Sermon on the Mount Bible Study

The Sermon on the Mount: Lesson 1- Introduction

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”:

If you’re new to using my Bible studies, just a few housekeeping items and helpful hints:

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.

My studies are meant to be extremely flexible and self-paced so that you can use them in the way that works best for you. You can do an entire lesson in one day or work on the questions over the course of the week (or longer). You do not need to feel obligated to answer all (or any) of the questions. If the Holy Spirit parks you on one question for several days, enjoy digging deep into that one aspect of the lesson. If He shows you something I haven’t written a question about that captures your attention, dive in and study it! Those are ways the Holy Spirit speaks to us through His Word. This is your time to commune with the Lord, not a school assignment or work project you are beholden to complete in a certain way by a certain deadline.

I will post a new lesson on the blog every Wednesday, so there is nothing to sign up for or commit to. Simply stop by the blog each week, or subscribe to the blog via e-mail to have the lessons delivered to your inbox.

I use hyperlinks liberallyThe Scriptures for each lesson will be linked at the beginning of the lesson and in the lesson questions. As you’re reading the lesson, whenever you see a word in a different color text, click on it, and it will take you to a Scripture, article, or other resource that will help as you study.

All of the studies I’ve written are suitable for groups or individuals. You are welcome to use them as a Sunday school or Bible study class curriculum (for free) with proper attribution.

You are also welcome to print out any of my Bible studies (or any article I’ve written) for free and make as many copies as you’d like, again, with proper attribution. I’ve explained more about that in this article (3rd section).

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.

Guest Posts

Guest Post: Long Line of Grace

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in my “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of this page) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at, and let’s chat about it.

Long Line of Grace
by Cale Fauver

The Book of Genealogy

When the time has come for you to begin reading the gospel according to Matthew, you start with this opening line: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). And then what is the next temptation we experience? To blaze through the genealogy of names given. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob….and then sooner or later we get to the ‘good stuff’ of verse 18 where the New Testament actually begins to take off. However, this inspired genealogy from the Holy Spirit means to tell us something about the world, about sinners, and about the God-centeredness of a sinful, human history — it is about the glory Jesus Christ.

The Centrality of Jesus Christ

Note the main focus of this line of names as bookmarked or bracketed (called an inclusio) for us: The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ…Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way…” (v.1 and v.18). The section starts with Jesus and ends with Jesus. Do you see the focal point of this chapter? Do you see God’s heart in the middle of human history, amidst many levels of personalities, ages, and types of people? Jesus!

The purpose of human history in a sinful world is the exaltation of Jesus Christ, the Lamb who  was slain before the foundation of the world (cf. Revelation 13:8). Paul writes, “For by him [Christ] all things were created…all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16). The world, human history, and even the act of sinful rebellion exists for God to display his infinite mercy and grace through the sending of the Son to become man, to bear the wrath for the sin and guilt of many, and to rise again in power to rule from the right hand of the Father — this is the purpose of human history. So, when we feel the mundaneness of life; as if we were just another name in the genealogy of the world, rest. Remember Matthew 1 and the list of names that seem and look as a means to take up space. Know that you do not exist for yourself — you exist for the glory and renown of Jesus Christ, that he might display his perfect patience in you (1 Timothy 1:16). For from him and to him and through him are all things — whether life or death, we live to the glory of God.

He Will Save His People From Their Sins

In this line, we also see the common thread of humanity: sinfulness. We know some names, we know their ways; we know how they have fallen (in a few specific ways). They stand as great blemishes, it appears. And yet, whether or not we see it, something deep and omnipotent runs through this thread of humanity: grace. Men are not saved or brought to spiritual life by their own bloodline or will — God reaches down into history and rescues rebels by his power. He does this for the praise of his glorious grace (cf. Ephesians 1:6).

We look to Christ and his omnipotent power to save sinners to the uttermost. God chose Abraham, a pagan from the land of Ur. He was an idolator, a stranger to the commonwealth of Israel. And yet, God sovereignly chose Abraham. There are no sinners too far from God’s mighty power — he saves to the uttermost (cf. Hebrews 7:25). And this was the purpose of the Lord Jesus by coming to his own people as one of his people: to save them from their sins (Matthew 1:21). He will save his people from their sins. Grace doesn’t run naturally through a bloodline, so Christ entered into one.

In a long line of men and women the centrality of human history is Jesus Christ. We exist to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.

Cale is an MDiv student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife Kelly live in Kansas City with their son, Jude. You can find some of his other writings at News From Afar, and follow him on Twitter.