On Being Generous with Grace

The Midrash Key examines selected portions from the Gospel of Matthew and demonstrates that they are expositions or applications of First Testament (Old Testament) texts. But there is no way to address all of Jesus’ teachings in a single volume. As John noted in writing his Gospel, processing the words of Jesus is a major undertaking. John 21:25 reads, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”

So we have to deal with a portion at a time, here a little, there a little. The focus here is on some of Jesus’ more famous words in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:38-42. The text reads as follows:

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you….

The theme of this section is “being generous with grace.” The guiding principle in being generous with grace is the idea of “walking the extra mile.”

The extra mile

As we examine the Savior’s words, please first note the moderate nature of walking the extra mile. If we are struck on the cheek, we turn the other cheek. Yet the matter ends there: we do not turn the other cheek again without limit. If someone is attempting to sue us and demands our tunic for compensation, we grant him our tunic and another garment in addition. We do not grant him our entire wardrobe, the lease to our house, or all our worldly possessions.

Roman law demanded that non-Romans could be forced to carry a soldier’s gear for one mile. Jesus’ disciples are to go beyond the requirement of the law and carry the gear two miles. Not three miles, not twenty miles, but two.

The context

Second, let’s note the context of this passage. I have pointed out frequently that the text from the Sermon on the Mount takes about eleven minutes to read, but we can assume Christ spoke for at least two hours and probably three or four. What we have are summary statements and partial quotations. Jesus is probably commenting (via Midrash) upon a variety of passages from the Torah, such as Exodus 21:23-25. The more immediate context addresses avoiding litigation. Matthew 5:25 offers a good summary of the context:

Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison….

These verse deal with the litigation debates of the day, and the disciples’ willingness to suffer a moderate amount of loss in an attempt to be at shalom (peace) with others. The concept is addressed from a different angle by Paul in Romans 12:18a: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Jewish debates

Third, let me call your attention to the Jewish debates about these issues at the time of Jesus. When we talk about the “eye for eye” commands, how did the Rabbis understand this demand? David Daube, in his work The New Testament and Rabbinic Judaism (Hendrickson, pp. 254-65), devotes a chapter (titled “Eye for Eye”) to discussing the Jewish understanding of Talion (the law of retribution), that is, their understanding of the “Eye for Eye” command.

To the first century Jew, the expression was more or less synonymous with the idea of financial compensation and litigation. In other words, the Rabbis in Jesus’ day took the command to mean, “compensate an eye for what an eye is worth, a tooth for what the court determines a tooth is worth.” Whether this is the original intent of Moses’ command may be a matter of debate, but this was apparently the understanding in Jesus’ day.

Jesus, on the other hand, is encouraging his disciples to avoid court, when possible. Rather than taking advantage of every infraction with a lawsuit (the attitude of “eye for eye”), we need to hold off. Just because a disciple can take someone to court does not mean that he should. This hesitancy toward litigation applies even toward an evil person.

Yet we need to be careful not to extend Jesus’ words to limitless proportions. We must remember His moderate examples. We need to remind ourselves that we have eleven minutes of summary from sermon several hours long.

In many cultures, a “slap in the face” is considered a form of insult. The Jews in Jesus’ day were debating how much one should be compensated for insult. The Mishnah (Bara Kama 8:1) documents a firm ruling: “If anyone wounds his fellow, he becomes liable to compensate the injured party for five different aspects of the injury: damage, pain, healing, loss of time from work, and insult….”

And Bara Kama 8:6 reads, “Does he give him a blow upon the cheek? Let him give two hundred zuzees; if with the other hand, let him give four hundred….”

How Jesus applies the principle

Fourth, note how Jesus applies the principle to other situations. Rather than go through the bitter relational damage of a lawsuit, we are to suffer some loss, if necessary, to maintain peace and preserve relationships. If someone feels we have wronged him and he demands a tunic for compensation, we grant his demand and go beyond, throwing in a coat. Such an extravagant gesture of goodwill goes beyond merely keeping the peace.

In 1 Corinthians 6:7, Paul applies the principle Jesus taught: “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?”

Church leaders are to handle disputes within the church family (1 Cor. 6:1-8), but the ideal is to de-escalate the dispute by suffering moderate loss, if necessary. The same is true with society at large. Although we should take great pains to avoid litigation, this does not mean Christians should never go to court, file a lawsuit, or resist a lawsuit. Some situations are more than moderate in implications and may affect innocent parties (e.g., custody of children in a divorce settlement).

In contrast to suing a brother for every possible infringement, Christ is saying, “give people space.” That is the message of this portion of the Sermon on the Mount. In my view, Jesus is saying, “Put up with insult and even a moderate amount of abuse before you take someone to court. Let people have space to be human, to err. Do not take the attitude of an opportunist, perched to exploit every infraction.”

A disciple who is ready to take advantage of others, to control others or to intimidate others is not very Christ-like. Such withholders of grace disgrace the God of grace. On the other hand, a disciple who walks extra miles without limit is an enabler of abuse and wrong. Between those two is the disciple who gives people space to err, but knows when enough is enough.

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Jack Hampton's picture

Ed Vasicek wrote:
The theme of this section is "being generous with grace." The guiding principle in being generous with grace is the idea of "walking the extra mile."

As we examine the Savior's words, please first note the moderate nature of walking the extra mile. If we are struck on the cheek, we turn the other cheek. Yet the matter ends there: we do not turn the other cheek again without limit. If someone is attempting to sue us and demands our tunic for compensation, we grant him our tunic and another garment in addition. We do not grant him our entire wardrobe, the lease to our house, or all our worldly possessions.


Ed, I believe it is a mistake to take the teachings from the Sermon on the Mount and apply them to the present dispensation. I believe that the Lord Jesus' words were written with the principles of the earthly kingdom in view and not for a time when the kingdom is not on the earth. For instance, please consider the following words of the Lord Jesus from that sermon:

"Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?...Therefore, take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?...take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself" (Mt.6:25-34).

Those are principles which will be in force during the time when the kingdom will be set up on the earth but it would be a grave mistake to apply these same principles during the present "evil age":

"Who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father" (Gal.1:4).

If we are faithful to the Lord's words at Matthew 6:25-34 then would not buying insurance be forbidden, as well as banking and thrift?

With the Lord Jesus in the midst His disciples were sent out to preach the gospel of the kingdom acting on the principles which will be in affect during the kingdom:

"Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece" (Lk.9:1-3).

Then later with the Cross in view as well as His departure we read thev following exchange between the Lord and His disciples:

"And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing" (Lk.22:35).

Next, with His departure at hand, He tells them:

"Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one" (Lk.22:36).

The principles outlined in the Sermon on the Mount are not for today but instead are for the time when the kingdom will be set up on earth:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven...Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth...Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Mt.5:3,5,10).

Joel Shaffer's picture

Quote:
The principles outlined in the Sermon on the Mount are not for today but instead are for the time when the kingdom will be set up on earth

If the Sermon on the Mount is for millennial kingdom, and if we see Jesus ruling with a Rod of Iron during the millennial kingdom, why would we have to endure face slapping (turning the other cheek) and persecutions that are found in the Sermon on the Mount? Then is Jesus really ruling with a Rod of Iron?

Jack Hampton's picture

Joel Shaffer wrote:
If the Sermon on the Mount is for millennial kingdom, and if we see Jesus ruling with a Rod of Iron during the millennial kingdom, why would we have to endure face slapping (turning the other cheek) and persecutions that are found in the Sermon on the Mount? Then is Jesus really ruling with a Rod of Iron?

Joel, the very reason why one will turn his other cheek in the millennial kingdom is because the Lord will rule with a Rod of Iron. The Lord Himself will take care of any injustice so it is not left to men. The Lord is teaching principles of grace that will prevail in the coming kingdom when he says to turn the other cheek but due to the fact that the Lord will rule with a Rod of Iron there will be little strife:

"And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places" (Isa.32:18).

Joel, since you think that the principles of the Sermon on the Mount are in effect at the present time do you follow the principles outlined here?

""Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?...Therefore, take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?...take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself" (Mt.6:25-34).

Do you take no thought for tomorrow?

Joel Shaffer's picture

Quote:
Do you take no thought for tomorrow?

To a certain extent, yeah!

As a inner-city missionary, My family and I have had to trust in God to supply our needs. And we do much better when we are not worried than when we are all uptight about what is going to happen tomorrow!

Quote:
the very reason why one will turn his other cheek in the millennial kingdom is because the Lord will rule with a Rod of Iron. The Lord Himself will take care of any injustice so it is not left to men. The Lord is teaching principles of grace that will prevail in the coming kingdom when he says to turn the other cheek but due to the fact that the Lord will rule with a Rod of Iron there will be little strife

That's a new twist. So I guess we don't have to love our enemies now either! Wow, how convenient. You can dispensationalize anything out of scripture and make living the Christian life really easy! Wink

Ed Vasicek's picture

I would argue that the fact the Gospel writers devote so much space to the Sermon on the Mount (SOM) is precisely because it IS relevant to the church age. If you think about it, the Book of James is very much like the SOM. I have devoted several chapters in my book to demonstrate how the Sermon on the Mount is actually a series of Midrashim (Jewish-style sermons) on Old Testament texts, particularly Deuteronomy.

The same verses (2 Timothy 3:16-17) that teach all Scripture is inspired teach that all Scripture is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, etc., not just some Scripture.

If you understand Jesus words in their Jewish context, they are not as radical as they seem in the SOM, and they harmonize perfectly with the rest of Scripture. Relegating them to the millennium is an attempt to harmonize what seems to be two distinct ethical systems. If you think about it, nowhere does the text say, "these are the standards for the Millennium." Although such attempts are honest about the fact that, taken without the Jewish context, the SOM does seem to contradict Paul, for example, the problem is not contradiction, but context.

By locating the Old Testament passages Jesus is preaching about, and then understanding the debates of the day, they harmonize beautifully. This is what my book, the Midrash Key, does.

"The Midrash Detective"

Jack Hampton's picture

Joel, I asked you:

"Do you take no thought for tomorrow?"

To which you replied:

Quote:
To a certain extent, yeah!

As a inner-city missionary, My family and I have had to trust in God to supply our needs. And we do much better when we are not worried than when we are all uptight about what is going to happen tomorrow!


That is very commendable, Joel. However, what about others who do not walk in your steps, who do take thought for tomorrow and save money for emergencies that may occur at anythime in the future and buy insurance to protect ourselves from unforseen accidents that may occur in the future?

Certainly we who do such things are not following the teaching of Jesus Christ here:

"Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?...Therefore, take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?...take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself" (Mt.6:25-34).

Would you say that we who save for future emergencies and buy insurance in case of unforseen disasters (in other words, take thought for tomorrow) are doing things which go against the teaching of the Lord Jesus at Matthew 6:25-34?

Quote:
So I guess we don't have to love our enemies now either! Wow, how convenient. You can dispensationalize anything out of scripture and make living the Christian life really easy!

Do you keep the dietary laws laid out in the Scriptures?

I am sure you do not and the reason why you do not is because you realize that those commands are only applicable in another dispensation.

The same can be said for these commands in regard to unconditional love which are not done naturally according to human nature. Those in the kingdom will be supernaturally empowered to keep those commandments of God:

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws" (Ez.36:26-27).

Jack Hampton's picture

Ed Vasicek wrote:
I would argue that the fact the Gospel writers devote so much space to the Sermon on the Mount (SOM) is precisely because it IS relevant to the church age. If you think about it, the Book of James is very much like the SOM. I have devoted several chapters in my book to demonstrate how the Sermon on the Mount is actually a series of Midrashim (Jewish-style sermons) on Old Testament texts, particularly Deuteronomy.

The same verses (2 Timothy 3:16-17) that teach all Scripture is inspired teach that all Scripture is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, etc., not just some Scripture.


I never said that Christians cannot learn things from the teachings from the Sermon on the Mount. for us it is profitable for instruction in righteousness:

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim.3:16).

The Sermon on the Mount speaks of a higher morality that even the Ten Commandments:

"Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Mt.5:27-28).

While the commandment is only in regard outward act the Lord Jesus teaches that adultery actually begins within one's heart and follows on the act.The desire in the heart is as wrong as the act. Even Jimmy Carter took this to heart.

Quote:
If you understand Jesus words in their Jewish context, they are not as radical as they seem in the SOM, and they harmonize perfectly with the rest of Scripture.

Let us look at these principles which will apply when the kingdom is set up on the earth:

"Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?...Therefore, take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?...take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself" (Mt.6:25-34).

If a Christian does not take thought for tomorrow then when an emergency happens he will be unable to provide for those in his family. Here is what Paul says about those:

"But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" (1 Tim.5:8).

Quote:
If you think about it, nowhere does the text say, "these are the standards for the Millennium."

I would say that an examination of the verses will lead one to the conclusion that the passages relate to the coming kingdom to the earth:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven...Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth...Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Mt.5:3,5,10).

Today the meek certainly do not inherit the earth nor does the kingdom belong to those who are persecuted for righteosness' sake. Those blessings will not be realized until the kingdom is set up on the earth.

Quote:
By locating the Old Testament passages Jesus is preaching about, and then understanding the debates of the day, they harmonize beautifully. This is what my book, the Midrash Key, does.

It was the debates of those days which the Lord Jesus Himself condemned:

"And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition" (Mk.7:9).

Brian Jo's picture

Jack, how can you say that the Sermon on the Mount (or any of Jesus' teachings) does not apply to us in light of Matthew 28:18-20?

Jack Hampton's picture

Brian Jo wrote:
Jack, how can you say that the Sermon on the Mount (or any of Jesus' teachings) does not apply to us in light of Matthew 28:18-20?

Brian Jo, I can say what I said because if Matthew 28:18-20 applies to Christians then Christians are commanded to keep the law:

"And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Mt.28:18-20).

Here is what He commanded just a few days earlier:

"Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not" (Mt.23:1-3).

Brian Jo's picture

Perhaps I can save a few back and forths by just stating my views. I'm really not that interested in debating the subject here.

In light of the fact that the Apostles were the founders of the church (Matt 16:18, Eph 2:20), and received the gift of eternal life the same way we do (faith in the crucified and risen Messiah), and given that Christ commanded them to teach their disciples to follow everything He taught them, it is almost incomprehensible to say that Christ's teachings do not apply to us today, no matter what your eschatological views are.

And if you do want to argue that they don't apply, please show me at what point the disciples were instructed to stop teaching their disciples to obey all that Christ commanded. Do we not still follow the Apostolic teaching today?

Jack Hampton's picture

Brian Jo wrote:
Were the apostles not Christians?

Not at the time when they heard the Sermon on the Mount. Then their religion was Judaism. The last thing that they were thinking about at that point in time was beginning a new religion.
.
Quote:
In light of the fact that the Apostles were the founders of the church (Matt 16:18, Eph 2:20), and received the gift of eternal life the same way we do (faith in the crucified and risen Messiah), and given that Christ commanded them to teach their disciples to follow everything He taught them, it is almost incomprehensible to say that Christ's teachings do not apply to us today, no matter what your eschatological views are.

Does the following repesent a commandment which Christians are supposed to obey?:

"Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not" (Mt.23:1-3).

Quote:
And if you do want to argue that they don't apply, please show me at what point the disciples were instructed to stop teaching their disciples to obey all that Christ commanded. Do we not still follow the Apostolic teaching today?

The verse which I just quoted is in regard to keeping the law. At Acts 15 it was decided that the Gentile believers did not have to keep the law. However, Paul, who was their apostle, had never told the Gentiles that they had to keep the law. That is because he received the gospel which he preached to the Gentiles directly from the risen Jesus Christ.

Brian Jo's picture

Jack Hampton wrote:
Brian Jo wrote:
Were the apostles not Christians?

Not at the time when they heard the Sermon on the Mount. Then their religion was Judaism. The last thing that they were thinking about at that point in time was beginning a new religion.

The point is not whether or not they were Christians when they heard the SOM, it is that they were Christians at the time they were commanded to pass on the commandments of Christ to their disciples. Do you not agree?

Quote:
In light of the fact that the Apostles were the founders of the church (Matt 16:18, Eph 2:20), and received the gift of eternal life the same way we do (faith in the crucified and risen Messiah), and given that Christ commanded them to teach their disciples to follow everything He taught them, it is almost incomprehensible to say that Christ's teachings do not apply to us today, no matter what your eschatological views are.

Does the following repesent a commandment which Christians are supposed to obey?:

"Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not" (Mt.23:1-3).

Quote:
And if you do want to argue that they don't apply, please show me at what point the disciples were instructed to stop teaching their disciples to obey all that Christ commanded. Do we not still follow the Apostolic teaching today?

The verse which I just quoted is in regard to keeping the law. At Acts 15 it was decided that the Gentile believers did not have to keep the law. However, Paul, who was their apostle, had never told the Gentiles that they had to keep the law. That is because he received the gospel which he preached to the Gentiles directly from the risen Jesus Christ.[/quote]

The point Mt. 23:1-3 is that we are to obey our teachers insofar as they are accurately interpreting the scriptures. Notice that before the command to "observe whatever they tell you," the scribes and Pharisees are described as ones who "sit in Moses' seat." It is only as they are accurately relating what Moses taught that we are to obey. This is obvious, because Jesus spends the rest of chapter 23 condemning their legalistic teachings and practices, and a large chunk of Jesus' ministry was spent condemning their teaching, and even personally breaking their laws.

As far as keeping the law, the moral law of God is still binding. The other aspects that were related specifically to national and religious Israel were fulfilled in Christ. That is one of the main arguments of Hebrews.

Regarding Paul being the Apostle to the gentiles, don't forget that in Acts his pattern was to begin in the synagogues preaching to Jews. He was preaching the same gospel he preached to Gentiles. How do I know? Because everywhere he went he had Jews trying to kill him.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Jack Hampton wrote:
Ed Vasicek wrote:
I would argue that the fact the Gospel writers devote so much space to the Sermon on the Mount (SOM) is precisely because it IS relevant to the church age. If you think about it, the Book of James is very much like the SOM. I have devoted several chapters in my book to demonstrate how the Sermon on the Mount is actually a series of Midrashim (Jewish-style sermons) on Old Testament texts, particularly Deuteronomy.

The same verses (2 Timothy 3:16-17) that teach all Scripture is inspired teach that all Scripture is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, etc., not just some Scripture.


I never said that Christians cannot learn things from the teachings from the Sermon on the Mount. for us it is profitable for instruction in righteousness:

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim.3:16).

The Sermon on the Mount speaks of a higher morality that even the Ten Commandments:

"Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Mt.5:27-28).

While the commandment is only in regard outward act the Lord Jesus teaches that adultery actually begins within one's heart and follows on the act.The desire in the heart is as wrong as the act. Even Jimmy Carter took this to heart.

Quote:
If you understand Jesus words in their Jewish context, they are not as radical as they seem in the SOM, and they harmonize perfectly with the rest of Scripture.

Let us look at these principles which will apply when the kingdom is set up on the earth:

"Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?...Therefore, take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?...take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself" (Mt.6:25-34).

If a Christian does not take thought for tomorrow then when an emergency happens he will be unable to provide for those in his family. Here is what Paul says about those:

"But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" (1 Tim.5:8).

Quote:
If you think about it, nowhere does the text say, "these are the standards for the Millennium."

I would say that an examination of the verses will lead one to the conclusion that the passages relate to the coming kingdom to the earth:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven...Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth...Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Mt.5:3,5,10).

Today the meek certainly do not inherit the earth nor does the kingdom belong to those who are persecuted for righteosness' sake. Those blessings will not be realized until the kingdom is set up on the earth.

Quote:
By locating the Old Testament passages Jesus is preaching about, and then understanding the debates of the day, they harmonize beautifully. This is what my book, the Midrash Key, does.

It was the debates of those days which the Lord Jesus Himself condemned:

"And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition" (Mk.7:9).

Jack, I used to hold the view that you hold, so I know that it can make sense. However, my research has led me to conclude that the Sermon on the Mount is NOT stricter than the Law. In the cases of some of these instances, Jesus is doing the Rabbinic thing by putting a FENCE around one of the 613 commandments of the Torah. The notable rabbis all did this. The idea of a fence is that of a safeguard. For example, many Jews will not pronounce the Name of "Yahweh" but will say Adonai or write out G-d instead of God as a protective fence to add an extra barrier to the command about misusing God's Name. In my book, "The Midrash Key," I deal a lot with this concept. The oldest part of the Talmud, the Mishnah, speaks of this practice as it instructs rabbis about their work:

Quote:
Be deliberate in judgment, raise up many disciples, and make a fence around the Torah…" Mishnah, Ethics of the Fathers, 1:1.

Jesus is expositing the Law and applying the principles of the Law to a variety of situations, as did hundreds of other Rabbis. Only those other Rabbis were not the Messiah!

The verses about eating and drinking, etc., are probably an exposition of Deuteronomy 8:3-6,

Quote:
He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years.
Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you. Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and revering him.

"The Midrash Detective"

Bob T.'s picture

Matthew 6: 25 is translated in the NASB as; "do not be anxious for your life." The ESV also translates this the same. The KJV is a fairly good translation but was translated by men who had no idea what kind of Greek they were translating as they had no idea that there was such a thing as "Koine" Greek. They often struggled with vocabulary and construction that appeared to be strange for Classic Greek. Their translation as; "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink;" is way off the mark. The same Greek word is used at verse 27 and further explains the passage. In all ages, including the Millennial Kingdom, believers will certainly give due thought regarding food, clothing, and the necessary affairs of life. We are to do so while trusting God. The meaning here has to do with trusting God for our needs. This was to be true of the Jews in the Kingdom then being offered to them. It is to be true of all those who follow the Messiah. Even those of this age. The issue is faith living. Malachi 2:4 states "the just shall live by faith." This applied to the Jews but is also quoted in the books of Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews where it applies to the believers of this age. Such are grafted into the Spiritual aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant but not the throne or land aspect. The Spiritual aspect is reiterated and expanded by the New Covenant of Jeremiah. The principle is active now but fulfillment is to be in the Millennium. All saints of all ages are called to live by faith. The sermon on the mount gives some details regarding several aspects of such a life.

The Sermon on the mount is related to the coming Kingdom and applies also as a guide indicating God's ideal living which can be applied for the church today. We should take heed to see and understand that in the Gospels Jesus is presenting himself as Messiah and offering His Kingdom to Israel. However, they are written as a witness to all today. The Hebraic nature of the Gospels was ignored by the European theologians and brought many serious errors to Christian theology. It took the printing press and eventual dissemination of God's word to bring about a grass roots faith that freed many from the errors and prejudices of european theology.

Also, as one with a few decades of ministry and teaching, may I kindly make the observation that it appears that one poster on here is a "Hyper Dispensationalist" who has been on various threads offering the tired old arguments for various aspects of that error. These have been offered and answered many times over the last decades. Somewhat a waste of time to argue such points over and over again. Hyper Dispensation and Hyper Calvinism go together as theologies that kill evangelism and create shrinking churches.

Jack Hampton's picture

Bob T. wrote:
Matthew 6: 25 is translated in the NASB as; "do not be anxious for your life." The ESV also translates this the same. The KJV is a fairly good translation but was translated by men who had no idea what kind of Greek they were translating as they had no idea that there was such a thing as "Koine" Greek. They often struggled with vocabulary and construction that appeared to be strange for Classic Greek. Their translation as; "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink;" is way off the mark.

The basic teaching contained within the passages does not change whether one reads the KJV or the NASB:

"Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?" (Mt.6:26; NASB).

The Lord is saying that the Lord looks after the birds who do not have to plan for the future. They do not have to plant crops nor do they need to gather into barns for storage that which they reap. They get plently to eat even without doing these things. And since in God's eyes man is worth more than the birds He will likewise feed them so there is no need for those in the kingdom to sow and store what they reap in barns.

With that context in mind then we can understand better what is said here:

"Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (Mt.6:31-33; NASB).

So a different translation does not change the basic teaching of what the Lord Jesus said in these verse. With Him in the midst His disciples were sent out to preach the gospel of the kingdom acting on the principles which will be in affect during the kingdom:

"Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece" (Lk.9:1-3).

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The Sermon on the mount is related to the coming Kingdom and applies also as a guide indicating God's ideal living which can be applied for the church today.

Good luck to you, BobT, if you live according to the principles which even the NASB outlines--because you are going to need it!
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Also, as one with a few decades of ministry and teaching, may I kindly make the observation that it appears that one poster on here is a "Hyper Dispensationalist" who has been on various threads offering the tired old arguments for various aspects of that error.

It is easy to call others names and say that they are in error but it is an entirely different matter to prove that they are in error. And you have proved nothing. Where I grew up we call people like you "all hat and no ranch!"

There is nothing stopping you from starting a thread on this subject. I certainly will participate.

Bob T.'s picture

Jack Hampton stated:

Quote:
The basic teaching contained within the passages does not change whether one reads the KJV or the NASB:

Really? Well, how about the Greek text? Do you think a translation may wrongly convey the meaning of the original language? In this case "take no thought" is very different from "do not be anxious."

We should not practice exegesis by "taking no thought." Also, Ill take the big hat and leave you and your theology with the cows.

Jack Hampton's picture

Earlier I said:

"The basic teaching contained within the passages does not change whether one reads the KJV or the NASB."

To which you replied:

Bob T. wrote:
Really? Well, how about the Greek text? Do you think a translation may wrongly convey the meaning of the original language? In this case "take no thought" is very different from "do not be anxious."

You just ignore the context and what I said about the context or else you would understand that the translation "take no thought" conveys the right thought. I will repeat what I said earlier and perhaps this time you will not just ignore either the verses or my comments. Here is the translation from the NASB:

"Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?" (Mt.6:26; NASB).

The Lord is saying that the Lord looks after the birds who do not have to plan for the future. They do not have to plant crops nor do they need to gather into barns for storage that which they reap. They get plently to eat even without doing these things. And since in God's eyes man is worth more than the birds He will likewise feed them so there is no need for those in the kingdom to sow and store what they reap in barns.

With that context in mind then we can understand better what is said here:

"Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (Mt.6:31-33; NASB).

The Lord is saying that in the kingdom there will be no need to sow and store in the barns the things which are reaped because "all these things will be added to you."

One of the meanings of the Greek word traslated "to be anxious" is "to be troubled with cares." So since the Lord says not to be troubled with cares about future needs there is no need to give thought to those same needs, especially since "all these things will be added to you."

This is not difficult to understand but you want to cling to your mistaken beliefs and in order to do that you just ignore the context.

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We should not practice exegesis by "taking no thought."

You practice exegesis by "taking no thought" to the context.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Jack Hampton wrote:
The Lord is saying that the Lord looks after the birds who do not have to plan for the future. They do not have to plant crops nor do they need to gather into barns for storage that which they reap. They get plently to eat even without doing these things. And since in God's eyes man is worth more than the birds He will likewise feed them so there is no need for those in the kingdom to sow and store what they reap in barns.

With that context in mind then we can understand better what is said here:

"Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (Mt.6:31-33; NASB).

The Lord is saying that in the kingdom there will be no need to sow and store in the barns the things which are reaped because "all these things will be added to you."

Jack,

You make a huge leap here, completely skipping the intermediary position, and completely ignoring Bob's point. To avoid worry is not the same as not planning/working/making provision - i.e giving no thought whatsoever. These are all commands which extend from the perfect creation setting in the garden through the perfect reign of Christ. The point is not to be bothered by the need of these needs. There really is a HUGE difference between your understanding of "take no thought" (don't bother about in any way) and the idea behind "don't be anxious" (don't be troubled about) . The latter is the primary definition of merimnao (to be troubled with cares); the former is the secondary definition of merimnao (to look out for a thing).

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

mounty's picture

Jack Hampton wrote:
Bob T. wrote:
Also, as one with a few decades of ministry and teaching, may I kindly make the observation that it appears that one poster on here is a "Hyper Dispensationalist" who has been on various threads offering the tired old arguments for various aspects of that error.

It is easy to call others names and say that they are in error but it is an entirely different matter to prove that they are in error. And you have proved nothing. Where I grew up we call people like you "all hat and no ranch!"

Anyone else enjoying the irony today? Smile

Jack Hampton's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:
[ There really is a HUGE difference between your understanding of "take no thought" (don't bother about in any way) and the idea behind "don't be anxious" (don't be troubled about) .

Why should anyone give thought in regard to future needs if they are given the promise that "all these things will be added to you"?

I would take the Lord at His word so I would not bother about these future needs in any way. The Scriptures tell me that my salvation is secure so "I take no thought" about losing my salvation in any way.

Perhaps you think that the Lord Jesus is saying that although all your future needs will be given to you nonetheless you should be bothered in certain ways about them. If you think that one who is living in the kingdom should bother about these future needs in certain ways then that would be a case of not putting trust in regard to what He promises.

Did you notice that I am the only one who has examined the "context" as to the meaning of the phrase in question? Neither you nor BobT have said anything about the context nor have you shown that anything I said about the meaning of the context is in error. But you both just want to focus on the meaning of one phrase in one verse and ignore the rest.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

And you want to simply ignore the meaning of the word. I work. I budget. But I don't worry about paying my bills. Your dichotomy is unworkable because it simply ignores everything you don't want to accept.

As to context, several have provided answers. As with the definition, you simple reject and ignore everything you don't want to accept.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Bro. Ed. Thanks for the post. Hope to see more like it.

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A disciple who is ready to take advantage of others, to control others or to intimidate others is not very Christ-like. Such withholders of grace disgrace the God of grace. On the other hand, a disciple who walks extra miles without limit is an enabler of abuse and wrong. Between those two is the disciple who gives people space to err, but knows when enough is enough.

A professor in college once said that it's OK to let people walk all over you, but you don't have to let them stop and wipe their feet. Gotta' love that down home theology. Biggrin

Greg Long's picture

Jack Hampton wrote:
The basic teaching contained within the passages does not change whether one reads the KJV or the NASB:

"Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?" (Mt.6:26; NASB).

The Lord is saying that the Lord looks after the birds who do not have to plan for the future. They do not have to plant crops nor do they need to gather into barns for storage that which they reap. They get plently to eat even without doing these things. And since in God's eyes man is worth more than the birds He will likewise feed them so there is no need for those in the kingdom to sow and store what they reap in barns.

Birds may not plant crops or gather into barns but they do build nests, which takes "planning." So the meaning of the passage is clearly not, "Don't give any thought to the future" but rather "do not worry about the future." As others have pointed out, that's what the word means in the Greek.

Can you give any exegetical commentary support to your position, Jack? Because although I don't have any on hand here at work, I know I could give quite a few examples of commentaries that support the view of the rest of us here on this thread.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Greg Long's picture

Ed, thanks for your article. I taught through the Sermon on the Mount and although I don't have anywhere near the knowledge you do, I benefited greatly from researching the rabbinical backgrounds of the teachings Jesus was addressing. It was very interesting and enlightening.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Ed Vasicek's picture

Greg Long wrote:
Ed, thanks for your article. I taught through the Sermon on the Mount and although I don't have anywhere near the knowledge you do, I benefited greatly from researching the rabbinical backgrounds of the teachings Jesus was addressing. It was very interesting and enlightening.

Thanks, Greg. And thanks Susan, too.

I have really been amazed at how understanding that much of the New Testament is an interpretation and application from the Old clarifies texts so much. This is especially true with the Sermon on the Mount.

God bless! Smile

"The Midrash Detective"

B L Wilkins's picture

Thank you for the article. It is very good and stimulates thought concerning the context of what our Lord was saying and how we are then to interpret it. I, too, hope more will be forthcoming. As to the little debate that is going on, how are we to understand Phil. 4:6? It's the same word. If we are not to think at all about whatever might be on our hearts, how can we then even bring our perceived needs and requests before God? I just cannot see how worry does not fit the context in the portion of the Sermon under discussion. Seems to fit very well.

Jack Hampton's picture

Greg Long wrote:
Can you give any exegetical commentary support to your position, Jack? Because although I don't have any on hand here at work, I know I could give quite a few examples of commentaries that support the view of the rest of us here on this thread.

Greg, if the principles spoken in the Sermon on the Mount was for the time they were spoken and not just for the time when the Kingdom will be set up on the earth then how do you explain the following commandment from that sermon and the Lord Jesus own actions? Here is what He said in the sermon:

"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" (Mt.5:39).

Here is how the Lord reacted when He was struck:

"And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so? Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?" (Jn.18:22-23).

The Lord Jesus certainly did not turn the other cheek.

And is this what we should teach today?:

"But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a 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" (Mt.5:22).

Are we suppose to teach that condemnation to hell is according to that principle or this one?::

"For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (Jn.3:17-18).

The Lord Jesus said:

"And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (Jn.12:47-48).

Today we are ministers of reconciliation and we are to preach a gospel which is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, no matter how guilty a man might be. It is a man's response to the gospel that determines his destiny--not anything that he has done in the flesh, no matter how evil his sin might be.

Ed Vasicek's picture

B L Wilkins wrote:
Thank you for the article. It is very good and stimulates thought concerning the context of what our Lord was saying and how we are then to interpret it. I, too, hope more will be forthcoming. As to the little debate that is going on, how are we to understand Phil. 4:6? It's the same word. If we are not to think at all about whatever might be on our hearts, how can we then even bring our perceived needs and requests before God? I just cannot see how worry does not fit the context in the portion of the Sermon under discussion. Seems to fit very well.

I am of the opinion that there is such a thing as holy worry. The command to be anxious about nothing is a principle, an axiom that must sometimes be weighed against other axioms, not a complete teaching. Sometimes I think I wrote my book, The Midrash Key, just so I could copy and paste stuff on SI Smile But here goes:

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The reader must remember that Jesus is reducing detailed teaching down to general, "hands on" principles. He is demonstrating how Torah passages could be expanded and applied to life in his day. These condensed, black and white generalities provide a starting point, not necessarily an ending point. They are not complete treatises, but wise sayings which sometimes must be weighed against other wise sayings.

and then a footnote:

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Matthew 7:6 (KJV) suggests that it can be wasteful to expend our efforts: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” Like Proverbs 26:4-5 (KJV), there are situations where one must discern an approach depending upon the character of the individual with whom we are interacting: “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.”

As far as worry (and fear, which is the bigger category under which worry is a sub-category), we are first afraid/worried, and then we process our fear/worry. Psalm 56:3 presents the logical order:

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When I am afraid, I will trust in you.

I think we should be as casual and honest about fear and worry as Paul was in I Thessalonians 3:1-5

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1So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. 2We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God's fellow worker[a ]in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, 3so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them. 4In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. 5For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent Timothy to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless.

"The Midrash Detective"

B L Wilkins's picture

I agree with your above post. On more than one occasion, in fact, the Apostle Paul voiced concerns that we would say at least border on our concept or present usage of worry. My only point was that "take no thought" has more the idea of anxiety and worry, as especially seen in Phil. 4:6 and that idea, in principle, fits very well in the context of the Sermon where the same termonology is used. I don't think the idea of "don't think about it at all" or "don't bother with it at all" really can be born out from the word or context. One can say that and still believe the SOM has relation to the coming Kingdom (in what way exactly can be and is debated among even Dispensationalists) by interpretation and still have relevance and application to our day today. The hour is late so I better stop typing lest I really start to ramble. Anyway, thanks again for the article.

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