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Grant Osborne: Jesus has now finished giving his new kingdom principles, and he draws his Sermon to a close by removing any possibility of neutrality and demanding a response. The Sermon on the Mount has been all about the ethical obligation to live a superior righteousness. This involves the thought life as the key to relationships in the new community (5:17–48), the priority of God in every aspect of our religious life (6:1–18) as well as in our relation to material possessions (6:19–34), and in our social relationships inside and outside the community (7:1–12). Now is the time of decision, and Jesus wants us to realize the seriousness of our choices. The path to God is narrow and hazardous, but it is the only path to take.

There are only two paths in responding to the kingdom demands in the Sermon—unquestioning obedience/commitment to God or going the way of the world—and Jesus illustrates this by using a common Jewish metaphor on “the two ways” (Deut 30:15–19; Ps 1:6; Prov 28:6, 18; Jer 21:8; 4 Ezra 7:3–9; Did. 1–6; Barn. 18–20) and illustrating it in three separate warnings. All three warn about the terrible danger of playing games with our eternal destiny. There is only one path to eternal salvation, and all other attempts will travel the broad road to ruin.

Craig Blomberg: “Wide” versus “narrow” may refer not only to the majority versus the minority but also to relative levels of difficulty or ease.

Donald Hagner: We are at a major turning point in the sermon; no more ethical teaching is given. What follows are warnings and a concluding parable, all involving, as in the present passage, the use of strong contrasts.

Richard Gardner: The final group of sayings in Matthew 7 constitutes the section of the Sermon identified earlier as an epilogue. It is customary in an epilogue for the speaker to sum up the major issue(s) of a speech and to challenge the hearers to take appropriate action. That is clearly what Jesus is doing in 7:13-29, and doing it in a typical manner.

R. T. France: The Golden Rule of 7:12 concludes the substantive content of the discourse on discipleship. What follows is a series of four short sketches which underline the importance of an existential response to what has been heard and warn of the consequences of failing to respond. There is no uniformity in their literary form (unlike for instance the six examples of the greater righteousness in 5:21–47 or the three examples of misdirected piety in 6:1–18), but each in a different way draws out the contrast between a right and a wrong response, between the true and the false, the saved and the lost. This is, then, a rhetorical conclusion to the discourse, aiming to motivate the hearers to take appropriate action. A key word which runs through the last three of the four sections is poieō, “to do,” though English idiom does not allow the repetition of the same verb in translation: it is represented above by “produce” (fruit) in vv. 17, 18, 19, by “do” (the will of God) in v. 21, by “perform” (miracles) in v. 22, and by “put into practice” (Jesus’ teaching) in vv. 24, 26. In each case except v. 22 it is those who “do” who are commended; in v. 22 the wrong sort of “doing” is contrasted with the right sort in v. 21. In vv. 24 and 26 both men are described as “hearing” Jesus’ words but only the first “does” them; the message is clear, that those who have now “heard” Jesus’ teaching receive no benefit from it unless they also put it into practice. . .

The resultant four sections therefore press increasingly closer to home:

  1. the first is a simple contrast between saved and lost,
  2. the second concerns outsiders who merely pretend to be insiders,
  3. the third looks at those who think they are insiders but are not,
  4. and the fourth draws a line even within the group of insiders (who hear Jesus’ words) between those who respond and those who do not.

In each of the four cases, the result of a failure to respond is catastrophic: “destruction” (v. 13), “cut down and burned” (v. 19), excluded from the kingdom of heaven (vv. 21, 23), and the total collapse of the house (v. 27).

Charles Swindoll: Secrets of an Unshakable Life

As we conclude our exploration of the Sermon on the Mount, we realize that Jesus saved His most passionate words for the finale. Matthew 7:13-27 expresses the Lord’s most intense feelings of the sermon. We could call this part the application section of His sermon. In light of everything He preached leading up to this point, Jesus says, essentially, “Now that you’ve heard all this, what are you going to do about it?” As He drove His audience to application, Jesus presented His listeners with four paired alternatives:

  1. two gates—the narrow one leading to life or the wide one leading to destruction (7:13-14)
  2. two trees—the good one bearing good fruit or the bad one bearing bad fruit (7:15-20)
  3. two responses—the genuine disciple who does the will of God or the hypocritical hearer who only gives lip service (7:21-23)
  4. two foundations—the one built on rock or the one built on sand (7:24-27)

Jesus’ call to a decision in response to His message is really a call to faith for unbelievers and a call to discipleship for believers. It’s a call to repentance, to trust in and obey the King, the long-awaited Messiah and only rightful Lord.



A.  (:13a) Exclusivity of Salvation

“Enter by the narrow gate;

Daniel Doriani: First, the gate is narrow because Jesus’ commands are restrictive. Eight of the ten commandments begin with “You shall not.” When the law forbids certain actions, it narrows our options. But the law is not the restricting principle. The character of God is the pattern for our character, and that restricts us too. God is faithful, therefore we must be faithful and keep our promises. God is generous, therefore we should be generous. God is kind, therefore we should be kind. The indulgence of bad moods that leads to meanness or cruelty simply is not an option. Disciples resist the temptation to break the law and to ignore God’s character.

Second, the gate is narrow because the Bible teaches truths—doctrines—that we must believe. The Bible says that God created the world out of nothing, that Jesus is truly God and truly man, that this age will end when Jesus returns and calls mankind before him for judgment. The Bible directs us to think in these ways, not in others, and that restricts us. We cannot plausibly claim to be Christians and reject the cardinal truths of the faith.

Third, the gate is narrow because we can miss it. We miss it if we do not believe in Christ. We miss it if we deny that we are sinners, in need of a Savior. Jesus’ way is hard. The word translated “hard” comes from a family of words that refers to suffering and persecution. This reminds us that Jesus’ way is also narrow in the sense that it can lead to opposition. We enter the kingdom after passing through many hardships (Acts 14:22).

B.  (:13b-14) Explanation of Why So Few People Find Salvation

  1. (:13b) The Wide Gate Leads to Destruction

for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction,

and many are those who enter by it.

John Nolland: At this point the imagery expands to include a “way”, which is best seen as the way that leads to the gate in question.  Having been initially told to enter by the gate, the reader now faces the question of the way to get to the gate. To get to the right gate, one must first choose the right way. The imagery of a way introduces the idea of the duration of the time of a journey and therefore adds the notion of tenacity to that of choice. To the wide gate corresponds the broad way. We are to think of a main roadway, not able to be missed, constructed to carry large numbers comfortably, implicitly claiming to be going somewhere important; perhaps we are to think of easy travelling conditions.

  1. (:14)  The Narrow Gate Leads to Life

For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life,

and few are those who find it.

Grant Osborne: The true gate to salvation (articular τὴν ζωήν, “the [eternal] life”) is quite narrow, and the road is as well.  “Confined” is a good translation for τεθλιμμένη, from the cognate θλῖψις, “trouble, persecution.”  There well may be the idea of hardship and persecution, as in Acts 14:22, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” The persecution of the saints is a major Matthean motif (5:10–11, 44; 10:16–23, 35–36; 13:21; 23:34–35; 24:9–13, 16–21) and is likely implied here.

There is also the difficult ethical path demanded in 5:17–7:12; such a life in this evil world will be nigh impossible without the power of the Spirit and the love of God in the life of the believer. Only a “few” will be willing to travel that difficult road, but the final result will be eternal “life.” Jesus has made the options crystal clear: take the easy way and find destruction, or walk the difficult path and attain true life.

Warren Wiersbe: Since there are false prophets in the world, we must be careful of deception. But the greatest danger is self-deception. The scribes and Pharisees had fooled themselves into believing that they were righteous and others were sinful. It is possible for people to know the right language, believe intellectually the right doctrines, obey the right rules, and still not be saved. Jesus used two pictures to help us judge ourselves and others.

The two ways (vv. 13–14). These are, of course, the way to heaven and the way to hell. The broad way is the easy way; it is the popular way. But we must not judge spiritual profession by statistics; the majority is not always right. The fact that “everybody does it” is no proof that what they are doing is right.

Quite the contrary is true: God’s people have always been a remnant, a small minority in this world. The reason is not difficult to discover: The way of life is narrow, lonely, and costly. We can walk on the broad way and keep our “baggage” of sin and worldliness. But if we enter the narrow way, we must give up those things.

Here, then, is the first test: Did your profession of faith in Christ cost you anything? If not, then it was not a true profession. Many people who “trust” Jesus Christ never leave the broad road with its appetites and associations. They have an easy Christianity that makes no demands on them. Yet Jesus said that the narrow way is hard. We cannot walk on two roads, in two different directions, at the same time.

The two trees (vv. 15-20).

The second test is this: Did my decision for Christ change my life?

Donald Hagner: Although the “few” is clearly hyperbolic, it remains true that the majority of the people (πολλοί, v 13) do not receive Jesus’ message (cf. 11:20–24; 12:41–42); they go down the broad path to destruction. Those who do follow Jesus and his summons to the righteousness of the kingdom are comparatively few (ὀλίγοι). That those who follow Jesus are a minority and that their path is a demanding one should come as no surprise, nor should it be discouraging. For from another perspective it may be said that “the harvest is plentiful” so that many more laborers are needed (9:37–38). . .  The deliberate choice of οἱ εὑρίσκοντες, “who find,” to replace the οἱ εἰσερχόμενοι, “who go in,” of the parallel in v 13, has the effect of pointing to the privilege of the disciples. There is an echo of joy and fulfillment in the reference to the finding of this path to life. Again the call to righteousness occurs in the context of the reality of grace.



Warren Wiersbe: These show that true faith in Christ changes the life and produces fruit for God’s glory. Everything in nature reproduces after its kind, and this is also true in the spiritual realm. Good fruit comes from a good tree, but bad fruit comes from a bad tree.

A.  (:15) Warning Regarding False Prophets –

Deceitful Appearance and Destructive Mission

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing,

but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Donald Hagner: Despite their outward appearance and profession, these persons are in fact the mortal enemies of those who belong to the flock. As the wolf, known for its ferocity (hence “ravenous”), is the natural enemy of the sheep (cf. Isa 11:6; 65:25; Sir 13:17; John 10:12), so these deceivers are natural enemies of the truth and the true people of God. (cf. the similar metaphor in Acts 20:29; Ign. Phil. 2:1–2; Did. 16:3.) The disciples must therefore be wary of these false prophets. Following their way will lead only to the destruction of the flock.

John Nolland: Presumably one is to beware of false prophets because their influence may distort one’s own embrace of the teaching of Jesus.  Since they disguise themselves as sheep, their falseness is not necessarily immediately apparent. Though “sheep” here points in the first instance to harmlessness over against the predatory nature of the wolves, we should almost certainly understand that the disguise is, more precisely, to enable free movement among the flock of sheep, which is thus implicitly identified as the prey. Thus an allusion to the image of Israel as the flock of God is probably involved.

D. A. Carson: Warnings against false prophets are necessarily based on the conviction that not all prophets are true, that truth can be violated, and that the gospel’s enemies usually conceal their hostility and try to pass themselves off as fellow believers. At first glance, they use orthodox language, show biblical piety, and are indistinguishable from true prophets (cf. 10:41). Thus it is vital to know how to distinguish sheep from wolves in sheep’s clothing. Jesus does not explicitly say who will have the discernment to protect the community but implies that the community itself, by whatever agency, must somehow protect itself from the wolves.

B.  (:16-20) Key to Identifying False Prophets –

Examine Their Fruit which They Cannot Hide

  1. (:16a)  Discernment of False Prophets

You will know them by their fruits.

Grant Osborne: “Fruit” in the NT is more than just the deeds of people but everything they are (e.g., the “fruit of the Spirit” in Gal 5:22–23), including what they say as well as how they act.

Craig Blomberg: v. 16 suggests that outward behavior may enable one to distinguish between true and false Christians. Like inspecting vegetation, which inevitably discloses fruit in keeping with its species and state of health, so also one can look for good or bad (literally, rotten or worthless) spiritual fruit (vv. 17-20). Verse 21 further equates this fruit with doing “the will of my Father who is in heaven,” precisely what the Sermon on the Mount is elaborating. Of course, any individual action can prove insincere, but those who have detailed opportunities to scrutinize both the private and public behavior of people who claim to be Jesus’ followers (and particularly who can watch how those people respond after sinning) will have the best chance of evaluating the genuineness of professed commitments to Christ. It is worth emphasizing, however, that one can never know with absolute certainty the spiritual state of any other individual.

  1. (:16b-18)  Distinctive Bad Fruit of False Prophets

a.  (:16b)  The Source of the Fruit Determines the Fruit

Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes,

nor figs from thistles, are they?

Daniel Doriani: Jesus compares false teachers to thornbushes (Matt. 7:16). Thornbushes bear small, dark berries that resemble grapes at a distance. But if you examine them closely, you see what the berries are. So too with false prophets. We distinguish true from false by examining the fruit of their ministry and the patterns of their life. As Jesus says, “Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit” (7:17).

b.  (:17)  Good Will Always Produce Good and Bad Will Always Produce Bad

Even so, every good tree bears good fruit;

but the bad tree bears bad fruit.

c.  (:18)  Good Can Never Produce Bad and Bad Can Never Produce Good

A good tree cannot produce bad fruit,

nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.

Robert Gundry: So strong is the link between inward condition and outward behavior, in other words, that a true prophet doesn’t even have the capacity to pervert and disobey Jesus’ teachings; nor does a false prophet have the capacity to uphold and obey them. So you can be sure in your distinguishing of false prophets from true.

  1. (:19)  Destiny of False Prophets

Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down

and thrown into the fire.

  1. (:20)  Discernment of False Prophets

So then, you will know them by their fruits.

John Nolland: After the explanation and development of vv. 16b-19, we are brought back to a restatement of v. 16a.  The central point has been the need to recognise in order to avoid the influence of those who would represent a different vision from that proposed by Jesus. By watching their deeds one is likely to expose their identity more quickly than simply by listening to their words.

Bruner: The test of their reality is not how they come on but how they come off; not how they appear but what they produce; not how they seem but the theological and moral influence of their teaching and life in the community. Thus the prayer at the end of the Lord’s Prayer, “deliver us from evil,” also means “deliver us from false prophets and their amoral, immoral, or supermoral messages.”



R. T. France: Some interpreters treat the third scene, vv. 21–23, as a subsection of the second dealing with false prophecy. Apart from a single use of the verb “prophesy” as one of a series of charismatic activities claimed in v. 22, however, the two sections have little in common, and v. 20 with its repetition of v. 16a looks like the conclusion of a section, after which a new group is introduced in v. 21. As we shall note below, the nature of the deception in vv. 21–23 is quite different from that in v. 15. Whereas that was deliberate deception of disciples by those outside the group, the people of v. 22 are, at least in their own understanding, insiders; they are not so much deceivers as self-deceived. Their situation is closer to that of the non-practising hearer of v. 26 than to that of the wolves dressed up as sheep. . .

Whereas v. 15 warned the insiders against interlopers who would pretend to belong to the group, here there is apparently no pretense. We meet people who profess their allegiance to Jesus as “Lord,” and who can back up that claim with impressive spiritual achievements (“fruits”?) all carried out explicitly “in his name.” Unlike the consciously fraudulent prophets of v. 15, these people are apparently themselves more surprised than anyone when they find themselves rejected from the kingdom of heaven. They really thought they had made the grade; like the “goats” of 25:44 they are quite unaware of where they have failed. But the basis of their rejection is expressed not in terms of what they have done or not done, still less in terms of the allegiance they professed, but in the poignant words, the more desolating when addressed to professed disciples, “I never knew you.” . . .

even these spiritual activities can apparently be carried out by those who still lack the relationship with Jesus which is the essential basis for belonging to the kingdom of heaven.

Charles Swindoll: In the third set of paired alternatives, Jesus described two different responses to His teaching. He thus moved from unsound teachers (7:15-20) to unsound hearers (7:21-23). These verses can easily be misunderstood unless we read them very closely and consider them very carefully. Here we see the danger of a merely verbal profession of faith that lacks substance in reality. Some people may say things believers say and do things believers do —but it can all be fake.

A.  (:21) Mark of Genuine Discipleship

  1. Not Profession

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven;

  1. But Obedience

but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.

Craig Blomberg: Verses 21-22 enumerate some of the ways in which individuals can masquerade as Christians. They may verbally affirm that Jesus is their Master, perhaps even with great joy and enthusiasm, but such claims must issue in lives of obedience (an important qualification of Rom 10:10-13). Some may be preachers. Others perform exorcisms (see comments under 8:28-34), and some work various kinds of miracles (see comments under chaps. 8-9 passim). We are reminded that signs and wonders can come from sources other than God, including both the demonic world and human manufacture (cf. Acts 19:13-16; Rev 13:13-14).

Grant Osborne: The message here is that mere confession is useless unless accompanied by action. One can make a profession, but without a changed life, such an affirmation is without merit. So living under obedience to “the will of [the] Father” (this is especially God’s will as unfolded in the Sermon itself = the love commandments of 22:37–40) is not an option but a necessity for entering the kingdom. A life of obedience (present tense “do” [ποιῶν] for continuous action) to his will is, in fact, the definition of the “greater righteousness” of 5:20 (cf. also 3:15; 5:6, 10; 6:1, 33).

B.  (:22-23) Exposure of Ultimate Accountability

  1. (:22)  False Facade

Many will say to Me on that day,

‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name,

and in Your name cast out demons,

and in Your name perform many miracles?’

Donald Hagner: These persons are thus not criticized for their charismatic activities but for their dependence upon them as a substitute for the righteousness taught by Jesus. We may conclude that charismatic activities, done apart from this righteousness, have no self-contained importance and are in themselves insufficient for entry into the kingdom of heaven. . .

Perhaps no passage in the NT expresses more concisely and more sharply that the essence of discipleship, and hence of participation in the kingdom, is found not in words, nor in religiosity, nor even in the performance of spectacular deeds in the name of Jesus, but only in the manifestation of true righteousness—i.e., the doing of the will of the Father as now interpreted through the teaching of Jesus. Relationship with Jesus is thus impossible apart from doing the will of God. For Matthew all is narrowed down to this one necessity. Neither good, important words (“Lord, Lord”) nor good, random deeds of mercy (e.g., casting out demons) can substitute for the full picture of righteousness the evangelist has given in the sermon. Religion can never take the place of actual obedience to the teaching of Jesus.

  1. (:23)  Damning Dismissal

“And then I will declare to them,

‘I never knew you;

depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Robert Gundry: “Depart from me” implies that Jesus is the locus of the kingdom of heaven, and therefore of salvation, and that he’ll determine who’ll enter and not enter that kingdom.

Grant Osborne: In other words, these people like Judas pretended to be disciples and probably even acted like disciples (indeed, possibly thought they were disciples) but were never actually committed to him. They were committed to the power Jesus represented and to the status they thought they had, but they never allowed the will of God to control their actions. This is not an anti-charismatic saying but rather means that such actions will never suffice in and of themselves apart from a life committed to doing God’s will.

R. T. France: That these professed disciples did not even realize their religious failure, and would no doubt have rejected the term “law-breakers” with indignation, only makes the verdict the more poignant.

Daniel Doriani: “I never knew you” means “I never knew you as my child, as a member of my covenant family” (cf. Amos 3:2). Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (John 10:14). Paul says, “The Lord knows those who are his” (2 Tim. 2:19).



E. Michael Green: The final way Jesus presses his claim brings us to the end of the Sermon. In this age of permissiveness and pluralism (which we forget was much the same in Jesus’ own day), his claims stand out sheer and stark. He does not agree that it does not matter what you believe in so long as you are sincere. He does not allow that we are all climbing up to God by the route of our choice. He does not fit in with our shallow pluralism. Instead he says there are only two ways we can build. Not many ways, just two. We can either build on him and his teaching, which we will find is as solid as rock; or else we can build on any other religion or philosophy in the world, and we will find that it is sand, and in the last day it will spell ruin. . .

So, we must build on the Rock. How? Jesus’ reply to that question is the heart of Old Testament religion. We must hear and obey. Not just hear, but obey. The theological and religious world is full of hearing; it is overloaded with God-talk. What will thrill the heart of God and make the pagans realize that the gospel is true is practical, generous obedience —

  • obedience that transforms our characters (5:11–12),
  • affects our influence (5:13–16),
  • shows itself in practical righteousness (5:17–48),
  • touches our devotional life (6:1–18),
  • radically alters our ambitions (6:19–34),
  • transforms our relationships (7:1–12)
  • and marks us out as totally wholehearted servants of the King (7:13–27).

That is what Jesus is looking for. That is the mark of the disciples he calls. That is the kingdom manifesto detailed with immense authority at the outset of his public ministry.

A.  (:24-25) House Built on the Rock

  1. (:24)  Life Decisions of the Wise Man

Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them,

may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock.

Craig Blomberg: It is not enough simply to hear Jesus’ call or even to respond with some temporary flurry of good deeds. Rather, we must build a solid foundation that combines authentic commitment to Christ with persevering obedience. Jesus graphically illustrates his point with a parable.

Robert Gundry: “Therefore” makes the story of the prudent and foolish builders illustrate both the final doom of false prophets and their followers, whose lawless conduct exempts them from persecution now, and the ultimate security of true disciples, though they’re presently persecuted because of their obedience to the Law as interpreted by Jesus. The two occurrences of “everyone” stress the inescapability of eternal doom on the one hand and the certainty of eternal life on the other hand.

  1. (:25) Life Destiny of the Wise Man

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew,

and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall,

for it had been founded upon the rock.

B.  (:26-27) House Built on the Sand

  1. (:26)  Life Decisions of the Foolish Man

And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act upon them,

will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand.

  1. (:27)  Life Destiny of the Foolish Man

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew,

and burst against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall.

Warren Wiersbe: The foundation in this parable is obedience to God’s Word—obedience that is an evidence of true faith (James 2: 14ff.). The two men in this story had much in common. Both had desires to build a house. Both built houses that looked good and sturdy. But when the judgment came (the storm), one of the houses collapsed. What was the difference? Not the mere external looks, to be sure. The difference was in the foundation: The successful builder “digged deep” (Luke 6:48) and set his house on a solid foundation.

A false profession will last until judgment comes. Sometimes this judgment is in the form of the trials of life. Like the person who received the seed of God’s Word into a shallow heart (Matt. 13:4–9), the commitment fails when the testing comes. Many people have professed faith in Christ, only to deny their faith when life becomes spiritually costly and difficult.

But the judgment illustrated here probably refers to the final judgment before God. We must not read into this parable all the doctrine that we are taught in the Epistles, for the Lord was illustrating one main point: Profession will ultimately be tested before God. Those who have trusted Christ, and have proved their faith by their obedience, will have nothing to fear. Their house is founded on the Rock, and it will stand. But those who have professed to trust Christ, yet who have not obeyed God’s will, will be condemned.

Donald Hagner: This last point receives great emphasis with the deliberate breaking of the symmetrical parallelism of the passage in the brief, ominous concluding words: καὶ ἦν ἡ πτῶσις αὐτῆς μεγάλη, “and its fall was great,” the last word receiving an additional emphasis. This conclusion is analogous to that of v 23.

D. A. Carson: The sermon ends with what has been implicit throughout it—the demand for radical submission to the exclusive lordship of Jesus, who fulfills the Law and the Prophets and warns the disobedient that the alternative to total obedience, true righteousness, and life in the kingdom is rebellion, self-centeredness, and eternal damnation.

Daniel Doriani: Why does Jesus end the Sermon on the Mount with the words “a great crash” (7:27)? This is hardly the upbeat way in which preachers typically end their sermons. But Jesus is making a point. It is not enough to study or applaud the words of Jesus. We must do what he says. Otherwise, we are in danger of hypocrisy, in danger of facing a great crash.


A.  (:28) Amazed Crowd

The result was that when Jesus had finished these words,

the multitudes were amazed at His teaching;

Robert Gundry: This comment forms a bridge from this first of Jesus’ five, Pentateuch-like sermons in Matthew to the following narrative (compare 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1).

Craig Blomberg: Not surprisingly, the crowds marvel and contrast Jesus’ teaching with that of the scribes. For them the difference was one of authority. Of course the scribes and Pharisees were religious authorities, but their right to speak was always based on their ability to quote Scripture or subsequent Jewish teachers and tradition. Strikingly, Jesus quotes Scripture in his sermon only to reinterpret it, he cites no human authorities or tradition, and he speaks with directness and confidence that he himself is bringing God’s message for a new era in human history. Such preaching reflects either the height of presumption and heresy or the fact that he was a true spokesman for God, whom we dare not ignore.

B.  (:29) Authoritative Teacher

for He was teaching them as one having authority,

and not as their scribes.

Donald Hagner: The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount was radical both in content and in the unique authority that undergirded its forthright, confident delivery. Matthew will not miss the opportunity here at the end of a masterful distillation of the teaching of Jesus to call his readers’ attention to the supreme authority of this Teacher. Jesus is not one among other rabbinic teachers; his authority centers not on the tradition of the Fathers, nor even on the Torah, but somehow, mysteriously and remarkably, it centers in himself. As the final and authoritative exposition of the meaning of the righteousness of the Torah, this teaching has an incomparable authority that can be accounted for by only one fact: the unique person of Jesus, the one teacher, the one master, the Christ (23:8–10). Only such personal authority can support the radical and surprising teaching and its exclusive claims (cf. John 7:46). This authority is in fact inseparable from the newness of the gospel and the presence of the Agent of that gospel.

D. A. Carson: The central point is this: Jesus’ entire approach in the Sermon on the Mount is not only ethical but messianic—i.e., christological and eschatological. Jesus is not an ordinary prophet who says, “Thus says the Lord!” Rather, he speaks in the first person and claims that his teaching fulfills the OT, that he determines who enters the messianic kingdom, that as the Divine Judge he pronounces banishment, that the true heirs of the kingdom will be persecuted for their allegiance to him, and that he alone fully knows the will of his Father. . . Jesus’ authority is unique (see comments at 5:21–48), and the crowds recognized it, even if they did not always understand it. This same authority is now to be revealed in powerful, liberating miracles, signs of the kingdom’s advance (chs. 8–9; cf. 11:2–5).