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Chapter 5

The Sermon on the Mount. [a]When he saw the crowds,[b] he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying:

The Beatitudes[c]

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,[d]
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.(A)
[e]Blessed are they who mourn,(B)
    for they will be comforted.
[f]Blessed are the meek,(C)
    for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,[g]
    for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.(D)
[h]Blessed are the clean of heart,(E)
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,[i]
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.(F)

11 Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me.(G) 12 [j]Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.(H) Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The Similes of Salt and Light.[k]

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  1. 5:1–7:29 The first of the five discourses that are a central part of the structure of this gospel. It is the discourse section of the first book and contains sayings of Jesus derived from Q and from M. The Lucan parallel is in that gospel’s “Sermon on the Plain” (Lk 6:20–49), although some of the sayings in Matthew’s “Sermon on the Mount” have their parallels in other parts of Luke. The careful topical arrangement of the sermon is probably not due only to Matthew’s editing; he seems to have had a structured discourse of Jesus as one of his sources. The form of that source may have been as follows: four beatitudes (Mt 5:3–4, 6, 11–12), a section on the new righteousness with illustrations (Mt 5:17, 20–24, 27–28, 33–48), a section on good works (Mt 6:1–6, 16–18), and three warnings (Mt 7:1–2, 15–21, 24–27).
  2. 5:1–2 Unlike Luke’s sermon, this is addressed not only to the disciples but to the crowds (see Mt 7:28).
  3. 5:3–12 The form Blessed are (is) occurs frequently in the Old Testament in the Wisdom literature and in the psalms. Although modified by Matthew, the first, second, fourth, and ninth beatitudes have Lucan parallels (Mt 5:3 // Lk 6:20; Mt 5:4 // Lk 6:21b; Mt 5:6 // Lk 6:21a; Mt 5:11–12 // Lk 5:22–23). The others were added by the evangelist and are probably his own composition. A few manuscripts, Western and Alexandrian, and many versions and patristic quotations give the second and third beatitudes in inverted order.
  4. 5:3 The poor in spirit: in the Old Testament, the poor (’anāwîm) are those who are without material possessions and whose confidence is in God (see Is 61:1; Zep 2:3; in the NAB the word is translated lowly and humble, respectively, in those texts). Matthew added in spirit in order either to indicate that only the devout poor were meant or to extend the beatitude to all, of whatever social rank, who recognized their complete dependence on God. The same phrase poor in spirit is found in the Qumran literature (1QM 14:7).
  5. 5:4 Cf. Is 61:2, “(The Lord has sent me)…to comfort all who mourn.” They will be comforted: here the passive is a “theological passive” equivalent to the active “God will comfort them”; so also in Mt 5:6, 7.
  6. 5:5 Cf. Ps 37:11, “…the meek shall possess the land.” In the psalm “the land” means the land of Palestine; here it means the kingdom.
  7. 5:6 For righteousness: a Matthean addition. For the meaning of righteousness here, see note on Mt 3:14–15.
  8. 5:8 Cf. Ps 24:4. Only one “whose heart is clean” can take part in the temple worship. To be with God in the temple is described in Ps 42:3 as “beholding his face,” but here the promise to the clean of heart is that they will see God not in the temple but in the coming kingdom.
  9. 5:10 Righteousness here, as usually in Matthew, means conduct in conformity with God’s will.
  10. 5:12 The prophets who were before you: the disciples of Jesus stand in the line of the persecuted prophets of Israel. Some would see the expression as indicating also that Matthew considered all Christian disciples as prophets.
  11. 5:13–16 By their deeds the disciples are to influence the world for good. They can no more escape notice than a city set on a mountain. If they fail in good works, they are as useless as flavorless salt or as a lamp whose light is concealed.