Matthew 5:5: - Blessed Are The Meek, Gentle Or Is It The Humble?

Mat.5:5: Blessed Are The Meek, Gentle Or Is It The Humble?

Mat 5:5 (CEV)  God blesses those people who are humble.  The 
earth will belong to them! 


What does it mean - humility? The dictionary defines it thus: 
The quality or state of being humble in spirit; freedom from pride 
or arrogance. Augustine says, "It was pride that changed angels 
into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels." Again, he 
says, "Should you ask me, What is the first thing in religion? I 
should reply, The first, second, and third thing therein - nay all- is 
humility." Ben Franklin said, "After crosses and losses men grow humbler 
and wiser." Jonathan Edwards said, "Nothing sets a person so much 
out of the devil's reach as humility." And others have said, "The 
fullest and best ears of corn hang lowest toward the ground" (Edward 
Reynolds). "I believe the first test of a truly great man is his humility" 
(Ruskin). "Humility is the Christian's greatest honor; and the higher men 
climb, the further they are from heaven" (Jane Porter). "True humility 
makes way for Christ, and throws the soul at His feet" (J. Mason).   


CONTENT; What's in the verse; Translations; Paraphrase; Word 

Mat 5:5 (KJV)  Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the 

Mat 5:5 (NNAS)  "Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit 
the earth. 
Mat 5:5 (CEV)  God blesses those people who are humble.  The 
earth will belong to them! 

Mat 5:5 (CWR)  "Happiness comes from being submissive. When you 
acknowledge God as the source of life and abilities, you will feel heaven's 
joy. One day, people like this will fill the whole earth. 


Each beatitude tells how to be blessed. "Blessed" means more 
than happiness. It implies the fortunate or enviable state of those 
who are in God's kingdom. The Beatitudes don't promise laughter, 
pleasure, or earthly prosperity. To Jesus, "blessed" means the experience 
of hope and joy, independent of outward circumstances. To find hope 
and joy, the deepest form of happiness, follow Jesus no matter what 
the cost. [Life Application SB] 

Blessed: The Greek word was used in Greek literature, in the 
Septuagint, and in the New Testament to describe the kind of happiness that 
comes from receiving divine favor. [Nelson SB] 

The beatitudes in effect say, "O the bliss of being a Christian! 
O the joy of following Christ! O the sheer happiness of knowing 
Jesus Christ as Master, Saviour and Lord!" . . . In Christianity there 
is a godlike joy.  
The Greek for blesses describes that joy which has its secret 
within itself, that joy which is serene and untouchable, and 
self-contained, that joy which is completely independent of all the chances and 
the changes of life. The English word happiness gives its own case 
away. It contains the root hap which means chance. Human happiness is 
something which is dependent on the chances and the changes of life, 
something which life may give and which life may also destroy. The 
Christian blessedness is completely untouchable and unassailable. "No 
one," said Jesus, "will take your joy from you" (Jn 16:22). The 
beatitudes speak of that joy which seeks us through our pain, that joy 
which sorrow and loss, and pain and grief, are powerless to touch, 
that joy which shines through tears, and which nothing in life or 
death can take away.  
The world can win its joys, and the world can equally well lose 
its joys. A change in fortune, a collapse in health, the failure of 
a plan, the disappointment of an ambition, even a change in the 
weather, can take away the fickle joy the world can give. But the 
Christian has the serene and untouchable joy which comes from walking for 
ever in the company and in the presence of Jesus Christ. [Barclay] 


There is no precise English equivalent for this Greek word.
Translations using: Meek are: KJV, NKJ, RSV, NRSV, NAB, NIV, ESV
Translations using: Gentle are: NASB, NNAS, NEB, NJB, NLT, GWB
Translations using Humble are: TEV, NCV, CEV

Meek. Mentioned only by Matthew. An obvious allusion to Ps 
37:11. The source of this meekness is Christ (Mt 11:28, 29), who 
bestows it when men submit their wills to his. [Wycliffe Bible 

Meekness A personality trait of gentleness and humility, the 
opposite of which is pride. Meekness does not refer to weakness or 
passivity but to controlled power. [Holman's Bible Dictionary] 

Meek. This beatitude is taken from Ps 37:11 and refers not so 
much to an attitude toward man as to a disposition before God, 
namely, humility. [NIV SB] 

Meekness never implies weakness. In contrast to weakness, 
meekness is controlled strength. It is an attitude of heart in which all 
energies are brought into the perfect control of the Holy Spirit. 
[Believer's SB] 

Meek. Meekness is the attitude of heart and mind and life that 
prepares the way for sanctification. A "meek" spirit "is in the sight of 
God of great price" (1 Peter 3:4). "Meekness" is often mentioned by 
NT writers as a cardinal Christian virtue (see Gal. 5:23; 1 Tim. 
6:11). "Meekness" toward God means that we accept His will and His 
dealing with us as good, that we submit to Him in all things, without 
hesitation. A "meek" man has self under complete control. [SDA Commentary] 

CONTEXT; What's around the verse; Overview; Topic:

Jesus announced blessings for citizens of His kingdom (5:1-12). 
He expects citizens of His kingdom to do good deeds (vv. 13-16), 
for He requires a righteousness that surpasses that of even the 
zealous Pharisees (vv. 17-20). Christ looked behind the acts the Law 
regulated to call for purity of heart (vv. 21-42) and that crowning 
expression of kingdom righteousness: a love like the Heavenly Father's for 
one's enemies (vv. 43-48). [The 365-Day Devotional Commentary] 


Jesus Teaches the People
The Sermon on the Mount; The Beatitudes
The Beatitudes

5:3-12 There are nine blessings listed in vs. 3-11. But vs. 10, 
11, refer to the same aspect of Christian experience, and are 
therefore to be considered one beatitude, thus leaving eight rather than 
nine beatitudes. [SDA Commentary] 

On these precious Beatitudes, observe that though eight in 
number, there are here but seven distinct features of character. The 
eighth one-the "persecuted for righteousness' sake"-denotes merely the 
possessors of the seven preceding features, on account of which they are 
persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12). Accordingly, instead of any distinct promise to 
this class, we have merely a repetition of the first promise. This 
has been noticed by several critics, who by the sevenfold character 
thus set forth have rightly observed that a complete character is 
meant to be depicted, and by the sevenfold blessedness attached to it, 
a perfect blessedness is intended. [Jamieson, Fausset, And Brown 

There are at least four ways to understand the Beatitudes. (1) 
They are a code of ethics for the disciples and a standard of conduct 
for all believers. (2) They contrast kingdom values (what is 
eternal) with worldly values (what is temporary). (3) They contrast the 
superficial "faith" of the Pharisees with the real faith Christ wants. (4) 
They show how the Old Testament expectations will be fulfilled in the 
new kingdom. These beatitudes are not multiple choice--pick what you 
like and leave the rest. They must be taken as a whole. They describe 
what we should be like as Christ's followers. [Life Application SB] 

The Beatitudes are comprised of three elements: a pronouncement 
of blessing, a quality of life, and a reason why the recipient 
should be considered blessed. The first element is found in the word 
Blessed (see Ps. 1:1), which introduces each beatitude. The second 
element does not describe different groups of people, but a composite 
picture of the kind of person who will inherit Christ's kingdom. The 
third element looks ahead to some aspect of the coming kingdom. 
[Nelson SB] 

Our Saviour here gives eight characters of blessed people, which 
represent to us the principal graces of a Christian [Matthew Henry 

The Beatitudes are not primarily promises to the individual but 
a description of him. They do not show a man how to be saved, but 
describe the characteristics manifested by one who is born again. 
[Wycliffe Bible Commentary] 

The Beatitudes describe what we should be like as Christ's 
followers. [Life Application SB] 

The Beatitudes: These qualities Jesus mentioned are internal. 
These come only when one is properly related to God through faith, 
when one places his complete trust in God. [Bible Knowledge 

The Beatitudes describe the inner qualities of a follower of 
Christ. [Ryrie SB] 

The Beatitudes describe the character traits of those accepted 
as citizens of the kingdom of God and set forth both the present 
and future blessings of those whose lives portray these virtues. 
[Believer's SB] 

The Beatitudes refer to both present and future blessings of the 
kingdom. [Disciple SB] 

5:1-12 Eight Characteristics Of Kingdom Dwellers
The Beatitudes (5:1-12) revealed eight characteristics that 
should be true of the righteous remnant in the promised kingdom. The 
truths implied in these characteristics all reflect pervasive themes in 
the Old Testament. They revealed to the listeners what the lives of 
people in the process of repentance should be like and caused them to 
reflect upon their own character in relation to the character of God. 
The Beatitudes were built upon an if/then logic and hidden in each 
Beatitude was an if/then relationship. For example, the first Beatitude 
says in essence, "If you are poor in spirit, then you will receive 
the kingdom of God" (5:3). The Beatitudes both describe and demand. 
They demand good character as they describe the "blessed" results of 
following the demands of kingdom living. 
The attitudes of "poor in spirit," "mourning," and "meekness" 
all draw upon Old Testament themes and underscore the need for human 
responsibility and the work of divine grace. The basic element demanded by all 
the Beatitudes was a right relationship with God. The Beatitudes 
were intended to inspire Matthew's readers to think about the 
character of the repentant person so that they also could follow the path 
of repentance. 
Matthew 5:3-16 should be seen as one single unit of thought. The 
word "blessed" (5:3; etc.) literally means "happy." For "poor in 
spirit" (5:3) see Psalms 40:17; 69:29-30, 33-34; and Isaiah 57:15; 61:1; 
66:2, 5. This characteristic describes the inner attitude of a person 
when confronted with the holy God and his demands. Being "poor in 
spirit" means admitting that no one can have spiritual wealth in and of 
themselves--that all are dependent on God alone for spiritual 
salvation and daily 
 grace. Such a person aligns with God's will, even against the desires 
of his own. 
For the attitude of "mourning" (Matt. 5:4), see Isaiah 1:17, 23; 
2:11, 17; 61:2. The afflicted were often seen as God's favorites in 
contrast with the powerful. This "mourning" was a reaction to seeing all 
that God had demanded for the kingdom and then seeing how far all of 
mankind had fallen short. 
For the attitude of "meekness" (Matt. 5:5) read Psalm 37:7-11 
and Isaiah 57:15. Having the quality of "meekness" would result in 
possession of the new heavens and new earth (cf. Isa. 66; Rev. 21-22). The 
Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount as a whole continually looked 
forward to the time of judgment and reward in the end times. 
To "hunger and thirst for righteousness" (Matt. 5:6) was to seek 
to live life as God intended for it to be lived. Concepts drawn 
from Old Testament Wisdom Literature were being applied here (cf. 
Prov. 8:22-36). For "pure in heart" (Matt. 5:8), see what it meant 
under the old covenant (Deut. 6) as well as under the new covenant 
(Jer. 31; Ezek. 36). 
The "peacemakers" (Matt. 5:9) will be called "sons of God." They 
will be heirs to God's kingdom of which "peace" will be an important 
characteristic (cf. Isa. 9:6-7; 66:12-13; Mic. 4:3). Note the emphasis in 5:3, 
4, 9, 10. In each of these verses, an implied contrast was being 
made between those who would be blessed in the age to come and the 
religious leaders of Jesus' day. 
Those "persecuted because of righteousness" (5:10) would also be 
heirs to the kingdom. This relates back to 5:3 regarding the kingdom 
and to 5:6 regarding righteousness. The idea of this verse carried a 
bit of irony. These people were being persecuted because they were 
hungry and thirsty for righteousness. But their persecutors would be 
the religious leaders of Israel, the ones who claimed to strictly 
follow the way of righteousness. 
Jesus made a personal elaboration (5:11-12) of the comments in 
5:10. He would become the cause for the persecution of the righteous 
("because of me," 5:11). The people who desired to be among the "blessed" 
of the kingdom would not find their time on earth easy. Matthew 
wrote for people who faced a time of persecution prior to the 
establishment of the kingdom. There was a parallel drawn in 5:12 with the 
prophets of the past who had suffered for the sake of righteousness. [New 
Bible Companion] 

Of all the virtues Christ commended in the Beatitudes, it is 
significant that the first is humility being "poor in spirit" (v. 3). That 
underlies all the others: 
You cannot mourn (v 4) without appreciating how insufficient you 
are to handle life in your own strength. That is humility. 
You cannot be meek (v 5) unless you have needed gentleness 
yourself. Knowing that need is humility. 
You cannot hunger and thirst for righteousness (v 6) if you 
proudly think of yourself as already righteous. Longing to fill that 
spiritual appetite demands humility. In a parable that Luke recorded, a 
humble tax collector prayed, "God, be merciful to me a sinner!" He went 
away justified, unlike a proud Pharisee who boasted of his 
righteousness (Luke 18:13). 
You cannot be merciful (Matt. 5:7) without recognizing your own 
need for mercy. Jesus said that it's the person who is forgiven much 
that loves much (Luke 7:47). To confess your sin and ask God and 
others for forgiveness takes humility. 
You cannot be pure in heart (Matt. 5:8) if your heart is filled 
with pride. God promises to exalt the humble, not the proud (James 
You cannot be a peacemaker (Matt. 5:9) if you believe that you 
are always right. To admit your own fallibility takes humility Peace 
results when both warring parties move toward each other. 
Finally identifying with Christ no matter what the reaction of 
others (vv. 10-12) demands a certain death to yourself and a 
renunciation of your own rights. Standing up under persecution demands 
Christlike Humility. [Word In Life SB] 

Is it possible to live up to these standards? (5:3-10)
Even though the Sermon on the Mount has been called the 
constitution for citizens of the kingdom of God, we will never see flawed 
human beings, though they are Christians, reach this level of 
perfection. Jesus begins the Beatitudes, the preamble to this constitution, 
with our inability in mind - Blessed are the poor in spirit, for 
theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Those who begin by admitting their 
shortcomings are in the best position to experience God's blessing and enjoy 
his kingdom. 
Nevertheless, we cannot escape the fact that Jesus gave his 
followers these lifestyle goals. Those who respond out of love for the 
Lord, grateful for his grace in their lives, will better approach 
these ideals. The Beatitudes are a model of perfection requiring our 
declaration of dependence on God: we can't, but God can. Even when doing so 
involves failure to follow perfectly, we're to press on in obedience. 
The Beatitudes describe the quality of life God intended for 
humanity from the beginning - a life of blessing. The word blessed can 
also be translated happy, but it is something more than an emotion. 
The closer we come to Jesus' standards, the more we experience the 
blessing of God. [Quest SB] 

When we first read the statements of Jesus they seem wonderfully 
simple and unstartling, and they sink unobserved into our unconscious 
minds. For instance, the Beatitudes seem merely mild and beautiful 
precepts for all unworldly and useless people, but of very little 
practical use in the stern workaday world in which we live. We soon find, 
however, that the Beatitudes contain the dynamite of the Holy Ghost. They 
explode, as it were, when the circumstances of our lives cause them to do 
so. When the Holy Spirit brings to our remembrance one of these 
Beatitudes we say--'What a startling statement that is!' and we have to 
decide whether we will accept the tremendous spiritual upheaval that 
will be produced in our circumstances if we obey His words. That is 
the way the Spirit of God works. We do not need to be born again to 
apply the Sermon on the Mount literally. The literal interpretation of 
the Sermon on the Mount is child's play; the interpretation by the 
Spirit of God as He applies Our Lord's statements to our circumstances 
is the stern work of a saint. The teaching of Jesus is out of all 
proportion to our natural way of looking at things, and it comes with 
astonishing discomfort to begin with. We have slowly to form our walk and 
conversation on the line of the precepts of Jesus Christ as the Holy Spirit 
applies them to our circumstances. The Sermon on the Mount is not a set 
of rules and regulations: it is a statement of the life we will 
live when the Holy Spirit is getting His way with us. [My Utmost for 
His Highest by Oswald Chambers] 

CROSS REFERENCES; What's in verses elsewhere.

Numbers 12:3 (KJV)  (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all 
the men which were upon the face of the earth.)  

Psalm 25:9 (KJV)  The meek will he guide in judgment: and the 
meek will he teach his way.  

Psalm 37:34 (KJV)  Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he 
shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, 
thou shalt see it.  

Psalm 147:6 (KJV)  The Lord lifteth up the meek: he casteth the 
wicked down to the ground.  

Psalm 149:4 (KJV)  For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people: 
he will beautify the meek with salvation.  

Isaiah 29:19 (KJV)  The meek also shall increase their joy in 
the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of 

Isaiah 60:21 (KJV)  Thy people also shall be all righteous: they 
shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work 
of my hands, that I may be glorified.  

Isaiah 61:1 (KJV)  The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; 
because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; 
he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty 
to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are 

Zeph. 2:3 (KJV)  Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, 
which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it 
may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger.  

Matthew 11:29 (KJV)  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for 
I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your 

Galatians 5:23 (KJV)  Meekness, temperance: against such there 
is no law.  

Ephes. 4:2 (KJV)  With all lowliness and meekness, with 
longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;  

Col. 3:12 (KJV)  Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and 
beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, 

1 Tim. 6:11 (KJV)  But thou, O man of God, flee these things; 
and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, 

2 Tim. 2:25 (KJV)  In meekness instructing those that oppose 
themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the 
acknowledging of the truth;  

Titus 3:2 (KJV)  To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but 
gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.  

1 Peter 3:4 (KJV)  But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in 
that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet 
spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.  

1 Peter 3:15 (KJV)  But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: 
and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a 
reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:  

COMMENTARY / APPLICATION: Moving From The Head To The Heart
What is God teaching here? What does it teach about Jesus?

Throughout the Beatitudes there is an advancing line of 
Christian experience. Those who have felt their need of Christ, those who 
have mourned because of sin and have sat with Christ in the school of 
affliction, will learn meekness from the divine Teacher. . MB14-18 

The meek (humble) are those who quietly submit themselves to 
God, to his word and to his rod, who follow his directions, and 
comply with his designs, and are gentle towards all men ; 
who can bear provocation without being inflamed by it; are either 
silent, or return a soft answer; and who can show their displeasure when 
there is occasion for it, without being transported into any 
indecencies; who can be cool when others are hot; and in their patience keep 
possession of their own souls, when they can scarcely keep possession of 
any thing else. They are the meek, who are rarely and hardly 
provoked, but quickly and easily pacified; and who would rather forgive 
twenty injuries than revenge one, having the rule of their own spirits. 
(Matthew Henry's Commentary) 

What does it mean - humility? The dictionary defines it thus: 
The quality or state of being humble in spirit; freedom from pride 
or arrogance. Augustine says, "It was pride that changed angels 
into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels." Again, he 
says, "Should you ask me, What is the first thing in religion? I 
should reply, The first, second, and third thing therein - nay all- is 
humility." Ben Franklin said, "After crosses and losses men grow humbler 
and wiser." Jonathan Edwards said, "Nothing sets a person so much 
out of the devil's reach as humility." And others have said, "The 
fullest and best ears of corn hang lowest toward the ground" (Edward 
Reynolds). "I believe the first test of a truly great man is his humility" 
(Ruskin). "Humility is the Christian's greatest honor; and the higher men 
climb, the further they are from heaven" (Jane Porter). "True humility 
makes way for Christ, and throws the soul at His feet" (J. Mason).   

Through all the lowly experiences of life He (Jesus) consented 
to pass, walking among the children of men, not as a king, to 
demand homage, but as one whose mission it was to serve others...  
Jesus emptied Himself, and in all that He did, self did not 
appear. He subordinated all things to the will of His Father. When His 
mission on earth was about to close, He could say, "I have glorified 
Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to 
do." John 17:4. And He bids us, "Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly 
in heart." "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself" 
(Matthew 11:29; 16:24); let self be dethroned and no longer hold the 
supremacy of the soul....  
The independence and self-supremacy in which we glory are seen 
in their true vileness as tokens of servitude to Satan. Human 
nature is ever struggling for expression, ready for contest; but he who 
learns of Christ is emptied of self, of pride, of love of supremacy, 
and there is silence in the soul. Self is yielded to the disposal of 
the Holy Spirit. Then we are not anxious to have the highest place. 
We have no ambition to crowd and elbow ourselves into notice; but 
we feel that our highest place is at the feet of our Saviour. We 
look to Jesus, waiting for His hand to lead, listening for His voice 
to guide. The apostle Paul had this experience, and he said, "I am 
crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth 
in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the 
faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." 
Galatians 2:20..... 
No storm of human or satanic wrath could disturb the calm of 
that perfect communion with God. And He says to us, "Peace I leave 
with you, My peace I give unto you." "Take My yoke upon you, and 
learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find 
rest." John 14:27; Matthew 11:29. Bear with Me the yoke of service for 
the glory of God and the uplifting of humanity, and you will find 
the yoke easy and the burden light.  
It is the love of self that destroys our peace. While self is 
all alive, we stand ready continually to guard it from mortification 
and insult; but when we are dead, and our life is hid with Christ in 
God, we shall not take neglects or slights to heart. We shall be deaf 
to reproach and blind to scorn and insult. "Love suffereth long, 
and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not 
puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not 
provoked, taketh not account of evil; rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, 
but rejoiceth with the truth; beareth all things, believeth all 
things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never faileth." 1 
Corinthians 13:4-8, R.V.  
Happiness drawn from earthly sources is as changeable as varying 
circumstances can make it; but the peace of Christ is a constant and abiding 
peace. It does not depend upon any circumstances in life, on the amount 
of worldly goods or the number of earthly friends. Christ is the 
fountain of living water, and happiness drawn from Him can never fail....  
Far better would it be for us to suffer under false accusation 
than to inflict upon ourselves the torture of retaliation upon our 
enemies. The spirit of hatred and revenge originated with Satan, and can 
bring only evil to him who cherishes it. Lowliness of heart, that 
meekness which is the fruit of abiding in Christ, is the true secret of 
blessing. "He will beautify the meek with salvation." Psalm 149:4....  
It was through the desire for self-exaltation that sin entered 
into the world, and our first parents lost the dominion over this 
fair earth, their kingdom. It is through self-abnegation that Christ 
redeems what was lost. And He says we are to overcome as He did. 
Revelation 3:21. Through humility and self-surrender we may become heirs 
with Him when "the meek shall inherit the earth." Psalm 37:11.