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Does the same emphatic construction appear in Luke 6:20?

I love this. It reminds me of Jesus saying "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matt. 6:14-15
Oh, so rather worksie that we can't fit it within our so usually definitively conceived Protestant theologies, wherein nothing we do is worth considering significant in our relationships with God.
All the best for those in Christ,
Richard W. Wilson

This has been picked up and discussed by Joel Hoffman at his "God Didn't Say That" blog as well as others. Link below...


Dr. Mounce, your example from Matt 5:3 doesn't seem to fit with your argument. μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι, ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.
αὐτῶν is not the subject of the verb so it cannot be said of this pronoun that it "is unnecessary and its presence is making a point."
Could you clarify?

Very good. I passed over that. The first and last Beatitude is a different construction. So the blog applies to the remaining Beatitudes. Thanks. --Bill

I find Matthew 5:3 to be about the most difficult verse in the scriptures to understand.

First, let me say that my understanding of the scriptural components of humankind does not include a "spirit" as Moses clearly describes mankind as composed of a clay statue of himself animated by his own "breath." So "spirit" and "Spirit" are false concepts to me.

But what in the world does "destitute to the breath" mean?! It is meaningless, as far as I can tell.

The only idea that has an ethical dimension that I can imagine is the idea of being "destitute in response to the breath [gospel]" but I would be surprised to hear that that is a feasible reading, linguistically.

Given the definite article, I want to read this as referring to God's breath, though I note you give it a small "s" - ?

Might it mean "one who doesn't have any answers?" This would imply being humble and teachable.

So, any interpretive help on this would be appreciated.

Of course, this isn't the first time that this exact point has been brought up in a provocative blog. So we don't have to solve this major theological debate here.

However, "reformed" thinking has long had its own way of interpreting the word "alone", hasn't it? As in, "God alone" gets the glory. So your "real" hermeneutics of the passage must be flavored by your core Calvinist use of language; so how can we know what you think about the word "alone" in this passage unless we know how you think of God's glory?

Likewise, the analogy of the faith is more critical to interpreting these Beatitudes than this exegetical point. How did the retrospectively writing gospel authors think theologically, since they were putting into Greek the Aramaic that Jesus actually uttered.

And haven't even you yourself (heh) said, "God alone knows..." when you knew that probably some other people knew? Or wait, did I just say that "even you alone said..."? I'd better check the Greek.

Nevertheless, thanks for showing how important it is to think about these details.

Reactions to this blog here and elsewhere have been interesting. My primary point was to say something about the Greek, and that the use of αυτος in Beatitudes 2-7 is making a theological point carried by the use of αυτος. I am not aware of any other way to read the emphatic use of the pronoun here other than putting force on "they." "They and they alone" is perhaps too strong (although I believe exegetically and theological accurate), but a simple "they" is too far undertranslated. But it is fun to watch the debate. Hopefully it is helpful.

What are the parameters that you would provide for determining when a subject pronoun is emphatic and when it is not? You identify it in the Beatitudes, but without clearly defining the qualities that make it such. I was surprised that you conceded v. 3 to Bert as non-emphatic, as it seems to bear the qualities you claim in the others. If it is merely the subject role that makes the pronoun emphatic and thus "X and X alone", it would be fairly simple to produce counter-examples where your claim could not apply. I included a few in my response to your post.

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