An Introduction to the Beatitudes

David Norczyk
6 min readMay 3, 2024

It may be suggested that the most famous teaching of Jesus of Nazareth is the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7). By way of introduction, the mount is the Mount of Beatitudes, so called, from the significance of this very sermon. The location is the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee, near Capernaum, which served as the hub for Jesus’ earthly ministry, two-thirds of which took place in this northern region of Israel.

The Jews did not receive Jesus (Jn 1:11); therefore, He mostly ministered outside the bounds of Judaism. He had no place to lay His head (Mt 8:20; Lk 9:38); and He had little, favorable reception in the synagogues and the Temple. Moses went up the mountain (Horeb) to receive the Law of God; Jesus went up the mountain to interpret it. In both cases, the Jews had difficulty obeying the teachings.

Matthew is the Gospel written to the Jews; in order for them to recognize their Messiah. The author appeals to his Jewish audience to consider the kingdom of heaven and the promised Son of David in their midst. Here is the manifesto of Christ’s kingdom. Jesus is seated as a king explaining his laws; and as a prophet/judge who sits in judgment of those subject to those laws. Believers are blessed; and the multitudes are warned.

Many have proffered advice for the sermon’s use for today. Some say it is an interpretation of the Law of God. Others suggest it belongs to a kingdom age yet to come in the future. In truth, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is teaching for Christians in every age. It also does help us see the standard of God’s Holy Law. Its application is best seen in the actual life of Jesus Messiah, who perfectly kept and fulfilled the Law (Mt 5:17). The catalyst for its application in our lives is the Person and work of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit of Christ, indwelling those born again of God, causes the Christian to walk in God’s statutes (Ezek 36:27). Thus, the realization of the obedient child of God is the work of God, which is grace to those who are being saved. Christians are led by the Spirit of God into all truth (Jn 16:13; Gal 5:16, 25). We who follow Christ should be doers of the truth (Jas 1:22), as it is in Jesus (Jn 14:6; Eph 4:21).

As students of the Bible, our great concern is the message. Many are bogged down with the mechanical details of the Bible, the Gospels, and the Sermon on the Mount, itself. As noted, many will bring their own agenda to the passage (eisegesis). Intellectuals, social justice warriors, legalists, psychologists, pacifists, linguists, sociologists, etc. will all bring something to this sermon and invariably distort the message and the very blessing Jesus preached to His disciples and to us.

Another note of introduction is to remember the whole of the sermon, when studying its parts. One may be intent on studying just the Beatitudes, for instance. Do not isolate the parts in neglect of the big picture. Further, it must be emphasized that the Sermon on the Mount is not for any other group of people than Spirit-filled members of Christ’s church. This sermon is not the way to Christ; it is the way of Christ. Advocates of morality and/or ethics will surely be enamored with this passage of the Bible; but they will no doubt fail to attain adherence to this teaching. Many have heard the sermon; but few know its application in their lives.

It is the God-fearing man or woman who aspires to live in a manner worthy of the Lord (Col 1:10). Living by the Spirit, conscious of God’s presence, means our ambition is to please God (2 Cor 5:9). God is holy; and the born again wish to be holy, too. Therefore, the Christian walks in the fear of the Lord and His commandments (Eccl 12:13).

Christianity is solemn; but there is righteousness, joy, and peace in the Spirit (Rom 14:17). The child of God trusts the holy One within him to do all His holy will (Eph 1:11; Phil 2:13). It is the love of Christ (2 Cor 5:14), Christ in us (Col 1:27), who compels us to want to be holy like our Lord (1 Pet 1:15–16). Therefore, we observe the Beatitudes as a whole. This is what all Christians should look like because it is what Jesus talked about; and how He walked about during His earthly ministry.

It is an error to view the statements of the Beatitudes as one does the gifts of the Spirit (Rom 12; 1 Cor 12; Eph 4). Gifts are apportioned in volume and kind by the Holy Spirit. The Beatitudes are more akin to the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–23). All the virtues should manifest in a wholistic manner. The Christian must not despair in this matter of happiness (a.k.a. blessedness). God the Holy Spirit is at work in every believer He has caused to be born again (Jn 3:1–8; Eph 1:13; 1 Pet 1:3).

The Beatitudes pertain to the spiritual man, not the natural man. The natural man has a unique appearance and a natural temperament. We must not confuse the humble, meek, peace-loving Buddhist, Muslim, or Hindu with the Christian. We must not say, “Oh, Ahmed down at work is a better Christian than most Christians.” A Christian is filled with the indwelling Spirit of Christ (Jn 14:17; Rom 8:9, 11), who produces the spiritual characteristics of Christ, who is God.

The Beatitudes belong to the kingdom of Christ; which is the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven. The spiritual man is a citizen of heaven (1 Cor 2:15; Phil 3:20). He is altogether different than the worldly, materialistic man. In fact, the more the Beatitudes take hold, the more set apart the spiritual man is from the ways of the world (1 Jn 2:15–17).

As holiness manifests in Christians, the worldly man is exposed for being the shallow, sensuous creature that he is in truth. This is the reason the worldly man despises the Christian. He is angry that the Christian does not agree with or even mimic him. The natural man loves darkness (Jn 3:19); but Christians are children of light (Eph 5:8; Phil 2:15; 1 Thess 5:5). This invites diverse afflictions, as noted in the contents of Jesus’ longest recorded sermon.

The kingdom of heaven manifests in the world wherever the reign of Christ is extended. Because this is a spiritual kingdom, at present, we must discern the kingdom of Christ in the human heart. Where the Holy Spirit is at home and at work…there is the kingdom advancing against the ruler and kingdom of this world (Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 1 Jn 5:19). This makes Jesus’ sermon a very practical one.

The kingdom of heaven has appeared, is appearing, and it is will come in the fullest sense when Jesus Christ, the King of kings (1 Tim 6:15), returns to judge the living and the dead (Acts 10:42; 2 Cor 5:10; 2 Tim 4:1; 1 Pet 4:5). His kingdom will become the kingdom of this world in the new heavens and the new earth (Rev 21–22), where righteousness dwells (2 Pet 3:13; Rev 11:15).

For now, let the Christian look to Christ and learn of Him (Heb 12:2; 2 Pet 3:18). Christ is the way of God (Jn 14:6); and only by the work of the Spirit does this way become reality (1 Pet 1:2). The Beatitudes reveal the characteristics and the benefits of Christ in us, the hope of glory (Col 1:27). They are attributes of God and His heavenly kingdom. Therefore, Christian, let us learn and know the Beatitudes, trusting the Holy Spirit to grow us up into all eight of them, as He conforms us to the image of God the Father’s perfect Son, our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 8:29).

David Norczyk

Spokane Valley, Washington

May 3, 2024

Matthew 5–7



David Norczyk

Some random theologian out West somewhere, Christian writer, preacher