Palms Baptist Church Bible Study
Matthew 5:21-48: Be Perfect
September 28, 2021

Matthew 5:21-48: Be Perfect

September 28, 2021

*Jesus is laying out the Gospel SYSTEM

Jesus is exposing our need for Him

  • Jesus is setting up comparison to the Pharisees
    • 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:20
  • Then sets up a comparison to God
    • 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. – Matthew 5:48
  • This is not a hypothetical standard, its His standard for us
  • Sequence of Progression
    • He Gives us
      • Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand (Matthew 4)
    • He Gives us
      • Kingdom of Heaven citizenship requirements (Beatitudes – Matthew 5:3-12)
    • He Gives us and
      • Salt and Light – Matthew 5:13-16)
    • He Gives us Practical
      • Set of anti-thesis’ and examples (Matthew 5:21-48)

*Its about the Heart and Intention AS MUCH as it is about ACTION!

Practical Examples (Matthew 5:21-48)

  • Jesus says something affirming, radical, and practical – overall difficult

“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting, it been found difficult and rarely tried.”

    • He affirms what remains true
    • Presents a radical addition or clarification
    • Provides practical examples of use in everyday life
  • Jesus synthesizes what they had separated and categorized
    • He uses the Law to interpret the law
      • Verses 21-48 is a synthesis of the ten commandments (Exodus 20:1-17)
        • Matthew 5:21-26 (Murder/Anger)
          • 6th/7th (Do not murder) through 3rd/4th (No idols) and 9th/10th (bear false witness against your neighbor)
        • Matthew 5:27-30 (Adultery)
          • 7th/8th (Do not commit Adultery) through 10th/11th commandment (Do not covet)
        • Matthew 5:31-32 (Divorce)
          • 7th/8th commandment through the 8th/9th (Do not steal)
        • Matthew 5:33-37 (Oaths)
          • 9th/10th (Bear false witness against neighbor) through 3rd/4th (Do not use God’s name in vain)
        • All wrapped under the 9th/10th (Bear false witness against neighbor), 1st/2nd (one God, and no other gods before Him), and 3rd/4th (Idolotry)


21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister [Without Cause] will be subject to judgment.

  • You haven’t murdered…great, that not that hard. But…
    • Can you not hold unjust anger or bitterness?
  • How do we do that?
    • Emotion derives from Passion, Passion from Mission/Intention
      • Emotion is not wrong in itself, but mis-directed emotion derives from misguided passion/intention
      • Why do you get angry in traffic?
    • Heart check: where do you….
      • Give your time
      • Give your energy
      • Give your talent

*Jesus gives us the answer from the beginning, your INTENTION/HEART drives your EMOTION (Joy in the Lord). Our INTENTION should be for the KINGDOM, not OURSELVES

  • Hence, to murder (6th/7th command) or get unjustly angry; you’ve made an idol in your life (3rd/4th command) that drives your emotion AND you now bear false witness against your neighbor (9th/10th command)

 Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’[d] is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.23

  • You don’t murder…great. Your not angry….great. But….
    • Can you not INSULT your brother?
  • “Raca” is hard to translate. It means more of a tone than a word. It’s the Spirit in which you talk about someone/insult them.

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

  • You don’t murder, get angry, or insult….great! BUT….
    • Can you reconcile?
  • Jesus simply says, if your not good or reconciled to those who have something against you, you are not good with me

NOTE: This addresses a situation where YOU are in the wrong


27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’[e] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 

  • Just as murder is an act that derives from anger from wrong intentions…Adultery is the action derived from lust from the heart (wrong intentions)
  • Jesus attacks the 7th command from the perspective of the 9th commandment.
    • To “Covet” is more than simply to want what others have (unappreciative, uncontent), but to want what is forbidden i.e. Lust is under the 9th

29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

  • This is hyperbole, but the emphasis is to understand how serious Covetousness and lust is to God
    • To covet/lust is to desire something outside of God’s design and purpose
  • Understand this: Biblically, you can’t understand sex without marriage, because sex is ONLY permissible within marriage (pre-marital sex, Hebraically, is adultery as it is sex outside marriage i.e. God’s design). Sex outside of marriage is forbidden
    • “9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”[b] 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.[c]18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” – 1 Corinthians 6:9-20
      • Homosexuality vs. pre-marital sex vs. adultery – All are the act and desire for something forbidden


31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’[f] 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

  • “Certificate of divorce”
    • Divorce was rampant in Jesus’ day
      • Josephus and even Roman literature discuss it
    • Moses introduced a certificate was meant to provide a “cool off” period to protect marriage
    • Men would divorce their wife, “marry” who he wanted to sleep with, divorce her, then return to his wife
    • The Mishna (Rabbi Yohannan) – Men could divorce their wife over a burn’t dinner!
  • “makes her the victim of adultery”
    • Culturally and by way of Law interpretation, women were the only adulterers
      • Women would get stoned, men would walk free
    • Jesus is saying something radical in this time – Men are equally culpable
      • Women are no longer “adulterers” but victims of adultery
  • “anyone who marries a divorce woman commits adultery”
    • Why? Because she is forbidden. Not yours. Belongs to someone else.


33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one

  • Do not use God’s name in vain (3rd/4th commandment) through the 9th/10th commandment
  • Again, you are not your own….what do you have to swear by?

*Live life with a character that “Yes” or “no” is sufficient, without question, and won’t be disputed.

Questions for Guided Discussion

  1. Read vs. 21-22: What makes you angry? What does that say about your intention in life and your heart?
  2. How do you separate “emotion from ego” from “emotion of kingdom?”
  3. Read vs. 22-23: Where is the “Raca” in your life towards others (tone of disdain, insult, degradation)?
  4. Read vs. 24-26: Does the COMMAND to reconcile before you offer anything to God surprise you? What relationships in your life require reconciliation to be honoring to God?
  5. Read vs. 27-30: What do you covet i.e. what do you desire that is forbidden? Sex? Porn? Someone who belongs to another?
  6. Read 1 Corinthians 6:9-20: Does the Hebrew view of adultery (any sex outside of marriage is adultery) help you understand the boundaries of sex? Or does Paul’s Greek approach in 1 Corinthians make it easier to understand (sex is joining a member of Christ to the other)?
  7. Read vs. 31-32: Israel’s men found “loopholes” in God’s law about sex and divorce without understanding the law’s intent and abused it. What is a modern example of a “loophole” within Christianity that believers exploit and abuse?
  8. Read vs. 32: Jesus introduces gender equality under the religious law for marriage and sex by making men equally culpable/punishable. How can the teachings of Jesus answer the modern cultural issue of feminism? Where does modern feminism agree with Jesus? Where does it divert? How can the church offer a kingdom, gospel-focused message to address it?
  9. Read Malachi 2:10-16 in light of vs. 32: God-honoring divorce is a huge debate in the modern church. Does Jesus’ teaching of divorce demonstrate how flippant we have become in regards to divorce? What does that say about the modern church who share the same divorce rate as the world?
  10. Read vs. 33-37: Do you possess a character that a “Yes” or “No” is accepted and taken by word? Or do you have to convince people to trust you?


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