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James Tissot, The Beatitudes Sermon, Brooklyn Museum, c. 1890

In Christianity, the Beatitudes (anglicized from the Matthean Vulgate Latin section title: Beatitudines) are a set of teachings by Jesus that appear in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. The term Beatitude comes from the Latin adjective beatus which means happy, fortunate, or blissful.[1][2][3]

The teachings are expressed as eight blessings in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew. Four similar blessings appear in the Sermon on the Plain in Luke and are followed by four woes that mirror the blessings.[4]

Each Beatitude consists of two phrases: the condition and the result. In almost all cases the phrases used are familiar from an Old Testament context, but in the sermon Jesus elevates them to new teachings.[5]

Together, the Beatitudes present a new set of Christian ideals that focus on love and humility rather than force and exaction. They echo the highest ideals of the teachings of Jesus on mercy, spirituality, and compassion.[4][5]


Biblical basis

While opinions may vary as to exactly how many distinct statements the Beatitudes should be divided into (ranging from eight to ten), most scholars consider them to be only eight.[2][3] These eight of Matthew follow a simple pattern: Jesus names a group of people normally thought to be unfortunate and pronounces them blessed.[4]


Plaque of the Eight Beatitudes, St. Cajetan Church, Lindavista, Mexico

The eight beatitudes in Matthew 5:3–12 during the Sermon on the Mount are stated as Blessed/Happy/Fortunate are:[2][3]

  • the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (5:3)
  • those who mourn: for they will be comforted. (5:4)
  • the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. (5:5)
  • they who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be satisfied. (5:6)
  • the merciful: for they will be shown mercy. (5:7)
  • the pure in heart: for they shall see God. (5:8)
  • the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God. (5:9)
  • those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (5:10)

In Matthew, these are followed by what is often viewed as a commentary ("when men shall revile you"), which R. T. France considers based on Isaiah 51:7.[6]

The beatitudes present only in Matthew are the meek, the merciful, the pure of heart, and the peacemakers.[5] The other four have similar entries in Luke, but are followed almost immediately by "four woes".


The four beatitudes in Luke 6:20–22 during the Sermon on the Plain are stated as Blessed are you:[2][3]

  • the poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
  • that hunger now: for ye shall be filled.
  • that weep now: for ye shall laugh.
  • when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.

The four woes that follow these in Luke 6:24–26 are as stated as Woe unto you:[2]

  • that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.
  • that are full now! for ye shall hunger.
  • that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.
  • when all men shall speak well of you! for in the same manner did their fathers to the false prophets.

These woes are distinct from the Seven Woes of the Pharisees that appear later in Luke 11:37–54.

Analysis and interpretation

Church of the Beatitudes, the traditional location for the Sermon on the Mount

Each Beatitude consists of two phrases: the condition and the result. In almost all cases the phrases used are familiar from an Old Testament context, but in the sermon Jesus elevates them to new teachings.[5]

Together, the Beatitudes present a new set of ideals that focus on love and humility rather than force and exaction; they echo the highest ideals of his teachings on spirituality and compassion.[5]

The term the meek would be familiar in the Old Testament, e.g. as in in Psalms 37:11.[7] Although the beatitude concerning the meek has been much praised even by some non-Christians such as Mahatma Gandhi, some view the admonition to meekness skeptically, e.g. Friedrich Nietzsche saw the verse as embodying what he perceived as a slave morality.[8]

In Christian teachings, the Works of Mercy, which have corporal and spiritual components, have resonated with the theme of the Beatitude for mercy.[9] These teachings emphasize that these acts of mercy provide both temporal and spiritual benefits.[3][4] The theme of mercy has continued in devotions such as the Divine Mercy in the 20th century.[10]

The peacemakers have been traditionally interpreted, not only live in peace with others but do their best to promote friendship among mankind and between God and man. St. Gregory of Nyssa interpreted it as "Godly work", which was an imitation of God's love of man.[3][9]

Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon includes somewhat similar statements to Matthew 6, about teachings to the people of Nephi:[11][12]

  • Yea, blessed are the poor in spirit 'who come unto me,' for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (3 Nephi 12:3).[13]
  • And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled 'with the Holy Ghost' (3 Nephi 12:6).[13]

See also


  1. ^ The ladder of the Beatitudes by James H. Forest 1999 ISBN 978-1-57075-245-2 page 17
  2. ^ a b c d e The Westminster dictionary of New Testament and early Christian literature by David Edward Aune, 2003 ISBN 978-0-664-21917-8 pages 75-78
  3. ^ a b c d e f Catholic encyclopedia: Beatitudes
  4. ^ a b c d The Synoptics: Matthew, Mark, Luke by Ján Majerník, Joseph Ponessa, Laurie Watson Manhardt, 2005, ISBN 1-931018-31-6, pages 63–68.
  5. ^ a b c d e A Dictionary Of The Bible by James Hastings, 2004, ISBN 1-4102-1730-2, page 15–19.
  6. ^ France, R.T. (October 1987). The Gospel According to Matthew: an Introduction and Commentary (1 ed.). Leicester: Send the Light. ISBN 0-8028-0063-7.
  7. ^ Hill, David (June 1981). New Century Bible Commentary: Gospel of Matthew. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. ISBN 0-8028-1886-2.
  8. ^ Nietzsche, Friedrich (1887). On the Genealogy of Morals. ISBN 978-0-679-72462-9; ISBN 0-679-72462-1..
  9. ^ a b Jesus the Peacemaker by Carol Frances Jegen 1986 ISBN 0-934134-36-7 pages 68-71
  10. ^ A Divine Mercy Resource by Richard Torretto 2010 ISBN 1-4502-3236-1 pages 53 and 126
  11. ^ The Book of Mormon Made Easier, Part III by David Ridges 2007 ISBN 1-55517-787-5 pages 148-149
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b


External links

Preceded by
First disciples of Jesus
Gospel harmony
Succeeded by
The Antitheses
in the Sermon on the Mount