Matthew 5:23 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 5:23, NIV: Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you,

Matthew 5:23, ESV: So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,

Matthew 5:23, KJV: Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;

Matthew 5:23, NASB: Therefore, if you are presenting youroffering at the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you,

Matthew 5:23, NLT: 'So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you,

Matthew 5:23, CSB: So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother or sister has something against you,

What does Matthew 5:23 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Shocking to those who thought of righteousness as only involving what a person does, Jesus has taught that avoiding physical murder is not enough to claim one keeps the sixth commandment (Matthew 5:21–22). Unrighteous anger opens a person up to God's judgment, as well. Insulting another may require an appearance before the council; calling another a "fool" could earn the angry person a place in hell. The point is not that anger is exactly the same thing as murder—rather, it's that anger is a sin, just as surely as murder is a sin.

God cares deeply about the hearts of His people. We should reject anger, insults, and name-calling for the same reason we reject murder: Every person is made in the image of God (Genesis 9:6). Attitudes of hatred don't just lead to acts of violence (Genesis 4:6–7), they are sins in and of themselves.

A larger point, revealed through the context of Jesus' teaching ministry, is that nobody is righteous enough to enter the kingdom of heaven. Human behavior can never be "good enough." To be saved, a person must receive Jesus' own righteousness (Romans 3:23–24).

Having indicated how serious hatred and anger are, Jesus stresses the importance of seeking to resolve conflicts. His listeners would have been familiar with offering a gift at the altar as part of temple worship. It was one considered a sacred act. Jesus' point is that even pious actions should be set aside until reconciliation can be made between two people in angry conflict (Matthew 5:24).

It's worth noting that what Jesus speaks of here is realizing that one has offended some other person. When a true believer realizes they've done something to make another person angry, they ought to act quickly to make things right (Matthew 5:9).