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The Sermon on the Mount consists of Matthew 5–7, which features the teaching of Jesus on a variety of subjects pertaining to the Christian life, discipleship, and life in the kingdom of God. This sermon ranks among the most well-known and beloved passages of Scripture, and portions of its content are famous even outside of the church.


The Sermon on the Mount is one of five major collections of the teaching of Jesus found in the gospel of Matthew (Matt. 5–7; 10:1–11:1; 13:1–53; 18:1–19:1; 23:1–26:2). Commentators note that Matthew arranges the teaching of Jesus this way in order to parallel the five books of Moses (Genesis–Deuteronomy) and present Him as the new Moses. The Sermon on the Mount strengthens this presentation, for Moses received the law of God on Mount Sinai and delivered it to Israel, while Jesus delivers this sermon on a mountain in Galilee. An abbreviated form of the Sermon on the Mount is found in Luke 6:17–49, which is often called the Sermon on the Plain. Apparently, Jesus preached this sermon on a flat area on the mountain.

As is true of most of the teaching of Jesus recorded in the New Testament, the Sermon on the Mount is probably a summary of the words of Jesus for the original readers of Matthew’s gospel and not a word-for-word citation of what Christ said on that occasion. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Matthew provides a wholly accurate summary of our Lord’s content that preserves the sense of the words of Jesus. Furthermore, as an itinerant teacher, Jesus likely gave at least some of the teachings in the sermon on many occasions besides this one.

After an introductory statement that sets the stage for the sermon (Matt. 5:1), Jesus delivers the Beatitudes (vv. 2–12). These well-known sayings describe the character that the Holy Spirit produces in all those who follow Jesus and the blessings that will finally come to His people. Verses 13–16 define the followers of Christ—the church—as a community set apart to bear witness to the light of God’s truth and His preserving grace to the world.

The next major section of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:17–48 features Jesus’ exposition and application of the law of God. In these verses, Christ reveals Himself as the final goal and fulfillment of the law, and He reveals the depth of this law while correcting many misunderstandings of the law that were current in first-century Jewish teaching. Thoughtful readers see the fullness of their sin exposed and are driven to rest in Christ alone in order to be found righteous in the sight of God.

After this, Jesus covers several topics related to personal piety (Matt. 6:1–17), covering prayer, fasting, and hypocrisy. In this portion of the sermon, Jesus provides one of the most important models for prayer that we find in the Bible—the Lord’s Prayer.

Matthew 6:19–34 exhorts us to have a single object of trust, the Lord God. Jesus reminds us that we cannot have more than one true master and that we cannot both serve the Lord and serve money (v. 24). He underscores why God alone is worthy of our absolute allegiance, for God takes care of His people perfectly.

In Matthew 7:1–27, Jesus addresses several different topics, exhorting us to judge others by the same standard with which we judge ourselves and to pray without ceasing. This section of the sermon also contains the Golden Rule (v. 12), an important warning about false prophets, instruction on the narrow way of salvation, and a warning that we must possess the faith we profess. Jesus concludes this sermon (vv. 24–27) by exhorting people to build their lives on His teaching, warning that those who do not will be swept away.

The Sermon on the Mount is quite well known, but it is often misunderstood. It is not a discourse that endorses pacifism or provides a blueprint for the military and foreign policy of secular nations. It is instruction for the Christian community and for life within the kingdom of God as it enjoys a pilgrim status in the world. Furthermore, it is not a set of principles that ensure success as measured by the world’s standards or an outline of principles for positive thinking. Only those who have rested in Christ alone have any hope of living up to the sermon’s teaching. But ultimately, the sermon does not merely give us vital teaching on Christian living—although it does that. The chief purpose of the sermon is to reveal to us the supreme authority of Jesus over all other teachers (Matt. 7:28) and to drive us to faith in Him as the One who fulfills the law of God on behalf of His people.


Living out the Sermon on the Mount can never be divorced from a right relationship to Jesus Christ.

Sinclair B. Ferguson

The Sermon on the Mount

If we’re not the salt of the earth, it’s probably because we’ve allowed the world to contaminate us.

R.C. Sproul

Sermon on the Mount

The Sermon on the Mount is only to be understood when there is a full recognition of the frame in which it appears, namely, the gospel of the Kingdom of God and of His mighty deeds in His Son Jesus Christ.

Herman Ribberbos

When the Time Had Fully Come

The Sermon on the Mount, like all the rest of the New Testament, really leads a man straight to the foot of the Cross.