Matthew 5:12 is the twelfth verse of the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. It is the tenth verse of the Sermon on the Mount. This verse is generally seen as part of an expansion of the eight Beatitude, others see it as the second half of the ninth Beatitude, a small group feel it is the tenth Beatitude and thus brings to a close a second Decalogue.
In the King James Version of the Bible the text reads:
- Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for
- great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted
- they the prophets which were before you.
The World English Bible translates the passage as:
- Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad, for great is
- your reward in heaven. For that is how they
- persecuted the prophets who were before you.
For a collection of other versions see BibRef Matthew 5:12
France notes that the word glad in the original is actually a more complex term meaning "joy in the face of persecution and martyrdom" that has no easy translation in English.
Some have been concerned about how closely this verse links good behaviour to eternal rewards, and that it implies that concern about these rewards is the main consideration in being moral. Albright and Mann notes that the idea of rewards and punishments has "undeniable prominence" in the Gospel of Matthew. Hill feels that reward can be read as simply "good repute," the opposite of the slander in the previous verse. Albright and Mann note that heaven is not here referring to the modern idea of a place that one goes after death which only developed later, rather it refers simply to "being with God."
Schweizer notes that some have read prophets as meaning that this verse, and perhaps that which went before it, was only directed at the elite group of Christ's disciples and not the general population. Schweizer feels that it actually has just the opposite meaning and is instead showing that the promises in Jeremiah 31:34 and Isaiah 54:13 that all would someday be equal to the prophets had come to pass. Hill notes that the Essenes called each other prophets, and that Jesus might have here adopted that usage.
- France, R.T. The Gospel According to Matthew: an Introduction and Commentary. Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1985.
- Hill, David. The Gospel of Matthew. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981
- Albright, W.F. and C.S. Mann. "Matthew." The Anchor Bible Series. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1971.
- Schweizer, Eduard. The Good News According to Matthew. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1975
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