Matthew 5:43-48

Matthew 5:43-48
Proper 5 – A Women’s Lectionary


43 “You have heardA that it was said, ‘You shall loveB your neighborC and hateD your enemy.’E 

Notes on verse 43

A “heard” = akouo. This is hear or listen, but it also means to understand by hearing. This is where the word “acoustics” comes from.
B “love” = agapao. Perhaps from agan (much). This is love, longing for, taking pleasure in. It is divine love or human love that echoes divine love.
C “neighbor” = plesion. 17x in NT. From pelas (near). This is near, nearby, or neighboring. As one nearby, it can also refer to a neighbor, a member of one’s country, a Christian, or a friend.
D “hate” = miseo. From misos (hatred). This word is used in two ways in the New Testament. One has to do with how we prioritize. In order to prioritize something the highest, it means we have to rank other things lower. We cannot have 10 number one priorities. So, the nine that are not number 1, we love less or we value them lower. We make a moral choice the springs from our values about where we put our time, efforts, energy, etc. The other way is detesting or hatred as we normally think of it. This sense has a particular affinity with persecuting the one we hate.
E “enemy” = echthros. From echthos (hatred). This is an openly hostile person so an enemy, a foe, or a hated person. This speaks of irreconcilable hostility. It can also mean adversary and/or refer to Satan.

44 But I sayF to you: Love your enemies and prayG for those who persecuteH you,I 

Notes on verse 44

F “say” = lego. This is to speak, say, name, call, command. It is generally to convey verbally.
G “pray” = proseuchomai. From pros (advantageous for, at, toward) + euchomai (to wish, make a request, pray). This is to pray or pray for, to worship or supplicate. It is more literally exchanging one’s own wishes for God’s.
H “persecute” = dioko. From dio (put to flight). This is chase or pursue in an aggressive fashion. By implication, it is persecute. It can also be used positively for eagerly pursuing something.
I Some manuscripts add, “bless those who curse you, do good to those who persecute you and who hate you” = eulgoea + ho + kataraomai + su + kalos + poieo + ho + eperazo + su + kaii + miseo + su. “Bless” = eulogeo is related to “say” in v44. From eu (good, well, well done, rightly) + logos (word, statement, speech, analogy; a word that carries an idea or expresses a thought, a saying; a person with a message or reasoning laid out in words; by implication, a topic, line of reasoning, or a motive; can be used for a divine utterance or as Word – Christ); {from lego (see note F above)}. Properly, this is speaking well of – speaking so that the other is benefited. It can mean praise, bless, thank, or call for a blessing. This is where “eulogy” comes from. “Curse” = kataraomai. 6x in NT. From katara (curse, accursed; a curse as penalty); {from kata (down, against, throughout, among) + ara (prayer, curse, imprecation; a pray for evil); {probably from airo (raise, take up, lift, remove)}}. This is to curse, execrate, doom. “Good” = kalos. From kalos (good, noble, beautiful, correct, or worthy; external signs of goodness like beauty, demonstrations of honorable character, showing moral virtues; a different word, agathos, speaks of intrinsic good). This is nobly, rightly, well-perceived, seen as appealing, morally pleasing, honorably. “Do” = poieo. This is to make, do, act, construct, abide, or cause. “Persecute” = epereazo. 2x in NT. From epereia (spiteful abuse) OR from epi (on, upon, what is fitting) + areia (threats). This is to insult, mistreat, or slander. It includes making threats or smearing another’s reputation. It is reviling that is tailored to someone in particular. “Hate” = miseo. Same as “hate” in v43. See note D above.

45 so that you may beJ childrenK of your FatherL in heaven,M

Notes on verse 45a

J “be” = ginomai. This is to come into being, to happen, become, be born. It can be to emerge from one state or condition to another or is coming into being with the sense of movement or growth.
K “children” = huios. This is son, descendant – a son whether natural born or adopted. It can be used figuratively for other forms of kinship.
L “Father” = Pater. This is father in a literal or figurative sense. Could be elder, senior, ancestor, originator, or patriarch.
M “heaven” = ouranos. May be related to oros (mountain, hill) with the notion of height. This is the air, the sky, the atmosphere, and heaven. It is the sky that is visible and the spiritual heaven where God dwells. Heaven implies happiness, power, and eternity.

for he makes his sunN riseO on the evilP and on the goodQ

Notes on verse 45b

N “sun” = helios. This is sun, which would imply light in general or the east.
O “makes…rise” = anatello. 9x in NT. From ana (up, again, back, anew) + tello (to cause to arise); {from telos (an end, aim, purpose, completion, end goal, consummation, tax)}. This is rise, shine, or dawn. It is most often used of the sun. Figuratively, it can mean achieving a goal or reaching consummation after completing the needed steps.
P “evil” = poneros. From poneo (to toil); related to ponos (pain, trouble, labor, distress, suffering; toil, which implies anguish); from the base of penes (a laborer, poor person, starving or indigent person; someone who works for their living); from pernomai (working for a living; laborer, poor person; to work for daily bread); from peno (to toil to survive day by day). This is bad, evil, wicked, malicious, grievous, or toilsome. Properly, it is something that bears pain – it emphasizes the miseries and pains that come with evil. By contrast, the Greek kakos refers to evil as part of someone’s core character. Also contrasting the Greek sapros, which deals with falling away from a previously embodied virtue. This word can mean ill, diseased, morally culpable, derelict, vicious, malicious, or guilt. It can also refer to the devil or sinners.
Q “good” = agathos. This is good, a benefit, or a good thing. It is good by its very nature, intrinsically good. A different word, kalos, refers to external signs of goodness.

and sends rainR on the righteousS and on the unrighteous.T 

Notes on verse 45c

R “sends rain” = brecho. 7x in NT. This is to rain, wash, moisten.
S “righteous” = dikaios. From dike (the principle of justice; that which is right in a way that is very clear; a decision or the execution of that decision; originally, this word was for custom or usage; evolved to include the process of law, judicial hearing, execution of sentence, penalty, and even vengeance; more commonly, it refers to what is right); may be from deiknumi (to show, point out, exhibit; figurative for teach, demonstrate, make known). This is correct, righteous, just, or a righteous person. It implies innocent or conforming to God’s standard of justice.
T “unrighteous” = adikos. Related to “righteous” in v45. 12x in NT. From a (not, without) + dike (see note S above). This is unjust, unrighteous, wicked, treacherous.

46 For if you love those who love you, what rewardU do you have?V Do not even the tax collectorsW doX the same? 

Notes on verse 46

U “reward” = misthos. This is wages, pay, or salary. It can also be reward, recompense, or punishment. It is pay for services rendered in a literal or figurative way, either good or bad.
V “have” = echo. This is to have, hold, possess.
W “tax collectors” = telones. Related to “makes…rise” in v45. From telos (see note O above). This is tax collector, one who worked for the Romans taking taxes from Jews. It also meant the toll house. Literally, this is “paying at the end.”
X “do” = poieo. Same as {untranslated} in v44. See note I above.

47 And if you greetY onlyZ your brothersAA and sisters, what more are you doing than others?BB

Notes on verse 47a

Y “greet” = aspazomai. Perhaps from a (with, together with) + a form of spao (to draw, draw out, pull). This is to welcome, salute, or greet. It can also be to embrace or acclaim.
Z “only” = monon. From monos (alone, single, remaining, mere, desolate); from meno (to stay, abide, wait, endure). This is merely, only, simply, sole. It can also imply alone.
AA “brothers” = adelphos. From a (with, community, fellowship) + delphus (womb). This is a brother in a literal or figurative sense. It is also used of another member of the Church.
BB “more…than others” = perissos. From peri (all-around, encompassing, excess). This is abundant, more, excessive, advantage, vehemently.

Do not even the gentilesCC do the same? 48 Be perfect,DD therefore, as your heavenlyEE Father is perfect.

Notes on verses 47b-48

CC “gentiles” = ethnikos. 4x in NT. From ethnos (people who are united by having similar customs or culture; a tribe, race, nation, or Gentiles in general); probably from etho (custom, culture). This is ethnic, national, foreign, or referring to a Gentile. This is the root that the word “ethnicity” comes from.
DD “perfect” = teleios. Related to “makes…rise” in v45 & “tax collectors” in v46. 19x in NT. From telos (see note O above). This is going through the steps to complete a stage or phase and then moving on to the next one. This is reaching an end and so being complete or “perfect.” It is also full grown or mature.
EE “heavenly” = ouranios. Related to “heaven” in v45. 9x in NT. From ouranos (see note M above). This is heavenly or celestial. It can mean in, belonging to, or coming from heaven or the sky.

Image credit: “Alive Again.” Photo by MTSOfan, 2014.

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