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I had a discussion with some friends last night about the meaning of the phrase "the meek will inherit the earth" in Matthew.

Matthew 5:5. NIV

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

There were a whole lot of different ideas flying around. Just wondering, is that talking about this present earth, or the next? Also, is it speaking corporately or individually? Not sure if there's a "right" answer for this question.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Flimzy, bruised reed, curiousdannii, David Nov 27 '14 at 5:00

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I would suggest an edit to this question. Something like, "In what way are the meek going to inherit the earth? Does this refer to the current earth? In what way?" – Narnian Feb 20 '13 at 22:05
Thanks for the suggestion! I didn't end up editing before an answer came in. Should I still edit it, or leave it? I feel like David pretty well answered it. – Jeremiah Prummer Feb 22 '13 at 5:25
If I answered it, would you mind marking the post as answer? – David Morton Feb 22 '13 at 12:20
Sorry, was giving it a little more time to see if anyone else would weigh in. – Jeremiah Prummer Feb 22 '13 at 13:13
Please read this, it is more appropriate on the other SE:… – The Freemason Nov 24 '14 at 13:16
up vote 2 down vote accepted

It depends on which tradition you subscribe to.

Present Earth or New Earth?

Covenant theology (with an amillenial eschatology, this would include Presbyterians) would say that the meek are going to inherit the current earth, which will be renewed, while most dispensationalists (with a millenial theology, most Americans in Bible/Baptist backgrounds) would hold to the view that the current earth will be destroyed, and a new earth will be created. 2 Peter 3:13 says:

But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

The covenant theologian would say that this word for "new" really means "renewed" while the dispensationalist will argue that it means "new", as in a brand new creation, unrelated to the last.

Corporate or Individual?

I would have to argue that in both situations, it's saying that the meek will, corporately, inherit the earth. The word for "meek" in the original Greek is rendered in the plural, so it's talking about a group of meek people, as opposed to a singular meek person.

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Thanks for shedding a little more light on this. I really appreciate the reference to the original Greek. – Jeremiah Prummer Feb 22 '13 at 5:25

[Most Happy] are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth.

Matthew 5:5

This is of course a reference to the Old Testament:

But the meek will inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

Psalms 37:11

This Psalm is speaking of the present day, the present Earth. Evil doers will be cut down. You shall be fed. Commit your way to the LORD and He will bring it to pass. These are all current realities, speaking of this life.

All throughout the Psalm, the writer is speaking of trusting in the Lord, and the Lord acting on behalf of the faithful, both in this life, and, in light of the New Testament, also with the promise of the next.

An Example of Meekness

Using scripture to interpret itself, then, we can look for godly examples of meekness in the Old Testament and notice the result.

A good example is Hannah. She was child barren, and more than that, the other wife of her husband was mocking her for it. Instead of lashing out and retaliating, she went to prayer in the temple. She was a picture of meekness. Crying out to God without uttering a word, she asked God for reprieve. After being misunderstood by Eli and being falsely accused of drunkenness, God promised her a son through the prophet. Samuel was born to her in response to a prayer which didn't utter any words. Thus, she received a son whose words never fell to the ground.

Meekness as a way to Receive

Thus, we can see that God's answer to Hannah was to give her the things of this life--a son. So, it appears that "inheriting the Earth" is receiving the things that others fight and contend for by not forcing to get your own way. God's way of receiving the things that the world pushes for is by not pushing, but by meekness.

This is consistent with the Psalm, because the whole intent of it is to rely on God.

Another example would be David. Although he at one point took a piece from Saul's robe, he purposed in his heart not to take the kingship which he was promised by force. Instead, he waited his time, hiding in a cave when necessary, and the kingship was delivered to him at the appropriate time. In retrospect, the later cursing by Shimei while David was fleeing from Absolom is important, then, because it was the exact accusation that Shimei was pointing at him. Because he hadn't taking the kingship by blood, but allowed it to come to him in God's time and way, Shimei's cursing was unjust, and David was not guilty of his words.

Most Happy

The point of the beatitude as a whole, then, is that we can be "Most Happy" when we are not forcing to get our own way, because we know, in due time, we will inherit the very thing that everyone else is fighting to own. In this knowledge, we prefer the path of meekness, with the knowledge that,

A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.

Psalms 37:16

While the Old Testament passage did not have the knowledge of Eternity, however, we see that the concept is extended, to both in this life and in the age to come (Mark 10:30). Christ, being the perfect example of meekness as the lamb upon the cross, receives the fullness of this inheritance through His crucifixion.

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This statement has been bothering me for a number of years now and I can best interpret it this way: Those of us who die and do not have strength enough (whether through our beliefs or through our connections to our Heavenly Father through whatever means) to know or sense or even see where we should go from here are probably just in a state of denial/confusion/just being..../hanging on to "home".

Those of us who die and know that/think that they might be headed to "hell" will want to stay exactly where they are so as to avoid detection and transport.

Perhaps these, among others, are the meek ones.

Thanks very much for this forum. I've just now discovered it.

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