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46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors[a] do the same, don’t they? 47 And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they? 48 So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.[b]

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  1. Matthew 5:46 sn The Roman system of taxation was frequently characterized by “tax farming” where an individual would bid to collect taxes for the Roman government throughout an entire district and then add a surcharge or commission (often exorbitant) which they kept for themselves as their profit. The tax collectors referred to in the NT were generally not the holders of these tax contracts themselves, but hired subordinates who were often local residents. Since these tax collectors worked for Rome (even indirectly), they were viewed as traitors to their own people and were not well liked. In addition, the system offered many opportunities for dishonesty and greed, both of which were often associated with local tax collectors.
  2. Matthew 5:48 sn This remark echoes OT statements in Lev 11:44-45 and Lev 19:2: “you must be holy as I am holy.”