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Beatitudes Lesson Four               


Beatitudes Lesson Four
The Meek

“Blessed are the ______, for they shall inherit the earth.”
(Matthew 5:5)

One might notice a difference as we begin this lesson, as I have entitled all of the previous lessons  after the NAS translation of the beatitudes. However, here I use the KJV translation (also NKJV, NIV, ASV and ASV) instead of the NAS translation. Why? This is often a very misunderstood and misrepresented passage of Scripture simply because the word “meek” is used much differently in our vernacular today. When people read this passage of Scripture today they often see the Christian as weak and expect one who belongs to Jesus to react to persecution and dealings with the situations of the world as one who is “powerless” to deal with such situations to be a timid, spineless human in the face of adversity. After all, when we explore the meaning of the term in a modern dictionary, we find a definition such as the following, “Showing patience and humility; gentle. 2. Easily imposed on; submissive (Excerpted from American Heritage Talking Dictionary. Copyright © 1997 The Learning Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.).

However, as we study the Greek word defined “meek” here in verse 5 of our text (“gentle” in the NAS), we find that this word is from “praus or praos [4239] denoting “gentle, mild, meek”; “gentle, of a soothing disposition,” 1 Thess 2:7; 2 Tim 2:24.” “. . . . . it is an inwrought grace of the soul; and the exercises of it are first and chiefly towards God. It is that temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting; it is closely linked with the word tapeinophrosune [humility], and follows directly upon it, Eph 4:2; Col 3:12; cf. the adjectives in the Sept. of Zeph 3:12, “meek and lowly” ;... it is only the humble heart which is also the meek, and which, as such, does not fight against God and more or less struggle and contend with Him. This meekness, however, being first of all a meekness before God, is also such in the face of men, even of evil men, out of a sense that these, with the insults and injuries which they may inflict, are permitted and employed by Him for the chastening and purifying of His elect" (Trench, Syn. Sec. xlii). In Gal 5:23 it is associated with enkrateia, "self-control” (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright (c)1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers).

In other words, this meekness is before and toward our Creator! It is the humility and submissiveness that we possess because of our understanding of who He is and who we are in comparison. The realization of those facts causes us to be “meek” (i.e. humble, gentle) not only toward God, but also toward those whom He has created.

This is a quality that Jesus also possessed as we're told in Matthew 11:29 and 21:5. And yet we can see from Scripture that even though Jesus was indeed “gentle,” He was also firm and at times dealt indignant when necessary. This shows that “meekness' is not at all parallel to weakness or pacifism. Jesus with the situations that He found necessary to handle and we too should have the courage and contend with matters as they confront us and as we have opportunity.

H. Leo Boles so beautifully states, “The meek are those who suffer in love, or love in patience; they are those who in strength of love, boldly, yet meekly, meekly yet boldly, bear injustice, and thereby conquer.”

“For they shall inherit the earth.”

I begin my comments on the promise that Jesus gives in relationship with this beatitude with a quote from the College Press Bible Study Textbook Series.

“If “earth” be translated “land,” the beatitude better adapts itself to the Jewish association of ideas. A study of Psa. 37:9, 11, 22, 29, 34 will demonstrate that this phrase is almost a proverbial expression for “the highest of blessings,” although, literally, any Jew would quite readily and rightly have understood it to mean the promised possession which was the land of Palestine. . . . . . But only the blindest would fail to see that the whole tenor of such Psalms emphasized the truth that man's highest joys are realized only in God's presence. This means that man must be ready to move with God from His revelation of a “promised land,” which might mean a small tract of land on the eastern Mediterranean coast, [O His revelation of a “promised earth.” (II Pet. 3:13) So, as Jesus makes this announcement of the true and appropriate disposition of the Father's goods, He holds out no hope for the crass, carnal dreams of the majority of His people. Yet He justified to the letter the keen spiritual insight of the true Israel” (“THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW VOLUME I” Copyright 1968 College Press Harold Fowler).

Almost every Bible student seems to agree that a more proper translation of the latter part of Matthew 5:5 would have been, “they shall inherit the land.” And that is of extreme importance. Because to the hearers of Jesus' words the phrase “inherit the land” would have had significant impact. This would be traced all the way back to the promise that God had made to Abraham in Genesis. And although this promise had already been fulfilled in the people being presented with the land of Canaan, this phraseology would still have extreme “kingdom” significance to those who were looking for the coming Messiah. The “land” and the “kingdom” would be synonymous terms as seen by those who were looking for the coming Savior to establish His kingdom. In fact, we still use the phrase “promised land” in reference” to our coming eternal reward in heaven.


Discussion Questions

1) How does the meaning of the word “meek” differ from our use of the word in the world today?

Paragraph 2:

However, as we study the Greek word defined “meek” here in verse 5 of our text (“gentle” in the NAS), we find that this word is from “praus or praos [4239] denoting “gentle, mild, meek”; “gentle, of a soothing disposition,” 1 Thess 2:7; 2 Tim 2:24.” “. . . . . it is an inwrought grace of the soul; and the exercises of it are first and chiefly towards God. It is that temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting; it is closely linked with the word tapeinophrosune [humility], and follows directly upon it, Eph 4:2; Col 3:12; cf. the adjectives in the Sept. of Zeph 3:12, “meek and lowly” ;... it is only the humble heart which is also the meek, and which, as such, does not fight against God and more or less struggle and contend with Him. This meekness, however, being first of all a meekness before God, is also such in the face of men, even of evil men, out of a sense that these, with the insults and injuries which they may inflict, are permitted and employed by Him for the chastening and purifying of His elect" (Trench, Syn. Sec. xlii). In Gal 5:23 it is associated with enkrateia, "self-control” (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright (c)1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers).

Now that explanation from the Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words especially wordy. But as we look at the chief points of that paragraph we see the words, “mild, gentle, soothing and humility. And we see that first and foremost this attitude, like the other beatitudes is directed toward our heavenly Father. The phrase is used “an inwrought grace of the soul.”

The words “meek” or “gentle” suggest an attitude or character of humble, peaceful and gentle disposition toward all that life had to offer. It is an attitude that results because of the One who possesses our future; He who is our Lord. Remember the words that have been repeated by two of the inspired writers of their epistles.

James 4:8-10, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” (NAS).

1 Peter 5:6-7, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you” (NAS).

It is only in the (continual) presence of the Lord that we are truly brought to an attitude of humility, meekness, gentleness of heart.

Paragraph 3:

In other words, this meekness is before and toward our Creator! It is the humility and submissiveness that we possess because of our understanding of who He is and who we are (or are not) in comparison. The realization of those facts causes us to be “meek” (i.e. humble, gentle) not only toward God, but also toward those whom He has created.

When we have a nature of being “poor in spirit,” “mourning over sin,” and “meekness” of heart towards our heavenly Father, that nature will also exemplify itself toward those whom we pass by in this life. It is characteristic of those who are of the nature of the kingdom of God.

2) How is this word used of Jesus?

Paragraph 4:

This is a quality that Jesus also possessed as we're told in Matthew 11:29 and 21:5. And yet we can see from Scripture that even though Jesus was indeed “gentle,” He was also firm and at times dealt indignant when necessary. This shows that “meekness' is not at all parallel to weakness or pacifism. Jesus with the situations that He found necessary to handle and we too should have the courage and contend with matters as they confront us and as we have opportunity.

Matthew 11:29, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls” (NAS).

Matthew 21:5, “Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Behold your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden'” (NAS).

John 2:13-17, “And the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers seated. 15 And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the moneychangers, and overturned their tables; 16 and to those who were selling the doves He said, "Take these things away; stop making My Father's house a house of merchandise." 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for Thy house will consume me” (NAS).

Matthew 21:12-13, “And Jesus entered the temple and cast out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who were selling doves. 13 And He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer'; but you are making it a robbers' den" (NAS).

Matthew 23:15, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel about on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves” (NAS).

Matthew 23:27-28, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. 28 "Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (NAS).

Would many of the elite today, having heard these words of Jesus say that He was a meek or gentle man? Would they say that He was one who was humble in heart? I seriously doubt it! They (perhaps we?) we react much as the Pharisees did. But we know that He was humble and gentle in heart. Indeed that is the attitude that He possessed in His coming to this earth to die for our sins.

Philippians 2:1-11, “If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (NAS).

3) If one has the characteristic of being “meek” or “gentle,” how will this affect his or her behavior as a Christian?

Paragraph 5:

H. Leo Boles so beautifully states, “The meek are those who suffer in love, or love in patience; they are those who in strength of love, boldly, yet meekly, meekly yet boldly, bear injustice, and thereby conquer.”

At the risk of being redundant, this characteristic will affect us in every way. Our decisions will be influenced as we weigh in on the final results. Will God be pleased with my decision? Will my actions be favorable for God and His church? How will my family and God's family be affected? We will see our need to approach God before making most decisions in our lives. Although “meekness” or “gentleness” is not a lack of self-worth or confidence, it is the realization that “without God” that reassurance is nonexistent. Jesus came in the humble form of a bond-servant, yet served with all the confidence of a faithful Son. We should serve no less confidently and faithfully than our Lord.

4) Concerning Jesus' promise that those who are “gentle” will “inherit the earth;” how are we to understand this promise to be fulfilled?

Next to last paragraph:

“If “earth” be translated “land,” the beatitude better adapts itself to the Jewish association of ideas. A study of Psa. 37:9, 11, 22, 29, 34 will demonstrate that this phrase is almost a proverbial expression for “the highest of blessings,” although, literally, any Jew would quite readily and rightly have understood it to mean the promised possession which was the land of Palestine. . . . . . But only the blindest would fail to see that the whole tenor of such Psalms emphasized the truth that man's highest joys are realized only in God's presence. This means that man must be ready to move with God from His revelation of a “promised land,” which might mean a small tract of land on the eastern Mediterranean coast, [O His revelation of a “promised earth.” (II Pet. 3:13) So, as Jesus makes this announcement of the true and appropriate disposition of the Father's goods, He holds out no hope for the crass, carnal dreams of the majority of His people. Yet He justified to the letter the keen spiritual insight of the true Israel” (“THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW VOLUME I” Copyright 1968 College Press Harold Fowler).

Almost every Bible student seems to agree that a more proper translation of the latter part of Matthew 5:5 would have been, “they shall inherit the land.” And that is of extreme importance. Because to the hearers of Jesus' words the phrase “inherit the land” would have had significant impact. This would be traced all the way back to the promise that God had made to Abraham in Genesis. And although this promise had already been fulfilled in the people being presented with the land of Canaan, this phraseology would still have extreme “kingdom” significance to those who were looking for the coming Messiah. The “land” and the “kingdom” would be synonymous terms as seen by those who were looking for the coming Savior to establish His kingdom. In fact, we still use the phrase “promised land” in reference” to our coming eternal reward in heaven.

We shall inherit the “land.” The “land” here might well represent the promises of God not only in the life to come, but also in this life upon earth. As the writer points out above, the word “land” would be synonymous with “promise” to those who were looking for the promises of God!



Beatitudes Lesson One   |   Beatitudes Lesson Two   |   Beatitudes Lesson Three   |   Beatitudes Lesson Four   |   Beatitudes Lesson Five   |   Beatitudes Lesson Six   |   Beatitudes Lesson Seven   |   Beatitudes Lesson Eight   |   Beatitudes Lesson Nine   |   Beatitudes Lesson Ten



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