Bible Study Notes on Matthew 5:21-48 – 20171208

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Bible Study Notes

Matthew 5:22  “…whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment…”
So much teaching in these verses, it is difficult not to fall into trying to explain everything.  I keep having to remind myself that the idea is to see what God is showing me at this moment, not write a commentary.  I think this verse gives the idea.  It’s not the actions, but the heart attitude that’s the problem.  Angry without a cause.  The same kind of senseless thinking that leads some to murder can lead to other destructive actions.  Jesus said it is just as important to get that attitude out as it is to prohibit murder.

26  “…you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny”
I don’t understand all the inference to debtors prison, which is what it appears Jesus is alluding to.  Commentaries were more concerned with the spiritual meaning derived from the statement than with an explanation of the terms used.  How does one pay a monetary debt while in prison.  I understand the spiritual ramifications such as our inability to pay our own sin debt, but it’s helpful to understand the example.  I’m sure it made perfect sense to His listeners, but our concept of prison is a bit different today.  Will have to do more study on that one.

28  “…has already committed adultery with her in his heart”
Again, the heart attitude is the important aspect.  To lust after a woman is the same thought process involved in physical adultery and is a sin whether physical adultery occurs or not.  The statement can lead some to a false progression of logic, that being that the two sins are the same.  They are not.  To have the lustful attitude is one sin, but to take the extra step and commit physical adultery is another.  I’ve actually heard some say, well you’ve already committed the sin in your heart, what does it add to go on and do the other.  Lust is a sin against God, as all sin is, but physical adultery would be a sin against Him, the woman, and her husband.  Lust is bad enough, but it in no way lessens the severity of the accumulation of sins resulting from it.  What Jesus says is that you can’t justify the sin of lust or lessen its severity just because you don’t commit physical adultery.  You can’t have pet sins.

32  “…whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery”
Much, much, much has been written and debated on this statement.  And I’m afraid much false teaching resulting in unnecessary hurt has resulted.  Just going to write down what I think I’ve found is the idea and meaning Jesus expressed here regarding divorce.  Not going to delve into the one other aspect which Paul mentions in his epistles.  From a study of the idea of marriage from the Old Testament, it appears that marriage, in its most basic connotation, is the joining of a man and women in sexual intercourse.  For a man to have sex with a woman is to become one with her, and vice versa.  That marriage is intact unless and until it is broken by adultery, one partner having sexual relations with another person, what Christ calls sexual immorality.  Once the marriage is broken, either partner is free to consummate another marriage with someone else.  In the event that adultery isn’t involved, the marriage would still be intact.  In that case, when either partner consummates a marriage with another person, they are committing adultery.  That adultery is a one-time issue, not a perpetual state.  This is why Jesus could say that any man who simply writes his wife a certificate of divorce without adultery taking place puts her in a position of committing adultery when she seeks to marry another man.  And any man who would marry her would be committing adultery.  Certainly God would rather a man and wife reconcile their union even after adultery than get divorced.  Forgiveness and reconciliation is possible with Him.  But if that isn’t possible, the marriage is broken because of the adultery, and the two are no longer bound to each other.

34  “…do not swear at all…”
The idea was that when you said something, what you said or promised would have more importance or impact if you swore an oath.  There’s also the connotation that the oath also assured the truthfulness of what was expressed.  Jesus said you shouldn’t have to swear at all.  You should be totally truthful in your speech, and you should do what you say, you should keep your word without need of exterior pressure.

39  “…not to resist an evil person…”
Don’t have the attitude of doing to others as they do to you.  Show grace and mercy when someone does you wrong.  Allow vengeance to be God’s not yours.  I don’t think Jesus meant for us to be door mats, to allow ourselves to be used for no reason other than another’s sick enjoyment.  I think the idea is to leave the door open for God to act on our behalf even when we feel we’re being treated unfairly.

44  “…love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you”
He didn’t say it would be easy, just that we should do it.  And there is great reward in working toward it.

45  “…He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust”
God gives all men what they need in spite of their sin.  We should be like Him.  Love all men so that they will come to salvation in Christ.

48  “…you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect”
The perfection of God, in that He loves all men in spite of their sin, can be achieved by us as well.  Strive to see as God sees.  He has done the same for us in forgiving our sin and saving us.  We need to be like Him and do the same for others so they will turn to Him.

I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word.  May it accomplish what He desires.  Please feel free to comment or post questions.  Thanks for reading!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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