Matthew 5: 17 – 20

19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

A very high bar is set herein for entry into heaven. For pretty much everyone’s sake I hope there’s either a loophole or clemency available.

5 thoughts on “Matthew 5: 17 – 20

  1. Marco

    I interpret this differently. Least in the kingdom of heaven is still *IN* the kingdom of heaven. It seems obvious to me that “Pharisees” and “teachers of the law” ignore the commands in toto, and the bar is thus about believing the commands, not contradict any in teaching, and practicing them where possible. Not necessarily high for a believer.

    Reply
    1. winstoninabox Post author

      While it might be possible to apply this interpretation if these verses are taken out of the context of the whole sermon, I’m not sure it’s valid when they’re compared to it in total. Two problems are:
      1. It implies that there are lesser and greater commands.
      2. It implies that there are lesser and greater statuses in heaven.

      Neither of these are insurmountable to accept your reading, but it does give me an idea of something more to do with these posts.

      As for point 1 I’m fairly certain that many or most of the commands in the sermon reiterate in the command that breaking that command will lead to exclusion from heaven. I’m going to track those which do and don’t contain the restatement of exclusion to see if there could be lesser commands which might be put aside.

      As for point 2, I don’t know enough about what the bible claims heaven is like, so I don’t know if statuses are mentioned anywhere else. But if they aren’t, then this is a very big piece of information about heaven so it’s strange that it’d be mentioned in such an offhand way.

      Reply
  2. Linuxgal

    And then Paul comes along later and says, naw, you just need faith, you don’t have to have law-based righteous even close to that of the scribes and Pharisees. Go figure.

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Matthew and Damnation | vex cathedra

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