The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 35

Sermon on the Mount ~ Part O

We continue our study of the Sermon in the Mount, beginning in Mattityahu 7:12.

As with the rest of the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua describes how to live as members of the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Golden Rule

12 “Always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that sums up the teaching of the Torah and the Prophets. ~ Mattityahu 7:12

The Golden Rule can be found in Jewish writings as early as the Apocryphal book of Tobit (third century BCE), What you hate, do to no one” (Tobit 4:15); similar sayings are attributed to Isocrates, Aristotle, and Confucius. The Golden Rule paraphrases Leviticus 19:18, “You are to love your neighbor as yourself,” which Yeshua called the second-greatest commandment (Mark 12:28–31). [1]

The Two Ways

13 “Go in through the narrow gate; for the gate that leads to destruction is wide and the road broad, and many travel it; 14 but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it. ~ Mattityahu 7:13-14

Yeshua’s hearers would have been familiar with the image of “two ways” – one leading to life and the other to death; it was common in Judaism. Most Jewish people believed that Isra’el would be saved and that the few who were lost would be exceptions to the general rule.

False Prophets

15 “Beware of the false prophets! They come to you wearing sheep’s clothing, but underneath they are hungry wolves!

Although most educated Jewish people did not believe that prophets had continued in the Tanakh sense, they believed that false prophets (see Jeremiah 2:8; 5:30) continued; Josephus mentioned many of them in the first century. The contrast between vicious wolves and harmless lambs or sheep was proverbial.

16 You will recognize them by their fruit. Can people pick grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 

Like wheat and barley, grapes and figs were among the earth’s most valuable and widely consumed fruits; thorns and thistles were worthless and troublesome to harvesters, as the Tanakh often mentions. For a figurative use of “fruits” in the Tanakh, see Isaiah 5:6.

17 Likewise, every healthy tree produces good fruit, but a poor tree produces bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, or a poor tree good fruit. 19 Any tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown in the fire! 20 So you will recognize them by their fruit. ~ Mattityahu 7:15-20

In our next post, we continue to explore the last chapter of the Sermon on the Mount from Mattityahu’s Gospel.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary.

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