What does Matthew 19:18 mean?
ESV: He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness,
NIV: Which ones?' he inquired. Jesus replied, ''You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony,
CSB: "Which ones? " he asked him.Jesus answered: Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness;
NLT: Which ones?' the man asked. And Jesus replied: '‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely.
KJV: He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
Verse Commentary:
A rich man has come to Jesus with an earnest question: What good thing must I do to have eternal life? This serious follower of Judaism wants to know how he can be sure that he will make it into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:16–17). Jesus' initial response is the subject of frequent misinterpretation. As seen in context, this man's question reveals at least one right and one wrong assumption. Jesus' answer implies important things about salvation, and the man's sincerity in seeking it.

First, the rich man's question shows he is not complacently believing that simply being Jewish will guarantee him a place in heaven. Many Jewish people of that era apparently believed this, and Jesus had directly contradicted that idea.

Second, his question shows he believed his own actions were what would give him a place in heaven. He believed he must prove himself worthy of God. This did not fit with what Jesus had just taught in the previous passage that the kingdom of heaven belongs to those with the faith and humility of children. Admitting one's need and dependency on God is a key aspect of saving faith.

Jesus has told the man to keep the commandments to be saved. Like many other comments made by Christ, this is meant to be understood in the context of a conversation and a line of thought. It's not a simplistic claim that we are saved by being good. It's a pointed remark, encouraging the rich man to examine both his actions and his motivations.

The rich man wants specifics: which commandments really matter? He may be asking if he must only keep the commands of Moses in Scripture or if he must also keep all the commands added to the law by the Pharisees. This is also a perceptive question about what true goodness really is.

Jesus backs up what He has said before by listing only commands straight from Scripture. More specifically, Jesus only mentions commands five through nine of the Ten Commandments: Don't murder. Don't commit adultery. Don't steal. Don't bear false witness (lie). He adds two more in the following verse.

More importantly, this line of reasoning results in an opportunity for Jesus to point out what really saves, which is submissive, repentant faith. The rich man might claim to have been "good" in his behavior, but he's unwilling to follow God on God's terms (Matthew 19:21–22).
Verse Context:
Matthew 19:16–30 describes Jesus' conversation with a wealthy young man who asks how to attain eternal life. Jesus begins by establishing a standard of goodness, suggesting the man keep all the commandments. When the man says he has done this, Jesus suggests he give up his wealth to follow Him. The man's sad reaction proves he's unwilling to make God the real priority of his life. Using this as an example, Jesus warns that wealth can make it difficult for someone to accept salvation.
Chapter Summary:
Pharisees ask Jesus if it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause. Jesus reminds them marriage was designed by God at creation. Divorce, then, is lawful only in the case of sexual immorality. A rich young man asks Jesus what good thing he must do to have eternal life. Jesus insists only God is good. He challenges the man's sincerity by asking him to give all his wealth to the poor and follow Him. The man's refusal demonstrates how easy it is to prefer wealth to dependence on God. In response to the disciples' question, Jesus says salvation is impossible with men but not with God.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 19 follows Jesus' teachings about temptation and forgiveness in chapter 18. This passage begins with Jesus leaving behind Galilee and heading toward Jerusalem the long way around. Jesus tells the Pharisees that divorce is legal only in cases of sexual immorality. Jesus blesses little children and then answers a rich young man who asks how to have eternal life. The man leaves sad after Jesus challenges him to give his money to the poor and follow Him. Jesus says salvation is impossible with men, but not with God. Chapter 20 contains additional parables and examples, and is the last before Jesus arrives in Jerusalem in the days just prior to His crucifixion.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
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