Welcome to our new study, The Sermon on the Mount!
What does God’s Word teach us about thinking biblically and developing Christian character? Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew starts off with a list of character traits God blesses (the Beatitudes), then fleshes out how to submit to Scripture in real life scenarios in order for the Holy Spirit to grow us in those godly character traits. For the next several weeks, we’ll be working our way through the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7.
Our lovely title pic for the study was designed by Tammy Athey. The photo is her own, captured in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. Many thanks to all of those who worked so hard on your entries for our title pic contest. You ladies were very creative and did some outstanding work!
There were too many entries to share all of them with you, but here are a few “honorable mentions”:
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The studies I’ve written (you can find all of them at the Bible Studies tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page) are like “training wheels”. They’re designed to teach you how to study the Bible for yourself and what kinds of questions to ask of the text so that, when you get the hang of it, you won’t have to depend on other people’s books and materials – even mine – any more. To that end, I do not provide answers for the study questions in the studies I’ve written.
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Introduction to The Sermon on the Mount
Before we begin studying a book of the Bible, it’s very important that we understand some things about that book. But even though we’re not going to be studying the whole book this time, we still need to know…
Who the author was and anything we might be able to find out about him or his background.
Who the audience of the book is: Jews or Gentiles? Old Testament Israelites or New Testament Christians? This will help us understand the author’s purpose and approach to what he’s writing.
What kind of biblical literature we’re looking at. We approach books of history differently than books of wisdom, books of wisdom differently than books of prophecy, etc.
What the purpose of the book is. Was it written to encourage? Rebuke? Warn?
What the historical backdrop is for the book. Is Israel at war? At peace? In exile? Under a bad king? Good king? Understanding the historical events surrounding a piece of writing help us understand what was written and why it was written.
When the book was written. Where does the book fall on the timeline of biblical history? This is especially important for Old Testament books which are not always arranged in chronological order.
So this week, before we start studying the actual text of the Sermon on the Mount, we need to lay the foundation to understanding the book by finding the answers to these questions.
Read the following overviews of the book of Matthew, taking notes on anything that might aid your understanding of the book, and, particularly the Sermon on the Mount and answer the questions below:
Bible Introductions: Matthew at Grace to You
Overview of the Book of Matthew at Reformed Answers
Summary of the Gospel of Matthew at Got Questions
1. Who wrote the book of Matthew? How do we know this?
2. Approximately when was Matthew written? What is the geographical setting of the book of Matthew? Here are some maps (scroll down to “Matthew”) that may be helpful as you study through the book of Matthew.
3. Who is the original, intended audience of the book of Matthew? Describe the historical setting (historic events, politics, sociology of the time, etc.) of Matthew.
4. Which genre of biblical literature is the book of Matthew: law, history, wisdom, poetry, narrative, epistles, or prophecy/apocalyptic? What does this tell us about the approach we should take when studying this book versus our approach to books of other genres?
5. What is the theme or purpose of the book of Matthew?
6. What are some of the major topics of instruction in the book of Matthew? How do these topics relate to the theme of Matthew?
7. What are some ways Matthew points to and connects to Jesus?
8. What else did you learn about Matthew or the setting of this book that might help you understand the Sermon on the Mount better?
Take some time in prayer this week to begin preparing your heart for this study. Ask God to grow you in holiness and in following the exhortations of Christ as we study together The Sermon on the Mount.