If you’re new here, please click here to begin in my Genesis study rather than beginning in the last 1/4 of the book. The Father, in His wisdom and love, began His word in Genesis and in order to know Him, so should we.
Good Morning Siblings!
Today’s readings are Matthew 5-6
Oh y’all, you might want to grab a cup of coffee, take a deep breath, and strap yourself into your chairs today because if you don’t, you may end up needing to be peeled off the ceiling after we’re done reading Messiah’s words. Apologies for the length of my notes in Matthew but, in my defense, if I had time they’d be four times longer.
Oh, one more thing. Before you read these notes know that I love you – and I mean that.
First off, this whole blessed are the poor thing.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 5:3
Most agree that this is referring to someone who is humble. Whew, that was easy.
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” Matthew 5:13
Background information – In this timeframe, when salt was used up or no longer good for anything it was used on roads and pathways. This kept weeds from growing over the roads. (Thus the reference of being “trampled under people’s feet.”)
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 ESV
YHWH does not create light only for us to put it away. He wants us to shine that light throughout the world but we should seek him in all our ways in order to be that light.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16
An excellent cross reference read on this is James 2:14-26. Works? But we aren’t saved by our works! Are you trying to sell us a works based faith? Nope. No one ever said you were saved by works, but they did say that your works would show where your heart lies.
Bad trees do not bear good fruit. Sadly, this whole accusation of “trying to be saved by works” excuse has become the mantra of people who seek to justify not obeying the commandments and, in order to justify themselves when relying on such a flimsy excuse, they must win others over to this way of thinking as well. This is how we end up with millions of people living in a dead faith. (see James cross reference above) The love and adoption of the Father provides a wellspring of LIFE and causes us to produce beautiful fruit!
Ready for the heavy lifting?
Take a deep breath.
Might want to take one more…
Have you ever heard that statement: “Messiah fulfilled the law so that we don’t have to”?
What does Messiah say about this?
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-20 ESV
Did you catch that?
He is first saying:
Don’t think I’ve come to do this thing
And then he said:
I have not come to do this thing
then HE adds :
I’ve come to do something that is definitely NOT this thing.
He states twice that we are NOT to think He has come to get rid of something and yet, we read it as meaning exactly what He says absolutely does not mean.
Still, most people read this verse as: “Do not think I’ve come to abolish the law or the prophets, I have not come to abolish but to abolish.”
Messiah said this because he KNEW that some would try to lead us astray on this topic. Matthew 5:17-20 is a good verse to remember for many reasons.
Hear this, read this, know this, take it to heart:
Messiah always reinforced the Father’s word. He never contradicted it in any way or opposed it in any way. His teachings complete our understanding of the Scriptures.
Lets circle back now to Matthew 5:18-19.
“For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:18-19 ESV
These verses really do not need much explanation. The father and the son made this crystal clear. Nothing will pass from the law (YHWH’s teachings, commandments, and instructions on how His people are to live) until heaven and earth pass away and on top of that, there is a pretty stern warning for anyone who teaches others any of God’s commandments have been done away with.
“Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Take a moment to think over that statement again.
Why do we read Matthew 5:17-20 as if Messiah is stating the opposite of what Messiah is stating?
Because, for many of us, generations ago it was ingrained in us to go against our logic and, through time and repetition, we’ve learned to do just that.
There are a few verses in the Bible like this. For example, what’s the first thing a child asks when taught the ten commandments? “Why don’t we keep Sabbath (the 4th commandment) on the seventh day?”
The response may be: “Because we don’t do that anymore. We do it this way instead.” Or sometimes we’ll be met with “Because Jesus rose on Sunday” or “Because Jesus is our Sabbath rest now”. Both of those are red herrings as they do not abolish or alter the fourth commandment in any way. But when spoken with authority, as if they are valid reasons, and repeated enough times by enough people, the child will acquiesce and eventually grow up to make those same statements with the same sense of authority.
This is part of the conditioning which teaches us that it is okay to do things our way instead of YHWH’s way.
(I call this a Burger King faith, have if your way.)
Side note in case anyone feels offense rising up within them right now: 1. That wasn’t my intent. 2. You can go to church any day of the week and still keep Sabbath. I have friends who honor the Sabbath and go to Sunday church. If you have a good, Bible believing church, go every time the doors are open! In fact, many of our Jewish brethren, who are staunch keepers of Sabbath, have their services on Sunday in order that they may rest on Sabbath.
I want to reiterate, you do not have to give up Sunday church to keep the Sabbath and I am not suggesting that you do. Please read that sentence again. ❤️ I do not want to divide us but I do want us to see what YHWH says and what Messiah says. I want us to get our truth from the source and when tradition contradicts truth, I want to choose truth over tradition.
Regardless of where you stand on this, I don’t need you to agree with me because I’m not the source of Truth, the Father is. I love you and I’ll lock arms with you any day as my cherished brother and sister.
I also realize that a majority of people today feel Sabbath was abolished and we will discuss that again later when we put key passages back into context. In fact, within three months we will have read every verse of the Bible so if YHWH (who has told us that He does not change) decided at some point that He was going to change His commandments, we will read it.
And if Messiah, who taught that we will be keeping Sabbath when He returns and in the Millennium, and that He didn’t come to change YHWH’s commandments, decided to change His mind and contradict His father, we will read that, too.
In the meantime, pay attention to this passage very carefully before accusing Messiah of doing away with what YHWH has put into place.
He, Himself, specifically tells us that He came to do no such thing. In large part, it is our contradicting Messiah’s words, actions, and intent that prevents our Jewish brethren from being able to accept Him as Messiah – because they know Scripture and they know that Messiah would never contradict or undermine the Father.
The time is drawing near and we simply cannot afford to misrepresent the Messiah lest we fit this description: “Whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:19
Note: We aren’t going to argue Sabbath. We never have and I hope we never will. In all things, search the Scriptures, pray to the Father, and know that He is the source of truth. When He has spoken, our words are a poor substitute. YHWH’s Word is truth, anything outside of that is just commentary (including my notes!).
Now, lets’s circle back to my initial point lest it be lost.
Why do we read Matthew 5:17-20 as if Messiah is stating the opposite of what Messiah is stating? (I realize I just repeated my earlier sentence)
As I said, for many of us, generations ago it was ingrained in us to go against our logic and, through time and repetition, we’ve learned to do just that.
If you tell someone that the Bible says something enough times (whether it actually does or not), they will believe you.
How many of each animal did Noah take onto the ark? Remember when we thought the answer was 2? All of that changed when we read the text for ourselves with the blinders down.
As believers, do we recognize that YHWH is right or are we seeking to be right?
Moving on, not to beat a dead horse but I’m about to do just that!
Most of us are reading an English translation from a Greek manuscript of the book of Matthew (it has also been found in Hebrew). In the Greek, the word for fulfill that we see in Matthew 5:17 is pleroo which means to make perfect, carry out, or cause to abound.
Let’s look at another passage we’ve just read in which that same word, pleroo, was used.
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.Matthew 3:13-15
The word translated to fulfill here is also pleroo. In this case, we correctly see Messiah as setting the example for Baptism. What we do not see is Messiah being Baptized so that no one else ever needs to be baptized.
The fact is, the text is clear as a bell but we have to remove the filters that have been put in place along with the things we’ve been programmed to see, the training of going against reason and logic when the truth is in front of us, in order to see that.
So we’ve established that Messiah didn’t come to do away with YHWH’s law, but to show us how to live it out, to set the example of doing so. Then what of all this talk about the law being nailed to the cross?
~sigh~ That’s not what the Bible says, either.
BUT again, If you tell most people the Bible says something enough times, they will eventually believe you.
Here is what the Bible actually says:
He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. Col 2:14
The debt for our sins is paid. He paid the ticket. If you get a speeding ticket and pay that ticket, does that mean you can speed from then on out? No. It means your ticket is paid. Now you are free to do as Messiah said in John 8:11, “Go now and sin no more.”
A common refrain is “But it is impossible not to sin!”
So should we just give up and not even try? Of course not.
When we set our minds to follow after our Messiah, if we stumble, He will turn to us and help us to rise again.
That is grace.
Here are some instances in which the law (think Ten Commandments) is upheld in the NT
Matthew 5:17-20 – “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 19:17 – And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”
Matthew 22:37-40 – And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Mark 10:19 – You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’”
John 14:15 – “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
Romans 3:31 – Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
Romans 7:12 – So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
Romans 13:8-10 – Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
1 Corinthians 7:19 – For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God.
1 John 2:3 – And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.
1 John 3:4 – Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.
1 John 5:3- For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
Revelation 12:17- Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.
Revelation 14:12- Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
Revelation 22:14 – Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
~The Dueling Sets Of Laws~
Now, it is important to note that there are dueling laws being spoken of in the New Testament. One is the law of YHWH and one is the traditions of men which were held up as equal or even more important than YHWH’s law (sometimes known as “fence laws” today). They are even called “the law”. I’ve talked about those fence laws at length before so I’ll not do that again today. We are going to learn more about that in a few chapters when we see it in action.
Messiah spends the next few sections advising on the subjects of Anger, Lust, Divorce, Oaths, Retaliation, and how to treat your enemies. Many people read his words and think that He is changing the law or relaxing the commandments. Let’s talk about that.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 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. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:21-24
Most of us are well aware of the commandment not to murder. It comes in at #6 on the “Big Ten” by how we count them today. Messiah states this commandment and then expands on it. What he is saying is (my paraphrase) “You’ve been told not to murder, but carrying around anger and hate in your heart is murder as well.” It’s not enough to just not physically murder someone, this commandment is a heart issue and if your heart is not right, you can be breaking this with or without any bodies to show for it.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:27
So you don’t actually commit adultery but you dream of doing it? That is just as bad. Again, Messiah is elevating commandment keeping from a “check the box” type obedience to a deeper, heart issue.
“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Matthew 5:31-32
This was addressing a sin that had become common in the day and which we spoke about back in Deuteronomy. There is evidence to support that this was a pattern of behavior in which a man wanted to stay within the law but still wanted to entertain multiple females so he would “marry” one for a day or two, divorce, then “marry” another and eventually “marry” one or more of them again in whatever order he chose. They were abiding by the commandments on a technicality, but clearly their heart was elsewhere.
We see this same pattern when it comes to condemning the swearing of oaths where Messiah instructs us to let our yes be yes and our no be no. If we are a person of honor who follows in the way our Father instructs us, this will be enough.
In Matthew 5:38 we see the famous quote “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ First of all, SO MANY people say this is Biblical wisdom. NOTE that Messiah is not in any way suggesting we follow this advice. Rather, He is offering a righteous alternative. Let us look at the original text this concept is coming from and put it in context.
“When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
“When a man strikes the eye of his slave, male or female, and destroys it, he shall let the slave go free because of his eye. If he knocks out the tooth of his slave, male or female, he shall let the slave go free because of his tooth. Exodus 21:22-27
Note that in these two cases, grave crimes were taking place. Men were working together to attack pregnant women, others were abusive to slaves in their households (if you missed where we went over slavery and the standards which Torah requires Hebrews to adhere to with regards to treatment, make sure you catch it on the next go around).
However, in Messiah’s time we see that men are taking personal vengeance over small slights. In the time of Moses, there was a justice system in place in which judges and elders, well versed in the Torah, oversaw punishments and judged righteously. Here, we have a free-for-all wherein a man might personally demand the death of another for being humiliated or slapped in public. We can equate this to “honor killings” in our time in terms of their severity being unmatched to the perceived offense. Again, people were using the Scriptures as a means of justifying their actions but their heart’s intent was far from the Father.
The verses about loving your enemy are refuting common culture of the time, not YHWH’s instructions. We will go into loving your enemy and your neighbor (they go hand in hand) in future notes. (Matthew 5:43)
Here is what we are reading though: Messiah is not doing away with the law, He is elevating it, filling it up, taking it to a higher level. He is showing us that obeying commandments is not enough if we go around hating people and lusting in our minds, seeking vengeance, etc. It’s not about a checklist, it is about the state of our hearts. We must set our hearts right.
Matthew 5:47 and Matthew 6:7 both compare the behavior of YHWH’s chosen people to that of the Gentiles. This is a gentle reminder that the early Christians were Jews, not Gentiles.Matthew 5:48 presents such a problem for some and this is where they jump off the Jesus train and declare that He must have been doing way with the law because they think He crosses the line of possibility with this statement:
You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48
This is the standard to strive for, this is YHWH’s standard for us.
How many parents have told their kids “When you grow up, there is very little chance you will be successful and you’ll probably break a lot of laws so just know that going into it and prepare yourself for jail.”
No, we set a standard for them. “When you grow up, if you work hard and make sure to be a good contributing citizen, you’ll make the world a better place and find fulfillment and happiness for yourself, too!”
As the best parent in the history of the universe and beyond, YHWH set the standard. Further, He knew we could obtain it because He had plans all along in sending His own son to show us how to do it and His spirit to guide us. So in refutation to all the naysayers, let’s see what YHWH says:
“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.“I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. Ezekiel 36:26-27
This is exactly what He promises us, a helping hand, a guiding spirit, a new heart that will cause us to walk in His ways, to WANT to walk in His ways. Here is a gut-check question:
Do I have a desire to obey or am I looking for an excuse or way around it?
This is our fork in the road. Whose standard do we choose to live by? Because the Holy Spirit is not going to indwell within us in order to enable us to live by the world’s standards.
Matthew 6:22 may sound strange at first read but with a little understanding of the culture and context of the time it becomes clear:
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
Messiah is referencing a Hebrew idiom (saying) that was common at the time and is still used today. To have a “Good eye” means to have a generous spirit. To have a “bad eye” means to have a stingy spirit. A rabbi of the time may say, “If you give an offering, make sure you do it with a good eye!” Meaning, with a truly generous heart, not spitefully or resentfully.
Whew. Okay, that was a lot of information today. I’m still reeling just from typing it!
Do not take my word for anything.
Do not take a pastor’s word for anything.
Do not take a teacher’s word for anything.
In all things, search the Scriptures, pray to the Father, and know that He is the source of truth, anything outside of His Word is just commentary. ??
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!
May YHWH bless the reading of His Word!