These three chapters of the New Testament, attributed to the apostle Matthew are often called “The Sermon of the Mount.” Many Christians and biblical scholars view these chapters as the essence of the teachings of Jesus. This book was probably originally written in Greek in the first century A.D. At the time Israel was a province of Rome and subject to Roman law. Tiberius Caesar was emperor and any religions that did not feature the emperor of Rome as a god were subject to suspicion, investigation and persecution by the Romans.
Allegedly taken place in the vicinity of Jerusalem, Jesus sits among Jewish people and teaches his philosophy of God and the relation of those people worshipping him. He begins with numerous statements that offer blessings to those who suffer and those who are righteous and pursuers of peace. He tells the people to be loving, forgiving, and to behave ethically. Jesus introduces an interesting concept when he includes intention in many of his prescriptions. Not only were believers to not commit adultery as demanded by the Ten Commandments, but they were not even to look at a woman lustfully (Matthew 5:27-30). Not only must one not commit murder, but one must not be angry with his brother (Matthew 5:21-22). In essence Jesus has introduced the notion of intention into his ethical system. He disavows the system of strict rules as practiced by the Pharisees and other Jewish sects, and demands that the people not only do good, but do so intentionally. Following the law is not enough. Jesus opens a route between God and men that does not require the interpretation of the scholars and clergy. In effect, Jesus turns God into a personal god.
The consequences of this act would be felt throughout the history of Western Civilization; the crusades, the Reformation and the settling of the New World were affected by the teachings of Jesus related throughout the Christian Gospels.
The Holy Bible: New International Version:
Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Bible Publishers.