Matthew 5:3 Meaning of Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit

Matthew 5:3
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Explanation and Commentary of Matthew 5:3

Jesus begins the list of beatitudes with the easily misunderstood blessing, or happiness in store for those who, rather than being satisfied in themselves apart from a God they need whether they are aware of it or not, realize their need and that in and of themselves they can do nothing (Jn 15:4-5). Apart from a friendship with God, they have no wealth of spirit.

The kingdom of heaven is the reward for such blessed souls as this. This means that they will live their lives in a way in which the rule and reign of God permeates everything, and the kingdom of heaven will be their first priority. Jesus says later that for those whose first priority is seeking the “kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Mt 6:33), God will add “all these things” that are needed for a flourishing life, including daily sustenance and clothing from the same God who feeds the birds and clothes the flowers.

If one ascertains that one is not poor in spirit, he or she needs only to turn to God in awareness of the reality that apart from God they truly have and can do nothing. They can acknowledge their need and begin to look to him for what is true, what is right, and what is necessarily the right path for them in Christ.

Breaking Down the Key Parts of Matthew 5:3

#1 “Blessed are…”
Happy are they who are blessed by God. It could also mean favored, fortunate, or even holy.

#2 “…the poor in spirit,”
This would be the opposite of having arrogance and hubris. Those who believe that they are enough in and of themselves, see no need for God. Their “spirit” is rich without their maker. This is, of course, a false path that will end in destruction. The opposite of blessed is cursed.

#3 “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
The kingdom of heaven, or the kingdom of God, is no place for those who believe they are their own king, but it belongs to the poor in spirit. This means that they will benefit from the rule of God in the world. The poor in spirit have gained his favor with their humility.

Expert Overview of Matthew Ch. 1-13

Biblical Translations of Matthew 5:3

NIV
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

NLT
“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”

ESV
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

KJV
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

NKJV
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:3 Meaning and Commentary

Author Bio
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Masters Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.