Matthew 5:21-48 – “I” Sayings of Jesus on Righteousness


Matthew 5:21-48


After the summary statement on righteousness, Jesus gives a series of concrete examples of the way in which the new kingdom righteousness challenges and radically reshapes traditional received ways of thinking and acting in light of the promise of God.


In a series of six balanced statements (“You have heard it said…, but I say…”), Jesus sets a new vision of the righteousness of the kingdom over against traditional teachings. It is perhaps fitting that the first (on anger) and the last (on love for the enemy) seem to frame the whole with the issue of love. Whether it is the matter of anger, adultery, divorce, swearing of oaths, retaliation, or the treatment of an enemy, the righteousness of the kingdom strikes at the issue of the relationships of people at their core. Just as the commands of the law expressed God’s concern and care for the welfare of the creation, so the righteousness of the kingdom calls for a perfect expression of concern and care for the other that mirrors that of God and will not acquiesce to second-rate accommodations.