Monday, June 28, 2010

Is The Kingdom for the Poor?

Answering the question on Facebook: "Are the beatitudes really talking about the economically 'poor'? And if they are, is it all the poor? Does every poor person obtain the kingdom of God?"

"Poor" in the beatitudes should certainly be taken literally. This is why it is combined with words like "mourning" and "hungry" and "hungry and thirsty for justice" and "meek". And it is in opposition to the "rich". Even "poor in spirit" means those who has an attitude like the poor. (see Proverbs 16:19)

However, we must be clear that the context doesn't allow us to say that it is about ALL poor people, regardless of action. In Luke 6 Jesus is speaking to his disciples when he says "Blessed are YOU that are poor; Woe to YOU that are rich"-- He is distinguishing among his own disciples those who surrender their possessions and those who keep them for their own personal use (Luke 14:33; Luke 12:33). In Matt. 5, the poor, the mourning and the meek are blessed, but so are the merciful, the peacemakers, the pure in heart. In other words, Jesus is narrowing the field even more. Those who own the kingdom are not only those who have suffered as the outcast in this life, but those who, in the midst of that suffering, acted like Jesus in His mercy for others.

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