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Our church has recently started an expository study on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Located at the beginning of this sermon of Christ is a list of "Blessed's" that has been labeled "The Beatitudes". I want to focus on a literary structure of this portion of Scripture so we can see a point that Christ was making.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:3-10

In our church we have small groups, many of which are called "Circles Group". One of the ones I frequent takes place during the first Sunday morning service. In that group, we discuss the sermon of the prior week and take a deeper look into it. The pastor has only so much time to discuss portions of text and we strive to delve in deeper and discuss the implications on our lives.

I've been struggling with the beatitudes because it appeared Jesus was talking in present tense (to His day) and then the rest of the sermon appears to be events or rewards to come. The original text does not have the verb "are" within the text. In those days, when this verb was left out, it stressed the present tense speak. This did not help my dilemma.

After a couple weeks I noticed the end of each "Blessed" and noticed it was future tense verbs. Things were looking clearer but I still felt a struggle. One Sunday morning, when in the circles group, the chiasm of the beatitudes jumped out when I notices the “FOR”s. After the seeking spoke about by Christ there is a “For”… “For theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. I noticed that verses 3 and 10 were a direct quote off of each other.

In verse 3 and 10, I noticed the direct quote and the verb is present tense.
In verse 4 and 9 we read, “For they shall be…” which is a future tense passive verb use
In verse 5 and 8 we read, “For they shall…” which is a future tense active verb use
In verse 6 and 7 we read, “For they shall be…” which is a future tense passive verb use again.

As a structure, this looks like this

Screenshot 2024-03-02 at 7.59.17 AM

This structure is called a Chiasm. In a chiastic structure, the point of the structure is the focus of the writing or talk being given.

With verses 6 and 7 as the center of the Chiasm, Jesus is putting a focus on righteousness and mercy; and rightly so. Righteousness and mercy is the most talked about attribute and action of God and His people throughout Scripture. They are the core of the Law of God. One cannot work without the other as one is an attribute while the other the action of that attribute.

Since God is merciful, we are to show mercy (Luke 6:36). Without mercy, there is no righteousness. When we seek after a righteous life, mercy is a natural reaction the that righteousness. The two work together and one is the result of the other. This is why righteousness is before mercy in this list; it’s the rung of the latter that must be climbed before the other… mercy.

We are to examine ourselves daily (2 Corinthians 13:5-7) and a litmus test is mercy. If we see we don't have mercy then we need to question our righteousness. Yes, we operate in Christ's righteousness but Christ says we are to seek, hunger, thirst, for righteousness and if we don't have mercy we are failing in that part. This is the center, the focus of the beatitudes by which all others ride in some way.