such cases the last error would be worse than the first. These matters should all be diligently turned over to God, who will in every case give light and grace to qualify you to choose the less of two evils. Moses granted divorces for a vast diversity of causes, on that principle of choosing the less of two evils, one of which being inevitable. As this was out of harmony with Christian perfection, the standard of the gospel dispensation, our Savior repudiated it, coming back to first principles, which recognize husband and wife as “one flesh,” which unity is only destroyed by adultery.


“You have heard that it was said to the ancients, Thou shalt not swear falsely, but shall perform unto the Lord thine oaths. But I say unto You, Swear not at all: neither by heaven, because it is the throne of God; nor by the earth, because it is the footstool of His feet; nor by Jerusalem, because it is the City of the Great King; nor swear by the head, because thou art not able to make one hair turn white or black. But let your speech be Yea, yea; Nay, nay; but whatsoever is more than these is of the evil one;” i.e., the devil, as tou ponerou, the concrete, actually means the devil himself — “evil,” E.V., the abstract, being entirely too weak. There is a close affinity between false swearing and profanity, as they really resolve themselves mutually, the one into the other. The profane man is constantly swearing falsely, while the perjurer is black with profanity. This rigid prohibition of swearing has no reference to legal oaths, administered by magistrates and other persons in authority, as we see, in Matthew 26:63, our Savior Himself responded to Caiaphas when he administered to Him the legal oath. Also, Paul (1 Thessalonians 5:27), administers the same legal oath to the saints at Thessalonica, “I swear you, in the name of the Lord, that this letter shall be read to all the brethren.” Hence, when we see Jesus and Paul — the former responding when under legal oath, and the latter administering it to the saints — we can not conclude that it is included in these strong prohibitions. Moreover, the specifications show up and authenticate the conclusion that He is simply abnegating and condemning all sorts of profane oaths: from the specifications, we see that the prohibition excludes the use of bywords and all sorts of insignificant slang, condemning them as coming from the evil one — i.e., the devil. God requires purity of speech, as well as heart, our language being the invariable exponent of the soul. Hence, you can decipher the contents of the heart by the utterances of the lips. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.”


“You have heard that it has been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, Resist not evil; but whosoever smiteth thee on the right cheek, turn to him also the other; and to him wishing to prosecute thee at law and take away thy coat, give to him the cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him asking thee, and turn not away from him wishing to borrow from thee.” The great utility of the law is conviction, which is primary in every work of grace, all professions proving spurious without genuine conviction. Consequently the stern rigor of the Mosaic law requires a full requital of every injury inflicted. While this is true, it is simply a matter of just retribution, perfectly free from all the carnal complexity of retaliation, characteristic of worldly people, having nothing in it after the similitude of revenge; but still the Divine vengeance is close on the track of every transgressor, as God says, “Vengeance is Mine, and I will repay.” While the law says, “Pay me what thou owest me,” the gospel says, “I freely forgive thee all.” The law says, “You owe me your coat, and I must have it;” the gospel says, “Here, take my coat and my cloak also” — as the Jews wore two garments, the inner and the outer. The law says, “You owe me one-mile’s journey;” the gospel says, “All right; here I give you two.” Hence, you see the gospel economy, not only satisfies the law in the administration of justice in every case, but goes infinitely beyond, and overcomes evil with good.


“You have heard that it is said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy.” (Leviticus 19:19.)

The latter clause of this passage, “Thou shalt hate thine enemy,” appears only in the gloss of the Rabbis; however, it follows as a logical sequence from the organization of the Jews as a theocratic people, secluded from the world and looking upon all Gentiles as enemies — a state of things eminently qualified to develop jealousy and animosity toward all other nations. “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you; in order that you may be the sons of your Father who is in heaven, because He makes His sun to rise upon the wicked and the good, and sends rain upon the just and the unjust.” If we are going up to live with God in heaven through all eternity, we must get like Him before we leave this world, otherwise disharmony would mar the glory of the celestial universe. The rain and the sunshine are the greatest temporal blessings, which God bestows indiscriminately on the righteous and the wicked. Hence we must become like Him, doing good to our enemies and friends indiscriminately. “For if you love them that love you, what reward have you? Do not even the publicans the same? And if you salute your brethren only, what do ye more? Do not even the publicans the same? Therefore ye shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Luke 6:33 : “If you do good to those doing good, what grace is there to you? for the sinners do the same. If you borrow from those from whom you hope to receive, what grace is there to you? for sinners lend to sinners, in order that they may receive an equivalent. Moreover, love your enemies:do good and lend, hoping nothing in return, and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the sons of the Highest; because He is good to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father is merciful.” We see from these deliverances of our Savior that we are to do good indiscriminately, without any reference to temporal remuneration, aggrandizement, or emolument; i.e., we are to loan, simply actuated by the love of God and humanity, without any reference to the probability of reciprocation. In that case, we are living in anticipation of our reward in heaven, which is infinitely better and greater than any reciprocation of favor possible in this world. Our Savior is a plain Preacher, and transcendently practical. Now He climaxes this beautiful paragraph on the Divine love, which the Holy Ghost has poured out in our hearts (Romans 5:5), reaching out indiscriminately to the good and the bad, doing good and not evil, from the simple fact that sanctifying grace has taken out the latter, leaving the former to reign without a rival, — by the summary commandment, “Ye shall be perfect, as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” Just as He has Divine perfection and the angels angelic perfection, so must we have Christian perfection, if we are going up to live with them in heaven. All this is homogeneous, showing up the fact, as illustrated above, by this Divine love bestowed indiscriminately on all sides — illustrated by the unutterable benigaity of our Heavenly Father. Special force here in the imperative “shall,” peculiar to the Decalogue, giving Christian perfection the full force of the Ten Commandments, leaving no loop-hole through which to evade the issue, and no defalcation; but it is rigidly applicable to every one: “Ye shall be perfect.”

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Bibliographical Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament".

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Jesus Teaches on Justification - In the first section of the Sermon on the Mount ( ) Jesus Christ teaches the people about true justification before God by delivering the Beatitudes and two metaphors. The Beatitudes ( Matthew 5:1-12) emphasizes how a person is justified in the Kingdom of Heaven while the two metaphors comparing God's children to salt and light ( Matthew 5:13-16) serve to illustrate their role as a testimony to humanity.

Outline- Note the proposed outline:

1. Nine Characteristics of God's Children —

2. The Salt and Light —

— The Beatitudes: Nine Characteristics of God's Children ( Luke 6:20-23) - The Beatitudes are found in Matthew 5:1-12. Webster says this English word is derived from the Latin word "beatitudo," which means "blessed or happy." This passage reveals the blessedness of the Christian way of life. The teachings in the Sermon on the Mount are based upon the Mosaic Law. The blessings and curses under the Mosaic Law were emphatically clear in the minds of the Jews. They were taught that obedience brings blessings and that disobedience brings curses. Therefore, Jesus begins teaching the Laws of the Kingdom of God by explaining the true ways to receive the blessings of God. The Beatitudes introduce the Laws of the Kingdom of Heaven much like Moses laid down the Ten Commandments to introduce the Mosaic Law and its civil statutes so that they would be prepared to take their journey into the Promised Land.

From reading the parallel passage in , it seems that Jesus is addressing the afflicted of God's children.

The Beatitudes lay a foundation for the Sermon on the Mount by giving the characteristics of those who are members of this heavenly Kingdom. Just as God called the children of Israel out of Egypt and set them apart, so does Jesus identify the true children of God and sets them apart for the work of the Kingdom of God.

Proposed Scheme to the Beatitudes- One pastor teaches that the beatitudes reveal a progressive order in the Christian life. The poor in spirit ( Matthew 5:3) are those who see that they are in need of a Redeemer. They are losing their hunger for sin and desiring a relationship with God. Those who mourn ( Matthew 5:4) are these poor souls who begin to truly repent of their sins and receive God's forgiveness and mercy. This repentance begins to create a heart of meekness ( Matthew 5:5) in which God is able to work in their lives. A new hunger and thirst for the things of God begins to grow in the hearts of these people as they begin to learn the principles of the kingdom of God ( Matthew 5:6). As they begin to learn of God, they realize how far short they fall in relation to His standards, and thus, learn to depend upon His mercy on a daily basis. As they learn to receive this mercy, they also learn to give mercy ( Matthew 5:7). This process develops a pureness in heart in which God is able to dwell with this person and experience His presence ( Matthew 5:8). This person makes himself a peace offering each day with the desire to bring peace to the lives of others ( Matthew 5:9). This lifestyle is very offensive to the world, and persecutions come ( Matthew 5:10-12). This person is now willing to suffer and even die for the truth, even though the world does not receive it.

Meaning of the Word "Blessed" - Jesus' teachings in Matthew begin with "Blessed" just as does the book of Psalm chapter one begins with "Blessed." Also, Psalm 119 begins with this word. The Greek word μακάριος (G 3107) means "blest, fortunate, well off" (Strong). The Old Testament Hebrew verb ( בָּרַךְ) (H 1288) literally means, "to kneel, to bless" (Strong), and it is translated "blessed" in the KJV. The world and the natural man call their good fortunes "lucky." The word "lucky" or "chance" is not in Bible. Therefore, luck and chance are not accurate terms to describe the circumstances in our lives, since they leave out divine providence.

God's blessings are primarily for God's children, and not for the wicked or ungodly.

Being blessed is not like a scene I once saw: a young man lying in a lawn chair in shorts, smoking a cigarette, drinking beer and getting a suntan. This is what the flesh likes. A life of indulging in pleasures of the flesh is not a life of true peace and happiness. It is rather, a life of bondage and sin.

In the Beatitudes Jesus always explains why a person is blessed. Hence, He says, "for…" or "because..." The clause that follows explains why the person is blessed.

Illustration- Note Joshua and the conquest of Canaan. Only thirty-six (36) men of Israel died in battle. This was due to the sin of Achan at Ai. But thousands of the Amorites died. Why? Joshua 10:8 - God"s hand was against Israel's foes. Israel was blessed.

Joshua 10:8, "And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee."

Illustration- Gideon and three hundred (300) men defeat 135,000 Midianites:

Judges 7:2, "And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me."

Judges 7:8, "So the people took victuals in their hand, and their trumpets: and he sent all the rest of Israel every man unto his tent, and retained those three hundred men: and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley."

Matthew 5:1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:

Matthew 5:1"And seeing the multitudes" - Comments- In any large crowd, Jesus saw a wide variety of people and problems, people living under the curse, or in bondage to the devil and bound in sin. However, not everyone in the crowded desired to grow in the things of God.

Matthew 5:1"he went up into a mountain" - Comments - Jesus moved moves away from the crowds by going up higher on a mountain. Thus, those who were more dedicated to Him would separate themselves from the multitudes and follow Him, which was an act of faith by which Jesus rewarded by teaching them God's Word. When we separate ourselves from the multitudes and withdraw to God's Word, we too are rewarded with insight into His Word.

Matthew 5:1"and when he was set" - Comments- Jesus could have required everyone to meet him at Mount Sinai, the mountain of God, and to sanctify themselves there. However, Jesus was where the people were in need. So when He saw the multitudes, He chose just a common mountain to teach on. This shows God"s willingness to come down to reach any Prayer of Manasseh, all men, wherever they are. However, He withdrew Himself enough to allow those who desired Him would have to make some small effort to pursue Him.

Many famous ministers of the Gospel have had places to teach which were confortable. Jesus, the greatest teacher of all, had no school building. He had no temple or synagogue to teach in. He taught often in the outdoors.

Matthew 5:1"his disciples came unto him" - Comments- This message was directed to the disciples who were following Him daily. A disciple is a pupil, a learner or an apprentice. One who is called a master teaches, demonstrates and gives experience and explains to His apprentice, the disciple. These disciples were "adherents"; they would not turn loose of Him. Many other people were there to hear also.

, "And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."

Luke 6:20, "And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God."

Matthew 5:1Comments - Some scholars believe that Matthew's account of Jesus being seated and His disciples (or crowds) coming to Him in the opening verses of three of the five major discourses was intentional, since it describes the traditional setting of the Jewish scribe being surrounded by his pupils ( Matthew 5:1; Matthew 13:1-2; Matthew 24:3). 363] The second and fourth discourses begin with one aspect of this formula, either Jesus gathering His disciples ( Matthew 10:1), or them coming to Him ( Matthew 18:1). In addition, this rabbinic formula is found in the middle of the third discourse simply because Jesus changes locations before completing this discourse ( Matthew 13:36).

363] Christopher R. Smith, "Literary Evidences of a FiveFold Structure in the Gospel of Matthew," in New Testament Studies 43 (1997): 542.

Matthew 5:1, "And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:"

Matthew 10:1, "And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease."

, "The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore."

Matthew 13:36, "Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field."

Matthew 18:1, "At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"

Matthew 24:3, "And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?"

Matthew 5:2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

Matthew 5:2Comments - Matthew 5:2 reflects the anointing in the office of the teacher. Notice that Jesus did not need sermon notes. The Word of God abode in His heart, and Jesus spoke under the anointed power of God, from His heart.

Matthew 12:34, "O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."

Psalm 119:11, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."

Colossians 3:16, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual Song of Solomon, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."

Jesus was blessed. As a twelve-year old child, His love was for God's Word. He sought to know God and to live by that Word. If we are to be blessed, our lives must be disciplined in God's Word. Only then can we will grow like Jesus to be able to open our mouth and teach under the anointing and wisdom of God.

Jesus always spoke with authority. Jesus never said, "Thus saith the Lord." Why? Because He was the Lord. He said, "Verily, verily I say unto you."

Matthew 7:29, "For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."

Luke 4:36, "And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out."

Matthew 5:2Comments - When we compare Matthew 5:2 with its parallel passage in Luke 6:20, we can clearly identity the office of Jesus as a Teacher in Matthew's Gospel when it says, "And he opened his mouth, and taught them..." In Luke He opens His mouth like a prophet and begins to deliver His message to the multitudes.

Luke 6:20, "And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God."

Comments- Jesus' Method of Teaching- The disciples of Jesus were those who sought Him. To them Jesus spoke plainly. To the multitudes Jesus spoke in parables. Note Jesus' explanation as to why this was so:

, "And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand."

Thus, all of Jesus' recorded speeches were addressed either to His disciples with plainness, or to the multitudes in parables, and thirdly to the religious leaders in rebukes and woes. We must recognize His intended audience in each of His speeches in order to better understand His message. For example, we can see that the five major discourses found in the Gospel of Matthew were directed to His disciples. The only exception would be , when Jesus told the Parable of the Sower to the multitudes.

1. The Sermon on the Mount (5-7).

2. Sending out of Apostles (10).

3. Parables of Kingdoms (13).

4. Church Discipline and Fellowship (18).

5. Eschatology (24-25).

Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:3Comments- The poor in spirit are the humble or meek in heart ( Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4:18).

Isaiah 61:1, "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;"

Luke 4:18, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,"

Thayer says the "poor in spirit" are blessed because they are "conscience of their spiritual needs" (see πτωχός 3). It seems that to first come to God, we must reach this point of sorrow over our sins. Many who came to hear Jesus that day had an awareness of spiritual needs in their lives. This is a description of a humble heart. Contrite means to feeling a deep sorrow for a wrong.

Psalm 34:18, "The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit."

Psalm 35:13, "But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom."

Psalm 40:17, "But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God."

Psalm 51:17, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."

Matthew 11:5, "The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them."

Luke 4:18, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,"

James 2:5, "Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?"

Arthur Pink calls the opposite of "poor in spirit" the "rich in spirit," 364] referring to those who are prideful, self-righteous, who lives a good moral life, independent of God. Luke 6:20 says that the poor are blessed and that the rich are to woe ( Luke 6:24). Why? James 2:5 explains that God has chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him. They have a large inheritance coming to them, even better than if a rich uncle dies and leaves them a million dollars. Note 1 Corinthians 1:26 says that not many wise in flesh, mighty, and noble, but God has chosen the weak in this world. The poor, under educated, and oppressed are part of this world's weak things, which God uses so mightily.

364] Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1982), comments on Matthew 5:3.

- It is hard for rich to enter kingdom of heaven. Why? Because riches can so easily become a snare ( 1 Timothy 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 6:17).

Luke 6:20, "And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God."

Luke 6:24, "But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation."

James 2:5, "Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?"

1 Corinthians 1:26, "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:"

, "And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle"s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."

, "But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."

1 Timothy 6:17, "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;"

Note that Jesus said, "poor in spirit," not "poor materially or poor physically." Today and in Scripture, there were and are many Godly people who are rich. Song of Solomon, this verse could not be referring to the physical. In contrast, there are many poor people who hate God and are under the curses of poverty and sickness.

In general, as stated in 1 Corinthians 1:26, we know that more poor people who become Christians than do rich people.

Matthew 5:3Scripture References- Note similar verses:

Psalm 40:17, "But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God."

Isaiah 66:2, "For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word."

Note Proverbs 18:23. The Lord once quickened this verse to me while meditating on this verse in the Sermon on the Mount.

Proverbs 18:23, "The poor useth intreaties; but the rich answereth roughly." This verse in the NIV, "a poor man pleads for mercy".

To this "poor" one, God is going to meet his need by letting him become a part of God's eternal kingdom.

Matthew 5:4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Matthew 5:4Comments- Those who experience sorrow, Godly sorrow.

Isaiah 57:18, "I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners."

, "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified."

2 Corinthians 7:10, "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death."

Illustration - In those who are oppression by the enemy and cry to God for deliverance.

Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Matthew 5:5Comments- The virtue of meekness refers to the person who fears God and trusts in His divine providence and provision. He will obey God's commandments and trust God to make provision in this life.

Psalm 25:12, "What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth."

Psalm 37:9, "For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth."

Psalm 37:11, "But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace."

Isaiah 57:13, "When thou criest, let thy companies deliver thee; but the wind shall carry them all away; vanity shall take them: but he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain;"

Isaiah 60:21, "Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified."

In we have the account of Abraham and Lot dividing the Promised Land among themselves and God revealing to Abraham his inheritance. However, the Lord did not reveal this to him until he had developed the humility to trust in God's divine providence, which Abraham demonstrated by letting Lot choose between the portions of land. This is what is meant by Jesus' statement in the Beatitudes that the meek shall inherit the earth ( Matthew 5:5). The word "earth" in this verse describes our earthly, possessions in this life. Meekness is how a man demonstrates his faith in God's divine providence and divine provision. In contrast, pride is demonstrated when a man looks to himself for material possessions and ignores divine principles to live by.

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Matthew 5:6Comments- This verse refers to those who are seeking after the Lord.

, "Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah. Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them."

, "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?"


Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Matthew 5:7Comments- See 2 Samuel 22:25-28.

Sowing and reaping applies to those who show mercy:

Matthew 7:2, "For with what judgment ye Judges, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."


Matthew 18:33, "Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?"

James 2:13, "For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment."

Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Matthew 5:8 "Blessed are the pure in heart" - Comments- 2 Samuel 22:25-28 - Pure from worldliness.

Psalm 24:4, "He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully."

John 14:19, "Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also."

Hebrews 12:14, "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:"

1 John 3:2, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."

Matthew 5:8"for they shall see God" - Scripture Reference- Note:

Revelation 22:4, "And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads."

Matthew 5:8Comments- Frances J. Roberts writes, "Without holiness, no man shall see God. This could be as truly stated, ‘Without a tender heart and sensitive, attentive spirit, none shall see God', for without these, no true holiness will ever be attained." 365]

365] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 15.

The man of a pure heart is a man of holiness. Therefore, note a similar verse:

Hebrews 12:14, "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:"

Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Matthew 5:9"Scripture References" - Note:

Hebrews 12:14, "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:"

James 3:18, "And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace."

Matthew 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness" sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:10Comments- This refers to the fellowship of Christ's sufferings.

2 Corinthians 1:7, "And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation."

2 Corinthians 4:17, "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;"

2 Timothy 2:12, "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:"

The carnal lifestyle will not receive this divine blessing:

Romans 8:7, "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."

Matthew 5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Matthew 5:11Comments - Webster says the word "revile" means, "To address or abuse with opprobrious and contemptuous language." Note:

, "Remember, Lord, the reproach of thy servants; how I do bear in my bosom the reproach of all the mighty people; Wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O LORD wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed."

Matthew 10:22, "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name"s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved."


Acts 5:41, "And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name."

1 Peter 2:20, "For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God."

Scripture Reference- God's spirit is resting upon a persecuted home:

1 Peter 4:14, "If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified."

Matthew 5:12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Matthew 5:12 Illustrations - Note some illustrations of those who are persecuted for righteousness sake:

, "And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy."

Matthew 23:34, "Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:"

Matthew 23:37, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!"

, "Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!"


James 1:2, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;"

1 Peter 1:6, "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:"

The Salt and the Light ( Mark 9:50, Luke 14:34-35) - In Matthew 5:13-16 Jesus compares God's children to the salt of the earth and calls them the light of the world. Jesus has just given nine characteristics of the children of God in the Beatitudes ( Matthew 5:1-12). Matthew 5:13-16 reveals to us that these children are to serve two purposes on earth. As the salt of the earth, they preserve the world from God's pending wrath. As the light of the world, they carry the revelation of God's divine plan of redemption for mankind. When a child of God is walking in the virtues of the Beatitudes, he is serving as stay of God's wrath and as a bearer of God's grace. Thus, after calling out the children of God in verses 3-12, just as God called the children of Israel out of Egypt and separated them, Jesus then tells them in this passage ( Matthew 5:13-16) what their work is on this earth. They are to walk in the virtues found in verses 3-12in order that they might serve as salt to withhold God's wrath and as a light to reveal God's grace. Thus, Matthew 5:13-16 is about Christian service. We can only be the salt of the earth or the light of the world as we serve the Lord.

Matthew 5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Matthew 5:13"and to be trodden under foot of men" - Illustration:

Isaiah 28:3, "The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet:"

Matthew 5:13Comments- Matthew 5:13 is a metaphor that compares God's children to salt, or more specifically, to the preserving characteristics of salt. As with many of Jesus' metaphors and parables, there exists an element of "cultural dissonance," which means that something in the story is either exaggerated or shocking and unexpected. This allows this metaphor in Matthew to be interpreted with the understanding that salt does not lose its saltiness. Yet, Christians can lose this "characteristic" by lack of discipline. However, there are many explanations for how salt can lose its saltiness. For example, D. A. Carson explains that the salt in ancient Palestine was extracted from salt marshes and similar places. Therefore, the salt was not always pure. Then the salt was leached out through usage, the remaining chemicals were discarded because this powder had lost its saltiness. It could not be thrown in the soil, where crops may be grown. Today, the powder is discarded upon flat rooftops because it helped to harden the soil and prevent leaks. Since the rooftops were used as a playground or meeting area, this salt is trodden by men's feet. 366]

366] D. A. Carson, Matthew, The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol 8, eds. Frank E. Gaebelien, J. D. Douglas, Dick Polcyn (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1976-1992), in Zondervan Reference Software, v 28 [CD-ROM] (Grand Rapids, Michigan: The Zondervan Corp, 1989-2001), comments on Matthew 5:13.

Salt preserves and flavors. Christians are the reason God does not pour out His wrath upon an evil, adulterous world. Christians "flavor" this world, so that some of this world is pleasing to God. Christians preserve this world from God"s ever-present wrath. This may be the reason that Lot"s wife was turned into a pillar of salt, as an example of how the righteous are the salt of the earth.

Note these words from Frances J. Roberts, which explains the meaning of Matthew 5:13. It says that we lose our savor when we rebel against God's discipline and correction. Then other men will come and tread upon us:

"Do ye hope to be made perfect apart from the corrective process? Do ye expect to bear large fruit without the pruning process? Nay, My children, either bend in submission to My hand, or ye shall break in rebellion. Godly sorrow yieldeth the good fruit of repentance, but if ye be brittle and unyielding, ye shall know a grief of spirit for which there is no remedy. Keep a flexible spirit, so that I may mold thee and shape thee freely - so that I can teach thee readily, nor be detained by thy resistance.

"I need disciplined Christians. To entertain self-will is to court disqualification. Ye cannot do My work to My satisfaction except ye do it in accordance with My specifications. There are not many blueprints for one building; there is only one. Even Song of Solomon, to change the figure, there are not many different husbandmen. I am the husbandman. If ye refuse My loving care of thee, ye shall be cut down by others who have no concern for thy soul. Even as I said of the salt: if it lose its savor, it is good for naught but shall be trodden under foot of man. If the branch bear no fruit, men shall gather it and burn it." 367]

367] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 94.

We also lose our saltiness when we lose our joy:

"Remember that I am in the midst when ye praise me. Never let any kind of anxiety crowd out thy praises. Do not be concerned for My reputation. I have withstood many a storm, and I will survive this one. Man's strivings are as the waters around Gibraltar. They have beat upon the rock, but they have not changed it. I am not disturbed, and I forbid thee to be anxious.

"For anxiety genderth to tension, and tension erodes joy; and when joy is gone, victory is lost, faith is weakened, and spontaneity is destroyed. The spirit falls ill. The salt has lost its flavor. Its savor is a saver. What can I use to preserve My work in your midst if ye lose your joy? Rejoice always, said the apostle Paul - and again I say rejoice. Let your stability be observable to all men, for truly, the coming of the Lord is near. Gird up your loins, and be strong; for it is the Lord who upholdeth thee, and He it is who giveth thee the victory. Sing, My children, and let the shout of praise be heart; for the Lord is mighty, and His Name is glorious." 368]

368] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 96.

If we remain salty, we shall make others thirsty for the things of God.

"I will make you a blessing. Think not to take a blessing to someone, or hope that I will send a blessing. Lo, I will make thee, as My ambassador, to be thyself a sweet savour of life and grace. Through thy saltiness shall others be made thirsty. Through thy joy shall others be made to long after reality." 369]

369] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 118.

Note these insightful words from Sadhu Sundar Singh regarding the salt of the earth.

"My children are like salt in the world (Matt. v 13). If the salt crystals are not dissolved they cannot transmit their flavour. So with My children. If they are not melted in the fire of love and the Holy Spirit, and made into a living sacrifice, they will not be able to bring a single soul that spiritual and heavenly life by which they may be saved. They will be no better than Lot's wife who became a pillar of salt (Gen. xix 26). But just as for your sakes I was melted in Gethesemane (Luke xxii 44), and on the cross gave up My life that I might save the lives of men, for life must be paid for with life, so you also are called upon to give up your lives and thus bring the savour of spiritual life to others and deliver them from death." 370]

370] Sadhu Sundar Singh, At the Master's Feet, translated by Arthur Parker (London: Fleming H. Revell Co, 1922) [on-line]; accessed 26 October 2008; available from; Internet, "IV Service," section 1, part 5.

Matthew 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

Matthew 5:14"Ye are the light of the world" - Comments- God is to reveal His Son Jesus to the world through us. The only Jesus many people will ever see is the Jesus that they see in you.

Galatians 1:16, "To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:"

Matthew 5:15Comments- Note these insightful words from Sadhu Sundar Singh regarding the light of the world.

"There are little creatures far inferior to Prayer of Manasseh, like the firefly, with its flickering light, and certain small plants among the vegetation in the Himalayas, which by their faint phosphorescent radiance illuminate as far as they can the dark jungle where they live. Tiny fish also that swim in the deep waters of the ocean give forth a glimmering light which guides other fish and helps them to elude their enemies. How much more ought My children to be lights in the world (Matt. v 14) and be eager in self-sacrifice to bring into the way of truth, by means of their God-given light, those who by reason of darkness are liable to become the prey of Satan." 371]

371] Sadhu Sundar Singh, At the Master's Feet, translated by Arthur Parker (London: Fleming H. Revell Co, 1922) [on-line]; accessed 26 October 2008; available from; Internet, "IV Service," section 2, part 4.

Matthew 5:15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 5:16"Let your light so shine before men" - Comments- Our light is Jesus living and shining through us. —

John 8:12, "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."

Matthew 5:16 "that they may see your good works" - Comments- Jesus said in John 14:12 that we would do His same works and greater works that He did. Acts 10:38 says that Jesus went about doing good and healing the sick. Song of Solomon, as we go about doing good works, this involves testimonies of signs, wonders, and miracles in our lives. When others see these miracles, they will glorify the Lord. The Lord said to me several years ago that the greatest testimony I have is my faith in the Lord Jesus. Share what the Lord has done for you so others may glorify God.

John 14:12, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father."

Acts 10:38, "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him."

Matthew 5:16"and glorify your Father which is in heaven" - Illustrations:

The Queen of Sheba gave glory to God after seeing the mighty works of Solomon.

2 Chronicles 9:8, "Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee to set thee on his throne, to be king for the LORD thy God: because thy God loved Israel, to establish them for ever, therefore made he thee king over them, to do judgment and justice."

The Psalmist declares that the work that Jesus did as Calvary, His resurrection from the grave and exaltation was a marvelous work:

,"The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the LORD"S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes."

God does such a mighty transformation in our lives that that people realize only God could have done this. Paul was the greatest example of this.

, "But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me."

Miracles, signs and wonders bring glory to God:

Matthew 15:31, "Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel."

Acts 4:21, "So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done."

Acts 11:18, "When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life."

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Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

The First Discours: The Sermon on the Mount ( ) - Matthew 5:1 to Matthew 7:29 records the Sermon on the Mount, which is perhaps the best known passage in the New Testament. This sermon is more accurately a teaching lesson, for the Gospel of Matthew reflects Jesus in His office and ministry as a Teacher, while Mark's Gospel records His preaching ministry. Thus, scholars refer to the five "discourses" in the Gospel of Matthew. In this discourse Jesus gives to the people the Laws of the Kingdom of Heaven, in which He lays the foundational doctrines for the Kingdom.

The Sermon on the Mount will also serve as His inaugural address as the King of the Jews, in which He tells the people about the laws that are to govern the Kingdom of God. This new government is not a democracy where a leader is elected. Rather, it is a kingdom by which a king is chosen by royal birth, and whose rule endures throughout the life of the King. Its constitution and civil laws are not written and voted upon by the people as in a democracy and reads, "We the people…" as the constitution of the United States reads. But this is a kingdom by which the king's words serve as the Law. This is why Jesus says in His Sermon, "Ye have heard that it was said…but I say unto you." His Word takes authority over all pervious law. In a kingdom the king is honored, even worshipped. There can be no protests and demonstrations to impeach a king. This would only happen in a democracy.

How the Sermon on the Mount of Matthew 5:1 to Matthew 7:29 Reflects the Structure of Matthew's Gospel - The Sermon on the Mount is clearly the most popular passage of Matthew's Gospel. This sermon reflects the underlying theme of Matthew's Gospel, which the testimony of Jesus as the Messiah and King of the Jews through Jesus' teaching ministry.

Divine Service ( ) — ð — See Matthew 10:1 to Matthew 11:1

Perseverance: Worldliness ( Matthew 6:19 to Matthew 7:12) — ð — See Matthew 13:1-52

Perseverance: False Doctrines ( ) — ð — See Matthew 18:1-35

Glorification ( ) — ð — See Matthew 24:1 to Matthew 25:46

Summary and Application ( )

Justification ( Matthew 5:1-16) - The Beatitudes ( Matthew 5:1-16) emphasizes how a person is justified in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Indoctrination ( Matthew 5:17-48) - Matthew 5:17-48 indoctrinates the people on the meaning of the original intent of the Law of Moses.

Divine Service ( Matthew 6:1-18) - They prepare themselves for divine service through almsgiving, prayer and fasting. He will expound upon this topic and actually send out twelve apostles for training in divine service in His second discourse in Matthew 10:1 to Matthew 11:1.

Perseverance Amidst Worldliness ( Matthew 6:19 to Matthew 7:12) - Matthew 6:19 to Matthew 7:12 teaches how to perseverance amidst worldliness so that they will be able to find their place of rest with God. He will expound upon this topic again in His third discourse consisting of parables about man's reactions to Gospel ( Matthew 13:1-52).

Perseverance Amidst False Doctrine ( Matthew 7:13-20) - In Matthew 7:13-20 Jesus places emphasis upon the need to persevere amidst offences and false doctrines within the Church. In this passage Jesus teaches us about the dangers along our journey to Heaven. He tells us that the path is narrow and many will not make it ( Matthew 7:13-14). We are told that there are many detours to mislead us ( Matthew 7:15-20). Jesus will expound upon this topic in His fourth discourse about handling offences in the Kingdom of God ( Matthew 18:1-35).

Glorification ( Matthew 7:21-23) - In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus Christ teaches on the subject of how to enter into our future glorification in Heaven. It is only those who stay on course and do the will of the Father who will enter into Heaven. Jesus will expound upon this topic in His Olivet Discourse ( Matthew 24:1 to Matthew 25:46).

Summary and Application ( Matthew 7:24-29) - In Matthew 7:24-27 Jesus Christ summaries His message by telling the people to apply the Sermon on the Mount to their personal lives. Matthew 7:28-29 serves as a transitional sentence that the author uses between the five major sections of the Gospel.

Outline- Note the proposed outline of Jesus' first discourse, which we call the Sermon on the Mount ( Matthew 5:1 to Matthew 7:29). This particular outline emphasizes this Sermon as the Giving of the Laws of the Kingdom.

1. Justification: The Children of the Kingdom —

a) Nine Characteristics of the Children —

b) The Salt and Light —

2. Indoctrination: The Laws of the Kingdom —

a) The Fulfillment of the Law —

b) The Giving of the Laws of the Kingdom —

i) Murder (Dealing with Man's Heart) —

ii) Adultery (Dealing with Man's Heart) —

iii) Swearing (Man's Tongue/Mind) —

iv) Retribution (Physical Actions) —

v) Loving thy Neighbor (Summary of Law) —

3. Calling: Divine Service in the Kingdom —

a) Almsgiving (Sanctifies the Heart) —

b) Prayer (Sanctifies the Mind) —

c) Fasting (Sanctifies the Body) —

4. Perseverance Amidst Worldliness — Matthew 6:19 to Matthew 7:12

a) Seeking God First (Heart) —

b) Judge Not (Mind) —

c) Trusting God in Prayer (Bodily Needs) —

5. Perseverance Amidst False Doctrines —

6. Glorification- Entering the Promised Land —

7. Conclusion —

The Recipients to the Five Discourses of the Gospel of Matthew - The five discourses that Jesus Christ delivered during His earthly ministry were primarily directed to His disciples ( Matthew 5:1; Matthew 10:1; Matthew 13:10-11; Matthew 13:36-37; Matthew 18:1; Matthew 24:3). Although the multitudes gathered together to receive miracles and to hear Him, Matthew is accurate to note that Jesus addressed these discourse to His disciples. Thus, the purpose of the five discourses was the training of the Twelve, preparing them for His final command to take the Gospel to the nations, which is traditionally called the Great Commission ( Matthew 28:18-20).

The Motif of Righteousness in the Sermon on the Mount - In the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew uses the Greek word δικαιοσύ νη five times ( Matthew 5:6; Matthew 5:10; Matthew 5:20; Matthew 6:1; Matthew 6:33). Matthew uses this Greek word only on two other occasions in the rest of his Gospel ( Matthew 3:15; Matthew 21:32). The first use is found in the narrative material preceding the first discourse ( Matthew 3:15) in which Jesus demonstrates true righteousness prior to teaching on the topic in the Sermon on the Mount. Thus, the motif of righteousness is embedded within the first discourse, in which Jesus teaches on God's true standard of righteousness for mankind.

The Motif of God the Father in the Sermon on the Mount - The Sermon on the Mount is the first place in the Holy Scriptures where God is revealed as a Father intimately concerned about and involved with the daily affairs of His children. David was the first individual to recognized God as his Father, and the sweet psalmist of Israel called Him Father throughout His psalms. Yet, in the centuries that followed, few individual understood the intimacy that God intended for His children, so there is very little reference to this concept in the canonical Scriptures that were written after David. For this reason, the message Jesus Christ delivered in the Sermon on the Mount is a new revelation for the Jews of the divine character of the God of Israel as a loving Father for each of them.

The Motif of the Mosaic Law in the Sermon on the Mount - Jesus refer to the Mosaic Law a number of times in the Sermon on the Mount. Since the Gospel of Matthew emphasizes Jesus as the Scriptural fulfillment of the coming Messiah, this Gospel also gives emphasis to Jesus' teachings on the Kingdom of God, a theological concept that the Jews incorporated with the coming of the Messiah. The Jews believed that the Messiah would usher in a new kingdom, where He would reign on earth from Jerusalem as King. Since Jesus Christ came as King of the Jews, He teaches the people the laws of the Kingdom of God by contrasting them to the Mosaic Law. Note these comments from Philip Schaff:

"After the Messianic inauguration and trial Jesus opens his public ministry with the Sermon on the Mount, which is the counterpart of the Sinaitic legislation, and contains the fundamental law of his kingdom. The key-note of this sermon and of the whole Gospel is that Christ came to fulfil the law and the prophets, which implies both the harmony of the two religions and the transcendent superiority of Christianity." 359]

359] Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol 1: Apostolic Christianity A.D 1-100 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1955), 617.

In chapter five, Jesus reveals how the Ten Commandments are to be obeyed in the Kingdom of God, and how the blessings and curses operate in this new Kingdom. In chapter 6, Jesus explains how the statutes of the Mosaic Law are also to be fulfilled in this new kingdom.

The major theme of the Pentateuch is the delivering of the Mosaic Law to the children of Israel. On Mount Sinai, Moses gave the people the Ten Commandments, which can be referred to as the "Moral Law." He then delivered to them many statutes and ordinances regarding daily living and service in the Tabernacle. This set of rules and regulations can be referred to as the "Civil Laws." The Ten Commandments became the foundation for the civil laws. Thus, the Ten Commandments dealt with a man's heart, while the civil laws dealt with a man's actions. When a man held the moral laws within his heart, he would then be willing to follow the civil laws.

When Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount, He taught the people the true meaning of the Ten Commandments. He explained to the people the foundational laws from which the civil laws were derived. Jesus dealt with the heart of Prayer of Manasseh, because the people were confused with the endless civil laws that the Pharisees had heaped upon them through the centuries.

In the days of Jesus, the people of Israel easily confused righteousness with legalism. The Pharisees imposed a strict and complicated legal system on the Jewish people, who lived in fear of these religious leaders. The Jews watched the Pharisees strive to keep the details of these rules and regulations while inwardly they were liars, thieves and murderers. For example, they misused the treasury money. They murdered the Lord Jesus Christ and lied about His body being stolen by the disciples. All of their actions were motivated to please one another. Thus, the people sought to please the Pharisees outwardly, to be seen by others, but inwardly, their motives were false.

It is in this setting that Jesus taught to such a people who had lost the true meaning of righteous. This is why Jesus emphasizes the word "righteousness" in the Sermon on the Mount, which is subtitled by A. T. Robertson as, "Christ's Standard of Righteousness." 360]

360] A. T. Robertson, A Harmony of the Gospels for Students of the Life of Christ (New York: George H. Doran, 1922), 48.

This sermon clearly lays out what true, Scriptural righteous conduct is all about. In Job 31, Job lived many of these truths in his life. This lifestyle of righteousness had been lost during Jesus" day in the teachings of the Pharisees. Song of Solomon, as Moses instituted the laws of God at Mount Sinai to begin the kingdom of Israel, so Jesus lays the foundation of the Kingdom of God by teaching its laws and statutes. In laying this foundation, Jesus is attempting in His Sermon to explain to the children of Israel the real meaning behind the Ten Commandments and the laws of Moses.

In a similar way that Moses separated the children of Israel from Egypt through the Exodus, delivered to them the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, and led them to the Promised Land, so does Jesus Christ call out the true children of God from the world in the Beatitudes ( ). He explains the true meaning of the Ten Commandments in Matthew 5:17-48. He tells them how to get to the Promised Land ( Matthew 6:1 to Matthew 7:29).

In addition, there is a clear contrast between this setting of Jesus teaching the people and the scene from Mount Sinai in Exodus 19. Note:

1. God came down to give the Law from heaven. Jesus went up into a mountain to teach, since He was among men, flesh and blood.

2. God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai. Jesus explains how to live the Ten Commandments here.

3. God spoke out of thunder, lightening, and a thick cloud. Jesus spoke out of in a voice of authority.

4. At Mount Sinai, we sense God's holiness. Here we see God's love.

1 John 3:16, "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."

5. On Mt. Sinai, the people were ordered to keep their distance. Here, the people are able to come up to Jesus.

6. On Mt. Sinai, Moses asked to see God. He only saw His back. Here, they see God in the flesh as Jesus.

, "Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?"

Jesus' Authority verses Rabbinic Authority in the Sermon on the Mount- When the Jewish leaders heard Jesus teach, they marveled, saying, "How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" ( John 7:15) Because Jesus did not rise up through the rabbinical educational system, He was unknown to the educated Pharisees and Jewish leaders. Andreas J. Kösterberger notes that the rabbis of the first century often cited other rabbinical authorities in their teachings. 361] Thus, the rabbis considered those who taught without such rabbinical authorities to lack credibility. 362] They themselves referred back to a long history of traditional interpretation of the Mosaic Law as their authority. Jesus, however, offered Himself as the sole authority in His teachings on twenty-five occasions in John's Gospel, saying, "Truly, truly, I say to you…" ( John 1:51; John 3:3; John 3:5; John 3:11; John 5:19; John 5:24-25; John 6:26; John 6:32; John 6:47; John 6:53; John 8:34; John 8:51; John 8:58; John 10:1; John 10:7; John 12:24; John 13:16; John 13:20-21; John 13:38; John 14:12; John 16:20; John 16:23; John 21:18) Throughout the Synoptic Gospels Jesus says, "Verily I say unto you…" When pressed by the Jews for His source of authority, Jesus refers to His Father as the source of His doctrine ( John 5:17-26; John 5:36-37; John 6:44-46; John 7:16; John 8:28; John 8:38; John 10:18, John 10:37-38; John 12:49-50; John 14:31; John 15:15). Jesus' response of elevating Himself above rabbinic authority incited the Jews to anger, as they accused Him of blasphemy because He made Himself equal to God, while the common rabbi lowered himself below rabbinical authorities in his teachings. Perhaps the best example of the Jew's scholar's dependence upon the long tradition of rabbinical authority is found in the Babylonian Talmud, which consists of lengthy discussions of the views of renowned rabbis regarding particular interpretations of the Law.

361] Andreas J. Ksterberger, John, in Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2004), 232-233.

362] Scholars cite Sotah 22a from the Babylonian Talmud as an example of the negative rabbinical attitude towards those who do not appeal to other authorities in their teachings, which says, "It has been reported, If one has learnt Scripture and Mishnah but did not attend upon Rabbinical scholars, R. Eleazar says he is an "Am ha-arez" [lit. a people of the land]." (Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 22a) The rabbis equated such teachers to "people of the land," meaning such teachers were like the common, uneducated person.

The Pauline Epistles and the Sermon on the Mount- Paul the apostle will later write the nine Church Epistles, in which he will be divinely used to lay down the doctrines for the New Testament Church. But his doctrines will be built upon the Sermon on the Mount. Thus, Jesus Christ lays down a foundation upon which all of the New Testament apostles and prophets are to build upon. This is why Paul the apostle could say, "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;" ( ). Just as Paul's epistles are grouped into the doctrines of justification, sanctification and glorification, so is the Sermon on the Mount structured around this three-fold emphasis.

Similarities of the Sermon on the Mount to the Structure of the New Testament - Besides the similarities between the Pentateuch and the Gospel of Matthew, we find similarities between the five major discourses and the structure of the New Testament writings. To begin with, we know that the nine Pauline Church Epistles establish the doctrines of the New Testament Church. The three Pastoral Epistles establish the order and ministry of the Church. The three General Epistles of Hebrews, James and 1Peter establish the perseverance of the saints in regards to persecutions from without the Church. The five General Epistles of 2Peter, 1, 2, 3John and Jude establish the perseverance of the saints in regards to persecutions from false doctrines within the church.

In a similar manner, we can compare the Sermon on the Mount to the Church Epistles in that they lay the foundation for the doctrine of the Kingdom of God and of the New Testament Church. The second discourse of Jesus sending out the twelve establishes the ministry and order of the Church, which can be compared to the Pastoral Epistles. The third discourse regarding the parables of the Kingdom of Heaven which reveals the ways in which men reject the preaching of the Gospel can be compared to the General Epistles of Hebrews, James and 1Peter which deal with persecutions from without. The fourth discourse of dealing with offences and persecutions from the Jewish leaders can be compared with the General Epistles of 2Peter, 1, 2, 3John and Jude which discuss persecutions from false doctrine within the Church. The emphasis upon false doctrine in this narrative material is because the theme of this passage is about offences because of false doctrines in the Kingdom of God. These offences are not coming from the multitudes but from those who appear to be within the Kingdom of God, that Isaiah, the religious leaders. The fifth Eschatological discourse of the Second Coming of Christ can be compared to the book of Revelation, which deals with the glorification of the Church.

Similarities of the Sermon on the Mount to the Six Foundational Doctrines of the New Testament Church- If we compare the foundational doctrines listed in with the scheme of the five major discourses in Matthew's Gospel, we can observe some parallels.

, "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment."

The six foundational doctrines found in were laid down by Jesus Christ. It is these six doctrines upon which the Kingdom of Heaven is established:

1. repentance from dead works

2. faith toward God

3. the doctrine of baptisms

4. laying on of hands

5. resurrection of the dead

6. eternal judgment

Jesus' first discourse, the Sermon on the Mount, finds its parallel in the third foundational doctrine of the doctrine of baptisms. The second discourse, the Sending out of the Twelve, parallels the laying on of hands for Christian service. The third and fourth discourses emphasize the perseverance of the saints. The last discourse, the Eschatological Discourse, places most of its emphasis upon the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.

Similarities of the Sermon on the Mount to Luke 6:20-49 - Just as Jesus Christ visited the synagogues of Galilee and probably delivered the same speech out of Isaiah 61:1-2, do did He probably delivered messages similar to the Sermon on the Mount to the multitudes, which would explain the differences in the parallel passages in Luke 6:20-49 and the Sermon on the Plain ( Matthew 5:1 to Matthew 7:29). In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus chose the twelve apostles prior to the Sermon on the Plain, while the appointment of the Twelve comes after the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew's Gospel. This helps to explain what many scholars otherwise see as conflicting accounts of the same events.

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Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary


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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

16. οὕτως] i.e. like a candle on a candlestick—like a city on a hill; not οὕτως, ὅπως, ‘so … that,’ as our English version seems rather to imply. By rendering οὕτως in like manner, the ambiguity will be avoided. See ref., and note there. The sense of this verse is as if it were ὅπως, ἰδόντες ὑμῶν τ. κ. ἔργ. δοξάσωσιν τ. π. … the latter verb, and not the former, carrying the purpose of the action. Thus the praise and glory of a well-lighted and brilliant feast would be given, not to the lights, but to the master of the house; and of a stately city on a hill, not to the buildings, but to those who built them. The whole of this division of our Lord’s sermon is addressed to all His followers, not exclusively to the ministers of his word. All servants of Christ are the salt of the earth, the light of the world (Philippians 2:15). And all that is here said applies to us all. But à fortiori does it apply, in its highest sense, to those who are, among Christians, selected to teach and be examples; who are as it were the towers and pinnacles of the city, not only not hid, but seen far and wide above the rest.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

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

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Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

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

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

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

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

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

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.

The Bible Study New Testament

16. Your light must shine. Christians allow their light to shine by doing good things which honor God in the eyes of people. People are more impressed by what you do, than by what you say.




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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

In the so-called “Sermon on the Mount” our Lord was not preaching the gospel, but He was setting forth the principles of His kingdom, which should guide the lives of all who profess to be His disciples. In other words, this is the law of the kingdom; the observance of which must characterize its loyal subjects as they wait for the day when the King Himself shall be revealed. Throughout, it recognizes the existence of definite opposition to His rule, but those who own His authority are called upon to manifest the same meek and lowly spirit that was seen in Him while in the days of His humiliation here on earth. The epistle of James answers very closely to the teaching set forth here. He calls it “the perfect law of liberty,” because it is that which is becoming to the new nature received when one is born of God.

For the natural man this sermon is not the way of life, but rather a source of condemnation; for it sets a standard so high and holy that no unsaved person can by any possibility attain to it. He who attempts it will soon realize his utter helplessness, if he be honest and conscientious. He must look elsewhere in Scripture for the gospel, which is the dynamic of God unto salvation to all who believe (Romans 1:16). The keenest intellects of earth have recognized in the Sermon on the Mount the highest ethical teaching to men, and have praised its holy precepts even when conscious of their inability to measure up to its standards. So far as the unsaved are concerned, therefore, the teaching given here becomes indeed, as C. I. Scofield has well said, “Law raised to its Nth power.” But for the believer, just as the righteous requirements of the law are “fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:4), so the principles laid down in this sermon will find their practical exemplification in the lives of all who seek to walk as Christ walked. It is not for us to relegate all this to the Jewish remnant in the last days or to disciples before the Cross, though fully applicable to both. But we discern here “wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Timothy 6:3) that we dare not refuse to obey, lest we be proved to be such as are described in the following verse: “He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings” (1 Timothy 6:4). We need to remember that, though a heavenly people, we have earthly responsibilities, and these are defined for us in this greatest of all sermons having to do with human conduct.

With this in mind, let us look first at the incomparable beatitudes with which it opens:

And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: and he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for their’s is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (vv. 1-12)

“Blessed are the poor in spirit.” These are the men and women who recognize the fact that they have no spiritual assets. They confess their lost condition and so rely upon divine grace.

“Blessed are they that mourn.” The very sorrows men are called to pass through prove a means of blessing if they know the “God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3), who binds up broken hearts (Psalms 34:18) and makes our griefs to become the means of our growth in grace when we trust His love and rest in the realization that all things work together for the good of His own (Romans 8:28).

“Blessed are the meek.” The world admires the pushing, self-assertive man. Jesus Christ was meek and lowly in heart. Those who partake of His spirit are the ones who get the most out of life, after all. It is they who “inherit the earth,” for they see in all nature the evidences of a Father’s love and care.

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness.” Such hunger and thirst-such deep, earnest desire-gives evidence of the new life. These desires are not given to mock us. Satisfaction is the promised portion of all who thus yearn after God, in whom alone righteousness is found.

“Blessed are the merciful.” To those who show mercy, mercy will be extended. This is a law of the kingdom. The hard, implacable man, who deals in stern justice alone, will be dealt with in the same way when failure comes into his own life.

“Blessed are the pure in heart.” Purity is singleness of purpose. The pure in heart are those who put God’s glory above all else. To such He reveals Himself. They see His face when others discern only His providential dealings.

“Blessed are the peacemakers.” Strife and division are works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-20). Sowing discord among brethren is one of the things that the Lord hates (Proverbs 6:16-19). We are commanded to follow after the things that make for peace (Romans 14:19). In doing this, we manifest the divine nature, as children of Him who is the God of peace (Romans 15:33).

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.” This intimates clearly that the instruction set forth here is intended, not, as many have insisted, for the millennial kingdom of Christ, for then there will be no persecution for the sake of righteousness, but for the disciples of Christ during the time of His rejection, when His followers are exposed to the hatred of a godless world.

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you … and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.” We all shrink from false accusation, but we may find comfort as we remember that our Lord Himself was not exempt from this. There is blessing as we go through these experiences in fellowship with Him, not even attempting to justify ourselves, but leaving it to Him to clear us in His own way and time.

“Rejoice, and be exceeding glad,” instead of giving way to depression of spirit: “for great is your reward in heaven.” God is taking note of all that His people suffer at the hands, or by the lips, of a godless world or false brethren; and He will make up for it all in His own way when we see His face. His prophets in every age have been called upon to endure similar treatment, but He has observed it all and will reward according to the loving-kindness of His heart.

In the next section, verses 13-16, we have Christ’s disciples presented under various figures, all speaking of the importance of faithfulness to the trust He has committed to us.

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

“Ye are the salt of the earth.” Salt preserves from corruption. The disciples of our Lord are left in the world to witness against its iniquity and to set an example of righteousness. Savorless salt, like inconsistent Christians, is good for nothing.

“Ye are the light of the world.” Christ so designated Himself as long as He was in this scene (John 9:5). In His absence His disciples are to witness for Him as lights in this dark world (Philippians 2:15). The light manifests the evils that were hidden in the darkness (Ephesians 5:13).

“On a candlestick…it giveth light unto all that are in the house.” One who professes to be a follower of Christ, but who hides his light under a bushel-that is, obscures his testimony by an over-occupation with the affairs of this life- makes no real impression for good upon his community; but one who lives consistently and is out-and-out for Christ shines as a lamp on a stand, enlightening the whole house.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works.” Mere profession is not enough. The life should speak for God. As we live Christ before men, we let our light shine. Thus they recognize our good works and see in them an evidence of sincerity. So they glorify God by recognizing the reality of His work in the souls of those who are faithful in their witness and behavior. We need to remember that we do not let our light shine by mere profession, but as it was said of our Lord Himself, “the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). So it is a devoted, faithful life that gives light to others.

In verses 17-30 we see how our Lord applied the precepts of the law, neither ignoring them nor in any way belittling them, but showing that there is a deeper meaning in it all than is seen on the surface. It is that which, rightly applied, makes manifest man’s utter helplessness and inability to keep its holy precepts in his natural state. Let us notice with care what Jesus taught as to this:

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shall by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you. That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. (vv. 17-30)

“I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” This our Lord did in three ways: by His perfect obedience He magnified the law and made it honorable (Isaiah 42:21); by His death He met all its claims against the lawbreakers, and so He becomes the end of the law for righteousness to all who believe (Romans 10:4); by His Spirit He enables believers to fulfill the righteous requirements of the law (Romans 8:4).

“One jot or one tittle.” The jot is the yodh, the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The tittle is a little mark indicating a slight change in the meaning of a letter. Our Lord’s words indicate the perfection of Holy Scripture.

“Whosoever… shall break one of these least commandments.” That is, anyone who ignores the divine authority of God’s revealed will by loosening the moral effect of His commands, so as to make men careless of their obligations to Him, shall be esteemed as of no worth in His kingdom.

“Except your righteousness shall exceed.” The scribes and Pharisees were extreme legalists and trusted in their own righteousness but had not submitted to the righteousness of God (Romans 10:3). The righteousness God accepts is of a higher character. This higher righteousness is suggested in the verses that follow. The law forbade murder. Jesus shows that unreasonable anger is, in itself, a violation of the spirit of the commandment. “Thou shalt not kill.” It is as a result of such a condition of mind that murder is committed. To use vile invectives against another is the manifestation of the hatred that causes men to kill, and therefore places one in danger even of hell-fire.

To profess to be a worshiper of God while willfully wronging another or cherishing malice in the heart is obnoxious to God. Let him who comes to His altar with a gift first seek out the brother he has wronged and then draw near to sacrifice.

Nor should one permit a spirit of antagonism toward another to continue if it is within his power to come to agreement; for sin never dies of old age, but becomes worse as time goes on. Many a one has suffered severely because of what might easily have been cleared up if he had given heed to these words.

In verse 28 Jesus shows us that an unchaste look, a leering, concentrated lascivious gaze upon a woman is actually, in God’s eyes, a violation of the seventh commandment. With such a standard, who can plead “Not guilty”? How important then the admonition to put to death any offending member lest one be betrayed into greater sin, which, if unrepented of, brings eternal judgment in hell itself.

Surely every right-thinking person must admit that the righteousness inculcated by our Lord in this matchless discourse (which has won the admiration of intelligent people everywhere) is a standard far beyond that to which the natural man can attain. It is only when one has been born again that he can live on this high plane. When men talk of the Sermon on the Mount being religion enough for them, they only show how little they have entered into the meaning of our Master’s words. He portrays a supernatural life which can be lived only by supernatural power-that power which the Holy Spirit gives to him who believes the gospel.

We have next an absolutely authoritative declaration concerning the marriage relationship. Of old God permitted certain things because of the hardness of men’s hearts, which are forbidden to the disciples of Jesus. He says: “It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: but I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery” (vv. 31-32). By comparing these verses with a later declaration found in 19:9 of this same gospel, we may see that marriage, which is in God’s intention for life, is dissolved by the grave sin of fornication on the part of either husband or wife. This leaves the innocent party free to marry again but, as 1 Corinthians 7 intimates, “only in the Lord.” It is absurd to say, as some have done, that fornication here refers only to immoral behavior before marriage and discovered only afterward (as in Deuteronomy 24:1), but has no reference to the same sin committed after marriage. This would be to make violation of the marriage vows a lesser offence than sexual sin indulged in while single. The clear sense of the passage is evident. The adulterous husband or wife breaks the tie. A divorce in the courts legalizes the separation, and the innocent one is as free before God as though never married at all.

Our Lord continues to magnify the law by stressing its fullest content. He speaks of oaths in verses 34-37:

But I say unto you. Swear not at all; neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne: nor by the earth; for it is His footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

Judged by this high standard, how much of our conversation is unworthy of those who profess to be subject to the Lord? What careless speech and foolish bywords professed Christians indulge in, just as though Jesus had never spoken regarding this matter.

The rest of the chapter may be considered as one whole section, setting forth as it does the manifestation of grace in the lives of the disciples of Christ:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect, (vv. 38-48)

“An eye for an eye.” This is pure law-absolute righteousness (Exodus 21:24). Judged by that standard, every man’s case is hopeless.

“Resist not evil.” God has dealt with His children in grace. Therefore He expects them to manifest the same grace toward others.

“Let him have thy cloke also.” This was far above what the law demanded. When the grace of Christ controls the heart, one can suffer the loss of all things without resentment.

“Go with him twain.” Ordinary etiquette in those days demanded that one go a mile to direct or guide a bewildered or belated traveler. Grace goes the second mile.

“Turn not thou away.” The disciple of Christ is to be like his Master-willing to communicate. He may not be in a position to give all that is asked of him, or to lend all that one might want, but he is to be ready to comply, so far as possible, with requests for aid and assistance.

“It hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy.” The Scripture passages of the Old Testament plainly commanded the former, but it was rabbinical tradition that added the latter of these sayings, possibly basing it on such passages as Deuteronomy 23:6 and some of the imprecatory psalms (Psalms 137:9).

“But I say unto you.” Speaking as the Sent One of the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ corrected the faulty position of the rabbis and set forth His perfect law of love, even for one’s enemies. By doing them good and praying for them, we overcome the evil in a Christlike way. No matter how badly others treat us, we are to seek to help them. We are to bless them that curse us, to be kind even though they manifest hatred, to pray for them even when they persecute and seek to injure us. This is the grace of God in action, as seen in the lives of surrendered believers who are dominated by the Spirit of Christ. Does this seem too high a standard for sinful man to attain? It is! But a regenerated man can do what is impossible for the natural man.

“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.” That is, as we obey our Lord’s commands given here, we manifest the fact that we are children of the heavenly Father, who showers His mercies upon just and unjust alike and would have us imitate Him. It is the divine nature, of which each believer is a partaker (2 Peter 1:4), which enables him to approximate the character portrayed in this searching discourse.

“If ye love them which love you, what reward have ye?” Even the most blatant worldling loves his own and can appreciate those who show appreciation of him. But those who follow the Lord are to love all men, even those who by bitter opposition would make life miserable if they could.

“If ye salute your brethren only … do not even the publicans so?” It is a small thing if Christ’s disciples show only the same interest in others that men evidence who are engaged in the most despicable callings. Publicans were detested by the Jews. They were taxgatherers in Israel who bought their offices from the Roman government and “farmed the taxes,” extorting everything possible from their own countrymen, and fattening upon the proceeds after turning over only what was obligatory to the assessor appointed by the State. Yet these gave recognition to their own brethren.

“Perfect, even as your Father… is perfect.” This is perfection in the sense of the complete absence of partiality, thus imitating Him who is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), but who lavishes His favors upon just and unjust alike.

God’s choicest blessings are for those who manifest the same spirit of reverence for Him, and meekness and compassion for others, which were seen in all their fullness in our blessed Lord, as He walked this earth in the days of His flesh (Hebrews 5:7). Thus, and thus only, that which is beyond the reach of the natural man is fulfilled in those who have received a new life and nature through trusting in Christ as their Savior. No adverse circumstances can disturb the serenity of those who know the Lord and who acknowledge His authority over their lives.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. 1914.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

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).— ὑμῶνἔργα, 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.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

John Broadus' Commentary on Matthew

Matthew 15:1-20.
Jesus Disregarding Tradition

This is found also in Mark 7:1-3. When the great miracle of feeding the five thousand was wrought, the Passover was near (see on "Matthew 14:19"); which, according to the view commonly held (see on "Matthew 12:1"), was the third Passover of our Lord's public ministry, and one year before its close. To this last year belong half the chapters and considerably more than half the pages of Matthew's Gospel and a still larger proportion of the Gospels of Mark, Luke, and John. Jesus failed to go to this Passover because the people in Judea were seeking to kill him (as mentioned afterwards, John 7:1), but continued his labours in Galilee, as described in general terms in Matthew 14:35 f. The particular incident here recorded would seem to have occurred some little time after the Passover, as it would not be natural for Pharisees to leave Jerusalem shortly before tile feast. The scene of this occurrence was somewhere in Galilee, apparently in the Plain of Gennesaret, (Matthew 14:34-36) and probably at Capernaum, his usual place of abode. The fault-finding inquiry by the Pharisees and Scribes (Matthew 14:1 f.) is severely retorted upon them, (Matthew 14:3-9) and then answered by a most important general principle, to which the special attention of all present is called, (Matthew 15:10 f.) and of which the disciples afterwards seek an explanation in private. (Matthew 14:12-20)

Matthew 15:1. Then (see on "Matthew 3:13") does not necessarily mean at the time just before mentioned, (Matthew 14:34-36) but is naturally so taken, unless there be proof to the contrary, which is not here the case. Scribes and Pharisees, the common order, was easily inserted by copyists in place of Pharisees and Scribes, the correct text. Come from Jerusalem, was, in like manner, changed to which were of Jerusalem by inserting an apparently needed article. Jerusalem was the seat of the great schools, as well as of the temple worship, and the most eminent men were congregated there; these persons were therefore regarded in Galilee with special reverence. Their object in coming may have been partly to satisfy curiosity about Jesus, excited by accounts given at the Passover, and partly to prevent him from gaining too much influence in Galilee. It is not unlikely that they were sent as a deputation to observe Jesus, as afterwards in Luke 11:54, and still later in Matthew 22:15; compare Matthew 12:24, (Mark 3:22) and the deputation sent to John the Baptist. (John 1:19, John 1:24) As to the Pharisees, see on "Matthew 3:7"; and as to the Scribes, on Matthew 2:3. They begin by censuring, not Jesus himself, but the disciples. (Compare on Matthew 9:14) On probably a later occasion Jesus himself excited the same complaint.

Matthew 15:2. The tradition of the elders. The word rendered 'tradition' signifies that which is passed along, or given from one to another. It is sometimes applied by Paul to teachings handed over by him to the churches for their observance. (2 Thessalonians 2:15, 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 1 Corinthians 11:2) But here and in Galatians 1:14, Colossians 2:8, it denotes things handed down from generation to generation, which is what we mean by the similar Latin word tradition. It is a favourite evasion of Roman Catholic controversialists to confound these two senses of the term. The word 'elders' here means not officials, but the men of former times. (Hebrews 11:2, and compare Matthew 5:21) The immense mass of traditions which the later Jews so reverenced, were held by them to consist partly of oral laws given by Moses in addition to the written law—which they supposed to be referred to in Deuteronomy 4:14; partly of decisions made from time to time by the judges, (Deuteronomy 17:9 ff.) and which became precedent and authority; and partly of the explanations and opinions of eminent teachers, given individually or sometimes by the vote of assemblies. These oral traditions continued to accumulate after the time of Christ till they were written down in the Mishna and its commentaries. (See on "Matthew 3:7".) They were highly esteemed by all of the nation, except the Sadducees. Indeed some reckoned them more important than the written law. The Talmud of Jerusalem says, "The words of the Scribes are more lovely than the words of the law; for the words of the law are weighty and light, but the words of the Scribes are all weighty." And the Talmud somewhere declares that it is a greater crime to "transgress the words of the school of Hillel" than the law. So again: "My son, attend to the words of the scribes, more than to the words of the law." In this as in so many respects Judaism has coloured the Christianity of the Church of Rome, which teaches the observance of numerous traditions professedly coming from early times, and some of them from the apostles, though these often directly violate the spirit, and even the letter, of Scripture. Among Protestants also there is sometimes greater solicitude for the observance of custom than of Scripture; and more emphasis laid on "the rule of the church" than on the law of God. They wash not their hands. It is worth while to distinguish several Greek words which our English Versions render 'wash.' (1) Nipto, used only of washing some part of the body, as the face, hands, feet; found in Matthew 6:17, Matthew 15:2; (Mark 7:3) Matthew 27:24 (compound); John 9:7, John 9:15, John 13:5, John 13:14; 1 Timothy 5:10. (2) Brecho, to wet, moisten, sprinkle, and hence commonly to rain; found in Luke 7:38, Luke 7:44. (3)Pluno, used especially of washing clothes and the like; found in Luke 5:2, Revelation 7:14. (4) Lukevo, to bathe, or wash the whole body; found in John 13:10, "he that is bathed (lone), needeth not save to wash (nipto) his feet;" also in Acts 9:37, Acts 16:33, Acts 22:16 (compound); 1 Corinthians 6:11 (compound); Hebrews 10:22, 2 Peter 2:22, Revelation 1:5 , and a noun derived from it in Ephesians 5:26; Titus 3:5. (5) Baptizo, to immerse, dip (see on "Matthew 3:6") is rendered wash in, Mark 7:4, Luke 11:38, and a noun derived from it in Mark 7:4, Hebrews 9:10, in all which places the idea is that of immersion. Mark, who wrote especially for Gentile readers, here paused (Mark 7:3 f.) to give details about the scrupulous and elaborate purifications of the singular Jewish people.(1) This ceremonial hand-washing before eating, the Rabbis tried to support by Leviticus 15:11. It very naturally arose, along with the similar washing after the meal, from the fact that the ancients habitually ate with their fingers. At a later period a third washing was practised by some persons, in the course of the meal The Mishna (Berachoth 8, 1) mentions a difference between Hilleland Shammai as to whether one must wash the hands before or after filling the glasses. The Talmud shows that hand-washing was reckoned a matter of high importance. Some Rabbis declare the neglect of it to be as bad as licentiousness or other gross crimes. One said,"It is better to go four miles to water than to incur guilt by neglecting hand-washing"; and a story is told of the famous Rabbi Akiba that when imprisoned, and having his allowance of water reduced, he took what little there was to wash his hands before eating, instead of drinking it, saying that he had rather die than transgress the institutions of his ancestors.

Matthew 15:3-6. Before proceeding to the great principle (Matthew 15:11) involved in his justification of the disciples for neglect of the hand-washing, our Lord retorts upon the Pharisees and Scribes their charge of "transgression." (Compare the ad hominem argument in Matthew 12:27) Why do ye also transgress, and that not a mere tradition of men, but the commandment of God by (because of) your tradition? 'By your tradition' does not correctly render the Greek. They had said 'the tradition of the elders,' but he says simply your tradition; no matter what was its origin, they were now making it the occasion of transgressing the law of God. This charge he proves by an example, not connected with hand-washing or other purifications, but drawn from a most sacred duty, as acknowledged by mankind, and enjoined in a peculiarly solemn command (Ephesians 6:2) of God's law. Our Lord himself declared (Matthew 10:37, Luke 14:26) that his service is above filial duty; but (Plumptre) he claimed supernatural authority, which the Scribes did not claim. For God said, the true reading, was easily changed by copyists into for God commanded, saying, because 'the commandment' had just been mentioned. The first clause is quoted from Exodus 20:12, the second from Exodus 21:17, both taken from the Sept., and correctly translating the Hebrew, The second was introduced to show that this command which they practically annulled was one of the highest importance, since the penalty of its violation, among the Hebrews, was to be death without fail. Compare very strong language on the subject in Deuteronomy 27:16, Proverbs 20:20, Proverbs 30:17. He that curseth; speaketh evil of, or 'reviles,' is the exact rendering; 'curses' would be a different Greek word. The Hebrew means primarily 'belittle,' 'make light of,' and derivatively 'curse.' So the command is very broad. Let him die the death, or better, let him surely die (margin Rev. Ver.), the form of expression being much used in the Old Testament, and oftener denoting the certainty than the severity of the punishment. The connection here shows that we must honour parents not merely in our feelings but by our acts; see similar uses of "honour" in Proverbs 8:9; 1 Timothy 5:3. And the Jews recognized this duty. Sirach 8:8,"Honour thy father and mother both in word and deed"; Talm. Jerus.: "A son is bound to nourish his father, yea, to beg for him." The case here supposed is of a needy parent, requiring help from the son, which he refuses on grounds justified by tradition. But ye say, 'ye' being expressed in the original, and thus strongly emphatic. It is a bad position for men to occupy, when what they say is directly opposed to what God says. By whatsoever (or that wherewith) thou mightest be (have been) profited by me, is a general expression, covering all sorts of cases, and is often found in the Talmud (Lf., Edersheim) in connection with this same subject. Is a gift, or perhaps 'let it be a gift,' the Greek having no copula. 'A gift' evidently means a gift to God, and Mark (Mark 7:11) presents the Hebrew word Corban, which the Talmud shows they were accustomed to employ in such cases, denoting an offering, anything dedicated to God, or donated for the use of the temple. The Peshito has the same word in Matt., and it is used in Matthew 27:6 to denote the 'treasury,' the aggregate of all such offerings. If a man' s father or mother wanted any article from him—it might be food or clothing, or what not-be could just say, Corban, it is a gift, a thing consecrated to God, (compare Leviticus 27:9, Leviticus 27:16) and he was then, according to the traditional rules, not only at liberty to withhold it from his parent, but solemnly bound to do so. The Mishna ("Vows," 9, 1) tells of a former discussion as to whether a vow could be set aside through regard for parents, and all but one Rabbi declared in the negative. The Jews reached this conclusion by arguing that vows, as they had respect to God, were more important than things pertaining to men; and hence that devoting a thing to God was sufficient to set aside the highest obligation, even that to one's parents. Here was a correct principle, greatly abused in the application. We learn from the Talmud, which has copious directions on this subject, that a man was not bound, after saying Corban, actually to dedicate the article in the temple, but might keep it indefinitely for his own use, or might give it to some other person, only not to the one had in mind when he made the vow. Corban might therefore be said just for the nonce, as an excuse for withholding; and with people as 'money-loving' as the Pharisees, (Luke 16:14) the license thus offered would often be shamefully abused. Even more; it appears from the Talmud that a man might not merely say Corban with reference to any particular object, but might say it once for all, as applying to everything which he possessed, and that one word spoken in passion or greed, would make it impossible that he should ever do anything for the person in question, though it were his parent. We are told of a son in Bethhoron who had taken such a vow against his father, and afterwards wishing to supply the father's need, donated his own house and dinner to a friend on condition that his father should share the dinner; but the friend immediately declared the house and meal sacred to heaven, and so the scheme failed. Mishna ("Vows," 5, 6). The Talmud mentions various ingenious expedients for evading Corban and other vows, when one afterwards changed his mind. Several Fathers state that a Jewish creditor could constrain an ugly debtor by saying "what you owe me is Corban," and so it had to be paid, as a debt to God. From all this we see how monstrous were the practices to which our Lord was referring. It is lamentable to think that they have been rivalled by teachings of modern Jesuits.

There is some difficulty as to the Greek text and the meaning in the latter part of Matthew 27:5 and Matthew 27:6. The best supported text most naturally yields the meaning given by Rev. Ver., (see Moulton in Winer, p. 750); viz., you, according to your tradition, virtually say that when he has once for all made this vow he is not to honour his father.(1) The 'not' is a strong doubled negative. If 'and' be retained, then something must be silently supplied. But it cannot be as in Com. Ver., because 'honour' is certainly future. It must be somehow so: whoever says to his father or his mother, 'that wherewith thou mightest have been profited by me is given to God,' is not bound by the law, but must observe his vow in preference; (compare Mark 7:12) what follows giving the consequence, 'and (thus) he will not honour his father,' as the law requires him to do. The general thought is the same upon both interpretations. Have ye made void God's authoritative word, and not merely transgressed it (Matthew 15:3).—A practice somewhat similar to this Corban vow of the Jews formerly existed in the Sandwich Islands. Barnes: "The chiefs and priests had the power of devoting anything to the service of the gods by saying that it was tabu, i.e., consecrated to the service of religion; and no matter who had been the owner, it could then be appropriated to no other use." From this Polynesian usage comes our word taboo, to forbid all intercourse with a certain person or use of a certain thing.

Matthew 15:7-9. Hypocrites, see on "Matthew 6:2". They made great pretence of devotion to God, and insisted strenuously on the externals of his service, while at heart they did not love him, and were even ready to set aside his express commands for the sake of their traditions. The persons particularly addressed were from Jerusalem, (Matthew 15:1) and an early Rabbi is related to have said that "there are ten parts of hypocrisy in the world, nine at Jerusalem, and one in the whole world." This seems to be the first instance of our Lord's openly denouncing the Pharisees, as we shall often find him doing hereafter. The strong denunciations of Luke 11-12, are much better placed at a later period, according to the harmonistic arrangement of Wieseler, followed by Tischendorf's "Synopsis" and Clark's "Harm." (Compare on Matthew 12:22) Well, i.e., finely, aptly, with admirable appropriateness, (compare Matthew 13:14) Yet our Lord does not simply say that he finds the words of Isaiah to his contemporaries exactly applicable to these persons, and himself makes the application, but he says, Well did Esaias (Isaiah) prophesy concerning you. Isaiah spoke directly to the men of his own time, but his words were also I designed by the Spirit of inspiration to refer to the contemporaries of Messiah. For 'Isaiah,' instead of the changed Greek form Esaias, see on "Matthew 1:2". The citation is from Isaiah 29:13. The words in common Greek text, draweth nigh unto me with their mouthy and are not genuine here, but were added from the Sept.(1) Matthew quotes from the Sept. as he oftenest does, and here in Isaiah 29:9 departs considerably from the Hebrew, which reads, "and their fear towards me is the commandment of men, (a thing) taught," i.e., their piety is merely a lesson they have learned from men, and not a thing learned from and conformed to the word of God. For this the Sept. has, "but in vain do they worship me, teaching precepts of men and teachings." (As to the difference between Hebrew and Septuagint, compare Toy.) Matthew and Mark (Mark 7:7) have slightly modified the Septuagint into 'teaching teachings (which are) precepts of men.' This not only improves the phraseology of the Sept., but brings out the prophet's thought mere clearly than would be done by a literal translation of the Hebrew, for Isaiah means to distinguish between a worship of God that is taught by men, and that which is according to the teaching of God's word. As to quoting Sept. instead of Hebrew, see on "Matthew 3:3"; and as to verbal changes to bring out the sense more plainly, compare on Matthew 2:6. For the different words rendered 'teaching,' see on "Matthew 7:28". Instead of commandments, Rev. Ver. here uses 'precepts' (as in Tyn., Cram, Gen.), because the Greek word is somewhat different from that of Matthew 7:3, though substantially equivalent. In vain, i.e., it is not acceptable to God, nor profitable for themselves. So at the present day many persons claim a divine authority for ideas and practices which are simply of human origin (compare on Matthew 15:2). We are not only under no obligation to conform to these, but it is our duty to oppose them wherever they tend to the violation or neglect of God's commandments. It must also be remembered that our common human nature is very prone to be intent upon the forms of religion and neglect its spirit; to honour God with the lips, while the heart is far from him.

Matthew 15:10 f. When he retorted their question upon themselves, (Matthew 15:3) it was not for the purpose of avoiding an answer, and he now publicly proclaims a principle which goes to the heart of the matter. Called (unto him) the multitude, or crowd, the mass of the people, as distinguished from the Pharisees and Scribes, who had pressed up around him. He wished all to hear what he was about to say; and in fact the crowd were more likely to receive it than the others, being less prejudiced and sophisticated. Hear, and understand. It was something important, and demanded attentive consideration. The disciples presently called it a 'parable', (Matthew 15:15) yet he was not now employing obscure expressions as a judgment, (Matthew 13:18) but with great desire that all (Mark 7:14) should understand. And they must not merely hear, but understand; for he will not recite decisions and opinions of the ancients, as the Scribes did, but will speak by his own authority, (Matthew 7:29) directly to the understanding and conscience of the people. Defileth a (the) man, i.e., the man concerned in any particular case. So in the second clause, and in Matthew 15:18, Matthew 15:20. Tyn., Cran, and Gen. give the article in Matthew 15:11 and Matthew 15:18, but not in Matthew 15:20; King James gives it only in Matthew 15:18. The word rendered 'defileth' is literally, makes common. Some kinds of food were specially set apart, as alone proper for God's chosen people, and were thus in a certain sense sacred, all other things being 'common'; (Acts 10:14) for an Israelite to partake of these forbidden things would destroy his exclusiveness, make him common. Hence 'to make common' came to mean to defile, pollute. This saying of Jesus was to the Jews in the highest degree surprising, paradoxical, revolutionary. (compare Matthew 12:8) They saw at once that it applied not merely to hand washing, but to the whole matter of clean and unclean food, and this seemed to them one of the most vital parts of the law. So they knew not what to make of the saying, "Not what goes into the mouth defiles the man, but what comes out of it." The Pharisees stumbled at such a saying, could not admit the divine mission of one who uttered it, (Matthew 15:12) and even the disciples failed to understand it. (Matthew 15:15 f.) Ceremonially, various things did defile by entering the mouth; but this was only designed to represent the idea of moral pollution, while the great mass of the Jews, however scrupulous about the representative purity, were careless of the inward purity. Our Lord therefore, by this saying directs attention to the internal and real impurity. Here, as with reference to the Sabbath, (Matthew 12:1 ff.) and to so many points in the Sermon on the Mount, he is leading the people to deeper and more spiritual views of the morality which the law designed to teach, and thus not abrogating or correcting, but 'completing' the law. (Matthew 5:17) His teachings did prepare the way for laying aside the ceremonies of the law, but this only by developing it into something higher. Accordingly, he does not abrogate the Mosaic directions about unclean food, but lays down a general principle applying to the point in hand, (Matthew 15:20) and really covering the whole matter, though not now further applied. Many things taught in principle by Jesus, were to be fully developed by his inspired followers, as men should become prepared to understand them. Compare 1 Corinthians 10:31, Romans 14:14 ff.; 1 Timothy 4:4, Titus 1:15. Besides educating the Israelites to the appreciation of moral purity, the law about clean and unclean food was also designed to keep the chosen people separate from other nations, and so Peter was taught to set it aside when the time came for preaching freely among the Gentiles. (Acts 10:9 ff.)

Matthew 15:12-14. This is found in Matthew only. It appears that the conversation occurred after Jesus and his immediate followers had retired from the crowd into a house. (Mark 7:17) There had thus been a little interval since the saying of Matthew 15:11 was uttered, and the disciples had heard how the Pharisees were talking about it. They felt that the opinions of these distinguished men from Jerusalem (Matthew 15:1) were very important. Knowest thou. It seemed likely that he did not, or he would be hastening to explain and thus recover the sympathy of such important hearers. Were offended (see on "Matthew 5:29"), made to stumble, finding an obstacle to their believing reception of Jesus' teachings (as in Matthew 11:6). When they heard this (the) saying, not that of Matthew 15:3-9 (Fritz. and others), but the great saying of Matthew 15:11, addressed to the crowd, but heard by the Pharisees also (Mey., Block, Weiss, and others). The Pharisees doubtless declared the saying to be in direct opposition to the law about clean and unclean food. The disciples themselves looked upon it as extremely obscure and strange, (Matthew 15:15) and sympathized not a little with the prejudices involved. Our Lord's reply is to the effect that it matters not what such men think, whose authority is merely human, and who are as blind as the multitude they lead. Every plant, etc. Every doctrine which did not come from God, which is of merely human origin, (Matthew 15:9) will lose its influence and cease to be believed. My heavenly Father, see on "Matthew 6:9". Let them alone, i.e., do not trouble yourselves about them, as to what they teach, or whether they approve my teaching. The Great Teacher did not expect, and did not try, to please all his hearers. Such as were blinded by prejudice, hardened in unbelief, or wilful in their opposition, could only be let alone. They be (are) blind leaders, guides (oldest Greek MSS. and some versions) was easily enlarged by adding of the blind from the immediately following expression. 'Guides' (Rheims) is a more exact translation than 'leaders' (Wyc., Tyn., and followers). If the blind lead (guide) the blind. Both Greek words are singular and indefinite, 'if a blind man guide a blind man,' but the definite form makes a smoother English expression. It seems likely from Romans 2:19, that guide of the blind was a common designation of the Rabbis. Both shall (will) fall late the ditch (a pit), the same word as in Matthew 12:11, and denoting (Liddell and Scott) a pit dug in the field to hold water, as was very common. The word is rendered 'pit' by Tyn., Cram, Gen., and Com. Ver., in Matthew 12:11, but here they all adopted 'ditch,' probably from supposing the image to be that of the ditch beside a road. But the word does not mean ditch, and the image is that of blind persons walking in the open field, and falling into a pit—a much more serious calamity. This saying has tile air of a proverb, such as our Lord repeatedly employed (see on "Matthew 7:5"), and it had already been used by him in the Sermon on the Mount. (Luke 6:39) Various similar sayings are found in classical writers. (Wet.)

Matthew 15:15. Then answered Peter, not a specific reply to what Jesus had just said, but in a general sense a response, keeping up the conversation. (See on "Matthew 11:25".) Peter's expression, declare unto us, shows by the plural that he speaks for all, and Jesus in reply says 'ye.' (Compare Mark 7:17) Peter is therefore spokesman for the Twelve, as he so often is. (See on "Matthew 16:18".) This (the) parable; here copyists readily changed 'the' into 'this.' The word here denotes an obscure expression. (See on "Matthew 13:13".) The reference is not to the figurative saying of Matthew 15:14, called in Luke 6:39 a parable, but to Matthew 15:11, already spoken of in Matthew 15:12 as 'the saying.' This is plain from our Lord's reply, and confirmed by the connection in Mark 7:15-17, who has not given the intermediate matter of Matthew 15:13 f., and with whom 'the parable' must necessarily refer to the great saying.

Matthew 15:16-20. And Jesus(strictly he) said, the copyists inserting 'Jesus,' as in Matthew 14:14 and often. Are ye also, as well as the masses and the Pharisees. Yet. The Greek has a strong word, not elsewhere used in the New Testament, but which in later Greek has even yet as a well-established meaning; 'even yet,' after all the instruction you have received, compare Matthew 16:9, Hebrews 5:12. He had not given any instruction that we know of on this particular subject, but his teachings in Matthew 5 and Matthew 13, and his general influence, ought to have prepared them to take spiritual views of things. In Matthew 15:17, do ye not yet understand (or perceive), was strengthened by copyists by introducing 'yet,' because of the expression in Matthew 15:16, and perhaps with a reminiscence of Matthew 16:9. 'Perceive' (Tyn., Gen.) is here better than 'understand' (Wyc., Cran., Rheims, Com. Ver.), in order to distinguish from the different Greek word used in Matthew 15:10 and Matthew 15:16. The Jews had come very largely to confound ceremonial with moral defilement. To correct this confusion of ideas, our Lord points out that articles of food cannot really pollute, because they pass through the body and out of it, and do not 'enter the heart', (Mark 7:19) cannot affect the spiritual nature; but the sinful things which are uttered through the mouth, and proceed from the heart, constitute a real pollution. Compare on Matthew 15:11. Into the belly. The Greek signifies the whole hollow, or internal cavity of the body, including stomach and other viscera; and the English word formerly had a similar latitude of meaning. Into the draught, (2 Kings 10:27) sink, or privy (Rheims), literally, place for sitting apart. Mark adds (Mark 7:19) that by this saying Jesus cleansed all articles of food, i.e., declared them to be clean. (Acts 10:15) With Matthew 15:18 compare on Matthew 12:34 f. In Matthew 15:19 our Lord does not confine himself absolutely to such things as are spoken, in order to keep up the contrasted image, but passes to the more general notion of whatever comes forth from the heart, has its origin from within us. There is, therefore, no occasion for inquiring, as some do, how speech has to do with all the forms of sin here mentioned. Mark (Mark 7:18-23) does not mention the mouth, but only the more general idea of entering and coming forth from the man, the heart. We have seen on Matthew 6:21 and elsewhere, that the heart was conceived of by the Hebrews, and is spoken of by the Bible, as the seat of thought and volition as well as of emotion. After the general phrase evil thoughts, our Lord speciates violations of the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth Commandments in order. Mark adds some other sins not mentioned by Matthew. The plural forms which Matthew has throughout (even 'false witnessings') remind us of the numerous instances and different varieties of these several sins. Blasphemies (see on "Matthew 9:3"); a literal translation of the Greek is in Rev. Ver. 'railings.' In English we confine it to railing against God. Philo Judaeus paraphrasing Plato, says that through the mouth "mortal things go in, but incorruptible things come out. For by it enter food and drink, the corruptible body's corruptible nourishment; but through the mouth words come forth, the immortal soul's immortal laws, through which the natural life is governed."

Matthew 15:20. This first sums up the previous discussion, and then connects it all with the starting point in Matthew 15:1. Our Lord has now not only denounced the Pharisees as hypocrites, (Matthew 15:7) but boldly antagonized their cardinal tenet of the authority of tradition. The conflict must inevitably wax fierce, and he soon begins to withdraw from their virulent opposition, and the fanaticism of his friends.

Homiletical And Practical

Matthew 15:3-6. Two oppositions. (1) Human tradition versus divine commandment. (a) Men are prone to make old religious usage an authority. It can claim respect, but not obedience. (b) Men often come to take more interest in long-established usage than in the express teaching of revelation—this through personal associations and through controversial heat. (c) Men sometimes practically alter a divine commandment to make it harmonize with established custom; the Saviour represents this as a grave sin. (Matthew 15:6.) (2) Ceremonial services versus moral duties. (a) Human nature naturally tends to be more interested in the external than in the moral and spiritual. Compare Matthew 23:23 ff.(b) To neglect a high moral duty for the sake of a mere religious usage, is to disgrace our religion.

Matthew 23:4. Honouring parents. (1) Honour them in your thoughts. (2) Honour them in your speech, Matthew 23:4. (latter part). (3) Honour them in your actions, Matthew 23:5 f. —Bengel: "Young people, notice." Henry: "That which men say, even great men, and learned men, and men in authority, must be examined by that which God saith."

Matthew 23:7-9. Hypocrisy, In the days of Isaiah, and of Jesus, and in our days. (1) Two forms of hypocrisy. (a) Religious talk without religious character. (Matthew 15:8.) (b) Human precepts put in place of divine commands. (Matthew 15:9.) (2) The successes of hypocrisy. (a) It may deceive men—other persons—even the hypocrite himself. (b) It never deceives God—it is "in vain," (Matthew 15:9).

Matthew 23:10 f. Preaching to the people. (1) The common people are often more ready to receive new religious ideas than the teaching class, Matthew 23:10; compare Matthew 15:12 ff. (2) The greatest of religious teachers had to ask special attention when giving strange and unpalatable instruction, Matthew 15:10. (3) Even he was imperfectly understood by some (Matthew 15:16), and found fault with by others. (Matthew 15:12.) (4) Yet the common people heard him gladly, (Mark 12:37) and all that the Father gave him came unto him. (John 6:37) Henry: "Not only scholars, but even the multitude, the ordinary people, must apply their minds to understand the words of Christ—There is need of a great intention of mind and clearness of understanding, to free men from those corrupt principles and practices which they have been bred up in and long accustomed to; for in that case the understanding is commonly bribed and biased by prejudice."

Matthew 15:11. Many sayings of Jesus that were revolutionary at the time are now Christian common places—this fact is a ground for rejoicing.

Matthew 15:11. Pollution. (1) Ceremonial defilement was but an object lesson, a symbol of polluted character; and so ceremonial purity of moral purity. (2) Evil thoughts and desires arise from a polluted nature, and their expression in speech or action pollutes the whole being, Matthew 15:18 f. (3) Evil environment endangers character, but pure character can conquer the worst environment.

Matthew 15:12-14. Blind guides. (1) Long-established religious teachers may meet new truth with blind prejudice, Matthew 15:12. (2) Highly popular religious teachings may have no divine approval or support, Matthew 15:13. (3) Greatly honoured religious instructors may be but the blind guiding the blind, Matthew 15:14. (4) Plausible objections from distinguished sources must sometimes be quite disregarded, Matthew 15:13. Chrys.: "It is a great evil merely to be blind, but for a man to be in such a case and have none to lead him, nay, to occupy the place of a guide, is a double and triple ground of censure. For if it be a dangerous thing for the blind man not to have a guide, much more so that he should even desire to be guide to another."

Matthew 15:16. Ignorance of Christian truth is blameworthy, (1) in any ono who has opportunity to know, (2) especially in a Christian, (3) most of all in one who has long been a Christian, and has had superior advantages for learning.

Matthew 15:20. Origen: "It is not eating with unwashed hands, but, if one may use so bold an expression, it is eating with an unwashed heart, that defiles a man." Chrys.: "Even in the church we see such a custom prevailing amongst the generality, and men giving diligence to come in clean garments, and to have their hands washed; but how to present a clean soul to God, they make no account."

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Bibliographical Information
Broadus, John. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". "John Broadus' Commentary on Matthew". 1886.

John Broadus' Commentary on Matthew

Matthew 5:13-16.
Influence And Responsibility Of The Subjects Of Messiah's Reign

The influence and consequent responsibility of Christ's disciples (see Analysis in the Introduction to this discourse) are here exhibited by means of two figures, salt and light. The general thought is that they have a great work to do, and persecution (Matthew 5:10-12) must not cause them to neglect it. Several of the characteristics just ascribed to them, as meek, peacemakers, persecuted for righteousness' sake, pertain to their relation to others, and qualify for useful exertions and influence.

Matthew 5:13. As salt preserves things from corruption and decay, so it is the office of Christians to preserve the mass of mankind from utter moral corruption and ruin. Some bring in also the idea of salt as seasoning—that Christians are to save life from being stale and flat—but this seems strained, and little in harmony with the general tone of the discourse Others say (Grimm) that salt of the earth must mean some saline fertilizing material, but this is forbidden by the next clause.—There is no propriety in restricting the saying to ministers, as is done by some Fathers, by Romanists in general, and by Calvin, Gill, and others. Jesus meant the 'disciples' (Matthew 5:1) as distinguished from the world in general, but not particularly the Twelve; certainly Matthew cannot have so Understood, as he has not yet mentioned the Twelve; and nobody thinks the Beatitudes were addressed to the Twelve more than other disciples (notice the 'you' in Matthew 5:11, Matthew 5:12.). A minister's calling gives him special influence, but so will another disciple's wealth, social or official position, talents, attainments, etc.—Notice (Mey.) how the expressions used for mankind correspond to the images; the salt of the earth, the mass of mankind to be penetrated and preserved; the light of the world, the expanse over which it is to shine. Ye is expressed in the Greek and so is emphatic (in Matthew 5:14 also). You, the often poor, persecuted (Matthew 5:10-12), are of great importance to the world, end must fulfil your duty to it. Are. Already true of the disciples addressed, and a permanent fact as to Christ's disciples in general.

But this high office of Christians is by no means to become an occasion for spiritual pride; rather does our Lord proceed to show the evils of failing to exert the salutary influence in question. Have lost his—rather its—savour, become tasteless. For 'its' instead of the old neuter possessive 'his,' see on "Matthew 24:32". The same idea is expressed in Mark 9:50, by 'lost his saltness.'(1) Until lately there was hardly satisfactory evidence (Schottgen) that this ever actually happens, and commentators generally held the expression to be a mere supposition. But Maundrell's statement (about A. D. 1690) that he found south of the Dead Sea masses of salt that had become tasteless, is now supported by Thomson: "It is a well-known fact that the salt of this country [Palestine], when in contact with the ground, or exposed to rain and sun, does become insipid and useless. From the manner in which it is gathered, much earth and other impurities are necessarily collected with it. Not a little of it is so impure that it cannot be used at all; and such salt soon effloresces and turns to dust-not to fruitful soil, however. It is not only good for nothing itself, but it actually destroys all fertility wherever it is thrown; and this is the reason why it is cast into the street." "The sweeping out of the spoiled salt and casting it into the street, are actions familiar to all men." See more fully in vol. ii., p. 361-3. The case supposed is thus seen to be one of actual and frequent occurrence. The application is obvious. Christians must perform their function, must really serve as salt to mankind, or they will be worthless and contemptible, and that irrecoverably. Some, (Luther, etc.), understand wherewith(2) shall it be salted, impersonally, with what shall salting then be done; but this is unsuitable to the connection, for it would require the next words to declare that there is no substitute for salt. In the similar expression of Mark (Mark 9:50) it is clearly personal; 'wherewith will you season—or, salt—it?' Maldonatus: "There is no salt for salt." Luke (Luke 14:34) gives the same image as used in a different connection. Good for nothing, literally, has no force or efficacy. Those who employ our Lord's image here in support of the idea that the regenerate may wholly "lose their religion," ought to observe that it would also teach that they can never recover it. In this case, as in others, a view of the mournful effects which would follow utter apostasy, is employed as one means of preserving from it. Our Lord's design is not negative but positive, to arouse his disciples to watchful diligence and persevering devotion. Many of the Jews who professed to be very religious, were orthodox and scrupulous without real piety, and the subjects of the reign must not be so.

Matthew 5:14. The same idea is here presented by a second image, which has a natural relation to the former. Pliny (Wet.): "To all bodies there is nothing more useful than salt and sun." Ye, emphatic, as in Matthew 5:13. Jesus elsewhere declares that he himself is the Light of the world. (John 8:12, John 9:5, John 12:35, 1 John 1:7 ff.) We of course understand that the light which his people emit is really derived from him. (Ephesians 5:8) In Philippians 2:15 they are compared to the heavenly luminaries; in John 5:35 the Baptist is called, literally, the burning and shining lamp'—which Jesus had probably said before he spoke the Sermon on the Mount. Here Christians are the light of the world, the source of spiritual light to it, as the sun (John 11:9) is of natural light. They are the light by means of which the world, the mass of mankind, may see the things of religion, may see the truth about God and his service. Compare Wisdom 4:26. "The multitude of the wise is the salvation of the world." Ep. to Diognetus, 6, "What soul is in body, this are Christians in the world." —Anything that gives light will be observed, and Christians, as being the light of the world, cannot escape observation if they would. But this thought is presented more forcibly by changing the figure. A city that is set on a hill—or mountain—cannot be hid, being thus seen distinctly, on all sides, and from a distance. Cities thus situated were not uncommon in Galilee—as in most other hilly countries in ancient times—and Jesus may perhaps have pointed to one while speaking; but it is idle to conjecture which one. The houses were often built (as they are now) of a very white limestone, which would make the city more distinctly visible. The thought plainly is, that Christians occupy of necessity a conspicuous position, and must be seen. To make it mean "the church," on Mount Zion (Stier, Keil, etc.), is utterly unnatural. There is still probably some reference to the persecutions spoken of in Matthew 5:11 f., which might make the faint-hearted desire to withdraw from observation.

Matthew 5:15. And Christians should not wish to avoid being observed, even if they could. Such was not the divine design in making them sources of light. Neither do men—literally they, impersonal as in Matthew 5:11. A—the—bushel, i. e., the one kept in the house. The Greek word (borrowed from Latin, as it was natural that Roman measures should become common in the provinces) denotes a measure containing about a peck; but it is better for us to retain the familiar term, the exact dimensions being of no importance to the idea, which is simply that of concealment, and is elsewhere expressed by putting the lamp under the bed. (Mark 4:21) 'Candle 'and' candlestick' are misleading, the thing meant being a lamp and a lamp-stand. Giveth light—or shines. The Greek word is the same as in the succeeding verse. Here, as often, the common version has obscured the connection by unnecessarily varying the terms. The fault began here with Tyndale, and was adopted by all his early successors except Rheims.—In Luke 8:16 and Luke 11:33 we find the same saying (slightly varied) used on other occasions and with a different application.

Matthew 5:16.Let your light so shine. As the lamp which is not hidden but set on the stand shines for all that are in the house, so let your light shine before men, that (in order that)(1) they may see, etc. The position of the words in the Greek (in which 'so' is the first word), shows the emphasis to be on 'so' and 'shine,' and 'so' signifies in the way suggested by the image of the preceding sentence. The incorrect position of 'so' in Com. Ver. (from Tyndale) encourages the erroneous idea that it means in such a way that (as the result) men may see, etc. Before. Not simply 'for men,' for their benefit, as in the preceding clause, but 'before men,' in their presence. That they may see..... and glorify. There is no propriety in saying that this is merely equivalent to 'that seeing.... they may glorify.' The passage teaches us to desire and design that men may see, because thus the higher object will be secured, their glorifying God. (Compare on Matthew 6:1, Matthew 6:3, Matthew 6:4.) Ostentation of good works, which Jesus afterwards (Matthew 6:1) so severely condemns, would be like flaunting the lamp at the door, instead of simply setting it on its appropriate stand. The shining of the light consists in good works. (Compare Titus 3:8) In order thus to shine, the works must not merely be morally good (agatha as Romans 13:3), but also morally beautiful, (kala here and in 1 Peter 2:12), attracting the admiring attention of others. (Achelis.) He does not say 'may glorify you,' for the good works of God's children are all due to him, and hence the beholders ought not to praise them, but, to glorify their Father. (Compare Matthew 9:8; 1 Peter 2:12) For the phrase Father... in heaven, see on "Matthew 6:9". Alexander. "Thus the Saviour winds up this division of his great discourse, by leading his disciples through the homeliest and most familiar every-day analogies of common life, to the sublime and final end of all existence."

Homiletical And Practical

Matthew 5:13. Those whom "society" despises (Matthew 5:11) may yet be indispensable to its highest welfare. Contempt and reviling must not prevent them from striving to exert a wholesome religious influence. But if professed Christians be useless, then are they really despicable. Trampled on, (a) undeservedly, (Matthew 5:11) (b) deservedly.—Henry: (Matthew 5:13) "Let God be glorified in the shame and rejection of those by whom he has been reproached, and who have made themselves fit for nothing but to be trampled upon."

Matthew 5:14. Christians a light to the world.

I. What may they show? (1) That Christianity is true. (2) That Christian piety is practicable. (3) That a life of piety is desirable.

II. How may they show it? (1) By what they say—in public—private. (2) By what they do, good works. (Matthew 5:16.)

Matthew 5:14-16. Piety shining. (1) A Christian cannot escape observation if he would—a city on a hill. (2) A Christian should not wish to hide his piety—the lamp under the bushel. (3) A Christian should show piety in natural and appropriate ways—the lamp on the lamp-stand. Christian should let his piety shine with no selfish aim, but for the good of man and the glory of God.

Matthew 5:15. Chrys.: "Nothing makes a man so illustrious as the manifestation of virtue; for he shines as if clad with sunbeams." Clem. Alex. (Wet.) gives a tradition that Matthias the apostle used to say that if a pious man's neighbour sin, he himself has sinned; for if he had ordered his life aright the neighbour would have been restrained by his example.

Matthew 5:16. "Wrong and right ways of exhibiting good works."—Talmud Jer. (Wünsche): "It is not enough to be innocent before God, one must show his innocence before men also. "If Christians do evil works, men will be pretty sure to see them, and to speak against God and his cause. (Romans 2:24, Ezekiel 36:20) Rousseau (Griffith): "Ah! what an argument against the unbeliever is the life of the Christian! No, man is not thus of himself; something more than human is reigning here." Chrys.: "Or if there should eves be some who speak evil of thee, search into their conscience and thou shalt see them applauding and admiring thee." Stier: "The good word without the good walk is of no avail." —Men will not be saved by abstract truth, but by truth embodied, (1) in a personal Saviour; (2) in saved persons.

No Christian has a right to be regardless of his reputation, for not himself alone is concerned. He may imagine it matters little for him what men may think, since God knows his heart; but in so far as men do him injustice, they fail to render that glory to God which his good works ought to secure; and so, out of regard for the cause with which he is identified, he should not suffer himself to be misunderstood or misrepresented, where it can be avoided.—This passage, Matthew 5:13-16, should lead the Christian reader at once to tremble at his responsibility and to rejoice at his privilege. How much harm we do by our inconsistencies how much good we may do, the least influential among us, by simply being what we profess to be. Tyree ("The Living Epistle"): "Of all modes of inculcating Christianity, exemplifying it is the best. The best commentary on the Bible the world has ever seen is a holy life. The most eloquent sermon in behalf of the gospel that the world has ever heard is a uniform, active piety. The best version of the written truth that has ever been made is a consistent religious example. The Christian whose light thus shines not only correctly renders, but beautifies the sacred text..... While the truth is being read from the Bible, and proclaimed from the pulpit, let all the members of our churches second and enforce that truth by the silent eloquence of holy lives, and the world's conversion will move forward at home and abroad, with primitive speed."

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Broadus, John. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". "John Broadus' Commentary on Matthew". 1886.

Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Matthew 5:16

To glorify God is the highest ambition of angels. The brightest seraph before the throne has no higher aim, no greater happiness, than to bring glory to his name. And yet a poor sinner on earth may glorify God as much, and in some way more, than the brightest angel in the courts of eternal bliss. What different views the eyes of God and the eyes of men take of events passing on the earth. What glory is brought to God by all the victories gained by one country over another? I have thought sometimes that a poor old Prayer of Manasseh, or feeble, decrepit woman, lying on a workhouse pallet, fighting with sin, self and Satan, yet enabled amid all to look to the Lord Jesus, and by a word from his lips overcoming death and hell, though when dead thrust into an cheap coffin, to rot in a pauper"s grave, brings more glory to God than all the exploits of Nelson or Wellington, and that such victories are more glorious than those of Waterloo or Trafalgar.

It is true that the parish officers will not proclaim such a victory; nor will bells ring or cannons roar at such exploits; but the God of heaven and earth may get more glory from such a despised creature, than from all the generals and admirals who have ever drawn up armies in battle, or sunk hostile fleets beneath the wave. Truly does the Lord say, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways."

It is indeed astonishing that glory should be brought to his great name by what his people do and suffer upon earth; that their feeble attempts to believe, to love, and to hope in him; to speak well of his name; and to adorn his doctrine in their life and conversation, should redound to his honor and praise. Wondrous indeed is it that a poor, insignificant worm, whom perhaps his fellow-mortal will scarcely deign to look at, or passes by with a shrug of contempt, should add glory to the great God that inhabits eternity, before whom the highest angels and brightest seraphs bow with holy adoration!

Well may we say, "What are all the glorious exploits that men are so proud of, compared with the tribute of glory rendered to God by his suffering saints?" You may feel yourself one of the poorest, vilest, neediest worms of earth; and yet if you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ with a living faith, hope in his mercy, love his dear name, and in your vocation adorn his doctrine by a godly, consistent life, you are privileged above princes and nobles, yes, even above crowned heads, and all the glory of Prayer of Manasseh, because you are bringing glory to God.

It matters not what may be your station in life. You may be a servant, master, wife, husband, child; your rank and station may be high or low; but whatever it be, still in it you may bring glory to God. If a servant, by obedience, cleanliness, industry, and attention to the directions of your master or mistress. If a master or mistress, by kindness and liberality to your dependents, and doing all that you can to render the yoke of servitude light. There is not a single Christian who may not glorify God, though in worldly circumstances he be, or seem to be, totally insignificant. Glory is brought to God by those who live and walk in his fear, and more sometimes by the poor than by the rich. Only adorn the doctrine of God in all things, and you will bring glory to God in all things.

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Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven — As nobody lights a lamp only to cover it up, but places it so conspicuously as to give light to all who need light, so Christians, being the light of the world, instead of hiding their light, are so to hold it forth before men that they may see what a life the disciples of Christ lead, and seeing this, may glorify their Father for so redeeming, transforming, and ennobling earth‘s sinful children, and opening to themselves the way to like redemption and transformation.

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. As nobody lights a lamp only to cover it up, but places it so conspicuously as to give light to all who need light, so Christians, being the light of the world, instead of hiding their light, are so to hold it forth before men that they may see what a life the disciples of Christ lead, and seeing this, may glorify their Father for so redeeming, transforming, and ennobling earth's sinful children, and opening to themselves the way to like redemption and transformation.


(1) All-precious though the doctrines of the Gospel be, since the proper appreciation and cordial reception of them depends upon a previous, preparation of the heart-especially, on the soul's being thoroughly emptied of its own fancied excellences, and made painfully alive to its spiritual necessities-it will be the wisdom of all Christian preachers to imitate the Great Preacher here, in laying first the foundation of this frame.

(2) The theology of the Old Testament, when stripped of its accidents and reduced to its essence, is one with that of the New Testament-it is spiritual; it is evangelical.

(3) The earthly and the heavenly stages of the kingdom of God are essentially one; the former preparing the way for the latter, and opening naturally into it, as the commencing and consummating stages of the same condition. Thus the connection between them far from being arbitrary, is inherent.

(4) How entirely contrary to the spirit and design of Christianity is that monkish seclusion from society and ascetic solitude which, attractive though it be to a morbid spirituality, is just to do the very thing which our Lord here represents us against the nature of the Christian calling, and rendering observance of His injunctions here impossible. If even a lamp is not lighted to be put under a bushel, but placed conspicuously for the very purpose of giving light to all within reach of its rays, how much less is the sun placed in the heavens in order that men on the earth may walk in darkness? Even so, says our Lord, instead of hiding the light of your Christianity from the dark world around you, bring it out into the view of men, on purpose to let them see it. Much more plainly does this come out in the other figure. As salt must come into actual contact with what is to be seasoned by it, so must Christians, instead of standing at a distance from their fellows, come into contact with them, on purpose to communicate to them their own qualities. Nor does our Lord think it necessary to guard against confounding this with the spirit of religious ostentation, of which He treats sufficiently in the following chapter; because what follows is quite enough to prevent any such perversion of His language: "that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" - not 'see how much superior you are to them,' but 'see what an astonishing change He can Work by the Gospel upon men of every class.' Thus, God is deprived of the testimony He expects from His redeemed and transformed people, when, instead of manifesting before their fellows what He has done for their souls, they shut themselves up-whether systematically or otherwise-or habitually retire within themselves. But:

(5) Not by the preaching or publication of mere truths, are Christians to bear down the opposition and effect the conversion of their fellow-men. Not thus is their light to "shine before men." But it is so to shine that men "may see their good works, and (so) glorify their Father which is in heaven." In order words, Father while it is Christianity which is to carry all before it, it is not the Christianity of books, nor even of mere preaching-much less of an empty profession-but the Christianity of life. "YE (whom I have been pronouncing blessed, as possessors of a blessed character) are the light of the world." Yes: It is humility, not as preached, but as practiced; it is contrition, not us depicted, not as inculcated, but as exemplified; it is meekness manifested; it is spiritual aspiration, not as enjoined, but as beheld in men on whose whole carriage may be seen written Excelsior; it is mercy embodied; it is heart-purity in flesh and blood; it is peace incarnate. This many-sided manifestation of a divine life in men, mixing with their fellows, and of like passions with their fellows, is the divinely ordained specific for arresting the progress of human corruption, diffusing health and sweetness through it, and irradiating it with the fructifying and gladdening beams of heavenly light.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker


The Character of the Disciples—The Effect of Encouragement—influence May Be Lost—the Need of Caution


Almighty God, thy way concerning us we do not understand: it is enough for us to know that it is thy way. Help us to walk in it step by step, with all patience and hopefulness, knowing that thou wilt bring us at last into a large and quiet place. Thou dost astonish the upright and turn the innocent pale by thy judgments and mysteries, so that we cannot tell what thou doest in the heavens or upon the earth, and when men question us about thee there is no reply upon our lips: we can but say, This is the Lord"s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes. He setteth the mighty upon their heads, and turneth their mansions upside down; yea, he changeth the channels of the sea and turneth the rivers into a wilderness; he taketh up the isles as a very little thing, and from his seat upon the circle of the earth the populations are as grasshoppers. This is the Lord"s rule; yea, it is our Father"s reign and sovereignty, and we rest in that, and find ourselves at peace.

We are of yesterday, and know nothing; we close our eyelids and behold we are blind in a moment, we cannot stretch beyond the length of our arms, we are barred and caged in like lives that are watched; tomorrow we die, and the third day are we forgotten as if we had never been. It well becometh us, therefore, to hold our peace, to look on in silence, and with religious wonder, and to wait hopefully for the grand last revelation. Make of us what thou wilt. We would be busier, but that comes from our impatience; we would be more famous and influential, but that is the mischief of our ambition; so we will withdraw wholly our own counsel and purpose, and we will wait as slaves wait upon their masters, asking thee to give us the liberty of thine own love, and to bind us fast with the loyalty of a love created in our hearts by thyself.

The days flee away ere we can count them one by one; they cease to be days, they are like flashes in the darkness and are gone instantly. O that we might number them as best we may, with some view of finding the way in Wisdom of Solomon, and making the reckoning as becometh men of understanding. Help us to know the measure of our life, how little it Isaiah, a child"s tiny span, and our time is as a flying shuttle, as a post hastening on its way, as a shadow that continueth not. So teach us, therefore, in our joys to remember how speedily they fall. May the young be wise as the aged, and the aged be as those who have obtained the venerableness of great experience.

The Lord help us to do our work with both hands, and with our whole head and heart, as if everything depended upon us, and then to leave it as if we did nothing at all. Feed us with thy grace, enrich and nourish us with thy most gracious word; may thy doctrine distil as the dew, and thy gospel sing to us as an angel, and charm us out of ourselves into thy great service. May thy promises become exhortations, and in the midst of thine exhortations may we hear the voice of benediction.

Let the Lord"s pity be poured out upon us as from the very fountain of his heart, and may we know that our life is the object of thy compassion, that thou dost not revile us in the heavens or laugh at us in the distant skies; but with all mercifulness and pitifulness of heart dost look upon us as those whose days are as a shadow fast fleeing away; yea, thou hast set up for us the cross—the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, our one Priest, our only Saviour, our infinite, our atoning sacrifice; in him we. see how great we are in thy purpose. Help us to behold his priesthood and to avail ourselves of his loving ministry; in all our sin and sorrow, in all our daily vexation and passing trouble, may we enter into his heart as men enter into a sanctuary which cannot be violated.

The Lord hear the prayers we cannot speak, the uprisings and motionings of our dumb hearts; multiply our few words into a great intercession, and let all our utterances be repronounced by our Priest in heaven.

The Lord send messages from his great house to the dwelling-places of those who are ailing, sick, dying, wearying to die, waiting for the angel, longing for some sound of the coming chariot wheels. The Lord send messages to those who are sitting in the gloom of despair, who say they have tried every key upon their girdle and none will fit, who sit down beside barred gates and walls too high to be scaled. The Lord speak his own comforting word to hearts to whom the darkness is a burden, and to whom the night has no star. Preserver of the strangers, take away the loneliness of the stranger"s heart, give him to feel in thine house that he is at his Father"s table and under his Father"s blessing. And grant unto the widow and the orphan, the poor, the lonely, the comfortless, and them that have no helper, some message and assurance that shall recover their heart"s hope, and Revelation -establish them in a wise confidence.

The Lord hold us all as if we belonged to him, and draw us nearer his heart the more the tempter assails. Amen.


13. Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

14. Ye are the light of he world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.

15. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

16. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

There are two ways of looking at this portion of the Lord"s address He is speaking to the disciples—that may be inferred from the first verse of the chapter, wherein it says, "When he was set, his disciples came unto him, and he opened his mouth and taught them." Are we to suppose that these disciples referred to were the salt of the earth and the light of the world, and a city set upon a high hill? Surely not in their merely personal capacity, and in their then condition. Let us take the first view, therefore; namely, that Jesus Christ is speaking of the Jews, and speaking of them he hesitates not to describe them as the salt of the earth, the light of the world, the city set upon a hill. And yet in a very gentle way, but so broad as to admit of no misapprehension, he intimates that the salt has lost its savour, the light has been put under a bushel, and the conspicuousness of the city has become but the greater shame. The effect of this teaching is to remind men of great calling and election, and of great and appalling declension, and to prepare the way for such remedial and reclaiming measures as were in the purpose and counsel of the Eternal. This was not dust that had become drier, it was not clay that had become harder, it was salt that had lost its savour, light that was in danger of being wholly extinguished. Jesus Christ, therefore, recognising the greatness and the grandeur of the call in which the Jews stood, proceeded in this most gracious and gentle manner to indicate the declension into which they had fallen. That is one view.

Take the other view. Jesus Christ sees in those disciples what his church is to be. Not addressing them in their then intellectual and spiritual condition, but looking forward as men look from the germ to the full fruition, he regarded them as the beginning of his own divine kingdom, and addressing them as such, he described them as the salt of the earth, the light of the world, and a city set upon a hill. Both views are, in my opinion, correct. There is enough in each of them to awaken the most solemn reflection, to affect the soul with all the pain of the bitterest humiliation, and to inspire it with all that is most animating in the sacred word. I will take the second view and set it with some breadth before you.

Christ sees the greatest side of our nature, and he addresses that side, because we are more easily and effectually moved by encouragement than by any other influence. Tell a man he is a fool and you cast him into despair. Tell him that he has lost every chance, spoiled every opportunity, neglected all the counsel of heaven, and is no longer worthy of being counted a living creature in God"s universe, and possibly you may burden him with all the distress of absolute despair. The effect will be according to the nature of the particular man who is addressed. Jesus Christ never gave us a discouraging view of ourselves whenever he saw us set in any relation to himself, of earnest listening or religious expectation or incipient desire to be wiser and better men. When we stood before him in the full erectness of our own purity, and came before him with a certificate of our own integrity, and requested to be heard upon the basis of our righteousness, he turned upon us the fury of the east wind, and banished us from his presence as men to whom he had nothing to say. Whenever we grouped ourselves around him and said we would listen with reverence and with religious expectation to what he had to say, then he opened the kingdom of heaven, and not until our capacity was surcharged did he withdraw his gracious and redeeming revelations of truth.

This is the great law of human teaching. If you want your boy to be a gentleman, do not begin by treating him as an invincible and incurable boor. I wait until that lesson gets right down into your apprehension. If you want to encourage your scholars in your Sunday-school or your scholastic establishment, begin by treating them as young philosophers. Give them credit for as much as you possibly can—by so doing you will cast them upon themselves in serious reflection, and with some anxiety they will endeavour to respond to the breadth, the sympathy, and the nobleness of your estimation of their capacity and diligence. If you want any man to do his best, trust him with considerable responsibility. Who could do his best if he knew he was watched, suspected, distrusted, and that the object of the vigilant criticism was to entrap him, to find out his defects, and to convince him by multitudinous arguments that he was wholly unfit for his position? Many of us could not work at all under such circumstances; we should simply succumb under their distressing weight if we did not resent them as intolerable humiliations.

Jesus Christ comes to us and says, "Ye are the salt of the earth"—says to a man who thought himself useless in the world, "Thou art as pungent salt in the midst of a putrid age," or, "Thou art as salt cast upon that which is already good, to preserve it from decay." Jesus Christ adds, "Ye are the light of the world"—tells a man who never suspected himself of having any light at all, that it is in him to throw a circle of radiance around his family, his neighbourhood, or it may be his country. Let us learn to follow this example in some degree. We get from men in many cases just what we tell them we expect from them; there is something in. human nature that likes to be trusted with responsibility, something in us that responds to great occasions. Jesus Christ always supplied a grand occasion to his hearers, and he opened the broad and sunny road of hope. He did not point to the low and dank caverns of despair.

Jesus Christ recognises the true influence of good men. He called them salt which is pungent, light which is lustrous, a city set on a hill which is conspicuous, and may be seen afar by travellers and by those who long for home. Some influences are active—salt and light; some influences passive—a city set on a hill. We must not judge one another"s influence by our own, and condemn any man"s influence in the church because it does not take its tone and range from our own method of doing things. Some clocks do not strike. They have to be looked at if from them we would know the time of day. Some clocks do strike, and they strike in the darkness as well as in the light, and it is pleasant to the weary, sleepless one now and again to catch the tone which tells him that the darkness is going and the light is coming. Do not undervalue me because I am a man of but passive influence. Do not charge me with ambition and madness because I am a man of energetic influence. Let each be what the great, loving, wise Father meant him to be. There is room in his heart for all. The brain makes no noise; the tongue no man can tame—is the tongue, therefore, not a divine creation? Yea, verily, God taught it its trick of speech and its wizardry of music. Is the brain not of divine formation because it makes no noise? Yea, verily, it is as the inmost church of the Lord wherein God shows the fullest of his heavenly and immortal splendour.

George Gilfillan, in his most energetic and inspiriting book called "Bards of the Bible," has some observations upon this matter of silence as contrasted with noise. As a boy I used to be very fond of that rhetorical writer, and as a man I do not renounce him. I have not seen the sentence for twenty years, but I think I can quote it even now in substance. He says, "The greatest objects in nature are the stillest: the ocean has a voice, the sun is dumb in his courts of praise. The forests murmur, the constellations speak not. Aaron spoke; Moses" face but shone. Sweetly might the High Priest discourse, but the Urim and the Thummim, the blazing stones upon his breast, flash forth a meaning deeper and diviner far." Young men, store your memory with such words as these, and you will never want to run away from your own society. The chairs may be vacant, but the air will be full of angels.

Yet whatever our influence may be, we may lose it. The salt may lose its savour, the light may be put under a bushel, and a city set upon a hill may turn its lights out, or build its walls against the sun and turn its windows otherwhere. The foolish discussion has been sometimes raised as to whether salt could lose its pungency—raised by people who wanted to catch the Saviour tripping in his speech. But in proportion to the difficulty is the solemnity. He who made the salt knows more about it than we do, and whatever may become of the salt, taking the mere letter as the limit of our criticism, we all know as the saddest and most tragical fact in life that some of the grandest intellects have lost their glory, and some right hands always lifted in defence of the right have lost their cunning. Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. What I say unto one I say unto all—watch.

Every man sheds a light peculiar to himself. No man has all the light; no one star holds in its little cup all the glory of the universe. One star differeth from another star in glory. Suppose one of the least of the stars should say, "I am going to withdraw from the firmament because I see a great flame, compared with whose splendour I am but as a glowworm in the presence of the sun." Better for that little foolish star to say, "The God that made yonder great flame trims my lamp, gives me my little sparkle of light."

There is a right way of using influence. Observe how Jesus Christ puts the matter when he says, "Let your light SO shine before men"; the word so should be emphasized as indicating the manner of the shining. Light may be so held in the hand as to dazzle the observer; light may be brought too near the eyes, light may be set at a wrong angle, light may be wasted, its beams be displayed so as to be of no use to the man who would read or work. Hence it is not enough to be luminous, but so to use our luminousness as to be of use to other people. There are men who, from my point of view, are luminous enough to light a whole country who do not light their own little house. There are men who need to be focalised, all but immeasurable men, with a kind of infinite capacity for anything, and who yet, for want of right setting and bringing together and focalising, live as splendid nothings and die as bubbles die upon the troubled wave. It is not enough, therefore, for us to have light and to be luminous; we must study the great economic laws by which even a little light may sometimes go a long way, and a great light may throw its timely splendour upon the road of him who is in perplexity and doubt.

Our Saviour further teaches us that our light is so to shine that our good works may be seen. He does not say that the worker may be made visible, but that the works may be observed, admired, imitated, may induce men to give glory to the Father which is in heaven. It is thus that his own sun works daily in the heavens: who dares look at the sun when he so shines as to fill the earth with all the beauty of summer? We turn our eyes up to him and he rebukes us with darts of fire; he says, "Look down, not up; look at the works, not the worker." So we may feast our eyes upon a paradise of flowers, and get much of heaven out of it, but the moment we venture to say, "Who did this—where is he?" "Show me the worker," the sun answers us with a rebuke of intolerable light. So no man hath seen God at any time, but we see his son Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time, yet we count his stars when the great daylight is away; we wonder how they were hung upon nothing, and how they shine without wasting, and what they are—porch lamps of a King"s palace, street lamps on a heavenly way—who can tell? None, yet the bare question-asking stirs the mind and the heart with a noble wonder that is almost religious. What wonder, then, if you cannot look at the sun, that you cannot look at the God that made the sun? If he is invisible in himself, he is not invisible in his ministry. We also are his offspring. In every little child I see his work, in the meanest human life I see the infinitude of his wisdom and the beneficence of his purpose. In myself I see the divinity of God.

Thus our lesson stands in the meantime. A kind word of encouragement has been spoken to us: we are hot regarded as little, insignificant, contemptible, not worth gathering up: we are spoken of as salt, light, and a city set on a hill. Let us answer the grandeur of the challenge. We have been told that the best influence may decline and die: salt may lose its savour, the light may be extinguished. Let us hear the solemn exhortation, and exercise a spirit of vigilant caution. We have been called to a certain manner of life; let us take heed unto the call, lest having magnificent powers we waste them as rain would be wasted upon the unanswering and barren sand.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. 1885-95.

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Matthew 5:1. Seeing the multitudes, assembled from six provinces to see and to hear the great, the promised prophet, who had opened his ministry with glorious miracles. But our Saviour looked upon them, not for distinction of dress and rank, these being vain in the eyes of heaven: he looked for those whom the world overlook, he looked for his Father’s image in the crowd, the poor in spirit, the mourners, and the meek.

Matthew 5:3. Blessed are the poor in spirit. These characters are justly noticed first, because they most of all feel their need of a Saviour. They renounce their sins, lay their boasting in the dust, and come as mendicants to the house of mercy. Here the rich man identifies himself with the poor, with the most abject and weak, and the learned man leaves the pride of science behind. They renounce all confidence in an arm of flesh, in vows and resolutions. These are the men who are heirs of promises, who experience an instantaneous conversion, and rush into the kingdom of heaven by the violence of faith and prayer. Their cry is, “Pour into our hearts such love towards thee, that we loving thee above all things, may obtain thy promises which exceed all that we can desire.” Coll. 6. after Trinity. Then the kingdom of heaven is opened in their heart. Luke 17:21. Romans 14:17. God has chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom.

Matthew 5:4. Blessed are they that mourn, and grieve for all their sins, for the afflictions and miseries of human life, and who weep with those that weep. The Messiah is appointed to preach good tidings to the meek, to appoint unto them that mourn, interior beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garments of praise, the white clothing worn on the Hebrew festivals, for the spirit of heaviness. God has a brilliant climax of consolations for souls that are depressed. He will remove their sins, and inspire them with the joys of remission; yea, with all consolation in Christ Jesus. He will deliver them in the day of trouble, and cause their sickness to prepare them for higher enjoyments of glory; and no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.

Matthew 5:5. Blessed are the meek, as David says, for they shall inherit the earth. Psalms 37:11. This is the opposite grace of the high, the proud, and revengeful temper of belligerent spirits. It gives the good man a dignity and an ascendency over his angry brother, by all the calm of self-possession. He disdains revenge, and overcomes evil with good.

The word ענוה gnanevah, mansuetudo, meekness is of constant occurrence in the old testament for the character of the righteous, and invariably designates meekness, humility, poverty, and affliction. It is the association of every virtue, and every excellence in the christian temper. The name is often joined with words of similar import, as in Zephaniah 3:12. “I will leave a humble and a tender people in the midst of thee, and they shall trust in the Lord.” The spirit of this beatitude is, that God will be the consolation, defence, and avenger of his people. He will arise to save the meek of the earth. Psalms 86:9. He will also bless them with length of days, as is abundantly promised in the holy scriptures. Exodus 20:12; Exodus 23:28. Isaiah 65:22. Jeremiah 35:19. 2 Timothy 4:8.

Matthew 5:6. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness — all the righteousness which is of God by faith, and which he has promised to rain down upon the earth, as he once rained manna on the camp of Israel. Isaiah 45:8. This is the proper food of the soul. It is Christ, the true bread, who came down from heaven. For this bread we must hunger, for this fountain we must thirst. The two metaphors are very impressive. When we are hungry we desire food; when we are thirsty we desire drink. Nothing will do but food for the hungry, nothing but water for the faint. Gold is despised for bread. The desire of food to the hungry encreases to fever and burning heat; and the oppressed will use all endeavours to obtain meat. To offer the hungry riches and honours, is to mock at their miseries. The sensations of hunger constantly pursue them; and they die, if food be not afforded. — The promise more than supplies their wants; they shall be filled — filled with all joy and peace through believing. The good Shepherd will lead them to green pastures, and make them to lie down beside the still waters. Psalms 23:2. They shall be fed with all the superabundance of the gospel feast. Isaiah 55:2. John 7:37.

Matthew 5:7. Blessed are the merciful, who possess a kind and feeling disposition, emanating from the love of God shed abroad in the heart. HE is good to all, sending his rain on the just, and on the unjust; and he teaches his children to do the same. It is their province to heal the wounded mind, to give bread to the hungry, and employ the poor. All these good offices are feasts of charity, in which the benevolent taste the pleasures of a God. — To them the promise is sure; they shall obtain mercy. God will pardon, and will cover all their sins, but not as debts for alms. Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness. Job had been eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame; and the Lord lifted up his head above all his sore afflictions. Job 29, 42. To real christians, who are ever distinguished by charity, the Lord promised the riches of the gentiles. Isaiah 54:3. And where poverty attends the saints, that promise is sure to all: they shall be rewarded at the resurrection of the just. Psalms 4:3.

Matthew 5:8. Blessed are the pure in heart. A clean heart is the mother of every virtue. David expresses the same sentiment in Psalms 24:3. “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart.” This purity implies a new creation of the inner man, the renewal of a right spirit within us. It is the putting off of the old man, and the putting on of the new. It is a resurrection with Christ to newness of life, the awaking up of the soul into the divine likeness, which alone can prepare us for the vision of God. The words of John are of similar import: “we know that we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” What a change is sanctification, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. Let our prayer be, Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalms 51:10. Let us expect it instantaneously, that the Lord would destroy the man of sin by the breath of his mouth, and the brightness of his coming. Here is a beautiful climax of graces, rising from poverty of spirit to purity of heart.

Matthew 5:9. Blessed are the peace-makers. Being reconciled to God, and having in their own breasts the peace that passeth all understanding, they want to see the whole church of one heart, and of one soul. They exhort brethren that are aggrieved to forget the things that are behind, and reach forward to gain purity of heart. Like Paul, they say to party men, in the circles of religious society, “If there be any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels of mercy, fulfil ye my joy — be of one accord, and of one mind.” If they cannot succeed, they will try to steal away a brand from the fire, that the unhallowed flame may become extinct for want of fuel. When factions shall subside, all men will account persons possessed of this temper, the children of God.

Matthew 5:10-12. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. We are all agreed to persecute robbers and evildoers; but who in this age of science would persecute another for righteousness? When a man, whose eyes are opened, is making his escape from hell, and trying to gain heaven, all will clear the way, and wish him God speed. Such is the theory of human nature, but the practice is otherwise; all men will oppose his flight. Every conversion Satan accounts to be desertion. Formerly, a million of christians must be thrown to the lions, and otherwise destroyed, because they worshipped not the gods; latterly, a million more must be burned, because they bowed not to the idolatries of papal Rome. — But rejoice, oh suffering saints, for the kingdom of heaven is yours. Rejoice, for your fiery trials shall purify you as gold in the furnace, and make you meet for the great reward in heaven. Rejoice the more, for your sufferings identify you with the prophets and noble army of martyrs, who have already marched through the flames to glory.

Matthew 5:13. Ye are the salt of the earth, by the good savour of your life, and by the incorruptible word of truth. By your love and zeal, you are called to season the world, and to preserve it from putrefaction. Such was the covenant of salt, which God made with Israel. 2 Chronicles 13:5. But if the minister shall have lost the unction of his ministry, and the spiritual savour of a good conversation, he is like insipid salt, good for nothing but the dunghill. Other things when degenerate may be of some value, but salt in that state is nothing worth. God will spue the lukewarm minister out of his mouth. Revelation 3:16.

Matthew 5:14. Ye are the light of the world, by the glory of the gospel, by purity of example, by the excellence of the christian temper, by the radiance of an immortal hope. The glory of a good man’s countenance shines with the image of God.

Matthew 5:17. Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. Because our Saviour degraded the traditions of the elders, the pharisees insinuated that he sought to destroy the law. But here he magnifies the moral code as the eternal rule of obligation, refusing at the same time to fetter his disciples with the ecclesiastical trammels of rabbinical polity. He illustrates its perfection in the love of God and of all mankind. In the Munster Bible, a work distinguished by rabbinical literature, it is noted, “that there is no text in the new testament more revolting to the jews than this. — Why so? was not Christ made under the law, and circumcised the eighth day? Did he not, like Moses, resolve the law into two grand articles, the love of God, and of our neighbour? Matthew 22:37; Matthew 22:40. Has not Hosea said, Pietatem volui, et non sacrificium; scientiam Dei magis quàm holocausta? I will have piety and not sacrifice; the knowledge of God, rather than burnt-offerings? Has not Isaiah said, To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices, saith the Lord. I am full of burnt offerings, and the fat of beasts. Wash you, make you clean, make you a new heart? Have not Jeremiah, chap, 31., and Ezekiel, chap. 36., declared that God would make a new and better covenant with the house of Israel? “I spake not to your fathers — concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices. But this thing I commanded them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people.” Jeremiah 7:23-24. Is it not apparent then from these sentences, that in the time of the Messiah the future worship of God should be in spirit and in truth. And is it not equally apparent, that the Messiah would absolve us from the law of legal sacrifices, and write his law on our inward parts; for circumcision is that of the heart?”

Matthew 5:18. Verily I say unto you. This, though AMEN in the original, is an oath, and it corresponds with the oath which so frequently occurs in the old testament: “As I live, saith the Lord.”

One jot. It seems to mean the Hebrew letter, יyod; and in Lightfoot, the Gemarists of Jerusalem say, that Solomon attempted to suppress it in Deuteronomy 17:5. “Thou shalt not multiply many wives.”

One tittle. A little dash at the head of Hebrew letters, where there existed any danger of reading one letter for another, many of them being nearly similar to another letter in that alphabet. This similarity has occasioned much variety of opinion in the reading of many texts in the old testament.

Matthew 5:19. Whosoever shall break one of these least commandments, least in the estimation of men; for though no divine precept can be called small, yet every one is not of equal weight and importance, judgment, mercy, and faith being “the weightier matters of the law.” The Lord strikes here at all accommodating preachers; at Rome, in her distinctions between mortal and venial sins; at all who build with wood, hay, and stubble. Let us be exact in the smaller as well as in the greater duties, knowing that all who trifle with the law shall be of no account in the church.

Matthew 5:20. Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees, which was distinguished by severities of fasting, of prayers, and of almsgiving, in all of which christians come greatly short, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. Those men were like the splendid sepulchre in their outward walk, but within, their heart was a charnel house of sin. Like Noah, surrounded with a deluge of woes, we must fly to the ark for safety, and become heirs of the righteousness of God by faith. The gospel old way is, repentance, faith, and holiness, that all the fruits of righteousness may follow the entire regeneration of our nature. Deuteronomy 6:25. Romans 3:21; Romans 10:3; Romans 10:5.

Matthew 5:21. Thou shalt not kill. The Greek φονευω, as the Hebrew רתצ, Exodus 20:13, is to murder by malice and revenge. So also is the Gothic of Ulphilas. Therefore every emotion of anger must be suppressed, and the heart opened to the love of God and man, the only healer of moral evil.

Matthew 5:22. Raca. This is a Hebrew word which occurs in 11:3, and is left untranslated in all the versions, except in Judges. Montanus reads it vacuo, which agrees with cenoo, rascal, dunce, or soft head. In my copy of Erasmus’s critical annotations, printed at Antwerp, 1538, there is a long note comprising glosses of the fathers on this word. All allow it to be an interjection of indignation.

Whosoever shall say, thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. την γεενναν του πυρος, the fire of Gehenna. The Hebrews wrote, גיאgi, valley, and Hinnom, the name of a man. Joshua 15:8. It is said that the jews who burned their children there, should themselves be burned there. Jeremiah 7:32. This fire is a figure of the fire of hell. The valley was the place below Jerusalem, where the idolatrous jews burnt their children in the huge belly of the idol Moloch. This was God’s highest curse of infatuation on that people. See 2 Kings 22. The judgment of the synagogue might punish the first offence, the council or sanhedrim might punish the second; but here is the punishment of Gehenna, which God alone can inflict. So Dan Heinsius illustrates this word, which often occurs. This most learned man was made counsellor of the state by Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden, and knight of the order of St. Mark by the republic of Venice. Edit. Cantab. 1640. — The Chaldee on Isaiah 31:9, and the LXX read, “The Gehenna of eternal fire.” Such is the sense of Tophet in Isaiah 30:33, Jeremiah 19:12-13, and of Gehenna in Matthew 5:30, and in Mark 9:42-48.

Matthew 5:25. Agree with thine adversary quickly. If this be wise in vexatious lawsuits, how much more with regard to the great Judge, before whose bar the impenitent shall be condemned, and delivered to the tormentors, and cast into the prison of hell. Delays in religion, though common, are nevertheless the most destructive sins of the soul.

Matthew 5:28. Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her. Human laws extend only to the actions of men; the divine law reaches to the heart. Inward purity, as in Matthew 5:8, requires us to put away idle thoughts, lascivious habits, immodest pictures, and to burn all novels, written by profligate and ruined characters.

Matthew 5:32. Whosoever shall put away his wife. See notes on Genesis 2:24. Malachi 2:11.

Matthew 5:34. Swear not at all. St. James explains this when he says, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by earth, nor by any other oath; for man is not lord of heaven and earth, nor can he say that he shall live and have power to perform his oath. Yet a man may conscientiously swear to the truth, as St. Paul when he says, I protest by your rejoicing. A christian also, on the renewal of his covenant, ought to swear to the Lord. Jeremiah 34:18.

Matthew 5:39. Resist not evil. Retaliate not an injury by private revenge. A christian may deprive his enemy of the means of hurting him, and he may bring him before the magistrates, whose authority Christ has allowed: Matthew 5:22. But to oppose evil against evil is to double the crime. It punishes our enemy unseasonably, perhaps in an improper manner and degree, and it may harden him to greater wickedness. It is mostly our best wisdom to rely on providence which brings all things round, and will punish all wickedness, and avenge injured innocence, in such a time and way as to do the sinner good with stripes. Nor should we be content with negative virtues: let us sometimes do for the greedy man more than he requires, that we may shame and confound his covetousness by the superior and godlike energies of divine grace.

Matthew 5:41. Go with him twain, alluding to the practice of the Roman legions, who impressed men as guides, and as carriers of their baggage, forcing them also to do it at inadequate rates of payment.

Matthew 5:48. Be ye therefore perfect. Ulphilas, the missionary to the Goths, about the year 350, gives the exact sense. SŸAITH NU JUS FULLA TOGAI SWA SWE ATTAH IZWAR SA IN HIMINAM FULLA TOGIS IST. “Beeth now you full doers so, so your Dada in heaven a full doer is.” He sends rain on the just and on the unjust, and makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good. Seeing then we owe so much to grace, the question is just, what do ye more than others? Let us hear this voice, and abound more and more in the word and the work of the Lord.

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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Ver. 16. Let your light so shine before men] We use to hang the picture of a dear friend in a conspicuous place, that it may appear we rejoice in it, as an ornament to us: so should we the image of Christ, and his graces. And as pearls, though formed and found in the water, are like the heavens in clearness, so should all, but especially ministers: their faces should shine, as Moses when he came from the mount; their feet should be beautiful, Romans 10:15; their mouths (as heaven in the Revelation) should never open, but some great matter should follow; their lives should be, as one speaketh of Joseph’s life, coelum quoddam lucidissimis virtulum stellis exornatum, a very heaven sparkling with variety of virtues, as with so many bright stars. (Bucholcer.) The high priest of the law came forth to the people in habit more like a god than a man. Os humerosque Deo similis. (Virgil.) And Alexander the Great took him for no less, but fell at his feet, meeting him upon his way to Jerusalem. There are those who hold, that by his linen he was taught purity; by his shash, discretion; by his embroidered coat, heavenly conversation; by his golden bells, sound doctrine; by his ponmgranates, fruitfulness in good works; by his shoulder pieces, patience in bearing other men’s infirmities; by his breastplate, continual care of the Church; by his mitre, a right intention; and by the golden plate upon it, a bold and wise profession of "Holiness to the Lord." The apostle also is exact in forming a minister of the gospel, 1 Timothy 3:2-4 : for he must be, 1. "Blameless" ( αντπιληπτος), such as against whom no just exception can be laid. 2. "Vigilant" ( νηφαλεος), pale and wan again with watching and working. 3. "Sober" ( σωφρων), or temperate, one that can contain his passions, master his own heart, and keep a mean. 4. "Modest" ( κοσμιος), neat and comely in his bodily attire, neither curious nor careless thereof, but venerable in all his behaviour; and one that keepeth a fit decorum in all things. 5. "Hospitable" ( φιλοξενος), and harbourous. Quicquid habent Clerici, pauperum est, saith Jerome. 6. "Able and apt to teach" ( διδακτικος), as Bishop Ridley, Dr Taylor, and Mr Bradford, who preached every Sunday and holiday ordinarily; and as Chrysostom, Origen, and some others, who preached every day in the week. 7. "Not given to wine" ( παροινος), no ale stake, as those drunken priests, the two sons of Aaron, who died by the fire of God, for coming before him with strange fire, Leviticus 10:2-20. "No striker" ( πληκτης), neither with hand nor tongue, to the just grief or disgrace of any. 9. "Not greedy of filthy lucre" ( αισχροκερδης), so as to get gain by evil arts; but honest, plain dealing; and (as it follows in the text) pae tient, or equanimous, easily parting with his right for peace’ sake ( επιεικης, Arist. Ethic. 5. 10), and ever preferring equity before extremity of law. 10. "Not a brawler" ( αμαχος), or connnon barrator, a wrangler, as Ishmael. 11. "Not covetous," not doting on his wealth, or trusting to his wedge. Not without money, but without the love of money. The apostle here distinguisheth, "greedy of filthy lucre" ( αφιλαργυρος), which is in getting, from covetousness, which consists in pinching and saving. 12. "One that ruleth well in his own house," &c. For the children’s faults reflect upon the parents, and the servant’s sin is the master’s shame. Besides, every man is that in religion that he is relatively; and so much true goodness he hath as he showeth at home. 13. "Not a novice" ( νεοφυτος), a young scholar, rude and ungrounded; or a tender young plant in Christianity, as the word signifieth, that may be bent any way, but a well grown oak, stable and steady. 14. Lastly, "he must have a good report of them which are without;" which he cannot but have, if qualified as above said, 1 Timothy 3:7. The same God which did at first put an awe of man in the fiercest creatures, hath stamped in the cruelest hearts an awful respect to his faithful ministers: so as even they that hate them cannot choose but honour them, as Saul did Samuel, Darius Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar the three worthies. Natural conscience cannot but stoop and do homage to God’s image fairly stamped upon the natures and works of his people. So that when men see in such that which is above the ordinary strain and their own expectation, their hearts ache within them many times; and they stand much amazed at the height of their spirits and the majesty that shines in their faces. Either they are convinced, as Nebuchadnezzar, Darius, and Diocletian, who laid down the empire out of a deep discontent and despair of ever conquering the constancy of Christians by any bloody persecution; or, which is better, they are converted, and seeing such good works, they glorify God our heavenly Father, as Justin Martyr, who confesseth of himself, that by beholding the Christians’ piety in life and patience in death ( ορων δε αφοβους προς θανατον), he gathered their doctrine to be the truth, and glorified God in the day of his visitation. For there is no Christian, saith Athenagoras in his Apology to the Heathens, that is not good, unless he be a hypocrite, and a pretender only to religion. ( ουδεις χριστιανος πονηρος, ει μη υποκρινηται τον λογον.) Vere magnus est Deus Christianorum, said one Calocerius, a heathen, beholding the sufferings of the primitive martyrs. And it is reported of one Cecilia, a virgin, that by her constance and exhortations before and at her martyrdom, four hundred were converted Chrysostom calls good works unanswerable syllogisms, invincible demonstrations to confute and convert pagans. Julian the Apostate could not but confess, Quod Christiana religio propter Christianorum erga omnes beneficentiam propagata est: Christian religion spread by the holiness of those who professed it. Bede mentioneth one Alban, who receiving a poor persecuted Christian into his house, and seeing his holy and devout carriage, was so much affected therewith, as that he became an earnest professor of the faith, and in the end a glorious martyr for the faith.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Salt and Light

After the characteristics of the disciples, the Lord speaks of their place in the world, in which they are placed by God. He calls them "the salt of the earth". The earth is the creation of God that He maintains despite the fall. Disciples of the Lord are responsible for showing what He meant by this in all earthly relationships that God has established. This concerns matters like marriage, family and work. In connection with this, the disciple should be the salt.

The characteristic feature of salt is that it prevents spoilage. For the disciple this means that he does not give in to worldly influences. When Christians are no longer salt, nothing remains visible of God's original intentions. If the Christians are gone from the earth, everything will become normless.

The Lord also calls the disciples "the light of the world". While the disciples do participate in earthly relations, they have no part in the world, they do not belong to it. They are in it, but then as light. The light stands opposite the world and shines in it. It must not be hidden.

Salt prevents something, light shows something. The danger of salt is that it loses its taste. The danger for light is that it is extinguished by a basket, that is to say that there is no testimony in the world because one is too busy with earthly things.

We let light shine, not so much through what we say, but through what we do. The "good works" here are not works of charity for others, but upright, honorable works. It is not about the effect of the works, but their nature. These good works have their source in the Father in heaven. They spread light and glorify Him. When people see these good works they will instead of saying "what a good person" glorify the Father of that person.

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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Matthew 5:16". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

Jesus Himself applies the parable:

v. 16. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

The policy of obscuration, of hiding beliefs and convictions, is often urged by lukewarm Christians, so-called "reasons of prudence and wisdom: gradual accustoming of men to new ideas; deference to the prejudices of good men; avoidance of rupture by premature outspokenness; but generally the true reason is fear of unpleasant consequences to oneself. " To think and act thus is deliberate disloyalty to Christ. Your light, given to you from above, not to be used according to expediency, but to shine; your light, not you, the object being not to make your person prominent, but your Christianity. The Christians, individually and collectively, should perform this task as their steady work. For the light which shall be thrown out from them in every direction, before all men, consists in their good works, the fruits of their regeneration, the proof of their being illuminated by Jesus. These should be seen by the people for a definite reason. All men that come in contact with their works shall be forced to draw conclusions as to the power that inspires them. And so the glory, the honor will be placed where it properly and exclusively belongs, will be given to the Father in heaven. This fact renders the admonition urgent by giving to it its real basis. Faith is the lamp; love is the light; the good works are the illumination. As little as the lamp can pride itself upon its light, so little can the Christians glory in their good works; all glory must be God's.

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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Matthew 5:16". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". 1921-23.

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

             PART SECOND

Christ manifesting Himself in outward obscurity as the true Saviour, by His works; and proving Himself the promised Prophet, Priest, and King, in His continual conflict with the spurious notions entertained by the Jews concerning the Messiah ( Matthew 5:1 to Matthew 16:12).




Structure of the Sermon on the Mount.—The grand fundamental idea of the Sermon on the Mount is to present the righteousness of the kingdom of heaven in its relation to that of the Old Testament theocracy. This idea is arranged in three parts. Part first, which comprises the Sermon on the Mount in the narrower sense, presents the nature and character of the righteousness of the kingdom of God, from the commencement of spiritual life to its completion.  Matthew 5:1-16.—At the close of this section, the contrast between this righteousness and that of Jewish traditionalism is brought out in its fullest manifestation (to suffer persecution for Christ’s sake). This induces the Lord to explain, in Part2, the relation between the righteousness of the kingdom of heaven (in doctrine and life) and that of the Jewish theocracy. The former is the genuine fulfilment of the Old Testament theocracy (of the Law and the Prophets), in opposition to that false development of Jewish traditionalism, which only preserved the letter of the law and the prophets.  Matthew 5:17 to Matthew 7:6.—As the first section contained a description of the elevation of the blessed to their final reward in heaven, although their course seems to the world one of continual humiliation; so the second section exhibits the righteousness of the Pharisees in its real character and results, to the judgment which shall finally sweep it away (beneath “dogs and swine”), although to the world it seems to rise to the greatest height of exaltation. Lastly, Christ shows in the third and practical section, how to avoid the false and choose the right way; indicating, at the same time, the mode and manner of genuine spiritual life ( Matthew 7:7-27). The concluding verses ( Matthew 5:28-29) record the impression produced by this sermon of Jesus.

Literature:—Comp. Tholuck, Comment, on the Sermon on the Mount, 4th ed, 1856 [transl. into Engl. by R. Lundin Brown, Edinb. and Philad, 1860]; Kling, Die Bergpredigt Christi, Marburg1841; Arndt, Die Bergpredigt Jesu Christi, Magdeb, 1837,1838; Braune, Die Bergpredigt unseres Herrn Jesu Christi, 2d ed, Altenburg1855.—For the older literature of the subject, see Winer, Danz, and Heubner.


The Sermon on the Mount in the narrower sense. The law of the Spirit. The fundamental laws of the kingdom of heaven as fundamental promises and beatitudes of the Gospel. Gradual progress upward to perfectness in righteousness, or, what is the same, in Christ.

Matthew 5:1-16

( Matthew 5:1-12, the Gospel for the 27th Sunday after Trinity.)

1And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain; and when he was set [had sat down], his disciples came unto [to] him: 2And he opened his mouth, and taught 3 them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven 5 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: 6for they shall inherit the earth.[FN1] Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after 7 righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain 9 mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: 10for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil againstyou falsely,[FN2] for my sake 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which [who] were before you 13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid 15 Neither do men light a candle and put it under a [the][FN3] bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which [who] is in heaven.


General Remarks on the Sermon on the Mount.—The Sermon on the Mount may be regarded as the central-point of Christ’s ministry in Galilee. It was delivered during the first year of His public career, some time between the winter of 781 and the spring of782 A. U. “The activity of John by the banks of Jordan probably continued till toward the winter of the year781. While he baptized in Galilee, Christ labored in Judæa. About the time that John was imprisoned in Galilee, the Sanhedrim of Jerusalem began to view with dislike the growing authority of Jesus. On this account, He left Judæa, and retired to Galilee. In the spring of the year782, John was still in prison. At that time he sent the well-known embassy to Christ. From Matthew 11:1-2, we gather that this inquiry was made at the close of the first journey of Christ through Galilee; hence before His attending the feast of Purim, which is related in the Gospel of John ( Matthew 5). Soon afterward the execution of John took place, probably between Purim and Easter of the year782” (see my Leben Jesu, ii1, p162).

We mark three stages in the journey of Jesus through Galilee. The first comprises the journey of Christ through the mountainous district of Upper Galilee. This is alluded to in general terms by Matthew in  Matthew 4:23. The calling of the first four Apostles, together with the miraculous draught of fishes, Luke 5:1, and the sermon of the Lord by the Lake of Galilee, preceding that miracle, formed the commencement of this journey. Its close is marked by the Sermon on the Mount. On His second journey, the Lord passed beyond the bounds of Galilee proper into Upper Peræa. This tour commenced with His second sermon by the Lake of Galilee, on which occasion the Lord probably uttered the greater part of the parables concerning the kingdom of God. Other three Apostles were now added to the former. That journey closed with the expulsion of the Lord from Gadara, and some conflicts between Jesus and the Pharisees, and a few of the disciples of John ( Matthew 19). During His third tour, the Lord passed through the towns on the Lake of Galilee to Lower Galilee, and toward Samaria and Judæa. The number of the assistants and followers of Jesus was now increased from seven to twelve, who are set apart as His Apostles. The four companions of His first journey, and the seven who attended Him during the second, had only been His followers; but others are now added to their number. They are set apart to be His Apostles; and the Lord sends them before Him,—as yet, however, with limited powers, and for a definite purpose. The narrative of this journey commences with the calling of the Apostles, and with the instructions given to them. While the Apostles precede the Lord, holy women gather around and minister unto Him ( Luke 8:1-3). The towns of Magdala, in the southern part of the western shore of the lake, and Nain, between the southern side of Mount Tabor and the Lower Hermon, are mentioned as special points touched during this journey. Its goal—as appears from the sending of the twelve Apostles—was Jerusalem, where, according to John 5, Jesus attended the feast of Purim. This journey, which was intended to terminate in Judæa, was interrupted by two events—the resolution of the Sanhedrim at Jerusalem to compass the death of Jesus ( John 7:1), and the execution of John the Baptist ( Matthew 14:12; Mark 6:30; Luke 9:10).

A close review of this tour shows that Jesus undertook three public journeys to Jerusalem in order to awake the attention of His people, and to lead them to decide for the truth ( John 2:13; John 5; John 12:9).

It is important to understand the relation between the Sermon on the Mount as given by Matthew and the account of it in Luke 6:12 sqq.

According to Augustine (De consensu evang. ii19), Andr. Osiander, Büsching, Hess, Storr, Gratz, and others, the two sermons were delivered at different times. But most modem interpreters are agreed that they are only two different accounts of one and the same sermon of Jesus. Calvin, Schneckenburger, and Olshausen hold that the account in Matthew is the less authentic of the two; while Tholuck, Ebrard, and Meyer (p168), think that Luke derived his narrative from Matthew. Lastly, according to Strauss, neither of the two accounts is strictly authentic. In our opinion, they should be regarded as two different sermons delivered in close succession,—the one on the summit of a mountain in Galilee, the other, on a lower ridge of the same mountain; the one, addressed only to His disciples; the other, to all the people who had followed Him. Still, so far as their fundamental ideas and real subject-matter are concerned, the two sermons are identical, differing only in form and adaptation,—that reported by Matthew being addressed to the disciples, and hence esoteric in its form; while that given by Luke is exoteric, being addressed to the people. The fundamental idea of both is evidently the same—the exaltation of the humble and the humiliation of the proud. This idea is couched so as to correspond to the description of the Jewish year of jubilee, and expressed in the form of beatitudes. But the different aspects under which this fundamental truth is presented, show that originally two sermons had been delivered by the Lord; for, 1. the number of the beatitudes is not the same in the two sermons, and the beatitudes themselves are differently couched; 2. in the Gospel by Luke, there is always a woe to correspond to each of the beatitudes. This contrast appears, indeed, also in that portion of the sermon, as reported by Matthew, which treats of the righteousness of the Pharisees and its consequences, but in a form quite different from that in Luke. Add to this, 3. the difference in the account of the locality and the audience. According to Matthew, Jesus delivered the sermon on the top of a mountain, and sitting; while Luke relates that He came down and stood in the plain or on a plateau, to preach to the people. According to Matthew, “seeing the multitudes,” He retired among His disciples; while Luke records that He came down with His disciples, and stood among the multitude in order to address them. “Thus we have evidently two different discourses on the same subject, and containing the same elements; and, before we adopt any hypothesis which would represent the one as inferior to the other, we should first endeavor to study them more closely, and to understand the peculiar characteristics of the two Gospels. Viewed in that light, these discourses bear each a distinctive character. The Sermon on the Mount, strictly so called, is a discourse which Christ could not, at the time, have addressed to the people generally. This remark specially applies to His description of the Pharisees and scribes, and of their righteousness, and to His exposition of the contrast between His own teaching and theirs. Manifestly, Jesus could not have addressed in this manner the Jewish people generally, without thereby needlessly exposing His own followers. Nor were the people prepared to understand or receive such doctrine. And even though we were to assume that the Evangelist had introduced into this discourse some things said on other occasions, yet this sermon is so thoroughly connected in its structure, that it is impossible to ascribe its composition, so far as its leading features are concerned, to the Evangelist himself.” (Leben Jesu, ii2, p369.) Manifestly, this discourse is esoteric—an exposition of the fundamental doctrines of the kingdom of heaven in their relation to the teaching of the Old Testament, and to the ordinances and practices of a spurious traditionalism, which could only have been intended for the disciples. Hence the choice of the locality, the retirement from the multitude, and the gathering of the disciples around Him. The Evangelist, indeed, records at the close, “that the people were astonished at His doctrine;” but this apparent inaccuracy—on our supposition—only confirms the view that, after His descent from the mountain, the Lord addressed to the people generally the discourse communicated by Luke. The latter is just what we would have expected in the circumstances—a popular and lively address, short, and illustrated by similes. This exoteric form agrees with the context as mentioned by Luke, who records that Jesus delivered this address standing among the people, though His eye would, no doubt, chiefly rest in blessing upon the disciples.

The time when these two discourses were delivered.—From some events recorded by Luke before his account of the Sermon on the Mount ( Matthew 6:1, etc.), it might appear to have been delivered at a later period. But this apparent inaccuracy must have been occasioned by considerations connected with the structure of his Gospel. The context shows that both Evangelists record it as having taken place at the same time. Both in Luke and in Matthew the history of the centurion of Capernaum immediately follows the Sermon on the Mount. Manifestly, then, the two discourses were delivered during the same journey of Jesus through Galilee. Similarly, the circumstances mentioned by Luke prove that the discourse reported by him followed immediately upon that reported by Matthew. According to Matthew, Jesus left the multitude, and retired with His disciples to the top of the mountain; while Luke relates that He again descended from the mountain, with His disciples, “into the plain” (ἐπὶ τὀπου πεδινοῦ), among the waiting multitude. If to this we add the manifest internal connection between the two discourses, we obtain a very distinct view of the subject. On the top of the mountain Jesus addressed to His disciples the discourse about the kingdom of heaven in an esoteric form: while immediately afterward He repeated it in an exoteric form, in the midst of the people, on a plateau of the same mountain.

The locality, or the mountain.—According to Latin tradition, the Mount of Beatitudes was what is now called the “Horns of Hattin,” between Mount Tabor and Tiberias. Robinson gives the following description of this mountain (ii. p370): “The road passes down to Hattin on the west of the Tell; as we approached, we turned off from the path toward the right, in order to ascend the Eastern Horn.—As seen on this side, the Tell or mountain is merely a low ridge, some thirty or forty feet in height, and not ten minutes in length from east to west. At its eastern end is an elevated point or horn, perhaps sixty feet above the plain; and, at the western end, another not so high; these give to the ridge, at a distance, the appearance of a saddle, and are called Kurun Hattin, ‘Horns of Hattin.’ But the singularity of this ridge Isaiah, that, on reaching the top, you find that it lies along the very border of the great southern plain, where this latter sinks off at once by a precipitous offset, to the lower plain of Hattin, from which the northern side of the Tell rises very steeply, not much less than400 feet..… The summit of the Eastern Horn is a little circular plain; and the top of the lower ridge between the two horns is also flattened to a plain. The whole mountain is of limestone.”—The situation and the appearance of this mountain agree well with the supposition that it was the Mount of Beatitudes. It lay in a southwesterly direction, about seven miles from Capernaum. We can well conceive that, when, on His return from the journey through Galilee, Jesus reached this point, He partly dismissed the multitudes who had followed Him. The description of the top of the mountain, and of “the plain,” agrees with the requirements of the case. Robinson has indeed shown that no weighty grounds can be urged in favor of this tradition (ii. p371). It is found only in the Latin Church, and is first mentioned in the 13 th century by Brocardus [about a. d1283]; while this tradition is apparently contradicted by another, which designates the same mountain as the spot where Christ fed the five thousand with the five loaves. Still, no valid ground can be urged against it. A striking historical illustration, by way of contrast, is connected with the Horns of Hattin, assuming that ridge to be the Mount of Beatitudes. On the spot where Jesus had described the kingdom of heaven, and pronounced the meek and the peacemakers blessed, the most bloody battles have been fought! (See C. v. Raumer, p37.) On the 5 th of July, 1187, the celebrated battle of Hattin took place, in which the last remnant of the Crusaders was destroyed on the height of Tell Hattin, after the army had been beaten by Sultan Saladin in the valley. Again, on the plain of Jezreel, Bonaparte defeated, in1799, with3000 men, an army of25,000 Turks.—From the frequent repetition of the expression, Jesus went up into a mountain, εἰς τὸ ὄρος, Gfrörer and Bruno Bauer have inferred that the mountain was merely mythical, and that it always referred to one and the same locality. But in all these narratives, the term “mountain” is used in contradistinction to the places where the people were encamped (Leben Jesu, ii2, p676). Ebrard (Kritik, etc, p349) suggests that the expression is sufficiently explained by the circumstance, that throughout Palestine there was no plain from which mountains rose, but that the country was an extended plain intersected by valleys. But this is only partially true, as there are considerable mountain-tops in the country; although the configuration of Palestine may partly have given rise to such a general mode of expression as “to go up into a mountain.”

Occasion of this address.—According to Wiescler (Chronologische Synopse, p205), the year from the autumn779 to that of780 had been a sabbatical year. Thus the remembrance of the jubilee was still fresh in the minds of the people. For, although the peculiar ordinances connected with the jubilee were no longer observed even at the time of the prophets, the symbolical import of the institution must still have been cherished by the people. The passage from Isaiah 61, which Jesus had shortly before read in the synagogue at Nazareth ( Luke 4:14, etc.), referred to the year of grace of the Lord. The symbolical idea of this institution which had pervaded the song of Mary, was fully unfolded and developed in the Sermon on the Mount. (Leben Jesu, ii2, p571.)

Relation between the Sermon on the Mount as reported by Matthew, and the parallel passages in Luke and Mark.—This relation is explained, 1. by the difference between the two discourses; 2. by the circumstance that Luke records in other passages the admonitions which were specially addressed to the disciples. This remark applies more especially to the Lord’s Prayer, Luke 11:1-4; to the admonition to prayer,  Matthew 5:9-13; to the simile in  Matthew 5:34-36; and to the warning against excessive care for the things of this life, Luke 12:22-31. Still, it is possible that some of the statements in the first Sermon on the Mount, which recur in the other Gospels, may have been repeated on other occasions: for example, Mark 9:50; Luke 12:34; Luke 13:24; Luke 16:13; Luke 16:17-18. Others, again, may have been introduced by the Evangelist in another context: for example, Luke 12:58.

Matthew 5:1. And seeing the multitudes, ἰδὼνδὲ κ. τ. λ.—This is evidently meant to account for the delivery of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus frequently saw multitudes around Him, but here a peculiar emphasis is laid on that circumstance. The question then arises, whether the crowding of the multitude around had induced Him to deliver the Sermon on the Mount in their presence, and that with all which it contains concerning the scribes and Pharisees; or whether, on the contrary, it had induced Him to explain these truths in a confidential manner to His disciples alone. We adopt the latter view, which is supported by the analogy of Mark 3:12-13; Luke 6:12-13; John 6:23, comp. with  Matthew 5:15.

His disciples.—It is evident that at that period Jesus had already made a separation between His disciples and the people. But Matthew distinguishes between this and the later choice of the twelve Apostles,  Matthew 10:1. The expression implies that a larger circle of friends and assistants had gathered around Jesus, among whom the twelve occupied a prominent place.

Matthew 5:2. And He opened His mouth.—The phrase ἀνοίγειν τὸ στόμα, פָּהִח פֶּה, Isaiah, in the first place, oriental and pictorial; secondarily, it indicates an important element, that of confidential and solemn communication: Job 3:1; Daniel 10:16. This applies especially to the moment when the Incarnate Word opened His mouth to enunciate the eternal principles of the New Covenant. We note here the contrast, as between Sinai and the Mount of Beatitudes, the law and the Gospel, so also between the speaking of God during the Old Testament, accompanied as it then was by thunder and lightning, and Jesus “opening His mouth” under the New Testament.

Matthew 5:3-16. The Sermon on the Mount, in the narrower sense ( Matthew 5:3-16) comprises the seven beatitudes, and their application to the disciples of Jesus under the twofold simile of the salt of the earth, and the light of the world; the latter being again arranged under two similes—that of the city on the hill, and that of the candlestick. The seven admonitions are rightly characterized as so many beatitudes. From this we infer, above all, the evangelical character of this discourse of Jesus, since, 1. He designates each stage in the development of the spiritual life a beatitude, because it imparts beatitude. The blessedness which Himself at the first imparts, is succeeded by being blessed, even unto perfect beatitude in glory2. Since, on that account, He does not prescribe any course of action conformable to the law or to His teaching, but a life conformable to the law, as a manifestation of His teaching3. He presents the great outlines of New Testament righteousness as consisting in self-knowledge, felt want, suffering, emptiness, or susceptibility, which the Lord will meet out of the heavenly fulness of His own kingdom4. He presents the blessings of the kingdom of heaven in their perfectness as spiritual in their character, and as the property of the beatified5. In the succession of these beatitudes He marks the development of the new life from its commencement to its completion. Luther: “This is indeed a fair, sweet, and pleasant commencement of His preaching and teaching. For He does not come in like Moses, or like a teacher of the law, with commands, threats, and terrors, but in the most kindly manner, with attractions, and allurements, and most sweet promises.” The old arrangement into seven beatitudes is perfectly correct. The seventh beatitude, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” marks the climax: “They shall be called the children of God.” In the eighth beatitude, the other seven are only summed up under the idea of the righteousness of the kingdom of heaven in its relation to those who persecute it; while the ninth is a description of the eighth, with reference to the relation in which these righteous persons stand to Christ. The seven beatitudes, therefore, describe the blessedness of the righteousness of God, as it appears in the last instance, on the one hand, in being persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and on the other, for Christ’s sake. This also casts a new light upon each of the seven beatitudes: they are a conflict with false righteousness for true righteousness’ sake: they are for Christ’s sake, and they are a conflict for His sake.

The seven beatitudes form an ascending line, in which the new life is traced from stage to stage, from its commencement to its completion. At the basis we have poverty in spirit, the grand final result of the Old Testament discipline. But, in studying this ascending line of Christian righteousness or virtue, which rests on the basis of spiritual poverty, we must not lose sight of the parallels which they contain. Manifestly, each of the beatitudes expresses a new (religious) relationship toward God, and, side by side with it, a new (moral) relationship toward the world. This will appear more clearly from the following table:—

Blessed are ye, the disciples, if ye are such. Thus shall ye be:—

(a) The salt of the earth. (b)The light of the world.

1. A city set on a hill.

2. A candle put on a candlestick.

Matthew 5:3. Blessed, Μακάριοι, אִשְׁרֵי, Psalm 1:1.—“From the explanatory sentences, which commence with ὅτι ( Matthew 5:3-10), we gather what blessedness Jesus has in view—that of the kingdom of Messiah.” Again, Jesus declares those blessed whom the men of the world would hold to be most unhappy. He designates by that term circumstances which, to those looking merely at the outside, would appear far from enviable, and traits of character running directly contrary to the carnal views and the legal righteousness of the Jews. Hence these sentences are so many paradoxes. “Although these statements of Christ run directly counter to the carnal prejudices of His contemporaries, His utterances contain nothing that was either entirely new or unknown, since all these beatitudes are based upon passages of the Old Testament ( Isaiah 57:15; Isaiah 61:1-3; Psalm 34:11-19; Psalm 37:11; Psalm 73:1; 1 Samuel 2:5; Psalm 51:17; Ecclesiastes 7:4, etc.).” O. von Gerlach. It is worthy of notice, that, like the beatitudes of Jesus, that in Psalm 1both presupposes a corresponding state of mind, and admonishes believers to cherish and seek such a spiritual disposition.

The poor in spirit, οἱπτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύ ματι.—The dative is here used to designate them more particularly: in their spirit, or in reference to their spirit, or spiritual life; those who feel themselves spiritually poor, and hence realize their deep and inexpressible want of the Spirit, and long for the religion of the Spirit (The opposite of this in Revelation 3:17.) Hence the expression does not imply poverty of spirit in reference to Prayer of Manasseh, far less intellectual poverty (as Fritzsche thinks). The idea, that it refers to external poverty, voluntarily chosen, or to a vow of voluntary poverty, as some of the older Roman Catholic commentators imagine (Maldonatus, Cornelius à Lap.), deserves no further notice. The addition, τῷπνεύματι, forms a primary and essential characteristic of Christianity. Although wanting in the corresponding passage in Luke, the expression refers there also to spiritual poverty. Köstlin fancies that the omission in Luke is due to Ebionite leanings; while Matthew purposely added the words, “in spirit,” to mark the difference. But this hypothesis is only an attempt to carry out the theory of Baur, that the first Christians had been Ebionites. It is indeed true that the expression bears special reference to the poor and needy of the Old Testament theocracy ( Isaiah 61:1; Isaiah 66:2). But those Ebionites were not poor in the sense of their entertaining carnal expectations of the Messiah, but in that of spiritual longing for true righteousness. This feeling of spiritual poverty, which appeared at the time of the prophets, had now attained full maturity. It had been “fulfilled;” and hence coincided with the μετάνοια in its origin, as this grace unfolds in the two succeeding beatitudes, and forms the germ of the ταπεινοφροσύνη. The full meaning of the expression is brought out in the following remark of Tholuck:–“To translate accurately, we must render the term by egeni and mendici, for this is the meaning of πτωχός, while πένης corresponds to the Latin pauper.” On the humility cherished by Gentile sages, especially on that of Socrates, comp. Heubner, p50.

Matthew 5:4. They that mourn, οἱ πενθοῦντες, Isaiah 61:2.—We must not apply the term (with Chrysostom and most of the older interpreters) to deep mourning on account of sin, nor yet to sadness and sorrow in general. This state of mind is explained by the poverty in spirit from which it springs, and tends toward hungering and thirsting after righteousness. From the first, the righteousness of the kingdom of heaven was the great object aimed after,—even in poverty of spirit, much more in mourning. But as yet this object has not been clearly realized by the consciousness. Hence it implies spiritual mourning, divine sorrow, in opposition to the sorrow of the world ( 2 Corinthians 7:10). This mourning in God (by His Spirit), after God (His blessings), and for God (His glory), includes not only mourning on account of sin, but also on account of its consequences; more particularly, is it the expression of a state of mind when the world, with its possessions and pleasures, is no longer capable of satisfying, gladdening, or comforting. Those who thus mourn are to be comforted—of course, in the same sense in which they mourn; but their consolation is to be absolute (see Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17; John 14:3). This comfort necessarily implies the forgiveness of sins; it also includes the promise that their godly sorrow shall, in every respect, be removed by the kingdom of heaven, which is promised to the poor in spirit.

Matthew 5:5. The meek.— Psalm 37:11, according to the Septuagint: οἱ δὲ πραεῖς κληρονομήσουσι γῆν. They who suffer in love, or love in patience; they who, in the strength of love, boldly yet meekly, meekly yet boldly, bear injustice, and thereby conquer. In this beatitude, the promise of the Holy Land (the enemies being driven out) is a symbol of the kingdom of heaven; still, outward possession, and that in all its fulness, is also referred to in the expression: the land, the earth.

Matthew 5:6. Hunger and thirst after righteousness.—A figurative mode of indicating a desire so intense as to be painful. Wetstein. (The substantive is here in the accusative, τὴν δικαιοσύνην, though commonly in the genitive.) Δικαιοσύνη, with the article, the only genuine righteousness, the righteousness of the kingdom of heaven; but, above all, righteousness not as a work of our own, but as a gift,—a fact not of the outer, but of the inner life. Hence the expression refers neither to the Christian religion (Kuinoel) nor to uprightness, the restoration of which was, according to Meyer, the grand object of Christ. Righteousness is correspondence to the law; the righteousness of the kingdom of heaven, that to the law of the Spirit.

They shall be filled, i. e., with righteousness.—This promise applies neither exclusively to justification by faith, nor to final acquittal in judgment; but includes both justification, sanctification, and final acquittal,—all of which, indeed, are inseparably connected with justification.

Matthew 5:7. The merciful, according to the standard of the righteousness of the kingdom of heaven. De Wette applies this in the first place to the members of the theocracy, who, victorious over the Gentiles, should not execute vengeance upon them. The idea is correct, if taken in a higher and a spiritual sense. They are the meek, who, having formerly been on the defensive, have now taken the offensive. The meek bear the injustice of the world; the merciful bravely address themselves to the wants of the world. They shall obtain mercy, as being the objects of mercy. As mourning, they are delivered from the sorrows of life; as longing after righteousness, from the guilt of life; and now as the merciful, from all the misery of life. But this is only the negative element; the positive appears in the gradation: they shall be comforted, they shall be satisfied, they shall obtain mercy, be inwardly renewed and restored. And all this, in accordance with the grand fundamental principle of the kingdom of God. See Matthew 7:2.

Matthew 5:8. The pure in heart, οἱκα θαραὶ τῇ κασ δίᾳ. —This must refer to righteousness as the ruling principle of the heart and inner life. Purity of heart consists in that steady direction of the soul toward the divine life which excludes every other object from the homage of the heart. Hence “inward moral integrity” is not sufficient; irrespective of the fact, that such integrity bears reference to an external moral standard. Our Lord, however, does not require absolute purity; else He would have said: They behold God. The term refers to a life pure in the inmost tendency and direction of the heart, because it is entirely set upon what is eternally and absolutely pure. Hence it applies to walking in the Spirit, or to a life of sanctification, or to being born of God ( 1 John 3:9). When thus the inmost heart is pure. its outgoings in life will also be pure. The inner life will ever manifest itself more and more clearly as “seeing God.”

They shall see God.—The expression does not refer merely to an internal knowledge of God (according to Gregory of Nyssa, Theophylact, Tholuck, etc.), nor (according to de Wette) to direct spiritual communion with God here and hereafter,—far less to Messianic beatitude generally (Kuinoel and others), under the Oriental figure of a man beholding his king, or appearing before him. These ideas are, however, included in the final and perfect seeing of God. But, on the other hand, we cannot agree with Meyer, that it refers to the beatific vision of saints, when in the resurrection body they shall behold the glory of God in the kingdom of His Son ( Revelation 22:4). For it is evident that in all these seven promises no interval of space or time intervenes between the longing and the satisfaction. This vision of God commences when the eye of the soul opens, or when spiritual vision begins in the regenerate heart ( Ephesians 1:18): it is perfected when in eternity we shall see Him face to face ( 1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 John 3:2).

Matthew 5:9. The peacemakers, οἱ εἰρηνο ποιοί.—The peacemakers of the true theocracy, not merely the peaceful, εἰρηνικοί, James 3:17. It denotes the exertions made by the pure heart on behalf of the kingdom of heaven, alluding more particularly to the messengers of peace under the New Testament,—not with reference to their official capacity, but to the power and truth of the word which they bear ( Colossians 1:20; Proverbs 12:20). The promise which immediately follows, corresponds with their exalted position as here indicated.

They shall be called the sons of God (in the full theocratic sense, as children of age, υἱοί, and not merely τέκνα).—The term is not simply equivalent to such expressions as υἱοθεσία and κληρονομία, in Romans 8:17, and Galatians 4:5-7 (Meyer), nor to being beloved of God (Kuinoel), nor to being like unto God (Paulus); but indicates that, by their fellowship with the Song of Solomon, and their dependence upon Him, they enjoy the exalted rank of full-grown children of God. They are the children of God as the messengers of Christ, the instruments of His kingdom, and the organs of the Holy Ghost. The term sons may have been used, because the only begotten Son had not yet fully revealed Himself in that character; after which they appear as His friends, His representatives, His messengers, and His organs. Their dignity and glory in the kingdom of heaven—viewed spiritually—constitutes the promise given to them. Hence “κληθήσονται, not erunt (Kuinoel), but what they really are, is here expressly recognized by the name given to them.”—Meyer.

Matthew 5:10. They which are persecuted, δεδιωγμένοι.—Here the conflict between the new spiritua theocracy and its old degenerate form is introduced forming a transition from the ideal representation of the disciples to the circumstances in which they were actually placed, and which are specially referred to in the following verse.—By righteousness is not merely meant here the grace alluded to in  Matthew 5:6; it rather comprises the substance of all the seven beatitudes,—i. e., righteousness not merely in its grand manifestation, but also in its first origin and final completion, more especially in the form in which it appears in the peacemakers, exciting the resistance of the world (see Matthew 10; 1 Peter 3:14.)

Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.—The same expression as in  Matthew 5:3. Nor, indeed, could the kingdom of heaven be here different from what it was at the outset; only the manner of its possession and enjoyment is now other than it had been. To the poor in spirit the kingdom of heaven consists, in the first place, in their being comforted; while those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake will, according to  Matthew 5:12, partake of that great reward in heaven itself which is promised to all who suffer for the sake of Christ. In  Matthew 5:3, we have the kingdom of heaven with all that it implies,—here, with all that it imparts; there, as objectively set before us,—here, as our own personal and actual possession.

Matthew 5:11. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, etc., for my sake.—This is the special application of what the Lord had above declared, or the interpretation of the language used in  Matthew 5:10. The disciples are those who are blessed; righteousness is personified in the Lord. Yet there is this difference: the Lord is so unconditionally; the disciples conditionally, viz, in as far as they prove themselves disciples. We are not inclined, with Beza, to limit the expressions, “revile and persecute,” to outward sufferings by the civil magistrate. The expression ἕνεκενἐμυῦ refers to all the three verbs, and the word ψευδόμενοι is accordingly superfluous.

By pointing to the great reward in heaven, the Lord sets the fact more clearly than ever before His hearers, that the kingdom of Messiah is not of this world, and that perfectness will only be attained there, while here we are to prepare for it by suffering and witness-bearing on behalf of Christ.

Matthew 5:12. For so persecuted they the prophets.—The example of the prophets was intended to show the disciples that this struggle between them and carnal Judaism was not of recent date, but had been carried on even at the time of the prophets ( Acts 7:51-52). But it would also convince them that they stood on the same level with the seers of old, and that they were to continue and complete Divine revelation under the New Testament.

Matthew 5:16. The high calling of the disciples had been announced in the beatitudes. The Lord now proceeds to show more fully both its necessity and its glory. Viewing their calling, 1. in its spiritual and inward aspect, the disciples are the salt of the earth; 2. viewed externally, and in their corporate capacity, they are the light of the world, viz, (a) a city set on a hill, as being the Church of God, and (b) candle on a candlestick, in their capacity as Apostles. These two ideas, however, must not be viewed as exclusive of each other.

Matthew 5:13. The salt of the earth.—A figure of the element of nourishment and preservation in the kingdom of heaven, preventing corruption, preserving nutriment, giving savor to it, and rendering it healthy. A similar use of the term “salt” occurs in many of the proverbs and symbols of the ancients.—The idea, that the term salt is here used to indicate an indispensable commodity (Fritzsche), is far too vague; nor does it exclusively refer to the use of salt in sacrifices,—the expression implying that they were the salt of the whole earth.—The term “earth” is figurative, denoting, not mankind generally, but society as then existing, both in the theocracy and the Gentile world,—being the definite form which the world had assumed ( Psalm 93; John 2:12; Revelation 13:11). The disciples were destined, as the salt of the ancient theocratic world, to arrest the corruption which had commenced, and to impart a fresh and lasting savor.

But if the salt have lost its savor, μωρανθῆ.—In Mark 9:50, ἄναλον γέιηται. Comp. with this the following extract from Maundrell’s Journey to Palestine: “In the salt-valley, about four hours from Aleppo, there is a declivity of about twelve feet, caused by the continual removal of salt. I broke off a piece where the ground was exposed to the rain, the sun, and the air; and found that, while it glittered and contained particles of salt, it had wholly lost its peculiar savor. But the portions within, which were in juxtaposition to the rock, still retained the savor of salt.” Comp. also Winer sub Salz [and other Biblical Encyclops]. Salt which is quite pure cannot lose its savor, but only if it have any, foreign admixture. The same remark applies to our spiritual life. Viewed in itself, it remains pure salt; but in its human form, and with the admixture of human elements, it may lose its savor. At the same time the Lord here speaks hypothetically: if the salt have lost its savor. The point of comparison in the figure lies in the idea: salt which has lost its savor cannot be salted again, nor a corrupted evangelist be evangelized anew. Jansen: non datur sal sails. (Comp, however, 2 Peter 2:21; Hebrews 6:4.) For the salt is the thing to be salted [as the Com. E. Vers, correctly translates: “wherewith shall it be salted?”], comp. the following εἰς οὐδὲν, etc, and not the food, as Luther’s version would make it: “Womit soll man salzen?” (“Wherewith shall men salt?”) An apostate from the faith has, so far as he is concerned, made void the saving power of salvation; nor is there another and higher substitute for the spiritual office of the ministry, if once it have become degenerate.

There remains, then, only the judgment. Salt which has lost its savor is only fit to be cast out, and trodden under foot of men. Those who are henceforth to carry on and continue the history of the world, will tread it under foot as they pass on their way. According to Theophylact, it refers to exclusion from the office of teacher; according to Chrysostom, to greatest contempt; according to Luther, to rejection by Christ.

Matthew 5:14. Ye are the light of the world.—Comp. John 9:5. In all these descriptions of the disciples, the Lord presupposes that His Spirit and His righteousness have become the principle of their life. They are the light of the world, as deriving their light from Him who is the true light of the world ( Ephesians 3:9; Philippians 2:15), just as they are the sons of God in Him who is the eternal Son of God.—Thus He awakens in them the knowledge of His own dignity by a sense of their destiny.

A city set on a hill.—It is generally supposed that Jesus had at the time the town of Sated in view, which lies on the top of a hill. But Robinson has shown [iii. p425] that this supposition Isaiah, to say the least, improbable, since it is doubtful whether Safed then already existed.

Matthew 5:15. Under a bushel.—The common measure used in houses, holding about a peck. “In the East, the practice is to place a candle on the floor, and to cover it with a measure used for corn, when it is desired to keep it burning and yet to prevent its effects for a time” (?).—Tholuck. Just as the candlestick is the means of diffusing the light, so the bushel that of confining it; or, realizing the full idea of an upturned bushel, confining it within very narrow limits. The same relation exists between the limited measure of officialism, of intellect, of asceticism, of traditionalism in life or teaching, and the infinite fulness of light issuing from living Christianity.

The candle on the candlestick.[FN4]—The ministry should not conceal the light of knowledge, but hold it up, so that its brightness may be diffused as widely as possible throughout the apartment.

Matthew 5:16. Your light.—This proves that the light by which they become candlesticks is not their own, but given from above. It is this light which is to shine before all men; in other words, they are openly and boldly to come forward with the message of the New Testament, in accordance with their vocation as disciples.

That they may see your good works.—From the wording of the passage, we infer, that by the good works something different is meant from the light mentioned above. We regard them as the special graces and manifestations of the disciples (such as miracles, the creation of a new life, the fruits of regeneration), which must be viewed in the light of Christianity, and may serve as a practical commentary on the word.

Glorify your Father.—A most glorious prospect is here opened up to those who are reviled and persecuted. A lively representation this, also, of the conviction wrought in men, and of the blessed certitude resulting from the conduct of the disciples. Men shall glorify the Father of the Christians; and hence, also, adopt their faith and their acknowledgment of God in Christ, and thus become blessed. But all the glory is to be the Lord’s.


1. In the Sermon on the Mount, the whole doctrine of Christ is exhibited in the first stage of its development, as afterward it is expounded in a somewhat analogous manner in the Epistle of James. We have here the new