Blessing

Preaching and Worship Resources about Blessing

Blessing is the effectual goodness of God in verbal form. It is the authoritative speaking forth of God's shalom over another (as a pronouncement) or the experience of that shalom (as a condition). Blessing is typically a translation of the Hebrew beraka or Greek eulogia, literally meaning "to speak well." Related are the Hebrew asre and Greek makarios, describing the positive circumstances or happy disposition of one so favored. As all true blessings have their source in God, blessing is both the gracious channel of divine favor and the wellspring of human gratitude. For followers of Jesus, blessing marks both our person (ontology) and our purpose (teleology): we are blessed to be a blessing.

In Scripture

Be fruitful and multiply "God blessed them, and God said to them, `Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth'" (Gen. 1:28).

Great nation I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Gen. 12:2, 3).

Jacob and Esau "When Esau heard his father's words, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, `Bless me, me also, father!' But he said, `Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing'" (Gen. 27:34, 35).

Benediction "Thus you shall bless the Israelites: You shall say to them, The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. So they shall put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them" (Num. 6:23-27).

A blessing and a curse "See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God..." (Deut, 11:26-28).

Law of the Lord "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers" (Ps. 1:1-3, NIV).

Bless God's name "I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you, and praise your name forever and ever" (Ps. 145:1-2).

Beatitudes "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled" (Matt. 5:3-6).

Blessing at Bethany "Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven" (Luke 24:50-51).

"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them" (Rom. 12:14).

"The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ?" (1 Cor.10:16)

Every spiritual blessing "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" (Eph. 1:3).

The Spirit of glory "If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory, which is the spirit of God, is resting on you" (1 Pet. 4:14).

Blessing and cursing "From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so" (James 3:10).

Points to Ponder

Blessing and the Father: Of particular importance in the ancient Near East was the blessing of a son by the father as a means of conveying inheritance rights, authority, and the family name (Gen. 27; 48:15-16; 49). Importantly, we only hear the voice of God the Father four times in the New Testament. In each case it is the voice of blessing (Mark 1:11, Luke 9:35, John 12:28, Rev. 21:5), with the first two being the elemental blessing: "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."

Blessing as a liturgical act: Blessings were an integral part of the Israelite liturgy, including the Aaronic blessing (Num. 6:22-27) and the frequent pairing with curses to sanction covenantal stipulations (Deut. 11:29; Josh. 8:34). They were also employed before meals (1 Sam. 9:13, Matt.14:19) and especially before the sacramental meal (Matt. 26:26). Most New Testament letters close with a word of blessing.

Blessing as an objective transaction: More than anemically wishing another well, blessing has an objective weight — a physical reality. Note the visceral reaction of both Isaac and Esau to their awareness that Jacob had "stolen" the blessing in Genesis 27, or the effectual nature of Balaam's reluctant blessing in Numbers 22-24. Once conferred, blessing can no more be retracted than the wind; it carries a divinely infused life of its own.

Blessing and cursing in Scripture: Two sides of the coin of God's justice, blessing and cursing are both the natural outcome of obedience and disobedience, respectively; as well as temporal expressions of God's delight in the righteous and steady opposition to the wicked. In many ways, the entire story of Scripture can be summarized as the original bestowal of God's blessing at creation, the introduction of the curse through sin, and the anticipated restoration of God's blessing through redemptive history from Abraham (Gen. 12) through the Messiah (Isa. 66:12) to the new creation (Rev. 21:5).

Blessing as the rhetoric of the gospel: In human interaction, believers are called to be both agents of blessing to the nations as well as speakers of blessings — even to those who, like us, are undeserving of them. While cursing has a place in God's justice, it has no place in a believer's vocabulary (Rom. 12:14). In times of oppression, the ability to bless one's enemies is a verbal expression of the gracious truth of the gospel and a subversive declaration of trust in God's ultimate victory.


Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.