Matthew 5:1–2

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Persian miniature of the Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 5:1 and Matthew 5:2 are the first two verses of the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. The verses introduce the Sermon on the Mount that will be recited in the next several chapters. The previous verse mentioned the large crowds that came to see Jesus for healing, these verses has him go up into the mountain and begin preaching.

Text[edit]

The original Koine Greek, according to Westcott and Hort, reads:

1:ιδων δε τους οχλους ανεβη εις το ορος και
καθισαντος αυτου προσηλθαν [αυτω] οι μαθηται αυτου
2:και ανοιξας το στομα αυτου εδιδασκεν αυτους λεγων

In the King James Version of the Bible the text reads:

1: And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain:
and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
2: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

The World English Bible translates the passage as:

1: Seeing the multitudes, he went up onto the mountain.
When he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
2: He opened his mouth and taught them, saying,

For a collection of other versions see BibRef Matthew 5:1-2

Symbolism of the mountain[edit]

The reference to going up a mountain prior to preaching is considered by many to be a reference to Moses on Mount Sinai. Lapide feels that the clumsy phrasing implies that this verse is a transliteration from the Hebrew, and that it was an exact replica of a passage describing Moses.[1] Boring notes that the reference to Jesus sitting may be an allusion to Deuteronomy 9:9, where in some translations Moses is described as sitting on Mount Sinai.[2] St. Augustine in his commentary on the Sermon on the Mount supported the Moses parallel. He argued that this symbolism shows that Jesus is giving a new set of precepts to supplement those of Moses. In his later writings, such as the Reply to Faustus, he backs away from this view.

Other scholars reject the link with Moses. Hill disagrees, arguing that if this had been intended as a reference to Exodus then the author of Matthew would have made the links far clearer.[3] Hare also takes a different view. He reads the sequence of Jesus sitting, the disciples approaching, and then talking as depicting Jesus regally with the disciples approaching him as would subjects at a royal court. To Hare the reference to a mountain might thus be a reference to Mount Zion of David rather than of Sinai.[4]

There are no actual mountains in Galilee, but there are several large hills in the region to the west of the Sea of Galilee. There are a number of hills that have traditionally been claimed as the site of the sermon, but the best known is the one today known as the Mount of Beatitudes. A number of scholars do not feel "the mountain" is the most accurate understanding of the phrase. Gundry feels it could mean "mountainous region",[5] while France feels it should be read as "went up into the hills."[6] Nolland notes that "mountainous region' is another option for translating the phrase, though he believes "a mountain" is still the most accurate translation.[7] Boring notes that this move to the mountains has been read as Jesus fleeing the crowds mentioned in Matthew 4:25. Many arguments about the nature of Jesus' mission and his psychology have been read into this avoidance of crowds. Boring disagrees, and believes the move to the hills is present only as a Mosaic parallel.[8]

The introduction to the Sermon on the Plain also has Jesus go up into a mountain in Luke 6:12, but he goes there merely to pray and descends before beginning his preaching. Some scholars have tried to reconcile the two accounts, with one proposal being that the sermon was delivered on a flat plain part-way up a mountain. Davies and Allison reject such an approach, as Luke made clear that Jesus descended prior to the speech. Davies and Allison also consider such reconciliation unnecessary as the sermon is a general summary of Jesus' teachings and was likely preached on many occasions.[9]

Starting of the sermon[edit]

This verse is the first place where the word disciples appears in the Gospel of Matthew. Its exact meaning is unclear. Some feel that it refers only to the small group of Jesus' followers, and that the Sermon was only directed to them. Albright and Mann support this view.[10] Gundry feels that, at least in this verse, disciples has a much broader meaning and refers to any who came to hear Jesus, he feels the word is used interchangeably in this section with crowds.[11] Matthew 7:28 makes clear the general crowd was listening to the Sermon. That Jesus sits down might indicate this is not meant to be a public address. Hill notes that Jewish leaders in schools and synagogues would always sit when delivering a lesson.[12] Lachs disagrees with this, arguing that while sitting was a standard teaching position in the later half of the first century, in the early part of the century the tradition was to always stand while teaching to the Torah.[13] Luke makes no mention of whether Jesus is sitting or standing. The traditional view, as depicted in art, is that the disciples sat near Jesus, with the crowd beyond but still able to hear. Lapide feels that Jesus' sermon is directed at three circles of listeners, his disciples, the crowd, and the world in general.[14] Chrysostom was of the opinion that the sermon itself was delivered to the disciples, but that it was intended for wider distribution, which is why it was written down.[15]

"Opened his mouth" was a common Semitic expression at the time, well attested in literature from the period. In the New Testament it also appears Acts 8:35 and 10:34. Gundry feels that this is a reference to Matthew 4:4 that mentions "every word out of the mouth of God." Gundry thus feels that this turn of phrase is meant to imply that the Sermon are words spoken by God.[16] Luke's Sermon on the Plain opens with Jesus "lifting up his eyes", and the two phrases might be related.[17]

Harrington notes that this is one of only two times in the Gospel that Jesus is described as teaching. Both reference the Sermon on the Mount, with the other reference at Matthew 7:29.[18] Though Nolland notes that Matthew does not contain the same extensive John/Jesus parallels as Mark.[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lapide, Pinchas. The Sermon on the Mount, Utopia or Program for Action? translated from the German by Arlene Swidler. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1986.
  2. ^ Boring, Eugene "Gospel of Matthew." The New Interpreter's Bible, volume 8 Abingdon, 1995 p. 175
  3. ^ Hill, David. The Gospel of Matthew. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981
  4. ^ Hare, Douglas R. A. Matthew. Interpretation, a Bible commentary for teaching and preaching. Westminster John Knox Press, 1993 p. 35
  5. ^ Gundry, Robert H. Matthew a Commentary on his Literary and Theological Art. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982.
  6. ^ France, R.T. The Gospel According to Matthew: an Introduction and Commentary. Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1985.
  7. ^ Nolland, John. The Gospel of Matthew: a commentary on the Greek text. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2005 p. 192
  8. ^ Boring, Eugene "Gospel of Matthew." The New Interpreter's Bible, volume 8 Abingdon, 1995 p. 175
  9. ^ Davies, W.D. and Dale C. Allison, Jr. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew. Edinburgh : T. & T. Clark, 1988-1997. p. 63
  10. ^ Albright, W.F. and C.S. Mann. "Matthew." The Anchor Bible Series. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1971.
  11. ^ Gundry, Robert H. Matthew a Commentary on his Literary and Theological Art. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982.
  12. ^ Hill, David. The Gospel of Matthew. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981
  13. ^ Lachs, Samuel Tobias. "Some Textual Observations on the Sermon on the Mount." The Jewish Quarterly Review, 1978 p. 100
  14. ^ Lapide, Pinchas. The Sermon on the Mount, Utopia or Program for Action? translated from the German by Arlene Swidler. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1986.
  15. ^ Chrysostom, John "Homilies on Matthew: Homily VI". circa fourth century.
  16. ^ Gundry, Robert H. Matthew a Commentary on his Literary and Theological Art. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982.
  17. ^ Hill, David. The Gospel of Matthew. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981
  18. ^ Harrington, Daniel J. The Gospel of Matthew. Liturgical Press, 1991 p. 66
  19. ^ Nolland, John. The Gospel of Matthew: a commentary on the Greek text. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2005 p. 169


Preceded by
Matthew 4:25
Gospel of Matthew
Chapter 5
Succeeded by
Matthew 5:3