The Beatitudes

Ways to Follow God

In Matthew 5, during what is often called the "Sermon on the Mount," Jesus gave His followers what are traditionally called the Beatitudes. In Luke's Gospel, in what is called the "Sermon on the Plain" in Luke 6, a similar (though shorter) set of blessings is recounted. 

John VersesThe word "beatitude" is taken from the Greek word "beatus," meaning "blessed" or "happy." They're called Beatitudes because Jesus begins each one by called the person or the action blessed.

The Beatitudes are ways that we can follow Jesus. They do not replace the Ten Commandments, but rather complement and further them. For example, while the Ten Commandments prohibit murder, the Beatitudes call us to not only avoid murder, but also to pursue peace. The Ten Commandments prohibit adultery, while the Beatitudes call us to purity of heart.

Jesus' Beatitudes are very lofty, and some people see them as impossible to keep. However, Jesus, by calling those who follow them "blessed," clearly intended us, as future followers, to adhere to them as well. It's no coincidence that the Church uses these blessings as a reading on All Saint's Day.

Here are the Beatitudes from Matthew as found in the King James Bible (KJV):

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
—Matthew 5:3-12 (KJV)


And here are the Beatitudes as recounted in Luke's Gospel:

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.
Blessed are ye, 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.
Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.
Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.
Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.
—Luke 6:20-26 (KJV)


You can see that these words of Christ are challenging, but also offer amazing rewards, both individually and collectively. 


Updated 02-08-2023 by Elizabeth Craig