5:1-2 Unlike Luke's sermon, this is more clearly directed at not only the disciples, but also the crowds. While Luke's sermon doesn't omit the crowds, Jesus still clearly raises his eyes and looks at his disciples when he speaks. In addition, this chapter does not immediately follow the one preceding. Its location in the Book of Matthew is an indication of its importance.
5:3-12 The Beatitudes do match up perfectly between Matthew and Luke. This is not to say that Jesus did not say them all; it is to say that they were recorded differently by different authors. This is logical, as it is unlikely any of the disciples sat taking notes while Jesus talked. In addition, most scholars believe the great discourses recorded to have been combinations of teachings given by Jesus over time...thus while they are a true presentation of the substance, they may not be exact quotes of Jesus.
All of the Beatitudes can be viewed in two lights: as literal (aka- those who mourn...those who mourn for loved ones or are sad) and as spiritual (aka- those who mourn for their sins). It depends upon the scholar as to which view (or both) they subscribe to.
5:3 In the OT, the poor in spirit referred to those without material possession, but whose confidence is in God. "In spirit" is meant to be extended to all, whatever their wealth, who recognize their complete dependence on God. We could also read "poor in spirit" as "humble." Luke simply says "blessed are you who are poor."
5:4 Mourn for their sins, not worldly mourning.
5:5 In the OT, "the land" meant the land of Palestine. Here it references the kingdom of heaven.
5:8 We should note the emphasis here between the purity of the heart (which includes thought, intention, emotion, and moral disposition) versus the ritual cleanliness (purity) practiced and required by the law.
5:9 This does not apply just to peacemakers between the nations. It applies to those who try to sow peace in their everyday lives, reducing conflict, etc.
5:10 Righteousness: here, as usually in Matthew, means conduct in conforming with God's will.
5:13-16 By their deeds the disciples are to influence the world for good. If they fail in good works, they are as useless as flavorless salt or a lamp whose light is concealed.
5:17-48 See Bible study for this section.
5:22 The concept of punishment of sinners by fire either after death or after the final judgment is found in Jewish apocalyptic literature (e.g. Enoch), but the name 'Geenna' is first given to the place of punishment in the NT.
5:26 The severity of the judge in the parable is a warning of the fate of unrepentant sinners in the coming judgment by God.
5:29-30 No sacrifice is too great to avoid total destruction in Gehenna. Actual physical mutilation is not being advocated.
5:31 In the OT, it is commanded that a bill of divorce be given to a woman; this statement implies the legitimacy of divorce. Here Jesus is making it clear that divorce is NOT acceptable.
5:33-37 It is debatable whether Jesus was prohibiting all oath taking or just the practice of frequent, common oaths that don't respect the seriousness of oath taking.
5:38-42 The OT meaning of "eye for an eye" was intended to moderate punishment; during those times it was common for people to kill in retaliation for theft, for example. In the NT, Jesus goes further and says even this proportionate retaliation is not acceptable.
5:39 What is here commanded is a Christian patience under injuries and affronts and to be willing even to suffer still more, rather than to indulge the desire of revenge. This does not mean one may not calmly go to the law for redress of injury or, perhaps, in some circumstances, sanction war in extreme cases.
5:46 The tax collectors of the time were a set of men, odious and infamous among the Jews, for their extortions and injustice.
5:48 In the gospels, the word 'perfect' occurs only in Matthew, here and in Matthew 19:21. The Lucan parallel demands that the disciples be merciful. We are to imitate, as far as we can with our human limitations, the divine perfection.
Jennifer Becker Landsberger
Who am I? Freelance writer (magazines, websites, & copywriting), Catholic, military wife, and Mensan. Double Bachelor's in History & Psychology.
Witnessing by charity and love are above all. Studying the Bible and beyond helps me on this quest. Feel free to join my walk into the Bible.
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~~~Prayer before Writing-
Oh creator of the universe, who has set the stars in the heavens and causes the sun to rise and set, shed the light of your wisdom into the darkness of my mind. Fill my thoughts with a loving knowledge of you, that I may bring you like to others. Just as you can make even babies speak your truth, instruct my tongue and guide my pen to convey the wonderful glory of the Gospel. Make my intellect sharp, my memory clear, and my words eloquent, so that I may faithfully interpret the mysteries what you have revealed.
To my readers & fellow writers,
1. I will pray that God's grace helps illuminate all of our interactions- both those of simple reading and more active conversations.
2. I will communicate with you respectfully and civilly. These are (rightly) issues which we feel passionate about. But even in disagreements, I will respect you fellow "seekers of truth."
3. I will not fall into negative behavior or words, such as insinuations, exaggerations, blames, or personal attacks. I respectfully ask you to do the same.
4. I will pray we will all find the truth and strive to fulfill the two greatest commandments: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30-31)
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Sites I Recommend
Biblical Evidence for Catholicism by Dave Armstrong