|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:3-12 Our Saviour here gives eight characters of blessed people, which represent to us the principal graces of a Christian. 1. The poor in spirit are happy. These bring their minds to their condition, when it is a low condition. They are humble and lowly in their own eyes. They see their want, bewail their guilt, and thirst after a Redeemer. The kingdom of grace is of such; the kingdom of glory is for them. 2. Those that mourn are happy. That godly sorrow which worketh true repentance, watchfulness, a humble mind, and continual dependence for acceptance on the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, with constant seeking the Holy Spirit, to cleanse away the remaining evil, seems here to be intended. Heaven is the joy of our Lord; a mountain of joy, to which our way is through a vale of tears. Such mourners shall be comforted by their God. 3. The meek are happy. The meek are those who quietly submit to God; who can bear insult; are silent, or return a soft answer; who, in their patience, keep possession of their own souls, when they can scarcely keep possession of anything else. These meek ones are happy, even in this world. Meekness promotes wealth, comfort, and safety, even in this world. 4. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness are happy. Righteousness is here put for all spiritual blessings. These are purchased for us by the righteousness of Christ, confirmed by the faithfulness of God. Our desires of spiritual blessings must be earnest. Though all desires for grace are not grace, yet such a desire as this, is a desire of God's own raising, and he will not forsake the work of his own hands. 5. The merciful are happy. We must not only bear our own afflictions patiently, but we must do all we can to help those who are in misery. We must have compassion on the souls of others, and help them; pity those who are in sin, and seek to snatch them as brands out of the burning. 6. The pure in heart are happy; for they shall see God. Here holiness and happiness are fully described and put together. The heart must be purified by faith, and kept for God. Create in me such a clean heart, O God. None but the pure are capable of seeing God, nor would heaven be happiness to the impure. As God cannot endure to look upon their iniquity, so they cannot look upon his purity. 7. The peace-makers are happy. They love, and desire, and delight in peace; and study to be quiet. They keep the peace that it be not broken, and recover it when it is broken. If the peace-makers are blessed, woe to the peace-breakers! 8. Those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake are happy. This saying is peculiar to Christianity; and it is more largely insisted upon than any of the rest. Yet there is nothing in our sufferings that can merit of God; but God will provide that those who lose for him, though life itself, shall not lose by him in the end. Blessed Jesus! how different are thy maxims from those of men of this world! They call the proud happy, and admire the gay, the rich, the powerful, and the victorious. May we find mercy from the Lord; may we be owned as his children, and inherit his kingdom. With these enjoyments and hopes, we may cheerfully welcome low or painful circumstances.
Verse 9. - The peacemakers (οἱ εἰρηνοποιοί). More than "peaceable" (εἰρηνικός, James 3:17; εἰρηνεύοντες, Romans 12:18; Mark 9:50). This is the peaceable character consciously exerted outside itself. The same compound in the New Testament in Colossians 1:20 only: Αἰρηνοποιήσας διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ σταυροῦ αὐτοῦ (cf. Ephesians] 2:14, 15). Christians, in their measure, share in Christ's work, and, we may add, can attain it generally as he did, only by personal suffering. Observe that this Beatitude must have been specially distasteful to the warlike Galilaeans. Mishna, 'Ab.,' 1:13 (Taylor), "Hillel said, Be of the disciples of Aharon, loving peace and pursuing peace," hardly refers to peacemaking, but in Mishna, 'Peah,' 1:1, "These are the things whose fruit a man eats in this world, but which have their capital reward in the world to come: honouring one's father and mother, showing kindness, and bringing about peace between a man and his neighbour, but study of the Law is equivalent to them all." For they; αὐτοί, omitted by א, C, D, 13, 124, Latt., Peshito. Possibly it is an addition inserted from a desire to make this Beatitude harmonize with the others. But more probably it is genuine, and was omitted by accident, either by homoiot, of υἱοὶ (Meyer), or (better) because the scribe forgot the abbot in the emphatic υἱοὶ Θεοῦ, the form of the second clause being peculiar to this Beatitude. Shall be called; by God and angels and men. The children of God; Revised Version, sons of God; to show that the word used here is υἱοὶ, not τέκνα Christ's reference is, that is to say, not so much to the nature as to the privileges involved in sonship. The earthly privileges which peacemakers give up rather than disturb their peaceful relations with others, and in order that they may bring about peace between others, shall be much more than made up to them, and that with the approving verdict of all. They shall, with general approval, enter on the full privileges of their relation to God, who is "the God of peace" (Romans 15:33). Dr. Taylor ('Ab.,' 1:19) has an increasing note on "Peace" as a Talmudic name of God. For language similar to our Lord's, cf. Hosea 1:10 [LXX.], equivalent to Romans 9:26. Here, as often in this Gospel, there may be a tacit contradiction to the assumption that natural birth as Israelites involves the full blessings of sons of God; cf. 'Ab.,' 3:22 (Taylor).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Blessed are the peace makers,.... Not between God and man, for no man can make his own peace with God; nor can any mere creature, angels, or men, make it for him; Christ, in this sense, is the only peace maker: but between men and men; and such are they, who are of peaceable dispositions themselves; live peaceably with all men, and with one another, as their relation obliges to, and their mutual comfort requires; and with the men of the world; and who are ready, willing, and very serviceable, in composing differences, and making peace between their fellow creatures and fellow Christians. The Jews speak very highly, and much, in the commendation of peace making; they reckon this among the things which shall be of use to a man, both in this, and the other world.
"These are the things, (say they (e),) the fruit of which a man enjoys in this world, and his lot or portion remains for him in the world to come; honouring father and mother, liberality, , "and making peace between a man and his neighhour."''
This, they say (f), Aaron was much disposed to.
"Moses used to say, let justice break through the mountain; but Aaron loved peace, and pursued it, and made peace between a man and his neighhour, as is said, Malachi 2:6''
Hence that saying of Hillell (g),
"be thou one of the disciples of Aaron, who loved peace, and followed after it; he loved men, and brought them to the law.''
Now of such persons it is said, that
they shall be called the children of God; that is, they are the children of God by adopting grace, which is made manifest in their regeneration; and that is evidenced by the fruits of it, of which this is one; they not only shall be, and more manifestly appear to be, the sons of God hereafter; but they are, and are known to be so now, by their peaceable disposition, which is wrought in them by the Spirit of God; whereby they become like to the God of peace, and to Christ, the great and only peacemaker, and so are truly sons of peace.
(e) Misn. Peah. c. 1. sect. 1. T. Bab. Sabbat. fol. 127. 1. & Kiddushin. fol. 40. 1.((f) T. Bab. Sanhedrim, fol. 6. 2. Vid. Abot. R. Nathan, c. 12. fol. 4. 2.((g) Pirke Abot. c. 1. sect. 12.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
9. Blessed are the peacemakers—who not only study peace, but diffuse it.
for they shall be called the children of God—shall be called sons of God. Of all these beatitudes this is the only one which could hardly be expected to find its definite ground in the Old Testament; for that most glorious character of God, the likeness of which appears in the peacemakers, had yet to be revealed. His glorious name, indeed—as "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin"—had been proclaimed in a very imposing manner (Ex 34:6), and manifested in action with affecting frequency and variety in the long course of the ancient economy. And we have undeniable evidence that the saints of that economy felt its transforming and ennobling influence on their own character. But it was not till Christ "made peace by the blood of the cross" that God could manifest Himself as "the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant" (Heb 13:20)—could reveal Himself as "in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them," and hold Himself forth in the astonishing attitude of beseeching men to be "reconciled to Himself" (2Co 5:19, 20). When this reconciliation actually takes place, and one has "peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ"—even "the peace of God which passeth all understanding"—the peace-receivers become transformed into peace-diffusers. God is thus seen reflected in them; and by the family likeness these peacemakers are recognized as the children of God. In now coming to the eighth, or supplementary beatitude, it will be seen that all that the saints are in themselves has been already described, in seven features of character; that number indicating completeness of delineation. The last feature, accordingly, is a passive one, representing the treatment that the characters already described may expect from the world. He who shall one day fix the destiny of all men here pronounces certain characters "blessed"; but He ends by forewarning them that the world's estimation and treatment of them will be the reserve of His.
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