Of late I’ve been working on the Sermon on the Mount from the Greek New Testament.  Jesus’ words never fail to challenge me.  Below is my rendering from the Greek.  I worked to stay as close to the lexical meanings as possible, however on several phrases I chose modern idioms.  A notable ‘change’ I have made to most translations is in the Beatitudes, where I opt for “happy” instead of “blessed” because I think it makes more sense, and it is more in line with common ancient wisdom pronouncements about “the happy life” that people could live if they only do the right things.  In case you’re wondering, “happy” is a very legitimate rendering of the word.  In addition, i smoothed over a lot of the conjunctions and some prepositions. Jesus, as recorded by Matthew, likes to use the words therefore, and, but, and so quite a bit.  These don’t read so well in English.

Matthew 5

a pencil and a yellow legal pad--                  a translators tools
a translator’s tools–pencil and yellow legal pad

1. Seeing the crowds, he went up onto the mountain, and after he sat himself down his disciples came to him.
2. Opening his mouth, he began teaching them, saying,
3. Happy are those who are poor in spirit, because theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4. Happy are those mourning, because they will be comforted.
5. Happy are the gentle, because they will inherit the earth.
6. Happy are those hungering and thirsting for righteousness, because they will be filled.
7. Happy are the merciful, because they will receive mercy.
8. Happy are those whose hearts are clean, because they will see God.
9. Happy are peacemakers, because they will be called children of God.
10. Happy are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, because theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11. Happy are you when they insult you, persecute you, and spread evil lies against you because of me.
12. Rejoice and be glad, because your reward in heaven is greater, for they persecuted the prophets before you the same way.
13. You yourselves are the salt of the earth. If salt becomes tasteless, what use is it? It is not usable, except to be thrown out to be trampled by people.
14. You yourselves are the light of the world. A city sitting on a hillside cannot to be hidden.
15. No one lights a lamp then puts it under a basket, but upon a lampstand, so it shines throughout the house.
16. In the same way let your light shine before people, so that they might see your good works and praise your Father in heaven.
17. Do not assume that I came to nullify The Law and The Prophets. I came not to nullify but to fulfill.
18. Truly I say to you, until heaven and earth disappear, not one dot topping an “I” or a single cross of a “T” will disappear from the law until it all happens.
19. Consequently, if anyone relaxes the least of these commandments and teaches such, he will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but if anyone practices and teaches them, such a person will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20. For I say to you, that if your righteousness doesn’t surpass that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
21. You heard what was said to the ancients, “Do not murder, whoever murders will be guilty at the judgment.”
22. I myself say to you that everyone who gets angry with his brother will be guilty at judgment, and if someone says to his brother, “You are worthless,” he will be guilty before the Sanhedrin, and if someone says “You are as a fool,” he will be guilty at the fiery grave.*
23. Therefore, if you are on your way to offer your gift upon the altar, and there remember your brother has something against you,
24. leave your gift before the altar. Go away and first be reconciled with your brother, then come bring your gift.
25. Make friends with your enemy quickly while you are with him out and about, lest your enemy might give you over to the judge, and the judge gives you to the officer, and the officer throws you in prison.
26. Truly I say to you, you will not escape from there until you repay every last penny.
27. You have heard that it was said, “You will not commit adultery.”
28. I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with desire for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
29. If your right eye trips you up, gouge it out and throw it way, because it is better for you to destroy only the body part, and not have your whole body thrown onto the trash heap.
30. If your right hand trips you up, cut it off and throw it away, it is better for you to destroy your body part and not have your whole body go onto the trash heap.
31. Now it was said, “If anyone wants to leave his wife, give her a legal divorce.”
32. I myself say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except by reason of sexual sin, causes her, and anyone she might marry, to commit adultery.
33. Again you heard what was said to the ancients, “Do not break your oaths,” and, “you must keep your oaths to the Lord.”
34. I myself say to you, do not swear at all, neither by heaven because it is God’s throne,
35. nor by the earth because it is the footstool for his feet, and not by Jerusalem because it is the city of the great king.
36. You should not swear by your head either, because you are not able to make a single white hair black.
37. Instead let your word be, “Yes, yes,” or “no, no.” Anything more is excessive, and that is what evil people do.
38. You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye,” and “A tooth for a tooth.”
39. But I myself say to you, do not resist the evildoer. Instead, if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other one to him.
40. If anyone wants to sue you to take your shirt, give him your coat.
41. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go two.
42. Do not turn away the one begging you to give, or the one wishing to borrow from you.
43. You have heard that it was said, “You must love your neighbor,” and “you will hate your enemy.”
44. But I myself say that you must love your enemy and you must pray for those persecuting you.
45. So that you might become children of your Father in heaven, who shines the sun upon the evil and the good, and makes it rain upon the righteous and the unrighteous.
46. If you love those loving you, what have you earned? Don’t the politicians do the same thing?
47. If you greet only your family, have you done anything exceptional? Do not the gentiles do the same thing?
48. Therefore, you yourselves must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 6
1. You should pray, but not with your righteousness paraded before people to be noticed, or else you’ll have no wages from our Father in heaven.
2. Therefore, when you do acts of mercy, do not send a trumpet to announce you as the hypocrites do in the synagogue and in the streets, so that they might be celebrated by the people. Truly I say to you, they have received their wages in full.
3. But when you are doing acts of mercy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand does.
4. For when you do acts of mercy in secret, the Father who sees the secrets things will reward you.
5. Whenever you yourselves pray, do not be like the hypocrites. They love to pray standing in the synagogues, or on the busy street corners where they can be seen by people. Truly I say to you, they have received their wages.
6. Instead, whenever you pray, go into your private room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. Your Father, who sees the secret things, will reward you.
7. Pray not as the gentiles do, babbling about, supposing their wordiness will be heard.
8. Do not become like them, for our Father knows your needs before you ask him.
9. You must pray like this: Our Father, the one in the heavens, whose name is sanctified,
10. Your kingdom come, your will be done, as in heaven, so upon the earth.
11. Give us today our needed bread,
12. and forgive us what we owe just as we forgive those who owe us.
13. Do not lead us into temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.
14. If you forgive people their trespasses, our Father in heaven forgives yours.
15. But, if you do not forgive people, your Father will not forgive your trespasses.
16. Whenever you fast, do not practice it as the hypocrites do, exaggerating their sad faces so people will notice that they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they receive their wages.
17. But when you are fasting, anoint your head and wash your face,
18. So as not to seem to people that you are fasting. Your Father in secret, your Father who sees into the secret places, he will reward you.
19. Do not store up treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust destroy, and thieves break in and steal.
20. Instead you should store up treasure for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
21. For where your treasure is, this is where your heart will be too.
22. The eyes are the lamp of the body. Therefore, if your eyes are clear, the whole body will be illuminated.
23. But if your eyes are evil, your whole body will be dark. Therefore, if the light in you goes dark, how great is the darkness!
24. No one can serve two lords, for he will hate one and love the other. He will crave one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and greedy prosperity.**
25. This is what I say to you—do not worry your mind about what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear—is not the inner life greater than food and the body greater than clothing?
26. Would you look at the birds of the heavens? They do not plant a harvest or gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more valuable than them?
27. Who among you can worry so much as to add one extra moment to your life?
28. Why do you worry about clothes? Learn the lesson of the lilies of the field, how they grow yet neither work hard nor spin.
29. But I say to you that Solomon, in all his glory, was never as well dressed as one of these.
30. If the grass is in the field today, but is thrown in the oven tomorrow, then how much more will God dress you? What people of little faith?
31. Therefore, you should not worry, saying, “What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?”
32. For the gentiles pursue these things, but your heavenly Father knows everything you need.
33. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you.
34. Therefore, you should not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow has enough vexing problems of its own.

Chapter 7
1. You must not judge, so that you will not be judged.
2. For you will be judged by the same rules you used to judge others, and you will be measured by the same standard you used to measured others.
3. How is it you see the splinter in your brother’s eye, but you don’t notice the beam in your own eye?
4. How can you say to your brother, “Let me remove the splinter from your eye,” when you’ve got a beam in yours?
5. Hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, then you will see clearly how to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.
6. Do not give what is holy to dogs, nor throw your pearls before pigs, lest they will trample them under their feet, then turn and tear you to pieces.
7. You ask, and it will be given. You seek, and you will find. You knock, and it will be opened up to you.
8. All those asking receive, all those seeking find, and to all those knocking it will be opened up.
9. What man among you who, if his child asks for bread, will give him a stone?
10. Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?
11. So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those asking him?
12. The way you want people to treat you, treat them; this is the law and the prophets.
13. Go in through the narrow gate, because large and roomy is the road leading to destruction, and many enter by it.
14. How narrow is the gate and compressed the way that leads to life, and few find it.
15. You must be on the lookout for false prophets, such as those coming to you in sheep’s clothing, but on the inside are ravenous wolves.
16. You will recognize them by their fruit. Does anyone ever gather bunches of grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles?
17. All healthy trees produce good fruit, but rotten trees produce bad fruit.
18. It is impossible for a healthy tree to produce bad fruit or for a rotten tree to produce good fruit.
19. Every tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
20. As a result, you will recognize them by their fruit.
21. Not all those who say to me, “Lord, Lord,” will go into the kingdom of heaven, but those doing the will of my Father in heaven.
22. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many powerful things in your name?”
23. And I will confess to them, “I never knew you. Get away from me you workers of wickedness.”
24. Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a thoughtful man who built his home upon the rock.
25. Then the rain fell, the floods came, the wind blew, and it struck the house, but it did not fall, for it was established upon the rock.
26. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a stupid man who builds his house upon the sand.
27. And the rains fell, the floods came, the winds blew, and they beat against his home, and it fell. Great was its collapse.
28. When he finished these words, the crowd was astonished by his teaching,
29. for his teaching had authority, unlike the scribes.

*The word here is Gehenna, and it also used in 5:29 & 30. It was a physical place in Jerusalem, which, in the Hebrew Bible is called The Valley of Hinnom. Gehenna was the place where the inhabitants of Jerusalem dumped their trash, waste, and rotten food. The dead bodies of criminals or the poor would also be thrown there. As with most trash dumps, it was always burning with smoldering fire. If one thought of Gehenna, it would always be the putrid, rotting, maggoty, burning stench that never went away. This was Jesus’ favorite word for hell. It is quite the word picture.

**Mammon is the actual word. Mammon does not translate perfectly as money. Mammon referred to a religious system in which money and wealth were worshiped. It was not too different, in my understanding, of the prosperity gospel preached in heretical churches today. Jesus’ point here is that if what you care about is money, then you will never be able to serve God completely.

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