Who Shall Inherit the Earth?


Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)

Biblical scholar Dale Allison comments on who the meek are and what it means to be meek:

The ‘meek’ are the ‘poor in spirit,’ that is, the humble whose avoidance of hubris corresponds to their powerlessness in the eyes of the world. . . .  Perhaps, however, we should be wary of seeing here nothing but a passive state. Georg Strecker thinks that ‘blessed are the meek‘ ‘contains an indirect summons to active deeds that fulfill the new law of Christ: active dedication to the high goal of meekness, friendliness, and gentleness—deeds that are determined not by anger, brutality, or enmity, but entirely by goodness.’   (THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT, p 47b)


Orthodox scholar Gabriel Bunge offers us further insight into the meek and the nature of meekness:

Meekness is in the first place an absence of anger and, consequently, a steadfastness…  of irascibility against being aroused in the midst of all temptations. . . .  it is already clear that there is nothing at all weak about this virtue of meekness. Rather, it is the virtue of the strong. This is also how Evagrius sees his gnostic: as a man who is at once ‘meek’ and yet likewise energetic and ‘warlike,’ following the words of the prophet Joel (3:11): ‘Let the meek become a warrior.


Hold yourself in readiness to be meek and warlike: the former towards your kinsfolk, the latter towards the enemy. The. [proper] use of irascibility consists of this: with enmity to do battle against the serpent. And therein consists the mansuetude of the meek man: out of love, to be forbearing with the brother, and to fight against [evil] thoughts. ‘Let the meek become a warrior,’ then, whereby his meekness is detached from deceitful thoughts, just as his militancy is from his relatives according to the flesh. Do not turn the use of anger against nature by being wroth with your brother ‘like a serpent,’ and instead being friends with the serpent by consenting to the thoughts!


The meek man does not refrain from love, even if he must suffer the worst. But for the sake of this [love] he is forbearing and patient, gentle, and longsuffering [1 Cor 13:4-7]. For if forbearance is characteristic of love, it follows that angry quarrelling is not.  (DRAGON’S WINE AND ANGEL’S BREAD, p 82)

Though Christ promises that the meek will inherit the earth, I’ve often thought, “no they won’t. They will be crushed beneath the heel of the arrogant , power-hungry and militantly aggressive, and ground into the earth.” Besides, being meek they have no interest in lording it over others. They hope to be servants in the Kingdom of heaven not rulers on earth. They will be happy being unnoticed in the crowd following Christ, like the hemorrhaging woman (Matthew 9:20-22), rather than jockeying like the Apostles or Orthodox patriarchs and primates to sit at Christ’s right hand and have themselves proclaimed the greatest (Mark 10:35-45).