Sermon No: 814-Matthew 5 - The beatitudes - Part 1

SERMON TOPIC: Matthew 5 - The beatitudes - Part 1

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 5 February 2012


Sermon synopsis: The term ‘beatitude’ comes from the Latin adjective ‘beatus’ which means happy, fortunate or blissful.
The Beatitudes are a set of teachings by Jesus from his famous “Sermon on the Mount” as recorded in Matthew 5:3-12.
They present a new set of Christian ideals that focus on love and humility rather than force and exaction; they echo the highest ideals of the teachings of Jesus on mercy, spirituality and compassion.
This is the manifesto of the kingdom of God, but unlike a worldly kingdom, there are totally different values.



(Part 1)

The Beatitudes are a set of teachings by Jesus from his famous “Sermon on the Mount” as recorded in Matthew 5:3-12.

The term ‘beatitude’ comes from the Latin adjective ‘beatus’ which means happy, fortunate or blissful.


James Tissot - The Beatitudes Sermon - Brooklyn Museum

Reading from the NIV:

Matt 5:1 Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

This is the manifesto of the kingdom of God, but unlike a worldly kingdom, there are totally different values:

Together, the Beatitudes present a new set of Christian ideals that focus on love and humility rather than force and exaction; they echo the highest ideals of the teachings of Jesus on mercy, spirituality and compassion. 1

The teaching is expressed as eight blessings. Each Beatitude consists of two parts:

A condition: “BLESSED ARE…”

The outcome: “THEY WILL…” or “THEIRS IS…”

1 Wikipedia – Beatitudes http:// wiki/ Beatitudes






Poor in spirit

theirs is the kingdom of heaven



will be comforted



will inherit the earth


Hunger and thirst for righteousness

will be filled

The Greek word used in the Beatitudes for ‘blessed’ is ‘makarios’ which means: supremely blest; by extension, fortunate, well off - blessed, happy.

The word ‘blessed,’ the first word of each beatitude, isn’t a word used in everyday colloquial English. While most English translations use ‘blessed,’ some modern Bibles use ‘happy’ instead. Somehow substituting ‘blessed’ for ‘happy’ seems to trivialize the word. There isn’t really a good substitute or more modern English word for ‘blessed’.

According to the People’s New Testament:

The word blessed is first applied to God, and means more than happy, as it has sometimes been translated. Happiness comes from earthly things; blessedness comes from God.


In the Old Testament we see God blessing numerous people including Adam & Eve, 1 Noah, 2 Abraham, 3 Isaac, 4 Jacob 5 and the people of Israel. 6

1 Gen 1:28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” 2 Gen 9:1 Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.” 3 Gen 24:1 Abraham was now old and well advanced in years, and the LORD had blessed him in every way. 4 Gen 25:11 After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi. 5 Gen 26:24 That night the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.” 6 Num 22:12 But God said to Balaam, “Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed.”


We learn from Balaam in the Old Testament that God’s blessings are sure and irrevocable (Num 23:19-20).

God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfil? I have received a command to bless; he has blessed, and I cannot change it.

Now the Old Covenant blessings were generally related to earthly financial and economic prosperity (crops & livestock), health, the fruit of the womb (i.e. offspring), military prowess and political peace. Moses tells Israel:

Deut 28:1 “If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. 2 All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God: 3 You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. 4 The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock - the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. 5 Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.”


6 “You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. 7 The LORD will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven. 8 The LORD will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The LORD your God will bless you in the land he is giving you. 9 The LORD will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the LORD your God and walk in his ways. 10 Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they will fear you. 11 The LORD will grant you abundant prosperity - in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground - in the land he swore to your forefathers to give you. 12 The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands.”

“You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. 13 The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.”

There are some who try and apply the Old Covenant earthly blessings and promises made to Israel, to the church (replacement theology). But in the New Covenant the blessings are not earthly and material, but instead spiritual blessings:

Eph 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

In context, the New Covenant blessings subsequently listed by Paul do not sound reminiscent of the earthly material blessings promised to Israel in the Old Covenant:

Righteousness & sanctification

4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.


Spiritual Adoption

In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.


Spiritual redemption

7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.


Knowledge of His divine plan

9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfilment - to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

Vessels that bring praise to God

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.


Assurance of salvation through the Holy Spirit and a guaranteed future inheritance.

13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession - to the praise of his glory.


So these New Covenant blessings Jesus lists in the Beatitudes are clearly spiritual blessings:

theirs is the kingdom of heaven

they will be comforted (from mourning)

they will inherit the earth (this is the only blessing that could be construed as an earthly blessing, but it actually refers to the future Millennial reign)

they will be filled (i.e. the thirst for righteousness)

they will be shown mercy

for they will see God

they will be called sons of God

great is your reward in heaven


The worldly value system does not consider the meek, those who mourn, the poor in spirit and the persecuted to be blessed.

This is because often people in these categories do not have material and worldly blessing.

But Jesus promises them spiritual blessings which are of eternal value and don’t just offer a temporary short-term benefit.


Matt 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (NIV)

Principally “poor in spirit” refers to those who realise that they are spiritually destitute and unable to reach God through their own effort.

It is to these people that the kingdom of heaven is promised, not to the self-righteous or arrogant.


GOD’S WORD Translation renders Matt 5:3:

“Blessed are those who recognize they are spiritually helpless. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.”

And Barclay:

“O the bliss of those who have realized their own utter helplessness, and who have put their whole trust in God, for thus alone can they render to God that perfect obedience which will make them citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.”


In the physical financial realm, bankruptcy is a legal status of a person who cannot repay their debts owed to creditors.

Now the “poor in spirit” acknowledge that they are spiritually bankrupt or insolvent and hence incapable of paying their debt to God, which they have accumulated through a life of sin.


Matthew Henry says of this verse:

They are humble and lowly in their own eyes. They see their want, bewail their guilt, and thirst after a Redeemer. The kingdom of grace is of such; the kingdom of glory is for them.

We see this attitude in Peter who fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8)


People’s New Testament:

The poor in spirit. The humble, in contrast with the haughty; those sensible of spiritual destitution. The same state of mind is referred to when he speaks elsewhere of a contrite and broken spirit.

Paul demonstrates this attitude when he says:

1 Tim 1:15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.


A good example of being poor in spirit is the prodigal son in Luke 15. After squandering his inheritance and being reduced to poverty, he came to his senses and returned to his father. His words, “I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son” are typical of a person who realizes that they are spiritually destitute before our heavenly Father.


Another example of being poor in spirit is demonstrated by the tax collector in Luke 18. While the Pharisee was confident of his own righteousness “the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’” Jesus said that this tax collector “went home justified before God”.


Q: We may ask what the “kingdom of heaven” promised to “the poor in spirit” actually refers to? Is it God’s realm in heaven or is it on earth? Is it a promise for the future or the present?

There will come a day when God’s kingdom will be established “on earth as it is in heaven”. This will happen in the Millennium. But in this current Age of Grace the kingdom of heaven is:


Jesus’ use of the word ‘now’ when speaking to Pilate indicates that this is a temporary situation.

John 18:36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world… But now my kingdom is from another place.”



Jesus had indicated to the Pharisees that before the earthly kingdom that the Jews were expecting would come (the Millennial kingdom), that there would be a kingdom (the Church Age) that would be “within you”.

Luke 17:20-21 Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”


Jesus’ kingdom was not of this world because his authority did not come from man but from God.

Luke 22:29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me.

A kingdom implies a king and our king is Jesus. If we are part of His kingdom we should obey the king.

Matt 7:46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

The “kingdom of God” is the domain over which God is spiritually sovereign. The kingdom of God “within you” implies that God exercises sovereignty in your life. While God is the creator of all, the phrase “the kingdom of God” refers to that realm which is willingly subject to Him.


We are also instructed to pray for the ultimate arrival of the kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven”.

Matt 6:10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

This implies that God’s will is currently not done on earth as it is in heaven and that his kingdom has not fully come on earth. This will only happen during the Millennium:

Rev 11:15 The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.”


Q: So again, what is the “kingdom of heaven” promised to “the poor in spirit”?

A: Jesus said His kingdom was “not of this world” (John 18:36). So the “kingdom of heaven” promised to “the poor in spirit” IS NOT:

Current control of the earth in this present age (as proposed by adherents of dominionism or “kingdom now” theology)

A reference to God’s realm in heaven.


The present kingdom of God that is “within you” (Luke 17:21).

The future Millennial kingdom of Christ on earth.


Matt 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (NIV)

This is not a general reference to all mourners, because some who despair receive no comfort. In the context the “poor in spirit” who realise their own spiritual helplessness, will ‘mourn’ at their own sinfulness:

People’s New Testament - Not all mourners, for there is a sorrow of this world that worketh death. Godly sorrow is meant, a mourning over sinfulness.

Barclay paraphrases Matt 5:4 as follows:

“O the bliss of those whose hearts are broken for the world’s suffering and for their own sin, for out of their sorrow they will find the joy of God.”


Job 5:11 The lowly he sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.

In the first epistle to the Corinthians, Paul differentiates between two kinds of sorrow; godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. The latter “brings death” and is a state of depression and hopelessness, which Christians should avoid.

2 Cor 7:10b … but worldly sorrow brings death.

In contrast we read of godly sorrow:

2 Cor 7:10a Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret…

This godly sorrow over our sinful state is what Jesus is referring to when he says “Blessed are those who mourn”.


Paul’s rebuke in 1 Corinthians to the church at Corinth led to godly sorrow. Paul shows that this type of sorrow, although hurtful initially, is actually good for us:

2 Cor 7:8 Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it - I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while - 9 yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us… 11 See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.


A good example of the difference between godly and worldly sorrow are the cases of Peter and Judas.

Judas betrayed the Lord and was sorrowful.

Matt 27:3-4 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”


His remorse led to his suicide.

Matt 27:5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

Judas’ story is a case of WORDLY SORROW.


In contrast Peter denied the Lord, and was sorrowful.

Matt 26:75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.


But Peter repented and was restored by Jesus.

John 21:15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Now that is GODLY SORROW to which the promise “they will be comforted” applies.


NIV (Matt 5:5)

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”


Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

Amplified Bible

Blessed (happy, blithesome, joyous, spiritually prosperous- with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the meek (the mild, patient, long-suffering), for they shall inherit the earth!


Meek means humbly patient and docile under provocation from others, submissive, compliant, tame, quiet, mild, gentle, kind.

Matthew Henry: The meek are those who quietly submit to God; who can bear insult; are silent, or return a soft answer; who, in their patience, keep possession of their own souls, when they can scarcely keep possession of anything else.


Meekness is not weakness.

The Greek word for meek, praus, was used to refer to domesticated animals. The word does not refer to a wild, unruly animal; it refers to a strong and powerful horse or an ox that was trained and disciplined so that it could be controlled by a human. The word meek used in Matthew 5:5 refers to a strong person who is under control - a God controlled person. A meek person is a man or woman of God whose strength is controlled by God. He or she is controlled by God in thought, word, will, emotion, and action. The meek man is one who submits, not to his own will or to the will of the world, but to the great and gracious will of God. 1

1 SOURCE: http:// Beatitudes.html


Jesus is our ultimate example of meekness. While being all powerful he restrained himself, when threatened.

Matt 26:50 …Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?

The meek will be vindicated by God:

Numbers 12:1–4 Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman. And they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it. Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth. And suddenly the Lord said to Moses and to Aaron and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting.” And the three of them came out. (ESV)

In the face of opposition from his brother and sister, Moses remains meek. Subsequently we see how he was vindicated by God. So meekness implies committing your cause to God and not trying to defend yourself.


G. K. Chesterton said the following about our modern view of meekness and humility:

A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert - himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt - the Divine Reason… 1

1 Orthodoxy (1908)


People who are meek have the following attributes:

They are not haughty or proud.

They are teachable and don’t think they’ve “arrived”.

They patiently believe in the ultimate triumph of good and the kingdom of God over the present evil.

They do not seek revenge.


They are not defensive but entrust their cause to God and allow Him to vindicate them.

Matt 26:62-63 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” But Jesus remained silent.

They shall inherit the earth. Jesus seems to be alluding to Psalm 37 where the inheritance that the meek receive is literal land.

Psalm 37:11 But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.

Now in our present age the meek do not necessarily “inherit the earth” in a literal sense. Often the ruthless and aggressive inherit the earth:

In our modern aggressive, self-centred culture, where assertiveness, self-confidence and self-esteem are prized virtues, meekness is not a virtue that most people would consider valuable or even desirable. But the values of the kingdom of God are different to those of this world.


So this promise of inheriting the earth is a reference not to our current world, but to our future Millennial rule:

Matt 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”

Rev 5:9 “… with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. 10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”

Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.


The meek need to patiently wait for the fulfilment of this promise and not be disillusioned by the seeming prosperity of the wicked. This is illustrated in Psalm 37:

Psalm 37:1 Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; 2 for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away… 7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. 8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret - it leads only to evil. 9 For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land. 10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. 11 But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.


Matt 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (NIV)

Hunger and thirst obsess you until they are satisfied.

Psalm 42:1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

Psalm 63:1 O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.


In the natural, hunger and thirst are appetites that keep returning and require that they be met repeatedly. Just as our earthly body calls for its daily food, likewise we should hunger and thirst for righteousness.

John 4:31-34 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.


To help us understand this beatitude we first have to ask ourselves, what is meant by righteousness? And righteousness means being in complete accordance with what is just, honorable, and Godly. Righteousness are those things that are upright, virtuous, noble, morally right, and ethical. 1

The Amplified Bible renders the passage as follows:

Blessed and fortunate and happy and spiritually prosperous (in that state in which the born-again child of God enjoys His favour and salvation) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God), for they shall be completely satisfied!

1 SOURCE: http:// Beatitudes.html


Hunger is a desire that seeks satisfaction. Hunger stems from a sense of lack. Those who spiritually hunger, have a strong sense of their own lack of righteousness.

Hunger and thirst are words that most of us in the West simply do not understand. The person who is really hungry (as opposed to having hunger pangs) or the person who is really thirsty (as opposed to feeling like a drink) is so desperate that everything else is excluded from their desires… When we are truly desperate, satisfying that hunger or thirst becomes a consuming passion, a grand desire and an overwhelming ambition. 1

1 teachings/ beatitudes%20wk%204.htm


The Beatitudes listed by Jesus indicate a progression in our spiritual development.

We first need to realize our spiritual poverty, utter destitution and bankruptcy before God. (Blessed are the poor in spirit)

This realization produces a mourning over your spiritual condition and repentance. (Blessed are those who mourn)

This condition of mourning over your spiritual condition produces a meekness and lack of spiritual arrogance. (Blessed are the meek)

Subsequently we will hunger and thirst for righteousness. (Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness)


They will be filled

Barclay renders Matt 5:6 as follows:

O the bliss of those who long for total righteousness as the starving long for food, and those perishing of thirst long for water, for they will be truly satisfied

Men naturally desire happiness (but not necessarily “holiness”!): but they know not in what it is to be found. The philosophers of old wearied themselves in vain to find out what was man’s chief good. But our blessed Lord has informed us wherein it consists: it is found in holiness alone; which, when embodied, as it were, and exercised in all its branches, renders us completely blessed. 1

1 matthew_56.htm


Huston Smith once observed that we can never get enough of what we really do not want. We were created for God and nothing short of his presence satisfies. 1

Isaiah 55:1-2 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.”

1 teachings/ beatitudes%20wk%204.htm


The promise to those who hunger and thirst for righteousness is that “they will be filled”. Their hunger and thirst will be satisfied; they will experience the righteousness they crave.

Psalm 107:9 For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.

Psalm 63:5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.



The promise to those who hunger and thirst for righteousness is that “they will be filled”. Their hunger and thirst will be satisfied; they will experience the righteousness they crave.

Psalm 107:9 For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.

Psalm 63:5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.



John 6:27a Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.

John 6:32-35 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”



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