AncientPath.net - The Ancient Path, Matthew Chapter 5, Gaebelein

The Gospel of Matthew
CHAPTER 5:1-6:1
"AncientPath - Intro to Matthew 5"

AncientPath "Introduction to Matthew, Chapter 5
 


"Jesus was led (literally: carried) by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And He was there with the wild beasts" (Mark 1:13). After He had fasted for forty days, the tempter came to Him.

What a contrast with the first man, Adam, in the garden of Eden!

Later Jesus hears news that the forerunner, John, had been cast into prison. And so He begins His ministry by departing to Galilee. It is His Galilean ministry which Matthew reports the events of the Judean ministry are not given by him. These we find in the Gospel of John. He preached in Nazareth and dwelt in Capernaum. What happened in Nazareth is more fully reported by Luke. His own townspeople were filled with wrath and thrust Him out of the city, trying to cast Him down a hill. The first murderous attempt was made in Nazareth.

He preached the message of the Kingdom throughout that region. Peter, Andrew and the two sons of Zebedee, James and John, are called by Him into service. They left all, the nets, the ship, and even the father to follow Him and became fishers of men.

For the first time in Matthew we read of the signs which were linked with the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom. The healing of the sick and the demon possessed were truly signs that the King is Jehovah manifested in the flesh and that the Kingdom had drawn nigh."[1]

In Chapters five through seven we have the full report of the so-called Sermon on the Mount. Mark and Luke give fragments of this discourse, but the complete discourse is found only in Matthew. The Sermon on the Mount is the proclamation of the King concerning His Kingdom, and may well be called the "Magna Charta of the Kingdom of Heaven."


Dr. Charles Ryrie’s outline for Matthew leads us with his 9 major points for the organization of the book:

I.                      The Person of the King, 1:1-4:25

II.                 The Preaching of the King, 5:1-7:29

III.             The Proof of the King, 8:1-9:38

IV.                The Program of the King, 10:1-16:12

V.                    The Pedagogy of the King, 16:13-20:28

VI.                The Presentation of the King, 20:29-23:39

VII.           The Predictions of the King, 24:1-25:46

VIII.       The Passion of the King, 26:1-27:66

IX.                The Power of the King, 28:1-20

We’ve completed the first four chapters at this point and have introduced ourselves to “The Person of The King,” The Lord Jesus Christ.

Over the next three chapters (5, 6, 7) we’ll be introduced into the powerful “Preaching of The King” as He works Himself through the “Sermon on the Mount.”

But, before we can get to the actual content of Jesus’ preaching we will need to cover a lot of ground concerning things that bear on the Biblical interpretation of His words in this section.

 Interpretation of Biblical passages:

Ultimately the interpretation of a passage is what God meant when He instructed an author to write it down. Since we do not have the full mind of God we need to investigate the context, the meaning of the words at the time (in the original language – general usage), and a good understanding of the people involved along with their culture.

We use the terminology of "Interpretation" to mean what the literal words mean at the time, and to the people, they were addressed to. Often expositors refer to this as the "Primary Interpretation."

The "Secondary Interpretation," often referred to as the "Application," addresses spiritual truths (generally applying in principle and, often, not the details). There may be many "applications" that may apply to differing situations in differing ages of revelation or differing conditions. It is important to remember that there is only ONE Interpretation - what the words were meant to mean to the intended readers, during the intended age or time.

Here is an example of a verse that has led may into various errors in their theology and practice because the rules of interpretation had not been followed:

Matthew 8:11-12
"I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; 12 but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

 At first glance, wrongly by those who dismiss context (place and age), this verse would teach that those already in the kingdom (reclining at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) are in jeopardy of "being cast out into the outer darkness." This places every "saved" and "born from above" individual in grave danger of loosing all salvation.

But, Jesus was speaking very specifically concerning the Jew with a warning that, if they did not repent (turn-around and return to the Lord) while Jesus was offering the Hebrew nation their rightful place in the Kingdom promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, then they themselves would find rejection by The Lord God and be sent into eternal damnation - while Gentiles ("many from the East and West") would receive Jesus and citizenship in His Kingdom. Jesus was pointing to the contrast between a Covenant people (the Jew) who had God’s blessing, but refused it, and the nations without a covenant with God, who would come seeking His salvation and blessings.

Context is "everything" when it comes to understanding the correct "interpretation" of a verse. Just knowing the time and place of this verse completely changes its meaning and focus.

Does the verse teach us who are living in a different time, age, and place an important lesson? - of course. As we look back upon that time when Jesus was offering the establishment of The Kingdom of Heaven on earth, fulfilling the great promise made to Abraham, we should clearly see the eternal significance of decisions that would be made by the Jews of that time. The results of their national rejection of Jesus as their Messiah and King would seal off their entry into His Heavenly Kingdom on Earth. The end result of that rejection would be the loss of the option of belonging to God forever. Their rejection of the Christ sends them into "the outer darkness; in that place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" - forever. Their rejection also ushers in the Age of the Church, that great mystery, whereby the Gentiles - for this age - acquire citizenship in God's Kingdom - in great numbers.

The application for us then, in our age – is that we should see the significance of our decisions - they are eternal in nature. Receiving Christ is the supreme eternal decision. With choosing Him comes eternal life, with denying Him comes outer darkness, weeping and gnashing of teeth - forever. For those of this age it is a clear warning that presuming upon The Lord, as much of “Christendom” does (giving lip-service to God and His offer of salvation through Christ – but never surrendering their lives to Him) will place them in the same predicament.

So, our intent in Bible study is these three things. INTERPRETATION (What did God intend through the writer), APPLICATION (how did it apply to the original readers), and SECONDARY APPLICATION (how does it apply to us).

During our lessons we will put much emphasis upon “What did God mean when He said this…” We’ll be looking at the context and the words, evaluating it with other Scripture verses, and learning what it means.

Some of us will hear meanings that we have never heard before. It will be important to remember that the focus of these studies is upon understanding what the Bible has to say, not what we may believe ourselves or what we may have been already taught. Our studies will be taught from the “Normal, historical, literal” point of view. We’ll get our understanding by reading the Scriptures in a “normal” manner – just like we would read any other book.

Summary outline concerning Understanding God's Revelation

THE MIND OF GOD (considerations for Revelation)

WHAT
What God wants mankind to know

WHO
Who will God deliver His message through?
[a man/women, a prophet, a king, a poet, etc.]
Who will God deliver His message to?

WHAT
[What people(s) during what age]

[Pre-fall, post-fall till Noah, Post Noah till Abram, post Abram to Moses, Post Moses to Judges, Post Judges to Kings, Post Kings through the Captivities, Post Captivities to Christ, The Church age, The Tribulation, The promised Kingdom, Post Kingdom to Judgment, Eternity]

          Who will be the benefactor(s) of the primary interpretation?

          Who will be the benefactor(s) of the secondary interpretation?

          Who will benefit through the intended application(s)?

WHEN
When will the revelation be made?
[In what time periods will the revelation be primary, secondary, etc.]

When will the various fulfillments of the revelation take place?

 WHY

          What is the purpose of this revelation?

          What will be the impact upon mankind?

          What will be the impact upon the heavenlies?

ABOUT THE GOSPEL
This “Olivet discourse” (meaning from the Mt. of Olives) does not expound the Gospel of Grace, the way of salvation, or the privileges and blessings of true Christianity.  The teachers who say that the Sermon on the Mount is the Gospel are ignorant of what the Gospel is.

Some teach as if these words were the way to righteousness, which man by his own effort can attain.  One is to be poor in spirit, one is to mourn, one is to be meek, etc.  But instead, these words condemn this spurious Gospel of works.

Some teach that this discourse is exclusively Christian and applies it to the Church.  It’s not until the Epistles of Paul, that the full revelation of the Church was given.  Christian position is not revealed in the Sermon on the Mount.  The Sermon on the Mount is not given as the standard of Christian experience and walk.

Some teach that this discourse is exclusively Jewish.  Some Christians refuse to consider these chapters as having any message or instruction for them at all.  This is another extreme and equally wrong.  We repeat, the Sermon on the Mount is the proclamation of the King concerning His Kingdom.  That Kingdom is not the church.  Nor is the Kingdom a state of righteousness brought about through the agency of the Church.  It is the Kingdom as it would have been set up by the King if it had not been rejected.  It is the Kingdom as it will be set up by the King yet to come Kingdom age - After the Church has come and gone. 

In the Old Testament we have the outward manifestations of that earthly Kingdom revealed, we have here in Matthew, from the lips of the King, the inner principles of that Kingdom.  When the Lord Jesus Christ comes again the Old Testament predictions concerning the Kingdom will be literally fulfilled and the Kingdom itself will be a Kingdom of righteousness, here on this earth.  However, this does not exclude application to us, the heirs of the Kingdom.  For the principles that govern Kingdom life, Kingdom people, and Kingdom rule, are the very principles of the Character of God and in that the very principles of Christ and His Church.
 

Introduction and Overview of The Sermon on the Mount:

          The Sermon is in three movements:

                   Introduction (5:2-20);

                   the Inner Message (5:21-7:12); and

                   the Conclusion (7:13-27).

  1. THE INTRODUCTION 5:2-20

    1. Beatitudes - 5:2-12 - The blessedness of the godly life
      (The necessity of righteousness)
      (Be-attitudes: We must be before we can do.)

    2. Similitudes 5:13-16 The effectiveness of the godly life
      (Power and pervasiveness of righteousness: Colossians 4:6--Salt; John 9:5--Light.)

    3. Attitudes 5:17-20 The quality of godliness required
      Christ's attitude toward Scripture (17-18), moral law (19), righteousness (20). Note: There must be a genuine, inward righteousness (20). We must know Christ as Savior. before we know Him as Teacher.

  2. THE INNER MESSAGE of the Sermon 5:21-7:12
    In these verses our Lord traces sin in back of the overt act to the motive which interprets and gives direction to the deed. It is interesting that our Lord discusses TEN "laws" which remind us of an expanded TEN "commandments, " though they do not parallel each other numerically.

    1. FIRST LAW: concerning Anger 5:21-26

    2. SECOND LAW: concerning Purity 5:27-32

    3. THIRD LAW: concerning Speaking the Truth 5:33-37

    4. FOURTH LAW: concerning Retaliation 5:38-42

    5. FIFTH LAW: concerning Loving our Enemies 5:43-48

This, then, is the King's INAUGURAL ADDRESS or MANIFESTO, stating to those then anticipating this kingdom the principles upon which He will govern His kingdom, when it is set up on earth and the character of the citizens who will compose that kingdom. Thus, these principles were binding upon those who, in His earthly ministry, accepted His kingly claims in anticipation of the day He will reign on earth.

The beatitudes give the character of the heirs who enter the Kingdom. They do not speak of what a person should be, or strive to be, but what they are. Only the Grace of God can produce such a character. The blessings are in the possession of those, who have believed on the Son of God. [1. Because I have believed... I have the blessings in the Kingdom]. And the Lord Jesus manifested all these characteristics in His humiliation. But these beatitudes have also a significance in connection with the future believing remnant of Israel, waiting amidst the great tribulations and under the severest persecutions at the end of the age for the return of the King. [2. The promises made concerning the Day of The Lord include both Wrath and Blessings - Wrath during the Tribulation and Blessings during the Promised Earthly Kingdom of God.]

C. THE CONCLUSION: 7:13-27

Note: "The multitude" has followed on up the mountain and evidently by this time has joined "the disciples" (7:28), so that the close of the sermon is a series of contrasts between the false and true (7:13-27). Thus our Lord was particularly aiming at the "multitude" as well as the false among professed disciples in this conclusion:

A.     A False Way, 7:13-14
B.     False Teachers, 7:15-20
C.     False Professors, 7:21-23
D.     False Foundations, 7:24-27


Last things first:  THE CLOSING MESSAGE as a Parable
Jesus, speaking to the multitudes and the disciples, is proclaiming what kind of spiritual character will find itself in The Kingdom of God.  The parables will ask two questions: 1. What kind of King and Kingdom is Jesus King over?; 2. Do I qualify to be a member of His Kingdom?] The nation is nearly ready to make its choice concerning this man Jesus by answering the question: “Is He the messiah?”  A second question, much related to the first, would be, “Is His kingdom coming with Him?” 

Many of those who follow this man Jesus are expectant that He indeed is the Christ and because of this He will soon reveal Himself as such and bring with Him “His kingdom.”  During this period of time they would believe that what He was offering was the deliverance from their oppressor, the Romans. His audience would be concerned with the requirements of citizenship in this new kingdom.  “What will be required of me?” they ask themselves. [A problem of closed ears and looking for the wrong kingdom]

This same question is asked by the one faced with the claims of God... "If there is a God, what does He want from me?"

While they are seeking a physical deliverer who will free them from the oppressive Roman Empire Jesus is offering them a spiritual freedom[1] and an ushering in of the theocracy of God on Earth, with as its king, the Christ. Matthew 5:1-7:29 the “Sermon on the Mount” is Jesus’ answer.

In Matthew 7:24-27 Jesus closes His message with these words:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock.  And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock.  And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand.  And the rains descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall.”

This brief parabolic message[2] (written in the form of parables) comes at the end so that the audience does not forget the main point.  He who hears and acts upon these words will have built his house upon the rock and not the sand.  There would be no question about the spiritual message because the audience had assembled and followed him to the mount specifically to listen to this rabbi and his messianic message.


The Outline:

The preaching of the King, 5:1-7:29
          A.      The Picture of Kingdom Life, 5:1-16
          B.      The Precepts for Kingdom Life, 5:17-48
                   1.      The Law of Moses, 5:17-20
                   2.      The Law of Murder, 5:21-22
                   3.      The Law of Reconciliation, 5:23-26
                   4.      The Law of Adultery, 5:27-30
                   5.      The Law of Divorce, 5:31-32
                   6.      The Law of Oaths, 5:33-37
                   7.      The Law of Non-resistance, 5:38-42
                   8.      The Law of Love, 5:43-48
 

THE MESSIANIC KINGDOM

We should note that the people of Jesus' time were expectant of the Messiah. Israel was held captive by the Romans and it was not a peaceful arrangement. As tensions grew they began to place more and more of their hope upon the soon expected arrival of the Messiah. They believed that the prophecies of the Old Testament would soon prove true. They expected a difficult time of tribulation as the Messiah would go to war to free them from the Romans. This would be followed by the ushering in of the Messianic Kingdom of Israel - long promised to Abraham. The red cross in the illustration above only represents the time and ministry of the Savior, not His death on the cross - which was totally unforeseen by the people of Israel at this time.


What John the Baptist announced as “the Kingdom at hand,” (Matthew 3:2) and what our Lord offered directly (and through His apostles) was the long-promised Messianic kingdom, announced to David and covenanted in 2 Samuel 7 through Nathan, and affirmed through all the prophets, was one which is to be set up on earth; a literal, earthly kingdom.

The Sermon on the Mount is then the King's inaugural address or manifesto.  It was stating to those anticipating this kingdom the principles upon which He will govern His kingdom.  It describes the time it is to be set up on earth and the character of the citizens who will compose that kingdom. Thus, these principles were binding upon those who, in His earthly ministry, accepted His kingly claims in anticipation of the day He will reign on earth.

So, there are Jews and Gentiles who, before the nation's rejection of The Messiah, who were waiting for the Promised King and the Promised Kingdom (those with "a heart for God). These will participate in and are citizens of that Promised Kingdom ... when it comes.

In Mt. 5:3-16, Jesus addresses both the multitudes and the disciples in a manner that would demonstrate to them the major characteristics of God and the love of God toward human-kind. His words point out a system of "religion" that, seemingly, is quite alien to the Judaism of His day.  This seemingly new system puts strong emphasis upon the individual and the attitude of the heart. 

Jesus' audience was one made up largely of first century Jews.  These Jews were steeped in the "letter of the Law."  Their religion was one that made innumerable demands upon the keeping of specific laws, and not upon the spirit of the intentions of the original mosaic laws.  Their religion had evolved from one of "seeking to please one's god" to one of "seeking obedience to a multitude of human made laws".  Or perhaps put more strongly, "seeking to bring glory to one's self through Idolatry (in this instance - using works)."

Many of these laws were instituted so that some could benefit from the "loopholes."  Thou shalt not commit adultery, was understood in terms of Thou shalt do anything you please to another, (someone who was not your wife or husband), as long as it does not include sexual intercourse.  Thus a man or woman could carry on a seemly affair with another and not have to worry about the "law" that forbad adultery.

The words of Jesus in these verses were alien to these Jews.  Jesus was saying that it was the individual that was blessed, and not just the nation.  His words said that an individual could be blessed by his attitudes rather than by his performance, or lack of performance, to the Law.

By the time Jesus gets to verse :16, His audience was astounded because Jesus seemed to be teaching that the Law was no longer the standard by which they were to be measured by God. He must have become aware of the voices of awe and the murmuring in his audience.  For in verse :17 He must state: "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets."

Personal salvation is mentioned here, appropriately, as salvation has always been personal and not national.  This concept of "Personal Salvation" is not new with the Church.


Matthew’s Introduction

5:1-2  "And seeing the crowds he went up to the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples approached Him.  And Opening His mouth He began to teach them, saying,”

Introduction to "The Sermon on the Mount," "The Olivet Discourse."

"Matthew places the massive evidences that the promised King has come and that Jehovah is in the midst of His people"[3] between chapters 4 and 8. It will be three chapters before he returns to the "story of Jesus."

This has been the promise (and the desire of God) from the very beginning. Along the historic path it is always man who shoves God away. From the Garden of Eden to the Universal Flood mankind demonstrated that the creature (man) had the grandiose idea of being the creator. Man rejected God on a grand scale and paid the ultimate price for that rejection.

With the obedient heart of Abraham came an everlasting covenant of promise. God would create an ethnic people that would forever be His. If they remained faithful to them then He would dwell with them. God was looking to this nation of people to be His people, He would be their God, and dwell with them. He further made promises of a righteous deliverer and the establishment of a righteous earthly kingdom.

It's only in Matthew that we find the full content of the sermon discourse, and only fragments can be found in Luke. Even those fragments are told by Luke from different settings and apparently different times.

What is the message of this discourse? The proclamation of the Lord Jesus, the Christ as King of that Promised Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.

We will need to ask the primary question, "What is this expected Kingdom?" First let us explore Abram's family tree.

Genesis 5:5-11:26

Here's the names and approximate linear dates:

-4113

ADAM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-3983

Adam had Seth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-3878

Seth had Enosh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-3788

Enosh had Kenan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-3718

Kenan [Cainan] had Mahalelel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-3653

Mahalalel had Jared

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-3491

Jared had Enoch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-3426

Enoch had Methuselah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-3239

Methuselah had Lamech

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-3183

Adam Dies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-3126

Enoch Goes with the Lord

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-3071

Seth Dies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-3057

Lamech had Noah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-2963

Enosh Dies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-3057

Noah had Shem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-2878

Kenan Dies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-2813

Mahalalel Dies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-2691

Jared Dies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-2554

Shem had Arphaxad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-2467

Lamech Dies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-2457

FLOOD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-2455

Arphaxad [redundant due to septuagint reading]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-2443

Cainan [Septuagint only]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-2420

Shelah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-2390

Eber

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-2356

Peleg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-2326

Reu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-2294

Serug

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-2216

Nahor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-2237

Terah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-2167

Abram Born

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-2116

Nahor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-2106

Noah Dies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-2092

Peleg Dies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-2087

Reu Dies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-2067

Isaac Born

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-2064

Serug Dies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-2030

Terah Dies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-2017

Arphaxad Dies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-1992

Abraham dead at 175

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-1987

Shelah Dies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-1955

Shem Dies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-1923

Eber Dies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-1935

Levi Born

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-1877

Jacob is Alive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

That's quite a list.

Upon checking that list Abram had 9 living ascendants at the time of His birth [all since the birth of Noah, who still has 67 more years to live] (Abram's Great x 8 grandfather).

Abram lived 175 years and still had three of his oldest ascendants still living (Shem [600 yrs], son of Noah; Arphaxad [403 yrs], son of Noah; Shelah [403 yrs], great grandson of Noah; and Eber [430 yrs], great-great grandson of Noah.

According to Genesis 11, back in about 2165 B.C., a man named Abram, a descendent of Shem, was born in a place called "Ur," in the fertile Mesopotamian crescent (the southeast corner of the "fertile crescent" and in between the boundaries of the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, among a people called the Chaldeans (The city of Babylon, then Babilu, would have been on the Southern side of the Euphrates at the bottom-center of the Caldean Empire with The city of Nineveh to the west and the city of Shushan on the east of the Empire).


 

Abram's father was gathering up his family to head off to the land called Cainan[4] [Canaan] (about 640 miles west, as-the-crow-flies), taking Abram's wife Sarai with them, but ended the journey at a settlement built by another son named Harran, in what is now modern Turkey (about 380 miles due North of Jerusalem). The Bible does not say why Abram's father headed to Canaan or why he only got as far as Harran. What we do know is that Abram had a brother, probably older, who had headed east before this and settled the community where Abram's father stopped his journey. The family as a whole never moved on from there - at least in our knowledge - as Abram's father lived another 137 years and died in Harran.

Looking at Abram's family tree it can be conjectured that Adam's family descendants moved into the land we know as Canaan early, perhaps due to their removal from The Garden of Eden or following the events at Babel. Adam's descendants, in the line of Seth (3rd son) contains names that could all be pronounced as "Canaan" (Kanan, and Cainan). It's possible that Abram's father wished to return to his ancestral land [see footnote #3].

The Promised People and Land

In Genesis 12, we pick up the story when The Lord comes to Abram and tells him to leave home (now in Haran) and He will make Abram a great nation with great blessings - in fact "all the families of the earth will be blessed."

Genesis 12:1-3

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

2 “I will make you into a great nation,

    and I will bless you;

I will make your name great,

    and you will be a blessing.

3 I will bless those who bless you,

    and whoever curses you I will curse;

and all peoples on earth

    will be blessed through you.”

Abraham was seventy-five when the Lord spoke to him and he departed from Haran and arrived in Canaan.

Genesis 12:4a

"So Abram went, as the Lord had told him;"

We do not have further information concerning the early years of Abram, but we can surmise from the text that God seemed to have a continuing relationship with Abram.

While this event seems relatively insignificant, and not much is made of this moment in the surrounding chapters, it is perhaps the most important event in the program of God for the "just promised" nation of people is to come out of the loins of Abram. This promise will be refined over the next three generations as the descendants of Abraham (Abram), his son Isaac, and Isaac's son Jacob (in that order) will become, and live in. "the Promised Kingdom of God on Earth."

But this moment is much more important than even for even that event. It is at this moment that God defines those who will be fit to enter into that Kingdom. Our human inclination is to immediately think of performance, all the rights and wrongs, all the do's and don'ts that might make up the list of qualifications to become a citizen of such a blessed kingdom. It is our nature to bypass the desires of God and think to our own performance in this matter of qualifying for this kingdom.

Genesis 12:1 states, "Now the Lord said to Abram, 'Go forth,'" and the fourth verse begins with, "So Abram went forth...." The Lord was so impressed with this man Abram (from eternity past) because when He said, "Go," Abram went.

Perhaps you've read the story of Noah, where The Lord spoke to that man in the midst of a world full of unbelief - only one righteous man left on earth, and his family. Consider the high standing of Noah before the Lord God. "Build an ark", and Noah built an ark. Now we have Abraham, in the midst of an unbelieving world full of "anything but God." The Lord calls out to Abram "go", and Abram went. The book of Hebrews Chapter 11 verse 8 says,

"By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going."

 And similarly, when The Lord repeats His promise to Abram in Genesis 15:5, He has this to say,

 "And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”

 The Holy Spirit of God then tells us what Abram did next.

 "6 Then he believed in the Lord; and He (the Lord) reckoned it to him (Abram) as righteousness."

That's who is qualified to enter into the presence of Almighty God, that's who is qualified to enter into the Kingdom of God, and that's who is qualified to enter into the Promised Earthly Kingdom of God - the one who is proclaimed righteous - because he/she believes God.

This then is the Promised Earthly Kingdom of God, the BELIEVING descendants of Abram (Abraham) through Isaac, through Jacob and his 12 tribes. These are the ones who have been promised to live in the Land of that kingdom and to be the people of that kingdom.  In Jesus Day they called them believing Jews. They received that name from the Romans (while under Roman domination) because the majority of the Hebrew people came from Judea as that area around Jerusalem is where the remnant of Judah (and Benjamin) settled when they were released from the Babylonian captivities. Many of them had "a heart for God." Believers of God. Also, of course, many were not.

So, at the time of Jesus' discourse on the Mount of Olives, there were among all the throng of Jews and Gentiles some who were "believers of God." Jesus spoke in parables and wise sayings so that only the ones who were prepared for belief would hear and understand His message. They would be the intended recipients of His message. That message would tell them - and all the others who could understand His message - that He was the King, and that His message was about His Promised Kingdom, and who would qualify to enter into it, and live in it, and enjoy it.

 

The Misuse of this "Sermon" or "Discourse"

We must remember who this message is for - those who qualify to enter into this Kingdom relationship with God.

It is not a sermon on the Gospel, it is not about ethics, good performance, doing good, or trying to be a better person. All of these routes lead to a gospel of works. A gospel of works circumvents the total depravity of man, his absolute lost-ness, and his helplessness to become righteous in the eyes of God. It is upon the Grace of God alone that our salvation rests, in the Lord Jesus Christ, through the power of God's Holy Spirit - a simple gift. In Him is the absolute necessity of being born from above, the reception of eternal life and the new nature. Only through the Grace of God In-Christ can one find salvation and righteousness.

It is not a sermon written exclusively to Christians. It is not a message of church teachings, applications to the church, or a guide for members of the Body of Christ. The church isn't even mentioned by Matthew until the sixteenth chapter - long after the offer and rejection of the Promised Kingdom of God on Earth by the Jews. This message is written to those who will "inherit the Earth." Christians inherit Heaven - we are an heavenly people. If you want to know how Christians should act you need to read the Epistles of Paul - not Matthew. Matthew speaks to the Jew. This sermon, when applied to Christians, brings only the bondage of the Law.

It is not a sermon written exclusively to the Jew. The message of the Promised Kingdom on Earth contains in it the very character of the King of that Kingdom, Jesus the Christ. King of the Jews - absolutely - and the lessons found there are vital to our Christian understanding of God as King.


The Proper Context of the Sermon on The Mount

Jesus presents Himself as the "King of the Jews," and as such the King of the Promised Kingdom of God on Earth to the Nation of Israel. As the long awaited Messiah (Christ), He is Emmanuel, God dwelling among His people. He declares His people, the confirmation of the Law, and the acquiring of a better righteousness.

Arno C. Gaebelein[5] offers the following 7 fold division for this discourse.

I.       The Characteristics of the Heirs of the Kingdom, 5:1-6

II.     The Law goes forth from Zion, 5:7-8

III.   The Better Righteousness, 6:1-18

IV.    Kept in the World. Single eyed, trusting in God, 6:19-34

V.      The Judgment of the Righteous, 7:1-14

VI.    Warning against False Prophets, 7:15-20

VII.  Warning against False Professors, 7:21-29

The Sermon on The Mount, Matthew 5:1-7:27
"To those who are “listening and acting on these words”

The seven blessings must be divided into two parts. The division is into four and three.  The division of four verses shows the outer characteristics of the heirs of the kingdom in their position in the earth, waiting for the kingdom of the heavens and the inheritance of the earth. The division of three verses shows inner characteristics of the heirs of the kingdom that they have through their partaking of the divine nature, in that they are born from above.

Again the reminder the Lord is not speaking to unsaved persons, but to His disciples. The blessings do not speak of what a person should be, or strive to be, but what they are. Here we have the description of one who is in possession of this new nature and the manifestations of it. This is the way of the heirs of the Promised Kingdom, waiting for its coming.

We also note that within us as the members of the Body of Christ, as well as the future saved Israel, should be the continual growth of things spiritual. These verses were taught directly to Jews for the description of the coming Jewish Promised Kingdom but we must not forget that God's people encompass not just the future righteous Promised Kingdom of Israel. Those who have been proclaimed righteous by God, through the power of Christ on the Cross, all participate in the truths of these beatitudes. Each of these blessings affect us all in our growth from "just saved," to Kingdom maturity.

I.       The Characteristics of the Heirs of the Kingdom, 5:1-6

A.      The Situation, Matthew 5:1-2

B.      The Beatitudes, Matthew 5:3-12

1.      The Outer Characteristics, Matthew 5:3-6

 


[1] Spiritual - Salvation from the effects and penalty of evil and sin; Physical - Deliverance from military and political oppression - a "Day of Deliverance" - what the Jews now call The Passover.

[2] A parabolic reflector receives many straight lines of light and converges them into a single focal point - like the reflector in a flashlight, only in reverse - light enters from outside the reflector and focuses upon the bulb.

 

So the term "parabolic stories," or "parables", when used in language, refers to a stream of thought or statements, told in a story form, that lead to a focus point or central message. When used in the Bible the stories are usually allegorical if no proper names are used in them. When proper names are used they are usually considered as reported fact.

[3] Gaebelein, Arno C., Matthew, Chapter 5, Our Hope, Ny, Ny.

[4] The land of Canaan, was settled very early, perhaps as early as fourth generation mankind with Kenan the great-grandson of Adam (Genesis 5:12). There is also a variant reading in the Septuagint concerning Cainan the son of Arphaxad, a son of Shem (Genesis 11:13 Hebrew; Septuagint (see also Luke 3:35, 36 and note at Gen. 10:24)) and in 35 years, he became the father of Cainan. 13 And after he became the father of Cainan, Arphaxad lived 430 years and had other sons and daughters, and then he died. When Cainan had lived 130 years, he became the father of Shelah. And after he became the father of Shelah, Cainan lived 330 years and had other sons and daughters

[5] ibid, Gaebelein

[1] Gaebelein, Arno C. (c. 1970). "The Holy Scriptures Analyzed and Annotated: Matthew" - Moody Press, Loizeaux Bothers


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