The Gospel according to Matthew

5:1When Jesus saw the crowd, he went up into the mountain and sat down. His disciples came to him5:2and he began to teach them:

5:3“Happy are the destitute, spiritually speaking,1 for the kingdom of the heavens is theirs.

5:4“Happy are the grieving, for they will be consoled.

5:5“Happy are the even-tempered, for they will inherit the earth.

5:6“Happy are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.

5:7“Happy are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

5:8“Happy are those with clean minds, for they will see God.2

5:9“Happy are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.

5:10“Happy are those who are persecuted for doing right, for the kingdom of the heavens is theirs.

5:11“Happy are those who, on my account, are disgraced, persecuted, defamed, and lied about;5:12yes, be very happy and overjoyed! For you will have great reward in the heavens. This is the same way they persecuted the prophets before you.

5:13“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its seasoning, how can it be made salty again? It’s good for nothing but being thrown outside where people will trample it.5:14You are the light of the world. A city on a high hill cannot be hidden;5:15no one lights a lamp and then puts it under a jar. Rather, they set it on a lampstand so it provides light to everyone in the house.5:16Likewise, let your light shine for everyone so they can see the good that you do and give honor to your Father in the heavens.

5:17“Don’t think that I have come to dismantle ‘the Law and the Prophets’;3 I have not come to dismantle them but to fulfill them.5:18Let me make this clear: as long as the earth and sky remain, not even the smallest letter or stroke of a pen will be taken away from the Law before everything is accomplished.5:19So if anyone tries to weaken even the smallest part of these commands and teaches others the same, that person will be the smallest in the kingdom of the heavens. Conversely, if anyone practices them and teaches others the same, that person will be the greatest in the kingdom of the heavens.

5:20“I tell you that if your righteousness isn’t any better than that of the scripture scholars and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of the heavens!5:21For you have heard that people a long time ago were told, ‘You must not murder, and whoever murders will be held to account’.5:22But I tell you that whoever is angry with a sister or brother for no reason4 will be held to account. Whoever says to them, ‘You’re worthless!’, will have to stand before the court, and whoever says to them, ‘Idiot!’, will be thrown into the fire of Gehenna.5

5:23“If you’re ever on your way to make an offering and remember that your brother or sister has a reason to be upset with you,5:24leave your gift at the altar and first go back and reconcile with them; then you can make your offering.5:25Reach a quick settlement with the one bringing you to court, while you are still on the way there. Otherwise your opponent might hand you over to the judge, who will hand you over to the deputy, who will throw you into prison.5:26And I tell you that you won’t get out of there until you pay every last bit of what you owe!

5:27“You have heard that it was said, ‘You must not commit adultery’.5:28But I say to you that whoever lusts after a woman has already committed it in his mind.5:29So if your right eye is a trap for you, take it out and throw it away! It’s better for you to lose a body part than for your whole body to be thrown into Gehenna.5:30Or if your right hand is a trap for you, cut it off and throw it away! It’s better for you to lose a body part than for your whole body to go into Gehenna.

5:31“It has been said that ‘Whoever wants to be rid of his wife only needs to give her a divorce notice’.5:32But I say to you, that whoever gets rid of his wife, except for promiscuity on her part, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries her also commits adultery.6

5:33“Another thing you’ve heard that was said long ago: ‘Do not swear an oath you don’t intend to keep; you must fulfill your oaths to the Master.’5:34But I say to you, don’t swear any oath at all: not by heaven (it is the throne of God),5:35not by earth (it is the footstool of God), not by Jerusalem (it is the city of the Great King),5:36and not even by your own head, since you can’t turn one hair white or black.5:37Just say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and mean it; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

5:38“You’ve heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’5:39But I say to you, don’t take an adversarial stance7 against an aggressor. If they slap you on the right cheek, present the other side as well.5:40If someone takes you to court and wins your shirt, give them your coat as well.5:41And if someone conscripts you to go with them for a thousand paces, go along for two thousand.85:42Give to the one who asks of you, and lend to the one who wants to borrow from you.

5:43“You’ve heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and despise your enemy.’5:44But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,5:45so that you will be children of your Father in the heavens. For the sun rises on good and bad people alike; rain falls on both the righteous and the unrighteous.5:46If you only love those who love you, do you expect to be rewarded? Even tax contractors do that!5:47And if you only welcome your sisters and brothers, what great thing have you done? Even the non-Judeans do that!5:48But if you do these things, you will be complete, just as the heavenly Father is complete.

  1. 1Trad. “poor in spirit,” a strange phrase whose meaning is debated. But to be consistent with all the others in the list, it should refer to a real, literal situation in this life, which is then connected to a future benefit. In this case, those who have nothing in this life will have everything in the next.
  2. 2Lit. “clean hearts”; both are possible.
  3. 3“the Law and the Prophets” refers to the Torah, that is, the law of Moses and the prophecies. Yet the end result of dismantling or fulfillment is the same; a fulfilled contract is no longer in force. This may be what Jesus meant by everything being accomplished, since his stated purpose here is to fulfill it all.
  4. 4“angry with a sister or brother” in some manuscripts is followed by “without a cause.” This seems to be implied anyway, as even Jesus became angry at times. It’s possible that this condition applies to the whole passage.
  5. 5Gehenna was the literal trash dump that was always burning due to a constant supply of material. Clearly Jesus is using it metaphorically to refer to final judgment.
  6. 6Jesus’ teaching must be seen in light of his first statement here: men divorcing their wives for no valid reason.
  7. 7“take an adversarial stance”: antistEnai is used often in the Septuagint as a word for “warfare.” It is also used in Ephesians in a context of warfare (6:13). The ancient historian Josephus was likewise in the habit of using antistEnai to mean armed struggle.
  8. 8In these three examples, Jesus is not saying that we should be doormats, but that we should demonstrate the injustice being done to us by exaggerating it. To present the other cheek, give the shirt off our back, or go the extra mile, is to shame the adversary for demanding anything at all. So rather than trying to gain justice by paying back, we should give more than they demanded.