Leave Your Gift At the Altar: What Does Matthew 5:23 Mean?


Matthew 5:23, “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee.” King James Version (KJV)

TranslationMatthew 5:23
ESVSo if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,
NASB“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,
NIV“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you,
NLT“So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you,

Leave Your Gift At the Altar: Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

5:21-26 The Jewish teachers had taught, that nothing except actual murder was forbidden by the sixth commandment. Thus they explained away its spiritual meaning.

Christ showed the full meaning of this commandment; according to which we must be judged hereafter, and therefore ought to be ruled now. All rash anger is heart murder. By our brother, here, we are to understand any person, though ever so much below us, for we are all made of one blood.

Raca, is a scornful word, and comes from pride: Thou fool, is a spiteful word, and comes from hatred. Malicious slanders and censures are poison that kills secretly and slowly. Christ told them that how light soever they made of these sins, they would certainly be called into judgment for them.

We ought carefully to preserve Christian love and peace with all our brethren; and if at any time there is a quarrel, we should confess our fault, humble ourselves to our brother, making or offering satisfaction for wrong done in word or deed: and we should do this quickly; because, till this is done, we are unfit for communion with God in holy ordinances.

And when we are preparing for any religious exercises, it is good for us to make that an occasion of serious reflection and self-examination. What is here said is very applicable to our being reconciled to God through Christ.

While we are alive, we are in the way to his judgement-seat; after death, it will be too late. When we consider the importance of the case, and the uncertainty of life, how needful it is to seek peace with God, without delay!

Matthew 5:23 | Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

23. Therefore—to apply the foregoing, and show its paramount importance.

if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught—of just complaint “against thee.”

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