This 8th Beatitude is usually considered the last of the Beatitudes, and is found in the 10th verse of the 5th Chapter of Matthew. The 11th verse is sometimes thought of as one of the Beatitudes, but the beginning of the verse changes from “Blessed are they…” (or “Blessed are the…” which is used in verses 3 through 10,) to “Blessed are you…” This changes the direction of the teachings enough to cause the 11th verse, and those following it to be considered a change of course, and therefore, not part of the set of verses we know as the Beatitudes.
So the final Beatitude reads, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” It’s worth noting here that this Beatitude is different from the fourth Beatitude, which reads “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” We discussed this Beatitude in the article Righteousness: More than a Meal. In that article, we talked about the fact that the fourth Beatitude really has more to do with our motivation to be righteous, than with actually being righteous. But in this last Beatitude, this is not the case, as Yeshua points out that the person who is righteous will be persecuted, simply because he or she is righteous.
The word righteous in this case comes from the Greek word dikaiosune. Part one of the definition helps us clearly identify the righteous person. They are as they “ought to be; the condition acceptable to God; [displaying] integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting”. In other words, they are someone who has learned to be ‘spiritual man’ or in ‘higher self’. This Beatitude is about the people who, as we put in the last article (Peacemakers: What is a Child of God?), have become a part of God.
It also becomes apparent that we have come back around (as in a circle) to the familiar Greek phrase basiliea ton ouranos from the first Beatitude. The general interpretation based on familiar church doctrine would be that the saints, having been persecuted and martyred for their faith will be assured a place in heaven when they die. But we have already noted that basiliea ton ouranos makes more sense in the context of our daily lives as the knowledge of happiness, than as the kingdom of heaven.
But why would the person in ‘higher self’ be glad that they are being persecuted – how does being persecuted relate to the knowledge of happiness? Let’s look again at the process that we go through as we move from ‘natural man’ to ‘spiritual man’. In varying degrees, and through various life lessons, we learn to be in spiritual control of physical matter. In most cases, the physical matter which we are learning to control is our own ‘natural self’; our bodies and our emotions. With greater and greater success we will eventually reach the point where we are in full spiritual control of our response to the situations and circumstances around us. We come to realize that we ourselves are in control of whether we will choose to be filled with the Father’s peace and joy, or give into the natural self’s attention-seeking negative emotions. This is true, even to the point of martyrdom.
In some of the old non-canonical accounts of the life and teachings of Yeshua, (these alternative accounts were considered ‘false’ by the church) it is suggested that He laughed as He hung on the cross. If this is true, it certainly would be indicative of His spiritual response to the circumstances, and His desire to let the peace and joy of the Father fill His being, even on the cross! It also shows us once again how Yeshua, being called the ‘pioneer’, and the ‘first fruits’, sets the example for all of us to try to learn to follow: to achieve greater spiritual control over our lower selves so that as we become a part of God, we can share in the Father’s peace and joy, even in the face of persecution. Then we too, can laugh at the lions!
Grace and peace to you all,