Studies In

The Sermon on the Mount

                         THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT -- LESSON ELEVEN
                               "Jesus and the Old Testament"
                                      Matthew 5:17-20



  A. In the first division of the sermon on the mount Jesus set forth the
      character and blessedness of citizens in the kingdom of heaven
      (5:3-12), and their relationship to the world (5:13-16).

  B. Matthew 5:17-20 serves as a preface to the second division of his
      sermon, which deals with the righteousness of the kingdom. (5:21-7:12.)


  A. This lesson defines the vital relationship of the old and new

  B. In it Jesus teaches the abiding value of the Old Testament and he
      also establishes the fact that it was to pass away by fulfillment, not
      by destruction.

  C. Jesus did not come to destroy the purpose of the law, but to clarify
      and fulfil its purpose.  He came to "fulfil" the scriptures.  (Matthew
      26:53,54,56; Luke 24:44-47.)

  D. Jesus actually kept, upheld, and attempted to correct
      misunderstandings and wrong attitudes toward the law, but did
      not leave it in force. (Romans 7:4.)

  E. Six times in the sermon on the mount Jesus said, "Ye have heard
      it said...but I say unto you..."  In each case he contrasted "the
      righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees" with the righteousness
      required in the kingdom of heaven.

  F. God showed on the mount of transfiguration Jesus came not as
      Moses' interpreter but as his replacement. (Matt. 17:1-8.)

  G. Jesus gave "the perfect law, the law of liberty," in the place of the
      law of Moses. (James 1:25.)



  A. To fulfil:  "Think not that I came to destroy the law or the
      prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfil." (17)

  B. The first part of the sermon was in such contrast to the teaching of
      the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus felt it necessary to utter this word
      of explanation to prevent some from misunderstanding what

  C. Jesus came to fulfil the types and prophecies concerning him in the
      Old Testament scriptures. (Luke 24:44-47; Matthew 26:53,54,56).

  D. He came to fulfil the purpose of the law concerning himself.
      (Galatians 3:23-25).

  E. "To destroy the law would be more than to abrogate it for it was
      both a system of statues designed for the ends of government, and
      a system of types foreshadowing the kingdom of Christ.  To destroy
      it, therefore, would be both to abrogate its statues and to prevent
      the fulfillment of its types.  The former, Jesus eventually did; the
      latter, he did not.  As regards the prophets, the only way to destroy
      them would be to prevent the fulfillment of the predictions
      contained in them.  Instead of coming to destroy either the law or
      the prophets, Jesus came to fulfil all the types of the former, and
      (eventually) all the unfulfilled predictions of the latter." -- J.W.
      McGarvey, Commentary on Matthew, p.52.

  F. Burton Coffman comments that "the difference in fulfilling and
      destroying the Law of Moses was about the same as the difference
      between paying off a promissory note and repudiating it.  In
      either case it is effectively removed." -- Coffman, Commentary on
      Matthew, p.59.

  G. Jesus took the law out of the way (Colossians 2:14-16), not by
      violating or repudiating it, but by fulfilling it.


  A. One jot or tittle:  "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and
      earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass
      away from the law, till all things be accomplished."  (18)
     1.   The "jot" and "tittle" were the smallest character and marking,
           of letters in the Hebrew alphabet.

     2.   Jesus upheld the law given through Moses in its entirety--
           teaching that it would remain in force until "all things be

     3.   He affirmed that no part of the law would pass, or could be
           disregarded, until God's purpose in giving it had been
           completed. (cf. Hebrews 2:1-3.)

  B. It is still wise and profitable to study the Old Testament.  (Romans

     1.   The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed; 
           the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.

     2.   The Old Testament is inspired history of the creation; etc.

     3.   The Old Testament confirms the divinity and purpose of Jesus

     4.   The Old Testament shows the wisdom of living a godly life.

     5.   The Old Testament reveals the certain consequences of
           disobedience. (1 Corinthians 10:1-13.)

       (Verse 19.)

  A. Break vs. do:  "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these
      least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be
      called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall
      do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the
      kingdom of heaven." (19)

  B. The person who lived under the law and broke what he considered
      the least commandment, would be equally disrespectful and
      unloving toward God under the law of his Son, Jesus Christ.

  C. The person who did not feel obligated to keep or teach respect for
      the law God gave through Moses and the prophets would be
      considered least in the kingdom of heaven because of the same low
      regard for the word of God.

  D. Disobedience springs from unbelief and results in condemnation.

  E. Jesus placed "doing" before "teaching," and showed great respect
      for the law of God by both doing and teaching it faithfully.

      CHRIST.  (Verse 20.)

  A. Exceed:  "For I say unto you, That except your righteousness
      shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye
      shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew

     1.   The Pharisees and scribes were models of righteousness as far
           as outward performance was concerned, and in their own
           estimation.  Some of the best of God's children then were
           among the Pharisees.

     2.   But citizens of Christ's kingdom must exceed or go beyond

  B. Things commendable in the Pharisees.

     1.   They lived separated, or clean, lives outwardly.  But they were
           not so clean inwardly.  (Luke 18:9-12; Matthew 19:16-22; 23:25-28.)

     2.   They studied the scriptures.  But some of them did not have
           the love of God in their hearts.  (John 5:39-42.)

     3.   They attended worship.  But some of them sought the chief
           seats, notoriety, etc.  (Matthew 23:6; 6:1; 23:6.)

     4.   They prayed, at times to be heard of men (Matthew 6:5); and
           tithed some things, while neglecting weightier matters of the
           law.  (Matthew 23:23.)

     5.   They zealously sought to win others  (Matthew 23:15); but not
           to make them citizens of God's kingdom--merely to gain

  C. Carroll Ellis listed some things Jesus condemned in the Pharisees: 
      (Gospel Advocate, 9/10/64.)

     1.   They "sounded trumpets," or "blew horns."  (Matthew 6:2.)

     2.   They "threw wrenches" (Mark 3:1-6; etc.), but were utterly
           without a spirit of mercy.

     3.   They "twisted phrases"  (Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13), making
           void God's word by tradition, or in such matters of "corban."

     4.   They strained gnats, while swallowing camels.  (Matthew

     5.   They had a fault-finding spirit.  (Matthew 7:1-4.)


I.   Though one may enter the kingdom now having less righteousness of
      his own than some Pharisees, he must become superior to them in
      righteousness to abide in it and to receive its blessed promises now
      and eternally.  (1 Timothy 1:15.)

II.  Much of the sermon on the mount which follows this point is a
     presentation of the righteousness required in Christ's kingdom in
     contrast with both the righteousness of the law and the Pharisaic
     perversions of the law.

III. When we love and teach as Jesus loved and taught (Romans 13:10),
  God's law for us is fulfilled.

IV.  Let us "strive to enter in by the narrow door."  (Luke 13:24.)
                                                                         -- Charles Crouch

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