The Beatitudes are brief declarations which begin with the word “blessed” in English. In the Latin Bible, the word for “blessed” is beatus, from which our beatitude is ultimately derived. The Beatitudes do not give promises which can be realized here and now in the ordinary sense. It cannot be said, for example, that the meek ordinarily inherit the earth. Nor can the Beatitudes be taken as blueprints for obtaining rewards in this life. And to think of them as a list of virtues which, if practiced, will be rewarded in heaven is also to miss the point. Rather, the Beatitudes are declarations of salvation to those who place their trust in God. The persons blessed are the “humble,” those who have realized their helplessness and know the desperate need for grace alone. The Beatitudes can be divided into three sections. The first four (5:3-6) declare blessing to persons who are particularly in need and realize it—poor in spirit, those who mourn, and so on; the next three (5:7-9) declare blessing to persons who might be designated activists—exercising mercy, acting from unmixed motives, making peace; and the last two (5:10-12) declare blessing to those who suffer persecution. The Beatitudes show that they anticipate the new age not yet realized, when God will bring about his universal rule at the end of history. The Beatitudes do not promise earthly, secular standards. In fact, each beatitude is an attack on such standards. Nevertheless, the Beatitudes do declare those who are receptive to God and his will that they already are “blessed,” and they do describe virtues which Christians should put into practice. They should practice these things not for the sake of reward, but because they know that these virtues describe the life which God wants among people, the life which will be in the world to come.