by Dansey Smith


IT is sometimes brought as a reproach against those of us who believe in endeavoring to interpret various parts of the Scriptures according to the time and purpose for which each was written, that we set up Paul above Christ, and throw over large portions of the Word as having no value for us. Especially are we supposed to reject the Sermon on the Mount; and we are then branded and treated almost as blasphemers and deniers of Christ's divinity. The special object of this study therefore is to show, that the teaching of Paul's Prison and Pastoral Epistles, i.e., the Epistles of Mystery, bears out that of almost the whole of the Sermon on the Mount, but amplifying and exemplifying it. The very few exceptions are those portions that have to do with the Jewish law and ordinances, and depend for blessing on works rather than on grace.

We are not of those who hold that the Pauline epistles are mostly very human documents, the general tenor of which is in harmony with God's will, and the result of Paul's high level of life and experience. If this were all, they might be dismissed without further argument, as not to be compared with the true words of the Son of God on earth. But we believe that they are literally God-breathed (2 Tim.3:16). and so are a fulfillment of Christ's own promise in John 16:13, that when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He shall guide you into all the truth. "Christ did not claim when on earth to have said the last possible word on spiritual things; and we know that years later He gave special revelations to John with regard to the day of Jehovah. Over and over again we learn, that to Paul were revealed certain age-long secrets and that he had visions, about which it was not lawful to tell us. If, then, these epistles are also from the Spirit of Truth, it is obvious, that they will not flatly contradict His earlier teaching, but may contain modifications suitable for a later date.

Let us then take the Sermon on the Mount subject by subject, and see wherein each is reproduced, amplified or even reversed in Paul's later epistles.

Matt.5:3. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for their's is the kingdom of heaven." In Phil.2:7 Christ Jesus, Himself, is given as the great example of this poverty. He "emptied Himself;" and for Him is not merely the kingdom of heaven, but to Him every knee in the universe shall bow, and every tongue confess that He is Lord.

Verse 4. "Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted." This finds no counterpart in this economy. Our blessings and privileges in Christ are such that we are enjoined to "Rejoice in the Lord always" (Phil.4:4).

Verse 5. "Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth." Here meekness is a condition of inheriting material blessing. But for us it is to be a consequence of "the calling wherewith" we "are called" (Eph.4:2), and of our position "as God's elect" (Col.4:12).

Verse 6. "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled." Our thirst is to be satisfied not merely by being filled with righteousness, but by being "filled in spirit" (Eph.5:18).

Verse 7. "Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy." We thank God that in this economy we have obtained mercy "by grace," for we could never merit it. But on the other hand, in Eph.6:9 masters are exhorted to do good to their servants, in view of the fact that they too have a Master, with Whom they have to do.

Verse 8. "Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God." Purity is emphasized in Eph.5:3-5, for none who is impure "hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God." And because of our hope of glory in Christ, we are urged to "put to death" all uncleanness (Col.3:5).

Verse 9. "Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the sons of God." But for us our calling in Christ is given as the reason for seeking after peace and letting it rule in our hearts (Eph.4:3, and Col.3:15). And the Son of God Himself is declared to be the great Peacemaker (Col.1:20).

Verses 10-12. Rejoicing in persecutions. To us "it hath been granted (as a boon) suffer in His behalf" (Phil.1:29). Paul gives himself as an example of rejoicing in his sufferings (Phil.2:17,18 and Col.1:24); and looks forward to the "great reward in heaven" in "the crown of righteousness" (2 Tim.4:8).

Verse 13. "Salt." Our speech is to be "always with grace, seasoned with salt" (Col.4:6).

Verses 14-16. "Ye are the light of the world." We, too, are "lights in the world" (Phil.2:15); and are to walk as children of light, proving what is well-pleasing unto the Lord" (Eph.5:8,10).

Verses 17-20. Fulfilling the law. This was Christ's purpose, and He has accomplished it, "having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments in ordinances" (Eph.2:15)! Verses 21,22,25,26. Against anger. This is rebuked in Ephesians 4:26,31. Verses 23,24. The offering at the altar. There is no further need of the altar in this economy; "for through Him we both have our access in one spirit unto the Father" (Eph.2:18). Verses 27-32. Against adultery. This we have dealt with under Verse 8.

Verses 33-37. The importance of truthfulness. This is emphasized by Paul in Eph.4:25 and Col.3:9.

Verses 38,39. Laws against strife. "The Lord's servant must not strive, but be gentle towards all" (2 Tim.2:24); and an overseer must be "no brawler, no striker; but gentle, not contentious" (1 Tim.3:3).

Verses 40-42. Giving graciously more even than is demanded. This is especially brought out in Paul's teaching for those who were slaves, and so absolutely under compulsion (Eph.6:5,6; Col. 3:22,23; 1 Tim.6:1,2; Titus 2:9,10).

Verses 43-47. "Love your enemies." Col.3:13,14 teaches us to be forbearing and forgiving "if any man have a complaint against any," and "above all these things put on love." Paul also exemplifies this in proclaiming the gospel to those about to kill him (2 Tim.4:17).

Verse 48. "Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Just as Christ teaches perfection through love, so does Paul in Col.3:14, just quoted. Paul also longs that all may be perfect in Christ (Eph.4: 13 and Col.1:28).

Chapter 6:1-6. Against ostentation in good works, and prayer for reward. While in the Pastoral Epistles great stress is laid on the necessity of a believer's practicing good works and being generous, especially for those who wish to be overseers or to be enrolled as widows; yet in Phil.2:3 they are urged to do "nothing through vainglory." Our Lord also is cited as the great example of humility. And we are reminded that it is "not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to His mercy He saves us" (Titus 3:5).

Verses 7,8. Against vain repetitions in prayer. While these are valueless, we are urged to "continue steadfastly in prayer, watching therein with thanksgiving" (Col.4:2).

Verse 9. "Our Father who art in heaven." We, too, "have our access...unto the Father" (Eph.2:18; 3:14). "Hallowed be Thy Name." Glory is constantly ascribed to God by Paul, but especially so in Eph.3:20,21 and Phil.4:20.

Verse 10. "Thy kingdom come." In this economy we do not need to pray for the coming of the kingdom of the Father. We are already by faith "translated...into the kingdom of the Son of His love" (Col.1:13). "Thy will be done." Paul writes of "servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart" (Eph.6:6).

Verse 11. "Give us this day our daily bread." Paul could say "My God shall supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Phil.4:19).

Verses 12,14,15. "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." Here forgiveness by the Father is dependent on the man's forgiving others. But in the present economy this has been exactly reversed. No longer is our forgiveness a consequence of our forgiving, but the cause, as is clearly brought out in Eph.4:32 and Col.3:13. "By grace have ye been saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory" (Eph.2: 8,9). This is a fundamental difference.

Verse 13. "Bring us not into temptation." This word means a trial or testing. It is only used once in Paul's later epistles, of those who desire to be rich, and so test themselves (1 Tim.6: 9). Our standing with God is "by grace through faith," and so is not dependent on satisfactorily passing tests.

"Deliver us from the evil one." The means of deliverance is to our hands in "the armor of God," and especially "the shield of faith" (Eph.6:11,16).

Verses 16-18. Against ostentation in fasting. The words "to fast" or "fasting" do not once occur in Paul's later epistles, indicating that the subject has no place in this economy. But this is shown more definitely in Col.2:20-23, where he reproves those who had "died with Christ from the rudiments of the world" for being again "subject to ordinances." He explains these as being human teachings about various forms of abstinence. This form of "humility and severity to the body" looks well, but is of no real "value against the indulgence of the flesh." Furthermore he implies in 1 Tim.4:1-5 that such abstinence is one of the "doctrines of demons" for such as "fall away from the faith" but is not to be countenanced by them that believe and know the truth."

Verses 19-24. "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth...but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven." We are "blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ" (Eph.1:3); we "sit with Him in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus" (Eph.2:6); "our citizenship is in heaven" (Phil.3:20); and finally Paul says, "Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth" (Col.3:2).

Verses 25-34. Against anxiety. Paul says in Phil.4:6, "In nothing be anxious." He himself had learned to be content under all circumstances (vss.11,12); and he gives his reason in verse 19, "My God shall supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."

Chapter 7:1-5. "Judge not, that ye be not judged." This section is well summarized in Phil.2:3, "in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself."

Verse 6. Against indiscriminate distribution of holy things. The most precious and holy thing we have to distribute now is the knowledge of the truth, the secret that was revealed to Paul. In 2 Tim.2:2 he impresses upon Timothy the necessity of committing these things to faithful men, who alone could use and pass on aright the secret.

Verses 7-11. On prayer and its answer. Paul by precept and example has quite a lot to say on this subject in these epistles. But it is perhaps brought out most clearly in Eph.3:14-20, where we have his requests for the greatest things, and then his declaration that God is "able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think."

Verse 12. The Golden Rule. Paul says, "The end of the charge is love" (1 Tim.1:5).

Verses 13,14. The broad and narrow ways. In Phil.3:17-21 there is a similar comparison between two classes of persons, those "who mind earthly things," and those whose "citizenship is in heaven." We can see their walk along the road, their ambition and their goal.

Verses 15-20. Christ warns against false teachers. We have similar warnings in Col.2:8,16-18; 1 Tim.1:6,7; 4:1-3; 6:2-5; 2 Tim.3:6; etc.

Verses 21-27. Mere outward forms of good works are of no value, but to do the will of God. Similarly in Col.2:20-23 those who "died with Christ" are not to subject themselves to ordinances and outward forms. Let us remember that our salvation is "not of works that no man should glory."

The above does not profess to be an exhaustive treatise on the teachings of Christ and Paul, but a comparison of the main lines of thought in our Lord's kingdom teaching while on earth, and His later revelation from heaven through His servant Paul with regard to this present economy. It will be seen that on moral and ethical lines there is great similarity. The difference is seen when it comes to questions of outward ceremonies, our standing in Christ by grace, and our consequent attitude towards material things.

May the Holy Spirit enable us to realize in our lives the answer to His servant's prayer, "that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment; so that ye may distinguish the things that differ" (Phil.1:9,10).

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