33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.
Matt. 5:33-37, NKJV
The phrase Jesus is examining more closely is actually likely a combination of two Old Testament verses: Continue reading
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 5:17-20, NKJV)
This can be somewhat of a controversial passage, particularly in debates over the role of the Old Testament Law in the New Testament era. My own opinion has changed multiple times over the years, so rather than take this opportunity to share a shifting opinion, I want to focus on how the original hearers would have heard and understood it.
Because that’s my goal with this series anyway. We’re putting ourselves in the shoes of a first-century Jew who is being introduced to Jesus through the Gospel of Matthew. If we were that Jew, how would we understand this portion of the Sermon on the Mount? And how does it relate to what comes before and after it, in context? Continue reading
Three years ago, when Life Action Ministries came to my church for revival meetings, I remember someone commenting on Jesus’ messages to the churches in Revelation. “If Jesus wrote you a letter today, what would He write?” he asked.
That question has always stuck in my mind. What would Jesus write to me? To you? To America? To the world? Continue reading