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The Pinnacle of Hope: Ascending the Mountain (Mt 5:1-2)

The Pinnacle of Hope: Ascending the Mountain (Mt 5:1-2)

“So therefore let us too run up to the upward path, so that we may come with Isaiah to the pinnacle of hope, and see from a vantage-point those good things which the Word shews to those who accompany him to the height.”–Gregory of Nyssa[1]

When Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) described the first two verses of Matt 5 as a “brief preamble” to the Sermon, he certainly didn’t think they were needless, throw-away lines.[2] He would have agreed with Pennington, who tells us that “verses 1-2 serve as the foundational introduction to the whole of the Sermon. They are not mere ornamental words to be skipped over quickly on the way to the real meat of the Sermon.”[3]

No. Something important is going on here. And we would do well to not fall asleep, like the apostolic band, as we witness Christ on the mountain. Do not let him slip from your gaze, as our Lord ascends the mountain.

ASCENDING THE MOUNTAIN

And why does Jesus ascend the mountain? Because a mountain is where one goes to find respite in the very presence of God. Remigius of Auxerre (AD 841-908) pointed out that our Lord would retire from the crowd to go in one of three directions: to a ship (Lk 5), to the desert (Mk 6:31), or to a mountain (Jn 8:1).[4] “And this was fitting enough,” says Thomas, “for in three things can a man have a refuge in relation to God:” in the assembly, the great fellow “ship” (Ps 122:1-4), in the quiet ascetic life like the desert fathers (Ps 55:6-8), and, finally, “in protection of the divine loftiness” (Ps 125:1-2).”[5] “It is placed in the loftiness of His Father’s Majesty,” writes Hilary (AD 310-368), “that He gives the commands of heavenly life.”[6]

Why does Jesus ascend the mountain? To illustrate the exalted nature of the teaching that would soon issue forth from his lips. Because, in the words of John Chrysostom (d. AD 407), “no one can stay standing in a valley and speak of heaven.”[7] “When he had climbed the steep hill,” writes Erasmus (1466-1536), “he now began to play the role of the teacher of heavenly philosophy, indicating by the very height of the place that he was about to hand on nothing plebeian or lowly, but all the things that are exalted and heavenly.”[8] For Augustine (AD 354-430), the mountain points “toward the gospel’s higher righteousness,” offering “higher precepts to a people to whom it is fitting to be set free by love.”[9]

Why does Jesus ascend the mountain? “To manifest his excellence,” says Thomas, for Jesus Christ himself “is the mountain” of the Lord, where the Father has chosen to dwell forever as the mountain of his abode (Ps 68:16).[10] In Luke’s version (Luke 6:17-49), Jesus calls the 12 while on the mountain, then descends from the mountain with his holy ones to stand on a plain. The imagery reminds us of the Moses story; it reminds us of God (Deut 33:1-3). In the second part of Isaiah, a pregnant section which “serves as the primary backdrop for all of the Gospels and for the Beatitudes particularly,”[11] Isaiah speaks prophetically and eschatologically (40:9-11):

“Get you up to a high mountain
O Zion, herald of good tidings;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,
lift it up, do not fear;
say to the cities of Judah,
‘Here is your God!’”

And why should we ascend the mountain with Christ? Because in a sermon of this magnitude, notes Chrysostom, both the teacher and every hearer “should stand on a high ground of spiritual virtues.”[12] “The Lord goes up to the mountains to draw the crowds toward deeper matters with himself,” says Jerome (AD 347-420), “but the crowds are not capable of ascending.”[13] So let us go up. Not like the waiting crowd who stood at the base of the mountain and would not dare to draw near; but like the faithful who heeded the call of Hebrews: “Let us draw near.”

St. Ambrose of Milan (AD 337-397) encourages us to seek the climb:

Not everyone who prays climbs a mountain…but he who prays well, progressing from things earthly to things above, climbs the peak of sublime love…He ascends who seeks God, he ascends who earnestly requests Divine help for his climb. All the great, all the exalted ascend the mountain…Ye ascend this mountain not with corporeal footsteps, but with lofty deeds. Follow Christ, so that ye yourself can be a mountain.[14]

Saint Gregory (d. AD 604) joins in the chorus:

Who then among those gathered here is such as to be a disciple of the Word and to go up with him from the low ground and away from the hollows of lowly thoughts to the spiritual mountain of sublime contemplation? It rises above every shadow cast by the upstart hillocks of evil, and, illuminated on every side by the radiance of the true light, allows us in the clear air of truth to view from a place of vantage all that is invisible to those labouring in the hollow. The sights to be observed from this peak, their nature and their number, God the Word himself, as he blesses those who climb up with him, explains. He points, as it were with his finger, on the one side at the kingdom of the heavens, on another at the inheritance of the land above, then at mercy and justice and comfort and the affinity which may come about with the God of the universe, and the reward for being persecuted, which is to share God’s house with him, and all the other things besides these which are there to be seen from the mountain on high, as the Word points out the view perceived by hope from his lofty hill-top. While the Lord goes up the mountain therefore, let us hear Isaiah’s cry, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord’. Though we be debilitated with sin, let us ‘strengthen’ as the prophecy tells us ‘the enfeebled hands and collapsing knees.’ Should we reach the peak, we shall find the one who heals ‘every disease and every sickness,’ who takes on him ‘our infirmities’ and bears ‘the burden of our diseases.’ So therefore let us too run up to the upward path, so that we may come with Isaiah to the pinnacle of hope, and see from a vantage-point those good things which the Word shews to those who accompany him to the height.[15]

HE WENT UP INTO THE MOUNTAIN

Notice the text does not say he ascended “a” mountain; Matthew tells us Jesus went up into the mountain (anebē eis to oros). The greek article is fluid, and we need a good reason to make much of the language here. [16] And we have good reason! When Moses and the elders travel to stand in the very presence of God, we read that Moses went up (anebē) into the mountain (eis to oros) (Ex 19:3; 24:12 LXX).[17] It was “in the mountain” that the elders accompanying Moses “saw God” (Ex 24:11) as they received the law (Ex. 24:12), just as Jesus’ followers were given the promise that the pure in heart “shall see God” (Mt 5:8), as he gave them the Divine law of Christ.[18] Just as “going up” is a telling phrase, Matthew quotes Exodus 34:29 verbatim when he describes Jesus coming down from the mountain (Mt 8:1).

Six times in the Hebrew Bible the idea of going up “into the mountain” refers to Mt Zion, when, in God’s glorious future, all people would go up to learn God’s new ways (Isa 2:1-3; 30:29; Micah 4:2; Ps 24:3; Zech 8:3; 1 Macc 5:54; cf. Isa 40:9; Jer 31:6; Obad 21; Hag 1:8; 1 Macc 7:33). The actual, physical mountain on which Jesus ascended is not important. In Israelite history, all major mountains were transformed into theological symbols, from Ararat to Gilead, from Moriah to Pisgah.[19] That is why Matthew portrays numerous mountain visits by Jesus as places where God enacts eschatological promises, where God shows up to do for Israel (and the world) what he promised in the prophets (see Matt 15:29; 17:1-13; 24:1-25:46; 28:16-20).

So let us go up with him, behind him, following after him. “Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord…that he may teach us His ways, and that we may walk in his paths” (Isa 2:3). Not simply to learn a message “from Christ,” but so that we may “learn Christ” (Eph 4:20). When the text says “he” went up the mountain, the reader knows this is more than simply a character named “Jesus;” it is the Jesus described by Matthew in the four chapters preceding.[20] It is the Jesus who offers mercy and life, healing and forgiveness. It is Emmanuel, the very presence of God, come to dwell with His people. Matthew “guides us to see in the Sermon not simply a moral vision but Jesus himself, the Jesus who is the new Moses with a new moral vision for God’s new people.”[21]

Ascend the mountain. Sit at his feet. Grow, by the Spirit, into the very likeness of God. tell the world

Let us go up the mountain, and learn the character of Jesus. “It is as impossible to dissociate a man from his message as a tree from its sap,” says Clarence Jordan. Jesus and his sermon “belong together. You can’t fully understand one apart from the other.”[22] He continues:

So it would be unfair to ask you to accept the Sermon without accepting Jesus, and vice versa. If it is your intention to leave Jesus out of your life, it would be well not to make this study, for apart from him, his Sermon is senseless idealism—an impossible, frustrating, ethic. It might even make you bitter and cynical.

But if you wish to learn and take on the character of Christ, the Sermon is a healing salve.

HE SAT DOWN

The text says he “sat down.” Perhaps he sits because of the solemnity of the subject matter,[23] “for the study of wisdom requires repose.”[24] Maybe he sits as is customary, because of “the dignity of the office of teacher,” like those who sit in Moses’ seat (Mt 23:2; Lk 4:20).[25]  Perhaps he sits for our benefit, as Aquinas notes: ““When He was in the loftiness of His majesty, His doctrine could not be received; but then men began to receive it, when He humbled Himself.”[26]

But I can’t help but see another reference to the Moses theme. According to Dale Allison, the rabbinic tradition read Deuteronomy 9:9 (which says Moses “remained” on the mountain to receive God’s law) as Moses “sitting” on the mountain; and this tradition would have been well known to Matthew’s audience.[27] Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) rightly claims that when Jesus “sat down”, he was taking up his seat in the cathedra of Moses. The earlier crowd, around the first mountain, had said “Let Moses speak to us, but not God!” Here, God himself speaks—not out of a mountain burning with fire—but seated, conversing with his disciples (and you and I) “as with a friend.”[28]

THE DISCIPLES CAME TO HIM

His disciples came to him. Behold the drawing power of Christ! The disciples, desiring “to hear some great and high thing,”[29] drew near to Christ, “so that they might be physically nearer to hear His words, since they were approaching Him in spirit to fulfill His precepts.”[30] Thomas tells us the disciples didn’t just bring their bodies; they brought their souls.[31] And, for the master healer, this was entirely appropriate. “For it was not men’s bodies only that He was healing,” writes Chrysostom, “but He was also amending their souls.”[32]

And it pleased the Lord.

Every man in his own trade or profession rejoices when he sees an opportunity of exercising it; the carpenter if he sees a goodly tree desires to have it to cut down to employ his skill on, and the Priest when he sees a full Church, his heart rejoices, he is glad of the occasion to teach. So the Lord seeing a great congregation of people was stirred to teach them.[33]

LIFTING UP HIS EYES, OPENING HIS MOUTH

Luke’s version tells us Christ looked up, lifting up his eyes (Luke 6:20). Ambrose can’t help but be reminded of Jesus’ actions at the death of Lazarus—being deeply moved in spirit, he looked upward before calling him forth from the grave (Jn 11:41)—and imagines a similar instance with the woman caught in the act of adultery (Jn 8:10, where Jesus ‘straightens up’ before pronouncing forgiveness). “For what is it to lift the eyes,” writes Ambrose, “but to open the inner light?”[34]

According to Matthew, Jesus opened his mouth and began to teach them. The phrase “opening his mouth,” appears, at first, redundant. But there is not a throw-away line in all of Scripture! Matthew uses this same phrasing in 13:35 (where one of his fulfillment quotations appears). In both cases, Matthew is summoning Psalm 78:2, showing that Jesus’ teaching style is rooted in Divine fulfillment; Jesus speaks with prophetic wisdom and power.

The phrase also lends an heir of solemnity, as many have noted.[35] “Before Jesus speaks,” writes Bonhoeffer, “there is a pause—all is silent for a moment or two.”[36] “Why did [Matthew] add the phrase ‘and opening his mouth’?” asks Chrysostom; “So that you might learn that even when silent Christ was teaching, not only when giving utterance, but at one time he teaches by opening his mouth, and at another by giving voice through his deeds.”[37] “[P]erhaps,” adds Augustine, “there is some significance in the fact that He who in the Old Law used to open the mouths of the Prophets is now said to have opened His own mouth.”[38]

Perhaps indeed. Ambrose finds more than solemnity here. Since Christ went “about to preach and to bring forth oracles of blessings from the treasure of His Godhead,” it is fitting to see in “opening his mouth” Christ opening “the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God; when the inner chambers of His Temple were revealed, He opened His mouth.”[39]

THE INTENDED AUDIENCE

And who is he teaching? Whom does our Lord address? The crowd or the disciples, or both? Pinckaers is right when he says “the exegetical question would enjoy only relative importance were it not that considerable theological consequences have been drawn from  it.”[40]

“His disciples came to him, and he taught them” seems simple enough. A long line of distinguished commentators, from Augustine to Daniel Doriani, believe its important for the sermon to be an address aimed primarily at the disciples, not some larger group. There are several reasons for this take. One is a fear of a works-righteousness connotation. “We listen to Jesus and strive to obey him,” says Doriani, “not in order to gain entry into the kingdom, but to live faithfully within it.”[41]  Another concern, among those of the manualist tradition, is to preserve the Sermon for the spiritual elite. The crowd may listens in as crowds do, but the sermon (so they say) is not addressed to them.

The sermon offers blessings to those who know of their need for God’s grace (5:3), who will suffer persecution for Jesus’ sake (5:11-12), who already have a share in the kingdom life and its benefits (5:3, 10), who already know God as their father (5:16, 48; 6:1), and who already practice spiritual habits (6:2, 5, 16). “The crowds will not suffer persecution for Jesus’ sake, and they cannot embrace the worldview or the ethic of the sermon, unless they repent,” concludes Doriani.[42]

Davenport raises concern over an even greater temptation. If the Sermon is thought to be “for all”, not just the elect, then do we turn a gracious gift to children into burdened legislation imposed upon outsiders? “The Sermon is blessing for those who hear the gospel,” writes Davenport. “It brings examples of what repentance means. It is neither law to be obeyed for salvation nor heroic ethic by which to combat the Darkness. It is, rather, explanation of how the assembly of God’s people is to order its life in order to bear witness to the character of God.”[43] Suppose some nation were to adopt some Biblical principles, and begin to declare itself a “blessed nation whose God is the Lord”? Would they think that by adopting a Christian ethic as part of its national rules, it thereby becomes the community of God’s people? Just as the Decalogue offers good teaching for all people, it was never intended to become the bylaws by which Assyria or Babylon would become the chosen people of God. The same is true, says Davenport, with the Sermon on the Mount.

With appreciation for the points just made, I believe there is more here than meets the eye. Christ ascends the mountain “seeing the crowds” – the same crowd that was “astounded at his teaching,” believing “he taught them,” not just the 12 (Matt 5:1; 7:27-28). When the risen Jesus offers his final benediction at the conclusion of Matthew’s gospel, he summons his disciples to make more disciples, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19). Even if the original teaching was for the 12, it was never meant to be held exclusively by the 12. And the crowd listening in heard teaching like manna from heaven falling wherever it may. That is not a coincidence.

In Luke’s version, Christ is descending, not ascending, when he sees the crowd (Lk 6:17-18). Ambrose finds a spiritual connection here, in which Christ descends to the weakness of the crowd, only to lift them to spiritual heights:

Search the Gospel; ye will find that only the Disciples ascended the mountain with the Lord…He ascends with the Apostles and descends to the crowds; for how would a crowd see Christ, save at a low level? It does not follow Him to the heights, it does not climb to the sublime. So when He descends, He finds the weak, for the weak cannot be high up…He descends to our wounds, so that through the usage and abundance He makes us partakers in the Heavenly Nature.[44]

Christ’s public message was for all to “repent,” and his healing ministry was not relegated to the 12. “They were all aware that their world was crashing down upon them, that their civilization was sick unto death, that they had about reached the end of their rope,” writes Jordan. “For another thing, they were a crowd that had been faced with the summons to repent.”[45] What they needed, was an evangelistic sermon in which they came face to face with the Good News himself—an encounter with teaching illustrating the character of the One who draws them near.

It is obvious to me that Christ’s words are for everyone—anyone who has “ears to hear.” The crowd would have been diverse, including men, women, and children.[46] No doubt this crowd would have produced a diverse response, much like Paul on Mars Hill. But it is important to note that the crowd saw themselves as intended recipients (Mt 7:28). Chrysostom, early on, saw that Jesus was not talking to His disciples only, but “through them, with all the world.”[47]

John Wesley (1703-1791) agrees. Christ didn’t need to go up a mountain to teach the 12 when “a room would suffice.” No. Our lord lifts his voice to address “all that wanted to learn from him.” Even today, his words apply to those of us who ascend the mountain with him. “Jesus taught the way of salvation not only to the crowd,” writes Wesley; “He also taught everyone who would ever be born—the entire human race. He taught the children yet unborn, all the generations to the end of the world who would ever hear the words about this life.”[48]

“[I]t will become evident,” Wesley continues, “that either the entire sermon is to be applied to everyone, or else to no one. All the members of the human race are connected to each other as stones in an arch. You cannot remove one stone without destroying the whole structure.”[49]

But, as we all know, not all who have ears are ready to hear, and not all who receive an invitation come to the feast. Matthew sometimes distinguishes between “the crowd” who hears his words, and the disciples who are made aware of their meaning (11:25-27; 13:10-17). In two other major discourses in Matthew, Jesus speaks to a dual audience in this way (13; 24-25). But the dual audience is part of Matthew’s larger point: the call beckoning us to move from the crowd to the chosen, from outsider to insider.[50] Jonathan Pennington offers a helpful reminder:

In light of this it is unhelpful when interpreters constrain the meaning of the Sermon to be only for ‘believers’ because Jesus specifically calls the disciples to himself. Rather, the concluding reference to the crowds shows that the Sermon is to be understood as a general call to all people, an epitomizing of Jesus’ teaching concerning the kingdom, and that ‘he who has ears to hear’ should respond. The hearing, understanding, and obeying moves one from being part of the crowd to being a disciple.[51]

Perhaps this insight allows us to come full circle. The high calling of the Sermon ought to give us pause. Guelich is surely right to claim the Sermon on the Mount is not a general statement for “humanity” that “could be readily heard and practiced by everyone.” On the other hand, neither is the sermon “to be understood as an esoteric body of material intelligible only to a select few.”[52] Instead, Jesus wants everyone—everyone—to accept the high calling of kingdom life, which the Spirit enables those within the kingdom to live, to keep, and to be. Thus, the Sermon itself “becomes the dividing line” between those who remain among the crowd—astonished at his teaching—and those who, by repentance and submission, truly ‘hear’ and respond to the invitation, taking up residence in the kingdom of God.[53] “To become a disciple is to break with the world,” writes Davenport; “One cannot serve two masters.”[54] Perhaps this is why Barton W. Stone (1772-1844) said “it is of little importance to us to know the true solution of this question.”[55] He would agree with Guelich: the ultimate question is not to whom is the sermon addressed, but who will hear, listen, and respond!

In this light, we can appreciate John Stott’s closing statement to his wonderful introduction:

[T]he standards of the Sermon are neither readily attainable by every man, nor totally unattainable by any man. To put them beyond anybody’s reach is to ignore the purpose of Christs’ sermon; to put them within everybody’s is to ignore the reality of man’s sin. They are attainable all right, but only by those who have experienced the new birth Jesus told Nicodemus was the indispensable condition of seeing and entering God’s kingdom…Jesus spoke the Sermon to who were already his disciples and thereby also the citizens of God’s kingdom and the children of God’s family. The high standards he set are appropriate only to such.[56]

Hear, then, the summons. Whether a life-long disciple or a bystander in the crowd. Hear his voice. Answer the call. Accept his gracious invitation. Enter into the life of the kingdom. Ascend the mountain. Sit at his feet. Grow, by the Spirit, into the very likeness of God. “Whosoever will,” hear the invitation.

[T]he Sermon on the Mount, like the entire Gospel, is in truth addressed to all who listen to Jesus: to the crowd, to the Christian faithful, and ultimately to all men. It cannot be the preserve of an elite, for no one can fulfill its precepts by his own strength. We all need the grace of Christ in order to be healed of the sins which the Sermon on the Mount reveals to us as would a mirror held aloft and reflecting the penetrating light of the Holy Spirit.  Each on of us, clergy and laity, religious and faithful alike, faces the same fundamental Gospel situation. It is precisely because of our common weaknesses that the Sermon is meant for everyone without distinction. It does indeed post difficult and challenging questions. We have to face them honestly, with trust, and without hiding behind the false assumption that they were meant for someone else. The Sermon on the Mount—beatitudes, precepts, exhortations, prayers—concerns all Christians, therefore, and calls us to faith in Christ Jesus through the working of the Holy Spirit. It requires nothing more on our part than the recognition that we belong to the weak, sinful human family from which the apostles themselves were drawn, or again, to the number of those ‘little ones’ to whom the Father wished to reveal the mysteries of the Kingdom.[57]

 

[1] Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies on the Beatitudes: An English Version with Commentary and Supporting Studies, Proceedings of the Eighth International Colloquium on Gregory of Nyssa (Paderborn, 14-18 September 1998), ed. Hubertus R. Drobner and Albert Viciano, Trans. Stuart George Hall (Leiden: Brill, 2000),  Homily 1,1 [77,4-78,24], p.23

[2] Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Matthew, Tr. Paul M. Kimball (Dolorosa Press, 2012), p. 141.

[3] Jonathan T. Pennington, The Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing: A Theological Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017), p. 137.

[4] Remigius of Auxerre, as quoted in Catena Aurea at Mt. 5:1-3.

[5] Aquinas, Commentary, pp. 139-140.

[6] Hilary of Poitiers, as quoted in Catena Aurea at Mt. 5:1-3.

[7] As summarized by Aquinas, Commentary, p. 140. In Thomas’ Catena Aurea, he quotes Chrysostom with these words: “none can abide in the valley and speak from a mountain. If thou stand on the earth, speak of the earth; if thou speak of heaven, stand in heaven.” At Mt. 5:1-3.

[8] Erasmus, Paraphrase on Matthew, ed. Dean Simpson and Robert Dick Sider (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008), p. 83.

[9] Augustine, Sermon on the Mount 1.1.2, quoted from Manlio Simonetti (ed.), Matthew 1-13, ACCS (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2010), pp. 77-78.

[10] Aquinas, Commentary, p. 140.

[11] Pennington, p. 142.

[12] Chrysostom, as quoted in Catena Aurea at Mt. 5:1-3.

[13] Jerome, Commentary on Matthew. Quoted in Scot McKnight, Sermon on the Mount: The Story of God Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013), p. 22.

[14] Saint Ambrose of Milan, Exposition of the Holy Gospel According to Saint Luke, Trans. Theodosia Tomkinson, 2nd ed. (Etna, CA: Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 2003), Book V, par 41, pp. 169-170.

[15] Gregory, Homily 1,1 [77,4-78,24], p.23.

[16] “Don’t make too much of this” says some commentaries. The phrase is used in Mark (3:13) and Luke (6:12) and could just mean “the hills.”. So says Robert A. Guelich, The Sermon on the Mount: A Foundation for Understanding (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1982), p. 52. John Calvin, Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Vol 1, Trans. William Pringle (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1949), p. 259, says what is recorded is really just a simple event.

[17] For more clear connections between Jesus’ ascent and Moses’ ascent at Sinai see W. D. Davies and D. C. Allison, Matthew 1-7, ICC (T&T Clark, 2004), p. 424, emphasizing Ex 24:15, 18; 34:1-4. The phrase “he went up on a mountainside” is used of Moses 9 times referring to going up the mountain to receive revelation from God (in addition to those already cited, see Ex 19:20; 24:9, 13; Deut 9:9; 10:3; cf. Ex 32:30; Deut 10:1).

[18] John W. Welch, “Temple Themes and Ethical Formation in the Sermon on the Mount,” Studies in Christian Ethics 22/2 (May 2009), pp. 153-154.

[19] Pennington, p. 138.

[20] A point made by Warren Carter, “Power and Identities,” in David Fleer and Dave Bland, Preaching the Sermon on the Mount: The World It Imagines (St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 2007). For more on who this Jesus is, see Charles H. Talbert, Reading the Sermon on the Mount: Character Formation and Ethical Decision Making in Matthew 5-7 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), pp. 1-13.

[21] McKnight, p. 24.

[22] Clarence Jordan, Sermon on the Mount (Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1952, 1970), p.16.

[23] Chrysostom, Hom. 15.

[24] Aquinas, Commentary, p. 140.

[25] Augustine, Sermon on the Mount 1.1, p. 21.

[26] Aquinas, Commentary, p. 140.

[27] Davies and Allison, p. 424. See also Pennington, p. 139n.5: calls this “an interesting observation…which may indeed be what Matthew is thinking of here.”

[28] Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), Jesus of Nazareth, Vol 1: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, Trans. Adrian J. Walker (New York: Doubleday, 2007), p. 57.

[29] Chrysostom, Hom. 15.

[30] Augustine, Sermon on the Mount 1.1., p. 21.

[31] Aquinas, Commentary, p. 140.

[32] Chrysostom, Hom. 15.1.

[33] Pseudo-Chrysostom, as quoted in Canta Aurea. Aquinas, Commentary, p. 139, attributes it to Chrysostom: “Whence, Chrysostom says, that just as a craftsman, when he sees the material prepared, is delighted to work, so a priest is delighted to preach when he sees the people gathered together.”

[34] Ambrose, Book V, par 47, p. 172.

[35] For example, John Wesley, John Wesley on The Sermon on the Mount: The Standard Sermons in Modern English, Vol 2, Sermons 21-33, ed. Kenneth Cain Kinghorn (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 2002), p. 37: this phrase “was an expression signifying the start of a solemn discourse.”

[36] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, rev. & unabridged ed. Trans. R. H. Fuller & Imgard Booth (New York: Macmillan, 1959), p. 96n.1.

[37] Chrysostom, Hom 15; trans. by Margaret M. Mitchell, “John Chrysostom,” in The Sermon on the Mount through the Centuries, ed. Jeffrey P. Greenman, Timothy Larsen, and Stephen R. Spencer (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2007), p. 25.

[38] Augustine, Sermon on the Mount 1.1, p.21.

[39] Ambrose, Book V, par. 48, p. 172.

[40] Servais Pinckaers, The Pursuit of Happiness—God’s Way: Living the Beatitudes, Trans. Mary Thomas Noble (New York: Alba House, 1998), pp. 19-20.

[41] Daniel M. Doriani, The Sermon on the Mount: The Character of a Disciple (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing), p. 6.

[42] Doriani, p. 7.

[43] Gene L. Davenport, Into the Darkness: Discipleship in the Sermon on the Mount (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1988), p. 48.

[44] Ambrose, Book V, par 41, p. 170; par 46, p.171.

[45] Jordan, p. 17.

[46] Rosemary M. Dowsett, “Matthew,” in The IVP Women’s Biblical Commentary, ed. Catherine Clark Kroeger & Mary J. Evans (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002) , p. 525.

[47] Chrysostom, Hom. 15.

[48] Wesley, pp. 38-39.

[49] Wesley, p. 40.

[50] On the dual audience, see Graham Stanton, A Gospel for a New People: Studies in Matthew (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1992), pp. 320-321.

[51] Pennnington, p. 143.

[52] Guelich, p. 60.

[53] Guelich, p. 60.

[54] Davenport, p. 47.

[55] Barton W. Stone, “Lectures on Matt. V, VI, And VII,” in James M. Mathes (ed.), Works of Elder B. W. Stone (1959). http://webfiles.acu.edu/departments/Library/HR/restmov_nov11/www.mun.ca/rels/restmov/texts/jmathes/webws/WEBWS07.HTM#Lecture1

[56] John R. W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7): Christian Counter-Culture. The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1978), p. 29.

[57] Pinckaers, pp. 20-21.

 

FIRST POST IN THIS SERIES ON THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT
The Complete Art of Happiness: Sermon On The Mount Intro–Part 1

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11 Helps In Reading the Sermon on the Mount

 

Photo credit: Károly Ferenczy, Sermon on the Mount (1896), Hungarian National Gallery

Nathan Guy

Nathan Guy believes the passionate pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty culminates in Jesus Christ. He received formal training in philosophy, theology, biblical studies, and cultural & political ethics from Oxford, Cambridge, and the LSE. Nathan lives in Searcy, Arkansas, where he teaches in the College of Bible & Ministry at Harding University.

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