Having seen the poor as a phrase with a specific meaning, let us now return to the Beatitude. Only this time, let us compare it to its parallel in Luke’s Gospel.
- Matthew 5:3:Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Luke 6:20: Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
Note how there is a general promise and a specific one. Matthew has a promise given to all those poor in spirit. Luke’s promise is specified as belonging to the disciples (ye).
Whereas all persons, disciples of Jesus Christ or not, can be blessed by being poor in spirit, the eternal promise is given only to Christ’s disciples. How can we make such a statement?
Two aspects of the Kingdom
Comparing the two texts indicates a physical kingdom and a spiritual one. Matthew’s general promise is fulfilled in the kingdom of heaven; Luke’s in the kingdom of God. God’s Kingdom is righteousness, joy, and the Holy Ghost according to Paul (Romans 14:17).
Jesus describes this spiritual kingdom as dwelling within you (Luke 17:21).
The physical kingdom is a reference to Christ’s coming kingdom on earth. According to Revelation 20, that kingdom will last 1,000 years.
The poverty of saints will be recompensed during the Millennial Kingdom. Thus, the general promise contains a physical aspect to the Beatitude and the specific promise contains a spiritual aspect. Matthew Henry helps us understand the physical aspect. He wrote:
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.
The physical aspect of the promise deals with an inner quality – humility
The disciples literally gave up their source of income to follow Jesus Christ. Peter, James, John, Andrew all forsook their fishing business. Matthew forsook his tax collecting. They literally impoverished themselves for the sake of the Gospel. Yet their promise is spiritual for the Kingdom of God belongs to them. Paul says these apostles are the foundation upon which the Church is built (Ephesians 2:20-22).
Although Christ does not require an oath of poverty, He has given us a promise of blessing when we suffer for His sake.
Physical suffering can yield spiritual reward when one knows Jesus Christ as his or her own Saviour. It is not enough to practise humility. The practise, though virtuous, cannot yield eternal salvation for your soul. Only the blood of Jesus Christ can atone for your sin. Good works cannot save you (Ephesians 2:8, 9). There is a blessing for doing good things, but the blessing is limited to this life. Eternal rewards are reserved for those who Christ gave power to become the sons of God (John 1:12). This power is reserved for those who dare to trust Him as the sole means of salvation (John 6:37; 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5).
Suffering under the dispensation of the Church makes unworthy recipients of salvation worthy recipients of glory! Note this truth from the following text:
So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer. 2 Thes 1:4, 5
Inheritance is a literal truth. If a believer in Christ will give up the pursuit of his eye’s lusts, the world’s lusts, and life’s pride (I John 2:15), he/she will be rewarded in Christ’s coming kingdom (Revelation 2:10). Such denial will be rewarded with the martyr’s crown (James 1:12).
A believer in Christ who serves his Saviour will literally die daily (1 Corinthians 15:31) as Adam died in the day he ate of the fruit. Whereas Adam died spiritually and eventually the flesh was buried, we mortify the flesh so the spirit will raise the body to life everlasting (Romans 8:13; 6:4).
In the next article, we will look at the physical aspect of the promise contained within the Beatitude. This post is an excerpt from our publication: Beauty From the Mountain. You can obtain your copy from Amazon.