This is the first lesson in The Sermon on the Mount. The podcast (13 minutes) builds on the introductory lesson, explains the nature of a beatitude, and focuses especially on the Old Testament scriptures alluded to in Matthew 5:3.

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"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3).

There are at least 20 beatitudes uttered by Jesus in the N.T. (8 in Matthew, 4 in Luke, 1 in Acts, and 7 in Revelation).

  • Beatitude < Latin beatitudo, or blessing. Each beatitude in Latin begins "Beati..."
  • Perhaps "fortunate" would be a better rendering than "blessed" (too religious) or "happy" (too connected with the emotions).
  • Isa 61:1-7 – seems to lie behind some of the beatitudes. This passage has also been called "The Nazareth Manifesto" (see Luke 4:18), in which the Lord lays out his agenda—and reveals his identity as Messiah:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified
They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
Strangers shall stand and tend your flocks;
foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers;
but you shall be called the priests of the Lord;
they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God;
you shall eat the wealth of the nations,
and in their glory you shall boast.
Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion;
instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot;
therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion;
they shall have everlasting joy.

  • Proverbs 16:19: "It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor / than to divide the spoil with the proud."
  • Isaiah 66:2: “I will look to this type of man, even to him who is poor and of a contrite spirit and who trembles at my word."
    • Openness to the Word.
    • Not insisting on our own viewpoint, but flexible and receptive to divine truth.
  • Archelaus explains, "Jesus did not refer to those who are simply poor in worldly substance, but to those who are 'poor in spirit'—that is to say, who are not inflamed with pride, but have the gentle and lowly character of humility, not thinking more of themselves than they ought.” —Archelaus, The Disputation with Manes 42 (Antenicene Fathers 6.217), around the year 300 AD
  • Interestingly, the Essenes at Qumran, who in the 1st centuries BC and AD had rejected the corrupt Jerusalem priesthood, described themselves as "poor in spirit" (1QM 14:7).
  • Jesus set aside his heavenly privileges to become fully human, “lower than the angels” (Heb 2:9Phil 2:3-8). He not only moved downward from heaven to earth, but from the table to his knees, as he washed his disciples' feet (John 13).
  • As a spirited stallion needs to be "broken" before it is of use to its rider, so our spirits (where willful and self-focused) need to be broken before we are of use to our Master.


  1. Let's not be full of ourselves. Consider Titus 3:2, where Paul urges us to “to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.”
  2. Being poor in spirit is especially important if we are influential or serving in positions of leadership.
  3. Let's look to the Lord, and not trust in ourselves.

Next podcast: "Mourning" (Matt 5:4)

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