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Matthew 18:1-6 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Children and Stumbling

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN:
HUMILITY, SETTLING PROBLEMS, AND FORGIVENESS

[“Kingdom Children and Heart Forgiveness”]
(Key word: Forgive)

Matthew 18:1-6 – Children and Stumbling

|| Mark 9:33-36; Luke 9:46-48

MT18:1 In that hour the disciples approached Jesus, asking, “In reality, who is the greatest[1] in the Realm of Heaven?”[2] MT18:2 Having called a little boy[3] to stand among them, MT18:3 Jesus said: “I tell you this truth: If you never turn around[4] and become little boys[5] you will never gain entrance into the Realm of Heaven.[6] MT18:4 So, whoever will be humble as this little boy[7] – that person is the ‘greatest’ in the Realm of Heaven.[8] MT18:5 Also, anyone who accepts one of these[9] ‘little boys’ in my name[10] accepts me. MT18:6 But, whoever stumbles[11] one of these little ones who believes in me – it would be better[12] if he hanged a millstone[13] around his neck and sank into the ocean depths.[14]

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[1] Who is the greatest: It amazes us that they would even ask this question. However, though some today may not ask the question, attitudes and conduct expose a similar bent of mind: political ambition. This is the first time the subject comes up, but it is not the last. Compare Matthew 23:11; Luke 9:46; Luke 22:24, 26. There was a petty struggle among the disciples about their position in relation to one another, even, unfortunately, as among church elders and deacons today. It is unlikely the problem will disappear. However, all those men who have been appointed to a position of authority need to heed the warning of the Nazarene that follows: the disastrous matter of stumbling the humblest of the flock.

[2] Realm of Heaven: We have to speculate what “kingdom of the heavens” the disciples had in mind. Jesus often uses the phrase “Realm of Heaven” for what could be called “church membership” or “the realm of profession.” This does not mean the phrase could not also include that ultimate goal of the celestial realms where God Himself resides. Research the word Realm or kingdom for notes elsewhere.

[3] A little boy: The Greek is PAIDION and means “little boy” though many render this “little child.” We are captivated at the expression on this young boy’s face as he looks up at these tall men pondering their question of who is the greatest.

[4] Turn around: Or, KJV: except ye be converted; RIEU: unless your hearts are changed. Someone among the disciples needed to change an attitude that involved political ambition. Some needed to cease lofty thoughts and humble themselves.

[5] Little boys: The Greek is PAIDIA and means “little boys” though most render this “little children.” We cannot help but suspect there is a subtle rebuke in the phrase “little boys” if Jesus directed that at his own disciples. Surely, from one perspective they were behaving as “little boys.”

[6] Gain entrance into the Realm of Heaven: Though this may refer to that celestial realm where God resides, judging from the Nazarene’s use of the phrase, it may be limited to membership within that “congregation” Jesus said he would build (see notes on Matthew 13:24, Matthew 13:41, and Matthew 16:18).

[7] Humble as this little boy: We cannot help but think Jesus embraces the lad as he calms his misgivings about being among the group of men. Or, WMS: whoever becomes as lowly as; GDSP: who is as unassuming as this child.

[8] The ‘greatest’ in the Realm of Heaven: The person ‘greatest’ within the Church of Christ is that one as humble as a child. What a goal to aim for in the daily transformation of the Christian character (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 7:1). Luke 9:48 adds, “For he that conducts himself as a lesser one among all of you (disciples) is the one that is great.”

[9] Accepts one of these: Or, KJV: receive on such little child; RHM: give welcome unto. Research the word receive or accept for notes.

[10] In my name: Or, MON: for my sake; GDSP: on my account; TCNT: for the sake of my Name. Christ almost predicts the name “Christian.”

[11] Stumbles: The Greek is SCANDALISE and is also rendered: KJV: offend; RSV: to sin; WMS: to do wrong; MOF: a hindrance to one; NOR: leads astray. Political ambition and infighting among elders and deacons can create an environment that can cause some in the congregation to “stumble.” Research the word scandal for notes elsewhere.

[12] It would be better: “Better” than what? We may suppose this is not a suicide but a murder. Such a person drowned may be resurrected in the Judgment with a beneficial outcome. The alternative punishment of Gehenna – or everlasting destruction – for stumbling a humble disciple of the Lord carries enormous danger.

[13] Millstone: These could be huge and weigh tones. The image is almost absurd. Mark 9:42 adds, “… a millstone such as is turned by an ass.” Compare Revelation 18:21.

[14] Sank into the ocean depths: Or, KJV: drowned in the depth of the sea.

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Preceding

Matthew 17:24-27 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Tax-free Sons No Stumbling-block

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Related

  1. Spiritual but not Religious?
  2. Matthew Chapter A Day – 18
  3. Be Humble Like A Little Child
  4. “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in.” ~Jesus
  5. Rethinking Matthew 18 and Church Discipline
  6. “Humbles” Word Study: Matthew 18:4

Matthew 16 Asking for signs from heaven

Already in the previous chapters we could see how the Pharisees where interested in bringing Jesus into a bad light. We find that they again want to trick him. For the second time they wanted to test him by asking to show them a miracle [sign] from God [heaven; possibly a sign in the sky, but more likely a Jewish way of saying “from God”] (see also Mt 12:38-45 + Mt 22:23 + Mr 12:18 & Lu 20:27).

Human beings for ages made use of signs in heavens to know what weather would arise the next day. Therefore Jesus having come at Magadan, somewhere on the western side of the lake, answered them:

“·At sunset [In the evening] you say we will have good weather, because the sky is red. And in the morning you say that it will be ·a rainy day [stormy; bad weather], because the sky is red and ·dark [threatening; overcast]. You see ·these signs in [the appearance of] the sky and know ·what they mean [how to interpret them]. ·In the same way [or However; On the other hand], you ·see the things that I am doing now, but you don’t know their meaning [cannot interpret the signs of the times]. ·Evil and sinful people [An evil/wicked and adulterous generation] ·ask for [seek; demand] a miracle as a sign, but they will not be given any sign, except the sign of Jonah [see 12:40; Jon. 1:17].”

Then Jesus left them and went away and warned his apostles to be careful for the dangerous permeating power of the influence of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

Only a few weeks before, and not more than a few miles away, Jesus had severely censured the Pharisees as hypocrites and violators of God’s word {#Mt 15:6,7} and had spoken of them as blind guides of the people, unworthy of notice. Yet the dissembled hostility here indicated was not first awakened by that censure, for they had already accused him of being in league with Beelzebub. {#Mt 12:24}

Pharisees and Sadducees were groups in Jewish religious and political life absolutely opposed to each other, but they are frequently mentioned together in the Gospel, {# Mt 3:7 16:1,6,11,12 22:34 } united in their opposition to Jesus. {cf. # Joh 7:32 }

The Scribes and Pharisees had asked a sign from him in #Mt 12:38, and were refused. Now the Pharisees and Sadducees make a similar demand specifically for a ‘sign from heaven’ (so also #Mr 8:11), and get {#Mt 16:4 } exactly the same refusal as before. {#Mt 12:39 } They might be thinking of such signs as when Moses gave bread from heaven, {#Ps 78:23 ff.; #Joh 6:30 f. } Joshua made the sun and moon stand still, Samuel brought thunder and rain in time of harvest, Elijah repeatedly called down fire from heaven, and at Isaiah’ s word the shadow went back on the dial; comp. #Joe 2:30 ff. Origen conjectures that they regarded signs on earth as wrought in Beelzebul. {#Mt 12:24 } Probably some Jews really expected celestial signs of Messiah’s approach; but the present request was made from bad motives. Jesus promised “great signs from heaven” in connection with his second coming, {#Mt 24:29 f.; #Lu 21:11,25; comp. #Re 15:1 } and predicted that the false Christs would show great signs. {#Mt 24:24 }

Jesus later also would warn for those who

shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces.

and for those who

tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. {Matthew 23:13-36}

Also today there are people who have false images of the Kingdom of God or who present false images of the Kingdom or how people would or would not be able to reach heaven. Also to day there are ‘preachers‘ or ‘clergy‘ who claim to be speakers of God, but talk about a totally different god than Jesus had and also have their teachings full of heathen and philosophical thoughts.

For those who believe the sayings of those priests and pastors Jesus in this chapter let an answer come to us, which we should take at heart. When Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi [25 miles north of Lake of Galilee near Mount Hermon], he asked his followers [disciples],

“Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

First of all in his question we hear Jesus already giving an indication he is a son of man. At the time of Jesus many had heard about him and some had seen him at work, but where not quite sure who he really was. Some said Jeshua (Jesus) was John the Baptist whilst others said he was the returned Elijah, who they expected in the end times [Mal. 4:5], and still others said he was Jeremiah or one of the prophets [Deut. 18:15]. {Matthew 16:13-14}

We find Simon Peter giving the reply which should also be on our lips, namely that Jesus is

the Christ [Messiah], the Son of the living God. {Matthew 16:16}

Jesus called Simon son of Jonah blessed, because no person had taught him that. Flesh and blood did not reveal this to him but we learn that it was the heavenly Father Who showed him or revealed who Jesus is. Once again in the Word of God it is made clear that Jesus is not God. But the time seemed not yet ready to have many to know that he is also the Christ or anointed from God [Messiah].

Soon it was all going to change, because from that time on Jesus began telling [showing; making it clear to] his followers [disciples] that he had to go to Jerusalem, where the Jewish elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of the law [scribes] would make him suffer many things [greatly]. He then also told them he must be killed and then be raised from the dead on the third day. But Jeshua (Jesus the Christ) also gives some hope, because he tells them

The Son of Man will come again with his Father’s glory and with his angels. At that time, he will ·reward [repay; give back; judge] them for what they have done [Ps. 62:12; Prov. 24:12]. {Matthew 16:27}

Jesus promises that he tells them the truth, and warns

some people standing here will not die [L taste death] before they see the Son of Man [Dan. 7:13–14] coming with his kingdom.” [This may refer to the Transfiguration which follows (17:1–8), Jesus’ resurrection, or the destruction of Jerusalem in ad 70.] {Matthew 16:28}

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Preceding

Matthew 15 An argument with the Scribes – Teachers and traditions

Matthew 15 Calvin’s view

Matthew 15 Spurgeon’s view

Matthew 12:38-42 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Signs in Jonah and the Queen of the South

Matthew 13:24-30 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of the Field and the Harvest

Matthew 15:1-20 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Tradition and the Heart

Matthew 15:32-39 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: 4000 Fed

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Additional reading

  1. Was Jesus Religious
  2. Looking for a shepherd for the sheep and goats

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Related

  1. Jesus warns some pharisees
  2. Live and let live – how could hat work?
  3. “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the religious elites, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” ~Jesus
  4. God’s True Feelings About False Religion.

Matthew 11:7-15 Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities 3 John the Baptist and the Kingdom Goal

Matthew 11:7-15 – John the Baptist and the Kingdom Goal

|| Luke 7:24-28

MT11:7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus started to tell the crowds regarding John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see?[1] A breeze rattling some willows?[2] MT11:8 But, what did you go to see? A human dressed in soft clothes? Look! Those who wear soft clothes[3] are in royal houses. MT11:9 But, why did you come out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet.[4] MT11:10 This person is the one about whom it has been written,[5] ‘Look! I am sending forth My messenger[6] before your person. He will prepare your way ahead of you.’ [Isaiah 40:3] MT11:11 I tell you this truth: None generated by women have been raised up who are greater than[7] John the Baptist. But, a lesser person[8] in the Realm of the Heavens[9] is greater than John. MT11:12 From the days of John the Baptist right up until now the Realm of the Heavens is being zealously pursued[10] and those in energetic pursuit are grabbing for it. MT11:13 For the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John.[11] MT11:14 And, if you wish to accept it – John is Elijah,[12] the one who was to come. MT11:15 Let the person with ears listen.”[13]

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File:Accademia - St John the Baptist by Titian Cat314.jpg

St John the Baptist by Titian, Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice.

[1] What did you go out into the wilderness to see: We have learned earlier that all Judea went out into the desert to see this strange prophet who dressed primitively and eat honey and locusts.

[2] A breeze rattling some willows: Possibly a bit of sarcasm? Others render this phrase: KJV: a reed shaken with the wind; RIEU: a reed swaying in the wind; NEB: a reed-bed swept by the wind. As a metaphor John the Baptist could not be characterized like a reed-willow easily blown about (Ephesians 4:14). Rather, he was stalwart and firm – even dogmatic.

[3] Soft clothes: John was dressed roughly in harsh clothing. His clothes and manner must have attracted inquisitive crowds wondering about this strange man. The phrase is rendered by others: WMS: silks and satins; NJB: fine clothes.

[4] More than a prophet: The Bible is fill with “prophets” of the two types: the one foretelling events and the one declaring God’s righteous will. The word “prophet” occurs over 500 times in the Bible. Jesus makes clear the Baptist is more than just a prophet and he now explains what he means. The idea of saying that someone is more or greater than another is something Jesus uses several times. Compare Matthew 12:41, 42; Luke 11:31, 32.

[5] It has been written: Jesus quotes Isaiah 40:3.

[6] My messenger: Literally the Greek is “my angel.”

[7] Who are greater than: John the Baptist is at least equal to Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, or Elijah.

[8] A lesser person: The Greek is MICROTEROS and is rendered: KJV: least; ASV: little; PME: humble.

[9] In the Realm of the Heavens: It is possible this phrase is limited to that Realm of Profession, or the territory or domain over which Lord Messiah reigns – his congregation of disciples. In other words: the most humble member of the Christian Church is greater than John the Baptist and therefore greater than all the ancient worshippers of God. See notes in Matthew chapter 13 on identifying the “kingdom of the heavens.” Some also believe this to mean John the Baptist and the ancient patriarchs would not attain to heaven but would be raised in the resurrection of the righteous on earth (John 3:13; Hebrews 11:39, 40; 1 Corinthians 15:20-24).

[10] Zealously pursued: This is a classically difficult text. Most translators tend toward the idea that the kingdom is attacked violently and the violent seize it. However, from John the Baptist to the present of Jesus’ statement there is little evidence of persecution against the King or his realm. The Greek word here is BIAZETAI and its root meaning is “violent.” Jesus repeats the word group in the next phrase (See Acts 2:2). The word is rare in this form. However, there are two verses in Luke which might shed light on the Nazarene’s intent. Luke 13:24 literally means, ‘agonize to enter through the narrow door.’ And, the parallel in Luke to Matthew here is, ‘everyone is violently forcing [BIAZETAI] themselves into (the Kingdom of The God).’ This could mean violent men force themselves violently into the kingdom; or, it could mean the agonizing struggle to enter the realm of profession. This is the first interpretation the New Jerusalem Bible gives in its footnote “f” – “1. The praiseworthy violence, the bitter self-sacrifice, of those who would take possession of the kingdom.” Strong’s (#971, #973) offers “vital activity, energetic.” Thayer’s (page 101) says: “a share in the heavenly Kingdom is sought for with the most ardent zeal and the intense exertion… utmost eagerness.” Thus, the context and the parallel in Luke suggests the possibility that Jesus is describing the agonizing zeal his disciples have demonstrated in their pursuit of the “kingdom” – willing to make any sacrifice, willing to surrender their soul in the process.

William Barclay suggests a possibility: “‘The Kingdom of the Heaven is not for the well-meaning but for the desperate,’ that no one drifts into the Kingdom, that the Kingdom only opens it doors to those who are prepared to make as great an effort to get into it as men do when they storm a city.… Only the man who is desperately in earnest, only the man in whom the violence of devotion matches and defeats the violence of persecution will in the end enter into it.” (Matthew, Volume 2. page 8)

[11] Prophets and the Law prophesied until John: The complete phrase linking the Law and the Prophets is used by Jesus elsewhere (Matthew 5:17; 7:12; 11:13; 22:40). There is now to be a great transition. Hebrews 1:1 states that The God used to speak in a variety of ways to the prophets of old, but now speaks to us by means of a Son. With the coming of John the Baptist in the year 29 AD a new season, a new age begins to open up – a Messianic one. Grace and Truth will now come by means of Jesus the Nazarene (John 1:17).

[12] John is Elijah: Jesus explains this to his own disciples elsewhere (Matthew 17:10-13; Mark 9:11-13). Compare Luke 1:17. Elijah’s name (My God is Yah) occurs 100 times in the Bible and most importantly at Malachi 4:5 where the prophet is foretold to appear before the Day of Yehowah. The end of the Jewish Temple Age is upon that generation. The name Elijah only occurs twice outside the Gospels (Romans 11:2; James 5:17). Note Elijah is missing by name in the Book of Revelation. He is alluded to at Revelation 11:5, 6.

[13] Let the person with ears listen: This becomes in Revelation a phrase identified with Jesus (Revelation 2:7). PME: the man who has ears to hear must use them.

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Preceding

Matthew 11– Intro to The Nazarene’s Commentary: Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities

Matthew 11:1 Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities 1 Twelve Sent out to Teach

Matthew 11:2-6 Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities 2 Imprisoned Baptist Encouraged

Matthew 10:5-10 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Jesus’ Orders: Territory, Theme, Trust

Matthew 10:5-10 – Jesus’ Orders: Territory, Theme, Trust

MT10:5 Jesus sent these twelve[1] giving these orders,[2] saying, “You should not enter the Gentile road, nor enter a city of the Samaritans. MT10:6 But, only approach the lost sheep[3] of House of Israel. MT10:7 Go forth preaching, saying, ‘The Realm of Heaven has drawn near.’[4] MT10:8 Cure those sick, raise those dead,[5] cleanse lepers, exorcise demons. You received free, give free.[6] MT10:9 Do not procure gold[7] or silver or copper for your purses MT10:10 nor pouches[8] for your trip – nor two undergarments, nor sandals, nor staff. For the worker is worthy of his food.[9]

[1] Sent these twelve: The formation of an official group of representatives (which is what “apostle” means).

[2] Orders: The Greek is PAR-ANGLEILAS and is rendered: KJV: commanded; MOF: instructions. These are not suggestions but precise directives. The Nazarene has his reasons for these evangelizing orders.

[3] Only approach the lost sheep: Their territory is limited to Israel. The prophet Daniel indicated a special period of grace for the Jews. This ran from 29 to 36 AD, seven years (Daniel 9:27). Jesus says of himself that he was sent “only to the lost sheep of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24) Jesus also later assures the apostles that they will never finish preaching to all Israel before Psalm 110:1 and Daniel 7:13 are fulfilled (Matthew 10:23).

[4] The Realm of Heaven has drawn near: Or, “the kingdom of the heavens” – meaning either the seat of government as found in the Messiah or the realm of profession within the Nazarene’s congregation.

[5] Raise those dead: Though there is no evidence of this occurring during the life of Jesus, it does occur after the Messiah’s ascension. Luke 9:2 does not include these words.

[6] Give free: The evangelist who heals is not to receive payment for curing. Though Jesus goes on to state “the worker deserves his food” it is left at that – not an opulent life-style.

[7] Not procure gold: Jesus has a precise reason for this to be explained after his resurrection (Luke 22:25). It becomes a test of faith to rely solely on the Father.

[8] Pouches: Or, NJB: haversack; NEB: pack.

[9] Worker is worthy of his food: In Luke 10:7 this is “wages.” This is the only statement by Jesus directly quoted by Paul, which he does twice (1 Corinthian 9:14; 1 Timothy 5:8). The “worker” in the “fields of the Lord” is worthy or deserving of some help (Galatians 6:6). However, after the manner of Jesus and Paul this does not mean living a life-style above the sheep in general.

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Preceding

Matthew 10:1-4 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Twelve Given Authority

Matthew 10:1-4 – Calling of the apostles – by Calvin

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Related

  1. Where Are They Now?
  2. Matthew 10丨John Calvin
  3. Matthew 10丨C. H. Spurgeon
  4. Matthew: January 31
  5. Matthew 10, Jesus sends out the twelve, not peace, but a sword.
  6. You Summon and Send Us, three prayers based on Matthew 10
  7. The Virtue of Cosmopolitanism

More than just a man with authority of speaking

28 When Jesus finished his message, the crowds were astounded at how he taught. 29 He was instructing them authoritatively, not as their scribes. { translation}

Throughout the Messianic writings we come to hear how Jesus attracted people and how he let them think about the things they could see and hear.

The gospel writer Matthew wants the readers of his writings to know who he had met and why he became clinched so much to this man who he believed to be the sent one from God and the expected King.

The point of Matthew’s narrative is that we realize who Jesus is. He’s the king. He restores heaven’s reign over the earth. That is the gospel — the good news of the kingdom of heaven, with Jesus as heaven-appointed ruler. The culmination of Matthew’s Gospel is the announcement that Jesus has received all authority — in heaven and on earth (28:18-20). {Hearing the king (Matthew 7:28-29)}

It is by those given Messianic Writings people should come to know who Christ Jesus is. Nearly 2000 years later we must say still too many who call themselves Christian have not come to see who the Christ Jeshua really is.

Some of them may already have seen that Jesus is the anointed ruler and the long-awaited king from David’s line. But the majority of Christians still have not understood that Jesus is the sent one from God who restores the promised blessing of God’s reign to the nations (1:1).

More people should come to recognise that Jesus is the son of God who undoes the captivity of earthly powers (1:17). He is the one who received authority from God to be the divine ruler living among his people (1:23), the ruler who seems to be no one from nowhere (2:23). As the king (2:2) he’s the ruler who shepherds God’s people (2:6). From the writings people should come to know that Jesus is Jacob’s Star (2:10), the new exodus (2:15).   notices that is just the first two chapters of Matthew! {Hearing the king (Matthew 7:28-29)}

Every phrase, every paragraph, every story, every theme in Matthew’s Gospel reveals who Jesus is. Like the crowds who listened to his Sermon on the Mount, be astounded as his royal authority dawns on you. {Hearing the king (Matthew 7:28-29)}

In his article Hearing the king (Matthew 7:28-29) he gives an overview of what others say:

Craig Blomberg, Matthew, New American Commentary (Nashville: B & H, 1992), 134–135:

Strikingly, Jesus quotes Scripture in his sermon only to reinterpret it, he cites no human authorities or tradition, and he speaks with directness and confidence that he himself is bringing God’s message for a new era in human history. Such preaching reflects either the height of presumption and heresy or the fact that he was a true spokesman for God, whom we dare not ignore.

R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007), 298–299:

To set the authority of his teaching in contrast with that of the scribes is a bold claim, since the scribes were the authorized teachers of the law who in virtue of their training and office had a right to expect the people to accept their legal rulings. … Whereas scribal rulings were based on the tradition of earlier interpreters of the law, Jesus has in 5:17–48 set himself up as an authority over against that interpretive tradition, on the basis not of a formal training or authorization but of his own confident, “I tell you.” … When to that remarkable claim is added Jesus’ assumption that he himself is the proper object of people’s allegiance and the arbiter of their destiny (5:11–12; 7:21–23, 24, 26), the crowd’s astonishment is hardly out of place. W. D. Davies’ comment … “The Sermon on the Mount compels us, in the first place, to ask who he is who utters these words.”

John R. W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7): Christian Counter-Culture, The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1985), 216:

In the Sermon on the Mount there are five direct references to God’s kingdom. They imply—though with varying degrees of clarity—that he himself had inaugurated it, and that he had authority to admit people into it and to bestow on them its blessings.

Today Jesus is not here any more, but the apostles took care we can read Jeshua’s words

Richard A. Burridge, Four Gospels, One Jesus? A Symbolic Reading (London: SPCK, 2005), 21:

The gospels invite readers to enter their world, to listen to Jesus’ words, to watch his great deeds, to appreciate their understanding of him, and to ask ourselves the same questions as the people in the text: ‘who is this man?’ (Mk. 4:41)

StGeorgeMonasteryToday lots more people than in Jeshua’s time can hear the words of that incredible special man. Lots more people should come to hear those words about how man has to relate to their Divine Maker. The son of the Divine Maker God explained  his heavenly Father‘s Words and showed us how man can and/or has to respond to the Kingdom message.

Jesus called Israel to become the kingdom built on God — the solid Rock who endures forever, not the shifting sands of human kingdoms that last only for a season. How foolish to spend our lives promoting human powers when all our efforts will be swept away. Instead, spend your life for God’s reign through Messiah Jesus: the only thing that endures. {A rock worth building on (Matthew 7:24-27)}

Jesus is the focus of God’s eternal plan to re-establish His reign over the earth. Our hope should be in Jesus, the son of God, so quit playing politics with earthly powers that will fall. Build all your efforts on the only rock that will last:

the ruler God has appointed, the only one who can save human society.

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Preceding articles

The Nazarene master teacher learning people how they should behave

Matthew 7:1-11 – The Nazarene’s Commentary on Neighbor Love Continued 7: Matthew 7:1-5 Judgment and neighbor love

Matthew 7:12 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Summary on the Torah’s Fulfillment

Matthew 7:13-14 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The True Disciple #1 The Narrow Gate and the way to destruction

Matthew 7:15-20 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The True Disciple #2 False prophets and fruitage

Matthew 7:13-23 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The True Disciple #3 Matthew 7:21-23 The ones Jesus never knew

Matthew 7:13-27 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The True Disciple #4 Matthew 7:24-27 – Conclusion

Matthew 7:13-23 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The True Disciple #5 Matthew 7:28-29 – The Crowd’s Reaction

Authority from the One God to one mediator between God and men

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Additional reading

  1. Entrance of a king to question our position #2 Who do we want to see and to be
  2. Hearing words to accept
  3. Priest, scribes and others with authority
  4. Gain Christ, trusting Jehovah
  5. Witnesses of Christ and of his gospel
  6. The Mountain: Radical Obedience

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Further reading

  1. By what authority?
  2. “The authority of Jesus” by Thomas Schreiner
  3. MS Week #3: Jesus’ Authority
  4. The Authority of Jesus
  5. Jesus’ Authority
  6. the unique authority of Jesus
  7. The Sermon on the Mount: Examining the Psychological and Sociological Implications
  8. Why Be Optimistic About the Future of the Gospel?
  9. Are You Sure You Want to do This?
  10. The Kingdom Of God: Luke’s Gospel
  11. The Kingdom Needs You!
  12. ​Extremism: Does Lord Jesus Really Expect Us To Go This Far?

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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

Next: Nazarene Commentary Matthew 5:21-26 – 1. The Nazarene’s Commentary on Exodus 20:13

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The Nazarene master teacher learning people how they should behave

Soon after the Nazarene Jeshua (Jesus Christ) had started his public life and had chosen some disciples, he found them following him and receiving more followers who wanted to hear him talking about many things which concerned them or which where about the general customs and religious life of the people.

Jesus went all over Galilee and used open as well as covered spaces, like synagogues but also planes and mountain slopes. Jesus knew his divine task, having placed in a special way on this earth to show people the Way to God. Jesus knew very well Who that One True God is all people should come to know.  He very well knew his own place, being lower than angels and being a son of God, the Most High without Jesus could do nothing.

He must have been special. Though the religious leaders despised him but the people wondered who this man could be and where curious for what they could hear from others about miracles he could perform.

Sites of Christianity in the Galillee - Ruins of the ancient Great Synagogue at Capernaum (or Kfar Nahum) on the shore of the Lake of Galilee, Northern Israel.jpg

Capernaum synagogue

Jesus went from one place to an other telling about his heavenly Father, the Only One True God of Israel. He taught people the truth of God and God’s kingdom was his theme. He also healed people of their diseases and of the bad effects of their bad lives. Those actions he did, got many curious about this personage and word got around the entire Roman province of Syria. People brought anybody with an ailment, whether mental, emotional, or physical. Jesus healed them, one and all. More and more people came, the momentum gathering. Besides those from Galilee, crowds came from the “Ten Towns” across the lake, others up from Jerusalem and Judea, still others from across the Jordan. (Matthew 4:23-25)

Mount of Beatitudes, seen from Capernaum

When he was in the region of Capernaum again there were a lot of people who had come to see him and who where eager to hear what he had to tell.  Jesus saw all those crowds, coming from different places, following him and went up the mountain or hill (the Greek word can mean either) the Mount of Beatitudes.

Some commentators see here an intended contrast to Sinai, where the Law was given. However, there are no grounds, implicit or explicit, for identifying the mountain as a “New Sinai.” {Newman, B. M., & Stine, P. C. (1992). A handbook on the Gospel of Matthew (p. 103). New York: United Bible Societies.}

From Matthew’s choice of verbs we can imagine that the situation was all about a moment of teaching, Jesus tutoring. It does not matter so much if Matthew and Luke wrote about the same or of a different occasion where Jesus taught about the kingdom of heaven, its subjects and their life.

There have been and are today scholars who regard the sermons recorded in Mt and Lk as collections of sayings spoken on different occasions, and maintain that they do not represent any connected discourse ever delivered by Jesus. In their view the Sermon is either a free compilation by the evangelists or a product of apostolic teaching and oral tradition.
The prevailing opinion among NT scholars is, however, that the gospel accounts represent a genuine historical discourse. The Sermon as recorded in Mt bears such marks of inner unity of theme and exposition as to give the appearance of genuineness. That Jesus should deliver a discourse of this kind accords with all the circumstances and with the purpose of His ministry. Besides, we know that in His teaching He was accustomed to speak to the multitudes at length, and we should expect Him to give early in His ministry some formal exposition of the kingdom, the burden of His first preaching. That such a summary of one of His most important discourses should have been preserved is altogether probable. {Miller, R. B. (1915). Sermon, on the Mount, The. In J. Orr, J. L. Nuelsen, E. Y. Mullins, & M. O. Evans (Eds.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (Vol. 1–5, p. 2733). Chicago: The Howard-Severance Company.}

In any case even when it is a summary it is a teaching every Christian should seriously take at heart. Jesus was not afraid to talk at length, but this discourse could easily be delivered in a few minutes.

There is evidence that the account in Mt 5–7 contains some sayings not included in the original discourse. This view is confirmed by the fact that a number of the sayings are given in Luke’s Gospel in settings that appear more original. It is easy to believe that related sayings spoken on other occasions may have become associated with the Sermon in apostolic teaching and thus handed down with it, but if the discourse were well known in a specific form, such as that recorded in Mt, it is hardly conceivable that Luke or anyone else would break it up and distribute the fragments or associate them with other incidents, as some of the sayings recorded in both Gospels are found associated in Lk. {Miller, R. B. (1915). Sermon, on the Mount, The. In J. Orr, J. L. Nuelsen, E. Y. Mullins, & M. O. Evans (Eds.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (Vol. 1–5, p. 2733). Chicago: The Howard-Severance Company.}

Because there is written that the disciples came to sit by Jesus many think Jesus was mainly addressing them. Even when this is the apparent meaning of the account of both evangelists, the separation from the multitudes and the direction of Jesus his words to the disciples seem clear, and the distinction appears intentional on the part of the writer. However, it must be observed that in the closing comments on the Sermon the presence of the multitudes is implied. In Luke’s account the distinction is less marked; being the night of prayer in the mountain, the choice of the twelve apostles, the descent with them into the presence of the multitude of his disciples and a great number of people from Judaea, Jerus and the coast country, the healing of great numbers, and, finally, the address. While the continued presence of the multitudes is implied, the plain meaning of the words,

“And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said,”

is that his address was intended especially for the latter.

This view is borne out by the address itself as recorded in both accounts. Observe the use of the second person in the reference to suffering, poverty and persecution for the sake of the Son of Man. Further the sayings concerning the “salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” could hardly have been addressed to any but His disciples. The term disciple, however, was doubtless employed in the broader sense by both evangelists. This is clearly the case in Matthew’s account, according to which the Twelve had not yet been appointed. {Miller, R. B. (1915). Sermon, on the Mount, The. In J. Orr, J. L. Nuelsen, E. Y. Mullins, & M. O. Evans (Eds.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (Vol. 1–5, p. 2733). Chicago: The Howard-Severance Company.}

Today we should look at those texts also as a lesson to all those who want to call themselves “Christian” which means “to be a follower of Christ“. Christians too should be disciples of Christ Jesus and should follow the words of the Nazarene master teacher. Not especially being a digest of Christ his teaching the account in Matthew 5 delivers a short of the attitudes a Christian should take.

Today because so many people calling themselves Christian, but more following human doctrines instead of keeping to the Biblical doctrines, may find Jesus’ words very hard to understand and even harder to follow in our modern culture which preaches that happiness or luck comes from material wealth, absence of sorrow, and which teaches revenge or retaliation and exorbitant punishments far in excess of the wrong suffered. Lots of people do find it right to punish wrongdoers and even would not mind if their life was taken away, though on other occasions they are totally against women taking contraceptives considering this murder or killing an unborn life.

The writer who records the most challenging command Jesus ever gave his followers:

“Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

looks at the teaching of Jesus on our behaviour and living and presents an ethic code for his disciples and a measure for the behaviour of all believers.

Each time Jesus opens with the word, which is recorded in Greek as “makarioi”, “blessed” or “happy”, which occurs nine times in verses 3–12. Many also call it “beatitudes”. Each beatitude having three parts: an ascription of blessing (happiness), a specific virtue to be cultivated (the practice of each produces a positive result), and a promise relating to the kingdom (reward or special comfort as a reason for the promised happiness).

In the sermon we find that the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the gentle, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, those who receive insults, are falsely accused and are persecuted on account of the Messiah may count on it that they are all blessed.

Certainly in Christendom we can find many true believers in Christ, those who accept Jesus for whom he really is, a man of flesh and blood who put his will aside to do the Will of the One God Who sent him to this world. Very often those real Christians are spit at and very often it are the trinitarian Christians who take on a very un-christian attitude to those believers. Those name Christians who prefer to keep to human doctrines and want to keep to the pagan rites and festivals, are often the worst in their attitude to the real or non-trinitarian Christians. Look around you and hear how your surroundings react to such Christians as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christadelphians or others who spread the Good News by giving pamphlets and by talking to people on the streets or by going from door to door. Often those who laugh at such Christians are not the gentle, and often they have more interest in the looks of people and the material wealth of themselves and others, instead of looking for the spiritual wealth.

In the world we can see many who sincerely love God and want to prefer to worship Him alone, who are therefore being harassed or molested. Be them Jews, Christians or Muslims, those who not like to take part in the pagan rituals, like Halloween, Christmas, Easter, are often looked at with a bad eye, or even spit on. They are laughed at, being considered compliant meek, soft ones and not by the time. To be meek does not mean to be weak. Jesus with his words concerning the meek ones looks at “meekness” meaning gentle restraint. it  Holds in a person can be showing gentlenessmildness, forbearance, submissiveness, humility or humbleness, modesty, submission and trying to bring peacefulness, sometimes even with acquiescence. We should remember that there it is about those who dare to take on an attitude which does not insist on one’s own rights but is giving itself for others, always ready to waive its privileges in the interests of others. “The meek” person is willing to wait for God’s timing being sure that God’s promises will become a reality and that God shall provide better times for all those who live according to God His commandments. That is our sacred hope we may find in Christ his offering, opening the gates to the Kingdom of God.

As Christian we should be taking every effort to follow Christ, to become in unity with him and his teaching, doing our utmost best to obey our heavenly Father. Living according to God’s commandments we can live with the promise to be able to live in the kingdom here on earth (“inherit the earth”). Though we should be well aware that this is not promised to the pushy, proud, ambitious, and domineering and to scourge those who do not believe in God or those who prefer to live differently than us.

Those who are humble and willing to undergo all the suffering in name of Christ or those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, may look forward for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. They or we may rejoice, and be glad, for our reward in heaven shall be great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before us. (Matthew 5:3-12)

Jesus Christ in Capernaum

Jesus Christ in Capernaum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus knew or knows we are not perfect, but that does not mean we should be happy with who we are at a certain moment. Every day we should work at ourselves and strive to become better. It is quite ready to love those who love us, but what about loving those who hate us? Concerning doing good, many unbelievers are doing good, so what would be the difference between a non-believer and a Christian? How many name Christian today we do hear speaking low about other coloured people or about people of an other religion? How many so called Christians do not despise other Christians and other believers or atheists and want them away from their community or surroundings. Lots of name Christians do not welcome others.

So many people consider them higher than others or more special. Often they consider themselves perfect or faultless and are not interested in changing their own world view, their mindset, their inclination or habit, their ethos and their assumptions. Lots of them even do not want to challenge themselves in any way and do not want to see that nobody is foolproof. Today we do find lots of so called Christians who are against the refugees and who wrong or oppress strangers, though they should know that is against the Will of God (Exodus 22:20-21). They are not interested in the war victims, the orphans and widow, though a lover of God should stand up for them and defend them (Isaiah 1:16-17). Several people who call themselves Christian should better ask themselves what this really should mean and should check if they can come under that denominator.

Christianity is all a matter of “love“.

Jesus asks his followers to consider the aspects of real love and of the will to work at the inner self, the way how to react to others and daring to put your own will aside to be there for others. Looking at the habits that have entered our life, Jesus requires to examine ourself and to become aware of our attitude we should take on in life.

God requires of us to worship Him as the Only One True God of gods and to keep His commandments, doing justice and to offer loving kindness or mercy to others, walk humbly with God. Jesus requires of us also to honour his heavenly Father and to worship Him alone. He also requires us to become like him and to hunger and thirst for righteousness, work for peace, and stand in solidarity with those who are persecuted; to be merciful and comfort mourners; to be humble in spirit, meek, and pure in heart.

So let us listen very carefully to the Bible text in “Commentary Matthew 5:1-12 Nazarene Mountain teachings: Blessed and legal commentaries” and work at ourselves to become more like Christ fulfilling the Wish of God.

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Preceding article

Nazarene Commentary Matthew 4:23-25 – Kingdom Preaching and Healing Draws Crowds

There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving

Next:

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

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Additional reading

  1. Being Religious and Spiritual 8 Spiritual, Mystic and not or well religious
  2. Salvation, trust and action in Jesus #2 What you must do
  3. Words to inspire and to give wisdom
  4. A season of gifts
  5. Wishing lanterns and Christmas
  6. Are you being swept along by the world
  7. Let us become nothing, and Christ everything
  8. Outflow of foundational relationship based on acceptance of Jesus
  9. the Bible – God’s guide for life #8 Looking to Jesus #1 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus
  10. The meek one riding on an ass
  11. When having found faith through the study of the Bible we do need to do works of faith

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Further reading

  1. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount
  2. Sermon from Matthew 5
  3. What Love Says and Does
  4. Loved Are We
  5. Beatitudes
  6. Beatitudes / Blessed are: (Matthew 5:3-12)
  7. Blessed Are… – Sermon on Matthew 5:1-12
  8. What Does God Require? A Christian Manifesto (Matt 5:1-12, Micah 6:1-8)
  9. What does the Lord require…?
  10. Blessed are the merciful: 4 Epiphany A
  11. Children’s Sermon: Matthew 5:4 (Beatitudes)
  12. Sermon for January 29, 2017
  13. Sermon for 29 January 2017 on Matthew 5:1-12
  14. NBFMC Sermon Review (1/15/2017) – ‘Sermon on the Mount’ Series: “Being Salt and Light”
  15. NBFMC Sermon Review (1/22/2017) – ‘Sermon on the Mount’ Series: “Jesus and The Law”
  16. NBFMC Sermon Review (2/05/2017) – ‘Sermon on the Mount’ Series: “Lust and Relationships”
  17. 4th Sunday, Year A | Being peacemakers in a divided society
  18. Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 29th, 2017)
  19. 4th Sunday After Epiphany, January 29, 2017
  20. 5th Sunday Ordinary Time Year A 2017
  21. Sermon on the Mount: Part 1
  22. Sermon on the Mount Part 1: Beatitudes
  23. Sermon on the Mount: Part 2
  24. 2017.01.15 Sermon On The Mount Part 1
  25. Bible Study: Insights on the Sermon on the Mount: The Beatitudes Part 1
  26. Bible Study: Insights on the Sermon on the Mount: The Beatitudes Part 2
  27. Bible Study: Insights on the Sermon on the Mount: The Beatitudes Part 3
  28. Bible Study: Insights on the Sermon on the Mount: The Light
  29. True Worship: Justice, Kindness, Walk Humbly
  30. Sunday Devotional: Who are our ‘neighbors’ and our ‘enemies’? How are we to ‘love’ them?
  31. Blocking your own witness
  32. How to deal with others
  33. What Jesus Says When You’ve Been Burned
  34. “I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder.” ~~Jesus
  35. Reconciling Jesus
  36. Be Perfect
  37. Radical Love in the Face of Injustice
  38. “Make something happen!”: The restless spirit
  39. Giving and Getting It All
  40. Day 33 -This Little Light of Mine
  41. Be Nice to Me
  42. A Godly Response To Ungodliness
  43. Our Relationship to the World
  44. The Love Question
  45. Love?
  46. A Life Well-Lived
  47. “No & Yes”
  48. Truth, love, and justice
  49. Salt and Light: Matthew 5
  50. We’re Salt & Light: But are we?
  51. Anger and murder
  52. “An ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere?” ~~Jesus
  53. Blessed are the Refugees
  54. What Does the Lord Require? :: Prayers of the People
  55. The Joy of Mercy
  56. “You are God’s field, God’s building”
  57. Evangelize: Downtown Boise With Love
  58. …I’m gonna let it shine
  59. A toddler’s tale
  60. The Beatitudes are Like Yogurt
  61. Why does Jesus say “the poor in spirit” are blessed?
  62. An Accurate Measurement for Your Life
  63. Authentic Christianity

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