What does 'blessed are the merciful' mean?


Clarify Share Report Asked October 23 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

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Mini Robin Snelgar Professor and Head of Department of Industrial Psychology
This question actually requires a broader answer which covers Jesus' manner of teaching, and so this answer is simply intended to provide some insight. Jesus had a tendency to teach from the immediate surroundings and events of ordinary life. Thus, we frequently find his teaching in parables which he used to assist others to understand something difficult by placing it alongside something familiar. His use of teaching takes another form as well which is necessary for our understanding of the Beatitudes. This is found when he corrects a general assumption or practice which are thought to govern a situation. Thus, he taught on the 'Good Samaritan' in order to correct an assumption that governed general life at that time.

So, what he says cannot be understood unless we appreciate how he teaches, and we cannot appreciate how he teaches unless we appreciate the world within which he taught. The key to understanding the Beatitudes is that they serve to clarify the fundamental message of Jesus: the free availability of God's rule and righteousness to all humanity through reliance on himself. They do this by taking those who are regarded as seemingly the most hopeless, most beyond all possibility of God's blessing or even interest, and then exhibiting them as enjoying God's touch and abundance. This proves that there is no human condition which excludes God's blessing, and that God will come to any person with His care and deliverance through Jesus. The religious system left the multitudes out, but Jesus welcomed them all into His Kingdom.

The Beatitudes address those whom Jesus had just been ministering to on that day. That crowd consisted of the rejected multitudes, the 'written off', the 'sat upon, spat upon, ratted on' (Simon and Garfunkel - strange how they seemed to understand Jesus' point while many of the 'scribes' seemed to miss it). Jesus was revealing to them that they were the ones who had just been touched by God in ministry, even though they were regarded as the rejected, the spiritual zeros, the spiritually bankrupt (actually the poor in spirit). Then He provides some examples of those types who have been blessed in this way, and thus the Beatitudes.

The key to understanding the Beatitudes is that they serve to clarify Jesus' message: the free availability of God's rule and righteousness to all through Jesus. They exhibit those who are regarded as the most hopeless as enjoying God's touch and provision. They are not instructions to do anything, nor do they indicate conditions that are especially pleasing to God or good for human beings. Nobody there was being told that they were better off being poor, mourning, persecuted, etc., or that those conditions are recommended ways to well-being before God. They are explanations and illustrations drawn from the immediate setting of the present availability of the blessings of God through Jesus.

So, the world today would say 'Feel sorry for the merciful, for they shall be taken advantage of.' Outside of God's rule there is nothing more true. The merciful are always despised as those who do not really know how to make their way in life, make millions. The merciful business man who provides clothing to the poor 'on credit' when it is clear that payment will never be made, is no doubt likely to go out of business. Yet, outside the order of society today, under God's goodness, they themselves find God's mercy to meet their needs, far beyond any expectation. Those are the merciful who receive God's mercy through Jesus.

January 20 2015 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
Jesus opens His Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes, a series of statements describing the blessed life. The fifth Beatitude states, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy" (Ma...

October 23 2013 1 response Vote Up Share Report

Data Pastor Shafer
Mat 5:3-12 Authorized or King James Version Text.

[Blessed] Happy -- used 9 times here of people who have godly characteristics as:

1. Broken spirit (Mt. 5:3; 11:28-30; Ps. 51:17; Isa. 57:15; 66:2)

2. Penitent spirit (Mt. 5:4; Isa. 61:2; Jas. 4:9; 2Cor. 7:9-11)

3. Mild-tempered, gentle spirit (Mt. 5:5; 11:29; Ps. 37:11; 1Pet. 3:4)

4. Hungering, thirsting spirit for righteousness (Mt. 5:6; Ps. 34:10; 42:1-3; 63:1; 84:2; Jn. 7:37-39)

5. Compassionate and merciful spirit (Mt. 5:7; 18:27; 1Pet. 3:8)

6. Pure spirit (Mt. 5:8; Php. 4:8; 1Tim. 1:5; 3:9; 5:22; 1Pet. 1:22)

7. Spirit of wisdom and mediation (Mt. 5:9; Rom. 14:19; 1Cor. 13)

8. Longsuffering and forgiving spirit (Mt. 5:10-12; 10:16-28; 1Cor. 13; 1Pet. 3:14-17; 4:3-19)

[theirs is the kingdom of heaven...] The 4th New Testament prophecy in Matthew (Mt. 5:3-12). Eight prophetic promises are being fulfilled; they will be completely fulfilled at the second coming of Christ. 

Notes For Verse 6
[hunger and thirst after] An idiom for a strong desire (note, Jn. 7:37).

Notes For Verse 8
[pure in heart] Greek: katharos (GSN-), translated "clean" (note, Jn. 13:11). This takes place at the new birth (2Cor. 5:17; 1Jn. 1:9; 2:29; 3:5-10; 5:1-4,18; Eph. 4:24; 2Th. 2:13).

Notes For Verse 12
[Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you] Acts 5:41; 16:25; 1Pet. 4:13.

January 20 2015 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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