The Book of Matthew-Chapter 5

Chapters 5-7 contain what is traditionally called “The Sermon on the Mount” but this is really a teaching on Torah observance, k,broken up into several sections. He is speaking to observant Jews who uphold the Torah and there is not one verse that tells them not to do so. Yeshua is the embodiment of the Servant passages found in the Tanach and just as Israel wanted Moses to ascend the mountain and bring down the Torah (Exo 20.18-21), God promised that the Messiah would do it. These chapters are a fulfillment of that.
(1) And when he saw the multitudes, he went up on the mountain (probably the Horns of Hattin); and after he sat down, his talmidim came to him: (2) And opening his mouth he began to teach them saying, (3) “Blessed (v1-16 are introductory statements of his teaching on Torah observance. Blessed is “asher” in Hebrew and it means “happy”) are the poor in spirit (they know they are “void” before God): for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (which was being offered-see notes on Matt 3.2). (4) Blessed (happy) are those who mourn (over sin in their life, always there working on them): for they shall be comforted. (5) Blessed (happy) are the meek (the teachable, not haughty, those who submit to the will of the Lord): for they shall inherit the earth (the new earth). (6) Blessed (happy) are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness (as defined by the Torah-Psa 11.7, 23.3, 106.3; Prov 12.28), for they shall be satisfied (with that righteousness). (7) Blessed (happy) are the merciful: for they shall receive mercy. (8) Blessed (happy) are the pure in heart (or mind, spirit-cleansed and sprinkled- Jer 31; Psa 32.1-2; Heb 10.22, 9.14)):
for they shall see God (in this world and in the next). (9) Blessed (happy) are the peacemakers (God’s concept of a peacemaker is often in conflict with what man sees as one. There is one person the Scriptures called a “peacemaker” and his name was Phineas in Num 25.1-13. What did he do? He took a javelin and pierced two people who were committing a sexual act in worship to Baal-Peor, which stopped a plague that killed 24,000 people. Also, a peacemaker was an idiom for one who was generous, who left the corners of his field in abundance for the poor and needy, for example): for they shall be called sons of God. (10) Blessed (happy) are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake (because you follow the Torah and the Word of God- v 10-12 is an example of a chaistic structure where the verses are repeated in reverse order= A,B,C,B,A): for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (which was being offered-see notes on Matt 3.2). (11) Blessed (happy) are you when men revile you, and persecute you, and say all kings of evil against you falsely (that’s the key) on account of me. (12) Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets before you. (13) You (this is addressed to the Jewish people and now he is going to talk about personal application in their God-given role) are the salt of the earth (salt is a picture of the covenant God has with Israel-Lev 2.13; Num 18.19; Col 4.6; Ezek 16.4. The Jewish people in their Torah observance in the first century are the focus here); but if the salt has become tasteless (and if you lose that, what can replace it) how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing (this is not just the mere “lack” of character, but the lack of it in the Jewish people being addressed here) any more, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men (which happened in 70 AD). (14) You (Israel) are the light of the world. A city (like Jerusalem) set on a hill cannot be hidden (because people can see the lights of the city). (15) Nor do men light a lamp (or candle), and put it under a bushel, but in the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. (16) Let your light shine before men (like the signal fires at the festivals that were placed on hills) in such a way that they may see your good works (the positive commands of the Torah, the mitzvoth), and glorify your Father who is in heaven (cause the Gentiles to give the Father glory). (17) Do not think (his words are direct here, but there are not only people who think it, they teach it) that I came to abolish (to destroy, misinterpret, trample) the Law ( the Torah means “teaching and instruction” and does not mean “law”. All of it is valid, but it can change in application and administration. For instance the Mishkan changed to the Temple, and eventually there will be no Temple at all. High Priestly families changed, etc. Law is not a correct rendering for Torah, Torah is not equated with Law. Torah included history, for example. A law did not even have to be in force to be Torah, or instructive. All it had to do was reveal the heart and character of God as a guide to how to think and act. An “eternal” Torah would not require a fixed set of eternally “in-force” obligatory regulations) or the Prophets (the Nevi’im-if the Torah is done away with, then so are the prophets, but false teachers don’t mention that): I did not come to abolish (trample, misinterpret), but to fulfill (meaning confirm, give meaning to, interpret correctly). (18) For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away (and they haven’t yet), not the smallest letter (the “yod” in Hebrew) or stroke (the “taggin” or crowns above certain letters) shall pass away from the Law (Torah) until all is accomplished (finished, given full attention). (19) Whoever then annuls (to break, loosen the force of) one of the least of these commandments and teaches others (to do the same), shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven (this is a Hebrew play on words); but whoever keeps (guards) and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (20) For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of God (There is more than an “outward” action-the righteousness Yeshua talks about comes by faith and is a gift from God). (21) You have heard that some ancients were told (one of the concepts among the Jewish people concerning the Messiah is that when he came, he would teach the people the deeper aspects of the Torah, and this is what he means here. He draws their attention with the statement and to make a distinction with what he is going to say from others of his time. He is not trying to correct any other teachings, but he is bringing up real life issues surrounding the commandments and giving his authoritative ruling on them), ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court; (22) But I say unto you (he connects verse 21 with speaking evil, called Lashon Hara-the evil tongue, by looking deeper into this commandment at a higher level. The Pharisees taught the same thing in the Babylonian Talmud, Bava Mezia 58b) that everyone who is angry with his brother without a cause shall be guilty before the court and whoever shall say to his brother ‘Raca’ (meaning a fool, an empty headed person, vain and witless-like Nabal in 1 Sam 25.25. In the world, there are three types of people. There are the tzaddikim= righteous, the chata’im= average sinner and the rashim= desperately wicked, vessels fit for destruction) shall be guilty before the supreme court (the Sanhedrin); and whoever shall say ‘you fool’ (this is worse than raca, this is a “rashim”= the third category above, in that there is no way for this one to ever be saved) shall be guilty to go into the hell of fire (in danger of punishment, deserving. We cannot say that someone is so bad, a rashim, that they can never be saved, that is not up to us). (23) If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you (for a just cause, anything he can charge you with, if you have done any injury to him), (24) leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother (acknowledge what you have done and ask forgiveness) and then come and present your offering. (25) Make friends quickly with your opponent at law (a creditor that you owe money to and he wants payment, he has even taken you to court over it) while you are on the way (to court), in order that your opponent (the creditor) may not deliver you to the judge, and the judge to the officer and you be thrown into prison (where it may get even worse for you). (26) Truly I say unto you, you shall not come out of there, until you have paid up the last cent. (27) You have heard it said (he is going to give deeper insight in fulfillment of what the people said the Messiah would do), ‘You shall not commit adultery’ (28) but I say unto you, that every one who looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart (this is not a new teaching among the Jewish people-Baby Talmud, Kallah, Ch 1 and Niddah 13.b. Lust of the heart was as grievous as the physical act). (29) And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out (idiom for “stop doing it and take action”), and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. (30) And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off (stop doing it, take action) and throw it from you ; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish than for your whole body to go into hell. (31) And it was said ‘ Whoever divorces his wife is to give her a certificate of dismissal (32) but I say unto you that every one who divorces his wife , except for uncleanness (quotes Deit 24.1-the Hebrew word here is “ervah” and it means indecency, shame or improper behavior. The Greek is “porneia” where “pornography” comes from. Yeshua is freeing Deut 24.1-4 from all the false interpretations of the teachers of his day. This word does not mean “adultery” because you didn’t divorce adulterers, you stoned them. It is not one of the uncleanness issues of Lev 18 either because they were punishable by death also. This word is understood as that which makes a continued life together impossible because it leads to cruelty, abuse or even worse. Divorce is allowed in the Scriptures-see Deut 24,1-4 and Exo 21.10-11 also) causes her to commit adultery. And whoever marries a woman who is separated but not divorced commits adultery. (33) Again, you have heard that the ancients were told (deeper insight into the Torah is coming as believed by the people that the Messiah would do when he came) ‘ You shall not make false vows (this has to do with making common vows using the name of God, or God’s creation. This has nothing to do with the biblical practice of making a vow to God-Num 6.1-21 for example), but shall fulfill (complete, give meaning to) your vows to the Lord. (34) But I say to you , make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God (35) or by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king. (36) Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair black or white. (37) But let your statement be ‘yes, yes’ or ‘no, no’; and anything beyond these is of the evil one. (38) You have heard that is was said (deeper insight is coming), ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ (39) But I say unto you (as the Messiah who is giving deeper insight) do not resist him who is evil (meaning to compete with, this is on a personal level. This has nothing to do with pacifism or retaliation. This has to do with limited liability in matters of legal compensation); but whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also (don’t compete with them. Yeshua is saying that we should go beyond the minimum required of us when we have wronged someone). (40) And if anyone wants to sue you (contend with you) and take your shirt (by force or violence), let him have your coat also (don’t compete with him and be stripped of everything). (41) And whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two (rather than argue). (42) Give to him who asks of you (for something) and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. (43) You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy (this was added to Lev 19.18). (44) But I say to you, love your enemies (an enemy was defined as one who was your friend but you don’t speak anymore. This is not talking about a time of war or someone trying to kill you. This has to do with personal relationships) and pray for those who persecute you (a thorn in the flesh) (45) in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven (or resemble him) for he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (we are to remember that our reward is not on this earth even when it looks like the wicked prosper at times). (46) For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers (people of the worst character in the minds of the Jewish people at the time) do the same? (47) And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles (the heathens with no spiritual light) do the same? (48) Therefore you are to be perfect (complete in character, wholehearted and irreproachable) as your heavenly Father is perfect (Lev 19.2).

Posted in Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Understanding the New Testament, Verse-by-Verse Bible Studies

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