What are the beatitudes?

The Beatitudes are the moral teachings from Jesus Christ that appear in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:3-12 and Luke 6:20-23. They deal with ethics, attitudes, and ultimate ‘blessings’ related to the conditions of people’s hearts and actions. Matthew has nine blessings with no woes. Luke has four blessings, followed by four woes (Luke 6:20-26). Both Matthew and Luke show the beatitudes following the accounts of Jesus healing people (Matt. 4:24; Luke 6:17-19). Because of those healings, great crowds gathered. So, Jesus taught them – as is found in the Beatitudes. They are also known as the Sermon on the Mount because they occurred on a mountain or hill (Matt. 5:1). The beatitudes include apocalyptic statements (Matt. 5:5, 7, 8, 12) and so also deal with the future kingdom of God and our being with Him.

“They are pronouncements that confer an end-time blessing upon persons who are characterized by what they are (e.g., the poor) or do (e.g., the peacemakers). The blessing assures the addressees of the vindication and reward that attend the salvation of God’s end-time Rule and thus provides encouragement in time of difficulty.” (Achtemeier, Paul J., Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature. Harper’s Bible Dictionary. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985.)

“The Latin word beatitudo is derived from beātus, the past participle of beāre, ‘to make happy,’ ‘to bless’ (cf. bene and bonus).” (Hastings, James, John A. Selbie, and John C. Lambert, eds. A Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels: Aaron–Zion. Edinburgh; New York: T&T Clark; Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1906.)

The Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12 are as follows

5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
5:5 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.”
5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
5:10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
5:11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.”
5:12 “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

What follows the Beatitudes in Matthew are the teachings of Jesus about the world (Matt. 5:13-20), the treatment of others (Matt. 5:21-48), giving to the poor (Matt. 6:1-4), prayer (Matt. 6:5-15), fasting (Matt. 6:16-18), storing treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:19-21), serving God (Matt. 6:22-24), anxiety (Matt. 6:25-34), judging others (Matt. 7:1-6), God’s kindness to us (Matt. 7:7-12), the narrow way of salvation (Matt. 7:13-14), bearing good fruit (Matt. 7:15-20), the coming judgment (Matt. 7:21-23), and foundations in God (Matt. 7:24-27).

The Beatitudes in Luke 6:20-26 are as follows (with ‘woes’ included)

6:20 “And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”
6:21 “Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.”
6:22 “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.”
6:23 “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.”
6:24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.”
6:25 “Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.”
6:26 “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.”

What follows the Beatitudes in Luke are the teachings of Jesus about the treatment of others (Luke 6:27-36). judging others (Luke 6:37-38), bearing good fruit (Luke 6:39-45), and foundations in God (Luke 6:46-49).


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