No text in the New Testament is more important than the Sermon on the Mount. It has been called the “sermon of sermons,” the Lord’s most masterful speech, and some consider it the greatest discourse ever given. Understanding the Sermon on the Mount is crucial to understanding the New Testament. These three chapters in the Gospel of Matthew have probably influenced Christian values and lifestyle more than any other section of the New Testament.
Chart 9-3 offers an overview of the Sermon on the Mount. Many people have wondered whether the Sermon is a single coherent text or whether it is, instead, a scrapbook of miscellaneous sayings without any particular structure or organizing principle. Recent scholarship, however, has begun to see the Sermon as a baptismal catechism or an instructional text teaching baptized Christians their advanced duties as members of the kingdom of God. While the Sermon on the Mount certainly contains many ethical and social teachings, it also goes far beyond the regular scope of an ordinary moral discourse.
John W. Welch, Illuminating the Sermon at the Temple and Sermon on the Mount (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1999), 102-3.
Hans Dieter Betz, The Sermon on the Mount (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1995).
Herman Hendrickx, The Sermon on the Mount (London: Chapman, 1984).
“Sermon on the Mount,” WRC, 49-52.