Blessed are the poor (Lk 6:20-6:20)

“Then Jesus

Looked up

At his disciples.

He said.

‘Blessed are you

Who are poor!

Yours is

The kingdom of God.”

 

Καὶ αὐτὸς ἐπάρας τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοῦ εἰς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ ἔλεγεν Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοί, ὅτι ὑμετέρα ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ.

 

Luke said that Jesus looked up at his disciples (Καὶ αὐτὸς ἐπάρας τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοῦ εἰς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ).  He said (ἔλεγεν) that the poor are blessed or happy (Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοί), using the second person plural.  Their reward would be the kingdom of God (ὅτι ὑμετέρα ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ).  This sermon on the plain is somewhat similar to the sermon on the mount in Matthew, chapters 5-7.  Most people speak about the 8 beatitudes of Jesus on the mountain, since they feature the key points of Jesus’ preaching that was founded on the Hebrew Scriptures.  What does “blessed (Μακάριοι)” mean?  This Greek word Μακάριοι appeared over 68 times in the Greek Septuagint Old Testament, especially in the Psalms.  God will bless these people, so that they will be the fortunate ones, the happy ones, the wise ones.  There are echoes of Psalm 32, where the happy and blessed ones are those who have had their sins forgiven, since they have no deceit in their hearts.  The blessed people are the poor, the hungry, the mourners, and those being persecuted.  Number one is the poor.  However, right off the bat, there is a difference with Matthew. chapter 5:3, who used the term the “poor in spirit (οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι).”  What did Matthew mean by this “poor in spirit” or spiritual poverty?  There is a whole Judaic tradition about the oppressed poor and the humble of the land, as in the prophets Isaiah, chapter 61:1 and 66:2, and Zephaniah, chapter 2:3, but that was not spiritual poverty.  Perhaps, this was more like the lack of concern for material things, whether you are actually poor or not.  For Luke, it was black or white, poor or not.  The 2nd major difference was the reward.  Matthew talked about what they would possess, the kingdom of the heavens (ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν), while Luke said it was the kingdom of God (ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ), plain and simple.

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The first beatitude about poverty (Mt 5:3-5:3)

“Blessed are

The poor in spirit!

Theirs is

The kingdom of heaven.”

 

Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι, ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.

 

Most people speak about the 8 beatitudes of Jesus on the mountain.  They are also found in Luke, chapter 6:20, since they feature the key points of Jesus’ preaching that was founded on the Hebrew Scriptures.  What does “blessed (Μακάριοι)” mean?  This Greek word Μακάριοι appears over 68 times in the Greek Septuagint Old Testament, especially in the Psalms.  God will bless these people, so that they will be the fortunate ones, the happy ones, the wise ones.  There are echoes of Psalm 32, where the happy and blessed ones are those who have had their sins forgiven, since they have no deceit in their hearts.  The blessed people are the poor, the hungry, the mourners, and those being persecuted.  Number one is the poor.  However, right off the bat, there is a difference with Luke, chapter 6:20, who simply said blessed are the poor (Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοὶ) without any modification, since he did not mention the “poor in spirit (οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι),” as Matthew indicated here.  What does Matthew mean by this “poor in spirit” or spiritual poverty?  There is a whole Judaic tradition about the oppressed poor and the humble of the land, as in prophets Isaiah, chapter 61:1 and 66:2, and Zephaniah, chapter 2:3, but that was not spiritual poverty.  Perhaps, this is more like the lack of concern for material things, whether you are actually poor or not.  For Luke, it was black or white, poor or not.  The 2nd major difference was the reward.  Matthew continued to talk about what they would possess, the kingdom of the heavens (ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν), while Luke said it was the kingdom of God, plain and simple.

Blessed is God in heaven (Dan 3:32-3:34)

“Blessed are you!

You look

Into the depths

From your throne

On the cherubim!

You are to be praised!

You are highly exalted forever!

Blessed are you

On the throne

Of your kingdom.

You are to be extolled!

You are highly exalted forever!

Blessed are you

In the firmament

Of heaven!

You are to be sung to!

You are to be glorified forever.”

Next, the 3 young men bless God in heaven, who looks down on them from his throne on the cherubim in heaven. God is to be praised and exalted forever, because he sees his kingdom from the firmament of heaven. Thus, everyone should sing to him and glorify him forever.

The eternal covenant of peace (Ezek 37:26-37:28)

“I will make

A covenant

Of peace

With the Israelites.

It shall be

An everlasting covenant

With them.

I will bless them.

I will multiply them.

I will set my sanctuary

Among them

Forever.

My dwelling place

Shall be with them.

I will be their God.

They shall be my people.

Then the nations

Shall know

That I,

Yahweh,

Sanctify Israel,

When my sanctuary is

Among them

Forever.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, was going to make an eternal covenant of peace with the Israelites. He was going to bless and multiply them. He was going to set his sanctuary among them, living with them forever. He was going to be their God. Thus, they would be his people. All the various countries would know that Yahweh had personally sanctified the land of Israel forever. There was a major emphasis on forever, which is a very long time.

The wonderful blessed land (Ezek 34:26-34:27)

“I will make them

A blessing.

I will make the regions

Around my hill

A blessing.

I will send down

The showers

In their season.

They shall be showers

Of blessing.

The trees

Of the field

Shall yield

Their fruit.

The earth

Shall yield

Its increase.

They shall be

Secure

On their soil.

They shall know

That I am Yahweh,

When I break

The bars

Of their yoke.

I will save them

From the hands

Of those who enslaved them.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, was going to bless the holy hill of Israel and the surrounding areas. He was going to send down blessing showers in their appropriate seasons. He was also going to bless the trees of the field, so that they would yield their fruit. The good earth would yield a steady increase in its crops. Thus, they could be secure on their own soil. They would know that he was Yahweh, because he was going to break the bars on their slavery yoke. Finally, they would be saved from the hands of those who had enslaved them. Good times were ahead.

The weak idols compared to the heavenly bodies (Bar 6:66-6:67)

“These weak idols

Can neither curse

Nor bless kings.

They cannot show signs

In the heavens

For the nations.

They cannot shine

Like the sun.

They cannot give light

Like the moon.”

Once again, this shows the weakness of these false idols, since they can neither curse nor bless kings. They cannot show signs in the heavens for the various nations. They cannot shine like the sun. They cannot give light like the moon. Instead of berating the nature gods of the sun or the moon, this author praises them. His emphasis was on those weak wooden man made false idols. Notice that this author believes that the moon gives light. In fact, we often still speak of moonlight. When in fact, the light from the moon is really a reflection of the sun.

The blessing for those who trust in Yahweh (Jer 17:7-17:8)

“Blessed are those

Who trust in Yahweh!

Blessed are those

Whose trust is Yahweh!

They shall be

Like a tree

Planted by water.

It sends out its roots

By the stream.

It does not fear

When heat comes.

Its leaves shall stay green.

In the year of the drought,

It is not anxious.

It does not cease to bear fruit.”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, wants to bless those who trust in him. They will be blessed if their trust rests with and in Yahweh. They will be like a tree planted by water with good roots. They, like the tree, will not fear when heat comes, because this well watered tree will stay green. Even if there is a drought, this tree will not be anxious, since it will not cease to bear fruit. Everything depends on trust.