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them. 18 For I assuredly tell you, that as long as heaven and earth endure, there shall be nothing of the law which shall not be fulfilled, even to the least jot or tittle. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, or shall teach men so to do, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven ; but he that shall observe and teach them, shall be called great
ver. 18. Matt. xxiv. 35. Luke xvi. 17. v. 19. Jam. ii. 10.
those it contains, as the Pharisees did in their traditions, Matt. xv. 3. 6. This is chiefly meant of the moral law, and those rules of morality that occur in the prophetical writings. Matt. v. and xxii. 39, 40. But it may also be understood of the ceremonial law which Jesus Christ fulfilled in his own person. Rom. viii. 3, 4. X. 4. Gal. iii. 24.
To fulfil them.] i. e. 1. To observe them myself. See a like expression, Rom. xiii. 8, 10. and comp. James ii. 8. Gal. iv. 14. John xxi. 46. And, 2. To recommend and procure the perfect observance of them. Rom. iii. 4. Phil. iii. 3.
18. Assuredly.] The word Amen, which is here translated assuredly, is of a Hebrew original, and frequently retained by the Evangelists,
St. Luke hath sometimes rendered it by a word signifying yes, and at other times truly. See Luke ix. 27. comp. with Matt. xvi. 28, &c. The Seventy have done the same. When the word Amen is a sign of wishing, it then signifies so be it, as the Seventy have rendered it.
As long as heaven and earth endure.] Gr. till heaven and earth pass. Which is a proverbial expression, denoting the utter impossibility of a thing.
There shall be nothing of the laro, &c.] Gr. one iota, &c. shall not pass from the law. This is to be understood of the whole law, both ceremonial and moral. i. e. No man shall be dispensed from the duties enjoined by the law; and the types and oracles it contains shall be exactly fulfilled, as well as what Jesus Christ hath taught or foretold. See Matt. xxiv. 35.
Iota.] This is the name given by the Greeks to the letter i, which is the least of letters.
Tittle.] Thus we have rendered the Greek word (kepala) which signifies the least part of a letter, or a point.
v. 19. One of these least commandments.] i. e. Those that are reckoned to be of the least importance.
Shall be called the least.] i. e. shall never be admitted there. Thus, Matt. xix. 33. Luke xiii, 30. the least are those that shall be excluded. Shall be called is the same Hebraism as hath been observed before, i. 23. v. 9. that is, he shall be or shall be reckoned such. We may also put this sense upon these words, he shall be the least among Christians as Matt. xi. ll,
in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I declare to you, that if your righteousness exceed not the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall by no means enter into the kingdom of heaven.
21 You have heard that it has been said to the ancients, Thou shalt not kill, and whosoever shall kill, shall be punished by the judgment. 22 But I say unto you, whosoever shall be angry with his brother without
ver. 20. Matt. xxiii. 23, 24, 25, 28. Luke xi. 39. v. 21. Gen. ix. 6. Exod. xx. 13. Lev. xxiv. 21. Numb. xxxv. 16, 17. Deut. v. 17. v. 22. 1 John ili. 15. Eph. iv. 26, 27.
Kingdom of heaven.] See the note on Matt. iii. 2.
V. 20. If your righteousness.] Except you observe the law better than the Pharisees do, who notwithstanding pass for the strictest observers of it, and the holiest persons in the nation, &c. Acts xxvi. 5. See, in the following verses, the characters of the pretended righteous. ness of the Pharisees, and the restrictions they gave the law, and the righteousness that is enjoined by it.
You shall by no means enter.] i.e. Unless you lead more strict and virtuous lives than do the Pharisees, you are not fit to be Christ. ians, and consequently you shall not enter into heaven. The kingdom of heaven signifies here both Christianity, and the happiness of heaven, which is the effect and reward of the true profession of Christianity. See Matt. iii. 2.
V. 21. That it hath been said to the ancients.] Or by the ancients ; that is, by Moses to your ancestors. Jesus Christ instances in the commandments of the second table, how the Jews had corrupted the word of God by their traditions: but he purposes here these commandments in the same sense as they were understood by the Pharisees, and sometimes with the glosses they put upon them. And from these it is be endeavours to vindicate and rescue them.
By the judgment.] This is the name that was given by the Jews, to a court of judicature among them, consisting of 23 judges, that had power of life and death. The meaning then of these words, he shall be liable to be punished by the judgment, is, he shall be guilty of death, Deut, xvi. 18. xxi. 2. But here it is to be noted, that though Jesus Christ makes use of the same expressions as were used by the Jews to denote temporal punishments, yet his words are to be figuratively understood, and applied to the future punishments of the wicked, of which he dis.. tinguishes the different degrees according to the difference of crimes.
v. 22. Whosoever shall be angry.] Jesus Christ does not mean here, that anger, or every scornful and reviling word, deserves the same punishment from the magistrates as murder, that is, death. But only, tbat anger, being an indirect violation of the sixth commandment, thou
cause, shall be punished by the judgment; and he that shall say to his brother Raca, shall be punished by the Sanhedrim : but whosoever shall call him, fool, shall be punished with the fire of Gehenna.
shalt not kill, because it tends and disposes men to murder ; the judg. ment of God will take cognizance of anger, desires of revenge, hatred, opprobrious and reviling language, &c. 1 John iii. 15.
Without cause.] These words are found in almost all the Greek manuscripts now extant, but are omitted in most manuscripts of the Vulgate. The reason of which is, that St. Jerom, who revised the ancient Latin version, fancied they ought to be left out. But the Syriac translation hath retained them, as have also the printed copies.
With his brother.] i. e. with another Christian. This is the mean. ing of the word (adelpos) in the sacred writings; and that the same sense is to be put upon it here, is evident from the next verse. See Matt. xviii. 15. and numberless places in the acts and epistles. The Jews would give the name of brother to no one that was not an Israelite : they vouchsafed to give that of neighbour to a proselyte, but would by no means bestow it on a Gentile. Jesus Christ did not design to authorise a like distinction when he made use here of the word brother, for he elsewhere enjoins his disciples to forgive all men in general, and shews that our neighbour is any man whatsoever, Luke x. 29, 30.
Raca.] A term of contempt and reviling, frequently to be found in Jewish authors, signifying a vain, empty fellow.
Sanhedrim.] This word is formed from the Greek (ovvédprov.) and signifies the council or senate of the nation. It consisted of 72 judges, or, according to others, of 70 besides the president. It used to sit at Jerusalem. Concerning the place where it met, see John xix. 13. This was the supreme court of judicature among the Jews, and to it appeals were made from inferior tribunals. It took cognizance only of the most important matters, as, for instance, such wherein a whole tribe was concerned, those that related to the high-priest, a false prophet, idolatry, treason, &c. The meaning of Jesus Christ in this place is, that scoffing and deriding our brethren is so great a sin, that it ought to be ranked among those that used to be punished only by the Sanhedrim, which took cognizance of none but the most grievous offences. These words are to be understood like the foregoing passage. See the note on the word judgment.
Fool.] This reviling expression adds to the foregoing one an idea of maliciousness and injustice. Folly in the style of the Hebrews is commonly the same as wickedness and impiety. See Ps. xiv. 1. lxxxv.
With the fire of Gehenna. ] Gr. The Gehenna of that is, the burning Gehenna. Gehenna is a Hebrew word compounded of Ge and Hinnon, i. e. the valley of Hinnon, which was a place near Jerusalem, Josh. XV. 8. where the Canaanites, and afterwards the children of
23 If therefore, when you present your offering at the altar, you there call to mind that your brother has any thing against you; 24 leave your offering before the altar, and go and be first reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering : 25 Agree with your adversary forthwith, whilst you are in the way with him, least your adversary deliver you to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be cast into prison. 26 I tell you assuredly, you shall not come out from thence till you have paid the last farthing.
27 You have heard that it hath been said to the ancients, Thou shalt not commit adultery. 28 But I
Ver. 24. Mark xi. 25. Coloss. iii. 13. v. 25. Luke xii. 58, 59. v. 27. Exod. v. 14. Deut. v. 18. v. 28. Job. i. 31. Prov. vi. 25. Ecclus. ix. 5, 7, 8.
Israel, were wont to make their children pass through the fire to Moloch. See 2 Kings xxiii. 10. xvi. 17. Jer. vii. 31, 32. Jesus Christ makes use of that word here to denote the torments of hell. See Mark ix. 43, and ver. 29, 30, of this chapter. It was also made use of by the Jews to signify hell-fire. Of which we have an instance in the Chaldee paraphrast on Isai. xxxiii. 14, where what we have translated everlasting burning, is rendered the Gehenna of eternal fire.
V. 23. When you present.] When you are about to offer, when you carry your oblation into the temple.
Your offering. ] Your voluntary sacrifice, Lev. i. 2. Matt. xxiii. 18. Or else it might be some piece of money that was put into the treasury.
That your brother hath any thing against you. ] i. e. That you have done bim any wrong, for which he is angry with you. See Rev. ii. 4, 20.
v. 24. Go and be first reconciled.) We read in some ancient Jewish writing, that the day of expiation did not atone for a man's offences against his brother, unless he first was reconciled to him. V, 25.
Whilst you are in the way. ] Going to the judge. See Luke xii. 58. Tais meaning is, that we should in this life prevent the judgment of God by a speedy reconciliation.
v. 26. Farthing. ] This was the least brass coin the Romans had. In a figurative sense, which is that of Jesus Christ here, the prison is taken for hell, out of which the unrelenting sinner shall never come, because he shall never be able to make satisfaction. v. 28.
Looks &c.] See the precepts and maxims the Jewish writers have laid down upon this subject. Eccles. ix. 5, &c. xli. 27. xlii. 12.
say unto you, whosoever looks upon a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.
29 If your right eye be to you an occasion of sinning, pluck it out, and cast it from you; for it is better for you, that one of your members should perish, than that your whole body should be thrown into Gehenna. 30 So if your right hand be to you an occasion of sinning, cut it off, and cast it from you ; for it is better for you that one of your members should perish, than that your whole body should be thrown into Gehenna.
31 It hath been said also, if any one puts away his wife, let him give her a libel of divorce. 32 But I
say unto you, whosoever shall put away his wife, except on
ver. 29, 30. Matt. xviii. 8, 9. Mark ix. 43, 45, 47.
Coloss. iii. 5. v. 31, 32. Deut. xxiv. 1. Jer. iii. 1. Matt. xix. 7. Mark, x. 4, 11. Luke xvi. 18. Rom. vii. 33. 1 Cor. vii, 10, 11, & 39.
To lust. ] Or, till he lusts after her. This word denotes all loose desires, which are either the causes or effects of impure looks; to which may be added all the arts and devices that are used to satisfy these wicked inclinations. There occurs in the Jewish writings a maxim very much like that which is here laid down by Jesus Christ, namely, that he who looks on a woman with an ill design is guilty of adultery. The Pharisees must have had another kind of morality in the time of Jesus Christ. V. 29.
Be to you an occasion of sinning.] Gr. Scandalizes you. The Greek word (orávòalov) properly signifies a snare or a stumbling block. And figuratively, whatever leads into sin, or proves an occasion of sinning. To scandalize therefore signifies here, to be an occasion to sin, or cause to sin, to turn from piety and virtue.
Pluck it out. ] Every one knows that these expressions, as well as the following ones, are not to be literally understood. The meaning of them is that we must avoid all occasions of sin, and have such a command over our senses, that they may never prove the instruments of sin. V. 31.
A libel of divorce.] This was a note or writing whereby a man declared that he dismissed his wife, and gave her leave to marry whomsoever she would. The Jews shamefully abused the liberty they had of putting away their wives, so that one is amazed to find what slight and trifling causes of a divorce are allowed of in the writings. See Matt. xix. 31. and Ecclus. xxv. 3.
V. 32. On account of adultery. ] There is only in the Greek, for fornication, but the word tropvela is bere taken for adultery.