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Nazarene Commentary Matthew 5:17-20 – The Nazarene Rabbi’s Commentary on the Torah

Matthew 5:17-20 – The Nazarene Rabbi’s Commentary on the Torah

MT5:17 “Do not think I came to destroy[1] the Torah[2] or the Prophets. I came not to destroy but to fulfill.[3] MT5:18 For I tell you this truth: Sooner would heaven and earth pass away before one iota or a single dot[4] passes from the Torah and not all of it be fulfilled. MT5:19 So, anyone who breaks the ‘least’ commandment[5] and so teaches men will be called ‘Least’ in the Heavenly Realm. But, anyone who obeys and teaches them[6] will be called Great in the Heavenly Realm. MT5:20 For I am telling you: If your ‘righteousness’[7] does not surpass the Scribes and Pharisees[8] you will not enter the Heavenly Realm

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[1] I came to destroy: Probably a charge waiting to be made by the Nazarene’s opposers, the religious hierarchy which prided itself on the preservation of Moses’ Law.

The phrase “I came” is the only intimation that the Nazarene was sent by God. Jesus confesses in John chs 5-8 that he speaks nothing of his own originality but rather those things taught to him by his Father. Here Christ comes from the Celestial Realm. He has the brilliance and vocabulary to say anything he wants. The Mountain Teachings are the first public sermon of the Nazarene.

[2] Torah: Or, the “law” referring mainly to that of Moses but including non-Biblical views expressed by the Ancients. Here begins possibly what the crowd and the Nazarene’s disciples wanted to know: where did Jesus stand on the subject of the Law? Virtually the rest of the sermon is a commentary on the law or Torah with a famous summation of it in Matthew 7:12.

[3] Fulfill: Various renderings: GDSP: enforce; KNX: bring them to perfection. First, the Nazarene as Christ ‘comes’ to set an example of how to follow the Law perfectly. Next, he fulfills all those elements of the Law which are “shadows” of realities (Hebrews 10:1). Paul writes, ‘Christ is the end of the Law.’ By Christ, the Nazarene Saint is ‘released from the Law.’ (Romans 7:1-5) Paul echoes the Nazarene later when he writes, ‘For all the Law is fulfilled in one statement: “You Shall Love Your Neighbor As Yourself.”’ (Galatians 5:14) Jesus words may be illustrated by a normal human contract with another: there is a difference between arbitrarily and unilaterally ‘destroying’ or breaking the contract and fulfilling your end of the agreement (Galatians 3:14).

The words “I came” are the only hint in the sermon which indicate his overall mission from God (John 4:25).

[4] Dot: The Greek word is IOTA. These words are best understood if one watches a skilled Jewish copyist painstakingly copying every ‘dot and tittle’ of the Hebrew manuscript. Such efforts (Romans 3:1) will not go unfulfilled until everything purposed by God in the Law and Prophets is realized.

[5] ‘Least’ commandment: The commandments have degrees. Here is described a person who not only violates one of these ‘least’ commands but also teaches others to do so. Such is verging on apostasy from the Law of Moses for which Paul was accused (Acts 21:21). As far as individuals are concerned there are degrees of “great” and “least” in the “kingdom.” This is something the disciples were aware of, for two of them got their mother to approach Jesus asking him to see to it that they sat at his right and left in the Kingdom. Note Matthew 11:11 where the ‘least’ in the Kingdom is still greater than John the Baptist. Can the Nazarene mean that a person who breaks even a small law and teaches others to do so will be in the “kingdom” of the heaven, that is, the Father’s Kingdom? Or, does he mean, in the Realm of Profession, the Kingdom/Church? (Matthew 13:41)

[6] Teaches them: It would appear that “teaching” is a prerequisite for being among the ‘great’ in the Realm of Profession (Hebrews 5:12).

[7] Righteousness: Is this a tongue in cheek sentence? This subject of “righteousness” is key to both Paul and John. Paul warns of self-righteousness or that righteousness of the Law; and, John writes of the true righteousness. “Righteousness” means the state of being “right” or correct in attitude, speech and action.

Deutsch: Christus im Hause des Pharisäers, Jac...

Jesus Christ in the house of the pharisees – Jacopo Tintoretto, Escorial (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[8] Pharisees: Much the butt of Jesus’ censure and condemnation. Jesus never condemns righteousness itself, but that hypocritical self-righteousness which characterizes religious hierarchies of any kind.

 

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Preceding

Nazarene Commentary Matthew 5:1-12 Nazarene Mountain teachings: Blessed and legal commentaries

Nazarene Commentary Matthew 5:13-16 Salt and Light shining bright

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Signs of the the last days when difficult times will come

 

“The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, But the naive go on, and are punished for it.” (Proverbs 22:3 NAS)

“1  But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5 NAS)

“But evil men and impostors will proceed [from bad] to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:13 NAS)

“3  Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with [their] mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For [ever] since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”” (2 Peter 3:3-4 NAS)

“Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,” (2 Peter 3:14 NAS)

“17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him [be] the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:17-18 NAS)

“And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what [will be] the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”” (Matthew 24:3 NAS)

“”For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.” (Matthew 24:7 NAS)

“10 “And at that time many will fall away and will deliver up one another and hate one another. 11 “And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many. 12 “And because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 13 “But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved. 14 “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come. 15 “Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains;” (Matthew 24:10-16 NAS)

“for then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall.” (Matthew 24:21 NAS)

“30 and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. 31 “And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” (Matthew 24:30-31 NAS)

“33 even so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, [right] at the door. 34 “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” (Matthew 24:33-34 NAS)

“37 “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 38 “For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 “Then there shall be two men in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. 41 “Two women [will be] grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left.” (Matthew 24:37-41 NAS)

“45 “Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 “Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. 47 “Truly I say to you, that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 “But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ 49 and shall begin to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; 50 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect [him] and at an hour which he does not know, 51 and shall cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; weeping shall be there and the gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 24:45-51 NAS)

“31  “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 “And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;” (Matthew 25:31-32 NAS)

“3 And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what [will be] the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?”” (Mark 13:3-4 NAS)

“”For nation will arise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will [also] be famines. These things are [merely] the beginning of birth pangs.” (Mark 13:8 NAS)

“”And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations.” (Mark 13:10 NAS)

“21 “And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ’; or, ‘Behold, [He is] there’; do not believe [him;] 22 for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order, if possible, to lead the elect astray.” (Mark 13:21-22 NAS)

“”Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” (Mark 13:30 NAS)

“32 “But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father [alone.] 33 “Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the [appointed] time is.” (Mark 13:32-33 NAS)

“5  And while some were talking about the temple, that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts, He said, 6 “[As for] these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.” 7 And they questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, when therefore will these things be? And what [will be] the sign when these things are about to take place?”” (Luke 21:5-7 NAS)

“11 and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. 12 “But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake. 13 “It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. 14 “So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; 15 for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute. 16 “But you will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put [some] of you to death, 17 and you will be hated by all on account of My name.” (Luke 21:11-17 NAS)

“”But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is at hand.” (Luke 21:20 NAS)

“”And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves,” (Luke 21:25 NAS)

“31 “Even so you, too, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. 32 “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place. 33 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. 34 “Be on guard, that your hearts may not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day come on you suddenly like a trap; 35 for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. 36 “But keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”” (Luke 21:31-36 NAS)

“He established the earth upon its foundations, So that it will not totter forever and ever.” (Psalms 104:5 NAS)

“A generation goes and a generation comes, But the earth remains forever.” (Ecclesiastes 1:4 NAS)

“teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”” (Matthew 28:20 NAS)

“The righteous will inherit the land, And dwell in it forever.” (Psalms 37:29 NAS)

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23 NAS)

“29 Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30 but that he shall receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30 NAS)

“3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to [obtain] an inheritance [which is] imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5 NAS)

“The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober [spirit] for the purpose of prayer.” (1 Peter 4:7 NAS)

“so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.” (1 Thessalonians 5:6 NAS)

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File:54 Mark’s Gospel R. predictions and warnings image 2 of 2. predictions of the end-time. Borcht.png

Predictions of the end-time. Borcht. In the Bowyer Bible in Bolton Museum, England. Print 3900. From “An Illustrated Commentary on the Gospel of Mark” by Phillip Medhurst. Section R. predictions and warnings. Mark 13:1-37.

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Testimonies to observe, inspired by God

Apologies for the text in big letters in this NAS translation. The text in capitals is their choice. Please do not consider it as shouting and as the choice of the translators of that Bible version.

 

“”And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes,” (Deuteronomy 17:19 NAS)

“Thy word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against Thee.” (Psalms 119:11 NAS)

“Forever, O LORD, Thy word is settled in heaven.” (Psalms 119:89 NAS)

“Thy word is a lamp to my feet, And a light to my path.” (Psalms 119:105 NAS)

“119 Thou hast removed all the wicked of the earth [like] dross; Therefore I love Thy testimonies. 120 My flesh trembles for fear of Thee, And I am afraid of Thy judgments. 121  I have done justice and righteousness; Do not leave me to my oppressors. 122 Be surety for Thy servant for good; Do not let the arrogant oppress me. 123  My eyes fail [with longing] for Thy salvation, And for Thy righteous word. 124  Deal with Thy servant according to Thy lovingkindness, And teach me Thy statutes. 125 I am Thy servant; give me understanding, That I may know Thy testimonies. 126  It is time for the LORD to act, [For] they have broken Thy law. 127  Therefore I love Thy commandments Above gold, yes, above fine gold. 128 Therefore I esteem right all [Thy] precepts concerning everything, I hate every false way. 129  Thy testimonies are wonderful; Therefore my soul observes them. 130  The unfolding of Thy words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.” (Psalms 119:119-130 NAS)

“So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding [in the matter] for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11 NAS)

“16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NAS)

“5 Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. 6 Do not add to His words Lest He reprove you, and you be proved a liar.” (Proverbs 30:5-6 NAS)

“”Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” (Mark 13:31 NAS)

“”But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.” (Luke 16:17 NAS)

“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4 NAS)

“BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ABIDES FOREVER.” And this is the word which was preached to you.” (1 Peter 1:25 NAS)

“18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.” (Revelation 22:18-19 NAS)

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 Français: Observe la loi et la justice écrit d’avance pour notre instruction

Nederlandse versie: Wetten en regels ter onderwijs

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