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exposed to the sun and rain, loses its saltness entirely. Maundrell says, “ I broke a piece of it, of which the part that was exposed to the rain, sun, and air, though it had the sparks and particles of salt, yet it had perfectly lost its savour. The inner part, which was connected to the rock, retained its savour, as I found by proof.” 14 "Ye are tlie light of the world. A city that is set on an liill cannot be hid.
9 Prov. iv. 8; Phil. ii. 15.
14. The liyht of the world. The light of the world often denotes the sun. John xi. 9. The sun renders objects visible-shows their form, their nature, their beauties, and deformities. The term light is often applied to religious teachers. See Matt. iv. 16; Luke ii. 32; Johın i. 4, viii. 12; Isa. xlix. 6. It is pre-eminently applied to Jesus in these places, because he is, in the religious world, what the sun is in the natural world. The apostles, and Christian ministers, and all Christians, are lights of the world, because they, by their instructions and examples, show what God requires, what is the condition of man, what is the way of duty, peace, and happiness—the way that leads to heaven. q A city that is set on an hill. Many of the cities of Judea were placed on the summits or sides of mountains, and could be seen from afar. This was the case with Jerusalem; and it is said by Maundrell, that near the place where our Saviour is supposed to have delivered his sermon, there is still such a town, called Saphat, anciently Bethesda. This town can be seen far and near. Perhaps Jesus pointed to such a city, and told his disciples that they were like it. They were seen from far. Their actions could not be hid. The eyes of the world were upon
them. 15 Neither do men 'light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a
candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
Mark iv, 21; Luke viii. 16, xi. 33.
15. Neither do men light a candle, &c. Jesus proceeded here to show them that the
very reason why they were enlightened was, that others might also see the light, and be benefited by it. When men light a candle, they do not conceal the light, but place it where it may be of use. So it is with religion. It is given that we may benefit others. It is not to be concealed, but suffered to show itself, and to shed light on a surrounding wicked world. I A bushel. Greek, a measure containing nearly a peek. It denotes any thing, here, that might conceal the light. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works,
and 'glorify your Father which is in heaven.
81 Pet. ii. 12.
t John xv, 8; I Cor. xiv. 25.
16. Let your light so shine, &c. Let your holy life, your pure conversation, and your
faithful instruction, be every where seen and known. Always, in all societies
, in all business, at home and abroad, in prosperity and adversity, let it be seen that you are real Christians.
q That they may see your good works. This is not the motive to influence us, simply that we may be seen (compare chap. vi. 1); but that our heavenly Father may be glorified. It is not right to do a thing merely to be seen by others, for this is pride and ostentation; but we are to do it that, being seen, God be honoured. The Pharisees acted to be seen of men; true Christians act to glorify God, and care little what men may think of them, except as by their conduct others may be brought to honour God. 9 Glorify your Father. Praise or honour God, or be led to worship him. Seeing in your lives the excellency of religion, the power and purity of the Gospel, they may be won to be Christians also, and give praise and glory to God for his mercy to a lost world.
We learn here, 1. That religion, if it exist, cannot be concealed. 2. That where it is not manifest in the life, it does not exist. 3. That professors of religion, who live like other men, give evidence that they have never been renewed. 4. That to attempt to conceal or hide our Christian knowledge or experience, is to betray our trust, and injure the cause of truth, and render our lives useless And, 5. That good actions will be seen, and will lead men to honour God. No sincere and humble Christian lives in vain. The feeblest light at midnight is of use. 17 "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am
not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
u Rom. iii, 31, X. 4; Gal. iii. 24.
17. Think not that I am come, &c. Our Saviour was just entering on his work. It was important for him to state what he came to do. In consequence of his opposing the scribes and Pharisees, some might charge him with an intention to destroy their law, and abolish the customs of the nation. He therefore told them that he did not come for that end, but really to fulfil or accomplish what was in the law and the prophets. 1 To destroy. To abrogate them; to set men free from the obligation to obey them. I The law. The five books of Moses, called the law. See Note on Luke xxiv. 44. 1 The prophets. The books which the prophets wrote. These two divisions here comprehend the Old Testament; and Jesus says that he came not to do away or destroy the authority of the Old Testament. 1 But to fulfil. The law of Moses contained many sacrifices and rites which were designed to shadow forth the Messiah. Heb. ix. These were fulfilled when he came and offered himself a sacrifice to God. The prophets contained many predictions respecting his coming and death. These were all to be fulfilled and fully accomplished by his life and his sufferings. 18 For verily I say unto you, "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle
shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
w Luke xvi. 17.
18. Verily. Truly, certainly. A word of strong affirmation. Till heaven and earth pass. This expression denotes that the law never should be destroyed till it should be all fulfilled. It is the same as saying, Every thing else may change-the very earth and heaven may pass away—but the law of God shall not be destroyed, till its whole design shall be accomplished. One jot. The expression, “ one jot or tittle,” became proverbial, and means that the smallest part of the law should not be destroyed. 19 'Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and
shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
# James ii. 10.
19. Shall break. Shall violate or disobey. I These least commandments. The Pharisees divided the law into greater and lesser precepts. They made no small part of it void by their traditions and divisions. Matt. xxiii. 23, xv. 3-6. Jesus says, that in his kingdom all this vain division and tradition should cease. Men would be engaged in yielding obedience to all the law of God, without any such vain distinctions. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the
righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
y Rom. ix. 31, x. 3.
20. Your righteousness. Your holiness, your views of the nature of righteousness, and your conduct and lives. Unless you are more holy than they are, you cannot be saved. | Shall exceed. Shall excel, or abound more. This righteousness was external, and was not real holiness. The righteousness of true Christians is seated in the heart, and is therefore genuine. Jesus teaches, that unless they had more real holiness of character than the scribes, they could not be saved. 9 The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. See Notes on chap. iii. 7. Their righteousness consisted in outward observances of the ceremonial and traditional law. They offered sacrifices, fasted often, prayed much, were very punctilious about ablutions and tithes and the ceremonies of religion; but neglected justice, truth, purity, holiness of heart, and did not seek to be pure in their motives before God. See Matt. xxi. 13-33. The righteousness that Jesus required in his kingdom was purity, chastity, honesty, temperance, the fear of God, and the love of man. It is pure, eternal, reaching the motives, and making the life holy. 9 The kingdom of heaven. See chap. iii. 2. Shall not be a fit subject of his kingdom here, or saved in the world to come. 21 [ Ye have heard that it was said || by them of old time, Thou shalt not
kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
24. Thou shalt not kill. See Exod. xx. 13. This literally denotes taking the life of another, with malice, or with intention to murder him. The Jews understood it as meaning no more. The comment of our Saviour shows that it was spiritual, and was designed to extend to the
a l John üi. 15.
b Jaines il. 20.
thoughts and feelings, as well as the external act. 9 Shall be in danger of. Shall be held guilty, and be punished by. The law of Moses declared that the murderer should be put to death. Lev. xxiv. 21; Num. xxxv. 16, Deut. xvi. 18. I The judgment. This was the tribunal that had cognizance of cases of murder, &c. It was a court that sat in each city or town, and consisted conimonly of seven members. It was the lowest court among the Jews, and from it an appeal might be taken to the Sanhedrim. 22 But I say unto you, That “whosoever is angry with his brother witlout a
cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, || 'Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
| That is, tain fellow, 2 Sam. vi. 20. 22. But I say unto you. Jesus being God as well as man (John i. 1), and, therefore, being the original Giver of the law, was an authoritative and infallible expounder of it. Compare Matt. xii
. 6, 8. He therefore spoke here and elsewhere as having authority, and not as the scribes. No mere man ever spake as Jesus did, when explaining or enforcing the law. Ile did it as having a right to do it; and he that has a right to ordain and change laws in the government of God must be himself divine. ? Is angry—without a cause. Anger, or that feeling which we have when we are injured, and which prompts us to defend ourselves when in danger, is a natural feeling given to us, 1. As a natural expression of our disapprobation of a course of evil conduct; and, 2. That we
defend ourselves when suddenly attacked. When excited against sin, it is lawful. God is angry with the wicked. Jesus looked on the hypocritical Pharisees with anger. Mark iii. 5. So it is said, “ Be ye angry, and sin not.” Eph. iv. 26. This anger, or indignation against sin, is not what our Saviour speaks of here. He condemns that anger which is wantonly entertained without any, or a sufficient cause. And that anger is without cause—it is unjust, rash, hasty, where no offence has been given or intended. In such circumstances it is evil; and it is a violation of the Sixth Commandment, because he that hateth his brother is a murderer. 1 John iii. 15. He has a feeling which would lead him to commit murder, if it were fully acted out. q His brother. By a brother, here seems to be meant a neighbour, or perhaps any one with whom we may sociated. As all men are descended from one father, and are all the creatures of the same God, so they are all brethren ; and so every man should be regarded and treated as a brother. 9 Raca. This is a Syriac word, expressive of great contempt. It comes from a verb signifying to be empty, vain; and hence, as a word of contempt, denotes senseless, stupid, empty. Jesus teaches here, that to use such words is a violation of the Sixth Commandment. It is a violation of the spirit of that commandment, and, if indulged, may lead to a more open and dreadful infraction of that law. Children should learn, that the use of such words is highly offensive to God; for we must give an account of every idle word which we speak in the day of judgment. f In danger of the council. The word translated council, is in the original Sanhedrim, and there can be no doubt that our Saviour refers to the Jewish tribunal of that name. This Council was instituted in the time of the Maccabees, probably about 200 years before Christ. It was composed of seventy-two judges ; the high priest was the president of this tribunal. The seventy-two members were made up of the chief priests and elders of the people, and the scribes. The chief priests were such as had discharged the office of the high priest, and those who were the heads of the twenty-four classes of priests, who are called, in an honorary way, high or chief priests. See Matt. ii. 4. The elders were the princes of the tribes, or heads of the family associations. It is not to be supposed that all the elders had a right to a seat here, but such only as were elected to the office. The scribes were learned men of the nation, elected to this tribunal, being neither of the rank of priests or elders. This tribunal had cognizance of the great affairs of the nation. Up to the period at which Judea was subjected to the Romans, it had the power of life and death. It still retained the power of passing sentence, though the Roman magistrate held the right of execution. It usually sat in Jerusalem, in a room near the temple. It was before this tribunal that our Saviour was tried. It was then assembled in the palace of the high priest. Matt. xxvi. 3-57; John xvii. 24. | Thou fool. This term expressed more than want of wisdom. It was expressive of the highest guilt. It had been commonly used to denote those who were idolaters; and also one guilty of great crimes (Josh. vii. 15; Ps. xiv. 1). I Hell fire. The original of this is, “ the GEHENNAH of fire." The word gevenna, commonly translated hell, is made up of two Hebrew words, and signifies the valley of Hinnom. This was formerly a pleasant valley, near to Jerusalem, on the south. A small brook or torrent usually ran through this valley, and partly encompassed the city. This valley the idolatrous Israelites devoted formerly to the horrid worship of Molech. 2 Kings xvi. 3; 2 Chron. xxviii. 3. In that worship, the ancient Jewish writers inform us, that the idol of Molech was of brass, adorned with a royal crown, having the head of a calf, and his arms extended, as if to embrace any one. When they offered children to him, they heated the statue within by a great fire, and when it was intensely hot, they put the miserable child into his arms, where it was soon consumed; and, in order that the cries of the child might not be heard, they made a great noise with drums and other instruments about the idol. These drums were called Topil; and hence a common name of the place was Tophet. Jer. vii. 31, 32.
After the return of the Jews from captivity, the Valley of Hinnom was held in such abhorrence, that, by the example of Josiah (2 Kings xxiii. 10), it was made the place where were thrown all the dead carcasses and filth of the city, and was not unfrequently the place of executions. It became, therefore, extremely offensive; the sight was terrific; the air was polluted and pestilential; and to preserve it in any manner pure, it was necessary to keep fires continually burning there. The extreme Joathsomeness of the place—the filth and putrefaction--the corruption of the atmosphere, and the lurid fires blazing by day and by night, made it one of the most appalling and terrific objects with which a Jew was acquainted. It was called the GEIENNA of fire, and was the image which our Saviour often employed to denote the future punishment of the wicked.
In this verse it denotes a degree of suffering higher than the punishment inflicted by the Court of Seven, or the Sanhedrim; and the whole verse may, therefore, be paraphrased, “ Ile that hates his brother without a cause is guilty of a violation of the Sixth Commandment, and shall be punished with a severity similar to that inflicted by the court of judgment. Ile that shall suffer his passions to transport him to still greater extravagances, and shall make him an object of derision and contempt, shall be exposed to still severer punishment, corresponding to that which the Sanhedrim or council inflicts. But he who shall load his brother with odious appellations and abusive language, shall incur the severest degree of punishment, represented by being burned alive in the horrid and awful valley of Ilinnom.”
The Jews seem to have considered one crime only as violation of the Sixth Commandment, viz., actual murder, or wilful, unlawful destruction of life. Jesus teaches that the commandment is much broader. It relates not only to the external act, but to the feelings and words. He specifies three forms of such violation. 1. Unjust anger. 2. Anger, accompanied with an expression of contempt. 3. Anger, with an expression not only of contempt, but wickedness. The actual crime of murder is not the only breach of the Sixth Commandment; groundless anger against a brother, and contempt of him, are also violations of it, and expose those who entertain them to the threatened condemnation. 23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that
thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 °Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then .come and offer thy gift.
c Chap. viii. 4, xxiii. 19. d See Job xlii. 8, Chap. xviii. 19; 1 Tim. ij. 8; 1 Pet. iii. 7. 23, 24. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, &c. The Pharisees were intent only on the external act in worship. They looked not at all to the internal acts of the mind. If a man conformed to the external rites of religion, however much envy, and malice, and secret hatred he might have, they thought he was doing well. Our Saviour taught a different doctrine. It was of more consequence to have the heart right, than to perform the outward act. If therefore, says he, il m'a has gone so far as to bring his gift to the very altar, and should remember that any one had any thing against him, it was his duty there to leave his offering, and go and be reconciled. While a difference of this nature existed, his offering could not be acceptable. He was not to wait till the offended brother should come to him; he was to go and seek him out, and be reconciled. So now, the worship of God will not be acceptable, however well performed externally, until we are at peace with those that we have injured. “ To obey is better than sacrifice.” He that cornes to worship his Maker filled with malice, and hatred, and envy, and at war with his brethren, is a hypocritical worshipper, and must meet with God's displeasure. God is not deceived, and he will not be inockrd. 9 Thy gift. Thy sacrifice. What thou art about to devote to God as an offering. I To the altar. The altar was situated in front of the temple, and was the place on which sacrifices were made. See Note on Matt. xxi. 12.
To bring a gift to the altar, was expressive of worshipping God. 1 Thy brother. Any man, especially any fellow-worshipper. Any one of the same religious society. I Hath ought. Is offended, or thinks he has been injured by you in any manner. 1 First be reconciled. This means to settle
the difficulty ; to make proper acknowledgment or satisfaction for the injury. If you have wronged
him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the
25, 26. Agree with thine adversary quickly. This is still an illustration of the Sixth Commandment. To be in hostility—to go to law—to be litigious, is a violation always, on one side or the other, of the law requiring us to love our neighbour ; and our Saviour shows it to be a violation of the Sixth Commandment. While you are in the way with him, says he—that is, while you are going to the court, before the trial has taken place—it is your duty, if possible, to come to an agreement. It is wrong to carry the contention to a court of law. See 1 Cor. vi. 6, 7. The consequence of not being reconciled, he expresses in the language of courts. The adversary shall deliver to the judge, and he to the executioner, and he shall throw you into prison. He did not say, that this would be literally the way with God; but that his dealings with those that harboured these feelings, and refused to be reconciled with their brethren, were represented by the punishment inflicted by human tribunals; that is, he will hold all such as violators of the Sixth Commandment, and punish them accordingly. 1 Thine adversary. A man that is opposed to us in law. It here means a creditor—a man who has a just claim on us. q In the way with him. While you are going before the court. Before the trial comes on. 9 The officer. The executioner; or, as we should say, the sheriff. q The uttermost farthing. The last farthing. All that is due. 27 | Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not
commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever "looketli on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
& Exod. xx. 14; Deut. v. 18. h Job xxxi. 1; Prov. vi. 25. See Gen. xxxiv. 2; 2 Sam. xi. 2. 27, 28. Ye have heard, Thou shalt not commit adultery. Our Saviour in these verses explains the Seventh Commandment. It is probable that the Pharisees had explained this commandment as they had the Sixth, as extending only to the external act; and that they regarded evils thoughts and a wanton imagination as of little consequence, or as not forbidden by the law. Our Saviour assures them that the commandment did not regard the external act merely, but the secrets of the heart and the movements of the eye. That they who indulge a wanton desire, do, in the sight of God, violate the commandment. So exceeding strict and broad is the law of God! And so heinous in his sight are the thoughts and feelings, which may be for ever concealed from the world ! 29 And if thy right eye || offend thee, "pluck it out, and cast it from thee:
for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
i Chap. xviii. 8, 9; Mark ix. 43-47. | Or, do cause thee to affond,
k See Chap. xix. 12; Rom. viii. 13;
I Cor. ix, 27; Col. iii. 5.