You are on page 1of 14

New Testament

Week 6: Matthew 1:1–7:29

1) Introduction to Matthew.
a) Who is Matthew?
i) Like all the gospels, the book of Matthew is anonymous— the writer does not
identify himself. The authorship is based on 2nd-century tradition.
(1) The author of Matthew’s gospel is traditionally connected with Matthew the tax
collector who was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples.1 () Two gospels refer to him as
(2) Several early Church Fathers claimed that Matthew wrote his gospel in Hebrew,
and that it was later translated into Greek.
(a) Eusebius of Caesarea, the 4th-century Church historian, quotes Papias of
Hierapolis, the early 2nd-century Church Father: “Matthew wrote the oracles
in the Hebrew language, and every one interpreted them as he was able.”3
(b) Jerome, writing c. A.D. 392, claimed that a copy of this Hebrew manuscript
still existed in the library at Caesarea.4
(c) There are good reasons think is our Gospel of Matthew is not the same as the
Hebrew book these writers described:
(i) The Gospel itself has none of the marks of a translation, and quotes from
the Greek version of the Old Testament (the Septuagint), not the Hebrew.
(ii) It also seems very unlikely that an eyewitness to Jesus’ ministry would
have copied so much material from Mark’s gospel and another source that
Luke also used.
(iii) Perhaps Papias and the other early Christians were referring to a
different book written by Matthew in Hebrew, and not gospel we have.
(3) The general view among scholars is that the gospel of Matthew was composed by
a Greek-speaking, Jewish-Christian author, probably in Syria or possibly in
(4) Regardless of who actually wrote this gospel, we’ll still refer to it as “Matthew.”
b) Dating.
i) Since Matthew is dependant on Mark, and Mark’s gospel was written A.D. 66–70,
Matthew has to come sometime after that.
ii) The general consensus is that Matthew was written A.D. 85–90.

See Matthew 9:9; 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13.
See Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27–29. The connection between Matthew and Levi is not explicitly made in the gospels, but is
assumed based both being described as the tax collector sitting at the toll booth (KJV “receipt of custom”). There are other
explanations for the discrepancy; see Dennis C. Duling, “Matthew (Disciple),” The Anchor Bible Dictionary 4:618–22.
Historia Ecclesiastica 3:24:6;; see also 3.39:16;
De Viris Illustribus 3;

© 2010, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Matthew 1:1–7:29 Week 6, Page 2

2) Matthew’s relationship to the other gospels.

a) Matthew and Luke both used Mark’s material as basis for their gospels, expanding on
and adding to Mark’s accounts.
i) Around 55% of the material in Matthew comes from Mark’s gospel.5
b) Matthew and Luke also drew on other sources, which they added to the material they
got from Mark.
i) Besides Mark, Matthew and Luke had a common source that they used. We don’t
know what this source was or who wrote it—it’s never been discovered.
(1) Scholars refer to this unknown account as “Q,” which comes from the German
word Quelle, meaning “source.”6
(a) An example of Q-source material is found in Matthew 3:7–10, which
corresponds to Luke 3:7–9.
(i) The preceding passage, introducing John the Baptist, is found in Mark
(1:1–6), and repeated by Matthew (3:1–6) and Luke (3:1–6). But the
passage where John rebukes the Pharisees and Sadducees7 has no parallel
in Mark. Because the passage is nearly identical in Matthew and Luke, it
must come from Q.
(b) About 25% of Matthew is from the Q source (the “Double Tradition”).
ii) Matthew and Luke also have other (multiple) sources that account for material that
is unique in each gospel.
(1) Scholars refer to these sources as “M” (the source of material unique to Matthew)
and “L” (the source of material unique to Luke).
(a) Examples of M-source material include Matthew’s birth narrative (1:18–2:23)
and some of the material in the Sermon on the Mount.8
(b) About 20% of Matthew is unique to his gospel.
iii) So the source relationships between could be diagrammed like this:

Mark Q

M Matthew Luke L
As the diagram handout from this lesson indicates, 45% of Matthew is from the so-called “Triple Tradition”: material that
is found in all three Synoptic Gospels. Another 10% of Matthew is found only in Mark and Matthew.
I should note that not all New Testament scholars accept the Q Source theory. For a review of the theory and arguments
for and against it, see
As Matthew identifies them; Luke simply refers to them as “the multitude.”
Correspondence between Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5–7) and Luke’s account of the
Sermon on the Plain (6:20–49) will be discussed below (see page 6ff.). Material unique to Matthew includes six of the
Beatitudes (3:4–5, 7–10), and Jesus’ teachings on the Law (5:17–20), anger (5:21–24), adultery (5:27–30), oath-taking (5:33–
37), almsgiving (6:1–4), prayer (6:5–8), fasting (6:16–18), “casting pearls before swine” (7:6), and false prophets (7:15–16).

© 2010, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Matthew 1:1–7:29 Week 6, Page 3

c) What are Matthew’s themes, and who is his audience?

i) Each gospel has areas of focus that give it a unique style and “flavor.” Matthew has at
least five main themes in his gospel:
(1) Jesus as the fulfillment of prophecy. Matthew frequently writes about something
Jesus did, and then says “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the
prophets,” followed by an Old Testament passage.9 He lists about a dozen direct
references10 and many indirect references to the Old Testament.
(a) Some of the passages he quotes are not in our Old Testament. For example,
Matthew 2:23 quotes “the prophets” (plural) as foretelling that the Messiah
would be from Nazareth. There is no known work—either in the Old
Testament or in apocryphal writings—that contains this prophecy.11
(2) The kingdom of heaven. In Matthew Jesus discourses frequently on the coming
of God’s future kingdom.12 Matthew is the only New Testament writer to use the
phrase “kingdom of heaven” (which he does 32 times).13
(3) The church. In Matthew’s gospel Jesus gathers his people and prepares his
apostles to lead them when he is gone. The word “church” appears in no other
gospel but Matthew’s (16:18; 18:17), and Matthew contains the only discourse in
the gospels on life and order in the church (18:1–35).14
(4) Discipleship. In Matthew Jesus teaches frequently on the nature and calling of
discipleship. The word “disciple” appears 73 times in Matthew, nearly twice as
much as it does in Luke.
(5) The Law and morality. Matthew frequently grapples with the relationship
between the Law of Moses and Jesus’ teachings, and the moral and ethical
requirements of being a follower of Jesus.15
d) In summary, Matthew’s gospel is written to a later audience than Mark’s, one that was
made up of Jewish converts who were trying to determine how interpret the Law of
Moses in light of Jesus’ teachings.
i) This was a major issue among early Jewish Christians, when Christianity was still
seen as a sect of Judaism, before it became its own separate religious tradition in the
2nd century.
3) 1:18–2:23. Matthew’s birth narrative.16
a) Dating Jesus’ birth.
Matthew is not above taking Old Testament passages out of context in his fulfillment statements. The best-known
example is his quote of Isaiah 7:14 in Matthew 1:22–23, where he interprets Isaiah’s Immanuel Child prophecy given to King
Ahaz in 730 B.C. as a foretelling of the birth of Jesus the Messiah. There are substantial problems with this interpretation, but
Matthew’s use of Isaiah has nonetheless resulted in most Christians reading Isaiah 7:14 the same way he did. For more on this,
see notes to Old Testament lesson 18, pages 1–4;
See Matthew 1:22–23; 2:5–6, 15, 17–18, 23; 4:14–16; 8:17; 12:17–21; 13:14–15, 35; 21:4–5; 26:54, 56; 27:9–10. Other
gospel writers do this as well—for example, John the Baptist as the fulfillment of Isaiah 40:3–5 appears in all four gospels
(Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4–5; John 1:23)—but Matthew makes it a special focus.
In the Book of Mormon, Nephi1 has a vision of Mary being “in the city of Nazareth” (1 Nephi 11:13), but this prophecy
was received in the Arabian wilderness and went with him to the New World.
Jesus’ ministry begins and ends with proclamations of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; 25:1, 14).
This phrase also appears in the Book of Mormon in Alma (11×) and Helaman (2×), and in the Sermon at the Temple in 3
Nephi (4×). It appears throughout the Doctrine and Covenants (11×) and in the Book of Moses (1×).
Many scholars see this section as evidence of an emerging Christian church in the late 1st century.
This is seen most clearly in the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus teaches about the relationship of his commandments
to the Law (Matthew 5:17–48).
We’ll discuss Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus (1:1–17) when we cover Luke’s infancy narrative.

© 2010, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Matthew 1:1–7:29 Week 6, Page 4

i) Matthew gives us the first historical events that we can use to pinpoint Jesus’ birth
date: He was born before Herod the Great died.
(1) Herod the Great was the Roman client king of the Roman provinces of Judea,
Galilee, and Samaria.
ii) According to external evidence, Herod died in late March or early April, 4 B.C. This
means that Jesus’ birth would have to be before this, with sufficient time for the wise
men to see the sign, travel to Jerusalem, trick Herod, and have Herod kill the
children in Bethlehem.
iii) It gets a little more complicated when we factor in Luke’s chronological statements.
(1) Luke indicates that Jesus’ birth took place during a census that took place “when
Cyrenius was governor of Syria” (Luke 2:1–2). This presents a problem, because
Cyrenius17 was appointed Legate of Syria in A.D. 6 and carried out his census in
A.D. 6–7, eleven years after Herod’s death. Most scholars, therefore, think Luke is
in error on this point.18
(2) Luke dates the beginning of Jesus’ ministry to “the fifteenth year of the reign of
Tiberius Caesar” (Luke 3:1), when Jesus himself was “about thirty years of age”
(Luke 3:23). Tiberius ascended to the throne in A.D. 14, which would mean his
fifteenth year was A.D. 28, putting Jesus’ birth “about” 2 B.C., give or take a few
iv) Combining Matthew and Luke, the evidence seems to point to Jesus being born in 6
B.C., two years before Herod’s death, and beginning his ministry in A.D. 28, at age
v) Many Latter-day Saints have interpreted the opening statement in D&C 20:1 to be a
literal count of the years from the birth of Jesus to the organization of the Church,
and insisted that Jesus was born in 1 B.C.19
(1) On the other hand, several writers, including some modern apostles and
prophets, have urged caution in interpreting D&C 20:1 as an exact count of
(2) “One thousand eight hundred and thirty years” is probably just an elaborate way
of saying “in the year A.D. 1830.”
(3) Bruce R. McConkie:
We do not believe it is possible with the present state of our knowledge—
including that which is known both in and out of the Church—to state with

Publius Sulpicius Quirinius (his Latin name) was a Roman aristocrat who lived c. 51 B.C.–A.D. 21. He was a military leader
who enjoyed the favor of Caesar Augustus.
See Raymond E. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew
and Luke (Yale University Press, 1999), 547–55.
At least two Presidents of the Church have affirmed that April 6th is the actual birth date of the Savior as well as the
anniversary of the organization of the Church: Harold B. Lee, “Strengthen the Stakes of Zion,” Ensign, July 1973, 2
(; Spencer W. Kimball, “Remarks and Dedication of the Fayette, New York, Buildings,” Ensign,
May 1980, 54 ( James E. Talmage believed Jesus’s birth was in 1 B.C., but he didn’t
address external factors like Herod the Great’s death (see Jesus the Christ 102–04; Orson
Pratt reportedly calculated that Jesus was born on April 11th (see Millennial Star 46 [21 April 1884], 251;,3869).
See Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjödahl, Doctrine and Covenants Commentary (Deseret Book, revised ed., 1978),
138; J. Reuben Clark Jr., Our Lord of the Gospels (Deseret Book, 1954), vi–vii; Stephen E. Robinson and H. Dean Garrett, A
Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants (Deseret Book, 2000), 1:128–29.

© 2010, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Matthew 1:1–7:29 Week 6, Page 5

finality when [i.e., in which year] the natal day of the Lord Jesus actually
b) 2:1–2. Who were the wise men?
i) The term “wise men” is a translation of the Greek μαγος (magos), which is where we
get the words magi and magician.
ii) A magus was a Babylonian or Persian priest who served as a physician, astrologer,
seer, sorcerer, soothsayer, and interpreter of dreams.22
iii) Their profession as astrologers here is important, because they saw something in the
sky that they interpreted as a sign of the birth of the king of the Jews.
c) 2:9–10. What was the star?
i) Matthew’s account does not say there was a “new star,” only that the magi saw “his
star” (2:2).23 This stellar phenomenon took place “in its rising” from the horizon
(KJV: “in the east”).
ii) This has traditionally been seen as a bright, new object in the sky, the kind that could
be caused by a supernova. Many civilizations, including the Chinese, were
meticulous in recording astronomical events, and, unfortunately, nothing like that
appears in their records around this time.
iii) It could refer to several other types of astronomical occurrences, including a comet
(although those were usually seen as omens of bad events) or a planetary
d) 2:16. The slaughter of the innocents.25
i) This is an important story for Matthew; through it he portrays Jesus as a “new
Moses” for his audience of Jewish converts.
(1) Just as Moses was God’s chosen prophet to lead Israel out of Egypt and give them
the Law, so Jesus is chosen Son to lead the people out of spiritual darkness and
give them a higher law.
(2) Matthew does this with several stories from Jesus’ life:
(a) Children were slaughtered at the birth of Moses and Jesus (Exodus 1:15–22;
Matthew 2:16).
(b) When Moses’ life is in danger, he flees from Egypt to Israel, but returns to
Egypt after many years; when Jesus’ life is in danger, he takes the reverse
itinerary: from Israel to Egypt and later back to Israel (Exodus 2:15; 7:6–7;
Matthew 2:13–15, 19–23).

The Mortal Messiah, 1:349–50, n. 2.
In the Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament) the term magos is used to refer to the individuals who interpret King
Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams (Daniel 2:2, 10, 27; 4:7; 5:7, 11, 15). In Acts 13:6–8, Elymas bar Jesus the sorcerer (Gk magos)
opposes Paul.
However, the prophecy of Jesus’ birth in the Book of Mormon refers to it as a “new star” (Helaman 14:5; 3 Nephi 1:21).
Professor Grant Mathews, director of Notre Dame University’s Center for Astrophysics, argues that the “Christmas star”
was a planetary alignment that occurred on 17 April 6 B.C., when the sun, Jupiter, the moon and Saturn were all in Aries, Venus
was in Pisces, and Mercury and Mars were in Taurus. This particular alignment of planets portended the birth or death of a
powerful leader in Judea. See Grant J. Matthews, “Finding the Christmas Star,” Notre Dame Magazine, 21 December 2009;
For a good overview of this passage and its Old Testament connections, see Allen Ross, “The Slaughter of The

© 2010, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Matthew 1:1–7:29 Week 6, Page 6

(c) Moses and Jesus both fast and commune with God for 40 days in wilderness
(Exodus 24:18; 34:28; Matthew 4:1–3).26
(d) Moses goes up to a mountain to receive the Law from God; Jesus goes up to a
mountain to give a new Law (in the Sermon on the Mount) to the people
(Exodus 19:3; Matthew 5:1ff.).
(e) There are five books written by Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers,
Deuteronomy), and Matthew has five discourses given by Jesus (chapters 5–7,
10–11, 13, 18, 24–25).
e) Comparing Matthew and Luke’s nativity stories: The details between their accounts
differ, but they don’t conflict.
i) Matthew (1:18–25) tells the annunciation story from Joseph’s point of view. Luke
(1:26–38) tells it from Mary’s.
ii) One significant difference is that Matthew has no journey account. Jesus is born in
Bethlehem, and Joseph and Mary resettle in Nazareth to fulfill prophecy (Matthew
4) 3:1–4:25. John the Baptist and temptation in the wilderness will be covered when we get to
Luke. The calling Peter, James, and John will be covered next week when we discuss the
commissioning of the Twelve.
5) 5:1–7:29. The Sermon on the Mount.
a) The Sermon on the Mount is the first of five discourses Jesus gives in Matthew. In this
great sermon, Jesus establishes himself as the new Lawgiver for Israel.
i) The setup for this is intentional: Jesus has been teaching and preaching throughout
Galilee (4:23), and great multitudes of people follow him (4:25), so he goes up into a
mountain to give them his law (5:1). When he is finished teaching the people react to
his sermon (7:28–29), and then he comes down from the mountain (8:1). The
comparisons to Moses at Mount Sinai are unmistakable.
b) There are four parallel versions of this discourse:
i) The main version is Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1–
7:29), which is the best-known of the texts.
ii) There is a companion account in Luke’s gospel, known as the Sermon on the Plain
(Luke 6:20–49).27
(1) Matthew and Luke derive their shared material from Q, with Matthew adding his
own unique sayings and pulling in other sayings from various places in Mark.28
iii) The third version is the Sermon at the Temple that Jesus gave to the Nephites in the
Book of Mormon (3 Nephi 12:1–14:27).29

Compare Jesus’ temptation (Matthew 4:3) with Moses’ temptation after communing with God (Moses 1:12).
It’s called this because, in Luke’s account, the sermon takes place not on a mountain, but “in the plain” (Luke 6:17).
Mark has no analogue to the Sermon on the Mount/Plain, but some of the sayings Matthew includes in the Sermon on
the Mount are found throughout Mark’s gospel. For example, the metaphor of salt in Matthew 5:13 is similar to the passage in
Mark 9:49–50; the teachings on divorce in Matthew 5:31–32 are similar to Mark 19:9; and the saying in the Lord’s Prayer on
forgiveness of others in Matthew 6:14 is similar to Mark 11:25. The remaining material in Matthew 5–7 is not found anywhere
in Mark.
For an in-depth study of the Book of Mormon account, see John W. Welch, Illuminating the Sermon at the Temple &
Sermon on the Mount: An Approach to 3 Nephi 11–18 and Matthew 5–7 (FARMS and Deseret Book, 1999); online text
available at

© 2010, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Matthew 1:1–7:29 Week 6, Page 7

(1) The differences between the sermons in Matthew and 3 Nephi are subtle, but
often quite profound.30
(a) For example, the 3 Nephi account has changes that account for a post-
resurrection setting31; a Nephite audience32; and more reliance on the written
law, rather than oral interpretations.33
(b) It also has four additional Beatitudes (3 Nephi 12:1–2), and small differences
throughout that help with understanding.
(c) We’ll notice some of these differences as we proceed.
iv) The fourth account is the Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew 5–7.
(1) These changes often help with interpreting Jesus’ meaning.
(2) The significant differences between the KJV and JST are found the footnotes and
appendix of the LDS edition of the King James Bible.
(3) You’ll note that there are differences between JST Matthew 5–7 and 3 Nephi 12–
14. There is no “one true version” of the Sermon on the Mount; rather there are
several version, each of which bring their own unique perspective.34
c) 5:1–12. The Beatitudes.
i) Jesus begins his sermon with a statement of nine values that his followers should
(1) The word “Beatitudes” from the Latin beatus, “to be blessed.”
(2) Luke’s version (Luke 6:20–23) only has four Beatitudes, three of which have
parallels in Matthew,35 but one of which is unique: “Blessed are ye that weep now:
for ye shall laugh” (Luke 6:21b).
ii) Note that most of the qualities honored in the Beatitudes are seen as liabilities by the
world: Poverty, meekness, hunger, mercy, purity, peacemaking, righteousness, and
(1) Jesus often does this sort of thing, particularly in Matthew: He takes something
that the world honors and calls it a liability, and something that is a liability in
the world is actually honorable.36
iii) Notes on the individual Beatitudes:
(1) 5:3. “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
(a) The phrase “poor in spirit” refers to those who have a broken heart and
contrite (remorseful) spirit.37

See Welch, Illuminating, chapter 6;
For example, the change from future tense in Matthew 5:18 to past tense in 3 Nephi 12:18, the elimination of “thy
kingdom come” from Matthew 6:10 at 3 Nephi 13:10, and the unique statement in 3 Nephi 12:46–47.
For example, the change in the unit of currency from “farthing” in Matthew 5:26 to “senine” in 3 Nephi 12:26, and the
elimination of swearing by the name of Jerusalem in Matthew 5:35/3 Nephi 12:35.
For example, 3 Nephi 12:21 adds “and it is also written before you”; see also 3 Nephi 12:27, 38, 43.
On this subject, see Kevin L. Barney’s response to why 3 Nephi 13:12 differs from JST Matthew 6:12;
Poverty, hunger, and persecution.
The best-known example is his statement that “the first shall be last, and the last shall be first” (Matthew 19:30; 20:16;
Mark 10:31; Luke 13:30).
See 3 Nephi 12:19; D&C 56:18. Compare Psalms 34:18; 51:17; 2 Nephi 2:7; 3 Nephi 9:20; Moroni 6:2; D&C 20:37; 97:8.

© 2010, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Matthew 1:1–7:29 Week 6, Page 8

(b) The Book of Mormon adds “the poor in spirit who come unto me” (3 Nephi
12:3), indicating that it’s not enough to simply be “poor in spirit”; we must
then act on it to receive the blessing.
(2) 5:4. “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”
(a) Those who mourn are those who grieve at the loss of a loved one.38 The
comfort Jesus promises comes through the hope of resurrection and reunion.
(3) 5:5. “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”
(a) This is a quotation of Psalm 37:11a.
(4) 5:6. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they
shall be filled.”
(a) The Book of Mormon adds “filled with the Holy Ghost” (3 Nephi 12:6b).
(5) 5:7. “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.”
(a) This is something Jesus is going to expand on later, when he discusses judging
others (7:1–2).
(6) 5:8. “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”
(a) This has an interesting connection to the temple: Psalm 24:3–4 indicates that
“he that hath clean hands and a pure heart” shall “ascend into the hill of the
Lord…[and] stand in his holy place.” The connection here is that those who
are pure in heart will see God in his temple.
(7) 5:9. “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”
(a) This is another passage that Jesus will discourse on later (5:44–45).
(8) 5:10. “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is
the kingdom of heaven.”
(a) The Book of Mormon has a slightly different reading: “Blessed are all they
who are persecuted for my name’s sake…” (3 Nephi 12:10a).
(9) 5:11–12. “Blessed are ye, 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.”
(a) Joseph Smith:
He that will war the true Christian warfare against the corruptions of these
last days will have wicked men and angels of devils, and all the infernal
powers of darkness continually arrayed against him. When wicked and
corrupt men oppose, it is a criterion to judge if a man is warring the
Christian warfare. When all men speak evil of you falsely, blessed are ye,
&c. Shall a man be considered bad, when men speak evil of him? No. If a
man stands and opposes the world of sin: he may expect to have all wicked
and corrupt spirits arrayed against him.39
d) 5:13–16. Salt and light.40
Compare Isaiah 61:1–3.
Joseph Smith, Nauvoo Relief Society minutes, 31 August 1842. History of the Church 5:140; Teachings of the Prophet
Joseph Smith 259; Words of Joseph Smith 131.
This passage does not have a parallel in Luke’s Sermon on the Plain, but is found in Luke 14:34–35 and 11:33.

© 2010, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Matthew 1:1–7:29 Week 6, Page 9

i) These two parables are about the relationship of the disciple to the world.
ii) The first compares the disciples to salt, and asks “if salt has lost its taste, how can its
saltiness be restored?” (NRSV 5:13).
(1) This is a really difficult saying, because salt, by its nature can’t lose its flavor. The
most common explanation is that unscrupulous merchants in Jesus’ time mixed
it with other substances.41
(2) The are two connections here:
(a) The first is that salt was a part of the covenant ritual under the Law,42 and so
Jesus indicates that his disciples are now covenant people.
(b) The second is that salt is a preservative, and so his disciples have an obligation
to preserve the world from sin and evil through their actions.
iii) The second compares the disciples to lamps that light the whole house.
(1) Note the result of “letting our light so shine before men” should be that others
will see what we do and glorify not us who did the deeds, but God.
e) 5:17–48. Jesus and the Law.
i) 5:17–20. The relationship of the Law to Jesus’ commandments.
(1) In Matthew, Jesus is very clear that he is not destroying or abolishing the Law of
Moses, but rather fulfilling it.
(a) In many ways, what he’s doing is actually amending the Law in 5:21–47 by
requiring higher standards than were previously given.
(b) This is somewhat different than what we’ll see with Paul, who teaches that the
Law is “dead” (Romans 7:1–6; Galatians 2:15–21).
(c) Jesus explains this relationship more fully in the Sermon at the Temple in the
Book of Mormon. According to this passage the Law was fulfilled in his
For verily I say unto you, one jot nor one tittle hath not passed away from
the law, but in me it hath all been fulfilled. And behold, I have given you
the law and the commandments of my Father, that ye shall believe in me,
and that ye shall repent of your sins, and come unto me with a broken
heart and a contrite spirit. Behold, ye have the commandments before you,
and the law is fulfilled. Therefore come unto me and be ye saved; for
verily I say unto you, that except ye shall keep my commandments, which I
have commanded you at this time, ye shall in no case enter into the
kingdom of heaven. (3 Nephi 12:18–20; italics added.)
ii) 5:21–26. On anger.43
(1) This passage “ups” the requirement of the law from “do not murder” to “do not be
angry with your brother [or sister].”

It’s also been suggested that Jesus knew it couldn’t lose its flavor, and that the metaphor is quite aware of salt not being
able to lose its flavor and hence being salt of the earth implies that the audience, once having heard the message, will never lose
their influence or importance.
See Leviticus 2:13; Numbers 18:19.
This passage does not have a parallel in Luke’s Sermon on the Plain, but is found in Luke 12:57–59.

© 2010, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Matthew 1:1–7:29 Week 6, Page 10

(2) The oldest and best manuscripts lack “without a cause” in 5:22,44 and that phrase
is also not in 3 Nephi 12:22 and JST Matthew 5:22. This increases the obligation
of the disciple significantly!
(a) 1 John 3:15a teaches that “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer.”
(3) The word Raca in 5:22 is an Aramaic term that means “fool” or “empty head.”
(4) The obligation extends even to temple service and offerings: Jesus requires us to
be reconciled to those with whom you have had an argument or disagreement
before offering our gifts.
iii) 5:27–30. On adultery.
(1) This passage “ups” the requirement of the law from “do not commit adultery” to
“do not lust.” Intentions are the same as actions.
(2) The JST explains that the requirements to pluck out our eye or cut off our hand
(5:29–30) are metaphorical:
And now this I speak, a parable concerning your sins; wherefore, cast them
from you, that ye may not be hewn down and cast into the fire. (JST Matt.
iv) 5:31–32. On divorce.
(1) This is a particularly difficult saying, because Jesus does not say here, “Anyone
divorces his wife commits adultery.” Rather, he says, “Anyone who divorces his
wife…causes her to commit adultery.”
(a) The parallel passage in Mark places the blame on the offender:
Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against
her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits
adultery. (NSRV Mark 10:11–12.)
v) 5:33–37. On oath-taking.
(1) This passage is somewhat obscure because we don’t take oaths the way people did
(a) People in ancient times wouldn’t use written contracts with lawyers and
courts to enforce them; they would make an oral pledge or promise, and then
swear “by the life” of something that they would fulfill it. The most powerful
promises were made “as the Lord liveth.” People who didn’t fulfill these vows
were dishonored, and no one would ever trust them again.45
(b) The Law required individuals to fulfill any vows they have made using the
Lord’s name (Leviticus 19:12; Numbers 30:2).
(c) Jesus “ups the ante” doing away with making vows in the name of anything at
all: “Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes
from the evil one” (NRSV Matthew 5:36b).

See footnote 1 at
Hugh Nibley pointed out the connection between Nephi’s oath to Zoram “as the Lord liveth,” and Zoram’s instant trust
in Nephi and willingness to follow him. See Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon (FARMS and Deseret Book, 3rd ed.,
1988), 128–29; Nibley’s point was to show
how the opening narrative of the Book of Mormon fits very well into an ancient Near East context.

© 2010, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Matthew 1:1–7:29 Week 6, Page 11

(i) In other words, be honest in everything you say and do, not just in those
things to which you have sworn.
vi) 5:38–42. On retaliation.
(1) Jesus here gives four illustrations: (1) you have been personally insulted, (2) you
have been taken to court, (3) you have been pressed into service, and (4) you have
been asked to help someone in need of money.
(2) His guiding principle in each of these scenarios is to be unselfish, humble, and
willing to suffer loss of one’s own personal rights. There is no room for vengeance
on a personal level.
(3) Notice that he doesn’t do away with just compensation or fairness on an
institutional level—he’s not arguing that employers should abuse their
employees, or that people should insult others. He’s removing the option of
retaliation in personal disputes.
(4) This setup leads us right into the final section:
vii)5:43–48. On love for one’s enemies.
(1) These verses are climax of this section, and they contain the most difficult (and
hence the most important) commandment: It is not enough to not hate people
who abuse you; you must love them and pray for them.46 Only people who can do
this can be considered children of God (in a covenant sense).
(2) There are two ways to look at the concluding verse (5:48):
(a) Luke (6:36) treats it as the summary of the passage on loving ones enemies:
“Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.”
(b) Matthew uses it as a summary of everything up to this point (5:2–47). Jesus
commands his followers to be perfect, just as God is perfect.
(i) The word “perfect” comes from the Greek word τελειος (teleios), which
means “complete,” “mature,” or “fully finished.”47 It does not mean, in and
of itself, “without error.”
(ii) The same word appears in 1 Corinthians 14:20, where Paul pleads with the
saints in Corinth: “Do not be children in your thinking; rather, be infants
in evil, but in thinking be adults” (NRSV). The word “adults” is teleios; he’s
asking them to be mature, not error-free.
(iii) The command in Matthew 5:48 is similar to passages in the Law where
the Lord commands the people to be holy, just as he is holy (Leviticus
19:2; Deuteronomy 18:13).
f) 6:1–7:23. Jesus now shifts to instructions on living the Christian life.
i) 6:1–18. In this portion he concentrates on the importance of purity of motive in
giving offerings (6:1–4), offering prayers48 (6:5–15), and in fasting (6:16–18).
The passage in the middle of 5:44—“ bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you” and “despitefully use
you”— is not found in the oldest and best manuscripts. It’s likely an attempt to harmonize the passage with Luke 6:27–28. In
its original form, it should read, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, and pray for them which persecute you.”
See Elder Russell M. Nelson, “Perfection Pending,” General Conference, October 1995;
The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9–15) does not have a parallel in Luke’s Sermon on the Plain, but is found in Luke 11:2–4.
The closing sentence—“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”—is not found in the earliest
and best manuscripts, but was added later when the Lord’s Prayer became part of the liturgy of Christian worship.

© 2010, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Matthew 1:1–7:29 Week 6, Page 12

(1) Each of these contrasts how the hypocrites do these things (seeking for attention
and recognition) with how the disciple should do things (in secret and in
ii) 6:19–34. Materialism and the kingdom of heaven.50
(1) The passage is summed up in the commandment in 6:33, that we “seek…first the
kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things [i.e., clothing, food,
and shelter] shall be added unto you.
(a) Elder Neal A. Maxwell called this “not…giving up worldly possessions so
much as being less possessed by them.”51
(2) One passage that’s difficult to interpret in the KJV is cleared up by reading a
modern translation:
The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body
will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of
darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (NRSV
Matthew 6:22–23.)
(a) The idea behind this is that we covet what we see around us. If we keep our
eye fixed on the kingdom of God, it will be healthy and we will be full of
(spiritual) light. But if our eyes are constantly fixated on material things, it
will be diseased, and we will be full of (spiritual) darkness.
iii) 7:1–5. Judging.
(1) The parallel passage in Luke gives us a slightly different reading:
Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be
condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you.
A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into
your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back. (NRSV
Luke 6:37–38.)
(a) The idea here is that God will deal with us in the same manner as we have
dealt with other people. If we are quick to condemn, judge unrighteously
(John 7:24), or point out other people’s faults while ignoring our own, God is
going to judge us harshly.
(b) This is not a prohibition against discerning right and wrong or good and bad.
The Book of Mormon teaches that “the Spirit of Christ is given to every
[individual], that he may know good from evil,” and that we should “search
diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will
lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a
child of Christ” (Moroni 7:16–19).
iv) 7:6. Holy things: Don’t cast “pearls before swine.”
v) 7:7–11. Seeking and finding.52

The word “openly” at the end of Matthew 6:4, 6, and 18 is not found in the earliest and best manuscripts, and goes
against the point of the passages: the hypocrites’ rewards are visible, but the disciples’ rewards are invisible.
This passage does not have a parallel in Luke’s Sermon on the Plain, but is found in scattered locations throughout
Luke: Matthew 6:19–21 = Luke 12:33–34; Matthew 6:22–23 = Luke 11:34–36; Matthew 6:24 = Luke 16:13; Matthew 6:25–34
= Luke 12:22–31.
Neal A. Maxwell, “‘Settle This in Your Hearts,’” General Conference, October 1992;
This passage does not have a parallel in Luke’s Sermon on the Plain, but is found in Luke 11:9–13.

© 2010, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Matthew 1:1–7:29 Week 6, Page 13

vi) 7:12. The counsel on judging is summed up in the Golden Rule: “Treat others the way
you want to be treated.”
(1) This “ethic of reciprocity” has been found in virtually all religions and cultures.53
vii)7:13–23. Three final warnings.
(1) 7:13–14. The narrow gate.54
(a) The KJV refers to this as “the strait” gate, which should not be confused with
“straight.” A strait is a narrow passage, typically used in reference to a
channel connecting two bodies of water (like the Straits of Gibraltar).
(b) Jesus teaches here that the way to eternal life is like a narrow, rocky path—
that may or may not be straight—while the way to destruction is a broad,
well-travelled highway.55
(i) We should be careful that we don’t interpret this as meaning that only a
few people will go to heaven, and most people will go to hell. Matthew
himself denies that (8:11; 20:28), and modern revelation indicates that
almost all people will be saved in some degree of glory (D&C 88:29–31).56
(ii) In my opinion, this warning is meant for those who have heard and
understood the message: We are now under obligation to follow it, and
can’t just brush it aside.
(2) 7:15–20. Beware of false prophets.
(3) 7:21–23. Self-deception.
(a) This saying attacks the false beliefs of two types of people: Those who call on
the Lord’s name but don’t obey his commandments (7:21), and those who
claim to obey his commandments but were not truly converted (7:22–23).
g) 7:24–27. The true foundation.
i) The “rock,” of course, is Christ (Deuteronomy 32:4; 1 Corinthians 10:4; Helaman
h) Jesus’ message is revolutionary and demanding. He has clearly warned that the path of
the disciple is a difficult one—one that involves persecution, effort, self-control,
humility, love for all mankind, and seeking to do the Lord’s will. It is a narrow gate and a
rocky foundation, but it is the path that leads to eternal life.
6) In this lesson we’ve covered the opening events of Jesus’ ministry, including Matthew’s
infancy narrative and the Sermon on the Mount.
a) Next week we’ll cover the middle portion of Jesus’ ministry, including the sending forth
of the Twelve, his parables, and the Mount of Transfiguration.
This is due to the Light of Christ, which is given to all people as a conscience and results in universal truths that are
found in all cultures and throughout history. See Doctrine and Covenants lesson 20, pages 2–4;
This passage does not have a parallel in Luke’s Sermon on the Plain, but is found in Luke 13:23–24.
Nephi1 taught that “the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism” (2 Nephi 31:17).
Joseph Smith: “I do not believe the Methodist doctrine of sending honest men and noble-minded men to hell, along with
the murderer and the adulterer. They may hurl all their hell and fiery billows upon me, for they will roll off me as fast as they
come on. But I have an order of things to save the poor fellows at any rate, and get them saved; for I will send men to preach to
them in prison and save them if I can.
“There are mansions for those who obey a celestial law, and there are other mansions for those who come short of the law,
every man in his own order.” (Sermon in the Nauvoo Temple, 12 May 1844. HC 6:365; TPJS 366; WJS 368.)
There are no articles (“the,” “a,” “an”) in Greek, so technically Matthew 5:25 says that the house was “founded upon
rock,” not “a rock.”

© 2010, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: Matthew 1:1–7:29 Week 6, Page 14

i) Reading: Matthew 8:1–19:2.

© 2010, Mike Parker For personal use only. Not a Church publication.