Matthew 5:5 — Meek Inherit the Earth

By Wayne Jackson

In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ declared: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). There are two misconceptions commonly connected with this passage.

First, the nature of meekness is misunderstood.

Second, some contend that the verse speaks of a future, eternal abode upon the earth.

To many, “meekness” suggests the idea of passivity, someone who is easily imposed upon, spinelessness, weakness. Since Jesus declared Himself to be meek (Matthew 11:29), some perceive Him as a sissy-type character.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In the Greek New Testament, “meek” is from the Greek term praus. It does not suggest weakness; rather, it denotes strength brought under control. The ancient Greeks employed the term to describe a wild horse tamed to the bridle.

In the biblical sense, therefore, it describes one who has channeled his strengths into the service of God.

Underline the word in Matthew 5:5, and in the margin of your Bible write: See Numbers 12:3; Zephaniah 2:3. The former passage describes Moses as the meekest man on earth — certainly no weakling; the latter verse declares that the meek of the earth are those who have kept Jehovah’s ordinances. The meek person submits to God!

As to the expression “inherit the earth,” the following facts should be noted:

(1) God is the owner of this earth (Psalm 24:1).

(2) Those who obey Christ become children of God (Galatians 3:27; Hebrews 5:9), and “joint-heirs” with the Lord (Romans 8:17).

(3) The Father supplies all our needs (Philippians 4:19), we therefore enjoy this earth and its blessings more than all others.

(4) Mainly, however, our inheritance is spiritual (Acts 20:32); we are heirs in the kingdom of Christ (Ephesians 5:5), and citizenship in that kingdom is available now on this earth (cf. John 3:3-5; Colossians 1:13).

(5) Finally, we also look for an inheritance that is reserved for us in heaven (1 Peter 1:4), because we are aware that the earth will be destroyed when Christ returns (2 Peter 3:10).

Thus, underline “inherit the earth,” and make some appropriate notations in your margin.

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.