The enlightenment teaching of the Essene was known as THE WAY. This teaching became the final interpretation of the Law and the Prophets, as revealed by Yeshua Messiah. The Way also became the enlightened transitional teaching into the early church.
This article covers ‘Antithesis’, Matt. 5.21-48, concerning women, forgiveness, and oaths, foundational subjects which help define the Way.
The first four chapters of Matthew lay the groundwork for Jesus’ ministry, covering heritage and birth, John the Baptist, Satan’s first temptation, the calling of the first disciples, and the beginning of his healing ministry. Chapter five begins Jesus’ teaching ministry, beginning with the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes introduce the enlightenment path of the Way. Later, the Antithesis scriptures, such as in Matt. 5.22, draw the contrast between the Law as was currently taught, to what Jesus now presents as the enlightened thinking of the Way, and are the first teachings that contrast and then transcend the current interpretation of the Law of Moses.
Beginning in Matt. 5.21, Jesus begins to clarify the laws relative to the Old Testament teaching. Jesus begins with ‘Thou shalt not kill’ (21), also found in Ex. 20.13. Jesus ends with ‘love your neighbor’ in 5.48, “…be ye perfect (whole),” also Lev. 19.18. The manner in which Jesus speaks allows us to observe the subtlety of the enlightened pathway and the nuance of Jesus as a teacher.
‘who would you rather rule, Jesus or a Pharisee’?
Let us deal with the first antithesis, concerning murder. In Matt. 5.22 Jesus inserts an unusual statement and one rarely mentioned by pastors or lecturers. Jesus says, “But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” A true slight may cause anger, but it should be dealt with appropriately and settled without retribution. But to carry anger without cause allows the anger should build, producing a kind of venom, and a lowering of the mind, and the emotional state. ‘Without cause’ shows a lack of forgiveness. God can forgive anger, but your anger ‘without a cause’ delivers a judgment upon you. This kind of anger closes the door to an enlightened vision.
Jesus continues, “…and whosoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca’,”* which is to make disdainful statements, derision or cursing them. “…shall
be in danger of the Sanhedrin,” means to be judged by the local Sanhedrin. “… but whoever shall say ‘Thou fool’ shall be in danger of hellfire,” means someone who has forsaken divine knowledge, one who operates from vanity engendering bitterness or hatred, and thus places himself in a position to not only be judged but also condemned!
*Raca (Raqa): worthless; also, to hammer on, to beat on; concerns metalworking—striking and wrath.
Jesus is no longer talking about the crime of murder itself, but that anger and wrath destroy the heart condition of man. It is the anger that leads to the murder that represents the teaching base. Anger is a choice. Unknowingly, the man spiritually rends himself. The pathway of the heart and mind become abused. The man’s pathway begins to slip from his fingers, and in effect, he has condemned himself!
The pathway of heart and mind teaches us to avoid such a trap. Better to release the heart to the spirit, discover its wounds and begin to heal, than to doctor yourself with excuses, grudges, or explanations. The simplicity of such an approach has the power to shatter the heart’s complexities, even if the individual may not understand such complexities, and by nature orders the mind and provides peace.
Jesus addresses the crowd in the most personal manner, heartfelt, yet specific, and clear. He does not teach the way of men, he teaches the Way of God. Even as Jesus speaks, the presence of the Spirit replaces the logic of the world.
Something must activate the process: to reach out, to pray, to ask or knock or seek, and it is here Jesus speaks of what must be the core of the Way, which is forgiveness-love. These two attributes work in tandem. With the addition of faith, a triad of sound spiritual strength and performance is established. To forgive your way out of such a condition, as verses 23 & 24 refer to: “…be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer thy gift (sacrifice, prayer or attribution),” gives us the core principle of reconciliation. It is hard to love when you are unforgiving. Forgiveness becomes the first order of your day, it is first in importance.
Forgiveness opens doors to higher understanding, greater wisdom, and love, and yields a greater peace. Deep embroilments within the soul heal by expressing forgiveness. Whole areas of consciousness can then be opened—the manifestation of the kingdom within—if forgiveness is given the first status.
The Matthew scriptures exemplify John the Baptist and Jesus’ teaching which deals with thoughts and attitudes: what you hold onto and what you are willing to release, and what pathways of heart and mind you allow yourself to travel. Hatred for the Romans was the preoccupation of the day, yet Jesus will later teach that a person goes the extra mile, to demonstrate love even to enemies, and forgive them for their trespasses. Within an omnibus presentation of love and consideration, Jesus’s teaching of the Way becomes a precise instruction as to attitude, motive, and conduct.*
*Marven Vining writes in, Jesus the Wicked Priest, “Contrary to popular belief, love and forgiveness are not empty, feel-good “works,” they are the necessary and sufficient conditions of being a Christian—the very means of accepting Jesus as one’s personal savior.” Baer and Co., division of Inner Traditions. Marvin Vining, copyright 2008, p. 109.
All people believe and invest in different ideas, and it seems we all carry different loads. When we finally recognize the board in our own eye the condition of our beliefs is truly revealed. Through our expressions, our reactions, and our general mentality we can observe anger and wrath which too often replaces forgiveness and love. Finally, we reach into the heart of the Way, viewing a different and dynamic measure of soul progression. Jesus teaches a whole new way of looking at self and the world.
70 Times 7
In Jesus’ teaching of the Way, the first order of events is to forgive. In that manner, your pathway toward God becomes clarified. Without forgiving you will always be held back. Jesus places love-forgiveness above all other attributes of character and defines forgiveness as the foremost quality in the enlightened journey of heart and mind. Lack of forgiveness clouds the pathway.
Peter asks, “Lord how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?” (Mt. 18.21). Jesus replies, ” I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”
There are two crucial factors in the above scripture. The first deals with the number seven, of which the meaning is to be complete or until finished, also perfection. That Jesus says to forgive seventy times seven informs us that the ‘normal seven times completion’ may not be enough and that you must continue to forgive until you have truly and completely forgiven, no matter how long it may take.
Lack of forgiveness leads to a hard heart, of which Jesus accused the Pharisees. If lack of forgiveness is the problem, sow a forgiveness seed for harvest and speak the Word (spirit) to reveal and remove the stones. Yet another way to understand Jesus’ instruction is that forgiveness should be never-ending. This last lends itself to the eternality of the Way, and in some respects lends also to the eternality of Christ.
(23) “…therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.
(24) Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and thy holy city,
to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins,
and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness,
and to seal up the vision and the prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
(25) Know therefore and understand,
that from the going forth of the commandment
to restore and rebuild Jerusalem unto Messiah the Prince…”
70 x 7 = 490 years, and this is the number of years from Malachi to Messiah. In Dan. 9.24-25, “seventy weeks” is actually 70 7’s, and the reference is years*. During these 490 years, the Jews remained without true prophets.
*History notes: Book of Daniel is now thought to have been transcribed approx. 150 BC, and would be considered more of an Essenic text, or version. This transcription presses for Messiah as close to arriving. Messiah’s arrival is one reason for the original Essene retreat into Galilee and northward, which in part was to prepare for Messiah even as they removed themselves from the corrupted Sadducees. Also, the family of Maccabee usurped the throne from the lineage of David.
Using the number seven means that forgiveness should be complete. The number seven represents wholeness or perfection. That the number seven is associated with forgiveness tells us everything: forgiveness is preeminent. Messiah himself is now pronouncing this truth! In other words, forgiveness must come first, before all attributions (sacrifice) before God, and all approaches to God. This is a tall order. A person is not intended to be left bereft of other qualities concerning soul development, but forgiveness and its attendant companion love must remain nearby and should be employed liberally.
Less than forgiving? Pray and sow seed for a more forgiving heart & mind.
The enlightenment principle of forgiveness allows every soul to release grudges and similar attributes; an allowance for the spirit to fill the void with expanding knowledge, peace, and perhaps a measure of satisfaction.
Therefore, forgiveness begins to construct a new order of events, not only out-pictured into the physical world but the reordering of personal nature. The Christed nature that the Holy Spirit is building in you begins to manifest as forgiveness upon forgiveness and love upon love. Practicing forgiveness redirects and enhances anyone’s spiritual pathway. Thus, daily life begins to flow differently. That manner of flow is often typified as the Pathway of Love or the Way.
Essentially, the spirit begins to move as if permitted to reorder the thought structure of thinking, attitudes, and motives. A new order for soul progression comes into play. A pathway becomes established whether the person is conscious of this fact or not (see, Unconscious Growth). The forgiveness pathway Jesus lays out must be an essential part of the enlightenment into the spirit of God. It is at this point that the heart-teaching Jesus espouses begins to separate itself from Old Testament theologies. Jesus connects love to forgiveness (Mt. 5.43-48), and the law is now put in its proper place.
Throughout these articles ‘forgiveness-love’ is often written in the form you see here, as if inextricable. They are. Forgiveness and love are almost always associated. If you are loving, you will forgive. If you forgive, forgiveness becomes an act of love. For this reason, many people pray for forgiveness and finish by sending out love. At first, this action may not seem to have much effect. However, it begins to work in the soul by increment, and may profoundly push forward one’s understanding and progress. This practice also lends itself to humility. For Jesus infers to others, who am I not to forgive? And who am I that I should not love?
TREATMENT OF WOMEN
The next antithesis (Mt. 5.27) concerns adultery and lust. Jesus begins (v. 28) by chastizing those who lust, usually associated with men. Jesus addresses the heart condition of the man as well as his thinking. However, the one who lusts is responsible. The phrase, “…whosoever looketh…” means anyone and infers continuing to look. The Complete Jewish Study Bible has it, “But I tell you that a man who even looks at a woman with the purpose of lusting after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Ancient Jewish writers warned about lust. They also made a practice of warning relative to women’s seductiveness. Jesus holds the doer (performer, creator) of the thought as totally responsible. The interpretation Jesus gives justifies women. Previously, a man could say, ‘She seduced me,” and plead a kind of innocence, an innocence that other men of the same ilk might accept.
Under Jesus’ interpretation, this argument is no longer possible. Jesus brings women into equality by recognizing women as people. The ongoing struggle of what is or is not appropriate is made clear—Women should not be considered objects to be used for men’s lust, nor should women seduce men. Each one is responsible, the lines are drawn clearly.
At different times in history, women were thought of as no more than receivers of sex, sometimes considered no more than baby-makers. At other times women were greatly honored, even revered. Jesus, however, is setting a more realistic standard and thus redefines the social context for individual women, as well as women within marriage. The Jesus ministry traveled with women, unheard of in this historical period, and thus established a new historic warrant. Included as functioning disciples, women provided a valued polarity within the ministry. They almost certainly motivated many conversions.
Within some pagan cultures, women became helpless and trapped. Men married and then traded off the woman with a quick divorce, staying married no more than a few months or a year. Essentially, they passed the women around, divorced, and then gained another wife. The women had no wealth, nor provision to see to their needs (Gn. ch. 20, Gerarites). Denigrating marriage into no more than an agreement to have sex for a while, the women, of course, became controlled and used (abused) by the Gararite men.
The prohibition on divorce was intended to protect all women. Secondly, abuse of women was not allowed. Most villages were small and difficulties along familial lines were considered important. Divorce laws were created in part with the idea that we, the Jews, are not pagan and that we treat women differently. No longer may men indulge themselves, but marriage is for family and not lust, and thus the underpinning of society remains stable. Also, widows and orphans would be provided for.
There is another reason marriage without divorce became important among the Nazareans. Although purity was high on the list of objectives, it seems true that the continued relationship between masculine and feminine essences was also a significant goal. The coming together in union, sexually or socially, shares masculine/feminine essence and nature. The spiritual growth of both partners continues until the death of one, and there should be no mixing as in the case of adultery.*
*”Jewish law about adultery technically addressed only intercourse with married women; the marital status of the man was not relevant,” from The IVP Bible Background Commentary, 2nd ed. John 8.7-11 releases the woman from being the only one who should be held accountable, with the men portrayed within this scripture leaving the scene.
Since family is the emphasis, both partners have a shared goal, a goal outside of self, or self-gratification. Service as parents and a communal social standard forms the basis of the tight-knit Nazarene Essene communities. The desert communities of the Nazarenes were isolated, and it is noted that they held little commerce with the world. Avoiding temptation was considered wisdom, thus interactions with the world were limited.
Chapter 5, verses 28-29, of Matthew, completes two important points concerning sexual lust.
Jesus speaks directly to the thought condition of the person, and not necessarily pertaining only to the person’s actions. Similarly, John the Baptist mentions that being sons of Abraham (outward condition) will no longer provide the ‘covering’ that accommodates the new standard Messiah heralds. Both propose that a change in thinking, the inward condition, must occur.
Jesus speaks to the outward issue of respect concerning women, for he teaches she also is a child of God. It is then he moves to the thought-teaching concerning he who beholds the woman and the question of lust. The nub of the issue is your thoughts and the order of events that may then follow. The mind that propers lust conflicts with the heart (Mt. 6.21; 15.18-19). “These are the things which defile a man,” Matt. 15.20.
It is the condition of the heart Jesus refers to throughout his teaching of the Way. He is always probing—what is the condition of your heart? Your knowledge base may be helpful, but the heart condition is fundamental. The heart condition referred to is a spiritual heart, representing a deeper pull or commitment, and not in the nature of man’s emotional reactions. Heart knowledge, as it is referred to today, is a revealed expression of the spirit within. The heart tells the tale of a man or woman.
In Matt. 5.28 Jesus infers that sexual lust pollutes the heart, “…already in his heart,” just as adultery pollutes the body. What we do may be at issue, but the logos of the mind and heart become the focus, for that is where everything begins. Heart and mind create, words bring power, and the will initiates action! Let your actions be of the spirit, and not engendered through lust, whatever the lust may be. Jesus consistently makes clear the nature of the Way, that it is not about purity rituals, sacrifices, intellectualism, or strict rules. The Way is about thought, both heart and mind, emphasizing the attitudes of both. It is not only about what you do but also about intent and motive.
Even from the beginning, God addresses what a person thinks: Eve opens to the temptation, she lusts after the fruit, and she partakes; Cain becomes jealous and thinks murderous thoughts, and he finally carries it out. The precision of Jesus’ teachings becomes outlined here, the essence of which focuses on the individual’s thinking. Sin crouches by your side (see Cain & Abel) God tells Cain if you view the world through eyes of lust. Jesus imparts a similar message.
Located at a busy trading center such as Haran, there would have been many opportunities to spread the Word of the One God, Creator of all things and in all things, God of the heaven and the earth, which is what both Sarah and Abraham did teach. For decades both were ministers long before Abraham received guidance and stepped into Canaan.
Gen. 12.5, “…all the substance they had gathered, and the souls they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan, and into the land of Canaan they came.” Later Nazarene practices reveal a different and closer association with women, even within the ministry.
The Righteous Remnant, Abraham, is accompanied by the Righteous Sarai.
Verses 5.33-37 (Mt.): in these scriptures, Jesus speaks upon oaths. Upon coming into court, people swore by God when giving their word. However, all Essene practitioners were known for never swearing an oath in court. All people understood that within their teaching the Essenes were not allowed to lie and would not lie. Not lying under any circumstances is one of many proofs that Jesus was a Nazarene Essene, for he finishes in v. 37 with, “let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay nay, for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” Jesus lays down a whole new order of behavior and interpretation of the law—tell the truth at all times, and contrarily, do nothing that would require you to lie.
Swearing by heaven and later discovered to be lying was perceived as tarnishing God Himself. It is similar to blaming the devil for everything you do wrong. Also, if you have to swear by God’s throne then what is your word worth? Can anyone believe you in the normal course of your day? Why are you having to bring God into every situation wherein conflict arises? Are you so sanctified in your motives and attitudes that you attribute Him with such ease? Instead of bringing God into the problems of your day and perhaps actions you took on your own, Jesus tells us to remit from such speech.
During the times of Jesus, the priestly hierarchy had become pompous and egregious. The Pharisees no longer remained the righteous servants Antigonus of Soko had conceived of. Once the Maccabean Revolt defeated the Greeks, the Hellenized Sadducees formed their next alliance with the Hasmonean kings (Maccabees). After the Roman invasion, just before Jesus’ times, they allied with the Romans. Long ago, the Sadducees degenerated into a governmental/political party. Due to those political connections, the Sadducees had maintained the overseership of the Temple. Therefore, many Pharisees and the Essene considered the Sadducees the Temple Priests in name only. How better to clothe oneself in sanctity and believability than to swear by God, on your mother’s grave, or on the earth that God created (v. 35)? And, so the Sadducees did.
Jesus exposes the hypocrisy by telling those listening to remain a man of your word.