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Matthew 5:1-20

May 21, 2011

–Although both Luke 6 and Matthew 5 have the Beatitudes addressed to Jesus’ disciples, Luke 6 says Jesus said the Beatitudes in a “level place”; Matthew 5 says “on the mountain” (which mountain?). They could have been said twice, of course, but since they were said to the disciples, such a similar message might not have to be said to the same group of people.  However, since “disciples” are a larger group than the apostles, who were “full-time” disciples”, perhaps mostly the same individuals didn’t make up the disciples in each case.  

–Salvation by works seems to be approved by Matthew 5. It doesn’t say that only the merciful, the peacemakers, the poor in spirit, etc., will have the kingdom of heaven, but that it can be obtained in any other way than faith alone goes a long way to undermine the doctrine.

–That the breakers of one of the least commandments in the law are even going to be in the kingdom of heaven is surprising. However, these people are only given the status of “least in the kingdom.” This is actually a position “greater” than John the Baptist, according to Matthew 11:11. I suppose then that breakers of the greatest commandments in the law would not be allowed into the kingdom.

–Verse 20 would mean that salvation by works is also very hard to come by. Christian theology, though, allows for people to obtain perfect righteousness from Jesus Christ. Therefore, this chapter might not be presenting salvation by works as actually feasible.

–If the breakers of the greatest commandments would not be allowed into the kingdom of heaven, that would include just about everyone. Maybe it wouldn’t be a problem for Jews of the time to love God with all their hearts, souls, and minds (Matt. 22:36-37), but for everyone else it probably would have been. And then the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:39). I think just about everyone would cross that commandment.

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