Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 5, 6, 7


The Kingdom of God is old and eternal. 

The Church is new and it is an age with beginning and end.

The standard of the Kingdom remains, but the dispensation changes.


The Book of Matthew

            Prologue          Origin and Birth of Jesus: Chapters 1,2

                                                                                    NARRATIVE                        DISCOURSE

            Section I          Gospel of the Kingdom          3,4                               5,6,7 – “Sermon on Mount”

            Section II        Kingdom Extended                8-10:4                          10:5-11:1

            Section III       Teaching/Preaching                 11:2-12 (opposition)    13     - “Kingdom Parables”

            Section IV       Glory and Shadow                  13:54-17:27 (polarization)            18-19:2           

            Section V        Opposition & Eschatology      19:3-23:39                   24, 25 – “Olivet Discourse”


            Ending                        Death, Resurrection, Commissioning of disciples      ( open ending )


Sermon on the Mount

  • Deals with ethical issues of fundamental importance in every age.
  • Delivered on one occasion and authentic as is all five discourses
  • All five discourses end with the same basic closing that indicates it was one teaching:
    • #1 ending 7:28-29
    • #2 ending 11:1
    • #3 ending 13:53
    • #4 ending 19:1           
    • #5 ending 26:1
  • The same material would have been delivered on several occasions because:
    • Jesus was a traveling teacher/preacher
    • Different crowds received different styles, portions of teaching and explanations
    • Catchy and meaningful phrases would be used over  and over
      • He who has ears, let him hear.”         11:15 and 13:9
      • Little children                                     18:3 and 19:14
      • Acknowledging Christ                        Mt. 10:32 and Luke 9:26 –different time and

 situation but the same general statement.

Luke’s Sermon on the Plain   (Luke 6:20-49)

            - Possibly the same event.  Matthew records the hills and Luke the plateau in those hills.

            - Possibly a similar but a different time with similar teaching.


Seven Major Explanations of Interpretation of Sermon on the Mount

1) Lutheran

  • explain expectations of Law to cause men to seek grace. (Paul in Rm.3,4 & Gal. 3)
  • Self righteousness in punctured
  • Problem:  Jesus here is speaking of personal righteousness not imputed (positional) righteousness (Paul taught this in Galatians 5:19-24)

2) Classic Liberalism (from 1800’s)

  • Taught that society had embraced Jesus teachings and moved forward in social progress
  • Problem: Since its introduction we’ve had WWI, WWII, great depression, recessions, threat of nuclear holocaust, Vietnam, collapse of nations, etc.  Obviously it is unattainable for a society.

3) Moral Standard

  • It was nothing more than a moral code to be taught in Sunday schools in order to direct people’s behavior.   A New Testament Law.
  • Problem:The book of Matthew is used to present Jesus, his teachings and ministry.  In Matthew Jesus fulfills scripture and introduces the “end times.”  He does not introduce the New Testament church.

4) Anabaptist/Mennonite

  • They see it as the ethical demands on all believers in all ages and in every circumstances.
  • The Application:  Believers are passive in every area including government and society.
  • Problem:  This makes believers and the world completely separate.

This makes Jesus’ teachings incompatible with other scripture.  Even chapter 5-7 must be   taken out of context to fit this application.

5) Interim Ethics

  • They were a standard of living until the soon expected kingdom came.
  • Jesus was teaching that “the kingdom of heaven is near” (4:17) but he erred in his timing and so the time for the application of these verses has passed.

6) Evangelicals

  • Jesus was trying to deepen the meaning of the Mosaic law from merely outward to inward.
  • It was an upgrade of the Mosaic law
  • Problem:  Even the prophets told the people of the inward requirements during the Old Testament.

“I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.”

                                                                                                            Hosea 6:6

“I have more than enough of burnt offerings,. . .I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls. . .

Stop doing wrong, and learn to do right!  Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.  Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”

                                                                                                            Isaiah 1:11-17

7) Dispensational Teaching

  • They teach that Jesus was giving the code of conduct for the Millennial Kingdom and not for the church age.  Words like cross, new-birth, justification by faith are not found in these verses.
  • Problem:  Is face slapping really going to need a law in the Millennium?  How can believers rule and reign in the Millennium if they “do not resist an evil person?” (5:39)
  • This approach drives a wedge between the believers in the church age finding application from these verses


Unifying theme in Matthew is “Kingdom of God

  • Narrative #1 – 4:23 “preaching the good news of the kingdom.”
  • Beginning of Discourse #1 – 5:3 “theirs is the kingdom
  • Beginning and ending of Beatitudes – 5:3 and 5:10 “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
  • Requirement to enter the kingdom – 5:20 “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
  • Kingdom is the priority – 6:33 “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. . .”
  • 7:21 - “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”




Kingdom life is presented here as:

  • Involving a vertical relationship with God
  • Involving a horizontal relationship with people
  • Anticipating the greatest commandments in 22:37 – “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with al your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’   All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
  • Anticipating Grace:
    • 5:3 “poor in spirit”
    • 6:12 “forgive us our debts.”
    • 7:7-11 “ask and it will be given.”
    • 21:28-46 “two sons. . .sinners are entering before you.”



blessed” is “makarios” in Greek and describes the man favored by God and so happy.  It means “in a happy

            condition” of life )not attitude or mentally. Also, “fortunate” and “well off.”


            Man “blesses” (“makarios”) God by approving and praising him.

            God “blesses” (“makarios”) man by approving and praising him.


Introduction to the Beatitudes

1)  The beatitudes outline the attitude & results of a true disciple who accepts the demands of God’s kingdom

2)  Notice all the results are in the future tense, but the use of the present tense in 5:3 & 5:10 warn against

 exclusive future interpretation.

3)  Notice in 5:3 the person is poor in spirit, and desiring righteousness in 5:6, but by 5:10 the world is

persecuting them because of their righteousness.  A major turn around in performance.


5:3       “Poor in spirit”                        Recognized need

5:4       “Mourn”                                  Sorrow over condition

5:5       “Meek”                                    Teachable and Submissive to instruction for improvement

5:6       “Righteousness”                      “Filled” – Holy Spirit brings positional righteousness and empowers

                        (personal)                                you for production of fruit of the Spirit (personal righteousness)

5:7       “Mercy”                                  Reciprocate it to others (6:12, 18:21, 18:35)

5:8       “Pure”                                     Not double minded towards God (James 4:6-10)

5:9       “Peacemakers”                        Between God and man (ambassadors)

5:10     “Righteousness”                      The world sees it



Matthew 5:11-20

5:11,12 – “persecuted. . .because of me” means the believers are imitating Christ.

            A profession of allegiance to Jesus is a commitment to his righteousness also.

            Allegiance to the suffering Christ would result in Christian suffering

            Jesus’ disciples living in righteousness of the kingdom are compared with the OT prophets who lived

in righteousness of the kingdom.   Again in chapters 10, 24.





5:13 – Problem One:  Not having righteousness


·         Prevents decay and corruption in meat

·         Adds flavor to food

But, it only does this if it maintains the character of salt.

The believer (disciple) is to be the salt to the earth:

·         The believer’s righteousness prevents decay of people, society, families, themselves, etc.

·         The believer’s righteousness adds hope (flavor) in an oppressed and depressed world.


·         Legalism is not salt.  It is tyranny.

·         Lack of righteousness deeds is not grace, freedom, or spirituality.  It is rebellion.


Sodium Chloride (Salt) is a stable compound and can not “lose” its saltiness. But, in the ancient world salt came from salt marshes (mineral deposits).  There were many impurities in it.  Salt (sodium chloride) was more soluble and would be absorbed out easily or dissolve.  This would leave only the impurities.


Disciples are the moral preservatives when they conform to the kingdom norms.

If the disciples do not have these virtues they can not serve their purpose.


Rabbis used salt as figure of wisdom.


mwranqn is translated “loses its saltiness

Luke 14:34 – (same)              

Romans 1:22 – “they claim to be wise . . .they became fools and exchanged”

1 Corinthians 1:20 – “made foolish the wisdom of the world.”


A foolish disciple (one who has no righteous deeds) has no influence in the world and thus no rewards in the kingdom.


5:14 – Problem Two: Hiding your righteousness


·         “Light of the world”               No light means the world has no hope, no direction w/o you

·         “City on a hill                          We are to be like a city on a hill: easy to find and in the most

obvious places.  Not a city in a cave hidden from the world.

·         “Lamp under a bowl”                   Our purpose is not only to have a light on the inside for our own

personal faith, guidance, and hope.  It is crazy to light a lamp only for the inside of a bowl (Lk 8:16, Mk. 4:21 –lamp lit and placed under a bed.)

            2 Corinthians 4:7 – “we have this treasure in jars of clay.”

            The purpose of the light (good deeds) is not to draw attention to self but to direct others in darkness.

            A secret disciple is no more useful than a lamp under the bed. 

In fact, that is foolish, weird, and dangerous.


Isaiah 42:6,7 – Jesus mission now shared by us.



5:16   Salt is salty and                                   tasted by men.

            Lamp gives light and                          is used by men

            A city on a hill is obvious and            found by men.

            POINT: Believers are righteous and   seen by men


            Your light will do these three things depending on who sees it:

                        a)  provoke persecution

                        b) be misunderstood

                        c) cause others to praise your Father in heaven


            2 Corinthians 4:6 – “made his light shine in our hearts”

            1 Peter 2:11-12 – “abstain from sinful desires. . .live such good lives. . .pagans will accuse you, but. . .                                          they’ll see your good deeds and glorify God.”

            Use words? Yes. Actions? Mostly!! 

            (“Always preach the gospel and if necessary use words.”)

            James 2:18-26 – “Show me faith without deeds.”  

                        It can not be done.  Faith is unseen unless accompanied by deeds prove your faith.

                        Faith is not seen until it is an action.

            Hebrews 11 – Everyone’s faith “did” something in response to their faith.

            James 2 – “demons believe” even demons have a “faith” but their faith does not produce deeds.


5:17 – “Do not think” or “Never think that. . .”

            Jesus is heading off an easy misconception about the teaching he is about to share.

            (Also, Mt. 10:34 – “Do not think I have come to bring peace. . .”)


            Jesus is saying that the teaching that is going to follow could easily be understood to abolish the OT

                        scriptures.  “Law and Prophets” refers to the scriptures of the Jewish people.

            If they would misunderstand what Jesus was saying as he taught from the scriptures it indicates how

far off their interpretation and application had gotten.

            Jesus, the author came to explain it and they thought he was undermining it.


            Dividing line between OT and the introduction of the New was John the Baptist Lk.16:16-17.


            “Fulfill” is “pleroo”

            1)  It is not Jesus doing the law.

            2)  It is not Jesus being governed by the law.

            3)  It is Jesus showing where the OT points as he will demonstrate in 5:21-48

            4)  Jesus presents himself as the goal of the OT.

            5)  Jesus presents himself as the only authoritative interpreter of the OT.

            6)  Jesus gives the OT continuity with the kingdom of God.

            7)  It is Jesus taking the kingdom of God revealed in the OT and connecting it to the plan of God.


5:18 – “smallest letter”      yod

            least stroke of a pen         Hb:            or         

                                                       Eng:    O   or    Q


            until heaven and earth pass away”    refers to the end of the age or may mean “never”




everything is accomplished”

                        refers to the entire divine purpose prophesied in scripture takes place.

            accomplished” refers to the prophetic element  in the Law of Moses and the entire OT

            accomplished” means “happen, come to pass”

            accomplished” does not mean “obeyed”


5:19 -  Breaks commandment = “least in the kingdom”

            Notice:  Breaking commandment does not result in exclusion from the kingdom.


            Violation is two fold:

                        a)  breaking commandment

                        b)  teaching others to break commandment


            Violators will be:

                        a)  very small in the kingdom

                        b)  very unimportant in the kingdom


            Graduations (levels) of privileges in the kingdom is found through out the scriptures:

                        Matt 20:20-28 – James and John’s question

                        Luke 12:47-48

                        Matt 18:1-4 – little children

                        Matt 26:28-29 – who has will be given more

                        1 Cor. 3:14 – “if what he has built survives he will receive his reward.”

                        2 Peter 1:11 – “a rich welcome into the kingdom”


            “Least of these commandments  refers to the Old Testament Law and Prophets


            The nature of fulfilling these commandments has already been set up for  a change in 5:17,18

            The law and prophets pointed to Jesus coming and his teaching.

            So, conforming to Jesus “fulfillment” or “teaching” is obeying the law.

                        Dt. 19:15 – “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your

 own brothers.  You must listen to him.

5:20 – Jesus teaching?

            It was not more lenient.  It was the expectation of perfection.

            Pharisees and teachers:  Their radical regulations concerning the commands of God lost focus on the

                        radical holiness of God and placed it on the legalistic ability of man.  (Adam/Eve in Gn.3:3)

            Jesus did not criticize them here as evil but as not “good enough.”

            The did not point to man’s ability, but to God’s holiness and so, man’s sin. 

If you discovered man’s righteousness in the Law then you missed reality & kingdom expectations.


5:3 “poor in spirit” results in 5:20 “righteousness

5:20 establishes the level of righteousness of the kingdom.

5:20 does not establish how to:

            a) gain righteousness   b) develop righteousness         c) be empowered to do a) or b)


Isaiah 61:3 – the oaks of righteousness will be a work of the Messiah.


surpasses” suggest a new righteousness that is greater in:

            a)  quality        b) quantity