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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 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.

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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
Could it be that nice guys like Bill Gates inherit more and more part of the earth while the assholes are going extinct killing each other? –  Jim Thio Mar 27 '13 at 2:48

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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

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