Key Verse of Matthew 5. Matthew 5:20 “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Outline of Matthew 5

  1. Characteristics of Kingdom people, the repentant people, or the righteous remnant (Matthew 5:1-16).
  2. Christ’s relationship to the Old Testament (Matthew 5:17-19). Christ fulfills the Law.
  3. Kingdom righteousness contrasted with the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 5:20).
  4. Illustrations of Kingdom righteousness contrasted with the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 5:21-48).
    • Personal conflicts (Matthew 5:21-26).
    • Man and woman relationships (Matthew 5:27-32).
    • Vows (Matthew 5:33-37).
    • Retaliation (Matthew 5:38-42).
    • Love your enemies (Matthew 5:43-48).K

​​The geographical and historical setting for the Sermon, and “blessed,” Matthew 5:1-2

  1. Jesus found a place to teach (Matthew 5.1-2).
    • Jesus took his disciples to a mountain. This was likely near northwest part of the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 5:1-2).
    • Thought Jesus spoke specifically to his disciples, a crowd also followed and gathered.
    • It was the common practice for rabbis to sit down to teach.
  2. Characteristics of Kingdom people (Matthew 5.1-16). In verses 3-11, “blessed begins a statement 9 times. Also note that Jesus changes the pronouns “they, theirs, those,” to “you” in verse 11. He is now specifically directing his message to the disciples.
    • Matthew 5:3-11 are the introduction to the sermon, and verse 12 begins the sermon.
    • We have a statement of condition followed by a statement of kingdom of heaven reward.
    • “Blessed” is μακάριος (makarios)=happy, fortunate, blessed.
      • “Blessed” is used many times in the NT. Illustrative passages include Acts 26:2; 1 Corinthians 7:10; Luke 23:29; James 1:25; Titus 2:13; Matthew 13:16; Revelation 20:6). It means fortunate, happy, that one gains.
      • Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains : Greek New Testament, μακάριος (makarios #3421 ία (ia), ιον (ion): adj.; DBLHebr 890, 897; Str 3107; TDNT 4.362—LN 25.119 blessed, happy, fortunate (Mt 5:3–11(9xs); Mt 16:17; Lk 6:20–22(4×); 11:27; Jn 13:17; Ac 20:35; 26:2; Ro 4:7; 14:22; 1Co 7:40; 1Ti 6:15; Tit 2:13; Jas 1:12; Rev 1:3).
      • The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version. Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1997. Mt 5:3.  Blessed, (Gk. Makarios, used 58 times) (5:3; Luke 6:20–22; Rom. 4:7, 8; James 1:12, 25) Strong’s #3107: This Greek word is derived from the root mak, which means “large” or “lengthy,” and means “fortunate” or “happy.”  The Greek word was used in Greek literature, in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), and in the New Testament to describe the kind of happiness that comes from receiving divine favor. The word can be rendered happy. In the New Testament it is usually passive; God is the One who is blessing or favoring the person. (Radmacher, E. D., R. B. Allen, & H. W. House).
    • Jesus says that those who share certain characteristics are or shall be fortunate or happy or gain favor from God.

Matthew 5:3, Beatitude 1, Poor in spirit

General help for understanding the beatitude: the first line of each beatitude gives the present qualification or desired attitude and activity. The second line gives the future blessing or reward that will be experienced in the future kingdom of heaven on earth. Jesus says that those who possess these characteristics are or shall be fortunate or happy or gain favor from God.

“Blessed or fortunate or happy are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι, ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.

  1. The basic meaning of Matthew 5:3: To be poor in spirit is to be hungry for spiritual food and spiritual fellowship with God and believers. All of these will be theirs in full in the kingdom of heaven.
    • We in the church are believers in Christ. We are waiting for the Lord to return. Are we spiritually hungry for fellowship with God, hungry for spiritual food, and hungry for Christian service?
  2. We have a statement of condition followed by a statement of kingdom of heaven reward.
  3. Poor in spirit. The statement of condition. Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι. Luke 6:20 has the parallel which was most likely a different sermon. It omits “in spirit.”
  4. Poor is πτωχοὶ and is used 4X in this form besides Matthew 5:3 (Matthew 11:5; Luke 6:20; 7:22; 2 Corinthians 6:10). The other 4 refer to lack of world’s goods.
    • Other forms of this word are found 49X and 48 refer to physical poverty and 1X to worthless things (Galatians 4:9).
  5. Here in Matthew, poor it is defined by “in spirit.”
    • In context this is a commendable condition and attitude.
    • It refers to spiritual poverty or better yet, spiritual hunger. They are “starved” for spiritual life and spiritual food. They are spiritually hungry.
    • The want to know the Lord. They want to hear the Scriptures. They desire to be a part the kingdom of heaven. The scribes and Pharisees have not provided spiritual leadership and spiritual nourishment for them. Jewish religious legalism made the poor in spirit.
    • The opposite attitude and condition is found in Revelation 3:17-18, John speaks of those who are spiritually poor and do not know it. They are not interested in God’s will, God’s ministry, and God’s word.
  6. “For theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” is the statement of kingdom responsibility, privilege, and reward.
    • Note the possessive pronoun, “theirs.” They share in the spiritual food and life of the kingdom of heaven.
  7. Practical meaning and application.
    • To be poor in spirit is to be hungry for spiritual food and spiritual fellowship with God and believers. All of these will be theirs in full in the kingdom of heaven.
    • We are believers in Christ. We are waiting for the Lord to return. Are we spiritually hungry for fellowship with God, hungry for spiritual food, and hungry for Christian service?
  8. Summary Beatitude 1. Matthew 5.3. Spiritual hunger
    • To be poor in spirit is to be spiritually hungry for God’s word, for fellowship with God and believers, and for the ability and opportunities to participate in God’s kingdom.
    • All of these blessings will be theirs in full in the kingdom of heaven; but, at the present time, by faith in the Messiah and God’s word, they can hear and practice God’s word even though the ruling religious elite may criticize or ignore or persecute them.
  9. Lesson Beatitude 1. Matthew 5.3. Spiritual hunger
    • Am I spiritually hungry for fellowship with God and believers, hungry for spiritual food, and hungry for Christian service?
    • Do I make opportunities and use opportunities to receive spiritual food, to fellowship with God and believers, and to serve God and the Church?                    

Matthew 5:4, Beatitude 2, Mourn

 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,” μακάριοι οἱ πενθοῦντες,  ὅτι αὐτοὶ παρακληθήσονται

  1. The basic meaning of Matthew 5:4:
    • The promise is that, in the kingdom of heaven, God can and will comfort and encourage those who mourn due to sin, death, persecution, pressures, oppression, and human viewpoint.
    • This is their future reward and that for which they wait. We have a statement of condition followed by a statement of kingdom of heaven reward.
    • For us right now God is a God of comfort and we await Christ’s return.
  2. The word “mourn,” penqew pentheo, means to be sad, sorrowful, sorrow in one’s heart, to grieve, and even lament because of some condition or circumstance (Luke 6:25; Revelation 18:15, 19). Some commentators wrongly take this verse as only mourning because of sin.
    • We find mourning due to sin in 1 Corinthians 5.2, 2 Corinthians 12.21, and James 4.9.
    • But, Matthew 9:15 uses mourning because a person has left and people mourn because they miss him.
    • And, Mark 16:10 uses mourning because Jesus had died.
    • Isaiah 61.2-3 tell of Jews who mourn from affliction, broken heartedness, and imprisonment, and contrast this with the blessings of Messiah’s kingdom.
      • “To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, 3 To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
  3. These repentant Jews of Jesus’ day mourn…
    • Because they are oppressed by both the self righteous and the wicked. These groups ignore, take advantage of, and oppress the repentant believers. They mourn because of the treatment they receive.
    • They also mourn because they live in a world controlled by sin and death.
    • They also mourn in longing for the kingdom of heaven.
  4. In the kingdom of heaven conditions will be different. No longer will there be oppression by self righteous religious people. Sin and death will have been conquered. Instead they will be encouraged in the king’s kingdom. The king will rule. He will put down self-righteousness and oppression. Death and sin will be the exception.
    • How can these who mourn be blessed or happy now? They can be happy because the kingdom they anticipate will be one of great comfort and encouragement.
    • Because they are more occupied with God’s plan for them and the sure future, so they can take encouragement now in what awaits them.
    • And, in the coming kingdom comfort and encouragement will be an enduring characteristic.
  5. Practical meaning and application to the repentant ones awaiting the kingdom of heaven:
    • The promise is that, in the kingdom of heaven, God can and will comfort and encourage those who presently mourn due to sin, death, persecution, pressures, oppression, and human viewpoint.
    • This is their future reward and that for which they wait.
  6. Application or so what for us right now.
    • For us right now God is a God of comfort and we await Christ’s return.
      • We look for the blessed hope spoken of in Titus 2:13 and 1 Thessalonians 4:18.
      • 2 Corinthians 1:3-6, in times of suffering, pressure, grief, and human viewpoint God encourages believers and other believers encourage believers.
      • Hebrews 4:14-16, Jesus our high priest was tested. He is able to sympathize with us in our testing. Instead of moaning, we can mourn and have His comfort and encouragement.
      • Romans 15:4, God gives us comfort and encouragement.
      • Revelation 21:4-5, expresses the future reality in heaven: God shall wipe away all tears….
    • Therefore repentant believers in Christ waiting for His Kingdom ought to put their attention on God’s present provision and care and on their future blessing instead of the pressure and oppression that they presently face.
  7. Summary Beatitude 2. Matthew 5:4. Mourn
    • To mourn is to have sorrow of heart due to sin, death of loved ones, tests, persecution, pressures, oppression, and human viewpoint.
    • Jesus promises that in the coming kingdom God can and will comfort and encourage these repentant believers; therefore, they as repentant believers in Christ waiting for His Kingdom can, at the present time, put their attention on God’s provision and care instead of on the pressure and oppression and rejection they face, and they can also eagerly await the future blessing.
  8. Lesson Beatitude 2. Matthew 5:4. Mourn
    • Do I ever have heart sorrow due to sin, death of loved ones, tests, persecution, pressures, oppression, and human viewpoint?
    • When I do sorrow, do I trust God and His word for my comfort? Do I sense His comfort and encouragement at these times?

Matthew 5:5, Beatitude 3, The gentle

 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.”  μακάριοι οἱ πραεῖς, ὅτι αὐτοὶ κληρονομήσουσιν τὴν γῆν.

  1. The basic meaning of Matthew 5:5:
    • Gentle or meek is an inner gracious, strong, and balanced temperament; a balanced person, a person under control, a person who understands authority and therefore humble.
    • The promised reward is that the gentle person shall inherit the earth, which means to possess the earth and so to gain and to have a part in ruling the earth in the kingdom of heaven. Just the opposite of the present conditions.
    • The tyrant will not inherit the earth. The macho person will not inherit the earth. The balanced person, the gentle person, will inherit the earth.
  2. The third characteristic of those awaiting the kingdom of heaven is that they are to be gentle. The promised reward is that they shall inherit the earth.
  3. We need to understand the meaning of gentle or meek, and then to inherit the earth.
  4. In Jesus’ day and in our day the world is dominated by tyrants.
  5. Psalm 37:11 sets the background. The Hebrew word generally means poor, afflicted, humble, meek. Psalm 45.4 lists meekness as a strong attribute with truth and righteousness.
  6. The Greek word for gentle or meek is πραΰς, praus.
    • Arndt, W., F. W. Danker, & W. Bauer. 3rd ed. 2000. Page 861. To not being overly impressed by a sense of one’s self-importance, gentle, humble, considerate, meek in the older favorable sense, unassuming.
    • Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament, p. 1209-1210: Prautes, according to Aristotle, is the middle standing between two extremes, getting angry without reason, and not getting angry at all. Therefore, prautes is getting angry at the right time, in the right measure, and for the right reason. . . . [I]t is a condition of mind and heart which demonstrates gentleness, not in weakness, but in power. It is a balance born in strength of character.
    • Gentle or meek in English usually suggests weakness. That is not the Greek meaning. It is a strong and gracious temperament. It is the opposite of self-assertiveness and self-interest.
    • Christ was gentle, yet had all divine resources at his call (Matthew 11:21 and 21:5).
    • Paul told Timothy to pursue gentleness (1 Timothy 6:11).
    • Peter wrote to wives that they display this heart temperament (1 Peter 3:4).
    • Gentle or meek means to be a strong and balanced person; one who is self controlled. He can be angry at the right time. He can fight at the right time. He can stand still at the right time.
  7. Bible characters who were meek or gentle.
    • Moses, Numbers 12.3. anav עָנָו poor, afflicted, humble, meek (BDB 776.2). Compare Exodus 3, where he met God at the burning bush. Moses saw God’s glory, but this did not make him proud or self sufficient. Also see strength in Exodus 32:25-28.
    • Aaron, in Leviticus 10:1-3, demonstrates gentleness.
    • Jesus, in Matthew 11.29 and 2 Corinthians 10.1.
    • Paul, 2 Corinthians 10.1
  8. Therefore, gentle or meek does not mean wimpy, a pushover, a coward, one terrified, or one who cringes at difficulty. Gentle or meek is a balanced person, a person under control, a person who understands authority and therefore humble.
    • Inner gracious, strong, and balanced temperament
    • Gentleness is power under control, even when pressured to act in the extreme.
  9. Practical meaning and application to the repentant ones awaiting the kingdom of heaven:
    • Gentle or meek is an inner gracious, strong, and balanced temperament; a balanced person, a person under control, a person who understands authority and therefore humble.
    • He shall inherit the earth, which means to possess the earth and so to gain and to have a part in ruling the earth in the kingdom of heaven. Just the opposite of the present conditions.
    • The tyrant will not inherit the earth. The macho person will not inherit the earth. The balanced person, the gentle person, will inherit the earth.
  10. Application or so what for us right now.
    • The gentle or meek person knows that his strength is from God.
    • The gentle person lives in God’s power and according to God’s viewpoint.
    • The gentle person submits to proper authority.
    • The gentle person is balanced, self-controlled, and thinks and acts out of grace and thinks and acts graciously.
    • The gentle person does not live at the extremes.
    • We in the church will also experience reward from God, because a balanced life is one that does God’s will and pleases God.
  11. Summary Beatitude 3. Matthew 5:5. Gentle
    • A gentle or meek person is a person with an inner gracious, strong, and balanced temperament. He is a balanced person, a person under control, a person who understands authority and is therefore humble. A balanced character is one that does God’s will and pleases God.
    • The gentle person, not the bully or uncontrolled or proud, shall inherit rulership in Christ’s coming kingdom.
  12. Lesson Beatitude 3. Matthew 5:5. Gentle
    • Am I a gentle person? That is, do I possess great inner strength? Do I submit to proper authority on the one hand and properly exercises authority on the other?  Am I balanced and self-controlled? Do I think graciously about people, and do I treat people graciously?
    • Even today, the gentle person—the strong and balanced person—is the one most qualified for leadership and responsibility and will do the best job.

Matthew 5:6, Beatitude 4, Hunger and thirst for righteousness

6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 6 μακάριοι οἱ πεινῶντες καὶ διψῶντες τὴν δικαιοσύνην, ὅτι αὐτοὶ χορτασθήσονται.

  1. The basic meaning of Matthew 5:6: To hunger and thirst for righteousness is to want to live in a righteous society and world. The kingdom of heaven will be a righteous kingdom. These awaiting the kingdom will then be satisfied with the kingdom righteousness.
  2. Righteousness, dikaiosunh dikaiosune, is personal and societal. We live in a world that rejects God’s righteousness and replaces it with human righteousness and with evil.
    • Righteousness Scripture.
      • Old Testament, Proverbs 1:3; 2:9; 8::8; 10:2; 21:3; Ecclesiastes 5:8; Isaiah 9:7; 11:4-5; 61:10-11.
      • New Testament, Matthew 5:20; 6:33; Acts 17:31; Romans 6:13, 16, 18, 19, 20; Ephesians 5:9.
  3. Satisfied is the Greek word cortazw chortazo. It means to eat one’s fill, to be filled and satisfied. Used in Matthew 14:20 (5000 fed), 15:33 (4000 fed), John 6.26, and others. It has a secondary meaning, to be content. In Luke 6:21 it has a literal meaning of hunger being quenched.
  4. Application and so what?
    • The coming kingdom of heaven will satisfy all desire for righteous government and righteousness in society. Those listening to Jesus can look forward to that.
    • We in the church are to live righteously now. Think and do the right thing.
  5. Summary Beatitude 4. Matthew 5:6. Righteousness
    • The coming kingdom will be a righteous kingdom under the righteous King and quite unlike the present world. These repentant and awaiting the kingdom believers can look forward to this.
    • The coming kingdom of heaven will satisfy all desire for righteous government and righteousness in society.
  6. 6.    Lesson Beatitude 4. Matthew 5:6. Righteousness
    • Righteousness is thinking and doing what is right according to God’s righteous standard. God wants me, as a believer in Christ, to live righteously.
    • We know that heaven will be characterized by righteousness, but do I think and live righteously now? It takes knowledge of God’s standard (God’s word), faith, the power of the Holy Spirit, and faith based decisions to live righteously in this present world.

Matthew 5:7, Beatitude 5, Merciful

7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” 7 μακαριοι οι ελεημονες οτι αυτοι ελεηθησονται

  1. The basic meaning of Matthew 5:7.  Show mercy to others in times when there is no earthly reward or recognition, or when it is dangerous or costly to show mercy will experience mercy from God and others during the kingdom on earth civilization.
  2. Mercy, receive mercy.
    • Adjective merciful, describes a characteristic of repentant, kingdom awaiting people. ἐλεήμων (eleēmōn), ον (on): adj.: Strong’s 1655; TDNT 2.485; LN 88.77; Swanson 1798. Merciful, pertaining to those who show compassion on the lowly (Matthew 5:7; Hebrews 2:17+)
    • Verb, “they shall receive mercy,” λεέω eleeō, notes what God will do for them in the kingdom of heaven on earth. Strong’s 1653; ADB 315.The word means to be greatly concerned about someone in need; to feel and show sympathy for another.
    • To be merciful or show mercy is to think and especially to act in a compassionate way to someone who cannot help themselves. The concept goes back to the Hebrew word for grace.
      • Arndt, Danker, & Bauer say “to be greatly concerned about someone in need, have compassion/mercy/pity, feel pity Esp. show mercy to someone, help someone (out of compassion).”
      • Swanson, J. Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains : Greek (New Testament vb. [see also 1790]; DBLHebr 2858, 8163; Str 1653; TDNT 2.477—LN 88.76 show mercy to, show pity to (Matthew 5:7; Matthew 18:33; Luke 16:24; Luke 17:13; Luke 18:38; Romans 9:15; Romans 11:30 [31]; Romans 12:8; 2 Corinthians 4:1; Philippians 2:27; 1 Peter 2:10).
      • Strong’s 1653, 1 to have mercy on. 2 to help one afflicted or seeking aid. 3 to help the afflicted, to bring help to the wretched. 4 to experience mercy.
      • Scripture that uses the verb, show mercy, clarifies the meaning (Matthew 9:27; Matthew 15:22; Matthew 17:15; Matthew 20:30; Romans 11:31; 12:8; 2 Corinthians 4:1; Philippians 2:27; 1 Peter 2:10; and others).
    • In practical terms, showing mercy to someone is simply to treat graciously, compassionately, and helpfully someone who has no one to help and no place to turn.
    • Queen Victoria was a close friend of Principal and Mrs. Tulloch of St. Andrews. Prince Albert died and Victoria was left alone. Just at the same time Principal Tulloch died and Mrs. Tulloch was left alone. All unannounced Queen Victoria came to call on Mrs. Tulloch when she was resting on a couch in her room. When the Queen was announced Mrs. Tulloch struggled to rise quickly from the couch and to curtsey. The Queen stepped forward: “My dear,” she said, “don’t rise. I am not coming to you today as the queen to a subject, but as one woman who has lost her husband to another.” (The Gospel of Matthew. The Daily study Bible series.)
  3. Jesus is saying that the repentant and awaiting the kingdom of heaven believer who shows mercy to others in times when there is no earthly reward or recognition, or when it is dangerous or costly to show mercy will experience mercy from God and others during the kingdom on earth civilization.
    • The kingdom on earth will have people in normal bodies along with those in resurrection bodies. Life will go on. The king will rule; Satan will be bound; sin will still pop out; people will still face suffering.
  4. Today in the church we ought to show mercy to all people and especially to believers. This emphasizes action over just sentiment.
    • Sympathize with them in their suffering.
    • Encourage them with God’s word.
    • Physically help them according to biblical guidelines.
  5. Summary Beatitude 5. Matthew 5:7. Merciful
    • Jesus is saying that the repentant and awaiting the kingdom of heaven believer who shows mercy to others in times when there is no earthly reward or recognition for showing mercy, or when it is dangerous or costly to show mercy, will experience mercy from God and others during the coming kingdom on earth.
    • Though, at the present time the merciful are not often honored with mercy in return, they can continue to show mercy now and anticipate abundant mercy returned to them in the kingdom.
  6. Lesson Beatitude 5. Matthew 5:7. Merciful
    • Showing mercy is needed today. Mercy demonstrates Christ’s loved and mercy. It opens up opportunities to tell others about God’s mercy. Showing mercy to others is especially important when there is no earthly reward or recognition for doing so, or when it is dangerous or costly.
    • Do I show mercy to people, and especially to believers? Do I sympathize with them in their suffering, encourage them with God’s word, and physically help them according to biblical guidelines?

Matthew 5:8, Beatitude 6, Pure in heart

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. μακαριοι οι καθαροι τη καρδια οτι αυτοι τον θεον οψονται

  1. The basic meaning of Matthew 5:8: God is holy. To see him, to be close to him—figurative for close fellowship with him—requires one to be spiritually clean through the avoidance of sin and the confession of sin, and the leaving of sin behind.
  2. The question to begin with is “who are the pure in heart?”
    • This phrase is found only in Matthew 5:8, 1 Timothy 1:5, and 2 Timothy 2:22.
    • The heart, of course, is the center of thought, will, and emotions.
    • The heart is the area of meaningful life: thinking, perception, intelligence, decision making, response, norms and standards.
    • Not as Augsburger (The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Matthew) suggests: that “pure heart” means unmixed motives or singleness of commitment, but the wording does not support that meaning.
  3. The word kaqaro~ katharos pure, has three primary classes of use.
    1. Free from dirt or physical contamination (Matthew 23:26; 27:59).
    2. Ceremonially or ritually clean (Romans 14:20; Titus 1:15).
    3. Free from moral guilt (Matthew 5:8; John 13:10-11; 15:3; 2 Timothy 2:22; 1 Peter 1:22; and others).
    4. The use in this verse is to be free from moral guilt.
  4. What, then, does it mean to be free from moral guilt?
    • John 13 covers it very well. John 13:8-12 teaches two kinds of cleansing.
      • The whole bath cleansing or Justification based upon Christ’s work (John 13:11).
      • foot washing cleansing through the continual application of Christ’s payment for sins made through confession of known sins to God (John 13:10).
    • John 15:3 uses clean (same Greek word) for believers who have been cleansed after the initial salvation. They can now serve God.
    • 1 Timothy 1:5 and 2 Timothy 2:22 speak of the pure heart and say it is necessary for right kind of ministry.
    • John later taught what Jesus called foot washing fellowship and called it walking in the light by confession. His emphasis is living in fellowship with God as 1 John 1 teaches. We are to walk in the light. The work of Christ continues to cleanse us from known sins when we confess them and also cleanse us from unknown sins.
    • Moses saw the glory of God through the burning bush (Exodus 3). He had to remove his sandals. This vividly demonstrated that God is holy and only approachable when man is clean.
    • Psalm 119:9 teaches that God’s word is the standard for keeping our lives pure.
  5. The Practical meaning and application to the repentant ones awaiting the kingdom of heaven:
    • God is holy. They see Him—figurative for close fellowship with Him—requires one to be spiritually clean.
    • These repentant Jews need this lesson.
  6. Application or so what? for us right now.
    • Do I live according to God’s word so that it directs and keeps me clean (Psalm 119:9)?
    • Do I live in newness of life in Christ, by faith, and by the Holy Spirit’s power (Romans 6-8)?
    • When I sin, I need to confess it to God.
    • After I confess the sin, I should leave the sin behind and I should not continually repeat it.
    • I should walk in the light of God and in fellowship with him.
  7. Summary Beatitude 6. Matthew 5:8. Pure in heart
    • To be pure in heart is to be spiritually clean from sin—both judicially and in daily experience. Jesus talked about this in John 13. 8-11. When one sins, he should confess that sin and continue to live “pure in heart.”
    • God is holy, to “see God” is to be close to him—figurative for close fellowship with him. Close fellowship with God is a reward for kingdom believers who have lived in fellowship with God and therefore are called “the pure in heart.”
  8. Lesson Beatitude 6. Matthew 5:8. Pure in heart
    • God wants us to be clean or “pure in heart” so that He can fellowship with us and we with Him. Personal sin interrupts our clean condition. Christ died for all sins, even those we commit as believers. God wants us to confess our sin when necessary because confession to God is a reminder that Christ died for all our sins, even those we commit now. Confession affirms our faith in God’s holiness, our sinfulness, and in Christ’s death for our sins.Do I want to live as “pure or clean in heart”—in fellowship with God right now? Do I want to be in God’s family and a close friend of God (“see God”), or am I content to be in God’s family and never fellowship with Him? Clean believers live in fellowship with God right now, not just in the future in heaven. When I do sin, do I confess my sin to God and maintain my clean condition (“pure in heart”)?

Matthew 5:9, Beatitude 7, Peacemaker

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. μακάριοι οἱ εἰρηνοποιοί, ὅτι αὐτοὶ υἱοὶ θεοῦ κληθήσονται.

  1. The basic meaning of Matthew 5:9. Peacemakers display God’s reconciling kind of action because they graciously and without being nosey or bossy work to prevent and repair strained relations between individuals in conflict. They will be honored in the kingdom of heaven by being called sons of God—a special recognition.
  2. A peacemaker takes his cue from God, the God of peace.
    • Romans 15:33; Romans 16:20; Philippians 4:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 13:20.
  3. 3.    Jesus was a peacemaker through his message and his death.
    • Isaiah 9:7 predicts that the Messiah will rule and his government will bring peace. The Messiah is therefore characterized by peace.
    • Isaiah 52:7 predicts that the Messiah will bring peace through his message of salvation.
    • When he was on earth, his truth, not his personality, divided people (Matthew 10:34; Luke 12:51).
    • In John 14:27 and 16:33, Jesus gives peace to his disciples and says that in him they have peace.
    • His death on the cross made peace between God and man and between man and man a possibility (Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:14-17; Colossians 1:20).
  4. Who then is a peacemaker in Jesus’ sermon?
    • The word peacemaker is εἰρηνοποιός, όν, (eirenopoios), an adjective. The verb form means to make peace.
      • The basic meaning describes one who attempts to bring reconciliation and well being between people who are at odds.
      • A peace maker is the one who can bridge the gap and smooth out the trouble. He can quiet the waters of the “people storm.” This person brings peace between people.
      • Some wrongly emphasize that this means a peace lover. A peace lover simply tries to avoid conflict.
    • In classical Greek a peacemaker was an ambassador sent with a peace treaty.
    • In the Jewish mind, peace goes back to shalom. Shalom is not just the absence of hostility, but is the presence of good things; therefore peace is the idea of prosperity and well being.
      • The Jewish Rabbis taught that making relationships right between people was a great virtue. This would be the most natural understanding of the word when Jesus spoke.
    • In the time of Christ a peacemaker worked for harmonious relations between people. In every group of people there are those who are storms of conflict and bitterness. They are destructive. They upset the group. You find them in an office, in a church, in a school, and even in a family. The emphasis in this verse is on individual peacemaking, not nation to nation peacemaking.
      • To tell some how to have peace with God through faith in his son, Jesus Christ.
      • To make peace or reconciliation in the home, family, synagogue, and friends was a good thing.
      • A peacemaker tries to prevent hostile relationships.
      • A peacemaker tries to restore broken relationships.
      • To make peace or reconciliation between Gentile Christians and Jewish Christians was a good thing.
  5. How does a peacemaker work?
    • One makes peace by first being a son of God and then living God-like. First, a peacemaker is one who gives the message of peace to people who are separated from God. A peacemaker gives the gospel. He then gives basic doctrine so that the individuals can live in fellowship with God and experience God’s peace (spiritual prosperity and well being).
    • In Jesus’ time a peacemaker was one who was a disciple of the King of Peace and reflected the King’s attitudes and abilities to relate to people who were friend or foe.
    • A peacemaker applies doctrine to the conflict or to prevent the conflict; he never changes Bible doctrine.
    • A peace maker seeks to find some ground between the parties of the conflict—just like a mediator.
    • A peace maker knows what is essential and what is non-essential in the discussion or problem at hand.
    • And especially, a peacemaker senses when non-essential differences or when bad attitudes or when misunderstandings or when sin can result in open conflict and attempts to head off the problems
      • With a biblical principle, stated or paraphrased;
      • with an encouraging word,
      • with a glance,
      • with an understanding of the problem and the right thing to say.
  6. What does it mean to be called sons of God? Are not all believers sons of God?
    • Yes, all believers are sons of God because they are related to God by faith in God’s son, Jesus Christ, who made peace between God and man possible by his death on the cross and through the ministry of the Holy Spirit in believers’ lives. Furthermore, not only did God remove the sin barrier by the death of his son, he also removed the separation between Jews and Gentiles by the death of his son.
    • Even though all believers are sons of God, not all believers act as sons of God by reflecting a primary God characteristic, which is reconciliation or peacemaking. God has given all believers the knowledge and supernatural ability to live the Christian life and so to be peacemakers.
    • Those honored as sons of God in the kingdom receive that honor because they have reflected God’s peacemaking.
  7. Summary Beatitude 7, Matthew 5.9. Peacemaker
    • God was and is in the business of making peace between himself and mankind. Making peace is called reconciliation. It was accomplished by Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for our sins.
    • Jesus taught that peacemaking between individuals, not nations, is highly valued. A peacemaker, without being nosey or bossy, tries to prevent or stop the wrong conflict and helps to resolve a conflict into which he is drawn. These conflicts are often brought on by self-centered people, bitter people, argumentative people, unhappy people, know it all people, and people with power lust and recognition lust. The peacemakers will be honored in the kingdom of heaven by a special title “sons of God.”
  8. Lesson Beatitude 7. Matthew 5:9. Peacemaker
    1. Peace with God only comes through reconciliation to God, which one gains by personal faith in God’s son for eternal salvation. Once one possesses eternal salvation, he can have day to day peace with God. The question is, “have I gained the eternal life peace with God, and if so, do I enjoy the day to day peace with God?”
    2. While I await the Lord’s coming for me, do I strive to prevent and solve—without being nosey or bossy—the conflicts that arise around me in my family, church, job, and other personal relationships? The only way that I can do this and honor the Lord is through living by faith, applying God’s word, living by the Holy Spirit and in fellowship with God.

 
Matthew 5:10-12, Beatitudes 8-9

Matthew 5:10, Beatitude 8, Persecuted for Righteousness

Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. μακάριοι οἱ δεδιωγμένοι ἕνεκεν δικαιοσύνης, ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.         

The basic meaning of Matthew 5:10. Those persecuted because they live righteously according to God’s standard will share in the honors and rewards of the coming kingdom.

  1. Introduction: Those in Israel who accepted John’s baptism were turning from Judaism as taught by the scribes and Pharisees.  John called the bankrupt system a system of vipers in Matthew 3:7. The believers from John’s baptism were saying that they had found something better. The pseudo-righteousness proclaimed by the religious elite had nothing to offer. As a result these believers were alienated from the nation.
  2. Persecution for the sake of righteousness means because of righteousness or because they live a righteous life—one that is very different from the unbelieving nation of Israel.
  3. Persecution has often been the lot of those adhering to God’s standard.
    • Persecuted is the Greek word dioko, Strong’s #1377, (diwkw) to move rapidly and decisively, to pursue, prosecute, persecute. The form is perfect passive participle, masculine nominative plural.
      • The participle is here used as a noun and is the subject of the sentence. Persecution is the dominant idea in the subject people, believers characterized by persecution.
      • The perfect participle emphasizes the past action that continues into the present (intensive use).  The passive voice indicates that the subject is persecuted by others. Believers are pursued or chased in order to bring harm to them because of their righteous lives that are clearly different from the unbelievers around them.
      • Their righteousness was different from the world’s righteousness. Is that true for us?
  4. Righteousness (dikaiosune, Strong 1343) is the right thing according to a standard. The standard at the time of Jesus’ sermon was the Bible and his teachings.
    • The Old Testament Mosaic Law: Exodus 20-23.
    • John in Matthew 3:7 had spoken out against the false righteousness of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
    • In Jesus’ time the nation of Israel had rejected the biblical standard of righteousness and had followed the rule of self righteousness promoted by the religious leaders. This pharisaic system found ways around the straight forward biblical instructions.
    • Jesus explanation of the Old Testament as found in this sermon and other parts of the gospels. For example, Matthew 5-7.
  5. Jesus was teaching that believers in him and his kingdom of heaven are and will be a persecuted people because they will be following a different standard of righteousness—a standard clearly different from that of the religious Jews led by the Scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees.
    • 1 Kings 22: has the story of Micaiah the prophet. He told the truth to King Ahab (Israel) and to King Jehoshaphat (Judah): they would be defeated by the Aramaeans.
    • Matthew 12:1-8, records that the Pharisees attacked Jesus because they picked grain and ate it on the Sabbath. They held to a system of organized and consolidated religious righteous. Jesus taught and practiced a godly righteousness.
    • In Matthew 12:9-14 Jesus healed a man’s paralyzed hand. He did the righteous thing. He was attacked by the Pharisees.
    • In Matthew 12:15-37, the Pharisees attacked Jesus and said he did what he did by Satan’s power.
    • Hebrews 11:35-40 records a very general summary of the persecution of OT believers.
    • Paul, in 2 Timothy 3:12, warned that all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
  6. The key verse is Matthew 5 is verse 20 which contrasts biblical righteousness with the scribes and Pharisees righteousness. Followers of Jesus who do the right thing—biblical righteousness—are open to attack by others
  7. Church age believers also receive much persecution because they live righteously.
  8. Summary Beatitude 8, Matthew 5.10. Persecuted for righteousness.
    • God’s righteousness is different from the world’s righteousness.
    • Jesus was teaching that believers in him and his kingdom of heaven are and will be a persecuted people because they will be following a different standard of righteousness—a standard clearly different from that of the religious Jews led by the Scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees.
  9. Lesson from Beatitude 8, Matthew 5:10, Persecuted for righteousness
    1. Because we have a God’s standard of righteousness which is different than the world system’s standard, we can expect criticism, rejection, physical persecution, and even death because we hold to this different standard.
    2. It is a fact of life—Paul warned of this in 2 Timothy 3:12—that in this present world godly believers will be persecuted.

Matthew 5:11-12, Beatitude 9, Persecution because one is identifies with Jesus Christ

Matthew 5:11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  μακαριοι εστε οταν ονειδισωσιν υμας και διωξωσιν και ειπωσιν παν πονηρον ρημα καθ υμων ψευδομενοι ενεκεν εμου

  1. While verse 10 singles out those who live a biblical righteousness, this beatitude focuses on persecution simply because one is a believer in Christ.
  2. All three verbs are aorist, active, subjunctives. The subjunctive mood indicates the possibility of this action and in this context the action is highly probable. This persecution will be verbal, physical, and mental.
    • Insult is oneidizo (3rd plural aorist act subjunctive), to reproach, revile, defame, to speak against with abusive words. Strongs #3679.
    • Persecute is dioko (3rd plural aorist active subjunctive), to pursue, persecute. This is the same word used in verse 10.
    • Say is eipon (3rd plural aorist active subjunctive), to speak, say. Falsely is the word pseudomai, to lie and to deceive, in the participle form used as an adverb. They falsely say. There is no truth to what they say. People will lie with their accusations.
  3. The phrase “because of me” indicates that this persecution comes because someone is a believer and follower of Jesus the Messiah.
    • John 9 is an historical illustration. John 9:22 and 34 is the climax when the Pharisees kicked the blind man, now healed man out of the synagogue.
    • Jesus warned his disciples of rejection and persecution in John 15:18-25.
    • John 16:2 gives another warning that Jewish people will persecute the disciples.
    • John 17:14-16 records Jesus’ prayer for his disciples. He says the world hates them.
    • Jesus later predicted that terrible persecution would fall upon Jewish people and especially Jewish believers during future Daniel’s 70th week (Matthew 24). Paul followed up on this in 2 Thessalonians 2 where he wrote about the future Tribulation period.
  4. The church, too, has been clearly taught to expect persecution because we are believers in Christ and follow his righteousness (Acts 14:22; 2 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 4:12-19).
  5. The history of the Christian church is a history of persecution. Early church, Middle Ages church, Reformation church, Post-Reformation church, and the twentieth and twenty-first century church.
    • Early church.
      • Stephen, Acts 7.
      • James was beheaded by Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12).
      • Disciples. Historical tradition notes that most of the disciples were killed because of their faith.
    • Fox’s Book of Martyrs gives the stories of many Christians who were lied about, imprisoned, tortured, and killed simply because they were believers in Christ—Christians.
    • Modern church history is full of persecution of Christians.
      • Current history records the persistent persecution of believers in Christ. I suggest that you check with the Voice of Martyrs publications and web site.

Matthew 5:12. Persecuted because one identifies with Jesus Christ by faith

Matthew 5:12 “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.12 χαιρετε και αγαλλιασθε οτι ο μισθος υμων πολυς εν τοις ουρανοις ουτως γαρ εδιωξαν τους προφητας τους προ υμων

  1. Matthew 5:12 concludes with the command for general conduct or for repeated conduct.
    • The two verbs are in the present imperative, second person plural.
      • The present imperative gives general or repeatable instructions.
      • Rejoice (chairo) and be glad (agalliao) suggest that believers ought to be glad and exult in the fact that they are so identified with Christ that they are worthy to be persecuted because they are identified with him.
  2. There is reward in heaven for believers who are persecuted because him.
    • The direct interpretation is for those disciples awaiting the kingdom of heaven, but Paul (Romans 8:17-18), Peter (1 Peter 4:13-14), and James (James 1:2, 3, 12) say the same thing to church age believers.
  3. The prophets set the pattern. They were rejected, criticized, and killed.
  4. But these believers will be rewarded by God in heaven for their faithful proclamation of Jesus.
  5. Matthew 5:11-12. Persecuted because one identifies with Jesus Christ by faith
    • Summary
      • Believers in Messiah Jesus who proclaim him and his word will be persecuted in the same way the prophets were persecuted. The world at large rejects him and rejects those who serve and proclaim him.
      • Jesus tells them to rejoice and exult because they are so identified with him and his message. And because of this, God will, in heaven, reward these faithful believers for their faithful identification and service while they were on earth.
    • Lesson
      • Church age believers will also be persecuted because of identification with Jesus Christ and for their proclamation of him and his word. This is cause for thanksgiving,
      • Paul says the future glory far outstrips the present suffering (Romans 8:17-18), and Peter says we are blessed because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on us (1 Peter 4:13-14).

Matthew 5:13-20: Salt, light, Old Testament, righteousness

Matthew 5:13, You are the salt of the earth.

  1. Jesus said that those who had repented and accepted him as Messiah King and learned from him were the salt of the earth. Salt is used 4x in the New Testament (Matthew 5:13; Mark 9:50; Luke 14:34; Colossians 4:6). It is used many times in the Old Testament to solemnly ratify (Numbers 18:19; 2 Chronicles 13:5), to give taste (Job 6:6), and to symbolically enhance the importance of something (Exodus 30:35). What is the point of salt?
    • Salt was used to preserve foods. Even in the travels by ship to the new world, food was preserved with salt. The covered wagon trains used salt to preserve food. Bacon has lots of salt and can be stored for later use.
    • Salt adds flavor to food. Most people like salted food. People with high blood pressure must go easy with salt for it causes fluid retention and can then raise blood pressure.
    • Salt in small amounts has even been used to fertilize lands in the ancient world.
    • In modern Israel weak salt is sometimes scattered on the soil that is used for flat roofs on Patios. It hardens the soil and prevents leaks.
    • The super bowl is coming up. There will be a run on buying chips at the grocery store. Which chips do most people like? The bland plain tasting chips or the ones that are salted? Most like salted chips even if they are unhealthy. The salt gives a distinctive flavor. Most foods are that way.
    • The salt in the ancient world was often from marshes and therefore mixed with impurities. Rain water would dissolve the salt more than the impurities and wash it away and therefore it weakened the salt content and reduced the usefulness of what salt the people used.
  2. Jesus is saying that if the disciples became weakened by dilution with bad doctrine or bad life their value and usefulness would be lessened.
    • People will ignore their message.
    • People will lose their message in the everyday mixture of life and its beliefs and activities.
  3. Matthew 5:13, So what? Or Lesson for us.
    • The disciples, and by application, we believers need to retain what is distinctive to our doctrine and to our lives so that others will recognize who we are and what we have and take advantage of the message.
      • This applies to kind of life, to power or ability to live life, to guiding principles in life, to doctrine, to worldview, to the whole purpose of life.
    • The figure of salt tells us to stand for something—God and God’s word (Colossians 4:6).
    • The fruit of the Spirit through us to others seasons and helps the world (Galatians 5:22-23).

Matthew 5:14-16, You are the light of the world

  1. What is the principle that light teaches?
    • Light makes sight and knowledge possible. The city on the hill that has lights is visible to some far away.
      • When one is on an airplane at night 35, 000 feet above the ground you can see the lights of a city or a farm or the highway.
      • When driving at night or in a fog you look for lights up ahead so you can follow the road or know when a town is coming.
    • No one turns on a lamp and then puts it in a black box to hide the light. It will do no good.
  2. Light has a purpose: to make visible, to give knowledge and understanding. It is used 244x in the Bible.
    • In Luke 2:32, Simeon called Jesus the Light of Revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel.
      • i.      John 1:4, 5, 7, 8, and 9 we have Jesus as the light and John witnessed to him.
      • ii.     John 8:12; 9:5; and 12:46 light is used for Jesus.
    • Light also is used for God and his holiness in 1 John 1:5. It is opposed darkness.
    • In Ephesians 5:8 believers are light in the Lord. That is, believers are related to the source of all righteousness and truth. We reflect God’s light as we live like children of the light.
    • In Philippians 2:12-18 Paul exhorts believers to many things, including appearing as lights in the world.
  3. Believers are to make their light known.
    • The light that is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
    • The light that is God’s word.
    • The reflected light from God through his Spirit.
    • So others may see the Christian life and glorify God because of what they see and understand.
  4. The figure of light tells us to make something known to others—God and God’s word.
  5. Lighthouses along the coasts have alerted, protected, and saved many lives and many ships.
  6. Matthew 5:14-16, So what? Or Lesson for us.
    • We must have the light first—faith acceptance.
    • We must understand the light—faith learning.
    • We must let it shine out—faith application.

Matthew 5:17-20, The Law and Prophets, Righteousness, and the scribes and Pharisees.

  1. Matthew 5:17. The question now comes: is Jesus going to disregard the OT or change or eliminate the Old Testament?
    • Of course not. He will complete (plerosai, aorist active infinitive of pleroo, plhrow to make full, to complete, to bring to completion, to bring to a desired end such as a prophecy, to bring an activity to completion) the law in its rightful sense by
      • Teaching it correctly.
      • Obeying it correctly
      • Suffering the law’s required penalty for sin.
    • Matthew 5:17, So what? Or Lessons.
      • By these statements Jesus said that the OT was authoritative and without error.
      • Do we accept the Scripture as authoritative and without error and there God’s words to be studied, correctly understood, and accurately applied?
  2. Matthew 5:18. This does not say that the law of Moses will remain in effect until the new heaven and new earth.
    • Jesus says that everything required by the law will be accomplished before the law has been completed.
    • Even the smallest letter (jot is like the dot over the English i) and mark (tittle is like the mark on the R that distinguishes it from P) in the Hebrew scrolls will be recognized as authoritative and heeded.
    • This verse teaches us that Jesus viewed the OT as accurate, perfect, and without any mistakes. Jesus here ascribes inerrancy to Scripture.
    • Matthew 5:18, So What? Or Lessons for us.
      • God’s word is accurate, authoritative, and without error in part or whole.
      • How do we think about God’s word and do we learn it and use it?
  3. Matthew 5:19. Kingdom of heaven people should be loyal to God’s word, the OT.
    • To annul (luw  luo, to undo, to untie, to set free, to destroy, to abolish or do away with; Aorist active subjunctive) means to set aside or do away with parts of law.
    • They are members of the kingdom heaven by their faith acceptance of Jesus as Messiah. As members of the kingdom they ought to teach and follow God’s word.
    • Those who live during Jesus’ ministry and who do not accept the entire OT are wrong. They can be a part of the kingdom of heaven, but they will not receive honor from the kingdom. They will miss blessings, because they reject or change the kingdom law.
    • Remember that the kingdom of heaven was offered to the people during Jesus’ ministry. Those who accepted the kingdom still lived under the OT. They did not have the choice to change or reject parts of the law.
    • Matthew 5:19, So what? Or lessons for us.
      • One’s learning and faith application of God’s word determines the reward or lack of reward from God.
      • This verse brings up the doctrine of rewards.
  4. Matthew 5:20. His audience was intimidated and impressed by the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees.
    • Jesus tells the audience that the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was the wrong kind of righteousness.
      • The scribes and Pharisees practiced selective obedience which produced only relative righteousness.
      • Their righteousness was a false righteousness based upon a false standard—the scribes and Pharisees did change parts of the law. They used their own human legal righteousness as the standard to gain entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
      • Do not try to be like the scribes and Pharisees.
    • Furthermore, Jesus is not saying that human legal righteousness will gain a place in the kingdom.
    • He is saying that one needs a righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees. Their righteousness was human and external. One needs absolute righteousness. And to gain that by faith one must be ready for grace.
      • This righteousness only comes from God himself in the person of Jesus. Romans 3:21-22 explains this.
      • The man in Mark 10:17-27 and Luke 18:18-27 also asked this question. Jesus demonstrated to them that there is always something lacking in the best of people. The conclusion was that there is no way that man can gain salvation. Only God can save.
      • The lawyer of Luke 10:25-37 asked this same question.
      • Jesus demonstrated that no matter how much of the law you have kept, there will always be something else that is not good or sin. He proved that man can do no work for eternal life. Only God can provide that.
      • Recall that the Nicodemus story happened in the same short time frame. Nicodemus was ready for grace. The rich man was not ready for grace.
    • The answer that each should have given Jesus is that I cannot do that kind of righteousness, and so now what hope is there for me. Instead they held to a works system for eternal life.
    • Matthew 5:20, So what? Or lessons for us.
      • Human righteousness, whether legal or religious, is not good enough to gain entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
      • Am I ready for grace—grace for eternal life and grace for living? The recognition test can help a person to know if they are ready for grace. This test causes one to truthfully admit that he always falls short of God’s standard.
      • What is the one way to enter the kingdom? What Scripture passages instruct us about the way to gain eternal life?

Matthew 5:21-30: Illustrations of kingdom righteousness

Matthew 5:21-22, Explanation of the Law, murder, and anger

  1. In Matthew 5:21ff Jesus illustrates the kind of righteousness that the law talks about. He is not reinterpreting the law. He is explaining the Old Testament law. His main point is that each of these sins is enough to bring a guilty verdict before God. The Pharisees even commit them. Their kind of righteousness is insufficient. They also are guilty.
    • Jesus begins by saying, “You have heard that the ancients were told.”
      • The Rabbis of the day used this expression to enforce something from the Old Testament.
      • Jesus is now going to correct a misunderstanding.
    • Jesus quotes Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17. True statements.
    • Liable to the court (ἔνοχος ἔσται τῇ κρίσει) means that the person will be held by the court and subject to punishment. The court mentioned was the civil court that had jurisdiction.
  2. Matthew 5:21-22. Matthew 5:21 was correct as far as it went. But, Jesus wanted them to know that not only was the actual act of murder sin, but the hatred behind the act was also sin. The first, “angry,” is a mental attitude sin; while “good for nothing,” and “fool,” refer to sins of the tongue stemming from hatred or mental murder. Jesus here emphasizes that there is more to sin than the straight forward act. Brother refers to a believing disciple.
    • Anger here is that anger that comes from hatred and motivates murder. Everyone who is angry (πᾶς ὁ ὀργιζόμενος) is the articular participle form of the verb orgizo with the adjective “everyone.” This verb is used 8x in the New Testament (Matthew 5:22; 18:34; Luke 15:28; Ephesians 4:26; Revelation 11:18 and 12:17). This anger moves someone to action and often the action is striking out against someone. Ephesians 4:26 warns against the striking out.
      • Jesus is warning against an emotional anger or rage that can result in both physicals and mental murder.
        • His point is that sin is more than the act. Sin is also in the thought. The motive is important.
        • Anger at times is correct (Ephesians 4:26); at other times it is wrong (Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8); and sometimes it is borderline (James 1:19-20).
          • In fact, Ephesians 4:32 teaches that correct anger can travel with graciousness, compassion, and forgiving others. At these times it does not express hatred or bitterness.
          • When these three characteristics go with anger, you can know that the anger is not sin. This anger is a strong disagreement with an action or attitude and its consequences. It is rejection of ungodly thinking or acting.
    • Another example of anger that stems from hatred and mental murder is saying to someone, “you good for nothing.” This is a sin of the tongue.
      • The word is “raca”. It was a term of verbal abuse attacking the intelligence of someone. This is not in jest, but fully meant to injure the object. It follows up on the unjustified anger of the first instance. Used in the New Testament only here.
      • The supreme court is the Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish court in religious and political matters. It had authority to rule in Israel as long as it did not interfere with the Roman governor. The Sanhedrin would be justified to bring a guilty verdict against the speaker.
    • Another example of anger that stems from hatred and mental murder is saying to someone, “you fool.”
      • The word “fool” is moros (μωρός). Moros was a term of verbal abuse attacking the morality of someone. This word has to do with character, whereas raca has to do with intelligence.
        • In Matthew 23:17 Jesus called the scribes and Pharisees hypocrites and “fools,” moros. His use of “fool” helps us to understand the context and meaning of Matthew 5:21-22.
        • Matthew 23:13 introduces the section.  By their self righteousness and hypocritical teaching they close the kingdom of heaven to themselves and to the people listening to them.
        • They emphasized externals—outward show—instead of what they believed—the inner person. Jesus did not speak out of hate or revenge, but truthfully because of their hypocritical teaching and leading the people. He was not trying to damage them. He was trying to teach them and correct them.
      • The motive and intent behind calling one a fool is the important matter. To call one a fool in order to impugn their morality and to greatly damage their reputation is wrong. This is a combination of mental attitude sin and sin of the tongue.
      • To call someone foolish or a fool because they actually act that way and you have no intent to damage them is not wrong.
      • “Fiery hell”  is τὴν γέενναν τοῦ πυρός. Ge’enna. “Hell” is gehenna (Strong’s 1067), and refers to the Valley of the son of Hinnom. This was a valley southwest of Jerusalem and the location of the garbage dump that was continually burning. It became an illustration of God’s judgment. It is used 11 times in Matthew. See the map of Jerusalem.
        • Valley of the Sons of Hinnom, a ravine south of Jerusalem. There, according to later Jewish popular belief, God’s final judgment was to take place. In the gospels it is used to illustrate the place of punishment in the next life, BAD3. Page 191.
        • 2 Kings 23:10 records that the Jews offered their children to the god Molech=child sacrifice.
        • This was such a terrible place that it simply was called the Valley. It goes back to 2 Kings 23:10, 2 Chronicles 28:3 and 33:6, Jeremiah 2:23,7:31-32, and 31:40, and others. It was a place of idolatry and human sacrifice. It is implied in Isaiah 50:11 and 66:24.
        • Gehenna came to refer to physical and spiritual punishment and is a strong warning that God has the right to judge any sin.
  3. Summary, Matthew 5:21-22
    • Angry means a mental rage and hatred.
    • “Good for nothing” indicates a verbal attack on one’s intelligence motivated to hurt the person.
    • “Fool” is a verbal attack on the moral character on another because of hatred and desire to damage the person.
    • These mental attitude and verbal sins show that a person is guilty before God and man and both can in justice condemn the person.
  4. So what? Matthew 5:21-22
    • How is my mental attitude toward people at home, in church, and others?
    • When I say things, am I aware that my attitude will influence what I say and what I say will help or hurt?
    • Paul, in Ephesians 4:29-32 addresses the kind of things we are to say and our attitudes.
    • When your anger is surrounded by graciousness, compassion, and forgiveness you can be sure that your anger is not sin.

Matthew 5:23-26, Reconciliation

  1. Matthew 5:23-24, You damaged or sinned against another disciple, and he knows about it, and he is upset about it.
    • We often concentrate on our own grievances against someone else and forget all about their rightful grievances against us. Jesus is reminding the disciples that it is often more important to clear up someone’s anger for cause against you.
    • You are on your way to the temple to offer a sacrifice. This could have been any one of the many offerings. Before you offer the sacrifice, go and clear up the problem—if and he knows about it, and he is upset about it.
    • If the other person is not even aware that you damaged or sinned against him in some way, do nothing. It is past. By going to one and saying,”by the way I did or said something against you and it bothers my conscience so I wanted to tell you,” you are putting temptation in the other’s mind and causing more trouble. This has happened many times.
    • The words “be reconciled” in verse 24 indicate that this is a problem to the other person. There is something to be reconciled. Reconciled means at least two sides and two parties.
  2. Matthew 5:25 and 26 take this idea a little farther. Here are two people who are going to court over a disagreement. It is far better to solve it out of court, especially if you are the guilty party. Otherwise, you will end up in jail and still have to pay the damages.
    • “Make friends” is a present imperative calling for action. And, do it quickly before the case gets worse.
    • We do not have to wait until the last minute.
    • The point of these verses:
      • Take the initiative to solve problems between believers and do it outside of court. This, of course, Paul instructed for believers who have difficulties (1 Corinthians 6:1-8).
      • Solve problems with believers before they become worse problems.
  3. Summary and So What? Matthew 5:23-26.
    • Attempt to reconcile with another believer if you have wronged him and he knows you wronged him and it upsets him.
    • Beware: much of current day so-called Christian reconciliation is simply guilt induced resurrection an unknown or forgotten problem. Leave that alone.
    • When you are the guilty party, solve your disagreements with believers out of court. Otherwise, you may have greater punishment.

Matthew 5:27-30, Mental and Physical Adultery

  1. Matthew 5:27-28. Jesus clarifies the law about adultery (Strong’s 3431, moicheuo) found in Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 5:18, and other Scripture by teaching that adultery is not just physical, but also the mental attitude of lust.
    • The verb is used in Matthew 5:27, 28, 32, and 19:18.
    • The noun (moichos, Strong’s 3432) is used a number of times (Luke 18:11; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Hebrews 13:4; James 4:4).
    • Fantasized immorality (“in his heart,” kardia Strong’s 2588) is just as much sin as the physical act.
    • He has again raised the mental sins to the same level as the physical act.
  2. Matthew 5:29-30. Jesus illustrates in hyperbolic language, that is, overstatement to stress a point.
    • He uses the right eye and the right hand. These were thought to have been the best part—right eye better than left eye and right hand more significant than left hand.
    • Is Jesus telling his disciples to actually remove the right eye and cut off the right hand? No.
      • People have two eyes and two hands. To remove one will not prevent looking with the other eye. Removing one eye will not stop the thinking, which is the root problem. To cut off the right hand will not prevent the hands from sinning. One hand still remains and a one handed person can get into just as much trouble as a two handed person.
      • The point is that it is better to lose a part of the body than to be under God’s judgment. “Your whole body to be thrown into hell” and “your whole body to go into hell” indicates God’s judgment.
    • He is not saying that one who sins in this way will not be able to be saved. He is stressing the seriousness of sin to those who live under the law and who have wrongly taught the law.
      • “Hell” is gehenna (Strong’s 1067), and refers to the Valley of the son of Hinnom. This was such a terrible place that it simply was called the Valley. It goes back to 2 Kings 23:10, 2 Chronicles 28:3 and 33:6, Jeremiah 2:23,7:31-32, and 31:40, and others. It was a place of idolatry and human sacrifice. It is implied in Isaiah 50:11 and 66:24.
      • Gehenna came to refer to physical and spiritual punishment and is a strong warning that God has the right to judge any sin.
  3. Summary and So What? Matthew 5:27-30
    • Mental adultery is fantasized immorality. It is sin just like physical adultery. Avoid it.
    • Every sin deserves God’s judgment. Better to lose an eye or a hand than to be under God’s judgment. Avoid sin.
    • But, God forgives because Christ’s died for all sins, unbelievers’ and believers’ sins.
    • Do not give temptation a chance. As James says in chapter 1, love for God when under trial will prevent testingàtemptationàsin.

Matthew 5:31-32: Divorce

  1. Under the Mosaic Law God allowed divorce, but this was not what he wanted for his people. Rabbi Hillel took the liberal view that God permitted divorce for any reason. Matthew 19:3 refers to this. Rabbi Shammai took the view that only allowed divorce for immorality. Jesus, in Matthew 19:9 reaffirmed the original intent of marriage to be life long, and he restricted divorce for kingdom of heaven people to the cause of immorality.
  2. The English word divorce is found 28 times in the Bible (NASB): 15 times in the Old Testament and 13 times in the New Testament; eleven of the New Testament uses are in Matthew, Mark, and Luke; and Paul uses it twice in 1 Corinthians 7:11-12.
  3. Divorce was common in the ancient world. The Egyptians practiced divorce and even gave certificates that legalized the divorce. Deuteronomy 24:1 regulated divorce for Israel.
    • Deuteronomy 24:1, “indecency” (‘ervah Strong’s 6172) refers to some kind of shameful behavior, but not to immorality. That passage restricts the first husband from remarrying his former wife if she had married another man after their first divorce. The intent seems to be to protect the woman by preventing divorce based on superficial reasons. The divorce specifically allowed remarriage with no mark of dishonor. Immorality does not seem to be in view because Deuteronomy 22 specifies the death penalty for that. The certificate of divorce allowed her to remarry.
    • Deuteronomy 22:20-22 teaches that the penalty for immorality is death: for the woman before her planned marriage (20-21); for both a man with a woman married to another man (22); for both a man with a woman engaged to another man and she did not resist him by crying out (23-25).
    • Levitical priests were not allowed to marry a divorced woman (Leviticus 21:7, 14).
    • Paul, in 1 Corinthians 7:10-16, teaches within a context of the Corinthian problems. In verses 10-11 he addresses believers; in 12-16 he addresses those in mixed marriages.
      • Paul advises them to work out marriage problems and stay together.
      • He advises the believer to remain with an unbelieving spouse if that unbeliever wants to remain.
      • He also teaches that if the unbeliever leaves, the believing member may let them go, and may remarry.
  4. Summary of 1 Corinthians 7, Sex, marriage, and the status quo.
    • Paul now answers question put to him about sex and marriage. He understands God’s design for right man and right woman in marriage and the Corinthian religious scene. Paul says that sex has its proper place in marriage, while lasciviousness in or outside of marriage is wrong. On the other hand, celibacy is also good if God has given one the ability for it.  Asceticism in marriage is a wrong reaction to the Corinthian religious scene or to the added time and responsibilities that marriage brings.  If two people know they are right for each other, then they ought to marry. Within the marriage setting the man and the woman have physical responsibility to and authority over each other (1 Corinthians 7.1-7).
    • Widows and those who have never married may marry, but Paul believes that it would be more profitable for spiritual service for one to remain unmarried as he has (1 Corinthians 7.8-9).
    • The dissatisfied wife should not leave (separate from or divorce) her husband. If she does, she is to remain unmarried or reconcile with him. The dissatisfied husband is not to send away (divorce) his wife (1 Corinthians 7.10-11).
    • The believer who is married to an unbeliever that agrees to stay in the marriage should not divorce the unbeliever. This status quo sets the unbeliever and the children aside so they may be influenced by the gospel. However, if the unbeliever wants to leave (divorce) the believer, the believer may let him/her go and begin anew (1 Corinthians 7.12-16).
    • Believers are not to make sudden changes in their status (for example: circumcision or uncircumcision, slave or free, married or unmarried) simply because another choice appears better at the moment. Believers are to follow the will of God based upon Bible doctrine. This is the status quo principle (1 Corinthians 7.17-24).
    • Marriage or non-marriage is an illustration of the status quo principle. Because of the responsibilities that go with marriage, marriage will divide a believer’s interests and time (1 Corinthians 7.25- 35).
    • Because of the time and responsibility that goes with marriage, it is better for a daughter to remain single, but her father has not sinned by giving his daughter in marriage (1 Corinthians 7.36-38).
    • If a woman chooses marriage, she must realize that she is bound to her husband until he dies, and that marriage will restrict her service to the Lord (1 Corinthians 7.39-40).
  5. Summary of Matthew 5:31-32
    • Jesus, in Matthew 5, teaches that divorce is not the solution to marriage problems. A couple should stay together if at all possible. He voided the conception that some had that if the wife displeased the husband, he could divorce her.
    • Paul, in 1 Corinthians 7, also teaches against divorce between believers. He advises the believer to remain with an unbelieving spouse if that unbeliever wants to remain. Paul advises them to work out marriage problems and stay together. He does say that if the unbeliever in a marriage wants to leave, then the believer is free to remarry. He also teaches that if the unbeliever leaves, the believing member may let them go, and may remarry.
  6. Application or So What? from Matthew 5:31-32.
    • We live in a society that views marriage as a convenience or an inconvenience, depending on what one wants? Not the right attitude.
    • Make marriage work. Divorce is not the first solution.
    • Serving the Lord in the church, missions, and family can strengthen a marriage
    • Those with much in common can work together better. Those with less in common ought to emphasize the common things and give more freedom to each other.

Matthew 5:33-37: Oaths

  1. Jesus picks up another misapplication of the present generation’s religious leadership—making oaths or vows they did not intend to keep. In Jesus day, the Pharisees made many vows, but found ways around keeping them (5:33). These were primarily in common speech and not in legal situations.
  2. The Old Testament background for vows and oaths is found in Leviticus 19:12, Deuteronomy 6:13, Deuteronomy 23:21, 23.
    • The Greek word in 5:33”you shall not make false vows” is epiorkeo (ἐπιορκέω). The word vows in “fulfill your vows” is orkos (ὅρκος), which refers to what is promised with an oath.
    • Jesus is referring to: 1. to swear that something is true when one knows that it is false and 2. to fail to do what one has promised under oath. This goes back to the Old Testament Law.
    • Vows or oaths that something is true.
      • Leviticus 19:12 is found in regulations for day to day life. When they swear to something and bring God’s name into it, it had better be the truth and they had better do what they said.
      • Deuteronomy 6:13: If anyone swears that something is true and brings God into it, it had better be true and you had better fulfill what you swore to do.
    • Voluntary vows for service.
      • Deuteronomy 23:21 and 23: Vows for service were voluntary (Numbers 15:3-8; Numbers 30). The one vowing chose to do something for the Lord. When one vowed, he was to fulfill the vow (Deuteronomy 23:21-23).
  3. So, in Jesus day the Pharisees would say that God was not involved and so they thought the vows or swearing to a truth was not binding. It amounted to failure to fulfill what one vowed to do, or in some instances they perjured themselves. The Pharisees thought they could get around the principle by technical use of words—but this failed in the Lord’s mind.
    • The Greek word in Matthew 5:34 is omnuo (ὀμνύω) to make an oath or to take an oath or to promise with an oath. They vowed by heaven, or by earth, or by Jerusalem and thought this was a way out of the vow (Matthew 5:34-36).
  4. Jesus taught that the argument they used would not work because heaven is God’s throne and the earth is God’s footstool and Jerusalem is the Messiah’s capital. God cannot be separated from life.
  5. The answer is to not make vows you do not intend to keep, and to not swear falsely. God is involved in each kind of vows they made.
  6. Instead, answer truthfully yes or no and mean it. “Anything beyond these is evil,” means that you put yourself in a place to sin.
    • The way to avoid false swearing and false vows is to avoid swearing and vows. The word of a righteous person should be enough.
  7. Matthew 5:33-37 does not rule out oaths in a court of law.
    • In Matthew 26:63-64, Jesus responded to an oath.
    • Paul spoke under an oath in Romans 1:9 and 2 Corinthians 1:23.
    • James warns against the Pharisee kind of hedging on oaths in James 5:12.
  8. Applications or So What? from Matthew 5:33-37.
    • Speak the truth and you do not need to hedge with a oath.
    • As a general principle do not make oaths that are not thought out and right.
    • When one makes an oath, then keep it.
    • Oaths are right in a court of law.
    • Do not make someone else responsible for your statements.
    • In the church age, God does not want us to promise him anything—make oaths to him. We cannot serve him apart from his ministry in our lives (John 15:5). Anytime we promise God something, we are wrong. The Christian life is by grace through faith and through the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 5:38-42, Retaliation during your ministry

  1. Remember the context for Jesus sermon. Jesus has to contend with the current religious thinking of the Scribes and Pharisees They followed the oral law—the interpretations, explanations, and expansion of the written law. This was the Mishnah.
    • Jews believed that the oral law also came to Moses at Sinai. This oral law had equal authority with the written law. By the third century AD the oral law had taken a written form. (The Mishnah, Tranlsated from the Hebrew with introduction and brief explanatory notes by Herbert Danby, Oxford University Press, 1933)
    • Later, Jewish scholars wrote commentaries on the Mishnah. These commentaries were called Talmuds. The Jerusalem Talmud has twelve printed volumes and the Babylonian Talmud has sixty printed volumes.
  2. The Jewish community was regulated by this oral law, and this oral law was oppressive and works oriented. Jesus had to prepare his disciples to minister in that kind of a world.
    • Jesus’ main audience in this sermon is his disciples (5:1-2). They will soon be sent to preach the kingdom to Israel (10:1-11:1). He instructs them in the Word of God in contrast to the oral law.
    • The frame of reference for Jesus and his disciples is the Old Testament and its promise of a coming Jewish Messianic kingdom.
    • So, when he gives these instructions, he is directing them to this group of people.
    • We in the church gain principles for living, but we must be careful. We live under a different economy.
    • When we think of the interpretation, we must go back to that time and put ourselves in the disciples sandals and realize that we are about to go about the country preaching the kingdom. We will face much opposition. How were we expected to act?
    • Even today, if a missionary is mocked or physically attacked, the worst thing to do is to retaliate in kind.
      • John Wesley, in his journals, records many incidents when he was attacked while trying to preach. He did not retaliate.
  3. The “you have heard that it was said” (5:38) is about the Old Testament law of Lex Talionis or law of retaliation (Matthew 5:38-42). The Old Testament law contained this for both the protection of those injured and therefore as a deterrent to crime and to limit retaliation.
    • He begins the usual way by saying “you have heard” (5:38). He is taking something well known from the religious authorities and the Old Testament and will now correct misunderstandings and misapplications.
    • The “eye for an eye” limited retaliation equal compensation (Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:19-20; Deuteronomy 19:21). It was enacted to protect from vengeance. This principle is sometimes used today to support revenge. That was not the reason for this law. And, this law does not apply today.
    • This law could degenerate into vengeance, and God did not want his people to take vengeance (Leviticus 19:18).
  4. The primary command is “do not resist an evil person” when he takes advantage of you while out preaching the kingdom message.
    • The evil person (poneros. Evil in a moral sense. Used of people, evil spirits, and things such as thoughts) is one who opposes the kingdom message and attacks the disciples.
  5. Jesus gives four illustrations of kinds of incidents: slap, take your shirt, go two miles, and borrow some kind of personal wealth.
    • Matthew 5:39, the slap on the face. The slap is primarily a sign of disrespect (39). Do not let this cause you to strike back. If you do, your pride has taken control of you. Stand your ground and take the slap on the other cheek, too. This shows self control, lack of retaliation, and does not give the attacker a reason to shun the kingdom message.
    • Matthew 4:40, to sue for one’s shirt.
      • The word “sue” in the NASB is krino (κρίνω), which mean to judge, decide, give an opinion. It does not necessarily refer to a legal case, though it can.
      • The shirt is the kiton (χιτών) (40). This is the undershirt or underclothes. It is the garment often worn next to the skin. The coat is himation (ἱμάτιον) a general garment and refers here to one’s coat.
      • Jesus said that if an attacker wants your underwear, let him take it. Give him your coat, too.
        • How were the disciples to understand this? If one gives all his clothes away, he will not have any clothes left. He will be naked. Does Jesus want his messengers to be naked? No, this is an exaggeration in order to teach a point.
        • The Old Testament law said that the coat was so important to an individual that it had to be returned at night (Exodus 22.26; Deuteronomy 24:13).
        • The point is to take a loss for the sake of the message. Jesus tells them to not allow people to distract them from the job he sends them to do.
      • Does this apply today? Only in the sense that we are not to retaliate or seek revenge when someone attacks us when we are witnessing and ministering. We must not get drawn into distractions and act like unbelievers.
    • Matthew 5:41, to go two miles instead of just one mile (41). What does that mean? At that time in history the Roman army had the authority to commandeer a civilian and make him carry his equipment for him. The law limited the distance for the work to one Roman mile. This made the proud Jew mad. Here a Gentile ordered him, a Jew, to carry baggage for a Roman soldier. Roman soldiers pressed Simon of Cyrene into service of carrying Jesus’ cross (Matthew 27:32).
      • Jesus told his disciples to do as requested, and to even offer to carry it an extra mile. This would make an impression on the Roman soldier.
      • What about today? When you are serving the Lord and an unbeliever forces you to do some task for him, do it and do it with a good attitude. This will help to gain a hearing for the message.
    • Matthew 5:42, give to him who asks. What about the one who want to borrow money or part of your wealth (42)?
      • The Old Testament allows loans, but the Jews were not to charge interest to one of their countryman (Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:37; Deuteronomy 23:19).
      • If one did loan to a countryman, he was to do so with grace and generosity (Deuteronomy 15:7-11; Psalm 37:26; 112:5).
      • Proverbs 11:15; 17:18; and 22:26 indicate that one must be careful about loaning money. There are times when one should not loan.
      • Therefore, this verse is not advocating spreading our wealth on whomever may ask.
      • The point is that when the disciples were out preaching they were to be generous to others if they were able.
  6. We have studied the interpretation of these verses. They are ministry related. So what does all of this mean to me in the church age?
    • Do not let pride get in the way of preaching and teaching and witnessing.
    • Do not retaliate if someone disrespects you because of the gospel.
    • Do not get into legal arguments with those over non-essentials such as your shirt or coat. You can get another.
    • Surprise the mocker or one who wants to take advantage of you in the ministry and do more than he asks.
    • If you are able, generously help one in need.

Matthew 5:43-48, Love those who persecute you

  1. The Scribes and Pharisees followed the oral law—the interpretations, explanations, and expansion of the written law. This was the Mishnah.
    • Jews believed that the oral law also came to Moses at Sinai. This oral law had equal authority with the written law. By the third century AD the oral law had taken a written form. (The Mishnah, Translated from the Hebrew with introduction and brief explanatory notes by Herbert Danby, Oxford University Press, 1933)
    • Later, Jewish scholars wrote commentaries on the Mishnah. These commentaries were called Talmuds. The Jerusalem Talmud has twelve printed volumes and the Babylonian Talmud has sixty printed volumes.
  2. Remember the context of this sermon by Jesus. The Jewish community was regulated by this oral law, and this oral law was oppressive and works oriented.
    • Jesus’ main audience in this sermon is his disciples (5:1-2). They will soon be sent to preach the kingdom to Israel (10:1-11:1). He instructs them in the Word of God in contrast to the oral law.
    • The frame of reference for Jesus and his disciples is the Old Testament and its promise of a coming Jewish Messianic kingdom.
    • So, when he gives these instructions, he is directing them to this group of people.
    • We in the church gain principles for living, but we must be careful. We live under a different economy.
    • When we think of the interpretation, we must go back to that time and put ourselves in the disciples sandals and realize that we are about to go about the country preaching the kingdom. We will face much opposition. How were we expected to act?
    • Even today, if a missionary is mocked or physically attacked, the worst thing to do is to retaliate in kind.
    • John Wesley, in his journals, records many incidents when he was attacked while trying to preach. He did not retaliate.
    • This section follows very naturally from the previous section. That emphasis was do not retaliate; this emphasis is on the positive—love your enemies.
  3. Matthew 5:43 refers to a wrong interpretation that the religious leaders had made of Leviticus 19:18, “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.”
    • The current thinking was that one could hate the personal enemy. That, of course, was wrong. See Exodus 23:4-5 where the right treatment for one’s enemy is portrayed. It certainly is not hatred.
    • Jesus sets the correct standard. God’s ideal was that believers should portray His love, not hate. Luke writes also records this lesson in Luke 6:27 and 32.
  4. Matthew 5:44, love and pray. He instructed them to love their enemies and pray for their persecutors.  Instead of retaliation, love; instead of retaliation, pray for them.
    • Enemies are those opposed to you. Those who attack, undermine, hate, and try to stop or destroy you (ἐχθρός,  echthros).
    • Love is the verb, agapaw (ἀγαπάω) in the present active imperative, which stress the command for action as an ongoing process. Love was simply wanting God’s best for another. In the Hebrew Old Testament love (ahab) could be toward family, friends, things, special people, and God. The context gave the emphasis and meaning. The Greek New Testament has more words for love. Here Jesus is not commanding a emotional attraction to one’s enemy, but both the lack of hatred and the mental desire for God’s will and best, or welfare for one’s enemy. Paul and the other New Testament authors will develop the meaning of love.
    • Prayer for someone who persecutes you is a prayer for his blessing. And, their greatest blessing would be for him to come into a faith relationship with God.
  5. Matthew 5:45 gives the reason for love and prayer—so that the disciples show themselves to have the same character as their heavenly Father.
    • God blesses both the evil person and the good person, the righteous and the unrighteous. This shows that God loves both groups and all mankind.
    • This shows us God’s grace to mankind.
    • By loving the enemies and praying for those who persecute them, believers—and specifically the disciples when they are sent out to preach—will show themselves to be Father-like. The trait of their heavenly Father will show through in his sons.
      • Note that this verse does not teach that one must do this so he can become sons of God. It says do this so that he passes on what the Father is like.
      • This is in a context of persecution. This is hard. This is a characteristic of God.
  6. Matthew 5:46-47. Jesus compares what he demands with what the tax collectors and Gentiles do. They love those from whom they get something and those whom they have some sense of commonness. This is not commendable. The kingdom of God kind of life is a higher life—one that reflects God, the Father of the King.
  7. Matthew 5:48 brings this section to a summary conclusion.
    • This verse is reminiscent of Deuteronomy 18:13, “You shall be blameless before the Lord you God.”
    • First, he has addressed those who are in the kingdom of heaven. Note that Jesus uses the terms, heavenly Father. This refers to the kingdom of heaven, and God their Father.
    • Jesus concludes with the command that his disciples, and especially those whom he will send out, be like their heavenly Father. The English uses the word, perfect. The Greek word is τέλειος, teleios. This refers to something or someone that has attained the end or limit or goal. It can refer to the moral sense, to age or adulthood, to absolute moral perfection (God), and to something renowned. Since God is the only perfect one, here it refers to the relative condition of God’s character in his believers, or Christ-likeness.
  8. Summary and So Whats?
    • Believers will gain enemies. And not only enemies at a distance, but those who persecute believers. Jesus says love and pray for them; do not hate them.
    • Grace demands this. God graces both righteous and unrighteous—believers and unbelievers. So, his disciples can do no less.
    • Believers who love their enemies, and spiritual enemies especially, portray God’s grace and God’s love.
    • God is honored, not dishonored by his disciples. This is good.
    • Review spiritual maturity or “Christ formed in you” from the Christian life checklist.
      • Galatians 4:19 My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you
      • Romans 13:14, But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.
      • Ephesians 4:13, until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.
      • 2 Peter 1:4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.