the quran is to be interpreted with the quran first, then by the interpretation of our beloved prophet (PBUH) followed by the interpretation of the companions and finally with the arabic language.
with this in mind, let us try to understand the differences between these three verses, insha Allah. as far as my knowledge is, these three verses are not considered among the muthashaabihaath (ambigious verses)
VARIATIONS IN THE WORD 'BLESSING(S)'
in the translation of all the three verses the word repeated is the word 'blessing(s)' and it is with the clarification of this word we can lay a baseline for understanding it more further. having this basic idea will make it easy for us to grasp the context in the level of tafsir later.
SALAWAATUN = (are) blessings
The third word of verse (2:157) is an indefinite feminine plural noun and is in the nominative case.
YUSALLI = sends His blessings
The third word of verse (33:43) is a form II imperfect verb. The verb is third person masculine singular and is in the indicative mood
YUSSALLUNA = send blessings
The fourth word of verse (33:56) is divided into 2 morphological segments. A verb and subject pronoun. The form II imperfect verb is third person masculine plural and is in the indicative mood
from the above explanation we can clearly see that there are differences between the usage of the word in all the three verses. in verses 33:43 and 33:56 it is about sending blessing, like conveying or bestowing. whereas in verse 2:157 it is more in the sense of something to be achieved. with the tafsir of these we may understand more, insha Allah.
- TAFSIR OF THE VERSE 33:43
in order to fully comprehend we must read from the verse 41 till verse 44, then only the context can be delivered. quran itself is the best interpretation of quran. but here my focus is to be as direct as possible without deviating from the original context of the verse, insha Allah. here Allah azzawajjal is instructing us to remember Him and to give us more motivation the verse about sending His blessings are mentioned.
THE VIRTUES OF REMEMBERING ALLAH
(He it is Who sends Salah on you, and His angels too,) This is encouragement to remember Allah, i.e., He will remember you, so remember Him. The Prophet said: Allah says: "Whoever remembers Me to himself, I will remember him to Myself, and whoever remembers Me in a gathering, I will remember him in a better gathering.'' (author mentions the verses 2:151-152 as evidence to this as quran explains itself)
THE MEANING OF SALAH IN THE VERSE
Allah's Salah means that He praises His servant before the angels, as Al-Bukhari recorded from Abu Al-'Aliyah. This was recorded by Abu Ja'far Ar-Razi from Ar-Rabi' bin Anas from Anas. Others said: "Allah's Salah means mercy.'' It may be said that there is no contradiction between these two views. And Allah knows best. Salah from the angels means their supplication and seeking forgiveness for people. (here the author mentions verses 40:7-9 as evidence for angels seeking forgiveness from Allah for the believers)
[taken from Tafsir of the quran by Ibn Kathir]
(He it is Who blessed you, and His angels…) [33:43]. Mujahid said: "When the verse (Lo! Allah and His angels shower blessings on the Prophet) [33:56], Abu Bakr said: 'Allah, exalted is He, has not given you any good except that made us partake of it'. Then, this verse (Lo! Allah and His angels shower blessings on the Prophet) was revealed".
[taken from Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi]
This is meant to instruct the Muslims to the effect: When the Messenger of Allah is being showered with taunts and abuses by the enemies and his person being made the target of a propaganda campaign to frustrate his mission, the believers should neither listen to these absurd things unconcerned nor should become themselves also involved in the doubts and suspicions spread by the enemies nor should resort to abusive language in retaliation, but they should turn to Allah and remember Him more than usual as a special measure, 'To glorify Allah morning and evening" means to glorify Him constantly, to express His holiness and purity by word of mouth and not merely by counting beads on the rosary.
(taken from Tahfim Al-Quran by Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi)
what we understand from these works of tafsir and other commentaries on this verse/surah is that, this verse is about Allah azzawajjal addressing us. it is about Allah azzawajjal and His angels sending blessings and prayers on us. and this blessing(s) are sent upon us when we remember and glorify Allah azzawajjal.
like the previous verse, here also in order to fully comprehend the concept and context we must start from verse 155. Allah azzawajjal describes certian kind of people and then says those are whom on are salawat.
(to follow the direct approach i will not quote the previous verses here. after mentioning matyrs, loss and those who has patience then Allah azzawajjal says;)
(They are those on whom are the Salawat (i. e., who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His mercy,) meaning, Allah's praise and mercy will be with them. Sa'id bin Jubayr added, "Meaning, safety from the torment.''
(and it is they who are the guided ones.) 'Umar bin Al-Khattab commented: "What righteous things, and what a great heights. (They are those on whom are the Salawat from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His mercy) are the two righteous things. (and it is they who are the guided ones) are the heights.''
(taken from Tafsir of quran by Ibn Kathir)
They are those on whom [descend] blessings from their Lord, and mercy; it is they who are truly guided. Sahl said:What is implied by blessings (salawat) upon them is the bestowal of mercy (tarahhum) upon them, that is, a bestowal of mercy from their Lord
(taken from Tafsir Al-Tustari)
They attained their patience and their ability to withstand the demands of the divine decree by His prior blessings to them. It was not because of their patience or their endurance that they arrived at His blessings, for if not for His pre-eternal mercy, their obedience would not have arisen through the condition of servitude, for His prior solicitude is what brought pure guidance to them.
They are the truly guided: Because He blessed them in the beginning, they were guided in the end.
(taken from Tafsir Al-Quraishi)
After reading from the verse 155, what we understand is that just like death is the greatest loss in this life, there are other things Allah azzawajjal tests our patience with. and His blessings(s) are sent upon us when we have patience.
THE COMMAND TO SAY SALAH UPON THE PROPHET
Al-Bukhari said: "Abu Al-Aliyah said: "Allah's Salah is His praising him before the angels, and the Salah of the angels is their supplication. Ibn 'Abbas said: "They send blessings. Abu Isa At-Tirmidhi said: "This was narrated from Sufyan Ath-Thawri and other scholars, who said: The Salah of the Lord is mercy, and the Salah of the angels is their seeking forgiveness.
(taken from Tafsir Ibn Kathir)
Abd al-Rahman ibn Hamdan al-'Adl informed us> Abu'l-'Abbas Ahmad ibn 'Isa al-Washsha'> Muhammad ibn Yahya al-Suli> al-Riyashi> al-Asma'i who said: “I heard al-Mahdi say from the pulpit of [the grand mosque of] al-Basrah: 'Allah has commanded you with something that He Himself has started first when He said (Lo! Allah and His angels shower blessings on the Prophet. O ye who believe! Ask blessings on him and salute him with a worthy salutation).
(taken from Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi)
after going through the works of tafsir and other commentaries plus any relevant ahadith i am convinced that the salah mentioned in verses 43 and 56 of surah Ahzab is almost the same blessing. proof is the statement by Bukhari. in these two verses Allah azzawajjal is mentioning us/others in the company of angels and angels are also reciprocating. this blessing is a type of blessing bestowed when we are mentioned in special gatherings. just the same way Allah azzawajjal bestows blessings on us when we remember Him.
the verse 157 of Al-Bagarah mentions the epitome of patience and the reward or type of blessing we get when we achieve that.
i believe its worthy to mention the explanation of these verses by Nouman Ali Khan as it gives more clarity to the understanding.
for verse 33:43 https://youtu.be/Mdv4INyVDiw
for verse 33:56 https://youtu.be/3T_qLIQIup4
for verse 2:157 https://youtu.be/lV5Vk7HyITI (from verses 153-157 for complete understanding)
may Allah the mighty and sublime grant us mercy and guide us to the straight path.
ALLAH KNOWS BEST