What does Matthew 5:26 mean?
ESV: Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
NIV: Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
NASB: Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last quadrans.
CSB: Truly I tell you, you will never get out of there until you have paid the last penny.
NLT: And if that happens, you surely won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny.
KJV: Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
Verse Commentary:
The sixth commandment of the Ten Commandments is clear enough: You shall not murder. Jesus, though, has elevated the commandment by revealing God's intent for the hearts of His people: Don't even be angry with your brother, and don't in your anger call him a fool. Otherwise, you are liable for hell (Matthew 5:21–25).

Jesus is showing that God expects His disciples to live for God in both their actions and in their attitudes. Anger is not exactly the same thing as murder, but it is just as much a sin. With that kind of standard, none of us can expect to be righteous enough for the kingdom of God.

Christ's final example was someone taken to court by an accuser; the wise thing to do when sued is to make every effort to make peace before the judge gets involved. Otherwise, the guilty party risks being thrown in prison for the wrongdoing. Jesus' spiritual application is that a prison of sorts—hell—should be avoided at all costs by not wronging anyone or causing them to wrong us by provoking their anger.

Now He adds, solemnly, that someone who is thrown into prison will never get out until they have paid the last penny in restitution for their wrongdoing. Coming up with cash from prison is difficult. Instead of risking it, Jesus tells His listeners to make things right with everyone as quickly as possible.
Verse Context:
Matthew 5:21–26 begins to expand Jesus' comments about righteousness. The underlying theme is that sin involves more than just physical actions: it also includes thoughts and attitudes. It's relatively easy to say, ''I do not murder,'' but very difficult to say, ''I'm not unfairly angry towards other people.'' The point is not that anger is literally-and-exactly the same as murder. Rather, it's that unrighteous anger is undeniably a sin, in and of itself. True righteousness—the kind that would be needed to earn heaven—requires that level of perfection. Not only does this teaching counter superficial religious hypocrisy, it underscores the fact that salvation must be by grace through faith, and can never be earned by good works.
Chapter Summary:
The Sermon on the Mount contains some of Jesus' most challenging teaching. It begins with the unlikely blessings of the Beatitudes. Jesus' disciples must do good works in order to be a powerful influence: as the salt of the earth and light of the world. The superficial righteousness of the Pharisees is not good enough to earn heaven. Sins of the heart, such as angry insults and intentional lust, are worthy of hell just as much as adultery and murder. Easy divorce and deceptive oaths are forbidden. Believers should not seek revenge. Instead, God intends us to love our enemies and pray for our persecutors. In short, we should strive to be perfect, as God is perfect.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 5 follows Matthew's description of the enormous crowds that were following Jesus (Matthew 4:25). One day, Jesus sits down on a hill to teach them, in an address we now call the Sermon on the Mount. He describes as blessed those who are poor in spirit, who mourn, and who are persecuted. Christ also explains how God's standards of righteousness go far beyond behaviors and speech; they also include our thoughts and attitudes. Meeting God's standards means perfection. Chapter 6 continues this sermon, with more examples of Jesus clarifying God's intent for godly living.
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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