Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God (Mat 5:8)

(μακάριοι οἱ καθαροὶ τῇ καρδίᾳ, ὅτι αὐτοὶ τὸν Θεὸν ὄψονται)

Introduction: Which cup would you rather drink from?

[Start with three large clear glasses of water. Put dirt into one, Hydrogen Peroxide into another, and leave the other untainted.]


Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”


This sixth beatitude is related to the two previous: “Those who, according to the fourth beatitude, have become ‘filled’ or ‘fully satisfied’ as the result of God’s mercy shown to them, now in turn exercise mercy towards others (fifth beatitude). Those who have experienced the purifying influence of the Holy Spirit become pure in heart.” (William Hendriksen)

I. What does it mean to be “pure in heart”?[1]

A) Jesus’ metaphor on impure hearts: Pharisees as Whitewashed tombs

Luke 11:37 …a Pharisee asked Him [Jesus] to have lunch with him; and He went in, and reclined at the table. When the Pharisee saw it, he was surprised that He had not first ceremonially washed before the meal. But the Lord said to him, "Now you Pharisees clean* the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness. You foolish ones, did not He who made the outside make the inside also? But give that which is within as charity, and then all things are clean* for you.

Here’s a picture of people who are trying to keep up an outward appearance of cleanliness, obedience, respectability, and wholesomeness, but inside, they are filthy and rebellious, they have no love, for they are spiritually dead. (Show picture of skeleton under lawn.) They are like the second cup – they appear to be pure, but they are not pure in heart. They will not see God.

B) New Testament use of the word “pure”[2]

1) Inward right attitudes as well as outward right actions:
Matthew 23:26 “You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean* also.”
John 13:11 “For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, "Not all of you are clean*.”
William Hendriksen – “Jesus pronounces his blessing upon the persons whose outer manifestation is in harmony with their inner disposition… [not] without qualification upon all people who are sincere, but rather upon those who, in the worship of the true God in accordance with the truth revealed in his Word strive without hypocrisy to please and glorify him…”

2) Jesus’ words create this cleanliness: John 15:3  “You are already clean* because of the word which I have spoken to you.” (cf. Eph 5:26)

3) Includes clean conscience, neither guilty of wrongdoing nor of neglect to do what is right:
Titus 1:15
“To the pure*, all things are pure*; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure*, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.”
James 1:27 “Pure* and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
Acts 18:6 “But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, "Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean*. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
Acts 20:26 “Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent* of the blood of all men.”
Revelation 19:8 “It was given to her [the church] to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean*; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”
1 Timothy 3:9 “…holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear* conscience.”
2 Timothy 1:3 “I thank God, whom I serve with a clear* conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day…”

4) Physical/Ceremonial Cleanliness
Matthew 27:59
“And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean* linen cloth…”
Romans 14:20 “Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean*, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense.”
Revelation 15:6 “and the seven angels…clothed in linen, clean* and bright…”
Revelation 19:14 “the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean*”
Revelation 21:18-21 “…the city was pure* gold, like clear* glass… And the street of the city was pure* gold, like transparent glass.”

C) All other instances in Bible where purity of heart is mentioned explicitly:

Commentator John Gill on “pure in heart”

“The heart of man is naturally unclean; nor is it in the power of man to make it clean, or to be pure from his sin; nor is any man in this life, in such sense, so pure in heart, as to be entirely free from sin. This is only true of Christ, angels, and glorified saints: but such may be said to be so, who, though they have sin dwelling in them, are justified from all sin, by the righteousness of Christ, and are "clean through the word", or sentence of justification pronounced upon them, on the account of that righteousness; whose iniquities are all of them forgiven, and whose hearts are sprinkled with the blood of Jesus, which cleanses from all sin; and who have the grace of God wrought in their hearts… so they most earnestly desire after more purity of heart, lip, life, and conversation. And happy they are”

“…They shall see God”

“See God” in the Bible[3]

Hebrews 11:5  By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see* death; and he was not found because god took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.

Job believed he would see God  "As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God; Whom I myself shall behold, And whom my eyes will see and not another… (Job 19:25-27)

Abraham saw God, and God spoke to him, as Stephen testified in Acts 7:2 … The God of glory appeared* to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran…

Moses and the 70 Elders of Israel saw God on Mt. Sinai and ate with Him (Exodus 24)

The prophets Isaiah, Micaiah, and Amos each “saw the Lord” (1 Kings 22:19/2 Chron. 18:18; Isa. 6:1; Amos 9:1)

John the Baptizer repeated Isaiah’s prophecy that when Christ came, all flesh would see God’s salvation: Luke 3:2-6 “…John… [was] in the wilderness… preaching… as it is written in the book… of Isaiah… “Make ready the way of the Lord… Every ravine will be filled, and every mountain and hill will be brought low… and all flesh will see* the salvation of God.”
No one has seen God in His pure glory, but John the Baptist made a big deal of the fact that he had seen Jesus, the Son of God: John 1:18 “No one has seen* God at any time; the only begotten of God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him… 34 I myself have seen*, and have testified that this is the Son of God."

Jesus saw God: Matthew 3:16  “After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw* the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him”
John 6:46 “Not… anyone has seen* the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen* the Father.”

Jesus promised His disciples that they would see the kingdom of God:
Mark 9:1 “And Jesus was saying to them, ‘Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see* the kingdom of God after it has come with power.’” (cf. Luke 9:27)
John 1:51 “And He [Jesus] *said to him [Nathan], ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see* the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.’”
John 11:40 “Jesus *said to her [Martha], ‘Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see* the glory of God?’” [referring to the resurrection of Lazarus]
John 17:24 and Jesus prayed, “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me…”

Steven, while he was being stoned to death, saw Jesus and God in heaven: Acts 7:55  But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw* the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God;

On the road to Damascus, Paul saw Jesus in His divine glory Acts 22:14 “And he [Ananias] said, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you [Paul] to know His will and to see* the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth.’”

In the book of Revelation, the Apostle John testified that he saw God in a heavenly vision: 5:6 “And I saw* between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.” (cf. Revelation 1:2, 1 John 1:1-3)

Then the apostles taught Christians that we will also get to see God:
1 Corinthians 2:9  “…eye has not seen* and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.”
     Do you love God? You will get to see what God has prepared for you!
1 John 3:2 “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see* Him just as He is.”

However, there will be those who are not received into God’s presence and who don’t get to enter into God’s kingdom:
John 3:36 “He who … does not obey the Son will not see* life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
1 John 4:20 “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen*, cannot love God whom he has not seen*.”
3 John 1:11 “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good… the one who does evil has not seen* God.”
Luke 13:27-28 Jesus warned the unbelieving Jews that God would say, “‘Depart from Me, all you evildoers.’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see* Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out.”

Commentators on “seeing God”

·         Adam Clark: “Seeing” a thing, was used among the Hebrews for “possessing” it…
Joh. 3:3 “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” i.e. he cannot enjoy it.
Joh. 3:16 “He that believeth not the Son, shall not see life,” i.e. shall not be put in possession of eternal glory.

·         William Hendriksen – “Their heart, the very mainspring of dispositions as well as of feelings and thoughts… is in tune with the heart of GodResemblance is the indispensable prerequisite of personal fellowship and understanding. To know God, one must be like Him.”

·         A.T. Robertson – “The Beatific Vision is only possible here on earth to those with pure hearts. No other can see the King now. Sin befogs and beclouds the heart so that one cannot see God.”

·         Matt Henry – “As he cannot endure to look upon their iniquity, so they cannot endure to look upon his purity; nor shall any unclean thing enter into the new Jerusalem…”

Certain qualifications have to be met before we can see God:

“Shall see God” - both now and in the future:



English scripture texts coped from the New American Standard Bible.

[1] Strong’s Definition: “clean (literally or figuratively), clear, pure”

Thayer’s Definition: “clean, pure: a) physically, as in “purified by fire” or a vine cleansed by pruning, b) in a levitical sense, as in … not forbidden, imparts no uncleanness, c) ethically, as in free from corrupt desire, from sin and guilt, free from every admixture of what is false… blameless, innocent”

Arndt & Gingrich: clean, pure… 1) literally, as in “pure water,” “clean linen,” “pure gold;” 2) ceremonially pure, in the temple, 3) in the moral and religious sense… free from sin, “Christ’s cleansed people,” “clean heart,” “clear conscience,” “guiltless,” “cleansed by the blood.”

[2] O.T. references (catharos in the Septuagint): Gen. 7:2,3,8; 8:20; 24:8; 44:10; Exo. 25:11,17,23,28,29,31,36,38,39; 27:20; 28:13,14,22,36; 30:3,4,35; 31:8; 37:2,10,29; 39:15,30,37; Lev. 4:12; 6:11; 7:19; 10:10; 11:32,36,37,47; 13:6,13,17,34,37,39,40,41,58; 14:4,7,8,9,49,53; 15:8,12,13; 17:15; 20:25; 22:7; 24:2,4,6,7; Num. 5:17,28; 8:7; 9:13; 18:11,13; 19:3,9,12,18,19; Deu. 12:15,22; 14:11,20; 15:22; 23:10; 1Sa. 20:26; 2Ch. 3:4,5,8; 4:16,20,21; 9:15; 13:11; Ezra 2:69; 6:20; Neh. 2:20; Job 4:7,17; 8:6; 9:30; 11:4,15; 14:4; 15:15; 16:17; 17:9; 22:25,30; 25:5; 28:19; 33:9,26; Pro. 8:10; 12:27; 14:4; 25:4; Ecc. 9:2; Isa. 1:16,25; 14:19,20; 35:8; 47:11; 65:5; Jer. 4:11; Eze. 22:26; 36:25; 44:23; Dan. 7:9; Hab. 1:13; Zec. 3:5; Mal. 1:11;

[3] O.T. verses in Septuagint with “opsomai” and “theos”: Genesis 1:4,8,9,10,12,18,21,25,31; 2:19; 6:2,5,12; 7:1; 13:10,14; 16:5,13; 17:1; 18:1; 21:19; 22:8; 26:24; 31:5,13,42,44; 32:1,2,30; 33:5,10; 35:1,9; 40:8; 43:29; 48:3; Exodus 3:16; 4:1,5,31; 5:21; 6:3; 13:17; 14:13,31; 16:7; 23:17; 24:10,11; 32:1; 34:23,24; Leviticus 23:43; Numbers 22:23,25,27,31; 23:21; 24:4,16,23; Deuteronomy 1:19,21,31; 3:21; 4:3,19,28; 5:24; 7:19; 8:3; 9:16; 10:21; 11:2; 16:16; 18:16; 20:1; 23:14; 26:7; 31:11; 32:39; Joshua 3:3; 5:6; 23:3; Judges 5:8; 6:26; 13:22; 16:24; 1 Samuel 5:3,7; 12:12; 16:7; 19:20; 28:13; 2 Samuel 15:24,32; 24:3; 1 Kings 3:28; 11:9; 22:19; 2 Kings 4:25; 5:7; 19:16; 20:5; 23:16,17; 1 Chronicles 12:17; 21:15; 2 Chronicles 1:7; 7:12; 15:9; 18:31; 30:7; 33:18; Nehemiah 4:14; Esther 5:2; Psalms 14:2; 40:3; 42:2; 48:8; 53:2; 66:5; 69:32; 77:16; 80:14; 84:7,9; 94:7; 98:3; Proverbs 30:9; Ecclesiastes 2:24; 3:10,13; 5:1,18; 7:13,14,29; 8:17; 9:1; Isaiah 29:23; 35:2; 37:17; 38:5,11; 40:5; 41:23; 42:21; 49:7; 52:10; 64:4; Jeremiah 2:19; 12:4; 44:2; Ezekiel 1:1; 8:4; 10:20,22; 11:24; 20:28; Daniel 2:45; 3:25; 4:9,18; 9:18; Amos 5:16; Jonah 3:10; Micah 5:4; 7:10; Nahum 3:5; Malachi 3:18