Matthew 5:8
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
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(8) Pure in heart.—Here, as with the poor in spirit, the noun determines the region in which the purity is to be found—the “heart” as representing desires and affections, as the “spirit” represents the will and higher personality. The purity so described is not that which was the ideal of the Pharisee, outward and ceremonial, nor, again, was it limited, as the common language of Christians too often limits it, to the absence of one special form of sensual sin; but it excluded every element of baseness—the impurity of hate or greed of gain, no less than that of lust. Not without cause, however, has the evil of the latter sin so overshadowed the others that it has almost monopolised the name. No single form of evil spreads its taint more deeply than that which “lets in contagion to the inward parts.”

Shall see God.—Does the promise find its fulfilment only in the beatific vision of the saints in glory, seeing God as He is (1John 3:2), knowing even as also we are known (1Corinthians 13:12)? Doubtless there, and there only, will be the full fruition which now we wait for; but “purity of heart,” so far as it exists, brings with it the power of seeing more than others see in all through which God reveals Himself—the beauty of nature, the inward light, the moral order of the world, the written word, the life and teaching of Christ. Though we see as yet “through a glass,” as in a mirror that reflects imperfectly, yet in that glass we behold “the glory of the Lord” (1Corinthians 13:12; 2Corinthians 3:18).

Matthew 5:8. The pure in heart — Those whose hearts are purified by faith; who are not only sprinkled from an evil conscience by the blood of Jesus, but cleansed by the Spirit of God from vain thoughts, unprofitable reasonings, earthly and sensual desires, and corrupt passions; who are purified from pride, self-will, discontent, impatience, anger, malice, envy, covetousness, ambition; whose hearts are circumcised to love the Lord their God with all their hearts, and their neighbours as themselves, and who, therefore, are not only upright before him, but possess and maintain purity of intention and of affection in all their designs, works, and enjoyments; serving him continually with a single eye and an undivided heart. They shall see God — Namely, in the glass of his works, whether of creation, providence, or grace, here, and face to face hereafter: they shall have fellowship with him in his ordinances, and shall endure as seeing him that is invisible, while they walk by faith on earth, and shall be admitted to the most perfect vision and complete enjoyment of him in heaven.

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 the pure in heart - That is, whose minds, motives, and principles are pure; who seek not only to have the external actions correct, but who desire to be holy in heart, and who are so. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.

They shall see God - There is a sense in which all will see God, Revelation 1:7. That is, they will behold him as a Judge, not as a Friend. In this place it is spoken of as a special favor. So also in Revelation 22:4, "And they shall see his face." To see the face of one, or to be in the presence of any one, were terms among the Jews expressive of great favor. It was regarded as a high honor to be in the presence of kings and princes, and to be permitted to see them, Proverbs 22:29, "He shall stand before kings." See also 2 Kings 25:19, "Those that stood in the king's presence;" in the Hebrew, those that saw the face of the king; that is, who were his favorites and friends. So here, to see God, means to be his friends and favorites, and to dwell with him in his kingdom.

8. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God—Here, too, we are on Old Testament ground. There the difference between outward and inward purity, and the acceptableness of the latter only in the sight of God, are everywhere taught. Nor is the "vision of God" strange to the Old Testament; and though it was an understood thing that this was not possible in the present life (Ex 33:20; and compare Job 19:26, 27; Isa 6:5), yet spiritually it was known and felt to be the privilege of the saints even here (Ge 5:24; 6:9; 17:1; 48:15; Ps 27:4; 36:9; 63:2; Isa 38:3, 11, &c.). But oh, with what grand simplicity, brevity, and power is this great fundamental truth here expressed! And in what striking contrast would such teaching appear to that which was then current, in which exclusive attention was paid to ceremonial purification and external morality! This heart purity begins in a "heart sprinkled from an evil conscience," or a "conscience purged from dead works" (Heb 10:22; 9:14; and see Ac 15:9); and this also is taught in the Old Testament (Ps 32:1, 2; compare Ro 4:5-8; Isa 6:5-8). The conscience thus purged—the heart thus sprinkled—there is light within wherewith to see God. "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with the other"—He with us and we with Him—"and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us"—us who have this fellowship, and who, without such continual cleansing, would soon lose it again—"from all sin" (1Jo 1:6, 7). "Whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him" (1Jo 3:6); "He that doeth evil hath not seen God" (3Jo 11). The inward vision thus clarified, and the whole inner man in sympathy with God, each looks upon the other with complacency and joy, and we are "changed into the same image from glory to glory." But the full and beatific vision of God is reserved for that time to which the Psalmist stretches his views—"As for me, I shall behold Thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness" (Ps 17:15). Then shall His servants serve Him: and they shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads (Re 22:3, 4). They shall see Him as He is (1Jo 3:2). But, says the apostle, expressing the converse of this beatitude—"Follow holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord" (Heb 12:14). The men of the world bless those who appear pure and holy to men, and put on a vizard and mask of purity, though they be but painted sepulchres, and their hearts be as cages of all unclean birds: but those alone are blessed, who, being washed from their filthiness by my blood, are of a sincere and upright heart; though they be not legally pure and free from all sin, yet are so pure as that God will accept them, the bent of their hearts being after holiness; who have not a heart and a heart, no doubleness of mind, who are persons in whom is no guile. For though no mortal eye can see and comprehend the essence of God, yet these men shall by an eye of faith see and enjoy God in this life, though in a glass more darkly, and in the life to come face to face, and as he is, 1 Corinthians 13:12 Hebrews 12:14; 1Jo 3:2.

Blessed are the pure in heart,.... Not in the head; for men may have pure notions and impure hearts; not in the hand, or action, or in outward conversation only; so the Pharisees were outwardly righteous before men, but inwardly full of impurity; but "in heart". The heart of man is naturally unclean; nor is it in the power of man to make it clean, or to be pure from his sin; nor is any man in this life, in such sense, so pure in heart, as to be entirely free from sin. This is only true of Christ, angels, and glorified saints: but such may be said to be so, who, though they have sin dwelling in them, are justified from all sin, by the righteousness of Christ, and are "clean through the word", or sentence of justification pronounced upon them, on the account of that righteousness; whose iniquities are all of them forgiven, and whose hearts are sprinkled with the blood of Jesus, which cleanses from all sin; and who have the grace of God wrought in their hearts, which, though as yet imperfect, it is entirely pure; there is not the least spot or stain of sin in it: and such souls as they are in love with, so they most earnestly desire after more purity of heart, lip, life, and conversation. And happy they are,

for they shall see God; in this life, enjoying communion with him, both in private and public, in the several duties of religion, in the house and ordinances of God; where they often behold his beauty, see his power and his glory, and taste, and know, that he is good and gracious: and in the other world, where they shall see God in Christ, with the eyes of their understanding; and God incarnate, with the eyes of their bodies, after the resurrection; which sight of Christ, and God in Christ, will be unspeakably glorious, desirable, delightful, and satisfying; it will be free from all darkness and error, and from all interruption; it will be an appropriating and transforming one, and will last for ever.

Blessed are the {c} pure in heart: for they shall see God.

(c) Fitly is this word pure joined with the heart, for as a bright and shining resemblance or image may be seen plainly in a clear and pure looking glass, even so does the face (as it were) of the everlasting God, shine forth, and clearly appear in a pure heart.

Matthew 5:8. Οἱ καθαροὶ τῇ καρδίᾳ] denotes the moral blamelessness of the inner life, the centre of which is the heart, in conformity with the view that πᾶσα ἁμαρτία ῥύπον ἐντίθησι τῇ ψυχῇ, Origen, Hom, in Joh. lxxiii. 2. Comp. Psalm 73:1; Psalm 24:4; 1 Timothy 1:5; 1 Timothy 3:9; Plat. Crat. p. 403 E, ψυχὴ καθαρά, p. 405 B, al. How this purity is actually attained (by justification and the sanctification of believers) remains even now left over to the future.

τὸν θεὸν ὄψονται] certainly refers, according to the analogy of all the other beatitudes, to the αἰὼν μέλλων, but is not (in accordance with the Oriental idea of great good fortune in being an intimate friend of the king’s, 1 Kings 10:8; Esther 1:14) to be taken as a typical designation of the Messianic happiness in general (Kuinoel, Fritzsche, and others), nor as an inward seeing of God (knowledge, becoming conscious of God, inmost fellowship with God), as de Wette also understood it to mean direct spiritual fellowship with God here on earth and there in heaven; but, as the words do not allow us to understand it differently: of the seeing of God who gloriously reveals Himself in the Messiah’s kingdom, a seeing which will be attained in the condition of the glorified body, Revelation 7:15; Revelation 22:4; 1 John 3:2; Hebrews 12:14. Passages like Exodus 33:20, John 1:18; John 6:46, Colossians 1:15, Romans 1:20, 1 Timothy 6:16, are not opposed to it, because they refer to seeing with the earthly eye. The seeing of God, who, although Spirit (John 4:24), has His essential form of manifestation (Php 2:6), will one day be the consummation of the προσαγωγή obtained through Christ (Romans 5:2). Comp. Clem. Hom. xvii. 7.

Matthew 5:8. οἱ καθαροὶ τῇ καρδίᾳ: τ. καρδ. may be an explanatory addition to indicate the region in which purity shows itself. That purity is in the heart, the seat of thought, desire, motive, not in the outward act, goes without saying from Christ’s point of view. Blessed the pure. Here there is a wide range of suggestion. The pure may be the spotless or faultless in general; the continent with special reference to sexual indulgence—those whose very thoughts are clean; or the pure in motive, the single-minded, the men who seek the kingdom as the summum bonum with undivided heart. The last is the most relevant to the general connection and the most deserving to be insisted on. In the words of Augustine, the mundum cor is above all the simplex cor. Moral simplicity is the cardinal demand in Christ’s ethics. The man who has attained to it is in His view perfect (Matthew 19:21). Without it a large numerical list of virtues and good habits goes for nothing. With it character, however faulty in temper or otherwise, is ennobled and redeemed.—τὸν θεὸν ὄψονται: their reward is the beatific vision. Some think the reference is not to the faculty of clear vision but to the rare privilege of seeing the face of the Great King (so Fritzsche and Schanz). “The expression has its origin in the ways of eastern monarchs, who rarely show themselves in public, so that only the most intimate circle behold the royal countenance” (Schanz) = the pure have access to the all but inaccessible. This idea does not seem to harmonise with Christ’s general way of conceiving God. On the other hand, it was His habit to insist on the connection between clear vision and moral simplioity; to teach that it is the single eye that is full of light (Matthew 6:22). It is true that the pure shall have access to God’s presence, but the truth to be insisted on in connection with this Beatitude is that through purity, singleness of mind, they are qualified for seeing, knowing, truly conceiving God and all that relates to the moral universe. It is the pure in heart who are able to see and say that “truly God is good” (Psalm 73:1) and rightly to interpret the whole phenomena of life in relation to Providence. They shall see, says Jesus casting His thought into eschatological form, but He means the pure are the men who see; the double-minded, the two-souled (δίψυχος, Jam 1:8) man is blind. Theophylact illustrates the connection between purity and vision thus: ὥσπερ γὰρ τὸ κάτοπτρον, ἐὰν ᾖ καθαρὸγ τότε δέχεται τὰς ἐμφάσεις, οὕτω καὶ ἡ καθαρὰ ψυχὴ δέχεται ὄψιν θεοῦ.

8. pure in heart] Purity is a distinguishing virtue of Christianity. It finds no place even in the teaching of Socrates, or in the system of Aristotle. Pure in heart “non sufficit puritas ceremonialis.” Bengel.

shall see God] The Christian education is a gradual unveiling of God, all have glimpses of Him, to the pure He appears quite plainly. Cp. 1 John 3:2-3. In a further sense the unveiled sight of God is reserved for the Eternal life.

Matthew 5:8. Οἱ καθαροὶ τῂ καρδίᾳ, the pure in heart) Ceremonial purity is not sufficient. Jesus requires, and teaches, the virtue of the heart. Purity of heart includes both chastity and freedom from the other defilements of sin.—τὸν Θεὸν ὄψονται, shall see God) A clear knowledge of God is promised even now, but in words which will be more literally fulfilled in life eternal: see 1 John 3:2-3; 1 John 3:6; cf. concerning the opposite to purity, 1 Thessalonians 4:5.

Verse 8. - The pure in heart. Our Lord naturally passes in thought from the sixth to the seventh commandment (cf. vers. 21, 27), finding the basis of his phraseology in Psalm 24:3, 4, "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?... He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart (LXX. ἀθῶος χερσὶν καὶ καθαρὸς τῇ καρδίᾳ) (cf. also Psalm 72:1). Καθαρός (besides speaking of mere physical cleanness, ch. 27:59) specially refers to freedom from pollution, judged by God's standard of what pollution is, whether it be a matter of ceremonial enactment (meats, Romans 14:20; cf. Mark 7:19; cf. leprosy, Mark 8:2, 3; 10:8, et al.) or of ethical relation (John 13:10, 11; John 15:3); cf. Origen.'Hem. in Joh.,' 73:2 (Meyer), "Every sin soils the soul (Πᾶσα ἁμαρτία ῤύπον ἐντίθησι τῇ ψυχῇ)" (cf. also Bishop Westcott, 'Hebrews,' p. 346). In heart. The seat of the affections (Matthew 6:21; Matthew 22:37) and the understanding (Matthew 13:15), also the central spring of all human words and actions (Matthew 15:19); cf. καθαρὰ καρδία (1 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:22), which implies something deeper than καθαρὰ συνείδησις (1 Timothy 3:9; 2 Timothy 1:3). Shall see God. Not in his courts (Psalm 24.) on Mount Moriah, but above; and in one complete vision fully grasped (ὄψονται). The thought of present spiritual sight of God, though, perhaps, hardly to be excluded (contrast Weiss, 'Matthausev.'), is at least swallowed up in the thought of the full and final revelation. Those who are pure in heart, and care not for such sights as lead men into sin, are unconsciously preparing themselves for the great spiritual sight - the beatific vision (Revelation 22:4; cf. 1 John 3:2). In Hebrews 12:14 holiness (ἁγιασμός) is an indispensable quality for such a vision of "the Lord." Matthew 5:8
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