9. The Sermon on the Mount in the JST and the Book of Mormon

By Robert A. Cloward

Robert A. Cloward, “The Sermon on the Mount in the JST and the Book of Mormon,” in The Joseph Smith Translation: The Restoration of Plain and Precious Truths, ed. Monte S. Nyman and Robert L. Millet (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1985), 163–200.

The Sermon on the Mount in the JST and the Book of Mormon 

Robert A. Cloward

 

Robert A. Cloward was director of the LDS Institute of Religion, University of Tennessee, when this was published.


Speaking to Joseph Smith the Lord said, “This generation shall have my word through you” (D&C 5:10). This is particularly true for the Sermon on the Mount. Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, this generation can discover the true meaning and intent of the Sermon to a much greater extent than before. We have not been given a perfect record of Jesus’ words, but “all things are written by the Father” (3 Nephi 27:26), and that which we have has been granted unto us to try our faith (see 3 Nephi 26:9).

Through the power of God we have the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, which reveals many keys to a correct understanding of the Sermon on the Mount. In addition, we have the Book of Mormon, which contains not only a repetition of the Sermon in Bountiful, but much more explanation by the Savior of its principles. It is the intent of this paper to show how the JST and the Book of Mormon enlarge our understanding of the Sermon and make it more applicable in our day. By way of introduction, I will list the major contributions of these two revealed sources, which will later be discussed in detail. 

Major Contributions of the JST to Understanding the Sermon 

Some of the major contributions of the JST are:

  1. The JST includes transition statements which tie the Sermon into a whole, dispelling the notion that the biblical writers artificially concatenated a collection of sayings given on various occasions. 
  2. The JST helps define the audience of the Sermon. 
  3. The JST makes the Sermon more clearly applicable to our day, showing how it contains instructions for missionaries and ministers in the kingdom. 
  4. The JST reveals to whom the Beatitudes apply. 
  5. The JST restores an introduction to the beatitudes which stresses the fundamental theme of coming unto Christ through the first principles and ordinances of the gospel. 
  6. The JST clears up misconceptions about appropriate attitudes and response toward persecution.
  7. The JST identifies the salt of the old and new covenants. 
  8. The JST shows how Jesus as the Giver of the law of Moses honored that law and taught that it pointed the way to perfection. 
  9. The JST, when considered with the Book of Mormon, illustrates the transition from the old law to the new. 
  10. The JST reveals specific reasons why the scribes and Pharisees were rejected by the Lord. 
  11. The JST restores conversations and feelings of the Savior and his disciples-even the hesitancy of some of the disciples to face the requirements of their missionary call. 
  12. The JST identifies the words Jesus gave to his disciples for specific missionary encounters. 
  13. The JST teaches how the mysteries of the kingdom may be obtained. 

Major Contributions of the Book of Mormon to Understanding the Sermon 

Besides sharing many of the major contributions cited above for the JST, the Book of Mormon adds more of its own: 

  1. The Book of Mormon contains Jesus’ statement that he intentionally presented the same “sayings” in both Galilee and Bountiful.
  2. The Book of Mormon indicates that Jesus’ words were to be written soon after they were given, dispelling the notion that biblical writers created many of the Sermon’s expressions from clouded recollection or sketchy notes or from their own independent literary art. 
  3. The Book of Mormon gives immediate context to the three chapters of the Sermon by including fifteen additional chapters of related teachings from Jesus’ Nephite ministry. 
  4. The Book of Mormon states that not a hundredth part of the things Jesus taught were included, and promises that a fuller account of his teachings will be revealed if we believe in that which we have. 
  5. The Book of Mormon shows that the Sermon was intended as part of a scriptural tool for the gathering of Israel in the last days. 
  6. The Book of Mormon clearly indicates changes in intended audience for different parts of the Sermon, identifying which instructions apply only to full-time ministers. 
  7. The Book of Mormon relates a specific fulfillment of the treading down of salt which loses its savor. 
  8. The Book of Mormon puts the Lord’s Prayer into a context of instruction on many kinds of prayers, clarifying the intent for which it was given. 

Accounts and Versions 

We have record of two remarkably similar presentations of Jesus’ Sermon. Of the Galilee Sermon, we have the accounts of Matthew and Luke. For each of these, I will consider two versions, the King James Version and the Joseph Smith Translation. JST Matthew 5:3 through 7:35 is the more perfect version of Matthew’s account. Nearly three-fourths of the verses of KJV Matthew have been changed in some way by Joseph Smith, and many verses which nowhere occur in KJV have been added. 

We have a more perfect version of Luke’s account in JST Luke 6:20–49. Nearly half of the KJV Luke verses have been changed in some way; one new verse has been added and one deleted. Inspired changes also occur in the wording and settings of later JST Luke passages which recall words similar to those of the Sermon (see JST Luke 8:16; 11:2–4, 10–14, 34–37; 12:24–37, 67–68; 13:23–24; 14:35–38; 16:13, 16–23 and KJV parallel passages from Luke). The Prophet did not overtly harmonize the Matthew and Luke accounts, and comparison of all versions is enlightening. 

At the time of the Bountiful Sermon, Nephi was singled out by the Lord as responsible for the records (see 3 Nephi 23:7), but the account we have is a later abridgment by Mormon, who was commanded to include only a fraction of what had been written (see 3 Nephi 26:6–12). We do not know for certain whether Mormon abridged the written account of the Bountiful Sermon. The Lord specifically stated that the Bountiful Sermon included the same teachings he had given during his mortal ministry (see 3 Nephi 15:1). This implies that the Galilee Sermon, contrary to the views of a host of higher critics, was given much as we have it in the biblical accounts. 

Audience and Setting

Crucial to understanding the Sermon is knowing to whom Jesus was speaking. Such statements as “Blessed are the poor in spirit” or “Take therefore no thought for the morrow” can be puzzling if we are unsure to whom they refer. 

In KJV Matthew, the audience is introduced as follows: “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,” (KJV Matthew 5:1–2). Taken in connection with KJV Matthew 8:1, this verse seems to imply that Jesus left the multitudes, taught the Galilee Sermon privately to “his disciples,” and encountered the multitudes again after the Sermon. JST Matthew corrects this impression by distinguishing between the disciples and others who were listening:

KJV Matthew 7:28–29 

  And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:

  For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

JST Matthew 7:36–37 

  And it came to pass when Jesus had ended these sayings with his disciples, the people were astonished at his doctrine;

  For he taught them as one having authority from God, and not as having authority from the Scribes.

Without the JST addition, one wonders if the astonished people in KJV Matthew 7:28 are the same as the disciples in KJV Matthew 5:1. By changing the antecedent of “them” from “the people” to “his disciples,” the JST makes clear that the Sermon was directed to the disciples, and it was the people who were merely listening who compared his teaching with the scribes and were astonished at his doctrine. 

In Matthew, however, the word disciples is ambiguous. The Twelve are called disciples (see Matthew 10:1; 11:1), but the word may also refer to any group of followers such as the disciples of John the Baptist (see KJV Matthew 9:14; 11:2). 

Luke’s account more plainly identifies the disciples to whom Jesus spoke. Before the Sermon, as it is recorded in Luke 6, the Lord spent a night alone in prayer, after which he called his disciples unto him and chose twelve, naming them apostles (see Luke 6:13–16). Luke makes clear that the Twelve are only part of Jesus’ disciples, although, like Matthew, he still distinguishes the disciples from the multitude (KJV Luke 6:17). After healing all the multitude, Jesus “lifted up his eyes on his disciples,” and the Sermon is addressed to them (see Luke 6:17–20). At the end of the Sermon, Luke comments that Jesus had spoken “in the audience of the people” (Luke 7:1), probably referring to listeners from the multitude. 

Taken together, and with the help of the JST, Matthew and Luke identify those present at the Galilee Sermon: (1) The disciples; i.e., his newly ordained Twelve Apostles and other faithful followers; and, in addition, (2) other people from among the multitudes who have gathered to hear him. Although many people come to hear Jesus, the Sermon is intended for the disciples. 

Mark’s account also indicates that the Sermon was intended primarily for the Twelve, who were being called to full-time ministry (KJV Mark 3:14). 

In 3 Nephi, the setting and intended audience are much more readily apparent. After giving the Twelve power to baptize and teaching them his “doctrine,” Jesus commands them to go forth and declare his words to the people and to the ends of the earth (see 3 Nephi 11:41). The Sermon, which directly follows, is introduced this way: “And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words unto Nephi, and to those who had been called, . . . behold, he stretched forth his hand unto the multitude, and cried unto them, saying:” (3 Nephi 12:1; emphasis added). Certain parts of the sermon, therefore, were intended for the newly ordained Twelve, and certain parts for the multitude of people who were present. 

The religious setting in Bountiful is very different from that of Galilee. Nephi earlier identified the survivors of the destruction at the time of Christ’s crucifixion as “the more righteous part of the people” who had “received the prophets and stoned them not” and “had not shed the blood of the saints” (3 Nephi 10:12). By contrast, Jesus’ audience in Galilee included curious onlookers, even Gentiles. 

Several variations in the two Sermons are based on differences in cultural setting. There are also variations in the Sermons which result from the time of delivery. Because the atonement of Christ and his resurrection from the dead occurred between the two, the law of Moses was in effect during the Galilee Sermon but superseded by the time of the Bountiful Sermon. Much will be said about this in the commentary which follows. 

Disciples and Beatitudes 

KJV Matthew gives nine beatitudes, but the corresponding beatitudes in both JST Matthew and 3 Nephi are preceded by an extensive introduction as follows:

KJV Matthew 

  (no corresponding material between 5:2 and 5:3)

JST Matthew 5:3–4

3 Nephi 12:1–2

  Blessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among you to minister unto you, and to be your servants; and unto them I have given power that they may baptize you with water; and after that ye are baptized with water, behold, I will baptize you with fire and with the Holy Ghost; therefore

 

  Blessed are they who shall believe on me;

blessed are ye if ye shall believe in me and be baptized, after that ye have seen me and know that I am.

 

and again, more blessed are they who shall believe on your words, when ye shall testify that ye have seen me and that I am.

  Yea, blessed are they who shall believe on your words, and come down into the depth of humility, and be baptized in my name; for they shall be visited with fire and the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins.

  And again, more blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me, and that ye know that I am. Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins.

 

Understanding concepts introduced here is paramount for understanding the Sermon: 

1. Only in the JST and the Book of Mormon do we learn that the beginning of the Sermon is an unmistakable call to missionary labors. In Galilee, Jesus calls the disciples, and especially the Twelve, to testify of him. In Bountiful, he calls the whole multitude! The call to service is an invitation to blessedness, extended by him whose power it is to bless everlastingly. 

2. The familiar beatitudes which follow the call identify those who may also attain blessedness through the invitation of the Lord’s missionary witnesses. 

3. Blessedness for the poor in spirit, those that mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for the Lord’s name’s sake begins when they come unto Christ. The phrase “who come unto me” is specifically added to the first of these in JST Matthew and 3 Nephi (see JST Matthew 5:5; 3 Nephi 12:3). 

4. In Galilee, multitudes came and “sought to touch him” (Luke 19), and in Bountiful all present felt his wounds. Now he teaches them that it is not enough to come and feel. They can only receive the promised blessings if they come unto him through the first principles and ordinances of the gospel. For example, to enter the kingdom of heaven, the poor in spirit must come unto Christ and be born of water and of the spirit (see John 3:5). Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be “filled with the Holy Ghost” (JST Matthew 5:8; 3 Nephi 12:6), but this blessing results from their coming unto Christ and receiving the ordinances of salvation. 

A closer look at the pronouns in the beatitudes shows a shift in the last of the nine. All of the previous beatitudes are directed to third plural “they.” Compare especially the eighth: “Blessed are all they that are persecuted for my name’s sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (JST Matthew 5:12); and the ninth: “And blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake” (JST Matthew 5:13). The pronouns in the ninth beatitude are second plural. Christ is teaching that persecution is not only the lot of those who desire to come unto him, it is also a reality for his witnesses. This link between the last two beatitudes is only clear in the JST and in 3 Nephi, where the relationship between the missionaries (“ye”) and those they teach (“they”) is explained by the added introductions. 

The four beatitudes in KJV Luke 6:20–23, unlike KJV Matthew, are all second plural “ye,” leading many to stumble into the false conclusion that the disciples are the poor, they who hunger, and they who weep. The JST corrects the first three Luke beatitudes to third person and leaves just the fourth (which corresponds to the ninth in JST Matthew) in second person.[1] Thus, in both JST Matthew and JST Luke the beatitudes intended for missionaries and the ones intended for those they teach are consistently differentiated. 

Now note the blessing promised to the persecuted in Matthew. For the converts who endure persecution for the Lord’s name’s sake (taking that name upon themselves through baptism), the promise of the eighth beatitude is “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” To the missionary witnesses, who are reviled and persecuted and spoken evil of falsely for the Lord’s sake (as part of the sacrifice required in his service), compare the versions of the promise of the ninth beatitude: 

KJV Matthew 5:12

  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. 

JST Matthew 5:14

  For ye shall have great joy, and be exceeding glad; for great shall be glad, for your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets so which were before you.

3 Nephi 12:12

  For ye shall have great joy and be exceedingly great shall be your reward in heaven; for persecuted they the prophets who were before you. 

KJV Matthew could mislead us into presuming that we should be glad if we are being persecuted. Jesus did not teach that. Neither did he teach that the promise of great joy and exceeding gladness comes only because we endure present persecution. The blessing of the ninth beatitude is only understood when we see it in JST Matthew and 3 Nephi as the last of a cycle of blessings which began with a missionary call to bring others to Christ. The reward comes when we with those who have responded to our message enjoy the blessings of heaven together (see D&C 18:15–16). 

Salt and Light 

In a short transition section between the beatitudes and the teachings on old law and new, Jesus introduces the twin symbols of covenant discipleship—salt and light. Now that the audience and the missionary orientation of the Sermon are understood, we can accurately identify those to whom they refer. During his Perean ministry, he identified the previous salt and light in an exchange unique to JST Luke: 

KJV Luke 14:34–35

 

JST Luke 14:35–38

  Then certain of them came to him, saying, Good Master, we have Moses and the prophets, and whosoever shall live by them, shall he not have life?

  And Jesus answered, saying, Ye know not Moses, neither the prophets; for if ye had known them, ye would have believed on me; for to this intent they were written. For I am sent that ye might have life. Therefore I will liken it unto

  Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?

salt which is good;

  But if the salt has lost its savor, wherewith shall it be seasoned?

  It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.  

  It is neither fit for the land, but men nor yet for the dung hill; men cast it out. He who hath ears to hear, let him hear. These things he said, signifying that which was written, verily must all be fulfilled.

 

The JST makes clear that Moses and the prophets had been good salt. The law and the witness given through them were intended to bring people to a knowledge of Christ. But to those who rejected their witness and even suggested that they stand in place of Christ, they became adulterated salt, salt to be cast out, salt to be trodden under foot of men. 

The law and the prophets, distorted and misunderstood by the Jewish teachers of Jesus’ day, had ceased to savor. The light of the Mosaic law and of generations of sacrificial fires was about to be superseded by the transcendent light of the great and last sacrifice. New apostles and new disciples were to replace the salt of the former covenant, for, as Jesus taught, “except your righteousness shall exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (JST Matthew 5:22). 

Jesus therefore commissions new salt. JST Matthew and 3 Nephi express the Savior’s words in the form of a commission, leaving no doubt as to its source. In place of “Ye are the salt” (KJV Matthew 5:13) and “Ye are the light” (KJV Matthew 5:14), we read “I give unto you to be the salt” and “I give unto you to be the light” (JST Matthew 5:15, 16; 3 Nephi 12:13, 14). 

In more recent revelation, the Lord has defined the twin symbols. In the Doctrine and Covenants he identifies priesthood holders of our day as “a light unto the Gentiles” and “a savior unto my people Israel” (D&C 86:11). Another Doctrine and Covenants teaching is that “When men are called unto mine everlasting gospel, and covenant with an everlasting covenant, they are accounted as the salt of the earth and the savor of men” (D&C 101:39). 

With light, Jesus teaches the responsibility of covenant discipleship. The Galilean disciples and the Bountiful multitude must let their light shine. In the extensive teachings of the resurrected Christ following the Bountiful Sermon, abundant references to light demonstrate how this is to be done. Jesus there refers to himself as the law and the light (see 3 Nephi 15:5, 9; 18:16) and to the Twelve as a light unto their people (see 3 Nephi 15:11–12). He urges the whole multitude to hold up their light that it may shine unto the world, and he explains, “Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do” (3 Nephi 18:24; emphasis added). By doing the works of Christ, they let his light shine through them, and others seeing their good works glorify their Father who is in heaven (see 3 Nephi 12:16). 

With salt, Jesus teaches the jeopardy of covenant discipleship. However, this can hardly be understood without the JST and the Book of Mormon: 

KJV Matthew 5:13

  Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

JST Matthew 5:15

  Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the salt of the earth; if the salt shall lose its savor, wherewith shall the earth be salted? the salt shall thenceforth be good for nothing, but to be cast out, andbe trodden under foot of men.

3 Nephi 12:13

  Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be salt of the earth; but if the salt shall lose its savor wherewith shall the earth be salted? The salt shall be thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and to be to trodden under foot of men.

The perplexing verse in KJV Matthew becomes a lucid rhetorical question in JST Matthew and in 3 Nephi, teaching that if the salt (the disciples) lose their savor (cease to administer the covenant and its saving ordinances) to the earth (all mankind), then there is no way for the earth (all mankind) to be salted (to receive the covenant and its ordinances). The result: The salt is cast out and trodden under foot of men. 

Note that these verses in JST Matthew and 3 Nephi consistently use the future tense “shall.” This is not a description by the Lord of the current status of the salt of the scribes and Pharisees, like the JST Luke 14:35–38 passage cited earlier. Here, Jesus plainly states the jeopardy which accompanies the commission of the salt of the new covenant. If the listening apostles and disciples (or those who stand in their places when their work is finished) fail to savor the earth, their fate will be the same as that of the misguided leaders of the Jews. 

At least two scriptural examples demonstrate how literal this jeopardy can be. In 1833, the Saints who had moved to Jackson County, Missouri, to establish the center place of Zion were judged of the Lord and were driven out of the county by their persecutors. The Lord explained: “For they were set to be a light unto the world, and to be the saviors of men; And inasmuch as they are not the saviors of men, they are as salt that has lost its savor, and is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men” (D&C 103:9–10). 

Jesus’ teachings in Bountiful include a second example. He teaches that if the Gentiles in the New World reject the fulness of the gospel and become wicked and hypocritical in the last days, “they shall be as salt that hath lost its savor” and shall be cast out and trodden under the foot of the house of Israel (see 3 Nephi 16:6–15, especially v. 15). 

The Old Law and the New

Jesus now moves on to a discussion of law. With a clear understanding of his brief introduction on old law and new, we will be prepared to properly interpret the more extensive following section with his expansions on the law. In the introduction, the time differences between the biblical and Book of Mormon accounts provide the key. The four verses in Matthew, particularly in the JST, have an entirely different cast from the four in 3 Nephi. Taken together, they weave a total pattern of the work of Jesus Christ through both the law of Moses and the law of the gospel. Compare, for example, Jesus’ teachings on the fulfillment of the Mosaic law: 

KJV Matthew 5:17–18

  Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

  For verily I say unto you, Till  heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

JST Matthew 5:19–20

  Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

  For verily I say unto you, heaven and earth must pass away, but one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, until all be fulfilled.

 

3 Nephi 12:17–18

  Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy but to fulfil;

  For verily I say unto you, one jot nor one tittle hath not passed away from the law, but in me it hath all been fulfilled.

The JST dispels the problematic time reference of the two “till” statements in KJV Matthew 5:18. [2] The idea that the Mosaic law remained in effect for Christians was the error of the Judaizers who sought to impose this law on gentile converts to Christianity (see Acts 15; Galatians 1–5). In JST Matthew 5:19, Jesus establishes during his mortal ministry that the law will remain intact until it is all fulfilled. In 3 Nephi 12:18, he reports to the Nephites after his resurrection that the law did remain intact, and (with his atonement and resurrection) it had all been fulfilled.

The JST is indispensable for restoring the intent of the next two verses in Matthew: 

KJV Matthew 5:19–20

  Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

JST Matthew 5:21–22

  Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so to do, he shall in no wise be saved in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach these commandments of the law until it be fulfilled, the same shall be called great, and shall be saved in the kingdom of heaven.

  For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

  For I say unto you, except your righteousness shall exceed that of the Scribes and in Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

In the JST Matthew version, Jesus declares that commandment breakers and those who teach others to break commandments are not saved. At the same time, he ennobles the law of Moses and shows that as long as this law was in force, those who obeyed its commandments would be saved. [3]

The clash in Galilee was not between the old law and the new, both given by Jesus Christ. The clash was between the misinterpretation of the old law by the scribes and Pharisees and their misperception of the new law as a perversion of the old. Had they been obedient to the old law, it would have pointed them toward perfection, they would have been called great, and they would have been saved in the kingdom of heaven. They also would have recognized the Giver of the law when he came personally among them. 

In Bountiful, there were no scribes and Pharisees, and the Mosaic law had been fulfilled. The corresponding verses therefore carry an entirely different message:

And behold, I have given you the law and the commandments of my Father, that ye shall believe in me, and that ye shall repent of your sins, and come unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Behold, ye have the commandments before you, and the law is fulfilled.

Therefore come unto me and be ye saved; for verily I say unto you, that except ye shall keep my commandments, which I have commanded you at this time, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. (3 Nephi 12:19–20; emphasis added.) 

“Commandments” in JST Matthew 5:21 refers to the commandments of the law of Moses. “Commandments” in 3 Nephi 12:19–20 refers to belief in Christ, repentance from sin, coming unto him with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and, as mentioned earlier in the Sermon, baptism and the visitation of the Holy Ghost. 

The JST and the Book of Mormon affirm that the law of Moses was given as a saving law. Those who did not obey its commandments forfeited their salvation, as well as those who, like the scribes and Pharisees, perverted the law and carved from it jots and tittles until it no longer pointed people to Christ. In Galilee, Jesus commended the spirit of obedience which should have attended the keeping and teaching of the law of Moses, but was wholly lacking in the scribes and Pharisees. Perfect obedience to the commandments of the old law was required of the disciples whom he was training for the ministry. Such a spirit would lead directly to the proper observance of the commandments of the new law when the old law had been fulfilled. In Bountiful, Jesus introduced the higher commandments, and then showed how a correct application of the spirit of the old law would lead obedient disciples to perfection under the new law.

Laws unto Perfection 

Jesus now begins the “sayings” to which he will refer in the parable which concludes his Sermon. “Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock” (KJV Matthew 7:24). The Lord does not destroy the old law. His sayings renew, refine, lift, and build upon it, for all godly law leads line upon line to perfection. (Cf. 2 Nephi 28:27–30.)

In this section of the Sermon, Jesus cites six laws which are familiar to his listeners, beginning an expansion on each with the phrase “But I say unto you.” For three of his examples-Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not commit adultery, and Love thy neighbor as thyself-the Lord’s expansion renews the existing commandment. He also adds illustrations to show the spirit that ought to attend obedience to the existing law and is required under the new covenant. For his other examples—the laws condoning divorce for insufficient cause, gospel oaths, retaliation for personal injury, and the telestial principle of hating one’s enemies—the Lord’s expansion replaces the existing lower standard, which had been adapted to human weaknesses, with a higher standard. For each of his six examples, Jesus teaches a more perfect law. 

The JST and the Book of Mormon provide many keys to the meaning and intent of Jesus’ sayings which are not available in the KJV. For example, JST Matthew differs from KJV Matthew in Jesus’ introductions of his six examples. All six citations of the law in KJV Matthew use the word said (see KJV Matthew 5:21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43). In 3 Nephi, all six use “written” (see 3 Nephi 12:21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43). JST Matthew uses “said” three times and “written” three times (see JST Matthew 5:23, 29, 35, 37, 40, 45). It is unlikely that these differences are based on which citations were from written sources and which were not. All six reflect passages from the Old Testament as it has come to us. The differences more likely reflect the orientation of the people to the law. Oral law was a burning issue among the Jews, with Pharisees and Sadducees locked into heated debate over whether the oral was valid in addition to the written. Righteous Nephites, on the other hand, were not multiplying oral interpretation upon oral interpretation. They were keeping the law of Moses as they had it recorded in written form, but they already understood the higher standards and were looking forward to the coming of Christ (see 2 Nephi 25:23–30). 

Both JST Matthew and 3 Nephi delete the phrase “without a cause” from Jesus’ saying on anger against a brother (see JST Matthew 5:24; 3 Nephi 12:22). This phrase, which provides a rationalization for anger, does not reflect the higher-law context of this section of the Sermon. [4]

Jesus’ example of reconciliation with one’s brother before making an offering is beautifully linked by JST Matthew and 3 Nephi to the undergirding Sermon theme of coming unto Christ: 

KJV Matthew 5:23–24 

  Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;

JST Matthew 5:25–26 

  Therefore, if ye

shall come unto me, or if thou bring or thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee,

3 Nephi 12:23–24 

  Therefore, if ye shall come unto me, or shall desire to come unto me, and rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee—

  Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; and first be reconciled to thy brother, and

then come and offer thy gift.

  Leave thou thy gift before the altar, go thy way unto thy brother, and first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

  Go thy way unto thy brother, and first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I will receive you.

All who come unto Christ or desire to come unto him should first be reconciled to any who have ill feelings against them. Under the law of Moses, one way to approach the Lord was to bring a gift to the temple altar of sacrifice. In his Galilee Sermon Jesus teaches a more perfect way to keep the law of Moses. By the time of the Bountiful Sermon, altar gifts had been superseded. From out of the New World darkness which accompanied the destruction at the time of his great and last sacrifice, the voice of the Lord declared the need for a sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit (3 Nephi 9:19–20). The Bountiful Sermon teaches that coming unto Christ with the offering of a broken heart and a contrite spirit under the new covenant also requires that the offerer first be reconciled to his brother. 

The Lord further emphasizes the theme of the obedience of the heart in connection with his saying against lust: 

KJV Matthew 5:27–28 

Thou shalt not commit adultery:

  But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

JST Matthew 5:29–31

thou shalt not commit adultery.

  But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 

  Behold, I give unto you a commandment, that ye suffer none of these things to enter into your heart,

3 Nephi 12:27–30 

thou shalt not commit adultery;

  But I say unto you,  that whosoever looketh on a woman, to lust after her, hath committed adultery already in his heart.

  Behold, I give unto you a commandment, that ye suffer none of these things to enter into your heart;

 

for it is better that ye should deny yourselves of these things, wherein ye will take up your cross, than that ye should be cast into hell.

  For it is better that ye should deny yourselves of these things, wherein ye will take up your cross, than that ye should be cast into hell.

The additional verses in JST Matthew and 3 Nephi intensify the Lord’s commandment that we protect our hearts from adultery. He requires that his followers deny themselves of sins of the heart. In a context recorded later in JST Matthew, Jesus explains the phrase “take up your cross”: 

KJV Matthew 16:24

  Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

JST Matthew 16:25–26

  Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.

  And now for a man to take up his cross, is to deny himself all ungodliness, and every worldly lust, and keep my commandments.

Only with the added verses in the JST and in the Book of Mormon can we see the fulness of the Savior’s saying on adultery. In the Sermon, Jesus is renewing the law against adultery, adding that this law can point us to perfection if we also protect our hearts from adultery and deny ourselves all ungodliness and every worldly lust. 

In the Galilee Sermon, Jesus continues this theme. He recommends plucking out an offending eye or cutting off an offending hand. In JST Matthew we find his explanation that these expressions are figurative: “And now this I speak, a parable concerning your sins; wherefore, cast them from you, that ye may not be hewn down and cast into the fire” (JST Matthew 5:34; cf. JST Mark 9:40–48). 

JST Matthew includes an interesting teaching on meekness in persecution:

KJV Matthew 5:40–41

  And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.

JST Matthew 5:42–43

  And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have it; and if he sue thee again, let him have thy cloak also.

  And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

  And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him a mile; and whosoever shall compel thee to go with him twain, thou shalt go with him twain.

As JST Matthew 5:14 averts the mistaken impression that we should be glad if we are persecuted, JST Matthew 5:42–43 averts the mistaken impression that we should make unnecessary concessions in the face of persecution. We do not turn the other cheek because we want to be smitten again. We turn the other cheek instead of striking back. JST Luke further emphasizes this point: 

KJV Luke 6:29–30

  And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. 

 

JST Luke 6:29–30

  And unto him who smiteth thee on the cheek, offer also the other; or, in other words, it is better to offer the other, than to revile again. And him who taketh away thy cloak, forbid not to take thy coat also.

  For it is better that thou suffer thine enemy to take these things, than to contend with him. Verily I say unto you, Your heavenly Father who seeth in secret, shall bring that wicked one into judgment.

In Luke’s account of the Sermon, this section follows directly after the beatitudes and the woes, still in the context of response to persecution. Jesus admonishes his disciples to seek godly attitudes—loving, lending to, blessing, doing good to, and praying for their enemies—that they may be the children of the Highest (see Luke 6:27–35). 

We now reach the climax of Jesus’ teachings on law. In one terse statement, he sums up the whole intent of both the old law and the new.

KJV Matthew 5:48

  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

JST Matthew 5:50

  Ye are therefore commanded to be perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.

The clearer JST phrasing of the commandment to be perfect follows directly from JST Matthew 5:21–22. This is a time of transition from the old law to the new. As the apostle Paul explains, “The law [of Moses] was our schoolmaster until Christ” (JST Galatians 3:24). 

Through the Book of Mormon, we better understand the perfection Jesus requires. In the Bountiful sermon, Jesus teaches, “Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect” (3 Nephi 12:48; emphasis added). Later he teaches the Twelve, “What manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.” (3 Nephi 27:27; see also KJV Matthew 28:18–20; D&C 93:16–28.) 

Outward and Inward Worship 

Jesus’ Sermon next turns to (1) almsgiving, (2) prayer, (3) fasting, and (4) attention to wealth. His missionary disciples must learn how the inward focus of the new law replaces the outward performances and ordinances (see 2 Nephi 25:30; Mosiah 13:30; Alma 30:3) of the old law. 

In this section the JST elucidates the Matthew account in several places. For example, a narrative phrase in JST Matthew 6:1 reestablishes the intended audience for the Galilee Sermon: 

KJV Matthew 6:1

  Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

JST Matthew 6:1

  And it came to pass that, as Jesus taught his disciples, he said unto them, Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them; otherwise ye have no reward of your Father who is in heaven.

3 Nephi 13:1 

  Verily, verily, I say that I would that ye should do alms unto the poor; but take heed that ye do not your alms before men to be seen of them; 

otherwise ye have no reward of your Father who is in heaven.

 The JST includes an additional phrase of Jesus’ teaching on doing alms in secret: 

KJV Matthew 6:3 

  But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

JST Matthew 6:3 

  But when thou doest alms, let it be unto thee as thy left hand not knowing what thy right hand doeth;

Here, as in JST Matthew 5:34, Jesus specifies that he is speaking figuratively. In both cases, the addition is not included in the Bountiful Sermon. 

Differences between the rendition of the Lord’s Prayer in the JST and the Book of Mormon establish that this prayer was never meant to be repeated verbatim as a substitute for the prayer of the heart (see JST Matthew 6:9–16; 3 Nephi 13:9–15). Luke reports a third occasion when Jesus taught another similar but not identical prayer (see JST Luke 11:1–4). It is ironic that the Lord’s Prayer in any form is memorized to be repeated endlessly by certain Christians, when Jesus has just taught, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the hypocrites do” (JST Matthew 6:7). 

Later in his Nephite ministry, Jesus teaches the Twelve and the multitude abundantly on proper prayer—individual prayer (3 Nephi 17:3; 18:15, 18–20), prayer in meetings (3 Nephi 18:16, 22–25, 30), prayer on the sacrament (3 Nephi 18:3–11), family prayer (3 Nephi 18:21), baptismal prayer (3 Nephi 11:23–25, 27), and confirmation prayer (Moroni 2:2–3). More importantly, he shares with them prayer experiences so sublime that they cannot be recorded (see 3 Nephi 17:9–25; 19:16–36). The Book of Mormon therefore helps us apply the Lord’s Prayer in the light of its Sermon context; that is, Jesus uses it to teach simple principles of unhypocritical worship. 

On the whole, the section on prayer in 3 Nephi agrees with KJV Matthew, while JST Matthew differs from both. Coinciding Bible and Book of Mormon passages, not available for most of the JST, offer an aid to help us determine the nature of the Prophet’s work with the Bible. In some cases, changes found only in the JST may include inspired clarifications, added by the Prophet for the benefit of our dispensation. 

For example, the substitution in JST Matthew 6:13 of “trespasses” for “debts” parallel to JST Matthew 6:16, suggests to us a proper understanding of what we should ask the Father to forgive (cf. Luke 11:4, “our sins”). Similarly, the substitution in JST Matthew 6:7 of “hypocrites” for “heathen,” parallel to JST Matthew 6:2, 5, 17, makes the injunction against vain repetitions more uniformly part of the warnings against hypocrisy in worship. The substitution in JST Matthew 6:14 of “suffer us not to be led into temptation” for “lead us not into temptation” (cf. also JST Luke 11:4) dispels for our day the notion that we would need to ask the Father not to impose temptation on us. In the JST, the couplet “suffer us not to be led into temptation, but deliver us from evil” is a synthetic parallelism, reemphasizing our need to plead that the Father protect us from temptations into which the adversary may lead us, or into which we may lead ourselves.[5]

JST Matthew also includes the definition of an expression in Jesus’ teaching on attention to wealth:

KJV Matthew 6:22

  The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

JST Matthew 6:22

  The light of the body is the eye; if therefore thine eye be single to the glory of God, thy whole body shall full of light.

3 Nephi 13:22

  The light of the body is the eye; if, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of be light.

The added phrase in the JST Matthew 6:22 completes the parallel teachings on hearts and eyes: True disciples must have 

their hearts

and their eyes

set

single

on the treasures

to the glory

of heaven

of God.

Modern translators have given misleading renditions of Matthew 6:22 based only on their knowledge of Greek, (e.g., Anchor Bible “and if your eye is healthy . . .”; N.E.B. “If your eyes are sound . . .”; N.A.S.B. “if therefore your eye is clear . . .”). Joseph Smith’s translation is based on his knowledge of the requirements of discipleship in this dispensation (cf. D&C 4, especially v. 5). 

Needs of Full-Time Ministers 

At this point there is an important transition in 3 Nephi, and JST Matthew includes three verses not found in KJV. They are quoted here for comparison, beginning with the final verse of the preceding section.

KJV Matthew 6:24–25 

  No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 

 

JST Matthew6:24–28 

  No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.

  And, again, I say unto you, go ye into the world, and care not for the world; for the world will hate you, and will persecute you, and will turn you out of their synagogues. 

  Nevertheless, ye shall go forth from house to house, teaching the people; and I will go before you. 

  And your heavenly Father will provide for you, whatsoever things ye need for food, what ye shall eat; and for raiment, what ye shall wear or put on.

3 Nephi 13:24–25 

  No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he looked upon the twelve whom he had chosen, and said unto them: Remember the words which I have spoken. For behold, ye are they whom I have chosen to minister unto this people.

  Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

  Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your bodies, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

  Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

Note that the words of the Sermon in 3 Nephi are interrupted by a narrative insertion specifying that the instructions which follow pertain only to the Twelve. Such insertions consistently distinguish in 3 Nephi between Jesus’ instructions to the Twelve and his instructions to the multitude. 

In Galilee, all of his instructions are directed to his disciples, especially the newly called Twelve. Although others from among the multitude hear his words, he does not speak directly to them. Nevertheless, at the points in the Galilee sermon which correspond to audience-focus insertions in 3 Nephi, JST Matthew insertions make clear that in Galilee, Jesus did not change audiences (see JST Matthew 6:25; 7:1, 3–6). 

In both the Bountiful and the Galilee sermons, when Jesus says, “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your bodies, what ye shall put on,” he is speaking only to those entering full-time ministry. In Bountiful, only the Twelve are so counseled. To those of the Bountiful multitude who would not be involved in full-time ministry, “Ye cannot serve God and Mammon” meant “earn your living, but maintain proper priorities.” To the Nephite Twelve and to those in Galilee who would go “into the world” and “from house to house, teaching the people,” these same words meant, “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (KJV Matthew 6:33; 3 Nephi 13:33). Commenting on the command to “seek ye first . . .” Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote: 

It is common to quote this command as one directing men to seek, through righteousness, the things of the celestial world. Counsel so to do is never inappropriate. But, actually, as seen from the Inspired Version accounts of Matthew and Luke, Jesus is directing his ministers “to build up the kingdom of God” (JST Matthew 6:38), and to seek “to bring forth the kingdom of God” (JST Luke 12:34), meaning the Church of Jesus Christ, which is the kingdom of God on earth. They were being sent forth, as are the missionaries in this day, to preach the gospel so that converts might come into the Church or kingdom, thereby building it up in strength and power. [6]

Several additional changes in this section (as well as in the following chapter) restore parts of conversations and give us a glimpse of the inner feelings of the disciples in Galilee. In JST Matthew 6:25, Jesus tells them as they go out to preach, “care not for the world.” In the remaining fourteen verses of JST Matthew 6, he uses the verb “to take thought for” (i.e., to worry about, to be anxious over) six times (five in KJV). In spite of his reassurances, JST Matthew reveals that at least some of Jesus’ disciples were concerned. They murmur and say they cannot obey him. Hearing their murmuring, he responds: 

KJV Matthew 6:32 

 

 

  (For after all these things do ye have not all these things, and the Gentiles seek:)

JST Matthew 6:36–37

  Why is it that ye murmur among yourselves, saying, We cannot obey thy word because seek to excuse yourselves, saying that, after all these things do the Gentiles seek.

for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

  Behold, I say unto you, that your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

The parenthesized statement in KJV is part of the disciples’ complaint and does not appear in the Bountiful Sermon. They say that they cannot obey Jesus’ word because he and other disciples have rationalized their poverty by labeling worldly things Gentile. Jesus reassures them that their Heavenly Father knows their temporal needs, and adds: “Wherefore, seek not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Take, therefore, no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day shall be the evil thereof.” [7] (JST Matthew 6:38–39.) The intent of this counsel and of this whole section of the Sermon is only clear because the JST and the Book of Mormon inform us that Jesus was giving instructions for full-time ministers. 

“Say unto Them”

Jesus continues his Sermon with additional items of instruction. His intended audience in Galilee is still “his disciples,” whereas in Bountiful he shifts his focus from the Twelve back to the multitude for the remainder of the Sermon (see JST Matthew 7:1, 14, 16; 3 Nephi 14:1). The Savior’s words in this section are rich with imagery and parable—a masterpiece of apperceptive teaching. 

In JST Matthew, independent from all the other versions, we are given the intimate opportunity to visit the Savior in Galilee as he converses with his disciples and further prepares them for their missions by telling them what to say. This is a masterpiece of a different nature—a revelation given to us through the Prophet Joseph Smith. 

For many situations, even life-threatening ones, Jesus counsels the Twelve, “But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you” (KJV Matthew 10:19–20; cf. JST Luke 12:9–14). But he knows their needs, and gives them succinct messages to use in specific upcoming missionary situations. These are introduced with five instances of the phrase “say unto them” and two other instances of similar expressions in the first section of JST Matthew 7, none of which are found in KJV Matthew. 

He begins by telling them how to teach the people about judging: 

KJV Matthew 7:1–4

JST Matthew 7:1–5

  Now these are the words which Jesus taught his disciples that they should say unto the people.

  Judge not, that ye be not judged.

  Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment.

  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

  For with what judgment ye shall judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

  And Again, ye shall say unto them, Why is it that thou beholdest the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and canst not behold a beam in thine own eye?

“The people,” to whom the disciples will speak these words, are commanded to judge righteous judgment. At this early point in their ministry, the Twelve are to teach “the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” and not the Gentiles or the Samaritans (see KJV Matthew 10:5–6). Therefore, this message is for the Jews, whose models of judgment are their religious leaders and local synagogue councils. Just prior to the time of the Sermon in the accounts in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus had been teaching in the synagogues of Galilee, and was there confronted by those who judged him guilty of breaking the law by healing on the Sabbath day (see JST Matthew 4:22; Mark 3:1–7; Luke 6:6–11). Referring to such models of unrighteous judgment, Jesus tells his disciples in the Sermon to teach the people about motes and beams. 

In the following verses, the image of motes and beams is given explicit application as Jesus directs his disciples’ attention to religious leaders among the listening multitude. He first describes their unrighteous judgment, and then tells the disciples how to speak of motes and beams to them: 

KJV Matthew 7:5  

JST Matthew 7:6–8

  And Jesus said unto his disciples, Beholdest thou the Scribes, and the Pharisees, and the Priests, and the Levites? They teach in their synagogues, but do not observe the law, nor the commandments; and all have gone out of the way, and are under sin. 

  Go thou and say unto them, Why teach ye men the law and the commandments, when ye  yourselves are the children of corruption?

  Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

  Say unto them, Ye hypocrites, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Earlier in the Sermon, Jesus taught his disciples to avoid hypocritical religion. Here, he instructs them how to confront the models of such unrighteousness and how to teach the people to righteously judge it. [8]

The subsequent message is for all the world. Jesus identifies for his disciples the foundation of their teaching: 

 

KJV Matthew 7

  (No corresponding material, between 7:5 and 7:6)

JST Matthew 7:9

  Go ye into the world, saying unto all, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come nigh unto you.

John the Baptist taught the message of repentance and the coming of the kingdom (see KJV Matthew 3:2). Jesus’ message was the same (see KJV Matthew 4:17). Now the Lord tells his disciples to take this message into the world. Some things they are not to teach, as JST Matthew continues: 

KJV Matthew 7:6  

JST Matthew 7:10–11 

  And the mysteries of the kingdom ye shall keep within yourselves; for it is not meet to

  Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearl before swine, lest they trample them under their feet,

give that which is holy unto the dogs; neither cast ye your pearls unto swine, lest they trample them under their feet.

  For the world cannot receive that which ye, yourselves, are not able to bear; wherefore ye shall not give your pearls unto them,

and turn again and rend you. 

lest they turn again and rend you. 

Giving holy things to dogs and pearls to swine is the Lord’s figurative language for giving the mysteries of the kingdom to those who are not prepared to receive them. 

After explaining to the Nephite Twelve the essence of the gospel and the commandment to repent which was to “all ye ends of the earth” (3 Nephi 27:20), Jesus commanded them to write the things which they had seen and heard, “save it be those which are forbidden” (3 Nephi 27:23). Like the Nephite Twelve, the disciples in Galilee had been taught things which they were to keep to themselves—not that the mysteries are not available to all, but each must receive them when he is prepared. 

The additions in JST Matthew 7:10–11 tie Jesus’ figurative use of pearls in the Sermon to his later parable on the pearl of great price (see JST Matthew 13:47). In that parable, the merchantman was “seeking goodly pearls.” No one cast them to him. When by his own effort and desire he found the pearl of great price, he sold all that he had and bought it. [9]

The next “say unto them” phrase in JST Matthew tells how one can obtain the mysteries of the kingdom: 

KJV Matthew 7:7–8  

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

JST Matthew 7:12–13

Say unto them, Ask of God; ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

  For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened.

The added sentence in JST Matthew 7:12 illustrates a recurring type of contribution of the JST—the tying of successive parts in the KJV into a whole. In this case, two seemingly unrelated items of instruction—not giving that which is holy to dogs, and asking, seeking, knocking—are brought together. The disciples are not to indiscriminately share holy things, and their hearers, if they want these things, should be invited to ask them of God. 

To this teaching, JST Matthew restores the interjection of the disciples, who anticipate that their hearers will tell them God will not heed their request: 

KJV Matthew 7

  (No corresponding material, between 7:8 and 7:9)

JST Matthew 7:14–15 

  And then said his disciples unto him, they will say unto us, We ourselves are righteous, and need not that any man should teach us. God, we know, heard Moses and some of the prophets; but us he will not hear.

  And they will say, We have the law for  our salvation, and that is sufficient for us.

Those who would so respond to the invitation to ask prove themselves to be among the dogs and swine unprepared for holy things. Their self-description, as the disciples anticipate it, identifies them as the same self-righteous, unteachable, law-bound, God-forsaken Jewish leaders to whom Jesus has referred throughout the Galilee Sermon. To them also the disciples are to give the terse foundation message intended for all the world: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come nigh unto you” (JST Matthew 7:9). This time, however, Jesus gives the two parts of the message in somewhat different terms. The teaching on the nearness of the kingdom comes first, in the form of a poignant lesson about how the Father responds to his children that ask: 

KJV Matthew 7:9–11

 

JST Matthew 7:16–21

  Then Jesus answered, and said unto his disciples, thus shall ye say unto them, 

  What man among you, having a son, and he shall be standing out, and shall say, Father, open thy house that I may come in and sup with thee, will not say, Come in, my son; for mine is thine, and thine is mine? 

  Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

  Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?  

  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

  Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.  

  Or what man is there among you, who, if his son ask bread, will give him a stone? 

  Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? 

  Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.

 

The kingdom is nigh unto all, and the Perfect Father responds to the needs of his children when they ask. Jesus elsewhere teaches that the gifts which the Father gives come “through the Holy Spirit, to them who ask him” (JST Luke 11:14). James adds that he “giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not.” “But,” says James, “let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.” (James 1:5–6.) 

Only with the additional verses in JST Matthew do we learn that the Golden Rule, as given in the Galilee Sermon (JST Matthew 7:21), is part of the words the disciples are to say to the Jewish leaders, who have claimed, “We have the law for our salvation, and that is sufficient for us” (JST Matthew 7:15). Earlier, Jesus climaxed the section on laws unto perfection by commanding his disciples to be perfect even as their Father who is in Heaven is perfect (see JST Matthew 5:50). Seen in its complete context, the Golden Rule is a second climax which follows directly from the first. The disciples are to declare to the Jewish leaders that it is the essence of the law and the prophets to recognize and follow the example of the Perfect Father. 

If the Jewish leaders will ask, they can obtain even the mysteries of the kingdom. But they are not willing to ask. Jesus therefore tells the disciples to present the other part of the foundation message; the JST adds that they must repent and enter in at the strait gate. The Sermon audiences in both Bountiful and Galilee are familiar with the main entry gates to walled cities, where the masses daily course in and out on the main road. Repentance, Jesus teaches, is not such a gate. It is a narrow, almost hidden, gate found only by those who are willing to leave the beaten path in order to find eternal life. 

Guided by the extensive additions revealed in the JST, we see how the items of instruction at this point near the end of the Sermon become for the disciples in Galilee a guide for their missionary message. They are told its simple foundation. They are instructed what to teach to all the world and what to invite their listeners to seek on their own. They are told how to warn the people against their detractors and how to speak to the detractors themselves. 

Hearing and Doing 

Jesus now concludes the Sermon with three admonitions on hearing and doing. This final section, although much the same in all five versions, is enriched by an overall understanding of the importance of doing the Lord’s will which pervades the JST and the Book of Mormon. 

First, the disciples in Galilee and the multitude in Bountiful are warned against false prophets who come to them like wolves in sheep’s clothing. The intent of this expression is clear when we recognize Jesus’ repeated references to his messengers as sheep, and even as “sheep in the midst of wolves” (KJV Matthew 10:16). They must be “wise servants, and as harmless as doves” (JST Matthew 10:14). When evil deceivers come, pretending discipleship, they may be judged by their fruits; that is, by what they do (see KJV Matthew 7:16–20; KJV Luke 6:43–45; 3 Nephi 14:16–20). 

Second, Jesus warns that the day is coming when he will be the Judge of all. 

KJV Matthew 7:21  

  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

JST Matthew 7:30–31

  Verily I say unto you, it is not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, that shall enter into 

the kingdom of heaven; but  he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.

  For the day soon cometh, that men shall come 

 before me to judgment, to be judged according to their works.

Jesus’ stress on doing his Father’s will, strengthened by the verse unique to JST Matthew, recalls his declaration at the very beginning of his words to the Twelve in Bountiful: “I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning” (3 Nephi 11:11). Now he requires that those who would have the gate of the kingdom of heaven opened when they knock also must do his Father’s will. Comparing the version in Luke, we note that the will of the Father is equated with the words of the Son: “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (KJV Luke 6:46; emphasis added). Those who merely hear, or hear and pretend to do, will not enter the kingdom. “Therefore, when once the Lord of the kingdom is risen up, and hath shut the door of the kingdom, then ye shall stand without, and knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us. But the Lord shall answer and say unto you, I will not receive you, for ye know not from whence ye are.” (JST Luke 13:25.) 

Excuses for not doing the will of the Father and the Son will be offered aplenty: “Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?” (3 Nephi 14:22; cf. KJV Matthew 7:22 and JST Matthew 7:32). “We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets” (Luke 13:26). Note the Savior’s answers in the Sermon: 

KJV Matthew 7:23

  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

JST Matthew 7:33

  And then will I say, Ye never knew me; depart from me ye that work iniquity.

3 Nephi 14:23 

  And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie has written:

Two answers of equivalent meaning are recorded to his question; both are answers that will be given to those saints who have not endured to the end, who have not kept the commandments, and who have not pressed forward with a steadfastness in Christ after baptism. . . . 

“I never knew you, and you never knew me! Your discipleship was limited; you were not perfect members of my kingdom. Your heart was not so centered in me as to cause you to endure to the end; and so for a time and a season you were faithful; you even worked miracles in my name; but in the end it shall be as though I never knew you.” [10]

The Savior finishes with a third admonition—a parable of hearing and doing, and as Luke reports, of coming unto Christ. The concept of coming to him ties together the beatitudes at the beginning of the Sermon in JST Matthew and in 3 Nephi. Now it becomes part of the final parable, which is here quoted from JST Luke: 

Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like. 

He is like a man who built a house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock, and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it; for it was founded upon a rock. 

But he who heareth and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built a house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. (JST Luke 6:47–49; emphasis added.) 

Summary

It would be difficult to overstate the significance of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. With this Sermon, the Savior instructed the first priesthood quorum organized in the meridian of time. They were commanded to bear to all the world the invitation to come unto Christ, to receive the ordinances of salvation, and to seek perfection. With this Sermon, the Savior taught how the religious law which had guided the house of Israel for more than a millennium was to be fulfilled and superseded. 

The resurrected Lord deliberately repeated the Sermon to a second Quorum of Twelve and to a multitude of righteous witnesses in Bountiful, where the anticipation of his coming had spanned the six hundred years since the arrival of their ancestors in the New World. To these witnesses, the Sermon was also a call to missionary service and a command to establish the higher law, which would unfold two centuries of peace and righteousness among them. 

If properly understood, the Sermon has renewed relevance for our dispensation. New apostles and missionary witnesses are again taking the invitation to come unto Christ to a world filled with sin and hypocrisy. We have been commanded to gather Israel from its long dispersion and to establish the covenant among them. 

During his ministry among the Nephites, the Savior gave them a sign that the final gathering of Israel would begin “when these things which I declare unto you . . . shall be made known unto the Gentiles . . .” (3 Nephi 21:2; emphasis added; cf. 3 Nephi 29:1ff). The Bountiful Sermon contains the foundation principles of “these things.” The Savior specifically commanded that the Sermon and the teachings which accompanied it be written, as a scriptural tool to be given to the Gentiles for the gathering of Israel in the last days (see 3 Nephi 16:4–7; 23:4). 

Through the revelations of God to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the sign has appeared. The teachings of which Jesus spoke are now available to all in the Book of Mormon. In addition, God has prepared biblical scriptures to work together with the Book of Mormon in this dispensation. The Joseph Smith Translation unlocks the meaning and intent of the Sermon as it was first given in Galilee, making the two givings of the Sermon one in the Lord’s hand. 

We too must accept the Lord’s challenge to be doers of the word. If we study and apply the teachings of the Sermon, as they are revealed to this dispensation, we too may inherit the promise that “whoso remembereth these sayings of mine and doeth them, him will I raise up at the last day” (3 Nephi 15:1). 

Notes 

[1] The Greek expression in the first three beatitudes in Luke is literally “blessed (are) the poor,” “blessed (are) those hungering now,” “blessed (are) those weeping now”—similar to the beatitudes of Matthew. The second plural “be ye,” or “are ye” in Luke is italicized in current editions of the KJV and is inferred from the second plural second half of each beatitude, “for yours is the kingdom of God,” etc. The fourth beatitude in Luke has a different form, literally “blessed are you when . . .” and the KJV contains no italics. The JST Luke changes to third plural occur only in the beatitudes with italics in KJV.

[2] Compare the similar idiom on the passing of heaven and earth in KJV Matthew 24:35; KJV Mark 13:31; KJV Luke 21:33, all of which agree with the sense of JST Matthew 5:20.

[3] Some have falsely reasoned from KJV Matthew 5:19–20 that Jesus was observant of the Jewish law and was only a reformer speaking out against the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees. The Christian view of the replaced law, they claim, was introduced later by others, notably Paul. The JST clearly lays aside this misinterpretation.

[4] Many modern versions also leave out the phrase “without a cause,” in KJV Matthew 5:22, saying it was added by copyists and does not occur in the earliest extant manuscripts. However, the same argument is used for excising the phrase “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever. Amen” from the Lord’s Prayer in KJV Matthew 6:13. The JST not only includes that phrase in JST Matthew 6:15, but strengthens it (“forever and ever”) and essentially restores it to KJV Luke 11:4 (“for thine is the kingdom and power. Amen.”) Those who are inclined to disparage or vindicate the JST by comparing individual changes with modern biblical criticism concentrate on trees and miss the forest.

[5] Robert J. Matthews places this change in a general category with many other changes which show the direction of the JST away from the concept that God is responsible for the good or evil men do. See Robert J. Matthews, “A Plainer Translation”: Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible, A History and Commentary (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1975), 314.

[6] Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966–73), 1:244.

[7] In a later context in JST Luke, Jesus implies a more down-to-earth source of sustenance for disciples who are “of doubtful mind” about food and clothing during their ministry (see JST Luke 12:33).

[8] For a discussion of Jesus’ own confrontations with Jewish leaders, see Robert L. Millet, “Looking beyond the Mark: Insights from the JST into First-Century Judaism,” in this volume.

[9] On the need for each to seek individually, see also the parable of the ten virgins (JST Matthew 25:1–12), in which the five wise virgins told the five foolish virgins they would need to buy their own oil.

[10] Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, 4 books (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979–81), 2:172–73.