For many years, I have loved the Beatitudes. I recall once teaching a youth sunday school class going over the beatitudes with deep passion as tears streamed down my face at times. I do not know if anyone in the class got what I was teaching. But they were and are precious to me. Yet some of the beatitudes are not obvious, and are not easy to understand. Commentary is added to each beatitude for the purpose of helping you to get the most out of it. Much of the commentary comes from Bruce R McConkie drawing from his book The Mortal Messiah. This book is no longer in print but is available as an eBook through the Deseret Bookstore.
The Scripture Record of the Beatitudes
Matthew 5 : 1-12 KJV – Sermon on the Mount
1. And seeing the multitudes, he 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,
3. Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
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.
Luke 6 : 20-26 KJV – Sermon on the Plains
20. And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours in the kingdom of God.
21. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.
22. Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.
23. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
24. But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.
25. Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.
26. Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.
His initial declarations in this sermon have been appropriately called the Beatitudes. To beatify is to make supremely happy or to announce that a person has attained the blessedness of heaven. Beatitude is a state of utmost bliss, and the Beatitudes are our Lord’s declarations of the blessedness and eventual eternal glory of those who obey the various principles recited in them. May we now, with beatific vision, as it were, seek to envision the meaning of Jesus’ blessed pronouncements on blessedness. — The Mortal Messiah – Volume 3 Chapter 41 written by Bruce R. McConkie
The Poor / Poor in Spirit
Sermon on the Plain – Luke 6 : 20 KJV
And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed are the poor: for theirs is the kingdom of God.
Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5 : 3 KJV
Yea, blessed are the poor in spirit, who come unto me; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
We’ll go to the poor, like our captain of old, And visit the weary, the hungry and cold: We’ll cheer up their hearts with the news that he bore, and point them to Zion and life evermore. — Hymn from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – Ye Elders of Israel verse 3
“To the poor the gospel is preached.” (Luke 7:22.) “Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” (James 2:5) The poor in spirit! If they come unto Christ, salvation is theirs; and it is so often easier for those who are not encumbered with the cares and burdens and riches of the world to cast off worldliness and set their hearts on the riches of eternity than it is for those who have an abundance of this world’s goods. — The Mortal Messiah – Volume 2 Chapter 41 written by Bruce R. McConkie
An example of a person who was poor in spirit is a good friend of mine who proclaimed atheism and did so until he heard an unquestionable voice from within which told him he was wrong. It took time for him to accept the will of the Lord. And on his day of baptism, he said to me – “I feel extremely happy.” He was poor in spirit. He came unto Christ. The kingdom of Heaven shall be his.
Those Who Mourn
Sermon on the Plain – Luke 6 : 21 KJV
Blessed are they who weep now: for ye shall laugh.
Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5 : 4 KJV
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Those who are bereft of loved ones, having learned the purposes of the Lord in the brief separation called death, shall be comforted. The peace that passeth understanding shall rest upon all those who have a knowledge of the plan of salvation. What greater comfort is there than to know that lost loved ones shall be reunited to the family unity, and that all the saints shall reign in joy and peace forever? And further, When He comes again whose right it is to rule, he “shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.” (Rev. 21:4.) They that mourn shall be comforted! — The Mortal Messiah – Volume 2 Chapter 41 written by Bruce R. McConkie
Blessed are the Meek
Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5 : 5 KJV
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
late 12c., mēk, “gentle or mild of temper; forbearing under injury or annoyance; humble, unassuming;” of a woman, “modest,” from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse mjukr “soft, pliant, gentle,” from Proto-Germanic *meukaz (source also of Gothic muka-modei “humility,” Dutch muik “soft”), a word of uncertain origin, perhaps from PIE *meug- “slippery, slimy.” In the Bible, it translates Latin mansuetus from Vulgate (for which see mansuetude). Sense of “submissive, obedient, docile” is from c. 1300. — Etymonline.com
From a Biblical sense, a meek person would be a person who submits to and obeys the will of God.
As things are now constituted, the meek do not inherit the earth, even He who said of himself, “I am meek and lowly in heart” (Matt. 11:29) had in fact no place of his own to lay his head. This world’s goods were of little moment to him, and he had neither gold nor silver nor houses nor lands nor kingdoms. Peter was even directed to catch a fish in whose mouth a coin was lodged, that a levied tax might be paid for the two of them. The meek–those who are the God-fearing and the righteous–seldom hold title to much of that which appertains to this present world. But there will be a day when the Lord shall come to make up his jewels; there will be a day when Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the faithful of ancient Israel shall dwell again in old Canaan; and there will be also an eventual celestial day when “the poor and the meek of the earth shall inherit it.” (D&C 88:17.) — The Mortal Messiah – Volume 2 Chapter 41 written by Bruce R. McConkie
Hunger and Thirst after Righteousness
Sermon on the Plain – Luke 6 : 21 KJV
Blessed are ye that hunger now: for they shall be filled.
Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5 : 6 KJV
And blessed are all they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Filled with the Holy Ghost! As starving men crave a crust of bread, as choking men thirst for water, so do the righteous yearn for the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is a Revelator; he is a Sanctifier; he reveals truth, and he cleanses human souls. He is the Spirit of Truth, and his baptism is one of fire; he burns dross and evil out of the repentant souls as though by fire. The gift of the Holy Ghost is the greatest of all the gifts of God, as pertaining to this life; and those who enjoy that gift here and now, will inherit eternal life hereafter, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God in eternity. — The Mortal Messiah – Volume 2 Chapter 41 written by Bruce R. McConkie
Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5 : 7 KJV
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Mercy is for the merciful. In that great day of restoration and judgment, when every man is rewarded according to the deeds done in the flesh, those who have manifest mercy to their fellowmen here will be treated mercifully by the Merciful One. Those who have acquired the godly attribute of mercy here shall have mercy restored unto them again in that bright day. — The Mortal Messiah – Volume 2 Chapter 41 written by Bruce R. McConkie
The Pure in Heart
Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5 : 8 KJV
Blessed are all the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
How glorious is the voice we hear from him! Man may see his Maker! Did not Abraham, Issac, and Jacob see the Lord? Did not Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel see the God of Israel, under whose feet was a paved work of a sapphire stone? Was it not thus with Isaiah and Nephi, with Jacob and Moroni, and with mighty prophets without number in all ages? Is God a respecter of persons who will appear to one righteous person and withhold his face from another person of like spiritual stature? Is he not the same yesterday, today, and forever, dealing the same with all people, considering that all souls are equally precious in his sight? Did not Moses seek diligently to sanctify his people, while they were yet in the wilderness, that they might see the face of God and live? Does not the scripture say that the brother of Jared had such a perfect knowledge of God that he could not be kept from seeing within the veil? Why then should not the Lord Jesus invite all men to be as the prophets, to purify themselves so as to see the face of the Lord? — The Mortal Messiah – Volume 2 Chapter 41 written by Bruce R. McConkie
It is written: “Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am.” (D&C 93:1.) How glorious the concept is! What a wondrous reality! The pure in heart–all the pure in heart–shall see God! — The Mortal Messiah – Volume 2 Chapter 41 written by Bruce R. McConkie
Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5 : 9 KJV
Blessed are all the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
By the shield of our faith in Jesus Christ, we become peacemakers, quenching—meaning to calm, cool, or extinguish—all the fiery darts of the adversary.
As we do our part, His promise is that we will be called the “children of God.” Every person on earth is the “offspring” of God, but to be called the “children of God” means much, much more. As we come unto Jesus Christ and make covenants with Him, we become “his seed” and “heirs of the kingdom, children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters.”
How does a peacemaker calm and cool the fiery darts? Certainly not by shrinking before those who disparage us. Rather, we remain confident in our faith, sharing our beliefs with conviction but always void of anger or malice.
Peacemakers are not passive; they are persuasive in the Savior’s way.
Neil Anderson – General Conference – April 2022
The gospel of peace makes men children of God! Christ came to bring peace–peace on earth and good will to men. His gospel gives peace in this world and eternal life in the world to come. He is the Prince of peace. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of them who preach the gospel of peace, who say unto Zion: Thy God reigneth! Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with his saints. By this shall all men know the Lord’s disciples: They are peacemakers; they seek to compose difficulties; they hate war and love peace; they invite all men to forsake evil, overcome the world, flee from avarice and greed, stand in holy places, and receive for themselves that peace which passeth understanding, that peace which comes only by the power of the Spirit.
And these are they who are adopted into the family of God. They become the sons and daughters of him whose we are. They are born again. They take upon themselves a new name, the name of their new Father, the name of Christ. Those who believe in him have power to become his sons and his daughters. Truly the peacemakers shall be called the children of God!
— The Mortal Messiah – Volume 2 Chapter 41 written by Bruce R. McConkie
Sermon on the Plain – Luke 6 : 22-23 KJV
Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward shall be great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5 : 10-12 KJV
Blessed are all they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great shall be your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
How could it be said better? Jesus is speaking to the members of his earthly kingdom. In our day that kingdom is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is composed of those who have taken upon them the name of Christ–covenanting in the waters of baptism to honor that name and to do nothing that will hold it up to contempt or ridicule. It is composed of those who have forsaken the world, who have crucified the old man of sin; who have become humble, meek, submissive, willing to conform to all that the Lord requires of them.
And, of course, the world loves its own and hates the saints. The world is the carnal society created by evil men; it is made up of those who are carnal and sensual and devilish. Of course the world persecutes the saints; the very thing that makes them saints is thier enmity toward the things of the world. Let the ungodly and the evildoers reproach the Lord’s people; let them cry transgression against his saints; let persecution rage against those who bear the Lord’s name; let true believers be reviled and evilly spoke of — all for his name’s sake. So be it!
Do they face trials of cruel mockings and scourgings? Are they stoned, sawn asunder, slain with the sword? Are they destitute, afflicted, tormented? Are they cast into dens of lions and furnaces of fire? Are they slain in gladiatorial arenas, lighted as torches on the walls of Rome, crucified head downward? Are they driven from Ohio to Missouri, and from Missouri to Illinois, and from Illinois to a desert wilderness–leaving their Prophet and Patriarch in martyrs’ graves? No matter! They do not live for this life alone, and great shall be their reward in heaven.
— The Mortal Messiah – Volume 2 Chapter 41 written by Bruce R. McConkie