Matthew 5:23-26 Commentary

 

 

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Matthew 5:23-26 Commentary
Commentary updated September 12, 2014

Matthew 5:23 "Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: ean oun prospheres (2SPAS) to doron sou epi to thusiasterion kakei mnesthes (2SAPS) oti o adelphos sou echei (3SPAI) ti kata sou,

Amplified:  So if when you are offering your gift at the altar you there remember that your brother has any [grievance] against you (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
NLT: "So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you (
NLT - Tyndale House)
Philips: So that if, while you are offering your gift at the altar, you should remember that your brother has something against you, you must leave your gift there before the altar and go away. (
New Testament in Modern English)
Wuest: Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar of whole burnt-offerings and there you remember that your brother has something against you (
Wuest: Expanded Translation: Eerdmans)

Young's Literal: 'If, therefore, thou mayest bring thy gift to the altar, and there mayest remember that thy brother hath anything against thee,

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THEREFORE IF YOU ARE PRESENTING YOUR OFFERING AT THE ALTAR (Mt 8:4; 23:19; Dt 16:16,17; 1Sal 15:22; Isa 1:10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17; Ho 6:6; Amos 5:21, 22, 23, 24)

Therefore - Always take a moment to pause and ponder and query this term of conclusion.

Charles Simeon  - THE explanation which our Lord has given us of the sixth commandment, shews, that we are not to confine the import of the commandments to the mere letter of them, but to regard them as extending to the words of our lips, and the dispositions of our hearts. Nor must we imagine that they are intended solely to prohibit sin: they must be understood as inculcating all those virtues which are opposed to the sin forbidden. This is evident from the connexion in which our text stands with the preceding context. Our blessed Lord had declared, that a wrathful word was in fact a species and degree of murder: and from thence he takes occasion to inculcate the necessity of exercising in every respect a spirit of love, so as, not only to entertain no anger in one’s own heart against others, but so as not to leave room for the exercise of it in the hearts of others towards us. The direction which he gives us respecting it will lead us to shew, I. The duty of seeking reconciliation with men— Wild beasts are scarcely more prone to injure their own species, than man is to oppress and injure his fellow-man. Indeed, considering what tempers we have, and what tempers exist in others, and what frequent occasions of interference with each other must of necessity arise, it would be a miracle if any of us had so conducted himself on all occasions, that no brother should on any account “have ought against him.” We apprehend that no one who knows any thing of his own heart, would profess himself so perfect, as never to have done towards another any thing differently from what he would have wished to be done towards himself. Supposing then that “a brother have ought against us,” what is to be done? I answer, 1. We should be willing to see our fault...2. We should be ready to ask pardon for it...3. We should be desirous to make reparation for it....Such is our duty towards an offended brother.  (Read the entire sermon - Matthew 5:23-24 The Necessity of Seeking Reconciliation with Men)

The setting is worship in the Temple in Jerusalem (or church in our day).

Offering (1435) (prosphero from prós = to, toward + phéro = bring - see Offering, Offerings) means to carry or bring something into the presence of someone usually implying a transfer of something to that person. Here it refers to an offering that can include gifts, prayers, or sacrifices.

Prosphero - 47x in 45v - Mt 2:11; 4:24; 5:23f; 8:4, 16; 9:2, 32; 12:22; 14:35; 17:16; 18:24; 19:13; 22:19; 25:20; Mk 1:44; 2:4; 10:13; Luke 5:14; 18:15; 23:14, 36; John 16:2; 19:29; Acts 7:42; 8:18; 21:26; Heb 5:1, 3, 7; 8:3f; 9:7, 9, 14, 25, 28; 10:1f, 8, 11f; 11:4, 17; 12:7. renders prosphero = bringing to(3), brought(2), brought to(8), brought up to(1), deals with(1), get to(1),make an offering(1), offer(8), offered(12), offering(4), offers(1), present(2), presented(1), presenting(1).

Holman Bible Dictionary - Sacrifice and Offering

Altar (2379) (thusiasterion from thusia = that which is offered as a sacrifice - see Altar) refers to any type of altar or object where gifts may be placed and ritual observances carried out in honor of supernatural beings. In the NT thusiasterion is employed to refer to a number of different types of altars, including the altar for burnt offerings in the Temple, the altar of incense, the altar which Abraham built, and the heavenly altar mentioned in the book of Revelation.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Altar

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature - Altar

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature - Altars forms of

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Altar

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Altar

Thusiasterion - 23x in 21v - Matt 5:23f; 23:18ff, 35; Luke 1:11; 11:51; Rom 11:3; 1 Cor 9:13; 10:18; Heb 7:13; 13:10; Jas 2:21; Rev 6:9; 8:3, 5; 9:13; 11:1; 14:18; 16:7

In the present context "the altar" refers to the one in the inner court of the Temple in Jerusalem. There amidst a background of solemn worship, the worshiper experiences recollection of a brother with something against him (see Mark 11:25) and Jesus says this should  prompt immediate efforts to be reconciled for only then is formal worship acceptable. 

One wonders how many in church each Sunday would be well advised to pay heed to Jesus' instruction in this passage? What would our worship services look like if this principle were diligently practiced (under grace not law)?

The principle is obedience begets genuine worship as Samuel recorded in his address to the disobedient King Saul who had offered to the Lord sacrifices that were to have been destroyed...

And Samuel said, "Has the LORD as much 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. (1 Samuel 15:22)

In Psalm 51 apparently motivated by David's sins of adultery and murder records a similar train of thought...

For Thou dost not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; Thou art not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise. (Psalm 51:16-17 - See comments)

Spurgeon on verse 17 - The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. All sacrifices are presented to thee in one, by the man whose broken heart presents the Saviour's merit to thee. When the heart mourns for sin, thou art better pleased than when the bullock bleeds beneath the axe. "A broken heart" is an expression implying deep sorrow, embittering the very life; it carries in it the idea of all but killing anguish in that region which is so vital as to be the very source of life. So excellent is a spirit humbled and mourning for sin, that it is not only a sacrifice, but it has a plurality of excellences, and is preeminently God's sacrifices. A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. A heart crushed is a fragrant heart. Men contemn those who are contemptible in their own eyes, but the Lord seeth not as man seeth. He despises what men esteem, and values that which they despise. Never yet has God spurned a lowly, weeping penitent, and never will he while God is love, and while Jesus is called the man who receiveth sinners. Bullocks and rams he desires not, but contrite hearts he seeks after; yea, but one of them is better to him than all the varied offerings of the old Jewish sanctuary.

How are you doing in this area? Is your worship perfunctory? hypocritical? devoid of obedience and a brokenness over your sin?

AND THERE REMEMBER THAT YOUR BROTHER HAS SOMETHING AGAINST YOU (Ge 41:9; 42:21,22; 50:15, 16, 17; Lv 6:2, 3, 4, 5, 6; 1Ki 2:44; Lam 3:20; Ezek 16:63; Lk 19:8)

Remember ( (3415) (mnaomai - see more detail below) means to recall information from memory. Paul uses the perfect tense which emphasizes the continuing state. Timothy is always remembered by Paul!

Why would one "remember"? Undoubtedly the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit plays the key roll in prompting such a recall. And when you remember act on that truth. Don’t wait for your angry brother or sister to take the first step. You take it, and take it quickly before things get worse!

Brother (80) (adelphos from a = denoting unity + delphus = womb) refers to one from the same womb, and in this case is used by Jesus more generally to refer to one of the same nature, for all men are born into Adam. So here Jesus refers to a fellow man as a brother

Jesus is calling for the offender to take the initiative in this process. That is, even if we hold nothing against him, if he is angry with or hates us, we should do everything in our power to be reconciled to him. We might have expected Jesus to focus primarily on the offended party, since they are the most likely to feel anger towards another. Instead, in these verses it is the offender who initiates the process of reconciliation. Elsewhere Jesus urges the offended party to make the first move (Mt 18:15). Both share an obligation to work for resolution when there has been a conflict. Ideally, the two would meet en route to one another and settle their differences “on the way.”

How important is it to deal with enmity, disagreements, animosity, or anger? Reconciliation is so important that it takes priority over everything else. It even takes precedence over worship. God would rather see us resolve our differences than receive our offerings!

Let's get practical for a moment. Do you know someone who is angry with you? Is there someone who has offended you? How can you take the initiative in each case to reconcile with that person? Before attempting to reconcile, take some time to think through your strategy. For example, reconciliation may be better attempted face to face rather than over the phone. You may even want to write out what you will say in advance. Note that there is no way to guarantee how the other person will respond, but you can be certain of God’s help as you “make every effort” to be at peace with all men.

Luke gives us an excellent example of a new citizen of the Kingdom of heaven who put this into practice "And Zaccheus (a chief tax gatherer) stopped and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:8-10)

The Preacher's Commentary has the following illustration of reconciliation (albeit it deals with anger in the one who remembers) "At a communion service in the South Pacific Islands, a man kneeling at the altar to receive the emblems suddenly got up and moved to the back of the auditorium with an agitated expression. Later he rejoined the communicants and participated in the sacrament. When asked, following the service, about his action, he revealed that he had seen the man kneeling at the other end of the altar rail who had killed his father. He was so angry in his spirit that he could not partake of the emblems until God enabled him to experience a forgiving spirit. Just so, Jesus elevates reconciliation with one’s brother to a greater importance than religious rites. And the ministry of reconciliation was ultimately expressed by the Master who, while we were enemies, died for us. (Augsburger, M. S., & Ogilvie, L. J. Vol. 24: The Preacher's Commentary Series, Volume 24: Matthew. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc) (Ed note: see the serious warning regarding taking communion in an unworthy manner in 1Cor 11:27-34 )

Today in the Word has the following devotional on Jesus' teaching in Mt 5:23-24...

Writer Shannon Woodward relates this recent experience in a bookstore. A little boy came running into the store and rushed up to his father who was calmly browsing the children's books. The boy had a request to make, but before he could finish, his father exploded and angrily told him to go back to the family van. A few minutes later an older girl came into the store and tried to talk to the father. But in a voice that turned every head in the store, he screamed at her to go outside and stay put. As the girl left red-faced, the man calmly resumed his browsing.
Woodward watched sadly, amazed at the way this father erupted with anger and then browsed as if nothing had happened. Such scenes are painful to witness, yet if we are honest with ourselves we would admit this is often the way we approach our worship of God.

We may come into God's presence, ready to worship Him, yet we come knowing that things are not right ""outside,"" where family or friends are feeling the effects of our disrupted relationships with them.

God wants us to remove this hindrance before we bring Him our praise and our gifts--a necessary step of preparation for worship that Jesus addressed in the Sermon on the Mount... Applying this to our worship, Jesus turned the situation around from what we might expect (Matt. 5). The problem here is not what others have done to offend us, but what we might have done to cause offense to a brother or a sister.

Why did Jesus state the case this way? Probably because we are a lot quicker to forget our own offenses than we are to forget the offenses other people commit against us. The altar Jesus was talking about was located in the inner portion of the temple, where solemn worship took place (v. 23)

Remember (3415)(mnaomai) means to recall to mind, to recollect, to remember, to come (or have) to one's remembrance.

Mnaomai refers primarily to people remembering as an act of mental recall (e.g., Mt 5:23; 27:63; Lk 16:25; Jn 2:17, 22; Acts 11:16; 2Ti 1: 4; 2Pe 3:2; Jude 1:17).

Some uses of mnaomai convey the idea of “be mindful of,” with a view to acting in a certain way. The penitent thief on the cross, for example, pleads for Christ to remember him in paradise (Lk 23:42, cp Lxx us Ps 106:4). In other words, the idea is to recall or be aware of information, and as a result to respond in an appropriate manner (e.g., punishing = Rev 16:19, helping = Ge 8:1, Ge 30:22, Heb 13:3, etc) depending on context.

To remember means to bring an image or idea from the past into the mind. To recall information from memory, but without necessarily an implication that one has actually forgotten.

In Ps 143:5 we see remember is associated with meditation. It is difficult to meditate on what one does not remember. 

Renn - When predicated of God, mnaomai mnaomai refers to divine remembering in the anthropomorphic sense of initiating an aspect of his redemptive purposes. Lk 1:54 speaks of God “remembering” to be merciful (cf. also Acts 10:31).Lk 1:72 affirms that God will remember his covenant. Heb. 8:12; 10:17 promise that God will remember the sins of his people no more. God is said to remember Babylon in Rev. 16:19, with a view to punishing her for her sins. (Expository Dictionary)

Gary Hill makes an interesting observation based on the fact that all of the uses of mnaomai are in the middle voice (the subject initiates the action and participates the the process or results) - "The high level of personal involvement and personal interest motivating this remembering accounts for why it is always in the middle voice." (The Discovery Bible).

Many of the uses of mnaomai in the Septuagint are very instructive and encouraging as they speak of God remembering His covenant (see uses at the end of this note), remembering individuals (Noah, Abraham, Rachel), and remembering His Chosen People. Perhaps you are in time of doubting God's goodness and His remembrance of you, especially if you are experiencing difficult circumstances. If so, let me strongly recommend prayerfully pondering some of the uses of mnaomai, especially those in the Septuagint. In Nu 15:39-40 God instructs His people to use the tassels on their garments to aid their remembering the commandments so that they might keep them.

The last words of the godly leader Nehemiah were a prayer - "Remember (Lxx = mnaomai) me, O my God, for good." (Neh 13:31)

In the Septuagint and in the NT in Heb 8:12, 10:17 (see note below) mnaomai can convey the idea of not remembering someone’s sins or to let someone’s sins go unpunished - Ps 25:7; 79:8; Is 43:25; Heb 8:12; 10:17 (both quoting from Jer 31:34 where in the New Covenant Jehovah says to Israel "their sin I will remember no more.")

It is interesting to note that the Greek word for "tomb" (Acts 13:29) is mnēmeíon (3419) which is derived from mnáomai and thus a tomb is a memorial, sepulcher or monument (something set up so that a departed one is remembered)

Webster on remember - to bring to mind or think of again,  to keep in mind for attention or consideration. We are said to remember any thing, when the idea of it arises in the mind with the consciousness that we have had this idea before.

BDAG (summary) - 1. to recall information from memory = remember, recollect, remind oneself 2. to think of and call attention to something or someone = to make mention of someone (Acts 10:31, Rev 16:19) 3. give careful consideration to = to remember, think of, care for, be concerned about, keep in mind  (Ge 30:22, Lk 23:42, Heb 2:6, 13:3

Friberg on mnaomai - 1) reflexively; (a) of recollection remember, call to mind, think about again (Heb 10.17); (b) of solicitous concern be mindful of, think of, care for (Lk 23.42); (2) passive be mentioned, be noticed (Acts 10.31); the perfect passive has a derived meaning have been reminded equivalent to remember (2Ti 1.4) (Analytical Lexicon)

Liddell-Scott state that the primary meaning of Mnaomai in classical literature is “to be mindful of, to turn one’s mind to a thing.” After Homer the term was used to describe one’s pursuit for appointment to an office or solicitation of a favor. So, when a young man turned his mind to seeking a bride, mnaomai described the courtship process.

Mnaomai - 21x in 21v - Usage: recall(1), remember(12), remembered(8), rememberest(1), remembrance (m)(1).

Matthew 5:23 "If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,

Matthew 26:75 And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, "Before a cock crows, you will deny Me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly.

Matthew 27:63 and said, "Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I am to rise again.'

Luke 1:54 "He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy,
72 To show mercy toward our fathers, And to remember His holy covenant,

Luke 16:25 "But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.

Comment: What a horrible remembrance it will be for those who are separated eternally from the glorious presence of the Holy One! To have such memories eternally is simply unfathomable to me (although I believe that is what the Scriptures clearly teach).

Luke 23:42 And he was saying, "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!" (And Jesus said He would - Luke 23:42)

Comment: There was a prayer petition found on gravestones that one be remembered at the resurrection

Luke 24:6 "He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee,
8 And they remembered His words,

John 2:17 His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for Thy house will consume me."
22 When therefore He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken.

John 12:16 These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him.

Acts 10:31 and he said, 'Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God.

Acts 11:16 "And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, 'John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'

1 Corinthians 11:2  Now I praise you because you remember (perfect tense - speaks of permanence of their memory of Paul) me in everything, and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you.

2 Timothy 1:4 longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy.

Hebrews 8:12 "For I will be merciful to their iniquities, And I will remember (Divine passive indicating God as the agent) their sins no more."

Zodhiates on remember in this context (cp Heb 10:17) - This does not mean that God does not exercise memory with which He has so beneficially endowed His creatures; nor does it mean that when we appear before Him to have our lives reviewed and judged that God will forget all that we have ever done (Rom. 14:10; 1 Cor. 3:11–15; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 20:11–15). The apportionment of rewards to the believers necessitates God’s and their remembrance of their works (James 2:12, 13). The Heb. 8:12 and 10:17 passages specifically speak of the new covenant of the Lord with Israel which, being accepted, brings an end to His remembrance by Him regarding whether or not they kept the old covenant. This is equivalent to God forgetting all the sins of the individual before he was saved and ushered into the kingdom of God. However, there is certainly a remembrance of all one’s works, whether good or bad (2 Cor. 5:10), performed during his entire life of faith from the moment he has been attached to the body of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). (The complete word study dictionary: New Testament)

Hebrews 10:17 "And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."

Hebrews 13:3 Remember (present imperative) the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.

2 Peter 3:2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.

Jude 1:17 But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Revelation 16:19 And the great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And Babylon the great was remembered before God (Here in the sense that He remembers the sins -- just the opposite of the idea in Heb 8:12, 10:17, the latter reflecting His gracious new covenant), to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.

Mnaomai - 271 uses in the Septuagint - Gen. 8:1; 9:15-16; 19:29; 30:22; Ge 40:13-14, 20, 23; 42:9; Exod. 2:24; 6:5; 20:8; 32:13; Lev. 26:42, 45; Num. 11:5; 15:39f; Deut. 5:15; 7:18; 8:2, 18; 9:7, 27; 15:15; 16:3, 12; 24:9, 18, 20, 22; 25:17; 32:7; Jos. 1:13; Jdg. 8:34; 9:2; 16:28; 1 Sam. 1:11, 19; 4:18; 25:31; 2 Sam. 19:19; 2 Ki. 20:3; 2 Chr. 6:42; 24:22; Neh. 1:8; 4:14; 5:19; 6:14; 9:17; 13:14, 22, 29, 31; Est. 2:1; 4:8, 17; 10:3; Job 4:7; 7:7; 10:9; 21:6; 28:18; 36:24; 41:8; Ps. 8:4; 9:12; 16:4; 20:3; 22:27; 25:6f; 42:4, 6; 45:17; 71:16; 74:2, 18, 22; 77:3, 5, 11; 78:35, 39, 42; 79:8; 83:4; 87:4; 88:5; 89:47, 50; 98:3; 103:14, 18; 105:5, 8, 42; 106:4, 7, 45; 109:16; 111:5; 115:12; 119:49, 52, 55; 132:1; 136:23; 137:1, 6f; 143:5; Prov. 31:7; Eccl. 5:20; 9:15; 11:8; 12:1; Isa. 12:4; 17:10; 26:16; 38:3; 43:25f; 44:21; 46:8f; 47:7; 48:1; 54:4; 57:11; 62:6; 63:7, 11; 64:5, 7, 9; 65:17; 66:9; Jer. 2:2; 11:19; 14:10, 21; 15:15; 18:20; 31:20, 34; 33:8; 44:21; 51:50; Lam. 1:7, 9; 2:1; 3:19f; 5:1; Ezek. 3:20; 6:9; 16:22, 43, 60f, 63; 18:22, 24; 20:43; 21:23; 23:27; 36:31; Dan. 5:10; Hos. 2:17; 7:2; 8:13; 9:9; Amos 1:9; Jon. 2:7; Mic. 6:5; Nah. 2:5; Hab. 3:2; Zech. 10:9; Mal. 4:4

The first 5 uses of mnaomai in the Septuagint of Genesis are powerful as they speak of the Holy God Who condescends to remember His creatures. Dear believer do you ever feel like God has forgotten about you, especially if you are experiencing adversity or affliction? Then meditate on the passages below and ask the Spirit to open the eyes of your heart to see the Father's great unconditional love for you. You may feel like Joseph, forgotten by men, but ultimately ((when all was said and done) remembered by God. (Ge 40:23) Joseph's God is your God beloved!

Genesis 8:1  But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided.

Genesis 9:15 and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh.

Genesis 9:16 “When the bow (rainbow) is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”

Genesis 19:29 Thus it came about, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot lived.

Genesis 30:22 Then God remembered Rachel, and God gave heed to her and opened her womb.

Ex 2:24 So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Ex 6:5 “And furthermore I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage; and I have remembered My covenant.

Lev 26:42 then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and I will remember also My covenant with Isaac, and My covenant with Abraham as well, and I will remember the land.

Lev 26:45 ‘But I will remember for them the covenant with their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God. I am the LORD.’”

Num 15:39 “And it shall be a tassel (tassels on the corner of their garments - Nu 15:38) for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot, Num 15:40 in order that you may remember to do all My commandments, and be holy to your God.

One of the most encouraging uses of mnaomai is in Isaiah 65:17 where God says “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind."

 

Matthew 5:24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: aphes (2SAAM) ekei to doron sou emprosthen tou thusiasteriou, kai hupage (2SPAM) proton diallagethi (2SAPM) to adelphos sou, kai tote elthon (AAPMSN) prosphere (2SPAM) to doron sou.

Amplified: Leave your gift at the altar and go. First make peace with your brother, and then come back and present your gift.  (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

NLT: leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Philips: you must leave your gift there before the altar and go away. Make your peace with your brother first, then come and offer your gift. (New Testament in Modern English)
Wuest: leave there your gift before the altar of whole burnt-offerings and be going away. First be reconciled to your brother, and then, having come, be offering your gift. (
Wuest: Expanded Translation: Eerdmans)

Young's Literal: leave there thy gift before the altar, and go -- first be reconciled to thy brother, and then having come bring thy gift.

LEAVE YOUR OFFERING THERE BEFORE THE ALTAR AND GO: aphes (2SAAM) ekei to doron sou emprosthen tou thusiasteriou kai hupage (2SPAM) (Mt 18:15, 16, 17; Job 42:8; Proverbs 25:9; Mark 9:50; Romans 12:17,18; 1Corinthians 6:7,8; 1Timothy 2:8; James 3:13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18; 5:16; 1Peter 3:7,8)

Spurgeon - It is said that, in Hindostan, there is a complete divorce of religion from morality, so that a man may be supposed to be eminently religious even while living in the utmost filthiness and vice; but it must never be so among us. We must never imagine that God can accept an offering from us while we harbor any enmity in our hearts. Perhaps, after reading this passage, you say, “If I had anything against my brother, I would go to him at once, and seek to be reconciled to him.” That would be quite right; but you must go further than that, for Christ says, “If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee.” It is much more easy to go to the man who has wronged you than to the one whom you have wronged. Yet the second is evidently the clearer duty, and should be attended to at once: neither can we expect the Lord to attend to us unless we attend to this duty.

Leave (863) (aphiemi [word study] from apo = prefix implies separation + hiemi = put in motion, send) conveys the basic idea of an action which causes separation and means to send from one's self, to forsake, to hurl away, to put away, let alone, disregard, put off. It conveys the basic idea of an action which causes separation and refers to total detachment, total separation, from a previous location or condition. It means to send forth or away from one's self. It refers to the act of putting something away or of laying it aside. In secular Greek aphiemi initially conveyed the sense of to throw and in one secular writing we read "let the pot drop" (aphiemi). From this early literal use the word came to mean leave or let go.

This verb presents the interesting picture - "Let go of your offering". How often do we give to God, but in a sense (with our heart for example) try to hold on to it? He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Everything we have belongs to Him. O, so slow to learn this liberating truth!

Offering (1435) (doron) a gift offered to God (eg, to honor Him, Mt 2:11). A present. An offering (used to support gift to maintain divine service, Lk 21:4 ~ the "offering box") .

Doron - 19x in 17v - Matt 2:11; 5:23f; 8:4; 15:5; 23:18f; Mark 7:11; Luke 21:1, 4; Eph 2:8; Heb 5:1; 8:3f; 9:9; 11:4; Rev 11:10. The renders doron as  gift(1), gifts(8), given(2), offering(8).

Before (1715) (emprosthen) in front of.

Emprosthen - 48x in 45v - Matt 5:16, 24; 6:1f; 7:6; 10:32f; 11:10, 26; 17:2; 18:14; 23:13; 25:32; 26:70; 27:11, 29; Mark 2:12; 9:2; Luke 5:19; 7:27; 10:21; 12:8; 14:2; 19:4, 27f; 21:36; John 1:15, 30; 3:28; 10:4; 12:37; Acts 10:4; 18:17; 2 Cor 5:10; Gal 2:14; Phil 3:13; 1 Thess 1:3; 2:19; 3:9, 13; 1 John 3:19; Rev 4:6; 19:10; 22:8. The renders it as ahead(3), before(30), higher rank(2), in front(1), in front of(3), in the presence of(4), in the sight of(3).

Altar (2379)(thusiasterion from  thusia = that which is offered as a sacrifice) is the place of sacrifice and thus an altar where gifts may be placed and ritual observances carried out in honor of supernatural beings (the Living God of course in this context). An altar "is a structure used in worship as the place for presenting sacrifices to God or gods." (Altar - Holman Bible Dictionary)

See also:
Altar - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology

Altar - Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Jesus' point is that anger and hatred affect our relationship to God. As long as there is internal sin, outward acts of worship are not acceptable to God. Reconciliation must precede worship because unresolved conflict has priority and must be settled. Settle the breach between you and your brother before you try to settle the breach between you and God. Not to do that is to be a hypocrite by asking for forgiveness without repenting.

Mark it down beloved. If you bring anger to the altar, you cannot worship God, so get rid of the anger quickly. Do not be deceived. Is there someone God's Spirit is bringing to your mind to reconcile with so that you might then worship Him in spirit and in truth? The Father desires and seeks true worshipers (John 4:23). Don't put off until tomorrow what you should deal with today. And remember your obligation is only as far as it is possible (the other party may make it totally impossible) for you to be at peace with all men (see Romans 12:14-17; 12:18-21). A clear, clean conscience  is a wonderful thing.

FIRST BE RECONCILED TO YOUR BROTHER AND THEN COME AND PRESENT YOUR OFFERING:  proton diallageqi (2SAPM) to adelphos sou, kai tote elthon (AAPMSN) prosphere (2SPAM) to doron sou (Mt 23:23; 1Co 11:28)

First (4413) (proton) means first in time, place, order or importance. Here Jesus speaks of the priority, and the necessity that reconciliation of an animosity should take over worship. 

Be reconciled (1259) (diallasso from diá = denoting transition + allasso [word study] = to change - see Reconciliation or Reconcile) means to change one's feelings towards another and so to become reconciled. It means to be restored to normal relations or harmony with someone. This could apply to a enmity, animosity or a quarrel in which the fault may be two-sided or one-sided. The context must show which side the active enmity is on, but in this case it is the brother who is somehow offended.

Vine - diallasso - "to effect an alteration, to exchange," and hence, "to reconcile," in cases of mutual hostility yielding to mutual concession, and thus differing from No. 1 (under which see Lightfoot's remarks), is used in the Passive Voice in Matthew 5:24 , which illustrates the point. There is no such idea as "making it up" where God and man are concerned. (Reconcile, Reconciliation - Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words)

Jesus teaches that we should take every reasonable step to promote an effect opposite of murder (whether it is with or without guns or knives). In this case, instead of murdering by hand or mouth, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven are those who should seek with all their power to establish right relationships with their brothers.

RELATED RESOURCES:

Reconciliation - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
Reconciliation - Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament
Reconcile (2644katallasso

Reconcile (604apokatallasso

Reconciliation (2643katallage

Brothers is not used in the sense of Christian brotherhood but in the sense that all mankind is related through Adam's lineage ("the brotherhood of mankind") and all are to be treated as those made in the image of God.

Present (4374) (prosphero from pros = before + phero = bear) to bear before and so to bring unto.

Vine - prosphero - primarily, "to bring to" (pros, "to," phero, "to bring"), also denotes "to offer," (a) of the sacrifice of Christ Himself, Hebrews 8:3; of Christ in virtue of his High Priesthood (RV, "this high priest;" AV, "this man"); Hebrews 9:14,25 (negative),28; 10:12; (b) of offerings under, or according to, the Law, e.g., Matthew 8:4; Mark 1:44; Acts 7:42; 21:26; Hebrews 5:1,3; 8:3; 9:7,9; 10:1,2,8,11; (c) of "offerings" previous to the Law, Hebrews 11:4,17 (of Isaac by Abraham); (d) of gifts "offered" to Christ, Matthew 2:11 , RV, "offered" (AV, "presented unto"); (e) of prayers "offered" by Christ, Hebrews 5:7; (f) of the vinegar "offered" to Him in mockery by the soldiers at the cross, Luke 23:36; (g) of the slaughter of disciples by persecutors, who think they are "offering" service to God, John 16:2 , RV (AV, "doeth"); (h) of money "offered" by Simon the sorcerer, Acts 8:18 . See BRING , A, No. 8, DEAL WITH, No. 2. (Offer, Offering - Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words)

Offering (gift) (1435) (doron from didomi = to give) is related to dorea which describes a free gift, stressing its gratuitous character. Something offered in expression of honour. A gift is something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation. Something presented as an act of worship and/or devotion (Mt 2:11). Doron is used of offerings to God except in Eph 2:8 and Rev 11:10. In classical Greek doron referred to a votive (expressing a vow, wish or desire) gift or offering to a god (little g) or a gift from the gods, as well as a present given as a tribute or even as a bribe. Of the 166+ uses of doron in the non-apocryphal Septuagint, most are used in the context of an offering to God (cf Ge 4:4, Lev 1:2, 3, 10, 2:1, Nu 5:15, Dt 12:11, 1Chr 16:29, Jer 33:11, etc).

Vine - doron is akin to didomi, “to give,” is used (a) of “gifts” presented as an expression of honor, Matt. 2:11; (b) of “gifts” for the support of the temple and the needs of the poor, Matt. 15:5; Mark 7:11; Luke 21:1, 4; (c) of “gifts” offered to God, Matt. 5:23, 24; 8:4; 23:18, 19; Heb. 5:1; 8:3, 4; 9:9; 11:4; (d) of salvation by grace as the “gift” of God, Eph. 2:8; (e) of “presents” for mutual celebration of an occasion, Rev. 11:10. (Gift, Giving - Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words)

John MacArthur wisely comments that "Obviously we cannot change another person’s heart or attitude, but our desire and effort should be to close the breach as much as is possible from our side and to hold no anger ourselves even if the other person does. Regardless of who is responsible for the break in relationship-and often there is guilt on both sides-we should determine to make a reconciliation before we come before God to worship. True worship is not enhanced by better music, better prayers, better architecture, or even better preaching. True worship is enhanced by better relationships between those who come to worship. Worship may be improved by our staying away from church until we have made things right with those with whom we know our relationship is strained or broken. When there is animosity or sin of any sort in our heart there cannot be integrity in our worship. (MacArthur, J: Matthew 1-7 Macarthur New Testament Commentary Chicago: Moody Press) (Bolding added)

Sinclair Ferguson draws an illustration "Picture a man in church. He is about to express his devotion to the Lord in worship and in his offering. But he has not been enjoying fellowship with his brother. There is disharmony in the relationship. Jesus says the man should leave his offering, be reconciled to his brother, and then return to worship God with a clear conscience and full heart. Is Jesus saying that the only important thing in worship is right relationships with our fellow men? Hardly! He recognizes that our relationship with God is primary, but we always appear before God as those who are related, rightly or wrongly, to our fellow men. What we are before God involves how we are related to others (cf 1Jn 1:6, 7). And if we are at enmity with others, how can we come into the Lord's presence with clean hands and a pure heart (cf Mt 5:8-note)? It is monstrous to think that he will find our hypocritical offering acceptable. Obedience is better than sacrifice (1Sa 15:22). As Peter shows, this principle extends to the home and family: husbands are to treat their wives with respect and as heirs of the gracious gift of life so that nothing will hinder their prayers (1Pe 3:7-note). The principle is clear: right relationships with others are part of the meaning of the commandment not to murder. They are essential if our righteousness is to go down deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees.  (Ferguson, Sinclair: Sermon on the Mount :Banner of Truth) (Bolding added)

Max Lucado quips "As far as I know, this is the only time God tells you to slip out of church early. Apparently, he’d rather have you give your olive branch than your tithe. If you are worshiping and remember that your mom is hacked-off at you for forgetting her birthday, then get off the pew and find a phone. Maybe she’ll forgive you; maybe she won’t. But at least you can return to your pew with a clean conscience. (Lucado, M.  When God Whispers Your Name. Page 127. Dallas: Word Pub).

G Campbell Morgan writes that "God seeks and values the gifts we bring Him—gifts of praise, thanksgiving, service, and material offerings. In all such giving at the altar we enter into the highest experiences of fellowship. But the gift is acceptable to God in the measure to which the one who offers it is in fellowship with Him in character and conduct; and the test of this is in our relationships with our fellow men. We are thus charged to postpone giving to God until right relationships are established with others. Could the neglect of this be the explanation of the barrenness of our worship?

Charles Ellicott - The words describe an act which would appear to men as a breach of liturgical propriety. To leave the gift and the priest, the act of sacrifice unfinished, would be strange and startling, yet that, our Lord teaches, were better than to sacrifice with the sense of a wrong unconfessed and unatoned for, and, à fortiori, better than the deeper evil of not being ready to forgive. The Talmud gives a curious rule, to which the words may perhaps allude: “If a man is on the point of offering the Passover, and remembers that there is any leaven left in the house, let him return to his house, and remove it, and then come and finish the Passover” (Pesachim, f. 49). What the scribes laid down as a duty in regard to the “leaven of bread,” our Lord applies to the leaven of malice and wickedness. It is not enough to see in this only a command to remove ill-will and enmity from our own mind, though that, of course, is implied. There must be also confession of wrong and the endeavour to make amends, to bring about, as far as in us lies, reconciliation, or atonement. (Matthew 5 Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers)

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F B Meyer has the following devotional thoughts entitled "First, Reconciliation" focusing on Mt 5:23-24...

THERE IS a marked difference between memory and recollection.

Memory resembles a great box or chest into which a man casts his letters, accounts, and MSS.; recollection is the readiness, be it less or more, with which he can lay his hand on what he requires. We know that it is somewhere in our possession, we remember to have seen and turned it over, but search as we may we cannot find or recall it.

But there is a moment of quickened recollection when we stand before God: "When thou bringest thy gift to the altar and rememberest." As the Divine searchlight plays upon our past life it reveals many things which had passed from our mind. Conscience is a keen quickener of our powers of recollection.

What has your brother against you? This--that you flamed out against him in passion, with bitter, angry words, in hatred and contempt; or this--that you have been sullen and sulky, scarcely answering his advances, meeting his salutations with grudging courtesy. Perhaps you have done him a positive wrong, and have taken from him his only covering, or have forborne to help him when he stood in sore need (Ex 22:26, 27;  23:4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).

We are bidden to get right with man, as the first step to acceptance with God--" first be reconciled to thy brother." Humility is necessary in every approach to God, and nothing so humbles our pride as to confess our faults to our brethren. Truth is necessary to all right dealings with God, and nothing will so promote truth in our inward parts as to be transparent and simple in our dealings with our fellows. Sincerity in confession of sin is an essential beginning of peace with God, but how can we be sure that our confession is sincere unless it costs us something more than words. "'First, be reconciled with thy brother"--not only with the brother of human flesh--but with our great Brother in the Glory (Ge 1:17, 18, 19, 20, 21; He 2:11
[note]). Then comet Offer thyself, as thy gift; He will accept thee, and thy gifts.

PRAYER Give unto us, O Lord, we beseech Thee, broken and contrite hearts. Help us to do all that ought to be done to make amends, and grant unto our brother the willingness to meet us with forgiveness and peace. So shall we have peace with Thee, our Elder Brother, against whom we have grievously sinned. AMEN. (Our Daily Walk)

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Today in the Word has the following devotional thoughts on Mt 5:23, 24...

When D. L. Moody was four years old, his father died, leaving a large, impoverished family. The eldest son ran away from home, but each night his mother put a light in the window, hoping for his return. Mr. Moody recalled that when his older brother did come home, he was barely recognizable behind a heavy beard. It was only as he began to cry that Mrs. Moody realized it was her son and invited him in. ""No, mother,"" he said, ""I will not come in until I hear first that you have forgiven me."" Mrs. Moody threw her arms around her son and brought him indoors. Moody's older brother was clearly in the wrong and he knew it, which made his mother's gift of forgiveness and reconciliation a special one. We as believers have the gift of re-conciliation to offer others, and Jesus urges us to give it freely. In fact, Jesus commands us to initiate reconciliation whether we are in the right or in the wrong. In Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus doesn't define who is the guilty party or who is responsible for the broken relationship. The point is not to assign blame, but to make the situation right. The same is true in the courtroom scene Jesus outlined in verses 25-26. He didn't say the person being taken to court will definitely be found guilty, although that seems to be the likely outcome if the case goes to trial. It doesn't matter who's right or who's wrong--again, the point is to ""settle matters quickly.""

Taking the first step in re-conciliation is our responsibility as believers. When we fail to do so, we often try to justify ourselves by saying something like, ""I'm not mad at her, she's mad at me. It's her problem. She needs to deal with it."" But Jesus turns that kind of logic upside-down. God wants us to do everything we can to remove barriers and offenses between us and other Christians. Otherwise, our acts of worship are hollow to Him. That ought to be motivation enough to seek peace!  Let's admit it. These are tough commands to follow. Why? Because it's difficult for us to set aside the issue of blame. When we feel we are innocent, most of us want justice. It's only when we are in the wrong that we want mercy.

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Our Daily Bread has the following devotionals - These are used by permission of Radio Bible Class (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Going Straight- How far would you travel to put things right with a brother who hadn't spoken to you in 10 years? Would you go 300 miles from Iowa to Wisconsin? On a riding lawn mower?

Unable to drive a car and despising bus travel, Alvin Straight did exactly that in the intriguing film The Straight Story. It is the true-life drama of a 73-year-old man who decided it was time to end the silence, stop the hating, and break down the wall of anger he and his brother had built between them.

As I watched the film in a packed theater, where the audience was silent from beginning to end, I thought of all the broken relationships that must have surfaced in the minds of people sitting there in the darkness. I also pondered the words of Jesus about setting things right with those from whom we've been estranged. He said, "If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift" (Matthew 5:23, 24).

Is there a relative, a friend, or a brother in Christ with whom you need to make things right? Then why not go straight to that person and do it today? —D C McCasland

Lord, let me feel the pain of a wounded soul
And seek to heal that wounded one I pray;
Yes, I would take the reconciling role,
And bring an end to pain and strife today. —Hess

An offense against your neighbor builds a fence between you and God.

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Apology Hotline -  Marvin Williams - Matthew 5:24 - Jesse Jacobs has created an apology hotline that makes it possible to apologize without actually talking to the person you’ve wronged. People who are unable or unwilling to unburden their conscience in person call the hotline and leave a message on an answering machine. Each week, 30 to 50 calls are logged, as people apologize for things from adultery to embezzlement. “The hotline offers participants a chance to alleviate their guilt and, to some degree, to own up to their misdeeds,” said Jacobs.

The apology hotline may seem to offer some relief from guilt, but this is not how Jesus instructed His followers to handle conflict. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told us to deal with conflict by taking the initiative and going to the offended brother to apologize for the offense (see also Matt. 18). In fact, Jesus taught that the problem of human estrangement is so serious that we should even interrupt our worship to go on a personal mission of reconciliation (Matt. 5:24). The Master encouraged His followers to be reconciled with one another eagerly, aggressively, quickly, and personally (Mt 5:25).

Are any of your relationships broken or estranged because of something you said or did? Take the initiative. Go now and do all you can to be reconciled.

God cannot prosper those who try
To cover sin and wrong deny;
But all who humbly will confess,
The Savior with His love will bless.
—D. De Haan

At the heart of all conflict is a selfish heart.

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$7.23 Plus Pride- As I was studying the Old Testament law about making restitution for theft and property loss, I began to wonder how it applied to me. Immediately the words Bill's pump came to mind. Months before, I had borrowed my neighbor's pump to inflate a bicycle tire. It broke while I was using it. But I'm ashamed to admit that I returned it without saying anything to him.

It was obvious that God wanted me to confess my wrong to Bill and buy him a new pump. But my rationalizations were swift: It was old, and it would have broken anyway. It would be embarrassing to reveal my failure and show what a weak Christian I am.

My excuses sounded hollow. I knew the Lord wanted me to make it right. So I bought a pump and went over to Bill's house, but he was out of town. At church the next morning, I started to drop my offering in the plate and remembered, "First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift" (Mt. 5:24). The money went back in my pocket.

When Bill returned, I told him what I'd done, apologized, and gave him the new pump. He graciously understood. It cost $7.23 plus pride--a small price to restore a relationship with a neighbor and a clear conscience with God. --D C McCasland

Show us, Lord, where we have failed
And sinned against a brother;
Give us courage to confess
Our faults to one another. --Sper

The only way to make things right is to admit that you've been wrong.

 

Matthew 5:25 "Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: isthi (2SPAM) eunoon (PAPMSN) to antidiko sou tachu eos otou ei (2SPAI) met' autou en te odo, mepote se parado (3SAAS) o antidikos to krite, kai o krites to uperete, kai eis phulaken blethese; (2SFPI)

Amplified:  Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way traveling with him, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles 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.

NLT: Come to terms quickly with your enemy before it is too late and you are dragged into court, handed over to an officer, and thrown in jail. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Philips: Come to terms quickly with your opponent while you have the chance, or else he may hand you over to the judge and the judge in turn hand you over to the officer of the court and you will be thrown into prison. (New Testament in Modern English)
Wuest: Be friendly and well-disposed toward your opponent in a suit at law, quickly while you are with him in the road, lest at any time the opponent deliver you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and into prison you are thrown. (
Wuest: Expanded Translation: Eerdmans)

Young's Literal: 'Be agreeing with thy opponent quickly, while thou art in the way with him, that the opponent may not deliver thee to the judge, and the judge may deliver thee to the officer, and to prison thou mayest be cast,

MAKE FRIENDS QUICKLY WITH YOUR OPPONENT AT LAW WHILE YOU ARE WITH HIM ON THE WAY: isthi (2SPAM) eunoon (PAPMSN) to antidiko sou tachu eos otou ei (2SPAI) met' autou en te hodo (Genesis 32:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,13-22; 33:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,11; 1Sa 25:17-35; Pr 6:1, 2, 3, 4, 5; 25:8; Luke 12:58,59; 14:31,32)

Charles Simeon - IT is thought by many, that prudential considerations are unworthy the attention of a Christian. That he ought to be influenced by higher principles, we readily admit. The love of Christ should be to him in the place of all other incentives, so far at least that he should not need any other motive for doing the will of God. But Christians are men, and feel the force of every principle which can operate upon the human mind: and therefore subordinate motives may fitly be proposed to them in aid of those which are more worthy of their regard. Our blessed Lord, having explained the sixth commandment, inculcates the duties contained in it, particularly that of seeking reconciliation with an offended brother: and this he does, first from the consideration of the offence which a want of a conciliatory spirit gives to God, and next from a consideration of the danger to which it exposes ourselves. In the former view we have treated of it in the foregoing verses; in the latter view we are to speak of it at this time. But the peculiarly emphatic manner in which our Lord speaks in the words before us, will naturally, and almost necessarily, lead our thoughts beyond the mere concerns of time, to another tribunal before which we must all appear. (Read the entire sermon - Matthew 5:25, 26 The Necessity of Seeking Reconciliation with God)

Literally this read "be well minded towards" where the verb "be" (1510) is a command in the present imperative, calling for it to be the continual attitude and action of citizens of the kingdom of heaven.

Spurgeon - There is nothing like ending disputes at once, before the rancor grows, and your adversary becomes determined to push you to extremes. Oh, for more of that spirit of yielding! You know how people say, “If you tread on a worm: it will turn;” but, brethren, a worm is not an example for a Christian, even if the poor wounded creature does turn toward you in its agony. If you turn, turn to kiss the hand that smites you, and to do good to them that evil entreat you.

Make friends (only use in the Bible)(2132) (eunoeo from eúnoos = benevolent, kindly from = well + noús = mind) means be well–disposed, well-minded towards or well–intentioned toward another, to be friends (Mt 5:25) and inclined to satisfy by paying or compromising. Jesus is using an illustration from the common practice of imprisoning a person for an unpaid debt. He is teaching that if someone holds a debt of any sort against us, he is to make it good as soon as possible and before it is too late and he is imprisoned.

Moulton cites a secular use "where a woman comes under a solemn promise eunoein, “to be well-disposed” towards her husband."

Quickly (5035) (tachu) pertains to a very short extent of time and so means this making of friends is to be carried out  hurriedly, speedily or with haste. Jesus is calling for reconciliation to be sought eagerly, aggressively and quickly even if it involves self-sacrifice. Paul alludes to the fact that it is better to be wronged than to allow a dispute between brethren to be a cause for dishonoring Christ

Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? (1Cor. 6:7).

Opponent (476) (antidikos from antí = against + díke = cause or suit at law)  refers to an opponent in a lawsuit. Antidikos is used once of the devil (see notes 1 Peter 5:8) the accuser of the brethren. Roman law provided that a plaintiff could bring the accused with him to face the judge. The two themselves could settle the matter on the way, but not after the court became involved.

Here the antidikos, the opponent or adversary is some kind of opponent to whom we apparently owe money and who is apparently in a position to take legal action, without further specific information as to his identity or the nature of the case.

On the way or on the road while not specific adds obviously emphasis to the urgency of the call to reconcile. In other words, don't wait until you get to the lobby of the courthouse! Once the legal process is set in motion, the judge will pass sentence and its too late to settle. Don't miss the golden opportunity to settle. It is interesting that the background here seems to be non-Jewish since the Jews did not imprison for debt.

Freeman in Manners and Customs of the Bible has the following summary of Mt 5:25 - According to Roman law, if a person had a quarrel that he could not settle privately, he had the right to order his adversary to accompany him to the praetor (Roman magistrate ranking below a consul and having chiefly judicial functions). If he refused, the prosecutor took someone present to witness by saying, “May I take you to witness?” If the person consented, he offered the tip of his ear, which the prosecutor touched; a form that was observed toward witnesses in some other legal ceremonies among the Romans. Then the plaintiff (one bringing the legal action) might drag the defendant to court by force in any way, even by the neck, but worthless persons such as thieves and robbers might be dragged before the judge without the formality of calling a witness. If on the way to the judge the difficulty was settled, no further legal steps were taken. Jesus refers to this custom in the text. When the accused is thus legally seized by the accuser, he is urged to make up his quarrel while on the way to the judge, so that no further legal process should be necessary. (Freeman, J. M., & Chadwick, H. J. Manners & Customs of the Bible. 1996. Whitaker House)

SO THAT YOUR OPPONENT MAY NOT HAND YOU OVER TO THE JUDGE AND THE JUDGE TO THE OFFICER, AND YOU BE THROWN INTO PRISON: mepote se parado (3SAAS) o antidikos to krite, kai o krites to huperete, kai eis phulaken blethese; (2SFPI) (Job 22:21; Psalms 32:6; Isaiah 55:6,7; Luke 13:24,25; 2Cor 6:2; Hebrews 3:7,13; Hebrews 12:17) (1Ki 22:26,27)

So that - This is a term expressing purpose (See term of explanation). Always asks "What is the purpose?" It seems pedantic or simple but it gives you an opportunity to review the context and allow the Spirit to give added insights!

Opponent (476) (antidikos from anti = against + dike = a cause or suit at law) was used first as a word for an opponent in a lawsuit and then came to mean an adversary or enemy without reference to legal affairs. It describes one who is actively and continuously hostile toward someone. An adversary is one that contends with, opposes, or resists.

Antidikos - 5x in 4v - Matt 5:25; Luke 12:58; 18:3; 1 Pet 5:8. renders it as  adversary(1), opponent(3), opponent at law(1).

Hand over (3860)( paradidomi [word study] from para = alongside, beside,  to the side of, over to + didomi = to give) conveys the  basic meaning of to give over from one's hand to someone or something, especially to give over to the power of another. Synonyms used for paradidomi include surrender, yield up, entrust, deliver up, give over.

Paradidomi -119x in 117v - Matt 4:12; 5:25; 10:4, 17, 19, 21; 11:27; 17:22; 18:34; 20:18f; 24:9f; 25:14, 20, 22; 26:2, 15f, 21, 23ff, 45f, 48; 27:2ff, 18, 26; Mark 1:14; 3:19; 4:29; 7:13; 9:31; 10:33; 13:9, 11f; 14:10f, 18, 21, 41f, 44; 15:1, 10, 15; Luke 1:2; 4:6; 9:44; 10:22; 12:58; 18:32; 20:20; 21:12, 16; 22:4, 6, 21f, 48; 23:25; 24:7, 20; John 6:64, 71; 12:4; 13:2, 11, 21; 18:2, 5, 30, 35f; 19:11, 16, 30; 21:20; Acts 3:13; 6:14; 7:42; 8:3; 12:4; 14:26; 15:26, 40; 16:4; 21:11; 22:4; 27:1; 28:17; Rom 1:24, 26, 28; 4:25; 6:17; 8:32; 1 Cor 5:5; 11:2, 23; 13:3; 15:3, 24; 2 Cor 4:11; Gal 2:20; Eph 4:19; 5:2, 25; 1 Tim 1:20; 1 Pet 2:23; 2 Pet 2:4, 21; Jude 1:3. The renders paradidomi as betray(13), betrayed(9), betraying(9), betrays(3), commended(1), committed(3),deliver(10), deliver up(7), delivered(17), delivered over(2), delivered up(16), delivering(3), delivers up(1), entrusted(3),entrusting(1), gave over(3), gave up(3), given over(1), handed down(3), handed over(4), permits(1), put(1), putting(1),risked(m)(1), taken custody(2), turn over(1).

Judge (2923) (krites) is one who has the right to render a decision in legal matters, one who passes judgment on anything or who makes decisions based on examination and evaluation (refers to both human and divine judges - God in Acts 10:42).

Krites - 19x in 17v  - Matt 5:25; 12:27; Luke 11:19; 12:14, 58; 18:2, 6; Acts 10:42; 13:20; 18:15; 24:10; 2 Tim 4:8; Heb 12:23; Jas 2:4; 4:11f; 5:9

Officer (5257) (huperetes from hupó = under, beneath + erétes = a rower or eresso = to row) is literally an under rower or an under-oarsman on the ship with several ranks of rowers. These were the men down in the ship's, doing one thing -- rowing and with their eyes on one man, the man standing at the front of the hull, shouting "Row, Row, Row."! 

Huperetes - 20x in 20v - Mt 5:25; 26:58; Mark 14:54, 65; Luke 1:2; 4:20; John 7:32, 45f; 18:3, 12, 18, 22, 36; 19:6; Acts 5:22, 26; 13:5; 26:16; 1 Cor 4:1. The renders huperetes as attendant(1), helper(1), minister(1), officer(1), officers(13), servants(3).

Huperetes described the bottom rower, the galley-slave, then any servant, the attendant in the synagogue (Luke 4:20). Luke describes John Mark in his relation to Barnabas and Saul (Acts 13:5) as a huperetes. Luke also applies huperetes to the “ministers of the word” (Luke 1:2).  The idea is that of a subordinate, a servant, an attendant, or an assistant in general. Here Jesus refers to the subordinate official who waited to accomplish the commands of his superior.

Prison (5438) (phulake from phulasso = watch, keep from escaping, be on guard) describes the place where someone is watched, guarded or kept in custody and thus a prison. In context Jesus is referring to debtor’s prison, (as implied by the phrase "until you have paid up the last cent") where the person could work to earn back what he had defrauded.

Phulake - 47x in 45v - Matt 5:25; 14:3, 10, 25; 18:30; 24:43; 25:36, 39, 43f; Mark 6:17, 27, 48; Luke 2:8; 3:20; 12:38, 58; 21:12; 22:33; 23:19, 25; John 3:24; Acts 5:19, 22, 25; 8:3; 12:4ff, 10, 17; 16:23f, 27, 37, 40; 22:4; 26:10; 2 Cor 6:5; 11:23; Heb 11:36; 1 Pet 3:19; Rev 2:10; 18:2; 20:7. The renders phulake as  guard(1), imprisonment(1), imprisonments(2), prison(34), prisons(3), time of the night(1),watch(4).

Jesus is using this illustration from secular life as a picture of sin against another person. He is emphasizing that such sin, like unpaid debts, must be resolved quickly to avoid having to face a sentence from the divine Judge.  We are to make every effort, with no delay, to make our relationship right with our brother (not speaking of Christian brothers but of mankind in general) before our relationship can be right with God and we can avoid chastening.

MacDonald notes that "While there is some disagreement among scholars about the identity of the people in this parable, the point is clear: if you are wrong, be quick to admit it and make things right. If you remain unrepentant, your sin will eventually catch up with you and you will not only have to make full restitution but suffer additional penalties as well. And don’t be in a hurry to go to court. If you do, the law will find you out, and you will pay the last penny.  (MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)

Hagner sums up Mt 26-27 noting that "In His exegesis of the truest meaning of the Mosaic commandment—and presentation of the level of righteousness required by the kingdom—Jesus goes far beyond the letter of the text (where some may have been inclined to stop). By his explication of “thou shalt not murder,” Jesus penetrates to the spirit of the commandment. Since the spring of a person’s conduct is the heart, or inner person, the transforming power of the kingdom must be especially experienced there. Anger and insults spoken from anger are evil and corrupting, and they therefore call forth God’s judgment, just as the act of murder itself does. Accordingly, the worship and service of God cannot be performed as long as anger infects the soul. Thus, the recipient of the grace of the kingdom is one who initiates and seeks reconciliation, both with members of the community of faith and with adversaries (cf. Mt 5:9). The underlying and key message of these astonishingly authoritative words is that a person is held accountable for his or her angry thoughts, not merely for external acts of violence against others. Here, as in the beatitudes, the truly revolutionary character of the kingdom and its ethics makes itself felt. (Hagner, D. A. Vol. 33A: Word Biblical Commentary: Matthew 1-13. Word Biblical Commentary Page 118. Dallas: Word, Incorporated)

Virgil Hurley has the following illustration entitled "Even in Wartime" - On April 1, 1945, in the Taiwan Strait, the U.S. submarine Queenfish fired multiple torpedoes at what the ship’s radar suggested was a Japanese destroyer. When the sub later pulled aboard the only survivor, the captain learned he had sunk the Awa Maru, a Japanese cargo ship the U.S. State Department had guaranteed safe passage for a round-trip from Japan to Singapore. With white crosses painted on her hull and two thousand tons of relief supplies for American soldiers in Japanese prison camps in her hold, the Awa Maru was to pass unharmed through the gauntlet of submarines swarming the depths in her path. The Queenfish never received a clear version of that order. On April 17, the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Navy issued an official apology to the Japanese government, offering to replace the Awa Maru with a similar ship. It didn’t have to be done because the war ended four months later. Most of our apologies will not be so dramatic, but, when we are wrong, they should be as direct. We should assume total responsibility for our mistakes and offer restitution if at all possible. Accepting more than our share of guilt and allowing another more than his share of innocence disarms the egotism that won’t and empowers the humility that will … apologize. (Hurley, V. Speaker's Sourcebook of New Illustrations Page 8. Dallas: Word Publishers)

 

Matthew 5:26 "Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: amen lego (1SPAI) soi, ou me echeltes (2SAAS) ekeithen eos an apodos (2SAAS) ton eschaton kodranten.

Amplified:  Truly I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last fraction of a penny.  (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
NLT: I assure you that you won't be free again until you have paid the last penny. (
NLT - Tyndale House)
Philips: Believe me, you will never get out again till you have paid your last farthing! (
New Testament in Modern English)
Wuest: Assuredly, I am saying to you, you will not in any case come out from there until you have paid off the last farthing. (
Wuest: Expanded Translation: Eerdmans)

Young's Literal: verily I say to thee, thou mayest not come forth thence till that thou mayest pay the last farthing.

TRULY I SAY TO YOU, YOU WILL NOT COME OUT OF THERE UNTIL YOU HAVE PAID UP THE LAST CENT (Mt 18:34; 25:41,46; Luke 12:59; 16:26; 2Thessalonians 1:9; James 2:13)

Truly (281) (amen from aman = be firm, steady)  was a term of strong, intense affirmation and means firm, trustworthy, surely. Amen acknowledges that which is valid and binding. The OT often used "Amen" at the end of a sentence to confirm the preceding words and invoke their fulfillment.

Only the Lord Jesus uses "Amen" at the beginning of a sentence and when He began by saying in essence "I tell you the truth" it was time to be quiet and listen for this is a weighty statement that you need to hear.. "Amen" thus guarantees the truth of His saying and affirms His authority. In the present context Jesus uses "Amen" to confirm the special importance of what He was about to say. Jesus was saying, “I say this to you absolutely, without qualification and with the fullest authority.”

Jesus not infrequently mentions the peril of judgment is a theme in Jesus' teaching to stress the fact that these instructions are not optional for men and women who are citizens of the kingdom of heaven. To neglect or ignore what Jesus says has awful consequences as indicated by the emphatic phrase "you will not come out".  In fact He uses the "double negative" (ou me) which strengthens the denial and says in essence, "no never", "not at all", "in no case". These are strong words that all need to heed.

In Jesus' instruction to Peter (and all of us) on what forgiveness seven times seventy means, Jesus emphasized that the forgiven but then unforgiving slave would be punished...

"And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart." (Mt 18:33-34)

Hendriksen summarizes verses 25,26 paraphrasing them as follows "as if Jesus were saying, “Be not surprised about the urgency of my command that you be reconciled; for, should it be that you were to pass from this life with a heart still at variance with your brother, a condition which you have not even tried to change, that wrong would testify against you in the day of judgment. Moreover, dying with that spirit of hatred still in your heart, you will never escape from the prison of hell.” (Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. Vol. 9: New Testament commentary : Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew)

Let me add to Hendriksen's comment that the emphasis I would place is on his statement "a condition which you have not even tried to change". Jesus is not saying we can earn our salvation or lose our salvation. What He is saying is that if you are genuinely saved, you are in a New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31, 32, 33, 34), possess a new heart and a new Spirit (Ezekiel 36:26, 27), and so you have the motivation (the Law is now written in your heart and the Spirit will cause you to walk in God's statutes) to seek reconciliation. The person who never has any desire whatsoever to seek reconciliation is not manifesting a new heart which seeks to deal with hatred. Now, you may be asking "How far do I go? Is the burden on me entirely? What happens when the one in adversarial relation refuses?" The answer is when you have done all in your power to seek to bring about a reconciliation, and the one at enmity refuses, the guilt will rest on the adversary. Jesus Himself sought reconciliation with evil men who repeatedly refused and who themselves will pay the penalty.

Ferguson - These two examples are not pieces of advice, or laws, either for church behaviour or for solving legal problems! They are, rather, illustrations of how vital it is to have right relationships with others. The illustration of the man in church underlines the necessity of reconciliation. The illustration of two men going to court underlines the urgency of reconciliation. Animosity is a time bomb; we do not know when it will `go off.' We must deal with it quickly, before the consequences of our bitterness get completely out of control. Most human relationships that are destroyed could have been preserved if there had been communication and action at the right time. Jesus says that the right time is as soon as we are conscious that we are at enmity with our brother (Matt. 5:23).... Jesus is telling us that we should, as far as possible, remove all basis for enmity. But he is not urging us to share every thought in our hearts during the process of reconciliation. Our secret thoughts and sins will not be sanctified by telling others about them. Doing so has led many Christians (and those they have spoken to) into unhappy and sometimes disastrous situations. Jesus is not telling us to 'hang out our dirty linen in public,' but rather to deal urgently and fully with all breakdowns in fellowship before they lead to spiritual assassination. (Ferguson, Sinclair: Sermon on the Mount :Banner of Truth) (Bolding and italics added)

Paid up (591) (apodidomi from apó = from + didomi = give) means to give back and speaks of fulfilling an obligation or expectation as in paying one's taxes or paying wages owed.

Apodidomi - 48x in 46v - Matt 5:26, 33; 6:4, 6, 18; 12:36; 16:27; 18:25f, 28ff, 34; 20:8; 21:41; 22:21; 27:58; Mark 12:17; Luke 4:20; 7:42; 9:42; 10:35; 12:59; 16:2; 19:8; 20:25; Acts 4:33; 5:8; 7:9; 19:40; Rom 2:6; 12:17; 13:7; 1 Cor 7:3; 1 Thess 5:15; 1 Tim 5:4; 2 Tim 4:8, 14; Heb 12:11, 16; 13:17; 1 Pet 3:9; 4:5; Rev 18:6; 22:2, 12. The renders apodidomi as account*(1), award(1), fulfill(2), gave back(2), give(3), give back(1), given over(1),giving(1), make(m)(1), paid(2), paid up(1), pay(2), pay back(4), recompense(1), render(7), repay(10), repayment to be made(1), repays(1), returning(1), sold(3), yielding(1), yields(1)

Cent (2835) (kodrantes) is the same as assárion, a Roman brass coin equal to one tenth of a denarion (the usual pay for a day's labor). It was a small brass coin equal to two leptá (mite) the smallest coin in use among the Jews.


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