“Higher Righteousness” for Kingdom Living: An Exegetical Analysis of Some Key Terms in Matthew 5: 17-20

ISSUE: Vol.2  No.1 April 2020 Article 1  pp.1-8
AUTHORS: Frederick M. Amevenku & Isaac Boaheng
DOI : 10.32051/motbit.2020.041



No biblical text has had greater impact on Christianity than the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Within this Sermon is Matthew 5:17-20 which forms both the thesis paragraph of the Sermon and the key to appreciating Matthew’s teaching on the relationship between Jesus’ teaching and the Old Testament (OT). This passage concludes with Jesus’ profound demand from his disciples to exhibit “higher righteousness” than the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees before they can enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:20). Within the context of Jesus’ audience, the scribes and Pharisees were considered the standard of righteousness in the society during Jesus’ time. For this reason, one wonders what the quality and character of this “higher righteousness” might be. Attempts to address this issue have provoked lots of debate among scholars. This paper, through a critical examination of some key words in the passage, seeks an understanding of this “higher righteousness.” The paper found that by “higher righteousness, Jesus demands a kind of righteousness that is not merely external, but a true inner righteousness based on faith in the word of God.

Keywords: Pharisees, Law, Scribes, Prophets, righteousness.

Authors Biodata: Frederick M. Amevenku holds a PhD in New Testament from Stellenbosch University, South Africa. He is a Senior Lecturer in New Testament Studies and Biblical Hermeneutics at the Trinity Theological Seminary, Legon-Accra Ghana. Email: yaomawusi13@gmail.com Isaac Boaheng holds Master of Divinity from the Trinity Theological Seminary, Legon-Accra Ghana. He is a Translator with the Bible Society of Ghana. Email: revisaacboaheng@gmail.com