Chapter 4: The Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain
At this point Matthew inserts the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5-7). the first of his five major discourses. Seeing the crowds that had gathered. he says. Jesus went up on a mountain and sat down, and his disciples came to him (5:1). "And he opened his mouth and taught them." The "sermon" is thus addressed to the disciples, not to the crowds. What we have here, however. is obviously not a stenographic record of a particular sermon, but a collection of sayings spoken on various occasions and transmitted separately or in other connections. Luke (6:17) presents some of the same material, with notable differences, as spoken when Jesus "came down" from the hills where he had appointed the twelve apostles, "and stood on a level place." Luke says that Jesus "healed them all," and then proceeds with the Sermon on the Plain (6:20-49), addressed, like Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, to the disciples. Both discourses are clearly compilations of materials from two or more sources. Luke’s is much shorter than Matthew’s and contains very little that is not in the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew, however, has much that Luke uses in other connections, and much also that is found nowhere else and exhibits features characteristic of other unique material in Matthew.
In both Gospels the sermon begins with what are commonly called the Beatitudes (Mt 5:3-12; Lk 6:20-23), short sayings that begin. "Blessed are . . ." The Greek adjective translated "blessed" represents a Hebrew word used often in the Old Testament, especially in Psalms and Proverbs. It means fortunate, well off, to be congratulated, or the like. The person pronounced blessed may not feel at all happy; in fact, those whom Jesus called blessed would appear to most people to be decidedly unhappy.
There are four striking differences between the Beatitudes given by Matthew and those given by Luke. First, Matthew has nine Beatitudes, Luke only four. The sayings...