Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)
Who are the meek again?
When I hear that word, I think mild (meek & mild always go together, right?), gentle, simple.
A friend was asking me today what that meant, and I decided to look up the word as it is used in the New Testament.
Put into our alphabet, the word translated as meek is praus [prah-ooce]. The concordance defines this word as “mild, gentle.” The word study goes on to say, “this difficult to translate root means more than “meek.” Biblical meekness is not weakness but rather refers to exercising God’s strength under his control – i.e. demonstrating power without undue harshness.” In other words, meek as we use it in modern english is not the best translation for the word. However, that second definition (which I think I have heard elsewhere) is not very accurate for the greek word as used in the New Testament. It sounds great theologically, but is it correct?
This word occurs 4 times in the New Testament. The first is the passage I started with. Matthew 5:5 – “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” We’ll come back to that. So looking at the other passages to see what “meek” means…
1 Peter 3:4 is talking about a wife’s true beauty, which comes from the inner self, the unfading beauty of a praus and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. In other words, this characteristic is an inner one (as opposed to simply an outward action). Inner strength. That helps a little bit, the the next two really help.
I think the other two passages in the New Testament that use this term are a little more helpful, and both are spoken by Jesus. In Matthew 11:29, Jesus uses this term about himself. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am praus and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. I take your burdens, I labor with you, I help when it is difficult. And then in Matthew 21:5, Jesus is instructing his disciples to get a donkey for his ride into Jerusalem. Quoting Zechariah, “see, your king comes to you, praus and riding on a donkey”… on his way toward the cross. Again, Jesus is willingly taking difficulty upon himself.
This word praus, which we translate as “meek” does not mean wimpy or anything of the sort. Rather, it is adjective describing one who labors, suffers, and endures without making a fuss. It is Jesus offering to bear our burdens. It is Jesus riding to his own death. Blessed are those who are praus! Of course, this also make sense Jesus gives in Matthew 5:5 to those who are like this. They will inherit the earth. Who gets an inheritance? One who waits. One who lives. One who does what needs to be done now, knowing that only later will they get their greatest reward.
I don’t think this implies any sort of passivity. Rather, is carries the meaning of trusting God to make things right, and faithfully enduring trials. Not giving in, not giving up. But knowing that even if things don’t seem perfect right now, they will come right.