Sunday, October 31, 2010


Matthew 5:12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

12 χαίρετε καὶ ἀγαλλιᾶσθε, ὅτι ὁ μισθὸς ὑμῶν πολὺς ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς· οὕτως γὰρ ἐδίωξαν τοὺς προφήτας τοὺς πρὸ ὑμῶν.

How to blog in the Sermon on the Mount?  Unlike some folks, I think that this passage applies to us today rather than simply to Old Covenant Israel.  This passage comes right at the end of what is known as the Beatitudes where Jesus says "Blessed is..."  He kind of turns the world upside-down by saying that it is a blessing to be poor in spirit, humble, etc.  Here He talks about rejoicing when you are persecuted for His name's sake.

Note that Jesus does not give a suggestion.  He uses the imperatives with χαίρετε καὶ ἀγαλλιᾶσθε.  He could have used a future which has a wear imperatival sense, but He didn't.  He used the imperative here.  What does that mean?

First, it means that we are to rejoice and be glad when we are persecuted.  This seems rather paradoxical.  Persecution is no fun, yet we are commanded to rejoice.  Even those who say that we should preach the gospel of Jesus rather than the misogynist Paul have to acknowledge this.  These are words that are quoted from the Lord Himself.  We can't take this lightly.

Second, it means that we are to have a future perspective.  The word translated "for" here is ὅτι, which gives the sense of "because" or "for this reason," though translating it "for" here makes for smoother reading.  In other words, when we ask ourselves "Why should we ever rejoice and be glad in persecution?" the answer is, "Because your reward is great in heaven."  Then He mentions the prophets.  When you read through the stories of the prophets you realize that they had pretty rough gigs here on earth.

But those of us who have a hope of eternity with God can indeed rejoice and be glad when persecuted.  We realize that everything on this earth is but a moment compared to eternity.

What kind of perspective do you have on all of this?  Do you know of any other way to make sense of this seemingly paradoxical command?


Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

I think that until you really are persecuted and have actually rejoiced at it, you will make no sense out of this one of the makarismoí or, indeed, out of any of them.

Orthodoxy builds on the basic paradox of Christ's Word being antithetical to the words of the world, so for us these sayings are not only true but meant to be fulfilled and experienced.

All the grammar aside, what else could He mean but what is plain, even in the English?

"Even those who say that we should preach the gospel of Jesus rather than the misogynist Paul have to acknowledge this."

I don't know who would ever call Paul a misogynist except those who have fallen away from Christ, those who are classified as "barbarians" by the ancient Church.

If you want to know what I mean by "barbarians" here is an explanation:

Jason said...

I agree that those who would call Paul a misogynist would be what you describe as "barbarians." I think your description of them is quite apt.

The sad fact is that there are many professing Christians today who do just that. I realize that it is absurd, which is why I mentioned it. You don't even have to go to Paul to see what Jesus is clearly teaching.

Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

Brother, may you be held firm in the supreme confession of the Cross of Jesus Christ and never be dismayed or moved by those who only profess their Christianity. The meanings of words have all changed, and the names have been confused, much as the tongues were confused at Babel. Let us not be deceived, but standing firm on the Word of God, which is Truth unmixed, let us continue to live and teach the same faith of the holy apostles, come what may.

Christ has already won.
He is just working out the details.