Matthew 5:23-24 NKJV (23) Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, (24) leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
- The whole point of what Jesus is saying is, “CHECK YOUR HEART” before you do anything in your life as a disciple.
- 1 Samuel 15:22 NKJV So Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.
Matthew 5:25-26 NKJV (25) Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. (26) Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.
- Jesus is saying that we should conduct our lives so that we are not always fight frivolous lawsuits all the time because we behaved badly.
- God cannot help us when we have not done everything that we could to avoid the lawsuit when He has led us to do certain things and we disobey.
Matthew 5:27-30 NKJV (27) “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY.’ (28) But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (29) If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. (30) And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
- Jesus said that the sin of the heart is much more serious than that of the flesh. The law only regarded the sin of the flesh, but Jesus said that the sin begins in the heart before the physical act is even carried out.
- He is teaching us that the sin began with your thoughts and in your heart before the physical act takes place.
- In verse 29, Jesus is not condoning physical mutilation because a one eyed, blind man or a one-handed man can struggle with lust just like someone with both eyes and both hands. But He is saying that you may have to take some drastic steps to keep the sin from happening in your mind and in your heart. (eliminating the source of the lust, etc.)
- The point Jesus is making is that you must deal with the thoughts of the mind and the heart issue behind the sin.
Matthew 5:31-32 NKJV (31) “Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ (32) But I say to you that 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.
- Some teach that if you are divorced and remarry, you are going to hell when you die because you are caught up in adultery.
- Some teach that if you get divorced because your spouse was unfaithful as Jesus indicated that you can never remarry.
- Some teach that if you are divorced and remarry you can never serve in the church in any way, much less be in full-time ministry.
There have been small wars fought over the subject of Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage. We see conflicts between what Jesus said in Matthew 5, Matthew 19 and what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7.
Who is right – Jesus or Paul?
We need to quit just following what other people are saying and study the Word of God for ourselves.
2 Timothy 2:15 AMPC (15) Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.
In studying the Bible, always ask yourself:
- Who’s doing the speaking?
- What are they speaking about?
- To whom are they speaking?
Understand that there are three classes of people being addressed in the Bible:
1 Corinthians 10:32 NKJV (32) Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God,
(1) The Jews, God’s covenant people; (2) the Church, God’s own family; and (3) the Gentiles, heathen people (everyone who’s not either in the Church or a Jew)
This is what the Mosaic Law (which was given to the Jews) said:
Deuteronomy 24:1-4 NKJV (1) “When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, (2) when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man’s wife, (3) if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, (4) then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.
- Under the Old Testament, a woman seldom had any voice in the choice of a husband. Her father sold her to the man who desired her. If she pleased the man, he kept her. If not, he had a legal right under the Law to return her to her father for the purchase price.
- In Matthew 19, Jesus expounded on the Mosaic Law about marriage and divorce to the Jews. He was speaking to the Jews. He was not giving the Gentiles the law that was to govern them. The Gentiles were not under the Mosaic Law. Jesus was not giving the Body of Christ the law to govern them. Jesus was simply answering the Pharisees’ questions about the law.
Matthew 19:1-3 NKJV (1) Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these sayings, that He departed from Galilee and came to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. (2) And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there. (3) The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?”
The Pharisees asked Jesus if it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife “for every cause” because they wanted to find out if Jesus agreed with the thinking that a person could divorce for a wide variety of reasons. The key phrase for their question is found in Deuteronomy 24, “some uncleanness.” One group thought it meant a wide variety of things and the other thought it only referred to sexual immorality.
Matthew 19:4-9 NKJV (4) And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE,’ (5) and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’ ? (6) So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (7) They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” (8) He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. (9) And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
Jesus answered the Pharisees’ question in Matthew 19:9. He made it clear that Moses was specifically referring to fornication or sexual sin.
Paul introduced an “exception” that Jesus did not mention.
1 Corinthians 7:8-16 NKJV (8) But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; (9) but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. (10) Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. (11) But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife. (12) But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. (13) And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. (14) For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. (15) But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. (16) For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?
- In verses 15 and 16 of chapter 7, Paul was answering the question, “What would the law of love do?”
- Jesus went on to remind the Jews about God’s original instructions to Adam:
Matthew 19:5-6 NKJV (5) and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’ ? (6) So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
- Until Jesus came to redeem mankind, no one could fulfill God’s ideal for marriage because man, being dominated by the sin nature, did not have the life of God. But two Born Again believers, full of the love of God, can fulfill what Jesus said in Matthew 19.
- In other words, from the time Adam sinned and fell until Jesus Christ came to redeem mankind, man was never able to have the divine type of marriage that God had planned in the Garden. Why? They were not born-again men through the New Birth with the nature of God in them. Their hearts had not been changed. The Jews were natural men living under the law, redeemed by the blood of bulls and goats. Jesus did not say what He said to Born Again believers.
So, who is right – Jesus or Paul?
The Word of God is inspired by God and men wrote as they were moved upon by the Holy Spirit to write what they did.
2 Timothy 3:16 NKJV (16) All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
Both of them are right. Jesus is referring to the commandment given to the Jews and Paul is talking to the Church. Jesus was accurately interpreting the Law of Moses concerning marriage, divorce, and remarriage to the Jews. And Paul was accurately applying the law of love concerning marriage, divorce and remarriage to the Church.
Remember, the Law of Love fulfills all of the Old Testament Law.
John 13:34-35 NKJV (34) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (35) By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Romans 13:10 NKJV (10) Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul was addressing questions that the church had about certain issues.
1 Corinthians 7:1 NKJV (1) Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.
Each one of the issues that he addressed, he answered them in light of the commandment of love; “What would love do in that situation?”
Matthew 5:33-37 NKJV (33) “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ (34) But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; (35) nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. (36) Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. (37) But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.
The Mosaic Law contained several prohibitions against swearing falsely by the name of God (Lev_19:12; Num_30:2; Deu_23:21). To swear by God’s Name meant that He was your witness that you were telling the truth. The Jews sought to avoid the impropriety of swearing falsely by God’s Name by substituting heaven, earth, Jerusalem, or their head as that by which they swore. (Swearing falsely is equivalent to committing perjury today.)
Jesus condemns such circumvention of the law as sheer hypocrisy and forbids any form of swearing or oaths in ordinary conversation. Not only was it hypocritical, it was useless to try to avoid swearing by God’s Name by merely substituting another noun for His Name. To swear by heaven is to swear by God’s throne. To swear by the earth is to swear by His footstool. To swear by Jerusalem is to swear by the royal capital. Even to swear by one’s own head involves God because He is the Creator of all.
5:37 For the Christian, an oath is unnecessary. His Yes should mean Yes, and his No should mean No. To use stronger language is to admit that Satan—the evil one—rules our lives. There are no circumstances under which it is proper for a Christian to lie.
This passage also forbids any shading of the truth or deception. It does not, however, forbid taking an oath in a court of law. Jesus Himself testified under oath before the High Priest (Mat_26:63 ff). Paul also used an oath to call God as his witness that what he was writing was true (2Co_1:23; Gal_1:20).
Matthew 5:38-41 NKJV (38) “You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ (39) But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. (40) If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. (41) And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.
5:38 The law said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Exo_21:24; Lev_24:20; Deu_19:21). This is a reference to the Law of Retaliation) This was both a command to punish and a limitation on punishment—the penalty must not exceed the crime. However, according to the OT, authority for punishment was vested in the government, not in the individual.
5:39-41 Jesus went beyond the law to a higher righteousness by abolishing retaliation altogether. He showed His disciples that, whereas revenge was once legally permissible, now non-resistance was graciously possible. Jesus instructed His followers to offer no resistance to an evil person. If they were slapped on one cheek by someone, they were to turn the other to him also. If they were sued for their tunic (an inner garment), they were to surrender their cloak (an outer garment used for covering at night) as well.
If an official compelled them to carry his baggage for one mile, they were to voluntarily carry it two miles. This was a reference to the tradition of the Roman soldiers be able by law to ask a common person walking down the street to carry their gear for them, however, by law, they were only required to carry it one mile. Jesus said we should always go over and above what is required.
An important thing to remember in all of this is that Jesus again is speaking to His disciples. This is training for the ministry that they would all be involved in one day. Jesus is in no way implying that we become a doormat for anyone but in matters of ministry, we should not retaliate against evil done to us for the ministry’s sake.
Matthew 5:43-48 NKJV (43) “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ (44) But I say to you, 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, (45) that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (46) For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? (47) And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? (48) Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
- When we do what Jesus said in verses 43 and 44, notice in verse 45 it says that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. These things do not make us children of God but rather show that we are children of God.
Matthew 5:45 AMP (45) To show that you are the children of your Father Who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and the wrongdoers [alike].
Matthew 5:45 CEV (45) Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong.
Notice in this section that Jesus makes another reference to a reward. God desires to reward His children. The implication is that when we love the unlovely and are friendly to those who are not our brethren, then God will reward us. Jesus refers to reward 9 times in the Sermon on the Mount.