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Certainly not our own. And so we live by those other beatitudes:. If we are honest, we must admit that the world Jesus asserts as fact, is not the world we have made for ourselves.

Matthew 5 (Part 1) :1-3 Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

Jesus not only declares, but embodies this new world. An old poem promises that a day is coming when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that a crucified man is Lord Philippians Everyone will see at last that the one hung upon a tree in shame, the one who in poverty of spirit was forsaken by everyone -- even by God in the end, it seemed -- the last of the last, is first, is Lord of all. Every tongue will admit that the man of sorrows, the mourner, is comforted at last in the power of resurrection.

Every tongue will confess that the meek lamb who did not open his mouth before the slaughterers has been granted the earth and everything in it Matthew Every tongue will confess that the one who longed for justice has lived to see justice; that the one who practiced purity of heart is standing in the presence of God; that the great peacemaker is now called the Son of God.

Taken together they give the picture of the perfect disciple of Christ who is the heir of the promises. Jesus does not here tell people how to become like this; that will come in subsequent teachings.

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Matthew constantly shows how Jesus came in the light of the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, and so this one would fit as well. The Beatitudes are a little different to study than ordinary story-passages. Each saying is proverb-like. Cryptic, precise, and full of meaning.

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Each one includes a topic that forms a major biblical theme. So you could spend a lot of time on each one--and that would be worth doing if you so desired. But we will make this a brief, introductory Bible study on the passage, and leave more to be done later. Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, 2 and He began to teach them, saying:. So here we have a series of proclamations without a narrative. The narrative introduction simply sets up the sermon; and the sermon begins with these proclamations. Each of the beatitudes is formally a declarative sentence; but each is implicitly hortatory, calling for a response.

The method of studying these will be a little different. We still must think in terms of the contexts, not only the historical context of the first century Jewish culture and beliefs, but also the context of the beatitudes in the sermon on the mount, the proclamation of the nature of the kingdom. The study of this section will have to deal primarily with the meanings of the words within those contexts, especially the context of the culture that knew these ideas from their Hebrew and Aramaic languages.

To understand these saying we will have to relate the teachings to the biblical understanding of the kingdom of heaven as it is presented in both testaments. So we will have to fit these sayings into both aspects of the idea of the kingdom. This term is an exclamation of the inner joy and peace that comes with being right with God. Happiness may indeed be a part of it; but it is a happiness that transcends what happens in the world around us, a happiness that comes to the soul from being favored by God.

Matthew ; The Beatitudes (Symbolism) - For Bible Study Nerds

That is why it can call for rejoicing under intense persecution. Those woes pass judgment on the apostate people who refuse to recognize and do the full will of God. The woes describe their character as well, but it is an evil and hypocritical character; and the woes are a divine pledge of judgment if those lives continue in their wickedness.

One interesting Old Testament connection that would make a good related study is the section in Proverbs , which lists seven things that the Lord hates. These have been taken as the antithesis of the righteous who receive this blessing from the Lord. In between the characteristics include lying, killing, scheming wicked things, rushing to do evil, and bearing false witness.

These differ sharply from the spiritual characteristics that the Lord loves.


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Probably the best way to study these beatitudes would be to work through the basic process for each one--the definitions, the backgrounds, the connections and the applications. If you were teaching the beatitudes to a class you would do better by applying each one as you discuss it, rather than to wait til the end to try to apply them one by one. The Old Testament Background. Part of the understanding of the beatitudes is to see the Old Testament background concerning these descriptions of the Messianic kingdom and the people who enter it.

I mentioned Isaiah before, and so this for one passage could be read. That is part of it, but there is a spiritual side to it too. The word Isaiah uses describes the people who had been taken into exile. They were of course poor, having their land and possessions ripped away; but they were also afflicted and oppressed, they were powerless and without hope, and they were desperate.

The physical poverty was intensified by the poverty in their spirit. The Meaning of the Text. They had no resources to fall back on; they had to depend on others for survival. Isaiah brought the people of his day good news--they would be delivered from bondage. He did not make them rich in earthly possessions and power; but he fulfilled their greatest need.


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  4. They realize that they have nothing in this life that they can contribute to receiving the kingdom of heaven. They have afflicted their souls, meaning that they have humbled themselves and repented with deep contrition; and they have come to the king as helpless and hopeless sinners. There is no arrogance in them, no self-righteousness, no self-sufficiency. They are free from their own pretensions, and therefore they are free for God.

    And that is the good news for the genuinely poor and oppressed in this world. The poor person is not excluded because of his poverty; and the rich person is not accepted because of his wealth. Both must humble themselves before the Lord in order to be part of the kingdom.

    It is often easier for the down and out of this world to do that, than for the rich to do it. One thinks of the self-made poverty of the prodigal son. No, the poverty is not the chief thing, but the qualification of the spirit it. It is the poor in spirit, those who have humbled themselves and become dependent on God--they have the kingdom of heaven. In fact, everyone who is in the kingdom had to become poor in spirit. They all come with a broken heart and a contrite spirit seeking the Savior. The clear lesson is that if any are going to enter the kingdom of heaven they must become poor in spirit.


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    This is the message of the kingdom; it is the call of repentance. They must humble themselves before God and acknowledge that they bring nothing of their own power, possessions or merit to gain entrance. Those who truly humble themselves and express their need of the Lord, they have the kingdom of heaven. And in this they find heavenly bliss. So how does one become poor in spirit? The implication from the context preceding this is that one would hear the message of the kingdom and learn what kind of a kingdom it is and how to enter it--through repentance for sin and submission to the will of God.

    Commentary on Matthew 5:1-12

    The first step is to confess that by themselves they can do nothing, and then seek the gracious provision that God has made. A secondary application would be to develop how this attitude is to characterize the attitude of the believers who are in the kingdom. They do not simply humble themselves to get in and then become self-sufficient although some try to do it ; they are to live their lives in total dependence on God to supply their needs. This will open the study to themes such as humility, faith, prayer, and obedience. Now we have a slightly different beatitude.

    In the last one the promise was that those who are poor in spirit have the kingdom. Here now the promise is for the future, for those who mourn will be comforted. Old Testament Background.

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    Isaiah also said that the Messiah would bind up the brokenhearted and proclaim the hour when the mourners would be comforted, when their ashes would be replaced by a crown of joy, and their mourning would be replaced with the oil of gladness Mourning indicates the pain and the grief and the anxieties of the soul over some loss, often the death of a loved one. But it could be over the loss of a valued life, such as those Israelites who went into exile had to mourn.

    Or it could be over the loss of possessions, or status, or health. People mourn over any disaster or tribulation. And in times of mourning they look for hope. And most often in this world there is little hope. The Meaning. The focus here is on the people of God who mourn, because they will be comforted.

    Everyone experiences sad and tragic losses at some time or another in this life. But the mourning that leads to comfort in the kingdom is a mourning over the humiliation of Israel and its cause. The nation was in the grips of tyrannical powers and ruthless rulers--because of their sin.

    Jesus came and announced the kingdom was at hand; He expected the response of people would be tears of contrition see also Isaiah Messiah would comfort those who mourn, but the comfort would come because the Messiah would save them from their sin, the cause of the mourning. They understand that their grieving is ultimately for a world that is lost and ruined, in which God and his will do not prevail.