In our study of the Gospel of Matthew on Sunday mornings, we’ve come to Matthew 5, the beginning of what we typically call “The Sermon on the Mount”. Since Matthew presents this as a single discourse – one sermon – I asked if I could teach an overview of the entire sermon. So, last Sunday, I taught from Matthew chapters 5-7 – the whole Sermon on the Mount. Beginning next week, we will look at each part of the sermon, but I think it was beneficial to look at the sermon as a whole first.
It was very interesting studying the entire sermon. I think I learned some things that will help me as I study each passage within the sermon. But, as I started studying and reading what other people had written, I realized that there was a question that had to be answered before I could understand the purpose and message of the sermon itself.
That question is this: Did Matthew write the Sermon on the Mount (and his Gospel) for unbelievers, or did he write for believers? A similar question could be asked in this way: Did Matthew write for people who did not know anything about Jesus, or did he write for people who already knew about Jesus, and were perhaps even following Jesus already?
I will probably write about the Sermon on the Mount in the days to come. But I think it is important to begin with this question. So, do you believe that Matthew’s Gospel (and the Sermon on the Mount) is intended primarily for believers or unbelievers? (I recognize that the answer could be both, but who is the primary audience?) How does our interpretation of the Gospel and the Sermon change if the audience is believers or unbelievers?