Matthew 5He went up into a mountain; not for the purpose of ascending to a conspicuous position, but of retiring to a secluded one. The mountain, in this and similar expressions, must not be pictured to the mind as a single elevation of land, but rather as a tract of varied scenery, in which elevations, valleys, forests, cliffs, precipices, and lofty summits, combine to form extended regions of solitude and seclusion. When, therefore, Jesus is spoken of as going up into a mountain, we must not conceive of him as ascending a simple eminence, for the sake of a commanding position for addressing his followers, but as retiring with them to a region of solitude, for the sake of seclusion and safety—Was set. It was the custom of the Jews to sit when teaching.
Blessed; happy, highly favored—Poor in spirit; those who are humble; lowly in mind; conscious of ignorance and unworthiness.
Inherit the earth. The secure and tranquil possession of Palestine was used by the Hebrew prophets as an image expressive of the greatest felicity. Hence the words inherit the earth became a proverb, to denote the enjoyment of very great blessings.
Pure in heart; those who are not merely externally moral, but whose motives and thoughts are pure.—Shall see God; shall dwell with him in heaven.
Falsely. The reproach which professing Christians sometimes incur is deserved. The blessing is pronounced only upon those who are falsely calumniated.
Lost his savor; if the Christian character loses the life and spirit of piety.
Light a candle, &c. The idea is, that as men do not light a candle to conceal its light, but that it may shine around, so Jesus kindles the light of truth in the hearts of the disciples, not that it may be concealed there, but that it may be used to enlighten and benefit mankind.
The law and the prophets; the religious system revealed in the books of the Old Testament.—But to fulfil. The Savior fulfilled the law of Moses, in respect to its moral requirements, by bringing out clearly to view, and strongly enforcing, their spiritual meaning and intents; and, in respect to its ceremonial provisions, by accomplishing, in his own person, the great reality which these rites and ceremonies were intended to prefigure. Thus, by his instructions and example on the one hand, and by his sufferings and death on the other, all was fulfilled.
Jot; the name of the smallest Hebrew letter.—Tittle; point or corner of a letter. The idea is, not the smallest part.
Brother; any fellow-being.—The judgment; and inferior court of the Jews.—Raca; a term of opprobrious reproach, meaning worthless, senseless.—The council; the superior court of the Jews, called the Sanhedrim, which had jurisdiction over graver offences. This body is often alluded to in the New Testament. (Acts 5:27-41, 6:12, 22:30,)—Thou fool. The connection which this verse sustains to v. 21, shows that, in respect to all these expressions, the Savior speaks of them only as used under the influence of angry, malicious, or revengeful feeling. He himself sometimes employed this last term in just rebuke of folly and sin. (Matt. 23:19.) The meaning of the whole passage is, that the displeasure of God, and the terrible penalties of his law, are incurred by feelings of malice and anger, however slight may be the outward expression of them.
The meaning is, that we cannot offer acceptable worship to God, while cherishing unkind or hostile feelings towards a fellow-man, or neglecting to make reparation for any injury which we may have done him.
That is, it is better to yield something of our rights than to incur the evils and dangers of contending for them.
Offend thee; entice thee to sin.
Causeth her; tempts her, by placing her in a situation of exposure.
Unto the Lord thine oaths; thine oaths taken in the name of the Lord.
Swear not at all; that is, on ordinary occasions, in the common intercourse of society. All the precepts of this discourse relate to the conduct of individuals in the private relations of life; and as verses 39-42 do not forbid the resistance and punishment of wicked men, by civil governments, neither does this prohibit calling upon God to witness the truth of declarations made in the administration of public justice, or on other solemn occasions. For the example of the apostles, see Rom. 1:9.
The great King; Jehovah.
Thou canst not, &c. The human frame is the work of God.
An eye for an eye, &c. This verse was the rule of law for the guidance of the magistrate in the punishment of offenders. The Savior does not condemn it in this point of view, (v. 18,) but only prescribe another rule for individual action, in the private relations of life.
Resist not evil; bear injuries meekly, without retaliation. Like the foregoing precepts, this rule is intended to be applied to the private intercourse of society. The whole tenor of the Scriptures shows that it is the right and the duty of civil governments to exercise coercion, when necessary to restrain or punish the wicked. Paul appealed to the Roman government when in danger, and accepted the protection of an armed escort. (Acts 23:16-33.)
Go with him twain. The officers of government, in transmitting despatches, could press any man into their service, to help them on their way. This often gave rise to great oppression. Our Savior teaches his disciples not to be eager to resist the authority of the government, even when it is unjustly exercised.
Be ye perfect; perfect in respect to the extent of your benevolence and kindness; let it include all, the evil and unthankful as well as the grateful and the good.
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