The Sermon on the Mount. Commentary on the Gospel According to Matthew. The Miracles of Jesus Christ. The Parables of Jesus Christ Explained. And indeed they are! The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. Acknowledging Our Mistakes Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity Ages over Attitudes for Heavenly Happiness Article Ages 15 - Be A Peacemaker Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth. Blessed Are Those Who Mourn In the process of trying to be a person who is growing spiritually, there will be mourning. We will see things that are not the way they should be - in ourselves and in the world around us. This sermon examines ways in which we can be comforted? Worship Talk Ages over Cleaning Up Our Act Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Compassion for Others Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth. Does the Lord Forgive? Lesson and activities looking at the Lord's love and mercy in forgiving us. Religion Lesson Ages over Echo the Ten Blessings Help children learn the Ten Blessings by echoing repeating each line or finishing each line for you.
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Activity Ages 4 - He Makes His Sun Rise on the Evil and the Good Illustrate the sun shining or the rain falling and being received by two very different kinds of plants: a thorny bush and a fruit tree. Project Ages 4 - Humility Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth. Picture Ages over 8. Let Your Light Shine Take turns lighting a candle as you "give glory to the Lord" for letting you help Him touch the lives of people around you. Activity Ages 11 - Loving One Another This sermon shows that someone who really cares about others will seek to understand the truth so that he may serve in intelligent ways.
When this happens, greater blessings are achieved for all. Loving Others The Lord wants us to love everyone but the way we love friends will be different than the way we love those who harm us or others. Sunday School Lesson Ages 11 - Power Under Control Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth. Protecting Marriage Worship Talk Ages over Self Awareness Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth. Separation and Divorce Marriage is a civil and spiritual covenant. Spiritual laws about divorce and remarriage are not always in agreement with what civil law permits.
Simplicity In order for us to receive the Lord's words, we must be simple - simple in the sense of being single-minded, looking to one source of truth, and in having our internal and external thoughts agree. Article Ages 15 - Strength Through Trials Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
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Ten Blessings Vocabulary Discovery Explore the meaning of vocabulary used in the Ten Blessings to help you understand what the Lord is teaching us. Activity Ages 7 - The Kingdom of Heaven Is Within When we think of blessings we do not usually think of sadness, difficulty or want. We usually think of happiness, peace and plenty. Indeed the word blessing means happiness. Why, then, does the Lord seem to say the opposite in the Sermon on the Mount? The words He spoke then can still teach us how to follow Him into eternal happiness.
Worship Talk Ages 7 - Includes lesson materials for Primary years , Junior years , Intermediate years , Senior years and Adults. Teaching Support Ages over 3. The Sermon on the Mount years Project Ages 4 - 6. The Sermon on the Mount is very carefully structured. Matthew —18 contrasts true and hypocritical piety by means of three examples. Matthew —34 turns to social issues, with various commands regarding money and true riches.
Matthew —12 gives three further commands on how to treat others. Form and redaction criticism have regularly viewed this arrangement of material, like that of the other four major discourses of Jesus in Matthew, as a composite product, a collection of shorter sayings of Jesus from various original contexts. The parallels in Luke, which are much briefer and scattered about his Gospel, seem to support this view. It is consonant with ancient practice and was endorsed already in Reformation times by John Calvin. Such a sermon in fact would have had to have been far longer than the few brief minutes it would take to read Matt 5—7 aloud.
After all, Luke arranges much of his material thematically, and many of the shorter sayings common to Matthew and Luke could well have been repeated by Jesus on many different occasions. Jesus seems to have delivered this sermon after a considerable amount of ministry in Galilee — Luke — His disciples came to him, 2and he began to teach them, saying:. Matthew refers to a specific occasion, so we must not assume the crowds are identical in both passages.
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Jesus goes up onto a mountainside just as Moses did at Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments. The traditional site on the northeast shore of Galilee, known as the Mount of Beatitudes, at least gives a good acoustical illustration of how a speaker could address a large crowd on a plateau in the hills overlooking the lakeside and be heard by thousands at once. Both writers envisage a plateau in a hilly area. Sitting was the common posture for teaching. Matthew does not give the names of all twelve until —4, but makes clear they had already been called.
They too will learn what genuine discipleship involves as they consider the possibility of commitment to Jesus. An important change in tenses separates vv. In the intervening verses he refers to future consolation. Numerous passive voice verbs function as divine passives; e. The same sequence appeared at Sinai. God redeemed his people from Egypt and reminded them of his blessings before giving them his law. Matthew records eight blessings followed by a generalizing summary, whereas Luke presents four blessings, the summary, and four parallel woes.
Most scholars assume that only those sayings found in both Gospels are authentic and that each Evangelist has created and embellished his sources. No contradiction appears here because an important strand of Jewish thought had developed a close equation between poverty and piety in the use of the Hebrew term anawim as, e. In light of v. Mourning includes grief caused by both personal sin and loss and social evil and oppression. God will comfort now in part and fully in the future. That Christian mourning does not outweigh happiness as the more dominant characteristic of the Christian life remains clear from Matt Nevertheless, in the ancient Greco-Roman world, such humility was no more valued than in our world today.
Inheriting the earth as future compensation suggests that the meekness in view also included a lack of earthly possessions. Most poor people in Israel did not own their own land and were subject to the whims of oppressive landlords Jas —6. The future reward echoes Ps but generalizes the promise of inheriting the land of Israel to include all of the earth. Christian hope does not look forward to inhabiting a particular country but to ruling with Christ over all the globe and ultimately to enjoying an entirely re-created earth and heavens Rev 20— Again, God promises that his purposes will be accomplished and that his justice will eventually reign cf.
Isa Like vv. Mic The Pauline theme of the impossibility of perfect purity in this life should not be imported here. The pure in heart pass this test, so they will see God and experience intimate fellowship with him. This Beatitude closely parallels Ps —4. Matthew reminds us that such attempts at peacemaking in this age are often thwarted, but this gives us no excuse to become warmongers. This persecution, however, must be the result of righteous living and not due to individual sin or tactlessness cf. As in v. Because this life is just a fraction of all eternity, we can and must rejoice even in persecution.
The joy commanded here, as elsewhere in Scripture esp. Jas , is not an emotion but an attitude. So the reward should be thought of as heaven itself and not some particular status in the life to come. Jesus offers a poignant reminder that the great men and women of Old Testament times often suffered a similar fate. The prophet Jeremiah provides the classic example. The same is true of Christian history. When we suffer, we must avoid the trap of thinking that we are the only ones who have ever experienced such problems.
This is not to promote works-righteousness; Jesus is addressing those already professing discipleship But, like James among the Epistles, Matthew is the one Gospel to emphasize most the changed life that must flow from commitment to Christ. The Sermon on the Mount chaps. It presents the first and main example of the ethical teaching of Jesus. The righteousness of the kingdom of God cf. Indeed, the content of the sermon would have had special relevance for the Jewish-Christian readers of the Gospel.
The parallel material in Luke hence, Q material is found at different places. But other material is sprinkled throughout Luke cf. The contents of the sermon are as a whole fundamentally Jewish cf. Much debated has been the question of the practicability of the sermon at a number of points. Do the radical demands of the sermon point only to the level of personal ethics, or do they intend a social dimension as well? Does the sermon present in reality a salvation by works, or does it presuppose a framework of grace? These issues deserve fuller discussion than can be given here see Davies and Allison, SJT 44  —, and esp.
Kissinger on the history of interpretation of the sermon. We assume the perspective that the sermon describes the ethics of the kingdom , thus explaining its idealism. An adequate understanding of the sermon is thus hardly possible apart from the context of the Gospel and the proclamation of the good news of the now dawning kingdom of God.
The grace of God is fundamental to all, as the beatitudes that preface the sermon clearly show. The righteousness described here is to be the goal of the Christian in this life, although it will only be attained fully in the eschaton [? It is primarily an ethics concerning the individual, but it is not without implications for social ethics see Strecker, Sermon. The radical nature of the sermon must not be lost in a privatization of its ethics. Some of the practical issues will receive discussion in the commentary as we proceed. A variety of proposals has been made.
Bornkamm is followed by Guelich Sermon , —25 and to a lesser extent by Lambrecht — See too K. To a considerable extent, the sermon consists of an arbitrary gathering of ethical materials available to the evangelist. This is not to deny, however, the presence of considerable and impressive structure in the individual components that make up the whole. Mountains in Matthew are clearly places where special events occur , the mountain of temptation; , the mountain of the transfiguration; , the mountain of the resurrection appearance and the great commission; see Donaldson.
In Jesus goes down from the mountain, as he does from the mount of transfiguration in Matthew may well have in mind the parallel of Moses going up to Mount Sinai to receive the law Exod 19—20; 34; cf. For a discussion of a possible location for an original sermon i. Jesus went to the mountain apparently in the hope of escaping the crowds who pressed upon him to be healed cf. It was customary in Judaism for the rabbi to teach from a seated position.
Jesus, somewhat like a new Moses, goes up to the mount to mediate the true interpretation of the Torah. Acts ; The evangelist carefully sets the stage for the first and most impressive of the five discourses that he will present. The evangelist, however, does not press the Moses typology. For him, Jesus is far more than a new Moses, and his teaching is not to be construed as a new law.
Thus Jesus majestically assumes his authority as teacher and begins in a definitive manner to expound the way of righteousness to his disciples. The word is of course especially appropriate in the NT in such contexts as the present one, where it describes the nearly incomprehensible happiness of those who participate in the kingdom announced by Jesus.
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Rather than happiness in its mundane sense, it refers to the deep inner joy of those who have long awaited the salvation promised by God and who now begin to experience its fulfillment. He too means the literally poor, but he focuses on their psychological condition or frame of mind.
The poor are almost always poor in spirit; the poor in spirit are almost always the poor cf. Pss ; 33; ; Isa ; Jas The poor were particularly in view in expressions of eschatological hope. In a passage alluded to in Matt , Isaiah writes:. The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted [poor]; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.
Psalms This passage is almost certainly the basis for the present beatitude. Thus this opening beatitude points to eschatological fulfillment cf. Although membership in the community entailed a voluntary poverty, this reference indicates how the literally poor were identified as the righteous. Zimmerli 19 finds the equivalent concept in the combination of passages in Isaiah referring to the poor Isa and the contrite in spirit Isa ; Mark —31; Luke , There is no difference between the two expressions cf.
Because Jesus is present, the kingdom is already present, already theirs despite contradictory appearances cf. Thus again we find the eschatological expectation of the downtrodden and poor, those who suffer. Str-B But they are now to rejoice, even in their troubled circumstances, because their salvation has found its beginning.
The time draws near when they shall be comforted cf. Their salvation is at hand. Those in such a condition have no recourse but to depend upon God. The Qumran community revered Ps 37 and saw themselves as those about to experience the vindication that would come with messianic fulfillment 4QpPs Gen But in the present context of messianic fulfillment it connotes the regenerated earth ; cf. This beatitude stands in parallel with the assertion of the first beatitude that the kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor in spirit.
It is possible, though we cannot be certain, that the third beatitude originally followed the first in synonymous parallelism and that the evangelist broke the couplet by inserting the beatitude concerning those who mourn, in order to follow the lead of Isa —2 thus Guelich, Sermon , The poor, the grieving, and the downtrodden i. They are the righteous who will inherit the kingdom.
This is the language of messianic fulfillment: he has filled the hungry soul with good things cf. Luke Pss —3; John ; Rev — Whereas the first four find their focus primarily in a state of mind or an attitude and imply conduct only secondarily , this beatitude refers to the happiness of those who act, namely , those who are merciful toward others. This beatitude again has strong biblical overtones. Showing mercy to the needy became a key element in rabbinic ethics see b. Str-B —5 and the excursus in — What the poor and oppressed have not received from the rich and powerful, they should nevertheless show others.
Jas It takes for granted right actions but asks for integrity in the doing of those actions, i. Purity of heart and purity of conscience are closely related in the pastoral Epistles cf. The reference to seeing God in the present passage is again eschatological in tone. In contrast to the strong OT statement that no one can see the face of God and live e. This beatitude is the most difficult to relate to the others.
Perhaps it is meant to indicate that even for the downtrodden and oppressed, for those to whom the good news of the kingdom comes, an inner purity is also required and is not something that can be presupposed. In the context of the beatitudes, the point would seem to be directed against the Zealots, the Jewish revolutionaries who hoped through violence to bring the kingdom of God.
Such means would have been a continual temptation for the downtrodden and oppressed who longed for the kingdom. Rom , belongs on the contrary to those who live peaceably. This stress on peace becomes a common motif in the NT cf. Rom ; Heb ; Jas ; 1 Pet That is, their loyalty to God and his call upon their lives become in turn the cause of their further suffering. See further in Comment on The theme of persecution is particularly important in Matthew, very probably reflecting the situation of the community for whom the Gospel was written.
As they experienced persecution, especially from their Jewish brethren, they needed to know what Jesus had said about it, how to regard it and how to endure it cf. Hence we have the present verse and the following two verses, all unique to Matthew, which encourage the readers not to be alarmed by the experience of persecution.
We may note how 1 Pet —14 cf. We find similar motifs in Matt , where the readers are told to pray even for their persecutors, and , where they are told to flee. All of these passages are found only in Matthew. V 10 could well be the closing beatitude of the collection used by Matthew, since it rounds out the collection by an inclusio, i.
The poor and the persecuted, precisely the most unlikely candidates, are proclaimed the happy or blessed ones who receive the kingdom. The ninth beatitude, vv 11—12, is in effect an elaboration of the preceding beatitude. Its original independence from the preceding collection of eight is indicated not only by its different form but also by the use of the second person pronoun rather than the third.
Matthew probably received it in the form in which it stands and added it to the collection he had received from another source. What they say is motivated by hatred cf. The happiness referred to in the beatitudes is nothing other than a deep and exuberant joy. The kingdom is already theirs, hence the appropriateness of the happy rejoicing in advance of the consummation.
If this is a reward for their faithfulness under testing, it is also a reward that stems primarily not from their merit but from the grace of God, who gives the kingdom both in the present and the future. Despite its importance, the actual content of the reward is left vague. It is an honored tradition they stand in when they suffer persecution. This motif is important to Matthew as the unique material in also shows; it is found also in Acts and Jas The beatitudes are a bold, even daring, affirmation of the supreme happiness of the recipients of the kingdom proclaimed by Jesus.
They are thus based upon—their truth depends upon—the fulfillment brought by Jesus and already stressed by the evangelist. A turning point has been reached. The time is at hand, and these needy people, so dependent upon God, will now have their needs met. For this reason they are pronounced happy, blessed. The reality of the kingdom causes this new, unexpected joy. And that kingdom sets these people upon the way of righteousness, peacemaking, and inner purity.
What must be stressed here, however, is that the kingdom is presupposed as something given by God. The kingdom is declared as a reality apart from any human achievement. Thus the beatitudes are, above all, predicated upon the experience of the grace of God. The recipients are just that, those who receive the good news. Because they are the poor and oppressed, they make no claim upon God for their achievements.
It is true that the beatitudes contain implied ethical exhortations becoming more explicit in the case of the fifth and seventh beatitudes. Yet this ethical side of the beatitudes remains distinctly subordinate to the indicative aspect that is directly related to the announcement of the kingdom. These declarations of happiness are to some extent a manifestation of realized eschatology. The remarkable tension throughout is, of course, caused by the temporary delay of the final consummation.
In this interim period those who may appear to enjoy anything but the favor of God are paradoxically pronounced blessed. In their present condition, and even as they experience intense persecution, they are already accounted as supremely happy. Salvation has begun; their time has come, and this assurance of the future is meant to transform their present existence.
Matthew 5—7 is called the Sermon on the Mount because Jesus gave it on a hillside near Capernaum. In it, Jesus revealed his attitude toward the law of Moses, explaining that he requires faithful and sincere obedience, not ceremonial religion. The Sermon on the Mount challenged the teachings of the proud and legalistic religious leaders of the day.
It called people back to the messages of the Old Testament prophets who, like Jesus, had taught that God wants heartfelt obedience, not mere legalistic observance of laws and rituals. The most well-known and provocative portion of the Sermon on the Mount is known as the Beatitudes Over the centuries since Jesus first presented the Beatitudes, many interpretations of them have been offered. There are strengths in each one, and combinations of elements from several can create new interpretations. Five of the main interpretations are as follows:.
Perfectionist legalism. It teaches that true followers should live on a level of righteousness above normal Christians. Impossible ideal. Widely accepted after Martin Luther, this view states that the sermon functions like the Old Testament law, forcing people to realize their sinfulness and helplessness and so turn to God. However, Jesus provides enablement to fulfill his requirements, so these demands are not impossible. Albert Schweitzer said that this teaching was only for the disciples, who thought that Jesus would return in their lifetime and that the moral demands were not for all time.
However, Jesus makes no reference to the end of the world or to his return in this sermon. Kingdom age. Dispensationalism teaches that these laws are for the kingdom age Millennium and are only an example for us and our day. Jesus offered the kingdom to the Jews, but they rejected it. Thus, the reality was postponed until the Second Coming. They are principles for disciples for all ages.
Social gospel. Protestant liberals have used the ethics of the sermon as a mandate for the church to usher in the kingdom of God by means of reforming society. However, the teachings of Jesus here cannot be isolated from all his other teachings about himself, evangelism, personal faith, and devotion. There is another way to understand the sermon in light of a double-pronged interpretation. The kingdom has been inaugurated beginning , but not yet realized completion.
Those who obey Jesus now experience, in a partial way, the wonderful benefits he described. We must not let the promise of future blessing deter us from the radical demands for discipleship that Jesus presented. We must ask what the Beatitudes meant in the Jewish milieu in which Christ delivered them. We must also interpret the phrases in their historical cultural and logical the developing message contexts.
Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. Jesus had already been preaching throughout Galilee These events happened prior to this sermon. The many miracles that Jesus had performed throughout Galilee accounted for his immense popularity. When people learned of this amazing preacher with healing words and healing power, they sought him out and followed him. Jesus did not have access to public address systems or acoustical amphitheaters. So he used what he himself had created—the natural stage of a sloping hill, which were plentiful on the western coast of the Sea of Galilee.
The people sat on the slope below him. Much of what Jesus said referred to the ideas that had been promoted by the religious leaders of the day. The disciples, the closest associates of this popular man, might easily have been tempted to feel important, proud, and possessive.
Being with Jesus gave them not only prestige, but also opportunity for receiving money and power. However, Jesus told them that instead of fame and fortune, they could expect mourning, hunger, and persecution. Jesus also assured his disciples that they would receive rewards—but perhaps not in this life. We must take them as a whole. The poor in spirit realize that they cannot please God on their own. In this beatitude and in the very last one the reward is the same. The final consummation of all these rewards, and of the kingdom itself, lies in the future.
It must be remembered, one is not rewarded for being virtuous; virtue is its own reward. People who want to live for God must be ready to say and do what seems strange to the world. Christians must be willing to give when others take, to love when others hate, to help when others abuse. By putting aside our selfish interests so that we can serve others, we will one day receive everything God has in store for us.
To find hope and joy, the deepest form of happiness, we must follow Jesus no matter what the cost. Scholars differ on the exact nature of this mourning. Some say that Jesus was referring to the nation of Israel mourning for its sins; others interpret this more personally, explaining that it refers to those who mourn for their own sins or even for personal grief or oppression.
Only God can take away sorrow for sin; only God can forgive and erase it. Only God can give comfort to those who suffer for his sake because they know their reward in the kingdom. Jesus explained to his disciples that following him would not involve fame, popularity, and wealth. Instead, it could very well mean sorrow, mourning, and suffering.
But they would always know that God would be their comfort. For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; indeed, you will look carefully for his place, but it shall be no more. They do not look down on themselves, but they do not think too highly of themselves either. Such people exemplify the Golden Rule. They are not arrogant; they are the opposite of those who seek to gain as much for themselves as possible. Ironically, then, it will not be the arrogant, wealthy, harsh people who get everything. God will one day freely give his true disciples what they did not grasp for themselves on earth.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God? What kind of righteousness? Righteousness refers to total discipleship and complete obedience. It may also refer to righteousness for the entire world—an end to the sin and evil that fill it. He will completely satisfy their spiritual hunger and thirst. The fourth beatitude bridges the God-centered concerns of the first three and the neighbor-centered focus of the last four. The appetites and satisfaction Jesus promised were directed at both external and internal desires.
Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness experience that longing in at least three forms:. The desire to be righteous —to be forgiven and accepted by God; to be right with God. Hungry for hamburgers, maybe; hungry for victory on the tennis court, normally; hungry for the love of that special someone, usually … but hungry for righteousness?
We must proceed carefully here. Christians are not to get hungry for self-righteousness. That just feeds the ego. Christians growing closer to the Lord Jesus want what he wants. Pray often, until the little pangs become a passion and your heart becomes centered on what God wants most. We must be people who show mercy. Instead, believers understand true mercy because they have received mercy from God. Also, this promise does not guarantee mercy in return from people. They are people of integrity and single-minded commitment to God.
Moral purity, honesty, and integrity come only through such a commitment. In turn, people committed totally to God will seek to be morally clean. This involves action, not just passive compliance. This peace is not appeasement but dealing with and solving problems to maintain peace. Arrogant, selfish people do not concern themselves with peacemaking. How do you resolve conflict? Most people use different means for different settings. Making peace with your children includes defining the boundaries between right and wrong, enforcing discipline, and affirming each child with love and affection.
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It means taking a step toward trust, away from anger, and onto an unmarked playing field called vulnerability. Too often today, the alternative is to quit. Make peace your aim. Not sloppy acquiescence—the Milque-toast peace of people without backbone or principle. But strong peace—hard won, committed to the other, centered on God, ready for the wear and tear that another day may bring.
Persecution should not surprise Christians.
God will make up for the suffering that his children have undergone because of their loyalty to him. The order and orientation of the Beatitudes provide several key insights. They progress from the point of greatest need spiritual bankruptcy to the point of greatest identification with Christ experiencing rejection for his sake. The first four beatitudes outline a deepening relationship with God; the second four depict the impact of our relations to others. Clearly, the Beatitudes are not stages through which we pass and go on, but responses that we must keep on making.
Each day we must utilize our opportunities to show mercy, practice peacemaking, and purify our intentions. Jesus would face such treatment. To imitate Jesus is to live righteously, and, as explained above, this evil world hates righteous living. Discipleship means allegiance to the suffering Christ, and it is therefore not at all surprising that Christians should be called upon to suffer.
In fact it is a joy and a token of his grace. This type of rejoicing is eternal—unhindered and unchanged by what happens in this present life. How can anyone rejoice when being insulted, persecuted, or slandered? When God judges the world, the persecution will pale in comparison to the great reward that awaits. The reward is heaven itself. Besides that, the disciples had good company. The Jews held the ancient prophets of God in high esteem; to be placed among them was a great honor.
Jesus explained that to live and speak for God in the face of unjust persecution, as did the ancient prophets, would bring great reward in heaven. There are four reasons that persecution can be good: 1 It can take our eyes off earthly rewards, 2 it can strip away superficial belief, 3 it can strengthen the faith of those who endure, and 4 our attitude through it can serve as an example to others who follow.
Persecution proves that we have been faithful; faithless people would be unnoticed. In the future, God will reward the faithful by receiving them into his eternal kingdom, where there is no more persecution. No matter what you face today, if you remain faithful to Christ, one day you will receive a joyful reward. The Beatitudes of our Lord are powerful, holding before the world a descriptive picture of the true disciple of God.
The Beatitudes cover the glorious hope and reward the believer can expect, now as well as in eternity. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness: shall be filled v. It is to be noted that the Sermon on the Mount was given to the disciples not to the multitudes.
He knew that He could not reach them by Himself, so He was driven to get alone with His disciples. He had to begin preparing them for their ministry to the multitudes. How long was He with His disciples on the mountain? A day? A week? Several weeks? It simply says that "when He had come down from the mountain, multitudes followed Him" Matthew Thought 1. There are two basic ingredients for reaching the multitudes. Others must be taught to help in the great commission. Thought 2. Preaching and teaching are not to be done only in the church, but wherever people are found—on mountains, by the seashore, in homes, on the streets—any place and every place.
Thought 3. Crowds are important, but a small band of disciples is critical to accomplish the great commission. The mission of the Lord is reaching people, but the method of the Lord is to make disciples. It is giving intensive training to a small group so they can help in the ministry to the multitudes. Him would Paul have to go forth with him" Acts , 3. Thought 4. Christian leaders are to call together small bands of disciples for special training and preparation.
Matthew says without any explanation that "His disciples came to Him" Matthew , but Mark and Luke say that Christ called the disciples together for training and preparation Mark ; Luke Thought 5. Three things are needed for training and preparation: a place, a time, and a message. The words "He went up All had been planned; Jesus was personally prepared. What a lesson too often neglected. The problem is that they seek it in the things of this earth: position, money, fame, power, and sensual pleasure.
If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world" 1 John Man seeks to be blessed only in this world. This says several things about his nature. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God" Romans It is poverty, absolute and abject poverty of spirit. It is being destitute and conspicuously poor in spirit. Note several significant facts about the " poor in spirit. Being poor in spirit does not mean that a man must be poverty-stricken and financially poor.
Hunger, nakedness, and slums are not pleasing to God, especially in a world of plenty. Christ is not talking about material poverty. He means what He says: poor in spirit. Being "poor in spirit" means several things. To acknowledge our utter helplessness before God, our spiritual poverty, our spiritual need. We are solely dependent upon God to meet our need. To acknowledge our utter lack in facing life and eternity apart from God.
John ; Galatians To acknowledge our utter lack of superiority before all others and our spiritual deadness before God. To acknowledge that we are no better, no richer, no more superior than the next person—no matter what we have achieved in this world fame, fortune, power. Our attitude toward others is not proud and haughty, not superior and overbearing. To be "poor in spirit" means acknowledging that every human being is a real person just like everyone else—a person who has a significant contribution to make to society and to the world.
The person "poor in spirit" approaches life in humility and appreciation, not as though life owes him, but as though he owes life. He has been given the privilege of living; therefore, he journeys through life with a humble attitude and he contributes all he can to a needy world out of a spirit of appreciation. The opposite of being " poor in spirit " is having a spirit that is full of self. There is a world of difference between these two spirits. There is the difference of thinking that we are righteous versus acknowledging that we need the righteousness of Christ.
There is the difference of being self-righteous versus being given the righteousness of Christ. Self-righteousness goes no farther than self; that is, it goes no farther than death. Self dies and everything with self including our self-righteousness. But the righteousness that is of Christ lives forever. Two critical steps are taken by the person who truly acknowledges his spiritual poverty.
He turns his primary attention away from the things of this world. He knows things can never make him rich in spirit. He turns his primary attention to God and His kingdom. The "poor in spirit" are weary and burdened for the world. They know the truth of this world and of eternity. Therefore, they have set their face to do their part for both.
They are weary of the deceptive appearances and enticements of this world. They have learned that "all is vanity [empty]" and all is corruptible. All waste away, even human life itself. Therefore, they feel weary and burdened for those who are still lost in the world. They are weary from having labored so much to reach their generation. They have labored to serve and make their contribution as God has called them.
They have toiled so laboriously for one reason only: the love of Christ constrained them to reach their generation 2 Cor. These notes give an excellent description of what it means to be "poor in spirit. Psalm The "poor in spirit" inherit three significant things. The poor in spirit receive forgiveness of sin and God's continued remembrance: the assurance that God will never forget.
The poor in spirit receive a fellowship with other believers who walk as they walk. The poor in spirit receive the gift of life that is forever: the eternal fellowship with both God and the congregation of those who are poor in spirit. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together" Romans No other short section of the Bible has been more prominent in theological discussion and in the general life of the church.
Though they may have given the matter little careful thought, many men and women who have little or no contact with the church believe that the Sermon contains clear ethical teaching for all people of good will. The Sermon is well known to Christians today, but few appreciate the richness of these sayings of Jesus: their radical promises and demands have often been blunted either through familiarity or as a result of a precipitate quest for immediate relevance.
Interpretation of this influential and apparently simple passage is far from easy, but the scholar, preacher or lay person who perseveres will be amply rewarded, for the Sermon sets out powerfully both the gift and demand of the Gospel. There are two versions of the Sermon: the Sermon on the Mount Mt — which contains verses, and the Sermon on the Plain Lk b—49 which contains 29 verses. In the former case scholars who accept Markan priority and some form of the Q hypothesis conclude that Matthew has composed chapters 5—7 as the first of his five carefully constructed discourses.
By his arrangement and, in some cases, adaptation of earlier traditions, Matthew has sought to meet the needs of Christians in his own day. If the sayings of Jesus in Matthew 5—7 or Luke —49 are used to reconstruct the teaching of the historical Jesus, it is important to recognize that they have been modified by the Evangelists see Redaction Criticism and probably also at earlier stages in the transmission of the Gospel traditions see Tradition Criticism. They can be appreciated fully only when they are interpreted alongside related sayings from other parts of the Gospels.
Luke notes that Jesus went out into the hills to pray and continued in prayer to God all night; when day came he called his disciples and came down with them and stood on a level place Lk , In the presence of a large crowd, Jesus addressed his disciples with the words of the Sermon Lk b— The Sermon in Q. Where the two Gospels overlap in content, there is often close agreement in the wording of the traditions.
However, a number of verses which are similar in content differ considerably in wording. It is probable that Matthew and Luke drew on different versions of the Q Sermon. With only three exceptions, the whole of the Sermon on the Plain is found in Matthew 5—7: Matthew does not have woes to counter balance the Beatitudes, as Luke does see Blessing and Woe ; the saying about the blind guide appears at Matthew , and the saying on the disciple-teacher relationship is found in Matthew This close agreement in order and in content has led most scholars to conclude that Q contained an earlier form of the Sermon.
Luke has retained the order of the traditions in Q. Although Luke has modified some Q traditions, and has perhaps omitted a few verses from Q and added a few others which were not part of Q, his version of the Sermon is usually considered to be very close to the original version in Q.
An alternative explanation has been defended by a small number of scholars. Opponents of this view claim, surely correctly, that if Luke did use Matthew, he acted in a quite arbitrary way. At least in this case, the Q hypothesis offers a much simpler and more plausible explanation of the evidence. Luke has not reshaped the Q Sermon in the way that Matthew has, but two emphases are clear and important.
A similar emphasis is found in numerous passages in Luke. Mk In Luke, but not in Matthew, there are four woes which correspond precisely to his four beatitudes cf. Lk —21 and 24— Most scholars accept that Luke has added the woes to the Q Sermon, either from independent tradition or on his own initiative. In this way Luke underlines the contrast between, on the one hand, people who are in desperate circumstances the poor, the hungry, those who mourn and those who are persecuted and, on the other hand, people who are self-satisfied and complacent.
A brief survey of the history of interpretation of the Sermon confirms just how influential these chapters have been and how many major theological issues they raise. History of Interpretation. The first commentary on the Sermon was probably written by Origen in the middle of the third century, but only a short fragment of it has survived.
The two most important expositions of the Sermon in the early church were written by Chrysostom and Augustine at the end of the fourth century, both of whom insisted that the Sermon was the perfect pattern for the life of all Christians. In his homilies on the Sermon Chrysostom attacked the heretical views of Gnostics and Manicheans. Augustine also grappled with the relationship of the Sermon to the Law of Moses. In his own exposition of the Sermon, however, the more common line of interpretation is prominent. Augustine is not the only interpreter who interpreted Matthew —48 in different ways either in different contexts or at different points in his life.
Augustine may have been inconsistent, but the issue is still with us today. To what extent and in what ways is the ethical teaching of the OT still important today? Do we retain the parts of Scripture to which Jesus refers, and ignore or reject the rest? In his interpretation of the Sermon he used the analogy of the tree the new Law which is in a sense contained in the seed.
Aquinas also introduced a distinction which was to become very influential in Catholic thought. Luther, Zwingli and Calvin wrote extensively on the Sermon. They all insisted that Matthew 5—7 represents the true interpretation of the Law of Moses, which had been obscured in Judaism. They rejected the use made of the Sermon by radical Anabaptist groups who claimed that the ethical teaching of Christ was a clear development beyond the Law of Moses, parts of which have been abrogated.
Anabaptists claimed that the Sermon should be interpreted literally and that Christians should therefore never use violence Mt ; see Peace , never swear oaths Mt ; see Oaths and Swearing and never hold office as a judge or ruler Mt Their literal interpretation of the Sermon led them to opt out of secular government completely. In a series of sermons on Matthew 5—7 and in other writings Luther developed his well-known doctrine of the two realms—the secular and the spiritual. The Christian lives in both spheres. In the spiritual sphere i. In his remarks on Matthew —42 the use of violence and compulsion , for example, Luther claimed that most interpreters failed to distinguish properly between the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of the world.
In these verses. Christ is not tampering with the responsibility and authority of the government, but he is teaching individual Christians how to live personally, apart from their official position and authority … A Christian should not use violence to resist evil; but within the limits of his office, a secular person should oppose firmly every evil.
By referring in different passages in his writings to the Sermon both as Law and as gospel, Luther confused some of his later followers. Many Lutheran theologians have stressed that the Sermon is the Law that awakens knowledge of sin. But some notably J. Jeremias have claimed that the demands of Jesus in the Sermon are preceded by gospel, that is, by his proclamation of the kingdom and by his encouragement to his disciples to share his own sense of sonship. We must listen to him as a faithful expounder. All the various approaches just sketched can be found in modern discussion of the Sermon.
Twentieth-century scholarship, however, has added two new issues: the extent to which the Sermon reflects the views of Jesus or of Matthew concerning the end-times eschatology and the extent to which Matthew the Evangelist has shaped the traditions he has incorporated into chapters 5—7. In J. He claimed that Jesus expected that the kingdom would shortly be ushered in through a cataclysmic divine intervention. In A. Schweitzer developed this approach even more vigorously. The sayings of Jesus were not intended to be used by later generations, as most readers of the Sermon down through the centuries had simply assumed.
Thus most of the issues with which earlier interpreters of the Sermon had grappled were declared to be irrelevant. Weiss and Schweitzer raised in an acute form the relationship between the ethical teaching of Jesus and his proclamation of the coming kingdom. Discussion of this issue has to range far beyond Matthew 5—7 and consider all the relevant sayings of Jesus. Bacon was one of the first writers in English to attempt to reconstruct the earliest attainable form of the Sermon. He concluded that in its original form Jesus spoke as a prophetic see Prophets, Prophecy interpreter of a new Law; Jesus did not lay down rules, but opened up principles.
The original Sermon of Jesus is not legislative as Matthew seems to have regarded it but prophetic. This approach explores the ways in which the Evangelist has reshaped the traditions at his disposal in the light of the needs of his first readers. Redaction criticism has confirmed that Matthew is more than a compiler. He often elucidates earlier traditions with extra phrases or even on occasion with whole verses which he himself has com posed.
The following may be noted as possible examples: , 13a, 14a, 16, 20; b and c, 13b; c, 19, 20, In recent decades numerous studies of the Sermon and several detailed commentaries have been published. There are, however, two notable exceptions. In his influential study of the Sermon W. Davies sets out at length a cumulative case which rests on a large number of observations. He himself recognizes that some of his points are stronger than others.
Some of the latter passages are undoubtedly significant. But the evidence from the Sermon itself is not compelling. None of the direct links proposed between the Sermon and the reconstruction taking place within Judaism during the Jamnian period is entirely satisfactory. Davies seems to accept that the Sermon and the rest of Matthew come from the same social setting, though he does not discuss this point.
Betz overlooks the extent to which in chapters 5—7 the Evangelist Matthew has shaped and reinterpreted the traditions at his disposal in ways which are completely consistent with the methods and themes developed elsewhere in his Gospel. The latter point is one of the pillars of redaction-critical study of the Sermon. From a quite different angle narrative critics led by J.
Questions for Current Interpretation. The above survey of the history of interpretation confirms that careful study of these chapters involves a large number of issues, some of which are theological, some ethical, some historical and some exegetical.
For convenience they may be divided into five sets of overlapping questions, some of which are discussed further in later sections of this article. Or does he present radically new teaching? Is the Sermon as Law intended to make the readers or listeners aware of their need of grace? To men and women in general, or to those committed to the way of Jesus? The text itself is ambiguous at this point. Or do some sayings such as Mt , 39, 43 contain hyperbole? These questions arise whether the intention of Matthew or of Jesus is in view. For example, does Jesus commend a casual attitude to food and clothing in Matthew —34 because of the approach of the end-times, or simply because this is the right attitude regardless of when the end-times come?
The modern interpreter will quickly find that interpretation of individual sayings or groups of sayings will be determined by the answers given to all five sets of questions. These questions have been discussed for nearly two thousand years, though some have been more prominent than others in different periods of church history. Matthew 5—7 is the first in a series of five discourses in the Gospel, each of which is concluded by what is essentially the same formula.
All five of these discourses generally follow the Marcan arrangement, though sometimes Matthew expands his text see in particular chapters 8—9 to give more complete examples of what is to be included in the discourse. In the exegesis to follow, attention will occasionally be called to the differences between the Matthean and Lukan arrangements, particularly in passages where this information may be important for interpretation and translation. Seeing so also NJB translates a participle which Matthew elsewhere uses to introduce something unexpected that leads to further action 3.
But Matthew intimates that the whole crowd heard 7. Since chapter 5 is treated as beginning a new section, some translations have introduced the crowds as if new information. He saw them and went up That is, the crowds have already been introduced to the readers. Therefore it may be better to use a sentence that does in fact follow on from 4. Here, although the text still has the crowds , they have obviously come together into one large crowd. Some commentators see here an intended contrast to Sinai, where the Law was given.
Jesus went up on the mountain or hill. A Jewish rabbi usually sat down to teach his disciples see In many languages the phrase when he sat down is too elliptical or shortened. In these languages one cannot speak of when he sat down without first having said that he did it. Usually, as here, they are spoken of as his disciples , thus intimating something of the closeness of the relation between the Lord and those whom he called to follow him. Although the context here is not specific in its usage of the term, taken in light of 4. Came translates the same verb discussed in 4.