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Matthew 5

Matthew 5 is the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. It contains the first portion of the Sermon on the Mount, which will also take up the next chapter and a half. Portions are similar to the Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6, but much is found only in Matthew.

In John Wesley's division of the Sermon chapter five outlines the ethical principles of the truly religious. It is one of the most discussed and analyzed chapters of the New Testament. Kissinger reports that among Early Christians no chapter was more often cited by early scholars. The same is true in modern scholarship. In the Middle Ages an interpretation was developed that the chapter only applied to a select group, and not to the general populace. Martin Luther, in a discussion of this chapter, was highly critical of the Catholic view. He wrote that "this fifth chapter has fallen into the hands of the vulgar pigs and asses, the jurists and sophists, the right hand of that jackass of a pope and of his mamelukes."[1]

The source of Matthew 5 is uncertain. It contains only a handful of parallels with Mark, but does have a number of loose parallels with Luke's Sermon on the Plain. For those who believe in the two source hypothesis it indicates that much of this text likely came from Q. However, McArthur[2] notes that the parallels in Luke tend to be very loose, far further away than most areas they overlap. There are also a considerable number of verses that have no parallel in Luke. McArthur thus theorizes that there was an extra step between the sources Matthew and Luke used than usual.


After a brief introduction the chapter contains the section known as the Beatitudes, which includes some of Jesus' more famous teachings. Gundry feels the Beatitudes are divided into two quartets. The first groups outlines the persecuted nature of Jesus' disciples, and the rewards they will receive for enduring this condition. The second four lists their righteous behaviour that led to their persecution. Most scholars feel the ninth Beatitude at Matthew 5:11 is separate from the first eight, as demonstrated by its shift to the second person. Four of the Beatitudes seem to be also in Luke, the rest are only found in Matthew.

The English word used to show the positive nature of the Beatitudes is blessed. A number of scholars note that this is not an ideal translation as in modern English blessed often means "blessed by God," a meaning not implied by the Greek. Albright and Mann use the more general word fortunate instead of blessed. France feels that it should be read as "worthy of congratulation." Lapide supports the New American Bible usage of happy; it directly translates the beatus of the Vulgate, and it carries the meaning of the Greek. After the Beatitudes there are a series of metaphors, called Salt and Light, that are often seen as commentaries upon them. These include a number of famous phrases such as salt of the earth and city on a hill.


Jesus then moves to a highly structured ("Ye have heard ... But I say unto you") discussion of the "Law and Prophets"[3] or Old Covenant. This section (Matthew 5:17 to Matthew 5:48) is traditionally referred to as the Antitheses though Gundry disputes that title.[4][5] The NIV translation titles Matthew 5:17-20 "The Fulfillment of the Law", the NRSV translation titles it "The Law and the Prophets", the United Bible Societies' "The Greek New Testament", edited by Kurt Aland, Bruce Metzger and others, titles it the "Teaching about the Law." It is at the core of the argument about the relationship between the views attributed to Jesus, such as Gospel, Grace, New Covenant, New Commandment, Law of Christ, and those attributed to Moses or the Mosaic Law, and hence on the relationship between the New Testament and Old Testament, Christian views on the old covenant, Law and Gospel, and as a basis of Christian ethics. In Matthew 5:17 he states that he has come to fulfil the law, not to destroy it. Beginning with Marcion of Sinope, the interpretation of this phrase has been much disputed, including views of abrogation of Old Covenant laws.

After the introduction (5:17-20), the next verses are commentaries on six specific topics where Jesus recites a law, starting with two of the Ten Commandments, and then comments on it. This generally sees Jesus impose more rigorous standards. The six antitheses are on:

  1. You shall not murder at 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26
  2. You shall not commit adultery at 27, 28, 29, 30
  3. Divorce at 31 and 32
  4. Oaths at 33, 34, 35, 36, 37
  5. Eye for an eye at 38, 39, 40, 41, 42
  6. Love thy neighbour as thyself at 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48


Full text

In the King James Version chapter five reads:

1 ¶ And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
3 Blessed [are] the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed [are] they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed [are] the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed [are] they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed [are] the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed [are] the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed [are] the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
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.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
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.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
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.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
17 ¶ Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
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.
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.
26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
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 looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
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.
31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:
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.
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:
34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne:
35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
38 ¶ Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
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.
40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have [thy] cloke also.
41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
43 ¶ Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
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 you, and persecute you;
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.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more [than others]? do not even the publicans so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.


  • Albright, W.F. and C.S. Mann. "Matthew." The Anchor Bible Series. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1971.
  • Betz, Hans Dieter. Essays on the Sermon on the Mount. translations by Laurence Welborn. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985.
  • Clarke, Howard W. The Gospel of Matthew and its Readers: A Historical Introduction to the First Gospel. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.
  • France, R.T. The Gospel According to Matthew: an Introduction and Commentary. Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1985.
  • Gundry, Robert H. Matthew a Commentary on his Literary and Theological Art. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982.
  • Hill, David. The Gospel of Matthew. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981
  • Kissinger, Warren S. The Sermon on the Mount: A History of Interpretation and Bibliography. Metuchen: Scarecrow Press, 1975.
  • Kodjak, Andrej. A Structural Analysis of the Sermon on the Mount. New York: M. de Gruyter, 1986.
  • Lapide, Pinchas. The Sermon on the Mount, Utopia or Program for Action? translated from the German by Arlene Swidler. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1986.
  • McArthur, Harvey King. Understanding the Sermon on the Mount. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1978.
  • Schweizer, Eduard. The Good News According to Matthew. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1975
  1. ^ Luther, Martin. Tr. Charles A. Hay. Commentary on “Sermon on the Mount”. Preface. <> 4 Sept 2013
  2. ^ McArthur, Harvey King. Understanding the Sermon on the Mount. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1978.
  3. ^ The Complete Gospels, Robert J. Miller ed., 1992 Polebridge Press, page 66 translation note: "5:17 Law and Prophets refer to the first two parts of the Hebrew Bible: Law, Prophets, and Writings. "The Law" can stand for the whole of the Hebrew Bible as well as for the first five books (The Pentateuch)."
  4. ^ Commentary on Matthew, Robert H. Gundry, Baker Academic 2011, Matthew 5:21-48: "The sayings are traditionally called "the Antitheses." But this designation seems to imply that after stoutly affirming the Law in 5:17-20, Jesus contradicts it. We'll see on the contrary that he escalates it. He takes the Law up to the goal toward which it was already headed, so that we should stop calling these sayings "the Antitheses" and perhaps start calling them "the Culminations.""
  5. ^ The long form could be: "The Six Antitheses of the Sermon on the Mount", see Google "six antitheses of the sermon on the mount"
Preceded by
Matthew 4
Chapters of the New Testament
Gospel of Matthew
Succeeded by
Matthew 6