A Commentary on the Beatitudes

I wrote this three years ago.  I haven’t even read it since, but I thought I might just put it up here for fun.  Here it is!

Introduction

The beatitudes has been really inspiring to me these past few months.I have to be honest I never really studied the beatitudes much before this summer.I heard a sermon on them and it hit me like a ton of bricks!Since this sermon I have been hungry to look and teach this passage so I am glad to give a study on it now.

The beatitudes are weighty mostly because it goes beyond the written law and defines what the letter of the law truly was.At first glance the unbeliever will be challenged by the impossibility these attributes are to achieve!For the Christian they should come almost naturally if one truly knows the Lord.In the following paragraphs I will be explaining the background on which this sermon was given and define what Jesus meant when giving the 9 beatitudes.

It is important for the reader to notice that this is the largest sermon that is recorded that Jesus gave.I say this because this is important to why this would be His largest sermon.Jesus had just been baptized to show that He was with John’s ministry.Also it was His inauguration for His ministry.Immediately after this He was led by the Holy Spirit out into the wilderness for forty days and nights without food and with the wild beats.In this time Jesus was tempted and was without blame and innocent after the most severe temptations with Satan himself tempting.After returning the passage seems to say that Jesus began His ministry finding who His close twelve disciples would be.The passage then says that He was healing people everywhere and the crowds began to grow.As they did Jesus went up to a mountain.We do not know from the passage which mountain however it being in Galilee and the fact that no name is mentioned seems to imply that it was either not important or the mountain was unfamiliar with the common people.Jesus then sat down and His disciples came to Him.Notice, this was a message for His disciples. <!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[i]<!–[endif]–>Also, notice the posture of our Master as He teaches.There is no fancy beautiful temple for Him to preach nor big pulpit or stage. <!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[ii]<!–[endif]–> Just a mountain where He sits down to teach His sheep.

This message that Jesus taught here is known as the “Sermon on the Mount.”It is three chapters long and contains a message for His Kingdom dwellers. <!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[iii]<!–[endif]–> Jesus is King He has come and He is setting up Kingdom here.He is here giving the beatitudes first to start with the individuals as if to say, “this is my Kingdom and if your in my Kingdom then these attributes will be found in you.”These beatitudes are also found in Luke chapter six.Although, Luke does not have all of the beatitudes Matthew’s gospel contains and some are worded differently however it continues to carry the same meaning.For example Matthews first beatitude is:Blessed are the poor in spirit.However, Luke records in his gospel, “blessed are the poor.”It is very likely that Matthew was recording a different sermon than Luke had.Another possibility is that although they are recording the same message Luke is recording a paraphrased version of what Jesus said and is still carrying the same thought.

A defining of the word blessed

Well to start us off on the right foot we probably should define what Jesus meant by, “Blessed.”Many scholars say that the word blessed nor happy adequately describe what the original Greek word says.However after much time reading this passage and study of other commentaries I think the best way to define what Jesus meant when saying <!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[iv]<!–[endif]–>makarios is “divinely happy” are those etc. etc.However I should comment that this still is not a perfect translation but I think it carries the thought well of what Jesus was trying to point out.However, the word makarios does have the meaning of congratulated which in is important to note when reading through this passage.

Blessed are the poor in spirit.

“Divinely happy are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”In such a brief way Jesus is saying such a profound thing!For starters the hearers would have to be completely confused by this statement.Being that it was here being said for the first time and this does not fit into their world-view at the time nor ours for that matter.Poor in spirit!!!Are you serious!Come on, how can someone who is poor in spirit be divinely happy.And what did Jesus mean by poor in spirit.Well,I would venture to say that this is the <!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[v]<!–[endif]–>first mark of a true disciple of Christ, one who is poor in spirit. I would also say that this is not a new idea.It is found in scripture.Psalms 147:10-11 says, “He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man.The Lord favors those who fear Him, those who wait for His loving-kindness.”However, like I said this would not fit then or today’s world view.We are taught by the world that if you want it you got to fight for it and to be happy you need lots of money and fame.But Jesus says that those who are poor are divinely happy.Why?Because in order for one to be consistently enjoying life one must first recognize who they are and what their status is.Because deep down we all know we are not anything special and that we are broken needy people.We were made to be dependant on a greater being, that being is God.<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[vi]<!–[endif]–>One who is poor in spirit is one who recognizes that he is unable to accomplish anything.He has nothing and doesn’t just need God’s help he needs God period.John 15 makes it clear that apart from Christ we can to NO-thing!The sooner we realize that the sooner we get on the right track to move forward.One must recognize that he is in complete need of God to save him.He can do nothing to help himself and, in fact, he should not ask God to even help because that itself implies that he can do something he just needs help, but rather cry out to God “save me for I am a wicked man who can do nothing to save myself.”<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[vii]<!–[endif]–>This is the point God brings every man and woman that becomes a child of God.Sadly, after this point it will be a struggle for us all to remain their once we have been saved.I will give an picture drawn by two scholars of the bible.James Arminianists said that salvation is like a newborn child who is learning how to walk and just needs his father to hold his hands up to support him so that he may walk.This may seem like a good picture but I would like to share with the listener a picture Martin Luther drew.Salvation is like a worm on the ground that is surrounded by fire and the only way out is help from above.I believe Martin Luther seems to get the picture across better of one who is poor in spirit.So what is the outcome of those who are poor in spirit, those who understand that they are spiritually bankrupt?Well, those who are poor in spirit theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven!I do believe that the other beatitudes build off one another and that this is the foundation stone.

Blessed are those who mourn.

Blessed are those who cry during chick flixs.Blessed are those who are very sensitive.Blessed are those who seem to cry about everything.Is that what Jesus is saying!?!NO!!!I believe this would be a proper way of saying it.“Divinely happy are those who mourn over their sins and sins of the world for they shall be comforted.”See once one recognizes their spiritual bankruptcy they begin to see their sins more clearly.They begin to realize what a wicked person they are and they are broken over this, they mourn!But divinely happy are those for they shall not continue in their mourning, they shall be comforted.Revelation 21:4 is often referred to when speaking on this verse.I think it is accurate, however, I don’t think one will have to wait that long before receiving some comfort.Why?Because Christ came and died on the cross for our sins and rose again and before leaving told us that He would return and later we find that He will then “make all things new” so we may find comfort now!A Christian will be prone to mourn the more closely he walks with the Lord.This is an automatic response it does not need to be taught. As a child of the Lord grows to know and love the Lord his presence of God in his life will be more and more real and when this one sins he will feel that fellowship broken and will remember the payment that was made for this act or a lack to act when needed.The next beatitude builds significantly off of this beatitude. I will explain why in the next paragraph.

Blessed are the meek.

Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.Again the listeners here would have been dumbfounded.How can one who is meek be an inheritor of anything?Let alone the whole world.At this point in history the Romans were taught to be strong and to fight for what you want.In fact, many of the children of the king would often attempt to kill either their father or brothers so that they may be an inheritor.Often time they would attempt to sway those in leadership so that they may be an inheritor of the kingdom.This is true also to today in our worldviews and we call it wising-up.Don’t put yourself under someone else do not be a weakling!However, Jesus sits down on the mountain side and tells them to be meek and they will inherit the EARTH! What does meek mean?Well for starters it does not mean someone who is quiet and weak.It does not mean someone who does not stand up for something.I believe a good example of what meek is would be Jesus.Jesus was and is God however He submitted Himself to His Father and took the form of man.He put His strength and His power under the Fathers control.Look at a horse it is strong and powerful however it is useless if one cannot harness that power.So one will go out and tame it gives it a bit and bridle and put a saddle on it so that its energy can be devoted to the cause of its master.So also we must submit ourselves to God and devote our everything to Christ. <!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[viii]<!–[endif]–> He does not need it but He desires to use you and He will not use you unless you submit to Him and do His will His way.This coincides with both poor in spirit and the one who mourns for the one who has godly sorrow will begin to realize his need of God and begin to mourn over his weaknesses and sin and at this point he will surrender himself wholeheartedly to the cause of Christ, to further the Kingdom of God.This is what God is talking about.This is the third mark of a true disciple.The blessing is the one who submits himself to God will be an inheritor of the world.In deed we find we are God’s heirs and that we are to be given a new earth I believe this is what Jesus is referencing.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

Divinely happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.As lost people we hunger after all the wrong things that will not bring us true happiness.In fact it is impossible to live a complete and fulfilling life apart from God.When God created man He “programmed” him to live for God.Unless then Adams descendants live lives seeking <!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[ix]<!–[endif]–>“to glorify God and enjoy Him forever” they will not live a content life.For that is what we are made to do.A cat does not enjoy life by swimming nor a fish by climbing a tree.For that is not what they are made for nor is the human race made to live apart from God.One who has submitted himself to the will of God will seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.The human being was created to serve God.The one who does the will of God will be satisfied!This is the blessing for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.How does one do so?One must diligently study God’s Word and know it.Once this is taking place, he must not stop there but he must also practice what he reads (James 1:22).The word is key to keeping ones self from stumbling over sin that separates us from God.Even though one can only be righteous by the blood of Christ even this faith to believe in this truth comes by the hearing of the Word of God (Rom. 10:17).Once one has trusted in Christ alone for salvation then he begins to strive after holiness in his life.This is done by obedience in what God has revealed for him to do from the Word of God.After one desires his life to follow after God and seeks to be Holy as He is Holy (1 Peter 1:17) he will ultimately be satisfied for “. . .He who began a good work in you will PERFECT it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phillipians 1:6.

Blessed are the merciful.

Divinely happy are those who are merciful for they shall be shown mercy.I believe that this is closely linked with the quote “…forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. . .”Notice first that it does not say help us to forgive our debtors as you have forgiven us but rather we are asking God to forgive us AS we forgive those who are our debtors.This is a HUGE statement.How can this be?Well once Jesus gave a parable that went along with these statements and the basic principle is that if we have been forgiven much GENUINELY how then could we not forgive everyone who owes us.For this is the fifth mark of a true disciple.And because of this one who has come to know Christ as his personal Lord and Savior will be changed.He will be given a new heart and be sealed with the Holy Spirit.After these absolutely huge changes one will never be the same!This verse is not implying that we earn our mercy and forgiveness by forgiving others.That clearly contradicts the rest of scriptures as a whole.But as said earlier a true sign of one being forgiven will forgive others. <!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[x]<!–[endif]–> So those who show mercy they also will be shown mercy from their heavenly Father at the Judgment.

Blessed are the pure in heart.

Divinely happy are those who are pure in heart for they shall see God.Throughout scripture and the thousands of years it covers no one has ever see the face of God and a select few have been blessed so greatly to see the hind parts or the tail of his cloak.These select few have been lifted up in the Hall of Faith and by those who are familiar with scripture.When Moses saw God and came down with the Decalogue his face had shown much glory as he was reflecting Gods glory.Here we are told that it is those who are pure in heart that will be blessed to see God.I believe the pure in heart is the one who desires to be so much like God he desires to know what God is saying in His Word and so practices all that he understands and keeps a close tab on himself. <!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[xi]<!–[endif]–> He does not let ones sins remain but deals with them and seeks the solution out by studying what the Word has to say concerning that sin or issue.As he grows one will begin to understand more and more scripture and he will begin to know God more and more and the more one knows God and his character the more that individual will see God.It would be very rare if God were to reveal himself in any other form outside his word at this point in time because we have in the fullness of time had Christ come and reveal to us all things we are to know concerning God and so we may know Him and be like Him.The fruits of this will be like seeing God.And ultimately this one will see God when Christ returns and shows himself to us and we will become like Him (I John 3:2).The opposite is that one who does striveto know God and to seek Him through his Word and does not deal with his sin it will be impossible to have fellowship with Him and it would be an indicator that this one does not even know him (1 John 5:3).Let us strive to know God so that we may see Him.

Blessed are the peacmakers.

Divinely happy are the peacemakers forthey shall be called sons of God.What is a peacemaker?Is it someone who never says anything that is not diplomatic?Is it someone who never wants to rock the boat?Is it someone who never says anything that could cause separation?I do not believe so for if this is what the scripture we teaching then the saints have failed doing so for centuries and Christ himself the shepherd of the saints would have been a failure as well.However, I am not trying to say the opposite that one should always be offensive and always causing dissension.But one who is a peacemaker is one who strives to first have peace between man and God and then peace among the brethren. <!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[xii]<!–[endif]–> In opposition to the former statement Christ was the perfect example of this because Christ brought peace between man and God at the cross.He also taught them how to have peace among the brethren.How then can we follow in Christ example in attempting to be peacemakers.Well for starters we should have a passion and desire for the lost.Christ has sheep who are not of this fold yet.And it should be that we go about proclaiming what Christ has accomplished for us so that those who are His will hear His voice and will come so that their may be peace between God and man.Secondly, we should strive to have peace within the church.The best way of doing so is dealing with sin and lovingly keeping ourselves and encouraging others to do the same.Church discipline is actually a form or peacemaking.For it this act that keeps those in sincausing others to stumble and thus separate them as well from fellowship with God and the brethren.It also pushes the stubborn sheep to repent of their sin so that they too may have fellowship with God and the fellow saints.This is the seventh mark of a true disciple and they who are true disciples will be blessed with being called sons of God.

Blessed are the persecuted.

The eighth mark of a true disciple is one who is being persecuted.This I believe is an outcome after one is acting out the rest of the beatitudes.For just as Cain could not stand the righteousness of Able so also the world will not stand the righteousness of Christ nor his disciples.And so they will mock, beat, andkill these who act as Christ.It has been this way since the beginning of time.And if one looks at the scriptures he will see that it not just true from time to time but throughout all of history; Cain and Able, David and Saul, the prophet of old and even John the Baptist.Of course, the pinnacle was reached when mankind attempting to kill all righteousness when they killed the Son of God Christ Jesus.However, in this very act where the greatest sin of all time was committed so also the more beautiful things was ever accomplished.For in Christ Jesus’ death he purchased all that the Father gave Him and made them as righteous as He is.And from this God is making the most beautiful of all His creations the church and Bride of Christ.We see this in Ephesians 3 and Revelation 21:9-27 where the beauty surpasses all of Gods other creations.And why not for this is the very bride of God Himself should there be any other creature more beautiful more gloriously beautiful than Christ Bride.And so knowing this we can know that we may strive on to do these things which we learn from the beatitudes despite the persecution.For does not Colossians 1:24 say, “ Now I rejoice in my suffering for your sake, and my flesh I do my share on the behalf of His body, which is the Church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.”Wow!!!How amazing it is to know that the church is filling up what was lacking in Christ afflictions.This not to say that Christ didn’t pay it all or that we need to earn soe of our salvation.But rather, because we are the very body of Christ and because we are one and in Him we fulfill or fill up what is for us to do while we are here on earth!What a blessing in itself and honor to be considered worthy of this.Oh how the apostle could have responded with such strength and courage when threatened to be beaten.This is a blessing in itself however there is more.For those who are persecuted theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.I want to point out that the next verse makes it clear that the suffering He is talking about is not just any suffering in general but the suffering that comes from doing what is right.For we are to “Rejoice and be glad, for reward in heaven is great. . .”

Conclusion

If you study the beatitude you will see and I hope I have shown how they do build off each other.Ialso want to point out that they seem to start with the inner man and then move out to effect those around you.I want to make it very clear that I believe that a major key to obtaining these fruit in your own life is to be in the Word daily and for long periods of time.Not as a work but because you know it is God that must change you and not you yourself.The Word of God is powerful and by it the world was formed and by it you were called and made a new creation and by it you will be sanctified.It is your food and by it you will grow.I think it would be very helpfulif after this message is finished we go and spend time in Psalm 119 andbegin to see the love we need to have for the Word and begin to challenge ourselves with it and obey it so that we may be blessed!

<!–[if !supportEndnotes]–>

<!–[endif]–>

<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[i]<!–[endif]–> Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the whole Bible,pg. 1627

<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[ii]<!–[endif]–> David Dickson,Matthew, pg. 43

<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[iii]<!–[endif]–>Bruce Wilkinson, Talk Thru the Bible, pg311

<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[iv]<!–[endif]–> D.A. Carson, New Bible Commentary, Pg 911

<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[v]<!–[endif]–> David Dickson, Mathew, Pg. 44

<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[vi]<!–[endif]–> Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace,Pg 15

<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[vii]<!–[endif]–> J.C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on the Gospels, Pg. 24

<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[viii]<!–[endif]–> Adam Clarke, Clarke’s Commentary, Pg. 66

<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[ix]<!–[endif]–> Hiedelberg catechism, Na, Na

<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[x]<!–[endif]–> William MacDonald, Believers Bible Commentary, pg. 1216

<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[xi]<!–[endif]–> John MacAuthor, Jr, Kingdom Living Here and Now,Pg. 27

<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[xii]<!–[endif]–> Roland Q. Leavell, Studies in Mathew the King and the Kingdom,

 

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15 thoughts on “A Commentary on the Beatitudes

  1. I’m curious where you got that the Beatitudes were Jesus’s “inauguration speech” (my terms) for his public ministry. The first words he said (Matthew 4 and Luke 4) after returning from the desert ordeal with Satan were a direct quote from Isaiah 61. His purpose in coming was to set the captives free and heal the brokenhearted.

    It’s a good article, despite that slip, and I’ll be checking it out more. Our family devotional time is on the Beatitudes lately and this is a cool tie-in.

    Thanks!

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  2. Hello Derek,
    Welcome to my blog! Thank-you for visiting and for your comments they are always welcomed here.

    As to your question, there are a number of allusions to this, however, perhaps the most clear one is after His baptism and being anointed by the Holy Spirit (I take as an allusion to his kingship) and then immediately after being tried, Matthew 4:17 states He from that point on went and preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

    This is the reason for all his teachings being about Himself and the Kingdom. And why in the sermon on the Mount itself, he states, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness , and all these things will be added to you.”

    I don’t know exactly how big of an answer you are looking for but this will at least give you a start in understanding my ideas concerning Jesus and his sermon on the mount. Blessings to you Derek! And thank-you for being a father and leader in your home by seeing the importance of family devotions, that is really encouraging to me!

    -Stephen

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  3. Yes, it’s all about the Kingdom. And the Kingdom is all about the “little ones”. Those that the world looks down on, the Lord exalts.

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  4. I’m studying for a seminar I’m giving at a youth conference on the Beatitudes. This article has aided my brain and notes. Thanks, Derek!

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  5. Pingback: 2010 in review « Proclaiming the Unfathomable Riches of Jesus!

  6. Hello Bro. Stephen,

    I enjoyed your study regarding the Beatitudes. I agree with your comments regarding. Unfortunately today, there are many that are teaching that we only make a decision for Christ or repeat a prayer, however true salvation comes from our Lord and we have nothing to do with it. For by grace thru faith we are saved. There is something real about a true “born again” salvation experience and we must first recognize that we are sinners before God and seek salvation. Many want to simplify salvation and they want to take out trouble and sorrow (conviction of the Holy Spirit. We must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. Then and only then can we understand the “Beatitudes” and what Christ was saying. Thank you Brother and even though I have never met you I could feel the Spirit through your writing on this blessed subject. The Spirit bears witness. Praise the Lord!
    May God Bless You.

    Your Brother in Christ,

    Pastor Steve
    (By the way…you have a good name…I am Stephen as well!)

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