Blessed are the poor in spirit

Matthew 5:3
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

I think or in my opinion. 

Someone told me once to never write ‘in my opinion’. He said “of course it is your opinion, you’re writing it.” That may me true but it seems arrogant to just state my opinions as if I think they are universal truths. On the other hand this is my blog and who else’s opinion would it be. Sometimes I will take the time to write ‘in my opinion’ but if I don’t it is still only my opinion.  As I’ve had to say to my daughter, “if you wanted a definite answer you should have asked me when I was younger!”

In my opinion, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” is the key to understanding the whole Bible.  This verse always stumped me. How could it be Blessed to not have enough spirit, whether the spirit was the Holy Spirit or just my spirit. It didn’t make sense. Thanks to the internet I read somewhere that ‘poor in spirit’ is an Aramaic expression that means ‘humble’.  I don’t know if this is really true. It does not seem to be a wide-spread opinion. Try searching it. But a few bits of information came together to convince me that humble is the true meaning of ‘poor in spirit’. About the same time I thought I would try to learn french by reading the Bible in french. In french the verse is “Heureux les pauvres en esprit” But in French esprit means both mind and spirit. The greek word pneuma also has mind as one of its sub meanings. In Luke the same beatitude is just “Blessed are the poor”.  So does Luke mean it is good to be poor. Well it is good if being poor brings you to God. It is well-known that the poor are more likely to be religious than the rich. It may be that they need God to do for them what they can’t do for themselves. Or maybe they are humble. No not all poor are humble. That would be a legalistic reading anyway. But the poor on average are certainly more humble than the rich. Luke is saying it is blessed to be poor because they are humble enough to accept Jesus. Matthew is saying blessed are they that are poor (humble) in their mind. Not everyone is poor but everyone can be poor in their mind. This meaning is still there in English. We still use humble as a synonym for poor. Think ‘welcome to my humble abode’. And we still use spirit as a synonym for mind. So read Matthew 5:3 this way, “Blessed are those of you who in your own mind consider yourself as having no more rights or being no more worthy than the poor. For you will attain the Kingdom of Heaven.

I believe this is the key to the whole Bible. You have to be humble to get it.

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