Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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.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.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.
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.)
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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