In Matthew 5:17-48 Jesus is teaching a new way to look at the Old Testament Laws of Moses. For those listening to this sermon for the first time this message was a radically different understanding of The Law. As you read these verses, please understand Jesus was teaching not just a change of behavior but a change of heart!
Jesus took six important Old Testament laws and interpreted them for His people in the light of the new life He came to give – He made a fundamental change without altering God’s standards: He dealt with the attitudes and intents of the heart and not simply with the external action. The Pharisees said that righteousness consisted of performing certain actions, but Jesus said it centered in the attitudes of the heart. Likewise, with sin: The Pharisees had a list of external actions that were sinful, but Jesus explained that sin came from the attitudes of the heart.
Beginning with verse 21, six sections take up the rest of Matthew Chapter 5, and they all begin in much the same way. Notice this pattern as you take turns reading aloud the first two verses in each section: 21-22, 27-28, 31-32, 33-34, 38-39, and 43-44. From what you see in these verses, what is Jesus criticizing: the Old Testament law, or the people’s understanding of the Old Testament law? Answer each of the next questions by telling us what the Old Testament had to say about the commandment and what do you think Jesus is teaching about that commandment in these verses.
21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
1. Which of the Ten Commandments is this verse teaching about? How is Jesus’ teaching different than the teaching of the Pharisees?
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
2. Which of the Ten Commandments is this verse teaching about? How is Jesus’ teaching different than the teaching of the Pharisees?
31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.
3. Where in the Old Testament do you find this commandment about divorce? What do you think Jesus is saying is the difference between what Moses commanded and Jesus’ teaching? As you consider the questions on divorce, look at the attachment that presents a more detailed look at divorce in Jesus’ day and how it may viewed today.
33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ 34 But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne;
4. Where in the Old Testament do you find this commandment about oaths or swearing? How is Jesus teaching on this commandment different from the Pharisees?
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
5. This is a difficult commandment for anyone but especially young people. What do you think Jesus meant by these verses? With so much violence from retaliation among young people, how can these verses help start a revolution with teenagers today?
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
6. Although there was no Old Testament commandment to hate one’s enemies, the Pharisees taught that one should love his friends and hate his enemies. Why was Jesus’ teaching on loving one’s enemies so important? Give some reasons why you think the Savior wants us to love our enemies?
7. In verse 17, Jesus said He came to fulfill the Old Testament Scriptures, and not to destroy or abolish them. What ways can you think of in which Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament, and why are these important?
8. In your own words, how would you explain the meaning of verse 48?
9. If Jesus did not come to abolish or destroy the Old Testament Scriptures, does that mean they still apply to us today? Explain your answer.
10. How could you use verses 23-24 to help someone who told you about an offense that was committed against him by another Christian brother or sister?



The Sermon on the Mount is the title given to Jesus’ moral and ethical teachings as recorded in Matt 5 through 7.
The Sermon on the Mount was brought on by Jesus’ growing popularity (Matt 4:25). At first, the people were attracted to Him because of His healing ministry. When Jesus began to teach, the people remained to hear what He said. They also were impressed with the authority with which He taught. Although many people heard the Sermon on the Mount, it was primarily directed to Jesus’ followers or disciples.
The central theme of the Sermon is summarized in Matt 5:48, “You shall be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” The word perfect does not refer to sinless or moral perfection. It means completeness, wholeness, maturity-being all that God wants a person to be. It is a goal that is never attained in our earthly life, but it continuously challenges us to greater achievements for the Lord.
The Beatitudes (5:2-12). Jesus began His teachings by stating the way to happiness. The word blessed is appropriately translated as “happy.” The poor in spirit, those who recognize their spiritual poverty, will attain the kingdom of heaven. Those who mourn, who are truly sorry for their sins, will receive comfort. The meek, those who have disciplined strength, will inherit the earth. The quest for righteousness will be satisfied. The merciful will receive mercy; the pure in heart will see and understand the heart of God; the peacemakers shall be called God’s children. And those who endure persecution for doing God’s commands will inherit the kingdom of God.
The Beatitudes are the eight declarations of blessedness made by Jesus at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:3-12), each beginning with “Blessed are…” Some scholars speak of seven, nine, or ten beatitudes, but the number appears to be eight (verses 10-12 of Matthew 5 being one beatitude).
The Greek word translated blessed means “spiritual well-being and prosperity,” the deep joy of the soul. The blessed have a share in salvation, and have entered the kingdom of God, experiencing a foretaste of heaven. Some scholars render each beatitude as an exclamation: “O the bliss [or blessedness] of…”
The Beatitudes describe the ideal disciple, and his rewards, both present and future. The person whom Jesus describes in this passage has a different quality of character and lifestyle than those still “outside the kingdom.”
As a literary form, the beatitude is also found often in the Old Testament, especially in the Psalms (1:1; 34:8; 65:4; 128:1), and often in the New Testament also (John 20:29; 14:22; James 1:12; Rev 14:13)..
Influence (5:14-16). Jesus used two symbols, salt and light, to describe the influence that His followers should have on the world. Salt has a preserving quality, and light clears away the darkness. Salt and light bring about noticeable changes, but they are seldom noticed themselves.
(from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright © 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)




After declaring the arrival of a new kind of kingdom, Jesus had to teach how citizens of the new kingdom must act. The Sermon on the Mount began Jesus’ preaching and teaching ministry by our Lord using contrast and compare to show the difference between citizens of his kingdom and those of the world. When Jesus preached this sermon his listeners understood he was talking about the world of Rome but now we must apply this masterpiece sermon to living in the world today.
Read the background handout on the first page and prepare to answer the following questions. Let’s meet Jesus again for the first time as the master preacher!

  1. Where did Jesus preach the Sermon on the Mount? Why is called The Sermon on the Mount?
  2. Who was in the audience that heard the Sermon on the Mount? Who was Jesus’ main audience for the Sermon? From which mountain did he preach the Sermon?
  3. What made Jesus so popular that he had to preach the Sermon on the Mount? What Scripture in Matthew shows why Jesus became so popular?
  4. What is the definition of beatitude? Which language did it come from?
  5. Where is the first beatitude in the Old Testament? Where are some beatitudes in the New Testament?

Sisters and brothers our beliefs and values as Christians do matter. As disciples of Jesus and citizens of his kingdom on earth our beliefs and our values must show through our actions. In other words, “we can’t just talk the talk we must walk the walk!”
On the next page is a chart of the Beatitudes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount that has the number of each of our groups. Each group will look at the values from Jesus and the opposite values from the world to each of the Beatitudes. Each group is asked to suggest the opposite value to each Beatitude value from Jesus that the world accepts and even expects but that Jesus asks us to reject.
We will discuss the values present on the list of Beatitudes and the opposite values that each group added to their chart. Please see the chart on the next page.
MATTHEW 5:3-10 & INFLUENCE 13-16
GROUP Jesus’ Values Opposite values of the World
Matthew 5:3
are poor in spirit
Matthew 5:4
“the beautiful people”
Matthew 5:5
are meek
Matthew 5:6
hunger for righteousness
“well adjusted”
Matthew 5:7
are merciful
“able to take care of themselves”
Matthew 5:8
are pure in heart
Matthew 5:9
are peacemakers
Matthew 5:10
are persecuted because of righteousness
“don’t rock the boat”
Matthew 5:13
Salt is symbolic of flavor and something that preserves
Bitter, too sweet,
Matthew 5:14-16
Light is used to see what’s there in the dark and show the way
Darkness, confusion, fear
(From the Teacher’s Commentary by Lawrence O. Richards, 1987)