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Matthew 5:21-37 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

Anger

21 You know that our ancestors were told, “Do not murder” and “A murderer must be brought to trial.” 22 But I promise you that if you are angry with someone,[a] you will have to stand trial. If you call someone a fool, you will be taken to court. And if you say that someone is worthless, you will be in danger of the fires of hell.

23 So if you are about to place your gift on the altar and remember that someone is angry with you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. Make peace with that person, then come back and offer your gift to God.

25 Before you are dragged into court, make friends with the person who has accused you of doing wrong. If you don’t, you will be handed over to the judge and then to the officer who will put you in jail. 26 I promise you that you will not get out until you have paid the last cent you owe.

Marriage

27 You know the commandment which says, “Be faithful in marriage.” 28 But I tell you that if you look at another woman and want her, you are already unfaithful in your thoughts. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, poke it out and throw it away. It is better to lose one part of your body, than for your whole body to end up in hell. 30 If your right hand causes you to sin, chop it off and throw it away! It is better to lose one part of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

Divorce

31 You have been taught that a man who divorces his wife must write out divorce papers for her.[b] 32 But I tell you not to divorce your wife unless she has committed some terrible sexual sin.[c] If you divorce her, you will cause her to be unfaithful, just as any man who marries her is guilty of taking another man’s wife.

Promises

33 You know that our ancestors were told, “Don’t use the Lord’s name to make a promise unless you are going to keep it.” 34 But I tell you not to swear by anything when you make a promise! Heaven is God’s throne, so don’t swear by heaven. 35 The earth is God’s footstool, so don’t swear by the earth. Jerusalem is the city of the great king, so don’t swear by it. 36 Don’t swear by your own head. You cannot make one hair white or black. 37 When you make a promise, say only “Yes” or “No.” Anything else comes from the devil.

Footnotes:

  1. 5.22 someone: In verses 22-24 the Greek text has “brother,” which may refer to people in general or to other followers.
  2. 5.31 write out divorce papers for her: Jewish men could divorce their wives, but the women could not divorce their husbands. The purpose of writing these papers was to make it harder for a man to divorce his wife. Before this law was made, all a man had to do was to send his wife away and say that she was no longer his wife.
  3. 5.32 some terrible sexual sin: This probably refers to the laws about the wrong kinds of marriages that are forbidden in Leviticus 18.6-18 or to some serious sexual sin.

Matthew 5:21-37 New International Version (NIV)

Murder

21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister[b][c] will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’[d] is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

Adultery

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’[e] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Divorce

31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’[f] 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Oaths

33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.[g]

Footnotes:

  1. Matthew 5:21 Exodus 20:13
  2. Matthew 5:22 The Greek word for brother or sister (adelphos) refers here to a fellow disciple, whether man or woman; also in verse 23.
  3. Matthew 5:22 Some manuscripts brother or sister without cause
  4. Matthew 5:22 An Aramaic term of contempt
  5. Matthew 5:27 Exodus 20:14
  6. Matthew 5:31 Deut. 24:1
  7. Matthew 5:37 Or from evil
New International Version (NIV)

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