My pastor mentioned something called the "beatitudes" in the book of Matthew. What are they?
The Beatitudes are the promises beginning with "Blessed are..." at the start of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, Chapter 5. It is Jesus speaking:
- Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
- Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
- Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
- Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
- Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
- Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
- Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me...
- Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
New International Version
They are called the Beatitudes since each one begins with "beati" (blessed are) in the Latin Vulgate translation of the New Testament.
As stated already, the beatitudes are in the first part of Matthew 5. But what most don't realize is that they are not merely suggestions or invitations. They are commandments. They are making the Lord's will known and when we know the Lord's will it should never be assumed that He had nothing to say and so He was idly blabbering. No, when the Lord speaks it is for our benefit and so that we will know what His will is. That gives us direction which we need for our best interest. Jesus later clarified that they are, indeed, commandments:
"Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:19)
Covenant = Testament. Thus the Old Testament is the Old Covenant. Remember how many commandments were given under the Old Covenant? Ten. They are found in Exodous 20. So then Jesus comes along and fulfills the law under the Old Covenant and then He institutes the New Covenant which did away with the animal sacrifices. With the New Covenant came new commandments. How many commandments are there under the New Covenant? Ten! They are:
1: Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
To be poor in spirit is to lose all pride. The reason it is first and foremost is because the Lord cannot teach a prideful person.
2: Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Have you ever had a tearful moment and noticed how you feel better? This is part of it. But also notice that after the tearful moment all walls come down and you're unafraid to admit the truth to anything. THAT is what the Lord is targeting. As long as we are not trying to hide stuff or cover up our shortcomings then He can better help us.
3: Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
To be meek is to be humbly patient even while under provocation.
4: Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
What they will be filled with is the Holy Spirit. When one is filled with the Holy Spirit they feel that nothing is lacking in life even if they are dirt poor.
5: Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Forgiveness is part of this as is having compassion on others in their plight.
6: Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Being pure in heart means to only desire those things that God would desire. There is a total loss of desire for sin. In fact sin is found to be repulsive.
7: Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Peace is not the absence of war! Peace comes from the heart wherein there is no desire for conflict. The usual factor in a conflict is when one or both are having pride issues and so if the first commandment is mastered then this one comes more easily.
8: Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
This type of persecution would be like the taunting and jeers for doing what is right. It might involve being called a "goody, goody" and so on just because you won't join in their gossip or other misbehavior.
9: Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
This one is a little different in that this one is where you are targeted for being a follower of Jesus Christ, not merely for doing what is right. This applied to the Christians that are being killed in the Middle East because they are a Christian.
10: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Be open and positive about your faith! Don't hold back in loving others and helping others. Go about treating others as Jesus would treat them. BE like Jesus so that it will cause others to give gratitude to our Father in heaven.
So those are the Ten Commandments of the New Covenant. Those are the ones that we are to be striving to master as loving followers of Jesus Christ. If you try mastering them without first loving God then you'll be doing what the Pharisees did so don't fall in to that trap. Remember that to be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven requires doing these things (verse 19).
Here is another interesting thing associated with those commandments: the rest of the Sermon on the Mount are given as helping aids in how to master those Ten Commandments. Take this part, for example:
"But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." (Matthew 5:22)
That verse help us in mastering the 5th commandment and the 7th commandment. Here's another one:
"But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." (Matthew 5:28)
That verse helps us in mastering the 6th commandment regarding being pure in heart. And here is one other that is so often misunderstood:
"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)
What does it mean to be perfect? To be perfect in God's eyes. That does not mean flawless, but perfect. There's a difference. How do we know if we are perfect in His eyes? Because He will bless us with the Holy Spirit and we will feel that one special sensation that encompasses all of the feelings described here:
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance" (Galatians 5:22-23)
So if we are feeling the Holy Spirit's presence in a great measure then God has found us to be perfect at that moment. That is fulfilling the 4th commandment of hungering and thirsting after righteousness because that is what it took to get the Spirit's presence. But that feeling doesn't stay. Why? Because we just sinned again. So if we are truly hungering and thirsting for righteousness then we will immediately take time out of busy schedule to repent so that we can have that presence return. Once the presence returns then it is again a witness that we are living perfect enough for God.
The Beatitudes are principles for living the Kingdom life. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock... (Matt 7:24).
Among the many things Yeshua came to do was give access to the kingdom of God/Heaven (Mark 1:14-15). He was teaching (Matt 5:2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them) the principles of the kingdom. The Greek word used for kingdom, βασιλεία basileia, primary meanings are not geographic - royal power, kingship, dominion, rule. In other words it is a "mind" thing, foremost.
Messiah spent most of the rest of his time elaborating on the things he taught on that mountain. For example: Blessed are the poor in spirit (the picture here is one who gives up his great possession, humble himself) for theirs is the kingdom of heaven - read Matt 18:1-4, Matt 13:44-46, and Matt 19:16-22.
One more example: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. This one is even within the "sermon"... Matt 6:38-39 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. Eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth is about revenge... and the smite thee on thy right cheek? Well that is an Aramaic idiom that means to insult someone.
He was teaching that we should not just not take revenge but also if someone insults you, don't start an argument.
Yeshua came proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and the "Beatitudes" are the foundations, his opening statements. In Matthew he taught on a mountain Matt 5:1, in Luke he was off the mountain and stood on the plain, Luke 6:17. You see these were an integral part of his gospel. Have you heard the gospel he brought, lately?