Matt. 5:1-12 (Part 2)

5:4 Remark: In almost all Greek manuscripts Matthew 5:4 comes before Matthew 5:5, but in some early manuscripts the order is reversed. This reversed order occurred as early as the second century as it appears in some of the early Christian writings of Clement of Alexandria, and Origen.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” And the meek are those who have quelled the battle of unbelief in the soul, the battle of wrath, and lust, and the other forms that are subject to them. And He praises those meek by choice, not by necessity. . . . Therefore, with reason, “blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted;” for they who have repented of their former evil life shall attain to “the calling,” for this is the meaning of being comforted. The Stromata, 2.415-416.

TERTULLIAN: “Blessed,” He says, “are the weepers and mourners.” Who, without patience, is tolerant of such unhappinesses? And so to such, “consolation” and “laughter” are promised. Of Patience, 3.714.

ORIGEN: Those who have been obedient to the word of God, and have henceforth by their obedience shown themselves capable of wisdom, are said to deserve the kingdom of that heaven or heavens; and thus the prediction is more worthily fulfilled, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth;” and, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall inherit the kingdom of heaven;” and the declaration in the Psalm, “He shall exalt you, and you shall inherit the land.” De Principiis, 4.275.

ORIGEN: “Weep with those who weep”: We are not being commanded to weep with those who weep over their own dead or who weep over worldly losses. For we know that “the grief of this world brings about death.” Thus, our tears are not to be associated with such people. Instead we are to weep with those of whom the Lord says, “Blessed are those who weep, for they will be comforted.” If anyone weeps over his own sins, if anyone is converted to repentance after committing transgressions, and washes away his errors with tears, if anyone, placed in this habitation, even groans and desires to go back to Christ and alleviates this holy longing with an outpouring of tears, we should join our tears and associate our groans with such persons. For “the grief that is according to God produces a sure salvation through repentance.”
Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.

ORIGEN: If “as the sufferings of Christ overflow, so through Christ consolation also overflows,”let us gladly accept the sufferings of Christ so that they overflow in us, if at least we desire the abundant consolation which is received by all who mourn, though probably not in equal measure. For if the consolation were equal for all, Scripture would not have said: “As the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also our consolation overflows.” Those who share in sufferings will also share in consolation in proportion to the sufferings that they share with Christ. This you learn from him who with full conviction said: “For we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings so also do you share in the consolation.”
Exhortation to Martyrdom.

CYPRIAN: All good and righteous men suffer more, but ought to endure because they are proved. In Solomon: “The furnace proves the vessels of the potter, and the trial of tribulation proves righteous men.” Also in the fiftieth Psalm: “The sacrifice to God is a contrite spirit; a contrite and humbled heart God will not despise." Also in the thirty-third Psalm: “God is nearest to them that are contrite in heart, and He will save the lowly in spirit.” Also in the same place: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord will deliver them out of them all.” Of this same matter in Job: “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, naked also shall I go under the earth: the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away: as it has pleased the Lord, so it is done; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all these things which happened to him Job sinned in nothing with his lips in the sight of the Lord.”Concerning this same thing in the Gospel according to Matthew: “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”Also according to John: “These things have I spoken unto you, that in me you may have peace. But in the world you shall have affliction; but have confidence, for I have overcome the world.”Concerning this same thing in the second Epistle to the Corinthians: “There was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, that I should not be exalted. For which thing I besought the Lord three times, that it should depart from me. And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you; for strength is perfected in weakness.'”Concerning this same thing to the Romans: “We glory in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we also glory in afflictions: knowing that affliction works patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope does not confound; because the love of God is infused in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which is given to us.”. . . Of this same thing in Tobias: “Where are your righteousnesses? Behold what you suffer.” Also in the Wisdom of Solomon: “In the places of the wicked the righteous groan; but at their ruin the righteous will abound.”The Treatises of Cyprian, 5.534.

5:5ff THE DIDACHE: Be meek, since the meek shall inherit the earth. Be longsuffering and pitiful and trustworthy and gentle and good and always trembling at the words which you have heard. Do not exalt yourself, nor give over-confidence to your soul. Your soul shall not be joined with lofty ones, but with just and lowly ones shall it have its intercourse. The workings that befall you receive as good, knowing that apart from God nothing comes to pass. 7.378.

IGNATIUS: And pray without ceasing in behalf of other men. For there is in them hope of repentance that they may attain to God. See, then, that they be instructed by your works, if in no other way. Be meek in response to their wrath, humble in opposition to their boasting: to their blasphemies return your prayers; in contrast to their error, be stedfast in the faith; and for their cruelty, manifest your gentleness. While we take care not to imitate their conduct, let us be found their brethren in all true kindness; and let us seek to be followers of the Lord (who ever more unjustly treated, more destitute, more condemned?), that so no plant of the devil may be found in you, but you may remain in all holiness and sobriety in Jesus Christ, both with respect to the flesh and spirit. Epistle to the Ephesians, 1.53-54.

PAPIAS: As the presbyters say, then those who are deemed worthy of an abode in heaven shall go there, others shall enjoy the delights of Paradise, and others shall possess the splendor of the city; for everywhere the Savior will be seen, according as they shall be worthy who see Him. But that there is this distinction between the habitation of those who produce an hundred-fold, and that of those who produce sixty-fold, and that of those who produce thirty-fold; for the first will be taken up into the heavens, the second class will dwell in Paradise, and the last will inhabit the city; and that on this account the Lord said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions:” for all things belong to God, who supplies all with a suitable dwelling-place, even as His word says, that a share is given to all by the Father, according as each one is or shall be worthy. And this is the couch in which they shall recline who feast, being invited to the wedding. The presbyters, the disciples of the apostles, say that this is the gradation and arrangement of those who are saved, and that they advance through steps of this nature; and that, moreover, they ascend through the Spirit to the Son, and through the Son to the Father; and that in due time the Son will yield up His work to the Father, even as it is said by the apostle, “For He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” For in the times of the kingdom the just man who is on the earth shall forget to die. “But when He says all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted which did put all things under Him. And when all things shall be subdued to Him, then the Son shall also be subject to Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” Fragments, 1.154.

© OTR 2023