In order to understand the message of the Sermon on the Mount of Jesus Christ well, you need to first learn the Bible study method that you can use any time, in any part of Scripture. For this I want to familiarize you with the inductive method of studying the Word of God. The Inductive Bible study method uses the Bible itself as the primary source of information about the Bible.
Inductive Bible study is based on 3 pillars: OBSERVATION, INTERPRETATION AND APPLICATION. Observation answers the question: What does the text say? This is the foundation that should be set if you want to interpret the Word of God correctly and apply it properly. Interpretation answers the question: What is the text about? Interpretation is the process of discovering the significance of the text. Application answers the question: How can I apply the meaning of this passage in my personal life? To understand the inductive method well, I recommend you read “How to study your Bible“, written by Kay Arthur.
At our lesson, we will do the observation of the Sermon on the Mount. For this:
- Read the gospel of Matthew chapters 5 to 7 without stopping and mark:
- Who speaks?
- Where does he speak?
- When does he speak?
- To whom does he speak?
- What does he call those to whom he speaks, and what do you learn about them? (for example: “you of little faith”), etc?
- Words and phrases that repeat
- How does Jesus start His sermon (Matthew 5:3)?
- How does he finish His sermon (Matthew 7:24-27)?
- What connection do you see between the beginning and the end of the sermon?
- What is the general topic of the sermon?
- What is the purpose of the sermon?
- What effect does the sermon have on its listeners? (see the end of chapter 7 and the beginning of chapter 8)
- What historical or cultural references are found in the sermon (for ex. it is spoken about prophets in Matthew 5:12)
- Read Matthew chapters 1-6 to understand the context of the Sermon on the Mount. While reading, mark the following:
- The events from the life of Jesus Christ which precede the Sermon on the Mount.
- When did Jesus Christ start to preach and what was he preaching?
- Where was Jesus Christ preaching?
- Identify in Matthew 5 and mark with colored pencils the key words and the key phrases which are repeated (usually they describe an action and transmit a message from the author). They help you to understand the topic and the message of the chapter well. The key-words in chapter 5 are: Righteousness, Blessed, God, Jesus, Persecution, The Kingdom of heaven and “You have heard that it was said…but I say to you”. For example, I mark them as follows:
- Read chapter 5 again and give a title to each paragraph from this chapter (for example, from verse one to verse 2: Jesus teaches the crowds and the disciples, v.3-v.12: blessed are, etc.).
- Now write the topic of chapter 5 and the key-verse.
- Repeat intstructions 3-5 for chapters 6 and 7 of Matthew.
- Taking into consideration the titles of the three chapters, find a title for the entire sermon on the Mount. Identify the key verse that would characterize the entire sermon on the mountain.
That’s all for today. Follow lesson #2.
Translated by Liza Birladeanu.
Read this article in Romanian.