The fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of Matthew record what is called “The Sermon on the Mount.” Seated, as was the manner of Jewish teachers in his day, upon a hill, or rise, understandably for the purpose of projecting His instructions to the group of disciples, Jesus began this sermon by describing the conditions of blessedness and the life of the heavenly kingdom. We call these beginning verses The Beatitudes.

In our lessons we will explore each beatitude more in-depth. I pray that you will find this study full of rich spiritual gems to contemplate, share, and incorporate into your lives.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


Matthew 5:2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

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

Luke 6:20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.

Luke 4:17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,

18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.

21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. (Also Matthew 11:5.)

Psalm 69:29 But I am poor and sorrowful: let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high.

32 The humble shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God.

33 For the Lord heareth the poor, and despiseth not his prisoners.

Psalm 102:17 He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.

Proverbs 3:34 Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.

Isaiah 41:17 When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

Isaiah 66:2b But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. (Also Isaiah 57:15.)


MEMORY VERSE: I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord. —Zephaniah 3:12


CENTRAL THOUGHT: The person who is poor, or humble and lowly in spirit, is blessed or happy because he is satisfied within by the fullness of God’s presence and the eternal riches of the Kingdom of God.




Matthew 5:3 “Blessed”: I found two different commentaries on this word which are noteworthy. At the outset, it seems they contradict, but once you consider them together, they combine to fill the heart with wondrous awe at what our Lord means by this word. One is from Adam Clarke: Blessed means happy; from a word that combines “happy” with “not” and “fate”; “From this definition we may learn, that the person whom Christ terms happy is one who is not under the influence of fate or chance, but is governed by an all-wise providence, having every step directed to the attainment of immortal glory, being transformed by the power into the likeness of the ever-blessed God. Though some of the persons, whose states are mentioned in these verses, cannot be said to be as yet blessed or happy, in being made partakers of the Divine nature; yet they are termed happy by our Lord, because they are on the straight way to this blessedness” (Clarke’s Commentary).

The other word study is from, by Bill Klein: “Blessed; the state of one who has become a partaker of God; to experience the fullness of God…The idea embodied within this word is satisfaction from experiencing the fullness of something. In the New Testament, [this word] is translated by the English words ‘blessed,’ ‘fortunate,’ and ‘happy.’ However, the meaning ‘happy’ (as we understand it in English) is not actually found in the New Testament. This is because the word happy comes from ‘hap’ which means luck or a favorable circumstance. The actual concept of ‘happy’ would be expressed by Greek words…meaning ‘happy,’ ‘lucky,’ ‘fortunate,’ or ‘prosperity.’ Once we remove the English concept of ‘happy,’ its Greek meaning becomes clear showing us that [this word] refers to the believer in Christ who is satisfied and secure in the midst of life’s hardships because of the indwelling fullness of the Spirit.”

Matthew 5:3 “Poor”: the truly humble; or “those who are sensible of their spiritual poverty, of their ignorance and sinfulness, their guilt, depravity, and weakness, their frailty and mortality” (Benson Commentary). “These bring their minds to their condition, when it is a low condition. They are humble and lowly in their own eyes. They see their want, bewail their guilt, and thirst after a Redeemer” (Matthew Henry Commentary). “Those who in their deepest consciousness realize their entire need. This self-emptying conviction, that ‘before God we are void of everything,’ lies at the foundation of all spiritual excellence, according to the teaching of Scripture. Without it we are inaccessible to the riches of Christ; with it we are in the fitting state for receiving all spiritual supplies” (Jamison-Faucett-Brown Commentary).

Luke 4:17 “Esaias”: Isaiah. Jesus read from Isaiah chapter 61, verses 1 and 2.

19 “The acceptable year of the Lord”: The original prophecy—no doubt referring to the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:10), where debts were forgiven, slaves were set free, and land was returned; and the returning of the Jewish exiles from Babylonian captivity—Jesus now applies to Himself and to the deliverance of the captive soul from the bondage of sin.

Psalm 69:29 and 32 “Poor,” “Humble;” Proverbs 3:34 “Lowly;” Isaiah 41:17 and 66:2 “Poor;” and Zephaniah 3:12 “Afflicted”: These are all forms of the same Hebrew word whose meaning includes all of these terms. “…in a scriptural sense, humble; contrite; abased in one’s own sight by a sense of guilt” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary).

Psalm 102:17 “Destitute”: stripped; naked; figuratively, poor.

The term beatitudes are so called from the opening word “beati” (blessed), in the Vulgate.




Many times in Israel’s history, the nation was referred to as being afflicted by the other nations; oppressed, persecuted, needy. David’s personal condition many times was described as “poor and needy” because of his ragged, hunted existence as a fugitive from King Saul. Other places in Scripture speak of those in depressed circumstances of life; the poor of this world, who seem to have a more ready reception to the gospel. But the “poor in spirit” in our lesson is clearly a frame of mind and attitude, rather than physical conditions or temporal circumstances. A person in these circumstances may very well come to this frame of mind and heart, as I believe David did—aware of his spiritual need, feeling his want, depravity, guilt, ignorance, frailty, and mortality.

In the Old Testament psalms and prophets, a glorious truth is foretold, which Jesus plainly stated was fulfilled in Him: the poor, lowly, humble, needy and thirsty person would be satisfied from within by the kingdom of God: righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck




1. Described: Give the different terms in our lesson that all mean “poor in spirit.”

2. Foretold: What prophet was given the “gospel” message that Jesus fulfilled?

3. Promised: Throughout the scriptures, what special blessings are promised to the poor in spirit?




A deep sense of our own need is truly what we must “have” before more can be “given” (Luke 8:18). When we can look honestly at who we really are, and own up to it courageously, we then can have clear understanding of the necessity of repentance and why we are repenting. It is also good grounds for faith, for when we see the depth of our poverty, only then can we comprehend the tremendous price paid for our salvation and the wonder of His great compassion; we can believe that He loves us and will be our Deliverer.

This most assuredly produces the deepest joy in the heart of the seeker. “He loves me.” That is a more real, substantial joy than they have who walk “in a vain show,” or trust in their own self-righteousness. The light of “He knew me, yet He loved me” dazzles the hopeless, guilty, sin-sunken soul with its brightness. As a penitent child, He embraces us and says to us, “Fear not…it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” We are filled with joy and confidence that He Who knows all about our need will gladly fill it when we ask Him. He will draw near when we call upon Him. His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck




Trying to become humble in our own strength is an impossible task. To truly become poor in spirit, we need to empty ourselves of any perceived talents, abilities and gifts that we may have. The apostle Paul says that one should not ” …think of himself more highly than he ought to think.” When there is a reliance on self, there is no room for the power of Christ within our lives.

On the other hand, we must also empty ourselves of our failures, fears and feelings of inadequacy so that we may be filled with Jesus Christ. To entertain thoughts of self- consciousness or self-deprecation is not an act of humility but is, in fact, a discredit to the God who created us. “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s (I Corinthians 6:20).”

Paul had this testimony, “But by the grace of God I am what I am.” Nothing more, nothing less. It is then that we can do all things through Christ. To be balanced and humble before the Lord we must be at the center of His will and truly empty of ourselves so that the power of Christ may rest upon us.

“I am only an earthen vessel, the graces within are not mine,

For the love and the power and glory, belong to the Savior divine.”

—Sis. LaDawna Adams