Theological Insights from a Modern Perspective

The “Do Not” Teachings


Coptic Icon of Jesus Teaching

The next several teachings of Jesus are referred to as the “Do Not” teachings because they are short teachings (mostly found in Matthew) that tell us what not to do: Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not divorce… Get the picture?

Matthew was big on the Law, and his audience was the Jewish people. In these teachings Matthew shows Jesus clarifying some of the bigger teachings of the Torah (Laws). Do they still hold for us today? Much has been debated about that, speaking from my (personal) beliefs you cannot cherry pick the ones you like and ignore the ones that bother you. You either follow all of them or set them all aside. Jesus starts off these teachings with the following statement addressing his Jewish audience:

Matt 5:17-20 “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

The two key phrases here are:

“…until all is accomplished.

Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven

For some “all is accomplished” occurred when Jesus rose from the dead, for others it will be at his second coming. This is important for determining if these teachings were meant only for the Jews of Jesus’ time, or are they meant for us as well. Whichever camp you fall into will determine if these teachings apply to you or not. Regardless, these are worthwhile teachings to read and ponder upon.

The problem is that many of the teachings strike at what society today, and many churches, teach as being acceptable practices. Preaching on them makes pastors uncomfortable, hearing them makes people uncomfortable, following them makes everyone feel ostracized from modern society. But, then again, are we not called to live outside of the established society, to be a people set apart?

I present them here as Jesus taught them, as individual teachings, each addressing a different aspect of the Law.


Comments on: "The “Do Not” Teachings" (3)

  1. Jesus also gave us the two “shalts,” upon which, he said, all the other laws hang. He asked us to love the Lord, our God, with all our our strength and to love one another as ourselves. I


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