The Sermon on the Mountain
- Then seeing the crowds, He went up to the mountain. And as He sat down, His disciples came to Him.
- And opening His mouth, He was teaching them, saying;
- “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens.
- Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
- Blessed are the strong but gentle,(1)“strong but gentle” this Greek word is often translated “meek” or “gentle”. However, it doesn’t mean the absence of power as “meek” would suggest. Instead, it specifically refers to strength or power that is gently exercised without undue harshness. i.e. some who is strong but applies their strength gently. for they will inherit the land.
- Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
- Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
- Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God.
- Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
- Blessed are those who were – and are – being persecuted for the sake of righteousness; for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens.
- Blessed are you when they disgrace and accuse(2)“disgrace and accuse” is one word in the Greek. It can mean either, but both definitions were included because they both fit the context, and it seems likely that both were intended. you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil, lying things about you because of Me.
- Rejoice and jump for joy; for your wages are many in the heavens. In the same way, they persecuted the prophets before you.
- You are the salt of the land. But if the salt has become tasteless,(3)“become tasteless” is literally “become foolish”, as in “a fool is tasteless”. The double meaning here of foolish and tasteless is probably intended, and demonstrates some clever wordplay on Jesus’ part. from where will it be salted? For it’s not strong anymore. And if it’s not, it’s thrown outside to be trampled under foot by men.
- You are the light of the world. A city laying on a hill can’t be hidden.
- Further, they don’t light a lamp and put it under a measuring basket. On the contrary, it’s put on the lampstand and shines light to all those in the house.
- In the same way, shine your light before men so they might see your good works, and might glorify your Father in the heavens.
- Don’t assume I came to relax(4)“relax” the Greek word here literally means “loosen thoroughly”, often with the connotation of overthrowing or destroying because “loosen” can also mean dissolve. It comes from “thoroughly loosening” the straps of a pack animal at the end of a night or journey. Thus, it also has the connotation of ending something. The translation “relax” was chosen here because it best fits the context. Jesus spend the rest of the chapter “tightening” the moral standard of God’s (moral) law. the law or the prophets. I didn’t come to relax; but to fulfill.(5)“fulfill could also be translated “complete”. The following verses do not touch on the Mosaic Law, but rather moral behavior. Jesus “completed” God’s moral law in this passage because He extended guilt to our hearts, not just our actions. Jesus didn’t relax God’s moral standard as revealed by the law and the prophets here; He completed it.
- For truly(6)“truly” is literally “amen”, a word imported from Hebrew. It indicates a firm declaration, confirming what has been said or what is about to be said. I tell you; until heaven and earth pass away, not one iota(7)“iota” is the smallest letter of the Greek alphabet, and the term can be applied to the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet (yod) as well. or one diacritic mark(8)“diacritic marks” are little lines or dots that change the meaning or sound of a word. For example, in the word “fiancé”, the little line above the “e” indicates a change of pronunciation. English rarely uses them, but Greek does. Hebrew sometimes does, but they weren’t introduced into Hebrew until the mid first millennium. However, this more likely refers to the slight extensions on certain Hebrew letters that distinguish them from other letters. will pass away from the law until all happens.
- Therefore, if someone relaxes(9)“relaxes” literally “loosens”; see note on verse 17. the least one of these commandments – and teaches other men the same – he will be called least in the kingdom of the heavens. But, whoever keeps and teaches it; he will be called great in the kingdom of the heavens.
- For I tell you; if your righteousness doesn’t abound greater than the Scribes(10)“Scribes” In the New Testament, this Greek word is typically applied to those learned in the Mosaic Law. and Pharisees, then you won’t enter into the kingdom of the heavens.
Relating to others
- You heard that the ancients were told: “you shall not murder”. And whoever commits murder will be liable to judgement.
- But I say to you; everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement. And whoever might say to his brother “You airhead”(11)“airhead” the word used here is transliterated, apparently from Aramaic. It literally means “empty-headed”, or a fellow who is stupid or without sense. will be liable to the Sanhedrin.(12)The Sanhedrin was the highest Jewish court of the day. And whoever might say “You Fool” will be liable to the fire of the Valley of Hinnom.(13)Most translations render this “hell” but any lexicon will tell you it’s a proper noun referring to a specific valley – the Valley of Hinnom – just outside Jerusalem. Symbolically, it’s where the Jews believed the wicked were punished in the afterlife. But this might refer to Israel’s history instead. Two kings of Israel sacrificed babies as burnt offerings to the pagan gods Baal and Moloch in the Valley of Hinnom. (2 Chronicles 28:1-3, 2 Chronicles 33:6, Jeremiah 7:30-31) As a result, God sentenced them to judgement through the prophet Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 19:1-11) Their sentence was carried out about 20 years later when Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem. He burned almost everything and enslaved all Judah. (2 kings 25:1-12) It was the worst sentence/judgement Israel had yet seen. This happened again a few decades later when Rome destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD.
- Therefore, if you offer your gift on the altar – and there remember that your brother has something against you –
- leave your gift there before the altar and go away. First, be reconciled to your brother and then go offer your gift.
- Quickly reconcile with your opponent at law, who you are with on the way, until arriving. Then your accuser might not hand you over to the judge; and the judge to the officer, to be thrown into prison.
- Truly I tell you; you won’t leave that place until you pay the last penny.(14)“penny” the Greek word here refers to the smallest Roman coin, made from copper. (Much like the pennies in the United States used to be.)
- You heard it was said: “You shall not have sex with another man’s wife(15)“have sex with another man’s wife” is one word in the Greek, typically translated “commit adultery”. However, the Greek word (and Hebrew too) is more limited in scope than our English word adultery. In English, “adultery” means illicit sex between a married person – man or woman – and someone who isn’t their spouse. In Greek (and Hebrew also), it meant “a man having sex with another man’s wife”. A married man having sex with an unmarried woman was typically called fornication or sexual immorality. (See the Greek/Hebrew word definitions; or Easton’s Bible dictionary entry on adultery.) .”(16)quotation/allusion to Exodus 20:14
- But I tell you; everyone who looks at a wife(17)“wife” in Greek, there is no separate word for “woman” versus “wife”. They are the exact same word, and only context determines which is meant. Given the context of the preceding verse (see note on previous verse) “wife” is more appropriate. in order to covet(18)“covet” the Greek word used here was also used twice in quoting the 10th commandment. (Romans 7:7 and Romans 13:9) given the context and definition, “covet” seems more appropriate than the traditional “lust” here. her, already had sex with the other man’s wife(19)“had sex with the other man’s wife” see note on previous verse. in his heart.
- Now, if your right eye makes you stumble; remove it and throw it away from you. For it’s better that one of your organs might perish, instead of your whole body being thrown into the Valley of Hinnom.(20)“Valley of Hinnom” is literal; see note on Matthew 5:22.
- And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it away from you. For it’s better that one of your organs might perish, instead of(21)literally “and not have” your whole body going into the Valley of Hinnom.(22)“Valley of Hinnom” is literal; see note on Matthew 5:22.
- Further; it was said: “whoever might send away(23)“send away” is literal here, though it’s typically translated divorce in this passage. The same word is used of Jesus “sending away” crowds and Pilate “sending away” (releasing) Barabbas. Paul uses a different Greek word when talking about divorce in 1 Corinthians. For the relation between “send away” and divorce, see note(s) in next verse. his wife; give her a divorce certificate.(24)quotation/allusion to Deuteronomy 24:1
- But I tell you; everyone who sends away(25)“send away” is literal; see note on previous verse his wife – except for the reason of sexual immorality – makes her commit adultery. And whoever might marry a woman who was – and is – merely(26)“merely” see previous note sent away; he is guilty of sex with another man’s wife.(27)“guilty of sex with another man’s wife” see note on Matthew 5:27 (28)The Hebrew divorce procedure is found in Deut 24:1 and had three parts: 1) write a divorce certificate. 2) Give it to your wife. 3) Send her away from your house. However, if a man “sent her away” (kicked her out of his house) without a divorce certificate in that culture, she was destitute. She was still legally married because she didn’t have a divorce certificate, so she couldn’t marry anyone else without being an adulteress. Often, her only resort to feed herself was prostitution… which resulted in her committing adultery anyway. He “makes her commit adultery” (sex with another man while still married) to feed herself. However, if she was already “sexually immoral”, then he doesn’t add to (“make her commit”) what she’s already doing.
- Again, you heard that the ancients were told: “You shall not make false oaths.”(29)quotation/allusion to Leviticus 19:12 And: “You shall fulfill your oaths to the Lord.(30)quotation/allusion to Numbers 30:2, and Deuteronomy 23:21-23
- But I tell you not to make oaths at all. Not by heaven, because it is the throne of God;
- nor by the land, because it is a footstool for His feet; nor by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the Great King.
- Nor shall you make an oath on your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black.
- So, let your word be meaningful.(31)“word” the Greek word here is “λόγος” (logos). It refers to not only a word, but also to the well-reasoned thought and intention behind those words; (what gives those words strength and meaning). Logos is the root of our word “logic”. Yes, if yes – no, if no. More than this comes from evil.
- You heard it was said: “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”(32)quotation/allusion to Leviticus 24:20
- But I tell you: do not forcefully resist(33)“forcefully resist” the Greek word used here is also a military term referring to troops “holding the line” against the opposing army, typically by fighting back. i.e. taking a firm stand and refusing to be moved. the wicked. On the contrary; whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn and offer him the other.(34)“the one who strikes your right cheek”. Jesus was almost certinly side-specific on purpose. In that culture, the right hand was used for clean tasks at the left was used for “dirty” tasks. (Such as wiping yourself; remember, there was no toilet paper.) Therefore, you would never hit someone with your left hand. If someone strikes your right cheek with their right (clean) hand, they must be giving you a backhanded slap. Backhanded slaps are only given to inferiors; never equals. If you offer your other cheek (your left) they are faced with a dilemma. If they strike you again with their right hand, they’ve slapped you as one slaps an equal, essentially making you their equal. But to backhand you as an inferior, they must use their left (unclean) hand– which would dishonor them as much as you. This was a non-violent way of resisting and simultaneously asserting your humanity.
- And to the man who intends to sue you and take your tunic; give him your cloak also.
- And whoever will force you to go one mile, go with him two.
- Give to him who asks you, and don’t turn away the man who wants to borrow from you.
- You heard it was said: show preference(35)“show preference” the Greek word used here is “ἀγαπάω” (agapao), which is the verb form of “ἀγάπη” (agape), typically translated “love”. However, unlike our English word “love” – which primarily speaks of affection and feelings – agape centers on preference. In the verb form, it literally means “to prefer” or “show preference for”. In the New Testament, that usually means “moral preference”, or “actively preferring what God prefers” in what we do, not just in what we feel. It’s the “love” based on will, choice, decision, and action; not feelings. to your neighbor(36)quotation/allusion to Lev 19:18 and – by comparison – hate your enemy.
- But I tell you; show preference(37)“show preference” often translated love; see note on previous verse to your enemies, and pray for good over the men who persecute you. [Bless those who curse you. Do good to the men who insult and slander(38)“insult and slander” is one word in Greek. It can mean either, and both meanings were likely intended. you, and to those who hate you](39)There is much debate as to the [bracketed] text’s authenticity in Matthew, with good arguments on both sides. However, it changes nothing doctrinally and agrees with the parallel passage in Luke.
- so that you might become sons of your Father who is in the heavens. For He makes the sun rise on evil and good; and He sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
- For if you show preference to the men who show preference to you, what reward(40)literally “wages”, as a reward for work. do you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do that?
- And if you only greet your brothers, what abundance do you have? Don’t even the gentiles do that?
- Therefore, you will be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.
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