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 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. 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 v. 22, draws 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 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’
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 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 closes the door into the enlightened vision.
‘Without cause’ does not allow any platform for spiritual growth or the development of higher understanding. God can forgive anger, but your anger ‘without a cause’ delivers a judgment upon you. The mind becomes suppressed, non-cognitive to the spiritual aspects of Jesus’ teachings, wrath can develop. 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 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. The person who carries bitterness or hatred 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.
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. The pathway of heart and mind become abused. The man’s pathway begins to slip from his fingers, and in effect, he has condemned 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 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, and 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).” It is hard to love when you are unforgiving. Forgiveness becomes the first order of your day, it is first in importance.
Regardless of where you start, forgiveness requires practice, just like any other art or athletic talent. Few people perform perfectly the first time out. Therefore, the prayer to increase forgiveness within yourself is a very important prayer. In Jesus’ day, this practice resolves down to allowing the spirit of God to move through you, what amounts to letting go of yourself and allowing the spirit to fill the void. For the modern Christian, this is more often described as allowing the Christ within to hold sway.
Forgiveness opens doors to higher understanding, greater wisdom, 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. Speaking personally, it is the single most important attribute I practice.
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 our 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.
70 Times 7
In 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 times 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. This last lends itself to the eternality of the Way, and in some respects lends also 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…”
A second meaning is this veiled reference to Messiah. 70 x 7 = 490 years, and this is the number of years from Malachi unto 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.
*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.
The use of the number seven lends great importance to forgiveness, meaning 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, 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. Less than forgiving? Pray and sow seed into your heart for a more forgiving harvest.
The enlightenment principle of forgiveness allows every soul to release grudges and the like. Allowance for the spirit to fill the void with expanding knowledge, peace, and perhaps a measure of satisfaction does occur. The Christian teaching allows that Christ would fill this void. Therefore, forgiveness begins to construct a new order of events, not only out-pictured into the physical world, but the reordering of the inner nature, a new inner discipline occurs with the practice of forgiveness. Practicing forgiveness redirects and enhances anyone’s spiritual pathway. Thus, life begins to flow in a different manner.
Essentially, the spirit begins to move as if given permission 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).
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 on 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 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 (Mt. 5.27) concerns adultery. This biblical narration justifies women and that the institution of marriage remains 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, 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 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.
One historical reason for prohibitions concerning divorce existed due to the abuse of women. Men married 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), which is unlike Judaism. Within these pagan cultures, the women became helpless and trapped. 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.
Chapter 5, verses 28-29, of Matthew, complete two important points concerning sexual lust. The first point references John the Baptizer and Jesus, as both speak directly to the thought-condition of the person, and not necessarily pertaining only to the person’s actions.
Your actions may be accounted for as sinful, but what is your nature? Do you insist on sin-nature, or have you converted to spirit-nature, later interpreted as Christ-nature? John mentions that being sons of Abraham (outward condition) will no longer provide the covering that will accommodate the new standard the Messiah comes heralding. He proposes that a change in thinking (inward condition) must occur.
Jesus speaks to the outward issue of respect concerning women, for he teaches she 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. Lust may occur in women as well, but 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. If your thinking begins the trouble, your speaking increases its power. The will then executes the action.
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, “…already in his heart,” just as the act of 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, the 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, nor strict rules. 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.
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 becomes outlined here, the essence of which focuses 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 eventually, that becomes who you are.
What is to be done? Mankind seems helpless in the midst of his transgressions. For one, once more Jesus mentions forgiveness 6.12-15. Silent prayer is much like communing with God. Prayers 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. 6.8, dealing with our thoughts), and to fill your prayers with a strength of commission, and not to vainly repeat within prayer (v. 7, dealing with empty words)—be sincere when you pray.
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 both Sarah and Abraham did teach. For decades both were ministers, long before Abraham received guidance and stepped 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 practitioners were well known for never swearing an oath, even in court. All people understood that within their teachings 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, those then delivering testimony by the same oath tarnish God Himself, and the oath becomes worthless. 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? 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 originally conceived. Once the Maccabean Revolt defeated the Greeks, the Hellenized Sadducees then proceeded to form their next alliance with the Hasmonean kings (Maccabees). After the Roman invasion, just before Jesus’ times, they formed an alliance with the Romans. Long ago the Sadducees degenerated into a governmental/political party, but due to those political connections had maintained overseership of the Temple. Therefore, many Pharisees and certainly the Essene considered them 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 which God created (v. 35)? Jesus exposes the hypocrisy by telling those listening to simply be a man of your word.
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