Matthew 5:3 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 5:3, NIV: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Matthew 5:3, ESV: "“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Matthew 5:3, KJV: "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Matthew 5:3, NASB: "' Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Matthew 5:3, NLT: "'God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs."

Matthew 5:3, CSB: ""Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs."

What does Matthew 5:3 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Matthew 5:3–12 contains what have come to be known as the Beatitudes. This title comes from the Latin word beatus, which means "blessed" or "happy." Each of the Beatitudes begins with a reference to those who are blessed, in connection to some behavior or attitude. The idea of being "blessed" in Jesus' sermon does not mean feeling happy, necessarily. Rather it means recognizing what is truly good in a person's life and why. It refers to those on the right track, who are following a godly pattern of thoughts and actions.

Jesus begins by saying that the poor in spirit are blessed. This is not a reference to money or finances. To be "poor in spirit" is the opposite of being self-confident or self-reliant, especially in any spiritual sense. The poor in spirit recognize they are incapable of providing for themselves by their own strength, goodness, or righteousness. They know themselves to be spiritually bankrupt of true goodness. They cannot hope to bargain or earn their way into the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus says, though, that they are blessed because the kingdom of heaven is theirs already. In other words, admission that one does not deserve a place in God's kingdom is a requirement for entrance into that kingdom. This is the opposite of assuming one has earned citizenship by his own merit.

Even as part of a sermon from Jesus, these words need to be understood in careful context. Jesus is not teaching, in this one single verse, every detail of the plan of salvation. As He continues to teach, Jesus will be clear—and the New Testament will emphasize—that nobody comes to the Father except through faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sin.

A corresponding attitude to salvation is that of being poor in spirit. The kingdom of heaven will be populated by the humble and not the arrogant. In that way, the poor in spirit are blessed.