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.
Matthew chapter five begins with the Beatitudes. Jesus mentions a number of character attributes which share enlightenment qualities: “poor in spirit,” more likely reflects faithful dependence which inherits the kingdom;* “meek shall inherit the earth,”* which concerns being meek before the Lord. You inherit through peace (remaining peaceful) and by waiting on God, and you may receive it now (inherent the earth). The Beatitudes introduce the enlightenment path of the Way. The Antithesis draws the contrast between the Law as taught from the Hebrew Bible, to what will later become the enlightened pathway Jesus presents further on in Matthew’s scripture.
*the kingdom, Lk. 6.20; “meek shall inherit,” Psalm 37.11
The first four chapters of Matthew lay the groundwork for the Jesus ministry, covering heritage and birth, John the Baptist, Satan’s first temptation, calling of the first disciples, and the beginning of his healing ministry. Starting with the Beatitudes, chapter five begins Jesus’ teaching ministry. The ‘Antithesis’ scriptures, Matthew chapter 5.21-48, are the first teachings which contrast and then transcend the Law of Moses with the final teaching of the Way. 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 Ex. 20.13; and 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’
ANTITHESIS and the WAY: FORGIVENESS
Let us deal with the first antithesis, concerning murder. In Matt. 5.22 Jesus inserts an unusual statement, and one which is 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 that the anger should build, producing a kind of venom, a lowering of the mind and the emotional state. ‘Without cause’ shows a lack of forgiveness. This kind of anger does not open the door into the enlightened vision.
‘Without cause’ does not allow any platform for spiritual growth or development of higher consciousness. Anger can be forgiven in an individual, but ‘without cause’ delivers a judgment. The judgment becomes internalized, not only due to the fact judgment has been created and rendered, but also that there is no righteous cause that should foment such anger. The mind becomes unwittingly suppressed, non-cognitive to the spiritual aspects of Jesus’ teachings, glossed over, and one could say unbalanced. Standing one-legged and shaking your fist at the sky is Cain mindedness.
Jesus continues, “…and whosoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca’,”* which is then making a disdainful statement, 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 of a wrathful vanity. That person who carries bitterness or hatred has now put himself in a position to not only be judged but also condemned!
Jesus is no longer talking about the crime of murder itself, but that anger and wrath destroy the heart condition of the man. Unknowingly, the man spiritually rends himself asunder. The pathway of heart and mind become abused. The man’s pathway begins to slip from his fingers, and in effect, he has condemn himself! 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.
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, 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. Even as Jesus speaks, the logic of the world is replaced with the presence of the Spirit.
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, and with the addition of faith a triad of sound spiritual strength and performance is established. To forgive your way out of this condition, as verses 23 & 24 refer to: “…be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer thy gift (sacrifice, prayer or attribution).” It is hard to love when you are unforgiving. Forgiveness becomes the first order of your day, it is first in importance.
*Raca (Raqa): worthless; also, to hammer on, to beat on; concerns metalworking.
The prayer to increase forgiveness within yourself is a very important prayer for those who walk in the Way. This practice should not be neglected. Forgiveness opens doors to higher understanding, greater wisdom, love, and yields a greater peace. Deep embroilments within the soul are often healed with forgiveness. Whole areas of consciousness can be opened– the manifestation of the kingdom within—if forgiveness is given the first status. Speaking personally, it is the single most important attribute I practice: forgive others from within, ask for forgiveness from without, and pray that greater forgiveness is added unto me.
This area of scripture exemplifies 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 your enemies, and forgive them 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.
All people believe different ideas, and it seems we all carry different loads. When we finally recognize the board in our own eye the weariness of our own thought-belief condition is revealed. Through our expressions, our reactions, 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 for soul progression. Jesus teaches toward a whole new way of looking at the world, and as his ministry develops the Way of Love begins to take the measure of Jewish society.
In the Jesus teaching of the Way the first order of events is to forgive, and in that manner your pathway becomes clarified. Without forgiving you will always be held back. Jesus places 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 important 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 time seven informs us that a ‘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. Another way to understand Jesus’ instruction is that forgiveness should be never-ending.
A second meaning is a veiled reference to Messiah. 70 x 7 = 490 years, and this is the number of years from Malachi unto Messiah (Dan. 9.24, “seventy weeks” is actually 70 7’s, and the reference is years, for that was Daniel’s prayer)*. During these 490 years the Jews remained without true prophets.
*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 Essene retreat, which in part was to prepare for Messiah even as they removed themselves from the corrupted Sadducees.
The high importance of forgiveness is made clear by the use of the number seven, and that forgiveness should be complete. The number seven is the prescription for 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, 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 must remain nearby and should be employed liberally. If you are not of a forgiving heart, pray that forgiveness to be put in your heart.
The enlightenment principle of forgiveness allows every soul to release what they currently hold onto, grudges and the like, but then allows room for the spirit to fill the soul with a greater knowledge, peace and perhaps satisfaction. Therefore, forgiveness begins to construct a new order of events, not only to be out-pictured in the physical world, but the reorder of the inner nature begins as well. A new inner discipline occurs with the practice of forgiveness, in some ways subtle and in others ways readily observed. The spirit adjusts according to each individual, and as to the enlightenment pathway, each person travels. With forgiveness the pathway is redirected, life flows in a different manner.
Essentially, the spirit begins to move as if given permission to reorder the thought structure of thinking, of attitudes, and of 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). So one foundation for the greater enlightenment must be forgiveness. The forgiveness pathway Jesus lays out for us 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).
Throughout these articles ‘forgiveness-love’ is written in the form you see here, as if inextricable, which they are. Forgiveness and love are almost always associated. If you are loving, you will forgive. If you forgive, the forgiveness becomes an act of love. For this reason, a good help message is to pray on forgiveness and then to send out love. At first this action may not seem to have much effect, but it begins to work in the soul by increment, and may profoundly push forward one’s progress. This practice also lends itself to humility, for who am I not to forgive? And who am I that I should not love?
ANTITHESIS and the WAY: TREATMENT OF WOMEN
The next antithesis concerns adultery: this narration justifies women, and that women should not be looked upon to satisfy lust, and that the institution of marriage remain honored and protected. It is intended to bring women into equality by recognizing women as people, instead of how they may be used! At different times in history women were thought of as no more than receivers of sex and considered no more than baby-makers. There have also been times when women were greatly honored, even revered. Jesus, however, is setting a more realistic standard, and thus redefines social context for women, but also women within marriage. She may bear the ‘man’s children’, but she is equal. This standard is clearly revealed by the fact that the Jesus ministry traveled with women, unheard of at this time in history, and that the women were also included as disciples.
One historical reason for strong rules concerning divorce came into being due to the abuse of women. Societies existed where divorces were prevalent. Men were marrying then trading off the woman with a quick divorce, staying married no more than a few months or a year. Essentially, they were passing the women around, divorcing and then gaining another wife. Sexual lust was essentially encouraged. Because the women had no wealth, and that there was no provision to take care of them, which is unlike Judaism, within these cultures the women were helpless and trapped. Marriage had been completely denigrated, no more than an agreement to have sex for a while. The women, of course, became controlled and used (abused) by these men (Gn. ch. 20, Gerarites).
Verse 28 and 29 of Matthew completes two important points concerning sexual lust. The first refers once more to John the Baptizer and Jesus, as both emphasize much more than an outward display of behavior (Mt. 6.16-18, such as fasting, demonstrative prayer). Both Prophet and Messiah speak directly to the thought condition of the person. John mentions that being sons of Abraham (outward condition) will no longer enough for the Messiah he comes heralding. He proposes that a change in thinking must occur. Jesus speaks to the outward issue of respect concerning woman, for she is a child of God. He then moves to the thought teaching concerning the mind of he who beholds the woman, and the question of lust.
If we go back to the lesson on forgiveness, and if a grievance is truly forgiven, it is then put away from memory. Jesus addresses lust in the same manner. It is your thinking that gets you into trouble, your speaking increases its power, then pushes you to the brink, with the will then executing the action. The nub of the issue is your thoughts and the order of events that may then follow. The mind that proposes lust conflicts the heart (Mt. 6.21; 15.18-19). “These are the things which defile a man,” Matt. 15.20.
What is the heart to do, but suffer? It is to the condition of the heart Jesus refers throughout his teaching of the Way. He is always probing, what is the condition of your heart? Your knowledge-base may certainly be helpful, but the heart condition is fundamental. Learning lessons is useful, and wisdom is lauded throughout the Bible, but in the end, the heart tells the tale of a man or woman.
In Matt. 5.28 Jesus infers that sexual lust pollutes the heart, just as the adultery pollutes the body. The enlightened teaching of heart and mind which Jesus enunciates now lays open for everyone to embrace. 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, will initiates action! Let your actions be of the spirit, and not engendered through lust.
Jesus consistently makes clear the nature of the Way, that it is not about purity rituals, sacrifices and intellectualism. The Way is about thought, both heart and mind, and the attitudes harbored in both. It is not only about what you do, but it is also about intent, motives. This thought concerning intent and motive brings us to the next scripture, v. 5.29, wherein Jesus tells us it would be better to pluck out your eye rather than continue to lust, that is, developing such a bad habit that it may not be broken and you condemn yourself.
Even from the beginning, God addresses what a person thinks: Eve opens to the temptation, she lusts after the fruit, she partakes; Cain becomes jealous, thinks murderous thoughts, he finally carries it out. The precision of Jesus’ teachings are outlined here, the essence of which is focused on the individual’s thinking. Sin literally crouches by your side (see, Cain & Abel), Jesus tells them, if you view the world through eyes of lust. Lust can also deal with coveting physical things– you become the lust because that is how you think, so that is what you do, so that is who you are.
What is to be done? Mankind seems helpless in the midst of his transgressions. The answer to this malady arrives within chapter six, which deals with prayer, ch. 6, v. 3-15. Jesus mentions forgiveness again in 6.12-15. Silent prayer is much like communing with God. Prayer spoken aloud is in kinship to the spoken word. Prayer concerning matters which concern the inner life is paramount! Jesus speaks to this in v. 13, concerning to not be lead into temptation. Jesus speaks to how the Father knows what we need before we pray (v. 8, dealing with our thoughts), and to fill your prayers with strength of commission, and not to vainly repeat within prayer (v. 7, dealing with empty words): be sincere when you pray.
Sarah, Abraham’s wife, stands equal to Abraham himself. Her wisdom and her spreading of the word of God lends equal stature. She was also known for great beauty, even radiant. In ancient days men tended to speak only to men, and women to women. 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 exactly what Sarah and Abraham did teach. Both were ministers for decades before Abraham was guided into Canaan.
Why would Jesus do anything less than Abraham? Would he not include women? And, did he not do so?
ANTITHESIS and the WAY: OATHS
Verses 5.33-37, in these scriptures Jesus speaks upon oaths. Upon coming into court, people swore by God when giving their word. However, all Essene were well known for never swearing an oath, even in court. It was understood by all that within their teachings they were not allowed to lie, and would not lie. This 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 is laying down a whole new order of behavior and law.
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. For if one person swears by heaven and later found out to be lying, those then speaking truth and taking the same oath will not be believed. 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 own motives and attitudes that you attribute Him with such ease?
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 originally conceived. After the Greeks, Hellenized Sadducees formed their next alliance with the Hasmonean kings (Maccabees), and now the Romans. The Sadducees had degenerated into a governmental/political party who oversaw the Temple but were considered by many to be 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, on the earth which God created (v. 35)? Jesus exposes the hypocrisy by telling those listening to simply be a man of your word. Stand up to the manhood or womanhood you should attain, and perhaps you will not need to drag God into everything you do or everything you say.
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