Does Matthew’s Structure Parallel the Torah?
May 9, 2011 9 Comments
Over the last few months I have been writing curriculum on the Sermon on the Mount for our men’s and women’s classes. I have heard several other people begin to study this as well in recent weeks and months and everyone who I have talked to keeps saying they are doing so because it is so relevant for our day and age. I agree. In studying the wise and foolish builders (the conclusion of the sermon) I ran across something pretty obscure but potentially very relevant in N.T. Wright’s book Matthew for Everyone. He notes that Matthew uses a similar phrase five times to section off Jesus’ teaching into five blocks and concludes each section with a phrase like “when Jesus had finished teaching…” Here are the five occurrences of that phrase (or one very similar)
- 7:28 – concludes the sermon on the mount
- 11:1 – concludes teaching his disciples
- 13:53 – concludes a section of parables
- 19:1 – concluding a chapter of parables/teachings
- 26:1 – concluding a section of teachings from 23-25 but also seems to serve as the close of the final section “when Jesus had finished all these words…”
What else had five sections? The Torah. Where was the Torah delivered? On a mountain. He makes a good case that Jesus is teaching with more power and authority than Moses (See Deut 18:14-21). You do see that in the sermon on the mount especially…”you have heard it said but I tell you…” Where had they heard most of that said? The Torah. I had never heard anyone make that point before but it is kind of fascinating.