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Epiphany

"But I say to you..."
(Matthew 5:22)

Sixth Sunday after Epiphany

Murder Begins in the Heart

Mat 5:21 "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.'
Mat 5:22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca, ' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.
Mat 5:23 "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,
Mat 5:24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
Mat 5:25 "Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.
Mat 5:26 I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

Adultery in the Heart

Mat 5:27 "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.'
Mat 5:28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Mat 5:29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
Mat 5:30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Marriage is Sacred and Binding

Mat 5:31 "It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.'
Mat 5:32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.

Jesus Forbids Oaths

Mat 5:33 "Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.'
Mat 5:34 But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne;
Mat 5:35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.
Mat 5:36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.
Mat 5:37 Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

[Mat 5:22] "Without a cause" is not included in some manuscripts (NU omits without a cause). "Raca" is an Aramaic word which means "stupid," "vain," or "empty-headed." "Fool" (more, Gk.) may be a transliteration of the Hebrew moreh, "rebel" (cf. Ps. 78:8; Jer. 5:23). This word was used by Moses of the Israelites at Meribah, when his disobedience caused him to be prevented from entering the Promised Land (Num. 20:10). Although there is a progression in the evil attitudes cited, Jesus intends to show that behind the overt act of murder is the disposition of anger, hostility, or contempt. Thus, although attitudes may not be tried in court, they are as dangerous as the overt acts of wrong for which one is tried in court or for which one stands in danger of hell (geenna, Gk.) fire, unless one experiences God's forgiveness in Christ.

[Mat 5:26] "Assuredly" translates amen (Gk.), taken from a Hebrew word related to the same root as the word for "truth." It signifies that which is confirmed, sure, true, or certain. In the O.T. it is a sacred formula used for affirming the validity of a pronounced curse (Num. 5:22; Deut. 27:15-26), for sanctioning an announcement (1 Kin. 1:36), or in answer to a prayer or doxology (1 Chr. 16:36; Ps. 41:13; 72:19). On the lips of Jesus, its usage is without parallel in Jewish literature. Usually the sayings prefixed with this formula deal with the Person and messiahship of Jesus. "Amen" guarantees the truth of the saying and affirms the unique authority in Jesus' Person and words (cf. especially 7:28). Although most often translated "assuredly," amen is rendered "amen" in a number of cases (cf. 6:13; Gal. 1:5; Eph. 3:21 for the conclusion of a prayer; 1 Cor. 14:16; Rev. 5:14 for the response of the church to praise and thanksgiving; and 28:20; Mark 16:20; Luke 24:53; John 21:25 for the conclusion of a Gospel). In 2 Cor. 1:19, 20, God declares that His promises are always true, and the church accepts this with an "amen." The double use of "amen" (e.g., "most assuredly" in John 3:3) increases the intensity of the idiom.

[Mat 5:28] "Whoever" includes both men and women, married and unmarried. Jesus condemns fornication as well as "adultery," which involves voluntary extramarital sexual intimacies (cf. 5:32).

[Mat 5:31] (vv. 31,32) Cf. 19:6, note on divorce.

[Mat 5:32] "Sexual immorality" translates the Greek porneia. Various meanings are exhibited in the N.T. for porneia, the context making the significance clear: (1) it may refer to voluntary sexual intercourse of an unmarried person with anyone of the opposite sex (1 Cor. 7:2; 1 Thess. 4:3); (2) it may refer to all forms of unchastity (John 8:41; Acts 15:20, 29; 1 Cor. 5:1; 6:13, 18; Eph 5:3); (3) it may refer to prostitution (Rev. 2:14, 20, 21). Here the exception clause may refer to a situation in which those married are already closely related and whose marriage, according to Jewish law, would technically be sexual immorality (cf. Lev. 18:6-18; Acts 15:20; 1 Cor. 5:1). The word moicheuthenai (Gk.), "causes her to commit adultery" (cf. 19:3-9), described adultery, extramarital sexual infidelity. Porneia and moicheuthenai later came to be used interchangeably.

[Mat 5:37] Complete honesty should be typical of the kingdom citizen, so that no oath is necessary to guarantee trustworthiness for one's "yes" or "no." The law regarding oaths was based upon the third Commandment. False testimony resulted in severe consequences, since it consisted of taking God's name in vain (Ex. 20:7; Lev. 19:11, 12; Num. 30:2; Deut. 19:16-20). The rabbis taught that oaths which omitted God's name could be broken and were not binding. Jesus maintains that God is involved in heaven, earth, Jerusalem, and all things. Hence, all oaths are binding, and any attempt to avoid an oath while pretending to keep it profanes the divine name. The reference is neither to taking oaths in court nor to profanity.

 

NSRV & Believer's Study Bible (BSB) Notes

 

Readings for the week of February 19th
Seventh Sunday after Epiphany
First: Leviticus 19: 1-2, 9-18
Psalm 119: 33-40
Second: 1 Corinthians 3: 10-11, 16-23
Gospel: Matthew 5: 38-48

 

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St James Lutheran Church, Sumter SC ELCA Pastor Keith Getz

 

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