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Who are the Meek? Why did Jesus say "Blessed are the Meek"?

Jesus said, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5). Let's explore the meaning of meekness and who exemplifies this characteristic in the Bible and today.
Updated Oct 11, 2023
Who are the Meek? Why did Jesus say "Blessed are the Meek"?

Jesus says "blessed are the meek" in his famous Sermon on the Mount:

5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. - Matthew 5:5-12

Who are the Meek? Meaning and Examples of Meekness

"Meekness" is a humble attitude that expresses itself in the patient endurance of offenses. "Gentleness" is a practical synonym. It implies mercy and self-restraint. Meekness is not weakness. Sometimes we confuse the two. But the difference between a meek person and a weak person is this: a weak person can't do anything. A meek person, on the other hand, can do something but chooses not to.

Meaning of "Blessed are the Meek"

Jesus said, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5). The word meek from the original language was used to describe reining in a stallion. It is the idea of a horse being controlled by a bit and bridle. The horse is choosing to submit to authority. That is meekness. It is power under constraint.

Meekness is not weakness; it is power under control. As the writer of Proverbs says, "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city" (Proverbs 16:32). In contrast, the individual who is not gentle is likened to "a city that is broken into and without walls" (Proverbs 25:28). Gentleness always uses its resources appropriately, unlike the out-of-control emotions that so often are destructive and have no place in your life as a believer.

Meekness vs. Pride

Pride has been redefined in American culture as a virtue. The strong, the beautiful, the powerful, the intelligent, and the privileged take every opportunity to put themselves forward. Politicians manifest pride in speeches and debates; entertainers glamorize pride in their movies and lifestyles; educators teach pride by emphasizing self-esteem and making every child a winner (whether they deserve it or not), and sports icons reinforce pride as the path to greatness.

Probably the least admired character quality in America is meekness. And yet the greatest Person who ever lived was a meek and humble man-"learn from Me, for I am gentle [meek] and humble in heart" (Matthew 11:29). Jesus exemplified meekness during His first advent, even as He ministered in the power of God. Those who follow Him will also demonstrate meekness, or gentleness as the fruit of a Spirit-filled life (Galatians 5:22).

And don't equate gentleness with cowardice, lack of conviction, or mere human niceness. It's a virtue that draws courage, strength, conviction, and good disposition from God, not from self-centered human resources.

The Meekness of Jesus

Gentleness characterizes our Lord Jesus Christ. He always defended God's glory and ultimately gave Himself in sacrifice for others (see 1 Peter 2:21-23). Jesus didn't lash back when criticized, slandered, or treated unjustly, but He did respond fittingly and firmly when God's honor was profaned or His truth was perverted or neglected. He twice cleansed the Temple by force (Matthew 21:12-17; John 2:14-15), and He repeatedly and fearlessly denounced the hypocrisy of the Jewish religious leaders (Matthew 23:13-36; Mark 12:13-40; John 8:12-59; 9:39-41).

When His time of suffering came, however, Jesus submitted to the will of His Father and endured the abuse and murderous intentions of the hypocritical leaders. He demonstrated meekness to the very end. "While being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously" (1 Peter 2:23).

Although Jesus said, "Blessed [happy] are the meek," we don't celebrate meekness in our culture. Instead, we celebrate assertiveness. We celebrate getting things from other people, sometimes even taking advantage of other people. When is the last time you saw a movie that celebrated the virtue of meekness? When is the last time the big buildup for the movie was the moment when the good guy meekly restrains himself, even though he was wronged? We don't want to go to a movie like that. We want to see a payback movie in which the first half consists of bad things happening to the hero, and the last half consists of bad things that come to the people who did those things to the hero. That is what entertains us. That is what our culture celebrates.

How different this is from what the Bible teaches. The Bible celebrates meekness. The biblical worldview says last is first. Giving is receiving. Dying is living. Losing is finding. The least is the greatest. Meekness is a strength. The idea is that we are living by God's truth—not by what our culture says should make us happy.

The Meek Will Inherit the Earth - Matthew 5:5

BibleStudyTools.com: What does  from biblestudytools on GodTube.

Transcribed from the video above, Johnnie Moore discusses the meaning of the scripture quote "the meek will inherit the earth" from Matthew 5:5.

And when Jesus says that, "the meek will inherit the earth," he's speaking an incredibly counter-cultural truth to these people sitting on this hill in the middle of this village overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Because this was a world that didn't understand weakness or meekness. This was a world that understood power. This is a world overruled by Caesar's. This is a world where armies made people in rebellion subject to their sheer force. This is a world that turned on the tables of power. Those were the people that inherited the earth. 

And, by the way, Jesus's message was preached within a context. He's not preaching to the rich and powerful. He's not preaching to the people that had the ability to, in our modern way, make a phone call to make something happen. I mean, he's preaching to villagers, and he's saying if you're a meek person, if you have strength under control, if you're that type of personality, that not only will you be happy but you'll have a type of life and a type of power that transcends even the power of Caesar. Because every time Jesus preaches a sermon, he's not just preaching to our life in this world. He's preaching to something greater, and I'm convinced that those who inherit the earth sometimes are those whose stories are never known on the earth except one day when we're standing in heaven and we find out that that little person sitting on the hill was the unlikely character God used to change history. You never know the end of the story until you get to it.

Taken from "Meekness, Not Weakness " by Harvest Ministries (used by permission).

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/BassittART

Further Reading:

What is Meekness? Bible Dictionary Meaning and Definition

What Does Jesus Mean by "Blessed Are the Meek" in Matthew 5:5?

Meekness - Meaning and Verses in Bible Encyclopedia

What Does Meek Mean? Bible Definition and References

This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture's context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.

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