I had a discussion with some friends last night about the meaning of the phrase "the meek will inherit the earth" in Matthew 5:5. 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.
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:
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.
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.