Matthew 5 Bible Commentary

The Geneva Study Bible

(Read all of Matthew 5)
5:2 1 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

(1) Christ teaches that the greatest joy and happiness is not in the conveniences and pleasures of this life, but is laid up in heaven for those who willingly rest in the good will and pleasure of God, and endeavour to profit all men, although they are cruelly vexed and troubled by those of the world, because they will not adapt themselves to their ways.

5:3 Blessed [are] the a poor in b spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

(a) Under the name of poverty are meant all the miseries, that are joined with poverty.
(b) Whose minds and spirits are brought under control, and tamed, and obey God.

5:8 Blessed [are] the c pure in heart: for they shall see God.

(c) Fitly is this word "pure" joined with the heart, for as a bright and shining resemblance or image may be seen plainly in a clear and pure looking glass, even so does the face (as it were) of the everlasting God, shine forth, and clearly appear in a pure heart.

5:13 Ye 2 are the salt of the d earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be e salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

(2) The ministers of the word especially (unless they will be the most cowardly of all) must lead others both by word and deed to this greatest joy and happiness.
(d) Your doctrine must be very sound and good, for if it is not so, it will be not regarded and cast away as a thing unsavoury and vain.
(e) What will you have to salt with? And so are fools in the Latin tongue called "saltless", as you would say, men that have no salt or savour and taste in them.

5:14 Ye are the f light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

(f) You shine and give light by being made partakers of the true light.

5:17 3 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but g to fulfil.

(3) Christ did not come to bring any new way of righteousness and salvation into the world, but indeed to fulfil that which was shadowed by the figures of the Law, by delivering men through grace from the curse of the Law: and moreover to teach the true use of obedience which the Law appointed, and to engrave in our hearts the power for obedience.
(g) That the prophecies may be accomplished.

5:19 4 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the h least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach [them], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

(4) He begins with the true expounding of the Law, and sets it against the old (but yet false) teachings of the scribes: He is in no way abolishing the least commandment of his Father.
(h) He shall have no place in the Church.

5:21 5 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:

(5) The true meaning of the first commandment.

5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be i in danger k of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the l council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of m hell n fire.

(i) He speaks of the judgment of God, and of the difference of sins, and therefore applies his words to the form of civil judgments which were then used.
(k) Of that judgment which was ruled by three men, who had the hearing and deciding of money matters, and such other small causes.
(l) By that judgment which stood of 23 judges, who had the hearing and deciding of weighty affairs, as the matter of a whole tribe or of a high priest, or of a false prophet.
(m) Whereas we read here "hell", it is in the text itself "Gehenna", which is one Hebrew word made out of two, and is as if to say "as the Valley of Hinnom", which the Hebrews called Topheth: it was a place where the Israelites cruelly sacrificed their children to false gods, whereupon it was taken for a place appointed to torment the reprobates in (Jeremiah 7:31).
(n) The Jews used four kinds of punishments, before their government was taken away by Herod: hanging, beheading, stoning, and burning. It is burning that Christ meant, because burning was the greatest punishment; therefore by making mention of a judgment, a council, and a fire, he shows that some sins are worse than others are, but yet they are all such that we must give account for them, and will be punished for them.

5:23 6 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the o altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;

(6) The covetous Pharisees taught that God was appeased by the sacrifices appointed in the law, which they themselves devoured. But Christ on the contrary side denies that God accepts any man's offering, unless he makes satisfaction to his brother whom he has offended: and says moreover, that these stubborn and stiff-necked despisers of their brethren will never escape the wrath and curse of God before they have made full satisfaction to their brethren.
(o) He applies all this speech to the state of his time, when there was then an altar standing in Jerusalem, and therefore they are very foolish that gather from this that we must build altars and use sacrifices: but they are bigger fools who consider this to be purgatory, which is spoken of as peace making and atonement one with another.

5:25 p 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.

(p) Remove all cause for enmity.

5:26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast q paid the uttermost farthing.

(q) You will be dealt with in this manner, to the utmost extremity.

5:27 7 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

(7) He is taken for an adulterer before God, whoever he is, that covets a woman: and therefore we must keep our eyes chaste, and all the members we have, yea and we must avoid all opportunities that might move us to evil, no matter what it costs us.

5:29 And if thy r right eye s 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.

(r) He names the right eye and the right hand, because the parts of the right side of our bodies are the chiefest, and the most ready to commit any wickedness.
(s) Literally, do cause you to offend: for sins are stumbling blocks as it were, that is to say, rocks which we are cast upon.

5:33 8 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:

(8) The meaning of the third commandment against the perverse opinion and judgment of the scribes, who excused by oaths or indirect forms of swearing.

5:37 But let your communication be, t Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of u evil.

(t) Whatever you affirm, affirm it alone, and whatever you deny, deny it alone without any more words.
(u) From an evil conscience, or from the devil.

5:38 9 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

(9) He shows that contrary to the doctrine of the scribes, that the sum of the second table must be so understood, that we may in no wise render evil for evil, but rather suffer double injury, and do well to them that are our deadly enemies.

5:45 10 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.

(10) A double reason: the one is taken of the relatives, The children must be like their father: the other is taken of comparisons, The children of God must be better than the children of this world.

5:47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more [than others]? do not even the x publicans so?

(x) They that were the toll masters, and had the oversight of tributes and customs: this was a type of man that the Jews hated to death, both because they served the Romans in those offices (whose heavy bondage they could not overthrow) and also because these toll masters were for the most part given to covetousness.