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Doctrine of Sermon on the Mount

October 25, 2013

The Sermon on the Mount

Part 1: Introduction:

This sermon can be broken down into three general parts: The Beatitudes and the results of inner happiness, Advanced Seminary Training for the Disciples and our Lord’s clarification of the Mosaic Law.  Remember that this is subject to change as I continue to study this passage.  At the point of this writing, I’ve only written to the end of Matthew 5: 11 and studied several passages beyond.  This is a work in progress!

Before we approach this study, we must remember that every passage in the Scripture must be interpreted within the context of its time of presentation.  This context involves both the broad dispensational context as well as the local and immediate context.  As to the broad dispensational context, this entire message was presented during our Lord’s first advent.  Bob Theime separated this short 30 year era into its own dispensation, calling it the Dispensation of the Hypostatic Union.  This distinction is an important one to remember as we study our Lord’s entire life. It is especially important in the study of this sermon because our Lord’s ministry was not only the fulfillment of the entire content of Old Testament prophecy but also the setting of the stage for future dispensations.  Human history pivots around both our Lord’s life and His many faceted ministry.  As being the fulfillment of all prophecy, our Lord not only pointed this out by His many miracles but also by His teaching.  As He saw that the Jews reject Him, He turned His ministry toward the future, His crucifixion, resurrection, ascension and the glorious Church Age.

The first part of this sermon, the Beatitudes, does not specifically delineate the Christian way of life, that is, the spiritual life of the Church Age believer, nor specifically to the spiritual life of those living in our Lord’s dispensation.  Neither category of believer can seek to apply these beatitudes specifically then assume that he is living the spiritual life of his dispensation.  The principles, however, in a general way, apply to the spiritual life in every generation, every dispensation.  These verses delineate the process or path of spiritual growth, starting with the realization of the need of salvation through belief then growing to spiritual maturity.  These principles apply to every generation of believers, no matter what dispensation he finds himself living in!

In the second part of this sermon, our Lord reframed the Mosaic Law.  By His reframing various aspects of the Law, He didn’t introduce anything new, but demonstrated how the Law was perfect in so far as its intents were and its purpose was.  These lessons sounded new to believers in Jesus day, but since Moses received the Law, it had been much distorted over the generations.  Our Lord grounded those believers who heard Him with accurate applications of the Law.

As we study these passages, understanding that these principles apply to every generation, not only to the Jews in Jesus day and not only to Church Age believers; how, in the light of the fact that He had not yet prophesied the coming of the Church Age, nor had He revealed to those Jews the mysteries of the mighty age to come; are we, believers of this Church Age, to understand the many lessons in this Sermon?  As we will note from passage to passage, Jesus delineated many principles of grace that carry over to our Age of Grace though these principles are often not directly or mechanically applicable to your spiritual life.  Often, for specific interpretations and applications of these principles, we need to go to Church Age mystery doctrines as taught by the apostles, Paul, John, Peter and James.

To the 80 disciples our Lord was sending out to Israel, through whom He was offering the kingdom, this sermon served as their formal training.  He taught them the dynamics of the kingdom He was offering to Israel.  Because of her rejection of Him, the reality of His rule would be delayed until after the Church Age and Tribulation.  To other Jews within earshot, this message was also designed to shock them out of their complacent legalism in order that they may be open to our Lord’s grace message.  To Church Age believers, these serve as guidelines and instructions regarding grace.

As we progress through the first 13 verses, read them as a progression of spiritual growth.  Each beatitude builds upon the preceding one, presenting inner happiness as result of its fulfillment.  The first begins with the realization of the need for salvation, then finally peaks with spiritual maturity in the last one.  The verses which proceed after the happiness verses talk about the influence mature believers have in the world.

Matt 5:1-2

The first two verses of Chapter 5 reveal the occasion of the Sermon:

ü     When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,  Matthew 5:1-2 NASB

When Jesus saw the large crowd of people that His teaching and miracles attracted He accessed the situation. He did not start to teach them as we often assume He did.  Instead, He did something that no modern preacher or evangelist would do.  He went up on the mountain where the crowd would not follow Him.  This wasn’t just any mountain, but the mountain near by.  We know this from the use of the definite article preceding the mountain.  It identifies it as being a well known locale.  He had another agenda at that moment.  He needed to orient His disciples to the realities of His ministry.  First, He was not prepared single-handedly handled such a mass of people.  He needed an organization.  The disciples served as that system of organization.  Secondly, He needed to orient the disciples to the Kingdom of God for their personal spiritual growth and application.  Thirdly, He needed to prepare them to offer the Kingdom to Israel.  This was going to be an abbreviated crash course.  They didn’t have four years to go through management courses and seminary!  He needed to bring them up to speed quickly in order to make the issue clear for their own edification and to Israel, to whom He was to eventually send them.  Note that Jesus was teaching during the Age of the Law, to those whose spiritual life was based upon keeping the Mosaic Law.  Their spiritual life was not supposed to be based upon the harsh legalism of the day, but upon the grace and principles of sanctification delineated by the correct interpretation and application of the Mosaic Law, so much of Jesus’ teaching in this sermon was corrective.

As was the custom of the day, Jesus sat down to teach.  Teachers always sat in front of their congregations instead of standing up as we do today. When Jesus had seated Himself, His disciples went to Him to listen to Him.  Though this sermon was focused particularly on these disciples, undoubtedly, others from the crowd found Him and also listened.  Verse two is important because, by saying that “He opened His mouth and began teaching them,” the importance of every word He spoke is emphasized.  The verb, teaching, indicates that He kept on teaching them.  Any pastor today needs to follow this pattern of doctrinal communication.  He should continually teach until his congregation understands what he is communicating.  Repetition is paramount!  A congregation should hear the teachings until they can’t forget them!

Part II: The Beatitudes

This section of the Sermon on the Mount is called the Beatitudes. The word ‘beatitude’ comes from the Latin beat, which means blessing.  This isn’t pronounced beat, as in beatnik; the ‘a’ should have a short ‘u’ sound.  Interestingly enough, the term, “beatnik” was coined by an author who considered his generation “blessed.”  Since the word was written, then pronounced as ‘beat,’ it was applied to the Dobie Gillis bongo beating subculture!  These passages are called, “The Blessings,” because every paragraph or verse in it begins with the phrase, ‘blessed are…”  Certainly that caught the ear of everyone within earshot of our Lord.  After all, who doesn’t want to fall into the category of being “blessed?”  Especially, if you have any control over it!

The Mosaic Law carried within it, a system of both blessings and cursing.  To the person who fulfilled various aspects of the Law, God blessed; yet to those who failed, cursing was the order of the day.  Every person in the Old Testament demonstrated that reality.  The same principle applies today: every believer who fulfills God’s plan, He blesses while believers who fail are disciplined.

By His teaching, the Messiah, more clearly defined and interpreted those blessings in this passage.    By His presence our Lord gave immediacy and great impact to these blessings.  He was actually present and offering the kingdom to Israel.  If Israel accepted Him by faith and He carried out His salvation work then ushered in the Millennial Kingdom, then these blessings would be fully imputed and realized.  The reality of these blessings then was immanent.

We call this first section the Beatitudes after the Latin word, beat.  The Latin beat came from the Greek word, MAKARIOS μακάριος, which, not unexpectedly, is most often translated as “blessed.”  It’s a very old word, coming from Homer’s day.  In that early day, it described the exalted state of the Greek pantheon of gods as being above the plight of suffering and laboring humanity.  Its root, MAKAR referred primarily to the gods.  When used of men, it denoted the state of possessing the exalted state of the gods; namely those prosperous and rich, being above earthly work and concerns!  It came to describe the state of those who were prosperous, wealthy and seemingly favored by the various deities.

It is often translated “happy” in many New Testament verses.  Specifically, in this series of passages, our Lord used it to describe the happiness and fulfillment resulting from one’s relationship with God and adhering to the divine plan.  This happiness, as we have described in other studies is permanent and enduring inner happiness from the source of the Father, Himself.  For you to gain the best understanding of this concept as it relates to your Church Age spiritual life, please refer to previous studies in happiness.

This sermon, at least many verses therein, appear in both Matthew and Luke.  This begs the question, were both Matthew and Luke quoting our Lord to varying degrees of accuracy, from the same occasion?  It is possible that our Lord taught these same things on a number of different occasions fulfilling the principle of inculcation.  We really don’t know, nor is it an important issue. We know that our Lord taught these things and that under the ministry of God the Holy Spirit, both Matthew and Luke recorded what the Spirit led them to write.  Because of this, whenever both apostles overlapped, I will list both verses then look at the syntactical issues of Matthew and if relevant, of Luke.  We may gain some insight from the differences.

The Beatitude of Salvation

ü     Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 5:3 NASB

ü     And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” Luke 6:20 NASB

To insure that we correctly understand theses verse, we need to look into their Greek construction.  Now, note, at this point, before we delve into the construction of the Greek, that it’s not so important that we end out with a concise word for word translation, but that we understand the meaning of the words and their relationship to each other.  Once the meanings are understood, then our understanding of their relationships can be translated in various ways.  My goal is to insure that you understand the words and how they relate to each other so that you fully understand what our Lord meant.

We’ve already established the meaning of MAKARIOS, μακάριος as inner happiness from the source of God.  Here, MAKARIOS, μακάριος, happiness, as well as the word, PTOCHOS, πτωχός, poor, appear as nominative plural adjectives.  That they concur in number, person and case is important because it is the key to their grammatical relationship.  The second adjective is used substantively, as the subject of the verse.  The first adjective is in the second predicate position relative to the second adjective, which means that the subject is predicated or acted upon by the characteristic defined by that first adjective. So the poor are acted upon by happiness.  The second adjective, used substantively, is preceded by the nominative masculine plural definite article HOI, οἱ.  We, then arrive at the translation, “Blessed or filled with inner happiness, are the PTOCHOS, πτωχός.  The substantival adjective, PTOCHOS, πτωχός, translated, “poor” needs some completion and clarification.

In Matthew, the subject, PTOCHOS, πτωχός, is followed by the noun in the neuter dative singular, PNEUMATI πνεύματι, which describes these poor.  Luke doesn’t use this noun.  So, who are these people, the PTOCHOS PNEUMATIPNEUMATI, translated “in spirit” is a locative of sphere, defining these people as poor in the sphere of spirit.  You’d think that the word, poor would be the central noun, while the others would appear as adjectives, describing the poor. Not so!  These syntactical issues make exegesis a fun challenge!  Though the NASB and other translators define PTOCHOS as poor, a more extreme translation works better.  These people are spiritually destitute, having no spiritual assets at all.

Who are these without spiritual assets; those who are spiritually destitute?  Every human being is born into this life spiritually dead, with an old sin nature, with no hope of gaining any spiritual assets.  So we are all born spiritually destitute!  No human can ever earn or deserve God’s greatest gift of salvation which is the only means of spirituality.  This gift is accompanied by the potential of being spiritual; the potential of living the same spiritual life, lived by our Lord when He walked the earth.  We gain this salvation and spiritual life only by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ!   This spiritual life has three phases; entry into it by faith in Christ; secondly, spiritual growth, gained by assimilating our Lord’s thinking then, finally eternal life in Heaven.  These “spiritually destitute” receive spiritual assets, to include salvation from condemnation to the Lake of Fire and the potential for a fantastic spiritual life at the moment they believe in Jesus Christ.  There is no other spirituality in this life!

The translation of Matthew can loosely read, up this point, as “Blessed or filled with inner happiness are the spiritually destitute…”  Again, understand that destitute is the subject of the sentence while blessed and spiritually modify that noun.  While the verb of being, “are” does not appear in the Greek, in English we must insert some sort of verb there so that it reads smoothly.  Don’t read a present reality for every human into this verb.  Remember that it does not appear in the Greek.  If you read into this a present reality that “are” infers then you would look for inner happiness in every human being who is poor or, in this context, spiritually dead!  As a matter of fact, many have misinterpreted this passage because of its English translation. The translation using “are” is not erroneous, but it can be misleading, inferring a present reality.  The spiritually destitute do not possess happiness or contentedness from the source of the Father!  In that respect they are not happy!  But, the fact is, salvation which leads to happiness is open to all the spiritually destitute! So many of them don’t not understand that they qualify for the greatest blessing God has ever bestowed upon the human race, that of eternal life with Him forever!  That salvation is the blessing our Lord referred to here.

The next word, common to both Matthew and Luke, is the adverbial causal conjunction HOTI ὅτι, with the genitive third person personal pronoun which should be translated, “because of…”  Luke made it very personal with, “because of you” whereas, Matthew records, “because of them.”  The difference here leads me to believe that our Lord taught this on more than one occasion.  Now, because of the spiritually destitute, God has provided a Kingdom.  Kingdom, translated from the Greek BASILEIA βασιλεία, refers to a sphere of authority or dominion, not to a place or to a given amount of property.  Think of the word, kingdom, in English, its source that is.  The word refers to the dominion of a king, in this case, our Lord.  It refers to everything He has dominion over.

Though that word offers no exegetical surprises, Matthew and Luke define this Kingdom differently!  Matthew wrote, “Kingdom of Heaven.” while Luke recorded “Kingdom of God.”  This begs the question, is there any difference between the two terms?  Theologians differ on this issue.  Whatever side you may take, remember God the Holy supernaturally inspired these two men to write what they did.  We are to learn, and gain from that knowledge, from the message that each one communicated.  Matthew was also an eye witness to our Lord’s ministry whereas, Luke, by his own admission took as his resources from those who were eye witnesses to our Lord.  Secondly, our Lord spoke Aramaic while both men wrote in Greek.  No language ever translates exactly to another.  Nuance is either discarded or gained.

We need to understand the Kingdom our Lord has prepared, because of His unlimited work of atonement, is for every member of the human race!  We will be developing the meaning of this phrase as we move though this study of our Lord’s life because He used the term often.  In this context, I treat the terms, Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Heaven as synonymous terms.  We define the Kingdom in very general terms because neither Jesus nor John the Baptist, who used the term as well, specifically defined it.  They assumed, as did the disciples Jesus sent out, that the people knew what the Kingdom represented.  John, when paving the way for our Lord, said, the Kingdom was, “at hand.” (Matthew 3:2)  Our Lord used the same words when He said: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)  He also charged the 80 with the words, “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Matthew 10:7)  Again, the fact that they didn’t define it means that they presupposed their congregation’s knowledge of it.  They were not the first to use the terms, the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom was taught over and over in the Old Testament, to the degree that all Israel waited for it, as their national and individual fulfillment:

ü     In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. Daniel 2:44

ü     The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all. Psalm 103:19

Note that in no place do either John or Jesus encourage people to try to bring in the Kingdom.  Every person in the human race is not only encouraged to but mandated to join the Kingdom.  In no way is any human able to bring in the kingdom.  That is absolute arrogance, whether it comes in the guise of Phariseeism, Zealotism or any modern misguided motivation for evangelization. Certainly, every believer is mandated to witness; furthermore, to evangelize.  One of the most important spiritual gifts empowers the believer to evangelize.  Yet, the fulfillment of that spiritual gift demands another motivation, an orientation to grace, not the attempt to “bring in the kingdom!”

When you believe in Jesus Christ, appropriating His salvation work, then you have joined, become one more person in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Every human being has the potential of being a part of this Kingdom because Jesus Christ died for every human being since the first Adam to the last person born in the Millennium.  This Kingdom is eternal.  The short discussion presents a small glimpse of the kingdom.  Jesus taught much more as did the Old Testament prophets.  Our discussion will expand as we continue our study.

God, then, has provided something absolutely fantastic for every spiritually destitute human being if he will receive the gift of eternal life; being a resident of the Kingdom of Heaven.  This fact, in itself, is a fantastic blessing that many never realize.  How does salvation relate to happiness?  Many believers in Jesus Christ suffer miserable lives!  Just because you have salvation doesn’t mean that you are happy, though your understanding of your eternal life should certainly lend itself to the realization of your happiness.  Everything in your temporal life should pale in importance compared to the fact of your salvation.  Once you pass into the eternal life phase, having gone though the Evaluation Seat of Christ, you will have eternal happiness!  Is temporal happiness available to you as well?  Absolutely!  But you must grow up spiritually, start thinking the way Jesus did, then the Father will share His very own happiness with you! An interpretive translation sounds like this:

ü     Inner happiness to the spiritually destitute, because of them is the Kingdom of Heaven.  Matthew 5:3

This first beatitude presents the reality of the availability of salvation and the potential of inner to happiness to everyone in the human race.  The moment of your salvation is the first phase of your eternal spiritual life.  The next beatitude applies to the second phase, your temporal life as a growing believer.  You will face suffering, so these next words apply to you.

The Beatitude of Comfort

ü     Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4

ü     Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Luke 6:21b

Because we know what the word, blessed, means, we can move directly to category of people Matthew refers to as mourning.  This is the present active participle of the Greek word, PENTHO πενθέω. It is a participle that refers to those in this certain state, to those mourning.  These people are in a state of grief; a grief so deep and overcoming that it can’t be concealed.  When it takes hold of a person, it must be expressed, often with tears and crying.  Historically, it often referred to the grief and mourning one has when a loved one has passed away.  In this context it refers not to the response to difficult circumstances or from the death of a loved one but to the soul response to the realization of spiritual destitution.

Isaiah, when he was placed in the presence of the 2nd Person of the Trinity, in his vision, said,

ü     “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Isaiah 6:5

The Hebrew expresses the soul wrenching horror he experienced when face to face with his corruption, weakness and spiritual destitution far better than the English translation!

Luke used the word, KLAIO κλαίω in the present active participle, translated as “weep.” Interestingly enough, the various lexicons define this word much the same as PENTHO, above, though they are not listed among synonyms of each other!  In the New Testament it is used in two distinct contexts. First, it is used in the present tense for the attitude taken by those who realize their inadequacy when faced with knowledge of God.  In the future tense, it is used for the state of those at the end of time who have rejected God’s grace, and find their final destination is the Lake of Fire.

God is said to bless those in this present state because it precedes faith in Christ.  This beatitude, then, compliments the first by identifying the response to the realization of spiritual destitution.  We are all born into the world spiritually dead or destitute.  Only through God’s grace do we ever come face to face with that destitution, and seek Him for comfort through salvation and subsequent spiritual growth.

Comfort is the future passive indicative of PARAKALEO παρακαλέω.  The Jews to whom our Lord addressed this verse would have immediately recognized this as the “divine passive.”  The passive voice means that this comfort is received, not earned or deserved.  It always results from divine activity; because, ultimately, only God can bring real, total and continual comfort.  No one ever earns or deserves this comfort.  You receive it as a grace gift from the Lord.

The future tense doesn’t denote that the comfort comes only in the future but that the comfort is progressive, determined by the amount of our Lord’s thinking circulating in the soul of the individual believer.  The reality of this comfort is directly related to the content of the believer’s soul.  This comfort brings with it the concept of happiness because only through divine comfort can you maintain your contentedness in the face of any and all adversity.  Mechanically, God provides comfort for the believer through knowledge and application of His Word.  Instead of being comforted as Matthew recorded, Luke says that they will laugh, as translated from GELAO γελάω.   This laughter reflects the confidence of one who has believed in the Lord, then also has assurance of his status before the Lord.  Such assurance, like comfort, can only come from spiritual growth.

God, through His word, provides a many facetted comfort, a reason to laugh with relief, sure to apply in any situation.  Comfort in the time of grief when a loved one passes away comes from the sure understanding that death for the believer is a permanent change of station from this temporal life to life face to face with our Lord.  So when a loved one passes into God’s presence, that one is in the best possible place.  Furthermore, you, as a believer will be reunited with loved ones in Heaven after his time on earth is complete!  Your loss is never permanent.  Comfort in times of stress and personal adversity comes from understanding that God provides perfectly for every exigency in your life.  Not only has God provided perfectly for these times but what adversity God allows in your life is for your benefit.  He allows adversity to test and accelerate your spiritual growth.  But what profit spiritual growth?  By means of it you glorify God, provide a witness to men and angels all while living a life of great contentment and fulfillment!  Note, that this is personal comfort.  It is God’s comforting your soul through the activity of God’s word in your soul.

So this beatitude provides encouragement for believers in prolonged periods of intense suffering.  During the course of spiritual growth, God both tests and accelerates your spiritual growth by means of suffering.  The test: are you applying the doctrines you have been taught to maintain your contentedness?  Do you have inner happiness despite the fact that you are living in what the world may call miserable circumstances?  One of the by products of your spiritual maturity is inner happiness and great peace despite your circumstances.  To experience this, you must be empowered by the Holy Spirit and apply the faith rest drill and other doctrines which relate to sharing God’s happiness.  This beatitude reminds us that we can possess constant and consistent inner happiness regardless of life circumstances we face.   A better translation reflects the concept of soul wrenching grief, expressed outwardly.  An interpretive translation, then reads this way:

ü     Inner happiness to those under soul wrenching agony. Matthew 5:4

ü     Inner happiness to the weeping because you will laugh. Luke 6:21b

When you take these first two beatitudes together, they echo Isaiah 61:1-3:

ü     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; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, 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, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:1-3

The point of these two beatitudes is that the comfort from the arrival of the Messiah was to be experienced from that precise moment of time.

The Beatitude of Covenant Qualification

ü     Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5 NASB

Again, since we know that MAKARIOS makarioj, translated, blessed, refers to inner happiness, we can move on to the next important word in this phrase, PRAUS πραΰς.  Just as in the construction of the previous two verses, this word appears as an adjective used substantively.  This word, most often translated, meek or gentle, designates the category of person who is blessed, or full of inner happiness.  Generally, the word describes someone who bears up under life’s pressures, such as unjust treatment, with calm composure, lacking in bitterness or anger.  This isn’t simple passive submission in the face of such unpleasantness but an active, aggressive mental attitude dynamic that deliberately avoids mental attitude sins by applying the appropriate doctrines.  To possess such a mental attitude, one must be fortified with accurate doctrinal rationales and the power of the Holy Spirit to empower them.  Furthermore, it infers a focus in life upon grace; upon the graciousness God has brought to bear upon the human race through the work of Jesus Christ.  Therefore, a better translation of the word in this context deals with humility.  Humility for the believer becomes active, aggressive submission to God’s will, to include faith in Christ then learning and applying the thoughts of Christ, resulting in spiritual maturity.  Truly, this grace oriented person will be full of inner happiness.

The entire passage, Psalm 37 aptly describes the mental attitude of the humble person:

ü     A Psalm of David. Do not fret because of evildoers, be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. Yet a little while and the wicked man 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. The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes at him with his teeth. The Lord laughs at him, for He sees his day is coming. The wicked have drawn the sword and bent their bow to cast down the afflicted and the needy, to slay those who are upright in conduct. Their sword will enter their own heart, and their bows will be broken. Better is the little of the righteous than the abundance of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord sustains the righteous. The Lord knows the days of the blameless, and their inheritance will be forever. They will not be ashamed in the time of evil, and in the days of famine they will have abundance. But the wicked will perish; and the enemies of the Lord will be like the glory of the pastures, They vanish—like smoke they vanish away. The wicked borrows and does not pay back, but the righteous is gracious and gives. For those blessed by Him will inherit the land, but those cursed by Him will be cut off. The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the One who holds his hand. I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread. All day long he is gracious and lends, and his descendants are a blessing. Depart from evil and do good, so you will abide forever. For the Lord loves justice and does not forsake His godly ones; they are preserved forever, but the descendants of the wicked will be cut off. The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever. The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip. The wicked spies upon the righteous and seeks to kill him. The Lord will not leave him in his hand or let him be condemned when he is judged. Wait for the Lord and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it. I have seen a wicked, violent man spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil. Then he passed away, and lo, he was no more; I sought for him, but he could not be found. Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright; for the man of peace will have a posterity. But transgressors will be altogether destroyed; the posterity of the wicked will be cut off. But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him. Psalm 37 NASB

The next phrase speaks of an inheritance designated for this happy humble person.  The word “inherit” is a future active indicative of KLERONOMEO κληρονομέω.  It refers to an allotment given because of a certain qualification.  It includes the concept of logical progression.  If that qualification is met, then it follows logically, that the allotment or inheritance would be given.  That allotment, in this case is the land, the GE, γῆ.  Now, we need to go back to the context of this verse.  What did “the land” mean to those who heard those words of the Lord?  What does “the land” mean to us as Church Age believers?

The Land, to those hearers, was exactly that; the Land of Israel which God had promised to the Jews since the days of Abraham [Gen 13:14-15, 15:18].  It included much more territory than even David had conquered.  Furthermore, the inherited land symbolized the fulfillment of all of the Unconditional Covenants God promised Israel.  These have not yet been fulfilled in their entirety to this day.  The coming of the Messiah is one provision in the covenants.  God sent the Messiah, as promised, yet they rejected Him so His rule has been delayed until after the Dispensation of Israel is completed.  These disciples, who were going out to spread the news of the present Messiah, needed to communicate the means to qualify for the covenants.  Most Jews at that time thought they were already qualified because of their genetic relationship to Abraham and their adherence to the legalistic program promulgated by the Pharisees and Sadducees.  Jesus sought to correct this false idea by the principles He taught in this and other sermons.

Our Lord, then charged the disciples, by this beatitude that to be recipients of the Unconditional Covenants, they had to orient to the work of our Lord by faith in Him, and then build their spiritual life upon that salvation.  Also, note that our Lord brought the Old Testament Scripture in to His teaching:

ü     But the humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity. Psalm 37:11

The humble refers to a person who can be taught.  When someone hears the Gospel of our Lord, God the Holy Spirit teaches that to him, making it real.  The humble person will believe the Gospel, becoming a believer in Jesus Christ.  The humble person will continue to believe what the Spirit teaches him resulting in spiritual maturity.  Understand that the mechanics for the Spirit’s teaching includes the verbal or written message presented by one’s pastor.  If a person is not humble, then he is arrogant, rejecting then the Gospel message and subsequent doctrinal instruction.  The humble person, in the time of Christ, who would have believed in Him then progressed to spiritual maturity, qualified to participate in the Unconditional Covenants. 

An interpretive translation of this beatitude reads this way:

ü     Inner happiness to the spiritually mature for they will inherit the unconditional covenants.

How does this beatitude apply to Church Age believers?  We are not a party to the unconditional covenants to Israel!  We can apply this principle to our lives, however.  We stand to inherit much more than Israel ever dreamed of.  We in the Church Age must live our lives in the light of eternity, first, appropriating the Lord’s work by faith in Him, then grow in grace and in knowledge of our Lord to qualify for the full inheritance we have “in Christ.”

The Beatitude of the Desire for Doctrine

ü     Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Matthew 5:6

ü     Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Luke 6:21a

As with the last beatitudes we studied, we understand inner happiness, so we can move on to those who qualify for the wonderful happiness God has provided.  The class, so to speak, of believer who will logically appropriate this inner happiness is described by two participles which express one concept.  Both participles need to be understood figuratively, not literally.  The first is the present active participle of PEINAO πεινάω translated substantively “you who hunger.”  We can also translate this as “those who hunger,” “hungering ones” or “the hungry.”  In this context it refers to a strong, avid desire for something that is necessary for life, necessary for the live of the believer in Jesus Christ.  The second participle, also in the present active, is DIPSAW διψάω, translated, thirst; again, used figuratively.

Let’s explore the figurative concepts of hunger and thirst.  We mentioned that this is an intensive concept.  Today, being hungry and thirsty isn’t much of a crisis to we Americans who, upon a bit of a hunger pang, can reach into the refrigerator and find any exotic food you care to buy then satisfy that hunger in a matter of seconds.  I prepared in a matter of minutes Thai curry that was delicious!  But, if you reached the point of hunger in ancient times, you then had to take the time to prepare it.  By the time you’d finished preparing it, you really were hungry!  Remember when Abraham was visited by angels, then offered them food?  (Genesis 18:6-8) His wife had to bake the bread; his servant slaughtered and prepared a calf, not to mention pulling together curds and milk to serve.  How long did this take?  By the time you had the food, you would be desperately hungry!

Because these two participles are connected by the conjunction KAI καί, we may assume based upon Greek grammatical conventions, that they communicate the same figurative concept: desire for the Word of God.  That hunger and thirst represent extreme desire for the relationship with God, the most extreme desire you have, which must be based upon His Word.  The object of hunger and thirst is not only the subject of the rest of this verse but is also found in the Old Testament [A Handbook on the Gospel of Matthew]:

ü     Come, everyone who is thirsty, come to the waters; and you without money, come, buy, and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost! Isaiah 55:1 HCSB

ü     My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God? Psalm 42:2

That both participles are in the active voice is very significant because it emphasizes that this desire comes from one’s person.  You choose this.  You desire that relationship with God beyond salvation which involves leaning and applying doctrine because you understand its importance and benefits.  To a degree, this hunger and thirst becomes a part of your being as a result of your salvation.  Upon your salvation did you want to know something of the God who died for you?  However, unless you initially heed this desire by learning and applying doctrine you will squelch it by forming scar tissue in your soul.  If you are a believer in Jesus Christ and you do not desire the Word, then you have formed scar tissue in your soul.  You are in danger of ultimately leaving this world under the sin leading to death.

Matthew wrote that the object of this desire is DIKAIOSUNE δικαιοσύνη, righteousness.  By definition, this term refers to “anything pertaining to the integrity of God, His righteousness or justice.[1]”  It also defines the status of the believer in the three different categories of his spiritual life, because he is related to God.  In the first category, experiential sanctification, every believer is declared justified or righteous because both the Father and Son have imputed His righteousness to him at the moment of salvation. The second category, of which this verse refers, deals with experiential righteousness and the pursuit of the spiritual life.  The third refers to ultimate sanctification.  This desire, then, does not refer to the desire for salvation but the desire to conform to God’s plan for you.  God’s desire is for your spirituality and spiritual maturity.  This only comes if you take the time to avail yourself to the concise systematic teaching of God’s Word coupled with the Spirit’s empowerment.  You become experientially righteous when you are filled with the Spirit.  You progress in your sanctification when you learn and apply Bible doctrine.  The Apostle John related your happiness or blessing to knowledge and application of the Word:

ü     If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. John 13:17

The next phrase, “shall be satisfied” comes from the Greek verb, CHORTAZO χορτάζω, in the future passive indicative.  This is a “very strong and graphic word, originally applied to the feeding and fattening of animals in a stall…it is used of the filling of the birds with the flesh of God’s enemies.” (Word Studies in the New Testament) It means to be totally satisfied.  After a good meal, you are stuffed!  After a good sermon, you should be spiritually sated. This future tense, a gnomic future indicates that this is a logical progression.  If you desire the Word; the righteousness it provides, then you will be happy and satisfied.  The passive voice indicates that this is a totally grace procedure.  All you bring is your desire, your use of God’s procedure to maintain your empowerment of the Spirit and God provides everything else in grace.  You receive this satisfaction because of God’s grace.

Our interpretive translation of this beatitude sounds this way:

ü     Inner happiness to those who strongly desire experiential righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Matthew 5:6

The Beatitude of Giving and Receiving Grace

ü     Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Matthew 5:7

Note with each beatitude, that the qualification for happiness progresses to a new level of spiritual maturity.  The first begins with salvation and works through the desire to grow up spiritually in the last beatitude.  Each presents inner happiness for the believer who continues to progress.  As in the previous beatitudes, this one also promises inner happiness with a qualification.

The qualification, according to the NASB, is applying mercy in one’s life; the Greek nominative, plural, masculine adjective, ELEMON ἐλεήμων.  Mercy is a mental attitude which considers the welfare and needs of others.  Mercy is never given because the object of your mercy earns or deserves it but is predicated upon the virtue of the one giving mercy.  The person who is merciful will seek out opportunity to demonstrate mercy to others.  For the believer in this Church Age, such demonstrations of mercy are often related to one’s spiritual gift.  Indeed, for the one with the gift of helps, mercy becomes one’s lifestyle.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ exemplified mercy to the greatest degree when He went to the cross and bore the sins of the entire world, for all generations.

What would Jesus’ hears have thought when they heard these words?  Would they have matched them up with many Old Testament passages which teach the same thing?

ü     ‘Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you: break away now from your sins by doing righteousness and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity.’ Daniel 4:27

ü     He who despises his neighbor sins, But happy is he who is gracious to the poor. Proverbs 14:21

On the other hand, perhaps the current legalistic teaching had stifled such impulses!  Remember, that as a Church Age believer, your ability to be merciful toward others is directly related to your both your spiritual growth and to your spirituality.  Pure mercy must be a reflection of God’s mercy toward you which can only be understood through God’s Word.  Secondly, the Holy Spirit must not only motivate mercy but empower the believer to apply the pertinent doctrines.

This beatitude continues with a reciprocal connotation. Those merciful will receive mercy.  The second use of mercy is the future passive indicative of the cognate verb.  The translation, then, is accurate.  Does this mean that if we show mercy to certain people that we should expect to receive from them the same merciful treatment?  Should our motivation for mercy be predicated upon the expectation of receiving mercy?  Certainly not!  We have already been extended the ultimate mercy possible.  We, who have all been born spiritually dead with no hope of salvation have been extended the incredible grace of our Lord by means of His work.  Not only that but we have been extended grace upon grace.  Not only did He die for us, but has also given to us His spiritual life by which we can live a life of tremendous happiness and satisfaction, all the while, glorifying our Lord!  Can we be extended a greater mercy?

Your extended grace to others, then, should be a natural result of your spiritual life whereby you reflect the mercy extended to you.

The Beatitude of Spirituality

ü     Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8

This beatitude continues to set the standard for happiness.  According to the NASB, this happiness is reserved for those who are characterized by purity of heart.  The heart is a literal translation from the Greek KARDIA καρδία, which refers not to the blood pumping organ but to the seat of thought.  Like the physical heart circulating blood throughout the body, the figurative heart circulates thoughts throughout the soul.  Those to whom Jesus spoke would have understood this figurative use of heart because of its use in the Old Testament scriptures:

ü     Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully. Psalm 24:3-4

Purity is translated from the Greek adjective, KATHAROS καθαρός, which means clean or free from adulteration.  For the Jew, it referred to ceremonial cleanliness which was designed to reflect one’s state of thinking.  As one would approach worship in either the Tabernacle or Temple, one would have to go though a ceremonial cleansing process.  The ritual cleansing in itself was not as important as the state of one’s thinking which it represented as he approached worship.  For one to be pure in heart in Jesus’ day and the previous ages one’s thought motives and actions had to be centered upon God and His applicable mandates.

For the believer living in this Church Age, heart purity refers to both status and experience.  In this age, God provides every believer with mechanics to regain purity of soul after sin.  Related to this purity is the empowerment of His Holy Spirit.  Only those who appropriate the Father’s forgiveness for sins committed after salvation, resulting in “heart purity,” qualify for this ministry of the Holy Spirit.  The apostle John most succinctly presents the mechanics for regaining this purity after sin in 1 John 1:9.

ü     If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

The context of this verse clearly indicates that we should confess our sins to the Father, who is faithful, who forgives our sins.  He does so, on the basis of our Lord’s work on the cross.  So purity of heart begins for you, Church Age believer, with confessing your sin to the Father by which He cleanses you of sin and any soulish impurity.  At this moment, you regain the Spirit’s filling and empowerment.

Heart purity has another concept; the experiential.  You can never remain in the status of spirituality, of soul purity without changing your thinking, bringing it into conformity with that of our Lord’s.  That is a process which takes your entire life!  As you hear the teaching of the Word of God as taught by your pastor, the Spirit teaches you.  Because you are empowered by the Spirit, upon belief of accurate doctrine, you assimilate these spiritual phenomena into your thinking where it becomes applicable to your life, influencing your thoughts, motives and actions.  By applying His thinking to your life, you become actively and aggressively pure in heart or thought.

Inner happiness logically accompanies your application of divine spiritual phenomena. When you apply the Word of God to your life, you will experience happiness, fulfillment and great contentedness!  It is unavoidable. God rewards you with happiness whenever you choose to apply His word, thereby His power, to your life.  This not only glorifies Him but also serves as a witness of His integrity to both people and angels.

This beatitude continues with a result of or promise attendant to “heart purity.”  Again, this “heart purity” for Church Age believers refers to spirituality by which we appropriate the Spirit’s empowerment and fellowship with the Trinity.  The result is that we shall see God.  This is most astounding!  Can we ever ask for a greater motivation to live the spiritual life than that?  The word, shall see, in the Greek is HORAO ὁράω, in the future middle indicative.  The range of this word’s meanings includes actually seeing something or someone, to experiencing, understanding and perceiving someone or something based upon knowledge.  The Greeks had a whole range of verbs dealing with seeing, whereas, only one for hearing [TDNT, Vol. IV, p. 316], hence, one word often contained a nuance not found in another.  Matthew, inspired by the Holy Spirit, used this verb for the nuance of meaning it contained.  The nuance in this verb is much closer to perceiving and understanding than physical seeing with the eye.

The concept of seeing God, even physically, was rooted in the Old Testament scripture.  In those days men did see visions of God.  But they believed that to actually see God meant death.  Not because God doesn’t want anyone to see Him but because His righteousness is so much greater than ours.  If we are face to face with His righteousness we would be reduced to a cinder immediately.  Did the Old Testament believer, or those to whom Jesus taught think that they would actually achieve the necessary righteousness to be face to face with Him in this life?  Or was their peak, as the Psalmist wrote being satisfied with His likeness, as per Psalm 1:15?

As Church Age believers, if we understand the nuance of HORAO, then we can understand how this directly applies to us.  If we maintain our purity, keeping a short account of sin thereby maintaining our spirituality, then through assimilating the Word, we do get to know and understand Him.  So, we see God now, as a result of doctrinal inculcation, by faith, that is.

When we arrive in Heaven, then we shall see the Son and the Father.

ü     …His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. Revelation 22:3-4

ü     They shall see Him as He is. 1John 3:2

ü     Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14

The Beatitude of Witnessing

ü     Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.  Matthew 5:9

Superficially, this verse appears to promise happiness to politicians who are trying to reconcile warring factions.  However, this, like the previous beatitudes, relates to your spiritual life.  In this last beatitude we discussed the importance of purity of heart, referring to both the status of spirituality and experiential spiritual growth.  If both of these conditions are present, then it follows logically that you will be a peacemaker.  It follows logically because you have grown to a certain point in your spiritual life, that not only are you confident in your own salvation but you have come to understand many facets of the Gospel message.  Therefore you are mature enough to be enthusiastic about the fantastic work our Lord did for us and you have the doctrinal content in your soul to be able to present the Gospel accurately.  To full the role of peacemaker you won’t have to travel overseas and converse with oppositional political leaders but simply present the gospel to those in your periphery.

Remember, that between unbelievers and God there is hostility, enmity, because every human is born into this world spiritually dead.  All unbelievers, then, are antagonistic to God whether or not they even know it.  Every unbeliever lives in Satan’s systems of thought and operation.  Satan’s systems are totally antagonistic toward God.  We studied this topic in detail in out dispensational study.

Now, when you present the gospel to any unbeliever, you are offering for ratification, the peace treaty between God and that person, which is based upon the work of our Lord in the cross.  Though the Gospel is both obscure and incomprehensible, being spiritual phenomena, to the unbeliever, the Holy Spirit acts as a human spirit, teaching unbelievers accurate Gospel presentations that you give.  God mandates that every believer be a peacemaker by bringing the message of reconciliation to any unbeliever.  This is a part of your spiritual ambassadorship.

Paul clearly taught our Lord’s ministry of reconciliation.  These passages also teach that He has delegated the presentation of reconciliation to us.

ü     Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

ü     But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. Ephesians 2:13-18

ü     …but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8

ü     But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:5

For an in-depth look at witnessing, see the study of witnessing grouped with the Philippians 1:5 PowerPoint studies.

This verse continues with a result of being a reconciler; “for they shall be called Sons of God,” as per the NASB.  The Greek source word for “shall be called” is the future passive of the verb KALEO καλέω which has been correctly translated as, “will be called.”  This is an idiom which Jesus’ hearers would have immediately understood.[2]  It refers to a status whereby one person takes on the character of the one whose son he is.  The son takes on the character of his “father.”  In this case, the believer who is mature enough to be presenting the Gospel has matured to the degree that his life reflects and reveals God’s integrity and grace.  The “sons of God” then refers to the spiritually mature believer.

Who calls this mature believer a son of God?  It probably won’t be the person to whom you delineate the Gospel!  Probably your family or friends won’t think to call you God’s son either.  They may be fixated upon your old sin nature!  Even if your dealings with your family and friends reflect your integrity, they probably won’t call you a son of God!  They may call you honest!  It won’t be those of this world, living in Satan’s system of arrogance who don’t even know why they’re antagonistic to you!  Who is in view here then?  God calls you son when you reflect His character; that He is the ultimate peacemaker![3]

ü     Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord.  Hebrews 13:20

Jesus Christ became the ultimate peace maker when He died for each one of us on the cross.  God the Father, because of our Lord’s substitutionary spiritual death, paved the way for the forgiveness of our sins.  Because Jesus died for each one of us, He reconciled us to the Father, removing the enmity that exists between those spiritually dead and the Father.  We take on the Son’s character as we mature because as we study the Word, we assimilate His thinking.  Once you reach this state, how can you but share the good news of His work to those you come into contact with?  Once you reach this status, you can be called a son of God because you now reflect His grace.

The Beatitudes of Persecution

ü     Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Matthew 5:10-11

ü     Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Luke 6:22

These beatitudes begin with the word, happiness, referring to, as we’ve established, inner happiness.  It’s important to remember that inner happiness is progressive.  You begin with the understanding of your salvation then your understanding progresses and grows as you grow up spiritually.  By the time you are persecuted you have matured to the degree that you have the capacity for such persecution.  You have matured to the degree that you can bear hostility and persecution, having the reality of God’s plan in your soul.  You understand this to the degree that that it’s a part of your reality that God has your best in His thinking.  You know that everything God brings to your life is for your benefit and continued spiritual growth.  This is reality so you don’t lose your grace orientation; you don’t react and fail spiritually.

The word, persecuted, is translated from the perfect passive participle of the Greek word, DIOKO διώκω.  The passive indicates that you receive this persecution. You have not asked for persecution but receive it because those around you are offended by your righteousness.  The persecution may be so bad that it impels to leave your present abode because you expect personal harm to come to you and your loved ones.  By this offending righteousness, I do not refer to the believer who arrogantly and superciliously lords it over those whom he considers inferior or who becomes involved in social activism.  Such arrogance is not in view here.

You receive persecution because the world despises divine righteousness; from the Greek, DIKAOSUNE δικαιοσύνη.  Satan motivates this persecution as a part of the angelic conflict.  The TDNT defines this characteristic as “…the right conduct of man which follows the will of God and is pleasing to Him, for rectitude of life before God, for uprightness before His judgment.”[4]  To be righteous, you first believed in Jesus Christ, so you positionally share His righteousness. The Father also imputed you His righteousness.  Therefore, as a Church Age believer, you have two portions of divine righteousness.   Those two categories of righteousness belong to every believer in this Age, so those may not illicit persecution.  They are positional and often unseen.  God considers you to be righteous therefore, you have eternal life and you are going to heaven.  It is a glorious status.

The second category of righteousness, experiential righteousness, that which you live and experience because you continue to grow up spiritually, may bring persecution to you.  This righteousness may be observed by others because it results in integrity of life and witnessing on behalf of our Lord.  We covered this concept in detail in our study of sanctification with Philippians 1:1.

This world, under Satan’s rulership, is antagonistic toward anyone filled the Spirit and producing Christ’s character.  The only places on earth you will be protected from such persecution are those countries that are governed under the principles of establishment or serve as a client nation to God.

This beatitude continues with the conjunction, OTI ὅτι, often translation, “for” with the emphatic plural personal pronoun, AUTOS αὐτός, “them.”  Together, they should be translated, “because of them.”  So the translation of this final phrase of this beatitude should be “because of them is the kingdom of heaven.”  This aspect of the kingdom of heaven gives us a peak into the rewards and blessings of the mature believer.  If you have the capacity of bear up under such suffering as persecution brings, then God has waiting for you blessings far above and beyond the ordinary.  A better translation of these beatitudes read this way:

ü     Inner happiness to those receiving persecution because of righteousness; for them is the Kingdom of Heaven.  Matthew 5:10-11

ü     Inner happiness to  you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  Matthew 5:11

This second beatitude expands upon the first.  Logically or interpretively, it could be placed between the first and second phrases of verse ten:

ü     Inner happiness to you receiving persecution because of righteousness; when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me; for you is the Kingdom of Heaven.  Matthew 5:10

Though many commentators and theologians

Inner Happiness Produces Outer Happiness

ü     Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:12

ü     Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. Luke 6:23

These beatitudes begin with God’s provision for salvation, continue with salvation and finally end with the spiritual maturation of the believer.  Each step the believer takes toward spiritual maturity adds another facet of inner happiness to his soul.  Finally, having been fully matured, the believer can do only one thing: Rejoice!  The Greek source word for rejoice is the present active indicative of CHARETE χαίρετε! Rejoice!

Whereas MAKARIOS describes inner happiness, a state of soul, this word describes an outer manifestation of it.  Inward joy must find an expression!  That expression is wrapped up in this word, rejoice!  This outer expression of happiness finds its root in the Old Testament Scripture.  The understanding of many aspects of God’s grace and benefits bring this manifestation of inner happiness:

ü     But let all who take refuge in You be glad, let them ever sing for joy; and may You shelter them, that those who love Your name may exult in You. Psalm 5:11

ü     I will be glad and exult in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. Psalm 9:2

ü     Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will dwell securely. Psalm 16:9

ü     Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones; and shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart. Psalm 32:11

This is the visible manifestation of inner happiness.  No matter who is persecuting you, if you possess inner happiness you will continue your life facing all adversity and prosperity with relaxation and maybe even a smile![5]  Now, if you fail initially, remember that even Job failed at one time.  If you do fail, recover and move on!

The present tense of this Greek verb indicates that this is to be a continual way of thinking.  Keep on rejoicing!  The active voice indicates that the believer produces the action of the verb.  What do you do to keep on being able to outwardly express inner happiness?  You must keep on making the right decisions.  Keep short accounts of your sins and growing spiritually.  Every decision you make is paramount in maintaining your happiness.  You decide what you are going to do with your life.  Even though you have followed all of the steps to spiritual maturity, you cannot stop and rest on those laurels!  These decisions directly affect the degree of your spiritual growth therefore the degree of your happiness.  The indicative mood indicates the reality this is meant to be.

The next word, translated, “be glad” comes from the present passive imperative of the verb AGGALIAO ἀγαλλιάω.  This word represents an intensification of the outward manifestation of inner happiness.  As with the previous word, this indicates an ongoing expression; “keep on being glad…”  These words, though they express much the same concept differ in the next two areas.  CHARETE χαίρετε  is in the active voice and indicative mood.  The active voice indicates that the believer produces the action of the verb, as we noted above.  Secondly, the indicative mood presents this fact from the viewpoint of reality.  AGGALIAO ἀγαλλιάω is in the passive voice denoting that this expression is received by the believer.  This happiness is given to the believer from God because he has reached that certain stage of spiritual maturity when God shares His happiness with the believer.  This verb is also in the imperative mood!   Our Lord actually mandates this extreme expression of inner happiness of each of us!  This is tantamount to being mandated to grow up spiritually so that you have the capacity to enjoy that God-given happiness.  From both of these verbs, that we are supposed to be happy, both internally and visibly!  If the Lord mandates this, then He has also provided everything you need to experience this happiness.

ü     Cry aloud and shout for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 12:6 NASB

The reward delineated in the next phrase of this verse does not come to you because you are happy or persecuted but because of your spiritual growth.  You are rewarded if you have matured spiritually to the degree that you possess unshakable happiness.  You are rewarded if you have grown spiritually to the degree that you can receive persecution without reacting and losing your spirituality.  Remember that those special communicators of doctrine in the past dispensations received persecution for their role in the angelic conflict.  You have a much greater, much more crucial role, so if you fulfill your role in it, you will receive great rewards, even as they!

Paul presented echoed our Lord’s mandates for happiness:

ü     Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you. Philippians 3:1

ü     Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Philippians 4:4

 

All Scripture translations, unless other wise noted are from the NASB