Gibbs, Jeffrey A. “Matthew 5:3-12: Doorway to the Sermon: Blessings/Beatitudes for Disciples.” St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2006, pp. 234-256.
Speaking of the Beatitudes, Gibbs observes the predicate adjective μακάριοι in the front of each line for emphasis. He considers the word to have a very strong meaning in context, more like “saved” than “happy” (Gibbs 2006, 234). The concept of “poor in spirit” may well suggest economic as well as spiritual poverty. Gibbs suggests that God may well use physical trials such as poverty to bring about a spiritual dependence on him (Gibbs 2006, 235). Gibbs further notes the numerous clauses which are in the passive voice and do not express an agent. His opinion is that God is the unseen and unmentioned actor in these statements.
Matthew 5:10 uses a perfect passive participle for “those persecuted” (Gibbs 2006, 236). Gibbs makes it clear that the context does not suggest a continuous state of persecution but rather an act of persecution which has a lingering result (Gibbs 2006, 237).
Gibbs observes that the Beatitudes are “two groups of four blessings in the third person plural...followed by a final, much longer blessing in the second person plural” (Gibbs 2006, 237). Gibbs also sees that the Beatitudes can be understood as pairs, in which the first two have the first of the pair preparing us for the second of the pair, but the second two pairs working in the other direction (Gibbs 2006, 238).
Gibbs considers that Matthew 11:2-6 and Isaiah 61:1 are necessary context for Matthew 5:3. The passages in Matthew are the only theological uses of “poor” in Matthew. Both passages make eschatological promises (Gibbs 2006, 239). Gibbs observes that in Matthew 11 the people with various conditions of need are not spoken of as troubled by their condition. Instead, it is an objective recognition of need. This also extends to “the poor” in 11:5 and “the poor in spirit” in 5:3 (Gibbs 2006, 240). Gibbs takes this to indicate a status that lacks something needed, spiritual riches or ability. The pattern Gibbs concludes we must look for is one where Jesus provides what his people need. He includes in this forgiveness, baptism, the work of the Holy Spirit, the reality of the Sacrament, and belief on what Jesus would do (Gibbs 2006, 241).
Gibbs observes strong parallels between Isaiah 61 and Matthew 5:3-12. Matthew is likely portraying Jesus specifically as God’s servant, making promises (Gibbs 2006, 241).
In Matthew 5:4-6 Gibbs sees Jesus promising to fill empty humans (Gibbs 2006, 242). Here he considers the tenses of the verbs to be especially important. The present state leads to a future result (Gibbs 2006, 243). The present state, again, according to Gibbs, is a state of helpless inability (Gibbs 2006, 244). The future goal, in each instance, has to do with a fulfillment which comes through following Jesus (Gibbs 2006, 245).
Matthew 5:7-12 moves to future fulfillment in very clear terms. In verse seven the merciful will receive mercy. In verse eight the pure in heart will see God (Gibbs 2006, 247). Gibbs considesr that God is the one who gives mercy, as well as being the one who urifies hearts (Gibbs 2006, 248). Verse nine speaks of the one who makes peace. Gibbs notes that the adjective for a peacemaker is absent from Scripture (Gibbs 2006, 252). There is, however, a strong theme of peace in Matthew 10, where the missionaries let their peace be on the place they visit. Gibbs therefore sees the peacemakers of 5:9 to be those disciples who bring God’s peace around with them (Gibbs 2006, 253). Finally, those persecuted for righteousness are blessed. Gibbs is very clear that not all of Jesus’ people will expect or receive persecution, but those who do will be rewarded (Gibbs 2006, 254).
The close of the Beatitudes shifts to the second person, in verses 11-12. Gibbs sees this as a statement that the work of Jesus is not just a matter for analysis, but that it may apply to “you” specifically (Gibbs 2006, 255).