The Beatitudes: Sunday School Lesson and Commentary

by Jack Wellman on April 2, 2011 · Print Print · Email Email

What is called the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, is actually a God-breathed statement of the ethics of the Kingdom of God.  The Ten Commandments mostly dealt with external applications of the Law but the Beatitudes where concerned with internal matters of the heart. They are not to be seen as superseding the Ten Commandments, but as an enhancement.  Taken at face value, they appear to be impossible to fulfil by any human being.  Jesus was the only human being that actually did live out these ethical and moral statements.  The Jews were rather concerned with outward conduct; Jesus was concerned with the inward disposition.

What must be realized is that these Beatitudes were directed toward the disciples and today, directed toward the church.  Since they are so impossible to adhere to, the reader is driven to the Mercy Seat of God; driven to God to seek His grace and to fall down before Him in need of His mercy.  Jesus’ exaggerations make Christians realize that they can not ever be good enough in their behavior to be acceptable to God but to aim high toward the mark of God’s ethical and moral principles.  Knowing it is impossible to abide by such standards, we are forced to rely on the power of God and depend upon His forgiveness when we all ultimately fall short.  Even so, they are admirable high water marks to reach upward to.

The Beatitudes are generally the first part of the Sermon on the Mount which covers a large portion of Matthew starting in chapter five and concluding with chapter seven.  The Beatitudes are found in Matthew 5:3-12.

Sample Questions For a Sunday School Lesson on The Beatitudes

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

What does “poor in spirit” mean?  Is Jesus talking about those who are poor or are in poverty?

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4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

What are we mourning for or who are we mourning for?  Ourselves or for others?

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5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

What is meekness?  Is it weakness?

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6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

What does it mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness?  How will they be filled?  With what will they be filled?

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7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Does merciful mean to show mercy to everyone?  If Christians are already saved and have been forgiven, aren’t they already shown mercy by God?

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8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23) so how can we be pure in heart?  How can we see God when He is spirit and spirit is invisible (John 3:8)?

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9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

How can a person be a peacemaker in this world?  What does being a peacemaker mean?  Are we not already the children of God (John 1:12)?

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10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

No man is righteous in God’s sight, so how can we be righteous if we are simply persecuted?  What type of persecution is meant?

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11Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

How can we be blessed when we are insulted?  Can being insulted be really called a blessing?  Why are we blessed when we are lied about?

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12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  

How are we like the prophets in being persecuted?  What is the relation to this?  How can we rejoice when we are be persecuted?

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Commentary – Insights for your Sunday School Lesson

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

I believe that He is talking about those who are poor in spirit or downtrodden in life.  They are in utter dependence upon God for their sustenance.  They do not depend upon themselves but upon God.  It is those who depend upon God who will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.

4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Jesus could be speaking about those who mourn over their sinful condition in front of a holy God.  He could be implicitly talking about those who mourn over the world’s state that is without God or does not know Him and/or mourning with those who are grieving over a loss or those without salvation.

5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

We know for sure that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).  However meekness is not weakness; by definition it is strength under control. Moses was said to be one of the meekest men on earth, but he was certainly no weakling.  The meek are also submissive to authorities and live under God’s authority.  They are gentle and humble but this doesn’t mean that they let people walk all over them.  The meek are those who will be future kings and priests in the coming kingdom of heaven. The world generally ridicules the meek for the most part.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

David said in the Psalms that he thirsted after God like a deer pants for water (Psalm 42:1). They are those who are seeking to do the right thing in all circumstances, regardless of how painful it is.  They obey God and leave all the circumstances up to God.  They also hunger for the Word of God (the Bible).  When they dine on the Word of God, they get filled with His teachings.  The get into the Word of God and the Word of God gets into them.

7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Those who are merciful receive mercy.  There is a special gift of mercy that some express in a readiness to forgive even the most grievous of sins.  They accept the repentant back with open arms and do not hold grudges. They pray for those who spitefully abuse and use them.  They can expect God’s full measure of mercy because they are never more like God when they give love that is undeserved, unmerited, unearned and unexpected.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

These are those who live out the Word of God in their lives.  There is purity in obedience and this is greater than sacrifice to God.  This is where they can see the invisible God by looking at His attributes.  He is made visible by their lives and in reality some day they will see Him face to face in the kingdom of heaven.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

These are those who seek to preserve the peace between fellow human beings.  They don’t spread gossip, which tends to fan the flames of argumentative people.  They tend to give people the benefit of the doubt and pray for those who hate them.  They will be called the sons of God because Jesus is the Peace-giver.  They will live in the New Jerusalem which will some day live up to its true meaning:  Jeru (king of) Salem (peace).

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

These are those who testify about the gospel of Jesus Christ and receive back in their bosom scorn, ridicule, and rejection.  They take seriously the Great Commission and witness to the world about Jesus Christ Who came to save them.  They will be in the kingdom of heaven and will receive their reward there for those whom they have brought with them; they get the salt out of the shakers.

11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

These are the ones that are made fun of, called “holy rollers”, or “holier than thou”.  When they walk into the room, the language or dirty jokes are often squelched.  They are talked about behind their back. They are looked at in disgust and convict those who know that they are living in sin. This is because of Jesus and it is on His account that they do these things to us. Nonetheless, Jesus declares a blessing on us for this.

12  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 

It’s difficult to rejoice at the moment, but we can rejoice when we realize that we are in great company because they also persecuted Jesus. He was laughed to scorn.  We join good company like those prophets of old, and Paul, Peter, John, and of course, Jesus.  We ought to express joy because we are counted worthy to endure the shame for His sake.  We have rewards waiting for us in heaven because of this.  That ought to make it easier to endure the humiliation.

Looking at the Beatitudes during a Sunday School Lesson can be a great way to teach on the words of Jesus. Feel free to share your comments regarding the Beatitudes below.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Adenuga Peter January 15, 2013 at 4:44 am

I wish to have some sermon topic and lesson

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Jack Wellman January 15, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Thank you Adenuga. We do not have sermon topics but we do have many, many Bible lessons and studies. Just enter a subject or topic into the Search box in the top, upper right hand corner and you’ll find hundreds of topics.

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DARWIN March 21, 2013 at 1:00 am

I REALY BLESSED THANKS FOR THE BIBLE WORDS AND SUNDAY CLASS STORIES ..I REQUEST YOU TO SEND ME MISSIONARY STORIES TO TEACH SUNDAY CLASS STUDENTS..
MY E-MAIL :darwin.m@gmail.com

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