TEACHINGS BY CHRIST ON TRUE CHRISTIANITY
From Albert Barnes' Bible Commentary
21. Ye have heard. Or, this is the common interpretation among the Jews. Jesus proceeds here to comment on some prevailing opinions among the Jews; to show that the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was defective; and that men needed a better righteousness, or they could not be saved. He illustrates what he meant by that better righteousness by showing that the common opinions of the scribes were erroneous. By them of old time. This might be translated to the ancients, referring to Moses and the prophets. But it is more probable that Jesus here refers to the interpreters of the law and the prophets. He did not set himself against the law of Moses, but against the false and pernicious interpretations of the law prevalent in his time. Thou shalt not kill. See Ex. xx. 13. This properly denotes taking the life of another with malice, or with an intention to murder him. The Jews understood it as meaning no more. The comment of our Saviour shows that it was spiritual, and was designed to extend to the thoughts and feelings as well as the external act. Shall be in danger of. Shall be held guilty, and be punished by. The law of Moses declared that the murderer should be put to death, Le. xxiv. 21; Nu. xxxv. 16. It did not say, however, by whom this should be done, and it was left to the Jews to organize courts to have cognizance of such crimes, De. xvi. 18. The judgment. This was the tribunal that had cognizance of cases of murder, etc. It was a court that sat in each city or town, and consisted commonly of seven members. It was the lowest court among the Jews, and from it an appeal might be taken to the Sanhedrim.
IT SHOULD BE REMEMBERED THAT MERCY COULD BE SHOWN…BUT UPON DEEP AND REAL REPENTANCE - THE EXAMPLE IS KING DAVID. READING THE WHOLE OF THE AFFAIR WITH BATHSHEBA SHOWS WHY MY COMMENT - Keith Hunt
22. But I say unto you. Jesus being God as well as man (Jn. i. 1, 14), and therefore, being the original giver of the law, had a right to expound it or change it as he pleased, Comp. Mat. xii. 6, 8. He therefore spoke here and elsewhere as having authority, and not as the scribes. It may be added here that no mere man ever spake as Jesus did, when explaining or enforcing the law. He did it as having a right to do it; and he that has a right to ordain and change laws in the government of God must be himself divine.
A GOOD COMMENT BY BARNES, SHOWING JESUS WAS "GOD" - NOT GOD THE FATHER, BUT PART OF THE GODHEAD - HE WAS GOD BUT WITH GOD [John 1], AND BECAME FLESH AND BLOOD - Keith Hunt
Is angry with his brother without a cause. Anger, or that feeling which we have when we are injured, and which prompts us to defend ourselves when in danger, is a natural feeling, given to us—1st. As a proper expression of our disapprobation of a course of evil conduct; and 2d. That we may defend ourselves when suddenly attacked. When excited against sin, it is lawful. God is angry with the wicked, Ps. vii. 11. Jesus looked on the hypocritical Pharisees with anger, Mar. iii. 5. So it is said, "Be ye angry, and sin not," Ep. iv. 26. This anger, or indignation against sin, is not what our Saviour speaks of here. What he condemns here is anger without a cause; that is, unjustly, rashly, hastily, where no offence has been given or intended. In that case it is evil; and it is a violation of the sixth commandment, because he that hateth his brother is a murderer, 1 Jn. hi. 15. He has a feeling which would lead him to commit murder, if it were fully acted out. The word brother here refers not merely to one to whom we are nearly related, having the same parent or parents, as the word is commonly used, but includes also a neighbour, or perhaps anyone with whom we may be associated. As all men are descended from one Father and are all the creatures of the same God, so they are all brethren; and so every man should be regarded and treated as a brother, Hew. xi. 16. Raca. This is a Syriac word, expressive of great contempt. It comes from a verb signifying to be empty, vain; and hence, as a word of contempt, denotes senseless, stupid, shallow-brains. Jesus teaches here that to use such words is a violation of the spirit of the sixth commandment, and if indulged, may lead to a more open and dreadful infraction of that law. Children should learn that to use such words is highly offensive to God, for we must give an account for every idle word which we speak in the day of judgment, Mat. xii.
36. In danger of the council. The word translated council is in the original Sanhedrim, and there can be no doubt that the Saviour refers to the Jewish tribunal of that name. This was instituted in the time of the Maccabees, probably about 200 years before Christ. It was composed of seventy-two judges: the high-priest was the president of this tribunal. The seventy-two members were made up of the chief priests and elders of the people and the scribes. The chief priests were such as had discharged the office of the high-priest, and those who were the heads of the twenty-four classes of priests, who were called in an honorary way high or chief priests. See Mat. ii. 4. The elders were the princes of the tribes or heads of the family associations. It is not to be supposed that all the elders had a right to a seat here, but such only as were elected to the office. The scribes were learned men of the nation elected to this tribunal, being neither of the rank of priests or elders. This tribunal had cognizance of the great affairs of the nation. Till the time when Jews was subjected to the Romans, it had the power of life and death. It still retained the power of passing sentence, though the Roman magistrate held the right of execution. It usually sat in Jerusalem, in a room near the temple. It was before this tribunal that our Saviour was tried. It was then assembled in the palace of the high-priest, Mat. xxvi. 3-57; Jn. xviii. 24. Thou fool. This term expressed more than want of wisdom. It was expressive of the highest guilt. It had been commonly used to denote those who were idolaters (De. xxii. 21), and also one who is guilty of great crimes, Jos. vii. 15; Ps. xiv. 1.
Hell fire. The original of this is "the gehennah of fire." The word gehenna, commonly translated hell, is made up of two Hebrew words, and signifies the valley of Hinnom. This was formerly a pleasant valley near to Jerusalem, on the south. A small brook or torrent usually ran through it and partly encompassed the city. This valley the idolatrous Israelites devoted formerly to the horrid worship of Moloch, 2 Ki. xvi. 3; 2 Ch. xxviii. 3. In that worship, the ancient Jewish writers inform us, the idol of Moloch was of brass, adorned with a royal crown, having the head of a calf, and his arms extended as if to embrace anyone. When they offered children to him they heated the statue within by a great fire, and when it was burning hot they put the miserable child into his arms, where it was soon consumed by the heat; and, in order that the cries of the child might not be heard, they made a great noise with drums and other instruments about the idol. These drums were called TOPH, and hence a common name of the place was Tophet, Je. vii. 31, 32.
After the return of the Jews from captivity, this place was held in such abhorrence that, by the example of Josiah (2 Ki. xxiii. 10), it was made the place where to throw all the dead carcasses and filth of the city, and was not unfrequently the place of public executions. It became, therefore, extremely offensive; the sight was terrific; the air was polluted and pestilential; and to preserve it in any manner pure, it was necessary to keep fires continually burning there. The extreme loathsomeness of the place; the filth and putrefaction; the corruption of the atmosphere, and the lurid fires blazing by day and night, made it one of the most appalling and terrific objects with which a Jew was acquainted. It was called the gehenna of fire, and was the image which our Saviour often employed to denote the future punishment of the wicked.
In this verse it denotes a degree of suffering higher than the punishment inflicted by the court of seventy, or the Sanhedrim, and the whole verse may therefore mean, "He that hates his brother without a cause is guilty of a violation of the sixth commandment, and shall be punished with a severity similar to that inflicted by the court of judgment. He that shall suffer his passions to transport him still farther, so that he shall make his brother an object of derision and contempt, shall be exposed to severer punishment, corresponding to that which the Sanhedrim, or council, inflicts. But he who shall load his brother with odious appellations and abusive language shall incur the severest degree of punishment, represented by being burned alive in the horrid and awful valley of Hinnom."
The amount, then, of this difficult and important verse is this: The Jews considered but one crime a violation of the sixth commandment, viz. actual murder, or wilful, unlawful taking life. Jesus says that the commandment is much broader. It relates not only to the external act, but to the feelings and words. He specifies three forms of such violation. 1st. Unjust anger. 2d. Anger accompanied with an expression of contempt. 3d. Anger, with an expression not only of contempt, but wickedness. Among the Jews there were three degrees of condemnation: that by the "judgment," the "council," and the "fire of Hinnom." Jesus says likewise there shall be grades of condemnation for the different ways of violating the sixth commandment. Not only murder shall be punished by God, but anger and contempt shall be regarded by him as a violation of the law, and punished according to the offence. As these offences were not actually cognizable before the Jewish tribunals, he must mean that they will be punished hereafter, and all these expressions therefore relate to degrees of punishment proportionate to crime in the future world —the world of justice and of woe.
23, 24. Therefore, if thou bring thy gift to the altar, etc. The Pharisees were intent only on the external act in worship. They looked not at all to the internal state of the mind. If a man conformed to the external rites of religion, however much envy, and malice, and secret hatred he might have, they thought he was doing well. Our Saviour taught a different doctrine. It was of more consequence to have the heart right than to perform the outward act. If, therefore, says he, a man has gone so far as to bring his gift to the very altar, and should remember that anyone had anything against him, it was his duty there to leave his offering and go and be reconciled. While a difference of this nature existed, his offering could not be acceptable. He was not to wait till the offended brother should come to him; he was to go and seek him out, and be reconciled. So now the worship of God will not be acceptable, however well performed externally, until we are at peace with those that we have injured. "To obey is better than sacrifice," 1 Sa. xv. 22. He that comes to worship his Maker filled with malice, and hatred, and envy, and at war with his brethren, is a hypocritical worshipper, and must meet with God's displeasure. God is not deceived, and he will not be mocked. Thy gift. Thy sacrifice. What thou art about to devote to God as an offering. 1[ To the altar. The altar was situated in front of the temple, and was the place on which sacrifices were made. See the Notes on plan, Mat. xxi. 12. To bring a gift to the altar was expressive of worshipping God, for this was the way in which he was formerly worshipped. Thy brother. Any man, especially any fellow-worshipper. Anyone of the same religious society. Hath aught. Is offended, or thinks he has been injured by you in any manner. First be reconciled. This means to settle the difficulty; to make proper acknowledgment or satisfaction for the injury. If you have wronged him, make restitution. If you owe him a debt which ought to be paid, pay it. If you have injured his character, confess it and seek pardon. If he is under an erroneous impression, if your conduct has been such as to lead him to suspect that you have injured him, make an explanation. Do all in your power, and all you ought to do, to have the matter settled. From this we learn:
That, in order to worship God acceptably, we must do justice to our fellow-men. 2d. Our worship will not be acceptable unless we do all we can to live peaceably with others. 3d. It is our duty to seek reconciliation with others when we have injured them. 4th. This should be done before we attempt to worship God. 5th. This is often the reason why God does not accept our offerings, and we go empty away from our devotions. We do not do what we ought to others; we cherish improper feelings or refuse to make proper acknowledgments, and God wil not accept such attempts to worship him.
25, 26. Agree with thine adversary quickly. This is still an illustration of the sixth commandment. To be in hostility, to go to law, to be litigious, is a violation always, on one side or the other, of the law requiring us to love our neighbour, and our Saviour regards it as a violation of the sixth commandment. While you are in the way with him, says he, that is, while you are going to the court, before the trial has taken place, it is your duty, if possible, to come to an agreement. It is wrong to carry the contention to a court of law. See 1 Co. vi. 6, 7. The consequence of not being reconciled, he expresses in the language of courts. The adversary shall deliver to the judge, and he to the executioner, and he shall throw you into prison. He did not mean to say that this would be literally the way with God, but that His dealings with those that harboured these feelings, and would not be reconciled with their brethren, were represented by the punishment inflicted by human tribunals. That is, he would hold all such as violators of the sixth commandment, and would punish them accordingly.
There is no propriety in the use sometimes made of this verse, in representing God as the "adversary" of the sinner, and urging him to be reconciled to God while in the way to judgment. Nor does the phrase "thou shalt by no means come out thence till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing" refer to the eternity of future punishment. It is language taken from courts of justice, to illustrate the truth that God will punish men according to justice for not being reconciled to him. The punishment in the future world will be eternal indeed (Mat. xxv. 46), but this passage does not prove it. Thine adversary. A man that is opposed to us in law. It here means a creditor; a man who has a just claim on us. In the way with him. While you are going before the court. Before the trial comes on. It is remarkable that this very direction is found in the Roman law of the Twelve Tables, which expressly directed the plaintiff and defendant to make up the matter while they were in the way, or going to the praetor—in via, rem uti pacunt orato. — Blackstone's Comm., hi. p. 299. Whether the Saviour had any reference to this cannot be determined. As the Roman laws prevailed to some extent in Palestine, however, it is possible that there was such an allusion. The officer. The executioner; or, as we should say, the sheriff. The uttermost farthing. The last farthing. All that is due. The farthing was a small coin used in Judea, equal to two mites. It was not quite equal to half a farthing of English money.
KNOWING ENGLISH MONEY….. THAT WAS VERY SMALL INDEED, JUST ABOUT NOTHING - Keith Hunt
27, 28. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery. See Notes on ver. 21. Our Saviour in these verses explains the seventh commandment. It is probable that the Pharisees had explained this commandment, as they had the sixth, as extending only to the external act; and that they regarded evil thoughts and a wanton imagination as of little consequence, or as not forbidden by the law. Our Saviour assures them that the commandment did not regard the external act merely, but the secrets of the heart, and the movements of the eye. He declares that they who indulge a wanton desire, that they who look on a woman to increase their lust, have already, in the sight of God, violated the commandment, and committed adultery in the heart. Such was the guilt of David, whose deep and awful crime fully shows the danger of indulging in evil desires, and in the rovings of a wanton eye. See 2 Sa. xi.; Ps. li. See also 2 Pe. ii. 14. So exceeding strict and broad is the law of God! And so heinous in his sight are thoughts and feelings which may be for ever concealed from the world!
29. Thy right eye. The Hebrews, like others, were accustomed to represent the affections of the mind by the members or parts of the body, Ro. vii. 23; vi. 13. Thus the bowels denoted compassion; the heart, affection or feeling; the reins, understanding, secret purpose. An evil eye denotes sometimes envy (Mat. xx. i5), and sometimes an evil passion, or sin in general. Mar. vii. 21, 22: "Out of the heart proceeds an evil eye" In this place, as in 2 Pe. ii. 14, the expression is used to denote strong adulterous passion, unlawful desire, or wicked inclination. The right eye and hand are mentioned, because they are of most use to us, and denote that, however strong the passion may be, or difficult to part with, yet that we should do it. Offend thee. The noun from which the verb "offend," in the original, is derived, commonly means a stumbling-block, or a stone placed in the way, over which one might fall. It also means a net, or a certain part of a net against which, if a bird strikes, it springs the net, and is taken. It comes to signify, therefore, anything by which we fall, or are ensnared; and applied to morals, means anything by which we fall into sin, or by which we are ensnared. The English word offend means now, commonly, to displease; to make angry; to affront. This is by no means the sense of the word in Scripture. It means to cause to fall into sin. The eye does this when it wantonly looks on a woman to lust after her. Pluck it out, etc. It cannot be supposed that Christ intended this to be taken literally. His design was to teach that the dearest objects, if they cause us to sin, are to be abandoned; that by all sacrifices and self-denials we must overcome the evil propensities of our nature, and resist our wanton imaginations. Some of the fathers, however, took this commandment literally. Our Saviour several times repeated this sentiment. See Mat. xviii. 9; Mar. ix. 43-47. Comp. also Col. iii.
WE KNOW FROM HISTORY THAT THE DISCIPLES OF THE FIRST CENTURY DID NOT TAKE THE WORDS OF CHRIST AS LITERAL. THE FIRST APOSTLES ETC. DID NOT WALK AROUND WITH ONE EYE, OR NO EYES, ONE HAND OR NO HANDS. ELSEWHERE PAUL WAS INSPIRED TO SAY OUR BODY IS THE TEMPLE OF GOD….AND YOU DO NOT DESECRATE GOD'S TEMPLE - Keith Hunt
5. It is profitable for thee. It is better for thee. You will be a gainer by it. One of thy members perish. It is better to deny yourself the gratification of an evil passion here, however much it may cost you, than to go down to hell for ever. Thy whole body should be cast into hell. Thy body, with all its unsubdued and vicious propensities. This will constitute no small part of the misery of hell. The sinner will be sent there as he is, with every evil desire, every unsubdued propensity, every wicked and troublesome passion, and yet with no possibility of gratification. It constitutes our highest notions of misery when we think of a man filled with anger, pride, malice, avarice, envy and lust, and with no opportunity of gratifying them for ever. This is all that is necessary to make an eternal hell. On the word hell, see Notes on ver. 22.
JESUS IS SAYING WHATEVER KEEPS YOU IN SIN, YOU MUST GET RID OF IT. WHATEVER IS YOUR "god" THAT COMES BETWEEN YOU AND THE TRUE GOD, GET RID OF IT. BE IT A JOB, A HOUSE, A HOBBY, A PERSON - IF IT STOPS YOU FROM SERVING THE TRUE GOD FULLY - YOU MUST PUT IT ASIDE - Keith Hunt
30. And if thy right hand offend thee. The right hand is selected for the same reason as the right eye, because it is one of the most important members of the human body. The idea is, that the dearest earthly objects are to be sacrificed rather than that we should commit sin; that the most rigid self-denial should be practised, and that the most absolute self-government should be maintained at any sacrifice, rather than that we should suffer the mind to be polluted by unholy thoughts and impure desires.
31, 32. It hath been said, etc. That is, by Moses, De. xxiv. 1, 2. The husband was directed, if he put his wife away, to give her a bill of divorce, that is a certificate of the fact she had been his wife, and that he had dissolved the marriage. There was considerable difference of opinion among the Jews for what causes the husband was permitted to do this. One of their famous schools maintained that it might be done for any cause, however trivial. The other maintained that adultery only could justify it. The truth was, however, that the husband exercised this right at pleasure; that he was judge in the case, and dismissed his wife when and for what cause he chose. And this seems to be agreeable to the law in Deuteronomy. Our Saviour in Mar. x. 1-12, says that this was permitted on account of the hardness of their hearts, but that in the beginning it was not so. God made a single pair, and ordained marriage for life. But Moses found the people so much hardened; so long accustomed to the practice, and so rebellious, that, as a matter of civil appointment, he thought it best not to attempt any change. Our Saviour brought marriage back to its original intention, and declared that whosoever put away his wife henceforward, except for one offence, should be guilty of adultery. This is now the law of God. This was the original institution. This is the only law that is productive of peace and good morals, and that secures the respect due to a wife, and the good of children. Nor has any man or set of men—any legislature or any court, civil or ecclesiastical—a right to interfere, and declare that divorces may be granted for any other cause. They, therefore, whoever they may be, who are divorced for any cause except the single one of adultery, if they marry again, are, according to the Scriptures, living in adultery. No earthly laws can trample down the laws of God, or make that right which he has solemnly pronounced wrong.
BARNES DID NOT TAKE ALL THE SCRIPTURES ON THE MATTER, NOR DO A DEEP RESEARCH INTO THE GREEK WORD USED. HE WAS ALSO A PRODUCT OF THE PREVAILING IDEA OF HIS TIME ABOUT DIVORCE AND RE-MARRAIGE. I SPENT 4 YEARS DOING A FULL IN-DEPTH STUDY ON THE MATTER. IT IS ON THIS WEBSITE, AND CALLED SIMPLY "DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE." IT CONTAINS THE WHOLE TRUTH OF THE MATTER ON THIS SUBJECT - Keith Hunt
33. Thou shalt not foreswear thyself. Christ here proceeds to correct another false interpretation of the law. The law respecting oaths is found in Le. xix. 12, and De. xxiii. 23. By those laws men were forbid to perjure themselves, or to forswear, that is, swear falsely. Perform unto the Lord. Perform literally, really, and religiously what is promised in an oath, Thine oaths. An oath is a solemn affirmation or declaration, made with an appeal to God for the truth of what is affirmed, and imprecating his vengeance, and renouncing his favour if what is affirmed is false. A false oath is called perjury, or, as in this place, forswearing.
It appears, however, from this passage, as well as from the ancient writings of the Jewish rabbins, that while the Jews professedly adhered to the law, they had introduced a number of oaths in common conversation, and oaths which they by no means considered to be binding. For example, they would swear by the temple, by the head, by heaven, by the earth. So long as they kept from swearing by the name Jehovah, and so long as they observed the oaths publicly taken, they seemed to consider all others as allowable, and allowedly broken. This is the abuse which Christ wished to correct. It was the practice of swearing in common conversation, and especially swearing by created things. To do this, he said that they were mistaken in their views of the sacredness of such oaths. They were very closely connected with God; and to trifle with them was a species of trifling with God. Heaven is his throne; the earth his footstool; Jerusalem his peculiar abode; the head was made by him, and was so much under his control that we could not make one hair white or black. To swear by these things, therefore, was to treat irreverently objects created by God, and could not be without guilt. It is remarkable that the sin here condemned by the Saviour prevails still in Palestine in the same form and manner referred to here. Dr. Thomson (The Land and the Book, vol. ii. p. 284) says, "The people now use the very same sort of oaths that are mentioned and condemned by our Lord. They swear by the head, by their life, by heaven, and by the temple, or what is in its place, the church. The forms of cursing and swearing, however, are almost infinite, and fall on the pained ear all day long."
THAT WAS BACK THEN, NOT SURE IT IS DONE TODAY IN THE 21ST CENTURY - Keith Hunt
Our Saviour here evidently had no reference to judicial oaths, or oaths taken in a court of justice. It was merely the foolish and wicked habit of swearing in private conversation; of swearing on every occasion and by everything that he condemned. This he does condemn in a most unqualified manner. He himself, however, did not refuse to take an oath in a court of law, Mat. xxvi. 63, 64. So Paul often called God to witness his sincerity, which is all that is meant by an oath. See Ho. i. 9; ix. 1; Ga. i. 20; He. vi. 16. Oaths were, moreover, prescribed in the law of Moses, and Christ did not come to repeal those laws. See Ex. xxii. 11; Le. v. 1; Nu. v. 19; De. xxix. 12, 14.
OH SO WRONG! MAT.26:63,64 IS NOTHING ABOUT PUTTING YOUR HAND ON A BIBLE AND SWEARING, IN A COURT ROOM OF THE SECULAR LAND. IT WAS WORDS FROM A HIGH PRIEST ONLY. I AGREE THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH SAYING, "AS GOD IS MY WITNESS THIS IS….."
CHRIST SAID NO JOT OF THE OLD SCRIPTURES WOULD PERISH, BUT THAT DID NOT MEAN SOME LAWS OF MOSES COULD NOT BE CHANGED…..EXAMPLE… PHYSICAL CIRCUMCISION AND THE TEMPLE ONLY PLACE TO WORSHIP. BOTH WERE CHANGED UNDER THE NEW TESTAMENT - SWEARING OATHS WAS ALSO CHANGED BY CHRIST HERE AND JAMES LATER AGREED, WAS INSPIRED TO BACK UP CHRIST - JAMES 5:12. THE COURTS OF THE LAND ALLOW A CHRISTIAN TO "AFFIRM" AND NOT SWEAR ON THE BIBLE, I KNOW I'VE HAD TO DO IT - Keith Hunt
34, 35. But I say unto you, Swear not at all. That is, in the manner which he proceeds to specify. Swear not in any of the common and profane ways customary at that time.
AND YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SWEAR OATHS IN OUR COURTS OF THE LAND - THEY ALLOW FOR CHRISTIANS TO SAY THEY "AFFIRM" - THEY ALLOW YOU TO NOT HAVE TO PUT YOUR HAND ON THE BIBLE AND SWEAR. AS OUR NATIONS GET MORE AND MORE SECULAR, I DOUBT THEY STILL DO THIS BIBLE SWEARING IN COURT - Keith Hunt
By heaven; for it is God's throne. To swear by that was, if it meant anything, to swear by Him that sitteth thereon, Mat. xxiii. 22. Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool. Swearing by that, therefore, is really swearing by God. Or perhaps it means, 1st. We have no right to pledge, or swear by, what belongs to God; and, 2d. That oaths by inanimate objects are unmeaning and wicked. If they are real oaths, they are by a living Being, who has power to take vengeance. A footstool is that on which the feet rest when sitting. The term is applied to the earth to denote how lowly and humble an object it is when compared with God. Jerusalem. See Notes on ch. ii. 1. City of the Great King. That is, of God; called the Great King because he was the King of the Israelites, and Jerusalem was the capital of the nation, and the place where he was peculiarly honoured as king. Comp. Ps. xlvi. 4; xlviii. 1, 2; lxxxvii. 3.
36. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head. This was a common oath. The Gentiles also used this oath. To swear by the head was the same as to swear by the life; or to say, I will forfeit my life if what I say is not true. God is the author of the life, and to swear by that, therefore, is the same as to swear by him. Because thou canst not make one hair white or black. You have no control or right over your own life. You cannot even change one single hair. God has all that control; and it is therefore improper and profane to pledge what is God's gift and God's property; and it is the same as swearing by God himself.
37. But let your communication. Your word; what you say. Be, Yea. Yes. This does not mean that we should always use the word yea, for it might as well have been translated yes; but it means that we should simply affirm or declare that a thing is so. More than these. More than these affirmations. Cometh of evil. Is evil. Proceeds from some evil disposition or purpose. And from this we may learn : 1st. That profane swearing is always the evidence of a depraved heart. To trifle with the name of God, or with any of his works, is itself most decided proof of depravity. 2d. That no man is believed any sooner in common conversation because he swears to a thing. When we hear a man swear to a thing, it is pretty good evidence that he knows what he is saying to be false, and we should be on our guard. He that will break the third commandment will not hesitate to break the ninth also. And this explains the fact that profane swearers are seldom believed. The man who is always believed is he whose character is beyond suspicion in all things, who obeys all the laws of God, and whose simple declaration, therefore, is enough. A man that is truly a Christian, and leads a Christian life, does not need oaths and profaneness to make him believed. 3d. It is no mark of a gentleman to swear. The most worthless and vile, the refuse of mankind, the drunkard and the prostitute, swear as well as the best dressed and educated gentleman. No particular endowments are requisite to give finish to the art of cursing. The basest and meanest of mankind swear with as much tact and skill as the most refined, and he that wishes to degrade himself to the very lowest level of pollution and shame should learn to be a common swearer. Any man has talents enough to learn to curse God and his fellow-men, and to pray—for every man who swears prays—that God would sink him and others into hell. No profane man knows but that God will hear his prayer, and send him to the regions of woe. 4th. Profaneness does no man any good. No man is the richer, or wiser, or happier for it. It helps no one's morals or manners. It commends no one to any society. The profane man must he, of course, shut out from female society, and no refined intercourse can consist with it. It is disgusting to the refined; abominable to the good; insulting to those with whom we associate; degrading to the mind; unprofitable, needless, and injurious in society; and awful in the sight of God. 5th. God will not hold the profane swearer guiltless. Wantonly to profane his name, to call his vengeance down, to curse him on his throne, to invoke damnation, is perhaps of all offences the most awful. And there is not in the universe more cause of amazement at his forbearance, than that God does not rise in vengeance, and smite the profane swearer at once to hell. Verily, in a world like this, where his name is profaned every day, and hour, and moment by thousands, God shows that he is, slow to anger, and that his mercy is without bounds!
38-41. An eye for an eye, etc. This command is found in Ex. xxi. 24; Le. xxiv. 20, and He. xix. 21. In these places it was given as a rule to regulate the decisions of judges. They were to take eye for eye, and tooth for tooth, and to inflict burning for burning. As a judicial rule it is not unjust. Christ finds no fault with the rule as applied to magistrates, and does not take upon himself to repeal it. But instead of confining it to magistrates, the Jews had extended it to private conduct, and made it the rule by which to take revenge. They considered themselves justified by this rule to inflict the same injury on others that they had received. Against this our Saviour remonstrates. He declares that the law had no reference to private revenge, that it was given only to regulate the magistrate, and that their private conduct was to be governed by different principles.
VERY BAD UNDERSTANDING BY BARNES HERE. THE ISRAELITES WERE NEVER A NATION OF MANY ONE EYED PEOPLE, ONE ARM PEOPLE, ONE LEG PEOPLE, BURNED HANDS OR WHEREVER PEOPLE. THE JEWS, WITH A LONG HISTORY GOING BACK TO MOSES, PROCLAIM THIS SECTION OF LAW WAS TO GIVE A FAIR JUSTICE OF THE INFLICTION GIVEN BY ONE PERSON TO ANOTHER PERSON - IT WAS "JUST PUNISHMENT AND PENALTY" TO THE GUILTY PARTY, AND HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH PLUCKING OUT EYES, OR CUTTING OFF ARMS AND ETC. - Keith Hunt
The general principle which he laid down was, that we are not to resist evil; that is, as it is in the Greek, not to set ourselves against an evil person who is injuring us. But even this general direction is not to be pressed too strictly. Christ did not intend to teach that we are to see our families murdered, or be murdered ourselves, rather than to make resistance. The law of nature, and all laws, human and divine, justify self-defence when life is in danger. It cannot surely be the intention to teach that a father should sit by coolly and see his family butchered by savages, and not be allowed to defend them. Neither natural nor revealed religion ever did, or ever can, inculcate this doctrine. Our Saviour immediately explains what he means by it. Had he intended to refer it to a case where life is in danger, he would most surely have mentioned it. Such a case was far more worthy of statement than those which he did mention. A doctrine so unusual, so unlike all that the world had believed, and that the best men had acted on, deserved to be formally stated. Instead of doing this, however, he confines himself to smaller matters., to things of comparatively trivial interest, and says that in these we had better take wrong than to enter into strife and lawsuits. The first case is where we are smitten on the cheek. Rather than contend and fight, we should take it patiently, and turn the other cheek. This does not, however, prevent our remonstrating firmly yet mildly on the injustice of the thing, and insisting that justice should be done us, as is evident from the example of the Saviour himself. See Jn. xviii. 23. The second evil mentioned is where a man is litigious and determined to take all the advantage the law can give him, following us with vexatious and expensive lawsuits. Our Saviour directs us, rather than to imitate him—rather than to contend with a revengeful spirit in courts of justice—to take a trifling injury, and yield to him. This is merely a question about property, and not about conscience and life.
I AGREE FULLY WITH BARNES HERE. SELF-DEFENCE IS NOT THE QUESTION BEING ADDRESSED. IN SOME CASES WE ARE NOT TO RESIST EVIL WITH EVIL BUT JUST TAKE IT. THEN IN OTHER PARTS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, WE HAVE MORE CONTEXT - PAUL WHEN THE JEWS WANTED TO PIN HIS HIDE TO THE WALL, APPEALED TO ROME [BEING A ROMAN CITIZEN], SO SOMETIMES WE FOLLOW WHAT JESUS SAID HERE, SOMETIMES WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO DO WHAT PAUL DID - DIFFERENT SITUATIONS - DIFFERENT RESPONSES - Keith Hunt
"Coat." The Jews wore two principal garments, an interior and an exterior. The interior, here called the "coat," or the tunic, was made commonly of linen, and encircled the whole body, extending down to the knees. Sometimes beneath this garment, as in the case of the priests, there was another garment corresponding to pantaloons. The coat, or tunic, was extended to the neck, and with long or short sleeves. Over this was commonly worn an upper garment, here called "cloak," or mantle. It was made commonly nearly square, of different sizes, 5 or 6 cubits long and as many broad, and was wrapped around the body, and was thrown off when labour was performed. If, said Christ, an adversary wished to obtain, at law, one of these garments, rather than contend with him let him have the other also. A reference to various articles of apparel occurs frequently in the New Testament, and it is desirable to have a correct view of the ancient mode of dress, in order to a proper understanding of the Bible. The Asiatic modes of dress are nearly the same from age to age, and hence it is not difficult to illustrate the passages where such a reference occurs. The ordinary dress consisted of the inner garment, the outer garment, the girdle, and the sandals. In regard to the sandals, see Notes on ch. iii. 11.
In the girdle was the place of the purse (Mat. x. 9), and to it the sword and dirk were commonly attached. Comp. 2 Sa. xx. 8. In modern times the pistols are also fastened to the girdle. It is the usual place for the handkerchief, smoking materials, ink-horn, and, in general, the implements of one's profession. The girdle served to confine the loose flowing robe or outer garment to the body. It held the garment when it was tucked up, as it was usually in walking or in labour. Hence to gird tip the loins became a significant figurative expression, denoting readiness for service, activity, labour, and watchfulness; and to loose the loins denoted the giving way to repose and indolence, 2 Ki. iv. 29; Job xxxviii. 3; Is. v. 27; Lu. xii. 35; Jn. xxi. 7.
SOMETIMES, SOME SITUATIONS, YOU YEAL, EVEN SO TAKING A LOSS; ANOTHER TIME MAYBE NOT SO. IT CAN VARY WITH CIRCUMSTANCES. THE JEWS HAD MORE OF A HARD, NEVER YEAL OVER ANYTHING ATTITUDE. JESUS HERE COMBATS SUCH A HARD-STONE-HEART OF NEVER BUDGING AN INCH TO ANYONE UNDER ANY SITUATION - Keith Hunt
Whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile. The word translated shall compel is of Persian origin. Post-offices were then unknown. In order that the royal commands might be delivered with safety and despatch in different parts of the empire, Cyrus stationed horsemen at proper intervals on all the great public highways. One of those delivered the message to another, and intelligence was thus rapidly and safely communicated. These heralds were permitted to compel any person, or to press any horse, boat, ship, or other vehicle that they might need for the quick transmission of the king's commandments. It was to this custom that our Saviour refers. Rather, says he, than resist a public authority requiring your attendance and aid for a certain distance, go peaceably twice the distance. A mile. A Roman mile was a thousand paces.
42. Give to him that asketh thee. This is the general rule. It is better to give sometimes to an undeserving person than to turn away one really necessitous. It is good to be in the habit of giving. At the same time, the rule must be interpreted so as to be consistent with our duty to our families (1 Ti. v. 8) and with other objects of justice and charity. It is seldom, perhaps never, good to give to a man that is able to work, 2 Th. iii. 10. To give to such is to encourage laziness, and to support the idle at the expense of the industrious. If such a man is indeed hungry, feed him; if he wants anything farther, give him employment. If a widow, an orphan, a man of misfortune, or a man infirm, lame, or sick, is at your door, never send any of them away empty. See He. xiii. 2; Mat. xxv. 35-45. So of a poor and needy friend that wishes to borrow. We are not to turn away or deny him. This deserves, however, some limitation. It must be done in consistency with other duties. To lend to every worthless man would be to throw away our property, encourage laziness and crime, and ruin our families. It should be done consistently with every other obligation, and of this every man is to be the judge. Perhaps our Saviour meant to teach that where there was a deserving friend or brother in want, we should lend to him without usury, and without standing much about the security.
43. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and
hate thine enemy. The command to love our neighbour was a law of God, Le. xix. 18. That we must therefore hate our enemy was an inference drawn from it by the Jews. They supposed that if we loved the one, we must of course hate the other. They were total strangers to that great, peculiar law of religion which requires us to love both. A neighbour is literally one that lives near to us; then, one that is near to us by acts of kindness and friendship. This is its meaning here. See also Lu. x. 36.
44. Love your enemies. There are two kinds of love, involving the same general feeling, or springing from the same fountain of good-will to all mankind, but differing so far as to admit of separation in idea. The one is that feeling by which we approve of the conduct of another, commonly called the love of complacency; the other, that by which we wish well to the person of another, though we cannot approve his conduct. This is the love of benevolence, and this love we are to bear toward our enemies. It is impossible to love the conduct of a man that curses and reviles us, that injures our person or property, or that violates all the laws of God; but, though we may hate his conduct, and surfer keenly when we are affected by it, yet we may still wish well to the person; we may pity his madness and folly; we may speak kindly of him and to him; we may return good for evil; we may aid him in the time of trial; we may seek to do him good here and to promote his eternal welfare hereafter, Ro. xii. 17-20. This seems to be what is meant by loving our enemies; and this is a peculiar law of Christianity, and the highest possible test of piety, and probably the most difficult of all duties to be performed. Bless them that curse you. The word bless here means to speak well of or to:—not to curse again or to slander, but to speak of those things which we can commend in an enemy; or, if there is nothing that we can commend, to say nothing about him. The word bless, spoken of God, means to regard with favour or to confer benefits, as when God is said to bless his people. When we speak of our blessing God, it means to praise him or give thanks to him. When we speak of blessing men, it unites the two meanings, and signifies to confer favour, to thank, or to speak well of. Despitefuly use you. The word thus translated means, first, to injure by prosecution in law; then, wantonly and unjustly to accuse, and to injure in any way. This seems to be its meaning here. Persecute. See Notes on ch. v. 10.
45. That ye may be the children of your Father. In Greek, the sons of your Father. The word son has a variety of significations. See Notes on Mat. i. 1. Christians are called the sons or children of God in several of these senses: as his offspring; as adopted; as his disciples; as imitators of him. In this passage the word is applied to them because, in doing good to enemies, they resemble God. He makes his sun to rise on the evil and good, and sends rain, without distinction, on the just and unjust. So his people should show that they imitate or resemble him, or that they possess his spirit, by doing good in a similar way.
What reward have ye. The word reward seems to be used in the sense of deserving of praise. If you only love those that love you, you are selfish; it is not genuine love for the character, but love for the benefit, and you deserve no commendation. The very publicans would do the same. The publicans. The publicans were tax-gatherers. Judea was a province of the Roman empire. The Jews bore this foreign yoke with great impatience, and paid their taxes with great reluctance. It happened, therefore, that those who were appointed to collect taxes were objects of great detestation. They were, besides, men who would be supposed to execute their office at all hazards; men who were willing to engage in an odious and hated employment; men often of abandoned character, oppressive in their exactions, and dissolute in their lives. By the Jews they were associated in character with thieves and adulterers; with the profane and the dissolute. Christ says that even these wretched men would love their benefactors.
And if you salute your brethren, etc. The word salute here means to show the customary tokens of civility, or to treat with the common marks of friendship. See Notes on Lu. x. 4. The Saviour says that the worst men, the very publicans, would do this. Christians should do more; they should show that they have a different spirit; they should treat their enemies as well as wicked men do their friends. This should be done. 1st. Because it is right; it is the only really amiable spirit; and, 2d. We should show that religion is not selfish, and is superior to all other principles of action.
48. Be ye therefore perfect, etc. The Saviour concludes this part of the discourse by commanding his disciples to be perfect. This word commonly means finished, complete, pure, holy. Originally it is applied to a piece of mechanism, as a machine that is complete in its parts. Applied to men, it refers to completeness of parts, or perfection, where no part is defective or wanting. Thus Job (i. 1) is said to be "perfect;" that is, not holy as God, or sinless—for fault is afterward found with him (Job ix. 20; xlii. 6); but his piety was proportionate—had a completeness of parts ! —was consistent and regular. He exhibited his religion as a prince, a father, an individual, a benefactor of the poor. He was not merely a pious man in one place, but uniformly. He was consistent everywhere. See Notes on that passage. This is the meaning in Matthew. Be not religious merely in loving your friends and neighbours, but let your piety be shown in loving your enemies; imitate God; let your piety be complete, proportionate, regular. This every Christian may be; this every Christian must be.
CAN ALSO MEAN "BE MATURE" - KEEP YOUR WAY MOVING FORWARD TO EVER BE MATURE IN ALL THINGS AS GOD THE FATHER IS - Keith Hunt
REMARKS ON CHAPTER V.
1st. The gospel pronounces blessings on things far different from what the world has thought to be a source of happiness. Men suppose that happiness is to be found in mirth, in wealth, in honour, in esteem, in freedom from persecution. Christ says that it is to be sought in the reverse. Often men are most happy in poverty, in sickness, in persecution, when supported by the presence and promises of a merciful God. And if God appoints our station there, we should submit to it, and learn therewith to be content.
OH YES, PAUL WENT THROUGH ALL KINDS OF THINGS….FROM THE BEST TO THE WORSE; BUT HE SAID HE LEARNT HOW TO BE CONTENT IN ALL THINGS - Keith Hunt
2d. We may see the evil of anger. It is a species of murder. If secretly cherished, or exhibited by contempt and injury, it must bring down the displeasure of God. It is a source of misery. True enjoyment is found in meekness, peace, calmness, and benevolence. In such a firmness, and steadiness, and dependence on God as to keep the soul unruffled in the midst of provocation, is happiness. Such was Christ.
3d. We see the evil of indelicacy of feeling and sentiment, and the strictness and severity of the law respecting the intercourse of the sexes (ver. 28). And yet what law is more frequently violated? By obscene anecdotes and tales; by songs and gibes; by double meanings and innuendoes; by looks and gestures; by conversation, and obscene books and pictures, this law of our Saviour is perpetually violated. If there is any one sentiment of most value for the comfort, the character, the virtuous sociability of the young— one that will shed the greatest charm over society, and make it the most pure, it is that which inculcates perfect delicacy and purity in the intercourse of the sexes. Virtue of any kind never blooms where this is not cherished. Modesty and purity once gone, every flower that would diffuse its fragrance over life withers and dies with it. There is no one sin that so withers and blights every virtue, none that so enfeebles and prostrates every ennobling feeling of the soul, as the violation of the seventh commandment in spirit or in form, in thought or in act. How should purity dwell in the heart, breathe from the lips, kindle in the eye, live in the imagination, and dwell in the intercourse of all the young! An eternal, avenging God is near to every wanton thought, marks every eye that kindles with impure desire, rolls the thunder of justice over every polluted soul, and is preparing woe for every violator of the laws of purity and chastity, Pr. vii. 22, 23; v. 5; ii. 18.
4th. Revenge is equally forbidden. Persecution, slander, a spirit of litigation, anger, personal abuse, duelling, suicide, murder, are all violations of the law of God, and all must call down his vengeance.
5th. We are bound to love our enemies. This is a law of Christianity, original and peculiar. No system of religion but Christianity has required it, and no act of Christian piety is more difficult. None shows more the power of the grace of God; none is more ornamental to the character; none more like God; and none furnishes better evidence of piety. He that can meet a man kindly who is seeking his hurt; who can speak well of one that is perpetually slandering and cursing him; that can pray for a man that abuses, injures, and wounds him; and that can seek heaven for him that wishes his damnation, is in the way to life. This is religion, beautiful as its native skies; pure like its Source; kind like its Author; fresh like the dews of the morning; clear and diffusive like the beams of the rising sun; and holy like the feelings and words that come from the bosom of the Son of God. He that can do this need not doubt that he is a Christian. He has caught the very spirit of the Saviour, and he must inherit eternal life.
OVERALL ALBERT BRANES DOES A SPLENDID JOB OF EXPLAINING THE WORDS OF CHRIST HERE IN MATTHEW 5. THIS IS THE HEART OF TRUE CHRISTIANITY. THIS IS WHAT WE MEDITATE ON DURING THIS FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD. WE SEE THE DEPTH OF SATAN AND SIN, WE SEE WHERE WE HAVE MISSED THE MARK, FALLEN SHORT IN MIND, WORD, AND ACTION. WE SEE WHY WE NEED A SAVIOR, WHO TODAY IS INTERCEDING FOR US IN HEAVEN AS OUR HIGH PRIEST. WE REACH FOR THE HOLINESS, PURITY, RIGHTEOUSNESS OF OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN.
THIS IS THE LESSON OF LEAVEN BREAD OUT AND UN-LEAVENED BREAD IN.