Matthew 5:23–24

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Matthew 5:23 and Matthew 5:24 are a pair of closely related verses in the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. They are part of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus has just announced that the anger that leads to murder, and is just as bad as murder itself. And that whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment himself. This verse states that resolving these disputes should take priority over religious rituals.

In the King James Version of the Bible the text reads:

23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there
rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first
be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

The World English Bible translates the passage as:

23 "If therefore you are offering your gift at the altar, and
there remember that your brother has anything against you,
24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First
be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

For a collection of other versions see BibRef Matthew 5:23-For a collection of other versions see 24

These verses describe the ritual of offering a sacrifice to God at the Temple, known as the korban. This was generally an animal such as a sheep. For the average believer the offering of a sacrifice at the Temple would have been a rare and important event. Nolland notes that common worshipers would not themselves ever place a gift on the altar, this was reserved for priests.[1] Betz theorized that a revised practice may have been adopted by the Jewish Christians,[2] but Nolland does not consider this credible as the priests would not have permitted such behaviour in the Temple. Nolland feels the verse is simply using it as a turn of phrase to describe the entire sacrifice ritual.[3]

France notes that this would be one of the only times a layman would ever approach the altar of the Temple. What Jesus is believed to be saying is that even if in the middle of this process one realizes that there is a dispute with one's brother, that it would be better in God's eye to go and immediately try to resolve the dispute then to continue with the ritual.[4]

This is often linked to Matthew's continued theme of attacking the overly ritualized religion of the Pharisees, who, according to Schweizer, taught that a sacrifice should not be interrupted. However, the statements expressed here are far from unique to Jesus. Throughout the Old Testament and Jewish commentaries it is asserted that worship without a moral life is useless.[5]

Albright and Mann note that this verse is one of the most important pieces of evidence for the Gospel of Matthew being written before 70 CE. In that year the Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in the Great Jewish Revolt. This destruction meant that the korban ritual came to a halt. They argue that if this ritual was no longer being practiced when Matthew was written, why would the author have included this discussion of it?[6] Nolland does not consider this verse conclusive as even after the destruction of the Temple the Jewish community continued to pay close attention to the ritual laws surrounding it as they expected it to soon be rebuilt.[7] Harrington notes that the Mishnah of 200 CE writes as though the Temple was still standing.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nolland, John. The Gospel of Matthew: a commentary on the Greek text. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2005 pg. 232
  2. ^ Betz, Hans Dieter. Essays on the Sermon on the Mount. translations by Laurence Welborn. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985.
  3. ^ Nolland, John. The Gospel of Matthew: a commentary on the Greek text. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2005 pg. 232
  4. ^ France, R.T. The Gospel According to Matthew: an Introduction and Commentary. Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1985.
  5. ^ Schweizer, Eduard. The Good News According to Matthew. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1975
  6. ^ Albright, W.F. and C.S. Mann. "Matthew." The Anchor Bible Series. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1971.
  7. ^ Nolland, John. The Gospel of Matthew: a commentary on the Greek text. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2005 pg. 233
  8. ^ Harrington, Daniel J. The Gospel of Matthew. Liturgical Press, 1991 pg. 87


Preceded by
Matthew 5:22
Gospel of Matthew
Chapter 5
Succeeded by
Matthew 5:25