Russell Minick Leave a Comment

BLESSED is a word that people use in different ways. The useful question, though, is how did Jesus mean it?

3. Being in a desirable state or position, fortunate (Greek makarios)

This word is not related linguistically to the Greek verb for “to bless” at all, and the meaning is quite different, even though it is often translated as “blessed” in older English translations. It describes the state of the person who is being referred to; that he is in an enviable position, a good situation. Usually he is enviable because of the future good that he is going to experience, not because of his present state in this world. In contrast to the other words which are translated “blessed”, there is no reference to God implied. This is the word that is used in the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus says, “Blessed are those who . . .”
See: Matt. 5:3–11; 11:6; 13:16; 16:17; 24:46; Luke 1:45; 6:20–22; 7:23; 10:23; 11:27–28; 12:37–38, 43; 14:14–15; 23:29; John 13:17; 20:29; Acts 20:35; 26:2; Rom. 4:7–8; 14:22; 1 Cor. 7:40; Titus 2:13; James 1:12, 25; 1 Peter 3:14; 4:14; Rev. 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14.

Suggestions for translating “blessed” in sense 3:

It is good for those who . . .

Those who . . . are in a good position/fortunate
Those who . . . are worthy of congratulation

Some languages have an idiom to express this idea; for example “they have a good head”. Beware of words or phrases which imply some kind of feeling or emotion on the part of the person who is “blessed”. The meaning is not that such people are “full of joy, rejoicing” but rather that their situation is one to be envied. The English translation “happy” is not an ideal one.

Prepublication version, Key Biblical Terms in the New Testament; An aid for Bible translators, Katharine Barnwell, Paul Dancy, and Anthony Pope, Summer Institute of Linguistics

Hebrew: H833 / אשׁר / אשׁר / ‘âshar / ‘âshêr BDB Definition:
1) to go straight, walk, go on, advance, make progress
1a) (Qal) to go straight on, make progress
1b) (Piel)
1b1) to go straight on, advance
1b2) to lead on (causative)
1b3) to set right, righten
1b4) to pronounce happy, call blessed
1c) (Pual)
1c1) to be advanced, be led on
1c2) to be made happy, be blessed
Greek G3107 / μακάριος / makarios / mak-ar’-ee-os

A prolonged form of the poetical μάκαρ makar (meaning the same); supremely blest; by extension fortunate, well off: – blessed, happy (X -ier).

What does all of that mean???

Blessed is a DESCRIPTION of how someone is. There is a different word for blessing someone. It is like the Chinese word that is seen on T-shirts, tattoos, cards, posters…

What Jesus is saying, quite simply, is that the person he is describing in his sermon is the person who really is well off, they really have life the way it should be. This is different than the idea of a cause / effect idea of “if you become poor and persecuted etc. God will inject blessing into your life. The description of being blessed is not in addition to being like the person described, it is what such a person is by the very fact that they live that way.

How am I blessed by living righteously?

I get to be a person who lives righteously. That is a BLESSED (really good) way to live.

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