Matthew 5:23

23 1So if 2you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,

Matthew 5:23 Meaning and Commentary

Matthew 5:23

Therefore, if thou bring thy gift to the altar
The Jews obliged such who had done any damage to their neighbours, by stealing from them, to make satisfaction before they brought their offering; concerning which they say F3,

``he that brings what he has stolen, before he brings his trespass offering, is right; he that brings his trespass offering, before he brings that which he has stolen, is not right.''

Again F4,

``they do not bring the trespass offering before the sum of what is stolen is returned, either to the owners, or to the priests.''

Some have thought Christ refers to this; only what they restrained to pecuniary damages, he extends to all sorts of offences. But not a trespass offering, but a freewill offering, seems to be designed by "the gift": which, when a man either intended to bring, or was going to bring, or had already brought, as a voluntary sacrifice to be offered unto God; and it came into his mind, that he had offended any man by showing any undue passion, or by any reproachful words, then he was to do what is advised in the following verse: "and there", whilst going, or when at the altar,

rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee:
hath anything to charge thee with; any just ground of complaint against thee; if thou hast done him any injury, or given him any offence: particularly, if he had at any time said Raca to him, or called him "fool" for those words have reference to what goes before, and are a corollary, or conclusion from them, as appears from the causal particle "therefore".


F3 Misn. Bava Kama, c. 9. sect. 12.
F4 Maimon. Hilch. Gezela, c. 8. sect. 13.

Matthew 5:23 In-Context

21 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.'
22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire.
23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,
24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison.

Cross References 2

  • 1. [Matthew 6:15; Mark 11:25]
  • 2. Matthew 8:4; Matthew 23:18
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