The beatitudes are found in Mathew 5:1 to 12, "And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed [are] the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed [are] they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed [are] the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed [are] they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed [are] the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed [are] the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed [are] the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
The beatitudes include some unique words and thoughts.
The word peacemaker does not occur anywhere else in the Bible.
The term poor in spirit doesn't either.
Both terms are expressed using other words elsewhere in the Bible. James expresses some of the same ideas in James 4:8 - 10. It reads as follows,
"Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse [your] hands, [ye] sinners; and purify [your] hearts, [ye] double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and [your] joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up."
James tells us to purify our hearts, he tells us to mourn, and he tells us to be humble.
The beatitudes start the teachings of Jesus known as the Sermon on the Mount.
The book A life of Jesus says the following about the Sermon on the Mount, "The teaching and precepts of Jesus expressed in the clear symmetry of the Sermon on the Mount are not abstract ideals, as beautiful as mountain peaks and as remote, to be preserved and worshipped in devotional hours and ignored in the hurley-burly of daily living. They form a working philosophy of life which is the only road a disciple can tread."
The word blessed is used with all of the beatitudes. According the the book a Life of Jesus it refers to more than just the reward of the kingdom. It not only refers to the reward of the kingdom. It refers to an inner peace and feeling in this life.
If we follow Jesus' teachings and follow the beatitudes, then all of the difficulties and temptations of life will be met. The book a Life of Jesus reads, "The word "blessed" which runs through the Beatitudes stands not for a passing joy but for a continuing condition of the heart.
"Blessed are", indicates an inner experience, something not controlled by circumstance or regulated by environment: a state of heart not of life.
If the listening Twelve, or the multitudes of listeners that have followed them, can attain this blessedness which, by God's grace, is the reward of a diligent endeavour to keep these commandments, then all the circumstances, difficulties and temptations of life will be met and controlled by this condition of a heart which beats in harmony with the heart of Jesus."
Therefore, to be blessed means to be blessed in this life and the eternal life that follows.
God blesses in the current life as well in Genesis 1:28. It reads as follows, "And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
We read the following in Genesis 22:17, "That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which [is] upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;"
We read the following in Ungers Bible Dictionary, "Because God is eternal and omnipresent, His omniscience and omnipotence cause His blessings to avail in the present life in respect to all things and also in the life to come."
Let us discuss each of the beatitudes. The first beatitude reads. "Blessed [are] the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven". The second beatitude is similar. It reads, "Blessed [are] they that mourn: for they shall be comforted."
The book A Life of Jesus reads, "The first stage in discipline is poverty of spirit: a deliberate renunciation of many things which the flesh finds attractive. Immediately the way of Jesus struck away from the way of men. He taught that self-sacrifice, not self-culture, is the true vocation of those who would follow him. The disciples were shown at the outset that they had to make a choice even more important than the decision to leave all and follow him. It was impossible for them to travel upon two roads leading in opposite directions."
Jesus blesses those who are poor is spirit because they take no pleasure in what the world has to offer. The poor is spirit will find their joy, but it will be in the Word of God.
To be poor in spirit and mourn in this life is considered a positive attribute if we do so because we find nothing in this life that can compete for our love of God and his Word.
The third beatitude reads, "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth."
The meek will inherit the earth according to Jesus. This phrase is strong proof that our reward will not be in heaven.
Why would our reward be to inherit the earth if the eternal reward is not on earth.
Meekness does not refer to weak-mindedness as some would use the term in today's world.
It is a humility that results from a love of our neighbor and kindness to others.
It comes from a desire not to be strong and competitive in today's world.
It comes from a desire to be Christ-like who was described as being very meek.
Meekness refers to humility. Col 3:12,13 refers to it as humbleness of mind. "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye."
In Romans 12 :3, Paul says we should not think of ourselves more highly than we ought to, "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith."
In Ephesians 4:1,2 Paul says that to be lowly and meek is to walk worthy of our vocation. "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;"
The next beatitude reads, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."
To hunger and thirst after righteousness is described as follows in the book A Life of Jesus, "A man who is satisfied with the world is not a hungry man, Being full, he has no interest in spiritual food. He cannot enjoy the rich fruits of the spirit because his capacity for enjoyment is limited by his chosen environment. Spiritual hunger no less than natural hunger is a craving which must be satisfied or we perish."
We read in John 6:35, "And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."
If we follow Jesus, our spiritual hunger will be satisfied. We will be much more satisfied than those who are non-believers.
Luke 6:25 reads, "Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep." Those who get their fulfillment from this life will not end up satisfied. Our hunger and thirst must be for Godly things and not for worldly pleasures.
The next beatitude reads, "Blessed [are] the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." Mercy is defined as follows in Unger's Bible Dictionary, "Mercy is a form of love determined by the state or condition of its objects.Their state is one of suffering and need, while they may be unworthy or ill-derserving. Mercy is at once the disposition of love respecting such, and the kindly ministry of love for their relief."
Mercy is to show love and kindness towards others even if it is undeserving. If we are merciful to others, God will be merciful to us.
This is a very difficult commandment to follow. It is human nature to show disrespect to others when they are undeserving of our kindness.
The next beatitude reads, "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." To have a pure heart is to be free of evil thoughts.
Things like kindness, patience with others, and love make our heart pure.
2 Corinthians 6:6 reads, " By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,"
Timothy tells us to have purity from our youth. This includes our conversation and words. 1Timothy 4:12 reads, " Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
Love leads to a pure heart. I Timothy 1:5 reads, "Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and [of] a good conscience, and [of] faith unfeigned: To have a pure heart is to not have evil thoughts.
The next beatitude reads, "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." I mentioned earlier that the term peacemaker occurs nowhere else in the Bible, but the meaning is clear.
Those that are meek, kind, and loving will do all they can to make peace.
Those that are proud, cruel, and hateful will create contentions and disagreements.
It is very difficult being a peacemaker instead of one that causes disagreements.
The last two beatitudes read, "Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." and "Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
If others show evil intentions toward us because of our beliefs, we should rejoice. This is not something we have to face to the same extent the apostles faced because we are free to worship God how we desire in our society. However, un-believers and other denominations may still show hatred or disrespect towards us because of our beliefs. In conclusion, the beatitudes are very important.
We should analyze ourselves and consider whether we have these attributes. If we have these attributes, we will naturally obey Christ's commandments.
He who hungers and thirsts after righteousness will not let worldly pleasures compete with God.
He who is meek will not be unkind to his brethren and sisters or to others.
He who has a pure heart will not perform ungodly actions. For this reason, the beatitudes are important. Those who follow the beatitudes will be like a tree that can only grow good fruit. As we read in Mathew 7:17-20, "Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither [can] a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."
Anotherwards, if we have the attributes described in the beatitudes, then the actions and good fruits will come naturally because that is what is in the heart. It will not be a formal effort to obey the commandments and live righteously because we know we are supposed to. It will be a natural reaction that does not require additional thought or effort.
The book A Life of Jesus expresses the same thought using different words. It reads as follows, "From the broad analysis it can readily be seen that the Beatitudes are the seed from which all the other aspects burst into radient expression. The secret of the law of Christ does not lie in the disciple loving his enemies or in turning the other cheek - that is the natural expression of the blessed condition from which he calls them in the opening words."