Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Matthew 5:3-20

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The Beatitudes - Matthew 5:3-12

Each of these nine beatitudes begins with the word "blessed" (Grk. makarios) which means truly happy and satisfied in life with God. In the Beatitudes Jesus shares a vision for certain attitudes of the heart and ways of being in the world that relate to God and to others. In each case these ways do not seem to promise happiness because they are mostly negative, especially emphasizing persecution and suffering (Matt. 5:10-12). But in each Beatitude Jesus promises that these surprising attitudes and ways of being will prove to be the place of true life in God's kingdom. See WLC 172; HC 63, 107.

For theirs is the kingdom of heaven – Matthew 5:3, 10

For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The first and eighth Beatitudes are framed with the promise that those who follow Jesus' teachings are citizens in God's kingdom that is coming from heaven to Earth. This ties the Sermon on the Mount into the broader message of Jesus' call to repent because of the coming of God's kingdom (Matt. 4:17).

Righteousness – Matthew 5:6, 10

Righteousness. The fourth and eighth Beatitudes both use the word righteousness, which is an important concept in the Gospel of Matthew (Matt. 1:19; 3:15; 5:20; 6:33; 13:43; 25:46). Righteousness is a rich word with many connotations. Sometimes it communicates the hope for the time and place when God will set the world to right, to bring justice and peace upon the earth (Matt. 5:6). Most frequently in Matthew it communicates the idea of whole-person, heart-driven behavior that accords with God's will and coming kingdom (Matt. 5:10). In both cases, Jesus shocked his hearers by connecting these positive ideas with the reality of hunger, thirst, and persecution. See CD 3—4.IV.

Pure in heart – Matthew 5:8

Pure in heart. The word for "pure" means consistent, whole, and harmonious. This is part of the larger theme, in the Sermon on the Mount and the book of Matthew, of the necessity of having a whole heart dedicated to God (Matt. 5:48; 6:24; 15:8).

Reward in heaven – Matthew 5:12

Reward in heaven. The idea that God will reward or recompense his people for their faithfulness is very frequent in Matthew (Matt. 5:46; 10:41-42; 16:27; 20:8). This is part of God's justice — the righteous will be rewarded and the unrighteousness will receive judgment. Often the promise of reward in heaven is connected with the opposite experience on earth, when God's people sacrifice and suffer (1 Pet. 1:6-7; Jam. 1:12).

Salt and Light - Matthew 5:13-16

The two metaphors of salt and light have many meanings in the ancient world. Salt is a metaphor that can be used when establishing a new covenant. The language of light is coming especially from Isaiah where light is used to describe life and understanding about God coming to all people, including the Gentiles (Matt. 4:16, from Isa. 49:6). By combining them together Jesus communicated the idea that his disciples must be the messengers of the new covenant that Jesus was bringing (Matt. 26:28). The disciples are being told to not focus on themselves only but to be a blessing to the world, bringing honor to God by their good works (Matt. 5:16). See WCF 16.2; BC 30; HC 2, 86, 122.

Main Idea of the Sermon - Matthew 5:17-20

Each of five major teaching blocks in Matthew has a main theme. The main theme for the Sermon is found in these verses – Jesus has come to fulfill all of God's instructions for the world (Matt. 5:17-19) and as a result, to be a part of God's kingdom requires a wholehearted righteousness (Matt. 5:20). The rest of the Sermon gives several examples of what this wholehearted righteousness looks like in the areas of ethics (Matt. 5:21-48), personal piety (Matt. 6:1-21), and relationship to the world and its goods (Matt. 6:19–7:23). See WCF 1.8,8.4, 19.4, 19.5, 21.7; WLC 48, 116.

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