We are studying Matthew 5:13-20 for Sunday, July 7 – a passage that includes Jesus’ familiar sayings about being salt and light, and Jesus’ relationship to “the law and the prophets.” [Study notes on this text are here.] Here are a few questions we might want to reflect on or discuss:

What do we normally think it means to be “the salt of the earth”? Who is or are “the salt of the earth”? Why? That is – what makes these people “salty”? (Or, for that matter, why do we think this?)

With that in mind, what does Jesus’ comment about salt that has “lost its taste” seem to refer to? What does Jesus seem to be warning his audience against?

How does this apply to us, do we think?


What do we normally think it means to be “the light of the world”? What does this “light” seem to refer to? What does it mean to “let it shine before others”?

Both a city on a hill, and a lamp on lampstand, have been put where they are on purpose. What do those two illustrations add to our understanding of what it means to be “the light of the world”?

What “good works” is Jesus talking about in v16, do we think? What all might that include, do we think? What does that exclude, do we think? Why do we say this, do we think?


The setting for the Sermon on the Mount is first century Judea. Why does Jesus need to tell his audience of first century Judeans, of which he is one, that he has “not come to abolish the law and the prophets,” do we think? What does he mean, do we think?

Are we in Jesus’ audience for this announcement? How? What does this announcement mean for us – that is, 21st century Gentile Christians? What makes us think this? (For instance: what we have learned over time as Christians, been told in sermons, by parents, read in books … )

How do we feel about this announcement? Why is that?

Are “the law and the prophets” part of “the Christian way of life” or “a Christian way of life”? How, do we think? [For instance, do we think of “the law and the prophets” as scripture – the books of the Bible; or as commandments and words from God; or as moral principles; or …?]

How is that like what Jesus was probably talking about? How is it different? What are our thoughts and feelings about this? Why is that?


Is Jesus saying we can, or saying we can’t, enter the kingdom of the heavens? What makes us think this?

What does this mean for us, do we think? Why?


a conversation by a roadside