Tuesday, August 9, 2022

A Study of Matthew - Chapter 5 - Sermon on the Mount

by Stan Feldsine (www.tojesusbeallglory.com)

The "Sermon on the Mount" describes the behavior that was expected by Jesus from each of His disciples. The disciples were Christ followers and would become teachers and "fishers of men" and as such they should know what Jesus expected from the beginning. Jesus's expectations of His disciples and all believers were much higher than the oral traditions being promoted by the scribes and pharisees.

Luke appears to record the Sermon on the Mount from a second perspective, however, it is more likely that Luke is recording a different event altogether. It would be common for teachers to speak to their audiences about what they had previously heard, which would account for the similarities. There is nothing in either text that requires us to think of these two accounts as the same event.

Differences between Matthew's and Luke's accounts are, 1) In Matthew, Jesus saw the crowds, and left them and went up a mountain (Mat 5:1). In Luke, Jesus went down and stood "on a level place" (Luk 6:17). 2) In Matthew, Jesus "sat" to talk to His disciples (Mat 5:1), in Luke, Jesus "stood" (Luk 6:17). 3) In Matthew, Jesus spoke to His disciples (Mat 5:2), in Luke, Jesus spoke to a "large number of His disciples (Luk 6:17). 4) In Matthew, Matthew was not yet a disciple (Mat 9:9), in Luke, Matthew was already a disciple (Luk 5:27). 5) In Matthew, Jesus came down from the mountain and healed a leper (Mat 8:12), in Luke, Jesus goes to Capernaum and healed the Centurion's slave (Luk 7:1-10).

Matthew 5:1-2 - The Sermon on the Mount

Mat 5:1-2 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, (2) and he began to teach them. He said:

It is commonly thought that the Sermon on the Mount was presented to a large crowd. But the text reveals Jesus, seeing the crowds, retreating up the mountain side, where the disciples came to him. It was to the disciples that Jesus presented the Sermon on the Mount.

It is apparent, however, that eventually, the crowds found Him up the mountain, and were listening in (Mat 7:28).

The "Sermon" is actually better understood as a discourse. Jesus was sitting and presenting to a limited group of disciples (Mat 5:1), or followers. Normally a sermon given to crowds would be done standing up, such as recorded in Luke (Luk 6:17) .

Jesus "began to teach them", or as the KJV states, "He opened His mouth" indicates a solemn or revelatory occasion is about to begin. Jesus is about to begin teaching about and revealing the character of the coming Kingdom.

The revelation of the coming Kingdom as given in this discourse would be a significant change from the requirement to keep the Law of Moses for the Jewish people.

The Beatitudes in General

The term "beatitude" refers to a state in which there is blessedness or blissfulness. It is a state in which the person experiences a fullness of happiness, joyfulness and blessedness. The eight groups of people listed in the beatitudes would experience blessedness and bliss if they were to follow these guidelines.

These guidelines are not conditions as must do's, but are taught so that the listener would be able to find bliss. Many fail to experience the fullness of joy and happiness because they don't appropriate the helpful guidelines Jesus speaks of here. The beatitudes show how to open God's pipeline of blessing.

Matthew 5:3 - The Poor in Spirit

Mat 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The poor in spirit are those that are led by humility and honestly with regards to our spiritual condition. These are those that recognize our spiritual condition as one of great need, and temper our approach to others with a humility instead of arrogance.

Luke records a slightly different take, addressing those who are poor, as opposed to those who are poor in spirit. The audience needs to be recalled, Jesus was speaking to His disciples, and they were businessmen, fishermen, tent makers and such. He was not speaking about the "homeless" as we know them today. Perhaps these businessmen had given up everything in order to follow Jesus, and had become poor by choice. They would be blessed.

Luk 6:20 Looking at his disciples, he said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

It is not an excuse for homeless people to live a life of poverty, believing that they will be blessed because of it. Scripture teaches that if one does not work, they should not eat.

1Th 2:11-12 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, (12) encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

2Th 3:6-15 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. (7) For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, (8) nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. (9) We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. (10) For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat." (11) We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. (12) Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. (13) And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good. (14) Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed. (15) Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer.

The guidance Jesus gives in Matthew's account is different that that of Luke's account. Matthew's account of Jesus's teaching speaks of humility and not arrogance, while Luke's account of Jesus's teaching speaks of setting the coming kingdom as a priority over seeking to satisfy physical needs and desires. In a later verse we read, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Mat 6:33).

Those that are poor in spirit are blessed because the kingdom is already theirs. Through their spiritual humility they were already in alignment with the kingdom. They already were or became what John had called them to, they had repented of the sin of pride and arrogance.

Matthew 5:4 - Those Who Mourn

Mat 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

It might be bewildering to consider the words, but mourning and blessedness are compatible with the coming kingdom. It is not speaking so much about the common mourning that we experience when someone close to us passes away, but rather the mourning over the present state of spiritual affairs. It means to be filled with regret for evil both inside of us and in the world. Lot was vexed.

2Pe 2:7-9 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (8) (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)-- (9) if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.

Another way to look at this is rather than look for rewards for our supposed righteous acts, we should instead grieve our failures in the spiritual realm.

Psa 119:136 Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed.

Eze 9:4 and said to him, "Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it."

In so doing we will find the mercy of God as He comforts us, encouraging and supporting us.

1Jn 2:1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

Joh 14:26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Matthew 5:5 - The Meek

Mat 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Jesus was likely pulling this beatitude from Psa 37:11, where the context was those who were being persecuted and afflicted by evil doers. Evil doers will fade and disappear, but the meek who endure will be blessed in the coming kingdom, and will inherit the earth that the evil have always tried to take by force.

Psa 37:7-13 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. (8) Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret--it leads only to evil. (9) For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land. (10) A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. (11) But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity. (12) The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; (13) but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming.

The "meek" person is one who patiently waits on God to deal with the evil doers and their coming judgment. A "meek" person does not try to compete with or apply personal vengeance upon the evil doers.

Meekness should not be confused with weakness. Jesus had no problem confronting the religious leaders and defending those who were being abused. He did so with great boldness and in your face aggression.

Mat 23:27-28 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. (28) In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

Our future hope is in the earth belonging to the Messianic Kingdom. Our blessedness comes from the fact that we will inherit by divine decree what evil doers have always struggled an killed for, but have never attained.

Matthew 5:6 - Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

Mat 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

The terms "hunger" and "thirst" bring to mind strong desires. When someone is hungry and / or thirsty, the desire for food and water becomes acute.

Those who crave righteousness will be blessed because we are made righteous in Christ.

2Co 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Those who crave righteousness will be blessed because in the coming kingdom righteousness will be the standard.

2Pe 3:13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

The promise of righteousness to those who are in Christ and as a standard for the coming kingdom presents a strong contrast against the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. Theirs was an external show, while that of Christ is of internal character.

Mat 23:25-28 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. (26) Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. (27) "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. (28) In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

To live a moral life of righteousness is to remove the stress of guilt and shame.

Matthew 5:7 - The Merciful

Mat 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

The term "mercy" can be expressed in two ways. The first is through forgiveness for the guilty, and the second is through compassion for the suffering and needy.

In the first expression, we are merciful when we treat someone without judging them and holding them to the strict letter of the law.

2Co 3:3-6 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (4) Such confidence we have through Christ before God. (5) Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. (6) He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant--not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Mercy in the context of non-judgmentalism and non-legalism is not something that is applied to circumstances that arise, but rather defines a person's character. A merciful person is one that lives a life that mercy flows out of as a characteristic of that person, rather than a life where mercy is applied as circumstances arise. It is a characteristic of a person rather than a call for circumstantial forgiveness.

Mat 6:14-15 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. (15) But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Servants of a merciful God should also be merciful. Those who are blessed are those who develop mercy as a personal characteristic that guides interactions with others, including their enemies.

Matthew 5:8 - The Pure in Heart

Mat_5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

This beatitude, like the others draws a profound distinction between the character of the coming kingdom and the present state of affairs in Israel. Israel's religious leaders teach outward appearance, and Jesus is teaching inward character. This beatitude again focuses on the inward condition of the heart.

The beatitude presents a conundrum, for the heart is said to be desperately evil.

Jer_17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

2Co_5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

However, the heart can be cleansed. In this Psalm, David takes the initiative and goes to God asking for forgiveness for his sin with Bathsheba, and asks God for a clean heart.

Psa_51:10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Purity of heart comes through faith. David believed God would give him a clean heart, and he did. This inward cleanliness is contrasted with the ceremonial cleansing of the sacrificial system.

Act_15:9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.

These who bring their hearts before Christ for cleansing by faith are blessed because this clears their vision of who Christ is and what the character of His Kingdom will be. Contrast with Mat_13:14.

Mat_13:10-17 The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?" (11) He replied, "Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. (12) Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. (13) This is why I speak to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. (14) In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: "'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. (15) For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.' (16) But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. (17) For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

There is also a future blessing that comes into play as well. In the future, we will see Jesus as He is, the dark glass will be no more.

1Jn_3:2-3 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (3) All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Matthew 5:9 - The Peacemakers

Mat 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

A peacemaker is someone who works out peace instead of aggression. It is worth discussing how to define a peacemaker.

Jesus is the best example of a peacemaker in the sense this beatitude is speaking. Interestingly, Jesus was not considered a peacemaker by those He opposed, rather He was seen as a troublemaker. Jesus Himself even claimed He did not come to bring peace.

Luk 12:51 Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.

So it is clear Jesus did not mean that we should have peace at any cost, and indeed, not at the expense of God's truth. So what peace is this beatitude speaking of?

Jesus was referring to peace between God and Man. He was the ultimate peacemaker by His death on the cross.

Col 1:19-20 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, (20) and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Eph 2:14-16 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, (15) by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, (16) and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

Act 10:34-36 Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism (35) but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. (36) You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.

Rom 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Our relationships with others should characterize Jesus's relationship with us. The highest good is not peace, but peacemaking within God's truth.

Glasscock states: To accommodate heresy, blasphemy, immorality, or other behavior attitudes and characteristics that are contrary to God's revelation in the name of peace is to totally ignore this teaching in its context. Christ demonstrates how to be a peacemaker.

Examples: Abortion, Israel as a people distinct from the church, homosexuality, transgenderism, crude speech from brethren, etc.

The beatitude is saying that those who bring peace between God and man to others will be called "children of God" and rewarded.

Rom 8:18-24 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (19) For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. (20) For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope (21) that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. (22) We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. (23) Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. (24) For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?

What this means is that at the inauguration of the kingdom, those that are "children of God" and peacemakers will be recognized and acknowledged before the congregation, and given a greater reward.

Heb 11:24-26 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. (25) He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. (26) He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.

Rev 22:12 "Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.

Matthew 5:10 - Those Who Are Persecuted

Mat 5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Peter gave this same encouragement to his hearers:

1Pe 3:14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened."

1Pe 4:14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

The key to this beatitude is "because of righteousness".

2Ti 3:12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

We will be persecuted because of the name of Jesus.

Joh 15:18-20 "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. (19) If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. (20) Remember what I told you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.

The blessing that results from experiencing persecution and remaining righteous is their part in the inheritance in the coming Kingdom. That kingdom will come, and we will go into it, and our enemies will be destroyed.

Matthew 5:11-12 - You Who Are Persecuted

Mat 5:11-12 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. (12) Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Jesus takes a more personal approach from here on. It is not "those who ..." will be blessed, but now is is "you ..." will be blessed. Perhaps looking forward to the persecution that is coming on these disciples.

Joh 15:18-21 "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. (19) If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. (20) Remember what I told you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. (21) They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.

Joh 16:1-4 "All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. (2) They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. (3) They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. (4) I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you,

Jesus was instructing them that unfair treatment was a blessing ("great is your reward in heaven").

2Co 4:17-18 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (18) So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

1Pe 2:20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.

Matthew 5:13 - The Salt

Mat 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

The metaphors of Salt and Light illustrate the influence of good in the world. Salt has two purposes, that of flavoring food and that of preserving food. As a flavoring, the illustration is that of countering secularization and a humanistic worldview, but also it counters the idea of isolating ones self and removing ones self from society. Salt must be sprinkled on the food to be of use.

Salt as a preservative must be rubbed into the meat like a flavorful spice mixture is, so that it gets into it and it's preservative value can be realized.

So it is with Christ followers, it is not enough to BE the salt of the earth, but to be of value we must influence society through active involvement and interaction with it. The salty Christian life is one that stands out and is attractive to the unsaved.

How are we to be preservatives to the world. It is not through politics and social justice programs that are doomed to failure, thus bringing reproach upon the name of Jesus. These attempts are nothing more than "weapons of the world".

2Co 10:3-4 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. (4) The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

Rather it is who we are as followers of Christ, "in Christ" that is the flavor and preservative. It is our higher moral and ethics, higher regard for human life and higher value systems that add flavor and preserve society. We are to demonstrate and work these values out in our life in front of others.

The statement "if the salt has lost it's saltiness ... It is no longer good for anything" implies that if we are not fulfilling this purpose we are useless in the work of the kingdom. This is not a loss of salvation statement, but has to do directly with the rewards we will receive in heaven at the Bema Judgment.

1Co 3:11-15 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. (12) If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, (13) their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person's work. (14) If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. (15) If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved--even though only as one escaping through the flames.

2Co 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

Matthew 5:14-16 - The Light

Mat 5:14-16 "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. (15) Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. (16) In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

In the Bible lands buildings were made out of white limestone. Those that were build on the tops of hills reflected the suns rays brightly, and even at night the reflection of the moon would be visible for miles.

The term "a city on a hill" spoke of the ability of such cities to attract attention to themselves. Christians are to reflect this same character of light.

Eph 5:8-9 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (9) (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)

Php 2:14-16 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, (15) so that you may become blameless and pure, "children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation." Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky (16) as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.

The type of light being spoken of here is not that of a flashlight, illuminating things here and there, but rather that of a lamp, that illuminates an entire area. We show forth the manifest glory of God through our character. Our purpose is not to illuminate the successes or failures of individuals but rather to show what life in Christ is really about and provides a visible witness to the world.

Testimonies are an example of a light shining forth. The goal is to show what life with God is like and to give God the glory.

You have the light of Christ in you, it should be shown outward. There is no use to having the light of Christ but hiding it away, not revealing it to the unsaved world around us. We may as well not turn the light on.

In vs. 16 we see that Matthew equated light with good deeds, the purpose of which is to "glorify your Father in heaven". Our good works are born out of our character, and show forth what is down inside of us, which is a transformed nature by the Holy Spirit.

1Pe 2:12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

Matthew 5:17 - Christ Came to Fulfill the Law

Mat 5:17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

The subject matter changes at this point to Jesus's relationship to the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ. Jesus was getting ready to address the Oral Law of the scribes and Pharisees in Mat 5:21-48. Part of the prevailing thought among the people Jesus was addressing was that He had come to "abolish" the Law. Jesus countered that He had not come to "abolish", but to "fulfill".

At this point, it may be helpful to define some of the terms used in this pericope.


The term "oral Law" refers to the "Talmud" and the "Mishna". They are legal commentaries on the Hebrew Scriptures explaining how the commandments are to be carried out. It perhaps started out as a useful tool to help explain what the Hebrew Scriptures were saying, but ended up adding much burden to what were to be light and easy laws.

The term "abolish" means to "throw down, demolish, or destroy". So we read that Jesus did not come to end the Old Testament destructively, or to just cut it off.

The term "Law or the Prophets" refers to the entirety of the Old Testament, also commonly known as the Hebrew Scriptures. There are two parts to the Hebrew Scriptures, the Law, and the Prophets.

The "Law" portion was contained in first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures, and contained the Law of the Land so to speak for Israel. Since Israel was a theocracy, meaning a country ruled by God, there were many religious laws in the "Law".

The term "Prophets" refers to the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures, which were written by various prophets of God.

The term "fulfill" means to bring about the purposes and goals of the Hebrew Scriptures, and thus bring about the completion of the demands upon the Jewish people and mankind in general. Jesus states that He has come to "fulfill" the entirety of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Law and the predictions of the Prophets.

Law of Christ” is the eternal law of love, which Jesus defined as love God and love neighbor (Mat 22:36-40). See also Gal 6:2 and 1Co 9:21.

Fulfillment of the Law

The "fulfillment" by Jesus of the Hebrew scriptures with regards to the "Law" meant that He perfectly conformed to the requirements of the Law of Moses, in all it's regulations and commands. In so doing He brought forth the true meaning of the Law, showed how it was to be kept, from the heart. This living demonstration by Jesus established the law rather than abolished it.

The point that Jesus was showing was that we were to live by the Spirit above the written law. The written Law of Moses was intended to by a guide leading Israel to love of God and love of neighbor. It was never a checklist, but something to point them to reality.

Paul detailed the contrast between living by the Spirit versus the written law.

2Co 3:2-6 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. (3) You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (4) Such confidence we have through Christ before God. (5) Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. (6) He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant--not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Jesus "fulfilled" all of the requirements of the "Law", and that "fulfillment" applies to all believers who are in Christ. In this sense, when we are in Christ, we are freed us from the penalty of the written "Law", which was death.

Col 2:13-14 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, (14) having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.

Fulfillment of the Prophets

The fulfillment by Jesus of the Hebrew Scriptures with regards to "the Prophets" meant that He would bring about the completion of all prophecy contained in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Note that a part of that fulfillment included the bringing in of the Messianic Kingdom. Jesus came to fulfill that too, however, due to the Jewish people's rejection of the Kingdom, it was subsequently postponed. So the completion of all prophecy in the Hebrew Scriptures awaits the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom.

Nevertheless, Jesus did fulfill the prophecies regarding His being the Lamb who would take away the sins of the world. Because of His once and for all sacrifice, the Jewish people are no longer required to provide sacrificial animals to cover sin.

Matthew shows an example of Christ fulfilling prophecy regarding the manner of His death.

Mat 26:53-56 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? (54) But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?" (55) In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, "Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. (56) But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled." Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

John provides the fulfillment of the prophets regarding His purpose for coming, Jesus says, "It is finished".

Joh 19:28-30 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." (29) A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. (30) When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Matthew 5:18 - The Persistence of the Law

Mat 5:18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

The Spirit of the Law, or the Law of Christ

The passage states that the law will not change until "everything is accomplished". What "Law" is this referring to?

The best way to read this is to see that the heart of the law, loving God and loving our neighbor will remain until the heavens and earth disappear, which is way out in the future following the Messianic Kingdom. In that sense, the Law will remain until heaven and earth disappear.

Mat 22:36-40 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" (37) Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' (38) This is the first and greatest commandment. (39) And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' (40) All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Jesus was quoting from the Law.

Lev 19:18 "'Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

Deu 6:5-9 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (6) These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. (7) Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (8) Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. (9) Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

The love and respect for each other will never change. Today, we see the outworking of this Law of the Spirit as spiritual fruit.

Gal 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Isn't it interesting that Paul is declaring that against such things, there is no law. This is because as Spirit led individuals, we will meet all the requirements a written law might regulate us with. In other words, the Law is not required for us to be obedient to the spirit of the Law.

Gal 6:2 Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

The Written Law of Moses

Ex 20 - Laws about altars

Ex 21 - Laws about slaves

Ex 21-22 Laws about restitution

Ex 22:16 - Laws about Social Justice

Ex 23:10 - Laws about Sabbath and Festivals

Lev 1-6 - Offerings

Lev 11 - Clean and unclean animals

Lev 12 - Purification after childbirth

Lev 13-14 - Laws regarding Leprosy

Lev 15 - Bodily discharges

Lev 16 - Laws about the Day of Atonement

Lev 17 - Laws about eating blood

Lev 18 - Unlawful Sexual Relations

Lev 19 - The Lord is Holy, Love your neighbor as yourself, keep the commands

Lev 20 - Punishments for Child Sacrifice, Sexual Immorality, By Ye Holy

Lev 21-22 - Holiness and the Priests

Lev 23-25 - Observing Feast Days

Lev 26 - Blessings and Punishments for Obedience and Disobedience

Lev 27 - Vows

Deu 31:9-13 - The Reading of the Law


Psa 147:19-20 He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel. (20) He has done this for no other nation; they do not know his laws. Praise the LORD.

Such was the purpose of the written law for the Israelites. They did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit, and therefore needed a tutor or guardian to teach them the principles of the spiritual law.

Gal 3:19 Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator.

Gal 3:24-27 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. (25) Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. (26) So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, (27) for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Heb 7:18-19 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (19) (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.

So the practical implementation of the written Law of Moses to Israel did indeed change, when all was accomplished. So what is Jesus talking about that needs to be accomplished?

Rom 8:1-4 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, (2) because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (3) For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, (4) in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Matthew 5:19 - Don't Set Aside the Law

Mat 5:19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

So in light of the preceding instruction, showing that the purpose of the Law of Moses was to show the meaning of loving God and loving neighbor, we can see that the commands we are to keep have to do with loving each other.

John points out that Jesus's "greatest commandments", loving God and loving our neighbors is nothing new. It has always been the same commands that were to be kept and the Law of Moses pointed Israel to them.

1Jn 3:11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.

The commands that we are to keep are to love, and here John repeats it.

1Jn 2:7-8 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. (8) Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

And John repeats it again.

1Jn 4:21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

This is what we are to keep and teach. The Law of Moses as a guide for Israel has been permanently set aside, and by the Spirit we are to now be transformed into people that demonstrate the spiritual fruit of love.

Matthew 5:20 - The Righteousness Required

Mat 5:20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

The system of religion whereby we are spirit led is to be greatly superior to that of being under a tutor of written laws. The Pharisees were into rote ritual, checking boxes off, and the requirement is much greater, that of love.

Matthew 5:21-22 - Anger

Mat 5:21-22 "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' (22) But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, 'Raca,' is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.

Based on the understanding that the intent of the eternal Law from the beginning was to love God and love one another, Jesus begins to deconstruct the oral law. The oral law had reduced God's eternal law to a ritual checklist and hidden the intent of the eternal law.

The Pharisees believed that as long as you didn't kill someone, you were keeping the law. Jesus showed that the Pharisee's oral law was incomplete, and missed the point. Killing someone was evidence of a much deeper problem. The intent of the law was to address the inward attitude and the heart of the matter, but this was hidden, or ignored.

Jesus was addressing the seed of murder, which was the thoughts. He was addressing the evil intent of the heart that was leading to the sin of killing someone.

Paul taught this:

Eph 4:31-32 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. (32) Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Col 3:8-9 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. (9) Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices

John also:

1Jn 3:10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God's child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.

Anger itself is not a sin.

Eph 4:26-27 "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, (27) and do not give the devil a foothold.

The question is what do you do with the anger.

Matthew 5:23-24 - Anger - Reconciliation

Mat 5:23-24 "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, (24) leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

This passage indicates that anger presents a barrier between God and man when there is a barrier between man and man. The passage speaks of correcting the man to man relationship before the God to man relationship can be made right.

In programs like Celebrate Recovery this is called making a moral inventory, and making amends. When it is safe to do so, we will sometimes even make an amends even when we are not at fault. This is what is described in vs. 23 as "a brother or sister having something against us". The priority here is that we bring about reconciliation, so that our relation with God is pure.

Matthew 5:25-26 - Anger - Peace

Mat 5:25-26 "Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. (26) Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

The standard of Jesus's righteousness means going the extra step to mend differences and bring about reconciliation. This is the requirement of the heart, the intent of the eternal law. To bring about a change of heart before sin erupts. We are commanded to live in peace, not just avoid killing each other.

Psa 34:11-14 Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. (12) Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, (13) keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. (14) Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

1Th 5:13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.

Heb 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

Rom 14:19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

We will recall the Beatitude of the peacemakers.

Mat 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

However, we should remember that we should not compromise on on godly issues.

Rom 12:18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Glasscock states: To accommodate heresy, blasphemy, immorality, or other behavior attitudes and characteristics that are contrary to God's revelation in the name of peace is to totally ignore this teaching in its context. Christ demonstrates how to be a peacemaker.

Examples: Abortion, Israel as a people distinct from the church, homosexuality, transgenderism, crude speech from brethren, etc.

Matthew 5:27-28 - Lust - A Heart Matter

Mat 5:27-28 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' (28) But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Adultery was actually prohibited among the nations as well as Israel. Interestingly though, adultery was illegal only for women.

Pre-Law of Moses

In ancient times prior to the Law of Moses, there were no prohibitions against sexual relations between the man of the family and other women. There was no penalty for such activity except in the cases of rape or abuse of power over someone elses slave if they were a virgin.

Gen 16:1-4 Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; (2) so she said to Abram, "The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her." Abram agreed to what Sarai said. (3) So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. (4) He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress.

Gen 30:1-4 When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, "Give me children, or I'll die!" (2) Jacob became angry with her and said, "Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?" (3) Then she said, "Here is Bilhah, my servant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and I too can build a family through her." (4) So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife. Jacob slept with her,

Gen 38:14-18 she took off her widow's clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself, and then sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that, though Shelah had now grown up, she had not been given to him as his wife. (15) When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. (16) Not realizing that she was his daughter-in-law, he went over to her by the roadside and said, "Come now, let me sleep with you." "And what will you give me to sleep with you?" she asked. (17) "I'll send you a young goat from my flock," he said. "Will you give me something as a pledge until you send it?" she asked. (18) He said, "What pledge should I give you?" "Your seal and its cord, and the staff in your hand," she answered. So he gave them to her and slept with her, and she became pregnant by him.

Nevertheless, adultery was not a wise thing, as it contained consequences, which Proverb's relates to the vengeance of a woman's husband.

Pro 6:32-34 But a man who commits adultery has no sense; whoever does so destroys himself. (33) Blows and disgrace are his lot, and his shame will never be wiped away. (34) For jealousy arouses a husband's fury, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge.

Law of Moses

When the Law of Moses came along, God gave the Israelites the following law that contained penalties for sleeping with another man's wife. That penalty was death.

Deu 22:22 If a man is found sleeping with another man's wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel.

Lev 20:10 "'If a man commits adultery with another man's wife--with the wife of his neighbor--both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.

Deu 22:24 you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death--the young woman because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man's wife. You must purge the evil from among you.

The penalty for violating a virgin was less severe.

Deu 22:28-29 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, (29) he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

Dr. Ed Glasscock explains:

The idea is that, buy committing adultery a woman has brought another man's seed into the family or clan and thus corrupts the lineage of the husband. A man, however, cannot corrupt his own line by producing offspring from another woman. At least part of the guilt of adultery in the ancient world, then, was a matter of not maintaining the unquestioned purity of the family line.

Jesus, in the waning days of the Law of Moses, when addressing the issue of adultery, clearly stated that a man could commit adultery against his own wife.

Mar 10:11 He answered, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her.

The Law of Christ

Jesus really came into this subject and turned the ancient ways of dealing with this upside down. Jesus taught that the issue of adultery had more to do with the character of a man and less to do with marital status of the participants.

Paul in instructing Timothy told him:

1Ti 3:2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,

Dr. Ed Glasscock points out that "faithful to his wife" is better translated "a one woman type of man" which speaks to the nature of the man's character and who he is more so than marital status.

Jesus goes even further when He speaks of adultery in terms of our thought life. He clearly identifies adultery as evil, and that it is a matter of an evil heart.

Mat 15:19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts--murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

Mar 7:21-23 For it is from within, out of a person's heart, that evil thoughts come--sexual immorality, theft, murder, (22) adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. (23) All these evils come from inside and defile a person."

So once again we see that the coming kingdom is going to be characterized by righteousness that emanates from the heart, from who people are in their innermost being. Purity, goodness and love will be the rule of those days.

Matthew 5:29-30 - Lust - The Seriousness

Mat 5:29-30 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. (30) And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

After explaining the roles of the eye and the heart in lust, Jesus uses hyperbole to illustrate the seriousness of what He is saying. Clearly, Jesus is very serious about this subject.

Rhetoric is defined as "... the art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic is one of the three ancient arts of discourse. Rhetoric aims to study the techniques writers or speakers utilize to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations (Wikipedia).

Hyperbole is defined as "a form of rhetorical exaggeration that highlights and emphasizes a point by exaggeration" (Dr. Glasscock).

Offending God's standards is to be considered more serious than the actual act of tearing one's eye out, or hand off. This implies that the temporal and eternal consequences of not controlling your eyes and hands that see and do are not to be trifled with.

The idea is that the heart is influenced by what the eyes feed it. If we allow the eyes to fantasize and gaze longingly at what it should not, then the heart will stumble and careen out of control, and that stumble can lead to adultery.

Mat 15:19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts--murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

In order to avoid having the heart careen out of control, Jesus says to remove the source of the stumble, the eye. The point is to avoid lust by looking away and thinking about something else.

James describes this principle in James 1.

Jas 1:14-15 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. (15) Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Job understood this process. He helps to define how to deal with this issue this way:

Job 31:1 "I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.

Jesus repeats this thought in Matt 18.

Mat 18:7-9 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! (8) If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. (9) And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

Matthew 5:31-32 - Divorce

Mat 5:31-32 "It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.' (32) But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

(See https://bible.org/seriespage/6-teachings-jesus-divorce-matthew-531-32a for an extended treatment of this subject.)

Verse 31 is a reference to the Law of Moses regarding divorce in Deu_24:1-4. This passage shows that the prevailing teaching of the Pharisees was that the process for divorce for Israel in those days was to write a certificate of divorce. This practice was designed to absolve the man of guilt. Jesus is referring to this practice in this verse.

Deu 24:1 If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house,

In the times of Christ, the Jewish rabbi's were debating this law, with some saying that a certificate of divorce could be given for any reason, and others saying that the certificate of divorce could only be given for infidelity. This disagreement could have been what prompted the Pharisees to ask Jesus what He thought about it.

Mat 19:3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?"

Jesus addressed the first part of verse 32 by stating that any man who divorces his wife for anything except sexual immorality (fornication) would make the woman a victim of adultery.

Mat 19:4-6 "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' (5) and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? (6) So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."

While the Pharisees were teaching that a man could put the woman away for potentially any reason when a certificate of divorce was provided. Jesus corrected their thinking by saying that it was the man who was the adulterer, certificate or otherwise, and it was his actions that were having the negative effect on the woman.

Mat 19:7-9 "Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?" (8) Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. (9) I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery."

William F. Luck

The scholar William F. Luck helps us to understand this further.

My own feeling is that we should first interpret Deu 24:1-4 in its own right as we have done above, then allow the Matthew passage to inform the Deuteronomic one insofar as Pharasaical misinterpretation is involved, because that is what Jesus is trying to do in the Sermon at that point. There was misunderstanding regarding the Deuteronomic passage, and Jesus is trying to clear the problem up.

The Pharisees regarded the husband of Deu 24:1 as righteous and the woman as guilty and defiled. Jesus reversed this to say that the man who took advantage of the Deuteronomic concession was guilty of adultery, and the woman was innocent of moral guilt, though, perhaps, stigmatized.

Jesus is probably silent regarding the defilement of Deu 24:4 precisely because, having stated that the woman was put away, it was not necessary to reaffirm the obvious, that is, if she remarries she may not subsequently return to the former husband. The Pharisees, after all, did not argue about that; nor did they misunderstand the rule in that respect.

Though they emphasize different sides of the coin, the main intent of both Deu 24:1-4 and Mat 5:31-32 is to protect the woman from a hard-hearted husband who is treacherously inclined to treat her like chattel property.

Deuteronomy 24 emphasizes the protection of the innocent wife. Matthew 5 emphasizes the culpability of the divorcing husband.

Deuteronomy is not trying to exonerate the husband of the guilt of a form of adultery; Matthew is not trying to implicate the wife in adultery.

Deuteronomy is not trying to offer a legal way out of a broken marriage;

Matthew is not trying to prohibit the legal ending of a broken marriage.

And by the same token, it is not the main purpose of Matthew to teach a legal way out of marriage. The exception clause is only an aside to the main point: implicating the treacherous male as an adulterer in the eyes of God over and against a Pharasaical, chauvinistic society.


Malachi also sheds some light on this topic in an allegory.

Do we not all have one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our ancestors by being unfaithful to one another? (11) Judah has been unfaithful. A detestable thing has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem: Judah has desecrated the sanctuary the LORD loves by marrying women who worship a foreign god. (12) As for the man who does this, whoever he may be, may the LORD remove him from the tents of Jacob--even though he brings an offering to the LORD Almighty. (13) Another thing you do: You flood the LORD's altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. (14) You ask, "Why?" It is because the LORD is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. (15) Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. (16) "The man who hates and divorces his wife," says the LORD, the God of Israel, "does violence to the one he should protect," says the LORD Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.

Mat 19:3-12 has a lot more to say about this, and this will be explored in more depth when we get to that passage. For now, we should recognize that the Pharisees were trying to interpret the Mosaic Law regarding divorce to give the man the benefit, and Jesus was correcting this by showing the law was in place to protect the woman.

Matthew 5:33-37 - Oaths

Mat 5:33-37 "Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.' (34) But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; (35) or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. (36) And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. (37) All you need to say is simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

Jesus again is calling up an area of the Law of Moses that was being misused by the Pharisees. The value of an oath making had degenerated into making a false show of sincerity and arrogance.

These passages speak of being careful of saying things that cannot or will not be lived up to. The caution was against false oaths.

Lev 19:12 "'Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.

Num 30:2 When a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.

Deu 23:21, 23 If you make a vow to the LORD your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the LORD your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin. (23) Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the LORD your God with your own mouth.

Jesus then names 4 things that oaths were made against, and illustrates that mankind has no authority to be making oaths. Man has no authority over heaven as God's throne, nor the earth, nor by Jerusalem, nor their own head. These are things man has no authority to call into account should the oath be broken. Consider the definition of an oath:

Dr. Ed Glasscock - "An oath was a binding agreement and to swear against a someone or something called that person or thing into account."

The account of Jephthah's Vow shows how oaths can be misused, and the tragedy that can result - Jdg 11:29-40.

These verses showed that according to the Law of Moses, Israel should not be making "false oaths", but Jesus made it clear that they should avoid making oaths at all. He showed that oath taking was a meaningless endevour.

Oath taking implies that at other times, our yes is not our yes and our no is not our no, in order to show sincerity, we need to present an oath. But our sincerity should not come from an oath, it should be a part of our character, who we are. If our sincerity is of value then our yes is yes and our no is no and an oath will not be able to add to that.

Dr. Glasscock quotes Josephus, who wrote about the Essenes view of oath making:

"The are eminent for fidelity, and are the ministers of peace; whatsoever they say also is firmer than an oath; but swearing is avoided by them, and they esteem if worse than perjury; for they say, that he who cannot be believed without [swearing by] God, is already condemned."

Note must be made of the difference in the meanings of vows. An oath as an authoritative accountability between someone or some thing is not the same as taking wedding vows for example. In the case of wedding vows, this is simply a public proclamation that is witnessed, not assigning accountability to someone outside the wedding, I.E. I swear to God I will do such and such other wise this or that will happen.

Matthew 5:38-42 - Retribution

Mat 5:38-42 "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' (39) But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. (40) And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. (41) If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. (42) Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Jesus continues His discourse explaining how the oral traditions of the Pharisee's fall short of God's ideals. The context of the following passages is guidelines to be exercised in a court of law, however, the Pharisees had twisted the meaning to be that of personal interactions contrary to the context.

Exo 21:22-25 "If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman's husband demands and the court allows. (23) But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, (24) eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, (25) burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

Lev 24:19-20 Anyone who injures their neighbor is to be injured in the same manner: (20) fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The one who has inflicted the injury must suffer the same injury.

Deu 19:21 Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

The examples that Jesus gives reveal the attitude of what our personal reactions should be towards each other, contrary to and "eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth". Jesus uses hyperbole in these examples, using exaggeration to make His points. The idea that He was conveying is that we should not seek revenge to avenge injured pride.

Jesus said "do not resist an evil person". Jesus was not advocating for pacifism and that we should allow evil to go unchecked through civil society. Realizing that Jesus's standard of righteousness was higher than that of the Pharisees, His illustration indicated hyperbolically that we personally should be willing to suffer personal injury rather than seek revenge. The point of the exaggeration is that avenging our pride is not righteous, but defending our selves and others is not wrong.

Jesus was prohibiting personal retaliation, not civil justice. He was speaking about taking the law into our own hands.

We see in the example of Christ, when others were being treated unjustly, He was a lion, but when He was being treated unjustly personally, He was a Lamb.

Joh 2:13-15 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. (14) In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. (15) So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.

Mar 14:55-61 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. (56) Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree. (57) Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: (58) "We heard him say, 'I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.'" (59) Yet even then their testimony did not agree. (60) Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, "Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?" (61) But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?"

Jesus is our example:

1Pe 2:20-23 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. (21) To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. (22) "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth." (23) When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

This does not mean that we should not go to the law for resolution, rather that we cannot seek restitution ourselves.

Of course we should be willing to lay our lives down for Christ, but it is not wrong to defend ourselves and others against crazed attackers. So the prohibition here is against the use of physical violence to protect one's pride.

This same type of attitude should accompany us in the treatment of possessions. The idea here is that our possessions belong to God, we are just stewards. There is great promise for those who have an attitude of joy when property is confiscated. The promise is in the future, a future we should be 100% confident is ours.

Heb 10:32-35 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. (33) Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. (34) You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. (35) So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

This also applies to our time.

J. M. Boice - To us that means that we are not to be resentful when people call us on the telephone and take up valuable time—just because they do not have anything to do. And we are not to be surly when we are given added work at the office, are saddled with someone else’s work, or are sent out for coffee when we are in the middle of something we think important. We are to do it cheerfully and as unto the Lord.

This same attitude should govern our feeling towards money. We should have a generous heart. Implied here, and taught throughout scripture is having wisdom as well. Sometimes giving away money can be to the detriment of others, and what they are going to use the money for comes into play.

1Jn 3:17-18 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? (18) Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Paul placed special emphasis on caring for ones family.

1Ti 5:8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Additionally, the Bible provides teaching to guide those who are asking for money as well.

Eph 4:28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

2Th 3:10-12 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat." (11) We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. (12) Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat.

God loves a cheerful giver. Being generous is a fruit of the Spirit. It flows from the heart, or who we are as a person.

2Co 9:6-8 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. (7) Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (8) And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Matthew 5:43-48 - Love Your Enemies

Mat 5:43-48 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (45) that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (46) If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? (47) And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? (48) Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

With regards to "loving your neighbor", Jesus is pointing out a passage in Leviticus 19.

Lev 19:18 "'Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

A "neighbor" here is a fellow Israelite, not someone next door. This is important to our understanding of similar New Testament passages, as the special relationship between God and His people is a significant testimony to the world.

Gal 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Joh 13:34-35 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (35) By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

With regards to hating your enemies, the Rabbi's oral tradition promoted hatred enemies. Although there is no passage in the law that states we should hate our enemies, these passages were misused to promote just that.

Psa 139:21-22 Do I not hate those who hate you, LORD, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you? (22) I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.

Psa 26:5 I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked.

Psa 31:6 I hate those who cling to worthless idols; as for me, I trust in the LORD.

Jesus then gave us His correction of the Pharisees misuse of passages like these, and reveals what attitude we should have in the new kingdom, that of loving our enemies and praying for those that persecute us.

Luk 23:33-34 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals--one on his right, the other on his left. (34) Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

1Pe 2:21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

Rom 12:20 On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."

Old Testament passages also show that Israel was to have this attitude, contrary to the oral law.

Pro 25:21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.

2Ki 6:21-23 When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, "Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?" (22) "Do not kill them," he answered. "Would you kill those you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master." (23) So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel's territory.

Verse 45 then shows that by loving our enemies and praying for our persecutors we will be acting like our Father in heaven.

The CEV conveys this meaning better than the NIV. The idea is that loving ones enemies demonstrates that we are already God's children, not that one becomes a child of God by performance.

Mat 5:45 (CEV) Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong.

Mat 5:45 (NIV) that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

God's provision of love is demonstrated in His goodness, even to those who hate Him, the sun rises on the evil, the rains fall on the unrighteous, etc., as well as the fact that He gave us salvation even when we were sinners.

Rom 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Verses 46-47 fit perfectly into the context of being more righteous than the Pharisees. Loving ones enemies shows the inner change that has taken place in our hearts, and transformed who we are as a people. We Are God's people, and it is a testimony to the world of God's grace and power when we are able to love our enemies.

Finally, Jesus finishes this pericope with a call to be perfect. Perfection in this context again is a call to be in Christ, to allow the Holy Spirit to bring transformation to who we are to be more like He is. We are to reflect His character, to be complete, whole, and mature.

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