Condition or state of being in God's grace or favor. The Bible contains the words "bless, " "blessing, " and "blessed, " but not the noun "blessedness, " although the idea of a spiritual state of beatitude in which believers enjoy God's fellowship permeates the Bible. Bless translates the Hebrew asre [r,v}a] and baruk [J;r'B] and the Greek eulogetos [eujloghtov"] and makarios [makavrio"]. All are used of believers, but only baruk and eulogetos [eujloghtov"] of God. These words suggest divine protection, evoking believers' trust in their benefactor. They know God as the origin of every good thing in both this life and the next. The English word "blessedness" is derived from the root word for "blood" and suggests something set aside through sacrifice and in the Bible through Christ's sacrificial death for sins. Every aspect of the Christian life is embraced by blessedness with no credit assumed by the person experiencing it. It is purely God's grace.
In the Old Testament this blessedness may involve material things, but forgiveness is foremost ( Psalm 32:1 ). All Christians are blessed simply by believing in Christ and hearing and keeping his word ( Luke 11:28 ) and their perseverance in the face of trial ( Matt 11:6 ). Blessedness can apply to special endowments. Abraham ( Gen 12:1-3 ) and Peter ( Matt 16:17 ) are blessed because they stand at the head of God's people in each Testament and are channels of God's blessedness to others. Elizabeth, as following generations, recognizes Mary's blessedness as the Lord's mother ( Luke 1:42 Luke 1:48 ). Perfected blessedness belongs to the dead in Christ ( Rev 14:13 ). Whereas holiness refers to God's unapproachability and moral demands, blessedness focuses on what God does for the believer. From eternity he is blessed (eulogetos [eujloghtov"]) in acting graciously, bestowing blessings and good things upon his people ( Eph 1:3-4 ). Blessedness means God's bringing his promises to David to fulfillment in raising up Jesus as the Christ ( Luke 1:68-70 ). The original experience of Adam and Eve in Eden is a blessedness derived from a creation in which God provides for their spiritual well-being with his companionship and their physical needs with the garden's trees ( Gen 2 ). The lost blessedness is replaced by cursed ground ( Gen 3:17 ). No longer does man know God as benefactor, but rather malefactor, responsible for every evil experienced ( Gen 3:12-13 ). While some like Abel, Seth, Noah, and the patriarchs regain blessedness, others like Cain ( Gen 4:11 ) and Canaan ( Gen 9:25 ) fall under God's disfavor. The lost blessedness of the original paradise is fully restored by the cross and is now associated with the redemption ( Luke 23:43 ). On that account Jesus is called blessed ( Matt 23:39 ; Luke 1:42 ; 19:38 ).
The patriarchs live in a state of unperfected blessedness with their weaknesses removed at death ( Heb 11:13 ). Blessedness for Israel was dependent on their keeping the covenant by which God established them as his people. It required their worship of him as the only God. Idolatry deprived them of their blessedness. Blessedness in the Old Testament at times assures certain material blessings ( Gen 39:5 ). Canaan is given as a land of inheritance to Israel and military conquest and physical prosperity follow ( 1 Kings 4:20 ). The psalms focus on the individual, often with physical prosperity given to God's enemies. Blessedness entails the believer's continual occupation with God's word, the avoidance of the wicked, and perseverance and final flourishing (Ps. 1). This psalm's first words, "blessed" (asre [r,v}a]), serve to introduce the others. They reflect on a blessedness in which believers suffer abandonment by God ( Psalm 22 ), material deprivation, and seeing the wicked flourish, but are finally victorious (Ps. 2). Israel's persecuted prophets lived in the same unresolved dilemma, one now promised Christians ( Matt 5:12 ). Blessedness is seen not in how God materially rewarded the prophets, but in their perseverance ( Jas 5:11 ). The occasional Old Testament association of blessedness with material advantages is reversed in the New Testament and is linked with financial destitution. The poor ( Luke 6:20 ) and the poor in spirit ( Matt 5:3 ) have already gotten their blessedness in attaining the kingdom of God. Jesus is despised by others ( Isa 53:3 ) and the poorest of men and still in him blessedness comes to its highest expression ( 2 Cor 8:9 ). The blessedness of the righteous is seen in their persecution by God's enemies ( Matt 5:11-12 ). The apostles are blessed in seeing what prophets could only long for ( Matt 13:16 ) and rejoice because they are allowed to suffer for Christ ( Acts 5:41 ). Suffering brings martyrs into a state of blessedness ( Rev 14:13 ). The martyrs have attained blessedness and are called "saints, " not because of their moral perfection, but because their deaths identify them with Christ.
David P. Scaer
Bibliography. C. W. Mitchell, The Meaning of b r k "to bless"in the Old Testament; C. Westermann, Blessing in the Bible and the Life of the Church.
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This translation of makarismos (a word signifying "beatification" or "the ascription of blessing"), is used but three times, in Romans 4:6,9, and Galatians 4:15, in the King James Version only. In the first two instances it refers to the happy state or condition of a man to whom Christ's righteousness is imputed by faith, and in the last to a man's experience of that condition.
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