SPECIAL TOPIC: THE BEATITUDES (from Latin for "blessed"), Matthew 5:3-12
A. The Beatitudes (part of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7; see Special Topic: Sermon on the Mount) form a spiritual ladder
1. from salvation to Christlikeness
2. from mankind's sense of spiritual need to mankind's new life in Christ.
B. Their number has been understood differently as 7, 8, 9, and even 10.
C. The Beatitudes demand a response from the reader/hearer! They are not informational but motivational; maybe better, "transformational"! Believers should be, must be, different from unbelievers!
D. The Beatitudes of Matthew are longer than the ones in Luke (cf. Luke 6:20-23). Luke's are more focused on conflict between the haves (cf. Luke 6:24-26) and have nots of this life.
1. the repeated phrase, "Blessed are. . .," in Greek, has no verb. This reflects a Hebrew feature seen in Ps. 1:1; see Special Topic: Blessing(OT).
2. the second phrase, "for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," is a present tense in Matt. 5:3,10, but future tense is used in the Beatitudes of Matt. 5:4,5,6,7,8,9. This possibly means that some, but not all, of the blessings occur now. Some wait for the eschatological consummation of the Kingdom (see Special Topic: The Kingdom of God).
F. Three helpful quotes:
1. "Every moral system is a road which by self-denial, discipline, and effort, men seek to reach the goal. Christ begins with this goal, and places His disciples at once in the position to which all other teachers point as the end. . .They began by commanding, He by bestowing: because He brings good tidings of forgiveness and mercy." The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah by Alfred Edersheim, p. 528-529.
2. "The Sermon on the Mount is neither an impractical ideal nor a set of fixed legal regulations. It is, instead, a statement of the principles of life essential in a normal society. . .Many of the sayings of the Sermon are metaphorical or proverbial statements and are not to be understood in a literal or legal sense. In them, Jesus was illustrating principles in concrete terms." The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. vol. 4 p. 2735.
3. "Basic Principles:
a. Character is the secret of happiness.
b. Righteousness is grounded in the inner life. Character is not something imposed from without, but a life that unfolds from within.
c. The inner life is a unity.
d. Universal love is the fundamental social law.
e. Character and life exist in and for fellowship with the Father. All worship and conduct look toward God.
f. Fulfillment is the final test of life.
g. Deeds and character are the only things that abide and endurance is the final test."
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. vol. 4 p. 2735.
G. There are seven more beatitudes in Revelation (cf. Rev. 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7,14).
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