“Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.”
In our English there’s no word to adequately convey the concept of comfort about which Jesus speaks in Matthew 5. The very word in Greek is a compound verb, encompassing the whole of the promise:
(They shall be comforted.)
The Greek students in my life tell me that this word is Passive Indicative – passive voice, indicative mood. That the verb is indicative means that it indicates what will happen, not what might happen, could happen, or should happen. It is a statement of fact: Blessed are those who mourn, for paraklethesontai. They will be comforted.
That this is the passive voice means that the comfort is happening to the subject by someone other than the subject. The subject isn’t comforting somebody else (active voice); nor is she comforting herself (middle voice). Someone else is comforting her.
So this Paraklethesontai (they shall be comforted) comes from the verb Parakaleo, which means:
Kaleo: to call near, bid, invite, invoke, call forth, call by name.
Para: very close-beside, in the presence of, alongside, very near. (As Laura said in her podcast, think parallel lines.)
Now, having no word to perfectly convey Paraklethesontai, English translations reached for the verb phrase they shall be comforted, and here’s why:
Comfort (in English) is derived from the “late Latin word confortare: to strengthen greatly; which itself is from the Latin com- + fortis, meaning: strong.”
Modern dictionaries add:
to comfort is to give strength and hope to (cheer),
to comfort is to ease the grief or trouble of (console)
So here it is:
Picture Jesus saying,
“Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be called by name to come very close beside (Me), called near to be in the very presence of (Me). They shall be consoled, they shall be strengthened. Their grief will be eased, I will be alongside them, I will be very near, I will give them strength and hope.”
I am indebted to my husband and to Laura Camacho for helping me work through this word. If you recognize a similar phrasing in Laura’s podcast it’s because she and I have discussed this word (and verse) extensively. 🙂
This post is part of Survivor Songs, a 31-Day series. A full list of posts is found here.