Jesus's Words

Matthew 5:3 Elucidation

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Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Matthew 5:3

What Does It Mean to Be Blessed With the Kingdom of Heaven?

Jesus tells us, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Those who are poor in spirit are blessed with entrance to the kingdom of heaven. That means that those who are poor in spirit are doing the will of Jesus's Father, because Jesus said, Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.Matthew 7:21

Only those that do the will of Jesus's Father, God, enter into the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, those that are "poor in spirit" are doing God's will. However, that doesn't mean that everyone that does God's will is poor in spirit. It's like squares and rectangles. All squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares.

What Does It Mean to Be "Poor in Spirit"? Back to Top ↑

We should understand what is means to be "poor in spirit." To be "poor" in this circumstance means to be utterly destitute. If we were "poor in money," we would be a beggar at best. But Jesus said to be poor in spirit. And so what does "in spirit" mean?

The spirit is the animating life force of a human. From the very beginning when God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,Genesis 2:7 humanity has had their own spirits in them to separate them from beasts. A spirit with which to reason, to think, to desire, and to make decisions. And thus, while a beast can only desire food, a mate, and a warm place to rest, humans can desire peace, cat ears, and spacecraft.

Perhaps the best example of someone poor in spirit is Lazarus.(Luke 16:19-22.) Lazarus did nothing. He sat at some rich man's gate, in pain from his sores, and begged, and died. He had no animating force. He had nothing to make him get up from the gate and work, or seek his desires or anything. He laid at the rich man's gates and died. And yet, Lazarus did the will of God, for the angels carried him away.

Lazarus was completely poor in spirit. He no longer cared for this world, and (probably) only looked forward to being with God. That is what it means to be poor in spirit.

If we were to provide another word for "poor in spirit," it would be "meek." The poor in spirit are meek to the point of excessiveness. Lazarus was so meek that he couldn't even shake off the dogs that licked his sores.

Other Investigation into "Poor in Spirit." Back to Top ↑

Most people know that Jesus likely taught in Aramaic, the regional language of the time. However, few people are aware that there was a common Aramaic saying, "to be high in spirit." Thus, Jesus could have been contrasting being 'high in spirit' with being 'poor in spirit.'

The Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon Project has documented the idiom several times in ancient writings. They show that it means 'insolence' and 'ostentatiousness.' Insolence is a disrespectful and arrogant attitude, much like a rebellious teenager might show to their dad. Ostentatiousness is an pompous, pretentious, and egotistical presense, such as what the pope seems like when he is fully decked out in his array.

This is also the perfect description of the leader in Jerusalem, the scribes and Pharisees, whom Jesus condemned. They showed off to whoever was in sight or sound how righteous and perfect they were, while at the same time denying God in everything that they could. They were ostentatious and insolent.

But, if you're the opposite of those leaders, if you're 'low in spirit' instead of 'high in spirit,' then you wouldn't be haughty and pompous, you would be humble and discrete.

At least some of the early Christians viewed the verses this way. Tertullian wrote, "No one, assuredly, is 'poor in spirit,' except he be humble."Tertullian, of Patience, Chapter 9 Origen writes, "...those who have been obedient to the word of God ... are said to deserve the kingdom of that heaven or heavens; and thus the prediction is more worthily fulfilled, 'Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth;' and, 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall inherit the kingdom of heaven.'"Origen, De Principiis, Book 2, Chapter 5, Section 7 Tertullian saw being 'poor in spirit' as being humble, and Origen had no issues understanding both meekness and poor in spirit as being similar to one another, as they both described those obedient to the word.

So the early Christians understood being 'poor in spirit' to mean being humble, or meek, and also possible ebing obedient to the word of God. This is in direct contrast of being 'high in spirit,' which is insolent and ostentatious, which the contemporary Pharisees served as an example of.

Why Are the Poor in Spirit Worthy of Entrance Into the Kingdom of Heaven? Back to Top ↑

But it is not enough to explain a verse. No, not in an elucidation. We must explain why the poor in spirit will be granted entrance to the kingdom of heaven.

Because They Have Forsaken Everything. Back to Top ↑

Jesus said, And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.Matthew 19:29 If you're poor in spirit, you have forsaken everything. Nothing can make you get up and do something for the world, not household or family or nationalities. You have no hold to this world, thus you will inherit everlasting life. God doesn't want you to care about your homes or families, and if you're poor in spirit, you certainly don't.

Because they hate this life. Back to Top ↑

Jesus said, He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.John 12:25 God wants you to hate your life in this world. Those poor in spirit weren't born that way. They became poor in spirit through seeing this world and slowly, piece by piece, deciding that this world has nothing for them. The burdens that the world wanted them to carry were too heavy, and so they crumbled under it.

Because They Have Taken Jesus's Yoke. Back to Top ↑

Thankfully, Jesus came to just these people, saying, Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.Matthew 11:28-30 Those poor in spirit can find rest in Jesus, as Jesus promised them that the work that Jesus wants them to do is light.

Because They Have Chosen Jesus as Their Master. Back to Top ↑

And we have two masters that we can choose from in this world. Jesus said, No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.Matthew 6:24 We can either choose God through his only divine spokesperson Jesus Christ, or we can choose this world and all it stands for. The burden that Jesus asks of us is light, but the burden of the world demands heavy taxes and much education and ever-changing propriety.

Those poor in spirit have given up on paying taxes and keeping with the times. Instead, they end up completely relying on others until they die. Thankfully, Jesus has promised us that if we seek the kingdom, he will take care of us in this life. Jesus promised, Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.Matthew 6:31-34 If we are poor in spirit, destitute on Earth, and have no skills to survive in this life, just like Lazarus, then if we just seek entrance into a better life, into the kingdom of God, then Jesus will take care of us.

Because They Do The Will of God. Back to Top ↑

After all, this is the will of God. Jesus implied that the children of God are the children of the resurrection.(Luke 20:36b) And since all the poor in spirit do the will of God, they are brother and sister of Jesus Christ.(Matthew 12:50.) And if Jesus is the son of God, and we are his siblings, then we too are children of God, and of the resurrection. Jesus said, And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.John 6:39-40

Thus, it is the will of God for us to be resurrected. If you are resurrected, you are a child of God. Likewise, if you follow the will of God by being poor in spirit, you are both a child of God(through siblinghood to Jesus Christ) and in the kingdom of Heaven. And, as covered previously, if you are poor in spirit, you are in the kingdom of Heaven. Thus, to "seek the kingdom of heaven" means to abandon all worldly attachments and desire to be in the next life!

Because They Have No Attachments to This Life World. Back to Top ↑

That is why Jesus was serious when he said, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.Matthew 19:21 It is not a mere message saying, "Hey, you shouldn't care about things more than me." No, it is a command of complete divestment.

This is how a true apostle of Jesus Christ, Peter, saw it. Ananias and Sapphira, husband and wife, couldn't hold to this. Instead, they tried to lie to Peter when they gave the proceedings of a sale to him. But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet... And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him... And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. ... Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.Acts 5:1-2, 5-7, 10 These two lied to Peter regarding their contributions, and because of this, they died.

To hold onto even a little bit of attachment to this world means you are not fit for the kingdom of Heaven. There is nothing in this world worth getting up for. And certainly nothing worth taking up a sword for. That is why Jesus was able to so easily say, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.Matthew 26:52

That is also why Jesus said, Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.Matthew 5:38-42

What is there in this world that matters? God isn't here. Jesus isn't here.(John 14:2-3.) There is nothing. So let them who will live once live to their fullest. We who will live twice will live a far better life far sooner than we think. And if we hate our lives here as a result, then good. Jesus said, He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.John 12:25

Conclusion Back to Top ↑

Be poor in spirit. Give everything away. Lay down on the public streets and wait for death. Lazarus did so and he was carried away by the angels. If you do the same, you will do the will of God, and be granted everlasting life.

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