Study Guide

Gospel of Matthew Chapter 5

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Chapter 5

Laying Down the Law

  • Now Jesus starts getting down to business and begins preaching to the masses. His opening number? The Sermon on the Mount (Chapters 5-7). In this super-famous sermon, he says who is blessed and why. Ready? Go.
  • Those who completely rely on God will basically own heaven.
  • Mourners will have their tears dried.
  • The meek will get a whole bunch of land.
  • Those who crave doing right by God will be satisfied in a righteous heaven.
  • Those who are kind to others will be given kindness back.
  • Those with pure hearts will get to chill with God.
  • Peacemakers will be called "children of God."
  • Those who get bullied because they want to do God's will also own heaven.
  • And those who get harassed and beaten and terrorized because of Jesus? Well, they'll make out like bandits with all the rewards they'll get in heaven.
  • List over. Now here come the parables. 
  • The first one is a quickie: salt of the earth and light of the world.
  • Then Jesus gets down to the real business and explains why he's here. It's not to abolish the law but to fulfill it. And to top it off, he says that righteousness has to surpass the Pharisees and scribes in order to enter heaven.
  • The next topics on Jesus's agenda are anger and adultery. He says that in olden times (and that's real olden times if Jesus says it's old), the law just taught about not killing anyone. But Jesus is saying that even having a bit of a temper is just as bad as murder. ("Check yourself before you wreck yourself" – Jesus.)
  • And it only gets more serious from there. When it comes to adultery, Jesus teaches that even looking at someone with lust is already committing adultery. And his solution? Get rid of what causes you to sin. In this example, that would mean getting rid of your eyes. (His justification? Avoiding hell. Sounds legit.) 
  • Jesus continues on the adultery brain-train by adding that divorce means adultery—not only for the woman but for whoever marries a divorced woman.
  • Next on the lesson plan is oaths and retaliation. This time, Jesus corrects the old law of not swearing vows to God. Instead, Jesus says to not swear at all and to let one's word stand for itself. Simply put, yes means yes and no means no. 
  • When it comes to retaliation, Jesus brings up the infamous "eye for an eye" way of doing things (5:38). To correct this, Jesus teaches his followers to "turn the other" cheek, "give your cloak" in addition to your coat, and to go "the second mile" when forced to only go one. Translation? Nonviolent resistance. 
  • The final teaching in Chapter 5 is a big one. It's the well-known "love your enemies" sermon.
  • But Jesus doesn't end there. He actually preaches for his followers to pray for those who persecute them and to be as perfect as God. Quite the tall order.

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