Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Blessed are ye.—Here, for the first time, the beatitude is uttered, not as a general law, but as the portion of the listening disciples to whom the Teacher spoke. The words contain three forms, hardly three successive grades, of suffering: (1) the vague contempt. showing itself in gibes and nicknames; (2) persecution generally; (3) deliberate calumnies, such as those of the foul orgies and Thyesteian banquets, which were spread against the believers in Christ in the first two centuries.
Falsely.—The word is absent from the best MSS., and was probably added as a safeguard against the thought that a man might claim the reward of the persecuted, even if really guilty of the crimes laid against him.
For my sake.—Here, again, there is a more emphatic personal directness. For the abstract “righteousness” we have “for my sake.” He forewarns His disciples that they must expect persecution if they follow Him; His very name will be the signal and occasion of it (Acts 14:22; 2Timothy 3:12).Matthew 5:11-12. Blessed are ye — My true and faithful followers, when men shall revile you — Shall unjustly and injuriously reproach you; and say all manner of evil against you falsely — This both the Jews and heathen did with respect to the first Christians, and this the Papists have done with regard to the Protestants: for my sake — Because you believe in, love, obey, and follow me. Rejoice, &c. — Let not this load of infamy and oppression discourage and cast you down, but rather rejoice and be exceeding glad, or, exult with triumph, as the original word, αγαλλιασθε, may be properly rendered. For great is your reward in heaven — Such a patient and cheerful suffering of persecution for Christ in this life, will certainly be rewarded with the glory and blessedness of the life to come. The reward, however, will not be of debt, but of grace; for our light and momentary afflictions are not worthy to be compared with the eternal and exceeding weight of glory. For so persecuted they the prophets, &c. — Who, long before your time, were the messengers of God to this very people. Indeed, persecution has been the portion and the proof of the most eminent saints in all ages.John 8:48; that he was mad John 10:20; and thus they reviled and mocked him on the cross, Matthew 27:39-44. But, being reviled, he reviled not again 1 Peter 2:23; and thus being reviled, we should bless 1 Corinthians 4:12; and thus, though the contempt of the world is not in itself desirable, yet it is blessed to tread in the footsteps of Jesus, to imitate his example, and even to suffer for his sake, Philippians 1:29.
All manner of evil against you falsely - An emphasis should be laid on the word falsely in this passage. It is not blessed to have evil spoken of us if we deserve it; but if we deserve it not, then we should not consider it as a calamity. We should take it patiently, and show how much the Christian, under the consciousness of innocence, can bear, 1 Peter 3:13-18.
For my sake - Because you are attached to me; because you are Christians. We are not to seek such things. We are not to do things to offend others; to treat them harshly or unkindly, and. to court revilings. We are not to say or do things, though they may be on the subject of religion, designed to disgust or offend. But if, in the faithful endeavor to be Christians, we are reviled, as our Master was, then we are to take it with patience, and to remember that thousands before us have been treated in like manner. When thus reviled or persecuted, we are to be meek, patient, humble; not angry; not reviling again; but endeavoring to do good to our persecutors and slanderers, 2 Timothy 2:24-25. In this way many have been convinced of the power and excellence of that religion which they were persecuting and reviling. They have seen that nothing else but Christianity could impart such patience and meekness to the persecuted; and have, by this means, been constrained to submit themselves to the gospel of Jesus. Long since it became a proverb, "that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church."
and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you, falsely, for my sake—Observe this. He had before said, "for righteousness' sake." Here He identifies Himself and His cause with that of righteousness, binding up the cause of righteousness in the world with the reception of Himself. Would Moses, or David, or Isaiah, or Paul have so expressed themselves? Never. Doubtless they suffered for righteousness' sake. But to have called this "their sake," would, as every one feels, have been very unbecoming. Whereas He that speaks, being Righteousness incarnate (see Mr 1:24; Ac 3:14; Re 3:7), when He so speaks, speaks only like Himself.Genesis 21:9 Galatians 4:29, though the lowest degree of it. It hath been the constant lot of God’s servants. David said, Psalm 35:11, that false witnesses did rise up, and laid to his charge things that he knew not. Thus John and Christ were served, Matthew 11:18,19 Lu 7:33,34; nor is it to be wondered that those whose consciences are so seared that they cannot feel the guilt of persecuting others for righteousness’ sake, should not feel the guilt of lying and false swearing. But, saith our Saviour, you are blessed when these things happen unto you, 1 Peter 4:13.
persecute you from place to place, by ill usage of all sorts;
and shall say all manner of evil against you: the worst things they could think of and invent, and all of them; such as that they were seditious persons, enemies to the commonwealth, and the public good, guilty of sacrilege, incest, and murder but what would serve to relieve them under these heavy charges is, that they were "falsely" laid; there was not a word of truth in them; wherefore their own hearts would not reproach them; but all were the malicious lies of men, invented on purpose to bring them and Christianity into disgrace: and that they were brought against "them for Christ's sake", for his name's sake, for the sake of his Gospel and interest: the treatment they meet with is on his account, and the same that he himself met with; the like reproaches fell on him, which will be all wiped off from him and them another day; when they will appear to be the blessed persons, and their revilers and persecutors the unhappy ones. The Jews have some sayings not unlike these, and which may serve to illustrate them:
"ajal aht alw ajwl aht, "be thou cursed", or bearing curses, but do not curse (g). The gloss upon it is, it is better to be one of them that are cursed, than to be of them that curse; for, at the end, the curse causeless returns to him that curseth.''
"for ever let a man be of them that are persecuted, and not of them that persecute; of them that suffer injury, and not of them that do it.''
Once more (i),
"they that suffer injury, and do it not; who hear reproach, and do not return it; who act from love, and rejoice in chastisements, of them the Scripture says, "let them that love him", &c. Judges 5:31.''Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 5:11-12. Comp. Isaiah 51:7 ff. Application of Matthew 5:10 to the disciples. To explain ὀνειδίζειν, to make reproaches (Wurm, Dinarch. p. 77), and διώκειν (comp. 1 Corinthians 4:12), with Beza, Raphel, and Wolf, of indignities and accusations before the court, is an unwarrantable limitation. The whole of the hostility which is to assail His disciples stands even now before the soul of the Lord, and He prepares them for it; there is accordingly no reason to see in Matthew 5:10-12 an addition by the evangelist (Hilgenfeld).
The ψευδόμενοι, which is to be defended as genuine (see the critical remarks), easily and appropriately connects itself with καθʼ ὑμῶν, so that the latter forms with ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ an emphatic correlative; the whole participial definition, however, from εἴπωσι to ῥῆμα, is appended as a statement of modality, “in their speaking falsely against you for my sake”—that is, because you belong to me, which is their motive for making lying statements against you. On ψεύδεσθαι with κατά, contra, comp. Jam 3:14; often thus amongst Greek writers.Matthew 5:11. μακάριοί ἐστε. The Teacher expatiates as if it were a favourite theme, giving a personal turn to His further reflections—“Blessed are ye.” Is it likely that Jesus would speak so early of this topic to disciples? Would He not wait till it came more nearly within the range of their experience? Nay, is the whole discourse about persecution not a reflection back into the teaching of the Master of the later experiences of the apostolic age, that suffering disciples might be inspired by the thought that their Lord had so spoken? It is possible to be too incredulous here. If it was not too soon to speak of Pharisaic righteousness it was not too soon to speak of suffering for true righteousness. The one was sure to give rise to the other. The disciples may already have had experience of Pharisaic disfavour (Mark 2, 3). In any case Jesus saw clearly what was coming. He had had an apocalypse of the dark future in the season of temptation, and He deemed it fitting to lift the veil a little that His disciples might get a glimpse of it.—ὅταν ὀνειδίσωσιν … ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ: illustrative details pointing to persistent relentless persecution by word and deed, culminating in wilful, malicious, lying imputations of the grossest sort—πᾶν πονηρὸν, every conceivable calumny—ψευδόμενοι, lying: not merely in the sense that the statements are false, but in the sense of deliberately inventing the most improbable lies; their only excuse being that violent prejudice leads the calumniators to think nothing too evil to be believed against the objects of their malice.—ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ: for Him who has undertaken to make you fishers of men. Do you repent following Him? No reason why.Matthew 5:11. Ὀνειδίσωσιν, shall revile) sc. in your presence: understand ἀνθρώποι, men. They inflict insult by words, persecution in fact.—ὑμᾶς, you) Jesus speaks sometimes in the first person plural of Himself, and mankind, taken collectively, when the matter treated of is one plainly external (see John 11:7), or when He speaks as one unknown (see ch. Matthew 3:15, John 4:22); but mostly uses the second person, to signify that He is not on a par with others. See Matthew 5:12-13; Matthew 5:20; John 6:49; John 10:34; John 14:9; John 20:17.—εἴπωσι, shall say) sc. in your absence.Verses 11-16. - Some critics (e.g. Godet, Weiss) think that vers. 13-16 are no part of the original sermon, but only an interweaving of sayings which were originally spoken at other times. This is possible, but external evidence exists only in the case of vers. 13 and 15 (for vers. 14 and 16 are peculiar to Matthew); and even in the case of these verses it is by no means clear (vide infra) that the occasions on which, according to the other Gospels, the sayings were uttered are the more original. Weiss's assertion ('Life,' 2:144), "The remarks in Matthew 5:13-16, bearing on the calling of discipleship,.., cannot belong to the sermon on the mount, carefully as they are there introduced, for the prophesied sufferings of his followers might have made them disloyal," is wholly gratuitous. In fact, the sufferings have been much more strongly spoken of in vers. 11, 12. The disciples are now addressed directly, and are urged to "walk worthily of the vocation wherewith they are called." The mention of those who have endured persecution leads our Lord to warn his disciples not to faint under persecution in any of its forms; they are but entering on the succession of the prophets; their work is that of purifying and preserving and of illuminating; they must therefore allow their character as disciples to appear, as appear it must if they arc true to their position. There is a purpose in this, namely, that men may see their actions, and glorify their Father which is in heaven. Verses 11, 12. - Parallel passage: Luke 6:22, 23. Verse 11. - As ver. 10 spoke of the blessedness of those who had suffered persecution and had endured it, so this verse speaks of the blessedness of those who are suffering from it at the moment, whether it be in act or word. Whilst Christ still keeps up the form of the Beatitudes, he speaks now in the second person, this and the following terse thus forming the transition to his directly addressing those immediately before him. His present audience was not yet among οἱ δεδιωγμένοι, but might already be enduring something of the reproach and suffering now referred to. Revile (ὀνειδίσωσιν); Revised Version, reproach; as also the Authorized Version in Luke 6:22. "Revile" in itself implies moral error in the person that reviles. Not so ὀνειδίζειν (cf. Matthew 11:20; Mark 16:14). Our Lord purposely uses a word which includes, not only mere abuse, but also stern, and occasionally loving, rebuke. Falsely, for my sake. The comma in both the Authorized (Scrivener) and the Revised Versions after "falsely" is opposed to that interpretation (Meyer) which-closely connects ψευδόμενοι with both καθ ὑμῶν and ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ. Ψευδόμενοι is really a modal definition of εἴπωσιν (Sevin, Weiss), and ἔνεκεν ἐμοῦ goes with the whole sentence "when men," etc. for my sake. In ver. 10 he had said ἕνεκεν δικαιοσύνης; here he directly speaks of himself. In Luke 6. the phrase is transitional, "for the Son of man's sake." In Matthew 4:19 he had claimed to be the Source of power for service; here he claims to be the Object of devotion. His "Messianic consciousness" (Meyer) is, at even this early stage of his ministry, fully developed (cf. also vers. 17, 22). It is possible that Hebrews 11:26 (vide Rendall, in loc.) and 1 Peter 4:14 refer to this expression.
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