Many of our older readers will have grown up with this version of the Beatitudes, taken from what we called ‘The Authorised Version.’
And seeing the multitudes, Jesus went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
The one single word that characterises all these statements is translated here as ‘Blessed’. Many other versions use the word ‘Happy’, because the idea behind the word is not one of receiving something that we might call a ‘blessing’ but rather enjoying a condition arising from our character that is in tune with God. These are not some kind of ‘blessing’ or ‘endowment’ that we earn but a condition that arises from our character as we walk in the Spirit. It stands in complete contrast to the rigid rule-keeping character that experiences no happiness because it lives by slavish obedience to an endless set of legal demands that freeze character into ice-cold conformity.