Home查經分享 Bible Studies登山寶訓 Sermon on the Mount心靈貧乏的有福了 Blessed are the Poor in Spirit


心靈貧乏的有福了 Blessed are the Poor in Spirit — 3 Comments

  1. Thanks for your sharing of these verses. Actually, I also checked the meaning of the word πτωχοί as prepared the bible study of Luke. Actually, the same word πτωχοί was also used at Matthew, but the difference is it is add πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι in Matthew.
    As checked at the Strong Concordance, it define the word πτωχοὶ as following:
    Definition: poor, destitute, spiritually poor, either in a good sense (humble devout persons) or bad.
    So, does it mean πτωχοὶ already has the meaning “poor in spirit”? If so, Luke already had the meaning “poor in spirit”, but Matthew stressed more “poor in spirit in spirit” (πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι).
    Since you are expert of Greek, maybe you can answer my question.

    • Wei, thanks for reading the article in details! I am not an “expert in Greek,” but I will try to explain with a little more detail:

      πτωχός (the lexical form of πτωχοί) has the basic meaning of economically poor/disadvantaged. In Luke, aside from a couple of quotes from the Old Testament, it is always used to mean this way. In the Beatitudes recorded in Luke (Lk 6:20), it most likely has this meaning as well, especially since Luke also contrasts it with the rich in Lk 6:24-25. The rich is not “rich in spirit” in that verse.

      πτωχός can also be used metaphorically (just like in Chinese when we say someone is poor, we don’t necessarily mean economically). It can also be used to mean spiritually poor, but this has to be determined by context. It usually means depending on God due to one’s distressed stage or poverty. So even in its spiritual meaning, it still contains the element of economically poor or distressed.

      But that the word can has a range of meaning does not mean that we can pick the meaning that we think fit. It means that we have several possibilities, but we need to determine from the context what the authors mean.

      The point that I am trying to say in the article is that Luke and Matthew are talking about the same thing, so both means “poor in spirit” and both mean “poor economically.” The group of people who fits this double meaning are those who were poor (or distressed if we allow some generalization) but who turned to God and waited upon Him. With that, the application that I mentioned is slightly different from popular explanation (although I don’t disagree with the popular explanation that those who are devout and pious and completely rely on God are blessed, but I think it misses the distressed part).

      This is in contrast to some explanation that “the poor in spirit” simply means people who are devout or pious. Doing so would be ignoring Luke’s passage and emphasis. In fact, the famous and authoritative lexicon, the BDAG also does that. On Luke passage, it says πτωχός means “economically disadvantaged” for the reason I mentioned above (i.e. the comparison with Lk 6:24), but on Matthew passage, it says πτωχός means “lacking in spiritual worth.” But the two cannot be different!

      To be fair, BDAG does mention that this use of “lacking in spiritual worth” (outside of the Bible) can mean “the Poor among the Saints in Jewish Christianity and Qumran.” I think this part is often missed, so some people simply take the “lacking in spiritual worth” and explain things from there.

      In general, all tools (Bible dictionaries, commentaries, lexicons, etc.) must be used intellectually and carefully. After all, there are always some human decisions made, and we need to be able to discern them before we agree or disagree with them.

      I don’t know if this explanation is clear. I have a struggle of writing the articles short yet contain explanation and to be readable to different levels (any believer but also serious Bible students), and maybe it is not always possible. I hope the article is not unclear or becoming too difficult to read. If there is any part that is not clear, please ask again.

      God bless you!

  2. Thanks! I think your writing is very clear and understandable!
    I hope that you can write a bible commentary one day, a commentary that everyone can use for study.
    Yes, πλουσίοις does not have the meaning “rich in spirit” at that verse. So, from the nearby context, it is the weakness part if we only pick “Spiritual” part of the meaning. And from your description of background and the same story described at Matthew, I agreed with your point of double meaning and their application to the people at that time and today.
    Thanks again.

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