Revelations from the Word

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Blessed are those who are sought because of righteousness

by Jean-Louis Coraboeuf

"Blessed are those who are persecuted [dioko] for [hénéka] righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 5:10).

"Blessed are you, when you are reviled and persecuted [dioko] and all manner of evil is spoken against you for My sake" (Matthew 5:11).

The verb dioko has the meaning of pursuing and persecuting, but also means to seek to attain something, which must not escape us, to seek out, to desire ardently. The second meaning of the verb is made particularly evident in the following verses:

  • "Pursue [dioko] love" (1 Corinthians 14:1),

  • "But I press on [dioko], to try to lay hold on the prize" (Philippians 3:12),

  • "Pursue [dioko] righteousness" (1 Timothy 6:11),

  • "Let him seek peace and seek [dioko] it eagerly" (1 Peter 3:11).

The preposition héneka means 'for the sake of', 'in view of', 'in favour of'; the meaning of the verse therefore becomes "Blessed are those who are sought out because of righteousness, for the Kingdom is already theirs". Verse 10 therefore does not speak about persecution as verse 11 does, but righteousness as the fruit of the Kingdom of God. When we accept Jesus Christ into our lives, we are justified by Him (Romans 3:24) and we are born again, that is to say "we are born of the Spirit" (John 3:5). We then immediately receive these two marks of the Kingdom of God: the Holy Spirit and the righteousness of God. That is why verses 3 and 10 have the expression "the Kingdom of God is theirs" in the present tense.

Jesus said, "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness" (Matthew 6:33), that is why we find this righteousness amongst those who already have His Kingdom. Jesus said, "You are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14) and we know that the "fruit of the light consists in all manner of goodness, righteousness and truth" (Ephesians 5:9). Since righteousness is a sign of the Kingdom, we are called to see the fruits of it grow (2 Corinthians 9:10). And if these fruits of the righteousness of God become evident, what the prophet announced for the Jews, will happen for us, "In those days 10 men of all the languages of the nations will take hold of a Jew by the sleeve of his garment and say: We will go with you, for we have learned that God is with you" (Zechariah 8:23).

"May your light so shine before men, so that they may see your Good works (of the Kingdom) and glorify your Father, who is in Heaven" (Matthew 5:16).