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.The Sennon On the Mount in

Matthew 5-7 and Luke 6
Matthew 5-7 has been called
"The Sermon on the Mount" and
Luke 6: 17-49 has been called "The
Sermon on the Plain," as if they
were two different sermons on two
different occasions. The reasons
given are basically three: (1). the
sermon in Luke is much shorter
than the cine
in Matthew;
(2). Matthew
things not
mentioned in
Luke; Luke
things not
mentioned in
Matthew; and
some of Luke's
statements are
different in
form and
from those in
Matthew; and
, (3), whereaS'Matthew's has the
'.' sermQIl. taking place on "the
mountain,'.' .. 5:1,Luke's takes place
on a level place,'" 6:17, after Jesus
cawe down from the mountain,
'. 6:1:l ,l T. . . .
.. -However, there .are several
reasons to believe that the accountS
of Luke and of Matthew are of the
same sermon preached at the same
location; and furthermore, there
are reasonable answers to the
above objections. (1). The
beginning and ending of both
. discourses, as wll as the general
course of thought of each, reveal a
t\lorough agree.ment with one
another. (2). The historical
circumstances which follow both
discourses are the same, Mat. 8:5;
Lk.7:1,2. (3). The differences
between the discourses of Luke
and Matthew do not appear as
obstacles to our view when it is
remembered that neither Luke nor
Matthew profess to give Christ's
sermon in its complete form, but
rather present it as a summary of
His teaching. Surely Christ
explained, illustrated and
elaboratec,l on His subject just as
any other teacher would do. "The
variations of expression, and even
of sentiment found in Luke are not
in any sense contrary to, much less
their system of theology and ethics,
nor quote from their traditions, .
while Matthew fires every gun in
his armory against them and their
system, does not refute out view, .
because it is not always necessary
to cite an error in order to refute it . .
"It is often suffldent to set up, '0( '
even to state the truth, and error
shrinks away from its clear shining
light. "- Shearer 21. (6). It does not
surprise us that Luke adds things
Matthew does not include in. the
Sermon, because as we have seen
several times in our study of LUke's
Gospel, while Luke used Matthew .
as a resource, he also had other
resources possibly not available to'
Matthew, (7).
Lastly, "Luke
. sends Jesus up
the mountain
in v, 12, and
He now comes
doWn only far
enough to
reach' a' level
place so that
all thl.sgreat .
. ' mass of people .
,; , can hear him: '
On a spot that
. Was raised a
bit so chat all
might see Him
He sat down
(Matthew). It is contrary to the contradictory of, the words and
statements of Matthew, but they
both readily blend into a
harmonious whole."- Shearer, pg.
21. (4) . It must also be
'remembered that Matthew wrote
especially for the Jewish people,
and Luke wrote especially for
non-Jewish, Gentile people. "They
each used such weasure and forms
of the words of Christ as suited
their respective purposes, without
any implication of garbling,
perverSion, distortion, or
suppression of the truth."- Shearer,
pg.21. (5). The fact that Luke
does not mention the Pharisees or
facts to think of two sermons .... ';,
The Purpose of the
Sermon On the Mount'
"The Sermon on the Mount is
an exhaustive discuSsion of
Phariseeism. Christ expounds the
Law against the tradition
of the
elders, and against PharisaiC
glosses and interpretations. It is
the refutation of the last great
heresy of the ages, and the
overthrow of the last great bulwark
erected by Satan agaiIist the tiuth,
that master stroke of'cunning by
4 of Chalcedon f February, 1997
..: . ".', '. - 'I . " _ .. -. . ' ' ; : . ", '.. ,
which he substituted the
deceitfulness of sin in place of holy
living, and a refuge of lies in place
of the Divine Law."- Shearer, pg.
In this sermon Jesus' exposes
and refutes the four characteristics
of Phariseeism: Literalism, Mat.
5:21-48, ForrrWism, Mat. 6:1-113,
Covetousness, Mat. 6:19-34, and
Censoriousness, Mat, 7:1-6.
The Expose and Refutation of
the LiteJ'lllism of the PI.arisees
(Mat. 5:21-48)
"In the narrower sense,
literalism substitutes the letter of
the law for its spirit. In the
broader and proper sense, it is a
Jesus refutes this Literalism of
the Pharisees under eight
sub-heads: (1). Personal Ethics,
5:21-30; (2).' Family Ethics,
5:31-32; (3). Social Ethics,
5:3337; (4). Private Revenge,
5:38,39; (5). True Honesty, 5:40;
(6). True Loyalty, 5:41; (7). True
Generosity, 5:42; and (8). The Law
of Love, 5:23-48.
The Expose and Refutation of the
Fonnalism of tlte Pharisees (Mat.
"Literalism and Formalism are
kindred heresies, and we may
expect to find the Literalist to be
also a Formalist. We have seen
worship in its place. "- Shearer, pgs.
Jesus refutes Formalism under
three head" (1). almsgiving, Mat.
6:2-4: (2). prayer, Mat. 6:5-15; arid
(3). fasting, Mat. 6:16-18.
The Expose and Refutation oj ti,e
Covetousness of the Pharisees
(Mat. 6:19-34)
The third characteristic of
Phariseeism that Jesus exposes and
refutes is CovetousneSs. "The
covetous man seeks some worldly
good to which he is not fairly
entitled, and he scruples at nothing
to obtain' it. Covetousness is the
inspiration of the hypocrite and the
counterfeiter alike. They both
expect to make something out of false philosophy of rMrals, which
destroys all real moral
distinctions. This false
philosophy was the source of
l ' __ '.' ' .. , ,' , ',' , Y'>
'c, [,Earthly"tl'eaSU1!e$'ib,:aYe;;,
their devices. -- Covetousness
and hypocrisy make the bigot
in large measure.... We have
seen that the worship of the
Pharisees did not rise above
the rewards of this world, an(!
those of a most ephemeral
kind---mere human applause,
all the viciouS teachings of the
Pharisees. --- (1). It makes
written law the basis and limit
of moral obligation,. ---
(claiming) that a thing is right
only because God commands

", .:. -; . . .-: '.,., -<
it, and has the power to enforce it.
-- Against all this, the tlue theory
is that God's holy law is but the
expression of the divine holines.s.
---- (2). Literalism ignores motives
and dispositions, and makes sin to
consist only in actions. -- Under
this theory self-righteousness takes
no account of the heart, \IIId finds '
it easy to minimize the debits and .
maximize the credits, and to bling
down a balance largely in its own
favor .. " (3). Literalism excuses
natural appetencies., (strong
cravings and deSires), and denies
that they have any moral character.
--- (However) it 'is easy to,see that
sin may and does change the
complexion of them all. --- These.
sin-perverted appetencies become
ruling and if these be
ignored or condoned, it is but an
easy step to utter destt:uction of '
all moral Shearer,
that Literalism substitutes the letter
for the spirit; Formalism
substitutes the form for the
substance. The former deals with
law as a rule of righteous living;
the latter .deals only with
ordinances of worship." - Shearer,
"Formalism grows into a
self-righteousness, because its
value depends on the sum of the
good works done, set over against
the shortcomings and sins that
need an offset. Formalism seeks to
furnish a surplus of opus operatum'
acts of fonnal worship. The larger the
surplus the greater the righteousness.
Thi,s is self-lighteDusness, pure and
simple. Formalism also tends to
ostentation and self-righteous parade.
-- (}iowever) He shows,Jurther, that
their Ponnalism vitiated and
destroyed all true worship. Besides,
He sets up the true doctrine of
It would, therefore, seem
impossible for their aims and
purposes to rise an
absorbing pursuit of the good
things of this life, and the
acquisition of riches at all
hazards." - Shearer, pg. 120.
Jesus refutes their covetousness
and gives the cure for it by
contrasting earthly and heavenly
treasures, 6:19-20, and thereby
shOwing the supreme folly of
covetousness. Earthly treasures
have no permanency. They are of
no value beyond earth. They
"engage the heart but do not satisfy
the soul."- Shearer, pg. 121.
Heavenly treasures cannot be
destroyed. They remain forever.
(And it must be kept in mind that
Jesus does not discourage the
acquisition of treasures as
well as heavenly treasures.) He
shows that the results,of
covetousness are worries and
February, 1997 THE COUNSEL ofChalcedon 5
aDXletIes. Then, Jesus gives the
antidote for wony, anxiety and
covetousness in Matthew 6:21-34.
The Expose and Refutation of
the Censoriousness of the
Pharisees (Mat. 7:1-6)
Finally, after charging the
Pharisees with invalidating the
Word of God by their traditions,
rebuking them as hypocrites
because of their self-righteous
formaliSm, and denouncing their
covetousness, Jesus exposes and
refutes their censorious and .
fault-finding attitude. .
"Censoriousness is the other pt.le
of self-righteousness. Pride looks
down on others, often in a most
way . . Spiritual pride is
more intense than ordinary pride,
for it is woven into the very web
and woof of self-righteousness. It
must needs vihdiciile and prove its
claims to superior holiness, and it
does so by tearing down the claims
of others. It is by false and
censorious judgments of others
that it secUres the largest
self-laudation and comfort. --- Do
we need proof that censoriousneSs
was the malignant side of the '
Pharisee's character? They purSued
Christ Himself with malignant .
criticism."- Shearer, pg. 133.
Jesus refutes and rebukes the
censoriousness of the Pharisees'by
shOwing its absurdity. ' We are
now prepared to see that
Formalism, Covetousness arid .
CensoriousnesS constitute the
bigot---the religious bigot. Add
Literalism and we have the
Pharisee."- Shearer, pg, 137 . .
The Theme of the Sermon
On the Mount
The theme verse oCthe Sermon
on the Mount is Matthew
5:20-"For 1 say to you, that unless
your righteousness surpasses that of
the scribes and Pharisees, you shall
not enter thehingdom of heaven. "
The focus ofJesus in this verse and
throughout the Sermon, is on the
righteousness of the Pharisees, and
its total inadequacy.
"The 'poor in spirit' belong to the
kingdom, but not the Pharisees.
The victims of their persecutiol)S
belong to the kingdom, but not the
persecutors. Many other teachers'
a low place in the kingdom;
because of defective and
practice; but the Pharisees had no
place. Christ vindicates this bold
atid startling 'proposition by an
eXhaustive analYsis and discussion
ofPhariseeism."- Shearer, pg. 44.
"The Pharisees, by their
traditions, sought to modifY,
pervert, and destroy, but Christ
vindicates its, (O.T. moral law), old
and accredited meaning, as we
shall see. An His ethical and moral
. teaching is in exact accord with
Moses and the prophets, through
whom He had delivered the Law, '
and interpreted and enforced. it,
under His own theocratic rule."-
Shearer, pg. 46.
Jesus "puts the blow-torches" to
the theology and ethics, the
doctrine and practice of
Phariseeism for this reason: a .
person Hiles like he lives, because
he thinks like he thinks---"as a man
thinketh in hiS heart so is he: "A
right law, rightly interpreted, is
determinative of right action. If a
man 'put light for darkness, and
darkness for light: his life will
correspond with his creed. There
is no place for the popular
utterance that it makes no .
difference what a man believes if
only he will do What is right., Ifhi$
moral and ethical judgments are
perverted, his practice will
correspond; but if they are in
accord with a righteous law, we
may expect his. life to illustrate the
"Christ charges' that the .
righteousness of the stribes and .
6 * THE COl)NSEL of chalcedoll February, 1997
Pharisees is wholly inadequate,
both their doctrine and their
practice, betause of their
traditions. They break all the
commandments, and 'teach men so.'
He, therefore, arraigns their
traditions, the precepts and
practices of which we call
Phariseeism in its complete and
well-rounded sense."- Shearer, pg.
46-47. .
Tile Outline of the
Sermon On the Mount
The Sermon on the Mount can
be outline<;i. as follows: I. (Mat.
5:3-19) The Introduction; n. (Mat.
5:20) The Theme; III. (Mat.
5:21-7:6) The Body of the Sermon;
and, IV. (Mat. 7:7-27).The
Conclusion. .
5:3-19, Jesus does not expl!citly
forth his theme, but he approaches
it by setting forth a contrast.--"a .
contrast so skillfully made as to
arouse no antagonism, or even
suspicion of hostile intent at the
beginning, but .a contrast. apparent
to all when He unfolds His. theme.
"The introduction cousists of
five parts, each importatit as He
approaches His subj dct: (1). He
conciliates the best part of His
audience with the Beatitudes, vs.
3-9. (2). He fortifies His disciples
against the antagonisms which His
teaching would excite, vs .. 10-12.
(3) : He shows the importance of
the subjectto His disciples under '
two figures. vs.'13"15, with 'an
appropriate exhortation, vs. 16.
(4). He <;lefines His own relation to
the subject, vs. 17,18.(5). He then
states His own sense of
responsibility, and the
responsibility of all teachers in
handling such a subject, vs. 19."-
Shearer, pg. 27.
In Mat. 5:20 He sets forth His
THI!ME; contrastirtg the
inadequate righteousness of the
Pharisees with the righteousness in
the lives of all who are true citizens
of His kingdom.
SERMON, Mat. 5:21-7:6,]esus
analyzes and refutes this great
heresy of the ages under four
headings, (according to Shearer):
a. Uteralism, Mat. 5:21-48; b.
Formalism, Mat. 6:1-18; c.
Covetousness, Mat. 6:19-34; and
d. Censoriousness, Mat. 7:1-6.
The 'CONCLUSION of the
Sermon contains six applications,
Mat. 7:7-11; 7:12; 7:13-14;
7:15-20; 7:21-23; and 7:24-27.
The Reasons to Study the
Sennon On the Mount
In his book, STUDIES IN THE
Martyn Lloyd-] ones gives
three important reasons why
we should study Jesus'
sermon: en Jesus elied to
enable us to live the Sermon
on the Mount, Tit. 2:1+. (2).
Nothing shows us our
absolute need of the new
birth and of the Holy Spirit's
work within us so much as the
Sermon on the Mount.
Lloyd-Jones confesses, "These
Beatitudes cruS[l me to the ground.
They show me my utter
helplessness. Were it not for the
new birth, I am undone." (pg. 18).
(3). The more we live and try to
practice the Sermon on the Mount,
the more we shall experience the
blessings of God prOmised in it, "If
you want to befilled, don't seek
some mystic blessing; don't rush to
meetings hoping you will get it.
Face the Sermon on the Mount and
its implications and demands, see
your utter neeel, and then you will
get it. It is the direct road to
blessing." (pg. 18)
The Misinterpretations of tlte
Sennon On the Mount
The Liberal View
This view says that the Sermon
on the Mount is full of good moral
advice which all people of all
religions should and can follow,
because its basic morality is
generally the core of all religiOns of
man. Jesus was an astute Galilean
wise-man of the first century,
whose moral principles are mostly
worth following.
However, as we shall see, this is
a misinterpretation ofjesus and the
Sermon on the Mount. It is a
sennon addressed to the followers
of Jesus; and it is a sermon only
God incarnate could preach. Why
do we say this? Because in this
sermon] esus makes several
concrete claims to Deity: (1). He
determines who may and who may
not enter the kingdom of heaven,
Mat. 5:3, and who may be
identified as the children of God,
Mat. 5:9. (2), He sets his
clarification of the Law of God on
par with the Law of God itself,
Mat. 5:22f. (3). He detmnines
who will and who will not be
forgiven of His sins, Mat. 6: 14f.
(4). Someday everybody will stand
before Him and He will judge all
people, determining their eternal .
destiny, Mat. 7:;21. (5). He makes
His words the foundation of life
and submission to His words the
condition of salvation, Mat. 24f.
The Dispensational View
Consistent dispensationalism
teaches that the Sermon on the
Mount has nothing to do with
Christians today. ] esus came to
establish His Jewish kingdom on
the earth, and the Sermon on the
Mount destribes life in that
kingdom. Unfortunately, however,
the Jews did not beljeve His
teaching on the kingdom, They
called for His crucifixion and so
Jesus could not establish His
kingdom among them,
" ... therefore, almost as a kind of
afterthought, the death on the
cross came in, and as another
afterthought the whole Church and
the whole Church age came in, and
that will persist up to a certain
point in history. Then our Lord
will return with the kingdom and
again the Sermon on the Mount
will be introduced."- Lloyd-Jones,
Therefore, according to
consistent dispensationalism,
the Sermon on the Mount is
meant for "the thousand-year
kingdom age," i.e. , the
Millenium, when Jesus
returns to earth to set up a
literal, predominantly Jewish
kingdom on earth with its
capital in Jerusalem; from
Which He will reign over this
kingdom. The Sermon on the
Mount is exclusively for that age,
and not for Christians or for the
Church in the meantime. If this is
true, then we need not concern
ourselves with this Sermon, hor
should we feel guilty if we are not
domg what it commands. It is not
a Christian sermon, if consistent
dispensationalism is correct.
However, the Sermon on the
Mount was clearly preached to
Christ's diSciples, Mat. 5:1, "telling
them what they were to .do in this
world, not only while He was
there, but after He had gone. It
was preached to people who were
meant to practice it at that time
and ever afterwards."- Lloyd-Jones,
pg. 15. Moreover, there is no '
doctrinal nor ethical principle in
the Sermon on the Mount which is
February, 1997 THE COUNSEL of Chalcedon 7
not found in the Epistles of the
New Testament, well as ip. the
Old Testament. Therefore, it is a
perfect picture of life in the
Kingdom of Christ, which dawned
in history with His appearance in
the world two thousand years ago,
Mark 1:15; Mat. 3:2; 4:17; 12:28;
Lk. 10:9; 17:2L
The "Higher Law" View
This is the view that jesus came
to supplant or to upon the
ethics of the Old Testament, which
taught a moral system thai was
inferior to that Otthe New
Testament. He came to abrogate
the law of the Old Testament and
to replace it with the ;'higher
law" of the New Testament.
'orthodox' pulpits a disparagement
of the Old and the exaltation of the
New, either directly or by
implication. They mistake the
historic consummation of the
doctrines and facts of redemption
for a new and better way, and
assume a higher and purer
morality under Christ than under
Moses, under the Gospel than
under the Law." - Shearer, pg. 13.
Jesus Himself made it absolutely
clear at the beginning of Matthew's
account of the Sermon on the
Mount: "Do not think that I came to
abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did
not come to abolish, but to fulfill,
(confirm). For truly I say to you,
own person in the sinner's place."-
Shearer, pg. DE. Hence, jesus
could say, "Do not think that! came
to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I
did not come. to abolish, out toJulfill."
"In the days of His humiliation,
under the law as 'a subject and as a
servant, occupying' the sinner's
place under the law, it wasnot
competent fat. Him to modify the
law in any way, either to exalt or to
lower its demands. --: He was the
Law-giver on MOUJjlt Sinai, and the
law-expounder on the MO\lnt. in
Galilee:'- Shearer, pg. 14.
Because the, Pharisees
"invalidated" theYVord of God by
There are two major
ptoblemswith this view.
The Unitj of the
Old Testament and
the New Testament
"There ((111 be 110 elhi((ll
.- svsteI11-iii}njased on- --
their trad;ti\lTIs,Mark 7:13,
jesus sought to overturn
their traditions. "Let no
one think that in so doing
He overthrows or destroys
the Law; nor in sO doing
does He propose to alter or
modify the Law one jot or
one tittle. We have already
seen that itwas not
competent for-rInn to do
.. '
theology. If the I heology is
The theology oithe Old
Testament is the theology of
the NeW Testament, Heb.
4:2; and theology is the
true, the ethics is sound. If
the theology is false, the
eth ics is perverse. "
so, because He came under
the Law; and not as a basis of ethics. There can be
no ethical system not based on
theology. If the theology is true,
the ethicsis sound. Ifthe theology
is false, the ethics is perverse.
Therefore, since the theology of
both.testaments is one, the ethics
of both testaments is one.
Moreover, ethics of Oivine origin is
necessarily perfect, Mat. 5:17f,
Gen. 18:25; Rom. 7:12; Psa.
19: 7-1 L ;'There is no place, then,
for sitting in judgment on any code
of morals of Divine origin." - John
MOUNt, pg.114
W):ly is it, .then, that ,some do
criticize and 'slander Ola Testament
laws and institutions? it is because
they do not understand the laws
and institutiOnS which they
criticize. "Nothing ismore
cominon thah to hear from
until heaven and earth pass away, not
the smallest letter or stroke shall pass
away from the Law, until all (in
history) is fulfilled," Mat. 5: 1 7 f.
The Relation ofJesus to God's
Law in His Humiliation
"But when the fulness of time
came, God sent forth His Son, born of
LA Woo.," GaL 4:4, jesus was born
under God's Law as a subject. He
took upon Himself "the form of a
servant," and in so doing took the
sinner's place under the Law of
God. "He obeyed that law with a
personal, perfect and perpetual
obedience which the sinner could
not render, and so wrought a
perfect righteousness for the
sinner; and then He bare the
penalty of the broken law in His
8 COUNSEL. of Ch<l\ccd,on FchJ:\lary, 1997
Law-giver. He was the Law-giver
at Sinai, and the Law He then gave.
was holy, just and good, the
expression of His own holiness. It
therefore needed: no improvement
because of ethical and
imperfections, It was necessary to
brush aw;ty the traditions which
made the Law of none .effect."-
Shearer, pg. 4l.
The LegalistiC View
Some have interpreted the
Sermon on the Motmt legalistically.
They have made it into a sennon
teachingsalvation by works.and
human merit. . they tell us that the
Sermon on the Mount "Lve
like this and you become a
Christian." However, as' we
see, the Sermon. is a gospel of grace
teaching -us;' you 'are a
Christian by faith,
this is the way you will
live." This is the way
Christians are meant to live
in the kingdom of Christ.
lAs will become
obvious, my interpretation
of the Sermon on the
Mount is heavily
influenced by John
Shearer's book, THE
originally printed in 1906
by the Presbyterian
Committee of Publication,
Richmond, Va., and
reprinted in 1994 by the
Greenville Presbyterian
Theological Seminary
Press, P.O. Box 9279,
Greenville, S.c., 29604.
'Where and when did
these "traditions" Originate?
"They took form in the
intermediate period
between the Old and the
New. They were evidently
a growth by accretion,
(augmentation), and
usurpation; and pious
frauds helped to give them
their validity and authOrity ..
-- This tradition carried
with it supreme and
infallible authority ....
Though unwritten, its
main features were far
better known and far
oftener quoted than the
Scriptures themselves.
These constitutions, or
traditions of the elders,
were reduced to writing
some time in the earlier
centuries of the Christian
era---first the Jerusalem
Talmud and then the
Babylonish Talmud, which
expounded the Jerusalem
Talmud. These two, under
the names of Mishna and
the Gemara, have practiCally
superseded the Bible for the
Jews .... "-]. Shearer, pg. 16.
'''Opus operatum" gives
spiritual value to the mere correct
performance of an outward
. ordinance of worship.
4For an excellent explanation of
the perfection and unity of the
moral law of the Old Testament
and the New Testament see Greg
Third Annual
July 7-12, 1997
Virginia Wesleyan College Campus
Norfolk, Virginia
George Grant
A uthor, Educator
Author of over 20 books on a wide range
of subjects, he brings a wealth of
knowledge to share. As an avid reader
and director of King's Meadow Study
Center, applying Christian thought to all
areas of life is a top priority. He will
speak on Biblical leadership and
Tom Rose
Professor Emeritus, Author
Writer of economic and business
textbooks, he will set forth priuciples
and practical application of God' sWord
on these topics and as they relate- to
personal fmances. investing, entre-
prenu.nal endeavors. etc.
Steve Wilkins
Pastor, Historian
Not simply history, but a biblical
approach to it, makes for valuable
learning. He will set forth the practical
integration of God's truth in all of life
as evidenced in the Puritans.
Joe Kikasola
Law Professor
Knowledgeable on international policy.
he will lecture on the Middle East, a
Scriptural understanding' of languages.
nations, etc.
Herb Titus
Attorney, former Law School Dean
Returning from the political arena as a
vice-presidential candidate with the
U.S. Taxpayers Party, he will speak on
the current political scene and what
Christians can do to serve Christ in this
Doug Wilson
Pastor, Author, Educator
Aiming to assist students in Ulking
every thought captive to Christ, he will
lechlre in the area of apologetics and the
application of Christianity to culture.
Churches, parents, high school and
college students may request,
brochures from:
. Calvary Reformed
Presbyterian Church
. 403 Whealton Road
Hampton, VA 23666
(757) 826-5942
(757)825-5843 FAX
February, 1997 i' THE COUNSEL of Chalcedon i' 9