Matthew Chapter 5 Part B
Matt. 5:36 Nor will you swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.
Nor will you swear by your head, Another form of oath taking.
for you cannot make one hair white or black. All oath taking implicates God, is in effect to swear in His name, and thus all oath taking is to be understood as possessing an absolute character.
Matt. 5:37 But let your, ‘Yes,’ be ‘Yes,’ your ‘No,’ ‘No;’ for anything more than this is from the evil one.
Note on a variant reading: A couple of manuscripts (including Vaticanus) read Your word Yes will be yes. A few manuscripts have and after be Yes. A couple of manuscripts have the before No.
But let your, ‘Yes,’ be ‘Yes,’ your ‘No,’ ‘No;’ A sincere, Yes, and a sincere, No is all that we need.
for anything more than this is from the evil one In the ethics of the kingdom there is no need for taking oaths. Matthew refers to the evil one i.e. Satan or the Devil (cf. Matt. 6:13; 13:19, 38) more than does any other evangelist or any other New Testament book except 1 John.
Although in the Old Testament practice of oath taking was encouraged, or at least allowed, as a means of strengthening one’s personal resolution to do something, as it evolved it apparently became a way by which some persons avoided responsibility. Jesus affirms the binding character of oaths and implicitly denies the subtle distinctions that some used to invalidate their oaths (Matt. 23:16-22). Yet at the same time, Jesus lifts the matter to a new level by denying the necessity of oaths altogether. The ethics to which Jesus calls His disciples are those of the kingdom and its perfection. A persons words should be relied upon without qualification and without the need of the further guarantee an oath might afford. Oaths are rendered superfluous. With the dawn of a new era comes a wholly new standard of righteousness. The issue is nothing less than and nothing more than truthfulness.
Jesus’ Views on Retaliation (Matt. 5:38-42)
Rather than retaliating against an attacker, Jesus urges pacifism.
Matt. 5:38 You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’
Note on a variant reading: A few manuscripts do not have and.
You have heard that it was said, This verse lacks the reference to the ancients
‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is cited in Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20; and Deuteronomy 19:21. The principle of proportionate retribution was older and more recognized than the Mosaic law.
Matt. 5:39 But I say to you, do not resist evil. But whoever slaps you upon your right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Note on variant readings: Many manuscripts read whoever will slap instead of whoever slaps. Some manuscripts (including Sinaiticus) do not have your. Other manuscripts do not have right.
But I say to you, do not resist evil. Not the evil one (Satan) or an evil person is in view. As we learn from the context do not render evil for evil, that is the evil deed. What Jesus is opposing is the insistence on legitimate retribution. This statement of His would be shocking in light of the principle of justice defended by the Old Testament texts.
But whoever slaps you upon your right cheek, Even today in the East, a slap expresses the greatest possible contempt and extreme abuse. It was punished by a very heavy fine. This is Jesus’ first example of nonretaliation.
Matt. 5:40 And to the one wishing to sue you and take your tunic, give to him your robe as well.
Note on a variant reading: Instead of to the one wishing some manuscripts read the one who wishes. Some manuscripts have robe instead of your robe.
And to the one wishing to sue you and take your tunic, Those who have what they believe is a legal grievance against you.
give to him your robe as well. The principle is not the avoidance of lawsuits but an unselfish attitude towards ones own rights and property. The second illustration refers to legal action (in a court). The result of which could be the loss of one’s tunic or inner garment. Jesus teaches not only that one should give up what one is sued for but that one should also voluntarily give up the more essential outer garment, robe or cloak as well (Cf. 1 Corinthians 6:7 for Paul’s similar attitude).
Matt. 5:41 And whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.
Note on a variant reading: Instead of two some manuscripts read yet another two while other manuscripts have another.
And whoever forces you to go one mile, This is a specific term for the Roman practice of commanding civilian labor in an occupied country to bear his load (see Matt. 27:32).
go with him two</b>. One should not only go the required Roman mile but go an extra mile. Thus unjustifiable requests should be complied with and the response should exceed the request. Again the perspective of the kingdom of God is contrary to the perspective of the world.
Matt. 5:42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away the one wishing to borrow from you.
Give to the one who asks you, We are to be unselfish.
and do not turn away the one wishing to Unselfishness extends to our own property.
borrow from you. This word is only found elsewhere in Luke 6:34-35.
Jesus’ Views on Loving Our Enemies (Matt. 5:43-48)
The mark of the Christian will be love. First, for one another (John 13:33-34) and then for our enemies.
Matt. 5:43 You have heard that it has been said, ‘You will love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
You have heard that it has been said, What they know the Scripture says.
‘You will love your neighbor From Leviticus 19:18.
and hate your enemy.’ In the Old Testament hate often signifies love less or not love (compare Luke 14:26 with Matthew 10:37). Although here it may have same meaning as our word hate. See also Matthew 6:24; Romans 9:13; Genesis 29:30-31. The Old Testament and Judaism expected a greater love for the fellow-members of the people of God than for those outside.
Matt. 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray on behalf of those who persecute you,
Note on variant readings: Instead of pray on behalf of those who persecute you some manuscripts read bless those that curse you; others have and do well to the ones hating you while still others read pray for those spitefully using you.
But I say to you, love your enemies, In contrast to what others teach.
and pray on behalf of those who persecute you, Jesus rejects this distinction. Love is not just a sentimental feeling but the earnest desire for their good.
Matt. 5:45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise upon the evil and the good, and sends rain upon the righteous and unrighteous.
so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; This is not teaching salvation by works.
for He causes His sun to rise upon the evil and the good, To love your enemies is crucial importance to the very identity of a disciple. Undiscriminating love will be the mark of the Christian. To participate in the kingdom relates the disciple to the Father in a unique way, and that unique relationship involves doing His will.
and sends rain upon the righteous and unrighteous. This represents a stylistic variation to the previous evil and good. These people are the enemies of God.
Matt. 5:46 For if you love the ones loving you, what reward do you have? The tax gatherers do the same thing, do they not?
Note on a variant reading: Instead of the same thing some manuscripts read in this manner. A few manuscripts read this thing.
For if you love the ones loving you, Returning love from others.
what reward do you have? What have you really done?
The tax gatherers do the same thing, do they not? The disciple must not be on the same level as others, he must do more.
Matt. 5:47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? The Gentiles do the same thing, do they not?
Note on variant readings: Two manuscripts do not have this verse. Many manuscripts read friends instead of brothers. In some manuscripts the reading is tax collectors instead of Gentiles.
And if you greet only your brothers, What is normally expected.
what are you doing more than others? Again the person is doing the minimal.
The Gentiles do the same thing, do they not? His behavior must be above that of the Gentiles and tax collectors.
Matt. 5:48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Note on a variant reading: Some manuscripts have just as instead of as.
Therefore you are to be perfect, You is emphatic in Greek.
as your Father in heaven is perfect. This is an ideal stated for disciples. He is not speaking about sinless perfection or being without sin. The term is equivalent to the Hebrew word tamim which is used in the Old Testament about moral uprightness (Genesis 6:9; 17:1; 2 Samuel 22:24, 26). God’s requirements go beyond the legal conformity. The word means more than moral perfection; it indicates a person’s total life should be consistent to the will of God thus reflecting His character.
Summary to Chapter Five
The sermon on the Mount is well-organized with clearly defined divisions. The exact way in which we interpret and apply its teachings has been the subject of continuing debate.
The best way seems to have it as the law for the kingdom age, which is still future, yet the principles are for the disciples in this age.
In the first section, (Matt. 5:2-16), Jesus speaks of the citizens of the kingdom of heaven and illustrates their character and blessedness. He does this by giving a series of beatitudes or blessings for those who are citizens of the kingdom.
In the next part, (Matt. 5:13-16), He describes their relationship to the world as the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Both salt and light have the idea of penetration. As believers we are to penetrate into the dark, saltless world by being lights.
The righteousness of the kingdom is then set forth with the high standard of life demanded for those who follow Him (Matt. 5:17-19). Jesus has come in fulfillment of the Old Testament Law and Prophets. He coming is to fulfill, not destroy.
Jesus, however, is not in agreement with the current traditions of the elders that were given equal status to the Old Testament teaching (Matt. 5:20-48). As He cites the Old Testament and comments upon a number of precepts, He speaks with absolute authority. He points out that such things as adultery and murder have their origin in things such as lust and hate. These emotions and feelings will eventually lead to sin if they are not kept under control.
Consequently we are to love our enemies and pray for the ones who persecute us. This is in contrast of reacting the normal human way with hatred and a desire for revenge. It is God’s responsibility to avenge His children, our responsibility is to love our enemies and trust that God will rectify the situation.
The last verse of this chapter [Matt. 5:48] sums up Jesus’ teaching on discipleship in one all-embracing demand. We are to be like our Father in heaven. Of course, this is impossible in our own fallen nature. We must trust the Holy Spirit to continue to change us so that we will become more Christ-like in our actions and our attitudes. This maturing process is something that occurs over our entire lifetime, with no shortcuts to true spirituality.