Did Jesus Say “Blessed Are the Poor”? (Matthew 5:3)


In Matthew 5:3, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Is that what Jesus said? Blessed are the poor? No, He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” but you probably hear it the other way more often than you hear it the right way.

The poor in spirit are those who know they need God’s help. To those who confess their spiritual bankruptcy to God, they will receive kingdom of God! So this is not about anyone who is poor. It’s talking about a person who humbly acknowledges they need Jesus.

At the start of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:3-12 is a section referred to as the Beatitudes. These are the verses that begin, “Blessed are.” Blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the meek, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, and so on.

Matthew was originally written in Greek, and the Greek word for “Blessed” is makarioi (mak-AR-ee-oy), which means “happy.” This describes a believer who is happy because he is fortunate, approved of by God, and eternally provided for.

Blessing is connected to faith, for as Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists, and that He rewards those who seek Him.” The one who is loved by the Father through faith in the Son is blessed!

Many people say that the beatitudes are about the marginalized. No, the beatitudes are about the followers of Jesus, poor in spirit, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers. These are the children of God, when we understand the text.

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