by Heather Kendall
At the morning ladies’ Bible study, we are working our way through the Gospel of Matthew using my questions. This lesson is one of four on the Sermon on the Mount.
In chapter five Jesus does not negate or abolish the Ten Commandments; rather he intensifies their intent by revealing underlying heart issues. In this way he affirms his authority to make laws or commandments for his subjects.
Read Matthew 5:22, 28, 32, 34, 39, 44
- What phrase does Jesus repeat?
Murder Begins in the Heart
Read Matthew 5:21, 22; Exodus 20:13; 21:12–14
- Compare God’s definition of murder in the old covenant with that of Jesus’ definition in the new covenant.
- In the old covenant God acknowledges different circumstances should result in different punishments. Describe the differences.
But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, “You fool!” will be liable to the hell of fire (Matthew 5:22, ESV).
3. Likewise, in the new covenant Jesus recognizes different kinds of anger. What are the two kinds mentioned in this passage?
4. What kind of punishment does each type of anger deserve?
- Notice that Jesus does not deal with righteous anger. How would you define it?
Jesus then explains how believers should behave if they are guilty of getting angry at someone else or if another person becomes angry with them.
Read Matthew 5:23–26
- What is happening in the first situation (verses 23 and 24)?
- What is happening in the second situation (verses 25 and 26)?
- How should believers react in both of those situations?
Adultery Begins in the Heart
Read Matthew 5:27–30; Exodus 20:14; Leviticus 20:10–13
- Compare God’s definition of adultery in the old covenant with Jesus’ definition in the new covenant.
Sometimes Jesus employs hyperbole or exaggeration to emphasize the seriousness of his point.
- How should one deal with lust according to this passage?
- What does Jesus want us to understand about lust?
Read Matthew 5:31, 32; Deuteronomy 24:1–4
- When did God allow divorce in the old covenant?
- When does Jesus allow divorce?
Tell the Truth
Read Matthew 5:33–37; Numbers 30:1, 2; Deuteronomy 23:21–23
- Why did people make oaths or swear to tell the truth in the old covenant?
- What does Jesus say about oaths? Why?
- Why does swearing an oath come from Satan?
Go the Second Mile
Read Matthew 5:38–42; Exodus 21:23–25; Leviticus 24:19, 20.
- Explain how the law dealt with one who hurt or injured another person in the old covenant.
- What does Jesus instruct his disciples to do whenever they are hurt or mistreated by another?
Love Your Enemies
Read Matthew 5:43–48
- Who are a believer’s enemies?
- Explain how Jesus expects believers to treat their enemies in the new covenant.
- What reasons does Jesus give for insisting that we love our enemies?
Recall how some of the neighbours in Israel were originally foreigners by birth. Sometimes God directed Israel to show leniency and even kindness toward their enemies.
Read Leviticus 19:18; Deuteronomy 23:3–8; Psalm 139:21, 22; Proverbs 24:17
Proverbs 25:21, 22
- How did God expect the Israelites to treat their neighbours in the old covenant?
- Who were Israel’s enemies?
- Why did God allow the Israelites, in some cases, to show love to other nations?
- Contrast the kind of enemy for believers in the new covenant with Israel’s enemies in the old covenant.
In the Old Testament people became citizens of Israel through their physical birth; whereas, in the New Testament, one becomes a member of Christ’s kingdom, the church, through a spiritual birth. Notice how King Jesus demands a higher standard of behavior in interpersonal relationships for believers than God required for a mixed crowd of believers and unbelievers in the nation of Israel. Because God is holy, just, and good, he gave the best standard possible for the Israelites in the Old Testament.
Remember, also, that God never changes. This means that when God declares in the first three laws in the Ten Commandments who he is, he is telling the truth. The laws concerning God himself never can change. God would never lie about himself (Hebrews 6:18). That is why Jesus and the later New Testament writers never add to or change those particular laws. Certainly, many verses in the Old and New Testament reveal more of God’s character. But God himself never changes.
Moreover, we need to keep in mind God’s overarching plan to obtain spiritual salvation for his blood-bought people. In the Old Testament Israel was a political nation. At that point in history, God’s prime consideration consisted in keeping the genealogical line of the Lord Jesus intact within the framework of Israel. Therefore God would condemn those other nations who threatened the existence of Israel either nationally or spiritually.