Reading Acts

In the first of the eight beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says those who are in a state of poverty possess the kingdom of heaven. But who are the poor in Matthew 5:3?

The word poor (ptōchos, πτωχός) normally refers to economic poverty, and this particular word refers to the poorest person in a society, people who are dependent on others to survive. There are other words Matthew could have used for poverty, but he chose a word to describe the lowliest of the low.

Jesus and the PoorJesus is using poverty here to describe a spiritual state, they are “poor in spirit.” In Luke 6:20 the saying is only, “poor in spirit.” There are several options for explaining the difference. First, Jesus may have said something like Matthew 5:3 on many occasions, adding “in spirit” sometimes and other times omitting it. Second, Matthew may have added the…

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