What does Matthew 5:4 mean?
ESV: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
NIV: Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
NASB: Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
CSB: Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
NLT: God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
KJV: Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
NKJV: Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
Verse Commentary:
At the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is teaching a series of statements often referred to as the Beatitudes. Each starts with the words "blessed are." Blessing, in this sense, refers to a declaration of what is good and why. It does not mean that the blessed person will feel happy, necessarily.

The difference between happiness and being "blessed" is especially obvious in this verse. This beatitude states that those who mourn are blessed. Those who mourn, by definition, are not happy. Jesus wants His followers to understand that those who experience mourning are not hopeless.

Within the context of Jesus' teaching about the coming kingdom of heaven, those who mourn may do so because of their own sin or because of the sin of Israel. The Jewish people experience a state of mourning under the harsh oppression and occupation of Rome. Those faithful to God and Scripture understood this to be a result of Israel's sin and unfaithfulness, since God had promised to prosper them when they were faithful and to judge them when they were not.

Both John the Baptist and Jesus preached that Israel must repent. Repentance involves sadness as we recognize and confess our sinful selfishness. Those who mourn while repenting of their sin are blessed, however, because the kingdom of heaven will come; they will be rescued. The season of judgment will end.

Not all commentators agree that Jesus is referring only to mourning that comes with repentance from sin. Much sadness in life, of course, is not the result of sin. It comes from living on a planet ruled by death. Of all who mourn, those in Christ are blessed because they will be comforted by God in the here and now (2 Corinthians 1:3–7) and free from mourning for eternity (Revelation 21:4).
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.
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