The Bible mentions blessings more than 400 times (the exact number varies depending on the version of the Bible). Yet, for something that is mentioned so frequently, it can often be difficult to understand what exactly it is.
On the surface level, we can infer that a blessing is a good thing because it is only mentioned in the context of something good from God or from another person. However, it is more complex than that. A blessing from a father to a son can mean something entirely different than what Jesus means when He says things like “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight” (Matthew 5:9 MSG).
So, we can easily assume that being blessed is a good thing, but let’s take a deeper look to see if we can understand it even better.
What does the word “blessing” mean?
The English word “blessing” means “the act or words of one that blesses,” or “a thing conducive to happiness or welfare” according to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. However, in the Bible, the words that are translated into English as blessing are not all the same.
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word we often translate as “bless” is barak. This means to praise, congratulate or salute. This is the word that is used when God blessed the creatures of creation, telling them to be fruitful and multiply, and is the word He used for Adam and Eve. It is also the word that fathers used when giving their sons a blessing, such as before granting them an inheritance. We can think of the use of barak as a way of saying, “I give you this” or “I want you to have something, and I praise or honor you in doing this” or “I pledge my honor in helping you in this.”
In the New Testament, the words translated as “blessed” include makarios and eulogeo. Makarios refers to happiness. Eulogeo refers to good words or a good report of someone.
In the passage about the peacemakers from Matthew, the word the writer uses is makarios. Knowing this is the word that is intended to communicate Jesus’ meaning, we can infer that Jesus is saying it is joyful and fulfilling to observe God’s command to make peace instead of sowing discord.
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