What does Matthew 5:12 mean?
ESV: Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
NIV: Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
NASB: Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in this same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
CSB: Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
NLT: Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
KJV: Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
NKJV: Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Verse Commentary:
Jesus has declared that those treated badly on His account are "blessed" (Matthew 5:11). Abuses they could expect were insults, persecution, and false accusations about doing terrible things. The context of these attacks is when people are truly following the teachings of God—the world hates them specifically because they emulate Jesus (John 15:21).

Now Jesus explains why willingness to be connected to Him despite harsh treatment is a blessing. Those who do so will receive great rewards in heaven. Jesus does not hold this out as a consolation prize for a difficult life. He tells His disciples to rejoice and be glad about the opportunity to be treated awfully for His sake. The rewards waiting in heaven because of this honor (Acts 5:41; 1 Peter 4:12–13) makes the experience itself a victory worth celebrating.

While Jesus will later predict intense hatred levied against Christians (John 16:1–4), attacks on God's people are not new. God sent many prophets to Israel to deliver messages to the people. Many of those prophets were persecuted for representing God. Now many of Jesus' disciples will be persecuted for representing Him to the world, which will earn them great rewards in heaven, as well.

For the first time, Jesus mentions heaven as the destination of His followers instead of the kingdom of heaven (or kingdom of God). He also describes the blessing of those who are His as including more than just entry into the kingdom, but rewards in heaven.
Verse Context:
Matthew 5:1–12 contains the beautiful Beatitudes delivered by Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount. The series of nine sentences describes an unlikely group of people as blessed: the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those hungry for righteousness, and the merciful. All are blessed because of their part in the kingdom of heaven. This includes those persecuted for the sake of righteousness and on account of Jesus. Instead of despairing, they should rejoice for the great rewards they will receive in heaven. These are not prerequisites for salvation; instead, they are the natural expressions of saving faith in the life of those who know Christ.
Chapter Summary:
The Sermon on the Mount contains some of Jesus' most challenging teaching. It begins with the unlikely blessings of the Beatitudes. Jesus' disciples must do good works in order to be a powerful influence: as the salt of the earth and light of the world. The superficial righteousness of the Pharisees is not good enough to earn heaven. Sins of the heart, such as angry insults and intentional lust, are worthy of hell just as much as adultery and murder. Easy divorce and deceptive oaths are forbidden. Believers should not seek revenge. Instead, God intends us to love our enemies and pray for our persecutors. In short, we should strive to be perfect, as God is perfect.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 5 follows Matthew's description of the enormous crowds that were following Jesus (Matthew 4:25). One day, Jesus sits down on a hill to teach them, in an address we now call the Sermon on the Mount. He describes as blessed those who are poor in spirit, who mourn, and who are persecuted. Christ also explains how God's standards of righteousness go far beyond behaviors and speech; they also include our thoughts and attitudes. Meeting God's standards means perfection. Chapter 6 continues this sermon, with more examples of Jesus clarifying God's intent for godly living.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
Accessed 6/16/2024 12:53:18 AM
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