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

The Sermon on the mount
(Nazarene Mountain teachings)

(Matthew 5:1 – 7:29 || Luke 6:20-23)

Chapter Five:
The Blessed and legal commentaries

Matthew 5:1-2 – The Setting

MT5:1 Observing the crowds Jesus went up into the mountains and after he reclined his disciples approached him. MT5:2 And Jesus opened his mouth and began teaching them.

Matthew 5:3-12 – Introduction: Attitudes for Happiness

|| Luke 6:20-23

MT5:3 “Blessed[1] the poor as to the spirit[2] for the Heavenly Realm[3] is theirs.
MT5:4 Blessed those mourning[4] for they will be comforted.[5]
MT5:5 Blessed the meek[6] for they will inherit the earth.[7]
MT5:6 Blessed those hungering and thirsting for righteousness[8] for they will be filled.[9]
MT5:7 Blessed the merciful[10] for they will be shown mercy.
MT5:8 Blessed the pure in heart[11] for they will see[12] The God.[13]
MT5:9 Blessed the peaceable people[14] for they will be called ‘Sons of The God.’[15] MT5:10 Blessed are those persecuted for righteousness.[16] The Heavenly Realm[17] is theirs.
MT5:11 Blessed are you when they reproach[18] and persecute and speak evil lies against you because of me.[19] MT5:12 Rejoice and exult[20] for your heavenly reward is great! For this is the same way they persecuted the former prophets.[21]

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber to be an example of a charismatic religious leader. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[1] Blessed: Perhaps the opening words are among the most well known after the Lord’s Prayer and the Golden Rule. Most of the key elements in the Beatitudes are expanded in the main body of the Nazarene’s sermon. These subjects are: poverty, comfort, mildness, righteousness, charity, purity, peaceableness, persecution.

The Greek word MAKARIOI is more than the English “happy” or even the KJV “blessed.” The English word “happy” generally means a temporary moment of elation. It is doubtful this is what the Nazarene had in mind. “Blessed” also falls short unless one thinks of the word as including divine favor. The Greek word here infers a supreme measure of joy because of a divine state of favor before the Father. It is variously rendered: how happy, how blessed. The Nazarene borrows the idea from the Psalms where the word occurs 28 times, often in a similar vein by David. “Happy” occurs 138 times in the Bible. Luke uses it the most often in the Christian Bible (17 times) and Revelation contains the Seven Apocalyptic Beatitudes, 7 times (Revelation 1:3;14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14).

[2] The poor as to the spirit: This is the most literal reading according to the Greek, but it has been dealt with in various matters. Most prefer to render it, ‘the poor in spirit but that is not exactly what the Greek says. A possibility is Blessed the poor Spiritual. Various renderings are: destitute in spirit (RHM), rating themselves insignificant (AMP), those who feel their spiritual need (GDSP), humble-minded (PHI), how blest are those who know that they are poor (NEB), those conscious of their spiritual need (NWT). Perhaps the most direct commentary would be that of Luke who words this introduction simply, ‘Happy are the poor’ (Luke 6:20). Word Studies in the New Testament (Vol 1, page 36):

“It is very graphic and appropriate here, as denoting the utter spiritual destitution, the consciousness of which precede the entrance into the Kingdom of God.”

The word “poor” occurs 22 times in the Gospels. Perhaps Paul and James draw on the Master’s words when they paraphrase, ‘God chose the poor’? [1 Corinthians 1:27, 28; James 2:5] If we accept Luke’s bias we must understand Jesus’ words here as emphasizing poverty, a condition in which one must depend upon others for the necessities of life. This state is emphasized later in the sermon. The poor ‘spirituals’ have only God to look to for help. Jesus was poor as were his disciples and later Paul. The word group “rich(es)” occurs nearly 200 times in the Bible with the first occurrence at Genesis 14:23 (Abraham) and most often in the OT, Proverbs (12 times) and in the NT, Luke (16 times).

Luke records perhaps another occasion in chapter Luke 6:24 in the very spirit of James 5:1, ‘Happy are the poor’ and then ‘woe to the rich’. The life of Jesus, the example of his Apostles in Acts chs 2-6, and the manner of Paul, all point to the deep meaning behind the word “poor” here. There is a danger in “riches” which Paul stresses at 1 Timothy 6:17-19. We feel the Greek PTOKHOI ought to remain as “Poor” or “the destitute” for this is Luke’s view and the “Poor” feature prominently in the Nazarene’s teachings.

[3] Heavenly Realm: (MOF) Literally this is “the kingdom of the heavens” but the Greek BASILEIA may refer to a seat of government in a monarchy or to the realm, domain or territory over which such a kingdom rules. Two views may be present here: a) an actual place in the future government of the King; or, b) opportunity for entrance into the Realm of Profession, or the Church itself. Sometimes Jesus uses the word “kingdom” to mean that position of rulership in the heavens and other times he refers to being a subject of the King. There are two kingdoms in the Nazarene’s teachings: 1) the Son’s; and, 2) the Father’s. Compare Matthew 13:41, 43.

The word “kingdom” occurs a total of 366 times in the Bible with 63 in Daniel. In the Nazarene’s teachings “kingdom” occurs 55 times in Matthew, 23 times in Mark, and 45 times in Luke. It is a theme word or key topic of the Nazarene’s sayings.

[4] Mourning: Note how Luke 6:21 puts this, weeping. Messiah (the Christ) was anointed to ‘comfort those mourning in Zion.’ (Isaiah 61:1,3; Luke 4:16) Various renderings are: sad (BAS); know what sorrow means (PHI). The world is not an altogether happy place and life dishes out its share of pain. Paul describe it as ‘a season of groaning pain.’ (Romans 8:22) The word group “mourn(ing)” occurs about 100 times in the Bible.

[5] Comforted: Or, consoled, given courage. The comfort is found in God and that Spirit He sends through Christ as the Comforter (John chs 14-16). The word “comfort” is rare in the Nazarene’s teachings but the idea breathes throughout the body of his sayings (Psalms 126:5; 2 Corinthians 1:1-7).

[6] Meek: Various renderings are: gentle TCNT; patient KNX; humble-minded GDSP; of a gentle spirit NEB; happy are those who claim nothing PHI. The words of the Nazarene here are a paraphrase of Psalm 37:11 (LXX = HOI DE PRAEIS KLERONOUESOUSI GEN. Note Daniel’s KLERON at Daniel 12:13) The “meek” here are those who will possess the Kingdom (verse 3), will see God (verse 8) and who will ‘inherit the nations’ as does the Messiah (Psalm 2:8; 72:8; Daniel 7:14, 27). The Nazarene was characterized by a mild-temper but this did not prevent him from displaying his anger or rebuke against the religious powers as well as his own disciples. The meek are non-confrontational, non-adversarial, non-aggressive, and not given to insisting on their own opinions. Even the Nazarene says, ‘If anyone hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge.’ (John 12:47) Jesus was not judgmental save against those religious teachers who ought to know better (Matthew chapter 23).

[7] Inherit the earth: Note Psalm 2:8. These “meek” inherit the earth as the realm or territory of their rule (1 Corinthians 6:2; Daniel 7:27; Revelation 5:10).

[8] Hungering and thirsting for righteousness: This whole idea is right out of the Psalms (Psalm 63:1) and repeated in the Apocalypse (Rev 21:6; 22:17). Various renderings are: being and doing right (WMS); to see right prevail (NEB). Though many men may not thirst for righteousness in a moral sense, they do thirst for justice as seen in the multitude of revolutions throughout history. The Nazarene disciple must crave right or righteousness as if it were food. It is John who describes those ‘born from above’ as those who do not habitually sin but practice righteousness (1 John chs 2 and 3). This craving is not self-righteous or overly-righteous but a desire to see justice done with living evidence in the Saint’s life (Amos 8:11).

[9] Filled: Or, “satisfied.” See Luke 6:21.

[10] Merciful: Various renderings are: compassionate WEY; those who show mercy WMS. The Latin merci (French for “thank you”) is rooted in the gift paid mercenaries and so its strongest thrust is not forgiveness or judgment withheld as much as it is a gift of charity to the needy. The Nazarene Saint is characterized by a non-judgmental, forgiving and charitable spirit toward those in greater need.

[11] Pure in heart: Various renderings are: clean in heart (BAS); utterly sincere (PHI). This phrase gets to the root of motives in all that the Nazarene Saint does. There are no hidden agendas or games to be played against others. Utter guilelessness, like that of their Lord, is an attribute of the Transformed Mind (Romans 12:1; Hebrews 7:26). Such a disposition is only learned after years of tolerance, patience, and that true selfless interest in others called “love”.

[12] They will see: Perhaps the most sublime hope ever given to humans. To see The God is a true prospect for the Nazarene Saint (See 1 John 3:2; Revelation 22:4). “Face” can have a metamorphic tone as a concordance will show (Job 33:26).

[13] The God: In Greek this is TON THEON as it is in John 1:1 and refers almost without exception to the Creator, the Almighty, The God. Though in English “the” is often omitted we feel it wise to include it in all cases where the article appears. The God stands in contrast to other “gods.” (1 Corinthians 8:5, 6)

[14] Peaceable people: Various renderings are: makers and maintainers of peace (AMP). See Romans 12:18 and James 3:18. The Nazarene Saint is characterized by a non-adversarial, non-confrontational, and peace-seeking disposition. In Spanish translations this is often pacififadores from which “pacifist” is drawn. Ghandi taught, “I am willing to die for this cause, but there is no cause for which I am willing to kill.” This peaceable disposition is illustrated in the Nazarene’s later words at Matthew 5:22, 39-42. Compare Colossians 3:15.

[15] Sons of The God: This is a phrase used of angels in Genesis 6:1 and Job 2:1 and is the grand relationship of those willing to be peaceable in their natures, to become true children of God (John 1:12,13). This relationship is a feature of John’s Gospel and letters. If one wishes to be styled a child of God then peaceableness must characterize their Transformed Mind (Romans 12:1, 18).

[16] Persecuted for righteousness: The reason for the persecution must be for righteousness and not for some crime or evil as Peter himself teaches (1 Peter chs 2 – 4). The Nazarene’s audience were persecuted Jews under Roman domination. Additionally, Jesus knew of the future periods of oppression against his own disciples and foretold it at Matthew 24:9-11. Luke uses the word “hate” at Luke 6:22.

[17] Heavenly Realm: This can mean that ultimate “goal” which Paul sought (Philippians 3:14) and which is promised the Saints (Daniel 7:27) or that opportunity opened up by the Nazarene to enter the Realm of Profession, the Son’s “kingdom”, his Church (Matthew 13:41; 16:18; Colossians 1:13). As Paul writes, persecution is part and parcel of the Christian way of life (Acts 14:22; 2 Timothy 3:12).

[18] Reproach: Various renderings are: MOF: denounce; GDSP: abuse; BAS: give you a bad name; WEY: every cruel thing; PHI: slanderous. Often, it is true, the source of this is from the present ruling powers; but, it is also true that this abuse comes from a religious source within one’s own Faith as in the case of the Jewish clergy against the Nazarene (John 16:1,2 and Acts chs 4, 5). The worse kind of reproach is from fellow believers who charge “apostasy” and thus make themselves liable to Gehenna (Matthew 5:2).

[19] Because of me: Elsewhere in the Nazarene’s teachings this is “because of my name” (Matthew 24:9) as historically demonstrated in the Book of Acts. It is the name “Jesus” or “Christ” that brings the reproach and persecution (Acts 2:38; 3:6, 16; 4:7, 10, 12, 17, 18, 30; 5:28, 40, 41; 8:12, 16; 9:14, 15, 16, 21, 27, 28; 10:43, 48; 15:26; 16:18; 19:5, 13; 21:13; 22:16; 26:9).

[20] Rejoice and exult: See Luke 6:23. Various renderings are: WEY: be joyful and triumphant; WMS: leaping for ecstasy; KN: glad and light-hearted. Luke also adds “excluded or separated.” (Luke 6:23)

[21] The former prophets: Surely, the Nazarene thinks of Elijah and his persecution by Ahab and Jezebel. Compare Matthew 23:35. Even Moses the Prophet was abused by his sister and other rebels. According to tradition Isaiah was killed by King Manasseh.

Beatitudes-sermon-on-mount

Beatitudes-sermon-on-mount (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Preceding articles

The Nazarene master teacher learning people how they should behave

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

There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving

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Additional reading

  1. Salvation, trust and action in Jesus #2 What you must do
  2. Golden rule for understanding in spiritual matters obedience
  3. Built on or Belonging to Jewish tradition #4 Mozaic and Noachide laws
  4. Right to be in the surroundings
  5. Let us become nothing, and Christ everything

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Nazarene Commentary Matthew 3:1-6 – A Wilderness Baptist Prepares the Way

Matthew 3:1-6 – A Wilderness Baptist Prepares the Way

|| Mark 1:1-6; Luke 3:1-6, 12-14

The Jordan River

The Jordan River (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MT3:1 But in those days[1] John the Baptist[2] came from the Judean wilderness,[3] MT3:2 preaching, “Repent[4] for the Realm[5] of Heaven has drawn near.[6] MT3:3 For this is the One spoken of by Isaiah[7] the prophet, saying, ‘A voice of one crying out in the wilderness, “Make ready the Way of YHWH – make straight His roads.”’” [Isaiah 40:3] MT3:4 But this John dressed in camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist and hips. His food was locusts[8] and wild honey. MT3:5 Then Jerusalem and all the Judeans[9] and all the country along the Jordan came to John, MT3:6 and they publicly confessed their sins[10] and John baptized[11] them in the Jordan river.[12]


[1] Those days: Luke gives the precise timing by paralleling these activities with several contemporary rulers and priests (Luke 3:1ff). It was the year 29 AD.

[2] John the Baptist: The prophet from the desert is mentioned 150 times in the Christian Bible. The name “John” means “Yah Favors.” Jesus ranks him equal to any of the greatest people in the Bible (Matthew 11:11, 12). Jesus compares him to the prophet Elijah.

[3] Wilderness: BER: the Judean desert.

[4] Repent: Repentance is a key word in the Bible. It means to “change the mind” or “feel sorry” for sins. The word group occurs 70 times in the Bible with the first at Job 42:6 and most often in Luke, with Revelation second. John’s call to repentance was regarding sins against the Mosaic Law.

[5] Realm: The Greek is BASILEIA and is often translated “kingdom.” MOF: Reign of heaven. The word occurs 366 times, first at Genesis 10:10 and most often in Daniel and then Matthew. The word may mean the seat of government, that is the king, or source of the authority. It may also mean the realm, territory or domain of the King. Here John has in mind the future manifestation or appearance of the Messiah Jesus, the “king of Israel.” “Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew) or “kingdom of God” (Luke) is used most often by the Nazarene to mean the “realm of profession” or the Church (Compare the parables in Matthew 13).

[6] Near: Usually the word “near” means within hours or days. John has in mind the coming of Messiah as the future King of Israel.

[7] Isaiah: The quote is from Isaiah 40:3 and leans toward the LXX though paraphrases a bit.

[8] Locusts: A common food of Middle Eastern nomads. GDSP: dried locusts; BECK: grasshoppers. John is very austere if not ascetic.

[9] All the Judeans: John’s preaching has a wide impact among the Jews.

[10] Their sins: That is sins against the Mosaic Law. These are all Jews.

[11] Baptized: The word (BAPTIZONTO) means “immerse” or “submerge” (RHM) and always occurs where there is “a large body of water.” The word group occurs over 100 times. There are two water baptisms in the Christian Bible: that of John the Baptist for Jews (Acts 18:25; 19:3) and Christian baptism into Nazarene discipleship. “Baptism” is connected to salvation (1 Peter 3:21). There is a baptism into God’s spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13; John 3:3-5). There is a baptism into Christ’s leadership (1 Corinthians 10:2). There is a baptism into the life course as a disciple (Mark 10:38). There is a baptism into death (Luke 12:38; Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12). Baptism is a fundamental teaching (Hebrews 6:2). Jesus commanded his eleven apostles to go and baptize people of all nations (Matthew 28:18, 19).

  • December 8 (stmarkssa.wordpress.com)
    To the people of the Old Testament period, the word would mean to turn, to return. Their experience of being in exile in Babylon and returning to Jerusalem was a powerful cultural memory to them. When “repent” was translated from the Greek, another meaning emerged: “to go beyond the mind that we have.” So repentance is all about change, to go beyond where we are and open ourselves to transformation.
  • The Gospel of Matthew: The Messiah of Promise 3:1-12 (anchorlongbeach.wordpress.com)John the Baptist came at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, which Mark notes as the first words of his gospel. Luke, marks the time with his announcement (“15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,” which puts it around 26 A.D. making both John and Jesus around 30 (See Luke 3:23), but all four gospels discuss this event in Jesus’ life, because it is an important fulfillments of prophecy about the Messiah (See Matthew 11:9-10 cf. Malachi 3:1). The fact that John the Baptist came “preaching in the desert,” is significant, because the desert was a place that God had called His people out from to worship Him, and it was usually represented renewal.
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    Although the Greek word for “Repentance” is Metanoia, which carries the idea of a changed mind, theologian D.A. Carson writes; “What is meant is not merely intellectual change of mind or more grief, still less doing penance…but a radical transformation of the entire person, a fundamental turnaround involving mind and action and including overtones of grief, which results in ‘fruit in keeping with repentance.’”Now, John’s baptism, was preparing “the way” for those to come to Jesus, but as we see elsewhere, it was only after Christ was raised from the dead that repentance led to the transformation of the Holy Spirit (See Point #5 cf. Acts13: 24ff; 19:4-6).
  • Getting ready for Advent 2 (revdavidyonker.wordpress.com)
    We know that the person John is talking about is  Jesus, but Craddock notes, “the narrative asks us to exercise restraint and let the story unfold in its own time.” We’ll get to Jesus soon enough.  John simply says in verse 11, “he who is coming after me” and “I am not worthy to carry his sandals.”  If you’ve heard the story before we know who is to come.  But when it comes to the church, how many times to we assume that everyone knows the story.  We assume people know about God’s love made known in Jesus Christ; we assume they know the story of his birth.  We assume because we know.  But that isn’t the case.  We still have to prepare the way of the Lord.
  • In those days: John’s Baptism (friarmusings.wordpress.com)
    John’s Baptism.“to lead righteous lives, to practice justice toward their fellows and piety towards God, and so doing join in baptism”  John’s baptism was a symbolic act that people who had already done these things – or were committed to living as such – were forming a “faithful remnant” of the covenant.  In the gospel accounts all of John’s words (except the word against Antipas) are spoken to persons seeking this baptism. His words show that John was unreceptive to those whom he judged to have bad faith, while he was friendly to those who were truly repentant. To the former he repeated threats and warnings and perhaps added new ones, while to the latter he gave hope for further dramatic renewal of their lives as well as ethical guidance relevant to their particular vocations. The former group seems to have been made up of people whose commonality was lording power over the common people: the religious leadership, the wealthy, the tax collectors and soldiers.
  • Lectionary blogging: Why was Jesus baptized? (johnmeunier.wordpress.com)
    It seems only right that we ask questions about the meaning of baptism since John the Baptist himself asked such questions.
    +
    Wesley comes down on the side of interpreting Jesus’ baptism as a model for his followers. Jesus was baptized even though he had no sin and required no repentance, which were key aspects of John’s baptismal message. Jesus did this to set a model for us. For Wesley the baptism of Jesus is an example of the obligations that rest on us as Christians for no other reason than Jesus Christ commands us to observe them. If we reject the command, Wesley argues, we should not expect the Holy Spirit.
  • The writer of The Baptism of the Lord (newevangelizers.com) asks his readers to notice that as the Spirit descends upon Jesus, “the Father announces from heaven that this is His beloved Son.”But than straight ahead continues giving the impression that this Voice from the clouds did not tell the truth and gave “a majestic revelation of the Most Holy Trinity, one God in three persons. ” and as such going against all the sayings of Jehovah God and of Jesus himself later in his life when he spoke about his relationship with his heavenly Father.
  • We wonder where Sermo Dei: Baptism of Our Lord (daringlutheran.net) gets it from that the Son of God is incarnate. He does not allow people to question his saying, so this will leave a blank.
    He writes a.o.:
    “By Jesus’ time, prophets of the Lord are seldom seen and heard from – even less so today. The sky tends not to be rent open wide when someone wades in the water. Certainly disembodied voices don’t sound forth from heaven, nor do dove-like Spirits descend in plain sight.”
    Though he seem to recognise the Voice of God or the Logos being able to create or to destroy things he suddenly seem to mix the voice of the Creator with the person of which the Logos gave existence of.
  • Baptism of Christ – unworthy sinners made worthy by Jesus (revpaulhgreenland.wordpress.com)
    judgment is there for those who oppose God’s ways, but fundamentally, God wants to bring us back from sin into His ways. We have the image of the Old Testament prophet, whose job it was to preach judgment and punishment to warn the people of the consequences of their continued sin, but God wants most of all as Ezekiel says, for people to turn and live.
  • Baptism of Our Lord (ijboudreaux.com)
    Father in heaven, at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan you proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit.  Grant that all who are baptized into his name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, One God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.
  • A Title You Can’t Wash Off (jaredhillaryruark.wordpress.com)
    We could say a lot of things about baptism because there are billions of Christians and thousands of Christian traditions, so baptism can take on any number of meanings and people think about it in a lot of different ways.
    +
    John the Baptist, despite his name, doesn’t feel up to the task. He’s already baptized thousands in the River Jordan but when Jesus approaches he says Whoa, whoa. Nope. I’m not baptizing you, you should be baptizing me. The problem seems to be that baptism is for the forgiveness of sins and Jesus doesn’t have sins so why would he be baptized? So John says, no-no-no. You’re the holy one and it makes more sense if you baptize me.You can tell somethings out of place just from their names and titles. John is called the Baptist and they’ll call Jesus a lot of things–Messiah, Christ, Son of God. And you can tell just from the titles that John shouldn’t be baptizing Jesus. Cause you know there are all sorts of Baptists–American baptists and Southern baptists, independent baptists. Larry and Susan the Baptists down the street. But you don’t hear about Joe and Suzy Christ so much. Only Jesus get’s to be called Christ and Christ is quite the title. So John says “I need to be baptized by you.”
  • In those days: some notes (friarmusings.wordpress.com)
    Matthew 3:1 in those days: This is an OT expression that marks the beginning of the new period, not necessarily a precise indication of time (see Mt 13:1; 24:22, 29, 36; 26:29). Here it marks the time-shift from the infancy narrative to the adult Jesus’ appearance.  the desert of Judea: wilderness would perhaps be the better word for modern English. The area is the barren region west of the Dead Sea extending up the Jordan valley.
    +
    Matthew 3:2 Repent: the biblical idea of repentance involves a willingness to turn one’s life around in the sense of a complete re-orientation. the kingdom of heaven is at hand: “heaven” (literally, “the heavens”) is a substitute for the name “God” that was avoided by devout Jews of the time out of reverence. The expression “the kingdom of heaven” occurs only in the gospel of Matthew. It means the effective rule of God over his people. In its fullness it includes not only human obedience to God’s word, but the triumph of God over physical evils, supremely over death. In the expectation found in Jewish apocalyptic, the kingdom was to be ushered in by a judgment in which sinners would be condemned and perish, an expectation shared by the Baptist. This was modified in Christian understanding where the kingdom was seen as being established in stages, culminating with the parousia of Jesus.
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