Original Research

Are the least included in the kingdom of heaven? The meaning of Matthew 5:19

David C. Sim
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 54, No 3/4 | a1431 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v54i3/4.1431 | © 1998 David C. Sim | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 December 1998 | Published: 12 December 1998

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David C. Sim, Australian Catholic University, McAuley Campus, Brisbane, Australia, Australia

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Abstract

According to the normative interpretation of Matthew 5:19, this logion specifies that a stict hierarchy will exist in the consummated kingdom of God based upon observance of the Jewish law. The highest place in the kingdom is reserved for those Christians who uphold the law, while those who break or relax the law will find themselves at a lower level. Matthew 5:19 therefore makes the important point that even law-free or Pauline Chisians would not be rejected from the kingdom. This study challenges this interpretaion of Matthew 5:19 by arguing that it is appropiate neither for the Chistian Jews who created it nor for the evangelist. Both Matthew and his Chistian Jewish predecessors were highly citical cf Paul and his gospel, and they expected law-free Chisians to face eternal punishment. In the light of it is, Matthew 5:19 must be taken as a reference to the exclusion of these Chistians from the kingdom.

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