Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5:17–18

Matthew 5:17–18
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have not come to abolish these things but to fulfill them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter will pass from the law until everything takes place.”
(NET Bible)
Note: any Bible reference containing only a chapter number and verse number is understood to be in the Gospel of Matthew.

Eliminating spiritual ignorance

Let there be no doubt that, even at this early stage of his ministry, Jesus was drawing so much attention that theological opposition was bound to start. So, in Matthew 5:17–18, Jesus likely had two purposes: 1) to teach accurately his own relationship to the law of Moses, and 2) to forestall future accusations that he was trying to overthrow the law.

Jesus did not come to head a political revolution, much to the consternation of many people. Judea had been roiled by wars and invasions until the reign of Herod the Great (starting in 37 B.C. and ending in 4 B.C.), who was appointed by the Roman Senate. Rome began ruling Judea directly through governors — called procurators — in A.D. 6. The Jews hated foreign rule.

So, Jesus did not come to overthrow Roman rule, and he did not come to invalidate the law of Moses. However, it will soon become clear that Jesus did intend to invalidate the interpretation of the law given by the scribes and Pharisees (5:20). They had watered down the law’s requirements in a way that promoted the idea that keeping the literal requirements was all that God demanded. R.T. France says, “From now on it will be the authoritative teaching of Jesus which must govern his disciples’ understanding and practical application of the law.”[1]

How does Jesus fulfill the law and the prophets? Turner says that he brings them to their divinely appointed goal, because they point to him.[2] NT scholar Stanley Toussaint adds that Jesus conformed his life to the law’s high standards and retrieved its true meaning from the distorted standards of the religious leaders.[3] The book of Hebrews adds a lot more to demonstrate the supremacy of the new covenant in Jesus’ blood to the old covenant given through Moses!

To underscore his support of the law, Jesus says that the smallest letter in the OT text (the Hebrew letter yod) will not pass away until everything in this present creation has happened (5:18a). He argues from the lesser to the greater — thus intensifying his argument — by adding that not even a stroke of a letter will pass away from the law until the end. In English that is the difference between the symbol for the number one (“1”) and the symbol for a lower case letter “L” (“l”). That difference is almost too tiny to see!

Do you feel the forcefulness of Jesus’ words? If so, then you understand that he regarded the Scriptures with the utmost respect. And he sought to eliminate faulty spiritual assumptions. One such faulty assumption is that Christians should look to the law of Moses rather than to Jesus for the instruction they need.

Jesus is the teacher for every disciple

Jesus began his teaching by dealing with what kind of people his disciples must be (Matt. 5:1–16). He continued by revealing where he stood in relation to the law God had given Israel through Moses. We have just begun with the startling interpretation Jesus gave to the law. More will follow!

If you want to be a disciple of Jesus, then consider how seriously you must take his words: “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, but it did not collapse because it had been founded on rock.” (Matt. 7:24–25).

A word to the wise: check your spiritual assumptions against Jesus’ words. Build on the rock!

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.


[1] R.T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007) 183.

[2] David L. Turner, Matthew, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008) 162.

[3] Stanley D. Toussaint, Behold the King (Portland: Multnomah Press, 1980) 99.

 

Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5:13–16

Matthew 5:13–16
“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its flavor, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people. 14 You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.”
(NET Bible)
Note: any Bible reference containing only a chapter number and verse number is understood to be in the Gospel of Matthew.

Vibrant lives convey a powerful message!

If you watch any television, you receive steady bombardment from advertising claims. Our special plan will let you lose 40 pounds in 40 days! Our technical training will put you in a high-paying job for life! Buy our car and circulate among the elite! We have a constant challenge in trying to separate what has eternal value from what does not.

Jesus wants his disciples to demonstrate authentic kingdom values to a watching world. Do you have the right stuff?

Our Bible text for today has been the subject of great analysis, some of it needlessly subtle. R.T. France seems to have the right idea when he says, “It is important that disciples should both be different and be seen to be different.”[1] Keener adds that Jesus has just explained the appropriate lifestyle for his disciples and now says that any alleged disciple who does not live the kingdom lifestyle is worth about as much as tasteless salt or invisible light.[2]

Putting matters positively, Jesus uses a metaphor when he flatly states, “You are the salt of the earth” (5:13a). It is quite clear that salt was critical to the function of the ancient world, largely as a food preservative and for flavoring food. A world without adequate salt would have been much more primitive.

Jesus next describes a hypothetical situation in which salt loses its distinctive qualities or flavor. Then he asks a question: “By what will it be re-salted?”[3] (5:13b). Jesus answers his own rhetorical question by saying such material is good for nothing! The implication is that a disciple who is not living for the kingdom will similarly be cast aside. By whom? This is again a divine passive; such a disciple will be cast away by God.

Before we go on, you must know that we are not speaking here about loss of salvation. Instead, we must recall that huge crowds are following Jesus, and even among his disciples are those of varying commitment. Always remember the presence of Judas, and you will realize that it is easy to make false assumptions about Jesus’ disciples. Jesus never made that mistake! Judas later sold his master for 30 silver coins (Matt. 26:15), but that did not buy him any new friends (Matt. 27:4).

The second metaphor Jesus uses is much easier; he calls his own the light of the world (5:14). Jesus stresses visibility in two further images: a city set on a hilltop (5:14) and a lamp placed on a lampstand in a home (5:15). These metaphors are about the effect which the life of Jesus’ disciples will have on those around them. R.T. France says, “The ‘job description’ of a disciple is not fulfilled by private personal holiness, but includes the witness of public exposure.”[4]

Of what does this light consist? Matthew 5:16 makes it clear that good deeds seen by others are the essence of what Jesus expects from his disciples. It is interesting that Jesus credits unbelieving people with the insight to honor God for the good deeds performed by the disciples.

Do you have the right stuff?

Sometimes we Protestants lean so hard on grace that Christians begin to think that the phrase good works is a contradiction in terms! Turner goes so far as to say, “A so-called disciple without good works is of no more value than tasteless salt or an invisible lamp.”[5]

Jesus taught and worked miracles in all types of public settings. Like salt we must be distinctive. Like light we must engage the dark watching world. In doing so, we are following the example of our Lord!

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.


[1] R.T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007) 173.

[2] Craig S. Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1999), 172.

[3] My translation, following BDAG-3, tis, “what?” q.v.

[4] France, Matthew, 176.

[5] David L. Turner, Matthew, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008) 156.

 

Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5:10–12

Matthew 5:10–12
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way.”
(NET Bible)
Note: any Bible reference containing only a chapter number and verse number is understood to be in the Gospel of Matthew.

The paradox of righteousness

The more we are persecuted for our commitment to Jesus, the higher we rise in his kingdom. Contrary to the ways of this world, we fall to rise. That is paradoxical, is it not?

We have already learned that Matthew uses the word righteousness to refer to behavior that pleases God and keeps his commandments. It is perverse that righteousness provokes opposition, but we must recall that Jesus is the ultimate example of living for God and being crucified for it. Turner says of 5:10 that Jesus warns his followers that their upright behavior will fare no better.[1]

Further, R.T. France says, “Already in the commendation of the merciful and the peacemakers these beatitudes have marked out the true disciple not as a hermit engaged in the solitary pursuit of holiness but as one engaged in society, and such engagement has its cost.”[2] In light of this fact, it is strange that Christians have at times locked themselves away in monasteries with alleged spiritual motives. The fact that society does not share our values is no excuse for retreat!

Jesus makes the matter more personal in 5:11 when he shifts from third-person plural (“they”) to second-person plural (“you”). NT Greek has a way of speaking to each individual in a crowd, but that is not used here; instead, R.T. France tells us, “It is the corporate impact of the disciple community, as an alternate society, which is here in view.”[3] So Jesus makes the blessing more personal and yet stresses the corporate witness of the group. We all do this together!

Note that Jesus declares us blessed for evil things said against us falsely (5:11). We receive no blessing if the evil allegations are true. In a similar way, the evil things said about us must be on account of me [Jesus] (5:11). As a friend of mine once taught, God does not bless us for being a jerk!

Irony predominates in 5:12. When we are reviled, insulted and persecuted for righteousness and allegiance to Jesus, we are to rejoice and be glad (5:12)! But Jesus does not ask us to like persecution; instead, he calls on us to consider the great reward to come in heaven. R.T. France aptly points out that, unlike many Christians, Jesus has no hesitation about speaking of the reward God will provide to believers who maintain their witness and godly behavior.[4]

When we experience opposition and persecution in living for Christ, we are getting the same treatment given to the prophets (5:12). It is an amazing thing to think my behavior can make me have something in common with Isaiah or Jeremiah; the same applies to you. If that does not amaze you, then check your pulse.   :)

A final word

Jesus said: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48b). But the leverage we get from Jesus makes the heavenly rewards very great!

But Jesus does not ask us to do these things without help. He has given us the Holy Spirit to enable us to do all he wants from us. That is a great reason to rejoice!

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.


[1] David L. Turner, Matthew, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 2008) 153.

[2] R.T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007) 170.

[3] France, Matthew, 171.

[4] France, Matthew, 172.

 

Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5:7–9

Matthew 5:7–9
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.”
(NET Bible)
Note: any Bible reference containing only a chapter number and verse number is understood to be in the Gospel of Matthew.

Behavior toward others is part of mercy

The strange thing about mercy is that it is never about what the other person has done; mercy is always about the heart of the person showing it or withholding it. Whether you are ready to enter the kingdom of God will be measured by your willingness to show mercy by your actions. Is that a problem?

Since anyone who recognizes their own sin needs mercy from God above all, the reward promised by 5:7 is a powerful motivator. Note that the second half of verse 7 is in passive voice. This use of passive voice is called a divine passive, meaning that God is the one who will show mercy to the merciful. Greek grammarian Daniel Wallace says, “That God is behind the scenes is self-evidently part of the worldview of the NT writers.”[1]

Turner points out, “The crucial importance of the theme of mercy for the disciple is repeatedly modeled in Jesus’ life and teaching (Matt. 6:2–4; 9:27, 36; 15:22; 17:15; 18:33; 20:30).”[2] Of course, the greatest act of mercy that Jesus performed was to die for our sins, in our place. Bible scholar Craig Blomberg goes so far as to say that Exodus 34:6 means that mercy may be God’s most fundamental attribute.[3]

The importance of showing mercy as a disciple of Jesus is demonstrated by the command to forgive your brother unendingly (Matt. 18:21–22). That command is followed immediately by the parable of the unmerciful servant (18:23–35), in which those who show no mercy are given none in the last judgment.

The idea extolled in 5:8 is not easy to capture. When I was in the Boy Scouts, we made hot cocoa one morning in camp, but the milk had about as much wind-blown dirt in it as it did cocoa. We drank the stuff, but it was not pure! That helps us get the meaning of pure in this context; the pure heart has no added false motives. Instead, the pure heart is an undivided heart that has a single-minded devotion to God and his kingdom. The person who has only externally-acceptable behavior will not see God.

Matthew 5:9 uses a rare word, translated peacemaker, to describe a person who reconciles enemies. Keener says the word was applied most often to emperors.[4] We, however, serve a Lord who is much higher than an emperor, and he wants us to be an active reconciler of people. Since many are in rebellion against God, we are also to reconcile them to God through Jesus Christ. Those who reconcile enemies and seek to live in harmony with others will be called sons of God (5:9), meaning God approves of their alignment to his ways.

Turner ably summarizes: “The chief marks of those who already live under God’s rule are humility toward God and mercy toward people.”[5]

A Final Word

Showing mercy can be costly. When I brought my newborn son Scott home from the hospital, my daughter Amy, age three, was delighted to see him. After a few minutes she quietly slipped away to her room.

Amy was the proud owner of two security blankets, her most highly treasured possessions. As far as she knew, no others existed. When Amy returned with one precious blanket, she gave it to Scott. “He doesn’t have one,” she said. In that moment, Amy was more merciful than anyone I had ever known.

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.


[1] Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995) 438.

[2] David L. Turner, Matthew, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008) 152.

[3] Craig L. Blomberg, Matthew, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992) 100.

[4] Craig S. Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1999), 169.

[5] Turner, Matthew, 153.

 

Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5:4–6

Matthew 5:4–6
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.”
(NET Bible)
Note: any Bible reference containing only a chapter number and verse number is understood to be in the Gospel of Matthew.

Why meek does not mean wimpy

I first want to address something skipped in the previous post: the meaning of blessed. R.T. France discusses the difficulty of capturing this Greek word (makarios) in English by choosing happy over the alternatives blessed, congratulations to, and fortunate. After mentioning my favorite alternative, esteemed, he says, “Beatitudes are descriptions, and commendations, of the good life.” [1] Jesus commends such a life to his followers.

To say that those who mourn are happy (5:4) is clearly nonsense unless you understand that we are not dealing with a feeling here but rather knowledge that God will comfort them. For what do they mourn? Turner says that, rather than mourning over personal sin or misfortune, they probably mourn over persecution that arises over their allegiance to the kingdom.[2]

The idea that God esteems meekness requires explanation. First, the Greek word praus means, “pertaining to not being overly impressed by a sense of one’s self-importance, gentle, humble, considerate, meek.[3] Twice Jesus describes himself using this same Greek adjective, and in these instances the NET Bible translates the word as humble (Matt. 11:29) and unassuming (21:5). Further, Moses was described as the meekest man on earth (Num. 12:3). Who would ever say that either Jesus or Moses was not a great leader? Yet both were humble and unassuming. Lovers of swagger, take note!

I like the way Turner puts it: “Once again Jesus goes against the grain of human culture and experience by assuming that the meek — not those well stocked with wealth, armament or status — will inherit the earth.”[4] You should think long and hard about that statement!

In saying that the meek will inherit the earth (5:5), Jesus points forward to the worldwide kingdom he will rule — assisted by the humble — during the millennium, following his second coming (Rev. 20:4).

One of the best ways to understand the phrase hunger and thirst after righteousness (5:6) is to consider what Jesus said in John 4:34, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to complete his work.” But what kind of righteousness is he talking about?

Matthew must be understood on his own terms. If you import Paul’s meaning for righteousness in Romans into Matthew, you will really be confused. R.T. France says that righteousness in Matthew is “overwhelmingly concerned with right conduct, with living the way God requires.”[5] A really good example is when Jesus allows John the Baptist to baptize him — over John’s protest (3:14) — in order to “fulfill all righteousness” (3:15). Jesus had nothing to repent of, but he wanted to identify with those who did. Jesus exemplified the humility mentioned in the previous verse.

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.


[1] R.T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007) 161.

[2] David L. Turner, Matthew, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 2008) 150, citing Matt. 5:10–12, 38–48; 10:16–42; 13:21; 23:34; 24:9.

[3] BDAG-3, praus, humble, meek, q.v.

[4] Turner, Matthew, 151.

[5] France, Matthew, 167.

 

Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5:1–3

Matthew 5:1–3
When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain. After he sat down his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to teach them by saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.”
(NET Bible)
Note: any Bible reference containing only a chapter number and verse number is understood to be in the Gospel of Matthew.

An unexpected opening

In the concluding verse of Matthew chapter 4, we found that large crowds (4:25) from such distant places as Syria and Jerusalem accompanied Jesus. They had heard that he was “preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing” (4:23).

But gathering crowds and leading them was not the mission Jesus had been given. “When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain” (5:1). Since Galilee has no tall mountains, you should think in terms of the Texas hill country — that kind of mountain.

Whenever we read a literary work like Matthew’s Gospel, it is sensible to probe whether simple words may conceal unexpected yet intentional connections. That is the case with “he sat down” (5:1). The Greek verb is used eight times in Matthew, and in most cases it involves sitting in a position of authority or judgment.[1] That will certainly prove to be the situation on this day. Perhaps anticipating Jesus, his disciples gather around him. But, exactly what is a disciple?

When you recall that some of Jesus’ disciples turned away from him (John 6:66), it becomes obvious that disciple is not a synonym for believer. We will contrast discipleship under Jesus with other forms of first-century discipleship. How does discipleship to Jesus contrast with the disciples of the Jewish rabbis or to Greek masters such as Socrates?

Allegiance to a rabbi meant adhering to his view of the Torah, the instruction revealed by Moses in Genesis to Deuteronomy. Allegiance to Socrates was shown by adherence to his ideas or his philosophy. TDNT says: “In contrast to both, Jesus binds exclusively to himself. The rabbi and the Greek philosopher are at one in representing a specific cause. Jesus offers himself. This obviously gives a completely different turn to the whole relation of the disciples to him.”[2] Discipleship under Jesus involves personal commitment to him and the acceptance of his teachings that results in obedience.

Of course, Matt. 5:1 begins the famous Sermon on the Mount, which extends through 7:29. I agree with Turner when he says: “The sermon amounts to personal ethics for the followers of Jesus. . . . The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’ authoritative teaching about the way believers should live today.”[3]

Today we will only put a toe in the deep waters of the Sermon by considering 5:3. “Blessed are the poor in spirit” illustrates that “the sharply paradoxical character of most of [the Sermon’s] recommendations reverses the conventional values of society.”[4] If we called for a show of hands from all who strive to be poor in spirit, the resulting inner tension would show how countercultural this is! See Ps. 37:14–17, James 2:5 and Prov. 16:18–19 for further ideas on being poor in spirit.

Turner correctly says, “To be ‘poor in spirit’ is to acknowledge one’s total dependence on God for everything, for righteousness . . . as well as sustenance.”[5]

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.


[1] References are Matt. 13:48; 19:28; 20:21, 23; 23:2; 25:31.

[2] TDNT, 4:447, math?t?s, disciple, q.v.

[3] David L. Turner, Matthew, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 2008) 144.

[4] R.T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007) 159.

[5] Turner, Matthew, 149.

The Sermon on the Mount: Approach to Interpretation

This post begins an occasional series on The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7). After today’s introduction, you may expect Bible exposition. I sometimes use the acronym “SOM” to refer to the Sermon on the Mount.

I am indebted to R.T. France for the idea of calling Matthew chapters 5–7 “The Discourse on Discipleship” rather than the more common title “The Sermon on the Mount.”[1] R.T. France correctly points out that Jesus was speaking to those who had responded to his preaching that the kingdom of heaven had drawn near. I will generally stick to the traditional title (“The Sermon on the Mount”), but France’s title would have been better.

How the Sermon on the Mount affects you

It is one thing to title Jesus’ remarks and quite another to figure out how they fit into the lives of Christians today. How did Jesus intend for us to interpret them? To answer that question is not easy! NT scholar Craig Blomberg says, “Perhaps no other religious discourse in the history of humanity has attracted the attention which has been devoted to the Sermon on the Mount.”[2] Out of this vast consideration, at least 36 different views have emerged on the sermon’s message.

Perhaps because Stanley Toussaint is a pastor as well as a New Testament scholar, I prefer his simpler overview of six viewpoints[3]:

1. The Soteriological [Salvation] Approach: People may receive salvation by governing their lives through the principles of the SOM. This idea was once popular among theological liberals, but it had been abandoned by 1980 for the simple reason that, if it were true, no one could be saved!

2. The Sociological Approach: Society would be ideal if guided by the principles of the SOM. This idea fails in that there is no evidence that Jesus was trying to modify society. Several famous people have tried to implement parts of the SOM, though not all recognized Jesus as the Son of God.[4] However, this world-system will be destroyed and replaced by God, not freshened up.

3. The Lutheran Approach: Toussaint calls it “The Penitential Approach.” This view holds that the purpose of the SOM is to make people conscious of their sin and drive them to God. But the Lutheran Approach does not recognize that the SOM is addressed to disciples; thus, he is speaking to people who have already repented and come to God. Jesus says they are salt and light (5:13-14). Still, the SOM does heighten awareness of sin, and that part of this viewpoint has merit.

4. The Millennial or Kingdom Approach: This view says that the way of life presented is applicable to the future Millennial Kingdom, in which Jesus will rule this world (Rev. 20:4). But, to say the least, it would be odd for Jesus to tell his disciples to pray for the coming of the kingdom (Matt. 6:28) when it was already going on. Why would disciples be persecuted and reviled (Matt. 5:11-12) in the future kingdom? Problems abound!

5. The Church Approach: Toussaint calls it “The Ecclesiastical Approach.” The idea here is that the SOM is the rule of life for the church. However, Toussaint correctly points out that the church is not mentioned until Matthew 16:18 and does not exist until Acts 2, following the resurrection of Jesus. So, even though this view is popular and promising, it has a timing problem in NT history.

6. The Interim Approach: The idea of the Interim Approach is that the SOM presents an ethic for the time preliminary to the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom. This concept improves upon #5 by eliminating direct dependence on the presence of the church. That said, SOM also applies to the church throughout the period of its existence. In fairness, I must add that Toussaint would not agree with my application of the SOM to the church and would say that I have modified the Interim Approach as he originally described it.[5]

So, I have used the Interim Approach as the interpretive grid for explaining the SOM, and have taken the position that the principles Jesus gives are directly applicable to the church, even though the church did not exist when Jesus first taught these ideas.

My next post will explain the first part of the Sermon on the Mount, a section often called The Beatitudes.

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from materials prepared for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.


[1] R.T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007) 153.

[2] Craig L. Blomberg, Matthew, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992) 93.

[3] Stanley D. Toussaint, Behold the King (Portland: Multnomah Press, 1980) 86-94.

[4] Four men who tried to use SOM in whole or part: Leo Tolstoy, Karl Marx, Mohandas Gandhi, and Martin Luther King.

[5] Toussaint got the idea of an interim ethic from Albert Schweitzer and then modified it.