The Beatitudes

(Luke 6: 20-26)


These famous sayings must have exercised a powerful attraction for the downtrodden people who made up much of the early Christian community. Quite specific rewards are offered in compensation for present suffering. The emphasis on the wickedness of the rich is very much in the tradition of Jewish prophets like Amos. Political liberals have generally preferred this version of the Beatitudes, conservatives, the more spiritual version in Matthew 5.

What rewards are promised to those that suffer in this life?


Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you will be filled.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. (1)
Rejoice in that Day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. (2)
But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
Woe to you who are full now,
for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets. New Revised Standard Version


(1) Jesus himself, a Messianic title of disputed meaning.

(2) Many passages in the Christian Scriptures seem aimed at strengthening the faith of those under persecution for their beliefs. It had become a tradition to believe that all the ancient Jewish prophets had been persecuted.



Back to table of contents



This is an excerpt from Reading About the World, Volume 1, edited by Paul Brians, Mary Gallwey, Douglas Hughes, Azfar Hussain, Richard Law, Michael Myers Michael Neville, Roger Schlesinger, Alice Spitzer, and Susan Swan and published by Harcourt Brace Custom Publishing.

The reader was created for use in the World Civilization course at Washington State University, but material on this page may be used for educational purposes by permission of the editor-in-chief:

Paul Brians
Department of English
Washington State University
Pullman 99164-5020

Reading About the World is now out of print. You can search for used copies using the following information:Paul Brians, et al. Reading About the World, Vol. 1, 3rd edition, Harcourt Brace College Publishing: ISBN 0-15-567425-0 or Paul Brians, et al. Reading About the World, Vol. 2, 3rd edition, Harcourt Brace College Publishing: ISBN 0-15-512826-4.

Try Chambal:
http://www.chambal.com/csin/9780155674257/ (vol. 1)
http://www.chambal.com/csin/9780155128262/ (vol. 2)

This page has been accessed times since December 18, 1998.