This section is the beginning of Jesus’ teachings on the mount. It is also the first major discourse recorded in Matthew. This event took place probably on a mountainside in Capernaum.
Did You Know...?
- When he was seated (5:1): It was the custom for Jewish rabbisto be seated while teaching (see Mk 4:1, 9:35; Lk 4:20, 5:3; Jn 8:2). [ref]
- The Beatitudes are named from the Latin word beatus meaning blessed…The Greek term means “happy, fortunate.” [ref]
- Salt (5:13): Whereas the Phoenicians obtained quantities of salt from the Mediterranean by evaporation in salt-pans, the Hebrews had access to an unlimited supply on the shores of the Dead Sea (Zp. ii. 9) and in the hill of Salt (Jebel Usdum), a 15-square-mile elevation at the SW corner of the Dead Sea…Such salt was of the rock or fossil variety, and, because of impurities and the occurrence of chemical changes, the outer layer was generally lacking in flavour. The reference in Mt. v. 13 is to this latter, much of which was discarded as worthless. Salt was valued as a preservative and for seasoning food. It was often used among Oriental peoples for ratifying agreements, so that salt became the symbol of fidelity and constancy. [ref]
Who was Jesus’ target audience in the teachings on the mount?Hide Answer
Jesus’ disciples (verses 1 and 2)
Were there others who heard the sermon besides the target audience?
Explain each of the beatitudes in terms of a present-day application.Hide Answer
Verse 3: Those who humbly acknowledge their spiritual inadequacy are true citizens of God’s kingdom.
Verse 4: The contrite in heart and the afflicted will find forgiveness and joy in God (Ps 119:136; Isa 40:1; Rev 7:17).
Verse 5: Those who deal humbly and gently with others will receive God’s promises and enter the heavenly inheritance (cf 11:29: 21:5; Jas 3:13).
Verse 6: Those who are eager to know and do God’s will be satisfied when God’s kingdom is fully realized (2Pet 3:13).
Verse 7: The forgiving and compassionate will receive God’s mercy (6:12-15, 18:33-34).
Verse 8: The upright in heart will meet God face to face (Ps 24:3-6; Heb 12:14;
Verse 9: Those who bring reconciliation to others and preach the good tiding of the gospel will be true heirs to God’s kingdom.
Verses 10-12: Those who suffer persecution, insult, and slander for doing what is right and for following Christ are true citizens of God’s kingdom (1Pet 2:19- 21).
Could there be a significance in the use of the present tense in the first and last beatitudes?Hide Answer
The kingdom of heaven begins here and now when our hearts conform to God’s will.
What is the meaning of “righteousness” in the beatitudes?Hide Answer
Righteousness refers to being obedient to God’s will and imitating Christ. Notice that “for my sake” in verse 11 parallels “for righteousness” sake in verse 10.
How are the blessings in Jesus’ teachings different from people’s common notion of what “blessings” should be?Hide Answer
The blessings in the beatitudes have to do with spiritual standing and rewards rather than material riches or physical well being.
The condition for blessing has more to do with our heart and attitude than with how hard we ask God for blessings or how much possession we offer to God.
Compare salt and light. What are their differences in function and position?Hide Answer
The salt is on the ground. Its function is to season and preserve. Its areas of service seem to be more mundane.
The light is on the stand. Its function is to provide sight and directions. Its effect is more far reaching and more prominent.
How are we to be salt of the earth and light of the world?Hide Answer
Just as the salt seasons and preserves, we are to bring God’s goodness to the world and preserve against moral decay in our environment (cf Col 4:6).
As the lamp gives light to everyone around it, we are to manifest God’s truth and goodness to the people around us and thus be a witness for God (1Pet 2:12).
What does the fact that the salt without saltiness is useless teach us about our values and purpose in life?Hide Answer
Our true value lies not in what we can accomplish for ourselves in the world. God calls us to be Christians so that we may bring God’s qualities to the world. If we fail to meet that expectation, we fail in our duty as Christians and our lives become worthless.