J. Duncan M. Derrett
To â€œenter the Kingdom of Heavenâ€ one must be â€œfreeâ€ by Heavenâ€™s laws,
not merely manâ€™s18.
3. The Antitheses
The so-called Antitheses are preceded by Mt 5,17-20, of which they are
collectively illustrations. The Scribes and the Pharisees who necessarily
depended on the former can only work on the Torah of Moses, the
prophets, and in the case of the Pharisees their â€œoral lawsâ€. The information
contained in b. Baba Meï‚·iá¿¾a 30b and 83a repeated by C.G. Montefiore19
is along similar lines to our maxim, but it too relies on biblical texts, and
not the court(s) of Heaven. The fact was that one sought oneâ€™s answer
in whatever portions of scripture were relevant, and when these failed
turned to the Jurisprudence of Heaven, which, being controversial, might
not always be convincing! Jesus, it seems, knew better.
ÎšÏá½·ÏƒÎ¹Ï‚ at 5,21,22 implies that two kinds of judgement are equal in
reality. Anger (with or without cause) is judged in the court of Heaven;
no less a ÏƒÏ…Î½á½³Î´ÏÎ¹Î¿Î½ than the earthly one, and the sentence may be to
GÃªhÃ®nom, even though the words spoken are trivial and customary. The
urgency of the situation is emphasised. The court of Heaven does not
delay, unlike earthly courts which can be prorogued or influenced. One
cannot anticipate its judgement nor evade its sentence by making an
offering to the President personally! If you have an opponent who should
be appeased your case is down for hearing in the heavenly court. Get him
to withdraw his case. Even if he dies suddenly the case does not drop: the
courtâ€™s sentence is perfect in equity and in execution (which is at least as
The Pentateuchal injunction (Ex 20, 14; Dt 5, 18) is inadequate, being
mechanical. The heart and mind are what count. Preparations are as
guilty as acts. This is a paradigm for other crimes, like theft and bribery.
Nature induces one to incur guilt. Rather (profit is humorously alluded
to ÏƒÏ…Î¼Ï†á½³ÏÎµÎ¹) amputate the offending limb and escape the sentence to
GÃªhÃ®nom. Jesus does allude (5,22) to an everlasting (Is 66,24; Mk 9,43.48)20
Mt 5,20. Cf. 1Cor 6,9-10. Note Î¼á½³Î¸Ï…ÏƒÎ¿Î¹, Î»Î¿á½·Î´Î¿ÏÎ¿Î¹, á¼…ÏÏ€Î±Î³ÎµÏ‚, such as might often
escape human justice.
C.G. Montefiore The Synoptic Gospels (London 1909) II, 500. Ex 18,20; Prov 2,20.
SB IV/2 (1924, 1969) 1036-7, 1093-6, 1100-02.