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A Survey of the Contrasts Between the Sermon on the Mount and Paul’s

The Distinctive Hopes of God’s Elects
James Hilston

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§0. Preface

A. Abstract: This study will survey the contrasts between the Sermon on the
Mount* and Paul's gospel pertaining to the distinctive Hopes of God's Elects.
We will show differences which necessarily indicate that Paul (and his
apostles) taught a fundamentally distinct gospel [to the Body of Christ] from
that of Christ and His apostles [to the Kingdom of Israel]. The gospel of the
Kingdom taught by Jesus during His earthly ministry and Paul's gospel,
received by special revelation from the risen Christ, will be contrasted by how
they describe the Hopes of the Kingdom of Israel and of the Body of Christ,

*Please note that, although the Sermon on the Mount comprises chapters 5-7
of Matthew, this study will focus primarily on chapter 5:3-12 (popularly
known as "the beatitudes") as points of comparison.

B. Method of interpretation

The conclusions are based on what is taught in the scriptures according to the
normative hermeneutic:

1. Normative hermeneutic

Unless the context of the passage or parallel passages requires otherwise,

normative (normal) usage of a word, phrase, grammatical construction, figure
of speech, etc. should prevail. The burden of proof is on the exceptional usage.
The scriptures can be properly read, understood, applied and interpreted only
when using the same rules of grammar, syntax, linguistic constructions,
figures of speech, etc., that the writers used when writing the original

2. Laws of precedence

a. Older revelation must be interpreted and understood by the normative

hermeneutic before newer revelation is interpreted and understood by the
normative hermeneutic.

b. If the result is that both older and newer revelations address the same
subject, the interpretation of the newer is tailored, if needed, by the
interpretation of the older - never the reverse.

[For a detailed presentation of the normative hermeneutic, see Robert Walsh's

"Biblical Creation and the Normative Hermeneutic" from the Trinity Grace
Fellowship Bible Conference, Nov. 1996.]

C. Conventions: Remarks about conventions used in this paper:

1. Bible translations quoted: The Authorized (or King James) Version of the
Bible is quoted unless indicated otherwise. Wrong or inconsistent translations
and textual issues are noted.

2. Bold font: Any occurrences of the bold font are my emphases and not of
the author(s) quoted.

I. The significance of Hope

Hope is built upon faith. Faith is that by which we know God exists, that we
are Elect, and that we are loved by Him. Faith is also that by which we walk,
live righteously, and are sanctified. By faith we are justified before ourselves.
But faith also is the substance (hupostasis) of things hoped for (Heb. 11:1).
Hope is much more than the modern definition and usage of the word (a wish
or desire). Scriptures call Hope the anchor of the soul (Heb 6:18 That by two
immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we [that is, the
author and Hebrew audience of the epistle] might have a strong consolation,
who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: 19 Which
hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which
entereth into that within the veil;). Paul says we are saved by Hope (Ro. 8:24).
He also prays that we may given the spirit of the truly revealed wisdom in the
detailed knowledge (epiginosko) of him, that the eyes of our understanding
would be enlightened, that we may know (eido 1492, know by perception)
what is the Hope of His calling (Eph. 1:18). Peter tells his audience to be
ready always to give an answer to every man that asks them a reason of the
hope that is in them (1Pe. 3:15). John says of his hope that every man that has
it in him purifies himself (1Jn. 3:3).

John Gill quotes Philo, the Jew (De Abrahamo, p. 350, 351):
"... the Chaldeans call a man Enos, as if he only was truly a man that expects
good things, and supports himself with good hopes; and adds, hence it is
manifest that one without hope is not reckoned a man, but a beast in an human
form; since he is destitute of hope, which is the property of the human soul;''

Certainly, Hope, for each household of God's Elect, is an important and
significant aspect of one's regeneration.

II. The Hopes described

A. The earthly Gentile Hope

1. God's commission to the Gentiles: Ge 1:28 And God blessed them, and
God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and
subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the
air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

2. God's covenant with the Gentiles: Ge 9: 9 And I, behold, I establish my

covenant with you, and with your seed after you; 10 And with every living
creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the
earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth. 11
And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off
any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to
destroy the earth.

3. Blessing through Israel: Ge 22:18 In Abraham, all nations will be blessed

Jer. 3: 17 Gentile nations will gather in Jerusalem. Rev. 21: 23-26 Gentile
nations will bring their glory and honor into Jerusalem.

a. Worship of God through Israel: Isa. 2:1-3 Gentiles will flow into
Jerusalem to learn God's word. Zech 8:22,23 Gentiles seek out Jews to learn
about and follow God. Zech 14:16-19 Gentiles will annually celebrate the
Feast of Tabernacles in Israel.

b. Blessed servitude under Israel: Mt 8:8-10 The centurion (a Gentile) is not

worthy that a Jew should come under his roof. Mt. 15 Jesus equates the
Canaanite woman to a dog. Isa 60:3, 10-12, 16 Gentile kings and people shall
serve Israel. Ge 22:17; Amos 9:11,12 Gentiles will be possessed (owned) by
Israel. Is 14:1-3 Gentile nations will cleave to and be possessed by Israel.

B. The earthly Jewish Hope

1. God's commission to Israel

a. Rulers of the earth, possessors of the Nations Jer. 23:5,6; Eze. 37:21,22;
Dan. 2:44; 7:14 Israel will rule the earth with David as their king. Ps 2:8 Ask
of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost
parts of the earth for thy possession (Cf. Mt. 7:7).

b. Tutors of the Nations De 4:6,7, Jos 2:9-13 Gentiles hear of and learn about
God through Israel. Ps 98:2,3 God demonstrates His mercy to the Nations
through Israel. Is 49:6, 52:10, 66:18,19 Israel is a light to the Gentiles; God's
glory is seen through Israel. Zech. 8:22,23 Gentiles will seek out Jews to learn
of God. Mt 28:19,20 Jesus commands the apostles to fulfill the commission of
teaching the Gentile nations. Acts 8:30-35 The Ethiopian Eunuch (a Gentile)
recognizes his need for Jewish tutoring and desires to be taught by the Jew.
Notice "Philip opened his mouth"; cf. Mt. 5:2, Acts 10:34. This Hebraism is a
figure of speech called Idioma and calls emphasis to what follows.

c. Priests for the Nations Ex. 19:6, 1Pe 2:5,9, Re 1:6, 5:10, 20:6 Israel is a
nation of priests. Isa 61:6 But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men
shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles,
and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.

2. God's covenant with Israel Ge. 17:4-9, 26:4; 2Sa 7:16; Ps. 105:8-10, Ez.
16:60; Luke 1:68-75; Acts 3:25 God's promise to Abraham and Israel's fathers
is the blessing of many nations through Israel, their dwelling in the Land, and
their governing and possessing of the nations.

3. Israel blessed and administrated by angels Mt 28:7 Lu 24:5 Ac 1:11

5:19,20 8:26 12:7,8 10:3,22 Re 10:9-11:1, 1Jo 4:2 Lu 12:8 Re 3:5 21:9 Heb
12:22 13:2 Da 10:10 Ac 7:53 Ga 3:19, Re 1:1 22:6,16 Heb 2:2 Eze 2:2 Re 8:2
5:8 8:4 These and other passages of scripture demonstrate the authority and
communicative roles of the angels over the Jews. Every aspect of the Jewish
relationship with God, ritual, devotion, worship, ceremony, feasts, etc.
involved angelic mediation.

4. Specific roles of individuals in Israel's future

a. Peter, the chief elder in Israel's kingdom Mt. 16:19

b. The Twelve will sit on thrones governing the Nation Mt. 19:28; Cf. Rev.
21:14 (names of the apostles on the foundations of the city)

c. David, eternal king (prince) over Israel Jer. 29:16, Ez. 37:24-28

d. Ezekiel, eternal chief priest over Israel Eze. 40-48 (43:18-21) The angel
gives commands and instructions to Ezekiel on how he should administrate
over the Temple activities.

e. Each elect Jew as a tutor to 10 Gentiles, Zech. 8:20-23; Deu. 4:6,7

C. The heavenly Hope of the Body of Christ

Note the distinction between the earthly kingdom Hope and the heavenly
Hope of the Body of Christ.

1. God's commission to the Body of Christ

a. Extension of Christ's authority as administrators over the elect

angels 1Co. 6:1-3 The Body of Christ is the full expression of Christ's
authority over the princes and powers.

b. Tutors of the elect angels Eph. 3:10-12 The angelic host learn of the
manifold wisdom of God through the Body of Christ.

c. Extension of Christ's humanity Eph 1:22,23 4:14-16 Col 1:18 2:18,19 (It
is very important to note that Col. 2:19 warns against the practice of religious
ceremony for the Body saint, the result being a dishonoring and sort of
severance from Christ, the Head, forgoing the spiritual sustenance that comes
only from Him. See below C.3).

2. God's covenant with the Body of Christ Gal. 3:14,29 The Body of Christ
partakes of the covenant and promise of God only through Abraham, our
PRE-father (see the Greek text) through whom we receive regeneration, the
forgiveness of sins, and the gift of faith. There is no covenant relationship
described in connection to an earthly Hope or the Land of Israel as with the
Gentiles and Israelites above.

3. Direct relationship to Christ 1Tim. 2:5 There are no mediators between

God and the Body-of-Christ member other than Christ. Between the Gentiles
and God is Jewish mediation. Between Israel and God is angelic mediation.
Besides Christ, there is no mediation - no priests, no angelic ministry, no
Pope, no pastors. Further, as mentioned above, participation in religious
ceremonies dishonors Christ as our Head and denies our un-mediated
relationship to God. The reason for this is found in Col. 2:13-23, especially
verse 18, which explains that practicing religious ceremony places one under
angelic mediation, in effect, a worshipping of angels.

4. Specific roles of individuals in the Body of Christ 1Co 12:12-18 Eph


III. The Sermon on the Mount and Paul's gospel: Two distinct Hopes

A. Blessedness: Mt. 5:3 "Blessed are ..." How would a member of the original
audience understand the word "blessed?"

1. Israel Deut. 28:1-14 Isa 61 (whole chapter) Blessing for Israel is the
fulfillment of their Hope in their exaltation as a Nation in their own Land.

2. Body of Christ Eph. 1 (whole chapter) 2:4-7 Php 3:20,21 For our seat of
government (Greek text) is in heaven. Titus 2:13 Blessing for the Body of

Christ is the fulfillment of our Hope in our glorification in the heavenlies with

3. Summary

From the very start, considering the Jewish audience of the Sermon on the
Mount and their understanding of OT scriptures, we see a concept very alien
to the Body of Christ with regard to "blessing" - namely that such blessing
would have anything to do with an "earthly exaltation," for the Body's Hope is
heavenly - to be seated with and govern with Christ (Php. 3:20,21)

B. Poor in spirit: Mt. 5:3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the
kingdom of heaven."

1. Israel

a. Condition: Poor in spirit, humility, lowliness 2Chr 7:14 (11-18), Ps. 51:17-
19, Isa. 66:2, Jas. 2:5, 4:6-10 The concept of being poor in spirit for the
Jewish audience is in the context of keeping God's [Mosaic] Law, offering
right sacrifices, and inheriting the Kingdom promised to them.

b. Corollary: Attaining their Hope - inheriting the kingdom of (not IN)

heaven (Jas. 2:5).

2. The Body of Christ

a. Condition: Poor in spirit, humility, lowliness of mind Php. 2:3 (1-8), Col.
3:12 (8-17)

b. Corollary: Christ-honoring relationships and spiritual growth/maturity. No

relationship to Israel's kingdom. Contrast "false humility' in the Colossians
passage (Col. 2:18-23). Note that false humility and "will worship" are in the
context of religious ceremony, which precludes appropriate Body behavior
and dishonors Christ as Head of the Body.

3. Summary

For both Israel and the Body of Christ, poor in spirit describes humility and
lowliness of mind. However, the impetus and results are distinct. For Israel,
poverty of spirit brings participation in and possession of the Kingdom. For
the Body of Christ, poverty of spirit results in Christ-honoring relationships
amid the assembly and spiritual maturity.

C. Mourning: Mt. 5:4 "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be

1. Israel

a. Condition: Mourning Ezr 10:6 (over the People), Ps 38:6 (over personal
sin), Pr. 59:2 (over wicked rulers), Isa 59:11 (over delayed vindication)

b: Corollary: Future comfort for the Nation, namely, the fulfillment of their
Hope. Isa 51:11, 60:20, 61:2,3; 66:10 (whole chapter), Jer. 31:31 (whole
chapter), Rev. 21:4, Zec 1:17

2. Body of Christ

a. Condition not applicable: "Mourning" only pertains to grief over sin in

the midst of the assembly 1Co 5:2; 2Co 12:21

b. Corollary not applicable: Comfort for the Body of Christ is always

presently attainable and not a future fulfillment. Pauline usage is primarily in
the context of comforting one another in our mutual faith (Ro. 1:12), of daily
encouragements and brotherly support (2Co 1:4, 13:11, Eph 6:22), and
through the mastering of the scriptures and understanding of the Mystery (Ro
15:4, Col 2:2).

3. Summary

Mourning over the continued sins of the People, wicked rulers and delayed
vindication is appropriate for the regenerated of Israel's kingdom for their
Hope is that each of these would cease and that the Nation would become all
that was promised (see Deut. 28:1-14). Pauline expression of mourning
pertains only to presence of sinful behavior in the assembly and is never in the
context of attaining to one's Hope. Israel's comfort primarily refers to the
glory of the Nation and the fulfillment of God's promises, whereas comfort in
the context of the Body of Christ mainly concerns daily living and fellowship
among the saints.

D. Meekness: Mt. 5:5 "Blessed are meek: for they shall inherit the earth."

1. Israel

a. Condition: Meekness Ps. 22:26, Ps. 37:1-11, Zeph. 2:1-3 As with mourning
and poverty of spirit, meekness has an eschatological consequence - future
participation in the exaltation of the Nation.

b. Corollary: Attaining their Hope

2. Body of Christ

a. Condition: Meekness toward others 2Co 10:1, Ga 5:23, 6:1, Eph 4:2, Col
3:12, 2Ti 2:25, Tit 3:2

b. Corollary: Christ-honoring relationships, loving others, instructing others.

3. Summary

As with the previous verses, the Jewish would have understood the concept of
meekness and inheritance of the Land as pertaining to their Hope as a Nation.
For the Body of Christ, the subject of meekness has no direct eschatological
consequence and the prospect of inheritance of the Land is entirely alien.

E. Hunger & thirst for righteousness: Mt. 5:6 "Blessed are they which do
hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they shall be filled."

1. Israel

a. Condition: Hunger and thirst for righteousness Ps 42:1,2; 63:1,2 (for God
Himself); 84:2; 107:9; 119:103 (God's words) Isa 66:11 (for the glory of

b. Corollary: Shall be filled (attain their Hope) Ps. 22:26 (note overlap of
"meekness"), Ps. 6:4 (dwelling in the courts of the Temple), Jer. 31:14 (future
state of the Nation).

2. Body of Christ

a. Condition: Longing (used instead, because of Pauline usage of hunger,

thirst is always in the physical context) 2Co 5:2-4, Ro. 7:4, 8:23 (future
redemption of our body), Ro. 1:11, Php 1:8, 2:26, 2Ti 1:4 (emotional longing
for the saints).

b. Corollary: Promised eternity, seated with Christ in glorified bodies.

3. Summary

Clear distinction between Jewish Hope and that of the Body of Christ as it
pertains to the details of what is long for and future expectations.

F. Merciful: Mt. 5:7 "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy"

1. Israel

a. Condition: Being merciful Sa 22:26 Ps 18:25

b. Corollary: Obtaining mercy , Hos 2:23, 4:1, 10:12 Mercy upon the
Nation/people, Mt. 9:27, 15:22, 20:30, etc.Appeals to "The Son of David" for
mercy, 1Pe 2:10, People of God who were *not* a people, but now have
obtained mercy.

2. Body of Christ

a. Condition: Being merciful Ro 12:8; Php 2:1; Col. 3:12

b. Corollary: Christ-honoring relationships

3. Summary

In the mind of the Israelite, mercy had a national, future-tense, application.

The Pauline context of "mercy" is usually in discussing the Nation of Israel,
and not the Body of Christ (Ro. 9:15,16, 11:30-32, etc), with the exception of
how saints are to behave toward others, and in their having received (past
tense) mercy from God (1Co 7 25; 2Co 4:1; Php 2:27, 1Ti 1:13, 16).

G. Pure in heart: Mt. 5:8 "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see

1. Israel

a. Condition: Pure/clean heart Ps 51:10 (David, king of Israel), 73:1 Pr 22:11

(National context) Eze 36:26 (future context)

b. Corollary: Shall see God Ps 17:15 (preservation from enemies); De 5:26

(Israel's particular favour); Isa 6:5 (a people of unclean lips); 1Jo 3:2 ("we
shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.")

2. Body of Christ

a. Condition: Pure heart 1Ti 1:5; 3:9 (context Mystery) 2Ti 1:3, 2:22; Tit 1:15

b. Corollary: Honorable behavior, honoring the Mystery, pure

thinking/conscience. "Seeing God" is not a Body concern Ro 8:24, 25; 2Co
4:18; Contrast this to "see what is the fellowship of the Mystery" Eph 3:9

3. Summary

There continues throughout the context of the Sermon, using a normative

approach to understanding the text, certain distinctives that set National Israel
apart from the Body of Christ. Here, although there are similarities in the
concept of purity of heart, the goals and outcomes are different in context and

H. Peacemakers: Mt. 5:9 "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be
called children of God."

1. Israel

a. Condition: Peacemakers Mr 9:50, Lu 10:5, Ac 10:36, Jas 3:18, 1Pe 3:11

b. Corollary: Called children of God

2. Body of Christ

a. Condition: Peacemakers Ro 12:18, 2Co 13:11, 1Th 5:13

b. Corollary: Christ-honoring relationships

3. Summary

The peacemaker in Israel was called a child of God. In the Body, there is no
direct connection between these concepts. Indeed, being a child of God in the
Body is apart from any national, ethnic, or behavioral context.

I. Persecution for righteousness: Mt. 5:10-12

1. Israel

a. Condition: Persecution for righteousness Mr 10:30 Lu 6:22; 21:12; Jn

15:20; 1Pe 3:14-17 (persecution and the Hope) 4:12-5:11

b. Corollary: Reward

2. Body of Christ

a. Condition: Persecution for the Mystery 2Ti 3:12 2Th 1:4-12 (Note context
of following verses)

b. Corollary: Reward, being counted worthy

3. Summary

Righteousness defined for the Jew is distinct from that of the Body saint.
Although the persecution exists, it is for different reasons and in different
settings. The resulting rewards are distinct as well, in that Israel's are earthly
and the Body's are heavenly.

IV. Conclusion

By interpreting the scriptures according to the normative hermeneutic, we see
the glaring contrast in content and purpose between of the Sermon on the
Mount and Paul's writings regarding the respective Hopes of God's elect
peoples. Jesus' discourse mirrored the law and the prophets regarding the hope
and calling of the Nation of Israel. He was specific and made repeated
references to Moses' law and the Hope of Israel. Though Paul discusses
similar subjects, the aim and scope of their contexts are markedly different.
By contrasting the Hope of Israel with that of the Body of Christ, we are
confronted with the inescapable distinction between the two gospel messages
that precludes the application of the Sermon on the Mount to the Body of


Rodabaugh, S.E. A Survey of Scripture Centered Around the Seven Unities

(Ones) of Ephesians 4. Pittsburgh: Trinity Grace Fellowship, 1983.

Walsh, Robert. "Biblical Creation and the Normative Hermeneutic." Trinity

Grace Fellowship Bible Conference at Franklin PA, 1996.

Companion Bible, King James Version, Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications,


Walsh, Robert. "The Land: A Preliminary Study." Trinity Grace Fellowship,

Pittsburgh. Apr 93.

Robertson's Word Pictures (from Online Bible CDROM).

John Gill's Expositor, John Gill (from Online Bible CDROM).

*This study was originally presented on 28 November, 1998, at the 1998 TGF
Bible Conference, Session III, "Paul's Distinctive Gospel: Applications of the
Biblical Hermeneutic." An audio cassette is available by e-mailing James
Hilston at
© 1998 Trinity Grace Fellowship