Language is constantly evolving so it is inevitable that words and phrases that have historically meant one thing can be used to convey a completely different meaning today. One word which has strong foundations in Christian terminology and is used excessively in modern culture is “blessed”. You’ll be used to seeing #blessed attached to posts from a variety of social media accounts, regardless of their religious views or lack thereof, if you’re a regular user of almost any social media platform. The urban dictionary definition of blessed provides an insight into its current popular usage. It defines blessed as “an adjective for feeling good or having something good happen to you.” Even some Christians have found themselves using the term to express their appreciation of what they perceive as gifts from God. But are we right to use it in this way? And what does it actually mean in a biblical context?
The term is found throughout the Bible and contrasts can be drawn between the ways in which it’s used in the Old Testament and the New Testament. In the Old Testament, the word blessed or blessings is found to refer to a physical manifestation of God’s favour. But there are other uses too – ceremonial blessings, to call on intervention from God. Here are some of the ways that blessed is used in the Old Testament.
Genesis 28:3 – May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples.
Deuteronomy 28:8 – The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.
The above examples from the Old Testament reveal that being blessed can take the form of God granting prosperity. In this context it’s similar to how many people are using the word today. We also see the term being used in the New Testament to signify those that are favoured by God. However, this time the focus is more spiritual as opposed to material.
Matthew 5:3 – Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:10 – Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Luke 1:45 – Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!
The Beatitudes and Luke 1:45 reveal a different nature of blessings. The term is applied in both cases in reference to those will experience difficulties in this life but be blessed eternally and rewarded spiritually.
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