This is a making up for an omission. In my introduction, I said that I would not be spending time on the “for theirs (yours) is …“ sections of the Beatitudes. I still won’t but I feel I must look at the first one at least as I think it justifies my position on the Beatitudes. Plus, I believe this shows the weakness of the approach by Internet Monk (and others). My comment when I first read IM’s blog, It seems he says that Jesus’ words mean that the invitation to kingdom blessings extends even to those who are poor, mourning, etc. This, I believe, is far off. The characteristics in the Beatitudes are not natural characteristics or circumstances by which we have the attention of God. It also seems to imply that the Beatitudes are words of comfort to the downtrodden and oppressed but there are also those who are not poor, mourning, etc (in the physical sense to which IM is applying it) who are in the kingdom.

As I said in the introduction, I believe these “for theirs is …” statements are indivisible. That is, all these statements of blessings belong to every believer, just like the characteristics found in the first part of each Beatitude is what God is working in every believer. My reasons are two: First, I observe that the first and the last Beatitude have the same blessing, “For theirs (yours) is the Kingdom of Heaven”. This acts as a sandwich grouping all the “inner” blessings into a unified whole. Second, is the question how can the “inner” blessings be separated? Are we to think that there might be one sufficiently poor in spirit yet not meek enough so he gets the kingdom of heaven but not the Earth? If one does not mourn enough will he get the Kingdom but find no comfort there? Just asking the questions seems to answer them.

I would like to add another consideration here. Here is Matthew 5:3 in the Greek: μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι, ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν. The translation would be, blessed are (μακάριοι) the poor (οἱ πτωχοὶ) in spirit (τῷ πνεύματι), For (ὅτι) to these (αὐτῶν) is (ἐστιν) the Kingdom (ἡ βασιλεία) of Heaven (τῶν οὐρανῶν). In English, word order is important for determining the flow of the action. Who (subject) did what (verb) to whom (object). So, we have the old joke comparing “Dog bites man” with “Man bites dog”. In the Greek, the subject or object of a sentence is identified by its endings and so word order is not used to determine those things. What word order in the Greek does serve to do is give emphasis. So in the Beatitudes, the placing of “to these” at the beginning of the clause is emphatic and it holds its emphatic position throughout the Beatitudes. This indicates that Jesus wished to call attention not to the blessings but to the persons receiving the blessings. “Blessed are certain people because these have …” Further, since this is a “blessed are … for to these” construction, this emphasis has the strength of “To these (and only to these) belong …”

So, I conclude that the Blessings are a unified whole which are not divisible, just as the characteristics are unified and may not be considered a check list (I believe Jesus speaks against the check list approach later in the sermon). Further, the idea that the invitation to kingdom blessings extends even to those who are poor, mourning, etc. misses in that these blessings extend only to those who are poor, mourning, etc.

This entry was posted in Biblical Studies, Matthew 5-7, The Sermon on the Mount, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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