The rest of the Sermon on the Mount does not fit into a tightly knit structure beyond the level of the individual paragraphs; some elements (such as 7:6) are actually difficult to fit into their context! This reminds us how important Jesus' teachings are to Matthew. Even though Matthew carefully organizes most of his material, he wants us to know all of Jesus' teachings, even when he cannot fit them into the structure of his argument.
Nevertheless, Matthew continues to arrange Jesus' teaching in a relevant, pastoral way for his readers. Just as outward acts of righteousness can be misleading (6:1-18), we should avoid any external evaluations of individuals (7:1-5) and certainly should not trust all religious claims (7:15-23). Jesus' promise concerning prayer (7:7-11) expands his earlier discussion of private prayer (6:5-15) and seeking the kingdom first (6:32-33). (NIV obscures the flow of thought by translating the first "seek" as run after; that Greek term can be stronger, but in this context it contrasts with the closely related term in the next verse.) Jesus' admonition to self-examination (7:1-5), warning that few will enter God's kingdom (vv. 13-14), observation that one's behavior reveals one's character (vv. 15-20) and caution that our lives and not just lips must acknowledge Christ (vv. 21-23) suitably climax in his final warning that only those who obey his teaching will endure the judgment (vv. 24-27).
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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