Global Contextualized Interpretations of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7)

This paper proposes to compare the most common Western approaches to interpreting the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5–7) with the most common global contextual approaches. Some of the most common Western approaches are: (1) an exposition of the Law of Moses designed to force mankind to look for grace; (2) the eschatology of Jesus is actualized, realized, and totally present in the church (the church and Christendom will establish the Kingdom of Christ by means of its ethical influence on the world); (3) instructions limited to members of the historical Matthean church about the ethical and righteous requirements in the Christian life (some see the “Sermon” containing an anti-Pauline reaction on part of this Matthean church, emphasizing the importance of the Law of Moses); (4) a pacifistic interpretation of the “Sermon” which calls for total withdrawal from military and political involvement; (5) the ethical demands were only for an intermediate time for the first disciples before the culmination of everything at the resurrection (the “Sermon” was Matthew’s instruction for that intermediate time between Jesus’ public ministry until the resurrection when Jesus would judge everyone); (6) an application of the Law of Moses only for the Jews (the way in which Jews before the cross must live in obedience to God under the Law of Moses); (7) instructions to the Jews who will live during the future millennial Kingdom of Christ; and (8) the ethical characteristics necessary to live actively within the kingdom of Christ both presently and in the future.

After an overview of the most common Western approaches, the paper will review multiple examples of the interpretation of the “Sermon” within global contexts. The thesis of the paper is that global contextualization of the “Sermon” will more likely emphasize social justice applications for the influence of the current kingdom of Christ within contexts of social injustice.