Gospel of Matthew Chapter 7:13-21, 24-27 Antique Commentary Quotes

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 7:13

By the narrow gate (dia tēs stenēs pulēs). The Authorized Version “at the strait gate” misled those who did not distinguish between “strait” and “straight.” The figure of the Two Ways had a wide circulation in Jewish and Christian writings (cf. Deu_30:19; Jer_21:8; Psa_1:1-6). See the Didache i-vi; Barnabas xviii-xx. “The narrow gate” is repeated in Mat_7:14 and straitened the way (tethlimmenē hē hodos) added. The way is “compressed,” narrowed as in a defile between high rocks, a tight place like stenochōria in Rom_8:35. “The way that leads to life involves straits and afflictions” (McNeile). Vincent quotes the Pinax or Tablet of Cebes, a contemporary of Socrates: “Seest thou not, then, a little door, and a way before the door, which is not much crowded, but very few travel it? This is the way that leadeth unto true culture.” “The broad way” (euruchōros) is in every city, town, village, with the glaring white lights that lure to destruction.

 

Adam Clarke
Matthew 7:13

Enter ye in at the strait gate – Our Savior seems to allude here to the distinction between the public and private ways mentioned by the Jewish lawyers. The public roads were allowed to be sixteen cubits broad, the private ways only four. The words in the original are very emphatic: Enter in (to the kingdom of heaven) through This strait gate, δια της στενης πυλης, i.e. of doing to every one as you would he should do unto you; for this alone seems to be the strait gate which our Lord alludes to.

For wide is the gate – And very broad, ευρυχωρος, from ευρυς, broad, and χωρος, a place, a spacious roomy place, that leadeth forward, απαγουσα, into That destruction, εις την απωλειαν, meaning eternal misery; intimating, that it is much more congenial, to the revengeful, covetous heart of fallen man, to take every advantage of another, and to enrich himself at his expense, rather than to walk according to the rule laid down before, by our blessed Lord, and that acting contrary to it is the way to everlasting misery. With those who say it means repentance, and forsaking sin, I can have no controversy. That is certainly a gate, and a strait one too, through which every sinner must turn to God, in order to find salvation. But the doing to every one as we would they should do unto us, is a gate extremely strait, and very difficult, to every unregenerate mind.

 

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_7:14
Because (ὅτι); for (Revised Version); “many ancient authorities read, How narrow is the gate, etc.”. The reading, “how” (τί) is much easier, as avoiding the difficulty of the connexion of this verse with the preceding, but probably ὅτι is right. The connexion is either that it is parallel to the first ὅτι, and thus gives a second reason for decision in entering through the narrow gate; or, and better, that it gives the reason for the statement in Mat_7:13—many pass along the wrong way because the right way requires at the very outset so much determination and afterwards so much self denial.

Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way; narrow is the gate, and straitened the way (Revised Version). Not only is the gate narrow, but the way itself seems compressed (τεθλιμμένη) by rocks, etc., on either side.

That leadeth unto life (εἰς τὴν ζωήν). Observe, Christ does not say, “life eternal.” He only cares to emphasize the thought of life in the fullest nature of life—life as “the fulfilment of the highest idea of being: perfect truth in perfect action” (Bishop Westcott, on 1Jn_3:14).

And few there be that; Revised Version, and few be they that (Mat_7:13, note). Our Lord here affirms more than the disciples ask in Luk_13:23; for there the question deals with those in a state of salvation (οἱσωζόμενοι), here those finally saved. Find it; i.e. the gate and all it leads to. The narrow gate is here looked at as involving life. Find. It needs a search (contrast Luk_13:13). But there is the promise of Luk_13:7, “Seek, and ye shall find.”

 

A.T.Robertson
Matthew 7:15

False prophets (tōn pseudoprophētōn). There were false prophets in the time of the Old Testament prophets. Jesus will predict “false Messiahs and false prophets” (Mat_24:24) who will lead many astray. They came in due time posing as angels of light like Satan, Judaizers (2Co_11:13.) and Gnostics (1Jo_4:1; 1Ti_4:1). Already false prophets were on hand when Jesus spoke on this occasion (cf. Act_13:6; 2Pe_2:1). In outward appearance they look like sheep in the sheep’s clothing which they wear, but within they are “ravening wolves” (lukoi harpages), greedy for power, gain, self. It is a tragedy that such men and women reappear through the ages and always find victims. Wolves are more dangerous than dogs and hogs.

 

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_7:15
Matthew only. Beware. The warning against being led from the right entrance and the right way is all the more emphatic for there being no adversative particle in the true text.

Beware of false prophets. The whole class of them (τῶν). Not, observe, “false teachers” (2Pe_2:1), as though these persons only falsely interpreted fundamental truths, but “false prophets,” as falsely claiming to bring messages from God. They claim to bring from God the true message of salvation, but their claim is false. These were doubtless found, at the time that our Lord spoke the words, especially among the Pharisees; but when St. Matthew recorded them, chiefly among Christians, either on the Jewish or on the Gnostic side (Col_2:8; 1Ti_6:20, 1Ti_6:21; cf. also 1Jn_4:1 and ‘Did.,’ § 12.).

Which; qualitative (οἵτινες); seeing that they. Come unto you in sheep’s clothing. In, as it were, the skins of sheep (ἐν ἐνδύμασι προβάτων), professing simplicity and gentleness, and (for, perhaps, this thought is also included) claiming to be members of God’s true flock. Externally they are all this, but at heart they are something very different.

But inwardly they are ravening wolves. The thought of “ravening” (ἅρπαγες) is of both violence and greed. These false prophets are not merely wicked at heart and opposed to the truth, but they wish to injure you, and that for their own gain (cf Gal_6:13). “Of the ravenousness of wolves among the Jewes, take these two examples besides others. The elders proclaimed a fast in their cities upon this occasion, because the wolves had devoured two little children beyond Jordan. More than three hundred sheep of the sons of Judah ben Shamoe were torn by wolves” (Lightfoot, ‘Hor. Hebr.;’ cf. Eze_34:4, on false shepherds).

 

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 7:16

Ye shall know them by their fruits – Fruits, in the Scripture and Jewish phraseology, are taken for works of any kind. “A man’s works,” says one, “are the tongue of his heart, and tell honestly whether he is inwardly corrupt or pure.” By these works you may distinguish (επιγνωσεσθε) these ravenous wolves from true pastors. The judgment formed of a man by his general conduct is a safe one: if the judgment be not favorable to the person, that is his fault, as you have your opinion of him from his works, i.e. the confession of his own heart.

 

Adam Clarke
Matthew 7:17

So every good tree – As the thorn can only produce thorns, not grapes; and the thistle, not figs, but prickles; so an unregenerate heart will produce fruits of degeneracy. As we perfectly know that a good tree will not produce bad fruit, and the bad tree will not, cannot produce good fruit, so we know that the profession of godliness, while the life is ungodly, is imposture, hypocrisy, and deceit. A man cannot be a saint and a sinner at the same time. Let us remember, that as the good tree means a good heart, and the good fruit, a holy life, and that every heart is naturally vicious; so there is none but God who can pluck up the vicious tree, create a good heart, plant, cultivate, water, and make it continually fruitful in righteousness and true holiness.

 

Adam Clarke
Matthew 7:18

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit – Love to God and man is the root of the good tree; and from this principle all its fruit is found. To teach, as some have done, that a state of salvation may be consistent with the greatest crimes, (such as murder and adultery in David), or that the righteous necessarily sin in all their best works, is really to make the good tree bring forth bad fruit, and to give the lie to the Author of eternal truth.

 

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_7:19
Matthew only (cf. Mat_3:10, vide infra). Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. A parenthesis expressing the terrible fate of those the general product (verse 16, note) of whose life is not good. Christ will warn his followers plainly against listening to them. Observe that the form of the sentence (πᾶν δένδρον μὴ ποιοῦν καρπόν, κ.τ.λ.) implies that all trees will be cut down unless there is a reason for the contrary; that the normal event (the natural result of universal sin, apart, of course, from Christ’s atonement) is that men are condemned and perish. In Mat_3:10 this general statement is applied (οὖν) to a definite time of impending judgment.

 

Adam Clarke
Matthew 7:20

Wherefore by their fruits, etc. – This truth is often repeated, because our eternal interests depend so much upon it. Not to have good fruit is to have evil: there can be no innocent sterility in the invisible tree of the heart. He that brings forth no fruit, and he that brings forth bad fruit, are both only fit for the fire.

 

Adam Clarke
Matthew 7:21

Not every one – Ου πας, a Hebraism, say some, for no person. It is a Graecism and a Latinism too: ου παντων θεων, not All of the gods, i.e. not Any of the gods, Hom. Odyss. Z. 240. So Terence Sine omni periclo, without All danger, i.e. without Any danger. And Juvenal: Sine omni labe, without All imperfection, i.e. without Any. See more in Mr. Wakefield. The sense of this verse seems to be this: No person, by merely acknowledging my authority, believing in the Divinity of my nature, professing faith in the perfection of my righteousness, and infinite merit of my atonement, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven – shall have any part with God in glory; but he who doeth the will of my Father – he who gets the bad tree rooted up, the good tree planted, and continues to bring forth fruit to the glory and praise of God. There is a good saying among the rabbins on this subject. “A man should be as vigorous as a panther, as swift as an eagle, as fleet as a stag, and as strong as a lion, to do the will of his Creator.”

 

Adam Clarke
Matthew 7:24

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine – That is, the excellent doctrines laid down before in this and the two preceding chapters. There are several parables or similitudes like to this in the rabbins. I shall quote but the two following:

Rabbi Eleasar said, “The man whose knowledge exceeds his works, to whom is he like? He is like a tree which had many branches, and only a few roots; and, when the stormy winds came, it was plucked up and eradicated. But he whose good works are greater than his knowledge, to what is he like? He is like a tree which had few branches, and many roots; so that all the winds of heaven could not move it from its place.” Pirke Aboth.

Elisha, the son of Abuja, said, “The man who studies much in the law, and maintains good works, is like to a man who built a house, laying stones at the foundation, and building brick upon them; and, though many waters come against it, they cannot move it from its place. But the man who studies much in the law, and does not maintain good words, is like to a man who, in building his house, put brick at the foundation, and laid stones upon them, so that even gentle waters shall overthrow that house.” Aboth Rab. Nath.

Probably our Lord had this or some parable in his eye: but how amazingly improved in passing through his hands! In our Lord’s parable there is dignity, majesty, and point, which we seek for in vain in the Jewish archetype.

I will liken him unto a wise man – To a prudent man – ανδρι φρονιμω, to a prudent man, a man of sense and understanding, who, foreseeing the evil hideth himself, who proposes to himself the best end, and makes use of the proper means to accomplish it. True wisdom consists in getting the building of our salvation completed: to this end we must build on the Rock, Christ Jesus, and make the building firm, by keeping close to the maxims of his Gospel, and having our tempers and lives conformed to its word and spirit; and when, in order to this, we lean on nothing but the grace of Christ, we then build upon a solid rock.

 

Adam Clarke
Matthew 7:25

And the rain descended – floods came – winds blew – In Judea, and in all countries in the neighborhood of the tropics, the rain sometimes falls in great torrents, producing rivers, which sweep away the soil from the rocky hills; and the houses, which are built of brick only dried in the sun, of which there are whole villages in the east, literally melt away before those rains, and the land-floods occasioned by them. There are three general kinds of trials to which the followers of God are exposed; and to which, some think, our Lord alludes here:

First, those of temporal afflictions, coming in the course of Divine Providence: these may be likened to the torrents of rain.

Secondly, those which come from the passions of men, and which may be likened to the impetuous rivers.

Thirdly, those which come from Satan and his angels, and which, like tempestuous whirlwinds, threaten to carry every thing before them. He alone, whose soul is built on the Rock of ages, stands all these shocks; and not only stands in, but profits by them.

Adam Clarke
Matthew 7:26

And every one that heareth – and doeth them not – Was there ever a stricter system of morality delivered by God to man, than in this sermon? He who reads or hears it, and does not look to God to conform his soul and life to it, and notwithstanding is hoping to enter into the kingdom of heaven, is like the fool who built his house on the sand. When the rain, the rivers, and the winds come, his building must fall, and his soul be crushed into the nethermost pit by its ruins. Talking about Christ, his righteousness, merits, and atonement, while the person is not conformed to his word and spirit, is no other than solemn self-deception.

Let it be observed, that it is not the man who hears or believes these sayings of Christ, whose building shall stand, when the earth and its works are burnt up; but the man who Does them.

Many suppose that the law of Moses is abolished, merely because it is too strict, and impossible to be observed; and that the Gospel was brought in to liberate us from its obligations; but let all such know, that in the whole of the old covenant nothing can be found so exceedingly strict and holy as this sermon, which Christ lays down as the rule by which we are to walk. “Then, the fulfilling of these precepts is the purchase of glory.” No, it is the Way only to that glory which has already been purchased by the blood of the Lamb. To him that believes, all things are possible.

 

Philip Schaff
Matthew 7:27
Mat_7:27. The description of a storm is repeated, but the result is different; the winds smote upon that house; and it fell. Instead of adding, ‘for it had been founded on the sand,’ our Lord closes the illustration, and at the same time the discourse, which began with the word, ‘blessed,’ by saying, and great was the fall of it. He emphasizes the completeness of the ruin. Admiration of the Sermon on the Mount, without obedience of its precepts, involves destruction, inevitable and utter. In order to do ‘these sayings,’ we must follow Christ further.

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Gospel of Matthew Chapter 5:17-22, 43-45 Antique Commentary Quotes

Adam Clarke
Matthew 5:17

Think not that I am come to destroy the law – Do not imagine that I am come to violate the law καταλυσαι, from κατα, and λυω, I loose, violate, or dissolve – I am not come to make the law of none effect – to dissolve the connection which subsists between its several parts, or the obligation men are under to have their lives regulated by its moral precepts; nor am I come to dissolve the connecting reference it has to the good things promised. But I am come, πληρωσαι, to complete – to perfect its connection and reference, to accomplish every thing shadowed forth in the Mosaic ritual, to fill up its great design; and to give grace to all my followers, πληρωσαι, to fill up, or complete, every moral duty. In a word, Christ completed the law:

1st. In itself, it was only the shadow, the typical representation, of good things to come; and he added to it that which was necessary to make it perfect, His Own Sacrifice, without which it could neither satisfy God, nor sanctify men.

2dly. He completed it in himself by submitting to its types with an exact obedience, and verifying them by his death upon the cross.

3dly. He completes this law, and the sayings of his prophets, in his members, by giving them grace to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and their neighbor as themselves; for this is all the law and the prophets.

It is worthy of observation, that the word גמר gamar, among the rabbins, signifies not only to fulfill, but also to teach; and, consequently, we may infer that our Lord intimated, that the law and the prophets were still to be taught or inculcated by him and his disciples; and this he and they have done in the most pointed manner. See the Gospels and epistles; and see especially this sermon on the mount, the Epistle of James, and the Epistle to the Hebrews. And this meaning of the word gives the clear sense of the apostle’s words, Col_1:25. Whereof I am made a minister, πληρωσαι τον λογον του Θεου, to fulfill the word of God, i.e. to teach the doctrine of God.

Adam Clarke
Matthew 5:18

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven – In the very commencement of his ministry, Jesus Christ teaches the instability of all visible things. “The heaven which you see, and which is so glorious, and the earth which you inhabit and love, shall pass away; for the things which are seen are temporal, προσκαιρα, are for a time; but the things which are not seen are eternal αιωνια, ever-during,” 2Co_4:18. And the Word of the Lord endureth for ever.

One jot or one tittle – One yod, (י), the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet. One tittle or point, κεραια, either meaning those points which serve for vowels in this language, if they then existed; or the seraphs, or points of certain letters, such as ר resh, or ד daleth, ה he, or ח cheth (as the change of any of these into the other would make a most essential alteration in the sense, or, as the rabbins say, destroy the world). Or our Lord may refer to the little ornaments which certain letters assume on their tops, which cause them to appear like small branches. The following letters only can assume coronal apices, ץ tsaddi – ג gimel – ז zain – נ nun – ט teth – ע ayin – ש shin. These, with the coronal apices, often appear in MSS.
That this saying, one jot or one tittle, is a proverbial mode of expression among the Jews, and that it expressed the meaning given to it above, is amply proved by the extracts in Lightfoot and Schoettgen. The reader will not be displeased to find a few of them here, if he can bear with the allegorical and strongly figurative language of the rabbins.

“The book of Deuteronomy came and prostrated itself before the Lord, and said: ‘O Lord of the world, thou hast written in me thy law; but now, a Testament defective in some parts is defective in all. Behold, Solomon endeavors to root the letter yod out of me.’ (In this text, Deu_17:5. לא ירבה נשים lo yirbeh, nashim, he shall not multiply wives). The holy blessed God answered, ‘Solomon and a thousand such as he shall perish, but the least word shall not perish out of thee.’”

In Shir Hashirim Rabba, are these words:
“Should all the inhabitants of the earth gather together, in order to whiten one feather of a crow, they could not succeed: so, if all the inhabitants of the earth should unite to abolish one י yod, which is the smallest letter in the whole law, they should not be able to effect it.”

In Vayikra Rabba, s. 19, it is said:
“Should any person in the words of Deu_6:4, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is אחד achad, One Lord, change the ד daleth into a ר resh, he would ruin the world.” [Because, in that case, the word אחר achar, would signify a strange or false God].
“Should any one, in the words of Exo_34:14, Thou shalt worship no Other, אחר achar, God, change ר resh into ד daleth, he would ruin the world.” [Because the command would then run, Thou shalt not worship the Only or true God].

“Should any one in the words of Lev_22:32, Neither shall ye Profane תחללו techelelu, my holy name, change ח cheth into ה he, he would ruin the world.” [Because the sense of the commandment would then be, Neither shall ye Praise my holy name].

“Should any one, in the words of Psa_150:6, Let every thing that hath breath Praise, תהלל tehalel, the Lord, change ה, he into ח cheth, he would ruin the world.” [Because the command would then run, Let every thing that hath breath Profane the Lord].

“Should any one, in the words of Jer_5:10, They lied Against the Lord, ביהוה beihovah, change ב beth into כ caph, he would ruin the world.” [For then the words would run, They lied Like the Lord].

“Should any one, in the words of Hosea, Hos_5:7, They have dealt treacherously, ביהוה beihovah, Against the Lord, change ב beth into כ caph, he would ruin the world.” [For then the words would run, They have dealt treacherously Like the Lord].

“Should any one, in the words of 1Sa_2:2, There is none holy As the Lord, change כ caph into ב beth, he would ruin the world.” [For then the words would mean, There is no holiness In the Lord].

These examples fully prove that the μια κεραια of our Lord, refers to the apices, points, or corners, that distinguish ב beth from כ caph; ח cheth from ה he; and ר resh from ד daleth. For the reader will at once perceive, how easily a כ caph may be turned into a ב beth; a ה he into a ח cheth; and a ר resh into a ד daleth: and he will also see of what infinite consequence it is to write and print such letters correctly.

Till all be fulfilled – Or, accomplished. Though all earth and hell should join together to hinder the accomplishment of the great designs of the Most High, yet it shall all be in vain – even the sense of a single letter shall not be lost. The words of God, which point out his designs, are as unchangeable as his nature itself. Every sinner, who perseveres in his iniquity, shall surely be punished with separation from God and the glory of his power; and every soul that turns to God, through Christ, shall as surely be saved, as that Jesus himself hath died.

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_5:19
Matthew only. As Christ honoured the Law (verse 17) so are his disciples to honour it.

Whosoever therefore. Seeing that every part of the Law is of permanent value. In this verse our Lord once for all declares his opposition to antinomianism. Every one of the commands in the Law is, in its true and ideal meaning, still binding.

Shall break (λύσῃ). Not merely in contrast to “do” (ποιήσῃ vide infra) in the sense of “transgress” (Fritzsche), but “abrogate” (cf. Bishop Westcott, on Joh_5:18, “Not the violation of the sanctity of the day in a special case, but the abrogation of the duty of observance;” cf. also Mat_16:19; Mat_18:18; 1Jn_3:8). It expresses, indeed, a less complete abrogation than καταλῦσαι (verse 17), because, while speaking of himself, the Lord could use the strongest word possible, and that with reference to the whole Law or the Prophets; but here his expression is limited by the inability of any individual disciple to carry out an abrogation even of one command. One of these least commandments. Not necessarily such as the Pharisees reckoned least, in their enumeration of small and great, but such as our Lord himself symbolized by “jot” or “tittle;” those precepts which in reality are the least important (Meyer). Chrysostom strangely says that our Lord here refers, not to old laws, but to those which he was about to lay down; similarly Bengel thinks of verses 22-28, etc. While the Jews distinguished carefully between small and great precepts, they insisted on the importance of keeping even the smallest; cf. ‘Ab.,’ 4.5 (Taylor), “Hasten to a slight precept.., for the reward of precept is precept.”

And shall teach men so. Doing his best to abrogate it, not only in his own person by neglect or violation, but also for others by teaching them to disregard it. He shall be called the least. The Revised Version omits “he, .. the.” He is not cast out of the kingdom, but his want of moral insight (did he consider it “breadth of thought”?) leads to his being called least in the kingdom. It is the converse of the parable in Luk_19:17, etc. There faithfulness in a very little (ἐλαχίστῳ) wins much; here disregard of a very little causes a person to be reckoned (Luk_19:9, note) as very little—the principle of judgment being that of Luk_16:10, “He that is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he that is unrighteous in a very little is unrighteous also in much.”

In the kingdom of heaven; i.e. probably in its full and final establishment. The doctrine of grades of blessedness and of punishment hereafter is clearly taught in Scripture (e.g. Luk_12:47, Luk_12:48).

But whosoever shall do and teach them. Similarly the Revised Version; but rather supply “it,” i.e. “that which is required in the smallest commandment” (Meyer). The personal performance and conscious spreading of one of the least commandments will be found to involve so much that it gains for the person a high position.

Do and teach. For many will perform a command without taking any conscious part in spreading it. The same; Revised Version, he (οὗτος). Why inserted here and not in the previous clause? Partly because of the awkwardness of inserting οὗτος there so soon after οὕτως; partly because our Lord wished to lay stress there on the recompense, here on the person (“he and no other”) who receives recompense. On the thought, cf. ‘Test. XII. Parr.’ (Levi., § 13), “If he teach these things and practise them, he shall share the throne of the king, as also Joseph our brother.” It is worth adding Tyndale’s remark in his ‘Exposition,’ “Whosoever shall first fulfil them [these least commandments following] himself, and then teach other, and set all his study to the furtherance and maintaining of them, that doctor shall all they of the kingdom of heaven have in price, and follow him and seek him out, as doth an eagle her prey, and cleave to him as burrs.”

Adam Clarke
Matthew 5:20

Except your righteousness shall exceed – περισσευση, Unless your righteousness abound more – unless it take in, not only the letter, but the spirit and design of the moral and ritual precept; the one directing you how to walk so as to please God; the other pointing out Christ, the great Atonement, through and by which a sinner is enabled to do so – more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, who only attend to the letter of the law, and had indeed made even that of no effect by their traditions – ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. This fully explains the meaning of the preceding verse. The old English word is right-wiseness, i.e. complete, thorough, excellent Wisdom. For a full explanation of this verse, see Luk_18:10, etc.

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_5:21
Ye have heard (ἠκούσατε, frequentative aorist). Our Lord does not say, “ye have read” (cf. Mat_21:42), for he was not now speaking to the learned classes, but to a large audience many of whom were probably unable to read. “Ye have heard,” i.e. from your teachers whose teaching claims to be the substance of the Law. So, probably, even in Joh_12:34, where the multitude say that they “have heard out of the Law that the Christ abideth for ever,” which, since this is hardly expressed in so many words in the Old Testament, must mean that the instructions they have received on this subject truly represent the substance of its teaching. So here our Lord says, “You have heard from your teachers (cf. Rom_2:18) that the substance of the sixth commandment is so-and-so.” It is thus quite intelligible that in some of these utterances there should be found added to (Joh_12:21, Joh_12:43) or intermingled with (Joh_12:33) the words of a passage of Scripture, other words which are either taken from Scripture, but from another place in it (perhaps Joh_12:33), or do not occur in Scripture at all, but merely help to form a compendious statement of a definite interpretation (here and Joh_12:43). It must remain doubtful whether our Lord himself formulated these statements of the popular teaching, or quoted them verbally as current. If the latter, as is perhaps more likely, there remains the at present still more insoluble question whether they were only oral or (cf. the case of the ‘Didaehe’) had already been committed to writing.

That it was said by them of old time (ὅτι ἐῤῥέθη τοῖς ἀρχαίοις). By; Revised Version, to. Similarly Joh_12:33. Although “by” may be defended, “to” (Wickliffe and Tyndale downwards) is certainly right, because

(a) it is the common usage with a passive verb;

(b) it is the constant usage with ἐῤῥέθη in the New Testament (e.g. Rom_9:12, Rom_9:26);

(c) the parallelism with ἐγὼ δέ κ.τ.λ., is more exact;

(d) the popular teaching claimed to be, even in its strictest esoteric form of oral tradition, derived ultimately, not from the words of any human teachers, however primitive, but from the words of God spoken by him to them.

In the case before us our Lord accepts the popular teaching of the time as truly representing the Divine utterance in the giving of the Law, so far as that utterance was then intended to be understood.

Them of old time. This can hardly be limited to “the original founders of the Jewish Commonwealth,” to use Trench’s curiously unbiblical expression (‘Syn.,’ § 67.). It probably includes all who lived a generation or more before our Lord’s time (cf. Weiss).

Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment. The substance, according to the popular teaching, of the sixth commandment (Exo_20:13; Deu_5:17). This the current form of it (based partly on Le 24:21; Num_35:1-34.; Deu_19:12) was that murder was not to be committed, and that if it was committed the murderer was to be brought up for trial. Shall be in danger of (ἔνοχος ἔσται); i.e. in legal danger—legally guilty of a charge which involves the judgment (cf. Mat_26:66).

The judgment; i.e. the local Sanhedrin (cf. Mat_10:17), of apparently seven men in a smaller, twenty-three in a larger, town. This answers to “the congregation,” or “the elders” of the town to which the murderer belonged, before whom he was to be tried (Num_35:12, Num_35:16, Num_35:24; Deu_19:12).

Adam Clarke
Matthew 5:22

Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause – ὁ οργιζομενος – εικη, who is vainly incensed. “This translation is literal; and the very objectionable phrase, without a cause, is left out, εικη being more properly translated by that above.” What our Lord seems here to prohibit, is not merely that miserable facility which some have of being angry at every trifle, continually taking offense against their best friends; but that anger which leads a man to commit outrages against another, thereby subjecting himself to that punishment which was to be inflicted on those who break the peace.

Εικη, vainly, or, as in the common translation, without a cause, is wanting in the famous Vatican MS. and two others, the Ethiopic, latter Arabic, Saxon, Vulgate, two copies of the old Itala, J. Martyr, Ptolomeus, Origen, Tertullian, and by all the ancient copies quoted by St. Jerome. It was probably a marginal gloss originally, which in process of time crept into the text.

Shall be in danger of the judgment – ενοχος εϚται, shall be liable to the judgment. That is, to have the matter brought before a senate, composed of twenty-three magistrates, whose business it was to judge in cases of murder and other capital crimes. It punished criminals by strangling or beheading; but Dr. Lightfoot supposes the judgment of God to be intended. See at the end of this chapter.

Raca – ריקה from the Hebrew רק rak, to be empty. It signifies a vain, empty, worthless fellow, shallow brains, a term of great contempt. Such expressions were punished among the Gentoos by a heavy fine. See all the cases, Code of Gentoo Laws, chap. 15: sec. 2.

The council – Συνεδριον, the famous council, known among the Jews by the name of Sanhedrin. It was composed of seventy-two elders, six chosen out of each tribe. This grand Sanhedrin not only received appeals from the inferior Sanhedrins, or court of twenty-three mentioned above; but could alone take cognizance, in the first instance, of the highest crimes, and alone inflict the punishment of stoning.

Thou fool – Moreh, probably from מרה marah, to rebel, a rebel against God, apostate from all good. This term implied, among the Jews, the highest enormity, and most aggravated guilt. Among the Gentoos, such an expression was punished by cutting out the tongue, and thrusting a hot iron, of ten fingers breadth, into the mouth of the person who used it. Code of Gentoo Laws, chap. 15: sec. 2. p. 212.

Shall be in danger of hell fire – ενοχος εϚται εις την γεενναν του πυρος, shall be liable to the hell of fire. Our Lord here alludes to the valley of the son of Hinnom, גי הנם Ghi hinom. This place was near Jerusalem, and had been formerly used for those abominable sacrifices, in which the idolatrous Jews had caused their children to pass through the fire to Molech. A particular place in this valley was called Tophet, from תפת tophet, the fire stove, in which some supposed they burnt their children alive to the above idol. See 2Ki_23:10; 2Ch_28:3; Jer_7:31, Jer_7:32. From the circumstances of this valley having been the scene of those infernal sacrifices, the Jews, in our Savior’s time, used the word for hell, the place of the damned. See the word applied in this sense by the Targum, on Rth_2:12; Psa_140:12; Gen_3:24; Gen_15:17. It is very probable that our Lord means no more here than this: if a man charge another with apostasy from the Jewish religion, or rebellion against God, and cannot prove his charge, then he is exposed to that punishment (burning alive) which the other must have suffered, if the charge had been substantiated.

There are three kinds of offenses here, which exceed each other in their degrees of guilt.

1st. Anger against a man, accompanied with some injurious act.

2dly. Contempt, expressed by the opprobrious epithet raka, or shallow brains.

3dly. Hatred and mortal enmity, expressed by the term moreh, or apostate, where such apostasy could not be proved.

Now, proportioned to these three offenses were three different degrees of punishment, each exceeding the other in its severity, as the offenses exceeded each other in their different degrees of guilt.

1st. The judgment, the council of twenty-three, which could inflict the punishment of strangling.

2dly. The Sanhedrin, or great council, which could inflict the punishment of stoning. And

3dly. The being burnt alive in the valley of the son of Hinnom. This appears to be the meaning of our Lord.

Now, if the above offenses were to be so severely punished, which did not immediately affect the life of another, how much sorer must the punishment of murder be! Mat_5:21. And as there could not be a greater punishment inflicted than death, in the above terrific forms, and this was to be inflicted for minor crimes; then the punishment of murder must not only have death here, but a hell of fire in the eternal world, attached to it. It seems that these different degrees of guilt, and the punishment attached to each, had not been properly distinguished among the Jews. Our Lord here calls their attention back to them, and gives then to understand, that in the coming world there are different degrees of punishment prepared for different degrees of vice; and that not only the outward act of iniquity should be judged and punished by the Lord, but that injurious words, and evil passions, should all meet their just recompense and reward. Murder is the most punishable of all crimes, according to the written law, in respect both of our neighbors and civil society. But he who sees the heart, and judges it by the eternal law, punishes as much a word or a desire, if the hatred whence they proceed be complete and perfected. Dr. Lightfoot has some curious observations on this passage in the preface to his Harmony of the Evangelists. See his works, vol. ii., and the conclusion of this chapter.

Adam Clarke
Matthew 5:43

Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy – Instead of πλησιον neighbor, the Codex Graevii, a MS. of the eleventh century, reads φιλον friend. Thou shalt love thy friend, and hate thine enemy. This was certainly the meaning which the Jews put on it: for neighbor, with them, implied those of the Jewish race, and all others were, considered by them as natural enemies. Besides, it is evident that πλησιον, among the Hellenistic Jews, meant friend merely: Christ uses it precisely in this sense in Luk_10:36, in answer to the question asked by a certain lawyer, Mat_5:29. Who of the three was neighbor (πλησιον friend) to him who fell among the thieves? He who showed him mercy; i.e. he who acted the friendly part. In Hebrew, רע reâ, signifies friend, which word is translated πλησιον by the Lxx. in more than one hundred places. Among the Greeks it was a very comprehensive term, and signified every man, not even an enemy excepted, as Raphelius, on this verse, has shown from Polybius. The Jews thought themselves authorized to kill any Jew who apostatized; and, though they could not do injury to the Gentiles, in whose country they sojourned, yet they were bound to suffer them to perish, if they saw them in danger of death. Hear their own words: “A Jew sees a Gentile fall into the sea, let him by no means lift him out; for it is written, Thou shalt not rise up against the blood of thy neighbor: – but this is not thy neighbor.” Maimon. This shows that by neighbor they understood a Jew; one who was of the same blood and religion with themselves.

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_5:45
Parallel passage: Luk_6:35, which is more full, but hardly so original in form. That ye may be the children (ὅπως γένησθε υἱοί); sons (Revised Version); cf. Luk_6:9, note. The meaning of the clause is not certain. It may be:

(1) Love to enemies is the means whereby you may become possessed of the full privileges involved in the nature of sons. These privileges are more than the mere participation in Messianic glory (Meyer), and are rather all the blessings present and future which belong to sonship.

(2) Love, in order that on each occasion you may become in fact (almost our “show yourselves”) sons of your Father, sons corresponding in ethical conduct to your position already received. Your Father. Not “the Father” (cf. Luk_6:16, note). Which is in heaven: for ὅτι The privileges generally, or the resemblance on each occasion, can only be obtained by behaviour similar to his, namely, kind treatment of those who injure you; for this is what he himself shows.

He maketh his sun to rise (ἀνατέλλει). If we may lay stress on the Greek, our Lord expresses the popular notion of the sun ascending. It must, however, be remembered that the word he himself probably used was חרז in hiph. (, Peshito), which contains no thought of motion, but rather of appearance. Sun … rain. The two great sources of maintenance. On the evil and on the good … on the just and on the unjust. The first pair connotes, as it seems, the extreme of evil (Mat_6:13, note) and good, in each ease manifesting itself according to its opportunities; the second, the life and character as tried by the standard, especially the human standard, of just dealing. Notice how, by chiasm, the emphasis is laid on the ungodly alike at the beginning and at the end. Our Lord here brings out God’s active love as seen in nature, nourishing and maintaining men, irrespective of the qualities of individuals and of their treatment of him and his laws. The thought is found elsewhere, e.g. in Seneca (vide Meyer), “Si deos imitaris, da et ingratis benelicia; ham et sceleratis sol oritur, et piratis patent maria”.

Gospel of Matthew Chapter 6:5-18 Antique Commentary Quotes

John Lightfoot
Matthew 6:5

[They love to pray standing in the synagogues, and in the corner of the streets.] 1. They prayed standing, Luk_18:11; Luk_18:13; Mar_11:25. “It is written, ‘And Abraham rose early in the morning at the place where he had stood before the Lord.’ But to stand was nothing else than to pray; as it is said, And Phineas stood and judged.”

“One entereth into the synagogue, and found them standing in prayer.” “Let scholar of the wise men look downwards, when he stands praying.” And to name no more, the same Maimonides asserts these things are required in prayer; that he that prayeth, stand; that he turn his face towards Jerusalem; that he cover his head; and that he fix his eyes downwards.

II. They loved to pray in the synagogues. “He goes to the synagogue to pray.”

“Why do they recite their phylacteries in the synagogue, when they are not bound to do it? R. Josi saith, They do not recite them in the synagogue for that end, that so the whole office of the phylacteries may be performed, but to persevere in prayer. For this recitation was to be said over again, when they came home.”

Rabbenu Asher hath these words: “When any returns home in the evening from the field, let him not say, ‘I will go into my house’; but first let him betake himself to the synagogue: and if he can read, let him read something; if he can recite the traditions, let him recite them. And then let him say over the phylacteries, and pray.”

But that we be not too tedious, even from this very opinion, they were wont to betake themselves to the synagogues, because they were persuaded that the prayers of the synagogue were certainly heard.

III. They prayed in the streets. So Maimonides; “They prayed in the streets on the feasts and public fasts.” “What are the rites of the fasts? They brought out the ark into the streets of the city, and sprinkled ashes upon the ark, and upon the head of the president of the Sanhedrim, and the vice-president; and every one put ashes upon his own head. One of the elders makes this exhortation; ‘It is not said, O brethren, of the Ninevites, that God saw their sackcloth, or their fastings; but, that he saw their works,’ etc. They stand praying, and they set some fit elder before the ark, and he prays four-and-twenty prayers before them.”

But doth our Saviour condemn all prayers in the synagogue? By no means. For he himself prayed in and with the synagogue. Nor did he barely reprove those public prayers in the streets, made by the whole multitude in those great solemnities, but prayers everywhere, both in the synagogues, and the streets, that were made privately, but yet publicly also, and in the sight of all, that thereby he that prayed might get some name and reputation from those that saw him.

I. While public prayers were uttered in the synagogue, it was customary also for those that hunted after vainglory, to mutter private prayers, and such as were different from those of the synagogue, whereby the eyes of all might be the more fixed upon him that prayed.

“Hath not a man prayed his morning prayers? When he goes into the synagogue, does he find them praying the additionary prayer? If he is sure he shall begin and end, so that he may answer ‘Amen’ after the angel of the church, let him say his prayers.”

II. They prayed also by themselves in the streets. “R. Jochanan said, I saw R. Jannai standing and praying in the streets of Tsippor, and going four cubits, and then praying the additionary prayer.”

Two things especially shew their hypocrisy here:

1. That so much provision is made concerning reciting the phylacteries, and the prayers added (that it might be done within the just time), that wheresoever a man had been, when the set time was come, he presently betakes himself to prayers: “A workman, or he that is upon the top of a tree, he that rides on an ass, must immediately come down, and say his prayers,” etc. These are the very instances that the canonists give, which, with more of them, you may find in the tract Beracoth. Hence, therefore, those vainglorious hypocrites got an occasion of boasting themselves. For the hour of the phylacterical prayers being come, their care and endeavour was, to be taken in the streets: whereby the canonical hour compelling them to their prayers in that place, they might be the more seen by all persons, and that the ordinary people might admire and applaud both their zeal and religion. To which hypocritical pride they often added this also, that they used very long pauses, both before they began their prayers, and after they had done them: so that very usually, for three hours together, they were seen in a praying habit and posture. See the Babylonian Talmud. So that the Canonists played the madmen with some reason, when they allowed the space, from the rising of the morning to the third hour of the day, for the phylacterical prayers; because those three-hour praying men scarcely despatched them within less space, pausing one hour before they began prayer, and as much after they were ended.

2. They addicted themselves to ejaculations, prayers, and blessings, upon the sight almost of any thing meeting them either in the streets or in the way. “When one saw a place, wherein some miracle was done for Israel; a place, from whence idolatry was rooted out; or a place, where an idol now was, a short prayer was to be used. When any saw a blackamoor, a dwarf, a crooked, a maimed person, etc. they were to bless. Let him that sees a fair tree, or a beautiful face, bless thus, Blessed be He, who created the beauty of the creature,” etc.

Johann Lange
Mat_6:6. Into thy closet, εἰς τὸ ταμεῖόν σου.—The room specially used for prayer was called ὑπερῷον, the Alijah, on the house-top. Vitringa, Syn. 151. Although this apartment is not exclusively here referred to, there is evidently an allusion to it, as being pre-eminently “the closet” of a Jew when engaged in devotional exercises. The antithesis between “the closet,” and “the synagogue and corners of streets,” is manifest. Of course, the passage is not aimed against public prayer. As Theophylact has it: ὁ τόπος οὐ βλάπτει, ἀλλ’ ὁ τρόπος, καὶ ὁ σκόπος [it is not the place which hurts, but the manner and the aim]. All display should be avoided in devotion: He who addresses God must be wholly engrossed with thoughts of his own wants, and of Him whose grace he entreats. Such abstraction will convert the most public place into a ταμεῖον. The metaphorical expression, κλείσας τὴν θύραν, also refers to the latent desire of gaining the applause of men.

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 6:7

Use not vain repetitions (mē battalogēsēte). Used of stammerers who repeat the words, then mere babbling or chattering, empty repetition. The etymology is uncertain, but it is probably onomatopoetic like “babble.” The worshippers of Baal on Mount Carmel (1Ki_18:26) and of Diana in the amphitheatre at Ephesus who yelled for two hours (Act_19:34) are examples. The Mohammedans may also be cited who seem to think that they “will be heard for their much speaking” (en tēi polulogiāi). Vincent adds “and the Romanists with their paternosters and avast.” The Syriac Sinaitic has it: “Do not be saying idle things.” Certainly Jesus does not mean to condemn all repetition in prayer since he himself prayed three times in Gethsemane “saying the same words again” (Mat_26:44). “As the Gentiles do,” says Jesus. “The Pagans thought that by endless repetitions and many words they would inform their gods as to their needs and weary them (‘fatigare deos’) into granting their requests” (Bruce).

Adam Clarke
Matthew 6:8

Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of – Prayer is not designed to inform God, but to give man a sight of his misery; to humble his heart, to excite his desire, to inflame his faith, to animate his hope, to raise his soul from earth to heaven, and to put him in mind that There is his Father, his country, and inheritance.
In the preceding verses we may see three faults, which our Lord commands us to avoid in prayer: –

1st. Hypocrisy. Be not as the hypocrites. Mat_6:5.

2ndly. Dissipation. Enter into thy closet. Mat_6:6.

3rdly. Much Speaking, or Unmeaning Repetition, Be not like the heathens. Mat_6:7.

Adam Clarke
Matthew 6:9

After this manner therefore pray ye – Forms of prayer were frequent among the Jews; and every public teacher gave one to his disciples. Some forms were drawn out to a considerable length, and from these abridgments were made: to the latter sort the following prayer properly belongs, and consequently, besides its own very important use, it is a plan for a more extended devotion. What satisfaction must it be to learn from God himself, with what words, and in what manner, he would have us pray to him, so as not to pray in vain! A king, who draws up the petition which he allows to be presented to himself, has doubtless the fullest determination to grant the request. We do not sufficiently consider the value of this prayer; the respect and attention which it requires; the preference to be given to it; its fullness and perfection: the frequent use we should make of it; and the spirit which we should bring with it. “Lord, teach us how to pray!” is a prayer necessary to prayer; for unless we are divinely instructed in the manner, and influenced by the spirit of true devotion, even the prayer taught us by Jesus Christ may be repeated without profit to our souls.

Our Father – It was a maxim of the Jews, that a man should not pray alone, but join with the Church; by which they particularly meant that he should, whether alone or with the synagogue, use the plural number as comprehending all the followers of God. Hence, they say, Let none pray the short prayer, i.e. as the gloss expounds it, the prayer in the singular, but in the plural number. See Lightfoot on this place.
This prayer was evidently made in a peculiar manner for the children of God. And hence we are taught to say, not My Father, but Our Father.

The heart, says one, of a child of God, is a brotherly heart, in respect of all other Christians: it asks nothing but in the spirit of unity, fellowship, and Christian charity; desiring that for its brethren which it desires for itself.

The word Father, placed here at the beginning of this prayer, includes two grand ideas, which should serve as a foundation to all our petitions:

1st. That tender and respectful love which we should feel for God, such as that which children feel for their fathers.

2dly. That strong confidence in God’s love to us, such as fathers have for their children.

Thus all the petitions in this prayer stand in strictest reference to the word Father; the first three referring to the love we have for God; and the three last, to that confidence which we have in the love he bears to us.

The relation we stand in to this first and best of beings dictates to us reverence for his person, zeal for his honor, obedience to his will, submission to his dispensations and chastisements, and resemblance to his nature.

Which art in heaven – The phrase אבינו שבשמים, abinu sheboshemayim, our Father who art in heaven, was very common among the ancient Jews; and was used by them precisely in the same sense as it is used here by our Lord.

This phrase in the Scriptures seems used to express:

1st. His Omnipresence. The heaven of heavens cannot contain thee. 1Ki_8:27 : that is, Thou fillest immensity.

2dly. His Majesty and Dominion over his creatures. Art thou not God in heaven, and rulest thou not over all the kingdoms of the heathen? 2Ch_20:6.

3dly. His Power and Might. Art thou not God in heaven, and in thy hand is there not power and might, so that no creature is able to withstand thee! 2Ch_20:6. Our God is in heaven, and hath done whatsoever he pleased. Psa_115:3.

4thly. His Omniscience. The Lord’s throne is in heaven, his eyes behold, his eye-lids try the children of men. Psa_11:4. The Lord looketh down from heaven, he beholdeth all the sons of men. Psa_33:13-15.

5thly. His infinite Purity and Holiness. Look down from thy holy habitation, etc. Deu_26:15. Thou art the high and lofty One, who inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy. Isa_57:15.

Hallowed – Αγιασθητω. Αγιαζω· from α negative, and γη, the earth, a thing separated from the earth, or from earthly purposes and employments. As the word sanctified, or hallowed, in Scripture, is frequently used for the consecration of a thing or person to a holy use or office, as the Levites, first-born, tabernacle, temple, and their utensils, which were all set apart from every earthly, common, or profane use, and employed wholly in the service of God, so the Divine Majesty may be said to be sanctified by us, in analogy to those things, viz. when, we separate him from, and in our conceptions and desires exalt him above, earth and all things.

Thy name – That is, God himself, with all the attributes of his Divine nature – his power, wisdom, justice, mercy, etc.

We hallow God’s name,

1st. With our lips, when all our conversation is holy, and we speak of those things which are meet to minister grace to the hearers.

2dly. In our thoughts, when we suppress every rising evil, and have our tempers regulated by his grace and Spirit.

3dly. In our lives, when we begin, continue, and end our works to his glory. If we have an eye to God in all we perform, then every act of our common employment will be an act of religious worship.

4thly. In our families, when we endeavor to bring up our children in the discipline and admonition or the Lord; instructing also our servants in the way of righteousness.

5thly. In a particular calling or business, when we separate the falsity, deception, and lying, commonly practised, from it; buying and selling as in the sight of the holy and just God.

Adam Clarke
Matthew 6:10

Thy kingdom come – The ancient Jews scrupled not to say: He prays not at all, in whose prayers there is no mention of the kingdom of God. Hence, they were accustomed to say, “Let him cause his kingdom to reign, and his redemption to flourish: and let the Messiah speedily come and deliver his people.”

The universal sway of the scepter of Christ: – God has promised that the kingdom of Christ shall be exalted above all kingdoms. Dan_7:14-27. That it shall overcome all others, and be at last the universal empire. Isa_9:7. Connect this with the explanation given of this phrase, Mat_3:2.

Thy will be done – This petition is properly added to the preceding; for when the kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy, in the Holy Spirit, is established in the heart, there is then an ample provision made for the fulfillment of the Divine will.

The will of God is infinitely good, wise, and holy; to have it fulfilled in and among men, is to have infinite goodness, wisdom, and holiness diffused throughout the universe; and earth made the counterpart of heaven.

As it is in heaven – The Jews maintained, that they were the angels of God upon earth, as these pure spirits were angels of God in heaven; hence they said, “As the angels sanctify the Divine name in heaven, so the Israelites sanctify the Divine name, upon earth.” See Schoettgen.

Observe,

1st. The salvation of the soul is the result of two wills conjoined: the will of God, and the will of man. If God will not the salvation of man, he cannot be saved: If, man will not the salvation God has prepared for him, he cannot be delivered from his sins.

2dly. This petition certainly points out a deliverance from all sin; for nothing that is unholy can consist with the Divine will, and if this be fulfilled in man, surely sin shall be banished from his soul.

3dly. This is farther evident from these words, as it is in heaven; i.e. as the angels do it: viz. with all zeal, diligence, love, delight, and perseverance.

4thly. Does not the petition plainly imply, we may live without sinning against God? Surely the holy angels never mingle iniquity with their loving obedience; and as our Lord teaches us to pray, that we do his will here as they do it in heaven, can it be thought he would put a petition in our mouths, the fulfillment of which was impossible?

5thly. This certainly destroys the assertion: “There is no such state of purification, to be attained here, in which it may be said, the soul is redeemed from sinful passions and desires;” for it is on Earth that we are commanded to pray that this will, which is our sanctification, may be done.

6thly. Our souls can never be truly happy, till our Wills be entirely subjected to, and become one with, the will of God.

7thly. How can any person offer this petition to his Maker, who thinks of nothing less than the performance of the will of God, and of nothing more than doing his own?

Some see the mystery of the Trinity in the three preceding petitions. The first being, addressed to the Father, as the source of all holiness. The second, to the Son, who establishes the kingdom of God upon earth. The third, to the Holy Spirit, who by his energy works in men to will and to perform.

To offer these three petitions with success at the throne of God, three graces, essential to our salvation, must be brought into exercise; and, indeed, the petitions themselves necessarily suppose them.

Faith, Our Father – for he that cometh to God, must believe that he is.

Hope, Thy kingdom come – For this grace has for its object good things to come.

Love, Thy will be done – For love is the incentive to and principle of all obedience to God, and beneficence to man.

Cambridge Bible
Matthew 6:11

this day] In Luke, “day by day.”

our daily bread] The Greek word translated “daily” occurs only in the Lord’s Prayer here and Luk_11:3, it is not found in any classical author. The rendering of the E. V. “daily” as nearly as possible represents the probable force of the word, which is strictly (bread) “for the coming day,” i. e. for the day now beginning. Others render “bread for the future,” taking bread in a spiritual sense; others, following a different etymology, translate “bread of subsistence.” Bread, primarily the bread on which we subsist (see Prof. Lightfoot in appendix to his work On a Fresh Revision of the N. T.); subsistence as distinct from luxury; but the spiritual meaning cannot be excluded, Christ the Bread of Life is the Christian’s daily food.

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 6:12

Our debts (ta opheilēmata hēmōn). Luke (Luk_11:4) has “sins” (hamartias). In the ancient Greek opheilēma is common for actual legal debts as in Rom_4:4, but here it is used of moral and spiritual debts to God. “Trespasses” is a mistranslation made common by the Church of England Prayer Book. It is correct in Rom_4:14 in Christ’s argument about prayer, but it is not in the Model Prayer itself. See Mat_18:28, Mat_18:30 for sin pictured again by Christ “as debt and the sinner as a debtor” (Vincent). We are thus described as having wronged God. The word opheilē for moral obligation was once supposed to be peculiar to the New Testament. But it is common in that sense in the papyri (Deismann, Bible Studies, p. 221; Light from the Ancient East, New ed., p. 331). We ask forgiveness “in proportion as” (hōs) we also have forgiven those in debt to us, a most solemn reflection. Aphēkamen is one of the three k aorists (ethēka, edōka, hēka). It means to send away, to dismiss, to wipe off.

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 6:13

And bring us not into temptation (kai mē eisenegkēis eis peirasmon). “Bring” or “lead” bothers many people. It seems to present God as an active agent in subjecting us to temptation, a thing specifically denied in Jam_1:13. The word here translated “temptation” (peirasmon) means originally “trial” or “test” as in Jam_1:2 and Vincent so takes it here. Braid Scots has it: “And lat us no be siftit.” But God does test or sift us, though he does not tempt us to evil. No one understood temptation so well as Jesus for the devil tempted him by every avenue of approach to all kinds of sin, but without success. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus will say to Peter, James, and John: “Pray that ye enter not into temptation” (Luk_22:40). That is the idea here. Here we have a “Permissive imperative” as grammarians term it. The idea is then: “Do not allow us to be led into temptation.” There is a way out (1Co_10:13), but it is a terrible risk.

From the evil one (apo tou ponērou). The ablative case in the Greek obscures the gender. We have no way of knowing whether it is ho ponēros (the evil one) or to ponēron (the evil thing). And if it is masculine and so ho ponēros, it can either refer to the devil as the Evil One par excellence or the evil man whoever he may be who seeks to do us ill. The word ponēros has a curious history coming from ponos (toil) and poneō (to work). It reflects the idea either that work is bad or that this particular work is bad and so the bad idea drives out the good in work or toil, an example of human depravity surely.

The Doxology is placed in the margin of the Revised Version. It is wanting in the oldest and best Greek manuscripts. The earliest forms vary very much, some shorter, some longer than the one in the Authorized Version. The use of a doxology arose when this prayer began to be used as a liturgy to be recited or to be chanted in public worship. It was not an original part of the Model Prayer as given by Jesus.

Marvin Vincent
Matthew 6:14

Trespasses (παραπτώματα)
The Lord here uses another word for sins, and still another (ἁμαρτιας) appears in Luke’s version of the prayer, though he also says, “every one that is indebted to us.” There is no difficulty in supposing that Christ, contemplating sins in general, should represent them by different terms expressive of different aspects of wrong-doing (see on Mat_1:21). This word is derived from παραπίπτω, to fall or throw one’s self beside. Thus it has a sense somewhat akin to ἁμαρτία, of going beside a mark, missing. In classical Greek the verb is often used of intentional falling, as of throwing one’s self upon an enemy; and this is the prevailing sense in biblical Greek, indicating reckless and wilful sin (see 1Ch_5:25; 1Ch_10:13; 2Ch_26:18; 2Ch_29:6, 2Ch_29:19; Eze_14:13; Eze_18:26). It does not, therefore, imply palliation or excuse. It is a conscious violation of right, involving guilt, and occurs therefore, in connection with the mention of forgiveness (Rom_4:25; Rom_5:16; Col_2:13; Eph_2:1, Eph_2:5). Unlike παράβασις (transgression), which contemplates merely the objective violation of law, it carries the thought of sin as affecting the sinner, and hence is found associated with expressions which indicate the consequences and the remedy of sin (Rom_4:25; Rom_5:15, Rom_5:17; Eph_2:1).

Adam Clarke
Matthew 6:15

But if ye forgive not – He who does not awake at the sound of so loud a voice, is not asleep but dead. A vindictive man excludes himself from all hope of eternal life, and himself seals his own damnation.
Trespasses – Παραπτωματα, from παρα and πιπτω, to fall off. What a remarkable difference there is between this word and οφειληματα, debts, in Mat_6:12! Men’s sins against us are only their stumblings, or fallings off from the duties they owe us; but our’s are debts to God’s justice, which we can never discharge. It can be no great difficulty to forgive those, especially when we consider that in many respects we have failed as much, in certain duties which we owed to others, as they have done in those which they owed us. “But I have given him no provocation.” Perhaps thou art angry, and art not a proper judge in the matter; but, however it may be, it is thy interest to forgive, if thou expectest forgiveness from God. On this important subject I will subjoin an extract from Mason’s Self-knowledge, page 248, 1755.

“Athenodorus, the philosopher by reason of his old age, begged leave to retire from the court of Augustus, which the emperor granted. In his compliments of leave, he said, ‘Remember, Caesar, whenever thou art angry, that thou say or do nothing before thou hast distinctly repeated to thyself the twenty-four letters of the alphabet.’ On which Caesar caught him by the hand, and said, ‘I have need of thy presence still:’ and kept him a year longer. This was excellent advice from a heathen; but a Christian may prescribe to himself a wiser rule. When thou art angry, answer not till thou hast repeated the fifth petition of our Lord’s prayer – Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors: and our Lord’s comment upon it – For if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly father forgive your trespasses.”

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 6:16

Of a sad countenance (skuthrōpoi). Only here and Luk_24:17 in the N.T. It is a compound of skuthros (sullen) and ops (countenance). These actors or hypocrites “put on a gloomy look” (Goodspeed) and, if necessary, even “disfigure their faces” (aphanizousin ta prosōpa autōn), that they may look like they are fasting. It is this pretence of piety that Jesus so sharply ridicules. There is a play on the Greek words aphanizousi (disfigure) and phanōsin (figure). They conceal their real looks that they may seem to be fasting, conscious and pretentious hypocrisy.

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_6:17
But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face. If both these were, among the Jews, done daily, Christ’s command would mean—make no external sign of fasting; dress and appear as usual. But as anointing, at least, cannot be proved to have been a daily habit (though expressly forbidden during the stricter kinds of fasts, see Schurer, II. 2.212), especially with the mixed classes whom our Lord was addressing, and as it was with the ancients rather a symbol of special joy, it is safer to take it in this sense here. Thus our Lord will mean—so far from appearing sad, let your appearance be that of special joy and gladness. “By the symbols of joy and gladness he bade us be joyful and glad when we fast” (Photius, in Suicer, 1:186).

Gospel of Matthew Chapter 5:1-16 Antique Commentary Quotes

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_5:1
And seeing the multitudes; i.e. those spoken of in Mat_4:25—the multitudes who were at that point of time following him.

He went up. From the lower ground by the lake. Into a mountain; Revised Version, into the mountain (εἰς τὸ ὄρος); i.e. not any special mountain, but “the mountain nearest the place spoken of—the mountain near by” (Thayer); in contrast to any lower place, whether that was itself fairly high ground (as probably Luk_9:28) or the shore of the lake. The actual spot here referred to may have been far from, or, and more probably (Mat_4:18), near to, the Lake of Gennesareth. It cannot now be identified. The traditional “Mount of Beatitudes” is Karn-Hattin, “a round, rocky hill”, “a square-shaped hill with two tops”, about five miles north-west of Tiberias. This tradition, dating only from the time of the Crusades, is accepted by Stanley, especially for the reasons that

(1) τὸ ὄρος is equivalent to “the mountain” as a distinct name, and this mountain alone, with the exception of Tabor which is too distant, stands separate from the uniform barrier of hills round the lake;

(2) “the platform at the top is evidently suitable for the collection of a multitude, and corresponds precisely to the ‘level place’ (τόπου πεδινοῦ, Luk_6:17) to which our Lord would ‘come down,’ as from one of its higher horns, to address the people.” But these reasons seem insufficient.

And when he was set; Revised Version, had sat down; as his custom was when preaching.

His disciples; i.e. the twelve, and also those others out of whom they had, as it seems, just been chosen (Luk_6:12, Luk_6:20). The word is used of all those personal followers who, as still more distinctly indicated in the Fourth Gospel, attached themselves to him to learn of him, at least until the time of the crisis in Joh_6:66, when many withdrew (cf. also infra, Mat_8:21, and for an example in the end of his ministry, Luk_19:37). In English we unavoidably miss some of the meaning of μαθητής, to our loss, as may be seen from the saying of Ignatius, ‘Magn.,’ § 10, Μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ γενόμενοι μάθωμεν κατὰ Χριστιανισμὸν ζῇν

Came unto him (προσῆλθαν αὐτῷ). Came up to him, and, presumably, sat down in front of him to listen.

Adam Clarke
Matthew 5:1

And seeing the multitudes – Τους οχλους, these multitudes, viz. those mentioned in the preceding verse, which should make the first verse of this chapter.

He went up into a mountain – That he might have the greater advantage of speaking, so as to be heard by that great concourse of people which followed him. It is very probable that nothing more is meant here than a small hill or eminence. Had he been on a high mountain they could not have heard; and, had he been at a great distance, he would not have sat down. See the note on Mat_5:14.

And when he was set – The usual posture of public teachers among the Jews, and among many other people. Hence sitting was a synonymous term for teaching among the rabbins.

His disciples – The word μαθητης signifies literally a scholar. Those who originally followed Christ, considered him in the light of a Divine teacher; and conscious of their ignorance, and the importance of his teaching, they put themselves under his tuition, that they might be instructed in heavenly things. Having been taught the mysteries of the kingdom of God, they became closely attached to their Divine Master, imitating his life and manners; and recommending his salvation to all the circle of their acquaintance. This is still the characteristic of a genuine disciple of Christ.

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_5:2
And he opened his mouth. Frequent in the Old Testament; e.g. Job_3:1. A Hebraism, indicating that the words spoken are not the utterance of chance, but of set will and purpose. In the Gospels (in this sense) only Mat_13:35 (from Psa_78:2, LXX.); also in Act_8:35 (Philip); Act_10:34 (Peter); Act_18:14 (Paul); Rev_13:6 (the beast); cf. 2Co_6:11, of perfect frankness of expression, and Eph_6:19, perhaps of courage in the utterance of the Divine message.

And taught them. (ἐδίδασκεν αὐτοὺς). That which follows is represented, not as a proclamation, but as teaching, given to those who in some measure desired to follow and serve him. Some progress already made by the listeners, if only in a relation of respect and reverence, is implied in “teaching.” The discourse was therefore spoken, not simply to the multitudes, a chance audience, but with primary and special reference to those who had already made some advance in relation to him. The multitudes, however, were standing by, and were amazed at the unique character of his teaching (cf. Mat_7:28, Mat_7:29; cf. also Luk_6:20 with Luk_7:1).

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 5:3

Blessed (makarioi). The English word “blessed” is more exactly represented by the Greek verbal eulogētoi as in Luk_1:68 of God by Zacharias, or the perfect passive participle eulogēmenos as in Luk_1:42 of Mary by Elizabeth and in Mat_21:9. Both forms come from eulogeō, to speak well of (eu, logos). 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 Rev_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 (Mat_5:3-11), though the beatitudes in Mat_5:10 and Mat_5:11 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 Luk_16:20, Luk_16:22 and suggests spiritual destitution (from ptōssō to crouch, to cower). 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.

Marvin Vincent
The poor (οἱ πρωχιὸ)
Three words expressing poverty are found in the New Testament. Two of them, πὲνης and πενιχρός, are kindred terms, the latter being merely a poetic form of the other, and neither of these occurs more than once (Luk_21:2; 2Co_9:9). The word used in this verse is therefore the current word for poor, occurring thirty-four times, and covering every gradation of want; so that it is evident that the New Testament writers did not recognize any nice distinctions of meaning which called for the use of other terms. Luke, for instance (Luk_21:2, Luk_21:3), calls the widow who bestowed her two mites both πενιχρὰν and πρωχὴ. Nevertheless, there is a distinction, recognized by both classical and ecclesiastical writers. While ὁ πένης is of narrow means, one who “earns a scanty pittance,” πρωχός is allied to the verb πτώσσειν, to crouch or cringe, and therefore conveys the idea of utter destitution, which abjectly solicits and lives by alms. Hence it is applied to Lazarus (Luk_16:20, Luk_16:22), and rendered beggar. Thus distinguished, it is very graphic and appropriate here, as denoting the utter spiritual destitution, the consciousness of which precedes the entrance into the kingdom of God, and which cannot be relieved by one’s own efforts, but only by the free mercy of God. (See on 2Co_6:10; and see 2Co_8:9.)

Adam Clarke
Matthew 5:3

Blessed are the poor in spirit, etc. – Or, happy, μακαριοι from μα or μη, not, and κηρ, fate, or death: intimating, that such persons were endued with immortality, and consequently were not liable to the caprices of fate. Homer, Iliad i, 330, calls the supreme gods, Θεων μακαρων, the ever happy and Immortal gods, and opposes them to θνητων ανθρωπων, mortal men.

τω δ’ αυτω μαρτυροι εστων
Προς τε Θεων μακαρων, προς τε θνητων ανθροπων
“Be ye witnesses before the immortal gods, and before mortal men.”

From this definition we may learn, that the person whom Christ terms happy is one who is not under the influence of fate or chance, but is governed by an all-wise providence, having every step directed to the attainment of immortal glory, being transformed by the power into the likeness of the ever-blessed God. Though some of the persons, whose states are mentioned in these verses, cannot be said to be as yet blessed or happy, in being made partakers of the Divine nature; yet they are termed happy by our Lord, because they are on the straight way to this blessedness.

Taken in this light the meaning is similar to that expressed by the poet when describing a happy man.

Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas: Atque metus omnes et inexorabile Fatum
Subjecit pedibus; strepitumque Acherontis avari!
Virg. Geor. ii. v. 490

Which may be thus paraphrased: –
“Happy is he who gains the knowledge of the first cause of all things; who can trample on every fear, and the doctrine of inexorable Fate; and who is not terrified by death, nor by the threatened torments of the invisible world!”

Poor in spirit – One who is deeply sensible of his spiritual poverty and wretchedness. Πτωχος, a poor man, comes from πτωσσω, to tremble, or shrink with fear. Being destitute of the true riches, he is tremblingly alive to the necessities of his soul, shrinking with fear lest he should perish without the salvation of God. Such Christ pronounces happy, because there is but a step between them and that kingdom which is here promised. Some contend, that μακαριοι should be referred to πνευματι, and the verse translated thus: Happy, or blessed in spirit, are the poor. But our Lord seems to have the humiliation of the spirit particularly in view.

Kingdom of heaven – Or, των ουρανων, of the heavens. A participation of all the blessings of the new covenant here, and the blessings of glory above. See this phrase explained, Mat_3:2 (note). Blessed are the poor! This is God’s word; but who believes it? Do we not say, Yea, rather, Blessed is the rich?

The Jewish rabbins have many good sayings relative to that poverty and humility of spirit which Christ recommends in this verse. In the treatise called Bammidbar Rabbi, s. 20, we have these words: There were three (evils) in Balaam: the evil eye, (envy), the towering spirit, (pride), and the extensive mind (avarice).

Tanchum, fol. 84. The law does not abide with those who have the extensive mind, (avarice), but with him only who has a contrite heart.

Rabbi Chanina said, “Why are the words of the law compared to water? Because as waters flow from heights, and settle in low places, so the words of the law rest only with him who is of an humble heart.” See Schoettgen.

Albert Barnes
Matthew 5:4

Blessed are they that mourn – This is capable of two meanings: either, that those are blessed who are afflicted with the loss of friends or possessions, or that they who mourn over sin are blessed. As Christ came to preach repentance, to induce people to mourn over their sins and to forsake them, it is probable that he had the latter particularly in view. Compare 2Co_7:10. At the same time, it is true that the gospel only can give true comfort to those in affliction, Isa_61:1-3; Luk_4:18. Other sources of consolation do not reach the deep sorrows of the soul. They may blunt the sensibilities of the mind; they may produce a sullen and reluctant submission to what we cannot help: but they do not point to the true source of comfort. In the God of mercy only; in the Saviour; in the peace that flows from the hope of a better world, and there only, is there consolation, 2Co_3:17-18; 2Co_5:1. Those that mourn thus shall be comforted. So those that grieve over sin; that sorrow that they have committed it, and are afflicted and wounded that they have offended God, shall find comfort in the gospel. Through the merciful Saviour those sins may be forgiven. In him the weary and heavy-ladened soul shall find peace Mat_11:28-30; and the presence of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, shall sustain them here Joh_14:26-27, and in heaven all their tears shall be wiped away, Rev_21:4.

Marvin Vincent
Matthew 5:5

The meek (οἱ πραεῖς)
Another word which, though never used in a bad sense, Christianity has lifted to a higher plane, and made the symbol of a higher good. Its primary meaning is mild, gentle. It was applied to inanimate things, as light, wind, sound, sickness. It was used of a horse; gentle.
As a human attribute, Aristotle defines it as the mean between stubborn anger and that negativeness of character which is inescapable of even righteous indignation: according to which it is tantamount to equanimity. Plato opposes it to fierceness or cruelty, and uses it of humanity to the condemned; but also of the conciliatory demeanor of a demagogue seeking popularity and power. Pindar applies it to a king, mild or kind to the citizens, and Herodotus uses it as opposed to anger.

These pre-Christian meanings of the word exhibit two general characteristics. 1. They express outward conduct merely. 2. They contemplate relations to men only. The Christian word, on the contrary, describes an inward quality, and that as related primarily to God. The equanimity, mildness, kindness, represented by the classical word, are founded in self-control or in natural disposition. The Christian meekness is based on humility, which is not a natural quality but an outgrowth of a renewed nature. To the pagan the word often implied condescension, to the Christian it implies submission. The Christian quality, in its manifestation, reveals all that was best in the heathen virtue – mildness, gentleness, equanimity – but these manifestations toward men are emphasized as outgrowths of a spiritual relation to God. The mildness or kindness of Plato or Pindar imply no sense of inferiority in those who exhibit them; sometimes the contrary. Plato’s demagogue is kindly from self-interest and as a means to tyranny. Pindar’s king is condescendingly kind. The meekness of the Christian springs from a sense of the inferiority of the creature to the Creator, and especially of the sinful creature to the holy God. While, therefore, the pagan quality is redolent of self-assertion, the Christian quality carries the flavor of self-abasement.

As toward God, therefore, meekness accepts his dealings without murmur or resistance as absolutely good and wise. As toward man, it accepts opposition, insult, and provocation, as God’s permitted ministers of a chastening demanded by the infirmity and corruption of sin; while, under this sense of his own sinfulness, the meek bears patiently “the contradiction of sinners against himself,” forgiving and restoring the erring in a spirit of meekness, considering himself, lest he also be tempted (see Gal_6:1-5). The ideas of forgiveness and restoration nowhere attach to the classical word. They belong exclusively to Christian meekness, which thus shows itself allied to love. As ascribed by our Lord to himself, see Mat_11:29. Wyc. renders “Blessed be mild men.”

 

Albert Barnes
Matthew 5:5

The meek – Meekness is patience in the reception of injuries. It is neither meanness nor a surrender of our rights, nor cowardice; but it is the opposite of sudden anger, of malice, of long-harbored vengeance. Christ insisted on his right when he said, “If I have done evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me?” Joh_18:23. Paul asserted his right when he said, “They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves, and fetch us out,” Act_16:37. And yet Christ was the very model of meekness. It was one of his characteristics, “I am meek,” Mat_11:29. So of Paul. No man endured more wrong, or endured it more patiently than he. Yet the Saviour and the apostle were not passionate. They bore all patiently. They did not press their rights through thick and thin, or trample down the rights of others to secure their own.

Meekness is the reception of injuries with a belief that God will vindicate us. “Vengeance is his; he will repay,” Rom_12:19. It little becomes us to take his place, and to do what he has promised to do.
Meekness produces peace. It is proof of true greatness of soul. It comes from a heart too great to be moved by little insults. It looks upon those who offer them with pity. He that is constantly ruffled; that suffers every little insult or injury to throw him off his guard and to raise a storm of passion within, is at the mercy of every mortal that chooses to disturb him. He is like “the troubled sea that cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.”

They shall inherit the earth – This might have been translated the land. It is probable that here is a reference to the manner in which the Jews commonly expressed themselves to denote any great blessing. It was promised to them that they should inherit the land of Canaan. For a long time the patriarchs looked forward to this, Gen_15:7-8; Exo_32:13. They regarded it as a great blessing. It was so spoken of in the journey in the wilderness, and their hopes were crowned when they took possession of the promised land, Deu_1:38; Deu_16:20. In the time of our Saviour they were in the constant habit of using the Old Testament, where this promise perpetually occurs, and they used it “as a proverbial expression to denote any great blessing, perhaps as the sum of all blessings,” Psa_37:20; Isa_60:21. Our Saviour used it in this sense, and meant to say, not that the meek would own great property or have many lands, but that they would possess special blessings. The Jews also considered the land of Canaan as a type of heaven, and of the blessings under the Messiah. To inherit the land became, therefore, an expression denoting those blessings. When our Saviour uses this language here, he means that the meek shall be received into his kingdom, and partake of its blessings here, and of the glories of the heavenly Canaan hereafter. The value of meekness, even in regard to worldly property and success in life, is often exhibited in the Scriptures, Pro_22:24-25; Pro_15:1; Pro_25:8, Pro_25:15. It is also seen in common life that a meek, patient, mild man is the most prospered. An impatient and quarrelsome man raises up enemies; often loses property in lawsuits; spends his time in disputes and broils rather than in sober, honest industry; and is harassed, vexed, and unsuccessful in all that he does. “Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come,” 1Ti_4:8. Compare 1Ti_6:3-6.

 

Albert Barnes
Matthew 5:6

Blessed are they which do hunger … – Hunger and thirst, here, are expressive of strong desire. Nothing would better express the strong desire which we ought to feel to obtain righteousness than hunger and thirst. No needs are so keen, none so imperiously demand supply, as these. They occur daily, and when long continued, as in case of those shipwrecked, and doomed to wander months or years over burning sands, with scarcely any drink or food, nothing is more distressing. An ardent desire for anything is often represented in the Scriptures by hunger and thirst, Psa_42:1-2; Psa_63:1-2. A desire for the blessings of pardon and peace; a deep sense of sin, and want, and wretchedness, is also represented by thirsting, Isa_55:1-2.

They shall be filled – They shall be satisfied as a hungry man is when supplied with food, or a thirsty man when supplied with drink. Those who are perishing for want of righteousness; those who feel that they are lost sinners and strongly desire to be holy, shall be thus satisfied. Never was there a desire to be holy which God was not willing to gratify, and the gospel of Christ has made provision to satisfy all who truly desire to be holy. See Isa_55:1-3; Isa_65:13; Joh_4:14; Joh_6:35; Joh_7:37-38; Psa_17:15.

 

Marvin Vincent
Matthew 5:6

Shall be filled (χορτασθήσονται)
A very strong and graphic word, originally applied to the feeding and fattening of animals in a stall. In Rev_19:21, it is used of the filling of the birds with the flesh of God’s enemies. Also of the multitudes fed with the loaves and fishes (Mat_14:20; Mar_8:8; Luk_9:17). It is manifestly appropriate here as expressing the complete satisfaction of spiritual hunger and thirst. Hence Wycliffe’s rendering, fulfilled, is strictly true to the original.

 

Adam Clarke
Matthew 5:7

The merciful – The word mercy, among the Jews, signified two things: the pardon of injuries, and almsgiving. Our Lord undoubtedly takes it in its fullest latitude here. To know the nature of mercy, we have only to consult the grammatical meaning of the Latin word misericordia, from which ours is derived. It is composed of two words: miserans, pitying, and cor, the heart; or miseria cordis, pain of heart. Mercy supposes two things:

1. A distressed object: and,
2. A disposition of the heart, through which it is affected at the sight of such an object.

This virtue, therefore, is no other than a lively emotion of the heart, which is excited by the discovery of any creature’s misery; and such an emotion as manifests itself outwardly, by effects suited to its nature. The merciful man is here termed by our Lord ελεημων, from ελεος, which is generally derived from the Hebrew חיל chil, to be in pain, as a woman in travail: or from ילל galal, to cry, or lament grievously; because a merciful man enters into the miseries of his neighbor, feels for and mourns with him.

They shall obtain mercy – Mercy is not purchased but at the price of mercy itself; and even this price is a gift of the mercy of God. What mercy can those vindictive persons expect, who forgive nothing, and are always ready to improve every advantage they have of avenging themselves? Whatever mercy a man shows to another, God will take care to show the same to him. The following elegant and nervous saying of one of our best poets is worthy of the reader’s most serious attention: –

“The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed;
It blesseth him who gives, and him who takes:
’Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown
It is an attribute of God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s,
When mercy seasons justice. –
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation. We do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. –
Why, all the souls that are, were forfeit once:
And he who might the ’vantage best have took
Found out the remedy. How would you be,
If He who is the top of judgment should
But judge you as you are? O! think on that;
And mercy then will breathe within your lips,
Like man, new made
How shalt thou hope for mercy, rend’ring none?”

In the tract Shabbath, fol. 151, there is a saying very like this of our Lord.“He who shows mercy to men, God will show mercy to him: but to him who shows no mercy to man, God will show no mercy.

Albert Barnes
Matthew 5:7

Blessed are the merciful – That is, those who are so affected by the sufferings of others as to be disposed to alleviate them. This is given as an evidence of piety, and it is said that they who show mercy to others shall obtain it. The same sentiment is found in Mat_10:42; “Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you he shall in no wise lose his reward.” See also Mat_25:34-40. This should be done with a wish to glorify God; that is, in obedience to his commandments, and with a desire that he should be honored, and with a feeling that we are benefiting one of his creatures. Then he will regard it as done to him, and will reward us. See the sentiment of this verse, that the merciful shall obtain mercy, more fully expressed in 2Sa_22:26-27; and in Psa_18:25-26.

Nowhere do we imitate God more than in showing mercy. In nothing does God delight more than in the exercise of mercy, Exo_34:6; Eze_33:11; 1Ti_2:4; 2Pe_3:9. To us, guilty sinners; to us, wretched, dying, and exposed to eternal woe, he has shown his mercy by giving his Son to die for us; by expressing his willingness to pardon and save us; and by sending his Spirit to renew and sanctify our hearts. Each day of our life, each hour, and each moment, we partake of his undeserved mercy. All the blessings we enjoy are proofs of his mercy. If we, then, show mercy to the poor, the wretched, the guilty, it shows that we are like God. We have his spirit, and shall not lose our reward. And we have abundant opportunity to do it. Our world is full of guilt and woe, which we may help to relieve; and every day of our lives we have opportunity, by helping the poor and wretched, and by forgiving those who injure us, to show that we are like God. See the notes at Mat_6:14-15.

 

John Calvin
Matthew 5:7

7.Happy are the merciful This paradox, too, contradicts the judgment of men. The world reckons those men to be happy, who give themselves no concern about the distresses of others, but consult their own ease. Christ says that those are happy, who are not only prepared to endure their own afflictions, but to take a share in the afflictions of others, — who assist the wretched, — who willingly take part with those who are in distress, — who clothe themselves, as it were, with the same affections, that they may be more readily disposed to render them assistance. He adds, for they shall obtain mercy, — not only with God, but also among men, whose minds God will dispose to the exercise of humanity. Though the whole world may sometimes be ungrateful, and may return the very worst reward to those who have done acts of kindness to them, it ought to be reckoned enough, that grace is laid up with God for the merciful and humane, so that they, in their turn, will find him to be gracious and merciful, (Psa_103:8.)

 

Albert Barnes
Matthew 5:8

Blessed are the pure in heart – That is, whose minds, motives, and principles are pure; who seek not only to have the external actions correct, but who desire to be holy in heart, and who are so. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.
They shall see God – There is a sense in which all will see God, Rev_1:7. That is, they will behold him as a Judge, not as a Friend. In this place it is spoken of as a special favor. So also in Rev_22:4,

“And they shall see his face.” To see the face of one, or to be in the presence of any one, were terms among the Jews expressive of great favor. It was regarded as a high honor to be in the presence of kings and princes, and to be permitted to see them, Pro_22:29, “He shall stand before kings.” See also 2Ki_25:19, “Those that stood in the king’s presence;” in the Hebrew, those that saw the face of the king; that is, who were his favorites and friends. So here, to see God, means to be his friends and favorites, and to dwell with him in his kingdom.

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 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.

 

Adam Clarke
Matthew 5:10

They which are persecuted – Δεδιωγμενοι, they who are hard pressed upon and pursued with repeated acts of enmity. Parkhurst. They are happy who suffer, seems a strange saying: and that the righteous should suffer, merely because they are such, seems as strange. But such is the enmity of the human heart to every thing of God and goodness, that all those who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution in one form or other. As the religion of Christ gives no quarter to vice, so the vicious will give no quarter to this religion, or to its professors.

For theirs is the kingdom of heaven – That spiritual kingdom, explained Mat_3:2, and that kingdom of glory which is its counterpart and consequence.

 

Albert Barnes
Matthew 5:10

Blessed are they which are persecuted – To persecute means literally to pursue; follow after, as one does a flying enemy. Here it means to vex, or oppress one, on account of his religion. They persecute others who injure their names, reputation, property, or who endanger or take their life, on account of their religious opinions.

For righteousness’ sake – Because they are righteous, or are the friends of God. We are not to seek persecution. We are not to provoke it by strange sentiments or conduct; by violating the laws of civil society, or by modes of speech that are unnecessarily offensive to others. But if, in the honest effort to be Christians, and to live the life of Christians, others persecute and revile us, we are to consider this as a blessing. It is an evidence that we are the children of God, and that he will defend us. “All that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution,” 2Ti_3:12.

Theirs is the kingdom of heaven – They have evidence that they are Christians, and that they will be brought to heaven.

Albert Barnes
Matthew 5:11

Blessed are ye when men shall revile you – Reproach you; call you by evil and contemptuous names; ridicule you because you are Christians. Thus, they said of Jesus that he was a Samaritan and had a devil Joh_8:48; that he was mad Joh_10:20; and thus they reviled and mocked him on the cross, Mat_27:39-44. But, being reviled, he reviled not again 1Pe_2:23; and thus being reviled, we should bless 1Co_4:12; and thus, though the contempt of the world is not in itself desirable, yet it is blessed to tread in the footsteps of Jesus, to imitate his example, and even to suffer for his sake, Phi_1:29.

All manner of evil against you falsely – An emphasis should be laid on the word falsely in this passage. It is not blessed to have evil spoken of us if we deserve it; but if we deserve it not, then we should not consider it as a calamity. We should take it patiently, and show how much the Christian, under the consciousness of innocence, can bear, 1Pe_3:13-18.

For my sake – Because you are attached to me; because you are Christians. We are not to seek such things. We are not to do things to offend others; to treat them harshly or unkindly, and. to court revilings. We are not to say or do things, though they may be on the subject of religion, designed to disgust or offend. But if, in the faithful endeavor to be Christians, we are reviled, as our Master was, then we are to take it with patience, and to remember that thousands before us have been treated in like manner. When thus reviled or persecuted, we are to be meek, patient, humble; not angry; not reviling again; but endeavoring to do good to our persecutors and slanderers, 2Ti_2:24-25. In this way many have been convinced of the power and excellence of that religion which they were persecuting and reviling. They have seen that nothing else but Christianity could impart such patience and meekness to the persecuted; and have, by this means, been constrained to submit themselves to the gospel of Jesus. Long since it became a proverb, “that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_5:12
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad (χαίρετε καὶ ἀγαλλιᾶσθε). Our Lord uses no weaker expressions than those which describe the joy of the saints over the marriage of the Lamb (Rev_19:7). The first word expresses joy as such, the second its effect in stirring the emotions; this thought St. Luke carries still further in σκιρτήσατε. (For joy felt under persecution, cf. Act_5:41.)

For great. The order of the Greek, ὅτι ὀ μισθὸς ὑμῶν πολύς, does not bear out the emphatic position assigned to “great” in the English Versions from Tyndale downwards (except Rheims), including Revised Version.

Is your reward. The doctrine of recompense, which has so large a place in Jewish thought (for a not often-sire example, cf. ‘Ab.,’ 2.19, Taylor) comes also in Christ’s teaching. In Mat_20:1-16 reward is expressly divested of its merely legal side, and exhibited as ultimately dependent on the will of the great Householder. But here it is mentioned without reference to the difficulties involved in the conception. These difficulties centre round the thought of obligation from God to man. But it may be doubted whether these difficulties are not caused by too exclusively regarding the metaphor of contracting, instead of considering the fact indicated by the metaphor. In God’s kingdom every action has a corresponding effect, and this effect is the more certain in proportion as the action is in the sphere of morality. The idea of “quantity” hardly enters into the relation of such cause and effect. It is a question of moral correspondence. But such effect may not unfitly be called by the metaphors “hire,” “reward,” because, on the one hand, it is the result of conditions of moral service, and, on the other, such terms imply a Personal Will at the back of the effect, as well as a will on the part of the human “servant.” (For the subject in other connexions, cf. Weiss, ‘Bibl. Theol.,’ § 32; cf. also verse 46; Mat_6:1, Mat_6:2, Mat_6:4, Mat_6:5, Mat_6:6.)

In heaven. Our Lord says, “your reward is great,” because the effect of your exercise of moral powers will be received in a sphere where the accidents of the surroundings will entirely correspond to moral influences. The effect of your present faithfulness, etc., will be seen in the reception Of powers of work and usefulness and enjoyment, beside which those possessed on earth will appear small. On earth the opportunities, etc., are but “few things;” hereafter they will be “many things” (Mat_25:21).

For. Not as giving a reason for the assurance of reward (apparently Meyer and Weiss), but for the command, “rejoice,” and be exceeding glad, and perhaps also for the predicate “blessed.” Rejoice if persecuted, for such persecutions prove you to be the true successors of the prophets, your predecessors in like faithfulness (cf. Jas_5:10).

So. By reproach, e.g. Elijah (1Ki_18:17), Amos (Amo_7:12, Amo_7:13); by persecution, e.g. Hanani (2Ch_16:10), Jeremiah (Jer_37:15); by saying all manner of evil, e.g. Amos (Amo_7:10), Jeremiah (Jer_37:13), Daniel (Dan_6:13). Which were before you. Added, surely, not as a mere temporal fact, but to indicate spiritual relationship (vide supra).

Marvin Vincent
Matthew 5:13

Have lost his savour (μωρανθῇ)
The kindred noun (μωρός) means dull, sluggish; applied to the mind, stupid or silly; applied to the taste, insipid, flat. The verb here used of salt, to become insipid, also means to play the fool. Our Lord refers here to the familiar fact of salt losing its pungency and becoming useless. Dr. Thompson (“The Land and the Book”) cites the following case: “A merchant of Sidon, having farmed of the government the revenue from the importation of salt, brought over a great quantity from the marshes of Cyprus – enough, in fact, to supply the whole province for many years. This he had transferred to the mountains, to cheat the government out of some small percentage of duty. Sixty-five houses were rented and filled with salt. Such houses have merely earthen floors, and the salt next the ground was in a few years entirely spoiled. I saw large quantities of it literally thrown into the road to be trodden under foot of men and beasts. It was ‘good for nothing.’”

 

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_5:14
Matthew only. Ye are the light of the world. After speaking of the moral tone that the disciples were to give to the world, in contrast to sin in its corrupting power, Christ refers to them as enlightening, in contrast to sin as darkness and ignorance. Our Lord further naturally exchanges the term “the earth” (which from its strong materialism had suited the figure of the salt) for “the world”—a phrase which must, indeed, as regards the disciples, be limited to this earth, but as regards the light, need not be limited to less than the solar system. In other words, the simple reason why he exchanges “earth” for “world” is that they are respectively the best suited to the figure employed. Notice that Christ never applies the former figure, of salt, to himself; but the latter, of light, once or twice, especially Joh_8:12, where, since he is speaking of himself, and not of others, he adds the thought of life being connected with light, a city, etc.; literally, a city cannot be hid when set on a mountain. It seems at first slightly awkward to introduce the figure of a city between those of the sun and the lamp, both these having to do with light. The reason is that the city is not considered as such, but only as an object which can be teen, and which cannot (οὐ δύναται, emphatic) from its physical conditions avoid being seen. There is a true gradation in the thought of influence. The sun must be seen by all; the city, by the whole neighbourhood; the lamp, by the family. Our Lord comes from the general to the particular; from what is almost theory, at best a matter of hope and faith, to hard fact and practice. The influence you are to have—if it is to be for the whole world, as indeed it is, must be felt in the neighbourhood in which you live, and a fortiori in the immediate circle of your own home.

Conjectures have been made whether any one city can reasonably be mentioned as being in sight, and so having suggested this image to our Lord. If the exact spot where he was then sitting were itself certain, such conjectures might be worth considering. But, in fact, so many “cities” in Palestine were set on hills that the inquiry seems vain. Safed, some twelve miles north-west of Capernaum, the view from which extends to Tiberias, has been accepted by many, but evidence is lacking for it having been a city at that time. Tabor, at the south-west of the lake, has also been thought of, and at all events seems to have been then a fortified town. The view from it is even more extensive than from Safed.

 

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 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 room) 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.

 

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_5:16
Matthew only. Let your light so shine; even so let your light shine (Revised Version); οὕτως λαμψὰτω τὸ φῶς ὑμῶν. The Revised Version (cf. Rheims) does away with the misinterpretation suggested by the Authorized Version, “so that,” for οὕτως refers solely to the method of shining spoken of in verse 15, “like a burning lamp upon its stand” (Meyer). Our Lord has here no thought of effort in shining, such as may improve the brightness of the light given, or of illuminating others, but of not concealing what light the disciples have. (For a similar οὕτως, cf. 1Co_9:24.) Yet remember, “A lamp for one is a lamp for a hundred” and “Adam was the lamp of the world” (Talm. Jeremiah, ‘Sabb.,’ 2.4—a play on Pro_20:27).

Your light. Either genitive of apposition, the light which you are (Achelis), of. verse 14; or genitive of possession, the light of which you are the trusted possessors (Meyer, Weiss). The latter is preferable, as the disciples have, in verse 15, been compared to the lamp, i.e. the light-bearer. Before men (ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων). More than ἐνώπιον, “in presence of,” for the position of the lamp “in front of” the people is what our Lord is here emphasizing (cf. Joh_12:37). That they may see your good works (ὑμῶν τὰ καλὰ ἔργα).

Your. Three times in this verse. Our Lord lays stress on personal possession of light, personal action, personal relationship and origin. Good works; i.e. of your lives generally (Weiss-Meyer), not ministerially (Mever). “Noble works, works which by their generous and attractive character win the natural admiration of men” (Bishop Westcott, on Heb_10:24).

And glorify. This is actually done in Mat_9:8; Mat_15:31. St. Peter’s language (1Pe_2:12) is probably due to a reminiscence of our Lord’s words.

Your Father which is in heaven. The Fatherhood of God is here predicated in a special sense of the disciples, in the same way as the Fatherhood of God is, in the Old Testament, always connected with his covenant relation to his people as a nation (cf. Isa_63:16; Isa_64:8; Jer_3:4; Deu_32:6). Our Lord here is not thinking of the original relation of God to being and especially to humanity, in virtue of man’s creation in the Divine image (ὁπατήρ), but of the relation into which the disciples have entered through the revelation of God in Christ; cf. further Bishop Westcott, on Joh_4:21 (Add. Note) and on 1Jn_1:2 (Add. Note); also Weiss, ‘Life,’ 2:348. The phrase, which occurs here for the first time in St. Matthew (but cf. verse 9, note), henceforth occurs frequently, becoming of great importance for this Gospel (cf. verses 45, 48; Mat_6:1, Mat_6:9, etc.).

Gospel of Matthew Chapter 4:1-10 Antique Commentary Quotes

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_4:1
Then; temporal. Mark, “and straightway.” Immediately after the descent of the Holy Ghost upon him. Was led up . into the wilderness. Up (Matthew only); from the Jordan valley into the higher country round (cf. Jos_16:1), in this case into the desert (Mat_3:1). There is nothing told us by which we may identify the place, but as the scene of the temptation must have been near the scene of the baptism, namely, on the west side of Jordan (Mat_3:1, note), it may be presumed that the temptation was on the west side also. The sharp limestone peak (Godet) known since the Crusades as Quarantana, “from the quarantain, or forty days of fasting”, may, perhaps, have been the actual spot. The only important objection to this is that directly after the temptation (as seems most probable) he comes to John in “Bethany beyond Jordan,” Joh_1:28 (not necessarily to be identified with “Bethabara” of the Received Text; its locality is quite unknown). If he went east of Jordan after the temptation, he would still be on one of the great roads to Galilee (Luk_9:52, etc.). The conjecture that the fasting and temptation took place on Sinai is suggested by the analogy of Moses and Elijah, but by absolutely nothing in the Gospels. Led up of the Spirit into the wilderness; Mark, “the Spirit driveth him forth;” Luke, “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led in the Spirit in the wilderness” (with a leading that lasted throughout the temptation, ἤγετο … ἐν… ἐν … πειραζόμενος). He was no doubt himself inclined to go apart into the desert that he might meditate uninterruptedly upon the assurance just given, and the momentous issues involved in his baptism; but the Holy Spirit had also his own purposes with him. The Holy Spirit cannot, indeed, tempt, but he can and does lead us into circumstances where temptation is permitted, that we may thereby be proved and disciplined for future work. In Christ’s case the temptation was an important part of that moral suffering by which he learned full obedience (Heb_5:8). Notice that even if the expression in Mat_3:16, “the Spirit of God descending,” does not in itself go beyond the expressions of Jewish teachers who deny his Personality, it would be hard to find so personal an action as is implied by the words, “Jesus was led up of the Spirit,” attributed to the Spirit in non-Christian writings. For Isa_63:10, Isa_63:11, Isa_63:14 is much less definite, and passages, e.g. in Eze_3:12-14, interpret themselves by Eze_1:21. To St. Matthew himself the Personality of the Holy Ghost must, in the light of Mat_28:19, have been an assured fact. To be tempted of the devil. So Luke; i.e. the great calumniator, him whose characteristic is false accusation; e.g. against men (Rev_12:10-12); against God (Gen_3:1-5). Here chiefly in the latter aspect. Each of the three temptations, and they are typical of all temptations; is primarily a calumniation of God and his methods. Mark has “of Satan,” a Hebrew word equivalent to “adversary,” which the LXX. nearly always renders by διαβάλλω, (compare also Num_22:22, Num_22:32). Probably by the time of the LXX. the idea of the evil spirit accusing as in a law-court, was more prominent than the earlier thought of him as an adversary. Spiritual resistance by the evil spirit to all good is a less-developed thought than his traducing God to man, and, after some success obtained, traducing man to God. Evil may resist good; it may also accuse both God and those made after the likeness of God.

 

Philip Schaff
Matthew 4:1-11
The threefold temptation by Satan; the threefold victory over Satan. He who came ‘to destroy the works of the devil,’ triumphs over him in personal conflict. This was the Messiah’s trial and probation, as His baptism had been His inauguration. The second Adam, like the first, was tempted. Contrasts between the temptations: paradise, wilderness; fall, victory; disobedience and death, obedience and life.—The aim of Satan was to make of Jesus a pseudo-Messiah, abusing the Divine gifts for selfish ends by conforming to the carnal expectations of the Jews respecting the Messiah.—The three temptations: (1) to doubt the Word of God; (2) to presume upon the Word of God; (3) to reject the Word of God; or successive appeals to appetite, pride, ambition. On the analogy between the three temptations and the three Jewish parties, and the three great Messianic offices, see Lange, Matthew, p. 86.

Different views of the temptation:—

1. An external history, Satan appearing in person. Objections: ‘It involves something supernatural.’ But this might be expected in such circumstances. ‘Verse 8 cannot be taken literally.’ It may be in a qualified sense. The personality of Satan is implied, but this is no argument against this explanation. On the whole this is the most natural view.

2. An inner experience, a soul struggle with Satan. The detailed accounts, full of references to localities and actions, might be thus explained. But it is necessary to admit some external elements, and it is difficult to draw the line. Bengel, Lange, and others, combine explanations (1) and (2).

3. A vision, like that of Peter (Acts 10), and of Paul (2 Corinthians 12). It is difficult to account for the purely historical form of the accounts on this theory.

4. A parable clothed in narrative form.

5. A myth or religious poem, true in idea, but false in fact.
The last two are incompatible with the historical character of the Gospels.

 

Albert Barnes
Matthew 4:2

Had fasted – Abstained from food.

Forty days and forty nights – It has been questioned by some whether Christ abstained wholly from food, or only from the food to which he was accustomed. Luke says Luk_4:2 that he ate nothing. This settles the question. Mark says Mar_1:13 that angels came and ministered unto him. At first view this would seem to imply that he did eat during that time. But Mark does not mention the time when the angels performed this office of kindness, and we are at liberty to suppose that he means to say that it was done at the close of the 40 days; and the rather as Matthew, after giving an account of the temptation, says the same thing Mat_4:2. There are other instances of persons fasting 40 days recorded in the Scriptures. Thus, Moses fasted 40 days, Exo_34:28. Elijah also fasted the same length of time, 1Ki_19:8. In these cases they were no doubt miraculously supported.

 

Marvin Vincent
Matthew 4:3

The Son of God
By its position in the sentence Son is emphatic. “If thou standest to God in the relation of Son.”

Bread (ἄπτοι)
Lit., loaves or cakes. So Wyc., loaves. These stones were perhaps those “silicious accretions,” which assume the exact shape of little loaves of bread, and which were represented in legend as the petrified fruits of the cities of the plain. By a similar fancy certain crystallizations on Mount Carmel and near Bethlehem are called “Elijah’s melons,” and the “Virgin Mary’s peas;” and the black and white stones found along the shores of the Lake of Galilee have been transformed into traces of the tears of Jacob in search of Joseph. The very appearance of these stones, like the bread for which the faint body hungered, may have added force to the temptation. This resemblance may have been present to Christ’s mind in his words at Mat_7:9.

 

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_4:3
The tempter (1Th_3:5 only; cf. 2Co_11:3). Came; came up to him (προσελθών). The word expresses local nearness, and suggests, though we cannot affirm it as certain, that he appeared visibly. The thought of physical nearness is continued in “taketh him” (Mat_4:5, Mat_4:8), and “the devil leaveth him” and “angels came near” (Mat_4:11; cf. Mat_4:5, note). On the other hand, such expressions may be parabolic, and intended to express the closeness of the spiritual combat. To him; not after “came,” but after “said” (Revised Version, with manuscripts).

If thou be; art (Revised Version) (ει) … εἶ)—the “if” of assumption (cf. Col_3:1). The devil does not attempt to throw doubt on the truth of the utterance in Mat_3:17. His words rather mean, “Thou knowest what was said, thou bast been gradually realizing that assurance of Sonship; use, then, that privilege which thou undoubtedly hast” (comp. Mat_27:40, where, in mockery, the same truth is assumed). Wetstein, following Origen and pseudo-Ignatius,’ Philipp.,’ § 9, says that the tempter did not know, or at least doubted, whether Jesus was really God, for otherwise he would never have tempted him. This is, surely, to miss the meaning of the temptation for our Lord himself; for he was tempted as Man. Satan might well haw known that he was God incarnate, and yet not have known whether as Man he might not yield. Weiss (‘Life,’ 1:343) mistakenly thinks that the object of this first temptation was to insinuate doubt in the mind of Jesus as to his Messiahship.

“Command that these stones become bread, and if thou canst not do so, then thou art not the Son of God.” Command that; εἰπὸν ἵνα (cf. Mat_20:21, and Winer,§ 44:8). These stones, ie. lying about. Farrar suggests that there is a special reference to the “loaf-shaped fossils,” septaria, which are found in Palestine—as, indeed, in most other countries. But though these “flattened nodules of calcareous clay, ironstone, or other matter” often assume fantastic shapes, perhaps even distantly resembling either an English loaf or a fiat Jewish cake (vide infra) , it seems quite unnecessary to see any allusion to them here. (For the comparison of bread and a stone, cf. Mat_7:9.)

Be made; Revised Version, become; rightly, because there is no thought of the process of manufacture in γένωνται, Bread; Revised Version margin, “Greek, loaves” (ἄρτοι). “The Israelites made bread in the form of an oblong or round cake, as thick as one’s thumb, and as large as a plate or Platter; hence it was not cut, but [e.g. Mat_1:1-25 Mat_4:19] broken” (Thayer). In Luke the devil points to one stone only, and tempts him to bid it become a loaf.

 

Henry Alford
Matthew 4:4
4.] Our Lord does not give way to the temptation, so as to meet him with an open declaration, ‘I am the Son of God:’ thus indeed He might have asserted his Lordship over him, but not have been his Conqueror for us. The first word which He uses against him, reaches far deeper: ‘Man shall not live, &c.’ “This, like the other text, is taken from the history of Israel’s temptation in the wilderness: for Israel represents, in a foreshadowing type, the Son of Man, the servant of God for Righteousness, the one ἐρχόμενος, in whom alone that nature which in all men has degenerated into sin, πληροῖ πᾶσαν δικαιοσύνην. Adam stood not,—Israel according to the flesh stood not,—when the Lord their God tempted them: but rather, after Satan’s likeness, tempted their God: but now the second Adam is come, the true Israel, by whose obedience the way of life is again made known and opened—‘that man truly liveth on and in the eternal word of God.’ ” Stier’s Reden Jesu, vol. i. p. 16 (edn. 2). Observe also how our Lord resists Satan in His humanity; at once here numbering Himself with men, by adducing ὁ ἄνθρωπος as including His own case; and not only so, but thus speaking out the mystery of his humiliation, in which He had foregone his divine Power, of his own will. By ‘every word (or ‘thing,’ for ῥῆμα is not expressed in the original) that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,’ we must understand, every arrangement of the divine will; God, who ordinarily sustains by bread, can, if it please Him, sustain by any other means, as in the case alluded to. Compare Joh_4:32; Joh_4:34.
Albert Barnes
Matthew 4:5

Then the devil taketh him up – This does not mean that he bore him through the air; or that he compelled him to go against his will, or that he performed a miracle in any way to place him there. There is no evidence that Satan had power to do any of these things, and the word translated taketh him Up does not imply any such thing. It means to conduct one; to lead one; to attend or accompany one; or to induce one to go. It is used in the following places in the same sense: Num_23:14; “And he (Balak) brought him (Balaam) into the field of Zophim,” etc. That is, he led him, or induced him to go there. Mat_17:1; “and after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James,” etc.; that is, led or conducted them – not by any means implying that he bore them by force. Mat_20:17; “Jesus, going to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples apart,” etc. See also Mat_26:37; Mat_27:27; Mar_5:40. From these passages, and many more, it appears that all that is meant here is, that Satan conducted Jesus, or accompanied him; but not that this was done against the will of Jesus.

The holy city – Jerusalem, called holy because the temple was there, and because it was the place of religious solemnities.

Setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple – It is not perfectly certain to what part of the temple the sacred writer here refers. It has been supposed by some that he means the roof. But Josephus says that the roof was covered by spikes of gold, to prevent its being polluted by birds; and such a place would have been very inconvenient to stand upon. Others suppose that it was the top of the porch or entrance to the temple. But it is more than probable that the porch leading to the temple was not as high as the main building. It is more probable that he refers to that part of the sacred edifice which was called Solomon’s Porch. The temple was built on the top of Mount Moriah. The temple itself, together with the courts and porches, occupied a large space of ground. See the notes at Mat_21:12. To secure a level spot sufficiently large, it was necessary to put up a high wall on the east. The temple was surrounded with porches or piazzas 50 feet broad and 75 feet high. The porch on the south side was, however, 67 feet broad and 150 high. From the top of this to the bottom of the valley below was more than 700 feet, and Josephus says that one could scarcely look down without dizziness. The word “pinnacle” does not quite express the force of the original. It is a word given usually to birds, and denotes wings, or anything in the form of wings, and was given to the roof of this porch because it resembled a bird dropping its wings. It was on this place, doubtless, that Christ was placed.
Cambridge Bible
Matthew 4:6

it is written] Psa_91:11-12. The words “to keep thee in all thy ways” are omitted in the text. The omission distorts the meaning of the original, which is that God will keep the righteous on their journeys, and is no inducement to tempt God by rash venture or needless risk. The Psalmist himself probably quotes Pro_3:23. “Thus [i. e. by obedience: see preceding verses] shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble.”

 

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 4:6

Cast thyself down (bale seauton katō). The appeal to hurl himself down into the abyss below would intensify the nervous dread that most people feel at such a height. The devil urged presumptuous reliance on God and quotes Scripture to support his view (Psa_91:11.). So the devil quotes the Word of God, misinterprets it, omits a clause, and tries to trip the Son of God by the Word of God. It was a skilful thrust and would also be accepted by the populace as proof that Jesus was the Messiah if they should see him sailing down as if from heaven. This would be a sign from heaven in accord with popular Messianic expectation. The promise of the angels the devil thought would reassure Jesus. They would be a spiritual parachute for Christ.
Cambridge Bible
Matthew 4:7

Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God] Deu_6:16. The verse ends “as ye tempted him in Massah.” The reference to Massah (Num_20:7-12) shews the true meaning of the Saviour’s answer. Moses and Aaron displayed distrust in God when they tried to draw to themselves the glory of the miracle instead of “sanctifying the Lord.” Jesus will not glorify Himself in the eyes of the Jews by a conspicuous miracle. His work as the Son of Man is to glorify the Father’s name through obedience. Cp. Joh_12:28.
Albert Barnes
Matthew 4:8

An exceeding high mountain – It is not known what mountain this was. It was probably some elevated place in the vicinity of Jerusalem, from the top of which could be seen no small part of the land of Palestine. The Abbe Mariti speaks of a mountain on which he was, which answers to the description here. “This part of the mountain,” says he, “overlooks the mountains of Arabia, the country of Gilead, the country of the Amorites, the plains of Moab, the plains of Jericho, the River Jordan, and the whole extent of the Dead Sea.” So Moses, before he died, went up into Mount Nebo, and from it God showed him “all the land of Gilead unto Dan, and all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, and the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, and the city of palm-trees, unto Zoar,” Deu_34:1-3. This shows that there were mountains from which no small part of the land of Canaan could be seen; and we need not suppose that there was any miracle when they were shown to the Saviour.

All the kingdoms of the world – It is not probable that anything more is intended here than the kingdoms of Palestine, or of the land of Canaan, and those in the immediate vicinity. Judea was divided into three parts, and those parts were called kingdoms; and the sons of Herod, who presided over them, were called kings. The term “world” is often used in this limited sense to denote a part or a large part of the world, particularly the land of Canaan. See Rom_4:13, where it means the land of Judah; also Luk_2:1, and the note on the place.

The glory of them – The riches, splendor, towns, cities, mountains, etc., of this beautiful land,
A.T. Robertson
Matthew 4:8

And showeth him (kai deiknusin autōi). This wonderful panorama had to be partially mental and imaginative, since the devil caused to pass in review “all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them.” But this fact does not prove that all phases of the temptations were subjective without any objective presence of the devil. Both could be true. Here again we have the vivid historical present (deiknusin). The devil now has Christ upon a very high mountain whether the traditional Quarantania or not. It was from Nebo’s summit that Moses caught the vision of the land of Canaan (Deu_34:1-3). Luke (Luk_4:5) says that the whole panorama was “in a moment of time” and clearly psychological and instantaneous.

 

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 4:9

All these things will I give thee (tauta soi panta dōsō). The devil claims the rule of the world, not merely of Palestine or of the Roman Empire. “The kingdoms of the cosmos” (Mat_4:8) were under his sway. This word for world brings out the orderly arrangement of the universe while hē oikoumenē presents the inhabited earth. Jesus does not deny the grip of the devil on the world of men, but the condition (ean and aorist subjunctive, second class undetermined with likelihood of determination), was spurned by Jesus. As Matthew has it Jesus is plainly to “fall down and worship me” (pesōn prokunēsēis moi), while Luke (Luk_4:7) puts it, “worship before me” (enōpion emou), a less offensive demand, but one that really involved worship of the devil. The ambition of Jesus is thus appealed to at the price of recognition of the devil’s primacy in the world. It was compromise that involved surrender of the Son of God to the world ruler of this darkness. “The temptation was threefold: to gain a temporal, not a spiritual, dominion; to gain it at once; and to gain it by an act of homage to the ruler of this world, which would make the self-constituted Messiah the vice-regent of the devil and not of God” (McNeile).
Pulpit Commentary
Mat_4:9
All these things will I give thee (ταῦτά σοι πάντα δώσω). The devil puts “these things” and “thee” in the sharpest contrast. In Luke the devil says, “To thee will I give all this authority, and the glory of them: for it [i.e. the authority] hath been delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it;” i.e. there the devil speaks of giving, not actual possession of the things themselves (Matthew), but the authority that this implied, “and the glory of them.” According to St. Luke, he does not attempt to conceal the fact that he has not absolute possession, but he claims authority as delegated to him, and as capable of being delegated by him to another. His claim was false as absolutely stated, but is true relatively in so far that even his usurpation of power must have been permitted (of. our Lord’s term for him, “The prince of this world”).

If thou wilt fall down and worship me; i.e. prostrate thyself in obeisance before me—the Eastern method of acknowledging the superiority of a person (cf. Gen_23:7; 1Sa_20:41; 2Sa_1:2; 2Sa_9:6). The expression does not mean “worship me as God” (for this surely was far too coarse a temptation to overcome any even ordinarily pious Israelite; cf. Weiss), but “acknowledge my rights as over-lord.” It is not a question of apostasy (1Ki_18:21; cf. Jos_24:15), but of submission to the methods inculcated by Satan, which placed the immediate and the visible above the future and the unseen (Gen_3:5; Exo_32:4).
Pulpit Commentary
Mat_4:10
Get thee hence, Satan. “Avaunt, Satan” (Rheims). Christ does not address him.directly till this climax. The two previous temptations were, comparatively speaking, ordinary and limited. This temptation calls out a passionate utterance of a personality stirred, because touched, in its depths. Only once again do we find our Lord so moved, in Mat_16:23 (the “Western” and “Syrian” addition here of ὀπίσω μου from that passage emphasizes the feeling common to the two cases), when a similar representation is made to him that he ought to escape the troubles which his Messianic position, in fact, brought upon him. For it is written (Deu_6:13); from the LXX., which differs from the Hebrew by
(1) translating ארית, “fear,” by προσκυνήσεις (but B has φοβηθήσῃ); and
(2) the paraphrastic insertion of “only.” Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Worship; προσκυνέω) , as in Mat_16:9. Serve; λατρεύω, “in perfect subjection to a sovereign power” (Bishop Westcott on Heb_8:2, Add. Note).

Our Lord’s reply cuts up the devil’s solicitation by the root. “I do not enter,” he means, “into the question of thy authority over these things, and of thy power concerning them. I acknowledge thee not. The command which I willingly obey excludes all homage and service to any other over-lord than God alone. I accept not thy orders and thy methods. I take my commands direct from God.” Observe that our Lord does not say how he is to gain the kingdoms for his own; this would be the care of him whose command he follows. But before ascending, the Lord proclaimed (Mat_28:18) that he had received (i.e. gained through suffering, Heb_2:10 : Php_2:9) more than (note “in heaven”) what the devil would have given him as a reward of obedience to false principles.

Gospel of Matthew Chapter 2:1-12 Antique Commentary Quotes

Philip Schaff
Matthew 2:1
Mat_2:1. Now when Jesus was born. See chap. Mat_1:25. Further details are given in Luk_2:1-21. The visit of the shepherds had already taken place, the presentation in the temple was either shortly before or after this visit of the Magi.

Bethlehem of Judea. A small town situated on the crest of a small hill about six miles south of Jerusalem. The present inhabitants (about 5,000) all belong to the Greek church. The name means: house of bread, probably given on account of its great fertility. It is called Bethlehem Judah (Jdg_17:7-8; 1Sa_17:12) to distinguish it from another town in Galilee (tribe of Zebulon) of the same name; also Ephrath (Gen_35:19; Gen_48:7) and Ephrata (Mic_5:2); also ‘the city of David’ (Luk_2:4), because his birth-place (Rth_1:1-19; 1 Samuel 16). Its insignificance and its honor are contrasted in the prophecy (Mic_5:2) quoted by the scribes (Mat_2:6).

Herod the king, generally called in history Herod the Great, the son of the Edomite Antipater by an Arabian mother. Antipater, who was made procurator of Judea by Cæsar, appointed his son governor of Galilee at the age of fifteen. Herod was made tetrarch by Antony, but driven away by Antigonus, a Maccabæan prince. Fleeing to Rome, he was there crowned king of Judea by the Senate, through the favor of Antony, and by the help of the Romans actually obtained the throne. Securing the favor of Augustus he reigned thirty-seven years. A skilful ruler, fond of architectural embellishment, but extremely cruel and jealous, being charged with the murder of his wife and three sons. He died at the age of seventy, shortly after putting to death the third son, in the 750th year of Rome. This date shows that the birth of Christ must have taken place at least four years before the common era. For forty days before his death he was at Jericho and the baths of Calirrhoe, hence the events mentioned in this section must have occurred before that time. He was the first ruler of the Jews who did not acknowledge the rights of the Messiah. The Asmonean princes all did. Before the death of him who had been foisted on the throne by Roman enactment, one was ‘born King of the Jews,’ in accordance with Gen_49:10.

Magi, sages. Originally a class of priests among the Persians and Medes, who formed the king’s privy Council, and cultivated astrology, medicine, and occult natural science. They are frequently referred to by ancient authors. Afterwards the term was applied to all Eastern philosophers; and there were many in more Western countries who made astrology and the like their trade; for example, Simon Magus and Elymas the sorcerer. Hence the term ‘magician’ has a bad meaning, not implied in the word ‘magi,’ from which it is derived. The tradition that the Magi were three kings (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar) appears to have arisen from the number of their gifts, and from the prophecy in Isa_60:3. The earlier fathers speak of them as twelve and even fifteen in number. They are justly regarded as the first fruits and representatives of heathen converts to Christianity. Hence the festival of Epiphany Jan. 6), also called ‘the three kings,’ celebrating Christ’s manifestation to the Gentiles, though originally instituted for a wider purpose, was very early associated with this visit of the Magi, and celebrated as a missionary festival. The date of the visit was probably more than twelve days after the birth of Jesus.

From the east. Either: they came from the east, or: their home was in the east. The latter is the more probable meaning, and would imply the former. ‘The east’ may refer to Arabia, Persia, Chaldea, or more remote countries. In all these astrologers were found, and in all there was an expectation of some great deliverer to come about this time, derived, as is supposed, from the prophecy, Dan. 14:24. Comp. the Star of Jacob in Balaam’s prophecy, Num_24:17. Persia or Mesopotamia was probably their residence. The way was doubtless long, but they found Christ, while those nearer Him had not even looked for Him. The hope of a Saviour was given to the Jews as a chosen race, but the same hope was given to chosen individuals among the Gentiles. Comp. the many instances in Old Testament history.

To Jerusalem. At the capital they looked for the King, or for tidings of him. For a description of the city, see map and Bible dictionaries. The excavations of the Palestine Exploration Fund tend to alter the commonly received views in regard to some of the localities.

Cambridge Bible
Matthew 2:2

King of the Jews] A title unknown to the earlier history of Israel and applied to no one except the Messiah. It reappears in the inscription over the Cross (ch. Mat_27:37).

his star in the east] The simplest explanation of this is that a Star or Meteor appeared in the sky to guide the Magi on their way first to Jerusalem, then to Bethlehem. It is, however, quite possible that the Magi were divinely led to connect some calculated phenomenon with the birth of the “King of the Jews.” Among many conjectures may be mentioned one recently propounded by Prof. Lauth of Munich. It appears to be proved that the dog-star Sirius rose heliacally, i. e. appeared at sunrise, on the first of the Egyptian month Mesori, for four years in succession, viz. 5, 4, 3, 2 before our era. The rising of this star of special brilliance on the first of this special month (Mesori=birth of the prince) would have a marked significance. By the Magi it might well be connected with the prophecy of “the star of Jacob,” and become the cause of their journey to Jerusalem. This theory explains Herod’s edict, Mat_2:16, for the destruction of all male children “from two years old and under,” for, as according to the date assigned to the Nativity of Christ, the arrival of the Magi at Jerusalem would coincide with the year 3 before the Christian era, the star had appeared for two years.

The theory, supported by Alford, which identifies this “star” with a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, forces the meaning of the word “star,” is inconsistent with the latest chronological results, and is shown to be scientifically impossible by Prof. Pritchard in Dict. of the Bible, sub voc. “Star of the Magi.”

The connection of the birth of the Messiah with the appearance of a Star is illustrated by the name Barchochab (“Son of a Star”), assumed by a false Messiah who appeared in the year 120 a. d. It has also been noticed that in the Cartouche or Egyptian royal symbol of Vespasian, the word “God” is for the first time expressed by a Star. (Dr Lauth, Trans. Bib. Arch. Soc. iv. 2.)

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_2:3
When; and when, Revised Version. There is a contrast (δέ) between the eager question of the Magi and the feelings of Herod. Herod the king. In the true text the emphasis is not on the person (as in Mat_2:1, where the date was all-important), but on the office as then exercised. Tile king visibly regnant is contrasted with him who was born to be King. Heard. Through some of his many sources of information, for “there were spies set everywhere” (Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 15.10. 4).

These things; it, Revised Version. Nothing is expressed in the original.

He was troubled; perplexed, agitated (ἐταράχθη). Fully in accordance with his jealous and suspicious character. For he had already slain, as actual or possible candidates for the throne, five of the Maccabean princes and princesses, including his favourite wife Mariamne (thus extirpating the direct line) and also his two sons by Mariamne. Josephus (‘Ant.,’ 17.2. 4; cf. Holtzmann) mentions a prediction of the Pharisees towards the end of Herod’s life, that “God had decreed that Herod’s government should cease, and his posterity should be deprived of it.” This seems to have a Messianic reference, though used at the time for an intrigue in favour of Pheroras, Herod’s brother.

And all Jerusalem. The feminine (here only, πᾶσα Ἰεροσόλυμα) points to a Hebrew source. The reason for the inhabitants of Jerusalem feeling troubled is generally explained, by their fear, which was in fact only too well justified by experience, that the news would excite Herod to fresh crimes. It is also possible that many would shrink from the changes which the coming of Messiah could not but bring. Present ease, though only comparative, is with the unbelieving preferable to possibilities of the highest blessedness. Mat_21:10 affords both a parallel and a contrast. With him. In this respect Jerusalem was one with Herod (Joh_1:11).

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 2:4

He inquired of them where the Christ should be born (epunthaneto par’ autōn pou ho Christos gennātai). The prophetic present (gennātai) is given, the very words of Herod retained by Matthew’s report. The imperfect tense (epunthaneto) suggests that Herod inquired repeatedly, probably of one and another of the leaders gathered together, both Sadducees (chief priests) and Pharisees (scribes). McNeile doubts, like Holtzmann, if Herod actually called together all the Sanhedrin and probably “he could easily ask the question of a single scribe,” because he had begun his reign with a massacre of the Sanhedrin (Josephus, Ant. XIV. ix. 4). But that was thirty years ago and Herod was desperately in earnest to learn what the Jews really expected about the coming of “the Messiah.” Still Herod probably got together not the Sanhedrin since “elders” are not mentioned, but leaders among the chief priests and scribes, not a formal meeting but a free assembly for conference. He had evidently heard of this expected king and he would swallow plenty of pride to be able to compass the defeat of these hopes.

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 2:5

And they said unto him (hoi de eipan autōi). Whether the ecclesiastics had to search their scriptures or not, they give the answer that is in accord with the common Jewish opinion that the Messiah was to come from Bethlehem and of the seed of David (Joh_7:42). So they quote Mic_5:2, “a free paraphrase” Alford calls it, for it is not precisely like the Hebrew text or like the Septuagint. It may have come from a collection of testimonia with which J. Rendel Harris has made the world familiar. He had consulted the experts and now he has their answer. Bethlehem of Judah is the place. The use of the perfect passive indicative (gegraptai) is the common form in quoting scripture. It stands written.

Shall be shepherd (poimanei). The Authorized Version had “shall rule,” but “shepherd” is correct. “Homer calls kings ‘the shepherds of the people’”(Vincent). In Heb_13:20 Jesus is called “the great shepherd of the sheep.” Jesus calls himself “the good shepherd” (Joh_10:11). Peter calls Christ “the chief shepherd” (1Pe_2:25). “The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall be their shepherd” (Rev_7:17). Jesus told Peter to “shepherd” the lambs (Joh_21:16). Our word pastor means shepherd.

Albert Barnes
Matthew 2:7

Privily – Secretly, privately. He did this to ascertain the time when Jesus was born.

Diligently – Accurately, exactly. He took pains to learn the precise time when the star appeared. He did this because he naturally concluded that the star appeared just at the time of his birth, and he wished to know precisely how old the child was.

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_2:7
Then Herod, when he had privily called the Wise Men. Secrecy was doubly necessary. He would not publicly commit himself to acknowledging the rights of the new King, and he would give no opportunity for others to warn the Child’s parents of the dangerous interest that Herod was taking in him. Duplicity was very characteristic of Herod; cf. his assassination of Aristobulus the high priest (Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 15.3. 3), and his alluring his son Antipater home to death (ibid., 17.5. 1).

Inquired of them diligently; learned of them carefully (Revised Version); “lerned of hem bisili” (Wickliffe); ἠκρίβωσεν παρ αὐτῶν. The stress is not upon Herod’s careful questioning, but on the exact information that he obtained.

What time the star appeared. Although this is not the literal translation, it may, perhaps, represent the sense of the original (τὸν χρόνον τοῦ φαινομένου ἀστέρος) , the participle characterizing the star in its most important relation—its appearance, and the words being treated as a compound expression (cf. Joh_12:9, Joh_12:12). Herod supposed that the birth of the Babe was synchronous with the first appearance of the star. The translation, however, of the Revised Version margin, “the time of the star that appeared,” better suits the exact wording (χρόνον, not καιρόν;φαινομένου, not φανέντος) , the phrase thus including both the first appearance and also the period of continuance (cf. Grotius, “non initium, sed continuitas”). But it is difficult to see What Herod would have learned from this latter particular. Some even think that the star was still visible (Plumptre; Weiss, ‘Matthew’), but in this case the joy of the Magi in Mat_2:10 is not satisfactorily explained.

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_2:8
And he sent them to Bethlehem. Thus answering their question (Mat_2:2).

And said, Go and search diligently for the young Child; and search out carefully concerning, Revised Version; ἐξετάσατε ἀκριβῶς περί. Herod bade them make precise inquiry as to all particulars about the Child. The more details he could obtain, the more easily he could make away with him.

And when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also; the Revised Version rightly joins, I also—I as well as you; I the king. It might well be at a secret conference with the Magi that Herod said this, for no Jew would have believed him. Worship; Mat_2:2, note.

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_2:9
When they had heard the king. There is a slight contrast in the Greek, but they [for their part] having heard the King. They departed; went their way (Revised Version). Took their journey (ἐπορεύθησαν)

And lo, the star, which they saw in the East. They would, in accordance with Eastern custom, probably travel by night. Observe that the joy they felt at seeing the star (Mat_2:10) implies that it had not continued visible (Mat_2:7, note). They had fully used all means; now they receive fresh Divine guidance. In the East (Mat_2:2, note).

Went before them. Continuously (τροῆγεν); “taking them by the hand and drawing them on” (Chrysostom). Not to show them the way to Bethlehem, for the road was easy, but to assure them of guidance to the Babe, over whose temporary home it stayed. The road to Bethlehem is, and from the nature of the valley must always have been, so nearly straight (until the last half-mile, when there is a sudden turn up the hill) that the star need have moved but slightly. Bethlehem itself is seen soon after passing Mar Elias, a monastery rather more than half-way from Jerusalem.

Till it came and stood over where the young Child was. Does the true reading (ἐστάθη) suggest the unseen hand by which this star was itself guided and stationed (Mat_27:11)? or is it used with a kind of reflexive force, indicating that it was by no chance that it stood still there—”took its stand” (cf. σταθείς, Luk_18:11, Luk_18:40; Luk_19:8; Act_2:14, et al.; cf. also Rev_8:3; 12:18)?

Pulpit Commentary
Mat_2:11
And when they were come into the house. For after the enrolment the caravanserai would not be so crowded (Luk_2:7). But whether it was now the caravanserai or a private house, we have no evidence to show.

They saw (εἶδον, with the uncials and most of the versions). The translators in this case followed the text of the Complutensian and of Colinaeus’ edition, rejecting the false εὗρον of the Vulgate and the Received Text.

The young Child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him (Mat_2:2, note). In this latter clause Mary is not mentioned. And when they had opened. Neither the Authorized Version nor the Revised Version brings out the exact correlation of the six aorists in this verse.

Their treasures (so the Revised Version); perhaps, more strictly, treasuries, coffers. There is the same ambiguity about “treasure” in old English (cf. Jer_10:13; Jer_51:16; Eeclus. 43:14) as in the Greek.

They presented unto him gifts. Thus fulfilling in germ the predictions of offerings being made to Messiah and Messiah’s people by the Gentile nations (Isa_60:1-22.; Hag_2:7; Psa_72:10).

Presented; offered (Revised Version). The verb used (προσφέρω) seems to lay stress on the persons to whom and by whom the offering is made, the personal relation in which they stand to each other; ἀναφέρω (cf. Bishop Westcott, on Heb_7:27) and παρίστημι on the destination and use of the offering (Jas_2:21; Rom_6:13). Observe the three stages in this verse—vision, submission, consecration. Gifts; without which one does not approach an Eastern monarch (cf. 1Ki_10:2). Gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. Wealth and delights, the material and the aesthetic.

Albert Barnes
Matthew 2:11

The house – The place where he was born, or the place where they lived at that time.

Fell down – This was the usual way of showing respect or homage among the Jews, Est_8:3; Job_1:20; Dan_3:7; Psa_72:11; Isa_46:6.

Worshipped him – Did him homage as King of the Jews. See the notes at Mat_2:2.

Had opened their treasures – The treasures which they had brought, or the boxes, etc., in which they had brought their gold, etc.

They presented unto him gifts – These were presented to him as King of the Jews, because they supposed he was to be a distinguished prince and conqueror. It was customary in the East to show respect for persons of distinction by making presents or offerings of this kind. See Gen_32:14; Gen_43:11; 1Sa_10:27; 1Ki_10:2; Psa_72:10-15. This custom is still common in the East, and it is everywhere there unusual to approach a person of distinguished rank without a valuable present.

Frankincense – Frankincense is a white resin or gum. It is obtained from a tree by making incisions in the bark, and suffering the gum to flow out. It is highly odoriferous or fragrant when burned, and was therefore used in worship, where it was burned as a pleasant offering to God. See Exo_30:8; Lev_16:12. It is found in the East Indies, but chiefly in Arabia; and hence it has been supposed probable that the wise men came from Arabia.

Myrrh – This was also a production of Arabia, and was obtained from a tree in the same manner as frankincense. The name denotes bitterness, and was given to it on account of its great bitterness. It was used chiefly in embalming the dead, because it had the property of preserving dead bodies from putrefaction. Compare Joh_19:39, it was much used in Egypt and in Judea. It was obtained from a thorny tree, which grows 8 or 9 feet high. It was at an early period an article of commerce Gen_37:25, and was an ingredient of the holy ointment, Exo_30:23. It was also used as an agreeable perfume, Est_2:12; Psa_45:8; Pro_7:17. It was also sometimes mingled with wine to form an article of drink. Such a drink was given to our Saviour, when about to be crucified, as a stupefying potion, Mar_15:23; compare Mat_27:34.

The offerings here referred to were made because they were the most valuable which the country of the Magi or wise men produced. They were tokens of respect and homage which they paid to the new-born King of the Jews. They evinced their high regard for him, and their belief that he was to be an illustrious prince; and the fact that their deed is recorded with approbation shows us that we should offer our most valuable possessions, our all, to the Lord Jesus Christ. Wise men came from far to do him homage, and bowed down, and presented their best gifts and offerings. It is right that we give to him also our hearts, our property, our all.

A.T. Rpbertson
Matthew 2:12

Warned in a dream (chrēmatisthentes kat’ onar). The verb means to transact business (chrēmatizō from chrēma, and that from chraomai, to use. Then to consult, to deliberate, to make answer as of magistrates or an oracle, to instruct, to admonish. In the Septuagint and the New Testament it occurs with the idea of being warned by God and also in the papyri (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 122). Wycliff puts it here: “An answer taken in sleep.”

Gospel of Matthew Chapter 1:18-25 Antique Commentary Quotes

Albert Barnes
Matthew 1:18

Now the birth of Jesus Christ – The circumstances attending his birth.

Was on this wise – In this manner.

Espoused – Betrothed, or engaged to be married. There was commonly an interval of ten or twevle months, among the Jews, between the contract of marriage and the celebration of the nuptials (see Gen_24:55; Jdg_14:8; Deu_20:7), yet such was the nature of this engagement, that unfaithfulness to each other was deemed adultery. See Deu_22:25, Deu_22:28.

With child by the Holy Ghost – See the note at Luk_1:35.

Cambridge Bible
Matthew 1:19

being a just man] i. e. one who observed the law, and, therefore, feeling bound to divorce Mary. But two courses were open to him. He could either summon her before the law-courts to be judicially condemned and punished, or he could put her away by a bill of divorcement before witnesses, but without assigning cause. This is meant by “putting her away privily,” the more merciful course which Joseph resolved to adopt.

Albert Barnes
Matthew 1:20

He thought on these things – He did not act hastily. He did not take the course which the law would have permitted him to do, if he had been hasty, violent, or unjust. It was a case deeply affecting his happiness, his character, and the reputation and character of his chosen companion. God will guide the thoughtful and the anxious. And when we have looked patiently at a perplexed subject, and know not what to do, then God, as in the case of Joseph, will interpose to lead us and direct our way. Psa_25:9.

The angel of the Lord – The word “angel” literally means a messenger. It is applied chiefly in the Scriptures to those invisible holy beings who have not fallen into sin: who live in heaven (1Ti_5:21; compare Jud_1:6); and who are sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation. See the Heb_1:13-14 notes, and Dan_9:21 note. The word is sometimes applied to men, as messengers Luk_7:24; Luk_9:52; Jam_2:25; to the winds Psa_104:4; to the pestilence Psa_78:49; or to whatever is appointed to make known or to execute the will of God. It is commonly applied, however, to the unfallen, happy spirits that are in heaven, whose dignity and pleasure it is to do the will of God. Various ways were employed by them in making known the will of God, by dreams, visions, assuming a human appearance, etc.

In a dream – This was a common way of making known the will of God to the ancient prophets and people of God, Gen_20:3; Gen_30:1, Gen_30:11, Gen_30:24; Gen_37:5; Gen_41:1; 1Ki_3:5; Dan_7:1; Job_4:13-15; compare my notes at Isaiah. In what way it was ascertained that these dreams were from God cannot now be ascertained, It is sufficient for us to know that in this way many of the prophecies were communicated, and to remark that there is no evidence that we are to put reliance on our dreams. Dreams are wild, irregular movements of the mind when it is unshackled by reason, and it is mere superstition to suppose that God now makes known His will in this way.

Son of David – Descendant of David. See Mat_1:1. The angel put him in mind of his relation to David perhaps to prepare him for the intelligence that Mary was to be the mother of the Messiah – the promised heir of David.

Fear not – Do not hesitate, or have any apprehensions about her virtue and purity. Do not fear that she will be unworthy of you, or will disgrace you.

To take unto thee Mary thy wife – To take her as thy wife; to recognize her as such, and to treat her as such.

For that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost – Is the direct creation of divine power. A body was thus prepared pure and holy, and free from the corruption of sin, in order that he might be qualified for his great work the offering of a pure sacrifice to God. As this was necessary in order to the great work which he came to perform, Joseph is directed by an angel to receive her as pure and virtuous, and as every way worthy of his love. Compare the notes at Heb_10:5.

Marvin Vincent
Matthew 1:21

Shalt call
Thus committing the office of a father to Joseph. The naming of the unborn Messiah would accord with popular notions. The Rabbis had a saying concerning the six whose names were given before their birth: “Isaac, Ishmael, Moses, Solomon, Josiah, and the name of the Messiah, whom may the Holy One, blessed be His name, bring quickly in our days.”

Jesus (Ιησοῦν)
The Greek form of a Hebrew name, which had been borne by two illustrious individuals in former periods of the Jewish history – Joshua, the successor of Moses, and Jeshua, the high-priest, who with Zerubbabel took so active a part in the re-establishment of the civil and religious polity of the Jews on their return from Babylon. Its original and full form is Jehoshua, becoming by contraction Joshua or Jeshua. Joshua, the son of Nun, the successor of Moses, was originally named Hoshea (saving), which was altered by Moses into Jehoshua (Jehovah (our) Salvation) (Num_13:16). The meaning of the name, therefore, finds expression in the title Saviour, applied to our Lord (Luk_1:47; Luk_2:11; Joh_4:42).

Joshua, the son of Nun, is a type of Christ in his office of captain and deliverer of his people, in the military aspect of his saving work (Rev_19:11-16). As God’s revelation to Moses was in the character of a law-giver, his revelation to Joshua was in that of the Lord of Hosts (Jos_5:13, Jos_5:14). Under Joshua the enemies of Israel were conquered, and the people established in the Promised Land. So Jesus leads his people in the fight with sin and temptation. He is the leader of the faith which overcomes the world (Heb_12:2). Following him, we enter into rest.

The priestly office of Jesus is foreshadowed in the high-priest Jeshua, who appears in the vision of Zechariah (Zec_3:1-10; compare Ezr_2:2) in court before God, under accusation of Satan, and clad in filthy garments. Jeshua stands not only for himself, but as the representative of sinning and suffering Israel. Satan is defeated. The Lord rebukes him, and declares that he will redeem and restore this erring people; and in token thereof he commands that the accused priest be clad in clean robes and crowned with the priestly mitre.
Thus in this priestly Jeshua we have a type of our “Great High-Priest, touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and in all points tempted and tried like as we are;” confronting Satan in the wilderness; trying conclusions with him upon the victims of his malice – the sick, the sinful, and the demon-ridden. His royal robes are left behind. He counts not “equality with God a thing to be grasped at,” but “empties himself,” taking the “form of a servant,” humbling himself and becoming “obedient even unto death” (Phi_2:6, Phi_2:7, Rev.). He assumes the stained garments of our humanity. He who “knew no sin” is “made to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2Co_5:21). He is at once priest and victim. He pleads for sinful man before God’s throne. He will redeem him. He will rebuke the malice and cast down the power of Satan. He will behold him” as lightning fall from heaven” (Luk_10:18). He will raise and save and purify men of weak natures, rebellious wills, and furious passions – cowardly braggarts and deniers like Peter, persecutors like Saul of Tarsus, charred brands – and make them witnesses of his grace and preachers of his love and power. His kingdom shall be a kingdom of priests, and the song of his redeemed church shall be, “unto him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his own blood, and made us to be a kingdom, to be priests unto his God and Father; to him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Rev_1:5, Rev_1:6, in Rev.).

It is no mere fancy which sees a suggestion and a foreshadowing of the prophetic work of Jesus in the economy of salvation, in a third name closely akin to the former. Hoshea, which we know in our English Bible as Hosea, was the original name of Joshua (compare Rom_9:25, Rev.) and means saving. He is, in a peculiar sense, the prophet of grace and salvation, placing his hope in God’s personal coming as the refuge and strength of humanity; in the purification of human life by its contact with the divine. The great truth which he has to teach is the love of Jehovah to Israel as expressed in the relation of husband, an idea which pervades his prophecy, and which is generated by his own sad domestic experience. He foreshadows Jesus in his pointed warnings against sin, his repeated offers of divine mercy, and his patient, forbearing love, as manifested in his dealing with an unfaithful and dissolute wife, whose soul he succeeded in rescuing from sin and death (Hosea 1-3). So long as he lived, he was one continual, living prophecy of the tenderness of God toward sinners; a picture of God’s love for us when alien from him, and with nothing in us to love. The faithfulness of the prophetic teacher thus blends in Hosea, as in our Lord, with the compassion and sympathy and sacrifice of the priest.

He (αὐτὸς)
Emphatic; and so rightly in Rev., “For it is He that shall save his people.”

Their sins (ἁμαρτιῶν)
Akin to ἁμαρτάνω, to miss a mark; as a warrior who throws his spear and fails to strike his adversary, or as a traveller who misses his way. In this word, therefore, one of a large group which represent sin under different phases, sin is conceived as a failing and missing the true end and scope of our lives, which is God.

A.T. Robertson
Matthew 1:22

That it may be fulfilled (hina plērōthēi). Alford says that “it is impossible to interpret hina in any other sense than in order that.” That was the old notion, but modern grammarians recognize the non-final use of this particle in the Koiné and even the consecutive like the Latin ut. Some even argue for a causal use. If the context called for result, one need not hesitate to say so as in Mar_11:28; Joh_9:36; 1Jo_1:9; Rev_9:20; Rev_13:13. See discussion in my Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, pp. 997-9. All the same it is purpose here, God’s purpose, Matthew reports the angel as saying, spoken “by (hupo, immediate agent) the Lord through (dia, intermediate agent) the prophet.”

“All this has happened” (touto de holon gegonen, present perfect indicative), stands on record as historical fact. But the Virgin Birth of Jesus is not due to this interpretation of Isa_7:14. It is not necessary to maintain (Broadus) that Isaiah himself saw anything more in his prophecy than that a woman then a virgin, would bear a son and that in the course of a few years Ahaz would be delivered from the king of Syria and Israel by the coming of the Assyrians. This historical illustration finds its richest fulfilment in the birth of Jesus from Mary. “Words of themselves are empty. They are useful only as vessels to convey things from mind to mind” (Morison). The Hebrew word for young woman is translated by virgin (parthenos), but it is not necessary to conclude that Isaiah himself contemplated the supernatural birth of Jesus. We do not have to say that the idea of the Virgin Birth of Jesus came from Jewish sources. Certainly it did not come from the pagan myths so foreign to this environment, atmosphere and spirit. It is far simpler to admit the supernatural fact than try to explain the invention of the idea as a myth to justify the deification of Jesus. The birth, life, and death of Jesus throw a flood of light on the Old Testament narrative and prophecies for the early Christians. In Matthew and John in particular we often see “that the events of Christ’s life were divinely ordered for the express purpose of fulfilling the Old Testament” (McNeile). See note on Mat_2:15, Mat_2:23; Mat_4:14-17; Mat_8:17; Mat_12:17-21; Mat_13:35; Mat_21:4.; Joh_12:38.; Joh_13:18; Joh_19:24, Joh_19:28, Joh_19:36.

Albert Barnes
Matthew 1:22

Now all this was done – The prophecy here quoted is recorded in Isa_7:14. See the notes at that passage. The prophecy was delivered about 740 years before Christ, in the reign of Ahaz, king of Judah. The land of Judea was threatened with an invasion by the united armies of Syria and Israel, under the command of Rezin and Pekah. Ahaz was alarmed, and seems to have contemplated calling in aid from Assyria to defend him. Isaiah was directed, in his consternation, to go to Ahaz, and tell him to ask a sign from God Isa_7:10-11; that is, to look to God rather than to Assyria for aid. This he refused to do. He had not confidence in God, but feared that the land would be overrun by the armies of Syria Mat_1:12, and relied only on the aid which he hoped to receive from Assyria. Isaiah answered that, in these circumstances, the Lord would himself give a sign, or a pledge, that the land should be delivered. The sign was, that a virgin should have a son, and that before that son would arrive to years of discretion, the land would be forsaken by these hostile kings. The prophecy was therefore designed originally to signify to Ahaz that the land would certainly be delivered from its calamities and dangers, and that the deliverance would not be long delayed. The land of Syria and Israel, united now in confederation, would be deprived of both their kings, and thus the land of Judah would be freed from the threatening danger. This appears to be the literal fulfillment of the passage in Isaiah.
Might be fulfilled – It is more difficult to know in what sense this could be said to be fulfilled in the birth of Christ. To understand this, it may be remarked that the word “fulfilled” is used in the Scriptures and in other writings in many senses, of which the following are some:

1. When a thing is clearly predicted, and comes to pass, as the destruction of Babylon, foretold in Isa_13:19-22; and of Jerusalem, in Matt. 24.

2. When one thing is typified or shadowed forth by another, and when the event occurs, the type is said to be fulfilled. This was the case in regard to the types and sacrifices in the Old Testament, which were fulfilled by the coming of Christ. See Heb. 9.

3. When prophecies of future events are expressed in language more elevated and full than the particular thing, at first denoted, demands. Or, in other words, when the language, though it may express one event, is also so full and rich as appropriately to express other events in similar circumstances and of similar import, they may be said to be fulfilled. Thus, for example, the last chapters of Isaiah, from Isa. 40 onward, foretell the return of the Jews into Babylon, and every circumstance mentioned occurred in their return. But the language is more expanded and sublime than was necessary to express their return. It will also express appropriately a much more important and magnificent deliverance that of the redeemed under the Messiah; and the return of the people of God to him, and the universal spread of the gospel: and therefore it may be said to be fulfilled in the coming of Jesus and the spread of the gospel. So, if there were any other magnificent and glorious events, still, in similar circumstances, and of like character, it might be said also that these prophecies were fulfilled in all of them. The language is so full and rich, and the promises are so grand, that they may appropriately express all these deliverances. This may be the sense in which the prophecy now under consideration may be said to have been fulfilled.

4. Language is said to be fulfilled when, though it was used to express one event, it may be used also to express another. Thus, a fable may be said to be fulfilled when an event occurs similar to the one concerning which it was first spoken. A parable has its fulfillment in all the cases to which it is applicable; and the same remark applies to a proverb, or to a declaration respecting human nature. The statement that “there is none that doeth good” Psa_14:3 was at first spoken of a particular race of wicked men.” Yet it is applicable to others, and in this sense may be said to have been fulfilled. See Rom_3:10. In this use of the word fulfilled, it means, not that the passage was at first intended to apply to this particular thing, but that the words aptly or appropriately express the thing spoken of, and way be applied to it. We may say the same of this which was said of another thing, and thus the words express both, or are fulfilled. The writers of the New Testament seem occasionally to have used the word in this sense.

Albert Barnes
Matthew 1:23

Behold, a virgin shall be with child – Matthew clearly understands this as applying literally to a virgin. Compare Luk_1:34. It thus implies that the conception of Christ was miraculous, or that the body of the Messiah was created directly by the power of God, agreeably to the declaration in Heb_10:5; “Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me.”

And they shall call his name Emmanuel – That is, his name shall be so called. See the notes at Isa_7:14. The word “Immanuel” is a Hebrew word, צמנוּאל ‛immânû’êl; cf. Ἐμμανουήλ Emmanouēl, and literally means “God with us.” Matthew doubtless understands it as denoting that the Messiah was really “God with us,” or that the divine nature was united with the human. He does not affirm that this was its meaning when used in reference to the child to whom it was first applied, but this is its signification as applicable to the Messiah. It was suitably expressive of his character; and in this sense it was fulfilled. When first used by Isaiah, it denoted simply that the birth of the child was a sign that God was with the Jews to deliver them. The Hebrews often incorporated the name of Yahweh, or God, into their proper names. Thus, Isaiah means “the salvation of Yah;” Eleazer, “help of God:” Eli, “my God,” etc. But Matthew evidently intends more than was denoted by the simple use of such names. He had just given an account of the miraculous conception of Jesus: of his being begotten by the Holy Spirit. God was therefore his Father. He was divine as well as human. His appropriate name, therefore, was “God with us.” And though the mere use of such a name would not prove that he had a divine nature, yet as Matthew uses it, and meant evidently to apply it, it does prove that Jesus was more than a man; that he was God as well as man. And it is this which gives glory to the plan of redemption. It is this which is the wonder of angels. It is this which makes the plan so vast, so grand, so full of instruction and comfort to Christians. See Phi_2:6-8. It is this which sheds such peace and joy into the sinner’s heart; which gives him such security of salvation, and which renders the condescension of God in the work of redemption so great and his character so lovely.

Albert Barnes
Matthew 1:24

Being raised from sleep – Having fully awoke.

Did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him – That is, he took Mary to wife. Probably this was done immediately, since he was now convinced of her innocence, and, by delay, he would not leave any ground of suspicion that he had not confidence in her.

Philip Schaff
Matthew 1:25
Mat_1:25. Knew her not. A Hebrew form for conjugal cohabitation; comp. Luk_1:36.

A son. The words answering to ‘her ‘and ‘first-born ‘are omitted by some of the best authorities. They may, however, have been left out to support the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary. In Luk_2:7, the phrase is genuine beyond a doubt. It does not of itself prove that Mary had other children, nor does till of necessity imply this. Yet Matthew, with the whole history of Christ before him, would scarcely have used the expression, had he held the Roman Catholic notion of the perpetual virginity. It would have been easy to assert that by saying: he never knew her. Many Protestant commentators suppose that the genealogy of David found its end in Christ, and that Mary could not have given birth to children after having become the mother of the Saviour of the world. But this is a matter of sentiment rather than a conviction based on evidence. ‘The brethren of our Lord’ are frequently mentioned (four by name, besides sisters), in close connection with Mary, and apparently as members of her household. They are nowhere called his cousins, as some claim them to have been. They were probably either the children of Joseph by a former wife (the view of some Greek fathers), or the children of Joseph and Mary (as now held by many Protestant commentators). To the first view the genealogy of Joseph seems an insuperable objection; for the oldest son by the former marriage would have been his legal heir, and the genealogy out of place. The question, however, is complicated with other exegetical difficulties and doctrinal prejudices. The virginity of Mary up to the birth of Jesus is here the main point. The whole subject is fully discussed by Lange and Schaff in the English edition of Lange’s Commentary, Matthew, pp. 255-260.