JESUS PREPARES TO TEACH
VERSES 1-2: THESE TWO VERSES GO TOGETHER TO MAKE ONE COMPLETE THOUGHT.
“And seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain: and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him.”
“And seeing the multitudes”
Literally: “But seeing the mutitudes”–This should really make the first verse of this chapter.
The great numbers that came to attend on His ministry. The substance of this discourse is recorded in the sixth chapter of Luke. This discourse is commonly called the Sermon on the Mount. It is not improbable that it was repeated, in substance, on different occasions, and to different people. At those times, parts of it might have been omitted, and Luke may have recorded it as it was pronounced on one of these occasions. Luke 6:17-20.
“He went up into a mountain”
Literally: “He went up into the mountain”–Literally, “the” mountain, for the letter “a” is not in the original Greek text.
What mountain this is we do not know for sure. Some believe it might have been a mountain known as the “Horns of Hattin,” a mountain about seven miles south of Capernaum, near the Sea of Galilee.
That He might have the greater advantage of speaking, so as to be heard by that great concourse of people which followed him. It is very probable that nothing more is meant here than a small hill or eminence. Had He been on a high mountain they could not have heard; and, had He been at a great distance, He would not have sat down.
This mountain, or hill, was somewhere in the vicinity of Capernaum, but where it is precisely is not mentioned. He doubtlessly ascended the hill because it was more convenient to address the multitude from an eminence, than on the same level with them. A hill or mountain is still shown a short distance to the northwest of the ancient site of Capernaum, which tradition reports to have been the place where this sermon was delivered, and which is called on the maps the Mount of Beatitudes. But there is no positive evidence that this is the place where this discourse was uttered.
“and when He was set,”
Literally: “and seating Himself,”–Being seated was the normal posture for Jewish teachers.
When a rabbi was teaching officially he sat. We still speak of a professor’s chair; the Pope still speaks ex cathedra—i.e., “from the chair.” We find reference to this manner of teaching while being seated in other passages, such as Luke 4:20; 5:3; John 8:2; Acts 13:14; 16:13.
“His disciples came”
Literally: “His disciples came near to Him”–Keep in mind that the word translated as disciples (Grk.–mathêtês) means learners, or students; i.e., those who are taught.
Here the word is probably applied to those who attended on the ministry of Jesus. Also, keep in mind that Jesus, at this time, has only called four disciples—Simon and Andrew (4:18) and James and John, the sons of Zebedee (4:21). Matthew, who was then a tax-collector, was not even there at that time.
“And He opened His mouth, and taught them, saying”
“He opened His mouth”
Literally: “And opening His mouth”–This is a Hebraism meaning that He “began to speak.” He sat down on the mountain side as the rabbis normally did when teaching. Jesus began to speak with a voice loud enough for the great throng to hear Him.
In Greek this has a double meaning:
1. It is used of a solemn, grave dignified utterance.
a. It is used, for instance, of the sayingof an oracle. I
b. It is the natural preface for a most weighty saying; and,
2. It is used of a person’s utterance when he is really opening his heart and fully pouring out his mind; of an intimate teaching with no barrier’s between.
The use of this phrase indicates that the material in the Sermon on the Mount is no chance teaching. It is the grave and solemn utterance of the central things; it is the opening of Jesus’ heart and mind to the men who were to be His people in the kingdom.
“and taught them”
Literally: “He began to teach them,”–This was not so much of a sermon, as it was a Bible lesson.
The Bible was being taught by the Master Teacher and the very Author of the Bible Himself. I remember while in Bible college, I heard one of my professors says, “all teaching is not preaching, but all preaching should be teaching;” i.e., after you have finished your sermon, your listeners should know a little more about the Word of God than when they knew when they came. If you haven’t taught them something new about the Word of God, then you have failed as a minister and have just wasted their time, your time, and worst of all, God’s time.
This is what Jesus is presenting to the people—a new beginning, or at least it would have been if they had accepted Him as their King and Messiah; which, as we know, they did not do.
It can be said that every one of the Beatitudes has precisely the same form. As they are printed in the KJV, each has the word “are” printed in italics. When a word appears in italics in the Bible, it means that in the original Greek, or in the Hebrew text. The word being in italics means that the word has been added by the English translators. This is to say that in the Beatitudes there is no such verb. There is no such word as “are” in the Greek text.
Aramaic and Hebrew have a common expression, which is in fact an exclamation, and which means, “O the blessedness of…” We find this in Psalm 1:1—“O the blessedness of the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.”
This is most important, for it means that the beatitudes are not pious hopes of what shall be; but rather that they are prophecies of future bliss; they are congratulations of what will be. Also, keep in mind that these Beatitudes were originally spoken in Greek; koine (or common) Greek, for that was the lingua franca of the time in Judea. Koine Greek was spoken, or even read, in the synagogues, for the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek; translation of the O.T., was tused then, for hardly anyone at all could either speak or understand Hebrew, or even Aramaic, for by the time of Jesus these were essentially dead languages to the average Jew.
The land of Judaea had been under Greek influence and culture for ever since they were conquered by the Greek King Alexander the Great in 323 BC. The Jewish children were taught in the synagogue schools and th Greek Septuagint (LXX) translation was their “textbook.” This means that Jesus was both educated in and spoke Greek.. Aramaic was hardly even used, and Hebrew was used on the the Torahs. The priests carried around the Hebrew Torahs (the Mosaic Law; pentateuch), but only the more learned of them could actually read the Hebrew that it was written in.