Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The peacemakers.—Our version rightly distinguishes between the temper which is simply “peaceable” in itself (James 3:17), and this, the higher form of the same grace, acting energetically upon others. To be able to say with power to those who are bitter foes, “Sirs, ye are brethren”.(Acts 7:26), is nobler even than to strive,” as much as lieth in us, to live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). Rightly does this beatitude follow on that of the “pure in heart,” for it is the absence of all baseness and impurity that gives the power to make peace.
The children of God.—Better, sons of God. The English version slightly obscures the connection between the promise and the character of Him who had been declared to be the Son of God in the truest and highest sense. Not in the ways which the Tempter had suggested, but in the work of “making peace” between God and man, between Jew and Gentile, even at the price of shedding His own blood (Colossians 1:20), was the witness of sonship to be found, and those who were sharers in that work should, according to their capacity, “be called”—i.e., be, and be recognised as, sharers in that sonship.Matthew 5:9. The peace-makers — Those who are themselves of a peaceable temper, and endeavour to promote peace in others: who study to be quiet, and, as much as in them lieth, to live peaceably with all men: who are so far from sowing the seeds of discord between any of their fellow-creatures, that they both studiously avoid contention themselves, and labour to extinguish it wherever it prevails, laying themselves out to heal the differences of brethren and neighbours, to reconcile contending parties, and to restore peace wherever it is broken, as well as to preserve it where it is. They shall be called the children of God — That is, they are and shall be owned by God as his genuine children, by reason of their great likeness to him: for he is the God of peace and love, and is in Christ reconciling the world to himself not imputing their trespasses to them. And, being his children, they are his heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ; and, as they suffer with him, so shall they be glorified together. They shall, in due time, be children of the resurrection, shall receive the adoption, the public declaration and manifestation of their adoption, and the glorious fruit of it, viz., the redemption of their bodies from death and corruption.
Children of God - See the notes at Matthew 1:1. Those who resemble God, or who manifest a spirit like his. He is the Author of peace 1 Corinthians 14:33; and all those who endeavor to promote peace are like him, and are worthy to be called his children.
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.
To be called and to be is much the same: so what Moses said, Genesis 21:12, is interpreted by Paul; Romans 9:7,8; so what is said by Matthew, Matthew 21:13, is interpreted by Luke, Luke 19:46; what was said by St. John, John 1:12, is interpreted 1Jo 3:1; for God is the God of peace, 1 Corinthians 14:33.
"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.Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 5:9. Οἱ εἰρηνοποιοί] not the peaceful (εἰρηνικοί, Jam 3:17, 2Ma 5:25; or εἰρηνεύοντες, Sir 6:7), a meaning which does not appear even in Pollux, i. 41, 152 (Augustine thinks of the moral inner harmony; de Wette, on the contrary, of the inclination of the contemporaries of Jesus to war and tumult; Bleek reminds us of Jewish party hatred), but: the founders of peace (Xen. Hist. Gr. vi. 3. 4; Plut. Mor. p. 279 B; comp. Colossians 1:20; Proverbs 10:10), who as such minister to God’s good pleasure, who is the God of peace (Romans 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:11), as Christ Himself was the highest Founder of peace (Luke 2:14; John 16:33; Ephesians 2:14 ff.).
υἱοὶ θεοῦ κληθής.] again a characteristic designation of community in the future kingdom of the Messiah, so far, namely, as the participators in it have obtained the υἱοθεσία, a relation which begins with their reception into the kingdom; comp. on Luke 6:35. If we import the conception of being loved by God (Kuinoel), or of resemblance to God (Paulus, de Wette), and the like, then we are not in harmony with the expression, and, contrary to the context, we identify it with the conception of the temporal Sonship of God, as it appears in John as a being begotten by God; in Paul, as adoption; see John 1:12; John 1:14. Certainly this temporal Sonship is the moral premiss of that future one; but it is only the latter which can here be meant; comp. Romans 8:19; Romans 8:23.
κληθήσονται] What they are is designated as expressly recognised by the (honourable) name in question, by which they are called. That καλεῖσθαι does not stand for εἶναι, see Fritzsche on i. 16; Winer, p. 571 f. [E. T. 769]. Comp. Eur. Hec. 625: ὁ δʼ ἐν πολίταις τίμιος κεκλημένος; and Pflugk on the passage; Hom. Il. ii. 260; and Nägelsbach in loc.
In the beatitudes, Matthew 5:3-9, the various characteristic designations of the Messianic happiness ingeniously correspond to the various designations of the subject, so that in the first declaration, Matthew 5:3, the subject of the promise, the kingdom of the Messiah, is named expressly, and as a whole, and in the following it is always those individual sides of the happiness of this kingdom that are brought forward which correspond to the subjects designated. Thus, to those who mourn corresponds the state of being comforted; to the patient sufferers, who now allow themselves to be oppressed, the future condition of possession and mastership; to the hungry, that of being filled; to the merciful, the receiving of mercy; to the pure in heart, the seeing of God, of which no impure person is capable; to the founders of peace, the sonship of God, who Himself in His own Son has reconciled men to Himself, and to one another. Merely different beams of light from the same glory. At the close, after the seven independent beatitudes, in Matthew 5:10, which is the foundation and transition to the following direct address, the Messiah’s kingdom is once more expressly named, and as a whole, as in the beginning, Matthew 5:3. In this way Matthew 5:3-10 form an ingenious and profound harmonious whole. To this unity and completeness belongs also the series of the subjects, which, taken together, set forth the whole position (Matthew 5:3-5) and the whole endeavours and life (Matthew 5:6-9) of the future member of the kingdom. For as to his position, he is full of lowly feeling (Matthew 5:3), a bearer of suffering (Matthew 5:4), in quiet patience (Matthew 5:5). But as to his endeavours and life: full of fervour after moral perfection (Matthew 5:6), he cherishes towards others the feeling of compassionate love (Matthew 5:7), and by the purity of heart which he attains (Matthew 5:8), his outward actions tend towards peace (Matthew 5:9), whether he also suffer persecution (this by way of transition to Matthew 5:11) for righteousness’ sake—all springing from the one root, faith in his Lord.Matthew 5:9. οἱ εἰρηνοποιοί: not merely those who have peace in their own souls through purity (Augustine), or the peace-loving (Grotius, Wetstein), but the active heroic promoters of peace in a world full of alienation, party passion, and strife. Their efforts largely consist in keeping aloof from sectional strifes and the passions which beget them, and living tranquilly for and in the whole. Such men have few friends. Christ, the ideal peace-maker, was alone in a time given up to sectarian division. But they have their compensation—υἱοὶ θεοῦ κληθήσονται. God owns the disowned and distrusted as His sons. They shall be called because they are. They shall be called at the great consummation; nay, even before that, in after generations, when party strifes and passions have ceased, and men have come to see who were the true friends of the Divine interest in an evil time.9. peacemakers] not only in the sense of those who heal dissension. Peace is used in a deeper sense, “the peace of God,” Php 4:7; “the peace of Christ,” Colossians 3:15.
children of God] These are most akin to the divine nature, perfect as their Father which is in heaven is perfect, Matthew 5:48, cp. 1 John 3:1, “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the Sons of God.”Matthew 5:9. Εἰρηνοποιοὶ, peacemakers) They who make all lawful peace between those who are at variance, at discord, or at war.—υἱοὶ, sons) How great is this dignity!—Θεοῦ, of God) who is the God of peace.—κληθήσονται, shall be called) i.e., shall be in name and in reality.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).
Should be held to its literal meaning, peace-makers; not as Wyc., peaceable men. The founders and promoters of peace are meant; who not only keep the peace, but seek to bring men into harmony with each other. Tynd. renders, the maintainers of peace.
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