Blessed Are You When They Revile And Persecute You & Say Evil Things Against You Falsely For My Sake
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).
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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