The second beatitude declares that an era of joy is

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. The second beatitude declares that an era of joy is coming for all those oppressed. The third beatitude expresses that the humble will switch places with the “strong” and violent ones who have power. In the kingdom, the earth will belong not to the physically strong, but to those with spiritual strength. These Beatitudes describe people who wait for the kingdom of God who have nothing but hope in God. The next four Beatitudes talk about an attitude not a virtue. In verse 7 he relates this attitude to the judgment of God. Because the people should be striving to be like God, they need to learn those God-like qualities, such as mercy. Being pure of heart (vs. 8) means having integrity and honesty with not just others, but with oneself too. Verse 9 talks about the peacemakers. In the Old Testament, ‘peace’ signified health, well-being, harmony, and unity. This can be associated with the longing for reconciliation, which was the work of Jesus Christ. The righteousness of a person is their fidelity to God, to obey His commandments and uphold the covenants that they have made. These first eight Beatitudes state that the kingdom of God will be open to the righteous. In verses 11 and 12 Jesus describes what the consequence is for being one of his followers: persecution. At the same time, however, he tells us that those who are persecuted due to their belief in him are blessed. This notion of suffering and sacrificing for his sake led to many early-Christians becoming martyrs, which brought an 22 de Dietrich, The Layman’s Bible Commentary Vol 16, 28. 7
increase to the church membership. Jesus declares his disciples as the light of the world, suggesting that they must bring the truth and love of God to everyone. In verse 19 Jesus tells us that those who take the will of God seriously in the smallest of things will be favored. He states that the law has already been placed and so people should not be trying to change them. He also mentions that in order to enter the kingdom, one’s righteousness must supersede that of the Pharisees, a clear indication of his judgment on this group of people. He warns the people of how anger is the first step towards murder, which the Old Testament scriptures condemn. In verses 23-24 he explains that in order for God to receive our worships and offerings, we must have a good relationship with others. Having some kind of issue with our neighbor can influence God’s judgment. This was hard to accept for all Jews because of the hostility they felt towards non- Jewish people. Lustfulness and adultery are one in the same, desires of the flesh that need to be abolished. In verse 39 he indicates that violence should not be met with violence. It is better to be humble, loving, and righteous than to be filled with anger and to fight back. This statement not only challenged the views of the Zealots, but also that of the Romans. And finally, verses 43-48 are in regards to loving not just people we share beliefs with, but to love our enemies too. The Jews had love for their own people and for those who shared their faith but not for outsiders.

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