The Meaning of Matthew 5:5 Explained

Matthew 5:5

KJV: Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

YLT: Happy the meek -- because they shall inherit the land.

Darby: Blessed the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

ASV: Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

What does Matthew 5:5 Mean?

Verse Meaning

A "gentle" or "meek" person is not only gentle in his or her dealings with others ( Matthew 11:29; Matthew 21:5; James 3:13). Such a person is unpretentious ( 1 Peter 3:4; 1 Peter 3:14-15), self-controlled, and free from malice and vengefulness. This quality looks at a person"s dealings with other people. A person might acknowledge his or her spiritual bankruptcy and mourn because of sin, but to respond meekly when other people regard us as sinful is something else. Meekness then is the natural and appropriate expression of genuine humility toward others.
Inheriting the Promised Land was the hope of the godly in Israel during the wilderness wanderings ( Deuteronomy 4:1; Deuteronomy 16:20; cf. Isaiah 57:13; Isaiah 60:21). Inheriting is the privilege of faithful heirs (cf. Matthew 25:34). He or she can inherit because of who that person is due to relationship with the one bestowing the inheritance. Inheriting is a concept that the apostles wrote about and clarified (e.g, 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 15:50; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:23-24; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 12:23; 1 Peter 1:3-4; et al.). Inheriting is not always the same as entering. A person can enter another"s house, for example, without inheriting it. The Old Testament concept of inheriting involved not only entering but also becoming an owner of what one entered. In this beatitude Jesus was saying more than that the meek will enter the kingdom. They will also enter into it as an inheritance and possess it. [1] A major theme in the Sermon on the Mount is the believing disciple"s rewards (cf. Matthew 5:12; Matthew 6:2; Matthew 6:4-6; Matthew 6:18). [2]
The earth is what the meek can joyfully anticipate inheriting. The Old Testament concept of the messianic kingdom was earthly. Messiah would rule over Israel and the nations on the earth ( Psalm 2:8-9; Psalm 37:9; Psalm 37:11; Psalm 37:29). Eventually the kingdom of Messiah will move to the new earth ( Matthew 21:1). This means Jesus" meek disciples can anticipate receiving possession of some of the earth during His messianic reign (cf. Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27). They will, of course, be subject to the King then.

Context Summary

Matthew 5:1-9 - Opening Words Of Grace And Truth
There are many doors into the life of blessedness. It does not depend on outward possessions, such as worldly goods or high birth. There is no soul of man, however illiterate, lonely, or poor, that may not step suddenly into this life of beatitude and begin to drink of the river that makes glad the city of God. Our Lord lived this life before He described it. He has opened the doors for us. If you cannot enter by the gate of purity, can you not come in by that which is reserved for those who hunger and thirst?
Note the passive side of the blessed life. To be poor in spirit, that is, to be lowly in one's self-estimate; to be meek, not always interested in one's rights; to mourn for the evils of one's own heart and for the sin and sorrow around; to hunger and thirst after Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. These dispositions do not purchase blessedness, but to cultivate them is to be blessed. On the positive side are mercy, purity, peace and willingness to suffer all things for Christ. Here is 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 anticipated! [source]

Chapter Summary: Matthew 5

1  Jesus' sermon on the mount:
3  The Beattitudes;
13  the salt of the earth;
14  the light of the world
17  He came to fulfill the law
21  What it is to kill;
27  to commit adultery;
33  to swear
38  He exhorts to forgive wrong,
43  to love our enemies;
48  and to labor after perfection

Greek Commentary for Matthew 5:5

The meek [οι πραεις]
Wycliff has it “Blessed be mild men.” The ancients used the word for outward conduct and towards men. They did not rank it as a virtue anyhow. It was a mild equanimity that was sometimes negative and sometimes positively kind. But Jesus lifted the word to a nobility never attained before. In fact, the Beatitudes assume a new heart, for the natural man does not find in happiness the qualities mentioned here by Christ. The English word “meek” has largely lost the fine blend of spiritual poise and strength meant by the Master. He calls himself “meek and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29) and Moses is also called meek. It is the gentleness of strength, not mere effeminacy. By “the earth” (την γην — tēn gēn) Jesus seems to mean the Land of Promise (Psalm 37:11) though Bruce thinks that it is the whole earth. Can it be the solid earth as opposed to the sea or the air? [source]
The meek [οἱ πραεῖς]
Another word which, though never used in a bad sense, Christianity has lifted to a higher plane, and made the symbol of a higher good. Its primary meaning is mild, gentle. It was applied to inanimate things, as light, wind, sound, sickness. It was used of a horse; gentle. As a human attribute, Aristotle defines it as the mean between stubborn anger and that negativeness of character which is inescapable of even righteous indignation: according to which it is tantamount to equanimity. Plato opposes it to fierceness or cruelty, and uses it of humanity to the condemned; but also of the conciliatory demeanor of a demagogue seeking popularity and power. Pindar applies it to a king, mild or kind to the citizens, and Herodotus uses it as opposed to anger. -DIVIDER-
These pre-Christian meanings of the word exhibit two general characteristics. 1. They express outward conduct merely. 2. They contemplate relations to men only. The Christian word, on the contrary, describes an inward quality, and that as related primarily to God. The equanimity, mildness, kindness, represented by the classical word, are founded in self-control or in natural disposition. The Christian meekness is based on humility, which is not a natural quality but an outgrowth of a renewed nature. To the pagan the word often implied condescension, to the Christian it implies submission. The Christian quality, in its manifestation, reveals all that was best in the heathen virtue - mildness, gentleness, equanimity - but these manifestations toward men are emphasized as outgrowths of a spiritual relation to God. The mildness or kindness of Plato or Pindar imply no sense of inferiority in those who exhibit them; sometimes the contrary. Plato's demagogue is kindly from self-interest and as a means to tyranny. Pindar's king is condescendingly kind. The meekness of the Christian springs from a sense of the inferiority of the creature to the Creator, and especially of the sinful creature to the holy God. While, therefore, the pagan quality is redolent of self-assertion, the Christian quality carries the flavor of self-abasement. As toward God, therefore, meekness accepts his dealings without murmur or resistance as absolutely good and wise. As toward man, it accepts opposition, insult, and provocation, as God's permitted ministers of a chastening demanded by the infirmity and corruption of sin; while, under this sense of his own sinfulness, the meek bears patiently “the contradiction of sinners against himself,” forgiving and restoring the erring in a spirit of meekness, considering himself, lest he also be tempted (see Galatians 6:1-5). The ideas of forgiveness and restoration nowhere attach to the classical word. They belong exclusively to Christian meekness, which thus shows itself allied to love. As ascribed by our Lord-DIVIDER-
to himself, see Matthew 11:29. Wyc. renders “Blessed be mild men.”-DIVIDER-

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Matthew 5:5

Matthew 11:29 Yoke [ζυγόν]
“These words, as recorded by St. Matthew, the Evangelist of the Jews, must have sunk the deeper into the hearts of Christ's Jewish hearers, that they came in their own old, familiar form of speech, yet with such contrast of spirit. One of the most common figurative expressions of the time was that of the yoke for submission to an occupation or obligation. Very instructive for the understanding of the figure is this paraphrase of Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Deuteronomy 11:13-21; Numbers 15:37-41. The section Deuteronomy 6:4-9 was said to precede Deuteronomy 11:13-21, so that we might take upon ourselves the yoke of the kingdom of heaven, and only after that the yoke of the commandments. The Saviour's words must have had a special significance to those who remembered this lesson; and they would now understand how, by coming to the Saviour, they would first take on them the yoke of the kingdom of heaven, and then that of the commandments, finding this yoke easy and the burden light” (Edersheim, “Life and Times of Jesus,” and “Jewish Social Life”)Meek ( πραΰ́ς )See on Matthew 5:5. [source]
2 Corinthians 10:1 Meekness - gentleness []
See on Matthew 5:5; see on 1 Peter 2:18. [source]
2 Corinthians 10:1 By the meekness and gentleness of Christ [δια τες πραυτητος και επιεικιας του Χριστου]
This appeal shows (Plummer) that Paul had spoken to the Corinthians about the character of Christ. Jesus claimed meekness for himself (Matthew 11:29) and felicitated the meek (Matthew 5:5) and he exemplified it abundantly (Luke 23:34). See note on Matthew 5:5 and 1 Corinthians 4:21 for this great word that has worn thin with us. Plutarch combines πραυτης — prautēs with επιεικια — epieikia as Paul does here. Matthew Arnold suggested “sweet reasonableness” for επιεικεια — epieikeia in Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch. It is in the N.T. only here and Acts 24:4 In Greek Ethics the equitable man was called επιεικης — epieikēs a man who does not press for the last farthing of his rights (Bernard). Lowly among you (ταπεινος εν υμιν — tapeinos en humin). The bad use of ταπεινος — tapeinos the old use, but here alone in N.T. in that meaning. Socrates and Aristotle used it for littleness of soul. Probably Paul here is quoting one of the sneers of his traducers in Corinth about his humble conduct while with them (1 Corinthians 2:2, 1 Corinthians 2:3; 2 Corinthians 7:6) and his boldness (απων ταρρω — apōn tharrō) when away (1 Corinthians 7:16). “It was easy to satirize and misrepresent a depression of spirits, a humility of demeanour, which were either the direct results of some bodily affliction, or which the consciousness of this affliction had rendered habitual” (Farrar). The words stung Paul to the quick. [source]
Galatians 5:23 Meekness [πραΰ̀της]
See on meek, Matthew 5:5. [source]
Ephesians 4:2 Lowiness - meekness []
See on Matthew 11:29; see on Matthew 5:5. [source]
Colossians 3:12 Meekness [πραΰ́τητα]
See on Matthew 5:5. [source]
1 Timothy 6:11 Meekness [πραΰπαθίαν]
N.T.oolxx. Meekness of feeling ( πάθος ). The usual word is πραΰ̀της , often in Paul. See on meek, Matthew 5:5. With the whole verse comp. Titus 3:12. [source]
James 3:13 Wise and understanding [σοπος και επιστημων]
Σοπος — Sophos is used for the practical teacher (James 3:1), επιστημων — epistēmōn (old word from επισταμαι — epistamai here only in N.T.) for an expert, a skilled and scientific person with a tone of superiority. In Deuteronomy 1:13, Deuteronomy 1:15; Deuteronomy 4:6, the two terms are practically synonyms.Let him shew (δειχατω — deixatō). First aorist active imperative of δεικνυμι — deiknumi old verb to show. As about faith in James 2:18. Emphatic position of this verb.By his good life For this literary Koiné word from αναστρεπομαι — anastrephomai (walk, conduct) see Galatians 1:13. Actions speak louder than words even in the case of the professional wise man. Cf. 1 Peter 1:15.In meekness of wisdom (εν πραυτητι σοπιας — en prautēti sophias). As in James 1:21 of the listener, so here of the teacher. Cf. Matthew 5:5; Matthew 11:29 and Zechariah 9:9 of King Messiah quoted in Matthew 21:5. Startling combination. [source]
James 3:13 By his good life [εκ της καλης αναστροπης]
For this literary Koiné word from αναστρεπομαι — anastrephomai (walk, conduct) see Galatians 1:13. Actions speak louder than words even in the case of the professional wise man. Cf. 1 Peter 1:15.In meekness of wisdom (εν πραυτητι σοπιας — en prautēti sophias). As in James 1:21 of the listener, so here of the teacher. Cf. Matthew 5:5; Matthew 11:29 and Zechariah 9:9 of King Messiah quoted in Matthew 21:5. Startling combination. [source]
James 3:13 In meekness of wisdom [εν πραυτητι σοπιας]
As in James 1:21 of the listener, so here of the teacher. Cf. Matthew 5:5; Matthew 11:29 and Zechariah 9:9 of King Messiah quoted in Matthew 21:5. Startling combination. [source]
1 Peter 3:4 Meek [πραέος]
See on Matthew 5:5. [source]
1 Peter 3:15 Meekness []
See on Matthew 5:5. [source]
1 Peter 3:4 In the incorruptible apparel of a meek and quiet spirit [εν τωι απταρτωι του ησυχιου και πραεως πνευματος]
No word in the Greek for “apparel” For απταρτος — aphthartos see note on 1 Peter 1:4 and note on 1 Peter 1:23. For πραυς — praus see Matthew 5:5; Matthew 11:29. Πνευμα — Pneuma (spirit) is here disposition or temper (Bigg), unlike any other use in the N.T. In 1 Peter 3:18, 1 Peter 3:19; 1 Peter 4:6 it means the whole inner man as opposed to σαρχ — sarx or σωμα — sōma very much as πσυχη — psuchē is used as opposed to σωμα — sōma Spirit just mentioned.Of great price (πολυτελες — poluteles). Old word (from πολυ — polu and τελος — telos cost), in N.T. only here, Mark 14:3; 1 Timothy 2:9. [source]

What do the individual words in Matthew 5:5 mean?

Blessed the meek for they will inherit the earth
Μακάριοι οἱ πραεῖς Ὅτι αὐτοὶ κληρονομήσουσιν τὴν γῆν

Μακάριοι  Blessed 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: μακάριος  
Sense: blessed, happy.
πραεῖς  meek 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: πραΰς  
Sense: mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness.
κληρονομήσουσιν  will  inherit 
Parse: Verb, Future Indicative Active, 3rd Person Plural
Root: κληρονομέω  
Sense: to receive a lot, receive by lot.
γῆν  earth 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Feminine Singular
Root: γῆ  
Sense: arable land.