Matthew 5:6
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) Which do hunger and thirst.—We seem in this to hear the lesson which our Lord had learnt from the recent experience of the wilderness. The craving of bodily hunger has become a parable of that higher yearning after righteousness, that thirsting after God, even as the hart desireth the water-brooks, which is certain, in the end, to gain its full fruition. Desires after earthly goods are frustrated, or end in satiety and weariness. To this only belongs the promise that they who thus “hunger and thirst” shall assuredly be filled. The same thoughts meet us again in the Gospel which in many respects is so unlike that of St. Matthew. (Comp. John 4:14; John 4:32).

Matthew 5:6. Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness — That, instead of desiring the possessions of others, and endeavouring to obtain them by violence or deceit; and instead of coveting this world’s goods, sincerely, earnestly, and perseveringly desire universal holiness of heart and life, or deliverance from all sinful dispositions and practices, and a complete restoration of their souls to the image of God in which they were created: a just and beautiful description this of that fervent, constant, increasing, restless, and active desire; of that holy ardour and vehemence of soul in pursuit of the most eminent degrees of universal goodness which will end in complete satisfaction: For they shall be filled — Shall obtain the righteousness which they hunger and thirst for, and be abundantly satisfied therewith.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.Blessed are they which do hunger ... - Hunger and thirst, here, are expressive of strong desire. Nothing would better express the strong desire which we ought to feel to obtain righteousness than hunger and thirst. No needs are so keen, none so imperiously demand supply, as these. They occur daily, and when long continued, as in case of those shipwrecked, and doomed to wander months or years over burning sands, with scarcely any drink or food, nothing is more distressing. An ardent desire for anything is often represented in the Scriptures by hunger and thirst, Psalm 42:1-2; Psalm 63:1-2. A desire for the blessings of pardon and peace; a deep sense of sin, and want, and wretchedness, is also represented by thirsting, Isaiah 55:1-2.

They shall be filled - They shall be satisfied as a hungry man is when supplied with food, or a thirsty man when supplied with drink. Those who are perishing for want of righteousness; those who feel that they are lost sinners and strongly desire to be holy, shall be thus satisfied. Never was there a desire to be holy which God was not willing to gratify, and the gospel of Christ has made provision to satisfy all who truly desire to be holy. See Isaiah 55:1-3; Isaiah 65:13; John 4:14; John 6:35; John 7:37-38; Psalm 17:15.

6. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled—"shall be saturated." "From this verse," says Tholuck, "the reference to the Old Testament background ceases." Surprising! On the contrary, none of these beatitudes is more manifestly dug out of the rich mine of the Old Testament. Indeed, how could any one who found in the Old Testament "the poor in spirit," and "the mourners in Zion," doubt that he would also find those same characters also craving that righteousness which they feel and mourn their want of? But what is the precise meaning of "righteousness" here? Lutheran expositors, and some of our own, seem to have a hankering after that more restricted sense of the term in which it is used with reference to the sinner's justification before God. (See Jer 23:6; Isa 45:24; Ro 4:6; 2Co 5:21). But, in so comprehensive a saying as this, it is clearly to be taken—as in Mt 5:10 also—in a much wider sense, as denoting that spiritual and entire conformity to the law of God, under the want of which the saints groan, and the possession of which constitutes the only true saintship. The Old Testament dwells much on this righteousness, as that which alone God regards with approbation (Ps 11:7; 23:3; 106:3; Pr 12:28; 16:31; Isa 64:5, &c.). As hunger and thirst are the keenest of our appetites, our Lord, by employing this figure here, plainly means "those whose deepest cravings are after spiritual blessings." And in the Old Testament we find this craving variously expressed: "Hearken unto Me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord" (Isa 51:1); "I have waited for Thy salvation, O Lord," exclaimed dying Jacob (Ge 49:18); "My soul," says the sweet Psalmist, "breaketh for the longing that it hath unto Thy judgments at all times" (Ps 119:20): and in similar breathings does he give vent to his deepest longings in that and other Psalms. Well, our Lord just takes up here—this blessed frame of mind, representing it as—the surest pledge of the coveted supplies, as it is the best preparative, and indeed itself the beginning of them. "They shall be saturated," He says; they shall not only have what they so highly value and long to possess, but they shall have their fill of it. Not here, however. Even in the Old Testament this was well understood. "Deliver me," says the Psalmist, in language which, beyond all doubt, stretches beyond the present scene, "from men of the world, which have their portion in this life: as for me, I shall behold Thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness" (Ps 17:13-15). The foregoing beatitudes—the first four—represent the saints rather as conscious of their need of salvation, and acting suitably to that character, than as possessed of it. The next three are of a different kind—representing the saints as having now found salvation, and conducting themselves accordingly. You see many men and women hungering and thirsting after sensual satisfactions, or after sensible enjoyments; these are unhappy, miserable men, they often hunger and thirst, and are not satisfied: but I will show you a more excellent way, a more excellent object of your hunger and thirst, that is, righteousness; both a righteousness wherein you may stand before God, which is in me, Jeremiah 23:6, and is revealed from faith to faith, Romans 1:17, and the righteousness of a holy life. Those are blessed men, who first seek the kingdom of heaven, and the righteousness thereof, God will fill these men with what they desire, Isaiah 55:1,2 Lu 1:53. There are some who understand this text of a hungering after the clearing of their innocency towards men, which is natural to just and innocent persons falsely accused and traduced, and they have a promise of being filled, Psalm 37:6; but I see no reason to conclude this the sense of this text. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst,.... Not after the riches, honours, and pleasures of this world, but

after righteousness; by which is meant, not justice and equity, as persons oppressed and injured; nor a moral, legal righteousness, which the generality of the Jewish nation were eagerly pursuing; but the justifying righteousness of Christ, which is imputed by God the Father, and received by faith. To "hunger and thirst" after this, supposes a want of righteousness, which is the case of all men; a sense of want of it, which is only perceived by persons spiritually enlightened; a discovery of the righteousness of Christ to them, which is made in the Gospel, and by the Spirit of God; a value for it, and a preference of it to all other righteousness; and an earnest desire after it, to be possessed of it, and found in it; and that nothing can be more grateful than that, because of its perfection, purity, suitableness, and use: happy souls are these,

for they shall be filled: with that righteousness, and with all other good things, in consequence of it; and particularly with joy and peace, which are the certain effects of it: or, "they shall be satisfied", that they have an interest in it; and so satisfied with it, that they shall never seek for any other righteousness, as a justifying one, in the sight of God; this being full, perfect, sufficient, and entirely complete.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 5:6. Concerning πεινῆν and διψῆν, which regularly govern the genitive with the accusative, where the object is conceived as that which endures the action, see examples of this rare use in Kypke, Obss. I. p. 17; Loesner, Obss. p. 11; and especially Winer, p. 192 [E. T. 256]. The metaphorical meaning (Isaiah 55:1; Psalm 42:3; Sir 51:24) of the verbs is that of longing desire. See Pricaeus and Wetstein in loc.; as regards διψ., also Jacobs, ad Anthol. VI. p. 26, VIII. p. 233. The δικαιοσύνη, however, is the righteousness, the establishment of which was the aim of Christ’s work, and the condition of participation in the Messiah’s kingdom. They are designated as such whose “great earnestness, desire, and fervour” (Luther) are directed towards a moral constitution free from guilt. Luther, besides, strikingly draws attention to this, that before all these portions of the beatitudes, “faith must first be there as the tree and headpiece or sum” of righteousness.

χορτασθήσονται] not generally regni Messiani felicitate (Fritzsche), but, as the context requires, δικαιοσύνης: they will obtain righteousness in full measure, namely, in being declared to be righteous (Romans 5:19; Galatians 5:5, and remarks thereon) at the judgment of the Messiah (Matthew 25:34), and then live for ever in perfect righteousness, so that God will be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28). Comp. 2 Peter 3:13. On the figurative χορτάζ., Psalm 17:15; Psalm 107:9.Matthew 5:6. If the object of the hunger and thirst had not been mentioned this fourth Beatitude would have been parallel in form to the second: Blessed the hungry, for they shall be filled. We should then have another absolute affirmation requiring qualification, and raising the question: What sort of hunger is it which is sure to be satisfied? That might be the original form of the aphorism as given in Luke. The answer to the question it suggests is similar to that given under Beatitude 1. The hunger whose satisfaction is sure is that which contains its own satisfaction. It is the hunger for moral good. The passion for righteousness is righteousness in the deepest sense of the word.—πεινῶντες καὶ διψῶντες. These verbs, like all verbs of desire, ordinarily take the genitive of the object. Here and in other places in N. T. they take the accusative, the object being of a spiritual nature, which one not merely desires to participate in, but to possess in whole. Winer, § xxx. 10, thus distinguishes the two constructions: διψᾶν φιλοσοφίας = to thirst after philosophy; διψ. φιλοσοφίαν = to thirst for possession of philosophy as a whole. Some have thought that διὰ is to be understood before δικ., and that the meaning is: “Blessed they who suffer natural hunger and thirst on account of righteousness”. Grotius understands by δικ. the way or doctrine of righteousness.6. This longing for righteousness is God’s gift to the meek.Matthew 5:6. Οἱ πεινῶντες καὶ διψῶντες, κ.τ.λ, who hunger and thirst, etc.) who feel that of themselves they have no righteousness by which they may approve themselves either to God or man, and eagerly long for it. Faith is here described, suitably to the beginning of the New Testament.—τὴν δικαιοσύνην, righteousness) Our Lord plainly declares Himself here to be the author of righteousness. That which is signified here is not the right (jus) of the human, but of the Divine tribunal. This verse is the centre of this passage, and the theme of the whole sermon. Our Lord does not say, Blessed are the righteous, as he presently says, Blessed are the merciful, etc.; but, Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness. Pure righteousness will become their portion in due time. (See 2 Peter 3:13; Isaiah 60:21.)—χορτασθήσονται, they shall be filled) with righteousness; see Romans 14:17. This was the meat of Jesus himself: see John 4:34; cf. Matthew 3:15. This satisfying fulness He proposes to His followers in the whole of this sermon, and promises and offers them in this very verse.Verse 6. - They which do hunger and thirst. The application of the figure of eating and drinking to spiritual things (cf. Luke 22:30) is not infrequent in the Old Testament; e.g. Isaiah 55:1. Yet the thought here is not the actual participation, but the craving. The Benediction marks a distinct stage in our Lord's argument. He spoke first of the consciously poor in their spirit; next of those who mourned over their poverty; then of those who were ready to receive whatever teaching or chastisement might be given them; here of those who had an earnest longing for that right relation to God in which they were so lacking. This is the positive stage. Intense longing, such as can only be compared to that of a starving man for food, is sure of satisfaction. After righteousness (τὴν δικαιοσύνην). Observe:

(1) The accusative. In Greek writers πεινάω and διψάω are regularly followed by the genitive. Here by the accusative; for the desire is after the whole object, and not after a part of it (cf. Weiss; also Bishop Westcott, on Hebrews 6:4, 5).

(2) The article. It idealizes. There is but one righteousness worthy of the name, and for this and all that it includes, both in standing before God and in relation to men, the soul longs. How it is to be obtained Christ does not here say. For they. Emphatic, as always (ver. 3, note). Shall be filled (χορτασθήσονται); vide Bishop Lightfoot on Philippians 4:12. Properly of animals being fed with fodder (χόρτος); cf. Revelation 19:21, "All the birds were filled (ἐχορτάσθησαν) with their flesh." At first only used of men depreciatingly (Plato,' Rep.,' 9:9, p. 586 a), afterwards readily. Rare in the sense of moral and spiritual satisfaction (cf. Psalm 17:15). When shall they be filled? As in the case of vers. 3, 4, now in part, fully hereafter. "St. Austin, wondering at the overflowing measure of God's Spirit in the Apostles' hearts, observes that the reason why they were so full of God was because they were so empty of his creatures. 'They were very full,' he says, 'because they were very empty'" (Anon., in Ford). That on earth, but in heaven with all the saints -

"Ever filled and ever seeking, what they have they still desire,
Hunger there shall fret them never, nor satiety shall tire, -
Still enjoying whilst aspiring, in their joy they still aspire."
('Chronicles of the Schonberg-Cotta Family,' ch. 9, from the Latin Hymn of Peter Damiani, † 1072.) Shall be filled (χορτασθήσονται)

A very strong and graphic word, originally applied to the feeding and fattening of animals in a stall. In Revelation 19:21, it is used of the filling of the birds with the flesh of God's enemies. Also of the multitudes fed with the loaves and fishes (Matthew 14:20; Mark 8:8; Luke 9:17). It is manifestly appropriate here as expressing the complete satisfaction of spiritual hunger and thirst. Hence Wycliffe's rendering, fulfilled, is strictly true to the original.

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