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Language Studies

Greek Thoughts

 

Makarios
Blessed; the state of one who has become a partaker of God; to experience the fullness of God.

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This is the time of the year that most of us take time to reflect on our blessings. While we tend use material things as the gauge of those blessings, Scripture directs us to a different measure, a spiritual one. In order to understand the true blessings that have been bestowed upon us by God, we must first understand the words used to convey the true meaning of blessing. There are two primary Greek words used in the New Testament that shed a light on the Scriptural meaning of blessing.

Last week we explored the meaning of the first of these words, εὐλογὲω (Strong's #2127). When used of a person receiving from God, this word designates one who has received a "favorable expression" from God. When used to describe a person's expression toward God, it means, "to speak well of" God.

This week we are going to study the second primary word used for blessing, μακὰριος (Strong's #3107). This word means "blessed; the state of one who has become a partaker of God; to experience the fullness of God." We will also consider one of its derivatives, μακαρὶζω (Strong's #3106) "to count or pronounce someone blessed."

Μακὰριος is an adjective that is the long form of μὰκαρ in classical Greek. The idea embodied within this word is satisfaction from experiencing the fullness of something. Aristotle contrasted μακὰριος with ἐνδεὴς which means "to be in want, to be needy, to be destitute." In the New Testament, μακὰριος 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 other than μακὰριος, such as εὐτυχὴς meaning "happy, lucky," "fortunate," or eu¹daimoni/a meaning "prosperity". Once we remove the English concept of "happy" from μακὰριος, its Greek meaning becomes clear showing us that μακὰριος 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.

1 Peter 4:14 is the New Testament scripture best expressing the meaning embodied within all of the ma/kar words. The Scriptural definition of blessed understood within this verse is true of all forms of the word.

"If you are being reproached in the name of Christ, you are blessed (μακὰριος); because the Spirit of glory and of God is resting upon you; according to them, He is being blasphemed, but according to you He is being glorified." (Literal Translation)

Peter is saying that the Christian who is being insulted for being a Christian is considered blessed. He then describes that condition by saying that "because the Spirit of glory and of God is resting upon you." In this scripture, Peter uses a present tense verb to show that the Spirit of God is resting upon the believer in the present time of persecution. That is the condition of being blessed.

The most popular New Testament examples of μακὰριος are found in the beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3-11) and the Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:20-22). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus pronounces the blessedness of the person who approaches life from a certain perspective. He says that a person will experience the fullness of all that God is if he approaches life with the realization of the poverty of his own spirit. This realization produces within each person a mourning over his spiritual condition. This condition of mourning over one's spiritual condition produces a meekness or openness. This, in turn, produces a hunger and thirst for righteousness. At this stage, the person becomes a testimony of the mercy of God, which produces a purity of heart from which that person will see God. Those who are at peace with God bring the message of God's peace. As a result of this mature life in Christ, a person can expect to be persecuted. Jesus concludes His teaching by saying:

11)
Blessed (μακὰριος) are you, whenever they should reproach you, and should persecute you, and should say every evil word against you while lying, on account of me;

12) Be rejoicing and be celebrating, because your reward is great in the heavens; for in this way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
(Literal Translation)

In these teachings Jesus presents the fact that in all the phases of Christian development and in the inevitable resulting persecutions, the "blessed" person experiences all of the fullness of who God is. In so doing, they find their satisfaction in Him and are able to rejoice and celebrate in spite of their circumstances, even because of their circumstances.

This meaning is also expressed in the verb form μακαρὶζω – to pronounce someone blessed. This verb form is found in Luke 1:48 where Mary considered herself as blessed,

"Because He looked upon the humiliation of His servant; for look, from now all generations will consider me blessed (μακαρὶζω)." (Literal Translation)

This is a tremendous theological expression. Mary is saying that all generations will look back on her and consider her filled with all of the fullness of who God is. The child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. She carried and gave birth to the God-man who dwelt within.

Another important verse is James 5:11. James pronounces the person blessed who remains under his circumstances, because that person will experience all of God's compassion and mercy:

"Behold, we consider blessed (μακαρὶζω) the ones who are enduring; you heard of the endurance of Job, and you saw the end of the Lord; that the Lord is full of compassion and mercy."

It is necessary to turn to the Scriptures in order to glean from them the proper perspective on "blessings." Only then can we overcome our human tendency to gauge our blessings by the health we have enjoyed, the material possessions we have acquired, or the favorable circumstances we have experienced during the year. Many of us are in Christ, but we have experienced severe health problems. Many of us are in Christ, but have no material possessions to speak of. Many of us are in Christ, yet we are going through difficult circumstances. When facing these realities, it is difficult to see that we are actually blessed unless we understand from Scripture the true meaning and measure of blessing. The Biblical teaching on God's blessing instructs that true blessings are not gauged by outward conditions and circumstances. The blessing of God is to experience all of the fullness of the indwelling Spirit of God while living through the hardships of life. Paul expressed this result when he declared, "...for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content." (Philippians 4:11) He also told Timothy, "Now godliness with contentment is great gain." (1 Timothy 6:6)

This Christmas season lift your eyes from your physical and material circumstances. Gauge your blessings by taking the spiritual measure of your soul. Are you in Christ? Does the Holy Spirit of the living God indwell your spirit? If so, understand that God has truly blessed you. Find your satisfaction in the Lord. Celebrate and rejoice!


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Lectionary Calendar
Friday, August 17th, 2018
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19
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Meet the Author
Bill Klein has been a pastor, counselor, and educator for the past 41 years. He has had extensive training and education in biblical languages, and has authored a Biblical Greek course.
He is currently serving as Professor of Biblical Greek at Master's Graduate School of Divinity, and president of BTE Ministries - The Bible Translation and Exegesis Institute of America, a non-profit organization located in California that provides Bible study tapes and Greek study materials through their website BTEMinistries.org.
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