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Matthew 6

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

UBS4 NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Teaching About Almsgiving Do Good to Please God Teachings in Practical Piety Teaching About Charity Almsgiving in Secret
6:1 6:1-4 6:1 6:1 6:1-4
6:2-4   6:2-4 6:2-4  
Teaching About Prayer The Model Prayer   Teaching About Prayer Prayer in Secret
6:5-15 6:5-15 6:5-6 6:5-6 6:5-6
        How to Pray The Lord's Prayer
    6:7-8 6:7-13 6:7-15
    6:9-15    (9-13)
      6:14-15  
Teaching About Fasting Fasting to be Seen Only by God   Teaching About Fasting Fasting in Secret
6:16-18 6:16-18 6:16-18 6:16-18 6:16-18
Treasures in Heaven Lay Up Treasures in Heaven   Riches in Heaven True Treasures
6:19-21 6:19-21 6:19-21 6:19-21 6:19-21
The Light of the Body The Lamp of the Body   The Light of the Body The Eye, the Lamp of the Body
6:22-23 6:22-23 6:22-23 6:22-23 6:22-23
God and Mammon You Cannot Serve God and Riches   God and Possessions God and Money
6:24 6:24 6:24 6:24 6:24
Care and Anxiety Do Not Worry     Trust in Providence
6:25-34 6:25-34 6:25-33 6:25-27 6:25-34
      6:28-34  
    6:34    

 

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")

 

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS TO VERSES 1-8 AND 16-18

A. Matthew 5 describes the characteristics of God's new people and God's view of true righteousness. Matthew 6 relates to the Jews'traditional view of what constituted righteousness (i.e., almsgiving, prayer, fasting).

 

B. These are not so much specific rules, but an attitude check for believers. For a true definition of righteousness, see Matt 5:20, 48. This can only be ours as a gift of God in Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21). However, our gratitude moves us toward Christlikeness.

 

C. The radical commitment that is required for disciples is clearly presented, not in concrete rules but in spiritual principles.

 

D. There is both a positive and negative purpose of the Sermon on the Mount.

1. to show us the kind of life God has a right to expect His people to live, the pattern for a Spirit-filled life

2. to show man's inability to keep God's commandments.

It shows us our sinfulness, much like the Ten Commandments (cf. Gal. 3:15-29). No one can stand in its searchlight.

 

E. It is possible that Matt. 6:5, 6 address Jewish problems in prayer, while 6:7, 8 address pagan problems in prayer.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 6:1-4
 1"Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. 2So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 3But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

6:1

NASB, NRSV"Beware of practicing"
NKJV"take heed that you do not do"
TEV"Be careful not to perform"
NJB"Be careful not to parade"

"Beware" is a present active imperative. This is literally "think constantly." God looks at the heart (motive) before the hand (action)!

▣ "your righteousness" This passage deals with three aspects of first century Jewish religious practices which were thought to make one right with YHWH: (1) almsgiving (Matt. 6:2-4); (2) prayer (Matt. 6:5-15); and (3) fasting (Matt. 6:16-18). Beware of religious exhibitionism (cf. Matt. 5:20). Many things can be good or evil depending on our attitude, motive, and purpose!

"Righteousness" stood for almsgiving in Jesus' day. Almsgiving was a weekly Jewish system of free will offerings to help the poor and needy.

SPECIAL TOPIC: ALMSGIVING

▣ "before men" There are some things that believers should do "before men."

1. let your light shine, Matt. 5:16

2. confess Christ, Matt. 10:32

 

▣ "to be noticed by them" The English term " theatrical" is derived from this Greek word (theamai), which meant "to behold attentively." The term "hypocrites" in Matt. 6:2 also has a theatrical etymology. The Pharisees were play-acting religion (cf. Matt. 5:20).

▣ "reward" This term is found in Matt. 6:1,2,5,16 and means "to receive a full payment" (cf. Phil. 4:18). The Bible teaches rewards, but on the basis of believers'attitude, not their actions alone (i.e., Matt. 7:21-23). A similar phrase in Matt. 6:2 was an idiom for "a signed and received receipt." See Special Topic at Matt. 5:12.

6:2 "give to the poor" Almsgiving was a means of helping the poor on a weekly basis. The rabbis even thought of it as having saving qualities (cf. Tobit 12:8-9; Ecclesiasticus 3:30; 29:11-12).

▣ "do not sound a trumpet before you" This has often been interpreted as alluding to the thirteen metal, trumpet-shaped receptacles in the Temple where money was placed (cf. Luke 21:2). Each container had a different designated purpose. However, no clear historical evidence has been found in Jewish literature for these receptacles. Therefore, it is probably a figure of speech of someone calling attention to their religious acts.

▣ "hypocrites" See Special Topic following.

SPECIAL TOPIC: HYPOCRITES

NASB"that they may be honored by men"
NKJV"that they may have glory from men"
NRSV"so that they may be praised by others"
TEV"so that people will praise them"
NJB"to win human admiration"

God looks at the heart (cf. 1 Sam. 16:7; Pro. 21:2; Luke 16:15; John. 12:43; Acts 1:24; 15:8; Rom. 8:27; Rev. 2:23).

NASB"Truly I say to you,"
NKJV"Assuredly, I say to you"
NRSV"Truly, I tell you"
TEV"remember this"
JB"I tell you solemnly"
NJB"In truth I tell you"

Literally "amen, amen" (cf. Matt. 6:2, 5, 16), this was used exclusively by Jesus to introduce significant statements. The OT root of " amen" is faithfulness, loyalty, or dependability. This had the connotation of, " I am making a faithful statement, listen clearly." See Special Topic at Matt. 5:18.

▣ "they have their reward in full" This word " reward" found in the Egyptian papyri (see James Moulton and George Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, p. 413) denoted a wage or earnings. This word occurs in Matt. 5:12,46; 6:1,2,5,16.

6:3 This was an idiom for secrecy. It was not meant to be taken literally. It was a reaction to and guard against religious exhibitionism.

6:4 "your Father who sees what is done in secret" The significance of private personal faith is found in the believer's personal trust in God. Believers show their personal relationship to God in unobserved activity more than any other way (cf. Matt. 6:6, 18). Attitude, not secrecy, is the key (cf. Matt. 5:16). Often monetary stewardship can be a great witness, e.g., J. C. Penney and R. G. Letourneau.

SPECIAL TOPIC: GOD DESCRIBED AS A HUMAN (Anthropomorphic Language)

▣ "will reward you" The Greek term "openly" is found in the NKJV in Matt. 6:4,6, and 18. The early Greek uncial manuscripts K, L, & W, and the Greek text used by Chrysostom add "openly" here and in Matt. 6:6 and 18. This word does not occur in the major ancient Greek manuscripts א, B, D, Z; nor the Greek texts used by Origen, Cyprian, Jerome, or Augustine. The UBS4 gives the shorter text a "B" rating (almost certain).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 6:5-15
 5"When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. 7And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. 9Pray, then, in this way:
 'Our Father who is in heaven,
 Hallowed be Your name.
 10Your kingdom come.
 Your will be done,
 On earth as it is in heaven.
 11Give us this day our daily bread.
 12And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
 13And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
 [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]'
 14For if you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions."

6:5 "for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues" The common posture for Jewish prayer was standing with arms and face lifted to heaven with the eyes open. The issue is not the position of the body, but the exhibitionist attitude of the heart.

▣ "and on the street corners" The Jews in Jerusalem during Jesus' time prayed at three specific times during the day. Two of these times were 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. when certain sacrifices (the continual) were being offered in the Temple; to these times they added high noon. Some self-righteous leaders would arrange to find themselves in public, crowded places at these set times, so that all could see their piety.

▣ "so that they may be seen by men" This is literally " to shine before men." Believers are admonished to let their lights shine before people, but the purpose is that God, not themselves, be glorified (cf. Matt. 6:2; 5:16 and John. 12:43; Phil 2:15). See SPECIAL TOPIC: HYPOCRITES at Matt. 6:2.

▣ "Truly" See Special Topic at Matt. 5:18.

6:6

NASB"go into your inner room"
NKJV, NRSV"go into your room"
TEV"go to your room"
NJB"go to your private room"

This referred to a storeroom (cf. Luke 12:24). This was from a Greek term that etymologically meant "to cut," which implied a separate or partitioned room (cf. Matt. 24:26; Luke 12:3). This would have been the only room with a door.

SPECIAL TOPIC: USE OF THE WORD "DOOR" IN THE NT

6:7

NASB"meaningless repetition"
NKJV"vain repetitions"
NRSV"heap up empty phrases"
TEV"a lot of meaningless words"
NJB"babble"

This word is used only here in the NT. Its meaning is uncertain. Notice the variety with which English versions translate this term! Jesus and Paul repeated prayers (cf. Matt. 26:44; 2 Cor. 12:8). Possibly the translation "meaningless phrases" is best. For possible biblical examples of the use of liturgical prayers, see 1 Kgs. 8:26 and Acts 19:34. The issue is not the number of times a person repeats a phrase, but the faithful/trusting/believing heart of the speaker.

6:8 "you" In context this emphatic pronoun is in contrast to two groups: (1) the pagans of Matt. 6:7 or (2) the legalistic Pharisees of Matt. 6:5.

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS TO VERSES 9-15

A. This sample prayer was first entitled "The Lord's Prayer" by Cyprian, a.d. 250. However, the prayer was for Jesus' disciples; the title, "The Model Prayer," is a better characterization.

 

B. The Model Prayer is made up of seven phrases. The first three relate to God. The last four relate to a person's need.

 

C. This prayer was possibly Jesus' reapplication of the Ten Commandments to His day. The Beatitudes also possibly relate to the Ten Commandments (Decalog). Matthew depicted Jesus as the second Moses. Paul used the same type of OT analogy by referring to Jesus as the second Adam (cf. Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15; Phil. 2:6-11).

 

D. The Model Prayer is stated in imperatives. They are examples of entreaty imperatives of request. We do not command God.

 

E. Luke's version is much shorter. It is found in Matt. 11:2-4 and not in the Sermon on the Plain, Matthew 6, which is the parallel to Matthew 5-7. The textually-controversial doxology of Matt. 6:13b is also missing from Luke's version.

 

6:9

NASB, NRSV"Pray, then, in this way"
NKJV"in this manner, therefore, pray"
TEV"This, then, is how you should pray"
NJB"So you should pray like this"

"Pray" is a present imperative which is a lifestyle command that denotes continuous, habitual action. This prayer was meant to be an example, not necessarily a set form. The scope and attitude of the prayer are far more important than the specific words. This can be illustrated by the fact that Luke's version in Matt. 11:2-4 is different. Jesus may have taught this prayer often but in slightly different forms.

▣ "our" This prayer is for the gathered community, as well as private prayer. We are a family with one Abba, Father! In light of this, Matt. 6:14-15 make much more sense.

" Father" Father does not refer to sexual generation or chronological sequence, but the intimate personal relationships within a Jewish home. The OT background is Deut. 32:6, Ps. 103:13, Isa. 63:16, Mal. 2:10, and 3:17. This concept of God as Father was not a major theme in the OT nor in the rabbinical writings. It is astonishing that believers can call YHWH "Father" (cf. Rom. 8:15) through their faith relationship with Jesus! See Special Topic at Matt. 5:16.

6:9-10 "hallowed. . .come. . .done" These are all aorist imperatives. Also they are all placed first in the Greek sentence for emphasis. The placement, the tense, and the mood all speak of urgency and emphasis. This is how believers should reverence God. The phrase "on earth as it is in heaven" refers to all three of these verbs.

▣ "Hallowed" This term is from the root "holy" (cf. Heb. 10:29) and meant "honored," " respected," or "held in high esteem." The verb comes first in the Greek sentence for emphasis. This verb is found in the Synoptic Gospels only four times (cf. Matt. 6:9; 23:17,19; Luke 11:2).

6:9 "name" This stood for the character and personality of God (cf. Ezek. 36:22; Joel 2:32). His name is to be made known in this fallen world by the obedience of His children (cf. Isa. 29:23).

6:10 "Your kingdom come" God was invoked in His capacity as King. This was a prayer for God's control of earth as He has of heaven. God's kingdom was expressed in the NT as both (1) present reality (cf. Matt. 4:17; 12:28; Luke 17:21) and (2) a future consummation (cf. Matt. 6:10; 13:2ff.; Luke 11:2; John. 18:36). This statement expresses the paradox of God's rule which will be consummated with the Second Coming, but present now in the lives of true disciples. See Special Topic at Matt. 4:17.

6:11 "Give us" As the first three petitions dealt with how believers are to respect God, the next four deal with how they want God to treat them.

▣ "this day" God wants His children to live by faith in Him daily. One OT example was that the manna was given daily (cf. Exod. 16:13-21). In the Middle East bread is baked early every day and either eaten or dried hard by nightfall. Today's bread will not do for tomorrow.

▣ "daily" This was a rare Greek word. It was used

1. in the Egyptian papyri of a master giving a slave enough food to accomplish an assigned task

2. possibly a Greek idiom "for necessary food for today" (" bread of our necessity")

3. the Tyndale Commentary on Matthew has "Give us the necessary strength so that life's trials do not become for us occasions of spiritual temptations," p. 74.

 Tertullian translated it "daily." The word was used in the NT only here and in the parallel in Luke 11:3.

 

▣ "bread" Several possibilities of how "bread" should be understood.

1. literal bread

2. the Lord's Supper (cf. Acts 2:46)

3. the Word of God, the Bible (cf. Matt. 4:4; Luke 4:4)

4. the Living Word, Jesus (cf. John 6:41,48,51,55)

5. the Messianic banquet (cf. Luke 14:15)

Option one fits the context best. However, metaphorically it represented God's provision for all of life's needs.

6:12

NASB, NRSV,
NJB"have forgiven"
NKJV, TEV"forgive"

There is a Greek manuscript variation at this point related to the tense of the second use of the verb, "forgive." The aorist is found in MSS א*, B, Z, the Vulgate, and Peshitta. All other Greek MSS and ancient versions have the present. The term meant "to send away" or "to wipe away," both of which express OT metaphors relating to forgiveness.

▣ "debts" The parallel in Luke 11:4 has "sins." First century Judaism used "debts" (opheilēmata) as an idiom for "sins" (hamartias). In Matt. 6:14-15 another term is used, "trespasses" (paraptōmata). All of these refer to rebellion against God. Sin puts us in rebellion against the God of righteousness and holiness. There is a price to be paid for rebellion!

"as we also have forgiven our debtors" This is an aorist active indicative. As God forgives believers they are able to forgive others (cf. Matt. 18:35)! One sign of our personal relationship with God through Christ is that we begin to emulate His actions.

6:13

NASB, NKJV"do not lead us into temptation"
NRSV"do not bring us to the time of trial"
TEV"do not bring us to hard testing"
NJB"do not put us to the test"

This is a negative aorist active subjunctive. This grammatical construction meant "do not ever begin an action." There has been much discussion about this verse as compared with James 1:13, concerning God's agency in testing. There is a play on the connotation of two Greek words translated "test" or "try." The one here and in James 1:13 has the connotation of testing for the purpose of destroying [peirasmo]; the other has a connotation of testing for the purpose of strengthening [dokimazo]. God does not test believers so as to destroy, but to strengthen. See Special Topic at Matt. 4:1.

Possibly this referred to the intense governmental and legal trials of that day (cf. Matt. 26:41; Mark 13:8). C. C. Torrey in The Four Gospels, pp. 12, 143. translates it as "keep us from failing under trial" (cf. Luke 22:40).

NASB"from evil"
NKJV, NRSV,
JB"from the evil one"
TEV, NJ"from the Evil One"

It is impossible grammatically to determine whether this term was masculine (see Special Topic at Matt. 4:5) or neuter. This same form referred to Satan in Matt. 5:37, 13:38, and John. 17:15. This same ambiguous form appears in Matt. 5:37; 6:13; 13:19,38; John. 17:15; 2 Thess. 3:3; 1 John. 2:13,14; 3:12; 5:18-19.

The Doxology of verse 13b is not found in (1) the parallel of Luke 11:2-4; (2) the ancient Greek uncial manuscripts א , B, D, or (3) the commentaries of Origen, Cyprian, Jerome, or Augustine. There are several forms of this doxology in the different Greek manuscripts of Matthew. It probably was added from 1 Chr. 29:11-13 as the Lord's prayer began to be used in liturgical ways by the early Church. It was not original. Roman Catholic liturgy omits it because it is not in the Vulgate. A. T. Robertson commented on this text in his Word Pictures in the New Testament, "The Doxology is placed in the margin of the Revised Version. It is wanting in the oldest and best Greek manuscripts. The earliest forms vary much, some shorter, some longer than the one in the Authorized Version. The use of a doxology arose when this prayer began to be used as a liturgy to be recited or to be chanted in public worship. It was not an original part of the Model Prayer as given by Jesus," p. 55. The UBS4 rates the omission as "A" (certain).

6:14-15 Verses 14-15 are the conclusion to the Model Prayer. They do not assert that our actions earn our salvation, but they should give evidence of our salvation (two third class conditional sentences). They are not the basis, but the results (cf. Matt. 5:7; 18:35; Mark 11:25; Luke 6:36-37; James 2:13; 5:9). As we pray this prayer, "our Father," we must live out this familial truth in our dealings with covenant brothers.

6:14 "transgressions" This is literally "to fall to one side." This meant, as do most of the words for sin in Hebrew and in Greek, a deviation from a standard, which is the character of God. It implied a conscious act of crossing a set boundary.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 6:16-18
 16Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 17But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face 18so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

6:16-18 These are additional examples of religious exhibitionism. See SPECIAL TOPIC: HYPOCRITES at Matt. 6:2.

6:16 "fast" There was only one fast specifically mentioned in the OT, the Day of Atonement (cf. Leviticus 16), which was observed in the seventh month. The Jewish leaders appointed additional fast days to remember specific times of stress in Israel's national history (cf. Zech. 7:3-5; 8:19).

In addition, the rabbis increased the times of fasting to twice a week, on Monday and Thursday (Luke 18:12); Thursday because that was the day when they said Moses went up on Mt. Sinai and Monday because that was the day when he came down. They used these fasts as a means to flaunt their spirituality.

SPECIAL TOPIC: FASTING

"gloomy face" This term occurs only here and Luke 24:17.

"Truly" See Special Topic at Matt. 5:18.

6:17 This is the same truth as verse 6. The context is religious exhibitionism. Our spiritual lives are to be seen primarily by God! We seek His approval, not the approval of men.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. Why did Jesus choose these three areas of abuse (almsgiving, prayer, and fasting) to condemn?

2. What areas do we use in our day in the same way?

3. Why is one's attitude more important than one's actions?

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS TO VERSES 19-24

A. The truths of this section are repeated in the Gospel of Luke, but in different settings.

1. humans must store up treasure in heaven (Luke 12:33-34)

2. the eye is the lamp of the body (Luke 11:34-36)

3. humans cannot serve two masters (Luke 16:13)

4. God's provision for nature serves as an example of God's provision for people (Luke 12:22-31)

Jesus repeated His teachings for different groups and used the same analogies in different settings.

B. Jesus used nature to teach about God: (1) all things belong to God and (2) humans are more important than things or animals.

 

C. This section must be understood not in literal terms, but in contrasts. Earthly possessions are not evil, but the misplaced priority of material things can be evil (cf. 1 Tim. 6:10). Mankind's undue anxiety about the normal needs of life shows a lack of faith in the care and provision of God (cf. Phil. 4:6). Trust is the key issue.

 

D. This section of Scripture can be broken into three related contexts: (1) Matt. 6:19-21; (2) Matt. 6:22-24; and (3) Matt. 6:25-34. This is similar to what the rabbis call "pearls on a string," which meant several unrelated subjects are dealt with in close proximity.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 6:19-23
 19"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal; 21for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!"

6:19 "do not store up" This is literally "stop treasuring up treasures." This same word play is also found in Matt. 6:20. This is a present imperative with a negative particle, which usually means to stop an act that is already in progress. The desire of fallen humanity is to try to provide, by means of their own resources, all that is needed for a happy life. The grammatical construction here shows that this is also a temptation for redeemed humanity. True happiness and success are found only in dependence on God and contentment in what He has provided (cf. Ecclesiastes 1-2; 2:24-25; 3:12,22; 5:18; 8:15; 9:7-9; Phil. 4:11-12).

▣ "treasures" In the ancient world wealth emanated from three sources: (1) clothing, (2) food stuffs, and (3) precious metals or jewels. Each of these items may either be destroyed or stolen. Moths will attack clothing. Rust is from the root "to eat" or metaphorically "eat away" or " corrode" and was used of vermin eating food. Stealing referred to robbery of precious metals, jewels or the other two items. Basically this means that all of our worldly possessions are vulnerable. If one's happiness depends on possessions, one could lose them at any moment. The false concept that contentment and happiness are found in physical things is stated in Luke 12:15.

▣ "destroy" The term meant "disfigure" (Matt. 6:16), "to cause to disappear" (cf. Matt. 6:20, Acts 13:41; James 4:14).

▣ "thieves break in and steal" The term "break in" literally was "dig through." Many homes of this period had mud walls. In the Greek language, the word for "robber" was from the compound term "mud digger."

6:20 "but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven" This is a present active imperative, essentially referring to spiritual attitudes and actions. 1 Timothy 6:17-19 beautifully expresses the same concept. God Himself protects our heavenly treasure (cf. 1 Pet. 1:4-5).

 The verb in verse 20 is from the same root as the noun (cognate accusative). Literally this word play would have been "treasure up for yourselves treasure in heaven."

6:21 "for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" It is significant that the plural pronoun which has been used in the previous verses now changes to the singular. This section teaches the transitoriness of earthly things and the eternality of spiritual things. It also emphasizes that where one puts one's interest, resources, and energy truly reveals one's priorities. The heart (a Hebrew idiom) is the center of the person. It expresses the totality of one's self.

6:22 "The eye is the lamp of the body" The background of this statement was the Jewish concept of the eye being the window of the soul. What one allows into his thought-life determines who he is. Thought produces desire, desire produces action, action reveals the person.

6:22-23 These two verses are obviously antithetical. The antithesis was expressed in the terms: "good" versus "bad" ; "singular" versus " double" ; "generous" versus "stingy" ; or "healthy" versus "diseased." The eye was used because of the singleness that healthy vision provides versus the double or blurred vision which disease causes.

These verses contain three conditional sentences (" ifs"). The first two are third class conditional which speak of probable action. There are those who clearly see spiritual truths and there are those who are spiritually blind.

The last "if" is a first class conditional sentence which characterizes the blind who think they see!

 

SPECIAL TOPIC: GENEROUS/SINCERE (HAPLOTES)

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 6:24
 24"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

6:24 "No one can serve two masters" This puts the world in stark reality. This is the reduction of true life to one simple choice. Humans are not really free. They serve one of two masters (cf. 1 John. 2:15-17).

▣ "he will hate the one and love the other, or" These are in a parallel relationship. The Hebrew terms "hate" and "love" were idioms of comparison (cf. Gen. 29:30, 31, 33; Mal. 1:2-3; Matt. 21:15; Luke 14:26; John. 12:25, and Rom. 9:13). It does not refer to hate in the traditional sense, but one's priority.

NASB, NRSV"You cannot serve God and wealth"
NKJV"You cannot serve God and mammon"
TEV"You cannot serve both God and money"
NJB"You cannot be the slave both of God and of money"

The term "wealth" was from the Hebrew root "to store up" or "to entrust." It was used originally to denote a person putting his trust in another by investing money with him. It came to mean "that in which one trusted." It seems to emphasize the object on which one bases his security. A. T. Robertson asserted that this term was used by the Syrians for the name of a money god. Although this has been denied by more recent scholarship, it would seem to be a logical analogy. William Barclay, in his Daily Study Bible, on Matthew, vol. 1 p. 252, asserts that in the ancient Mediterranean world mammon came to be spelled with a capital "M," a way to designate deity.

Money itself is not the problem, but the priority of money (cf. 1 Tim. 6:10). The tragedy of money is that we never have enough and soon it possesses us instead of us possessing it. The more we have, the more we are worried about losing it, and thereby, we are consumed with protecting it. See Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: WEALTH

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 6:25-33
 25"For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor do they reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?'or 'What will we drink?'or 'What will we wear for clothing?'32For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

6:25 "For this reason I say to you" This shows the logical connection with Matt. 6:19-24.

▣ "do not be worried about your life'" This is another present imperative with a negative particle, which meant to stop an act that is already in progress. For a parallel passage, see Phil. 4:6. Verse 25 states a general principle in light of the previous verses. The KJV translation, "take no thought for," is unfortunate because it implies, in our day, that any planning about the future is inappropriate. This is surely not the case (cf. 1 Tim. 5:8). The key thought is "worry" (cf. Matt. 6:25, 27, 28, 31, and 34).

▣ "Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing" Physical life is important but it is not ultimate. This world is simply the training ground for a fuller and more intimate fellowship with God. The biblical truth is that God does care for His children and that He will provide for their basic needs.

6:26,28 "the birds of the air. . .the lilies of the field" The translation "wild birds" and "wild flowers" is appropriate because the text does not specify a particular kind of bird or flower but simply common ones. Because the setting was the Sermon on the Mount, perhaps Jesus pointed to a flock of wild birds or to the wild flowers nearby. This was a rabbinical hermeneutical argument from the lesser to the greater.

6:26 "Are you not worth much more than they" This is a rabbinical-type comparison of the lesser to the greater. The Bible is clear that God created and loves animals. But animals cannot fellowship with God as humans made in His image can. Be careful of making the lives of animals more valuable than the lives of humans. Animals were given for food and service after the Fall. They are not eternal, humans are! Evangelism is more important than " animal rights" ! Most of the animal life which was created has gone out of existence. Some groups care more for animals than people! What a warped worldview. Animal rights groups care more for insects than unborn humans!

Just one more word, cruelty to animals says a lot about an uncaring, unfeeling person. God created animals with pain sensors just like us. Animals were part of the original creation of Genesis 1 and will be part of the new creation (cf. Isa. 11:6-9).

6:27

NASB"can add a single hour to his life"
NKJV"can add one cubit to his stature"
NRSV"add a single hour to your span of life"
TEV"live a bit longer"
NJB"add a single cubit to his span of life"

This is literally the Hebrew term "cubit." Cubit referred to the length between a man's elbow and his longest finger. It was an OT measurement used in construction and was normally about eighteen inches. However, there was a royal cubit used in the Temple which measured twenty-one inches. In the New Testament it was used either for height or time: of height in Luke 19:3 (also LXX of Ezek. 13:18) and of time in John. 9:21,23 and Heb. 11:11. Because it is ridiculous for a person to be able to physically grow over a foot taller, it is either (1) a metaphor for aging or (2) an oriental overstatement (hyperbole).

6:30 "But if God" This is a first class conditional sentence, which is assumed to be true from the perspective of the speaker or for his literary purposes. God does provide for His creation.

▣ "which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace" A common use for dry grass was to start the fire in small ovens used for baking bread. This was a metaphor for the transience of life, not an eschatological judgment. Believers are worth much more than beautiful wild grasses.

▣ "You of little faith" This phrase occurs several times in the Gospel of Matthew (cf. Matt. 8:26; 14:31; 16:8). Jesus' teaching was designed to increase believers'faith.

6:31 "Do not worry then" This is a negative aorist subjunctive, which meant "do not begin worrying" (cf. Phil. 4:6). An unhealthy emphasis on how one will provide for his basic needs shows a lack of trust in the God who has promised to provide for believers.

6:32

NASB"For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things"
NKJV"For after all these things the Gentiles seek"
NRSV"For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things"
TEV"These are the things the pagans are always concerned about"
NJB"It is the gentiles who set their hearts on all these things"

One of the characteristics of fallen mankind is their insatiable desire for things. God knows believers need the things of this world to live. He will provide their needs, not always their wants.

6:33

NASB, NKJV"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness"
NRSV"But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness"
TEV"Be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God"
NJB"Set your heart on his kingdom first, and on God's saving justice"

This is a present imperative which speaks of a habitual command. The truth is that God must be the priority in believers'lives. The phrase "His righteousness" was used here in an ethical sense, not in a legal (forensic) sense as in Paul's writings. This ethical sense can be seen in Matt. 5:6,10,20, 6:1, Deut. 6:25, Isa. 1:27-28, and Dan. 4:27. This is not a call to works righteousness; rather, it suggests that once one knows Him, his life will be characterized by good works (cf. Eph. 2:10). Positional, imputed righteousness should be reflected in Christlike living. See Special Topics: Kingdom of God at Matt. 4:17 and Righteousness at Matt. 5:6.

 The phrase "His Kingdom" was the concept of God's current reign in human hearts that will one day be consummated over all the earth (cf. Matt. 6:10). It was the central focus of Jesus' preaching. This kingdom ethic must be the highest priority. The early Greek manuscripts (א & B) do not have the genitive phrase "of God" (cf. NRSV and TEV).

The term "first" is used by Jesus several times to illustrate the radical newness of the "new age" of the Spirit, which He inaugurated.

1. Matt. 5:24, be reconciled to your brother before worship

2. Matt. 6:33, seek the kingdom of God before personal needs/desires

3. Matt. 7:5, before judging others evaluate your own faults

4. Matt. 23:26, clean the whole life, inner and outer

 

"and all these things will be added to you" This referred to the physical and normal needs of life. God will not leave believers stranded. This is a general principle, which cannot always answer the specific questions of why this individual or that individual suffers loss or is in need. Sometimes God will provide a time of need in order for believers to trust Him, turn to Him, or to improve their character. This statement is much like the book of Proverbs in the sense that it states general principles. They are not meant to explain every individual, particular occurrence.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 6:34
 34So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

6:34 This verse breaks the train of thought. The Christian life is a daily walk in a fallen world. Bad things that happen to the unbelieving person often happen to the believing person. This does not mean that God does not care. It simply means that believers are caught in a fallen world system. Do not let the problems of life trick you into thinking God does not care. See Hannah Whithall Smith, The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. How do verses 19-34 relate to the over all presentation of the Sermon on the Mount?

2. Were the people who were listening to Jesus storing up riches on earth? How does this relate to our modern emphasis on savings accounts, insurance, or planning for retirement?

3. How does one store up riches in heaven? What do these heavenly riches comprise?

4. Explain the spiritual truths of Matt. 6:22-24 in your own words and from your own experience.

5. Is money evil?

6. Is worry a sin (Matt. 6:31)?

7. Does verse 33 teach works righteousness?

8. Explain why Christians suffer.

 

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