| || |The Berean Expositor Volume 52 - Page 84 of 207 Index | Zoom | |
Furthermore the doctrine contained in the Sermon on the Mount is certainly not
elementary. It is presented to those who had already believed and been instructed to
some degree. In view of the basic teaching given in John 3: to Nicodemus, it must be
true that His disciples who were listening, had already responded and put their faith in
"Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3: 3).
"Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of
God" (verse 5).
These statements definitely exclude unbelievers participating in the kingdom of
heaven. The sermon was evidently given about the middle of the Galilean ministry.
Verse 1 and 2 of Matt. 5: read:
"And seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain: and when He was set, His
disciples came unto Him: and he opened His mouth, and taught them, saying",
Who represent His disciples? We must remember that this sermon is given before
Matthew records the calling of the Twelve in chapter 10:, whereas in Luke, the Twelve
are called before his summary of the Sermon on the Mount (Luke 6: 13-16). Whether
His disciples consisted only of the two pairs of brothers He had called, or all the Twelve
we cannot be sure, but one thing is clear, these disciples were sitting nearest to Him as He
gave His teaching. In Luke's account a great multitude of people also came to hear Him
(Luke 6: 17). He "stood in the plain" of the A.V. should be rendered "He stood on a
level place" as the N.I.V., and this could have been on the side of the hill as He ascended.
The discourse was given largely for the instruction of the disciples, and we must keep this
constantly in mind as we ponder over each verse.
The word "blessed" occurs 9 times in verses 3-11. It is not the normal word, which is
eulogetos, but makarios which is difficult to render exactly in English. "Happy" comes
nearest to it and it is actually applied to God in I Tim. 1: 11 and 6: 15. There is no
copula (is or are) in these opening verses, so they be translated "happy the poor in spirit",
"happy those that mourn", etc. Or it could be rendered "O the happiness of . . . . .". The
word translated happy refers to bliss which is attached to each promise. Expositors
variously number these as 7, 8 or 9. They are 9 if verses 11 and 12 are considered as a
distinct and complete unit. They are 8 if verses 11 and 12 are regarded as expansions of
verse 10. They are 7 if the numbering is regulated by distinctions in the subject matter of
the promises. In the Gospel of Luke there is no question about the number, for here we
have 4 beatitudes and 4 woes.
Some of them seem to overlap, for the poor in spirit are most likely to be meek; those
who are merciful are likely to be peacemakers; those who hunger and thirst after
righteousness are likely to be pure in heart. Those who are persecuted for righteousness
sake will mourn for those who stoop to do this sort of thing and they will surely be
comforted. These verses are seeming paradoxes, for according to God's reckoning,
blessedness begins where man reckons that misery begins and there is nothing like this
teaching in Jewish or Gentile philosophy.