Life-Study of Matthewby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we come to the decree of the kingdom’s constitution recorded in chapters five, six, and seven. Throughout the years, these three chapters have been either misunderstood or misused by many Christians. In the messages on these chapters we hope that we shall all see the real meaning of this section of the Word.
One of the most difficult things for believers to understand is the kingdom of the heavens. The kingdom of the heavens does not correspond to any natural or religious concept. As we shall see, it refers to something very specific. To understand the kingdom of the heavens, we all must be unloaded of the traditional concepts we received from our background in Christianity. None of the teachings regarding the kingdom of the heavens received in our background was according to the pure Word. We have studied this matter of the kingdom of the heavens again and again for more than fifty years. The first book I published on this subject was put out in 1936. In all the years since then, we have been on this subject. Thus, we have the full assurance that what we have seen in the Bible concerning the kingdom of the heavens is accurate. Nevertheless, it is somewhat different from the traditional concepts concerning the kingdom. Therefore, we must spend considerable time on these chapters to see this matter very clearly.
Matthew 5, 6, and 7 may be called the constitution of the kingdom of the heavens. Every nation has a constitution. Certainly the Gospel of Matthew, the book on the kingdom of the heavens, also must have a constitution. In these three chapters, the words spoken by the new King as the constitution of the kingdom of the heavens, we see a revelation of the spiritual living and heavenly principles of the kingdom of the heavens. The nature is singular, but the principles are plural. The constitution of the kingdom of the heavens is composed of seven sections: the nature of the kingdom people (5:1-12); the influence of the kingdom people upon the world (5:13-16); the law of the kingdom people (5:17-48); the righteous deeds of the kingdom people (6:1-18); the dealing of the kingdom people with riches (6:19-34); the principles of the kingdom people in dealing with others (7:1-12); and the ground of the kingdom people’s living and work (7:13-29). The first section, 5:3-12, depicts the nature of the kingdom of the heavens under nine blessings. It unfolds the kind of people who live in the kingdom of the heavens. The kingdom people must also exert an influence upon the world. The nature of the kingdom people, the very nature of the kingdom, exercises an influence upon the world. The kingdom people also have a law. This law is not the old law, the law of Moses, the ten commandments; it is the new law of the kingdom of the heavens. The kingdom people are those who perform righteous deeds and who have the proper attitude concerning material riches. Because the kingdom people are still on earth in human society, the constitution of the kingdom of the heavens reveals principles by which they deal with others. Finally, in the last section of this constitution we see the ground, the base, of the daily life and work of the kingdom people. All these aspects of the kingdom people are covered in the seven sections of the constitution of the kingdom of the heavens.
Matthew 5:1 says, “And seeing the crowds, He went up into the mountain; and when He sat down His disciples came to Him.” The new King called His followers by the seashore, but He went up into the mountain to give them the constitution of the kingdom of the heavens. This indicates that we need to go higher with Him for the realization of the kingdom of the heavens.
It is very meaningful that the constitution of the kingdom of the heavens was decreed upon a mountain. The sea signifies the Satan-corrupted world. When we were caught by the Lord, we were in the Satan-corrupted world endeavoring to make a living. But after the Lord caught us, He led us up to a high mountain signifying the kingdom of the heavens. This indicates that the kingdom of the heavens was not established on the seashore, but on the mountain. In the Bible a mountain sometimes signifies the kingdom. For example, according to Daniel 2:34-35, the stone cut without hands broke the image into pieces and became a great mountain that filled the whole earth. This mountain signifies the millennial kingdom. Hence, in the Bible a mountain signifies the kingdom, especially the kingdom of the heavens.
Furthermore, being brought up to the mountain signifies that if we would listen to the decree of the constitution of the kingdom of the heavens, we must not stay on a low plain, but climb up a high mountain. We must be on a high level to hear this constitution. On the seashore, the Lord simply said, “Follow me.” But for the decree of the constitution of the kingdom of the heavens, He brought them to the top of a mountain. Following the Lord may be rather easy, but listening to the constitution for the establishment of the kingdom of the heavens requires that we climb up to the top of a high mountain.
Verse 1 says, “And when He sat down His disciples came to Him.” When the new King sat down on the mountain, His disciples, not the crowds, came to Him to be His audience. Eventually, not only the believing Jews became His disciples, but also the discipled nations (Gentiles, 28:19). Later the disciples were called Christians (Acts 11:26). Hence, the word the new King spoke on the mountain in chapters five, six, and seven concerning the constitution of the kingdom of the heavens was spoken to the believers of the New Testament, not to the Jews of the Old Testament.
In verses 1 and 2 we see that the Lord taught the disciples, not the crowds. The crowds that gathered around Him were the outer circle, but His disciples were the inner circle. Although you may be on the mountain, you must also be in the inner circle, for the constitution is not for those in the outer circle; it is for those in the inner circle.
Throughout history, there has been a great debate concerning to whom this decree was given, to the Jews, the Gentiles, or the believers. According to our study, we have come to see that it was given neither to the Jews nor to the Gentiles but to the New Testament believers. There is no doubt that the disciples were the Jewish believers at the time the decree of the constitution was given. However, when they were there on the mountain listening to the decree of the kingdom’s constitution, they were the representatives not of the Jewish people, but of the New Testament believers. In 28:19 the Lord told His disciples to go and disciple the nations, that is, the Gentiles. This means that the nations would be converted into disciples. Therefore, both the Jewish and Gentile believers were disciples. The audience on the mountain, composed mainly of Jews, represented all the disciples.
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