Privileged to conduct bi-monthly services at a local resident home for the elderly we decided to share thoughts on the 8 Beatitudes in Matthew 5, Jesus’s “Sermon on the Mount.” Our original interest was how these 8 blessings impacted our service to the Lord in the face of ridicule, mockery and other forms of persecution. Our research labored under the theory that these 8 Beatitudes, from”Poverty of Spirit” to “Peacemaking” were somehow linked in the spiritual development of a follower of Christ. We concluded in addition that the order of the Beatitudes is not incidental but an undeniable example of the divine genius in preparing each believer for divine service. Research into the various words used in Matthew’s recollection support this approach.
What didn’t seem as obvious at first was how these 8 Beatitudes (8 beautiful attitudes) represented the heart of a servant of God and in the process prepared them and qualified them for the kingdom of heaven—referenced twice in these few verses. God’s grace, according to this text—is the claim here—is at work in the life of every believer preparing them to “inherit the earth., see God, and be called the children of God.” In another, Pauline, sense we are being prepared for citizenship in heaven1 and as the Bride of Christ.2
Terms like meekness, mourning, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, and the hapax legomenos3 peacemakers require a close—not casual—look if this prima-facie idea is correct. Ronnie McBrayer made the point: “The Beatitudes are … a spiritual .. list of the qualities God brings to bear in the people who follow Jesus.”4 It only remains to make the logical link between now and when, between the work God is perfecting in us in this life5 and how it relates to the life to come.6
Lastly here: this work becomes a study of words based on the strong fundamental belief that every word is inspired. Yet scholarship has long recognized the limitation on some biblical terms to do justice to what God was introducing to us.7 Professor R. C. Trench, lecturing on the importance of the study of language in the history of thought, remarked,
“…words often contain a witness for great moral truths—God having impressed such a seal of truth upon language, that men are continually uttering deeper things than they know…”8
So we begin first with a look at some biblical terms before we tell our story, “Inheriting The Kingdom of Heaven.”
to be continued…..
2 2 Corinthians 11:2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. compare; Revelation 19:7 …his bride has made herself ready.
3 found only here in Scripture.
4 Ronnie McBrayer’s “How Far Is Heaven?: Rediscovering the Kingdom of God in the Here and Now.”
5 Matthew 4:17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
6 Matthew 8:11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.
7 Dr. Milligan writes in his Introduction to The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, Alike in Vocabulary and Grammar the language of the New Testament exhibits striking dissimilarities from Classical Greek; and in consequence it has been regarded as standing by itself as “New Testament Greek.” In general it had been hastily classed as “Judaic” or “Hebraic” Greek; its writers being Jews (with the probable exception of Saint Luke), and therefore using a language other than their own, a language filled with reminiscences of the translation-Greek of the Septuagint on which they had been nurtured.
It is an endless debate among scholars as to the meanings of some words in the New Testament, whether they are more classical in meaning or somehow carry a special nuanced significance under divine inspiration.
8 Richard Trench. On the Study of the Words Lectures ( New York: W.. Widdleton, publisher. Unknown), 56.