(Tap footnote to read it. Old Testament quotations are underlined. "Love" with a caret ("^love") is agapé.1"agapé" The Greek words ἀγάπη (agapé, noun), and ἀγαπάω (agapaó; verb) are typically translated "love". However, unlike our English word "love" – which primarily speaks of affection and feelings – agapé centers on choice and behavior. It’s the "love" based on will, choice, behavior, and action; not feelings. (Feelings-based love is the Greek word φιλέω (phileó), which properly means "brotherly love/affection".) Thus, you could hate someone passionately and still treat him with "agapé". Agapé "love" is best understood as the pursuit of what is most beneficial to someone or something, regardless of the cost to yourself or the type of response received from the person or thing. It can also indicate a preference for someone or something over other things. )
The Sermon on the Mountain
- Then having seen the crowds, He went up to the mountain. And having sat down, His disciples approached Him.
- And having opened His mouth, He was teaching them, saying;
- “Blessed are the poor in spirit, because theirs is the kingdom of the heavens.
- “Blessed are the men who mourn, because 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. because they will inherit the land.
- “Blessed are the men who hunger and thirst for righteousness, because they will be satisfied.
- “Blessed are the merciful, because they will receive mercy.
- “Blessed are the pure of heart, because they will see God.
- “Blessed are the peacemakers, because they will be called sons of God.
- “Blessed are the men who have been persecuted on account of righteousness, because theirs is the kingdom of the heavens.
- “Blessed are you when they disgrace and accuse2“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 every evil thing against you; lying about you on account of Me.
- “Rejoice and jump for joy; because 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. by what will it be salted? For it’s no longer potent enough for anything, except being thrown outside to be trampled under foot by men.
- “You are the light of the world. A city laying on a hill isn’t able to be hidden.
- “And they don’t light a lamp and put it under a measuring basket, but on the lampstand and shines light to everyone in the house.
- “In the same way, let your light shine before men so they might see your good works, and might glorify your Father in the heavens.
Jesus and the Law
- “Don’t think that I came to relax4“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 amen I tell you; until heaven and earth pass away, one iota6“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 mark7“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. definitely won’t pass away from the law until all happens.
- “Therefore, if someone relaxes8“relaxes” literally “loosens”; see note on verse 17. the least one of these commandments – and teaches others 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; unless your righteousness abounds greater than the scribes9“scribes” In the New Testament, this Greek word is typically applied to those learned in the Mosaic Law. and Pharisees, then you definitely won’t enter into the kingdom of the heavens.
- “You heard that the ancients were told: “you shall not murder“,10quotation/allusion to Exodus 20:13 and whoever commits murder will be liable to judgement.
- “But I tell you; every man who is angry with his brother[without cause]11“without cause” This phrase is present in the majority of manuscripts, including some early and important ones, but isn’t present in several earlier manuscripts. Some of the earliest church fathers such as Irenaeus of Lyon (died 202 AD), Cyprian (died 258 AD), and Origen (died 253 AD) quoted it, and it’s present in the Diatessaron of Tatian (late 100s), Apostolic Constitutions (late 300s), and some early Syrian and Coptic translations as well. However, several church fathers from slightly later explicitly argued against including it, saying it was a spurious addition to soften Jesus’s words. Modern scholarly consensus is that it isn’t original, but most scholars will admit that it “is widespread from the second century onwards” (Metzger). will be liable to judgement. And whoever might say to his brother “You airhead”12“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.13The 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.14Most 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 after Jesus’ death 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 depart; first be reconciled to your brother and then go offer your gift.
- “Be reconciling quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge; and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison.
- “Amen I tell you; you definitely won’t depart from that place until you pay the last penny.15“penny” the Greek word here refers to the smallest Roman coin, made from copper.
- “You heard that it was said: “You shall not have sex with another man’s wife.”16quotation/allusion to Exodus 20:14. “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.
- “But I tell you; every man who looks at a wife17“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 contextually more likely. in order to covet18“covet” the Greek word used here was also used twice in quoting the 10th commandment. (Romans 7:7 and Romans 13:9) It properly refers to any strong desire whether good or bad, and is typically translated “craving” in the BOS Bible. her, already had sex with the other man’s wife19“had sex with the other man’s wife” see note on previous verse. in his heart.
- “And, 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, and not have your whole body go into the Valley of Hinnom.21“Valley of Hinnom” is literal; see note on Matthew 5:22.
- “And it was said: “whoever sends away22“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 must give her a divorce certificate.23quotation/allusion to Deuteronomy 24:1
- “And I tell you: every man who only sends away24“send away” is literal; see note on previous verse his wife – except for the reason of fornication – makes her commit adultery.25The 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. And whoever might marry a woman who has been merely26“merely” see previous note sent away is guilty of sex with another man’s wife.27“he is guilty of sex with another man’s wife” see note on Matthew 5:27
- “Again, you heard that the ancients were told: “You shall not make false oaths.”28quotation/allusion to Leviticus 19:12 And: “You shall fulfill your oaths to the Lord.29quotation/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’s 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 aren’t able to make one hair white or black.
- “So, let your word be meaningful; yes, if yes – no, if no. More than these is from evil.
- “You heard that it was said: “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”30quotation/allusion to Leviticus 24:20
- “But I tell you not to forcefully resist31“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.32“the one who strikes your right cheek”. Jesus was almost certainly 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 the man who asks you, and don’t turn away from the man who wants to borrow from you.
- “You heard that it was said: You shall ^love your neighbor33quotation/allusion to Lev 19:18 and you shall hate your enemy.
- “But I tell you; ^love your enemies and pray for the men who persecute you. [Bless the men who curse you. Do good to the men who insult and slander34“insult and slander” is one word in Greek. It can mean either, and both meanings were likely intended. you, and to the men who hate you]
- “so that you might become sons of your Father 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 ^love the men who ^love you, what wages do you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same?
- “And if you only greet your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Don’t even the pagans do the same?
- “Therefore, you shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.
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