Chapters 5-7 form the “Sermon on the Mount.” Jesus withdraws from the large crowds and focuses on teaching His disciples. This is Jesus’ kingdom platform. Jesus is the second Moses prophesied by Moses, giving a new word from God from a different mountain. Jesus’s sermon has the same purpose as the word from God on Mount Sinai—it shows humans how to live constructively in fellowship with God and one another. Jesus’s emphasis is on the spirit behind the law. Without a change of heart, rules don’t work. Jesus initiated a new covenant, where the law was written on the heart (Jeremiah 31:31; Matthew 25:28).
The Sermon on the Mount transitions from Jesus speaking to “large crowds” to speaking to a “crowd” that consists of His disciples. The “large crowds” included Gentiles from the surrounding nations who had come to be healed of physical illnesses. It is likely Jesus would have spoken Greek to the “large crowds” as that was the language of commerce of that time. It is widely held that Jesus typically taught in Aramaic when speaking to Jews. It was the street language spoken by the Jews after they returned from Exile in Babylon.
But Jesus, like most Jews of His day would also have been multilingual. He would certainly have been able to read and speak from the Hebrew scriptures. And, as mentioned, He also would most certainly have known Greek, the common language of the Ancient world. It is likely that his adoptive father Joseph would have had work as a tradesman in the nearby Roman city of Sepphoris, which would have required knowing some Greek.
He might have also learned some Latin, the official language of the Roman government. Matthew may have originally written all or part of his Gospel narrative of Jesus the Messiah in Aramaic, Hebrew, or Greek. But regardless of which language He originally wrote in, his gospel was preserved in Greek. It is from Greek manuscripts that all our translations are ultimately based.
After observing the large crowds, Jesus withdraws to a mountainside and His disciples follow Him. Jesus then begins to teach His disciples. What follows in chapters 5-7 is traditionally called the “Sermon on the Mount.”
Jesus begins the “Sermon on the Mount” with a chiasm commonly known as the Beatitudes. To describe the citizens of His Kingdom, Jesus repeats the word “Blessed” (Makarios) – a total sense of fulfillment. The central characteristic of these citizens are righteousness (social harmony) and mercy (compassionate generosity).
The first statement (A) of Jesus’s chiasm focuses on having a realistic opinion of one’s self.
The second statement (B) of Jesus’s chiasm focuses on mourning as an expression of repentance.
The third statement (C) of Jesus’s chiasm focuses on humility and meekness.
(D) is the first central theme of Jesus’s chiasm. It focuses on the path to gain and desire to possess social harmony and righteousness.
(D’) is the second central theme of Jesus’s chiasm. It focuses on Jesus’s Kingdom platform of the mercy principle: Be merciful and receive mercy.
The sixth statement (C’) of Jesus’s chiasm focuses on inner purity (purity of heart).
The seventh statement (B’) of Jesus’s chiasm focuses on being a peacemaker.
The eighth and final statement (A’) of Jesus’s Makarios chiasm deals with being righteously persecuted. Jesus reiterates this point by telling His disciples that God will reward them for their righteous living in the face of persecution.
Following the chiasm often called the “Beatitudes” Jesus uses the metaphors of ‘salt’ and ‘light’ to describe His disciples and the impact they are to have upon this world.
Jesus tells His disciples that He is not abolishing the law, but fulfilling what Moses and the prophets taught. However, He makes clear that professional law-keepers have insufficient righteousness to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus says that righteousness is a matter of both outwardly following the Law and inwardly reflecting the spirit behind the law. Acting in violence and harboring violent attitudes results in disharmony (unrighteousness).
Concluding His example of how anger is a demonstration of disharmony (unrighteousness), Jesus shares a way this can be applied.
Reconciliation is important not just for your brother, but also for someone with whom you have a dispute. Settling a wrong quickly avoids consequences that are more severe.
Jesus teaches that the external sin of adultery and the internal sin of lust are both violations of God’s Covenant.
Jesus uses two graphic metaphors—it is better for disciples to pluck out their eyes and cut off their hands—as a way to memorably express an important truth. It is better to deny yourself in this life for His sake than to miss living life in His kingdom and enjoying its incredible benefits.
Jesus closes a loophole that men used to exploit Moses’s teaching on divorce.
Jesus demonstrates that righteousness and harmony is not a matter of oaths, but plain honesty and simple truth-telling.
Jesus flips the world system of ‘justice’ on its head. He tells His disciples to seek out opportunities to serve rather than looking for opportunities to exact payback under the letter of the law.
Jesus offers and commands a radically different view of love than what is offered by the world.
Jesus summarizes and commands the character standard of those who are in His kingdom.