Matthew 5:1

ESV Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
NIV Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him,
NASB Now when Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.
CSB When he saw the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and after he sat down, his disciples came to him.
NLT One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him,
KJV And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:

What does Matthew 5:1 mean?

The previous chapter ended with a description of great crowds who came from far and wide to hear Jesus' teaching and witness His miracles. Now Matthew slows the action down. He focuses on one specific day in Jesus' ministry, when He saw how large the crowds around Him were and wanted to teach them.

Matthew was a tax collector before He followed Jesus (Matthew 9:9). This would have required some education, including the ability to read, write, and handle record-keeping. Ancient writings, like the gospel of Matthew, were typically arranged by topic instead of in strict time order, so even though Matthew's conversion is described after the Sermon on the Mount, he might have begun to follow Jesus during His earlier ministry (Matthew 4:23–25). If he was there, scholars believe Matthew might have transcribed Jesus' words in this message. While some biblical records of Jesus' words may be paraphrased, this passage may well be an exact, word-for-word register of this sermon.

Jesus goes up "on a mountain" to teach the people. In the context of that region, this doesn't mean something like Mount Everest. Rather, these are what people in many other cultures would think of as steep hills. Galilee contains many such hills. Jesus likely wanted to get some elevation above the crowd so He could be heard by as many people as possible. Matthew does not describe the exact location of the sermon. Tradition points to a ridge of hills northwest of a town called Tabgha, which is near Capernaum with a view of the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus sat down to teach, which was the normal practice of rabbis. Matthew often describes Jesus as sitting down to teach in many different locations. The use of a sloped hill would have made this easier, by allowing people to see Him more easily.

Matthew writes that Jesus' "disciples" came to Him. In this context, the term refers to all of those who were there with a sincere interest in learning. He spoke to everyone who was following Him and open to His message.
What is the Gospel?
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