In this article, we will look at Matthew 5 the Beatitudes explained in a simple and easy way for everyone to understand. So, grab your Bible, and let’s dive in…
The Sermon on the Mount is known to be the greatest sermon ever taught. The entire sermon is based around Christ teaching us what He expects of us as His followers, and the Beatitudes are a huge part of that.
I have always loved read through them, but a lot of the time, the Beatitudes are often misunderstood or simply “glossed over” as beautiful and poetic words. People recite them, not truly understanding their full meaning. And we know that Jesus never said anything idly.
He had a purpose and a goal for these statements. So, what do the Beatitudes mean, and what was Jesus trying to tell believers by sharing them? Let’s find out!
Why Are They Called The Beatitudes?
Many believers think the word “Beatitude” refers to Jesus telling us what to “be.” But even though that is a reasonable interpretation and a fair assessment, that’s not what the word means.
The word “Beatitude” comes from the old Latin (AD 400–1530) translation of the New Testament, called the Vulgate.
Each of the Beatitudes starts with the words “Blessed are” or “Blessed be,” and those words are translated as “beati sunt” in the Latin Vulgate. And when we look into the Etymology we can see that connection to the latin.
beatitude (n.) early 15c., “supreme happiness,” from Old French béatitude (15c.) and directly from Latin beatitudinem (nominative beatitudo) “state of blessedness,” noun of state from past-participle stem of beare “make happy” (see Beatrice). Attested from 1520s as “a declaration of blessedness,” usually plural, beatitudes, especially in reference to the Sermon on the Mount. (source)
So, from the time that the church used the Latin Bible, the name for these statements became the Beatitudes.
As a side note, though this portion of the Sermon on the Mount is formally known as the Beatitudes, there are other Beatitudes throughout the New Testament. Every time a statement starts with “Blessed are,” we can consider that a Beatitude; for example, Matthew 11:6.
And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me. – Matthew 11:6
In short, the Beatitudes are blessings spoken by Jesus. For now, we will focus on the nine Beatitudes that formed part of the Sermon on the Mount. Let’s look at what each one means.
The Beatitudes Explained
Before we dive in you might want to be refreshed on the passage we will be going over:
And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the [a]earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. - Matthew 5:1-12 NKJ
Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit, for Theirs Is the Kingdom of Heaven Meaning
The first Beatitude, described in Matthew 5:3, tells us that the poor in spirit are blessed and that the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. But what does this mean?
The word translated as “poor” is the Greek word “ptochos” which refers to poverty or, more literally, being like a beggar.
The word “spirit” is the Greek word “pneuma”; it’s the same word that often refers to the Holy Spirit but also to the human spirit or even a mental disposition.
πτωχόςptōchós, pto-khos’; from πτώσσω ptṓssō (to crouch); akin to G4422 and the alternate of G4098); a beggar (as cringing), i.e. pauper (strictly denoting absolute or public mendicancy, although also used in a qualified or relative sense; whereas G3993 properly means only straitened circumstances in private), literally (often as noun) or figuratively (distressed):—beggar(-ly), poor.
πνεῦμαpneûma, pnyoo’-mah; from G4154; a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively, a spirit, i.e. (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, demon, or (divine) God, Christ’s spirit, the Holy Spirit:—ghost, life, spirit(-ual, -ually), mind. Compare G5590.
Essentially, Jesus is speaking of the spiritual attitude of humility and dependence on God rather than self-sufficiency and pride. Those who recognize their own spiritual poverty and need for God’s help will receive the blessing of the kingdom of heaven.
It’s a pure realization I have nothing apart from God. On my own I am truly poor, but with Him I am rich.
Now, people (even believers) can be full of arrogance. The modern church often resembles the Pharisees of Jesus’ time, full of people who argue about irrelevant details and believe they have the only true revelation of the truth of God.
Yet Jesus calls us to be humble in spirit. We should not think we know all that there is to know about God and what He’s trying to teach us, and instead, be open to learning more about Him and remember we have nothing without Him.
Blessed Are Those Who Mourn, for They Shall Be Comforted Meaning
Verse 4 is a promise that God will comfort those who mourn. This mourning can be literal mourning over a loss, but it can also refer to mourning over sin or suffering.
We know that Jesus told us we would be persecuted (more on that later), and He knew what believers would face, especially shortly after His ascension. But He told us it’s okay to mourn, and we will be blessed and comforted despite our mourning.
Many scholars also regard this as a prophetic word about His death, promising His followers that they would mourn but that comfort would come when they witness His resurrection.
Blessed Are the Meek, for They Shall Inherit the Earth Meaning
This Beatitude speaks of the virtues of humility and gentleness rather than arrogance or aggression. Jesus exhibited these virtues throughout His life and encouraged His disciples to do the same.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” is a verse from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5:5. This statement is one of the Beatitudes, which are a series of blessings that outline the characteristics and virtues Jesus believed were essential for His followers.
The Greek word for “meek” is “πραΰς” (pronounced “praus”), which holds a nuanced meaning that goes beyond the common understanding of meekness as simply being submissive or timid.
In its original context, “πραΰς” implies a sense of strength under control, a gentleness that is tempered by wisdom, and a humility that is grounded in a deep trust in God.
It is important to note that meekness, as understood in the Bible, does not mean weakness; rather, it represents a form of self-discipline and restraint that comes from faith. It’s STRENGTH!
πραΰςpraÿs, prah-ooce’; apparently a primary word; mild, i.e. (by implication) humble:—meek. See also G4235.
There are a few different interpretations of this passage. One interpretation focuses on the spiritual aspect of inheriting the earth, suggesting that the meek will be rewarded with a place in God’s kingdom.
This perspective emphasizes the importance of inner transformation and spiritual growth, as well as cultivating a Christ-like character.
Another interpretation takes a more literal approach, asserting that the meek will inherit the physical earth as part of the divine plan.
This view often connects with the idea of stewardship and environmental responsibility, as well as the importance of living in harmony with God’s creation.
A third interpretation suggests that “inheriting the earth” is a metaphor for experiencing a sense of peace and fulfillment in one’s life. In this context, meekness represents an attitude of humility and trust in God, which allows believers to navigate the challenges of life with grace, patience, and wisdom.
It’s also interesting to look at Psalm 37:11:
“But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.”
From this verse, which nearly mirrors Matthew 5:5, we can see that it refers to literally owning the world and having peace in it. If we hold on and remain meek, we will ultimately receive our inheritance.
Blessed Are Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness, for They Shall Be Satisfied Meaning
We are to long for God’s righteousness in everything, both in our own lives and the world around us. This longing and thirst for God’s will to prevail (God’s righteousness) will be satisfied.
The word translated as “righteousness” is Strong’s number G1343, “dikaiosune.”
δικαιοσύνηdikaiosýnē, dik-ah-yos-oo’-nay; from G1342; equity (of character or act); specially (Christian) justification:—righteousness.
It refers explicitly to Christian justification, an act we have no part in. So, despite how many interpret it as God doing justice when we are wronged, it’s really referring to the fact that those of us who long for and urgently seek God’s righteousness will find it since it has been paid for in full by Jesus Christ.
Blessed Are the Merciful, for They Shall Receive Mercy Meaning
The words “merciful” and “mercy” here are the Greek words “eleemon” and “eleeo” . The term can mean mercy, grace, or active compassion.
ἐλεήμωνeleḗmōn, el-eh-ay’-mone; from G1653; compassionate (actively):—merciful.
The meaning of this Beatitude is related to the law of sowing and reaping. If we as believers are actively compassionate, merciful, and gracious toward others, God will bless us with the same compassion, mercy, and grace when needed.
Blessed Are the Pure in Heart, for They Shall See God Meaning
This verse does not refer to seeing God physically in this life (though we know we will see Him in all His glory in the next). However, Jesus tells us that we can see God in everything in our lives.
The phrase “pure in heart” in Greek is “καθαροὶ τῇ καρδίᾳ” (katharoi tē kardia). The word “καθαροὶ” (katharoi) means pure or clean, while “τῇ καρδίᾳ” (tē kardia) refers to the heart.
In the biblical context, the heart symbolizes the center of one’s thoughts, emotions, and will. Therefore, being “pure in heart” implies having a sincere and undivided devotion to God, untainted by hypocrisy or ulterior motives.
In the cultural and religious context of the time, the concept of purity was deeply ingrained in Jewish law and tradition, with numerous regulations governing ritual cleanliness and moral conduct.
However, Jesus’ teaching goes beyond mere external observance, emphasizing the importance of inner transformation and cultivating a genuine relationship with God.
Since we have a relationship with Him (which can only happen through a pure heart, which is only perfectly possible through Jesus), He will be actively involved in every aspect of our lives to the point where we will see Him in everything we do.
Blessed Are the Peacemakers, for They Shall Be Called Sons of God Meaning
The term “peacemakers” in Greek is “εἰρηνοποιοί” (eirēnopoioi), derived from “εἰρήνη” (eirēnē), meaning peace, and “ποιέω” (poieō), meaning to make or do.
εἰρηνοποιόςeirēnopoiós, i-ray-nop-oy-os’; from G1515 and G4160; pacificatory, i.e. (subjectively) peaceable:—peacemaker.
A peacemaker, therefore, is someone who actively pursues and promotes peace, harmony, and reconciliation in various aspects of life, including personal relationships, communities, and more.
True peacemakers possess characteristics such as empathy, humility, patience, and a willingness to listen and understand differing perspectives. They strive to resolve conflicts and heal divisions by fostering dialogue, understanding, and forgiveness.
In doing so, they reflect the nature of God, who is the ultimate source of peace and reconciliation. They are being Jesus to the world!!
The reward for peacemakers is that they “shall be called sons of God.” This expression signifies a special relationship with God, marked by a deep sense of belonging, intimacy, and shared identity.
It implies that peacemakers will be recognized as those who emulate God’s character and participate in His redemptive work in the world.
I do want to point out that being a peacemaker goes beyond trying to establish peace between two people who are in disagreement. It means pursuing God’s peace first and foremost and then extending that to others as well.
Jesus is our ultimate example, and flipping tables and driving money changers from the temple doesn’t seem much like a “peacemaker” (Matthew 21:12-17). But peace with God always comes first. We should understand what peace means to God and then pursue that with all that is within us.
Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted for Righteousness’ Sake, for Theirs Is the Kingdom of Heaven Meaning
This verse continues the themes found in the previous Beatitudes, which emphasize the virtues and attitudes Jesus considered essential for His followers.
As a promise of reward, this Beatitude assures believers that they will inherit the “kingdom of heaven” if they endure persecution for their faith and commitment to righteousness.
The “kingdom of heaven” represents a state of divine favor and ultimate reward, emphasizing that the trials faced in this life are temporary compared to the eternal blessings reserved for the faithful.
This verse is a great reminder that standing up for one’s faith and pursuing righteousness often comes with challenges, but the rewards are immeasurable! Praise God!
Blessed Are You When Others Revile You and Persecute You and Utter All Kinds of Evil Against You Falsely on My Account Meaning
The next verse, which ties in with this one, says, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:12
Christians in the Western world had it relatively easy for many centuries, but that is starting to change.
We can see how the world is starting to see us as the enemy, resisting everything Christ and the church stand for. We are being ridiculed and oppressed more and more openly in favor of statements and policies that are blatantly opposed to the will of God.
Yet we can see that Jesus knew this would happen, and He promised us that we would be blessed despite the oppression and persecution, even telling us to be glad when this happens because our reward is great in heaven.
Rather than getting angry and crying out to God for deliverance, we should rejoice in the fact that Jesus knew this was coming and had already prepared a way for us.
As we come to an end, remember that the Beatitudes serve as a spiritual compass for Christians on their faith journey, guiding them toward a deeper understanding and pursuit of Christ-like virtues.
The Beatitudes challenge us to embrace meekness, mercy, humility, purity of heart, and peacemaking, while also reminding us that we may encounter persecution for living out these values.
God’s assurance of blessings, however, provides us with unwavering hope and strength in the face of adversity. As we grow closer to Jesus and become more like Him, we experience the profound joy and fulfillment that comes from living a life rooted in faith and righteousness.
I hope you have enjoyed this article on beatitudes explained and that it has truly stirred your faith.
Melissa is a passionate minister, speaker and an ongoing learner of the Bible. She has been involved in church and vocational ministry for over 18 years. And is the founder of Think About Such Things. She has the heart to equip the saints by helping them get into the Word of God and fall more in love with Jesus. She also enjoys family, cooking, and reading.
She has spoken in churches in California, Oregon, Texas, and Mexico and has been featured in Guidepost Magazine and All Recipes Magazine. Read More…