3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Especially verses 3 to 10 have a common structure and second part of verses 3 and 10, "for theirs is the kingdom of heaven", is the same. This leaves a strong of impression of parallelism similar to such in Old Testament, and perhaps on even bigger scale - there are not two parallels as usual, but eight.

My first question is: is it commonly agreed between Bible scholars that the Beatitudes are a case of parallelism, with all its consequences?

I have other questions on the consequences of parallelism (especially for the Beatitudes, but I'd be glad for any corrections if I misunderstood the concept of parallelism in general):

  • Jesus talks all the time about the same, about certain aspects of the righteousness in New Testament, right?

  • so it means that the poor in spirit, those who mourn etc. are all one group of "the blessed", OK? If I understand it, some can be especially poor in spirit while others might be especially meek, but it's impossible to fit in one category without fitting at least partially to the others.

  • it was the "left side", but on the "right side" this all should explain what does "for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" mean, corresponding to specific aspects of "blessedness".

Are these three points commonly accepted by mainstream Bible scholars, are there some major controversies, or did I misunderstood anything and most Bible scholars would disagree?

2 Answers 2


This leaves a strong of impression of parallelism similar to such in Old Testament, and perhaps on even bigger scale - there are not two parallels as usual, but eight.

What you are describing is referred to as External Parallelism, when correspondance exists between bicola (as well as within them). This kind of parallelism is not unique to the New Testament, here seen in Psalm 19:

7The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
8the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. ESV

I don't know whether it is "commonly agreed between Bible scholars that the Beatitudes are a case of parallelism", but it is pretty hard to miss so I'd surprised if anyone didn't agree that it was there! On the other hand, the significance and interpretation of the parallelism is unlikely to be something that 'mainstream Bible scholars', if such a group exists, are likely to agree on.

One specific exegetical question that I think you allude to in the question, is whether Jesus is referring to eight groups of people, or eight characteristics of a single group. I favour the latter, for the following reasons:

  1. The closing blessing "for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" mirrors the opening, poetically suggesting unity between the groups
  2. Jesus switches from the impersonal 'the poor', 'those' etc to the more personal 'you' in the climatic verse 11

Regarding equation and correspondence I found remarkable this parallel

...for theirs is the kingdom of heaven


...for they will inherit the earth

The heaven no longer is contrasted to the earth but the inheritance of the latter means the kingdom of the first. The kingdom of heaven is not an othersidedness but a coming of the higher into the lower, for the restoration of what has been lost.

  • This is a further step - meditation over the consequences of parallelism in the Beatitudes. I asked this question to find out how "correct" is to use the Beatitudes this way, and you didn't answer my question. But thanks, this is one point to consider while meditating and examining the Biblic text further.
    – Pavel
    Commented May 5, 2013 at 19:59

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