1 Seeing the large crowds, Jesus went up in a mountain [i.e., probably a hill near Capernaum] and when He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2 He opened His mouth and taught them, saying,
3 "Those persons who feel a deep sense of their personal need are blessed because the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. 4 "Those persons who feel grief [over their sins] are blessed because they will receive comfort [from God when they repent]. 5 "Those persons who have a humble attitude [toward themselves] are blessed because they will inherit [the best of] the earth. 6 "Those persons who have an appetite for whatever is right will be blessed because they will be satisfied. 7 "Those persons who show mercy [toward others] will be blessed because they will be shown mercy [themselves]. 8 "Those persons whose hearts are pure [before God] will be blessed because they will see God. 9 "Those persons who attempt to make peace [between people] will be blessed because they will be called God's children. 10 "Those persons who have suffered for trying to do what is right will be blessed because the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
11 You will be blessed when people speak against you and harm you and say bad things about you that are untrue, because of [your devotion to] me. 12 Be happy and very glad, for your reward in heaven will be great. For they persecuted the prophets [who lived] before you in the same way.
13 "You people are [like] salt on the earth. But if salt loses its flavoring ability, how will it ever get it back again? From then on it would be good for nothing except to be thrown out onto the roadway and walked on by people. [Note: This was mined salt which, when losing its "saltiness" due to exposure to the sun or rain, was simply disposed of by being dumped onto the roadway where people walked].
14 You people are [like] light in the world. A city built on a hill will not go unnoticed. 15 Neither does a person light an [olive oil] lamp and place it under a bushel-sized container, but on a stand where it can illuminate everything in the house. 16 In that same way, you should allow your light [i.e., influence] to shine in front of people, so that they will see your good deeds and [be led to] honor your Father in heaven.
17 "Do not think that I came to do away with the law of Moses or the prophets. I did not come to do away with them, but to fulfill them [i.e., their requirements and predictions]. 18 For it is true when I say, not one little letter or even a portion of a letter will be removed from the law of Moses until everything is accomplished [that is required by them]. [When that happens, then] heaven and earth will pass away [i.e., be destroyed. See II Peter 3:12]. 19 Therefore, whoever disregards one of these least [significant] requirements [of the law of Moses] and teaches others to [disregard them], he will be considered the least [significant person] in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys them and teaches [others to obey] them, will be considered important in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you people, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven unless what you do that is right excels what the experts in the law of Moses and the Pharisees [i.e., a strict sect of the Jewish religion] do that is right.
21 "You have heard what was said to the people in time's past [Exodus 20:13], 'You must not murder,' and whoever does will be subject to judgment. 22 But I say to you that every person who is angry toward his brother will be subject to judgment; and whoever calls his brother 'stupid idiot' is subject to [being sentenced by] the [Jewish] Council, and whoever says, 'go to hell' is subject to going to the fire of hell [himself]. 23 Therefore, if you are offering your [sacrificial] gift on the Altar and [just then] you remember that your brother has a grievance against you, 24 [stop right there]; leave your gift at the Altar and [immediately] go to that brother and settle the matter first, before returning to offer your gift. 25 [In another case], come to terms with the person suing you as soon as possible, [even] on your way [to court], so he does not take you before the judge, and then the judge turn you over to the officer and you be sent to prison. 26 It is true when I say to you, you will not be released from there until you have paid the last coin. [Note: The coin mentioned here amounted to about ten minutes' worth of a farm laborer's pay, or a little over one dollar in 1994].
27 "You have heard what was said [Exodus 20:14], 'You must not be sexually unfaithful to your mate.' 28 But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with an improper sexual desire for her [body], has already been sexually unfaithful to his mate in his heart. 29 And if your right eye is what ensnares you into falling away [from God], gouge it out and throw it away from you. For it would be better for you to lose a part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. [Note: This is the word "Gehenna," and because of its Old Testament connotation of burning bodies, II Chron. 33:6, it is used figuratively here, and elsewhere, to describe the place of future, final punishment of the wicked]. 30 And if your right hand is what ensnares you into falling away [from God], cut it off and throw it away from you. For it would be better for you to lose a part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
31 It was also said [Deut. 24:1-3], 'Whoever divorces his wife, let it be done with a [legally binding] divorce decree, which he must give her.' 32 But I say to you, every person who divorces his wife makes her become sexually unfaithful to him [i.e., since she will probably marry someone else], unless the reason for the divorce is that she had [already] become sexually unfaithful to him. And whoever marries a woman who has been divorced commits sexual sin with her [i.e., because she is still rightfully married to her first husband].
33 "Again, you have heard what was said to people in time's past [Lev. 19:12], 'You must not go back on your oaths, but [rather] fulfill the oaths you take to the Lord.' 34 But I say to you, do not take any oath, [saying] 'by heaven,' for it is God's throne; 35 nor 'by earth,' for it is the footstool for His feet; nor 'by Jerusalem,' for it is the city of the great King [i.e., God]. 36 You should not take an oath, [saying] 'by my head,' for you cannot make a single hair white or black. 37 But you should just say 'yes' [when you mean] yes, and 'no' [when you mean] no. Whatever you say beyond these [i.e., enforcing them by oaths] is of the evil one [i.e., the devil].
38 "You have heard what was said [Exodus 21:24], 'Take an eye [from someone] if he takes yours, and take a tooth [from someone] if he takes yours.' 39 But I tell you, do not offer resistance to an evil person, but whoever hits you on the right side of the face, allow him [to hit you] on the other side also. 40 And if anyone takes you to court in order to take your shirt away from you, let him have your coat also [i.e., if he insists on it]. 41 Whoever requires you to go one mile, [be willing to] go with him two miles. [Note: The Romans were permitted by law to require a Jew to carry their burden for one mile only]. 42 Give to the person who asks you [for something], and do not refuse to lend to the person who wants to borrow something from you.
43 "You have heard what was said [Lev. 19:18], 'You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 in order to be [true] children of your Father in heaven, for He makes His sun to rise on evil [as well] as on good people. He [also] sends rain on those who live right [as well] as on those who do not live right. 46 For if you love [only] those who love you, what reward will you get for that? Do not even the publicans [Note: These were people with a bad reputation for their dishonest tax collecting activities] do that much? 47 And if you greet [cordially] your brothers only, what are you doing more than other people? Do not even the [unconverted] Gentiles do that much? 48 Therefore, you must [attempt to] be complete, just as your heavenly Father is [already] complete.