Sermon on the Mount

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Sermon on the Mount by Carl Bloch (1877) Bloch-SermonOnTheMount.jpg
Sermon on the Mount by Carl Bloch (1877)
Events in the
Life of Jesus
according to the canonical gospels
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The Sermon on the Mount (anglicized from the Matthean Vulgate Latin section title: Sermo in monte) is a collection of sayings and teachings of Jesus Christ, which emphasizes his moral teaching found in the Gospel of Matthew (chapters 5, 6, and 7). [1] [2] It is the first of the Five Discourses of Matthew and takes place relatively early in the Ministry of Jesus after he has been baptized by John the Baptist, finished his fasting and meditation retreat in the desert, and begun to preach in Galilee. The name and location of the mountain is unstated; the Mount of Beatitudes is the traditional interpretation.

Contents

The Sermon is the longest continuous discourse of Jesus found in the New Testament, and has been one of the most widely quoted elements of the Canonical Gospels. [3] It includes some of the best known teachings of Jesus, such as the Beatitudes, and the widely recited Lord's Prayer. The Sermon on the Mount is generally considered to contain the central tenets of Christian discipleship. [3]

Background and setting

The Sermon on the Mount occupies chapters 5, 6 and 7 of the Gospel of Matthew. The Sermon has been one of the most widely quoted elements of the Canonical Gospels. [3]

This is the first of the Five Discourses of Matthew, the other four being Matthew 10, Matthew 13 (1–53), Matthew 18 and the Olivet discourse in Matthew 24. [4] [5] [6]

The Sermon is set early in the Ministry of Jesus, after he has been baptized by John the Baptist in chapter 3 of Matthew's Gospel, gathered his first disciples in chapter 4, and had returned from a long fast and contemplation in the Judaean Desert where he had been tempted by Satan to renounce his spiritual mission and gain worldly riches.

Before this episode, Jesus had been "all about Galilee" preaching, as in Matthew 4:23, and "great crowds followed him" from all around the area. The setting for the sermon is given in Matthew 5:1-2. Jesus sees the multitudes, goes up into the mountain, is followed by his disciples, and begins to preach. The Sermon is brought to its close by Matthew 8:1, which reports that Jesus "came down from the mountain followed by great multitudes".

Components

While the issue of the exact theological structure and composition of the Sermon on the Mount is subject to debate among scholars, specific components within it, each associated with particular teachings, can be identified. [7] [8]

The Lord's Prayer, in Matthew 6:9, 1500, Vienna Meister des Lehrbuchs Kaiser Maximilians I. 001.jpg
The Lord's Prayer, in Matthew 6:9, 1500, Vienna

Matthew 5:3–12 discusses the Beatitudes. These describe the character of the people of the Kingdom of Heaven, expressed as "blessings". [9] The Greek word most versions of the Gospel render as "blessed," can also be translated "happy" ( Matthew 5:3–12 of Young's Literal Translation for an example). In Matthew, there are eight (or nine) blessings, while in Luke there are four, followed by four woes. [9]

In almost all cases the phrases used in the Beatitudes are familiar from an Old Testament context, but in the sermon Jesus gives them new meaning. [10] Together, the Beatitudes present a new set of ideals that focus on love and humility rather than force and mastery; they echo the highest ideals of Jesus' teachings on spirituality and compassion. [10]

In Christian teachings, the Works of Mercy, which have corporal and spiritual components, have resonated with the theme of the Beatitude for mercy. [11] These teachings emphasize that these acts of mercy provide both temporal and spiritual benefits. [12]

Matthew 5:13–16 presents the metaphors of salt and light. This completes the profile of God's people presented in the beatitudes, and acts as the introduction to the next section.

There are two parts in this section, using the terms "salt of the earth" and Light of the World to refer to the disciples  implying their value. Elsewhere, in John 8:12 , Jesus applies Light of the World to himself. [13]

Jesus preaches about hell and what hell is like: "But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother " Raca (fool)" shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." (Matthew 5:22 KJV [14] )

A page from Matthew, from Papyrus 1, c. 250 AD Papyrus 1 - recto.jpg
A page from Matthew, from Papyrus 1, c. 250 AD

The longest discourse in the Sermon is Matthew 5:17–48 , traditionally referred to as the Antitheses or Matthew's Antitheses. In the discourse, Jesus fulfills and reinterprets the Old Covenant and in particular its Ten Commandments, contrasting with what "you have heard" from others. For example, he advises turning the other cheek, and to love your enemies, in contrast to taking an eye for an eye. According to most interpretations of Matthew 5:17, 18, 19, and 20, and most Christian views of the Old Covenant, these new interpretations of the Law and Prophets are not opposed to the Old Testament, which was the position of Marcion, but form Jesus' new teachings which bring about salvation, and hence must be adhered to, as emphasized in Matthew 7:24–27 towards the end of the sermon. [15]

In Matthew 6 Jesus condemns doing what would normally be "good works" simply for recognition and not from the heart, such as those of alms (6:1–4), prayer (6:5–15), and fasting (6:16–18). The discourse goes on to condemn the superficiality of materialism and call the disciples not to worry about material needs, but to "seek" God's kingdom first. Within the discourse on ostentation, Matthew presents an example of correct prayer. Luke places this in a different context. The Lord's prayer (6:9–13) contains parallels to 1 Chronicles 29:10–18. [16] [17]

The first part of Matthew 7, i.e. Matthew 7:1–6 deals with judging. Jesus condemns those who judge others before first judging themselves: "Judge not, that ye be not judged."

In the last part in Matthew 7:17–29 Jesus concludes the sermon by warning against false prophets.

Teachings and theology

Plaque of the 8 Beatitudes, St. Cajetan Church, Lindavista, Mexico Saint Cajetan Church, Gustavo A. Madero, Federal District, Mexico11.jpg
Plaque of the 8 Beatitudes , St. Cajetan Church, Lindavista, Mexico

The teachings of the Sermon on the Mount have been a key element of Christian ethics, and for centuries the sermon has acted as a fundamental recipe for the conduct of the followers of Jesus. [18] Various religious and moral thinkers (e.g. Tolstoy and Gandhi) have admired its message, and it has been one of the main sources of Christian pacifism. [1] [19]

In the 5th century, Saint Augustine began his book Our Lord's Sermon on the Mount by stating:

If any one will piously and soberly consider the sermon which our Lord Jesus Christ spoke on the mount, as we read it in the Gospel according to Matthew, I think that he will find in it, so far as regards the highest morals, a perfect standard of the Christian life.

The last verse of chapter 5 of Matthew (5:48 ) is a focal point of the sermon that summarizes its teachings by advising the disciples to seek perfection." [20] The Greek word telios used to refer to perfection also implies an end, or destination, advising the disciples to seek the path towards perfection and the Kingdom of God. [20] It teaches that God's children are those who act like God. [21]

The teachings of the sermon are often referred to as the Ethics of the Kingdom: they place a high level of emphasis on "purity of the heart" and embody the basic standard of Christian righteousness. [22]

Theological structure

The issue of the theological structure and composition of the Sermon on the Mount remains unresolved. [7] [8] [23] One group of theologians ranging from Saint Augustine in the 5th century to Michael Goulder in the 20th century, see the Beatitudes as the central element of the Sermon. [7] Others such as Bornkamm see the Sermon arranged around the Lord's prayer, while Daniel Patte, closely followed by Ulrich Luz, see a chiastic structure in the sermon. [7] [8] Dale Allison and Glen Stassen have proposed a structure based on triads. [8] [23] [24] Jack Kingsbury and Hans Dieter Betz see the sermon as composed of theological themes, e.g. righteousness or way of life. [7]

Analysis and interpretation

The Sermon of the Mount as depicted by Louis Comfort Tiffany in a stained glass window at Arlington Street Church in Boston Sermon-on-the-mount-tiffany.jpg
The Sermon of the Mount as depicted by Louis Comfort Tiffany in a stained glass window at Arlington Street Church in Boston

Interpretations

The high ethical standards of the Sermon have been interpreted in a wide variety of ways by different Christian groups and Craig S. Keener states that at least 36 different interpretations regarding the message of the Sermon exist, which he divides into 8 categories of views: [25]

  1. The predominant medieval view, "reserving a higher ethic for clergy, especially in monastic orders" [26]
  2. Luther's view that it represents an impossible demand like the Law of Moses
  3. The Anabaptist literal view which directly applies the teachings [27]
  4. The Social Gospel view
  5. The Christian existentialism view
  6. Schweitzer's view of an imminent eschatology referring to an interim ethic
  7. Dispensational eschatology which refers to a future Kingdom of God
  8. Inaugurated eschatology in which the Sermon's ethics remain a goal to be approached, yet realized later

Comparison with the Sermon on the Plain

While Matthew groups Jesus' teachings into sets of similar material, the same material is scattered when found in Luke. [1] The Sermon on the Mount may be compared with the similar but more succinct Sermon on the Plain as recounted by the Gospel of Luke (6:17–49), which occurs at the same moment in Luke's narrative, and also features Jesus heading up a mountain, but giving the sermon on the way down at a level spot. Some scholars believe that they are the same sermon, while others hold that Jesus frequently preached similar themes in different places. [28]

Modern parallels with Buddhist teachings

Although modern parallels between the teachings of Jesus and Buddhist philosophy have been drawn (by the 14th Dalai Lama [29] for example), these comparisons emerged after missionary contacts in the 19th century, and there is no historically reliable evidence of contacts between Buddhism and Jesus during his life. [30] Modern scholarship has almost unanimously agreed that claims of the travels of Jesus to Tibet, Kashmir or India (see Unknown years of Jesus) and the influence of Buddhism on his teachings are without historical basis. [31] [32] The similarities between the teachings of Buddha and Jesus have been noted. [33]

According to the Perennial Philosophy

According to perennialist author Frithjof Schuon, the message of the Sermon is a perfect synthesis of the whole Christian tradition. The text has the largest number of perennial and universal doctrines, and spiritual advice of all Scripture. Much of what Bible readers remember from Scripture derives from the Sermon. Source of spiritual and moral instructions, the Sermon on the Mount is regarded by the Perennial Philosophy "as the quintessence itself of religion". [34] Perennialism considers the injunctions of the Sermon on the Mount as belonging to the esoteric dimension of Christianity.

See also

Related Research Articles

Gospel of Matthew Book of the New Testament

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Lords Prayer Christian prayer

The Lord's Prayer, also called the Our Father, is a venerated Christian prayer which, according to the New Testament, Jesus taught as the way to pray:

The Olivet Discourse or Olivet prophecy is a biblical passage found in the Synoptic Gospels in Matthew 24 and 25, Mark 13, and Luke 21. It is also known as the Little Apocalypse because it includes the use of apocalyptic language, and it includes Jesus' warning to his followers that they will suffer tribulation and persecution before the ultimate triumph of the Kingdom of God. The Olivet discourse is the last of the Five Discourses of Matthew and occurs just before the narrative of Jesus' passion beginning with the anointing of Jesus.

Beatitudes part of Jesus’ sermon on the mount

The Beatitudes are eight blessings recounted by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew. Each is a proverb-like proclamation, without narrative. Four of the blessings also appear in the Sermon on the Plain in the Gospel of Luke, followed by four woes which mirror the blessings.

Jesus in Christianity Jesus in Christianity

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Disciple (Christianity) Dedicated follower of Jesus

In Christianity, disciple primarily refers to a dedicated follower of Jesus. This term is found in the New Testament only in the Gospels and Acts. In the ancient world a disciple is a follower or adherent of a teacher. It is not the same as being a student in the modern sense. A disciple in the ancient biblical world actively imitated both the life and teaching of the master. It was a deliberate apprenticeship which made the fully formed disciple a living copy of the master.

Names and titles of Jesus in the New Testament Designations for Jesus used in the New Testament

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Life of Jesus in the New Testament life of Jesus as told in the New Testament

The life of Jesus in the New Testament is primarily outlined in the four canonical gospels, which includes his genealogy and nativity, public ministry, passion, resurrection and ascension. Other parts of the New Testament – such as the Pauline epistles which were likely written within 20–30 years of each other, and which include references to key episodes in Jesus' life, such as the Last Supper, and the Acts of the Apostles, (1:1–11) which includes more references to the Ascension episode than the canonical gospels - also expound upon the life of Jesus. In addition to these biblical texts, there are extra-biblical texts that Christians believe make reference to certain events in the life of Jesus, such as Josephus on Jesus and Tacitus on Christ.

Matthew 6:9 verse of the New Testament

Matthew 6:9 is the ninth verse of the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament and is part of the Sermon on the Mount. This verse is the opening of the Lord's Prayer, one of the best known parts of the entire New Testament.

Matthew 5:1–2

Matthew 5:1 and Matthew 5:2 are the first two verses of the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. The verses introduce the Sermon on the Mount that will be recited in the next several chapters. The previous verse mentioned the large crowds "from Galilee, and from the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan" who followed Jesus to witness him healing: these verses present Jesus as seeing the crowds and going up onto a mountain to begin teaching.

Matthew 5:9

Matthew 5:9 is the ninth verse of the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. It is the seventh verse of the Sermon on the Mount, and also seventh of what are known as the Beatitudes.

Sermon on the Plain Set of teachings by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke

In Christianity, the Sermon on the Plain refers to a set of teachings by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, in 6:17–49. This sermon may be compared to the longer Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew.

New Testament places associated with Jesus

The New Testament narrative of the life of Jesus refers to a number of locations in the Holy Land and a Flight into Egypt. In these accounts the principal locations for the ministry of Jesus were Galilee and Judea, with activities also taking place in surrounding areas such as Perea and Samaria.

Matthew 7:12 is the twelfth verse of the seventh chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament and is part of the Sermon on the Mount. This well known verse presents what has become known as the Golden Rule.

Ministry of Jesus

In the Christian gospels, the ministry of Jesus begins with his baptism in the countryside of Roman Judea and Transjordan, near the river Jordan, and ends in Jerusalem, following the Last Supper with his disciples. The Gospel of Luke states that Jesus was "about 30 years of age" at the start of his ministry. A chronology of Jesus typically has the date of the start of his ministry estimated at around AD 27–29 and the end in the range AD 30–36.

Luke 6

Luke 6 is the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Luke in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. Jesus' teaching about the Sabbath enrages the religious authorities and deepens their conflict. The selection of twelve apostles is recounted and this is followed by the "Sermon on the Plain", where key aspects of Jesus' teaching are presented.

Rejection of Jesus

This article relates to a number of episodes in the New Testament and in Jewish tradition during his lifetime in which Jesus was rejected.

Confession of Peter An episode in the New Testament in which the Apostle Peter proclaims Jesus to be the Christ

In Christianity, the Confession of Peter refers to an episode in the New Testament in which the Apostle Peter proclaims Jesus to be the Christ. The proclamation is described in the three Synoptic Gospels: Matthew 16:13-20, Mark 8:27–30 and Luke 9:18–20. Specifically, Peter declares, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Names of God in Christianity Names and titles that refer to the Christian God

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Five Discourses of Matthew

In Christianity, the term Five Discourses of Matthew refers to five specific discourses by Jesus within the Gospel of Matthew.

References

Citations

  1. 1 2 3 Cross, F.L., ed. (2005), "Sermon on the Mount", The Oxford dictionary of The Christian church, New York: Oxford University Press.
  2. Baasland, Ernst (2015). Parables and Rhetoric in the Sermon on the Mount: New Approaches to a Classic Text. Tübingen, DE: Mohr Siebeck.
  3. 1 2 3 Vaught, Carl G. (2001), The Sermon on the mount: a theological investigation, ISBN   978-0-918954-76-3 . pages xi–xiv .
  4. The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament by Andreas J. Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum 2009 ISBN   978-0-8054-4365-3 pp. 94–96.
  5. The Gospel of Matthew by Craig S. Keener 2009 ISBN   978-0-8028-6498-7 pp. 37–38.
  6. Preaching Matthew's Gospel by Richard A. Jensen 1998 ISBN   978-0-7880-1221-1 pp. 25, 158.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 Reading the Sermon on the mount, Charles H. Talbert 2004 ISBN   1-57003-553-9 pp. 21–26.
  8. 1 2 3 4 What are they saying about Matthew's Sermon on the mount?, Warren Carter 1994 ISBN   0-8091-3473-X pp. 35–47.
  9. 1 2 "Beatitudes." Frank Leslie Cross, Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005 ISBN   978-0-19280290-3
  10. 1 2 A Dictionary of The Bible, James Hastings 2004 ISBN   1-4102-1730-2 pages 15–19.
  11. Jesus the Peacemaker, Carol Frances Jegen 1986 ISBN   0-934134-36-7 pages 68–71.
  12. The Synoptics: Matthew, Mark, Luke, Ján Majerník, Joseph Ponessa, Laurie Watson Manhardt 2005 ISBN   1-931018-31-6, pages 63–68
  13. Spear, Charles (2003). Names and Titles of the Lord Jesus Christ. p. 226. ISBN   0-7661-7467-0.
  14. Bible Gateway Quick search: hell fire
  15. France, R. T. (2007). The Gospel of Matthew. pp. 1118–9. ISBN   0-80282501-X.
  16. Clontz, T.E. & J., The Comprehensive New Testament with complete textual variant mapping and references for the Dead Sea Scrolls, Philo, Josephus, Nag Hammadi Library, Pseudepigrapha, Apocrypha, Plato, Egyptian Book of the Dead, Talmud, Old Testament, Patristic Writings, Dhammapada, Tacitus, Epic of Gilgamesh, Cornerstone, 2008, p. 451, ISBN   978-0-9778737-1-5
  17. Stevenson (2004), p. 198.
  18. The sources of Christian ethics by Servais Pinckaers 1995 ISBN   0-8132-0818-1 page 134
  19. For Tolstoy, see My Religion, 1885. cf. My Religion on Wikisource.
  20. 1 2 Vaught, Carl G. (1986). The Sermon on the Mount: A Theological Interpretation. SUNY Press. pp. 7–10. ISBN   9781438422800.
  21. Talbert, Charles H. (2010). "Matthew". Paideia: Commentaries on the New Testament. Baker Academic. p. 78. ISBN   9780801031922.
  22. Christian ethics, issues and insights by Eṃ Stephan 2007 ISBN   81-8069-363-5.
  23. 1 2 Allison, Dale C. (September 1987). "The Structure of the Sermon on the Mount" (PDF). Journal of Biblical Literature. 106 (3): 423–45. JSTOR   3261066.
  24. Stassen, Glen H. "The Fourteen Triads of the Sermon on the Mount." Journal of Biblical Literature, 2003.
  25. Keener, Craig S. (2009). "The sermon's message". The Gospel of Matthew. pp. 160–2. ISBN   978-0-8028-6498-7.
  26. Mahoney, Jack (February 2012). "Catholicism Pure and Simple". 2nd, 3rd, and 4th paragraphs. The most widespread and notorious of these strategies was the double standard approach which developed by the time of the Middle Ages, requiring the sermon to be taken seriously by only some members of the Church.CS1 maint: location (link)
  27. "Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (GAMEO)". first paragraph. Whereas Luther emphasized salvation by faith and grace alone, the Anabaptists placed emphasis on the obedience of faith.
  28. Ehrman 2004, p. 101
  29. Dalai Lama (1998). Robert Kiely; Thupten Jinpa (eds.). The Good Heart: A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus. Wisdom Publications Inc. p. 58. ISBN   978-0861711383.
  30. Jesus: The Complete Guide 2006 by Leslie Houlden ISBN   082648011X page 140
  31. Van Voorst, Robert E (2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN   0-8028-4368-9 page 17
  32. The Historical Jesus in Recent Research edited by James D. G. Dunn and Scot McKnight 2006 ISBN   1-57506-100-7 page 303
  33. Borg, Marcus, ed. Jesus and Buddha: The Parallel Sayings. Jack Kornfield, intro. Ulysses Press. 2004.
  34. Mateus Soares de Azevedo, "Esoterism and exoterism in the Sermon of the Mount". In: Sophia journal (vol. 15, Number 1, Summer 2009)

Sources

  • Augustine of Hippo. Commentary on Sermon on Mount. Translated by William Findlay.
  • Betz, Hans Dieter. Essays on the Sermon on the Mount. translations by Laurence Welborn. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985.
  • Kissinger, Warren S. The Sermon on the Mount: A History of Interpretation and Bibliography. Metuchen: Scarecrow Press, 1975.
  • Kodjak, Andrej. A Structural Analysis of the Sermon on the Mount. New York: M. de Gruyter, 1986.
  • Lapide, Pinchas. The Sermon on the Mount, Utopia or Program for Action? translated from the German by Arlene Swidler. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1986.
  • Lambrecht, Jan, S.J. The Sermon on the Mount. Michael Glazier: Wilmington, DE, 1985.
  • McArthur, Harvey King. Understanding the Sermon on the Mount. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1978.
  • Prabhavananda, Swami Sermon on the Mount According to Vedanta 1991 ISBN   0-87481-050-7
  • Easwaran Eknath. Original Goodness (on Beatitudes). Nilgiri Press, 1989. ISBN   0-915132-91-5.
  • Stassen, Glen H. and David P. Gushee. Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context, InterVarsity Press, 2003. ISBN   0-8308-2668-8.
  • Stassen, Glen H. Living the Sermon on the Mount: A Practical Hope for Grace and Deliverance, Jossey-Bass, 2006. ISBN   0-7879-7736-5.
  • Stevenson, Kenneth. The Lord's prayer: a text in tradition, Fortress Press, 2004. ISBN   0-8006-3650-3.
  • Soares de Azevedo, Mateus. Esoterism and Exoterism in the Sermon of the Mount. Sophia journal, Oakton, VA, USA. Vol. 15, Number 1, Summer 2009.
  • Soares de Azevedo, Mateus. Christianity and the Perennial Philosophy, World Wisdom, 2006. ISBN   0-941532-69-0.
Sermon on the Mount
Life of Jesus: Sermon on the Mount or on the Plain
Preceded by
Commissioning of the Twelve Apostles
New Testament
Events
Succeeded by
Widow’s Son at Nain Raised
Miracles of Jesus