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Matthew 5:21

    Matthew 5:21 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    You have heard that it was said of them of old time, You shall not kill; and whoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    You have knowledge that it was said in old times, You may not put to death; and, Whoever puts to death will be in danger of being judged:

    Webster's Revision

    Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

    World English Bible

    "You have heard that it was said to the ancient ones, 'You shall not murder;' and 'Whoever shall murder shall be in danger of the judgment.'

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

    Clarke's Commentary on Matthew 5:21

    Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time - τοις αρχαιοις, to or by the ancients. By the ancients, we may understand those who lived before the law, and those who lived under it; for murder was, in the most solemn manner, forbidden before, as well as under, the law, Genesis 9:5, Genesis 9:6.

    But it is very likely that our Lord refers here merely to traditions and glosses relative to the ancient Mosaic ordinance; and such as, by their operation, rendered the primitive command of little or no effect. Murder from the beginning has been punished with death; and it is, probably, the only crime that should be punished with death. There is much reason to doubt, whether the punishment of death, inflicted for any other crime, is not in itself murder, whatever the authority may be that has instituted it. God, and the greatest legislators that have ever been in the universe, are of the same opinion. See Montesquieu, Blackstone, and the Marquis Beccaria, and the arguments and testimonies lately produced by Sir Samuel Romilly, in his motion for the amendment of the criminal laws of this kingdom. It is very remarkable, that the criminal code published by Joseph II., late emperor of Germany, though it consists of seventy-one capital crimes, has not death attached to any of them. Even murder, with all intention to rob, is punished only with "imprisonment for thirty years, to lie on the floor, to have no nourishment but bread and water, to be closely chained, and to be publicly whipped once a year, with less than one hundred lashes." See Colquhoun on the Police of the City of London, p. 272.

    Barnes' Notes on Matthew 5:21

    Ye have heard - Or, this is the common interpretation among the Jews. Jesus proceeds here to comment on some prevailing opinions among the Jews; to show that the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was defective; and that people needed a better righteousness, or they could not be saved. He illustrates what he meant by that better righteousness by showing that the common opinions of the scribes were erroneous.

    By them of old time - This might be translated to the ancients, referring to Moses and the prophets. But it is more probable that Jesus here refers to the interpreters of the law and the prophets. He did not set himself against the law of Moses, but against the false and pernicious interpretations of the law prevalent in his time.

    Thou shalt not kill - See Exodus 20:13. This properly denotes taking the life of another with malice, or with an intention to murder him. The Jews understood it as meaning no more. The comment of our Saviour shows that it was spiritual, and was designed to extend to the thoughts and feelings as well as the external act.

    Shall be in danger of - Shall be held guilty, and be punished by. The law of Moses declared that the murderer should be put to death, Leviticus 24:21; Numbers 35:16. It did not say, however, by whom this should be done, and it was left to the Jews to organize courts to have cognizance of such crimes, Deuteronomy 16:18.

    The judgment - This was the tribunal that had cognizance of cases of murder, etc. It was a court that sat in each city or town, and consisted commonly of seven members. It was the lowest court among the Jews, and from it an appeal might be taken to the Sanhedrin.

    Wesley's Notes on Matthew 5:21

    5:21 Ye have heard - From the scribes reciting the law; Thou shalt do no murder - And they interpreted this, as all the other commandments, barely of the outward act. The judgement - The Jews had in every city a court of twenty - three men, who could sentence a criminal to be strangled. But the sanhedrim only (the great council which sat at Jerusalem, consisting of seventy - two men,) could sentence to the more terrible death of stoning. That was called the judgment, this the council. Exod 20:13.