Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Persecuted for righteousness sake.—Here again there is a profound significance in the order. The work of the peacemakers is not a light and easy work. Often, as of old, when we “labour for peace,” men “make them ready for battle” (Psalm 120:7); but not the less is the blessing sure to follow. Amid seeming failure or seeming success, those who are persecuted, not for opinions, but for right conduct, the true martyrs and confessors of righteousness, attain their reward at last. There is something suggestive in the fact that the last promise is the same as the first. We end, as we began, with “the kingdom of heaven;” but the path by which we have been led leads us to see that that includes all the intermediate blessings, of which at first it seemed but the prelude and beginning.Matthew 5:10. For righteousness’ sake — Or for the sake of Christ and a good conscience; that Isaiah , 1 st, for their steady belief and profession of, and adherence to any article of Christian faith; 2d, for their performance of any duty, which they owe to God, their neighbour, or themselves, or for their obedience to the commands of God; 3d, because they cannot be prevailed on to own that to be an article of the Christian faith, or any part of Christian duty, which God hath not declared to be such; for, since this cannot be done without making profession of a lie, or pretending to believe what we see no reason to believe, to suffer on this account is evidently to suffer because we will not play the hypocrite, and give the lie to our own consciences; and therefore this, in Peter’s language, is to suffer from conscience toward God. Yea, since this cannot be done, but we must own another teacher, lawgiver, and author of our faith, besides the Lord Jesus, our sufferings for refusing to do this are truly sufferings for Christ’s sake, and such as make us happy sufferers. Theirs is the kingdom of heaven —
In a peculiar sense, as hell belongs especially to hypocrites, Matthew 24:51. And they shall receive an eminently great reward there, on account of their sufferings, and in proportion to them, Luke 6:23. And no wonder, for as their state on earth, under these persecutions, renders them conformable to their Head, and to the holy prophets and apostles, so shall they hereafter be conformed to them in glory.
For righteousness' sake - Because they are righteous, or are the friends of God. We are not to seek persecution. We are not to provoke it by strange sentiments or conduct; by violating the laws of civil society, or by modes of speech that are unnecessarily offensive to others. But if, in the honest effort to be Christians, and to live the life of Christians, others persecute and revile us, we are to consider this as a blessing. It is an evidence that we are the children of God, and that he will defend us. "All that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution," 2 Timothy 3:12.
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven—As this was the reward promised to the poor in spirit—the leading one of these seven beatitudes—of course it is the proper portion of such as are persecuted for exemplifying them.a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men, Acts 24:16, is a blessed man; and if he be hunted out of the kingdoms of the earth, yet he shall be hunted but to heaven, for to such men belongeth the kingdom of God in glory, Jam 1:12 1 Peter 3:14 4:13.
for righteousness sake: on account of their righteous and godly conversation, which brings upon them the hatred and enmity of the men of the world: for saints, by living righteously, separate themselves from them, and profess themselves not to belong to them; their religious life sets a brand upon, and distinguishes other persons; yea, it reproves and condemns their wicked lives and practices; and this fills them with wrath against them, and puts them on persecuting them: or by "righteousness" may be meant, a righteous cause, the cause of Christ and his Gospel; for by making a profession of Christ, showing a concern for his interest, and by engaging in a vindication of his person and truths, saints expose themselves to the rage and persecution of men: and particularly, they are persecuted for preaching, maintaining, or embracing, the doctrine of justification by the righteousness of Christ; because it is not of man, nor agreeable to the carnal reason of man; it is opposite to the way of justification, which men naturally receive; it excludes boasting, and is contrary to their carnal and selfish principles: persecution is either verbal with the tongue, by cruel mockings and reproachful language; or real, by deeds, such as confiscation of goods, banishment, imprisonment of body, and innumerable sorts of death: the latter seems here more especially designed, and both are expressed in the following verse; and yet the saints, though thus used, or rather abused, are happy;Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 5:10. Comp. 1 Peter 3:14; 1 Peter 4:14.
δικαιοσύν., as in Matthew 5:6 ἕνεκ. δικ., is, as to substance, not different from ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ, Matthew 5:11. In communion with Christ there is righteousness, and in this ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ is expressed the full Messianic consciousness, the certain holy self-feeling of which for the persecuted begins (Acts 9:4).
To take the αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλ. τ. οὐρ. differently from Matthew 5:3 (Kienlen in d. Stud. u. Krit. 1848, p. 678: Matthew 5:5 is the entrance into the kingdom of God; Matthew 5:10, the consummation in the same, comp. Lange) is purely arbitrary. See rather the preceding remark.
 This putting forward the person as Lord and Master is, in Weizsäcker’s view, p. 151, a reason for regarding ver. 11 f. as a later explanation to the original text. But even in the whole train of the discourse that follows from ver. 17 onwards, such a personal assertion comes out strongly enough; comp. especially the constant symmetrical recurrence of ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, and immediately in ver. 17 the expression of the Messianic consciousness, ἦλθον, κ.τ.λ.Matthew 5:10-12 being regarded as a transition to a new topic. his seems arbitrary. Delitsch, anxious to establish an analogy with the Decalogue, makes out ten—seven from Matthew 5:3 to Matthew 5:9, Matthew 5:10 one, Matthew 5:11 one, and Matthew 5:12, though lacking the μακάριοι, the tenth; its claim resting on the exulting words, χαίρετε καὶ ἀγαλλιᾶσθε. This savours of Rabbinical pedantry.10, 11. for righteousness’ sake.… for my sake] Observe these limitations. The cause in which a man suffers is everything. Many Galilæan zealots who had been persecuted, reviled, traduced, when they rose against Herod or the Roman power had no share in this blessedness.Matthew 5:10. οἱ δεδιωγμένοι, they who endure persecution) In the next verse, δεδιωγμένοι signifies, Those who have offered themselves to undergo persecution. Our Lord already announces the treatment which He and His followers will receive from the world. He unfolds this truth, however, gradually. He speaks of His yoke in ch. Matthew 11:29; of His cross in Matthew 16:24. By comparing Mark 8:34, and Matthew 10:38, it appears that He speaks of His cross to His disciples alone.—ἕνεκεν δικαιοσύνης, for righteousness’ sake) In the next verse, He says, for My sake; cf. ch. Matthew 10:39; Matthew 10:42, Matthew 16:25, Matthew 18:5, Matthew 19:12; Matthew 19:29.Verse 10. - Which are persecuted; which have been persecuted (Revised Version); οἱ δεδιωγμένοι. "Those who are harassed, hunted, spoiled. The term is properly used of wild beasts pursued by hunters, or of an enemy or malefactor in flight" (Wetstein). Our Lord, by the use of the perfect, wishes to indicate
(1) the fact that they have endured persecution, and still stand firm; and probably
(2) the condition of temporal loss to which they have been reduced by such persecution. They have "suffered the loss," possibly, "of all things," but they are "blessed." For righteouness' sake (ἕνεκεν δικαιοσύνης). No article (contrast ver. 6), either as indicating that for even a part of righteousness persecution can be undergone, or, and more probably, simply dwelling on the cause of persecution without idealizing it. St. Peter also says, perhaps with a reference to our Lord's words, that they who suffer διὰ δικαιοσύνην are μακάριοι (1 Peter 3:14). For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The same promise that was given to "the poor in spirit" (ver. 3) is here given to the persecuted for righteousness' sake. In the former case, poverty in the sphere of the spirit obtains the fullest possessions; here the same promise is given to temporal loss produced by faithfulness to the cause of righteousness. In ver. 3 our Lord removed all occasion for intellectual and spiritual pride. Here he comforts for temporal and social losses (cf. especially 2 Corinthians 6:10; further see ver. 3, note). Clement of Alexandria, 'Strom.,' 4:6 (p. 582, Potter)
(1) confuses this and the preceding Beatitude;
(2) gives a curious reading of some who alter the Gospels: "Blessed are they who have been persecuted through righteousness (ὑπὸ τῆς δικαιοσύνης), for they shall be perfect; and blessed are they who have been persecuted for my sake, for they shall have a place where they shall not be persecuted" (cf. Westcott, 'Introd. Gospp.,' Appendix C).
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