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In Matthew 5 it says:

And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then 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 those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.

I looked in the Strong's Greek and it says about the word blessed:

  • Transliteration: makarios
  • Definition: blessed, happy
  • Usage: happy, blessed, to be envied.

Then I looked at the word mourn:

  • Transliteration: pentheó
  • Definition: to mourn, lament
  • Usage: I mourn, lament, feel guilt.

I understand that "blessed" can mean "happy."

I think it's safe to assume that most people who “mourn” don’t seem to be “blessed”. I feel like it's saying, "happy are those who are sad". It probably doesn't mean that. So, what does Jesus mean by this?

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5 Answers 5

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The idea of mourning here should be understood in terms of its reference to a prophecy in the Book of Isaiah, which also speaks of comforting those who mourn:

Isaiah 61

the Lord has anointed me; He has sent me to bring good news to the afflicted, to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, release to the prisoners, 2 To announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God; To comfort all who mourn; 3 to place on those who mourn in Zion a diadem instead of ashes, To give them oil of gladness instead of mourning, a glorious mantle instead of a faint spirit.

The mourning that Isaiah referred to is the mourning of Israel during the Babylonian captivity. It had both the connotation of grief and of guilt. God's people felt grief because they had lost their nation. Jerusalem lay in ashes and they had been forced into captivity. They also felt guilt because their captivity was due to their sin. The Jews of Jesus' time felt similar emotions. However, in the context of their messianic expectations, they mourned in longing for liberation. Jesus repeated a version of Isaiah's prophecy in his first public sermon:

Luke 4

16 He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read 17 and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19 and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

Thus, Isaiah's prophecy of liberation, healing and freedom from oppression was a central theme in Jesus' preaching. The saying, "Blessed are those who mourn," is a reference to the idea that those who long for liberty will find in it in the fulfillment of Jesus' messianic mission.

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  • +1. Excellent answer!!!
    – Dottard
    Commented Jan 27 at 21:15
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Note the meaning of πενθέω is more than just to be sad, grieve, or mourn. It is to grieve about something or someone, whether expressed (transitive) or unexpressed (intransitive). And the blessing is they will be comforted.

πενθέω ... ① intr., to experience sadness as the result of some condition or circumstance, be sad, grieve, mourn ... ② trans. (B-D-F §148, 2; Rob. 475) to engage in mourning for one who is dead, ordinarily w. traditional rites, mourn over w. acc. of pers. -- Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). In A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 795). University of Chicago Press.

The context of v3-6 is repentance, and that repentance leads to forgiveness. Thus, the idea of grieve about one's sinful condition.

Consider this scripture:

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:  “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’  But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9–14, ESV)

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    So that seems precisely parallel to to “grieve” and “mourn” in English, then, both of which imply an (expressed or unexpressed) person or thing as object of mourning. Commented Jan 28 at 17:33
  • Over the last few years, I've interpreted this sermon as a progression. It begins with my recognizing my spiritual poverty and mourning on account of it. The Comforter begins a ministry in my life which results in my becoming gentle and not grasping for the things everyone else desires. Meditating on these and each of the ones that follow is something I do almost every day. I allow the Spirit to examine me to see whether I'm falling short on any of these, for which I can ask forgiveness. These have many aspects to them and have been very precious in my life.
    – Dieter
    Commented Feb 25 at 0:08
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The word Blessed as has been written comes from the Greek word Makarios, and one of its applications is that those who receive it are being given Divine Favour, and those who mourn shall receive the Divine favour of being comforted when they do so

What is this mourning ? Is there a difference between mourning and grieving as all men would do , or would the Disciples then and now be mourning for something else?

Disciples of Jesus should mourn, and lament not just physically but spiritually , As disciples we should be more than aware and have a genuine sadness that the world around us is spiritually blind. With the Holy Spirit in us we can sigh and cry for all men, as indeed we are to sigh and cry for Israel .The comfort we get is the realisation that God has a Plan for man, and all will ultimately be restored upon His return

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  • Thank you for your answer.
    – Jason_
    Commented Feb 25 at 20:43
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In Matthew 5 it says:

And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then 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 those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.

When Jesus said, "Blessed or happy are those that mourn" he must had in mind those who were conscious of their spiritual needs (verse 3) and were saddened over their sinful state but were comforted knowing that their sins would be forgiven if they had a good relationship with God.

They also mourned for the sinful and lawless conditions that existed around them, Lot was in anguish for the perverted conduct of the lawless. Ezekiel and Peter wrote:

Ezekiel 9:4 NASB

4 And the Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and make a mark on the foreheads of the people who groan and sigh over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst.

2 Peter 2:7-8 NET

7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man in anguish over the debauched lifestyle of lawless[a] men,[b] 8 (for while he lived among them day after day, that righteous man was tormented in his righteous soul[c] by the lawless deeds he saw and heard[d]).

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What does it mean? What else if not that if one follows the footsteps of Christ will unavoidably be persecuted like He was, unavoidably (2 Tim. 3:12; John 15:20), and is not it a saddening fact and a cause to be mournful if you are persecuted for righteousness by all sorts of evil scoundrels, knaves and frauds? But the persecuted are blessed because they will get eventually unfading crowns from Christ and reign together with Him eternally, while frauds and scoundrels, who are miserably happy now, will be saddened to the point of weeping and gnashing their teeth (Luke 6:25; 13:28).

Even beyond Christians, honesty and decency will not be lost to anybody and impossible that Christ may not in this or that manner remunerate them for that: for example, is not it mournful for a just and honest businessman to suffer a bankruptcy for the reason of refusing deceiving his customers like his rival and prosperous businessmen do without qualms? Yes, but the decent businessman is blessed for he did not damage his soul, while the prosperous businessmen are damned already here both by damage of their souls and, psychologically, by their smoldering inner feeling that they have become wretches and scoundrels, lost right to respect themselves having sold their souls for $s.

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