What meaning can I tease out of the words"poor," "theirs" and "is" in the Beatitude, Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Matt 5:3

NASB/GNT Matthew 5:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.

3 Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι, ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.

  • Welcome to BH. I think that if someone has actually experienced what it is like to be poor in spirit, they would neither need nor want to tease a meaning out of the words; they will already be aware of what it means. Nor does hermeneutics tease a meaning - the disciplined examination of the text should expose the meaning that is there and should compare it with other relevant passages in a controlled and efficient manner.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 15, 2018 at 21:17
  • Hi Carl! You might try rewording the question. You might also take the tour if you have not already to get an idea of what constitutes a good question.
    – colboynik
    Commented Oct 20, 2018 at 3:21
  • I just noticed a strong link to Isaiah 29:19: [Isa 29:19 NASB] (19) The afflicted also will increase their gladness in the LORD, And the needy of mankind will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Aug 9, 2019 at 22:32

8 Answers 8


The best way to determine the meanings of the scriptures is to look up the definitions of the Hebrew and Greek words, and then to put them into context / background of the subject matter, or events taking place.

Young's Literal Translation - a translation by the definitions is helpful as a starting point.

"`Happy the poor in spirit -- because theirs is the reign of the heavens." (YLT)

The word "blessed" or "happy" is Strong's Gr. 3107, "μακάριος" transliterated as "makarios", and means "blessed, happy, to be envied. (1)

The word "poor" is Strong's Gr. 4434, "πτωχός" or "ptochos" and means one who crouches and cowers, hence beggarly, poor, and is humble.

So, poor in spirit is speaking of those who are not standing proudly before YHVH, but those humble before God and are willing to hear Him, and search His word. Not being proud and self-righteous, not being stiff-necked and unwilling to learn. So, it has nothing to do with a lack of material possessions, but a willingness to submit to YHVH.

Excerpt from the Benson Commentary on Matt. 5:3:

"By this expression, the poor in spirit, Grotius and Baxter understand those who bear a state of poverty and want with a disposition of quiet and cheerful submission to the divine will; and Mr. Mede interprets it of those who are ready to part with their possessions for charitable uses. But it seems much more probable that the truly humble are intended, or those who are sensible of their spiritual poverty, of their ignorance and sinfulness, their guilt, depravity, and weakness, their frailty and mortality; and who, therefore, whatever their outward situation in life may be, however affluent and exalted, think meanly of themselves, and neither desire the praise of men, nor covet high things in the world, but are content with the lot God assigns them, however low and poor. These are happy, because their humility renders them teachable, submissive, resigned, patient, contented, and cheerful in all estates; and it enables them to receive prosperity or adversity, health or sickness, ease or pain, life or death, with an equal mind. Whatever is allotted them short of those everlasting burnings which they see they have merited, they consider as a grace or favour. They are happy, because theirs is the kingdom of heaven —" (2)

And, Barnes Notes offers:

"To be poor in spirit is to have a humble opinion of ourselves; to be sensible that we are sinners, and have no righteousness of our own; to be willing to be saved only by the rich grace and mercy of God; to be willing to be where God places us, to bear what he lays on us, to go where he bids us, and to die when he commands; to be willing to be in his hands, and to feel that we deserve no favor from him. It is opposed to pride, and vanity, and ambition. Such are happy:" (3)

But, Jamieson-Faussett-Brown comes closest to the intent of Matt. 5:3,

But since God's people are in so many places styled "the poor" and "the needy," with no evident reference to their temporal circumstances (as in Ps 68:10; 69:29-33; 132:15; Isa 61:1; 66:2), it is plainly a frame of mind which those terms are meant to express. Accordingly, our translators sometimes render such words "the humble" (Ps 10:12, 17), "the meek" (Ps 22:26), "the lowly" (Pr 3:34), as having no reference to outward circumstances. But here the explanatory words, "in spirit," fix the sense to "those who in their deepest consciousness realize their entire need" (compare the Greek of Lu 10:21; Joh 11:33; 13:21; Ac 20:22; Ro 12:11; 1Co 5:3; Php 3:3). This self-emptying conviction, that "before God we are void of everything," lies at the foundation of all spiritual excellence, according to the teaching of Scripture. Without it we are inaccessible to the riches of Christ; with it we are in the fitting state for receiving all spiritual supplies (Re 3:17, 18; Mt 9:12, 13)." (4)

Those truly humble, who empty themselves to allow YHVH's word to reign in their hearts, who seek after and search the scriptures diligently wanting to know, humbling themselves to place their full dependence upon Him are the "poor in spirit", and they shall enter into His kingdom with a ready heart, much more easily than the proud hearts that want to place their own understanding before the Lord's.

It contrasts the attitude of relinquishing dependence and reliance upon self in favor of complete reliance upon YHVH. The poor in spirit recognize that without YHVH we are lost.

(Bold emphasis is mine.)


1) Source: Biblehub

2) Source: Biblehub

3) Ibid

4) Ibid


The poor in spirit was understood in antiquity to mean the humble, though that does not capture everything. The poor in spirit are not merely those who have been humbled by external circumstances, but those who have humbled themselves for God's sake.

John Chrysostom, a Greek Church Father (4th/5th c.) explaining the Greek text to Greeks, explains:

What is meant by the poor in spirit? The humble and contrite in mind. For by spirit He hath here designated the soul, and the faculty of choice. That is, since many are humble not willingly, but compelled by stress of circumstances; letting these pass (for this were no matter of praise), He blesses them first, who by choice humble and contract themselves.

But why said he not, the humble, but rather the poor? Because this is more than that. For He means here them who are awestruck, and tremble at the commandments of God. Whom also by His prophet Isaiah God earnestly accepting said, To whom will I look, but to him who is meek and quiet, and trembleth at My words? [66:2 LXX] For indeed there are many kinds of humility: one is humble in his own measure, another with all excess of lowliness. It is this last lowliness of mind which that blessed prophet commends, picturing to us the temper that is not merely subdued, but utterly broken, when he saith, The sacrifice for God is a contrite spirit, a contrite and an humble heart God will not despise [Psalm 50:17 LXX]. And the Three Children also offer this unto God as a great sacrifice, saying, Nevertheless, in a contrite soul, and in a spirit of lowliness, may we be accepted [Daniel 3:39 LXX]. This Christ also now blesses.*

* Homily XV on Matthew (tran. from the Greek)


Poor as lacking or poor as beggarly

Most commentary on this verse focus on 'poor in spirit' as a whole, with 'in spirit' being the most important part. The suggestion is that one must focus on what they lack spiritually, rather than what they lack in material possessions or wealth. But the fact that Luke quotes it simply as 'πτωχοὶ' suggests that 'in spirit' refers to the state of being poor, rather than 'poor' referring to the state of one's spirit.

Scholars agree that "poor in spirit" does not mean lacking in spirit, be it courage, the Holy Spirit, or religious awareness. Rather it is that poverty is not only a physical condition, but also a spiritual one. Schweizer feels the extra note asserts that simply being poor is not a ticket into heaven, but rather only those who understand the nature of real poverty are blessed.... The poor translates more closely to beggar than to one merely of few possessions. In the New Testament the term applies to those who require the charity of others in order to survive. (Wikipedia)

Those who are wealthy may recognise what they lack spiritually, and conscientiously look for ways to enrich their spiritual life. But the kingdom of heaven does not belong to them - according to Jesus, what they lack is a willingness to be content with lack:

The young man said to him, “All these I have observed; what do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions. And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 19: 20-23)

Jesus tells the young man to focus on giving to others and on what he gains 'in heaven' - ie. in a spiritual sense. The difficulty this young man has with the task shows that his focus is only on what he may lack. The word ptochoi (πτωχοὶ, Strong's 4434) translated as 'poor' is not the same as lacking in something (ὑστερέω, Strong's 5302), but describes someone who is crouching or cowering - a beggar.

To go from being poor to being a beggar has more to do with how one relates or interacts with others than their lack of possessions. Someone who has reached this state of poverty acknowledges their utter dependence - not on money, possessions or status - but on the kindness and generosity of others. They recognise the need to humbly connect with others in order to acquire their most basic needs: food, drink, clothing and shelter. It is this connection to others on a spiritual level that Jesus calls us to focus on instead of what we lack:

"Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well." (Matthew 6: 31-33)

What is most important in life isn't what we own, and it isn't knowing where our next meal is coming from or where we will sleep tonight - it is our relationship with God and with others.

This is how Jesus lived - this is the example he set. He owned no home or possessions, had no employment, no wife or children, and any food he ate or money he required was rustled up by his friends and shared with those around him. Jesus was 'poor', but Matthew suggests by the words 'in spirit' a difference between poverty that focuses on lack and the poverty that Jesus lived and celebrated: seeking interconnections instead of possessions, and building community spirit rather than financial security or wealth.

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6: 19-21)

To be 'poor in spirit' is to take the focus off the physical state of what it means to be poor: the pain of hunger or discomfort, the humility of needing help and particularly the lack or loss of possessions. Even the wealthiest people will encounter these experiences - striving to avoid them might deliver a temporary state of happiness, but this is not 'Μακάριοι' (Strong's 3107: fortunate, blessed - a prolonged form of 'makar' (happy)). As Jesus said in Luke, "you have received your consolation." (Luke 6:24)

Jesus instructs believers to focus instead on the spiritual state of what it means to be poor: an awareness of interdependence and the love and community to be found in humbly connecting with others. Because a poor, homeless beggar may have absolutely nothing in the physical or tangible sense to call his own and yet - if he interacts with people who care about him and has occasion to experience love and feel part of a community - he may never appear 'poor' or lacking at all. There will always be people who care enough to ensure his needs are met alongside their own.

The kingdom 'of the heavens' is not a physical collection of people, land or possessions but a spiritual state of interconnection. For those who recognise and make use of its limitless value, reach and potential in the world now - who see no prolonged happiness in accumulating or protecting personal wealth to avoid a sense of lack, but seek love, community and interdependence - the kingdom is not some future inheritance. It is already theirs.


Notice in Matthew 5 that the Lord starts the Beatitudes by opening His mouth to teach those who are before Him.

Matthew 5:2-5 KJV (2) And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

Blessed (happy) are those who are poor in “spirit”….that is, poor in breath….poor in words…towards what they hear the open mouth of the Lord saying in the Spirit of Truth

(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.

The poor in spirit (breath) use their breath beggarly to speak few words (slow to speak) towards the hearing of the true and faithful Word of God (the open mouth of the Lord that teaches).

James 1:19-22 KJV (19) Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: (20) For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. (21) Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. (22) But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

Those who use their breath (spirit) to speak many words do not consider that they do as evil as they resist (with many words) what they hear the Spirit saying to them. But the “poor in spirit” use their breath (spirit) sparingly for few words and are quick to listen.

Ecclesiastes 5:1-3 KJV (1) Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. (2) Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. (3) For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool's voice is known by multitude of words.

The Spirit of God finds a place to rest in those who are of a “poor and contrite spirit”….that is, a poor and contrite breath as they will use few words towards the hearing of His voice. Poor in spirit = poor in breath (few words spoken). They tremble at His Word.

Isaiah 66:1-6 KJV (1) Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? (2) For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.


I imagined that Jesus was alluding to something in the OT. It took a few searches but I believe this is the verse in which the godly who prefer company with the poor but honorable than to share in the swag of the ungodly lovers of money:

YLT Proverbs 16:19 Better is humility of spirit with the poor, Than to apportion spoil with the proud.

Sweet's LXX Proverbs 16:19: κρείσσων πρᾳύθυμος μετὰ ταπεινώσεως ἢ ὃς διαιρεῖται σκῦλα μετὰ ὑβριστῶν.

LXX in English Proverbs 16:19: Better is a meek-spirited [man] with lowliness, than one who divides spoils with the proud.

The word translated "meek-spirited man" also appears in chapter 14:

LXX Proverbs 14: 29 A man slow to wrath abounds in wisdom: but a man of impatient spirit is very foolish. 30 A meek-spirited man is a healer of the heart: but a sensitive heart is a corruption of the bones. 29 μακρόθυμος ἀνὴρ πολὺς ἐν φρονήσει, ὁ δὲ ὀλιγόψυχος ἰσχυρῶς ἄφρων. 30 πραΰθυμος ἀνὴρ καρδίας ἰατρός, σὴς δὲ ὀστέων καρδία αἰσθητική.

So if indeed Jesus was teaching the Proverb then the "poor in spirit" would be the godly who prefer company with the poor but honorable than to share in the swag of the ungodly lovers of money**:

[Pro 23:1-8 KJV] 1 When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what [is] before thee: 2 And put a knife to thy throat, if thou [be] a man given to appetite. 3 Be not desirous of his dainties: for they [are] deceitful meat. 4 Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. 5 Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for [riches] certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven. 6 Eat thou not the bread of [him that hath] an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats: 7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so [is] he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart [is] not with thee. 8 The morsel [which] thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words.

Having said that I should also point out that the kingdom of heaven was at hand and many would be called to leave all their possessions to wait for God's son from heaven.

And Paul said that Christ gave up his riches (which he was given by the sages from the East at his birth) and became poor and set an example to others:

NIV 2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

I think that the whole "you had your goods in this life" thing is everywhere in scripture and cannot be only concerned with states of mind.

NIV Luke 6:21 Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

End of that answer. Here is another I wrote on another site!

The various translations seem to have this problem: The translation is good Greek but bad English. IE: It is legitimate Greek but what does it mean? Where's the OT background? Or a confirmatory NT usage?

The Outline of Biblical Usage suggests this, which if the Greek is sound brings it more directly into the narrative of the whole of scripture:

destitute of wealth of learning and intellectual culture which the schools afford (men of this class most readily give themselves up to Christ's teaching and proved them selves fitted to lay hold of the heavenly treasure)

Perhaps the reference to "in the spirit" was deemed necessary because not every poor person is thereby "saved" but rather he is speaking of those whose minds and attitudes are those of the poor, ashamed even to speak. In both Deuteronomy and Ezekiel Israel is chided because God found them poor, prodigally enriched them and then watched as they became "fat" and proud:

[Deu 32:12-16 KJV] 12 [So] the LORD alone did lead him, and [there was] no strange god with him. 13 He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock; 14 Butter of kine, and milk of sheep, with fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat; and thou didst drink the pure blood of the grape. 15 But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered [with fatness]; then he forsook God [which] made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation. 16 They provoked him to jealousy with strange [gods], with abominations provoked they him to anger.

[Eze 16:49-50 CSB] 49 "Now this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters had pride, plenty of food, and comfortable security, but didn't support the poor and needy. 50 "They were haughty and did detestable acts before me, so I removed them when I saw this.

This then links with, which Luke's version is very friendly with since he just says "Blessed are the poor":

[Luk 6:20-21 CSB] 20 Then looking up at his disciples, he said: Blessed are you who are poor, because the kingdom of God is yours. 21 Blessed are you who are now hungry, because you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, because you will laugh.

[Jas 2:1-9 KJV] 1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, [the Lord] of glory, with respect of persons. 2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? 5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, 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? 6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? 7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? 8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

[Mat 11:16-26 CSB] 16 "To what should I compare this generation? It's like children sitting in the marketplaces who call out to other children: 17 "We played the flute for you, but you didn't dance; we sang a lament, but you didn't mourn! 18 "For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon! ' 19 "The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners! ' Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds." 20 Then he proceeded to denounce the towns where most of his miracles were done, because they did not repent: 21 "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes long ago. 22 "But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23 "And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until today. 24 "But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you." 25 At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and revealed them to infants. 26 "Yes, Father, because this was your good pleasure.

So for me the bottom line seems to be:

"Blessed are the poor in attitude for theirs is the kingdom of heaven"

Or something close to that. IE: Basically I'm agreeing with the most straightforward reading and the translations as far as the grammar goes but interpreting it a tad differently where the "spirit" is the "attitude". Read that way it seems consistent with:

  • Greek grammar and word usage (I think)
  • Luke's version
  • other references to the poor in Matthew
  • Moses and the prophets
  • James, etc. when speaking of the poor

BDAG has this usage for πνεῦμα:

ⓒ spiritual state, state of mind, disposition ἐν ἀγάπῃ πνεύματί τε πραΰτητος with love and a gentle spirit 1 Cor 4:21; cp. Gal 6:1. τὸ πν. τοῦ νοὸς ὑμῶν Eph 4:23 (s. νοῦς 2a). ἐν τῷ ἀφθάρτῳ τοῦ ἡσυχίου πνεύματος with the imperishable (gift) of a quiet disposition 1 Pt 3:4.

Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 833). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

If "attitude" doesn't work then I would resort to "destitute in their spirit" though that doesn't communicate that much to me, personally.


Sometimes the word poor can be rendered begger, so it seems to indicate the those who beg for God for spiritual things will be satisfied to the full and thus be happy.

The same Greek word (Strong's No. 4434) for poor at Matt. 5;3 is renderd at Luke 16:20 as "begger."

Matt. 5:3 NLT: God blesses those who realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them. (New Living Translation - Tyndale House)

The idea is that a person my see that he or she is in desprate need of what God can provide for them in a spiritual way and "begs" him for help and this is pleasing to God as he can and will help them to fill that need.

4434 ptōxós (from ptōssō, "to crouch or cower like a beggar") – properly, bent over; (figuratively) deeply destitute, completely lacking resources (earthly wealth) – i.e. helpless as a beggar. 4434 (ptōxós) relates to "the pauper rather than the mere peasant, the extreme opposite of the rich" (WP, 1, 371)."-Helps Ministries, Inc.

  • As it says in Luke its another of rendering the Greek word. Being poor is not a cause to be happy so it is plan to see more is involved so we need to look at the Greek to see a wide picture.
    – user26950
    Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 21:33
  • Also, please keep in mind that "poor" is an adjective while "beggar" is a noun. It might all come out in the wash but I thought you should be aware of the difference. I appreciate your posts!
    – Ruminator
    Commented Nov 30, 2018 at 21:38
  • 1
    @Ruminator Added a little more info for you.
    – user26950
    Commented Nov 30, 2018 at 22:18

All the water in the world belong to the thirsty. All knowledge in the world belong to the ignorant. Likewise; the kingdom of heaven belong to the people who feel the lack of it; to those who feel impoverished spiritually. Just don't forget to ask, seek, or knock.

Mat 7:7,8 (NIV) Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

  • Asking for or seeking something is not the same as feeling the lack of it. Matthew 7: 7-8, too, is more about how one relates or interacts with others than feeling the lack. Commented Oct 20, 2018 at 14:13
  • @Possibility. You are right in what you are saying. However, feeling lack usually comes before asking for something. So it is an important piece in the puzzle. Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 2:43
  • I agree @Constantthin, but the problem is that we focus on the feeling of lack and think that makes us blessed. It is in the begging that we are blessed, in the seeking that we find, etc. Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 3:08
  • @Possibility. Yes to forget to ask, seek, or knock, after a lack has been identified would be a big problem. Picture a thirsty person not being able to move his/her legs to get to the nearest water source, and not being able to communicate his/her need to others. Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 11:55
  • Yes, and it is in the relationships he/she has with others (more than anything else) that would ensure this thirsty person gets the drink he/she needs. The lack of physical/verbal capability is an obstacle only if he/she insists on being independent. Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 14:14

In the metaphoric language of the Gospels the "poor in spirit" means a healthy attitude of a believer to divine love, grace and His commandments, for one can get infinitely saturated by the divine presence, infinitely grow in love of God and in refining the understanding of His precepts and commandments. One can infinitely hone аnd sharpen one's conscience on the sharpening action of the Holy Spirit. Thus, blessed is he who understands and perceives it, who understands that to follow God and His precepts, to search for His Kingdom and pursuing the path of Truth means a devoted life of concentration and struggle, in order to achieve greater and greater closeness and assimilation with the Perfect God, whose co-Perfect Son (cf. Hebrews 7:28) commanded humans to "be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt 5:48). Such humans, in their striving towards perfection will always feel a divine "poverty", that is to say their process of approaching divine perfection will reveal more and more the infinity and unattainability of this perfection and thus understanding of poverty will also grow from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18), become more and more refined and paradoxical, more noble and glorious as corresponding to the spiritual growth of a believer.

You can just compare to it also expressions of philosophers, as that of Aristotle, who said that "philosophy starts from wandering, and it ends with even greater wandering", or Socrates' expression that all he knows is nothing, for all his knowledge just opened windows to the infinite sea of cognition of the mysteries of Reality.

On the contrary, those believers who stop growth in Christ, who think that they already have achieved their limit and become turgid with their achievements, turn stupid and to them applies those horrible words of the Saviour: "who has not, from them will be taken also that which they think to possess" (Luke 8:18), - that is to say, you cannot possess divine gifts unless together with an ongoing conscious efforts to co-work with them and increase them, unless together with a feeling and understanding of the divine blessed "poverty" that in growing in God, we still always remain poor with reference to His perfect riches.

  • Can you demonstrate from the Greek, history or some other source that "the "poor in spirit" means a healthy attitude of a believer to divine love, grace and His commandments" other than Levan said so? Is that what the lexicons say?
    – Ruminator
    Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 13:52
  • Yes, of course, it has a clear resonance with Plato's "Symposium" in which the divine power of Eros/Love is said to be a child of saturation and riches (πόρος/κόρος) and poverty (πενία), and therefore a philosopher who is "infected" with this divine power, always feels a blessed deficiency, which propels him to strive more and more towards divine perfections and riches, for Eros is not only poor, but also possesses traces of riches, and therefore understands what it lacks. Greeks reading Gospels in 2nd century would have much to relate to this text from their own philosophical tradition. Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 15:24
  • Moreover, the "poverty" of which Jesus talks is clearly understandable for anybody who ever has dealt with scholarship: any new knowledge attained opens new venues of even larger and deeper inquiries, thus it leads to even greater and more blessed "poverty". Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 15:27

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