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1.9 Synoptics -- The Sermon on the Mount and Gentiles

There are a couple of verses in the Sermon on the Mount that refer to Gentiles:


         a. Salt of the Earth

        "You are the salt of the earth.... You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.... Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (Mat 5:13-16).

Only Matthew has these two verses, though Mark and Luke use the same metaphors of salt and light. Matthew places these passages as a part of the Sermon on the Mount. In John, it is Jesus himself who is the light of the world (Jn 8:12). In this teaching, Jesus is urging his followers to follow his own example of practicing an evangelism that wins the hearts of the lost and the sinful. He is emphasizing the power of the righteous to impact the world not by force and domination, but through truth and good deeds (service). There are no racial or national bounds on the scope of this service.

         b. Gentile morality

        "Do not even the pagans ('ethnikos') do that?” (Mat 5:47)

        "The pagans run after all these things" (Mat 6:32).

         See also Mt 6:7;Lk 6:32-34Lk 12:30. Here is a bit of racial stereotyping. Jesus makes use of the common disparaging attitudes of the Jews to outsiders. “Even Gentiles greet their brothers, even Gentiles pray at length. Gentiles are obsessed with material goods -- don't be like them.” In sayings like these, Jesus catered to the prejudices of his hearers. But his solution is not to look to fellow Jews, or even to traditional morality. He directs their attention to God Himself:

         "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mat 5:48).

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