Key Words – Jesus and Scripture in 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. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

21 You have heard that it was said …. But I say to you {repeated in 6 examples}

48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

I was intrigues by six words in Jesus teaching on the Law.  First “Law” here refers to the whole Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), not just to regulations such as the Ten Commandments.  Jesus relationship to the scripture can be characterized by these highlighted words

Fulfill – to bring to completion in a variety of senses. Not just to fulfill predictions (such as being born in Bethlehem) but also to complete all aspects of the scripture.  For example, his death fulfills the system of sacrifices – see the book of Hebrews in the New Testament.

Accomplish – this is to say, to do all of it.  No part (jot or tittle; iota or dot) will be left incomplete.

Do and Teach – Those who leave out any part of the commands of God diminish themselves – they become “least in the kingdom of  heaven.”  Those who do and who teach all of the word, will be great.  This is quite a statement for pastors and teachers to consider if they feel a challenge between the text and the desire of the audience.

Exceed – the scribes and Pharisees were the A students who took the advanced classes.  To exceed them in law keeping is not really possible.  It seems that we need to exceed by 1. seeing that life in God is in relationship first of all to our Heavenly Father {repeated many times in this sermon} and not merely to a rule book.  And by 2. receiving a gift of righteousness from Christ.  To those who say this is importing Paul into Jesus’ teaching, I point to this verse:

“blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”  5:6.

Notice that you do not fill yourself with righteousness, but that those who hunger will BE FILLED {passive voice}. So who is doing the filling?  The correct answer in the Sermon on the Mount is usually “your Father in Heaven.”

Perfect – in v. 48 Jesus sets a standard of perfection.  Yet he speaks of being “poor in spirit”, “meek” and to “hunger and thirst…”.  This passage is instruction for disciples (5:1),. who presumably have already heard his message: “Repent and believe…” {4:17}

These are the words that frame Jesus restating, clarifying and expanding the meaning of the “Law and the prophets” in the six examples found in this chapter.



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