Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5

I am working on an expanded paraphrase of the Sermon on the Mount to aid my own understanding of Jesus’ words and to help my attempts at teaching His sayings to others.  I would greatly appreciate your input, criticism, etc.  You are encouraged to offer your own comparative paraphrase.  The Bible I used is the NKJV.  My words are below the Biblical text in italics.  Please comment freely.  Thanks.  This post is limited to Matthew 5.

Matthew 5

1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him.

2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

You are better off if you understand your need for God.  That will prepare you to be a part of His nation-family.

4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.

You are better off if you are truly grieved by your own personal sins and by the hurt of others.  Your own hurt will be diminished as you learn humility and you will be encouraged as you become involved in meeting the needs of others.

5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.

You are better off if you learn to control yourself – your thoughts, words, emotions, and actions – your whole self.  You will be able to see beyond yourself and to see the heart of God in all His creation, and thus to feel a certain oneness with the earth, if you will do this.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.

You are better off if you yearn to act as God acts, if you long to be like Him.  The stronger your desire, the nearer you will come to success.

7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.

You are better off if you can forgive others even when they don’t deserve it.  God will forgive you when you don’t deserve it – but He will not forgive you, if you do not first forgive your neighbor.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.

You are better off if you refine your heart, as if in a furnace, to absolute purity.  If you can use a pure heart to see things through pure eyes, you will see God everywhere.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.

You are better off if you will help people to get along.  Those who work to heal wounds and encourage good relationships are acting like God when they do that.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

You are better off if you always do what is right, even if others don’t like it and hurt you because of it.  God sees your patient endurance and He will bless you for it.

11 Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.

12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

You are better off even if people say bad things about you because you take your Christianity seriously.  This has happened to God’s people of all ages.  He rewarded them, and He will reward you.

13 You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.

15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

You are to be the seasoning of the world; but if there is nothing special about – how will you make the world better? You are to show the world real life, if you will just live that life, everyone will see it.  People don’t turn on a lamp and then cover it up so the light can’t get out.  No, the lamp is used to light the room so everyone can see what needs to be done.  You be that lamp, and let your light show God to your friends.  Then they will want your God to be their God.

17 Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

I have not come to defeat the Torah.  I have come to show you how to truly live it.  Nothing can defeat Me in My purpose to fulfill the law.  My people will not praise the one who disobeys even one seemingly small command of the law.  But the one who obeys and encourages others to obey will be praised by all My family.

20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

You must really live my teaching.  Only then can you enter my kingdom.

21 You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’

22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.

23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,

24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.

26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.

What the law actually says is: ‘Do not commit murder.’ What that means is: if you are angry with your brother, you are in danger of the local court.  If you speak hatefully to your brother, you are in danger of the higher court.  If you dismiss your brother as an ignorant fool and try to humiliate and embarrass him, you are in danger of the Supreme Judge in the Supreme Court.  If you think attendance at a worship service will offset mistreatment of your brother, you are badly mistaken.  You must be taking the Christian life seriously every day for your worship to be acceptable.  You need to make things right while you have time, lest it soon be too late and the consequences unbearable.

27 You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’

28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

What the law actually says is: ‘Do not commit adultery.’  What that means is: when awareness becomes desire, adultery has already been committed in your heart.  Whatever gets in the way of your Christian life: get rid of it – even your right hand or your right eye.  That’s right, cut them off and throw them away.  It is better to not have things you thought were essential, than having them, to burn in hell.

31 Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’

32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.

The law says if you divorce your wife to give her a written certificate of that.  What God really wants is for you not to divorce and remarry unless your spouse is guilty of adultery.

33 Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’

34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne;

35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.

36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black.

37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

The law says to take your oaths in Yahweh’s holy name and to keep them.  I say to stop all this swearing by something other than God’s actual name in an attempt to get out of keeping your word.  I say if you say “yes” mean yes and if you say “no” mean no.  That is all that should be necessary for people to trust you.

38 You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’

39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.

41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.

42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

The law says: ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  The intent of that was to stop violence, not increase it.  What God wants is a life of non-resistance.  If someone slaps you in the face, let him do it again.  If someone takes away some of your personal property, give him some more.  If someone forces you to work an extra hour, work two extra hours.  If someone asks you to help them, just do it, not thinking of what you might get back from them later.

43 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’

44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,

45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?

The law says: ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  What God really wants is for you to love your enemies too.  Speak kindly to them, do good to them, and ask God’s blessing for them.  If you only love those who love you back, how does that really help?  How does that set you apart from the world as My people?  Even worldly people tend to befriend those who treat them well.

48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (NKJV)

I want you to live like I am teaching you and like I am showing you.  I want you to be like Me.  Be holy, for I am holy.

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