1 When#tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated. he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain.#tn Or “up a mountain” (εἰς τὸ ὄρος, eis to oro").sn The expression up the mountain here may be idiomatic or generic, much like the English “he went to the hospital” (cf. 15:29), or even intentionally reminiscent of Exod 24:12 (LXX), since the genre of the Sermon on the Mount seems to be that of a new Moses giving a new law. After he sat down his disciples came to him. 2 Then#tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative. he began to teach#tn Grk “And opening his mouth he taught them, saying.” The imperfect verb ἐδίδασκεν (edidasken) has been translated ingressively. them by saying:
3 “Blessed#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. are the poor in spirit,#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. for the kingdom of heaven belongs#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. to them.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.#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 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger#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). and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children#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). of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
11 “Blessed are you when people#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. insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely#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. on account of me. 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
13 “You are the salt#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. of the earth. But if salt loses its flavor,#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. how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people. 14 You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 People#tn Grk “Nor do they light.” The plural in Greek is indefinite, referring to people in general. do not light a lamp and put it under a basket#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). but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 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.
Fulfillment of the Law and Prophets
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have not come to abolish these things but to fulfill them.#tn Grk “not come to abolish but to fulfill.” Direct objects (“these things,” “them”) were frequently omitted in Greek when clear from the context, but have been supplied here to conform to contemporary English style. 18 I#tn Grk “For I tell.” Here an explanatory γάρ (gar) has not been translated. tell you the truth,#tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amhn), I say to you.” until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter#tn Grk “Not one iota or one serif.” sn The smallest letter refers to the smallest Hebrew letter (yod) and the stroke of a letter to a serif (a hook or projection on a Hebrew letter). will pass from the law until everything takes place. 19 So anyone who breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others#tn Grk “teaches men” ( in a generic sense, people). to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever obeys them and teaches others to do so will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the experts in the law#tn Or “that of the scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 2:4. and the Pharisees,#sn See the note on Pharisees in 3:7. you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Anger and Murder
21 “You have heard that it was said to an older generation,#tn Grk “to the ancient ones.” ‘Do not murder,’#sn A quotation from Exod 20:13; Deut 5:17. and ‘whoever murders will be subjected to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that anyone who is angry with a brother#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. will be subjected to judgment. And whoever insults#tn Grk “whoever says to his brother ‘Raca,’” an Aramaic word of contempt or abuse meaning “fool” or “empty head.” a brother will be brought before#tn Grk “subjected,” “guilty,” “liable.” the council,#tn Grk “the Sanhedrin.” and whoever says ‘Fool’#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). will be sent#tn Grk “subjected,” “guilty,” “liable.” to fiery hell.#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). 23 So then, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 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. 25 Reach agreement#tn Grk “Make friends.” quickly with your accuser while on the way to court,#tn The words “to court” are not in the Greek text but are implied. or he#tn Grk “the accuser.” may hand you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the warden, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 I tell you the truth,#tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amhn), I say to you.” you will never get out of there until you have paid the last penny!#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.
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’#sn A quotation from Exod 20:14; Deut 5:17. 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 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.#sn On this word here and in the following verse, see the note on the word hell in 5:22. 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.
31 “It was said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a legal document.’#sn A quotation from Deut 24:1. 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.
33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to an older generation,#tn Grk “the ancient ones.” ‘Do not break an oath, but fulfill your vows to the Lord.’#sn A quotation from Lev 19:12. 34 But I say to you, do not take oaths at all – not by heaven, because it is the throne of God, 35 not by earth, because it is his footstool, and not by Jerusalem,#map For location see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4. because it is the city of the great King. 36 Do not take an oath by your head, because you are not able to make one hair white or black. 37 Let your word be ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no.’ More than this is from the evil one.#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.
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’#sn A quotation from Exod 21:24; Lev 24:20. 39 But I say to you, do not resist the evildoer.#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). But whoever strikes you on the#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. right cheek, turn the other to him as well. 40 And if someone wants to sue you and to take your tunic,#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. give him your coat also. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile,#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. go with him two. 42 Give to the one who asks you,#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). and do not reject#tn Grk “do not turn away from.” the one who wants to borrow from you.
Love for Enemies
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’#sn A quotation from Lev 19:18. and ‘hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemy and#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. pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be like#tn Grk “be sons of your Father in heaven.” Here, however, the focus is not on attaining a relationship (becoming a child of God) but rather on being the kind of person who shares the characteristics of God himself (a frequent meaning of the Semitic idiom “son of”). See L&N 58.26. your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors#sn The tax collectors would bid to collect taxes for the Roman government and then add a surcharge, which they kept. Since tax collectors worked for Rome, they were viewed as traitors to their own people and were not well liked. do the same, don’t they? 47 And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they? 48 So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.#sn This remark echoes the more common OT statements like Lev 19:2 or Deut 18:13: “you must be holy as I am holy.”