Original Research

Jesus’ halakhic argumentation on the true intention of the law in Matthew 5:21−48

Francois P. Viljoen
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 34, No 1 | a682 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v34i1.682 | © 2013 Francois P. Viljoen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 September 2011 | Published: 30 April 2013

About the author(s)

Francois P. Viljoen, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa


In the time when Matthew wrote his gospel, the interpretation of the Torah became a feature of division. Matthew frequently presented Jesus as being in debate with the Pharisees and scribes on the true intention of the Law. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus was presented as using the halakhic form of argumentation to counter false assumptions about the meaning of the Torah. Six theses about the Torah were set, followed by Jesus’ antitheses. Jesus’ alternative interpretations were presented as an authoritative explanation of the true, intended meaning of the Law. Matthew argued that Jesus did not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets, but bring them to fulfilment. In this argument Jesus formulated the higher level of righteousness that is required of his followers.


Law; Torah; Halakha; Sermon on the Mount; Righteousness


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Crossref Citations

1. The Matthean Jesus’ surprising instruction to obey the teachers of the Law and Pharisees
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