The relationship of a child of God will be manifested in the world by his shining and burning as a light for Christ, by his quiet and savory influence in society, and by his conformity to the Word of God in all things.
1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for their’s is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for their’s is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
13 ¶ Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
17 ¶ Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
21 ¶ Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
27 ¶ Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:
32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
33 ¶ Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:
34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne:
35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
38 ¶ Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.
41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
43 ¶ Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Matthew 5 Intro – J. Vernon McGee
Matthew 5:1-4 – J. Vernon McGee
Matthew 5:5-12 – J. Vernon McGee
Matthew 5:13-17 – J. Vernon McGee
Matthew 5:18-28 – J. Vernon McGee
Matthew 5:29-48 – J. Vernon McGee
Matthew 5:1-9 – Opening Words of Grace and Truth
There are many doors into the life of blessedness. It does not depend on outward possessions, such as worldly goods or high birth. There is no soul of man, however illiterate, lonely, or poor, that may not step suddenly into this life of beatitude and begin to drink of the river that makes glad the city of God. Our Lord lived this life before He described it. He has opened the doors for us. If you cannot enter by the gate of purity, can you not come in by that which is reserved for those who hunger and thirst?
Note the passive side of the blessed life. To be poor in spirit, that is, to be lowly in one’s self-estimate; to be meek, not always interested in one’s rights; to mourn for the evils of one’s own heart and for the sin and sorrow around; to hunger and thirst after Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. These dispositions do not purchase blessedness, but to cultivate them is to be blessed. On the positive side are mercy, purity, peace and willingness to suffer all things for Christ. Here is I Corinthians 13 anticipated! —Through the Bible Day by Day
Matthew 5:10-16 – The New Salt and Light of Human Society
We must expect to be persecuted, if we hold up the pure light of a consistent life amid the evils of the world. Men hate the light which exposes their misdeeds. They will tolerate you only so long as you leave them alone. But the universal testimony of those who have suffered thus is that the Son of man walks through the furnace beside His faithful martyrs.
Our holy lives ought to act as salt to arrest the corruption around us. It is said that the presence of a child has arrested many a crime. A sudden silence should fall on certain kinds of conversation when we enter the room. But it is very easy to lose our saltness, as did Lot in Sodom and the seven churches of Asia. See also Ezekiel 15:2-5. Our lives ought to serve also as light. The spirit of man is a candle. See Proverbs 20:27. We need to be kindled by the nature of God. Men light candles and God will light you. Let us burn and shine as John did, John 5:35. Beware of the bushel and ask God to choose your stand. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Matthew 5:12 – Those of us who have travelled in mountain countries know how one range of hills rises behind another, one ever seeming the highest, till yet a higher appears behind it; each has its own beauty, each its own peculiarity. But in mountain countries there is one range, one line of lofty summits, which always conveys a new sense of beauty, of awe, of sublimity, which nothing else can give – the range of eternal snow. High above all the rest, we see the white peaks standing out in the blue sky, catching the first rays of the rising sun, and the last rays of the sun as it departs. So is it with this range of high Christian character which our Lord has set before us in the Sermon on the Mount. High above all earthly lower happiness, the blessedness of those eight beatitudes towers into the heaven itself. They are white with the snows of eternity; they give a space, a meaning, a dignity to all the rest of the earth over which they brood. (Stanley)
The salt in Judea was a native salt mingled with various earthy substances. When exposed to the atmoshpere and rain, the saline particles in due time wasted away and what was left was an insipid earthy mass, looking like salt, but entirely destitute of a conserving element, and absolutely good for nothing. It was not only good for nothing, but absolutely destructive of all fertility wherever it might be thrown; therefore it was cast into the streets to be trodden under foot of men. The carcass of sheep or bullock might be buried deep in this worthless mass, and the process of corruption not be delayed a moment.
What an illustration is this of the absolute worthlessness of the form of godliness when the power is utterly lacking! “if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?” How can its salting, conserving property be recovered? What can you do with it? So your savorless religion is not only worthless in its influence on others, but of no good to yourself. It will save neither them nor you from corruption. How sad for one to have lost the power that belongs to the Christian calling, and instead of being the instrument of saving others, becoming a means of their perdition! Well does the Saviour say, in another place, “Have salt in yourselves” (Mark 9:50). (D.D. Demarest)
Matthew 5:14 – Every Christian is placed in a centre, of which the globe is the circumference; and each must fill that circumference, as every star forms a centre, and shines through the whole sphere; and yet all meet and mingle, forming one vast field of light. (Spencer)
Matthew 5:16 – They say the world has an eagle eye for anything inconsistent; and it has an eagle eye, sharp to discover the vagaries and inconsistencies in the defaulty and the unworthy. It has an eagle eye; but the eagle winks before the sun, and the burning iris of its eye shrinks abashed before the unsullied purity of noon. Let your light so shine before men, that others, awed and charmed by the consistency of your godly life, may come to inquire, and to say they have been with Jesus. (Punshon)
Matthew 5:17-26 – New Heart Righteousness
Our Lord’s mission was not to destroy but to construct. As noon fulfils dawn, and summer, spring; as manhood fulfils childhood and the perfect picture, the rude sketch, so does Jesus gather up, realize and make possible the highest ideals ever inspired in human hearts or written by God’s Spirit on the page of inspiration.
Under the terms, “the law and the prophets,” our Lord includes the entire range of the Old Testament. See Luke 24:44; Acts 13:15. Nothing could exceed our Lord’s reverence for the oracles of God. He repeatedly refers to them as of divine authority. His words and teachings are the endorsement of the venerable Scriptures which had nourished His people, preparing them for His further instruction. See Romans 3:31, 8:4.
The local magistrates’ court had the power of life and death, which was inflicted by beheading; the Sanhedrin executed by stoning; the outrageous criminal was cast out to Gehenna, Matthew 5:22. In Christ’s kingdom unwarranted anger is equivalent to the first, contempt to the second, and vehement passion to the third. To allow hate to smolder is a capital offence. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Matthew 5:17 – The ten stones of the arch on which our domestic happiness, the purity of society, the security of life and property, and the prosperity of nations stand, the Son of God came from heaven, our substitute, to obey; with His blood, not to abrogate, but to enforce; on His cross to exalt, not in His tomb to bury; and, cementing the arch with His precious blood, to lend to laws that had the highest authority of Sinai, the no less solemn and more affecting sanctions of Calvary. (Guthrie)
Matthew 5:27-37 – Pure Eyes and Clean Speech
The legislation of the old time insisted that no member of the commonwealth should commit adultery, and enforced terrible penalties. See Deuteronomy 22:22-24. But the Divine Man, who reads the human heart with perfect accuracy, goes behind the deed to its premonitory stages, legislates about the look that may inflame passion, and condemns the soul that does not instantly turn the eye from that which allures it, to the All-Holy, asking to be cleansed not with tears only but with blood. The first act in the religious life is to detect right and wrong in the thought or intention. If the tempter is arrested there, He is powerless to hurt. Kill the snake in the egg!
The prohibition against swearing does not deal with taking an oath in the law court. During His trial by the high priest, our Lord did not resent being put on His oath. On rare and solemn occasions we may have to bare our heads before God and ask Him to corroborate our word. But how different is this from the frequent and flippant use of expletives and extravagances of speech. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Matthew 5:38-48 – Brotherly Relationship
In mentioning the second mile, our Lord refers to a well-known Eastern custom of forwarding messages by relays of forced labor. We leave our homes on a given morning, anticipating no evil. Suddenly and unexpectedly there are sounds of horses’ hoofs and a great demand is thrust upon us. We are sent off in a direction we never contemplated and are compelled to go one mile. It is the second that tests character; and your actions with respect to it will determine whether you have entered into the spirit of Christ and are willing to serve others for love’s sake and at cost of peril and inconvenience to yourself.
Love to one’s neighbor appears in many passages in the Old Testament. See Exodus 23:4-5. But we have to love enemies and resemble God’s sun and rain, Matthew 5:45. You say that it is impossible! Remember those sweet old words: “I taught Ephraim also to go,” Hosea 11:1-4. Ask your Heavenly Father to teach you to love. Remember Galatians 5:22. Dare to believe that He will perfect what concerneth you. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Matthew 5:45—That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.
We are made sons by regeneration, through faith in the Son; but we are called to make our calling and election sure—to approve and vindicate our right to that sacred name. We can only do this by showing in word and act that the Divine life and principles animate us.
Jesus teaches that the life of God in the hearts of his children will show itself in pure and unaffected love. He says in effect, “God is good: God forgives: God bears with wrong and sin: God loves those who hate Him, blesses those who curse, bestows his favors on the false and unjust, suffers long and is kind; believes, hopes, bears all things. Therefore, if you are his children, do as He does, as I do: follow Me: live as I live: become as a bird, a lily, a little child: be pure, merciful, lowly, gentle, strong in righteousness—and you will be called the sons of God; yours will be the kingdom of heaven.”
There were several things the Lord could not say fully in this opening statement. That obedience to his precepts would inevitably conduct them to a cross; that the strength for such a life could only be secured through the coming of the Comforter; that the progress of the Kingdom would be slow and arduous—these things were for the time veiled and hidden. But his main object was to teach that Christianity must be a life after the model of God’s. Christian disciple, art thou living this life? Not by a creed, a ritual, a profession; but by living the life, is thy true nature discerned, whether then art wheat or tare, child or hypocrite. Sometimes we are called to be as the sun, ripening souls by our genial love; at other times we refresh them as rain watering the grass. —Our Daily Homily