These small group studies of Matthew contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, verse by verse commentary, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Matthew 5:1-12 Inductive Bible Study – Discussion Questions and Verse by Verse Commentary
#1 Poor in spirit –
In the past few chapters we have seen that Jesus and John preached a simple message, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” This verse is a reminder of this key message. Who can enter the kingdom of heaven? The one who is poor in spirit. A person who is poor in spirit is someone who is humble. It is someone who recognizes that he doesn’t have anything spiritually worthwhile to offer the Lord in exchange for entrance. It is someone who recognizes that he is spiritually bankrupt. In fact, everyone is spiritually bankrupt. People are totally depraved, which means we have nothing good to offer good, nothing good of ourselves. But most people do not realize it. Jesus may have been thinking of the Pharisees, who believed that they were righteous and could achieve God’s standards on their own. See Luke 18:9-14.
Mark 2:17 – Jesus came to heal the sick, not the healthy.
Romans 3:10 – There is none good, no not one.
Luke 18:9-14 – The parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee.
#2 Mourn –
Someone who mourns certainly doesn’t appear to be blessed. But in this case it refers to someone who mourns over their sin. Their sin causes them grief. They don’t just ignore, tolerate, or revel in sin. They don’t just eat, drink, and be merry. This is a person who truly grieves that his sin causes the Lord to be sad. This mourning is motivation for the person to repent. And the repentant person will receive comfort and forgiveness from the Lord.
Isaiah 66:2 – God looks with favor on the contrite and humble.
2 Corinthians 7:10 – Godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation.
Psalm 30:5 – Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the mourning.
John 14:26 – The Holy Spirit is the comforter.
#3 Meek –
Matthew 11:29 – Jesus’ Example
Galatians 5:23 – Fruit of the Spirit
Ephesians 4:1-3 – Walk in humility and gentleness
Isaiah 66:2 – God looks with favor upon the meek.
Psalm 37:9-11 – Meek and wicked contrasted
Isaiah 11:4 – God will give a favorable decision in regards to the meek.
Proverbs 26:3-12 – Lists all the faults and results of being a fool. Then says that being prideful is worse.
Zephaniah 2:3 – What does this verse command us to do? What is the result? How does this relate with inheriting the earth? Firstly, we are to seek the Lord and seek humility. It is not just something that “happens” We need to search it out and pursue this quality. We also will be spared from God’s wrath and judgment.
2 Timothy 2:25 – We need to be meek to our opponents and those who disagree with us.
Titus 3:2 – This verse shows a major quality of meekness, to show “every consideration for all men.”
Psalms 37 – This portion of Scripture mentions inheriting the land or the earth five times. This Psalm of David contrasts the end of the wicked and the end of the righteous. The wicked will be cut off. They will perish. They will have no blessing or reward from God. They will vanish from the world. The righteous will be blessed. These will be rewarded and will be blessed eternally. They will inherit the earth and the land in it.
In the Old Testament and for the Jews the concept of blessing was closely tied to the land that God had promised them. In their mind, to be blessed was to have the land and be able to live in it peacefully. So the promise that they would inherit the earth if they would be meek would be seen as a great and very important promise. Indeed it would have been hard for them to conceive of blessing without physical land.
An attitude of humility toward God and gentleness toward men, springing from a recognition that God is in control. Although weakness and meekness may look similar, they are not the same. Weakness is due to negative circumstances, such as lack of strength or lack of courage. But meekness is due to a person’s conscious choice. It is strength and courage under control, coupled with kindness.
(from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary)
Ways I’ve failed –
- Sometimes I forcefully argue my position with others, even on inconsequential matters.
- Instead of being gentle with others, I think that they should be stronger, should persevere more, should have more faith, etc. Even though I may be right I should correct them with gentleness.
- When small disagreements come up, I will consciously focus on letting them go instead of arguing my opinion.
- When confronting or encouraging others spiritually I will attempt to be more meek in my dealings.
#4 Righteousness –
The nature of the craving– (It’s a spiritual craving that’s source is God and grows stronger the more we know God.)
Like Esau’s, except for spiritual instead of physical. He was willing to give up his birthright for a bowl of soup because he craved it and was famished. Are we equally willing to give up things in our lives for spiritual righteousness?
Psalms 107:5,9 – The hunger and thirst are spiritual from our soul, not physical.
Psalms 86:11-13 – What makes us long for righteousness? David longed for righteousness. It wasn’t that he longed for it first and then God gave it to Him. First God showed His mercy to David and then David longed to be righteous and faithful to God.
Romans 7:24 – Can you think of anyone in the Bible who longed for righteousness? Paul longed for righteousness. It was a constant battle that he waged in his mind. He also recognized that it came from God, not himself. So the key was putting himself to death. He desperately wanted to be righteous and he also realized that the final step of that process for us isn’t complete until we die and receive a new body (not the body of death).
The nature of the righteousness– (God looks at all believers as being righteous because we are justified by faith. This is positional righteousness. We need to hunger for practical righteousness. Righteousness is conforming to God’s standards inside and out.)
Romans 10:3 – Do unbelievers long to be “good” or righteous? Are they all satisfied? What’s the difference between their longing and the longing of a true believer? Can anyone besides a child of God long for His righteousness? This verse sheds light on the kind of righteousness that is being referred to in Matthew. It is not the self-righteousness of the Pharisees that is gained from following certain rituals and outward rules. It is the righteousness of God that stems from having a right relationship with Him. As we come to know God more and more it naturally produces in us a strong desire to be holy as He is. True righteousness is not something that can be faked or that can come through our own sheer effort. It only comes from God.
Philippians 3:9 – This righteousness comes by faith, not by personal effort and its source is God, not us.
2 Peter 2:8 – Lot was called righteous because his soul was tormented by sin. Is yours?
Matthew 25:34-40 – What will true righteousness look like? It looks like this, showing compassion and kindness to others. Helping and encouraging people with no thought of return. Having the right motivation. Looking out for those who have less than we do.
1 Peter 1:15-16 – What is our standard for righteous behavior? God is the standard! And He has laid out that standard for us in His Word! Normally the question isn’t how to be righteous. We know how to. We just fall into temptation and don’t do it.
The filling –
Psalms 107:5,9 – The filling is spiritual, not physical.
John 6:35 – Apart from Christ we can never be satisfied. We can never be righteous. Our humanly tainted desires to be righteous become true and fulfilled as we meet Christ and begin to long for His true righteousness.
Psalm 14:5 – In the end we will see True Righteousness face to face.
Areas of weakness:
- Sometimes I get complacent. I get satisfied with my current level and don’t keep pushing forward to grow. Philippians 3:13-1
#5 Mercy –
Matthew 18:23-33 – What does this parable teach us about God’s mercy? Why wasn’t the first slave shown mercy in the end? Can you think of someone you haven’t shown mercy too? Parable of the forgiven slave who had no mercy on his fellow slave. This parable teaches us that we should have mercy on others because God had mercy on us. Also, if we are not merciful to others then clearly we are not truly God’s and will not receive His mercy.
Matthew 23:23 – The attitudes of mercy, faith, etc. are more important than miniscule commands. Primarily the New Testament teaches us principles rather than very specific commands for every possible situation.
James 1:27 – Mercy is one of the central qualities of Christianity. God loves the widow, the orphan, the needy, and so should we. It often shows itself in actions of love towards those in low positions.
David to Mephibosheth 2 Samuel 9:6-10 – David showed great mercy to Mephibosheth, though Mephibosheth had done nothing to deserve it. Not only was David rewarded spiritually, but Mephibosheth became a very dedicated servant of David for the rest of his life. His mercy won him a faithful friend.
Stephen to his murderers Acts 7:59-60
Moses to his rebellious followers Exodus 32:7-14
Not everyone will receive mercy
Matthew 6:14-15 – If we forgive others God will forgive us. (Ie. If we have mercy on others God will have mercy on us). If do not forgive others then God will not forgive us. (Ie. If we do not have mercy on others then God will not have mercy on us.)
Matthew 16:24-25 – The rich man begs for mercy after his death, but receives none. Not everybody will receive mercy.
#6 Pure in Heart –
Mark 7:1-13 – How did the Pharisees and religious leaders of the time consider purity? How did they attempt to purify themselves? What is the matter with this? The Pharisees put a heavy emphasis on ceremonial purity. They purified the outside with numerous rituals and washings. Jesus showed them that the outside is not nearly as important as the inside. God wants our heart. Purity is primarily a matter of the heart, not appearance.
Luke 11:39-41 – Support for the above verse. The inside is what God looks at. “For man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.”
Opposite of pure in heart –
Matthew 5:21-22 – Is purity something that is primarily shown by action or thoughts? If we hate others or hold anger against them in our hearts we are guilty of murder. We need to love others from our hearts, not just put on a show.
Matthew 5:27-30 – What is the standard for purity towards women? (sisters in Christ to encourage and protect) Looking at women with lust is equivalent to adultery. A pure heart will refrain from looking at women in this way. We should flee this situations, pray when we face temptation, and commit ourselves to having clean hearts. Whenever a wrong thought enters we need to get rid of it immediately by praying, meditating, singing, or talking with someone. Not only is the lust sin in and of itself, but we cannot contain it in our minds, it will break out if we don’t defeat it mercilessly by the power of God.
Pure in heart described –
Psalms 15:2 – Truthfulness. We need to have integrity and right motives, not acting with deceit or hypocrisy.
Psalms 51:5-10 – We are not pure by nature, but are wrapped in sin. Only by God’s grace and forgiveness can we be clean. We can be whiter than snow through God’s grace. We need to come before Him and beseech Him to give us a pure heart.
Titus 1:15 – A pure heart will give us a proper outlook on life. An impure heart will twist everything into evil.
The remedy (What should we do when the world is such a negative powerful influence?)
Philippians 4:4-8 – This gives us the solution to having spiritual purity in our thought lives. We should rejoice in the Lord. That means we should concern ourselves with spiritual things. If we occupy our minds with good it doesn’t leave room for the bad. Also, we should pray to God. He will give us strength and a “way of escape” (1 Corinthians 10:13) Finally, we need to consciously meditate on true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, excellent, things that are worthy of praise. There are many sources of temptation in this world besides ourself including music, television, ads, internet, movies, etc. Feed ourselves with the right things.
James 3:11-12 – Purity is being consistent on the inside and the outside.
They shall see God –
1 Corinthians 13:12 – Now we only see Him in part, as He has revealed Himself in the Bible and through Christ. One day we will see Him fully.
1 John 3:2-3 – We will see God just as He is. Even this hope purifies us. When we see God face to face the final step of our purification will be complete and all sin will be wiped away.
Is the world generally a peaceful place? Families? Groups? Nations? What are some examples of the lack of peace in the world?
What is the solution to the lack of peace in the world? More treaties? More money? More food? Less weapons?
Colossians 1:21, Romans 8:7 (the source of peace) – Apart from God we cannot hope to have peace ourselves with God or anybody else. And we cannot hope to be peacemakers. We can only do it if we are reconciled to God. The final solution does not come from “within” us or the human race. It comes from God who can remove the hostility from human nature.
John 16:33 (peacemakers) – Who is the world’s greatest hostility directed towards? In this world there is no true peace apart from God. Families are filled with strife. Friendships are wrought with envy, jealousy, broken promises. Nations are against nation. Factions, groups, and divisions wage war against each other. Even worse, all humans are hostile towards God. The only way we can have true peace (and thus extend it to others) is to first be reconciled to God through the mediator Jesus Christ. Once we have peace with God, we need not worry about the troubles in the world because these will end. Jesus has overcome the world and we can through Him. Once we have peace with God we can then extend this peace to others as we attempt to expand God’s kingdom on this earth.
How to be a peacemaker –
Proverbs 17:14 (peacemakers) – How can we make peace? When is the time to act? The time to act is before the quarrel breaks out. Once it starts and tempers flare it is hard to reign it in so practice prevention instead of reaction. We know many of the issues and problems that cause quarrels in our families, friends, co-workers, etc. We can try to head off arguments on these topics before they begin.
Proverbs 15:1-2 – Gentleness goes a long way towards making peace. Even if others disagree with our view if we discuss it with them gently and wisely many times it will turn away their wrath. If we are right it doesn’t mean we need to flaunt in others’ faces.
2 Corinthians 5:20 – Who can be a true peacemaker? We beg others to be reconciled to God. This is what will bring peace in the world.
Biblical examples – Can you think of any examples in the Bible of peacemakers?
Abraham (Genesis 13:5-9) – Abraham was the elder and had the right to choose what land he wanted and send Lot off in another direction. In order to keep peace in his family he didn’t exercise this right, but let Lot choose the best land to settle in.
David – David had two chances to kill Saul. Saul was fighting a war against him. Yet David still had mercy on him and tried to make peace with Saul. In the end it didn’t work. Sometimes there is just nothing we can do to force others to be peaceful. See Romans 12:18.
Isaac (Genesis 26:15-22) – Isaac also had these wells by right. They belonged to him. But he didn’t hold on to this right. In order to keep peace he gave up what was his and moved on. We can learn a valuable lesson from this. Many times peace is more important than holding on to our rights.
The line –
Matthew 10:34 (peace at all costs) – Should we strive for peace at all costs? When should we accommodate and compromise and when should we take a stand? See 1 Peter 2:11 and Ephesians 6:10 (and after). We don’t make peace with sin.
So how can we be peacemakers in our everyday lives?
- a person, group, or nation that tries to make peace, esp. by reconciling parties who disagree, quarrel, or fight.
- One that makes peace, especially by settling disputes.
- A peace-maker is a man who, being endowed with a generous public spirit, labors for the public good, and feels his own interest promoted in promoting that of others: therefore, instead of fanning the fire of strife, he uses his influence and wisdom to reconcile the contending parties, adjust their differences, and restore them to a state of unity.
- Sometimes I already start quarreling before I see the problem and try to stop it. At that time, it is often too late. My temper is already going and so is the temper of the other person.
- Sometimes I don’t even care so much for peace. I think if others want to have a bad attitude and be mad “for no reason” then so be it. It’s not my problem. This is not the mindset of a peacemaker.
- Don’t bring up a topic or issue (on minor points) if it is likely to create a quarrel. Sometimes it is necessary to bring up a topic even if it may cause a quarrel.
- Try to seek peace with others. Don’t have the attitude that if they are upset they need to deal with it themselves. Help them to get over it and right any possible wrong I have done.
#8 Persecution –
All those who are persecuted for doing right will be blessed and the kingdom of God will be filled with this kind of people. You are blessed when people insult you and persecute you and slander you because of your relationship to Me.
- This says that those who are persecuted will be blessed. We normally try to avoid persecution and view it as a bad thing. However, from this verse we can see that it is something to rejoice in, not complain about.
- Some are persecuted for their race, gender, mental abilities or other things. Jesus doesn’t say we will be blessed if we endure this kind of persecution. We are blessed if the catalyst behind the persecution is our holy lives and our close relationship to God.
- Being persecuted is a mark of true believers. It shows that we are living holy and uncompromising lives. A compromising and worldly person will not be persecuted. Why would he be? He is the same as everybody else. But a holy and righteous person will be persecuted because others will feel convicted by their lives. It shows that we are like Christ, who was also persecuted by the world.
- The other verses tend to be more attitudes. This “beatitude” is more of a result of the previous attitudes than an attitude itself. Being persecuted is not an attitude. But if we have the right kind of attitude we will be persecuted. If our lives are characterized by these Christian virtues it will lead to persecution. And we are to accept that joyfully.
The certainty of persecution –
2 Timothy 3:12 – What is the chance that we will be persecuted? (100% IF we are living godly lives) It is not a probability that godly believers will be persecuted. It is a certainty.
Psalms 34:19 – We won’t just face a few afflictions. The righteous will face many. These verses completely dispel the myth of the prosperity gospel. Not only does God NEVER promise that we will live problem free lives, He promises the exact opposite. We need to count the costs and not be caught by surprise.
Why persecution? For what? –
John 17:14 – The world hates (and therefore persecutes us) because we not of the world.
What is the nature of the persecution?
Matthew 24:9 – Hated and killed.
Matthew 5:10 – Slandered falsely
Acts 13:50 – Driven out
Luke 21:12 – Imprisonment
Acts 5:40 – Floggings
1 Corinthians 4:11-13 – Hunger, thirst, poorly clothed, homeless, roughly treated, slandered, scum of the world.
Response to persecution – (How should we respond to persecutions?)
Matthew 5:12 – We should not complain about it. We should not merely accept it neutrally. This verse says we are to rejoice greatly when we are persecuted.
Acts 5:41 – They were rejoicing that they were considered worthy to suffer for Christ.
Philippians 1:28 – We are not to be alarmed or intimidated. Indeed we have nothing to be afraid of. God is in control.
Matthew 10:28 – Don’t fear men. They can harm our body, but they cannot harm our souls. Fear God who has control of both. What can man do to me?
1 Peter 3:15-17 – Always be ready to defend our beliefs. Make sure we are being persecuted for the right reasons?
Not to fight it. Give a blessing instead. Turn the other cheek. Don’t take revenge or defend ourselves.
Reward/purpose for persecution (that comes from righteous living) –
2 Timothy 2:12 – We will reign with Him if we endure.
Revelation 2:10 – If we endure we will receive the crown of life.
What are some biblical examples of believers who were persecuted? How did they respond? What was their reward? How were they able to endure? What can we learn from their response?
Areas of weakness –
- When I am persecuted I sometimes seek to defend myself. This is a wrong response.
- Sometimes I don’t make a stand, statement, or something that I know will bring persecution. I may remain silent on some issue.
- I will strive to defend the gospel against all attacks, but will do so without defending myself.
- If the Holy Spirit convicts me to speak out on something or make a public stand then I will do it and not hide anything.