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Matthew 5:21-44

Context
Anger and Murder

5:21 “You have heard that it was said to an older generation, 1 Do not murder,’ 2  and ‘whoever murders will be subjected to judgment.’ 5:22 But I say to you that anyone who is angry with a brother 3  will be subjected to judgment. And whoever insults 4  a brother will be brought before 5  the council, 6  and whoever says ‘Fool’ 7  will be sent 8  to fiery hell. 9  5:23 So then, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 5:24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother and then come and present your gift. 5:25 Reach agreement 10  quickly with your accuser while on the way to court, 11  or he 12  may hand you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the warden, and you will be thrown into prison. 5:26 I tell you the truth, 13  you will never get out of there until you have paid the last penny! 14 

Adultery

5:27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 15  5:28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 5:29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into hell. 16  5:30 If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into hell.

Divorce

5:31 “It was said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a legal document.’ 17  5:32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Oaths

5:33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to an older generation, 18 Do not break an oath, but fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ 19  5:34 But I say to you, do not take oaths at all – not by heaven, because it is the throne of God, 5:35 not by earth, because it is his footstool, and not by Jerusalem, 20  because it is the city of the great King. 5:36 Do not take an oath by your head, because you are not able to make one hair white or black. 5:37 Let your word be ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no.’ More than this is from the evil one. 21 

Retaliation

5:38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 22  5:39 But I say to you, do not resist the evildoer. 23  But whoever strikes you on the 24  right cheek, turn the other to him as well. 5:40 And if someone wants to sue you and to take your tunic, 25  give him your coat also. 5:41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, 26  go with him two. 5:42 Give to the one who asks you, 27  and do not reject 28  the one who wants to borrow from you.

Love for Enemies

5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor 29  and ‘hate your enemy.’ 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemy and 30  pray for those who persecute you,

1 tn Grk “to the ancient ones.”

2 sn A quotation from Exod 20:13; Deut 5:17.

3 tc The majority of mss read the word εἰκῇ (eikh, “without cause”) here after “brother.” This insertion has support from א2 D L W Θ 0233 Ë1,13 33 Ï it sy co Irlat Ormss Cyp Cyr. Thus the Western, Caesarean, and Byzantine texttypes all include the word, while the best Alexandrian and some other witnesses (Ì64 א* B 1424mg pc aur vg Or Hiermss) lack it. The ms evidence favors its exclusion, though there is a remote possibility that εἰκῇ could have been accidentally omitted from these witnesses by way of homoioarcton (the next word, ἔνοχος [enocos, “guilty”], begins with the same letter). An intentional change would likely arise from the desire to qualify “angry,” especially in light of the absolute tone of Jesus’ words. While “without cause” makes good practical sense in this context, and must surely be a true interpretation of Jesus’ meaning (cf. Mark 3:5), it does not commend itself as original.

4 tn Grk “whoever says to his brother ‘Raca,’” an Aramaic word of contempt or abuse meaning “fool” or “empty head.”

5 tn Grk “subjected,” “guilty,” “liable.”

6 tn Grk “the Sanhedrin.”

7 tn The meaning of the term μωρός (mwros) is somewhat disputed. Most take it to mean, following the Syriac versions, “you fool,” although some have argued that it represents a transliteration into Greek of the Hebrew term מוֹרֵה (moreh) “rebel” (Deut 21:18, 20; cf. BDAG 663 s.v. μωρός c).

8 tn Grk “subjected,” “guilty,” “liable.”

9 tn Grk “the Gehenna of fire.”

sn The word translated hell is “Gehenna” (γέεννα, geenna), a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew words ge hinnom (“Valley of Hinnom”). This was the valley along the south side of Jerusalem. In OT times it was used for human sacrifices to the pagan god Molech (cf. Jer 7:31; 19:5-6; 32:35), and it came to be used as a place where human excrement and rubbish were disposed of and burned. In the intertestamental period, it came to be used symbolically as the place of divine punishment (cf. 1 En. 27:2, 90:26; 4 Ezra 7:36).

10 tn Grk “Make friends.”

11 tn The words “to court” are not in the Greek text but are implied.

12 tn Grk “the accuser.”

13 tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amhn), I say to you.”

14 tn Here the English word “penny” is used as opposed to the parallel in Luke 12:59 where “cent” appears since the Greek word there is different and refers to a different but similar coin.

sn The penny here was a quadrans, a Roman copper coin worth 1/64 of a denarius (L&N 6.78). The parallel passage in Luke 12:59 mentions the lepton, equal to one-half of a quadrans and thus the smallest coin available.

15 sn A quotation from Exod 20:14; Deut 5:17.

16 sn On this word here and in the following verse, see the note on the word hell in 5:22.

17 sn A quotation from Deut 24:1.

18 tn Grk “the ancient ones.”

19 sn A quotation from Lev 19:12.

20 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

21 tn The term πονηροῦ (ponhrou) may be understood as specific and personified, referring to the devil, or possibly as a general reference to evil. It is most likely personified, however, since it is articular (τοῦ πονηροῦ, tou ponhrou). Cf. also “the evildoer” in v. 39, which is the same construction.

22 sn A quotation from Exod 21:24; Lev 24:20.

23 tn The articular πονηρός (ponhro", “the evildoer”) cannot be translated simply as “evil” for then the command would be “do not resist evil.” Every instance of this construction in Matthew is most likely personified, referring either to an evildoer (13:49) or, more often, “the evil one” (as in 5:37; 6:13; 13:19, 38).

24 tc ‡ Many mss (B D K L Δ Θ Ë13 565 579 700 1424 pm) have σου (sou) here (“your right cheek”), but many others lack the pronoun (א W Ë1 33 892 1241 pm). The pronoun was probably added by way of clarification. NA27 has σου in brackets, indicating doubt as to its authenticity.

25 tn Or “shirt” (a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin). The name for this garment (χιτών, citwn) presents some difficulty in translation. Most modern readers would not understand what a “tunic” was any more than they would be familiar with a “chiton.” On the other hand, attempts to find a modern equivalent are also a problem: “Shirt” conveys the idea of a much shorter garment that covers only the upper body, and “undergarment” (given the styles of modern underwear) is more misleading still. “Tunic” was therefore employed, but with a note to explain its nature.

26 sn If anyone forces you to go one mile. In NT times Roman soldiers had the authority to press civilians into service to carry loads for them.

27 sn Jesus advocates a generosity and a desire to meet those in dire need with the command give to the one who asks you. This may allude to begging; giving alms was viewed highly in the ancient world (Matt 6:1-4; Deut 15:7-11).

28 tn Grk “do not turn away from.”

29 sn A quotation from Lev 19:18.

30 tc Most mss ([D] L [W] Θ Ë13 33 Ï lat) read “bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you,” before “those who persecute you.” But this is surely a motivated reading, importing the longer form of this aphorism from Luke 6:27-28. The shorter text is found in א B Ë1 pc sa, as well as several fathers and versional witnesses.



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