the Fourth Week of Lent
Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament
This word occurs three times in the Authorized Version (Romans 4:8-9, Galatians 4:15), but rightly disappears in the Revised Version ,* [Note: In the two passages in Rom. the RV substitutes ‘blessing,’ in Gal. ‘gratulation.’] for the Gr. word μακαρισμός means not blessedness itself, but a pronouncement that some one is blessed. ‘Blessedness’ is simply a convenient generalization, expressing the meaning which NT writers convey by the adjectives translated ‘blessed’ or ‘happy’ (μακάριος, εὐλογητός) and the participle εὐλογημένος, ‘blessed’ (practically an adjective); cf. the verb ἐνευλογέομαι (Acts 3:25, Galatians 3:8) and μακαρίζω (Luke 1:48, James 5:11). The various forms of εὐλογέομαι refer, literally, to being ‘well spoken of,’ and apparently always contain at least the latent thought of praise being conferred or happiness ascribed; μακάριος, however, expresses simply the possession of a quality, and for the ascription of this by others the verb μακαρίζω is needed.
Blessedness being a personal possession, any kind of action or utterance by others is of secondary importance in regard to it. Hence the crucial word is μακάριος, not εὐλογέομαι, etc. The Revised Version has in John 13:17, 1 Peter 3:14; 1 Peter 4:14 altered the Authorized Version translation of μακάριος from ‘happy’ to ‘blessed’; it might well have made the same alteration in Romans 14:22, 1 Corinthians 7:40. Massie would banish ‘happy’ from the NT except in Acts 26:2 (Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) , article ‘Happiness’). In the OT אַשְׁרֵי, ‘O the happiness (or blessedness) of,’ has been even more frequently translated ‘happy’ when it might have been rendered ‘blessed’ (cf. Psalms 89:15 with Psalms 144:15, where the Hebrew is אַשְׁרֵי in both cases). Still, ‘happy’ is more suitable in the OT than in the NT, for the rewards promised to the OT saints are of a far more material and temporal order (see Psalms 1:3-6; the epilogue even of Job 42:10-17; and Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) , article ‘Blessedness’). For the NT it is significant not only that μακάριος, which occurs very frequently, represented to the Greeks the higher and even the Divine bliss, but also that the lower and more ordinary word εὐδαίμων, with its suggestion of good luck, is entirely absent. For the use of μακάριος in the Gospels, see article ‘Beatitude’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) and in Dict. of Christ and the Gospels . This was the regular term in NT times for ‘departed’ (to the world of blessedness); cf. Germ. selig, and see Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East2, 1911, p. 166. On the whole, it bears an exceedingly lofty meaning, though it is less spiritual in Luke than in Matthew, In Matthew 24:47 Matthew need not be understood as offering a coarsely material ‘blessedness’; the servant is advanced in the confidence of his master. There is no need to question the inwardness of any blessedness offered elsewhere in Matthew. In Luke 12:37; Luke 12:33 the spread table, and the flattering attentions received thereat, are somewhat prominent; but Jesus is speaking metaphorically, and elsewhere literal, materialistic views are rebuked (Luke 11:27-28 and perhaps Luke 14:15 ff.). Too much stress must not therefore he laid on Luke 6:20-21, although there the blessedness of being ‘filled’ seems to refer to food rather than, as in Matthew, to righteousness.
In the rest of the NT μακάριος is less used than in the Gospels. St. Paul has it twice only (Romans 4:7-8), and then in an OT quotation. In 1 Timothy 1:11; 1 Timothy 6:15 (never in the Gospels) it is applied to God, but in this sense εὐλογητός is usual. In regard to men, it is applied to those who give (Acts 20:35), who are forgiven (Romans 4:7-8), who endure temptation (James 1:12), who act according to the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25), who die in the Lord (Revelation 14:13; see also Revelation 1:3; Revelation 16:15; Revelation 19:9; Revelation 20:6; Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:14). It stands for a good which is above happiness, and dwells not least with those who are counted worthy to sacrifice happiness for conscience’ sake. It is based, partly, on a character which is its own ‘better and abiding possession’ (Hebrews 10:34 m). While it remains itself, it is above all adequate earthly reward and beyond all earthly overthrow. Above all, it is based in the spiritual world; to the ‘pure in heart’ the highest blessedness is to ‘see God’ (Matthew 5:8; cf. 1 John 3:2-3).
For various aspects of the idea of blessedness, as expressed in the NT by quite other words, see article ‘Blessedness’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) .
Literature.-Article ‘Blessedness’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) , Hastings’ Single-vol. Dictionary of the Bible , and Dict. of Christ and the Gospels ; also F. C. Kempson, The Future Life, 1907, p. 308; J. M. Hodgson, Religion-The Quest of the ideal, 1911, p. 106; T. G. Selby, The Imperfect Angel, 1888, p. 25; T. Binney, King’s Weigh-house Chapel Sermons, 1869, p. 71; J. B. Lightfoot, Sermons in St. Paul’s Cathedral, 1891, p. 178.
C. H. Watkins.
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Hastings, James. Entry for 'Blessedness'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hdn/​b/blessedness.html. 1906-1918.