Matthew 5:1-48 - Outline of Matthew (MENU page)
Ch. 5-7 consist of ''The Sermon on the Mount.''
It is part of Jesus' teaching of the ''Gospel of the Kingdom.'' (4:17,23)
How are we to regard these words of Jesus, today?
There are extremes of view within christendom:
  1. It is all I need- Some view the Sermon on the Mount. as a complete definition of right religion.
  2. It does not apply to me- Some view the Sermon on the Mount. as applying only to the Jews, in the time of Christ's future earthly kingdom.
Neither extreme is a right view:
  1. This sermon cannot save us.-
    1. It shows us how far short we fall of meeting God's standard of Holiness.
      Here, Jesus raises the standard above the external demands of the OT Law.
    2. It provides no means of fulfilling this standard.
    3. It provides no remedy for our unholiness.
      Only the blood of Christ can take away our sin. But it is not mentioned here.
  2. This sermon does set the tone of Christ's kingdom-
    It may rightly be regarded as the constitution of the coming earthly kingdom.
    Today's believer is in Christ's spiritual kingdom-
    • We need to know the mind of the King.
      This passage shows us the holiness to which we are called.
    • We have the indwelling Holy Spirit who would fulfill this holiness within us.
    Today's unbeliever, through the Sermon on the Mount...
    • may be convicted of sin.
    • may see his or her need for the Savior.
Outline of the Sermon on the Mount:
A. True Blessedness, Mat 5:1-16
B. True Righteousness, 5:17-48
C. True Religion, Mat 6:1-18
D. True Riches, 6:19-34
E. Testing the True, Mat 7:1-29
   A. True Blessedness --
5:1. And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain:
and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
5:2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
v.3-12 are called ''the Beatitudes.''
Each of the 9 beatitudes presents a heart attitude and a corresponding reward or blessing.
However, this is not a grocery list, from which I may choose a reward and then match my behavior to obtain it. In fact, to the natural man, the points are:
  • unmatchable- The concepts are often contradictory.
    eg., poor...rich; hunger...filled.
  • unattainable- eg., cp. v.6 with Rom 3:11,12
    These are not ''things to do'' (ie., to fulfill religious duty), but rather the ''state of being'' (of those who possess true godliness).
The Beatitudes are not empty platitudes (nice sounding but meaningless religious phrases).
The basis of these declarations (the thing that makes them true) is the presence of the King.
The King's character and future glories shine through these points.
(cp. Psalm 1- The One who best fits the description of the ''blessed man'' is the Lord Jesus Christ.)
The things that belong to Him apply also to those who are joined to Him.-
  • His Holy Spirit produces His character within us. (Gal 5:22-24)
    Without Him, we cannot truly be: poor in spirit... meek... pure in heart... etc.
  • His promises will be fully realized when we are in His presence. (Joh 17:24; 1Joh 3:1-3)
    Without Him, we will not: enter the kingdom... inherit the earth... see God... etc.
  • The 'heart attitude' and the 'reward' of His own are brought together by His Person.
    They hinge around the words ''...for my sake...'' (v.11)
    The ''blessed'' are those who have entrusted their present and future to Him.
    Note that these words are not addressed to the 'multitudes' but to His 'disciples' (v.1,2).
Each of the beatitudes has specific application to -
  1. the Redeemed from among all men (both Jew & Gentile),
  2. the Remnant of Israel (the believing Jews who enter the earthly Kingdom),
  3. the source of blessing: Christ, whose character is pictured here,
    and by whom the others are brought into the promised blessings.
    (These points are intermingled in many of the scripture references selected below.)
5:3 Blessed {ie., favored, happy} [are] the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
poor- ie., destitute. Spiritual bankruptcy is answered by the wealth of Heaven.
5:4 Blessed [are] they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
5:5 Blessed [are] the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
The 'meek' submit to God, trusting Him, even when circumstances are contrary.
When suffering injustices, they look to God, rather than taking justice into their own hands.
Until Christ's kingdom is established, the meek will suffer loss to men of this world.
5:6 Blessed [are] they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness:
for they shall be filled.
The natural man does not desire righteousness. Eph 2:3
5:7 Blessed [are] the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
A man cannot earn God's mercy by showing mercy.
But those who know God's mercy, will show mercy to others.
5:8 Blessed [are] the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
The natural man is not pure in heart, and cannot stand in God's holy presence. Joh 3:3
5:9 Blessed [are] the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
5:10 Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake:
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The price paid, by those who stand for right in an immoral world, will be repaid.
If the Sermon on the Mount is the constitution of the Kingdom, Why is persecution a factor?
Because sin will still exist during Christ's earthly Kingdom. Only after the final rebellion led by Satan, will sin and godlessness be totally eradicated (Rev 20:6-9).
5:11 Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you],
and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
5:12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven:
for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
The price paid, by those who stand for the Lord Jesus Christ, will be repaid.
Mat 10:39; 19:29; 24:9; John 15:20,21; 1Pet 4:14
{The references for the three points under v.10 apply here also.}
5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth:
but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?
it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
5:15 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.
5:16 Let your light so shine before men,
that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Those who belong to Christ's Kingdom are salt and light in the world.
Salt and light are both purifying agents.
  • Salt - hinders the advance of corruption. Luk 14:34,35; Col 4:5,6
    -- lost its savour- GK= moraino, to be foolish, to make flat and tasteless.
    A believer's life is an influence for good to the extent that he lives according to God's wisdom.
  • Light - reveals corruption, shows the way of righteousness, points the way to God...
    Christ Himself is the light of the world (Joh 8:12). He shines through His people.
    • a candle- literally, an oil lamp. A candle will burn out because it is self-fueled. An oil lamp can produce no light without oil. Yet, its flame is as endless as the supply of oil. If the Lord is to shine through us, we must receive from Him a continual supply of His Holy Spirit. Eph 5:8-14
    • not under a bushel {ie., a container, a basket, a bucket}- Even a small light shines like a beacon in a dark world, unless it is hidden (due to shame or fear).

   B. True Righteousness--
5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets:
I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
5:18 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.
5:19 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.
5:20 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.
the law and the prophets - ie., the Old Testament Scriptures.
The Law includes the Ten Commandments and much more.
Jesus did not come to make the OT obsolete.
He strongly affirms ('verily'-GK= 'amen', surely, truly, of a truth) that even the smallest Hebrew letter ('jot') and the smallest ornament over a Hebrew letter ('tittle') will not be forgotten. All that is commanded and foretold will be completed.
Has the Law gone out of date? Can I disregard it?
No! God's standard of righteousness has not changed. v.18,19
The Law shows me that -
  1. I do not measure up to God's standard. Rom 3:19,20
    The Pharisees were a sect of Judaism which took pride in their self-righteousness. The name, Pharisee, means 'separate.' They regarded themselves as distinct from, and superior to, the sinful people all around them (cp. Luk 18:10-14; Php 3:4-7). But Jesus said they did not measure up to God's standard of righteousness (v.20).
        The Pharisees maintained an external appearance of keeping the Law. But in their hearts, they were not righteous before God. 23:27,28; Rom 9:31,32; 10:3,4
        The Pharisees taught God's Word, but they broke {v.19a, GK=luo, loosened} it, making adjustments to suit themselves (cp. Mat 15:1-9). Not only did they fail to teach God's Word faithfully, but they also failed to 'do,' or follow through on, what it says. Even when they taught it aright, they failed to practice what they preached (v.19b).
  2. By nature, I am corrupt. To be acceptable before God, I need a new nature. Joh 3:1-7
  3. There is only One who has fulfilled the Law's demands (v.17; Php 3:7-9).
    The Law leads me to Him. Only through Him can I be made acceptable before God. Joh 3:13-16
How did (does) Jesus fulfill the law and the prophets?
  • By His sinless life- 1Pet 2:22-23
  • By His sacrifice which-
    - - fulfilled the OT "types." 1Pet 2:24,25; Heb 9:11-28
    - - took away the curse of the Law. Gal 3:10-14
  • By His Spirit within the believer, enabling us to live according to the standards which we could not keep in our fleshly state. Rom 8:1-4

In the remainder of ch. 5, Jesus (the King)... -
  1. extends the external demands of the Law to test inward righteousness.
    'Man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.' 1Sam 16:7
    He shows us that God's standard of righteousness is far beyond our reach.
    God does not grade on a curve. His standard is 100% perfection (v.48). cp. v.17
  2. supersedes the authority of Moses and other teachers, with His own authority.
    ''Ye have heard that it hath been said... But I say...''
    This pattern (repeated 6x) is underlined in the Bible text below.
    The Law was given by God, who charged Moses, the priests and the prophets with communicating His Law to the people.
    Jesus, as God the Son, is both the Lawgiver and the final Interpreter of the Law.
5:21 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:
5:22 But I say unto you,
That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment:
and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca
{ie., empty, or 'air head'}, shall be in danger of the council:
but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
5:23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar,
and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought
{anything} against thee;
5:24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way;
first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
5:25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him;
lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge,
and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
5:26 Verily I say unto thee,
Thou shalt by no means come out thence,
till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
{a farthing= a small coin worth less than a penny}
Thou shalt not kill...- This is the sixth of the ten commandments, as given to Moses (Ex 20:13).
The HB word for "kill" may refer to either accidental man slaughter or premeditated murder (Num 35:11-12,16-19). God had spoken against murder long before the Law was given to Moses, declaring it a capital offense (eg., to Noah, Gen 9:5,6). But here, Jesus indicates that you may commit a crime worthy of capital punishment without shedding a drop of blood. There may be no blood on your hands, but God sees the murder in your heart.
    By the way, the Lord's words are aimed at your heart. This passage is not ammunition for you to use against a neighbor, or even an enemy (v.43,44), but rather it is a standard by which we should each judge our own hearts. "Let a man examine himself... for if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged." (1Cor 11:28,31) But because our hearts are "deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jer 17:9,10), we do not see ourselves as God sees us. If we truly have a hunger and thirst after righteousness (v.6), our prayer will continually be "search me O God..." (Psa 139:23,24)
God knows when a man's anger is equivalent to murder. v.21-22
Therefore, deal with anger before He calls you to account for it (v.23-26).
How serious are the consequences of sin within the heart?
  • The same word for "judgment" is applied to both 'murder' and 'anger without a cause.' Both are worthy of the same sentence.
  • Calling someone "Raca" {ie., empty, senseless, an air head, a worthless person} is answerable before the council {ie., the Sanhedrin}, and is therefore no trivial matter.
  • Calling someone a "fool" {GK=moros, foolish, impious, ungodly (perhaps derived from GK=musterion, hidden, secret), ie., an ungodly person with a hidden agenda}. In other words, slanderous character assasination is worthy of 'hell fire' {GK=gehenna pur, the flames of the place of burning}, the eternal punishment reserved for the Devil and his angels (Mat 25:41).
Therefore... leave thy gift at the altar... be reconciled to thy brother... then come offer thy gift...-
If you have murder in your heart, religious activity (eg., bringing ritual sacrifices to the altar in the Temple) will not protect you from judgment (Ex 21:12-14; Isa 1:10-18). God wants to see clean hands and pure hearts.
...first be reconciled to {GK=diallasso, be changed toward} thy brother...-
The Lord gave us a process for seeking restoration of relationship with someone who has offended you or whom you have offended (Mat 18:15-17). What if the process is not successful, and the relationship cannot be restored (as in Mat 18:17)?
    Reconciliation does not always work both ways. It is a matter of your heart attitutude toward your brother. Your relationship to him may be permanently broken, but have you forgiven him? are your thoughts about him full of love or hatred?
     Consider 2Cor 5:19,20 - God, through the work of Christ on the cross, is reconciled to the world. Jesus died for the sins of the whole world (1Joh 2:2). It was our sin that separated us from God. But the Lamb of God took our sin upon Himself, that we might be clothed with His righteousness. Through that exchange, God has reconciled Himself toward sinners, offering them salvation from His wrath, as the gift of His love. But not everyone is reconciled toward Him, because they have not yet believed to receive His gift. Therefore, our message to the world is "Be ye reconciled to God." God is reconciled toward sinners, but many sinners are not reconciled toward Him. God has demonstrated His love toward His enemies, though many retain their enmity toward Him.
     So, here, Jesus is telling us to make sure that your heart is right toward your brother, regardless of what he thinks of you. If your heart is right, you can have fellowship with God. If it is wrong, He will hold you accountable... down to the last small detail. The word "adversary" {v.25, GK=antidikos, opponent at law} may refer to a man who has a case against you. But the term can also be used of the Lord, who will fully prosecute the Law against those who are guilty before Him. Lam 2:4,5; Isa 55:6,7; 2Cor 6:2
5:27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her
hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
5:29 And if thy right eye offend thee
{cause thee to stumble}, 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.
5:30 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.
{cp. Mark 9:43,44}
Thou shalt not commit adultery...- This is the seventh of the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:14).
Again, Jesus raises the bar of righteousness, from the external appearance observed by other men, to the condition of the heart as seen by God alone. By this standard, every man is guilty of adultery in the eyes of God. v.27,28
If thy right eye offend thee {ie., cause thee to stumble}...-
The offense {GK=skandalizo, cause of stumbling} is not the action of the hand, but rather the desire of the heart for what it sees. Mat 15:19; Jam 1:14,15; 1Joh 2:16
pluck it out... cut it off... cast it from thee...-
Radical surgery is required to avoid the severe judgment of God - eternal death in hell {GK=gehenna, the place of burning}.
    In the OT, in most cases, the act of adultery was punishable by stoning to death. But, here, the Lord Jesus applies one punishment equally to the external action and to the internal thought of the heart (v.29,30). Why should this be? My thoughts are private. They hurt no one. But they are not righteous. Your heart is not right with God. "The wages of sin is death..." (Rom 6:23).
    Jesus is not singling out one type of sin as more heinous than others. We tend to view some sinful activities as more vile than others, with certain types of sexual sins at the top of the list. But one sentence applies to every kind of sin. "The wages of sin is death..." ie., death in hell, a place of eternal separation from God. This sentence applies equally to those who physically act out their perversions, and to those whose fantasies remain hidden in their minds. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." (v.8)
...whosoever looketh to lust...- Perhaps there is no need to point this out,
but you need not gaze upon a real woman to commit this sin. Online pornography provides many virtual opportunities for the lustful eye... and once the image is in the mind, the imagination can indulge in all manner of perversions, even as you sit in the pew on Sunday morning. Once embedded in the mind, those images and imaginations are pervasive, coloring all that you see and think. No wonder Solomon tells us to stay far from such a path: "Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away." (Prov 4:15). That is also the Lord's intent here. The cause of stumbling is to be cast away, before you fall into something worthy of hell fire.
    But what if you have already fallen into it? What if you have already corrupted your own mind, and recognize that every thought and imagination of your heart is only evil continually? Is there any way to make this heart of mine right in the sight of God?
it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish...-
The literal removal of body parts is not intended here. The problem is not with my peripheral members, but with my sinful fleshly nature.
'True righteousness' is the subject of this section of the Sermon on the Mount, in which the King of Righteousness is presenting the characteristics of His Kingdom. Is Christ the King of your heart? Wherever He reigns, there is no room for murderous hatred or for an impure mind. Ask Him to take full control of your inner being.
5:31 It hath been said,
Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:
5:32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife,
saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery:
and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
Divorce for any cause is commonplace. Jesus calls it adultery.
As we saw, in the preceding verses, in God's eyes, adultery is a serious offense which will be judged severely. v.27-30; Mal 2:16
...except it be for fornication...-
However, Jesus mentions one acceptable reason for divorce: "fornication." This exception is mentioned only in the Gospel of Matthew (twice; see Mat 19:9), not in the parallel passages in the other Gospel records (Mark 10:11,12; Luk 16:18).
    Jesus did not require divorce in the case of fornication. But he says that in the case of fornication, a man who puts away his wife will not be considered guilty of adultery.
  • The word 'fornication' {GK=porneia} refers to illicit sexual intercourse. So, why doesn't He say, 'except in the case of adultery' ('adultery' is the violation of the marriage relationship by the same action)? and why is this exception unique to Matthew?
  • Perhaps because, in the book of Matthew there is a special case, where someone was suspected of sexual unfaithfulness to a spouse, before the marriage was consummated, and therefore before this suspected act would have been called adultery (Mat 1:18,19). This limited exception shows us that Joseph was indeed 'a just man,' even though he had considered putting Mary away. Her suspected unfaithfulness had occurred while she was his 'espoused wife,' prior to the two becoming one flesh in the marriage relationship.
Jesus had more to say about divorce, in 19:3-12.
  • Notice that divorce, like adultery, is a matter of the heart, hardened... unsubmissive to the holy God, and unforgiving toward a wayward spouse. Wherever possible, the preferred answer to divorce is reconciliation with one's spouse. For believers who seek God for 'grace to help, in time of need,' He is able to pour grace and love into hearts that have grown cold toward one another. Heb 4:16; 1Joh 4:7
  • Where reconciliation is not possible, the Lord's grace is sufficient for the believer whose spouse has departed. There are many private matters for such believers to weigh, before the Lord, as guided by His Word (see 19:3-12 and 1Cor 7:1-40).
  • Hardness of heart is not unique to a couple struggling with marital problems. It also afflicts those who would judge them harshly. Would you have been among those who mis-judged Mary, as a fornicator, for conceiving a child out of wedlock? or, would you have condemned Joseph for divorcing her, if that had been his decision? God clearly led them in the way that was right for them, though few others would believe it.
5:33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time,
Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:
5:34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all;
neither by heaven; for it is God's throne:
5:35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool:
neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
5:36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head,
because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
5:37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay:
for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
Thou shalt not forswear {GK=epiorkeo, swear falsely} thyself,
but shalt perform {ie., pay, deliver, discharge what is due} unto the Lord thine oaths {GK=horkos, pledges, promises}.-
Empty promises, made in the name of God, reveal a heart that regards God's name as nothing.
Yet God hears and will hold you accountable.
Ex 20:7 (the third of the Ten Commandments); Lev 19:12; Eccl 5:4-6
Swear not at all, neither by...- 'swear' {GK=omnuo, affirm, invoke a witness to attest to the veracity of your promise}
A lie does not become truth, because it is 'sworn on a stack of Bibles.'
If a man is not truthful in heart, even his oath will be a lie. Mat 23:16-22; James 5:12
Let your communications {GK=logos, word, speech} be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay...-
If you are truthful in heart, you will mean what you say, and say what you mean... Nothing more, nor less.
Unfortunately, even a truthful man can be misunderstood. The apostle Paul was accused of prevarication (ie., speaking falsely or misleadingly, deliberate misstatement to create a false impression, saying one thing and doing another). 2Cor 1:17-23
...I say unto you... (v.34) -
Here again, the Lord Jesus is addressing you and me individually. He wants to see truth in the inward parts, truth in our hearts. Since you and I cannot read each other's hearts, we need to leave that judgment to Him. Psa 51:6; Eph 4:25; Col 3:9,10
5:38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
5:39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil:
but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
5:40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat,
let him have [thy] cloke also.
5:41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
5:42 Give to him that asketh thee,
and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
...it hath been said, An eye for an eye... -
The Law of Moses (and of our governmental legal system) prescribe justice on the basis of compensation for wrongs committed against another. Ex 21:22-27; Lev 24:19,20; Deu 19:16-19
But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil...-
-- Remember that the King is here presenting the constitution of His future Kingdom.
-- The principles of v.38-47 cannot entirely replace the rule of governmental law today, because sinful man is in charge. "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing." [attributed to Edmund Burke] Therefore, these principles will not be fully implemented, until the establishment of Christ's Kingdom of righteousness, when He will deal swiftly with sin and injustice.
whosoever will smite thee... sue thee... compel thee... ask thee...-
Jesus is speaking to you and me as individuals ('thee' is 'you' in the singular).
    He is not telling us to abandon any stand against the evils of society. Believers are to be salt and light in the world (v.13,14). We are to "earnestly contend for the faith," we are to "fight the good fight," looking unto Him who "resisted unto blood, striving against sin." (Heb 12:3,4; Jude 1:3; 1Tim 6:12; 2Tim 4:7)
    He is saying that we should not be overly concerned with our own personal 'rights,' or with defending ourselves against personal offenses. These verses reveal the tension in our own hearts between 'love of self' and 'love of others.' Our Lord has displayed selfless love toward us. As His followers, we ought to be loving and forgiving toward one another. 1Cor 6:5-8; Eph 4:31,32
5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said,
Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies,
bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you,
and pray for them which despitefully use
{or, falsely accuse, 1Pet 3:16} you, and persecute you;
5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven:
for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good,
and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
{Luk 6:35,36}
5:46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye?
do not even the publicans the same?
5:47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more [than others]?
do not even the publicans so?
5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Thou shalt love thy neighbour...- This is the second of the two great commandments (Mat 22:34-40).
But when Jesus was asked 'Who is my neighbor,' He answered by relating the account of the Good Samaritan, who had shown love to a neighbor who would have regarded him as an enemy (Luk 10:25-37).
Love your enemies... that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven...-
As God shows merciful kindness toward those who do not deserve it, His children are to follow in His foot steps.
Be ye... perfect... as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.-
  • God requires that His people be morally perfect (Lev 19:2). The Holy God is entirely separated from all impurity. But all of us fall short of that required perfection. God sent His Son into the world to lift us out of our sinful condition, so that we could have true righteousness... not merely the external appearance of righteousness, but a new heart which is right in His sight (Rom 3:23,24; 5:6-10).
    Yet, there is more to true righteousness than freedom from sin and purity of heart.
  • The word 'perfect' (occurring twice in v.48) is GK=teleios, meaning: brought to its end, finished, completed, having reached full maturity (Eph 4:12,13). True righteousness is to know Christ and to be like Him. We, who have been born again, need to "grow up into Him in all things..." (Eph 4:15), including the ability to love as He loves.
        While we were His enemies, God loved us and paid an unimaginable price to bring us into right relationship with Him. Unless and until we genuinely have such selfless love toward those who would hate and harm us (v.44), we have not matured into His likeness (Luk 23:34; 1Pet 2:23).
        Such love is not natural to the human heart. It must be "shed abroad in our hearts {ie., poured out into them} by the Holy Ghost who is given unto us" (Rom 5:5; Gal 5:22).
Christ's Kingdom is characterized by True Righteousness.
In ourselves, none of us can enter there (Rom 3:10 f).
But, Praise God... He has met us in our need (Rom 3:21-26).
The King is "The LORD our Righteousness," for those who trust in Him. Jer 23:6

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