3. Law and Grace, 5:1-7:29

ii] The persecution of the righteous, 5:11-20

a) Blessed are you the persecuted


Continuing with the Sermon on the Mount Jesus addresses the issue of the persecution of the righteous.


Happy, or fortunate is the state of the child of God who is persecuted for righteousness sake; they are blessed because theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


i] Context: See 5:1-10. There is much to support the argument that v11-20 serve as an exposition of the last beatitude; "blessed are you who are persecuted because of righteousness." The passage begins by further developing the issue of persecution, v11-12, ends up doing the same thing with regard righteousness, v17-20, and then in the middle, it deals with the issue of the righteous living within a corrupt world, of being salt and light, v13-16.


ii] Structure: The persecution of the righteous:

Setting, v1-2;

The beatitudes, 3-10;

A model exposition of the last beatitude, v11-20:

Suffering persecution, v11-12;

Righteous living in a corrupt world, v13-16;

Righteousness and the law, v17-20.


iii] Interpretation:

This exposition of the final beatitude serves to explain the meaning of all the other beatitudes. The autoi, "they", becomes uJmwn, "you"; it is mararioi este, "blessed are you" - blessed are you for being this way. The next rather lateral step in interpretation is to understand the blessing as a grace that is ours in Christ: "blessed are you for being this way in Christ." This line of interpretation would apply to all the beatitudes, to salt and light, and to the fulfillment of the law - a fulfillment in Christ. Christ completes the revelation of God's perfect law and does it on our behalf.


iv] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage can be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 5:11

iii] A model exposition of the last beatitude, v11-20: a) Concerning the persecution of the righteous, v11-12. The passage begins by further developing the issue of persecution - Abuse and slander was the lot of Jesus and a believer vicariously shares in Christ's suffering, and sometimes actually experiences it, v11-12.

este "are you" - [blessed] are you. The change from the third person to the second person is important, as noted above. This application of the final beatitude guides us in the application of the other beatitudes.

oJtan + subj. "when" - whenever. Introducing an indefinite temporal clause expressing general time.

oneidiswsin (oneidizw) aor. subj. "people insult" - they reproach, upbraid [you and persecute you and speak all kinds of evil].

yeudomenoi (yeudomai) part. "falsely" - telling lies. The participle is adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of speaking evil. The word is not present in many manuscripts and so may have been added to reinforce the evil nature of the slander.

kaq (kata) + gen. "against [you]" - Expressing opposition.

eJneken + gen. "because of [me]" - because of / for the sake of [me]. Causal. Possibly because of their testimony to Christ, but probably better, because of their identification with Christ.


agalliasqe (agalliaw) imp. "be glad" - [rejoice and] be glad. "Be exceeding glad", AV.

oJti "because" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why the disciples should rejoice and be glad.

oJ misqoV "reward" - the reward [of you is great in the heavens]. Nominative subject of an assumed verb to-be. The exceeding heavenly reward is divine approval. "Reward", or "payment / wage", is a bit crass, but serves to compare present suffering with future glory and therefore the transitory nature of suffering.

gar "for" - Luke uses gar for oJti above, giving both an equal causal standing. Here the choice of gar may still be causal, but a different take may be intended, either explanatory or emphatic; "And indeed, in just the same way they made the prophets before you suffer persecution", Cassirer.

ouJtwV adv. "in the same way" - thus, so [they persecuted the prophets]. Adverb of manner; pointing back. A persecuted believer stands in good company; "people did these same things to the prophets long ago", CEV.

pro + gen. "before [you]" - Temporal use of the preposition; "before" in time.


Matthew Introduction



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