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Matthew 5:3-16

Context

5:3 “Blessed 1  are the poor in spirit, 2  for the kingdom of heaven belongs 3  to them.

5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 4 

5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger 5  and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children 6  of God.

5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.

5:11 “Blessed are you when people 7  insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely 8  on account of me. 5:12 Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way.

Salt and Light

5:13 “You are the salt 9  of the earth. But if salt loses its flavor, 10  how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people. 5:14 You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill cannot be hidden. 5:15 People 11  do not light a lamp and put it under a basket 12  but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.

1 sn The term Blessed introduces the first of several beatitudes promising blessing to those whom God cares for. They serve as an invitation to come into the grace God offers.

2 sn The poor in spirit is a reference to the “pious poor” for whom God especially cares. See Ps 14:6; 22:24; 25:16; 34:6; 40:17; 69:29.

3 sn The present tense (belongs) here is significant. Jesus makes the kingdom and its blessings currently available. This phrase is unlike the others in the list with the possessive pronoun being emphasized.

4 sn The promise they will be comforted is the first of several “reversals” noted in these promises. The beatitudes and the reversals that accompany them serve in the sermon as an invitation to enter into God’s care, because one can know God cares for those who turn to him.

5 sn Those who hunger are people like the poor Jesus has already mentioned. The term has OT roots both in conjunction with the poor (Isa 32:6-7; 58:6-7, 9-10; Ezek 18:7, 16) or by itself (Ps 37:16-19; 107:9).

6 tn Grk “sons,” though traditionally English versions have taken this as a generic reference to both males and females, hence “children” (cf. KJV, NAB, NRSV, NLT).

7 tn Grk “when they insult you.” The third person pronoun (here implied in the verb ὀνειδίσωσιν [ojneidiswsin]) has no specific referent, but refers to people in general.

8 tc Although ψευδόμενοι (yeudomenoi, “bearing witness falsely”) could be a motivated reading, clarifying that the disciples are unjustly persecuted, its lack in only D it sys Tert does not help its case. Since the Western text is known for numerous free alterations, without corroborative evidence the shorter reading must be judged as secondary.

9 sn Salt was used as seasoning or fertilizer (BDAG 41 s.v. ἅλας a), or as a preservative. If salt ceased to be useful, it was thrown away. With this illustration Jesus warned about a disciple who ceased to follow him.

10 sn The difficulty of this saying is understanding how salt could lose its flavor since its chemical properties cannot change. It is thus often assumed that Jesus was referring to chemically impure salt, perhaps a natural salt which, when exposed to the elements, had all the genuine salt leached out, leaving only the sediment or impurities behind. Others have suggested that the background of the saying is the use of salt blocks by Arab bakers to line the floor of their ovens; under the intense heat these blocks would eventually crystallize and undergo a change in chemical composition, finally being thrown out as unserviceable. A saying in the Talmud (b. Bekhorot 8b) attributed to R. Joshua ben Chananja (ca. a.d. 90), when asked the question “When salt loses its flavor, how can it be made salty again?” is said to have replied, “By salting it with the afterbirth of a mule.” He was then asked, “Then does the mule (being sterile) bear young?” to which he replied: “Can salt lose its flavor?” The point appears to be that both are impossible. The saying, while admittedly late, suggests that culturally the loss of flavor by salt was regarded as an impossibility. Genuine salt can never lose its flavor. In this case the saying by Jesus here may be similar to Matt 19:24, where it is likewise impossible for the camel to go through the eye of a sewing needle.

11 tn Grk “Nor do they light.” The plural in Greek is indefinite, referring to people in general.

12 tn Or “a bowl”; this refers to any container for dry material of about eight liters (two gallons) capacity. It could be translated “basket, box, bowl” (L&N 6.151).



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