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What are the Beatitudes?

HomeChristianity and the BibleWhat are the Beatitudes?

The beatitudes is the name given to a portion of Jesus’ teaching that talks about being blessed. They are a section of the Sermon on the Mount, considered by many – both religious people and non-religious alike – to be some of the most profound words in history. The word ‘beatitude’ comes from the Latin beatitudo, meaning blessedness. The Greek word is makarios, conveying something like happiness, bliss, or richness… that is, experiencing life in the amazing way that God intended. In another passage, Jesus speaks of ‘the abundant life.’ The two passages should be seen as a pair.

There are 8 statements in Matthew 5:1-12 which Jesus begins with “blessed are.” Verse 11 appears to be a ninth “blessed,” but verses 10-12 are considered one longer thought. Each beatitude is generally understood to be a value statement as well as an instruction… that is, Jesus is both expressing how we should think and, at the same time, telling us that we should live in this way.

Each statement begins with “blessed are,” and then gives a two-part scenario. The first is “the poor in spirit.” Jesus doesn’t just explain that the poor in spirit are blessed. He also explains why they are blessed. It’s important to note that Jesus isn’t saying that we should consider others blessed under those circumstances, but that those He describes actually are blessed, whether we know it or not.

In addition, Jesus uses the beatitudes as a group to describe a godly ideal. His followers are to be blessed by being poor in spirit, by mourning, by being meek, and so on. Anyone who lives this way will indeed live a rich and fulfilled life, pleasing to God.

The Beatitudes

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

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