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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter 5 - Verse 19

Verse 19. Shall break. Shall violate, or disobey.

These least commandments. The Pharisees, it is probable, divided the precepts of the law into lesser and greater, teaching that they who violated the former were guilty of a trivial offence only. See Mt 23:23. Christ teaches that in his kingdom they who make this distinction, or who taught that any laws of God might be violated with impunity, should be called least; while they should be held in high regard who observed all the laws of God without distinction.

Shall be called the least. That is, shall be least. The meaning of this passage seems to be this: "In the kingdom of heaven," that is, in the kingdom of the Messiah, or in the church which he is about to establish, (See Barnes "Mt 3:2") he that breaks the least of these commandments shall be in no esteem, or shall not be regarded as a proper religious teacher. The Pharisees divided the law into greater and lesser precepts. They made no small part of it void by their traditions and divisions, Mt 23:23; 15:3-6. Jesus says, that in his kingdom all this vain division and tradition should cease. Such divisions and distinctions should be a small matter. He that attempted it should be the least of all. Men would be engaged in yielding obedience to all the law of God, without any such vain distinctions.

Shall be called great, he that teaches that all the law of God is binding, and that all of it should be obeyed, without attempting to specify what is most important, shall be a teacher worthy of his office, shall teach the truth, and shall be called great. We learn hence,

(1.) that all the law of God is binding on Christians. Comp. Jas 2:10

(2.) That all the commands of God should be preached, in their proper place, by Christian ministers.

(3.) That they who pretend that there are any laws of God so small that they need not obey them, are unworthy of his kingdom. And,

(4.) that true piety has respect to all the commandments of God, and keeps them, Ps 119:6.

{p} "shall be called great" 1 Sa 2:30

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