Verses 25-31


“Agree with thine adversary quickly, while 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.”

“Agree with thine adversary quickly”
Literally:  “Be well-minded to the opponent of you quickly.”–Here Jesus is giving the most practical advice—He is telling men to get trouble sorted out in time, before it piles up still worse trouble for the future.

           ADVERSARY:  (Grk.–antidikos)–Meaning a plaintiff in law–a perfect law term, one who is supposed to have a just claim, in this case a creditor; your opponent in a matter of law.  Here Jesus is telling men to get trouble sorted out in time, before it piles up worse in the future.

“while thou art in the way with him”
Literally:  “Until you are in the way with him.” —While you are going before the court, or before the case comes to trial.  This is a picture of two opponents on the way to court seems very strange to us, but in this day an age of frivolous law suits over most every little issue, it would be quite apropos for us today.

“adversary deliver thee to the judge”
Literally:  “That the adversary not deliver you to the judge.”–Jesus is clearly thinking in   terms of Jewish law, and such a case to which He here refers was quite common.

The context shows this to probably a case of debt.  Such  cases were tried by the local council of elders.  The time for the plaintiff and defendant to appear before the council was appointed and the two adversaries presented their cases.

“the judge deliver thee to the officer”
Literally:  “The judge deliver you to the officer.”–When a man was found guilty by a Jewish court, he was handed over to the court officer.

           Matthew calls this officer the hypêretês—a person who served as a magistrate’s attendant, but in 26:58 and Mark 15:54 the KJV renders this same word as “servant.”  In his parallel record of this story, Luke (Luke 12:58-59) uses the more common term of (Grk.–praktôr)—which literally mean, “one who does” or who “accomplishes.”
          It is quite significant that Paul uses the word (hypêretês) in I Cor. 4:1 where it is translated as “servant.”  This word literally means “under rower” on the ship with several ranks of rowers, the bottom rower (hypo) “under” and (hêressô)“to row”), meaning a galley-slave; more specifically:  the slave on the lowest bank of oars.

“and thou be cast into prison”
Literally: “And you be thrown into prison.”  It was the duty of this officer
(ypêretês/praktor) to see that the penalty was paid; and, if it was not paid, he had the power to imprison the defaulter until the debt is paid.

“Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.”

            “until thou has paid”
            Literally:  “Until you pay.”–As has previously been stated, had the power to imprison the defaulter until the debt was paid.

After the debtor was cast into prison he was held until the debt was paid, and if it were not, he remained in prison until he died.

“utter most farthing”
Literally:  “The lastt kondrantes.” The "farthing" was an English coin that was used in the 16th-17th Centuries, but it is no longer used.  The Greek word used here is kodrantêswhich was the Roman quadrans, which was a fractional Roman coin that had little value.

VERSES 27-30:


“Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery.’”

“You have heard”–It is probable that the Pharisees and scribes had explained this commandment as they had the sixth, as extending only to the external act; and that they regarded evil thoughts and a wanton imagination as of little consequence, or as not forbidden by the Law.

            “it was said of them of old time”
            Literally:  “That it was said to the ancients.” This phrase is absent in most
Greek   manuscripts.

            “thou shalt not commit adultery”
            Literally: “do not commit adultery.”–The rabbis held that a man was guiltless who did not actually commit the
physical act.

Jesus, as He always did, lays the laws upon the heart.  If it is impure, full of unholy desires, one is guilty. It is our duty to keep the heart pure. And this, as well as the sixth commandment, the scribes and Pharisees interpreted barely of the outward act (Exodus 20:14).

“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

“I say unto you,”
Literally:  “But I say to you.” Again Jesus is carrying a commandment on to include the   heart and mind of a man, and not just the physical act.

“whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her”.
Literally:  “That everyone looking at a woman in order to lust after her.”– Jesus is not speaking of the natural, normal desire, which is part of human instinct and nature

         LUST AFTER: (Grk.–epithumeô)–Jesus is undoubtedly using this Greek verb here in the sense of coveting through the           influence of impure desire; to lust after.

          The Rabbis knew the way in which the eyes can be used to stimulate wrong desires.  They had the saying, “The eyes and the hand are the two brokers of sin; Eye and heart are the two handmaids of sin.”
          Such a man as here described by Jesus is looking, gazing and staring at a woman order to lust after her, to possess and dominate her, to use her for his own pleasure.  His is not the case of one who just happens to see a woman and is attracted to her.

“hath committed adultery with her already”
Literally: “Already has committed adultery with her.–Jesus is teaching them that the commandment did not regard the external act merely, but the secrets of the
heart, and the movements of the eye.

Jesus is saying that they who indulged a wanton desire; that they who looked on a woman to increase their lust, have already, in the sight of God, violated the commandment, and committed adultery in the heart. Such was the guilt of David, whose deep and awful crime fully shows the danger of indulging in evil desires, and in the rovings of a wanton eye.  These Jews well knew what a lusting eye could do, for they all knew the story of King David and Bathsheba.

            “in his heart”– Not just the center of the blood circulation, though the Greek word does mean that. 

           HEART:   (Grk.–kardiai)–The inner man including the intellect, the affections, the willThis word is very common in the N.T.  Jesus locates adultery in the eye and heart before the outward act.    

(VERSES 29-30)



“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 the whole body should be cast into hell.”

          Coming as it does immediately after the passage which deals with forbidden thoughts and desires, this passage compels us to ask ourselves, “How shall we free ourselves from these unclean desires and defiling thoughts?” 
          Unfortunately, it is a fact of life that thoughts and pictures come unbidden into our minds, and it is the hardest thing on earth to shut the door to them.  I once heard Dr. Billy Kenoy make this observation:  “You may not be able to prevent a bird from landing on your head; but you can prevent that bird from building a nest in your hair.”

“And if they right eye”
Literally:  “But if your right  eye”–The eye that gave a lustful loo, a licentious passion, or anything that tempts to sin, whether thoughts within, friends, or surroundings.

            The Hebrews, like others, were accustomed to represent the affections of the mind by the members or parts of the body (Rom. 7:23; 6:13). In Jesus' day the bowels denoted compassion; the heart, affection or feeling; the reins, understanding, secret purpose. An evil eye denotes sometimes envy, (Matt. 20:15) sometimes an evil passion, or sin in general. Mark 7:21,22, “Out of the heart proceedeth an evil eye” (Mark 7:21-22).  
            In this place, as in II Pet. 2:14 “eeye” is used to denote strong adulterous
passion, unlawful desire and inclination. The right eye and hand are mentioned, because they are of most use to us, and denote that, however strong the passion may be, or difficult to part with, yet that we should do it.

“offend thee"
Literally:  “offends you”– The English word offend means now, commonly, to displease; to make angry; to affront; however, this is by no means the sense of the word in Scripture. There it means “to cause to fall, or to allure,” into sin. The eye does this, when it wantonly       looks on a woman to lust after her. 

            OFFEND:  (Grk.–skandalizô)-This word is ommonly used for a stumbling-block, or a stone placed in the way, over which one might fall. It also means a net, or a certain part of a net, (a bait-trap) against which, if a bird strikes, it springs the net, and is taken. It comes to signify, therefore, anything by which we fall, or are ensnared; and, applied to morals, means anything by which we fall into sin, or by which we are ensnared.

“pluck it out.”
Literally: “Take it out.– It is not mutilation of the body that Jesus urges, but control of the body against sin. It cannot be supposed that Jesus intended this to be taken literally.

            His purpose was to teach that the dearest objects, if they caused a person to sin, were to be abandoned; that, by all sacrifices and self-denials, we must overcome the evil propensities of our natures, and resist our wanton imaginations. We are to cast far from us what would lead to sin.
            The man who plays with fire will get burnt. Modern surgery finely illustrates the teaching of Jesus. The tonsils, the teeth, the appendix, to go no further, if left diseased, will destroy the whole body. Cut them out in time and the life will be saved. Vincent notes that “the words scandal and slander are both derived from ska>ndalon (skandalon).  And Wycliff. renders, “if thy right eye slander thee.”  Certainly slander is a scandal and a stumbling-block, a trap, and a snare.

            “for it is profitable for thee”
            Literally:  “For {it is} profitable to you.”Better to suffer deep mortification by
self-denial than to be judged worthy of hell.

You will be a gainer by it. The rabbis have a saying similar to this: “It is better for thee to be scorched with a little fire in this world, than to be burned with a devouring fire in the world to come.”

“that one of thy members perish”
Literally:  “That one of your members should perish–It is better to deny yourself the gratification of an evil passion here, however much it may cost you, than to go down to hell   forever.

“thy whole body be cast into hell.”
Literally:  “All your body not be be thrown into Gehenna.”–Your body, with all its unsubdued and vicious desires. This will constitute no small part of the misery of hell. Again, in this verse and in the next, Jesus is using Gehenna for “hell” (see notes for verse 22).

The sinner will be sent there as he is, with every evil desire, every unsubdued desire, every wicked and troublesome passion, and yet with no possibility of gratification. Christ expands on this in Rev. 22:11—“He that is unjust, let him be unjust still…” It constitutes our highest notions of misery, when we think of a man filled with anger, pride, malice, avarice, envy, and lust, and no opportunity of gratifying them for ever. This is all that is necessary to make an eternal hell.

“And if thy right hand offend thee, cut if off, and cast it from thee:  for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that the whole body should be cast into hell.”

“thy right hand”
“your right hand”–The organ of action, to which the eye excites.  Jesus is giving the same thought of verse 29, but using the hand as a new illustration.



“It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement.”

            “It hath been said”
            “It was also said.”–
That is, by
Moses, (Deut. 24:1-2).

            The law of divorce–according to its strictness or laxity–has so intimate a bearing upon purity in the married life, that nothing could be more natural than to pass from the seventh commandment to the loose views on that subject then current.  In chapter 19, Matthew records Jesus expounding on the subject of divorce.  In 19:4 Jesus takes the people back to the very beginning of marriage in Eden to support His view that a marriage must not be dissolved for anything less than the most direct insult to its one-flesh integrity, adultery.
          Judaism has always considered marriage both normal and desirable—The unmarried person lives without joy, without blessing and without good…An unmarried man is not fully a man” (Talmud Yevamont 62-63).  There is a Jewish tradition that in Messianic times the stricter rulings of marriage will be the standard.  In the mishna there is the recording of a rabbi El‘azar, regarding divorce:  “When a man divorces his first wife, even the altar sheds tears” (citing Deut. 24:13-14 as evidence).

            “whosoever shall put away his wife”
            Literally:  “Whoever puts away the wife of him.” —The
Jewish Doctors of the Law gave great license in the matter of divorce.

            A man could put away his wife “for any cause” (Matt. 19:8). Among them, a man might divorce his wife if she displeased him even in the dressing of his victuals! Rabbi Akiba said, “If any man saw a woman handsomer than his own wife, he might put his wife away; because it is said in the law, If she find not favor in his eyes.”
            Josephus, the celebrated Jewish historian, in his Life, tells us, with the utmost coolness and indifference, “About this time I put away my wife, who had borne me three children, not being pleased with her manners.”
          These two cases are sufficient to show to what a scandalous and criminal excess this matter of divorcee was carried among the Jews. The divorce laws were very lax among the Jews. A man could put away his wife “for any cause” (Matt. 19:8). Moses directed a legal letter of divorcement (Deut. 24:1). Jesus positively forbids divorce except for unchastity. Marriage is a divine institution, and the obligation is for life (Matt. 19:3-9; Rom. 7:1-3; I Cor. 7:10-17).

“let him give her a writing of divorcement”
Literally:  “Let him give her a bill of divorcement.”–The husband was directed, if he put his wife away, to give her a bill of divorce, that is, a certificate of the fact that she had been his wife, and that he had dissolved the marriage.

          There was considerable difference of opinion among the Jews for what causes the husband was permitted to do this. One of their famous schools maintained that it might be done for any cause, however trivial. The other, that adultery only could justify it. The truth was, however, that the husband exercised this right at pleasure; that he was judge in the case, and dismissed his wife when, and for what cause, he chose. The written notice was a protection to the wife against an angry whim of the husband who might send her away with no paper to show for it.
          In Mark 10:1-12, Jesus says that divorce was permitted on account of the
hardness of their hearts; but in the beginning it was not so. God made a single pair, and ordained marriage for life. But Moses found the people so much hardened, so long accustomed to the practice, and so rebellious, that, as a matter of civil appointment, he thought it best not to attempt any change.  It was Moses who put divorce into the Law, not God.