Although purity can refer to ritual cleanliness, Jesus refers to a person who is actually pure in their inner being. The adjective pure (καθαρός) is the word used frequently in the Septuagint to translate “clean” in the Law. For example, Numbers 8:7 refers to “waters of purification” or clean animals (Gen 7:2). A Jewish worshiper going up to the Temple would wash themselves in one of the many pools leading up to the Temple entrances. This was a ritual performed to symbolize purity and the person could be said to have “clean hands” the waters could not make the person actually pure.
Is Psalm 24 in the background of this saying? R. T. France (Matthew, 204) and McKnight both suggest the possibility since the answer to the psalmist’s question “who may ascend the holy hill of God?” is the one with a pure heart.
In Matthew 5:8, the…
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