Matthew 5:21-48 - overview


The Pharisees righteousness was based on their legal fulfillment of their obligations.

It would be like us:

  1. making a house payment at the start of every month and calling ourselves a good home owner.
  2. going to work because our contract required that we show up 185 times a year and saying we were a good employee
  3. sharing a house and food with a spouse and calling ourselves a good husband or a loving wife
  4. providing children with a room, a couple of meals and an education and calling ourselves a good parent
  5. joining a church and showing up on Sunday mornings for service and calling ourselves a good Christian


In all of these the legal obligations were met but much, much more is expected if we are to be considered good or righteous as a home owner, an employee, a husband, a father or a Christian.


Jesus addresses six topics that the Pharisees were meeting their legal obligation under the Law of Moses:

  1. Murder
  2. Adultery
  3. Divorce
  4. Oaths
  5. Eye for Eye]
  6. Enemies and Neighbors


But, in each of these cases the Pharisees were far from being righteous or as Jesus said, "Perfect" in Matthew 5:48. The Pharisees were legally avoiding criminal activity, but God wants more than us to "not be criminal." He wants us to be like him.


5:21 - Jesus is not setting the Jot and Tittle aside. Jesus is not abolishing the law and the prophets. Jesus is fulfilling them


1 Timothy 1:8-11


"It is said" -

  • a rare passive form of the verb "errethe"
  • "errethe" is used in the NT for quotes of Scripture
  • it refers to divine revelation, not to human teaching or tradition


This is supported by the phrase - "to the people long ago" -

  • literally it means "the ancients"
  • the "people of old" is not referring to contemporary ideas or teaching
  • it is referring to the people of old who heard the Law of Moses taught by Moses


All of the six categories are taught in the Pentateuch, but Jesus is going to fulfill or bring light to their meaning:

  1. Murder - a straight quote from the Ten Commandments with an added principal from the Pentateuch. The 6th Commandment. Exodus 20:13
  2. Adultery - straight quote of the 7th Commandment from Exodus 20:14
  3. Divorce - this quote or paraphrase is significantly different and is angled in a different direction than Deut 24:1
  4. Oaths - Summarizes the Pentateuch guidelines concerning oaths from Numbers 30:2 and Deuteronomy 23:21
  5. Eye for Eye - Exact quote of the text, but it appears from Jesus' discussion that it is being quoted for a different purpose than the OT text suggests. Found in Exodus 21:24; Lev. 24:20; Deut. 19:21
  6. Enemies/Neighbors - This subject has been twisted to add an unintended negative spin. This verse has completely been mangled by the Jewish lawyers and their judicial court system. (sound like anything we see in the US courts?) Lev. 19:18


Jesus addresses the legal issues developed from these verses from the OT.

They had developed into distorted applications and the focus was on fulfilling a legal obligation

Jesus is not correcting the Word of God, but correcting the current misunderstanding and application


Isaiah 55:9 - God's ways and thoughts are beyond us. This is why we often mis-apply or can not understand the revelation from God in his word.


Matthew 22:34-39

Romans 13:8-10

1 Timothy 1:8-11