Beatitudes & Mercy
Sozo Short Bible Study – Category #1 – Christian Life Basics
This study not only covers the deep meaning behind each of the Beatitudes, but also covers why Mercy is so important to Jesus as well as why it should become a priority within our “love walk.”
By Pastor G. E. Newmyer
“And seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain: and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him” (5:1).
Moses went to the mountain alone, but Jesus takes the people to the Mountain. If we desire to follow Jesus up this Mountain, we must say to the destroying mountain, “Be Gone.” The Law of Moses had two mountains: one for blessing and one as the destroying mountain of the curse. Jesus used One Mountain for Mercy, and One for Grace (Mount of Transfiguration); however, we must follow Jesus up the Mount of Olives to obtain our Mercy.
The metaphor “Olive” points to the Anointing; and here we find that if we want the anointing to flow, we must walk in Mercy. There is an anointing for The Offices, one for The Law, and one over the Prophets; but there is also one based in Mercy and one within us, based in Grace. “Positional authority” dictates which anointing is working at the moment. Here Jesus teaches them how to maintain, or how to “go and sin no more.”
These areas of Mercy are the mainstay for them to/who “do the will of the Father.” They show us that Jesus operated in Mercy, the forgiveness of sin on the earth. As yet, the Door to heaven was not open; and their sins were forgiven on earth. But only the Sacrifice of Jesus could bring forgiveness and Remission from heaven. This also gives the connection between Mercy and Grace, since Grace is the Kingdom of God. Then Mercy relates to the kingdom of heaven. Mercy is our mainstay to keep us in line to walk in the Kingdom of God; thus we are in the kingdom of heaven, while the Kingdom of God is within. The only difference between a “vessel of honor” and one of dishonor is Mercy: one grants it, the other does not. “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” Romans 9:21 (KJV)
“And He opened His mouth and taught them saying,”… (5:2).
Beginning with Matthew 5:3, some call these areas “The Beatitudes,” meaning “The Blessing Attitude” or “The Attitude to gain the Blessing.” Mercy, being the center of the Will of the Father, shows that these “deeds of Mercy are Commandments,” not “suggestions.” Jesus will call them “The Least Commandments,” but it doesn’t refer to them being less, it means they are the least we can do.
Moses went up the hill, gained the Tablets of stone, came down and found the people engaged in idol worship. Jesus goes up the mount to show the people how to cast down idols. The children in the wilderness cried all the time for food; while Jesus fasted. The children lost; and Jesus won. The children attacked God and the man of God; while Jesus stood with God as the Son of man. The children heard the Ten Commandments and demanded a man to stand between them and God. Jesus, as the Mediator will stand for all these people, as well as for us. The Law of Moses became a barrier; Jesus is breaking down barriers. Moses had a Law with both cursing and blessing; Jesus won’t even mention the word “curse.” The Law of Moses was mandatory, where one either did it (performed the mandates of the law) or was cursed. Here Jesus is presenting, “if you want to be free, here are the keys.” If not, at least you can’t say the keys weren’t offered. Jesus begins by showing that there is a Blessing waiting for anyone who reaches out to Jesus.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (5:3).
The word “Blessed” is the Greek “Makarioi” meaning Fully Satisfied; it entails a progressive mode, rather than a static one. The word “Poor” here, is the Greek “Ptochios” meaning Poor and unable to do anything about it, not just lacking. The figure of speech “poor in spirit” is also a Jewish idiom meaning “without hope,” or without reason for hope. Jesus shows that if we are “Called of God,” we have Hope. The phrase, “poor in spirit” also reads, “Humble in Heart”; however, in this we find, that the metaphor “Heart” points to Spirit, and these people were still under the hand of the spirit of man, thus it was making them “poor.” But the promise of the Kingdom is at hand; thus its still, “receive Mercy, to find Grace.”
“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (5:4).
Instead of rejoicing over the fall of others, we mourn. If we mourn, God will comfort us. This also reaches to “The Remnant”; Jesus is still Lord of both Seasons. Mourning is just the opposite of rejoicing over the iniquity of others. Pride will rejoice over the failure of others; but those who mourn over the failure of others are those who have compassion. Compassion and Mercy are sisters; they belong to the same family.
“Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth” (5:5).
To inherit the earth doesn’t mean we possess the planet; this blessing connects to Psalm 37 where we find two groups of those who are Meek. We also learn what Meek means, as well as find out what the metaphor “Earth” means: “Those who wait on the Lord shall inherit the earth.” (Ps 37) & “But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of Peace.” So, those who “delight themselves in the abundance of Peace,” shall also inherit the earth (Ps 37:11). This isn’t “peace” by itself, but the “abundance of Peace,” which entails Peace with God. The Jews are known by the metaphor “Sand of the Sea,” while the Gentiles are known by the metaphor “Sea”; but here we find the word Earth. The verse doesn’t say the Meek will inherit the Sea, or the Sand of the Sea, nor does it say the Heavens. The metaphor Earth relates to the “kingdom of heaven”; thus part of the teaching relates to the kingdom of heaven, not the planet earth, or the “world”.
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (5:6).
Clearly the context of these attributes of the proper attitude, point to the heart; and here it points to the basis to obtain the Kingdom of God and the Righteousness of Jesus. God’s Mercy gives us the position to seek the Grace of God; while the basis of Mercy is the ability to forgive and much of what Jesus is teaching us here, is how to forgive and why. It’s interesting how Jesus said “hunger and thirst,” making a reference to the Body and Blood of Jesus.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy (5:7).
Here is the heart of the matter: Jesus didn’t say, Blessed are the Graceful, rather this points to Mercy. Mercy is an attitude where one is ready to forgive, before there is a cause. This also shows a Process which is, in order to get Mercy, we have to make the decision to give it.
This principle is true with regard to a great many things in the kingdom of heaven. Our first act of Mercy is, “forgiving everyone”; but let’s face it, there are people in our past and perhaps in our life now, whom we are hard pressed to forgive. What should we do? If we don’t forgive, we won’t obtain Mercy, and we won’t be blessed.
Imputing: blessed is the person to whom God does not impute sin; but we’re blessed when we impute forgiveness on others. The decision comes first, where we want to do it because it’s the right thing to do; but we must first impute, thus, “we pray for them.” It may take some doing, or time; but as we enter therein, we find the Mercy of God beginning to flow and then comes the ability, then the freedom. Mercy is a Key, if we “loose” people by forgiving them, then God will loose His Mercy on us. If we bind people by refusing to forgive them, then we have bound God’s Mercy in heaven from us, which is great Incentive.
“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (5:8).
The word “Pure” used here means, “To Become Pure By Washing,” which points to the “Washing of the Water by the Word.” The metaphor “Water” points to Mercy; this verse shows that Mercy isn’t a “one- time endeavor,” rather, in order to remain Balanced, we must hold both Mercy and Grace.
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (5:9).
The word “Peacemaker” is not to be confused with some form of world peace keeper. This connects to God’s Wisdom, “and the fruit of Righteousness is sown in Peace of them who make Peace” (James 3:18). This type of Peace is a Peace with God, by making peace with the brethren. This is not a peace between nations of the world or making peace in the world. The rebuke for lacking this type of Peace is, “from whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (James 4:1). James points to this very issue and later Jesus will show that when two or three are gathered together in His name, there He is which relates to making Peace between one another. The enemy knows that ungodly “division” is not only carnal, but it’s very destructive. Ungodly division is a gate of hell, it hinders and causes people to go in other directions. If we spend most of our time fighting each other, how much time is left for the work of the Lord?
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (5:10).
God doesn’t “Persecute” us; the word Persecute means “To Run Behind With Hot Breath”; thus God is not behind us with hot breath, but the “he that is in the world,” is. The Righteousness of God will always offend those who use self-righteousness (Rom 10:3-4). God does bring affliction; the word “Affliction” means “To Rub in Pain,” but the pain is not to destroy us, but to expose the dangers that come from using the works of the devil. If we jump from mountain top to mountain top, where is faith? If we seek pleasure alone, where is praise? We are not persecuted for self-righteousness, but for the Sake Of God’s Righteousness. We gain God’s Righteousness after we seek the Kingdom of God, not before. Cults think that they are persecuted for their righteousness; but they confuse being rebuked for error with righteousness, and there is a vast difference.
“Blessed are you, when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (5:11-12)
This “sake” isn’t about “all manner of evil against theology,” or “saying things of truth, though painful.” Is it in regard to a direct attack against the anointing, or something which is antichrist in nature attacking our stand in Mercy? From the verse, we can assume that this involves “falsely” for the “Sake” of Jesus; the word “Sake” means “Because Of” and includes the purpose, or what caused the attack. Theology doesn’t disrupt the world, in fact, the world enjoys much of man’s theology; it’s the “Ways of Jesus” that offend the unbeliever. Love covers a multitude of sins, but it also exposes unbelief in others.
The meaning of the word “Righteousness” (5:10) goes further than “Right Standing”; it includes being Just In a Perfect Position. Thus Mercy grants us Right Standing on earth; but being perfect in Mercy is not the same as being Perfect in Grace. Grace is a position, granting us Right Standing in heaven. Mercy is supernatural while Grace is spiritual. Mercy gives us a condition, whereas, Grace gives us a position of spiritual effectiveness. Mercy comes from making Jesus our Savior, while Grace comes, as Jesus is our Lord (Romans 1:3-4); thus no one calls Jesus Lord but by the Holy Ghost (I Cor 12:3).
The word “Stand” has several meanings, all of which pertain to “when you have done all to Stand, Stand therefore” (Eph 6:13-14). We Stand by understanding the position and condition (Eph 1:13, 1:19, 2:2, 2:8-9, 2:14-15, 2:18, 3:7, 3:12, 4:1, 4:17, 4:22-24 & 4:26-5:2). The word “Stand” means, “to take an upright position, remain stable, unchanged, to remain without wavering, not disturbed by events, to withstand, to tolerate, to encounter and resist, to refuse complacency, to defend, and to maintain a course.” When we have done all to Stand, then we can Stand.
The word “Rejoice,” means To Be Full Of Cheer, which entails holding Cheer in the face of adversity. This is not a mask of joy to cover the anger, rather, this is obtaining the Joy of the Lord to avoid the anger. The quickest way to lose clarity and discernment, is to get mad. Once anger comes, Mercy goes out the window. The phrase “Exceeding Glad” means “Jump High For Joy”; thus it’s not just jumping, but where we’re jumping to. We can jump from the frying pan into the fire, or jump to reach Jesus. This phrase indicates being lifted by our joy, or jumping “by Joy,” above the event. It’s our Joy causing us to jump; thus it’s not jumping to find joy, but the joy causing us to jump.
“You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men.” (5:13)
Salt preserves and adds flavor; but it’s made up from two elements. Salt is also known as Sodium Chloride; and either of these compounds alone will kill us. But together, they add zest to our food; more important they “Preserve.” Lot’s wife became the salt of the earth, but in her case she lacked the chloride, becoming a pile of waste (sodium). This verse, above all others, shows the importance of the “change in natures” taking place in us by the Engrafted Word. The earth is Preserved by those who walk in Mercy; remove them, and it falls apart. The Engrafted Word is bringing God’s Mercy as a part of our nature; we will learn to do “by (New) Nature,” what Christ did by His Nature.
The phrase, Lose His Savor, means to become Foolish or Insipid. Insipid means Lacking Interest, or losing the proper attitude. Paul used the same Greek word translated as, “Lost His Savor” in I Corinthians 1:20, only there it was translated as “Foolish” in the phrase, “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (I Cor 1:20). The comparison points out, how losing one’s salt causes one to use the wisdom of the world, resulting in foolishness in the manner in which they deal with events and people.
“You are the Light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.” (5:14)
Were these people “the Light?” Hardly; the Light is Jesus; their Light didn’t come until the New Birth. These are teachings sent to two groups: first, was the preserving of the Earth, now it’s a “city.” There are two Lights: the Greater Light of the Day and the Lesser Light of the Night. Thus we find two groups in Mercy, but only one who has Grace.
Jesus said, “I Am the Vine and you are the branches…” (Jn 15:1-5). Jesus added, “I am the Light of the world: he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the Light of life” (Jn 8:12). The Light of Life is the Greater Light; yet in order to Follow Jesus we must first “deny the self and pick up our cross.” Before we can deny the self we have to prepare the ground by the attitudes of Mercy. Mercy is something the old man hates; he will use excuses, makes his calls for justice, vindictiveness, or validation; but his methods are always self-based. The Mercy of God is granted to those who ask forgiveness of their sins, or who receive forgiveness of their sins; in either case, once this step is accomplished, the ability to walk in Mercy is granted.
“Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel but on a candlestick; and it gives light unto all that are in the house (5:15).”
Our Light is not to be used for destruction; nor is our liberty to be flaunted before people. Light draws those who seek the Light, but it also causes some to flee based on their fear of the Light. Those who love darkness more than Light will attack the Light; but they will never defeat it. We have the Light Switch in our hand; turn it on and the Light shines, shut it off and fall prey to the darkness.
“Let your Light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (5:16)
Here we find that The Light is Mercy-based, since it’s related to “good works” and the “Father.” When we find “The Father” mentioned, it usually relates to Mercy, while “Grace” is connected to Jesus as the Son of God, remembering that the ability to perform Grace is by the Gift given by the Holy Ghost…. one God all in all. The Greater Light is then connected to Mercy and Grace; the Lesser Light to Mercy.
“Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the Prophets: I am not come to destroy but to fulfill.” (5:17)
There were two ways to claim fulfillment: Jesus could have told them, “the Law of Moses is dead”, but this wouldn’t be the case since it’s the very product by which those who do the Law are judged. The Law is also one of the Two Witnesses in the Night; thus Jesus isn’t doing away with the Law, rather He is presenting “another Law” for those who desire to be spiritual in nature, which gives us the second way… we complete the Law by imputing death by the Cross of Jesus. The word Fulfill means “to Complete, or Bring to Its Intended Purpose.” The Law of Moses only benefits one until the death of the doer, upon which it turns and becomes the judge of the doer. The Cross provided a way to complete the Law of Moses while we yet are alive, thus we can be considered dead, making the Power of the Resurrection available to us now.
Both the Law and Commandments are nailed to the Cross; they were hand-writings against us (Col 2:14-16). Only someone with an ego as big as the earth would think they did all the Commandments to the letter. The Commandments were never “try, try again”, they were “thou shall”, meaning if we violated one, we violated them all. Did you ever want something that someone else had, just because? Thou shall not covet.
“For verily, I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled.” (5:18)
This is conditional upon heaven and earth being intact; but it also shows a time of “passing.” Thus the Law of Moses will pass, when All is fulfilled. This has to connect to, “it’s appointed unto all men once to die, then comes the judgment.” It’s important to keep in mind how the Law of Moses is only beneficial until death, then it becomes the judge of the doer. If all physical life has ceased and the Judgment passed, there is no need for the Law. However, the Law of the Spirit continues on.
“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.” (5:19)
This verse of Scripture points to someone who teaches us to ignore Mercy (which is done by teaching others to seek vengeance, or make flesh and blood our enemy). Paul told us that there is an element to the “Ministry of Reconciliation” connected to Mercy. In II Corinthians, Chapter 5 we find, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, Not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” (II Cor 5:19)
We see that “The Word of Reconciliation is committed unto us” and it connects to, “And be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you” (Eph 4:32). We imputed death by the Cross to receive the Mercy of God. We are then expected not to impute sins on people; rather we impute Mercy.
The word “Break” doesn’t mean to “Violate,” rather it means to “Dissolve.” To Dissolve means to cast down, or attempt to do away with, or to ignore. We can teach faith for hours, then turn around and teach people how to get even with other people, finding ourselves in violation of this Commandment. Nonetheless there is something vital here; they shall be called “least in the kingdom of heaven.” Yet the Least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John! Therefore, John was greater than all those before him, including Elijah, David, Moses, or Noah. How much more do we have if we walk in the Mercy and Grace of Christ?
“But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” (5:22)
“Be angry and sin not,” let not your anger speak or act for you. Jesus gives us the first of the least Commandments, instead of saying, “Moses said,” or “So saith the Lord,” He begins with, “I say unto you”; thereby, as the Son of man He is over-riding the prior Law of Moses with a Proceeding Word of Mercy. He will couple this area with His position as the Son of God in Grace: Therefore we come to the throne of Grace to Obtain Mercy and Find Grace . . . “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
Paul used this same area in telling the Ephesians how to Stand: “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” (Eph 4:26). Paul’s use of the phrase, “Let not the sun go down,” doesn’t mean we can keep the anger until night falls; rather it means to act Quickly in Mercy, before “The Night” comes. Anger is destructive; it doesn’t care who it hurts. We are to confine our anger to sin and what it does, but we are not to take anger out on the sinner, nor are we to allow anger to guide or instruct us.
The word Fool used here is the Greek “Moros,” but the context is based on using it from a position of anger, not just saying it. Jesus said, “And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand.” (Matt 7:26)
Proverbs talks more about the fool, than the wise man. When speaking about the ten virgins, Jesus says five were Foolish, and He used the same Greek word: “And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.” (Matt 25:2) Paul used this Greek word several times, in writing to Titus, he said, “But avoid foolish questions.” (Titus 3:9)
In writing to Timothy Paul also said, “But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.” (II Tim 2:23)
Then in writing to the Corinthians Paul would say, “Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (I Cor 1:20); and a few verses later we see, “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men.” (I Cor 1:25. Then we see, “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise……” (I Cor 1:27).
Paul also called the Galatians foolish; thus the context in Matthew shows that the intent is based in Anger, as well as saying the person is without God (godless) rather than simply using the words Fool or Raca. Both Jesus and Paul called people “fools”; however, neither used anger as their intent, and neither used the Greek Moros, thus their intent was to bring exposure unto correction to bring perfection.
One who speaks in anger must seek to amend, but this same one has also to recognize how their anger motivated them. If we speak from our anger or allow our anger to speak for us, we allowed a ruler of darkness to guide us. Then, if this is the case, we are to immediately seek the other person’s forgiveness, which entails humbleness on our part; thus humbleness destroys the pride which produced the anger. We can benefit, even in some outburst of anger, if we so desire. Yet, if we are the victim of anger, we immediately forgive the other person. Mercy entails Forgiveness on both sides.
There are three areas that Jesus covers regarding anger: the first is “holding anger without cause.” Being motivated by Anger is not the same as “with cause”; anger without cause is an Anger with Disrespect (Raca – from Aramaic meaning useless, senseless, without any purpose, or godless), developing into bitterness. The root of bitterness is the cause for falling from Grace: “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” (Heb 12:15). However, if we speak as an oracle of God, and the other person becomes angry, this is different since their reaction, being one of anger, is a sign of their rebellion. The source always determines the purpose.
We do get angry when we see someone playing with faith, or using mind games; but we are never to allow anger to guide or motivate us. Also, we are never to get mad at the person; instead, we can get mad at what holds the person captive. It’s strange at best, someone who is guided by the old man thinks they have it all together; but they are being used in a carnal way to bring about carnal disruptions. Feel sorry for them, but don’t get mad at them.
On the same note we know, that Jesus was angry with the Pharisees, but the Pharisees gave Him just-cause to be angry; yet He never allowed His anger to guide or act for Him. Jesus always gave them a way out as He always spoke the “Truth in Love.”
Jesus told them that “they were of their father the devil and the lusts of their father they would do,” but this doesn’t mean that Jesus beat them silly every time He was confronted by them. Jesus also cleaned out the temple; and it is clear that He was angry at that time. But He was not angry with the money changers, but He was angry about what they were doing to the people of God. This is the clue to God’s anger; and God’s anger is kindled against evil. God hates the ways of the Wicked: “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” (Prov 6:16-19).
Peter, Paul, James, Jude, and John all spoke about the false brothers in words which were anything but flattering. They called them: “antichrist, false teachers, self-transformed, mockers, self-willed or sons of perdition.” The intent behind the writers was not to belittle the false ones, but to teach what to look for; therefore we judge “the ways” of a person, not the person.
Jesus will explain this even deeper, showing the other side of the coin, or the reaction of the victim. If some brother or sister has unforgiveness against us, we go to the person to resolve the situation. If the person tells us Raca, and refuses to release the unforgiveness, we can still forgive them. Unforgiveness binds and destroys the person who retains it, but it does nothing to the one we are holding unforgiveness against.
“Therefore If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that your brother hath ought against you.” (5:23)
The word “Therefore” links this saying with the prior one. In the Law of Moses it says, “Thou shall not,” but it never told the person how to avoid the “shall not”; rather what one would see in the Law was the balance (punishment) after the person missed the “thou shall not.” Here Jesus is giving us the taste of the Mercy found in the New Covenant, by showing us how to fix what is wrong to make it right.
The gift (mentioned in Matthew 5:23) could be anything; this reminds us of Cain and how he allowed his anger to guide him into sin. Cain rejected the correction, yet God allowed it; but God never caused Cain to sin, or to kill. Cain was going to do what Cain was going to do, Balaam was going to do what he was going to do, just as Judas was going to do what he was going to do. None of them really desired change, or desired to show Mercy; and this exemplifies the very traits of the Wicked.
Here is a way to destroy the wall of pride by entering into the mindset of Mercy: Jesus is saying “Before we offer our gift,” yet Cain offered his and it was rejected. Now we know why, he gave because he thought he had to, showing that he was already mad at his brother. Cain looked at the acceptance of Abel’s gift as the last straw, but his own attitude caused his sacrifice to be rejected. Jesus tells us to “make it right,” and then our gift will be honored by God.
The word “Aught” means “something little which builds to something greater.” In this case, we can plant a seed of unforgiveness by our anger, which could grow until we are unable to forgive or receive forgiveness, making us as good as dead.
Whatever was “done to us” had a purpose, even if the enemy was involved; thus the agenda of the enemy always is for us to come to hold unforgiveness and thereby accomplish for him what he can’t do himself, which would be to destroy us. However the Purpose of God in the experience is to destroy the works of the enemy by showing us to forgive as we are forgiven.
“Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother and then come and offer thy gift.” (5:24)
Clearly Jesus is talking about forgiveness; it does little good “to tell the Mountain to Go,” yet hold unforgiveness in our hearts. Paul showed us that we can have the faith to move all mountains, yet if we lack Love it gains us nothing: “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” (I Cor 13:2).
How does this apply? It’s the very nature of Love to forgive. This premise is our hope; and since God is Love, He is always willing to forgive. Hence, we also are to forgive, as God forgave us; and all of us within the Body are called to the Ministry of Reconciliation, wherein we don’t impute sins on others: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation. To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (II Cor 5:17-21).
Sins, unforgiveness? Ahh, they do relate. When we hold unforgiveness against others, we are imputing sin on them. What is the danger in this? John will tell us that the permission to receive the Holy Ghost was based on remitting sins done unto us. We want the Fullness of the Spirit, but the first step is Mercy: “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.” (Jn 20:21-23).
“Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.” (5:25-26)
Wait, does this mean to agree with the devil? No, the word “Adversary” means “an opponent”; it’s based on a legal term. The word “Agree” is the Greek “Isthi” which is the second person imperative of the Greek “Eimi” meaning “to submit, or refrain from debate,” which simply means don’t add fuel to the fire by debating. Whether right, wrong or indifferent….seek forgiveness and be set free of the charges of the adversary.
If we are cast into prison we must pay; but if we seek to apply Mercy we are free indeed. Thus Mercy is a Pardon, meaning that there’s not enough evidence to apply the accusation or punishment.
In this we also have the self-based act of using the term Forgiveness in a demonic manner. We forgive in prayer first and foremost, but clearly we are to seek forgiveness from others; however, we “seek” forgiveness, we don’t demand it. The premise is, that we seek the forgiveness of others; but it doesn’t mean we tell someone, “we forgive them because we’re children of God,” which would be the reverse of the premise, indicating that the other person was completely in error, and we of course, are so holy that we “of course, forgive them.” Sayings like, “I forgive you because I’m a child of God”, or “I forgive you because my Lord has commanded me to”; are forms of manipulation, not Mercy. Using forgiveness as a means to place guilt on another is not forgiving them, but rather it serves to condemn others. Using Forgiveness as a means to exalt ones pride and ego is hardly the context here; in fact it fits the “fool” category. We are told to “Ask forgiveness,” not go about telling everyone we forgive them. This represents a very big difference since one is based in Mercy, while the other is based in pride.
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery.” (5:27)
“Adultery” is the unlawful act committed by a married person who is involved with someone other than their mate or with someone other than the one they are espoused to. However, we can’t limit this to a sexual encounter alone since the term also includes “affection”; and Israel (the nation) had affection for idols. Thus, God called this adultery. Adultery is usually refers to a short-timed act, or “one not continual”; and Israel didn’t always hold affection for idols. Thus in the overall time span her adultery was short, but nonetheless, adultery.
“Fornication” is an unlawful act between two people not married, but it includes someone who is married, yet rejected their vows. It’s usually connected to the act of one who prostitutes (over lust for another); thus it’s conducted by one who doesn’t consider themselves bound to their marriage, whether they are married or not, or whether they are espoused or not. The Wicked commit both adultery and fornication; they claim the marriage, yet hold to the old man (adultery), but they also reject the vows required to enter the Marriage (fornication), making them “lawless” (rejecting the Law over them).
A “Fornicator” has no respect for marriage or the vows of marriage. Paul defined a fornicator as one who forbids one to marry or one who forbids the responsibility of marriage (I Tim 4:3). “Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.” If we claim the New Man, then we are the espoused Bride of Christ; thus if we lay in bed with the old man we are committing adultery. If we reject our vows to God by holding affection for ways of the old man, we have committed fornication.
“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (5:28)
The context is not merely “a thought,” but a plan based in a lust. This shows that if the thought is constant; and we better know that it’s a lust. Shutting the eye gate only locks the lust in; it doesn’t free us. The Jewish mindset held that if a person had the thought, yet resisted it, they were more holy than a person who never had the thought. Jesus is showing that “playing with the thought” will bring about a plan; and the plan will bring about an action. This is not in reference to merely having a thought, but entertaining a continual thought that one puts together and then figures out some way to bring it to pass.
“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee, for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” (5:29-30)
If we take this to mean that we can physically remove our right eye and the lust will go with it, we’re sadly mistaken. Taking this principle to the extreme means, that if our left eye offends, this would be okay, since only the right eye should be removed. No, this area of teaching references more: The “right eye” to a Jew was the “wandering eye” or “evil eye”; Jesus is not saying “ignore it.” He is saying in the verse that there is a way to be free and hence, to “cast it away.” Say “Go” to the offending mountain; don’t play with it. This is the same as, “humble yourself under the mighty hand of God”; by so doing you are resisting the devil. The idea is to take on the lust, recognize that it is a lust and know what that lust is set on doing; then submit to the New Man for the washing of the Water by the Word. Discern, don’t burn.
It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement.” (5:31)
“The Law” said that a man could give a writing of divorcement because his wife failed to meet his expectation or gain his favor (Deut 24:1). However, the wife could not divorce the man; therefore, the only way a wife could be free was to make herself unacceptable to the husband or for her go to Temple and have the rulers ask her husband to divorce her. Paul said, that if the unbelieving mate leaves, then let them; but The Law said “if they don’t meet your expectations, cast them out.”
Jewish males therefore assumed that if their wives failed to meet expectations in any regard, that this would become sufficient grounds for divorce. They also assumed that any problems that would develop in the marriage would be “the wife’s fault”; but Jesus shows us in Scripture, that there is more to this teaching. Many of our disappointments come when God doesn’t meet our carnal expectations, but we never ask ourselves if we have met His.
“But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced commits adultery.” (5:32)
This is very interesting, since Jesus began by saying “Fornication,” then He added “Adultery.” The fornication means there is no respect for the marriage; and one of the partners has rejected their vows completely, which indicates that they fit among the unbelievers; but if the unbeliever goes, we can let them, since we are not under bondage in such cases.
The mere fact that the wife didn’t meet the expectation of the husband didn’t mean God approved of the divorce. This also pertains to the “Right eye” (by viewing ones mate in an evil way, rather than looking for the precious). There are some who divorce their mate, then turn right around and marry another just like the one they put away, showing that the “put away mate” wasn’t the problem, they were and still are.
In this case, the divorced Jewish woman is completely innocent; thus the one who marries her is committing adultery since the woman is still considered married. The premise for the Jewish male was based in, “if she didn’t meet his expectations, she was at fault,” and here Jesus points out the cause, which is not the woman, but the person who failed to keep his vows.
All this is still centered on “saving for the cause of fornication”; if they reject the vows, then for them to remain married would be committing fornication. Jesus doesn’t rule out divorce, but He does limit the cause.
“Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forsware thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is His footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.” (5:33-35)
This is the center of the teaching relating to “vows” and defining the “footstool” of the Lord. The city is the city of the Great King, who is Jesus; thus we can’t base our vow on heaven. Yet, marriage is a vow-based relationship. Even the Covenant is a vow-based relationship; so what gives? The word “Again” is the key here, going right back to “fornication.” The vow is by the person, not heaven, not the earth, and not the city; those are places, not people. We make our vow to Jesus not New Jerusalem. If we use places, then we are avoiding the responsibility of the vow, and removing accountability to honesty and truth.
“Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” (5:36-37)
The metaphor “head” refers to Authority; and Authority is a “thing” as well. This is a lesson in accountability: we are to make the vow by including one’s self, take the responsibility of the vow, and then make sure that our nay is nay, and our yea is yea.
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn thou not away.” (5:38-42)
The context was being fair or equal; if someone lost an eye, then the Law said the person owed an eye or the cost of it, not two eyes or three times the cost. If someone knocked out a tooth, then the person owed a tooth or the cost of it, but no more than one tooth or the cost of one tooth.
Jesus is changing the concept by introducing Mercy, which is the means to maintain. This is the legal system; this teaching includes both the one who lost the tooth and the one who owes. For the one who lost, don’t add evil, rather forgive. For the one who caused it, go the extra mile by giving more than what is required. However, if there is an agreement between the parties, then the agreement must be a yea for a yea, or a nay for a nay.
“Turning the other Cheek” doesn’t mean, “here, we go ahead, and I’m a child of God, so hit me”; it means: don’t use the same methods toward others that were used against you.
In respect to turning the other cheek, Peter said, “Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.” (I Pet 3:9) Peter also said, “For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.” (I Pet 2:20) Patience entails Mercy; and Mercy demands Love since they work together in Faith, bringing a pleasing result unto God.
Turning the other cheek, yet hating the one who hit us isn’t Mercy; rather, this would be self-restraint. Applying mercy to the one who hit us, gains us Mercy. These verses are not sent to destroy us; rather they hold the secret to maintaining Peace with God.
Why would we want to hate someone if it means destroying ourselves? It was once said that unforgiveness is like taking poison hoping the other person dies.
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is heaven: for He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (5:43-48)
Here Jesus specifically says that we must “bless and not curse,” which is “turning the other cheek.” There are things that the world terms as “good”; but in most cases this involves rendering evil for evil by seeking justice, revenge, or validation. There is none Good, but God; thus all Good gifts come from God. To the Jew it was easy, “love those who love you, hate those who hate you.” Here Jesus is talking about the Mercy of God, and the ability to be as Merciful as our Father. It’s easy to love those who love you, or do good for those who do you good; but to love your enemies is hard, yet it holds a great reward. Pray for people, never against them.
God sends the sun and rain on the just and unjust, on the good and the evil; thus the same good and evil falls on all of us, but for different purposes. God is able to turn the event around for Good, “to those who love Him, and to those called according to His Purpose.” But if we’re seeking the evil, we will miss the Good. When the Wicked appear to prosper or the heathen seems happy, it’s temporal, and we can’t allow those things to affect us. Is this spiritual warfare? Yes, this is the Warfare of Mercy. Mercy has Her warfare; Grace has Her warfare. This is how we win the battle of Mercy; and how we won’t forget the one element separating a “vessel of honor” from one “of dishonor”…. which is Mercy.
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King James Version – KJV: For greater understanding of these commentaries, please use the Authorized Version of the King James Bible for confirming the Scripture passages mentioned. Please see the article, “Why KJV” by Ann M. Wolf for information regarding why we use KJV. Thank you for visiting our Sozo Short Bible Studies area.