The last Beatitude in Matthew 5:10 says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”(NIV) Did you notice this was the promise in the first Beatitude as well? The poor in spirit also have the kingdom of heaven. So, what is it?
The phrase is used in different ways. John the Baptist’s message, according to Matthew 3:2 was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Jesus is the king. The phrase refers to his rule as the Christ. Sometimes the phrase refers to the people following Jesus here on earth. Sometimes it is used of the eternal kingdom following the final judgement.
I find it interesting that this Beatitude is immediately expanded and explained. Verses 11 and 12 say, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”(NIV)
Let’s compare verse 10 with verse 12. In verse 10, the phrase “the kingdom of heaven” parallels this phrase in verse 12: “great is your reward in heaven.” So, in this instance, “the kingdom of heaven,” in fact, refers to heaven. But it is not just being in heaven, but having a great reward waiting there! That’s a blessing!
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Bumper music “Landing Place” performed by Mark July, used under license from Shutterstock.