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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Matthew: Chapter 5)

5:1 {He went up into the mountain} (\anebē eis to oros\). Not "a"
mountain as the Authorized Version has it. The Greek article is
poorly handled in most English versions. We do not know what
mountain it was. It was the one there where Jesus and the crowds
were. "Delitzsch calls the Mount of Beatitudes the Sinai of the
New Testament" (Vincent). He apparently went up to get in closer
contact with the disciples, "seeing the multitudes." Luke (Lu
says that he went out into the mountain to pray, Mark (Mr
that he went up and called the twelve. All three purposes
are true. Luke adds that after a whole night in prayer and after
the choice of the twelve Jesus came down to a level place on the
mountain and spoke to the multitudes from Judea to Phoenicia. The
crowds are great in both Matthew and in Luke and include
disciples and the other crowds. There is no real difficulty in
considering the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew and the Sermon on
the Plain in Luke as one and the same. See full discussion in my
_Harmony of the Gospels_.

5:2 {Taught them} (\edidasken\). Inchoative imperfect, began to
teach. He sat down on the mountain side as the Jewish rabbis did
instead of standing. It was a most impressive scene as Jesus
opened his mouth wide and spoke loud enough for the great throng
to hear him. The newly chosen twelve apostles were there, "a
great number of disciples and a great number of the people" (Lu

5:3 {Blessed} (\makarioi\). The English word "blessed" is more
exactly represented by the Greek verbal \eulogētoi\ as in Lu
1:68 of God by Zacharias, or the perfect passive participle
\eulogēmenos\ as in Lu 1:42 of Mary by Elizabeth and in Mt
21:9. Both forms come from \eulogeō\, to speak well of (\eu,
. The Greek word here (\makarioi\) is an adjective that
means "happy" which in English etymology goes back to hap,
chance, good-luck as seen in our words haply, hapless, happily,
happiness. "Blessedness is, of course, an infinitely higher and
better thing than mere happiness" (Weymouth). English has thus
ennobled "blessed" to a higher rank than "happy." But "happy" is
what Jesus said and the _Braid Scots New Testament_ dares to say
"Happy" each time here as does the _Improved Edition of the
American Bible Union Version_. The Greek word is as old as Homer
and Pindar and was used of the Greek gods and also of men, but
largely of outward prosperity. Then it is applied to the dead who
died in the Lord as in Re 14:13. Already in the Old Testament
the Septuagint uses it of moral quality. "Shaking itself loose
from all thoughts of outward good, it becomes the express symbol
of a happiness identified with pure character. Behind it lies the
clear cognition of sin as the fountain-head of all misery, and of
holiness as the final and effectual cure for every woe. For
knowledge as the basis of virtue, and therefore of happiness, it
substitutes faith and love" (Vincent). Jesus takes this word
"happy" and puts it in this rich environment. "This is one of the
words which have been transformed and ennobled by New Testament
use; by association, as in the Beatitudes, with unusual
conditions, accounted by the world miserable, or with rare and
difficult" (Bruce). It is a pity that we have not kept the word
"happy" to the high and holy plane where Jesus placed it. "If you
know these things, happy (\makarioi\) are you if you do them"
(Joh 13:17). "Happy (\makarioi\) are those who have not seen
and yet have believed" (Joh 20:29). And Paul applies this
adjective to God, "according to the gospel of the glory of the
happy (\makariou\) God" (1Ti 1:11. Cf. also Tit 2:13). The
term "Beatitudes" (Latin _beatus_) comes close to the meaning of
Christ here by \makarioi\. It will repay one to make a careful
study of all the "beatitudes" in the New Testament where this
word is employed. It occurs nine times here (3-11), though the
beatitudes in verses 10 and 11 are very much alike. The copula is
not expressed in either of these nine beatitudes. In each case a
reason is given for the beatitude, "for" (\hoti\), that shows the
spiritual quality involved. Some of the phrases employed by Jesus
here occur in the Psalms, some even in the Talmud (itself later
than the New Testament, though of separate origin)
. That is of
small moment. "The originality of Jesus lies in putting the due
value on these thoughts, collecting them, and making them as
prominent as the Ten Commandments. No greater service can be
rendered to mankind than to rescue from obscurity neglected moral
commonplaces " (Bruce). Jesus repeated his sayings many times as
all great teachers and preachers do, but this sermon has unity,
progress, and consummation. It does not contain all that Jesus
taught by any means, but it stands out as the greatest single
sermon of all time, in its penetration, pungency, and power. {The
poor in spirit}
(\hoi ptōchoi tōi pneumati\). Luke has only "the
poor," but he means the same by it as this form in Matthew, "the
pious in Israel, for the most part poor, whom the worldly rich
despised and persecuted" (McNeile). The word used here
(\ptōchoi\) is applied to the beggar Lazarus in Lu 16:20,22 and
suggests spiritual destitution (from \ptōssō\ to crouch, to
. The other word \penēs\ is from \penomai\, to work for
one's daily bread and so means one who works for his living. The
word \ptōchos\ is more frequent in the New Testament and implies
deeper poverty than \penēs\. "The kingdom of heaven" here means
the reign of God in the heart and life. This is the _summum
bonum_ and is what matters most.

5:4 {They that mourn} (\hoi penthountes\). This is another
paradox. This verb "is most frequent in the LXX for mourning for
the dead, and for the sorrows and sins of others" (McNeile).
"There can be no comfort where there is no grief" (Bruce). Sorrow
should make us look for the heart and hand of God and so find the
comfort latent in the grief.

5:5 {The meek} (\hoi praeis\). Wycliff has it "Blessed be mild
men." The ancients used the word for outward conduct and towards
men. They did not rank it as a virtue anyhow. It was a mild
equanimity that was sometimes negative and sometimes positively
kind. But Jesus lifted the word to a nobility never attained
before. In fact, the Beatitudes assume a new heart, for the
natural man does not find in happiness the qualities mentioned
here by Christ. The English word "meek" has largely lost the fine
blend of spiritual poise and strength meant by the Master. He
calls himself "meek and lowly in heart" (Mt 11:29) and Moses is
also called meek. It is the gentleness of strength, not mere
effeminacy. By "the earth" (\tēn gēn\) Jesus seems to mean the
Land of Promise (Ps 37:11) though Bruce thinks that it is the
whole earth. Can it be the solid earth as opposed to the sea or
the air?

5:6 {They that hunger and thirst after righteousness} (\hoi
peinōntes kai dipsōntes tēn dikaiosunēn\)
. Here Jesus turns one
of the elemental human instincts to spiritual use. There is in
all men hunger for food, for love, for God. It is passionate
hunger and thirst for goodness, for holiness. The word for
"filled" (\chortasthēsontai\) means to feed or to fatten cattle
from the word for fodder or grass like Mr 6:39 "green grass"
(\chortos chlōros\).

5:7 {Obtain mercy} (\eleēthēsontai\) "Sal win pitie theirsels"
(_Braid Scots_). "A self-acting law of the moral world" (Bruce).

5:8 {Shall see God} (\ton theon opsontai\). Without holiness no
man will see the Lord in heaven (Heb 12:14). The Beatific
Vision is only possible here on earth to those with pure hearts.
No other can see the King now. Sin befogs and beclouds the heart
so that one cannot see God. Purity has here its widest sense and
includes everything.

5:9 {The peacemakers} (\hoi eirēnopoioi\). Not merely "peaceable
men" (Wycliff) but "makkers up o' strife" (_Braid Scots_). It is
hard enough to keep the peace. It is still more difficult to
bring peace where it is not. "The perfect peacemaker is the Son
of God (Eph 2:14f.)" (McNeile). Thus we shall be like our Elder

5:10 {That have been persecuted for righteousness' sake} (\hoi
dediōgmenoi heneken dikaiosunēs\)
. Posing as persecuted is a
favourite stunt. The kingdom of heaven belongs only to those who
suffer for the sake of goodness, not who are guilty of wrong.

5:11 {Falsely, for my sake} (\pseudomenoi heneken emou\). Codex
Bezae changes the order of these last Beatitudes, but that is
immaterial. What does matter is that the bad things said of
Christ's followers shall be untrue and that they are slandered
for Christ's sake. Both things must be true before one can wear a
martyr's crown and receive the great reward (\misthos\) in
heaven. No prize awaits one there who deserves all the evil said
of him and done to him here.

5:13 {Lost its savour} (\mōranthēi\). The verb is from \mōros\
(dull, sluggish, stupid, foolish) and means to play the fool, to
become foolish, of salt become tasteless, insipid (Mr 9:50). It
is common in Syria and Palestine to see salt scattered in piles
on the ground because it has lost its flavour, "hae tint its
tang" (_Braid Scots_), the most worthless thing imaginable. Jesus
may have used here a current proverb.

5:15 {Under the bushel} (\hupo ton modion\). Not a bushel. "The
figure is taken from lowly cottage life. There was a projecting
stone in the wall on which the lamp was set. The house consisted
of a single room, so that the tiny light sufficed for all"
(Bruce). It was not put under the bushel (the only one in the
save to put it out or to hide it. The bushel was an
earthenware grain measure. "{The stand}" (\tēn luchnian\), not
"candlestick." It is "lamp-stand" in each of the twelve examples
in the Bible. There was the one lamp-stand for the single room.

5:16 {Even so} (\houtōs\). The adverb points backward to the
lamp-stand. Thus men are to let their light shine, not to glorify
themselves, but "your Father in heaven." Light shines to see
others by, not to call attention to itself.

5:17 {I came not to destroy, but to fulfil} (\ouk ēlthon
katalusai alla plērōsai\)
. The verb "destroy" means to "loosen
down" as of a house or tent (2Co 5:1). Fulfil is to fill full.
This Jesus did to the ceremonial law which pointed to him and the
moral law he kept. "He came to fill the law, to reveal the full
depth of meaning that it was intended to hold" (McNeile).

5:18 {One jot or one tittle} (\iōta hen ē mia kerea\). "Not an
iota, not a comma" (Moffatt), "not the smallest letter, not a
particle" (Weymouth). The iota is the smallest Greek vowel, which
Matthew here uses to represent the Hebrew _yod_ (jot), the
smallest Hebrew letter. "Tittle" is from the Latin _titulus_
which came to mean the stroke above an abbreviated word, then any
small mark. It is not certain here whether \kerea\ means a little
horn, the mere point which distinguishes some Hebrew letters from
others or the "hook" letter _Vav_. Sometimes _yod_ and _vav_ were
hardly distinguishable. "In _Vay_. R. 19 the guilt of altering
one of them is pronounced so great that if it were done the world
would be destroyed" (McNeile).

5:19 {Shall do and teach} (\poiēsēi kai didaxēi\). Jesus puts
practice before preaching. The teacher must apply the doctrine to
himself before he is qualified to teach others. The scribes and
Pharisees were men who "say and do not" (Mt 23:3), who preach
but do not perform. This is Christ's test of greatness.

5:20 {Shall exceed} (\perisseusēi pleion\). Overflow like a river
out of its banks and then Jesus adds "more" followed by an
unexpressed ablative (\tēs dikaiosunēs\), brachylogy. A daring
statement on Christ's part that they had to be better than the
rabbis. They must excel the scribes, the small number of regular
teachers (5:21-48), and the Pharisees in the Pharisaic life
(6:1-18) who were the separated ones, the orthodox pietists.

5:22 {But I say unto you} (\egō de legō humin\). Jesus thus
assumes a tone of superiority over the Mosaic regulations and
proves it in each of the six examples. He goes further than the
Law into the very heart. "{Raca}" (\Raka\) and "{Thou fool}"
(\Mōre\). The first is probably an Aramaic word meaning "Empty,"
a frequent word for contempt. The second word is Greek (dull,
and is a fair equivalent of "raca." It is urged by some
that \mōre\ is a Hebrew word, but Field (_Otium Norvicense_)
objects to that idea. "_Raca_ expresses contempt for a man's
head=you stupid! _Mōre_ expresses contempt for his heart and
character=you scoundrel" (Bruce). "{The hell of fire}" (\tēn
geennan tou puros\)
, "the Gehenna of fire," the genitive case
(\tou puros\) as the genus case describing Gehenna as marked by
fire. Gehenna is the Valley of Hinnom where the fire burned
continually. Here idolatrous Jews once offered their children to
Molech (2Ki 23:10). Jesus finds one cause of murder to be
abusive language. Gehenna "should be carefully distinguished from
Hades (\hāidēs\) which is never used for the place of punishment,
but for the _place of departed spirits_, without reference to
their moral condition" (Vincent). The place of torment is in
Hades (Lu 16:23), but so is heaven.

5:24 {First be reconciled} (\prōton diallagēthi\). Second aorist
passive imperative. Get reconciled (ingressive aorist, take the
. Only example of this compound in the New Testament
where usually \katallassō\ occurs. Deissmann (_Light from the
Ancient East_, p. 187, New Ed.)
gives a papyrus example second
century A.D. A prodigal son, Longinus, writes to his mother
Nilus: "I beseech thee, mother, be reconciled (\dialagēti\) with
me." The boy is a poor speller, but with a broken heart he uses
the identical form that Jesus does. "The verb denotes mutual
concession after mutual hostility, an idea absent from
\katallassō\" (Lightfoot). This because of \dia\ (two, between

5:25 {Agree with} (\isthi eunoōn\). A present periphrastic active
imperative. The verb is from \eunoos\ (friendly, kindly
. "Mak up wi' yere enemy" (_Braid Scots_). Compromise is
better than prison where no principle is involved, but only
personal interest. It is so easy to see principle where pride is
involved. {The officer} (\tōi hupēretēi\). This word means "under
rower" on the ship with several ranks of rowers, the bottom rower
(\hupo\ under and \ēressō\, to row), the galley-slave, then any
servant, the attendant in the synagogue (Lu 4:20). Luke so
describes John Mark in his relation to Barnabas and Saul (Ac
. Then it is applied to the "ministers of the word" (Lu

5:26 {The last farthing} (\ton eschaton kodrantēn\). A Latin
word, _quadrans, 1/4 of an _as_ (\assarion\) or two mites (Mr
, a vivid picture of inevitable punishment for debt. This
is emphasized by the strong double negative \ou mē\ with the
aorist subjunctive.

5:27 {Thou shalt not commit adultery} (\ou moicheuseis\). These
quotations (verses 21,27,33) from the Decalogue (Ex 20 and
De 5)
are from the Septuagint and use \ou\ and the future
indicative (volitive future, common Greek idiom). In 5:43 the
positive form, volitive future, occurs (\agapēseis\). In 5:41
the third person (\dotō\) singular second aorist active
imperative is used. In 5:38 no verb occurs.

5:28 {In his heart} (\en tēi kardiāi autou\). Not just the centre
of the blood circulation though it means that. Not just the
emotional part of man's nature, but here the inner man including
the intellect, the affections, the will. This word is exceedingly
common in the New Testament and repays careful study always. It
is from a root that means to quiver or palpitate. Jesus locates
adultery in the eye and heart before the outward act. Wunsche
(_Beitrage_) quotes two pertinent rabbinical sayings as
translated by Bruce: "The eye and the heart are the two brokers
of sin." "Passions lodge only in him who sees." Hence the peril
of lewd pictures and plays to the pure.

5:29 {Causeth thee to stumble} (\skandalizei se\). This is far
better than the Authorized Version "_Offend thee_." _Braid
Scots_ has it rightly "ensnare ye." It is not the notion of
giving offence or provoking, but of setting a trap or snare for
one. The substantive (\skandalon\, from \skandalēthron\) means
the stick in the trap that springs and closes the trap when the
animal touches it. Pluck out the eye when it is a snare, cut off
the hand, even the right hand. These vivid pictures are not to be
taken literally, but powerfully plead for self-mastery. Bengel
says: _Non oculum, sed scandalizentem oculum_. It is not
mutilating of the body that Christ enjoins, but control of the
body against sin. The man who plays with fire will get burnt.
Modern surgery finely illustrates the teaching of Jesus. The
tonsils, the teeth, the appendix, to go no further, if left
diseased, will destroy the whole body. Cut them out in time and
the life will be saved. Vincent notes that "the words scandal and
slander are both derived from \skandalon\. And Wyc. renders, 'if
thy right eye _slander_ thee.'" Certainly slander is a scandal
and a stumbling-block, a trap, and a snare.

5:31 {A writing of divorcement} (\apostasion\), "a divorce
certificate" (Moffatt), "a written notice of divorce" (Weymouth).
The Greek is an abbreviation of \biblion apostasiou\ (Ma 19:7;
Mr 10:4)
. Vulgate has here _libellum repudii_. The papyri use
\suggraphē apostasiou\ in commercial transactions as "a bond of
release" (see Moulton and Milligan's _Vocabulary_, etc.) The
written notice (\biblion\) was a protection to the wife against
an angry whim of the husband who might send her away with no
paper to show for it.

5:32 {Saving for the cause of fornication} (\parektos logou
. An unusual phrase that perhaps means "except for a
matter of unchastity." "Except on the ground of unchastity"
(Weymouth), "except unfaithfulness" (Goodspeed), and is
equivalent to \mē epi porneiāi\ in Mt 19:9. McNeile denies that
Jesus made this exception because Mark and Luke do not give it.
He claims that the early Christians made the exception to meet a
pressing need, but one fails to see the force of this charge
against Matthew's report of the words of Jesus. It looks like
criticism to meet modern needs.

5:34 {Swear not at all} (\mē omosai holōs\). More exactly "not to
swear at all" (indirect command, and aorist infinitive).
Certainly Jesus does not prohibit oaths in a court of justice for
he himself answered Caiaphas on oath. Paul made solemn appeals to
God (1Th 5:27; 1Co 15:31). Jesus prohibits all forms of
profanity. The Jews were past-masters in the art of splitting
hairs about allowable and forbidden oaths or forms of profanity
just as modern Christians employ a great variety of vernacular
"cuss-words" and excuse themselves because they do not use the
more flagrant forms.

5:38 {An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth} (\ophthalmon
anti ophthalmou kai odonta anti odontos\)
. Note \anti\ with the
notion of exchange or substitution. The quotation is from Ex
21:24; De 19:21; Le 24:20. Like divorce this _jus talionis_ is a
restriction upon unrestrained vengeance. "It limited revenge by
fixing an exact compensation for an injury" (McNeile). A money
payment is allowed in the Mishna. The law of retaliation exists
in Arabia today.

5:39 {Resist not him that is evil} (\me antistēnai tōi ponērōi\).
Here again it is the infinitive (second aorist active) in
indirect command. But is it "the evil man" or the "evil deed"?
The dative case is the same form for masculine and neuter.
Weymouth puts it "not to resist a (the) wicked man," Moffatt "not
to resist an injury," Goodspeed "not to resist injury." The
examples will go with either view. Jesus protested when smitten
on the cheek (Joh 18:22). And Jesus denounced the Pharisees
(Mt 23) and fought the devil always. The language of Jesus is
bold and picturesque and is not to be pressed too literally.
Paradoxes startle and make us think. We are expected to fill in
the other side of the picture. One thing certainly is meant by
Jesus and that is that personal revenge is taken out of our
hands, and that applies to "lynch-law." Aggressive or offensive
war by nations is also condemned, but not necessarily defensive
war or defence against robbery and murder. Professional pacifism
may be mere cowardice.

5:40 {Thy coat ... thy cloke also} (\ton chitōna sou kai to
. The "coat" is really a sort of shirt or undergarment
and would be demanded at law. A robber would seize first the
outer garment or cloke (one coat). If one loses the undergarment
at law, the outer one goes also (the more valuable one).

5:41 {Shall compel thee} (\aggareusei\). The Vulgate has
_angariaverit_. The word is of Persian origin and means public
couriers or mounted messengers (\aggaroi\) who were stationed by
the King of Persia at fixed localities, with horses ready for
use, to send royal messages from one to another. So if a man is
passing such a post-station, an official may rush out and compel
him to go back to another station to do an errand for the king.
This was called impressment into service. This very thing was
done to Simon of Cyrene who was thus compelled to carry the cross
of Christ (Mt 27:32, \ēggareusan\).

5:42 {Turn not thou away} (\mē apostraphēis\). Second aorist
passive subjunctive in prohibition. "This is one of the clearest
instances of the necessity of accepting the spirit and not the
letter of the Lord's commands (see vv.32,34,38). Not only does
indiscriminate almsgiving do little but injury to society, but
the words must embrace far more than almsgiving" (McNeile).
Recall again that Jesus is a popular teacher and expects men to
understand his paradoxes. In the organized charities of modern
life we are in danger of letting the milk of human kindness dry

5:43 {And hate thine enemy} (\kai misēseis\). This phrase is not
in Le 19:18, but is a rabbinical inference which Jesus
repudiates bluntly. The Talmud says nothing of love to enemies.
Paul in Ro 12:20 quotes Pr 25:22 to prove that we ought to
treat our enemies kindly. Jesus taught us to pray for our enemies
and did it himself even when he hung upon the cross. Our word
"neighbour" is "nigh-bor," one who is nigh or near like the Greek
word \plēsion\ here. But proximity often means strife and not
love. Those who have adjoining farms or homes may be positively
hostile in spirit. The Jews came to look on members of the same
tribe as neighbours as even Jews everywhere. But they hated the
Samaritans who were half Jews and lived between Judea and
Galilee. Jesus taught men how to act as neighbours by the parable
of the Good Samaritan (Lu 10:29ff.).

5:48 {Perfect} (\teleioi\). The word comes from \telos\, end,
goal, limit. Here it is the goal set before us, the absolute
standard of our Heavenly Father. The word is used also for
relative perfection as of adults compared with children.

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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Matthew: Chapter 5)