For Bible Study Nerds

For Bible Study Nerds


Matthew 5:1-12; The Beatitudes (Word Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

The longest recorded sermon of Jesus begins with a repetitive theme word: “Blessed.”

“Blessed are the poor in spirit…Blessed are they that mourn…Blessed are the meek…”

Historically, that word was understood to mean “happy”—or in the literal Hebrew translation, “how happy!” The Greek equivalent, used in Matthew’s record of Jesus’ sermon, is makarios, and it mirrors King David’s use of the Hebrew term in Psalm 1:1, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked…” Additionally, in pagan writings, makarios indicated a heavenly “state of happiness and well-being,” and Christ seemed to communicate that meaning here as well.

Still, in the context of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ repetitive emphasis on the word “blessed” seems hard to understand. For instance, his exhortation in Matthew 5:4 could be literally interpreted, “How happy are those who are sad!” For his original hearers, and for us today, that kind of statement seems to make very little sense.

It appears that Christ intended, and therefore divinely assigned, a broader interpretation of what it truly means to be “blessed,”—that being blessed by God is not simply enjoying a circumstantial, happy feeling. As a result, today we understand makarios to communicate much more than perhaps Christ’s original hearers would have understood.

Blessed, in Jesus’ usage, carries many shades of meaning, all wrapped up like a gift for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. It includes the idea of “approval”—as in both the approval of God and people. It implies that one is “lucky,” not so much in the sense of random luck, but in the sense that God orchestrates seemingly random coincidences to deliver happiness in a person’s life. And, uniquely, it is a congratulatory term, as in “Congratulations for being chosen to endure sorrow! You will one day understand with great happiness what it means to be comforted by God.”

In this sense, then, Jesus’ proclaimed that even in the worst of circumstances, we can be happy … approved … lucky … and congratulated. We are blessed, simply because God himself has determined to make it so, both here and in eternity to come.

 

Works Cited:

[ID1, 201; SOM, 22]

 

ΩΩΩ

About: For Bible Study Nerds™

About: Mike Nappa

Copyright © 2014 to present by Nappaland Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Previous Posts

Matthew 6:16-18; Fasting (Symbolism)
The act of fasting, biblically speaking, is both a physical and symbolic expression. Physically, it's simply deprivation of food and/or water for a specified period of time. Symbolically, though, it represents something much more. In the best sense, fasting symbolizes two things in the believer.

posted 12:00:01pm Oct. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Matthew 6:16-18; Fasting (Cultural Commentary)
Generally speaking, fasting was never intended to be used as a badge of honor or as a mark of super-spirituality. It is almost always associated with sorrow for sin and an expression of humility before God alone. In spite of this, Pharisees in Jesus’ time had turned fasting into something of a per

posted 12:00:00pm Oct. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Matthew 6:16-18; Fasting (Factual Info)
Jesus’ instruction about fasting assumes that it is a normal part of a life devoted to God…but why fast? Why did (and do) people go without food and/or water as a religious observance? Here are a few reasons from Scripture: • Once a year, as a commemorative action on the Day of Atonement

posted 12:00:58pm Oct. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Matthew 6:5-15; Prayer (Word Study)
Forgiveness is a crucial element of The Lord’s Prayer, and it always carries both vertical and horizontal applications. “Forgive us our debts” Jesus said in Matthew 6:12—a vertical, us-to-God appeal. Then he said, “…As we have also forgiven our debtors”—a horizontal, us-to-others com

posted 12:00:57pm Oct. 17, 2014 | read full post »

Matthew 6:5-15; Prayer (Rhetorical Influences)
Matthew 6:9-13 is one of the most famous biblical texts of all time. Known as “The Lord’s Prayer,” it records Jesus’ specific instructions for how to pray. It’s important to notice that, immediately before giving this text, Christ warned his followers to avoid “babbling like pagans”

posted 12:00:56pm Oct. 15, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.