THE SERMONS OF JESUS
The Sermon on the Mount: The Beatitudes
The Beatitudes serve as a type of overture for the rest of the Sermon on the Mount.
makarioi oi ptwcoi twi pneumati oti autwn estin h basileia twn ouranwn.
makarioi "Blessed": WBC--91: "nearly incomprehensible happiness of those who participate in the kingdom announced by Jesus. . . . deep inner joy of those who have long awaited the salvation promised by God and who now begin to experience its fulfillment."
From makarios used by the Greeks to denote the utter joy experienced by the gods (Kittel's WDNT on makarios). [Notice that Jesus is describing the state in which a person where he exists and not necessarily a feeling. The person who is destitute is blessed if he has just chosen a lottery ticket which will make him a multi-millionaire in another few days. He may not "feel" blessed, but he is. The person who is wealthy and is dining and wining while on the luxurious train The Orient Express may "feel" blessed but is actually cursed if the bridge up ahead has been blown up and the train is about to plunge hundreds of feet into the canyon below. Reality, not feeling, is what determines whether or not a person is blessed.
hoi ptochoi toi pneumati oi ptwcoi twi pneumati "poor in spirit": "the literally poor but he focuses on their psychological condition or frame of mind. The poor are almost always poor in spirit; the poor in spirit are almost always the poor . . . the 2 phrases were synonymous in the Judaism of Jesus' day. In Israel, especially in the post-exilic period, poverty and piety often went together, the poor having no other recourse than their hope in God" (WBC 91). ["Poverty drives us to piety."]
Isaiah 61:1 is the basis for the beatitudes: "1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; 2 To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, 3 To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness" (Is. 61:1-3). The good news that has come to the poor is that the kingdom is theirs; it belongs to the overlooked, the forgotten.
Notice that throughout the beatitudes both the present and future tenses are used: these find partial fulfillment right now but will find complete fulfillment upon the return of Christ. Now and not yet at the same time. Yet notice that HERE IN V. 3 the verb is present tense, not future. We don't have to wait until some far-off future event for us to receive the kingdom of heaven. We can experience it, maybe only partially, but we can experience it right now in the power of the Holy Spirit who makes the kingdom of God a reality (see Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:14-36).
auton autwn "theirs": notice that the emphasis is upon "theirs." Not everybody receives the kingdom of heaven; only the poor in spirit receive the kingdom of heaven. There is no universalistic salvation in the Sermon on the Mount (or in the rest of Jesus' teachings either).
makarioi oi penqounteV oti paraklhqhsontai
hoi penthountes oi penqounteV "Blessed are those who mourn": the exact same word for "mourn" in Isaiah 61:2 as found here in Matt. 5:4 (parakalesai pantaV touV penqountaV). They mourn over the slowness of God's justice. Yet don't limit just to God's justice. Mourn over the hurts in life. "Men who suffer under the present aeon, which is an aeon of suffering . . . Hence the sorrow referred to here is not to be regarded too narrowly as penitent sorrow for sin. On the other hand, it is evident that not all who mourn are called blessed. The reference is plainly to those who see this suffering aeon as it is and who are not led astray by its charms like the gelwnteV (Lk. 6:25)" (TDNT VI: 43 by Bultmann).
On the GREEN TV Channel today (April 25, 2011) was an episode on the earlier years of the life of Jesus describing the hardship of life in Galilee during the time of Jesus. It was really sad. The death rate of infants up until the age of 5 was terrible. Moreover, malnutrition and hunger were a daily part of the life of a person from Galilee during the first century A.D. Jesus grew up during a harsh time in the world's history. According to the commentator, the positive effect of the high death rate and all this suffering was that they developed real compassion among the people for others who were grieving. Jesus compassion, though, is far more effective than just kind words from a sympathizing friend, neighbor, or family member.
Sorrow is woven so tightly into the fabric of life that one of the main titles of the Messiah was Comforter (see 2 Cor. 1:3-5). Isaiah 40:1 (the beginning verse of the great second part of Isaiah) states: parakaleite parakaleite ton laon mou legei o qeoV. Whatever else the kingdom brings, it brings comfort.
paraklethesontai paraklhqhsontai "shall be comforted": a totally futuristic tense. We are guaranteed the fulfillment of this promise only in the future, when the Comforter, Jesus Himself, appears to give final and eternal comfort to His people. This comes only after Satan has been thrown into the Lake of Fire and the heavens and earth have been totally transformed to become a suitable dwelling place for God and His sons and daughters: "3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.'"
This is also called a divine passive because although the subject is not stated, it is implied that God Himself is the One who will comfort His people (WBC: 92).
makarioi oi praeiV oti autoi klhronomhsousin thn ghn.
hoi praeis oi praieV "the gentle":
autoi autoi "they": the gentle--"these" shall inherit the earth; no universalism here.
kleronomesousin klhronomhsousin "they shall inherit": again future tense.
Notice also the significance of the word "inherit." "Inherit" implies that someone has died, the person who leaves you the inheritance. In this case, God [the Son] Himself dies to give us the inheritance. Paul (Rom. 8:17), though, along with John (Rev. 3:21) claims that we are CO-heirs, co-heirs with Christ. Because of our faith relationship with Him, we are being swept up into HIS destiny, into HIS inheritance. It may seem fantastical, almost preposterous; however, if Christianity is true, then this is true.
"Mk. 12:1-12 and par [see especially Mark 12:7]. The heir is the Son, and the inheritance is God's kingdom. A firm link is established between sonship and inheritance such as we hardly ever find in the OT and later Judaism, and this runs through thewhole of the NT. Thus Paul, although he never calls Christ klhronomoV, refers to Christians as sugklhronomoi Cristou in R. 8:17 and attributes the inheritance of Christians expressly to their uioqesia, Rom. 8:17 . . . According to the comon Greek and Oriental view, sonship is the basis of inheritance . . . Only the risen Lord has entered upon His inheritance, Mt. 28:18 . . . Hence klhronomoV is an eschatological concept. . . . If Christ as Son is heir, His people as those set in sonship are sugklhronomoi" (TDNT 3:781-782 by Foerster).
ten gen thn ghn: "the earth." This with "shall inherit" means that God's original purpose for mankind will one day be finally realized. God had designed that all the earth be subjected to mankind. This design will be fulfilled among those who are His followers, the gentle. This promise is futurist as the future tense of klhronomhsousin indicates.
makarioi oi peinwnteV kai diywnteV thn dikaiosunhn oti autoi cortasqhsontai
ten dikaiosunen thn dikaiosunhn "the righteousness":
chotasthesontai cortasqhsontai "they shall be satisfied": "The word for 'filled' (chortasthesontai) means to feed or to fatten cattle from the word for fodder or grass like Mark 6:39 'green grass' (chortos chloros)" (RWP 1:41).
makarioi oi elehmoneV oti autoi elehqhsontai
oi eleemones oi elehmoneV "the merciful":
In case this is not convincing enough, refer to Jesus' parable of the sheep and the goats: one's entry into the kingdom of heaven depends upon the way one treats the Christian poor (Matt. 25:31-46).
makarioi oi kaqaroi thi kardiai oti autoi ton qeon oyontai.
hoi katharoi oi kaqaroi "the pure":
opsontai oyontai "they shall see":
makarioi oi eirhnopoioi oti autoi uioi qeou klhqhsontai
hoi eirenopoioi oi eirhnopoioi "the peacemakers"
makarioi oi dediwgmenoi eneken dikaiosunhV oti autwn estin h basileia twn ouranwn
hoi dediogmenoi oi dediwgmenoi
"those who stand persecuted": constative prfct pass no agency articular ptc subj nom masc plur (adj ptc-subst) diwkw "those who stand persecuted."
makarioi este otan oneidiswsin umaV kai diwzwsin kai eipwsin pan ponhron kaq umwn yeudomenoi eneken emou.
oneidisosin oneidiswsin "they revile" 1 con. aor. s. act potent subj 3 plur oneidizw: "This is the kind of behavior one would expect from Jewish opponents, first toward the disciples, and then later toward the Jewish-Christian readers. The ninth beatitude, vv. 11-12, is in effect an elaboration of the preceding beatitude. . . . This is exactly the kind of behavior one would expect from Jewish opponents, first toward the disciples, and then later toward the Jewish-Christian readers" (WBC: 95).
cairete kai agalliasqe oti o misqoV umwn poluV en toiV ouranoiV; outwV gar ediwzan touV profhtasV touV pro umwn
agalliasthe agalliasqe "be glad": "In the NT agalliasqai (and the act. in the same sense in Lk, 1:47 and Rev. 19:7 v.l.) and agalliasiV are use in the same way as in the LXX. The term signifies profane joy supremely in Jn. 5:35: hqelhsate agalliasqhnai proV wran en twi fwti autou. God's help is always the theme of the ag. which is a jubilant and thankful exultation. . . . It is indeed the eschatological act of divine salvation which is supremely the theme of rejoicing, as is seen most clearly in the song of Revelation 19:7: cairwmen kai agalliwmen kai dwsomen thn doxan autwi oti hlqen o gamoV tou arniou" (TDNT 1:20 by Bultmann).
"The idea of misqoV, 'reward,' is much more important in Matthew (ten occurrences . . .) than in any other Gospel. . . . The suffering of the righteous at the hands of persecutors is nothing new in the history of God's dealings with Israel, as the evangelist reminds his readers. It is an honored tradition they stand in when they suffer persecution. touV profhtaV touV pro umwn, 'the prophets before you,' should not be taken narrowly to mean only the literary or canonical prophets, but broadly as referring to all God's earlier spokespersons (cf. . . . Mattt. 23:35)" (WBC: 95).
RWP: A.T. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
WBC: Matthew 1-13 in Word Biblical Commentary
WDNT: Kittel's Word Dictionary on the New Testament