Matthew 5:33-37

Matthew 5:33-37
A Women’s Lectionary – Proper 15


33 “Again, you have heardA that it was said to those of ancientB times, ‘You shall not swear falsely,C

Notes on verse 33a

A “heard” = akouo. This is hear or listen, but it also means to understand by hearing. This is where the word “acoustics” comes from.
B “ancient” = archaios. 11x in NT. From arche (origin, beginning, rule; can refer to the power of a magistrate or a king; it is the first thing as being the starting point or the most important); {from archomai (to begin or rule); from archo (to rule, begin, have first rank or have political power)}. This is old, ancient, original. It is where the word “archaic” comes from.
C “swear falsely” = epiorkeo. 1x in NT. From epiorkos (perjure, swear a false oath); {from epi (on, upon, what is fitting) + horkos (oath, vow; a sacred limit); {akin to erkos (fence, enclosure); akin to horion (boundary, territory); from horos (limit, boundary)}}. This is to perjure, make false vows.

but carry outD the vowsE you have made to the Lord.’F 

Notes on verse 33b

D “carry out” = apodidomi. From apo (from, away from) + didomi (give, offer, place, bestow, deliver; give in a literal or figurative sense). This is to give back, return, give away. It is to restore as when one makes payment – to rend what is due, to sell.
E “vows” = horkos. Related to “swear falsely” in v33. 10x in NT. See note C above
F “Lord” = Kurios. From kuros (authority, supremacy). This is a respectful address meaning master or sir. It refers to one who has control or power greater than one’s own. So, it was also applied to God and Jesus as Master or Lord.

34 But I sayG to you: Do not swearH at all,I either by heaven,J

Notes on verse 34a

G “say” = lego. This is to speak, say, name, call, command. It is generally to convey verbally.
H “swear” = omnuo. This is to swear, to make an oath.
I “at all” = holos. 4x in NT. From holos (whole, complete, or entire; a state where every member is present and functioning in concert). This is wholly, utterly, completely, altogether, everywhere, actually.
J “heaven” = ouranos. May be related to oros (mountain, hill) with the notion of height. This is the air, the sky, the atmosphere, and heaven. It is the sky that is visible and the spiritual heaven where God dwells. Heaven implies happiness, power, and eternity.

for it isK the throneL of God,M 35 or by the earth,N for it is his footstool,O, P

Notes on verses 34b-35a

K “is” = eimi. This is to be or exist.
L “throne” = thronos. Probably from thanos (bench); from thrao (to sit). This is throne or seat – the place where the king sits. So, it is used figuratively to mean power, dominion, or a potentate. This is where the word “throne” comes from.
M “God” = Theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.
N “earth” = ge. This is earth, land, soil, region, country, the inhabitants of an area.
O “footstool” = hupopodion. 7x in NT. From hupo (by, under, about, under one’s authority) + pous (foot in a figurative or literal sense). This is literally under the feet. So, it is a footstool or footrest. It is also used figuratively to depict a king as one who has conquered his enemies. This is the same root that “podium” comes from.
P {untranslated} = ho + pous. Pous is related to “footstool” in v35. See note O above.

or by Jerusalem,Q for it is the cityR of the greatS King.T 

Notes on verse 35b

Q “Jerusalem” = Hierosoluma. From Hebrew Yerushalaim (probably foundation of peace); {from yarah (to throw, shoot, be stunned; to flow as water so figuratively to instruct or teach) + shalam (to make amends, to be complete or sound)}. This is Jerusalem, dwelling of peace.
R “city” = polis. This is a city or its inhabitants. It is a town of variable size, but one that has walls. This is where “metropolis” and “police” come from.
S “great” = megas. This is big in a literal or figurative sense – great, large, exceeding, abundant, high, mighty, perfect, strong, etc.
T “King” = basileus. Probably from basis (step, hence foot; a pace); from baino (to walk, to go). This is king, emperor, or sovereign.

36 And do not swear by your head,U for you cannotV makeW oneX hairY whiteZ or black.AA 

Notes on verse 36

U “head” = kephale. This is head or chief. It can be a literal head or, figuratively, a ruler or lord. It can also refer to a corner stone. This is where the word “cephalic” comes from.
V “cannot” = ou + dunamai. Dunamai is to be able, or something that is possible. It can also be empowered or being powerful. The Greek word for “miracle” (dunamis) comes from this root.
W “make” = poieo. This is to make, do, act, construct, abide, or cause.
X “one” = heis. This is one, a person, only, some.
Y “hair” = thrix. 15x in NT. This is hair, whether human or animal.
Z “white” = leukos. Related to luke (light). This is bright, white, or brilliant.
AA “black” = melas. 3x in NT. This is black or ink. It is the root of the word “melanin.”

37 Let your wordBB be ‘Yes,CC Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more thanDD this comesEE from the evil one.FF

Notes on verse 37

BB “word” = logos. Related to “say” in v34. From lego (see note G above). This is word, statement, speech, analogy. It is a word that carries an idea or expresses a thought, a saying. It could refer to a person with a message or reasoning laid out in words. By implication, this could be a topic, line of reasoning, or a motive. It can be used for a divine utterance or as Word – Christ.
CC “yes” = nai. This is yes, truly, indeed. It is a strong affirmation.
DD “more than” = perissos. From peri (all-around, encompassing, excess). This is abundant, more, excessive, advantage, vehemently.
EE “comes” = eimi. Same as “is” in v34. See note K above.
FF “evil one” = poneros. From poneo (to toil); related to ponos (pain, trouble, labor, distress, suffering; toil, which implies anguish); from the base of penes (a laborer, poor person, starving or indigent person; someone who works for their living); from pernomai (working for a living; laborer, poor person; to work for daily bread); from peno (to toil to survive day by day). This is bad, evil, wicked, malicious, grievous, or toilsome. Properly, it is something that bears pain – it emphasizes the miseries and pains that come with evil. By contrast, the Greek kakos refers to evil as part of someone’s core character. Also contrasting the Greek sapros, which deals with falling away from a previously embodied virtue. This word can mean ill, diseased, morally culpable, derelict, vicious, malicious, or guilt. It can also refer to the devil or sinners.

Image credit: “Polar Bear” by Neil Moralee, 2020.

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply