Matthew 5:17-48 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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The Sermon on the Mount (II)
Comments for Study 8

Matthew 5:17-48
Memory Verse: 17


I. The Fulfillment of the Law (17-20)


>1. Why might have some people charged that Jesus had come to abolish the Law? (Mark 7:5) What is the purpose of the Law and the Prophets? (Matthew 22:40, Hebrews 10:7) How would Jesus fulfill them? (Colossians 1:25, Hebrews 10:16)

Matthew 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."

* "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets" -Matthew later records those who made this accusation. In 7:5 he wrote, "So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, 'Why don't your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with 'unclean' hands?'" The Jewish leaders often accused Jesus' disciples of not follow traditions, ceremonies, and even the law, but this was according to their idea of the law. Since Jesus' disciples didn't follow the law by their understanding of the law, then they concluded that Jesus did not teach them to do these things and even taught them that the traditions of the elders were wrong. Jesus here corrects that thinking.

I want to point out the fact that the religious leaders in Jesus day had their own idea of what the law was. They interpreted the word of God incorrectly. They turned the law into a bunch of external regulations and requirements that could be followed without having a heart of love for God and others. The lack of love of God was shown in their rejection of his Son, Jesus. The lack of love of others was pointed out many times by Jesus. Thus, as Jesus pointed out, by and because of misinterpreting the law they missed the whole point of the law. In the true sence this was done because they did not love God to begin with. Yet at the same time they wanted to overcome guilt with self-righteousness which came from following a bunch of human made laws and regulations. Therefore, when Jesus came, living according to the way God meant and pointed out in the Bible, they hated him, wanted to humiliate him, and thus stablize their authority.

* "the Law or the Prophets" -The Law refers to the law that Moses recorded which is in the first five books of the Bible. The Prophets include all of the other books of the Old Testament. Of course there has always been people who break down "the Prophets" section into historical books, poems, and prophecies. But all of these have been traditionally combined into one book called "the Prophets". It is important to point out that although an Old Testament book may appear to be a purely historical book, often the writers of the New Testament used verses from them as prophecies.

* "but to fulfill them" -Jesus fulfilled both the Law and Prophets while living here on the earth. Hebrews 10:7 says, "Then I said, 'Here I am-it is written about me in the scroll-I have come to do your will, O God.'" Thus pointing to the fact that the Old Testament taught that the Messiah would fulfill the Law and the Prophets.

Many people know and understood that Jesus fulfilled prophecies, but they often forget, or don't know, or don't understand that Jesus also fulfilled the Law. But this is very important; in fact, Paul wrote a lot about this fact in his letters. If Jesus' wouldn't have fulfilled the law than he would not have been the perfect blameless sacrifice.

Jesus fulfilled the Law by living according to all the Laws and regulations of the Old Testament. Jesus was careful to do all that the ceremonial laws required. Jesus fulfilled all of the Prophets by doing all that they said that the Messiah would do. This fact allow points to the authenticity of Jesus and the Bible for there are many prophecies that needed to be filled.

Point to Christ

Matthew 5:18 "'I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, no the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.'"

* "will (not) by any means disappear from the Law" -The law is how man is suppose to live. If he lives this way he will have a good and blessed life. Therefore, the truth of the best life, which is recorded in the Law, stays the same. However, this does not apply to the part of the law that pointed to Christ (i.e. the sacrificial system). However, the rest of the law will remain. In fact in the rest of "The Sermon on the Mount" Jesus restates some of them, and adds to them. Also in other parts of the New Testament many of the Old Testament Laws are restated and some even added to. Also, new laws are added; like when Jesus said in John's gospel, "A new commandment I give you, love one another, as I have loved you, so you must love one another."

* "until everything is accomplished" -After Judgement Day everything will be accomplished; creation order will be established again, and mankind will be restored to the state of holiness; the sinful nature will be removed. Therefore the Law and Prophets will not be needed.

Matthew 5:19 "'Anyone who breaks one of the lest of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'"

* "Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments" -This is repeated and added onto in James 2:10 which says, "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.'" The law are written for all men for they are the way all men should live.

* "will be called least (or greatest) in the kingdom of heaven" -Clearly this is spoken to believers who already believe in Jesus who died for thier sins and rose from the dead as an example of what is meant to be for his followers. Jesus was saying, that there will be a hiarchy in heaven, based upon how Christians lived in this life. This is repeated elsewhere in the Bible.

>2. How did the Pharisees and the religious leaders of Jesus' time alter the purpose of the Law? (Mark 7:9) In what way is the design of the Law and all the words of God unchangeable? When will they be accomplished?

>3. How is the greatness of the teachers of the word of God determined in the kingdom of the Messiah? Why are all the laws binding not only on the teachers but also on all Christians? (James 2:10) What does it mean that the righteousness of the Christians must surpass that of the harasses and the teachers of the law?

Matthew 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.'"

* "surpasses" -The righteousness that Jesus is talking about comes from belief in Jesus. When one believes in Jesus, God forgives all his or hers sin and thus is righteous in God's sight.

* "Pharisees and the teachers of the law" -The Pharisees lived pretty moral lives. Their righteousness was by their works of keeping ceremonies and traditions. It was from themselves. However, a Christians righteousness is by faith in Jesus' death and resurrection.

II. The Commandments Concerning Murder and Anger (21-26)

>4. What commandment of Moses is Jesus referring to in verse 21? (Exodus 20:13) In what way is Jesus authorized to give the new laws? (John 3:11) How did Jesus redefine the sixth commandment of Moses' law? Why do you think Jesus gave such a strict law concerning anger? (22a, 1 John 3:15) How about contempt toward other Christian brothers? (22a)

Matthew 5:21 "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago. 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement.'"

* "You shall not murder" is found in Exodus 20:13.

Matthew 5:22 "But I tell you that anyone who is anger with his brother will be subject to judgement. Again, anyone who says to this brother, Raca, is answerable to the Sanhedrin,. But anyone who says, 'You fool! will be in danger of the fire of hell.'"

* "But I tell you" -This phrase tells me that Jesus is rewriting the old law. Thus he is giving a new law. Jesus is authorized to give new laws for his is from God and is God as John 3:11 says, ""'I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but will you people do not accept our testimony.'"

* Mark 2:27-28

* "anger" -Jesus went to the root of the problem of murder, which was in a man's heart and is anger. Murder is just the external act of an internal problem. Anger towards people has to do with a wrong heart. One who has a wrong heart is wrong with God, he is not justified.

Jesus is saying that murderous and angry people are the same when one examines the heart. Just because one doesn't commit murder does not mean that he is exempt from murder, all it means is that God kept that person from going through with the anger and commit murder.

An example that one doesn't have to commit murder and yet be accused of murder by God is David. Although he did not murder Mirah with his own hands, he still was accused of murdering him. Of course anger towards Mirah was not the cause of the murder, it still is a good example that one doesn't have to commit the murder to be accused and judged as a murderer.

1 John 3:15 repeats Jesus words here in Matthew and adds to them by saying,"Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him."

Many people hide behind religious activities, thinking that they are good people, even sinless. But with the words of Jesus here in Matthew and John's words in his first letter, people cannot hide behind religions activities, they still will be accounted for. A person can even act like they are not angry and yet with Jesus' words here, he or she is still guilty if they are angry in their heart.

* "with his brother" -As I pointed out in the beginning of these lessons on "The Sermon on the Mount" Jesus was talking to his disciples. With this word it appears that Jesus was as, of first importance, concerned on how his disciples acted and felt towards one another. Of course elsewhere, when Jesus was asked, "Who does God and the Bible define as "neighbor" in the commandment, 'Love your neighbor as yourself?'" answered with the parable of The Good Samaritan, and thus teaches one's neighbor is all in need. But in The Sermon on the Mount and this new command especially, Jesus wanted his disciples to love one another and not be angry in their hearts.

>5. How did Jesus emphasize the importance of reconciliation with those who are against you? (23) Why? In what way does Jesus acknowledge a Christians' accountability to the civil judicial law? (Romans 13:1)

Matthew 5:23-24 "Therefore, if you are offering your gifts at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother, then come and offer your gift.'"

* "offering your gifts" -This is an act of worship. In Jesus' days, the Jews would go to the temple to offer gifts for many different reasons that is laid out in the Old Testament. Some gifts were for atonement, thanksgiving, prayer, intersection, etc. Today, for Christians this would apply if we are going to church, praying, studying the Bible, etc.

I believe that this teaching may refer to several things. First, Jesus was speaking against those who act religious, and yet are wrong in their hearts. Second, while praying God often reveals things and/or gives us the strength to correct things that we need to correct, such as forgiving our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Not only can God tell if there is something wrong with relationships that is hidden in the heart, but we can tell if there is something wrong with relationships when we meet our brothers and sisters. For this reason also we should be reconciled from our brothers, even though the problem is only in the heart.

* "leave your offer there" -A person cannot hide from God the sins of the heart. Therefore, we should not act righteous on the outside and then expect God to accept our righteous acts. Jesus taught that we should be reconciled to our brother and sisters and then expect God to accept our righteous acts.

* "be reconciled" -A Christian should not be the source of someone sinning. He should be the source or forgiving.

Matthew 5:25-26 "Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and yu may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.'"

* "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God." (Romans 13:1)

III. The Commandments Concerning Adultery and Lust (27-32)

>6. What commandment of Moses is Jesus referring to in verse 27? (Exodus 20:14) How did Jesus give the broader and deeper meaning and implication to this seventh commandment? To what extent should Christians be aware of the seriousness of their sin problem? Why?

Matthew 5:27 "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.'"

* Exodus 20:14 is where it says, "Do not commit adultery."

Matthew 5:28 "'But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.'"

* "lustfully" -Adultery is a heart problem.

Matthew 5:29-30 "If your right eye causes you to sin, 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. And if your right hand causes you to sin, 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.'"

* With this, Jesus is teaching how important it is to realize the root of the sin problem and go eradicate it.

* "gouge it out...cut it off" -If we cut and gouge our physical bodies we will not get rid of the source of the problem. But if we, with the help of the Holy Spirit, cut and gouge out the sinfulness in our hearts, then we will be able to follow the law and be saved from hell. Job realized this and said it in 31:1,9, 10.

* "It is better to lose one part of you body than for you whole body to go into hell" -People don't realize how bad hell really is. However, they do understand how bad it is to lose part of their body. Therefore, with this teaching Jesus is emphasizing, among other things, just how bad hell is.

>7. What law of Moses concerned divorce? (31, Deuteronomy 24:1,2) Why did Moses permit divorce to the Israelites? (Mark 10:5) How did Jesus bring marriage back to its original intention?

Matthew 5:31 "It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.'"

* "It has been said" -Divorce in the Old Testament is found in Deuteronomy 24:12, "'If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him becaus he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man,'"

* In Mark 10:5 Jesus said why divorce was given even though it was not the best way, He said, "It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,' Jesus replied." People's hearts are hard, they do not love as God loves. God knows this. Moses knew this. So he gave the Israelites divorce. This was for the benefit of the moment, for often when men do not love or even like their wives they make their lives miserable. So divorce was given.

Also, because as slaves men would sometimes just throw away their wives, divorce would make it harder to "get rid of" a spouse. In this way the sanctity of marriage and the blessedness of the family would be upheld.

Matthew 5:32 "'But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.'"

* Husbands and wives should do everything possible to perserve a marrage and the family unit.

IV. The Commandments Concerning Oaths and Truthfulness (33-37)

>8. How might the teachers of the law have given a false interpretation of the law concerning oaths? (Exodus 20:16, Lev. 19:12) How did Jesus correct them?

Matthew 5:33 "Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' "

* "it was said to the people long ago" -This is taken from two places in the Old Testament. The first is Exodus 20:16 which says, "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor." The second is Leviticus 19:12 Which says, "'Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord."

Matthew 5:34-37 "But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one."

* "do not swear at all" -These days most people swear habitually. In the last ten years swearing with added expletives and profanity has increased greatly. Why then do people swear? Subconsciously, swearing gives the impression to the swearer and the hearer that the swearer is of great importance; therefore his message is to be heard and accepted. Swearing gives the false sense of security and power. Swearing is often used to hide the truth of the matter as well. In a way, swearing is an offensive act that is meant to give the hearer a subconsciously "guilt trip". I believe that this is no different in the past (in Jesus' day) than it is today.

A persons intergrety is so important to Jesus.

* "Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'" -Why don't people talk plainly? Why do we hide behind masks and falsehood? Why do we live masquerades and play interpersonal games? From what I can see it is fear of rejection and isolation. Also because in our hearts we know we are sinners; we know we have weaknesses. So in our hearts we feel guilty about this, and therefore we try to hide it with masks, mirrors and falsehood. Personally, I have always been tired of living in a world where people live lives of masquerades. For many many years I have avoided living behind a mask. And although I don't like being judged, I do not want to put the great effort it takes to live behind a mask. Yet others still do. For this reason I look forward to the kingdom of God, where interpersonal relationships are open and honest.

V. The Commandments Concerning Revenge and Grace (38-48)

>9. What was the purpose of the old law in verse 38? (Exodus 21:24, Lev. 24:20, Deut. 23:6) How did Jesus apply this judicial law to personal conduct? What is the general principle that Jesus is teaching here?

Matthew 5:38 "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' "

* This is taken from Exodus 21:23-25 which says, "But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise." This can also be found in Leviticus 24:19-20 which says, "If anyone injures his neighbor, whatever he has done must be done to him: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. As he has injured the other, so he is to be injured.

* The point of the above laws was to teach basic justice, that people are responsible for their crimes, and to give a sense of responsibility to people towards the individual.

* People have always used the word of God for revenge. An example of this is found in Genesis 4, at the beginning of man, just after the fall.

Matthew 5:39 "But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."

* Because the above laws were misused Jesus taught people to have love, compassion and mercy towards his fellow man, even if he has been wronged by him. Thus Jesus was teaching to have grace with law and order; or as the Apostle John said in chapter one of his gospel, "...grace and truth."

* The more Jesus teaches, the harder we find to obey on our own accord.

Matthew 5:40 "And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well."

* Has anyone done this?

Matthew 5:41 "If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles."

* The few who have done this have will be rewarded in heaven.

Matthew 5:42 "Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."

* J. Vernon McGee says that in this age living by this is impractical. He states that these teaching will definitely be lived in the next age called the Millennium.

Matthew 5:43 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'"

* This can be found in Lev. 19:18.

Matthew 5:44-47 "But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons 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. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?"

* Jesus taught to not love for the benefit it might bring, but love because of God's love for you and others.

Matthew 5:48 "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

* All believers have sinned and have been made perfect by the blood of Jesus. These teachings are for believers. Show me a man who claims to be a Christian forgiven by God and then says that since his conversion he has never sinned and I will tell you that that man does not understand and obey what Jesus is saying here. I deal with this subject in my manuscript The Believers Future - Hope that Inpsires.