Bible Review 12:1, February 1996

The Son of David and King of the Jews

The Romans knew quite well why they condemned Jesus: Because of the claim to the kingship of Israel.

By Helmut Koester

Bible Review

For the author of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus belongs wholly to the world of Israel. Some have tried to understand Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount as a new law that is no longer Jewish but Christian and that must be contrasted to the law of Moses. The antitheses of the Sermon on the Mount, however, are an interpretation and radicalization of the law of Moses—not a repudiation of it—as the sermon states explicitly that “until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:18–19).

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