The Beatitudes: The Character & Conduct of Kingdom Citizens
cf. Matthew 5:1-12
Doug V. Heck
Chapter Two: The Beatitudes
And yet members of the kingdom are to be distinctive not only to the world but to established religion in whatever form. The citizen of the kingdom is to stand in vivid contrast to all other people and live a life-style reflecting a value-system that is other-worldly. Hence, the words of these Beatitudes,
Two of the beatitudes promise the same reward. The first beatitude reads, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (5:3). The last one says, "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (5:10) To begin and end with the same expression is a stylistic device called an "inclusion." This means that everything bracketed between the two can really be included under the one theme, in this case, the kingdom of heaven.(2)2
Five main religious parties and sects existed: the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Herodians, the Essenes, and the Zealots.
The Beatitudes have been debated for centuries. Are these to be understood as conditions for entering the kingdom or as characteristics of those who have already entered? MacArthur asks and answers:" Are the truths in the Beatitudes the rules on how you get into the kingdom or are they rules on how you live once you're in the kingdom? The answer is yes. Both.
Wiersbe further suggests, "The Beatitudes tell us how to enter the kingdom and enlarge the kingdom; but they also tell us how to enjoy the kingdom."
It must, however, be emphasized that the Beatitudes have to do primarily with the characteristics that are descriptive of true kingdom citizens. By uncompromisingly describing the citizen of His kingdom, the King was both encouraging those who had committed their lives to Himself and indicting those who had yet to do so! The underlying assumption of the Sermon on the Mount is acceptance of the
Each Beatitude contains three parts: a. an ascription of blessedness, b. a description of the person's character or condition, and c. a statement of the reason for the blessedness. The repeated ascription of
Carson connects the Greek with its Hebrew equivalent and gives an etymological summary:
Two words and their cognates stand behind "blessed" and "blessing" in the NT. The word used in vv. 3-11 is makarios, which corresponds in the LXX to 'asre, a Hebrew term used almost as an interjection. Usually makarios describes the man who is singularly favored by God and therefore in some sense "happy"; but the word can apply to God (1 Tim. 1:11; 6:15). The other word is eulogetos, found in the LXX primarily for the Hebrew berakah, and used chiefly in connection with God in both OT and NT (e.g., Mark 14:61; Luke 1:68; Rom. 1:25; 2 Cor. 1:3). Eulogetos does not occur in Matthew; but the cognate verb appears five times (14:19; 21:9; 23:39; 25:34; 26:26), in one of which it applies to man (25:34), not God or Christ. Attempts to make makarios mean "happy" and eulogetos "blessed" (Broadus) are therefore futile; though both appear many times, both can apply to either God or man. It is difficult not to conclude that their common factor is approval; man "blesses" God, approving and praising him; God "blesses" man, approving him in gracious condescension.(7)7
And yet simple
It is interesting that Matthew begins his last major discourse of Christ (Matthew 23-25) with eight "woes" (Greek is
The Beatitudes read like a Psalm; makarios at once recalls the 'ashre of Ps. 1:1. 'Blessed!' intoned again and again, sounds like bells of heaven, ringing down into this unblessed world from the cathedral spires of the kingdom inviting all men to enter. The word like its opposite ouai, 'woe', is neither a wish regarding a coming condition, nor a description of a present condition, but a judgment pronounced upon the persons indicated, stating they must be considered fortunate.(8)8
It is also interesting that a vivid contrast exists between the giving of the Beatitudes and the giving of the Law. No greater contrast could be considered than the multitudes forbidden to approach the sacred Mount Horeb, on pain of death, while the law was issued to the mediating Moses (cf. Exodus 19:9-25), and the warm invitation on the hilltop of the mount of the Beatitudes, where the Messiah of God measured out pronouncements of blessings. Puritan Thomas Watson summarizes:
Christ does not begin his Sermon on the Mount as the Law was delivered on the mount, with commands and threatenings, the trumpet sounding, the fire flaming, the earth quaking, and the hearts of the Israelites too for fear; but our Savior begins with promises and blessings. (9)9
As mentioned each Beatitude contains three parts: a. an ascription of blessedness, b. a description of the person's character or condition, and c. a statement of the reason for the blessedness. As each Beatitude is considered, the ascription of blessedness-the pronounced judgment of God that the person is fortunate, must be kept in mind.
BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT;
FOR THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
What immediately strikes the reader and no doubt astonished the original audience, is the fact that Jesus starts with a vividly paradoxical statement and continues. "It's as if Jesus crept into the large display window of life and changed all the price tags; it's all backwards!" (MacArthur, sermon GC 2197) And this is even more striking when the historical context is considered-the popular expectancy of the near approaching mighty Messiah who would deal with the Roman overlords with vengeance and set up once again the imperial throne of David. It is obvious that the great crowds considered it possible that Jesus would be the One (Matt. 4:24-25), and the stage of the Galilean mountain would be the logical place to begin explaining His political agenda. But Jesus catered to no political aspirations and compromised not a note to the expectant crowds, but began to set forth the high standards of the kingdom of heaven with a parade of paradoxical pronouncements.
What does it mean to be "poor in spirit"? The Greek noun translated "poor" is
speaking of extreme poverty, without the means of self-support.
The Description of the Person's Character-"poor in spirit."
Neither passage uses "poor" in the general social meaning. The enlarged form in Matthew, "the poor in spirit" (hoi ptochoi to pneumati), brings out the OT and Jewish background of those who in affliction have confidence only in God (cf. Pss. 69: 28f., 32f
; 37: 18; Isa. 61:1; Pss. Sol. 10:7; 1QS 4:3 cf. d. Hill, "The Gospel of Matthew," 1972, 110f.; and "Greek Words and Hebrew Meanings," 1967, 234, 251).
It can be easily seen how the literal usage of
And yet the Greek word carries the idea not of simple poverty but of extreme poverty. In Luke 21:2 the is said to be
) which speaks of being needy. Her life and living was a constant struggle, as she had to work to maintain a meager living. The widow was poor. The person who is poor has no resources to maintain even a meager living and is entirely dependent on another! Dwight Pentecost explains the nuance of poverty:
To understand [poor] its usage, turn to Luke 16:19-22
The word translated "beggar" (vv. 20,22) is the identical word translated "poor" in Matthew 5:3. The beggar was destitute, poverty-stricken, without any resources whatsoever. The words poor and beggar come from a root which means "to cover" or "to cringe." It so humiliated a man to confess he had nothing and was dependent on someone else that the very act of begging demeaned him. So the beggar would cover his face and crouch, or cower, as he held out his hand for an alm. He was ashamed to let the giver know his identity. (12)12
The locative of sphere
Note: following each characteristic are listed helpful cross-references to illustrate the truth. The student must keep in mind, however, that these references should not intrude into the exegetical process itself, but only support, check, or illustrate the interpretive results. To use the analogy of faith as a hermeneutical (interpretive) rule of interpretation may lead to unjustified conclusions. The passage must be interpreted by the historical grammatical method, and only then may passages further supply illustrative help.
To be "poor in spirit" is to realize that I have nothing, am nothing, and can do nothing, and have need of all things. Poverty of spirit is a consciousness of my emptiness and the result of the Spirit's work within. It issues from the painful discovery that all my righteousness are as filthy rags. It follows the awakening that my best performances are unacceptable, yea, an abomination to the thrice Holy One. Poverty of spirit evidences itself by its bringing the individual into the dust before God, acknowledging his utter helplessness and deservingness of hell
Poverty of spirit may be termed the negative side of faith. It is that realization of my utter worthlessness which precedes emptying the heart of self that Christ may fill it: it is a sense of need and destitution. This first Beatitude, then, is foundational, describing a fundamental trait which is found in every regenerated soul. The one who is poor in spirit is nothing in his own eyes, and feels that his proper place is in the dust before God.(13)13
Christ illustrates the poor in spirit attitude in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 7:1-110; Luke 16:19-22 gives a physical illustration of poor in spirit; Luke 18:9-14 illustrates the figurative usage of poor in spirit; Psalm 34:18; 51:17; Isaiah 57:15; 61:1; 66:2 commend the humble beggarly spirit; Matthew 11:25-30; 18:1-3 commend the childlike humility of kingdom citizens; Isaiah 61:1-3 gives the historical background for this beatitude.
The Statement of the Reason for the Blessedness-"For theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Why are the "poor in spirit" blessed? Why is it that to the "poor in spirit" does the pronouncement of
"Fortunate" echo from God? Because "theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Their blessedness is a consequence of possession the kingdom of heaven.
(14)14 But what specifically is this kingdom? Two possible meanings to this noun are generally understood: a. the kingdom in its abstract sense, which speaks of with reference to the territory over which (or people over whom) a king rules, allowing for an earthly realm such as promised to Israel. From the near context of Matthew (cf. Matt. 3:2; 4:8,17,23) it seems the
It is interesting that Christ used the present tense
"for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." is better translated "in your midst" than
"within you." Cf. Ladd, "Kingdom," pg. 224) Hence, each of these reasons have both a present tense aspect and a future tense aspect! Carson comments:
There is little doubt that here the kingdom sense is primarily future, postconsummation, made explicit in v. 12. But the present
tense "envelop" (vv. 3,10) should not be written off as insignificant or as masking an Aramaic original that did not specify present or future; for Matthew must have meant something when he chose estin ("is) instead of estain ("will be"). The natural conclusion is that, though the full blessedness of those described in these beatitudes awaits the consummated kingdom, they already share in the kingdom's blessedness so far as it has been inauguarated.(16)16
It is obvious why this Beatitude is the first, as it is the foundation upon which all the others are built. Without an understanding of his extreme spiritual poverty (i.e., a deep emotional understanding of one's lack of righteousness,), man in his lost condition doesn't recognize his great need to turn toward God. Without an understanding of his extreme spiritual poverty, kingdom citizens fail to recognize their constant need for the Lord's provision and grace. (cf. Isaiah 57:15 and 66:2) As MacArthur adds, "no man ever comes to Jesus Christ and enters the kingdom without crawling, without a terrible sense of sinfulness and repentance."
And, we might add, no kingdom citizen ever rises from this cringing begging posture, to entertain the thought that he can function on his own resources! The ever-growing awareness of his lack of personal positive righteousness, manufactured from his own resources, keeps his beggarly heart extended for God's grace. With the awfulness of his sin ever before him, he
BLESSED ARE THEY THAT MOURN;
FOR THEY SHALL BE COMFORTED
The Lord continues in his paradoxical parade with the second Beatitude, which John R. W. Stott translates,
No doubt the crowds were already getting uneasy at His unconventional philosophy of life, for He was saying things which on the surface seemed absurd. Especially so to the original audience, which consisted of disgruntled Jews living in Roman occupied Palestine, looking for a Messiah who would sweep the Romans out of the land and establish a strong kingdom, ruling with
"Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted." (Matt. 5:4)
The historical context must be kept in mind that the Jews were suffering under the Roman rule because of her national and personal sins. The warnings of Deuteronomy 28:15-68 had fallen upon disobedient Israel as the Romans occupied Judea since 63 B. C. "The godly remnant of Jesus' day weeps because of the humiliation of Israel, but they understand that it comes from personal and corporate sins. (Psalm 119:136; Ezekiel 9:4)"
The Beatitudes however seems to leap nationalistic bounds.
The Description of the Person's Character-
"they that mourn."
Following the first Beatitude, which extolled those who understood their spiritual bankruptcy, the second involves a deep anguishing grief over personal sin. The first realizes my lack of righteousness, leaving me naked before God's holiness; the second realized my vile sinfulness, and leaves me clothed in filthy rags! There are several kinds of
Actually the Greek word for (Greek, ) is one of nine Greek words used in the New Testament to express grief and sorrow. This is the harshest, reserved for the mourning of the dead, which, as Trench states, means, "To grieve with a grief which so takes possession of the whole being that it cannot be hid." Hence this is an anguishing grief that is internally deep but so grips a person that it manifests itself on the outside, i.e., in tears, weeping, and lament! (cf. James 4:8,9) The present participle form gives emphasis to the continuance of the mourning. Pink gives the sense:
But this "mourning" is by no means to be confined unto the initial experience of conviction and contrition, or observe the tense of the verb: it is not "have mourned" but "mourn"-a present and continuous experience. The Christian himself has much to mourn over. The sins which he now commits -both of omission and commission-are a sense of daily grief to him, and should be, and will be, if his conscience is kept tender. An ever-deepening discovery of the depravity of his nature, the plague of his heart, the sea of corruption within-ever polluting all that he does-deeply exercises him. Consciousness of the surgings of unbelief, the swellings of pride, the coldness of his love, and his paucity of fruit. (21)21
It is obvious how this Beatitude contradicts the world's philosophy, which shuns mourning and seeks to provide every means for its escape. "The whole organization of life, the pleasure mania, the money, energy and enthusiasm that are expended in entertaining people, are just an expression of the great aim of the world to get away from this idea of mourning and this spirit of mourning."
And yet the kingdom citizen goes through life with an ever deepening mourning over the awfulness of his sin and the sin of others. This is well spelled out in Romans 7:14-25 and 8:17-39 where Paul explains his inner agony with his own sin, along with the present deliverance and future hope of his sinful capacity being removed forever:
You know there are some people who consider that what is described in Rom. 7 was only a phase in Paul's experience, and that he left it, turned over a new leaf and went to the eighth chapter of Romans where he no longer knew what it was to mourn. But this is what I read in verse 23 of that chapter, "And not only they, but we ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption to wit, the redemption of our body." Or again, writing in 2 Cor. 5, he says that "we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened" he describes himself as "earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven."(23)23
Despite modern psychological theory that would remove the great culprit of guilt for mental utopia, according to Jesus, kingdom citizens have a growing intense understanding of their sins and experience the fruit of genuine guilt, i.e., the awareness of their constant need for a Savior who comforts. The believer groans within himself because of his foul sin, and looks forward with expectant hope for deliverance from it!
Christ illustrates genuine mourning for sin in Matt. 6:16-18; Romans 7:14-25 with 8:17-39 illustrates Paul's personal mourning over his evil capacity; James 4:8-10 calls for genuine emotional and volitional repentance; 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 commends godly sorrow that leads to repentance; 2 Chronicles 7:14 promised the covenant people of the Old Testament restoration on the basis of repentance; Psalm 119:53, 136 and Jeremiah 13:17 speak of deep mourning over the sins of others; Isaiah 61:1-3 gives the historical background for this beatitude.
Notice the change in the verb tense from the present tense of the first Beatitude to the future tense of the second Beatitude. As noted above, the
present tense envelop (i.e., vss. 3-10) syntax suggests that there is both a present and future aspect of each of these reasons for blessedness. The unbeliever
is (present tense) comforted when, adjusting to the will of God, he repents of his sins and believes on Jesus Christ; the kingdom citizen
is (present tense) comforted
when, adjusting to the will of God he recognizes his great vileness before God's holiness and confesses his sins. (Cf. 1 John 1:9) The kingdom citizen also
the redemption of the body. " (Cf. Romans 8:18-23 with 7:15-250 Hence, in the future state,
"God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying
for the former things are passed away." (Rev. 21:4) Again, the emphatic pronoun (Greek,
) gives the sense that "they only shall be comforted, and no one else!" Eternity for those outside the kingdom will be a comfortless eternity!
The Statement for the Reason for the Blessedness-
"they shall be comforted."
It is obvious that these first two Beatitudes allude to Isaiah 61:1-3 (cf. Luke 4:16-19) which confirms their Messianic intent. On the Mount, the Messiah began bestowment of Barclay summarizes the sense of this second Beatitude:
Christianity begins with a sense of sin. Blessed is the man who is intensely sorry for his sin, the man who is heart-broken for what his sin has done to God and to Jesus Christ, the man who sees the Cross and who is appalled by the havoc wrought by sin. (24)25
But not simply the sin of others, but rather his own sin. The kingdom citizen becomes occupied with his own failures in holy living, an looks away to the Savior who comforts, and looks ahead to the eradication of his sinful capacity.
III. BLESSED ARE THE MEEK;
FOR THEY SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH
None of the Beatitudes sound more contradictory to modern Western culture than the third. Our age calls for the strong, the mighty, those who have polished their self-esteem to the high gloss of a positive and possibility mentality, which considers faith in one's self the great enabler of man. Our age looks to the strong, who only survive, and preaches that the earth belongs to the mighty who take it! And it's into this culture that Christ brings the contradictory concept-
"Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth." As D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones summarizes:
The world thinks in terms of strength and power, of ability, self-assurance and aggressiveness. That is the world's idea of conquest and possession. The more you assert yourself and express yourself, the more you organize and manifest your powers and ability, the more likely you are to succeed and get on
He is an enigma to the world. (25)26
This statement would be more difficult to receive among the multitude of Jews on the mount. A mentioned above, they looked for a strong mighty Prince who would sweep away imperial Rome and establish a worldwide kingdom whose hub was Jerusalem. The Messiah they longed for came from the scroll of Psalm 2, not Isaiah 53, and wielded a
Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth." But what is meekness?
The Description of the Person's Character-"
Webster defines meekness as "deficient in spirit and courage" and yet the New Testament's definition is nothing of the sort. The Greek word
praos means basically "gentle, humble, mild, considerate, and courteous." Barclay gives the Classical Greek definition through Aristotle:
Meekness is the opposite of self-will toward God and of ill will toward men, born from a true view of oneself. This is why in the order of Beatitudes it follows being
Aristotle has a great deal to say about the quality of meekness (praotes)
Aristotle defines meekness, praotes, as the mean between orgilotes, which means excessive anger, and aorgesia, which means excessive angerlessness. Praotes, meekness, as Aristotle saw it, is the happy medium between too much and too little anger. (26)27
This essence of meekness results in the inner attitude of submission to authority. This person is pliable to the will of God, be it expressed from God's providential dealings or from God's Word. Hence, Scripture combines this character trait with several other concepts, as Pink observes:
A study of its (i.e. meekness) usage in Scripture reveals, first, that it is linked with and cannot be separated from lowliness (Matt. 11:29) "Learn of Me: for I am meek and lowly in heart"; (Eph. 4:1,2) "Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called; with all lowliness and meekness" Second, it is associated with and cannot be divorced from gentleness: (2 Cor. 10:1) "I beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ"; (Titus 3:2) "To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men". Third, "receive with meekness the engrafted word" is opposed to "the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God" (James 1:20,21). Fourth, the Divine promise is "the meek will He guide in judgment, and the meek will He teach His way" (Psalm 25:9), intimating that this grace consists of a pliant heart and will. (27)28
This helps us understand the secondary standard Greek usage of the word
Christ illustrates meekness in action in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:38-48); Psalm 27:11 is the Old Testament passage that Christ quoted from; Moses models meekness in the Old Testament (Numbers 12:3); Christ in the New Testament (Matthew 11:29; 2 Corinthians 10:1); Matt. 11:29 and Eph. 4:1,2 links meekness with lowliness; 2 Cor. 10:1 and Titus 3:2 links meekness with gentleness; James 1:20,21 and Psalm 25:9 connects meekness with reception of the Word of God.
Evidently Jesus paraphrased Psalm 37:11 when He gave the third beatitude. Psalm 37 contrasts the wicked with the humble and seeks to answer the question concerning the wicked's
seaming prosperity. No doubt the Jewish audience on the mount would interpret Jesus' words in light of Psalm 37, which promised the humble people of the Lord that they
"will inherit the land." Wiersbe seeks to capture the summary of Psalm 37:
The Statement of the Reason for the Blessedness-
"For they shall inherit the earth."
The Jews, however, would understand the phrase
The conflict in this psalm is between the righteous and the wicked. (Note the repetition of "the wicked" in verses 10,12, 14, 20-21, 28, 32, 34-35, 38, and 40) It appears that the wicked are winning and the righteous are losing-"Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne," as James Russell Lowell phrased it
Then what should the righteous do? Meekly submit to God's will by trusting in the Lord (v.3), delight in the Lord (vs. 4), committing their way unto the Lord (v.5), and resting in the Lord (vs. 7). The result is that they shall "inherit the earth", which simply means that they do not have to be afraid of anybody or anything because God is in control of them and their circumstances. To "inherit the earth" means to reign as king over yourself and your circumstances through the power of the Holy Spirit. (LLK, pg. 75)
you are meek, you seek nothing for yourself; and when you seek nothing for yourself, God gives you all things. Saul's self-seeking cost him his crown; but David's submission gave him the kingdom. (28)29
"Many have tried to earn the earth through military might-Ghenghis Khan, Hannibal, Napoleon, Hitler, and
Khrushchev, but all have failed. God's people will inherit the earth in the future."
Perhaps this was another issue that astonished the Jewish audience (cf. Matthew 7:28,29
BLESSED ARE THEY WHO DO HUNGER
AND THIRST AFTER RIGHTEOUSNESS;
FOR THEY SHALL BE FILLED
From the deep inner consciousness that one is spiritually bankrupt before God and void of righteousness; the agony of the awareness of one who is vile and sinful in the presence of a holy God; and the humble, pliable attitude that receives from God the offered help for
his lost condition, grow the passionate, insatiable craving for God's righteousness-the subject of the fourth beatitude. Although sounding like the first beatitude to make any sense, this fourth beatitude no doubt called for the similar response of astonishment, because of the extreme way in which it was worded.
The Lord uses two physical drives to illustrate the desperation of the blessed person's desire for righteousness. Being primary needs, the desire for sustaining food and water carries with it a passionate driving pursuit which cannot be denied. The starving person will go to any lengths to satisfy his inner craving! As a matter of fact, the Lord selected very expressive Greek words to point out the passion involved:
The Description of the Person's Character-
"hungering and thirsting for righteousness."
The desperation of this person is further described by the change in the expected case from the partitive genitive to the accusitive, in the Greek word translated
The Greek verbs are very powerful. Peinao means to be needy, to suffer deep hunger. The word dipsao carries the idea of genuine thirst. Jesus puts the strongest physical impulsed in a continuous action, present participle-the ones who are hungering, the ones who are thirstiing. (31)32
For the kingdom citizen, simply some righteousness is not enough! There is the demanding inner necessary crave for total righteousness. But what specifically is this person hungering and thirsting for? What does
In the Greek language, verbs such as hunger and thirst normally have objects that are in the partitive genative, a case that indicates incompleteness, or partialness. A literal English rendering would be: "I hunger for of food or I thirst for of water. This idea is that a person hungers
for some food and water, not for all food and water in the world. But Jesus does not here use the partitive genitive but the accusitive, and righteousness is therefore the unqualified object of hunger and thirst. The Lord identifies those who desire all the righteousness there is (cf. Matt. 5:48; 1 Pet. 1:15-16). (32)33
Robert H. Schuller completely redefines
The precise nature of the righteousness for which the blessed hunger and thirst is disputed. Some argue that it is imputed righteousness of God-eschatological salvation or, more narrowly, justification: the blessed hunger for it and receive it
The chief objection is that dikaiosyne ("righteousness") in Matthew does not have that sense anywhere else. So it is better to take this righteousness as simultaneously personal righteousness and justice in the broader sense. These people hunger and thirst, not only that they may be righteous, but that justice may be done everywhere. All unrighteousness grieves them and makes them homesick for the new heaven and earth-the home of righteousness (2 Peter 3:13). Satisfied with neither personal righteousness alone nor social justice alone, they cry for both: in short, they long for the advent of the messianic kingdom.(33)34
Schuller views righteousness in terms of man's relationship with man and himself, instead of understanding righteousness in terms of God's right standard. No doubt the original audience on the mount understand righteousness in terms of Gods' right standard. No doubt the original audience on the mount would understand righteousness in relation to God and His standards. God's absolute standards become the gauge of righteous behavior. The problem with them had to do with their low view of God's righteousness, relegating that only to various selected externals of the law. What the Lord did on the mount was to dismiss that theory of righteousness as inadequate, and call for a higher standard. The citizen of the kingdom has a craving for the fulfillment of God's absolute standards of holiness in himself and society!
Righteousness is not absolute holiness or perfection, either. I don't believe Jesus is saying that a person who ha s an incurable compulsion to holy living will really be satisfied. If we had to live perfect, holy lives in order to be satisfied, we would be the most miserable of human beings, because we all make too many mistakes. We all commit sins. None of us is going to be perfect
Righteousness comes through real repentance. And repentance is a twofold process: (1) It is saying "No" to the negatives, the temptations to do and be less than our best. (2) It is saying "Yes" to the positives-the good, the healthy. It is saying "Yes" to God's dream for you and me. (34)35
Christ exhorts to single-minded dedication in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:27-37); Amos 8:11-13 describes a famine of the Word of God that causes hunger and thirst; Psalm 42:1,2; 63:1,2; 84:2 describes the psalmist as hungering and thirsting for God; Matthew 5:48 exhorts kingdom citizens to a righteous standard. A passion for genuine righteousness is contrasted to the lower standard of righteousness of the Pharisees (Matt. 5:20).
The future tense emphasis here, looks forward to the eternal kingdom state, when the desperate desire for righteousness will find total fulfillment. However, because the first and the last beatitudes end with a present tense (i.e.
), creating a present tense envelope, each of these beatitudes have both a future final
consummation and a present fulfillment. This statement is paradoxical, that one hungering and thirsting may at the same time be being filled. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains:
The Statement of the Reason for the Blessedness-
"for they shall be filled."
Those who are genuine kingdom citizens (in contrast to the Pharisees; Matt. 5:20) crave for personal and social righteousness and are at the same time being filled with that righteousness. Christ's kingdom works on principles that seem completely contradictory, like: to live you must die; to save your life you must lose it; to be weak is to be strong; and to be satisfied is to hunger and thirst. The Greek word translated
You see, the Christian is one who at one and the same time is hungering and thirsting, and yet he is filled. And the more he is filled the more he hungers and thirsts. That is the blessedness of this Christian life. It goes on. You reach a certain stage in sanctification, but you do not rest upon that for the rest of your life. You go on changing from glory to glory "till in heaven we take our place". Of "His fullness have we received and grace upon grace," grace added to grace. It goes on and on; perfect, yet not perfect; hungering, thirsting, yet filled and satisfied, but longing for more, never having enough because it is so glorious and so wondrous; fully satisfied by Him and yet filled and satisfied, but longing for more.(35)36
Pentecost suggests the practical application of this beatitude:
He stated that the secret of spiritual growth is a spiritual appetite. Those who eat little will grow little; those who eat much will grow much. Those with a voracious appetite for the Word of God and the Person of Jesus Christ, and who satisfy that appetite by feeding on the Word and by communing with the Lord, will grow to spiritual maturity, to gianthood. (37)38
It is easy to see the progression of these first three beatitudes, as each build on each other both from the perspective of the general conditions for entering the kingdom and characteristics of those who have entered. MacArthur summarizes:
As this beatitude is the logical consequence of the first three, as general conditions for entering the kingdom, so also it is the characteristic of kingdom citizens to crave more and more for God's righteousness, both personal and social. The believer lives in a constant posture of turning from self and sin, towards God's will. In this way the Lord weans him from this world and sets his heart on eternity!
Jesus' call to spiritual hunger and thirst also follows logically in the progression of the Beatitudes. The first three are essentially negative commands to forsake evil things that are barriers to the kingdom. In poverty of spirit we turn away from self-seeking ; in mourning we turn away from self-satisfaction; and in meekness we turn away from self-serving. The first three beatitudes are also costly and painful. Becoming poor in spirit involves death to self. Mourning over sin involves facing up to our sinfulness. Becoming meek involves surrendering our power to God's control. The fourth beatitude is more positive and is a consequence of the other three. When we put aside self, sin, and power and turn to the Lord, we are given a great desire for righteousness. (38)39
BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL;
FOR THEY SHALL OBTAIN MERCY
The fifth beatitude continues the progression, dealing with the general fruits or results that follow the first four. As one recognizes his great need of righteousness and vile sinfulness, he becomes pliable to God's remedy, hungering and thirsting for godliness, from which mercy follows. A. W. Pink suggests:
Perhaps MacArthur is not too far off when he reminds us that "The first four beatitudes line up with the last four. The first four are inner attitudes and the last four are the things the attitudes manifest. "
The first four look inward toward self and sin, and then forward toward the Savior and eternity; the next four look outward toward others, flowing from the first four as cause and effect.
The place occupied by this particular Beatitude in the series furnishes a sure key to its interpretation. The first four may be regarded as describing the initial exercises of heart in one who has been awakened by the Spirit, whereas the next four treat of the subsequent fruits. In the preceding verse the soul is seen hungering and thirsting after Christ, and then filled by Him, whereas here we are shown the first effect and evidence of this. (39)40
The Greek noun for mercy ( eleos ) expresses itself toward the results of sin-pain, grief, misery, need; the Greek noun for
) and ) is helpful: "
the charis of God, his free grace and gift, displayed in the forgiveness of sins, is extended to men, as they are guilty; his
, as they are miserable. " (pg. 170) Hence, the one extends relief and the other pardon; the one heals and the other cleansed. Hence, when a person shows these towards others, they manifest themselves as Carson describes:
The Description of the Person's Character-
Mercy sensitizes itself toward the hurts and needs of others, without self-consideration. This again explains its order in the Beatitudes, as it sets its pity upon others in pain because of the consequences of sin, and yet continually longs for righteousness to be done. To be merciful without righteousness is for the kingdom citizen an impossibility! Mercy is compassion righteously expressed to meet human need.
What is mercy? How does it differ from grace? The two terms are frequently synonymous; but there is a distinction between the two, it appears that grace is a loving response when love is undeserved, and mercy is a loving response prompted by the misery and helplessness of the one on whom the love is to be showered. Grace answers to the undeserving; mercy answers to the miserable. (41)42
Again, it is easy to understand the shock to the Jews, who expected a revolutionary Messiah who would dethrone Rome and deal with His enemies according to Psalm 2! How could the Messiah call His followers to show compassion and relief towards the despised Romans? How could forgiveness be extended to those who had subjugated the land, desecrated the holy city, an draped the economy of the nation of the Lord? And yet, Jesus still did not cater to their political expectations or interpretation of historical justice, but called for all kingdom citizens to show mercy like God had expressed to them.
Christ describes a genuine spirit of mercy in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6:1-4); in Psalm 136 the psalmist extols the mercy of God 26 times; Job 31:16-28 speaks of showing mercy as a test of genuine integrity; Psalm 41:1-4
promises the mercy of God upon those who have been merciful to others; James 2:13 promises no mercy by God upon those who have not shown mercy toward others; Isaiah 58:3-12 the Lord's questions on the fasting of showing mercy, resulting in mercy shown by God to that person; Micah 6:8 the love of mercy; Col. 3:12 put on tender mercies; James 3:17 the heavenly wisdom is full of mercy.
This is not so much a matter of quid pro quo
, i.e. something given for something received, as in merciful dealings with men sometimes the opposite is returned. (cf. Matt. 18:23-33) But rather, the point is stressed that God Himself will show mercy toward the merciful kingdom citizen. A. W. Pink describes:
The Statement of the Reason for the Blessedness-
"for they shall obtain mercy."
The reverse is also true-those who are not merciful will not receive mercy. (cf. James 2:13; Luke 16:19-25; Matthew2 18:23-33) The lack of this attribute among the Pharisees called forth Christ's rebuke on two occasions-Matthew 9:13 and 23:23, when He elevated the showing of mercy above ritual aspects of the required law! Yet it must be kept in mind that the one giving or withholding mercy, because someone shows mercy or does not , is God Himself. Hence, this negative aspect of reflected mercy from God, becomes a like motivator to show mercy, when one considers that everyone has need of help because of the results of sin. Psalm 18:25 states,
The one who shows mercy to others gains thereby "the merciful man doeth good to his own soul" (Prov. 11:17). There is a personal satisfaction in the exercise of pity and benevolence , which the fullest gratification of the selfish man is not to be compared with: "he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he" (Prov. 14:21)
he receives mercy from God: "with the merciful Thou wilt show Thyself merciful" (Psalm 18:25)-contrast "he shall have judgment without mercy that hath shown no mercy" (James 2:13) Mercy will be shown to the merciful in the Day to come (see 2 Tim 1:16,18; Jude 21). Then let us prayerfully heed the exhortations of Romans 12:10; Gal. 6:2; Colossians 3:12. (42)43
BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART;
FOR THEY SHALL
As mentioned, the first four characteristics produce the second four characteristics or conditions. As the kingdom citizen evaluates his lack of spiritual worth, laments his spiritual pollution, responds to God's Word and will with a hungering and thirsting passion for righteousness, then he looks at others through the eyes of their need and becomes focused in his perspective of life, becoming -
"pure in heart." This is one of the most motivational characteristics in the Beatitudes, but although understood as axiomatic to the Jewish audience on the mount, is misunderstood by modern man living in a relativistic age. What does it mean to be
pure in heart?
Two major interpretations of the phrase "pure in heart" are offered: 1. The pure in heart refers to
inner moral purity, and 2. The pure in heart refers to single-mindedness. Although commentators are generally divided, suggesting one or the other, Carson
remids us that both follow:
The Description of the Person's Character-
"the pure in heart."
It seems, however, that this would be a redundant point (cf. Matt. 5:60 if the
Commentators are divided. 1. Some take it to mean inner moral purity as opposed to merely external piety or ceremonial cleanness (Deut. 10:16; 30:6; 1 Sam. 15:22; ps. 24:3,4; 51:6,10; Isa. 1:10-17; Jer. 4:4; 7:3-7; 9:25-26; Rom. 2:9; 1 Tim. 1:5; 2 Tim. 2:22; cf. Matt. 23:25028). 2. Others take it to mean
single-mindedness, a heart "free from the tyranny of a divided self." (Ps. 24:4; 51:4-17; cf. Gen. 50:5-6; Prov. 22:1)
The dichotomy; between these two options is a false one; it is impossible to have one without the other The one who is
single-minded in commitment to the kingdom and its righteousness (6:33) will also be inwardly pure. Inward sham, deceit, and moral filth cannot coexist with sincere devotion to Christ
The pure in heart will see God-now with the eyes of faith and finally in the dazzling brilliance of the beatific vision in whose light no deceit can exist (cf. Heb. 12:14; 1 Jn. 3:1-3; Rev. 21:22-27). (43)44
Evidently the psalmist was emphasizing the inner purity of heart in addition to the already mentioned external purity of Psalm 24:4a. However, Psalm 24:4 may refer to inner purity of motive or integrity of heart, springing from a
single-minded devotion to the Lord.
The source of this quotation is Psalm23(24):3-4. The theme of the psalm has to do with the coming of the King o f glory. The expression once again is locative of sphere as in the case o f v. 3. The purity has to do not with acts or ceremonial purification and is not limited to abstention from impure acts. It has to do with the special region of the human heart. (44)45
Hence, the interpretation that suggests
Professor Tasker defines the pure in heart as "the
single-minded, who are free from the tyranny of a divided self. " In this case the pure in heart is the single heart and prepares the way for the "single eye" which Jesus mentions in the next chapter
More precisely, the primary reference is to sincerity...That is, in relations with both God and man he is free from falsehood
Their whole life, public and private, is transparent before God and men. (45)46
One other point needs to be emphasized, and that is the Greek meaning of the word translated
. MacArthur explains the word, by understanding it primarily in the single-minded sense, but agreeing with Carson that it includes the moral sense:
It should be concluded that Carson's suggestion that both views are included is well taken if we understand that the dominant emphasis is placed on the single-minded purpose, i.e., dedication to the kingdom of heaven. Once the kingdom citizen is so dedicated, moral purity follows practically.
Pure translates katharos, a form of the word from which we get catharsis. The basic meaning is to make pure by cleansing from dirt, filth, and contamination. Catharis is a term used in psychology and counseling for a cleansing of the mind or emotions. The Greek word is related to the Latin castus from which we get chaste
The Greek term often used of metals that had been refined until all impurities were removed, leaving only the pure metal. In that sense, purity means unmixed, unalloyed, unadulterated. Applied to the heart, the idea is that of pure motive-of single-mindedness, undivided devotion, spiritual integrity, and true righteousness. (46)47
Christ exhorts to a single-minded purpose in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6:5-15, 19-34); Psalm 24:4 is the Old Testament passage paraphrased by Christ; James 4:4-8 rebukes the double mind and calls for total dedication; Proverbs 22:11 extols the one who loves with a pure heart; Ezekiel 36:25-27 integrity of heart from the New Covenant promise.
According to Psalm 24:4,5 the "pure in heart" are the only ones who shall
"ascend into the hill of the Lord" or "stand in His holy place." (Psalm 24:3). The same is stated in Hebrews 12:14, which perhaps came from the truth of Psalm 24 and Matthew 5:7. Dwight Pentecost seeks to capture the historical setting of the psalmist's expression:
The Statement of the Reason for the Blessedness-
"for they shall see God."
The reason for their blessedness is that they
) which future tense, middle voice, and indicative mood verb, with the emphatically placed pronoun (
The psalmist taught us the same truth in Psalm 24. He pictured himself as a pilgrim going to Jerusalem to one of the annual feasts. His heart thrilled as he saw on the horizon the beauty of the city and the temple. As he approached the gates of the city and the sanctuary, his heart was smitten because of his own unworthiness to stand in the presence of God.(47)48
In what sense these will "
see God" is difficult to suggest. Because of the present and future tense sense, kingdom citizens share in a single-minded purpose centered in the kingdom of heaven which, calling them to moral purity, gives to them the present reality of
seeing God. In this sense, the eyes of faith view Him unfolded by the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart in all aspects of life. Hendriksen illustrates this truth when he states:
The man whose delight is not truly in the things pertaining to God is unable to appreciate the love of God in Christ toward sinners. Resemblance is the indispensable prerequisite of personal fellowship and understanding. To know God, one must be like him. Just as to the hunter devoid of musical knowledge and appreciation, the voice of the wind roaring through the forest meant no more than a hare might be startled from his hiding place and become an easy victim, while to his companion Mozart this same loud deep sound signified instead a majestic diapason form God's great organ, so also to the impure, God remains unknown but to those who "imitate God as beloved children and walk in love: he reveals himself. (48)49
But in the future sense, there evidently will be a full visual manifestation of God to them. Besides such passages as Psalm 24:4,5 and Matthew 5:8, three New Testament passages suggest this future aspect-1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 John 3:2; and Revelation 22:4. (see also possible passages such as: Psalm 17:15; 42:2) Alan Johnson exhorts:
Although the prospect of seeing God in glory becomes a great motivation for kingdom citizens, the present aspect should not be slighted. Only to those who have made a definite dedication to a
single-minded commitment of
With no restriction such as those that pertain to Moses (Exod. 33:20,23) or the high priests (Heb. 9:7), the redeemed community will be in Christ's presence, beholding perpetually his glory. (cf. Ps. 17:15; Matt. 5:8; 1 Cor. 13:12; 2 Cor. 3:18; 1 John 3:2) Eternal life is perfect communion, worship, the vision of God, light, and victory. Since God and the Lamb are always viewed together, there is no point in saying that the redeemed will see Jesus but not the Father.(49)50
BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS;
FOR THEY SHALL BE CALLED THE SONS OF GOD
Again, the tense political atmosphere of the Jewish nation subjugated under the power of Roman dominion since 63 B.C. , would lend a contradictory background for this beatitude. No doubt some in the crowd on the mount were passionate zealots, inflamed and committed to removing the Roman occupation. But Jesus didn't compromise kingdom principles because of members in His audience who would take offense, but pronounced
And yet the Bible emphasizes peace over 400 times! God Himself is designated the source of peace (cf. Ps. 29:11; Rom. 15:33; 1 Cor. 14:33; Phil. 4:9; 2 Thess. 3:16; Heb.13:20) and according to Jeremiah 29:11 the
The New York Times reported in 1968 that there had been 14, 553 wars since 36 B.C. Since 1945, there had been 50 to 70 wars, and 164 internationally significant outbreaks of violence. Since 1958, 82 nations have been involved in conflict. Former President Nixon's election theme in 1970 was "Peace, a generation of peace." He said "We shall have a generation of peace-something we have never had in this nation." Some historians say that the United States had two generations of peace, from 1815 to 1846 and from 1865 to 1898. However, they say that because they don't include the Indian Wars in their accounts. Those two periods of time were bathed in the blood of the Indians. We have never known a generation o f peace in the history of America. (50)51
The Description of the Person's Conduct-
The progression of the beatitudes must be kept in mind. As one realizes his great void of righteousness and admits his spiritual bankruptcy, he mourns with godly sorrow over his great sinfulness. This leads to a pliable heart that extends an empty hand for God's solution, as the constant cry for personal righteousness goes forth. As the person is filled with God's righteousness, he identifies with sinful man in his need and extends mercy. Yet this mercy comes from a heart born of a single-minded dedication to the kingdom of God which maintains a passion for purity of life. It is from this purity that this beatitude functions, and the man becomes a genuine peacemaker. But what is a
Unfortunately, in our relativistic ecumenical age, the concept of Biblical peace has been greatly distorted. Many define peace as simply "absence of conflict." Webster's dictionary defines peace as "a state of tranquility or quiet as:
a. freedom from civil disturbance, b. a state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom." Unfortunately, a conflict
could be smoldering undercover. All these definitions fall short of the Biblical emphasis. Simple "absence of conflict" comes close to the definition of a truce: "a suspension of fighting esp. of considerable duration by agreement of opposing forces." Hence, according to this, a "cold war" could be considered peace! But this is not what the Bible defines as peace.
Biblical peace in not simply the absence of conflict, as the presence of righteousness. As sin separated, it causes conflict between God and man, along with conflict between man and man. While sin is present it is impossible to bring true peace! (cf. Isaiah 48:22; 57:21) Hence James 3:17 states,
"the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable." That is, true peace comes only through righteousness and not at any cost. A. W. Pink suggests:
It is not peace at any price which the Christian loves and aims to promote. No indeed, that is a false peace, unworthy to be called peace at all. The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable (James 3:17); note well the words first pure-peace is not to be sought at the expense of righteousness. (51)52
Those who are true peacemakers are those who confront conflict with righteousness. They do not ignore conflict, nor compromise righteous standards, but bring God's will to reconcile the situation by challenging sin. Hence, Biblical peacemaking may create serious conflict. This is why Jesus stated,
No doubt the Jews on the mount would remember Isaiah 52:7 (cf. Romans 10:14-15) which looked forward to the restoration of Jerusalem-
"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!"
Christ expands the peacemaker's attitude in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:21-26, 43-48; 7:12); Matt. 10:32-39 and Luke 12:49-53. Christ comes not to send peace by conflict, as He brings righteous demands; James 3:17 the wisdom from above is first peaceable; Isaiah 52:7 and Romans 10:14-15 commend those who bring
peace; Eph. 6:15 speaks of believers feet shod with the gospel of peace.
The future passive verb translated "they shall be called" (
klathasontai ) suggests that throughout eternity this will be the title of those who during time were peacemakers. Actually, this is more than simply a title, but as Robert Guelich explains, the identification of the peacemaker's nature: "As [Matthew] 5:45 (cf. Luke 6:35) notes, it is more than a label one receives; rather, it is an actual becoming a son of God. The name reveals and identifies a person's nature."
The Statement of the Reason for the Blessedness-
"for they shall be called the sons of God."
The emphasis of the object ) is on the dignity of that nature, in contrast to parental heritage. MacArthur comments:
Both huios and teknon are used in the New Testament to speak of believers' relationship to God. Technon (child) is a term of tender affection an endearment as well as of relationship (see John 1:12; Eph. 5:8; 1 Pet. 1:14; etc.) Sons, however, is from huios, which expresses the dignity and honor of the relationship of a child to his parents. As God's peacemakers we are promised the glorious blessing of eternal sonship in His eternal kingdom. (53)54
Kingdom citizens bring righteous solutions to sinful situations an resolve conflicts. This, because they have come to a total dedication of heart to the purpose of living for the expansion of the kingdom. Without a
single-minded focus there is no peacemaking! And without peacemaking, there is no persecution.
BLESSED ARE THE PERSECUTED
FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS SAKE;
FOR THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
As the kingdom citizen lives as distinctive lifestyle that reflects a definite value system, he constantly evaluates his spiritual bankruptcy, mourns over personal and social sin, is pliable to the Word an work of God, longs for all of God's righteousness, shows pity for the hurting, has a single-minded dedication to the kingdom of God, and seeks to reconcile conflict by counter-culture
to the religious systems and secular world, and hence cannot but solicit antagonism from both! It is easy to see why this last beatitude follows the seventh, as Carson rightly suggests:
This beatitude would no doubt sound strange to the Jewish audience, which considered prosperity and peace as signs of the favor of God and looked upon persecution and conflict as signs of His
displeasure. To them, accomplishing the will of God and living for righteousness would bring favor instead of persecution!
It is no accident that Jesus should pass from peacemaking to persecution, for the world enjoys its cherished hates and prejudices so much that the peacemaker is not always welcome. Opposition is a normal mark of being a disciple of Jesus, as normal as hungering for righteousness or being merciful (cf. Jn. 15:18-25; Acts 14:22; 2 Tim. 3:12; 1 Pet. 4:
The impression upon those whom Jesus was addressing must have been tremendous, for it was a rather common idea among the Jews that all suffering, including persecution (see Luke 13:1-5) was an indication of God's displeasure and of the special wickedness of the one thus afflicted.(55)56
This final beatitude is stated differently than the others, with a statement (vs. 10) followed by its explanation (vss. 11,12). Although the term
"blessed" (Gk. makarios
) is used twice (cf. vss. 10,11) this is not to suggest that these are two separate beatitudes, but rather that the Lord is drawing special attention to this surety of this beatitude by way of explanation. There is only one reason-
"for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." through 7
beatitudes. Finally, there is a change in the participle form used. In each of the previous beatitudes, the present participle was used, but here there is a shift to a perfect passive participle. This has been somewhat difficult to translate, as Carson summarizes:
The Description of the Person's Character-
"the persecuted for righteousness sake."
However, it seems the perfect passive participle retains the sense, "they have endured under persecution." This suggests that when persecution would come on a kingdom citizen, he would endure or continue living as a kingdom citizen should. Lenski gives the
The perfect passive participle hoi dediogmenoi, "those who are persecuted" is rather awkward if the perfect force is retained: "those who have been persecuted." Many see this as a sign of anachronism: persecution had broken out by the time Matthew wrote (e.g., Hill, Matthew0. Slome older commentators treat it as a more or less Hebraizing "prophetic" perfect; and Broadus adds that the perfect accords "with the fact that the chief rewards of such sufferers do not so much attend on the persecution as follow
it." But then we may ask why a future perfect isn't used, or why the same rule isn't applied to those who mourn (5:4). The question must be raised whether the perfect occasionally begins to take on aoristic force in the NT and the perfect participle a merely adjectival force.
Kingdom citizens live lives that reflect their value-system, as described in the Beatitudes. As they do, there is a definite clash with the world system and the religious systems. Conflict by persecution of the believer is the inevitable result! Stott explains this eighth beatitude:
This passive perfect may be regarded as permissive: "who have allowed themselves to be persecuted," or: "have endured persecution." The idea is that they did not flee from it but willingly submitted to it when it came to them. Thus the perfect
tense is explained; they held out under persecution and are now people of this kind, martyrs who have stood firm in just trials.
Christ explains persecution in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:11,12); in John 15:18-16:3 Christ says expect persecution because He is hated by the world; Acts 14:22 we enter kingdom by much tribulation; 2 Timothy 3:12 promises persecution on all the godly; 1 Peter 4:12-19 Peter says don't be surprised at persecution for righteousness sake.
Persecution is simply the clash between two irreconcilable value-systems. (Stott, pg. 52)
"Woe to you when all men speak well of you" (Lk. 6:26) Universal popularity was as much the lot of false prophets as persecution was of the true. (Stott, pg. 53)
Suffering, then, is the badge o f true discipleship. The disciple is not above his master. Following Christ means passio passiva, suffering because we have to suffer. That is why Luther reckoned suffering among the marks of the true Church, and one of the Church as the community of those "who are persecuted and martyred for the gospel's sake.
The present tense (
instead of the future tense
The Statement of the Reason for the Blessedness-
"for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
In verses 11 and 12 Christ gives an explanation of the eighth beatitude. As He does so, He changes from the 3
person plural (translated,
The Greek word translated
In Matt. 5:11 and Lk. 6:22 the meaning of oneidizo comes near to that of empaizo, which originally meant to behave childishly, to make fun of, and then to ridicule. Empaizo, ridicule, make fun of , mock, occurs only in the Synoptic Gospels, and in 11 out of 13 instances refers to the mocking of Jesus during his passion (Matt. 20:19 par. Mk. 10:34, Lk. 18:32; Matt. 27:29,31, 41 par. Mk. 15: 20, 31; Lk. 22:63; 23:11,36). In Lk. 14:29 it occurs in the parable of the tower of those who mock the man's ability
to complete it. But in Matt. 2:16 it means to deceive or trick, of Herod by the magi.
Spiros Zodhiates explains the sense of the term:
shall say all manner of evil against you falsely." The distinction seems to be that the first emphasizes the reproach and ridicule aspect of abusive speech, where here it emphasizes the false accusations of evil. Kingdom citizens will be falsely accused of evil conduct when evaluated by the world's standards.
The Greek word is oneidisoosin, the same word used in Luke 6:22, but there translated "reproach." Reviling, reproaching, is what we Christians are to expect as the crowning experience of our blessedness in Christ. To revile or reproach someone is to abuse him in speech because you despise him. Sometimes taunting is involved, a cruel form of making fun. The persecuted ones are the victims of name-calling.
The second century persecutions of the church illustrated this second form of persecution, as Christians would be questioned concerning immoral practices at their "secret meetings" along with incest, cannibalism (evidently from a misunderstanding of
The Greek word translated , which should be rendered "whenever." The issue is not constant persecution, but whenever a kingdom citizen is persecuted he will endure.
Our Lord wanted to prepare His disciples for the fact that persecution is not a momentary thing, that it would continue. The Greek word hotan here, incorrectly translated "when", should be "whenever." Actually the verse should read, "Blessed are ye whenever men shall
persecute you." It would be a recurring experience. Their lives would not be all persecution, but occasional persecution would be unavoidable-in their lives and ours
Not constant persecution, but occasional outbursts of it, are sure to arise against the active peacemaker as he goes counter to the accepted philosophy of the world.
What is the kingdom citizen's response to these inevitable occasional outbursts of persecution?-
"rejoice and be exceedingly glad."
Another reason for an unnatural response of rejoicing during persecution is the realization that the Old Testament prophets also were persecuted. By comparing persecuted kingdom citizens to the Old Testament prophets, Christ was saying that "persecution is a token of genuineness, a certificate of Christian authenticity."
When God says "great," He means it ! It's the Greek word polus, which means "abundant." People say, "Don't be crass by talking about the greatness of your future rewards. You're supposed to serve the Lord out of love, not for reward." However, I didn't decide that we would get rewards. If I serve God out of love and He chooses to reward me, that's His wonderful pleasure, and I'm not going to argue about it. When we get to heaven, we won't accept those rewards with pride; we will give them back to Him in humility. There won't be any proud people in heaven, so we will all be able to handle rewards.
Some have suggested that when Jesus compared His disciples to the Old Testament prophets, that He was inferring His own deity. Stanley Toussaint
Yet the inference here is too pressed, as the subject of these three concluding passages deal with the inevitability of persecution and the kingdom citizen's response. Had Christ implied His deity to the original audience, no doubt the subject of persecution would be overshadowed by His claim. Persecution of believers is the issue here.
The prophets spoke for God and were persecuted; the disciples represented Jesus and they were to suffer. The analogy is clear. Jesus, by making this parallel identifies Himself with God. These statements of Jesus mark the first recorded instance in Matthes of the claims of the Lord to Messiahship. The conclusion is to be inferred, but it is clear and evident nevertheless.
The Christian life-style reflects a distinctive value-system that clashes with the world and nominal religion, not only in the first century but in the twentieth century. Carl F. H. Henry evaluates today's culture with warning:
Because of this Francis A. Schaeffer called contemporary Christians to become revolutionary in outlook:
What we are witnessing, rather, is human existence deliberately and routinely collapsed into a "me-first" philosophy-"me-first" in sex, in work, in all dimensions of life
For earlier generations the intimidating feature of Christian commitment was its rebuke to ungodliness and its reminder of future judgment. Today's narcissistic philosophy considers biblical imperatives a barrier to self-realization and the church an impediment to free and creative selfhood. Renewal of sinners in Christ's magnificent image is replaced by conceptions of a "new
image" defined by physical gratification, material affluence, and worldly status
George Will writes of those who believe that "the good life is the glandular life." Chastity is considered prudery and unchastity a virtue. Not hell but herpes is what these moral rebels fear. We now must cope with a segment of society for whom abortion
is good under any circumstances, for whom adultery and divorce are good, the nuclear family restrictive, incest therapeutic, and crime justified as social necessity.
This is the essence of what Jesus was calling for in the Beatitudes-a revolutionary philosophy producing a distinctive life-style. The believer must live a life that reflects his acceptance of the gospel of the kingdom, body and soul! No wonder the original audience was uncompromised righteousness, offering to the onlooking world living embodiments of this paradoxical parade. The Beatitudes form the introduction for the Sermon on the Mount , and no doubt are meant to be illustrated by kingdom citizens who point the way to the King of the kingdom.
The only way to reach our young people is no longer to call on them to maintain the status quo. Instead we must teach them to be revolutionary, as Jesus was revolutionary against both Sadducees and Pharisees. In this biblical sense we must be revolutionary. If we are going to say anything meaningful to our generation, whether for individual conversation or for a cultural transformation in which Christ is Lord of all, we must build upon the understanding that the generation in which we live is plastic
To be a real revolutionary, you must become involved in a real revolution-a revolution in which you are pitted against everybody who has turned away from
God and His propositional revelation to men-even against the user of god words.(69)(69)70
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Lenski, R. C. H. "The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel," (Minneapolis: Ausburg Publishing House, 1964)
Lloyd-Jones, M. "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount," (Grand Rapids:
MacArthur, John. "Kingdom Life: Jesus' Way to True Happiness," (Panorama City: Word of Grace Communications, 1985)
MacArthur, John. "Kingdom Living Here and Now," (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980)
MacArthur, John F. "Overcoming Materialism," (Chicago: Moody Press, 1986)
MacArthur, John. "The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1-7," (Chicago: Moody Press, 1985)
McClintock, John and Strong, James. "Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature," (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1981)
Morgan, G. Campbell. "The Gospel According to Matthew," (Old Tappen: Fleming H. Revell Company)
Lenski, R. C. H. "The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel," (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1943)
Orr, James. "The International Standards Bible Encyclopedia," (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1939 edition)
Pentecost, Dwight. "The Sermon on the Mount: Contemporary Insights for a Christian Lifestyle," (Portland: Multnomah Press, 1980)
Pink, A. W. "An Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount," (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1950)
Rogers, Charles A. "A Standard for Spiritual Maturity Based on Matthew 5:1-16," (D. Min. thesis, Western Conservative Baptist Seminary, 1980)
Ryle, John C. "Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: St. Matthew," (Cambridge: James Clarke & Co., 1974 reprint)
Schaff, Philip. "Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church," Vol. 6, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979)
Spurgeon, Charles H. "The Treasury of the Bible," Vol. 5, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1981 reprint)
Stott, John R. W. "Christian Counter-Culture: The Message of the Sermon on the Mount," (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1978)
Tasker, R. V. G. "The Gospel According to St. Matthew," Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Vol. 1, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979)
Tenney, Merrill. "The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible," (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1975)
Thomas, Robert L. "Preliminary Exegetical Digest of Matthew 5-7, 13, 24" (copyright by Robert L. Thomas, 1988)
Toussaint, Stanley. "Behold the King: A Study of Matthew," (Portland:
Vine, W. E. "The Expanded Vines: Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words," (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1984)
Walvoord, John F. "Matthew: Thy Kingdom Come," (Chicago: Moody Press, 1974)
Watson, Thomas. "The Beatitudes," (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1985 reprint)
Watson, Thomas. "The Lord's Prayer," (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1982 reprint)
Wiersbe, Warren W. "Live Like a King: Living the Beatitudes Today," (Chicago: Moody Press, 1976)
Zodhiates, Spiros. "The Pursuit of Happiness, (Chattanooga: AMG Press, 1966
1.These notes are published by Grace Bible Church and they are free upon request.
7415 East 15th Street, Tulsa OK 74112. Phone:
(918) 834-4440 . Of course, permission is given to reproduce these notes and use them for the glory of God. These lessons coordinate with messages heard on
The Quest of the New Testament radio ministry, heard on KCFO 970 AM at 5:45am and 8:30pm
2.Carson, D. A. "The Sermon on the Mount: An
Evangelical Exposition of Matthew 5-7," (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1978), pg. 16. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones notes the construction's emphasis on the distinctive call: "The truth is that the Christian and the non-Christian belong to two entirely different realms. You will notice the first Bt. And the last Bt. Promise the same reward, 'for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.' What does this mean? Our Lord starts and ends with it because it is His way of saying that the first thing you have to realize about yourself is that you belong to a different kingdom. You are not only different in essence; you are living in two absolutely different worlds. " (page 39)
3.Modern scholars make a distinction between "parties" (groups that recognize the existence of others from whom they are separated as having a place in the total people; cf. modern Christian denominations or political parties in a country) and "sects" (groups claiming exclusive right to represent the total people and the only ones expecting to receive salvation). According to this distinction, the Pharisees and Sadducees were parties, but the Essenes were a sect. (Ferguson, Everett. "Backgrounds of Early Christianity,"
4.MacArthur, John. "Kingdom Living: Here and Now,"
(Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), pg. 88.
5. Tasker explains how these Beatitudes cannot exist in isolation: "The eight qualities here set forth, when blended together (and no single one of them can in fact exist in isolation from the others) make up the character of those who alone are accepted by the divine King as His subjects (3,10), who alone can see Him who is invisible (8), and who alone are worthy to be His sons, (9). In consequence, anyone who claims to be God's son, or to know Him, or to belong to His kingdom, or to be a member of His body, the Church, in whom these qualities are conspicuous by their absence, is "a liar and knows not the truth."
("The Gospel According to St. Matthew," Tyndale New Testament Commentaries , Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing 1961, pg. 61) Stott would agree: "These are not eight separate and distinct groups of disciples, some of whom are meek, while others are merciful and yet others are called upon to endure persecution. They are rather eight qualities of the same group who at one and the same time are meek and merciful, poor in spirit and pure in heart, mourning and hungry, peacemakers and persecuted
The group exhibiting these marks is not an elitist set, a small spiritual aristocracy remote from the common run of Christians
All these qualities are to ripen in every Christian character, so the eight beatitudes which Christ speaks describes his ideal for every citizen of God's kingdom."("Christian Counter-Culture: The Message of the Sermon on the Mount," pg. 31) Chrysostom called the Beatitudes, "a sort of golden chain."
6. Wiersbe, Warren W. "Live Like a King: Living the Beatitudes Today,"
(Chicago: Moody Press, 1976), pg. 25.
7. Carson, D. A . "The Expositors Bible
Commentary: Matthew," (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1978), pg. 131. If Carson is correct , then
makarios does not refer to simple "happiness." Zodhiates would agree: "This book will point up the basic difference between the two words
'blessed' (makarioi in Greek) and 'happy.' To put it briefly here, 'blessed' refers to the one whose sufficiency is within him, while 'happy refers to the one whose sufficiency comes from outside sources
'Happy comes from the word 'hap,' meaning 'chance.' It is therefore incorrect to translate the word
makarioi (which we find repeatedly in the Beatitudes ) as 'happy.' It means something far different, in its real sense; it means 'blessed.'"
("The Pursuit of Happiness," Chattanooga: AMG Press, 1966, preface) John MacArthur, Jr. however suggests that
makarios does mean "happy", stating: "Makarios means happy, fortunate, blissful. Horner used the word to describe a wealthy man, and Plato used it of one who is successful in business. Both Homer and Hesiod spoke of the Greek gods as being happy (makarios) within themselves, because they were unaffected by the world of men-who were subject to poverty, disease, weakness, misfortune and death
an inward contentedness that is not affected by circumstances." ("The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1-7,"
Chicago: Moody Press, 1985, pg. 142)
8. Lenski, R.C. H. "The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel,"
(Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1943), pg. 183. Thomas states: "The title 'Beatitudes' is derived from the Latin word
beatus. This adjective is the equivalent of the Hebrew asherey. It describes a state of happy and successful prosperity. It is not so much a state of inner feeling on the part of those to whom applied, but rather of blessedness from an ideal point of view in the judgment of others. It should be distinguished from
eulogetos and its cognates which always render baruk in the O. T. (Allen, p. 39; M'Neile, p.50; Broadus, pp. 87-88). This latter word looks more at what is bestowed or attributed from an external source while
makarios appeals to the absolute state." ("Preliminary Exegetical Digest of Matthew 5-7,13,24," pg. 14)
9. Watson, Thomas. "The Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12,"
(Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1985 reprint), pg. 24.
10. Brown, Colin. "The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology,"
vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing, 1979) pg. 824. Brown continues to comment on the usage of
ptochos in the Gospels: "The Synoptic Gospels, in particular, depict Jesus' way of life as one of self-chosen poverty. This is highlighted by the reply that he gave to a would-be disciple:
"Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head."
(Matt. 8:20 par. Lk. 9:58). The disciples left all in order to follow him (Matt. 4:18-22 par. Mk. 1:16-20; Lk . 5:1-11; Jn. 1:35-51; cf. also Lk. 13:33). The sale of his possessions and a life of discipleship in poverty were demanded of the rich young ruler as the precondition of eternal life (Matt. 19: 16-22; Lk. 18:18-24). On the mission on which the disciples were sent they were to go without possessions or provisions (Matt. 10: 1-16; Lk. 9:1-6; 10: 1-12). In this way of life there was in fact a double separation: from possessions and from family ties (Matt. 10:37ff; Lk. 14:25-33). The life-style which Jesus adopted for Himself and called his disciples to adopt was one which exemplified the Sermon on the Mount, especially the Beatitudes. But the particular emphasis on poverty characterized by lack of possessions and cutting loose from family ties suggests that Jesus identified himself with the poor in the Beatitude. His whole way of life was thus an act of loving compassion. At the same time it was a life which deliberately chose to cast itself on the care of the Father. But in doing so, Jesus was also putting to the test the people of Israel. By being confronted by Jesus in this way the responsiveness of Israel faced its supreme test. " (Ibid. pg. 825) And yet, as the qualifying locative o f sphere
"poor in spirit" indicates, the emphasis is on spiritual poverty and dependence on God.!
11. The word poor is from the Greek
ptokas, a noun that means poor in this world's goods; a beggar, desperately ashamed even to allow his identity to be known. It is not just poor; it is begging poor. (There is another word in the Bible for normal poverty,
penance, which means you are so poor that you have to work just to maintain your living.)
Ptokas, you have no resource in yourself even to live. You're totally dependent on somebody else. (MacArthur, John.
"Kingdom Living Here and Now," Chicago: Moody Press, 1980, pg. 44)
12.Pentecost, J. Dwight. "The Sermon on
the Mount-Contemporary Insights for a Christian Lifestyle," Portland: Multnomah Press, 1980, pgs. 21,22).
13. Pink, A. W. "An Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount,"
(Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1950), pg. 17. Carson clarifies the meaning of hoi
ptochoi toi pneumati: "It is not a man's confession that he is ontologically insignificant, or personally without value, for such would be untrue; it is, rather, a confession that he is sinful and rebellious and utterly without moral virtues adequate to commend him to God. From within such a framework, poverty of spirit becomes a general confession of a man's need for God, a humble admission of impotence without him." (Carson, D. A.
"The Sermon on the Mount-An Evangelical Exposition of Matthew 5-7,"
Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1978, pg. 17); Wallace speaks with regard to the syntax and meaning of this construction: "Here the dative [i.e., the locative of sphere] is practically equivalent to an adverb, thus,
"the spiritually poor." (Wallace, Dan. "Unpublished Grammar Notes on New Testament Greek,"
Dallas Theological Seminary, pg. 57) Unfortunately Robert H. Schuller ignores the locative of sphere implication and mentions "some areas in your life where you are lacking and need some help" (pg. 43) such as : occupational poverty (pgs. 21,22), intellectual poverty (pgs. 22-27), and emotional poverty (pgs. 27-28). Schuller misses the point completely, by secularizing the beatitude! ("The Be Happy Attitudes: Eight Positive Attitudes that can Transform Your Life!"
New York: Bantam Books, 1987)
14. The particle "for"
(Greek, hoti) introduces the cause of which vs. 3a is the effect. As with each of the beatitudes, it introduces that which justifies the declaration of the first half of the verse. In this verse, it explains why the poor in spirit are blessed. It is not a statement of their reward; it is not a question of recompense so much as it is one of consequence. Their blessedness is a consequence of possession the kingdom of heaven. (Thomas, pg. 15; Plummer, pgs. 62-63; Broadus, pg. 89)
15. Reasons advanced for concluding
"the kingdom of heaven" is to be understood in its concrete sense as reference to both a reign and realm, such as was promised to Israel, include: a. The etymology of
kingdom (Greek, basileia) comes from baino, "to rule over" and
laos, meaning "regal authority possessed, but not exercised" would have been used if this were to be taken in its abstract sense; and c. The origin of the kingdom of heaven shows that it is political and hence refers to a realm (cf. Daniel 2:44; 4:26; 7:13-14,27). And Daniel uses the noun to denote a succession of human kingdoms until the Son of Man's kingdom comes. These three reasons, along with the hermeneutical rule of near context of Matthew 4:8 (which can only be viewed in the concrete sense0, suggest that Christ's audience would understand
"the kingdom of heaven" as both a reign and realm, such as promised to
Note: some have suggested that the phrase "kingdom of heaven" and
"kingdom of God" should be distinguished. Chafer states: "Certain features are common to both the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God, and in such instances the interchange of the terms is justified. Closer attention will reveal that the kingdom of heaven is always earthly while the kingdom of God is as wide as the universe and includes as much of earthly things as are germane to it. Likewise, the kingdom of heaven is entered by a righteousness exceeding the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 5:20), while the kingdom of God is entered by a new birth (John 3:1-16). So again, the kingdom of heaven answers the hope of Israel and the Gentiles, while the kingdom of God answers the eternal and all-inclusive purpose of God." ("Systematic Theology,"
vol 4, Dallas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1948, pg. 26; also Chafer and Walvoord, "Major Bible Themes,"
Revised Edition; Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publications, 1974, pgs. 351,2) Yet the dispensational distinction cannot honestly be drawn between the two, with most dispensationalists today suggesting that the terms can be used interchangeably as mere stylistic variation rather than theological distinction. For example, in Matthew 19:23,24 both terms "the kingdom of heaven" and "the kingdom of God" are used to avoid usage of the same designation twice. With the statement that it is hard for a rich man to enter into the
"kingdom of heaven" (vs. 23), which would not be true if the dispensational distinction describing the "kingdom of heaven" as merely Christendom, were true! And by comparing Matt. 4:17; 5:3; 8:11; 10:7; 11:11,12; 13:22,31,33; 18:3,4; and 19:14,23 which use "kingdom of heaven" with their paralleled passages in Mark and Luke, which use "kingdom of God," the implication of
equivalence is hard to avoid. Evidently the phrase "the kingdom of God" (used in Mark and Luke primarily) offers a paraphrase of "the kingdom of
heaven" used in Matthew primarily) for readers not familiar with the rabbinic expression. (cf. Hagelberg, David Edward.
"The Designation 'The Kingdom of Heaven'," Th. M. thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1983; pgs. 20,21) Hagelberg summarizes the rabbinic expressions: "The Targums would translate expressions concerning God as king with the paraphrase
the kingdom of God. But outside the Targums, the phrase the rabbis used was instead
the kingdom of heaven." (Ibid., pg. 22) Because Matthew does in fact use the phrase,
"kingdom of God", Ladd is not correct when he summarizes that it was because of Matthew's translation of the Aramaic which Jesus spoke, seeking to avoid the Divine name in accord to Hebrew preference. (cf.
"Crucial Questions About the Kingdom of God," Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1952; pg. 122)
16. Carson, D. A. "Expositors Bible Commentary: Matthew,"
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1978), pg. 132.
17.MacArthur, John. "Kingdom Living Here and Now,"
(Chicago: Moody Press, 19800, pg. 43.
18. Stott, John R. W. "Christian Counter-Culture: The Message of the Sermon on the Mount,"
(Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1978), pg. 40.
19. Carson, D. A. "Expositors Bible Commentary: Matthew,"
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1978), pg. 133.
20.Rienecker, Fritz and Rogers, Clean.
"Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament," (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publication, 1976), pg. 12. Vine summarizes the use of the verb
pentheo in the New Testament: "Pentheo, to mourn for, lament, is used a.) of mourning in general, Matt. 5:4; 9:15; Luke 6:25; b.) of sorrow for the death of a loved one, Mark 16:10; c.) of mourning for the overflow of Babylon and the Babylonish system, Rev. 18:11,15, R. V. 'mourning' (A. v. 'wailing') ver. 19 (ditto); d.) of sorrow for sin or for condoning it, Jas. 4:9; I Cor. 5:2; and e.) of grief for those in a local church who show no repentance for evil committed, 2 Cor. 12:21, R. V. 'mourn' (A. V. 'bewail')
Notes: Trench points out that
pentheo is often joined with klaio, to weep, 2 Sam. 19:1; Mark 16:10; Jas. 4:9; Rev. 18:15, indicating that
pentheo was used of grief without violent manifestations (Grimm-Thyer)." (Vine, W. E.
"The Expanded Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words,"
Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1984, pg. 759)
21. Pink, A. W. "An Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount,"
(Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1950), pg. 19. He goes on to comment: "The fact is that the closer the Christian lives to God, the more will he mourn over all that dishonors Him: with the Psalmist he will say,
'Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake Thy law'
(Psalm 119:53) and with Jeremiah, 'My soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eyes shall weep sore and run down with tears, because the Lord's flock is carried away captive.'
(Jer. 13:17; Ibid., pgs. 19,20) MacArthur notes: "John in I John, gives the evidences of a Christian, and one of them is this: If we are confessing our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins (1:9). What that really means, in context, is this: If we are the ones continually confessing our sins, we give evidence of being the ones who are being forgiven. In other words, the forgiven ones, the subjects of the kingdom, the children of the King, the sons of God, are characterized by constant confession of sin."
("Kingdom Living Here and Now," pg. 65)
22. Lloyd-Jones, D. Martin.
"Studies in the Sermon on the Mount," (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1984, reprint), pg. 53)
23. Ibid., pg. 58. MacArthur agrees with Lloyd-Jones: "True mourning over does not focus on ourselves, not even on our sin. It focuses on God, who alone can forgive and remove our sin. It is an attitude that begins when we enter the kingdom and lasts as long as we are on earth. It is the attitude of Romans 7. Contrary to some popular interpretation , Paul is not here speaking simply about his former condition. The problems of chapter 7b were not one-time experiences that were completely replaced by the victories of chapter 8."
("The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1-7," Chicago : Moody Press, 1985, pg. 160) Unfortunately, Robert H. Schuller suggests the essence of this beatitude is, "When bad things happen to good people, they are blessed, for they are comforted." However this ignores the present tense verb, which does not relegate this simply to various difficult times in a believer's life, but something that is constant. To Schuller the obvious point of mourning over sin challenges his possibility-thinking philosophy. His counsel is "Don't blame yourself. Grief always seems to be associated with guilt. But self-condemnation will solve no problem and will change no circumstance. It is merely a negative, non-constructive emotion which can wreak havoc in your life.
("The Be Happy Attitudes: Eight Positive Attitudes that Can Transform Your Life!"
New York: Bantam Books, 1987; pg. 53) This is the very opposite of Christ's meaning in the second beatitude which extols deep continuous mourning over personal sin.
Barclay, William. "The Daily Study Bible Series: the Gospel of Matthew,"
(Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1975 revised edition), pg. 95.
25. 26 Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn.
"Studies in the Sermon on the Mount," (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1959), pg. 63. John R. W. Stott continues to observe: "One would think that meek people get nowhere because everybody ignores them or else rides roughshod over them and tramples them underfoot. It is tough, the overbearing who succeed in the struggle for existence; weaklings go to the wall." ("Christian Counter-Culture-The Message of the Sermon on the Mount,"
Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1978, pg. 44)
26. 27 Barclay, William. "The Daily Study Bible Series-The Gospel of
Matthew," (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1975), pg. 96. He goes on to explain the secondary standard Greek usage, as the regular word for an animal which has been domesticated, and trained to obey the word of command and answer the reins. (Ibid., pg. 97)
27.28 Pink, A. W. "An Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount,"
(Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1982 edition), pg. 22. Unfortunately, Robert H. Schuller suggests the modern translation of this verse might be, "Blessed are the mighty, the emotionally stable, the educable, the kindhearted, for they shall inherit the earth."
("The Be Happy Attitudes: Eight Positive Attitudes that Can Transform Your Life!"
New York: Bantam Books, 1987; pg. 76) This is another example of reading one's theological/philosophical emphasis into the text. Although Schuller further
defines "mighty" (pgs. 77-79) the connotation is opposite of this beatitude; the "emotionally stable" at best is a broad application of the meek person; the educatable does come close to the pliable spirit of the meek person; and the "kindhearted" which Schuller defines as those who are sensitive to other's needs (pg. L86) rather intrudes into the fifth beatitude-the merciful. Again, Schuller's humanistic hermeneutic ignores the progressive order and the spiritual subject involved in the paragraph, i.e., the blessedness of those who are kingdom citizens.
28. 29 Wiersbe, Warren W. "Live Like a King: Living the Beatitudes Today," (Chicago: Moody Press, 1976), pg. 75,76.
29.30 Rogers gives a valuable comment on Psalm 37: "In this alphabetic psalm verses 10 and 11 are joined together as a stanza beginning with the Hebrew letter
waw in verse 10. These verses contrast the fate of the wicked with that of the humble:
Yet a little while and the wicked men will be no more; And you will look carefully for his place, and he will not be there. But the humble will inherit the land, And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity(Ps.
37:11). Two questions must be answered from verse 11 in order to understand Jesus' meaning as he paraphrased this passage in Matthew: (1) Who are the "humble"? and (2) What does it mean to "inherit the land"?
Drawing from the whole context of the psalm the "humble" is the one who refrains from anger as he observes the success of the evil schemes of the wicked (vv. 7,8). He does not fret because of them nor envies them (v.1). Instead he trusts in the LORD, does good, dwells in the land (v.3), delights himself in the LORD (v.4), commits his way to the LORD (vs. 5), rests in the LORD and waits patiently for Him (v.7). He is the righteous man who gives generously (v. 21), he turns from evil (v. 27), he is just and godly (v.38l), he speaks wisdom and justice (v. 30), God's law is in his heart (v.31), he keeps the way of the LORD (v.34), and takes refuge in Him (v.40). The humble are those who in the midst of the prosperity of the wicked, and in affliction by them, remain faithful to the LORD waiting patiently in faith for him to deliver them
Psalm 37:11a is teaching that those who humbly remain obedient to God in the midst of affliction from the prospering wicked will maintain possession of their portion of the land of Canaan, or gain possession if they had been displaced, while the wicked will be destroyed (cf. ps. 37:9,10,20)."
("The Old Testament Origins of the Beatitudes," Th.M. thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1984; pg. 24-27.
30. 31 Bender, Robert. "The Blessedness of Meekness,"
unpublished sermon notes; Windsor Park Baptist Church Austin Texas, June 5th, 1988, pg. 4.
31.32 MacArthur, John. "Kingdom Living Here and Now,"
(Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), pg. 93.
32.33 MacArthur, John. "The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1-7,"
(Chicago Moody Press, 1985) pg. 183.
33.34 Carson, "The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Matthew,"
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing, 1 984), pg. 134. To this Stott would agree: "Righteousness in the Bible has at least three aspects: legal, moral, and social.
Legal righteousness is justification, a right relationship with God. Moral righteousness
is that righteousness of character and conduct which pleases God. It would be a mistake to suppose, however, that the biblical word
righteousness means only a right relationship with God on the one hand and a moral righteousness of character and conduct on the other. For biblical righteousness is more than a private and personal affair; it includes social righteousness as well. And social righteousness, as we learn from the law and the prophets, is concerned with seeking man's liberation from oppression, together with the promotion of civil rights, justice in the law courts, integrity in business dealings and honor in home and family affairs."
("Christian Counter-Culture: The Message of the Sermon on the Mount,"
Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1978; pg. 45) cf. "Taking it in its widest latitude, to
"hunger and thirst after righteousness" means to yearn after God's favor, image and felicity.
"Righteousness" is a term denoting all spiritual blessings
"righteousness" in our text has reference, first, to the righteousness of faith whereby a sinner is justified freely by Divine grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. As the result of his Surety's obedience being imputed to him, the believer stands
legally righteous before God. Second, this "righteousness"
for which the awakened sinner longs, is to be understood of inward and sanctifying
righteousness, for as we so often point out, justification and sanctification are never to be severed. (Pink, pg. 26)
Like the previous ones, this fourth Beatitude describes a
dual experience: an initial and a continuous , that which begins in the unconverted, but is perpetuated in the saved sinner. (Pink, A. W.
"An Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount," Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1950;pg. 21); "It is not right to define righteousness in this connection even as justification. There are those who turn up their Concordance and look at this word
"righteousness" and say it stands for justification. The apostle Paul uses it like that in the Epistle to the Romans, where he writes about
"the righteousness of God which is by faith"
Very often it does mean justification; but here, I suggest, it means more. The very context in which we find it
insists, it seems to me, that righteousness here includes not only justification but sanctification also. In other words the desire for
righteousness, the act of hungering and thirsting for it, means ultimately the desire to be free from sin in all its forms an in its every manifestation. (Lloyd-Jones, M.
"Studies in the Sermon on the Mount," Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1960; pg. 77)
34.35 Schuller, Robert H. "The Be Happy Attitudes: Eight Positive Attitudes that Can Transform Your Life!"
(New York: Bantam Books, 1987), pgs. 111,112. Unfortunately Robert H. Schuller misses the point of this beatitude, as he quotes from Mother Teresa, "In India-people are dying of physical starvation. In America-people are dying of emotional starvation" implying that this beatitude has to do with hungering and thirsting for emotional stability.
35.36 Lloyd-Jones, M. "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount,"
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing House, 19600 pg. 83.
36.37 The verb originally was used to denote the feeding of cattle, and then came to refer in the middle voice to men's eating, the equivalent of
esthio. A meaning that was derived later had to do with satisfying with food, the equivalent of
korennum. (Thomas, pg. 19; Carr, pg. 115; Broadus, pg. 90)
37.38 Pentecost, Dwight. "The Sermon on the Mount: Contemporary Insights for a Christian Lifestyle,"
(Portland: Multnomah Press, 1980), pg. 40. Dr. Robert Bender applies the truth: "A key to a person's life is his or desire. A person is known not by what he has, but by what he wants. We live not by what we possess, but what we aim at and long for. What do you desire in life? Are you like
Nebuchadnezzar who desired power; or Samson who desired pleasure; of Ananias and Sapphira or Herod who desired praise; Diotrephes who desired a position of preeminence; or are like the rich fool or the rich young ruler who desired possessions? What do you really desire in life?
("Happy are the Hungry," unpublished sermon notes, 1988; pg. 1)
38.39 MacArthur, John. "The MacArthur New Testament Commentary-Matthew 1-7,"
(Chicago: Moody Press, 1985), pgs. 179,180.
39.40 Pink, A. W. "An Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount,"
(Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1950), pg. 29. To this Martyn Lloyd-Jones adds: "In a sense we have so far been looking at the Christian in terms of his need, of his consciousness of his need. But here there is a kind of turning -point. Now we are concerned more with his disposition, which results from everything that has gone before
There is a definite progression in the thought; there is a logical sequence. This particular Beatitude comes out of all the others, and especially is to be noted that it is in a very sharp and well-defined logical connection with the immediately preceding one.
("Studies in the Sermon on the Mount," Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1960; pg. 95)
40.41 MacArthur, John. "Kingdom Living Here and Now,"
(Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), pgs. 104,105.
41.42 Carson, D. A. "The Sermon on the Mount: An Evangelical Exposition of Matthew 5-7,"
(Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1978), pgs. 23,24. MacArthur describes mercy:
"Merciful is from eleemon, from which we also get eleemosynary, meaning beneficial or charitable. Hebrews 2:17 speaks of Jesus as our
"merciful and faithful high priest." Christ is the supreme example of mercy and the supreme dispenser of mercy. It is from Jesus Christ that both redeeming and sustaining mercy come. In the LXX the same term is used to translate the Hebrew
hesed, one of the most commonly used words to describe God's character. It is usually translated as mercy, love, lovingkindness, or steadfastness, or steadfast love (ps. 17:7; 51:1; Isa. 63:7; Jer. 9:24). The basic meaning is to give help to the afflicted and to rescue the helpless. It is compassion in action
Mercy is meeting people's needs. It is not simply feeling compassion but showing compassion, not only sympathizing but giving a helpful hand
Mercy has much in common with forgiveness but is distinct from it
God's forgiveness of our sins flows from His mercy. But His mercy is bigger than forgiveness, because God is merciful to us even when we do not sin, just as we can be merciful to those who have never done anything against us
Forgiveness flows out of mercy and mercy flows out of love
Eph. 2:4-5) Just as mercy is more than forgiveness, love is more than mercy
Mercy is also related to grace, which flows out of love just as forgiveness flows out of mercy
Mercy and its related terms all have to do with pain, misery, and distress-with the consequences of sin. Whether because of our individual sins or because of the sinful world in which we live, all of our problems, in the last analysis, are sin problems. It is with those problems that mercy gives help. Grace, on the other hand, deals with sin itself. Mercy deals with the symptoms, grace with the cause. Mercy offers relief from punishment; grace offers pardon for the crime. Mercy eliminates the pain; grace cures the disease
When the good Samaritan bound up the wounds of the man who had been beaten and robbed, he showed mercy. When he took him to the nearest inn and paid for his lodging until he was well, he showed grace. His mercy relieved the pain; his grace provided for healing. Mercy relates to the negative; grace relates to the positive. In relation to salvation, mercy says, "No hell," whereas grace says, "Heaven." Mercy says "I pity you"; grace says "I pardon you." ("MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1-7,"
Chicago: Moody Press, 1985; pgs. 190-192)
42.43 Pink, A. W. "Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount,"
(Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1950), pg. 32.
43.44 Carson, D. A. "The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Matthew,"
Vol. 2, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984), pgs. 134, 135; Stott represents those who consider the pure in heart as a reference to singleness of mind and purpose: "The popular interpretation is to regard purity of heart as an expression for inward purity, for the quality of those who have been cleansed from moral-as opposed to ceremonial-defilement. See: Lk. 11:39; Matt. 23:25-28. 9Stott, pg. 48)
This emphasis on the inward and moral, whether contrasted with the outward and ceremonial or the outward and physical, is certainly consistent with the whole Sermon on the Mount
Nevertheless, in the context of the other beatitudes,
"purity of heart" seems to refer in some sense to our relationships. Professor Tasker defines the pure in heart as "the
single-minded, who are free from the tyranny of a divided self. " In this case the pure in heart is the single heart and prepares the way for the
"single eye" which Jesus mentions in the next chapter. (Stott, pg. 49)
More precisely, the primary reference is to sincerity
That is, in relations with both God and
man, he is free from falsehood
Their whole life, public and private, is transparent before God and men."
("Christian Counter-Culture: The Message of the Sermon on the Mount,"
Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1978; pg. 49.
44.45 Thomas, Robert L. "Preliminary Exegetical Digest of Matthew 5-7, 13,24,"
copyright 1988, pg. 20. (cf. Plummer, pgs. 66-67) Albert Barnes agrees with the emphasis of Psalm 24:4-5: "Not merely he whose external conduct is upright, but whose heart is pure. The great principle is here stated, which enters always into true religion, that it does not consist of outward conformity to law, or to the mere performance of rites and ceremonies, or to the external morality, but that it controls the heart, and produces purity of motive and of thought." ("Notes on the Old Testament Explanatory and Practical,"
Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1950; pg. 216) William S. Plummer suggests the same on Psalm 24:4: "A pure heart shows itself chiefly in two ways: by hatred of guile, hypocrisy, vain thoughts, vile affections, sins of every kind; and by love of the truth, purity, holiness, uprightness, God and all His excellence."
("Psalms : A Critical and Expository Commentary with Doctrinal and Practical Remarks,"
Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1975 edition; pg. 323) cf. Leupold, H. C.
"Exposition of the Psalms," Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1959, pg. 219.
45.46 Stott, John R. W. "Christian Counter-Culture: The Message of the Sermon on the Mount,"
Downers Grove: Inter Varsity Press, 1978), pg. 49.
46.47 MacArthur, John. "The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1-7," (Chicago: Moody Press, 1985), pg. 204.
47.48 Pentecost, Dwight. "The Sermon on the Mount: Contemporary Insights for a Christian Lifestyle,"
(Portland: Multnomah Press, 1980), pg. 58). Dr. Thomas reminds of Broadus (pg. 91) and Plummer's (pg. 67) suggestion: "The background of the expression is its usage in connection with Oriental courts. Kings lived in seclusion, and it was a rare and even unique
privilege to be allowed into their presence. Yet this is the promise to the one whose heart is pure at the time when the kingdom is instituted." ("Preliminary Exegetical Digest of Matthew 5-7, 13,24,"
copyright 1988, pg. 20) cf. 2 Samuel 14:21-33.
48.49 Hendriksen, William. "New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew,"
(Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1973), pg. 277.
49.50 Johnson, Alan F. "The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Revelation,"
edited by Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing, 1981), pgs. 599,600. Dwight Pentecost adds a helpful note on the eternal kingdom of God. Occasionally the curtain is drawn back to give a slight glimpse of that life, of which our present experience with Him is only a foretaste of glory divine.
("Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology," Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958; pg. 580)
50.51 MacArthur, John. "Kingdom Living: Jesus' Way to True Happiness,"
(Panorama City: Word of Grace Communications, 1985), pg. 119.
51.52 Pink, A. W.
"An Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount" (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1950), pg. 37. Thomas refers to Carr (pg. 116) and Broadus (pg. 910 explaining: "Eirene
in its lower sense refers to the absence of dissension among men, and in its higher sense reconciliation of man with God. In this case the manward aspect is in view. Those referred to are ones who are not only peaceable in their own disposition and conduct, but also those who strive and succeed in maintaining peace between enemies."
("Preliminary Exegetical Digest of Matthew 5-7, 13, 24" pg. 20)
52.53 Guelich, Robert A. "The Sermon on the Mount" A Foundation for Understanding ,"
(Waco: Word Books, 1982), pg. 92. Guelich goes on to explain the designation: "In the Old Testament the designation
son of God generally referred to Israel in reference to the people's special relationship with God who had chosen them and made his covenant with them (Exodus 4:22; Deut.j 14:1; Hos. 1:10[2:1]; Jer. 31:9). In rabbinic materials, however, the phrase was used with increasing frequency of the individual, especially the one who consecrated himself with the Law and its fulfillment (Stf-B 1:219-20). The
son of God in 5:9 and 5:45, however, is an expression of the future intimate relationship with God the Father, as well as of the similarity of character between Father and Son (Scheweizer, TDNT 8:390). By exhibiting conduct corresponding to that of the Father (5:9,45), they show themselves indeed to be
sons of God." (Ibid., pg. 92)
53.54 MacArthur, John Jr. "The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1-7,"
(Chicago: Moody Press, 1985), pg. 217.
54.55 Carson, D. A. "The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Matthew,"
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984), pg. 135. Carson further states: "The believers described in this passage are those determined to live as Jesus lived.(cf. 1 Pet. 3:13f; 4:12-160
This final Beatitude becomes one of the most searching of all of them, and binds up the rest; for if the disciple of Jesus never experiences any persecution at all, it may fairly be asked where righteousness is being displayed in his life. (Jn. 15:18-20; Phil. 1:29; 2 Tim. 3:12; 1 Thess. 3:3f.)
This 8th Beatitude is so important that Jesus expands it, making it more pointed by changing the 3rd person form of the Beatitude to the direct address of 2nd person.
("The Sermon on the Mount: An Evangelical Exposition of Matthew 5-7"
Grand Rapids : Baker Book House, 1978; pg. 280; John R. W. Stott also summarizes the connection between the last two beatitudes: "It may seem strange that Jesus should pass from peacemaking to persecution, from the work of reconciliation to the experience of hostility. Yet however hard we may try to make peace with some people, they refuse to live at peace with us. Not all attempts at reconciliation succeed. Indeed, some take the initiative to oppose us, and in particular to 'revile' or slander us. This is not because of our foibles or
idiosyncrasies, but 'for righteousness sake' (10) and 'on my account' (11), that is, because they find distasteful the righteousness for which we hunger and thirst (6), and because they have rejected the Christ we seek to follow. Persecution is simply the clash between two irreconcilable value-systems;
("Christian Counter-Culture: The Message of the Sermon on the Mount"
Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1978; pg. 52)
55.56 Hendriksen, William. "New Testament Commentary: Matthew"
(Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1973), pg. 280).
56.57 Carson, D. A. "The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Matthew"
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House 1984), pg. 136.
57.58 Lenski, R.C. H. "The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel,"
(Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1964), pgs. 194,195; "M'Neile is wrong when he says that the perfect participle does not differ materially from the present participle, basing his idea on an Aramaic participle's lying behind the Greek (M'Neile, p. 53). The position of one who believes in verbal inspiration requires that some distinction be made. Therefore, it must be noted that the tense of the participle brings out the fact that the reward of such sufferers does not accompany such persecution, but rather follows it The normal expectancy for those who possess the kingdom of heaven is a period of persecution prior to their entrance into the fullness of their possession. " (Thomas, pg. 21; Broadus, pg. 92; Carr, pg. 116)
58.59 Stott, John R. W. "Christian Counter-culture: The Message of the Sermon on the Mount,"
Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1978), pg. 53. William Barclay summarizes persecution during the first two centuries: "All the world knows of the Christians who were flung to the lions or burned at the stake; but these were kindly deaths. Nero wrapped the Christians in pitch and set them alight, and used them as living torches to light his gardens. He sewed them in the skins of wild animals and set his hunting dogs upon them to tear them to death. They were tortured on the rack; they were scraped with pincers; molten lead was poured hissing upon them; red hot brass plates were affixed to the tenderest parts of their bodies; eyes were torn out; parts of their bodies were cut off and roasted before their eyes; their hands and feet were burned while cold water was poured over them to lengthen the agony."
("The Daily Study Bible: Matthew" Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1975; pg. 112)
59.60 Thomas suggests: "At this point Matthew's account switches to the second person
This is an indication that at this point Christ is speaking specifically to the disciples and not to the multitude at large. ("Preliminary Exegetical Digest of Matthew 5-7, 13, 24"
1988; pg. 21; cf. Broadus, pg. 92; Allen, pg. 42) M. Lloyd-Jones agrees: "It is generally agreed that versed 11 and 12 are a kind of elaboration of this Beatitude, and perhaps an application of its truth and message to the disciples in particular. In other words, our Lord has finished the general portrayal of the characteristics of the Christian man by the end of verse 10, and He then applies this last statement in particular to the disciples." (pg. 128)
60.61 "The International Dictionary of New Testament Theology"
offers a summary by G. Ebel which explains the three different usages of the Greek word
dioko: "1. Persecution: (a) God's messengers in particular meet persecution. This was already the experience of the prophets (Matt. 5:12; Acts 7:52), and will equally be that of Jesus' disciples (Matt. 5:11f., 44; 10:23), the more so as they are followers of the Lord, who had to suffer persecution himself (Jn. 5:16). This connection is clearly expressed in Jn. 15:20
If they persecuted me, they will persecute you. Paul, once the persecutor of the church (1 Cor. 15:9; Gal. 1:13; 23; Phil. 3:6; 1 Tim. 1:13), experienced persecution himself, once the glorified Lord had made him his messenger (Ga. 5:11; 2 Tim. 3:11). In 2 Tim. 3:12 he expresses the view that being a Christian will always be linked with persecution. (b.0 The message is persecuted in the Christian (Acts 22:4,
the way the course steered by faith), or Christ himself (Acts 9:4f.; 22:7f.). According to Jn. 15:18ff., persecution is caused by the world's hatred of God and his revelation in Christ (cf. also Matt. 10:22; Mk. 13:13; Lk. 21:17; Rev. 12:13). Paul sees behind it the contrast between
flesh and spirit; the hostility of the natural man against God and so also against the man led by God's Spirit (Gal. 4:29)
2. Pursuit of Christian's objectives. The metaphorical meaning of the word shows more strongly than
zeteo, seek, that there are certain things which the Christian must strive after, such as hospitality (Rom. 12:13), mutual peace (Rom. 14:19; 1 Pet. 3:11; Heb. 12:140, holiness, love (1 Cor. 14:1), doing good (1 Thess. 5:15), and righteousness (1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22). These are lasting objectives in the life of faith, which has as its goal the attaining of the resurrection from the dead. 3. [literally or physically] to run after,
follow. (cf. Lk. 17:23; Mk. 1:36)" (Brown, Colin editor. "The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology"
Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1967; vol. 2, pgs. 806,7)
61.62 Brown, Colin editor. "The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology"
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1967; vol. 2, pgs. 806,7)
62.63 Zodhiates, Spiros. "The Pursuit of Happiness"
(Chattanooga: AMG Press, 1966), pg. 650.
63.64 Church Father Justin Martyr in his
"Dialogue with Trypho, A Jew" explains the false accusations toward early Christians: "Is there any other matter, my friends, in which we are blamed, than this, that we live not after the law, and are not circumcised in the flesh as your forefathers were, and do not observe sabbaths as you do? Are our lives and customs also slandered among you? And I ask this: have you also believed concerning us, that we eat men; and that after the feast, having extinguished the lights, we engage in promiscuous
concubinage? (Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, editors. "The Ante-Nicene Fathers: The Writings of the Fathers Down to A. D. 325"
Grand Rapids: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company 1975 edition; vol. 1, pg. 199)
64.65 Zodhiates, Spiros. "The Pursuit of Happiness"
(Chattanooga: AMG Press, 1966), pg. 645; John MacArthur agrees: "Matthew 5:11 begins,
'Blessed are ye, when.' The Greek word for 'when' is hotan, which means 'whenever.' Jesus was not saying , 'Blessed are you who are always being persecuted,' but, 'Blessed are you whenever you are persecuted.'
Persecution won't be incessant. But when it occurs, God will bring His blessedness to the willing soul."
("Kingdom Life" Panorama City: Word of Grace Communications, 1985; pgs. 161,2); "When (hotan) can also mean whenever. The idea conveyed in the term is not that believers will be in a constant state of opposition, ridicule, or persecution, but that, whenever those things come to us because of our faith, we should not be surprised or resentful. Jesus was not constantly opposed and ridiculed, nor were his apostles. There were times of peace and even popularity. But an ever faithful believer will at times have some resistance and ridicule from the world, while others, for God's own purposes, will endure more extreme suffering."
("The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1-7" Chicago Moody Press, 1985; pg. 222)
65.66 MacArthur, John. "Kingdom Life"
(Panorama City: Word of Grace Communications, 1985), pg. 164.
66.67 Stott, John R. W. "Christian Counter-Culture: The Message of the Sermon on the Mount"
(Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1978), pg. 52. Hendriksen describes the persecution of some of the Old Testament prophets: "Justin Martyr in his
Dialogue with Trypho accuses the Jews of having sawn Isaiah asunder with a wooden saw. There may be a reference to this in Heb. 11:37. Jeremiah was repeatedly subjected to ill treatment (see Jer. 12;20;26;36;37;39;43). If tradition can be trusted, he was finally stoned to death by the people who had forced him to go down to Egypt with them. Ezekiel fared little better (see Ezek. 2:6; 20:49; 33:31,32). Amos was told to flee away and deliver his prophesies elsewhere (Amos7:10-13). The labors of Zachariah were not appreciated according to their true worth (Zech. 11:12). Such rejection of the prophets was the rule, not the exception. This follows not only from the words of Jesus here in 5:12 but also from his words as reported by Matt. 23:31,37; Luke 6:23; 11:49-51; 13:33,34; John 12:36-43 (cf. Isa. 53:1)."(pg. 281); Stott mentions Dietrich Bonhoeffer as an example of a persecuted Christian: few men of this country have understood better the inevitability of suffering than Dietrich
Bonhoeffer. He seems never to have wavered in his Christian antagonism to the Nazi Regime, although it meant for him imprisonment, the threat of torture, danger to his own family and finally death. He was executed by direct order of Heinrich Himmler in April 1945 in the Flossenburt concentration camp, only a few days before it was liberated. It was the fulfillment of what he had always believed and taught: "Suffering, then, is the badge of true discipleship. The disciple is not above his master. Following Christ means
passio passiva, suffering because we have to suffer. That is why Luther reckoned suffering among the marks of the true church, and one of the memoranda drawn up in preparation of the Augsburg Confession similarly defines the Church as the community of those "who are persecuted and martyred for the gospel's sake"
Discipleship means allegiance to the suffering Christ, and it is therefore not at all surprising that Christians should be called upon to suffer. In fact, it is a joy and a token of grace. '(Stott, pg. 53; Bonhoeffer,
"The Cost of Discipleship" 1937
6th and complete English edition, SCM, 1959; pgs. 80,81)
67.68 Toussaint, Stanley. "Behold the King: A Study of Matthew,"
(Portland: Multnomah Press, 1980), pg. 98. D. A. Carson agrees: "Moreover, it is an implicit christological claim, for the prophets to whom the disciples are likened were persecuted for their faithfulness to God and the disciples for faithfulness to Jesus. Not Jesus, but the disciples are likened to the prophets. Jesus places himself on a par with God."
("Expositor's Bible Commentary: Matthew" Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984; pg. 137)
68.69 Henry, Carl F. H. "The Christian Mindset in a Secular Society"
(Portland: Multnomah Press, 1984); pg. 15.
69.70 Schaffer, Francis A. The Complete Works of Francis A . Schaeffer-A Christian Worldview,
Vol 4, "The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century," (Westchester: Crossway Books, 1982), pg. 24.