The Kingdom Manifest (part 3) - The Righteousness of the Kingdom (Matt. 5:27-48)
1) False Teaching on Kingdom Life - This entire passage (vv20-48) is a set of five corrections of false teachings by the religious leaders of that day (Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees). For example,
a) On Murder/Hatred (v21) - They taught that murder may be punished (legally), but hatred was acceptable toward even one’s “brother.” They practiced what they preached, since many times they tried and actually succeeded in killing Jesus.
b) On Adultery/Marriage (v27) - They taught that a man may divorce his wife, “even if she has burned his supper.” Or, “even if he has found another more becoming than she” (from the Mishna, Gittin 9.10).
c) On Oaths/Truthfulness (v33) - They taught that one could swear falsely so long as it was not in the name of God Himself. They limited the application of God’s Law by providing exceptional circumstances or methods whereby the purpose of the Law could be denied.
d) On Retaliation (v38) - “An eye for an eye,” this jus/lex talionis, is a restriction upon unrestrained vengeance (Ex. 21:24; Dt. 19:21; Lev. 24:20). They turned it into a “maximum sentencing” response to all personal offenses.
e) On Loving Your Neighbor (v43) - “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’” The only place “hate your enemy” occurs in the Bible is here. They added “hate your enemy” to justify their own evil desires by redefining “neighbor.” As a result, those “outsiders” do not deserve “good” (cf the Good Samaritan). Rather we are to "Model" the Father's equity and goodness to the evil as well as the just.
2) True Teaching about Kingdom Life - The main point of this section becomes clear from the beginning verse and ending verse. It begins with “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven”(v20) and ends with “be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (v48). Jesus condemns these very false Shepherds in parallel statements to His kingdom teaching in ch. 23. It is very plain that Christ taught that our lives are to be different, both in the quality and quantity of our “righteousness.” It may help us to learn that “righteousness” (dikaiosune) has the sense of covenant faithfulness and equity, not necessarily moral perfection. Jesus illustrates that our fidelity to God’s Law needs to exceed the obvious hypocrisy of these leaders, described as “hypocrites” who “tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith . . . Blind guides ... full of extortion and self-indulgence...whitewashed tombs ... outwardly appear righteous ... full of hypo