Verses 16-21

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”

“Let you light so shine before men”
Literally, “So let your light shine the light of you before men.” —As the sun is lighted up in the firmament of heaven to diffuse its light and heat freely to every inhabitant of the earth; and as the lamp is not set under the bushel, but placed upon the lamp-stand that it may give light to all in the house.

Here we see that the King is commissioning His potential subjects for the task that He had for them.  But sadly, they failed to do their task:  that is, to let their light shine in the world, and Israel was placed on the trash heap and for two millennia has been trodden under foot by the world.

“that they may see your good works”
Literally:  “So that they may see your good works”–It is not enough to just have light; the light must be walked in, to be used. 
Israel is being told that they knew about the one true     God, and their very existence should be a constant testimony of Him.

            “and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
            Literally:  “And may glorify youe Father in heaven.–The following curious saying is found in Bammidbar Rabba, s. 15.

“The Israelites said to the holy blessed God, ‘Thou commandest us to light lamps to thee; and yet thou art the, Light of the world, and with Thee the light dwelleth.’  The holy blessed God answered, ‘I do not command this because I need light; but that you may reflect light upon Me, as I have illuminated you that the people may say, ‘Behold, how the Israelites illustrate him, who illuminates them in the sight of the whole earth.’”

(VERSES 17-30)

QUESTION #1:  Who is doing the talking?
It is Jesus still doing the talking.

QUESTION #2:  Who is He talking to?
Again it is National Israel to whom He is talking; not the world nor the Church.

QUESTION #3:  What is He talking about?
He is now talking about Himself and His relationship to the Law (Torah).

QUESTION  #4:  When is He doing the talking?
The setting is still under the Dispensation of the Law; not this present Dispensation of Grace (Church Age).

VERSES 17-20:  These Verses Go Together To Express One Thought

VERSE 17: 
“Think not that I am come to destroy the Law, or the prophets:  I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”

            “Think not that I cam to destroy the Law
            Literally: “Think not that I came to destroy the Law (Torah).

                        DESTROY:   (Grk.–katalusai)–This Greek verb literally means to “loosen down,” as of a house or tent  (II Cor. 5:1). 

            The Law (Torah) consists of the first five books of the Bible, which make up what is commonly called, the PentateuchJesus saidHe did not come to make the Law of none effect; or to dissolve the connection which subsists between its several parts, or the obligation men are under to have their lives regulated by its moral precepts; nordid Hecome to dissolve the connecting reference it has to the good things promised.
            The preceding verses were so opposed to the teachings of the scribes and Pharisees that some might assert that He was a destroyer of the Law. He replies that He did not come to destroy it, but to fulfill it. He does not say that He has come to perpetuate it.

“the prophets”–This refers to the books which the prophets wrote; the second part (the NEVI’IM) of the three parts of the TENAKH, the Jewish O.T.   Jesus says that He did not come not to do away with or destroy the authority of any part of the O.T.

            “but to fulfill”–To complete the design; to fill up what was predicted; to accomplish what was intended in them.

             FULFILL:  (Grk.-plêroō)-This word also sometimes means to teach or inculcate,Col. 1:25. The Law of Moses contained many sacrifices and rites which were   designed to shadow forth the Messiah (Heb. 9:1-28).

          These shadows were fulfilled when Jesus came and offered Himself a sacrifice to God.  Jesus came to complete the purpose of the LawHe was the end (purpose, aim) of the Law.  It was a “schoolmaster (pedagogue) to bring us to Christ” (Gal. 3:24). Jesus fulfilled (comple
         The Greek word here rendered in the KJV as “ to complete” literally means “to fill;” however, the usually rendering here is “to fulfill.” Jesus did not come to “make full” the meaning of what the Torah and the ethical demands of the Prophets require.  He came to complete their understanding of the Torah (i.e., the Law) and the Prophets (NEVI’IM) so they try to more effectively be and do what they say to be and do.
           It is worthy of observation, that the Hebrew word gamar among the rabbis, signifies not only to fulfil, but also to teach; and, consequently, we may infer that our Lord intimated, that the Law and the prophets were still to be taught or inculcated by Him and His disciples; and this He and they have done in the most pointed manner.
        Jesuswas just beginning His work. It was important for Him to make clear what He came to do. By His setting up to be a teacher in opposition to the Scribes and Pharisees, some might charge Him with an intention to destroy their Law (Torah), and abolish the customs of the nation. He therefore told them that He did NOT come for that end, but really to fulfill or accomplish what was in the Law and the prophets.

“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled.”

            “verily I say unto you”
            Literally:  “for truly I say to yoy”–This is definitely
Jesus doing the talking here.  This answers QUESTION #1.-“Who is doing the talking?"

It is interesting that the Greek word that is translated in the KJV as “verily” is the word “amen” which literally means, “yes indeed” or “it is true”.  Literally, this phrase might read, “I tell you the truth.”  Jesus may be telling them, “You may not think that I really meant what I just said, but I do.”

“till heaven and earth pass”
Literally:  “Until should pass away the heaven and the earth.” —This expression notes that the Law never should be destroyed till it all is fulfilled.  It is the same as saying, everything else may change–the very earth and heaven may pass away–but the Law of God shall not be destroyed, till its whole purpose has been accomplished.

Here in the very beginning of His ministry, Jesus teaches the instability of all visible things“The heaven which you see, and which is so glorious, and the earth which you inhabit and love, shall pass away; for the things which are seen are temporal, (are for a time),; but the things which are not seen are eternalever-during,” (cf. II Cor. 4:18).

“one jot or one tittle”
Litterally:  “one iota or one point”–“
Not an iota (i), not a comma.” (Moffatt); “Not the smallest letter, not a particle” (Weymouth). The iota is the smallest Greek vowel, which Matthew here uses to represent the Hebrew yod, the
smallest Hebrew letter. “Tittle” (tittle) is from the Latin titulus which came to mean the stroke above an abbreviated word; then any small mark.

          JOT:  The yod the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet.

          TITTLE:   (Grk.–keraia) Or point, in the Greek.--Either meaning those points which serve for Hebrew vowels, if they then existed; or the seraphs, or points of certain letters, such as  the Hebrew “r” (resh), or “d” (daleth), “h” (he), or “x” (cheth) The change of any of these into the other would make a most essential alteration in the sense, or,     as the rabbis say, “destroy the world.”  Or Jesus may be referring to the little ornaments which certain letters assume on their tops, which cause them to appear like small branches.

“shall in no wise pass from the Law”
Literally:  ”In no way shall pass from the Law.”  And the WORD of the Lord endures forever!

“til all be fulfilled”
Literally:  “Until all things should occur.” Or, be accomplished The Ceremonial Law was fulfilled by the coming of Christ: the shadow was lost in the substance, and cease to be binding. The Moral Law was confirmed and unchanged.

Though all earth and hell should join together to hinder the accomplishment of the great designs of the Most High, yet it shall all be in vain, even the sense of a single letter shall not be lost.  The words of God, which point out His designs, are as unchangeable as his nature itself.  Every sinner, who perseveres in his iniquity, shall surely be punished with separation from God and the glory of his power; and every soul that turns to God, through Christ, shall as surely be saved, as that Jesus Himself has died.

“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."

            “shall break one  of these least commandments”
            Literally:  “Relaxes one of these commandments.”

           BREAK:  (Grk.–lusê)—Literally:  “Relaxes; releases.”  What an awful consideration  this is!  He who, by His mode of acting, speaking, or explaining the words    of God, sets the holy precept aside, or explains away its force and meaning, shall be called    least-shall have no place in the kingdom.

          The Pharisees were remarkable for making a distinction between weightier and lighter matters in the Law,  and that it was a trivial matter to break the smallest commands. The Catholic Church still divides sin into mortal and venial.
Jesus says that in His kingdom all this vain division and tradition should cease. Such divisions and distinctions should be a small matter. He that attempted it should be the least of all. Men would be engaged in yielding obedience to all of the Law of God, without any such vain distinctions. 

          COMMANDMENT: (Grk.-entolon)–Literally, mitzvah. A mitzvah is a commandment.  Traditionally in the Torah, (the Pentateuch), there are 613 mitzvot for the Jewish people to obey.

“shall be least”
Literally:  “The least he shall be called.”  He may get into the kingdom, possibly, but such a spirit will give him a very low spiritual rank.  The apostle Paul describes such as “so if by fire” (I Cor. 3:15).

            “shall do and teach them”
            Literally: “Does and teaches {them}.”
Jesus here puts practice before preaching.

The teacher must apply the doctrine to himself before he is qualified to teach others. The scribes and Pharisees were men who “say and do not” (Matt. 23:3), who preach but do not perform. Their manner of teaching was, “Do as I say to do, not as I do.”  This is Christ's test of greatness.

“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.”

“But I say unto you”
Literally:  “For I say to you”–The scribes and Pharisees taught one thing, but here
Jesus is  teaching something entirely different than what they said.  They taught a do type of righteousness (a righteousness for outward showing), but Jesus taught a be type of righteousness (a righteousness that came from the inward part man).

            “unless your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees”
            Literally:  “if your righteousness shall not exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees.”

Overflow like a river out of its banks. A daring statement on Jesus’ part that they had to be better than the rabbis. They must excel the scribes, the small number of regular teachers (Matt. 5:21-48), and the Pharisees in the Pharisaic life (Matt. 6:1-18) who were the separated ones, the orthodox pietists.

           EXCEED: (Grk.–repisseusêi)- Literally:  abound more.”   Jesus is telling these Jews, who had grown up observing the outward religious practices of the Pharisees, that unless their own righteousness abound more than their teachers.

         Jesus is teaching that unless their righteousness takes in not only the letter, but the spirit and purpose of the moral and ritual precept (the moral directing you how to walk so as to please God; and the ritual pointing out Christ) you will not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.    The great Atonement,  through and by which a sinner is enabled to do so–more than that of the scribes and Pharisees who only attend to the letter of the law--and had indeed made even that of no effect by their traditions  This is the difference between formal head knowledge, and true heart knowledge; the difference between having religion and having true salvation.

The righteousness that Jesus required in His kingdom was purity, chastity, temperance honesty, the fear of God, and the love of man. It is pure, eternal, teaching the motives, and making the life holy.

“righteousness of the scribes and Pharisee”
Literally: {the righteousness}of the scribes and Pharisees”–Their righteousness consisted in outward observances of the ceremonial and traditional law.

They offered sacrifices, fasted often, prayed much, were very punctilious about ablutions and tithes and the ceremonies of religion, but they neglected justice, truth, purity, holiness of heart, and did not strive to be pure in their motives before God. See Matt. 23:1; 13:1-33.

            SCRIBES: (Grk.–grammateus)–This might have been better rendered as “torah teachers,” since their functions was to teach the Law (Torah), to develop it and to use it in connection with the Sanhedrin and various local courts.  They also occupied themselves with the sacred writings.

“Kingdom of Heaven”– This will be the Millennial Kingdom.  It would have been the Jewish Kingdom then if they had accepted Jesus as their King, but they did not do so.  When Christ returns to set up His Kingdom, the Jews will have had knocked out of them all out-ward religiosity, and will have true heart knowledge of Him.  Then, theirs will not be a do so type of religion, but will be a be so type.

VERSES 21-26:


VERSE 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’”

“Ye have heard”

Literally: “you have heard”–They had heard teachings from their rabbis and other religious teachers; or else this was common knowledge among the Jewish people.

            Jesus now goes on to comment on some of these common opinions and ideas; to show that the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was defective; and that men needed a better righteousness. He shows that He meant by that “better righteousness by showing that these common opinions taught by the scribes were in error.
            After He had just laid down the principles that Moses and the prophets were still to be their rulers, but that the scribes and Pharisees were to be no longer their spiritual rulers, Jesus goes on to expound the Law (Torah), in some particular instances, and to vindicate it from the corruption which those expositors had put upon it.  He does not add anything new to the Law (Torah), however He does places some limits and restrains some of the religious teachings which had been abused.  As to the precepts, He shows the breadth, strictness, and spiritual nature of them, adding such explanatory statutes as necessary to make them more clear.

“that it was said of them of old”
Literally:  “Tthat it was said to the ancients.”–We may understand this to refer to those who lived before the
Law (Torah), and those who lived under it; for murder was, in the most solemn manner, forbidden before, as well as under, the Law (Gen. 9:5-6).

It could also be that Jesus is here referring to the traditions and interpretations that the rabbis had given relative to the ancient Mosaic ordinance; interpretations, which, by their operation, rendered the primitive command of little or no effect.

“thou shalt no kill”
Literally:  “Do not murder– (See Exodus 20:13). This literally denotes taking the life of   another, with malice, or with intention to murder him. The Jews understood it as meaning no more. This comment of Jesus’ extends it to also be spiritual, and was designed to extend   to the thoughts and feelings, as well as the actual physical act itself.

“whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment’”
Literally:  “But whoever has murdered shall be liable to the judgment.”–Murder from the beginning, has been punished with death; and it could be the only crime that should be punished with death.

          There are many who doubt whether the punishment of death inflicted for any other crime, is not in itself murder, whatever the authority may be that has instituted it.  The Law of Moses declared that the murderer should be put to death (Lev. 24:21; Num. 35:16). But it did not say by whom this should be done, and it was left to the Jews to organize courts to have knowledge of such crimes (Deut. 16:18).
         Jesus may be referring to the civil courts.  The Law provided in every city a court of seven judges, who could sentence a criminal to death (Deut. 16:18); however, when we factor into consideration the Dispensational setting of Jesus’ teachings, this may refer to the Judgment which He will give at the end of the Tribulation.

THE JUDGMENT:  (Grk.–krisis)-In the First Century, this referred to the tribunal that had authority to try cases such as murder.

There was such a court that sat in each city or town, and consisted commonly of seven members.  It was the lowest court among the Jews, and from it an appeal might be taken to the Sanhedrin.  But again keep in mind that this may also be part of the Judgment in the Valley of Jehoshophat (Joel 3:2, 12; Matt. 25:31).