Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 12 October 2010; Revised 8 April 2017
Scripture Text: Unless otherwise indicated Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB Updated Edition (1995). Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms Tanakh (Old Testament), Besekh (New Testament), Yeshua (Jesus), and Messiah (Christ). I use the title "The Book of Matthew" because that is how Matthew introduces his story (Matt 1:1). Please see the article Witnesses of the Good News for background information on Matthew and his book.
Methodology: For an explanation of abbreviations, acronyms, terminology, spelling conventions, and other information on organization of the commentary see my Commentary Writing Philosophy.
Primary Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Unless otherwise indicated the following primary sources are used:
• The Septuagint (LXX) is the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, which was in use by Jews by the mid–2nd century BC. The LXX with English translation may be found here.
• Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
• The meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009). See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. Definitions of Hebrew words are from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), given as "BDB." The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
• Dates are from Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings (1992). Online.
Instruction on Charity, 6:1-4
Instruction on Prayer, 6:5-13
Instruction on Forgiveness, 6:14-15
Instruction on Fasting, 6:16-18
Instruction on Stewardship, 6:19-24
Instruction on Anxiety, 6:25-34
Summer, A.D. 28
Instruction on Charity, 6:1-4
1 "[Now] Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.
[Now: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The second meaning applies here. The NASB does not translate the conjunction which follows the verb in beginning this verse. The conjunction de occurs 14 times in the chapter.]
Beware: Grk. prosechō, pres. imp., be on the alert. The verb is used here in the sense of putting up one's guard; beware (of). of practicing: Grk. poieō, pres. inf., a verb of physical action that may refer to (1) producing something material; make, construct, produce, create; or (2) to be active in bringing about a state of condition; do, act, perform, work. The second meaning applies here.
your: the personal pronoun is plural in reference to the audience of disciples. righteousness: Grk. dikaiosunē, a state that is in accord with standards for acceptable or anticipated behavior, uprightness, righteousness, justice. In the LXX dikaiosunē normally renders Heb. tsedaqah (SH-6666), first used in Genesis 15:6 of Abraham's faithfulness being considered as righteousness. The noun is often used to describe the character of God (Ps 5:8; 35:24; Isa 5:16; 42:21; Jer 9:24), as well as the Davidic king, the Messiah (Ps 72:1; Jer 23:5) (DNTT 3:354). In the Tanakh the concept of tsedaqah refers to right or ethical character and behavior that is in keeping with the covenantal relationship with God. So, righteousness is more relational than legal. In the Tanakh tzedakah also carries the sense of salvation (deliverance) and judgment (justice). Righteousness primarily has human relationships as its focus and therefore righteousness strengthens the community.
As discussed in 5:20 the Pharisaic concept of righteousness in the time of Yeshua had come to have a second, more restricted meaning of almsgiving, monetary help to the poor. In fact, for the Pharisees and other highly religious Jews, almsgiving, prayer and fasting were the most important components of righteous living. Almsgiving was considered the most important of the three. These are the subjects that Yeshua will address in this chapter.
before men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man, or mankind. In the LXX anthrōpos renders three Hebrew words: (1) adam, SH-444, used for a human male or generically for man and woman and as a contrast to animals (e.g., Gen 1:26, 27; 2:5); (2) ish, SH-376, adult male or husband (Gen 2:23, 24) and (3) enosh, SH-582, man or mankind, often signifying the aspect of weakness and mortality (Ps 8:4-5) (DNTT 2:564). to be noticed: Grk. theaomai, aor. pass. inf., to look upon with special interest; see, look at, behold, take notice of. The verb emphasizes a special perception or realization. by them: the plural pronoun refers back to "men," which in this case are persons the "practitioner of righteousness" wishes to impress. The objects of attention could be the public, but more likely religious leaders.
otherwise you have: Grk. echō, pres., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. no reward: Grk. misthos refers to the rewards that come naturally from toil or any kind of endeavor; also of wages paid for work. In the LXX misthos stands for Heb. sakar, which means hire, wages or reward, depending on the context. A reward from the Father really means a gift because the heavenly bounty far exceeds any service that may be performed by his people. And, since there is no "wage agreement" between the servant of the Lord and his Master, then the servant cannot determine the nature of the reward. with your: plural pronoun used in reference to his disciples (5:1).
Father: Grk. patēr, normally of a male biological parent or ancestor, but frequently in reference to God, which emphasizes His activity as creator, ruler and sustainer (BAG). In the LXX patēr renders ab ("av"), generally in the human sense, but also of God as father (DNTT 1:616f). In the Hebrew vernacular Yeshua and the apostles would have used the Heb. word aba, as occurs in (Mark 14:36). In the Tanakh God's identity as a parent is first mentioned in reference to His covenantal relationship with Israel (Deut 1:31; 8:5; 32:6; Ps 103:13; Isa 43:6; 63:16; 64:8; Jer 3:19; 31:9; Hos 1:10: Mal 1:6). Israel is specifically identified as God's son (Ex 4:22; Hos 11:1). Only in late Jewish apocryphal writings is God called the Father of the pious Jew as an individual (Sir 23:1, 4; Tob 13:4; Wsd 2:16; 14:3; 3Macc 5:7). While Jews recognized the God of Israel as the "father" of mankind in the sense of creator (Acts 17:28; Josephus, Ant. IV, 8:24), the capitalized "Father" in the Besekh continues the meaning found in the Tanakh. Yeshua emphasizes this covenantal relationship in saying "your Father."
who is in heaven: pl. of Grk. ouranos, the area above the earth that encompasses the sky, interstellar space and associated phenomena or the transcendent dwelling-place of God. In the LXX ouranos translates the Heb. hashamayim (lit. "the heavens”) (DNTT 2:191). The Hebrew and Greek words for "heaven" are used in Scripture to refer to three different places (Ps 148:1-4). In terms of direction from the ground level of the earth the first heaven is the atmosphere in which birds fly (Gen 1:20; Rev 19:17). The second heaven is interstellar space (Gen 1:1, 8; Matt 24:29) and the third heaven is the location of the throne of God and the home of angels (1Kgs 8:30; Matt 6:9; 2Cor 12:2).
2 "So 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.
So: Grk. oun, an inferential conj., which may (1) indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding, 'so, therefore, consequently, then;' (2) indicate that one takes account of something in the narrative immediately preceding, 'then;' or (3) simply indicate a stage in the narrative, 'so, then.' when: Grk. otan, conj., a particle that means "at the time that," "whenever," or "when." The particle anticipates something happening.
you give to the poor: The phrase is lit. do: Grk. poieō, pres. subj. See the previous verse. almsgiving: Grk. eleēmosunē, merciful disposition, regard for the needs of others; benevolence, kindness, charity, specifically gifts of alms. In the LXX eleēmosunē renders two important Hebrew words: (1) Heb. chesed (SH-2617), goodness, favor, kindness, first in Genesis 47:29. Chesed means proper covenant behavior, what partners in the covenant owe one another. (2) Heb. tsedaqah (SH-6666), righteousness, first in Deuteronomy 6:25. Mercy in the form of charity is righteousness because it conforms to the standards of Torah.
Caring for the poor is repeatedly stressed in the Tanakh.
"If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers, in any of your towns in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother." (Deut 15:7; cf. Isa 58:7)
"For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.'" (Deut 15:11)
"But happy is he who is gracious to the poor." (Prov 14:21)
"He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be answered." (Prov 21:13)
"Is this not the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?" (Isa 58:6-7)
"Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you: break away now from your sins by doing righteousness and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity." (Dan 4:27)
However, to some Jews giving alms also gained merit in the sight of God, and even gained atonement and forgiveness for past sins.
"It is better to give alms than to treasure up gold. For almsgiving delivers from death, and it will purge away every sin." (Tobit 12:8-9)
"For almsgiving to a father will not be forgotten, and against your sins it will be credited to you." (Sirach 3:14)
There was a rabbinic saying: "Greater is he who gives alms than he who offers all sacrifices." (Barclay 1:136)
Almsgiving was the best good work a person could do. This is the epitome of loving your neighbor and in so doing loving your God. Even loaning money without interest or helping a poor man to some lucrative occupation was considered a form of almsgiving.
God does value almsgiving as the angel told Cornelius:
"Cornelius said, 'Four days ago to this hour, I was praying in my house during the ninth hour; and behold, a man stood before me in shining garments, and he said, 'Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God.'" (Acts 10:30-31)
The Mishnah identified four kinds of charity-givers (Avot 5:13):
1. He who gives but does not care that others should give. The poor are not fully served.
2. He who motivates others to give, but does not give himself. He does not make the best use of his own.
3. He who gives and motivates others to give. He is pious.
4. He who neither gives nor suffers others to give. He is a cruel man.
do not sound a trumpet: Grk. salpizō, aor. subj., to sound a trumpet. In the LXX salpizō renders Heb. taqa (SH-8628), to give a blast or to blow, first in Numbers 10:10. In that context the blowing was in relation to the chatsotsrah (SH-2689), the two long straight trumpets made of beaten silver and originally used for summoning the congregation and signaling setting out from camp (Num 10:2), and then later used to accompany singing in worship (1Chr 16:42; 2Chr 5:12-13). The verb is also used in conjunction with blowing the shofar (SH-7782), curved ram's horn, first in Joshua 6:4. The shofar was sounded on religious, political and military occasions. After the destruction of the temple the shofar could not be sounded on the Sabbath as a sign of mourning, although it was still used to announce the beginning of the Sabbath.
A straightforward reading implies that actual shofars or silver trumpets were blown when the alms were given or collected. However, there is no historical authority whatever for such an interpretation, and it would be contrary to the religious spirit of the times. There is a simple explanation from the cultural and religious setting. Idiomatically, the expression "sound a trumpet" means to make a show of giving, as if somehow the act resounded throughout the community.
as the hypocrites: Grk. hupocritēs, role-player, someone who appears on stage. In the LXX hupocritēs translates Heb. haner, someone estranged from God, and occurs only in Job 34:30; 36:13 and refers to someone who is too proud to call for help when he needs it. Yeshua used the term in association with certain Pharisees (Matt 22:18; 23:13-15, 23, 25, 27, 29). Even the Talmud names seven types of hypocritical Pharisees (Avot 5:9; Soṭah 22b). The hypocrites are those of whom Isaiah wrote that with their lips they honor God, but their heart is far from Him (Isa 29:13; Mark 7:6). do: Grk. poieō, pres. See the previous verse.
in the synagogues: pl. of Grk. sunagōgē means a gathering-place or place of assembly. In the Besekh the term refers to the place at which Jews gathered for worship and learning, including Jewish followers of Yeshua (Acts 6:9; 9:2; Jas 2:2). The term does not necessarily mean a manufactured structure as the word "church" can mean (cf. Acts 16:13). The origin of the word sunagōgē dates from the 5th century BC and in non-Jewish culture was used to refer to any collection of things or people. In the LXX sunagōgē is generally used to translate the Heb. words edah (SH-5712), congregation (Ex 12:3) and qahal (SH-6951), assembly, convocation, or congregation (Ex 16:3) (DNTT 1:292ff).
The origin of the Jewish synagogue is not known for certain, but scholars generally date its beginning during the Babylonian exile (NIBD 1019). Pious Jews, far from their native land, without the ministry of the temple, no doubt felt the necessity to gather on the Sabbath in order to listen to the word of God and engage in prayer (cf. Ps 137; Jer 29:7; Ezek 14:1; 20:1). Eventually meetings came also to be held on other days, and at the same hours as the morning and evening services in the temple. According to Philo, the Jewish philosopher, synagogues were houses of prayer and schools of wisdom (On the Life of Moses II, 39).
By the first century, synagogues emerged as the central institution of Jewish life as a place where study, worship, celebration, and various other kinds of meetings took place. The Talmud says that, at the time of the destruction of the second temple, there were 394 synagogues in Jerusalem alone (Ket. 105a; TJ Sot. 7:7, 8; Yom. 7:1). As Jews emigrated west synagogues followed. In any community where at least ten Jewish men lived, the Jews would meet together for study and prayer and eventually build a sanctuary for their meetings. In Israel where the Sadducees exercised supervision over the temple, Pharisees supervised the learning of Torah in the synagogue. Yeshua taught on the Sabbath in synagogues throughout Galilee and Judea (Matt 4:23; 9:35; 12:9; 13:54; Luke 4:14-15, 44; 6:6; 13:10; John 6:59).
Every synagogue had its charity box, but the principal location for giving alms in Jerusalem was in the Court of the Women of Herod's Temple. The Court of the Women obtained its name, not from exclusive use of women, but because they were not allowed to proceed farther, except for sacrificial purposes. Indeed, this was probably the common place for worship all Jews, the females occupying, according to Jewish tradition, only a raised gallery along three sides of the court. The Women's Court was just over 200 feet square between bounding lines. Each court on the outside was 60 feet square.
The colonnade ran around the court, and within it, against the wall, thirteen chests for charitable contributions were placed. The chests were made of brass and because of the trumpet-like shape were called trumpets. They were shaped wide at the bottom and narrow at the top to prevent dishonest people from taking out coins while pretending to cast them in. The specific purpose of each chest was marked on it. Nine were for the receipt of what was due by worshippers according to Torah and Jewish law; the other four for strictly voluntary gifts. These boxes made a very recognizable sound as the coins were dropped into them. Dropping a large number of coins in at once was called "sounding the trumpet." (See my note on Mark 12:41 for a full description of the purpose of each "trumpet" chest.)
Considering the background of the phrase "sound a trumpet" Yeshua probably used the Hebrew word ēdah (rendered in Greek as "synagogue") to denote places of assembly in the Court of the Women where the "sounding a trumpet" took place. Since the word for "street" means a narrow street or lane, then Yeshua may have meant the concourses around the Court of the Women. Conversely, it should be noted that the charity box in each synagogue was also made of brass and shaped in a similar fashion as the boxes in the temple (though not as large), so it is not impossible that the hypocrites carried out a similar practice of "sounding the trumpet" there.
and in the streets: pl. of Grk rumē means a narrow street, lane or alley. The streets would be the location of beggars. The Torah contains no enactment concerning beggars or begging, since it makes ample provision for the relief and care of "the poor in the land." Begging, however, came to be known to the Jews in the course of time with the development of the larger cities. Although almsgiving for the poor is strongly advocated in the Tanakh, as well as other Jewish literature, begging for money was not approved (Sirach 40:28; Luke 16:3). Professional beggars were a despised class among Jews; and the Jewish communities were forbidden to support them from the general charity fund (Baba Bathra 9a). However, it was likewise forbidden to drive a beggar away without any alms (B.B. 10a).
so that they may be honored: Grk. doxazō, aor. pass. subj., (from doxa, "glory"), enhance esteem or reputation through word (of praise) or action to honor. In the LXX doxazō renders Heb. navah (SH–5115), to beautify, adorn with praises (Ex 15:2), but principally kabad (SH–3513), to be weighty, to be honored or praised (Lev 10:3; Ps 15:4). by men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos. See the previous verse. This clause is tantamount to seeking a "pat on the back."
Truly: Grk. amēn ("ah–mayn") reflects a strong affirmation, meaning "so let it be" or "truly." In the LXX amēn transliterates the Heb. ’amen (ah–mayn, SH–543), which means "it is true, so be it, or may it become true." The Heb. root aman means "to confirm or support." The word amēn reflects an Hebraic conviction that God’s words were to be reverently received. In typical Jewish usage the singular amēn points to something previously said (Stern 26). However, Yeshua sometimes uses "amen" to introduce a declaration as here (e.g., Matt 8:10; 11:11; 16:28; 17:20; 19:23; 21:21; 24:2; 25:12, 45; 26:21). Similar usage does occur in the Tanakh (1Kgs 1:36; Jer 28:6).
I say: Grk. legō, pres., to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or in written form; say, tell, declare. In addition, the Greek verb "say" functions as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation. to you: plural pronoun referring to the disciples. they have: Grk. apechō, pres., in a commercial sense to acknowledge receipt; have in full, have received. their reward: Grk. misthos. See the previous verse. in full: This phrase in not in the Greek text but added for clarity. At the time of the feasts the concourse of the people was enormous so the public could take note of each one's liberality. It is probably an ironic allusion to the form and name of these alms-chests that the Lord, making use of the word 'trumpet,' describes the conduct of those who, in their almsgiving, sought glory and praise from men. If the hypocrite received the praise he was seeking from men, then he received all the reward he could expect from God.
3 "But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
But: Grk. de, conj. when you give to the poor: The opening clause is lit. "but you doing almsgiving." do not let your left hand: Grk. aristeros, adj., on the left, to the left as a direction or location, used here of a bodily member. know: Grk. ginōskō, aor. imp., to know and may mean (1) to be in receipt of information; (2) form a judgment or draw a conclusion; or (3) have a personal relationship involving recognition of another's identity or value. The second meaning dominates the thought here. In the LXX ginōskō renders Heb. yada (SH-3045), which has a similar wide range of meaning, but in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge (DNTT 2:395). what your right hand: Grk. dexios, adj., right as a direction or location, used of a bodily member or a location within a structure or in relation to a structure. is doing: Grk. poieō, pres. See verse 1 above.
In Jewish culture "left hand" and "right hand" figuratively represented positions of power (cf. Matt 20:21, 23). The terms were also used literally and figuratively to denote straying from a path (Gen 24:49; Deut 2:27; Josh 1:7; 23:6). The expression of not letting the left hand know what the right hand is doing is not found in any other literature. Yeshua uses a literal impossibility to illustrate the importance of keeping charity private. The expression may allude to Proverbs 12:21, which begins with "yad le-yad" = "hand to hand") interpreted by the rabbis as referring to the giving of charity in secret (Sotah 4b, 5a).
4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
so that: Grk. hopōs, conj. expressing an objective, purpose, or end in view; in order that, so that, that. your giving: Grk. eleēmosunē. See verse 2 above. will be: Grk. eimi, pres. subj., to be, exist; a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). in secret: Grk. kruptos, hidden, concealed or secret. Most rabbis would have agreed with Yeshua about the importance of secrecy in giving. Doing charity in secret means not drawing attention to oneself. Absolute secrecy is extremely difficult to accomplish, if not impossible. Somebody will know. Jews believed that the poor should never be put to shame by receiving (Hagigah 5a). Therefore, the ideal method for making charitable gifts to the poor is when the beneficiary of the gift does not know the source, nor does the donor know who receives the gift.
In the temple were two treasury chambers, one called chamber of the silent, the other chamber of utensils. In the former, devout men secretly gave charitable monetary gifts, and the poor of good family received there secretly their sustenance. In the other chamber, every one who desired to offer a utensil voluntarily left it there. Every thirty days the treasurers opened the chamber, and every utensil found to be fit for the maintenance of the Temple was preserved, while the others were sold and the proceeds went to the treasury for the maintenance of the Temple (Shekalim V).
and your Father: See verse 1 above. who sees: Grk. blepō, pres. part., may mean (1) possess the physical ability to see; (2) use one's eyes to take note of an object; see, look at, observe; (3) to have inward or mental sight, perceive; or (4) be looking in a certain direction. The second meaning applies here, figurative of God's omniscience. what is done in secret will reward: Grk. apodidōmi, fut., means to give back or to reward. (KJV "openly" does not occur in the earliest and best manuscripts.) In the LXX apodidōmi renders shūb, to return, i.e., cause to return, to requite, to repay (1Sam 26:23; 2Sam 16:8); and shalem, which means to restore, repay or pay damages (e.g., Ex 22). The Hebrew words emphasize that act and consequence are firmly linked like cause and effect.
In the Tanakh God is depicted as a personal judge who maintains order in his universe and allows or causes action to return upon the doer. He keeps watch over his servants, recognizing and rewarding right actions and inflicting punishment on the wicked.
Deuteronomy 28 defined the blessings that would accrue to Israel for obeying God's commandments and keeping his covenant. In Pharisaic Judaism the concept of recompense shifted away from the emphasis on how to remain in the grace of the covenant to instead focus on measuring a man's success in reaching the height of fellowship with God by means of good works, especially the three services of almsgiving, prayer and fasting. Divine judgment, recompense and salvation were matters of the distant future, the age to come, whereas the pressing concern for the present was conformity to the inflexible standard of the "traditions."
Yeshua returns the disciples to the Old Covenant concept of recompense. Repayment from the Father's is guaranteed. Such reward may be in secret, that is, in a spiritual sense. You will be blessed by the knowledge of having acted as a son of the Father. Rewards also come in a material sense of having your own needs met. Scripture promises that generosity toward the poor will be rewarded in a tangible way (Prov 14:21; 22:9; 28:27). Yeshua may have also included eternal rewards, as he says in Luke 12:33, "Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys."
Instruction on Prayer, 6:5-13
5 "[And] 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.
[And: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh, occurring over 9,000 times (BibleHub). The excessive use of conjunctions, including beginning verses as here, is evidence of either an original Hebrew text or Jewish Greek. The conjunction kai occurs 29 times in this chapter, although the NASB does not translate all of them.]
When: Grk. otan, conj. See verse 2 above. you pray: Grk. proseuchomai, pres. mid. subj., to petition deity for some personal desire. In the LXX proseuchomai renders Heb. palal (SH-6419), to intervene or interpose. The verb has a variety of meanings, including arbitrate, judge, intercede and pray. The context of prayer in the Tanakh is addressing the Sovereign Judge of all people and thus prayer by its nature requires self-examination. The verb refers to petitioning God for His help or answer with respect to a personal need or the needs of others. The first mention of prayer in the Bible is of Abraham (Gen 20:7) and occurs on occasion for personal requests (e.g., Hezekiah, 2Chr 32:24).
There is no command to pray in the Torah. Prayer was generally accomplished by proxy, that is the high priest did the interceding. Individuals did pray, of course, and most of the time God granted the person's desire. (God said "no" to David on at least two occasions, 2Sam 7:1-5; 12:16-18.) In the Besekh prayer is treated as a divine expectation, if not an obligation of every disciple (Luke 18:1; Eph 6:18; Php 4:6; Col 4:2; 1Th 5:17; 1Tim 2:1; Jas 5:13-16; Jude 1:20). Regular communal prayer among Jews did not occur before Rabbinic Judaism.
Devout Jews, living at Jerusalem, went to the temple to pray every day (Luke 18:10; Acts 3:1). Jews who lived at a distance too far for a daily journey or in the Diaspora went to a synagogue and faced Jerusalem. However, the daily prayers could be offered at home and in that case people opened their windows "toward Jerusalem" and prayed "toward" the place of God's presence (1Kgs 8:48; Ps 5:7; Dan 6:10). The Torah does not regulate prayer in any fashion but by the first century it was conducted three times each day, following the model of David (Ps 55:17) and Daniel (Dan 6:10). The hours of prayer were known and religiously observed by all devout Jews and conducted in connection with the temple ritual.
The first period of prayer coincided with the morning sacrifice, at the third hour of the morning, about 9 A.M. (Acts 2:15). The second was at the sixth hour, or at noon, and may have coincided with the thanksgiving for the chief meal of the day (Matt 15:36; Acts 27:35). The third hour of prayer coincided with the evening sacrifice, at the ninth hour (about 3:00 P.M., Acts 3:1; 10:30). Thus every day belonged to God. It should be noted that the apostles continued the daily pattern of prayer (Acts 2:15; 3:1; 10:3,9; 10:30; 16:25; 27:35). Perhaps since the Body of Messiah is built on the foundation of the apostles we should consider their example for our own lives. For more information on biblical instruction concerning prayer see my PowerPoint presentation Principles of Effective Prayer.
you are not to be: Grk. eimi, fut. See the previous verse. like the hypocrites: pl. of Grk. hupocritēs. See verse 2 above. for they love: Grk. phileō, pres., consider at a fairly high level of regard, which may focus on some act of kindness or affection toward someone, to love or regard with affection, to kiss, to like or be fond of, or to cherish inordinately. The last meaning applies here. to stand: Grk. histēmi, perf. part., may mean (1) cause to be in a place or position; (2) to be in an upright position, used of bodily posture; (3) to set or place in a balance; (4) fig. to stand ready, to be of a steadfast mind. The second meaning applies here. Standing was the most common posture for prayer. and pray: Grk. proseuchomai, pres. mid. inf.
in the synagogues: pl. of Grk. sunagōgē. See verse 2 above. As stated above Yeshua probably used ēdah and may have intended simply the assembly of Jews for worship, whether in the courts of the temple or in synagogues. Temple worship was prescribed and supervised by the Sadducees whereas the Pharisees largely governed the synagogues. and on the street: Grk. plateia, the feminine form of platus, which means "broad or wide." corners: pl. of Grk. gōnia, a corner. The reference to "street-corners" is lit. corners of the broad street or square. It is likely that Yeshua used the Heb. word rehob, which refers to a broad place or plaza in the city. Every ancient city had a plaza for markets, town assemblies and other gatherings (cf. SS 3:2; Jer 5:1; Dan 9:25; Nah 2:4). Yeshua may have been referring to a place near or in the temple precincts.
so that they may be seen: Grk. phainō, aor. pass. subj., may mean (1) function in a manner that makes observation possible, (2) be in a state or condition of being visible or observed, or (3) enter a state or condition that is capable of being grasped mentally or spiritually. The second meaning applies here. by men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 1 above. It may well be that given the instruction on praying in secret, Yeshua was implying that the hypocrites prayed loudly where everyone could hear. True prayer must be offered to God not to an audience.
"When R. Eliezer fell ill, his disciples came to visit him. They sat before him and said: "Our master, teach us the best of all the things you taught us." He said: "Be careful of your friend's honor; and when you pray, know before whom you are standing, and through this you will be rewarded with life in the world to come." (Avot 3:1)
Truly: Grk. amēn. See verse 2 above. I say: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 2 above. to you: the pronoun is plural. they have: Grk. apechō, pres. See verse 2 above. their reward in full: Grk. misthos. See verse 1 above. They will receive no reward from God.
6 "But 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."
But: Grk. de, conj. you: the pronoun in singular. when: Grk. otan, conj. See verse 2 above. you pray: Grk. proseuchomai, pres. mid. subj. See the previous verse. go: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. imp., to go or enter into a geographical area, manufactured structure or other place defined in the context. into your inner room: Grk. tameion, an area in a house of a rather private nature, such as a storeroom, or an inner room of a house, even a secret room. In the LXX tameion translates Heb. cheder, which emphasized the inward position of the room, especially a bedchamber (e.g., Gen 43:30. Ex 8:3; 2Sam 4:7; SS 1:4). Yeshua is saying to go to a place where you can have privacy. The noun alludes to the fact that houses in ancient times did not have hallways. If there were multiple rooms each was accessed by going through another room. An inner room would not be the first room entered from outside the structure. Yeshua himself prayed in a variety of places, especially the outdoors.
Praying in the inner room ("closet," KJV) does not refer to praying with a cloak or prayer shawl pulled over the head. The outer garment worn by Jewish men in the first century had no connection to prayer. (See my note on Matt 5:40.) Praying in the inner room might also function as a euphemism for praying silently as Hannah, "spoke in her heart" (1Sam 1:13). She prayed so that no one else could hear, yet her lips were moving, and thus became the model of the proper way to pray.
close: Grk. kleiō, aor. part., closed to prevent entry; locked, shut. your door: Grk. thura, a device for opening and closing an entranceway; door, gate. The description implies the inner room has its own door. and pray: Grk. proseuchomai, aor. mid. imp. to your Father: See verse 1 above. who is in secret: Grk. kruptos. See verse 4 above. and your Father who sees: Grk. blepō, pres. part. See verse 4 above. The Father is in heaven and yet He sees all. what is done in secret: Grk. kruptos. will reward you: Grk. apodidōmi, fut. See verse 4 above.
7 "And 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."
And: Grk. de, conj. when you: See verse 2 above. "You" is plural; so it could refer to corporate prayer. are praying: Grk. proseuchomai, pres. mid. part. See verse 5 above. do not use meaningless repetition: Grk. battologeō, aor. subj., to babble, to speak without thinking. The word is variously translated in versions as "vain repetitions" (KJV, NASB, NKJV), "babbling" (HCSB, NIV), "heap up empty phrases" (RSV), "babble on and on" (CJB, NLT). Yeshua probably used the Hebrew word batah, to speak rashly or thoughtlessly or perhaps the Aramaic expression amar batalaha, "talk idly." He could have simply meant to avoid using more words than necessary as indicated by the parallel explanation in the second clause of the exhortation.
Rabbis would not have approved of the modern practice of conversational prayer. The Holy God in heaven is not a good buddy to sit down with and pass the time in banal chit chat.
"Rabbi Simeon said … when you pray, let it not be as a conversation, but supplication before the Holy One" (Avot 2:13)
"A man's words should always be few in addressing the Holy One." (Berakoth 61a)
Solomon had said, "Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few." (Eccl 5:2)
Yeshua condemned those who "for appearance's sake offer long prayers" (Mark 12:40). Examples of such "much speaking" may be noted in Scripture: In 1 Kings 18:26 the prophets of Baal cried out, "O Baal answer us," from morning until noon. In Acts 19:34 the Ephesian mob kept shouting "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians" for two hours. The expression "meaningless repetition" might mean,
1. The prayer was meaningless because it was not being made to the God of Israel.
2. They don't even know how to pray, so it would be impossible for them to pray with meaning.
3. Pagan prayers often included babbling in repetitive phrases much like a mantra, including unintelligible tongues.
as the Gentiles do: pl. of Grk. ethnikos, adj., pertaining to being foreign, opposite of Israelite national and religious self-identification; lit. "nations." Some versions render the noun as "pagans" (CJB, NAB, NIV, TEV, TLV) and others have "heathen" (GW, KJV, NEB, NKJV, NOG). Many versions as the NASB have "Gentiles." However, ethnikos could also include Hellenistic Jews who adopted a syncretistic viewpoint regarding religion. Yeshua exhorted his disciples not to be like people who don't worship the God of Israel.
for they suppose: Grk. dokeō, pres., the basic idea of receptivity and hence attractiveness to the intellect appears throughout the verb's usage, which may mean to entertain an idea or form an opinion about something on the basis of what appears to support a specific conclusion; think, opine, regard, suppose what seems to be. that they will be heard: Grk. eisakouō, fut. pass., to pay attention to something expressed orally. for their many words: Grk. polulogia, verbosity, wordiness. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. The use of this noun qualifies what Yeshua meant by "meaningless repetition."
There are a variety of ways that people may pray with empty words today: (1) repeating a prayer mechanically day after day, (2) repeating certain phrases over and over as a mantra or (3) speaking in unintelligible tongues. As Paul said, "in assembly I desire to speak five words with my mind, so that I might instruct others also, than ten thousand words in a foreign tongue" (1Cor 14:19 mine).
8 "So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him."
So: Grk. oun, conj. do not be like: Grk. homoioō, aor. pass. subj., to cause to be like. them: plural pronoun, used of the offenders mentioned in the previous verse. Yeshua exhorts his disciples to avoid thinking and pray like the pagans. His disciples do not need to engage in vain, verbose prayers trying to convince a deaf and uncaring deity to respond. The true God loves his people, sees their predicament and cares about their needs (cf. Ex 3:9). for your Father: See verse 1 above. knows: Grk. oida, perf., to have seen or perceived, hence to know. The verb is used for experiential knowledge. In the LXX oida occurs frequently to render Heb. yada (SH-3045), to know, (e.g., Gen 3:5; 4:1), which in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, primarily by experience but also by learning (DNTT 2:395). The perfect tense depicts knowledge that was complete and certain in the past and a present reality.
what you need: Grk. chreia, state or experience of necessity, need. before you ask: Grk. aiteō, aor. inf., to ask in expectation of a response; ask, ask for, request. The verb is often associated with prayer. God says, "It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear" (Isa 65:24). Even though God knows our needs, Yeshua encourages his disciples to pray and goes on to teach them a prayer.
9 "Pray, then, in this way: Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name."
This prayer has been called the Lord's Prayer for centuries by Christians, since Yeshua authored it. It was Luke who recorded that one of Yeshua's disciples had asked him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as also Yochanan taught his disciples" (Luke 11:1 mine). Recognizing this context it might be more appropriate to call it the Messiah's Prayer, because it embodied every hope and desire of the Jewish people.
Stern comments "All of its elements may be found in the Judaism of Yeshua’s day, so in this sense it is not original with him." The prayer is a beautiful combination or selection of petitions very similar to parts of the Amidah and Kaddish. Since Yeshua condemned those who "for appearance's sake offer long prayers" (Mark 12:40), the Lord's Prayer is a model of the brevity that Yeshua encouraged his disciples to employ in prayer. Leading rabbis of the day composed and used brief prayers of their own to follow the Amidah (Berakoth 16b-17a).
Pray: Grk. proseuchomai, pres. mid. imp. See verse 5 above. The present imperative means to start and keep on obeying this instruction. There are important reasons why disciples should develop a habit of prayer.
1. God uses prayer to accomplish His will and in that sense prayer is a partnership with God.
2. Prayer demonstrates that we truly comprehend what we need.
3. Prayer demonstrates our own sincerity and truthfulness.
4. Prayer demonstrates what's important to us. We expose our values to the light of divine judgment.
5. Prayer prepares our heart for what God wants to give us.
6. Prayer expresses trust in God's sovereign care over our lives.
7. Prayer is a relationship in which the supplicant deepens his knowledge of God.
We may not always know how to pray as we ought (Rom 8:26-27), but discipleship will be strengthened by a habit of prayer.
then: Grk. oun, conj. in this way. Grk. houtōs, adv. used to introduce the manner or way in which something has been done or to be done; thus, in this manner, way or fashion, so. The use of the adverb could indicate that Yeshua intended the prayer as a format for prayer, that is, each clause represents a subject heading. The Shemoneh Esreh functions in this manner. As a prayer for private use the benedictions can be a topical list to help organize one's prayer time. As a communal prayer it would be prayed as given. Luke's version of the prayer clearly intends for the prayer to be used as given. Cf. Luke 11:2, "when you pray, say…" Yeshua fully intended that his disciples use this prayer and given the present tense perhaps intended it to be used in conjunction with their regular daily prayers.
Our: plural pronoun of the first person, denoting the disciples and identification with Israel. Father: Grk. patēr. See verse 1 above. The invocation "Our Father" = Heb. "Avinu" is common in the Jewish liturgy. Gentiles can only call God Father by virtue of being spiritually adopted into the family of Abraham, grafted into the Olive Tree of Israel and granted citizenship in the commonwealth of Israel (Rom 4:16; 8:15; 11:17; Eph 2:12, 19).
in heaven: pl. of Grk. ouranos,. See verse 1 above. Yeshua instructed that his disciples direct their prayers to the Father in heaven. This is not just an idle statement to open the prayer. The Jews particularly understood prayer as being directed to "their Father in heaven" (Berakoth 5:1; Avot 5:20). He is not on the earth and the prayer recognizes that the day would come when the glory of the Father no longer dwelled in the Holy of Holies (John 4:21; Yoma 39b). The Father sits on a throne in heaven surrounded by angels. Heaven is His power base. From there His angels come and go on missions for the good of his people (Gen 28:12; Matt 18:10; Heb 1:14) and to carry out his will. It is from there that he directs the affairs of men. However far away heaven might be (cf. Acts 17:27), the prayers of the disciple are communicated miraculously in an instant through the expanse between earth and heaven. The Father hears in heaven and marshals the resources of heaven to answer our prayers.
hallowed: Grk. hagiazō (derived from hagios, "holy"), aor. pass. imp., may mean (1) to sanctify, hallow, consecrate, or dedicate or (2) to treat as holy or to reverence. In the LXX the hagios word-group is rendered by Heb. kadosh and it derivatives. be Your name: Grk. onoma, is used in its central sense of identifying someone with a proper name. In Hebrew literature "name" also carries the extended sense of qualities, powers, attributes or reputation. This phrase follows the practice of Kedushat HaShem, "Sanctification of the Name," in Jewish prayers and recalls the first sentence of the synagogue prayer known as the Kaddish:
"Magnified and sanctified be his great name in the world which he has created according to His will."
The prayer is more than just a verbal form of respect when addressing the Holy One. The intent of the Messiah is that his disciples sanctify the Name of the Father by how they live out that name. This is the positive action required to avoid breaking the third commandment of not taking His name in vain (Ex 20:7). Israel took God's name when they agreed to the covenant with its commandments. To live contrary to the terms of the covenant dishonors the Name with which his disciples have been sealed (2Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13; Rev 7:2-3). This sense is captured in Paul's statement:
"Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, 'The Lord knows those who are His,'" and, "Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness." (2Tim 2:19)
Jews frequently use HaShem, the Name, as a substitute for the sacred name given to Moses (Ex 3:14), but Yeshua is talking about a particular name of God used in the Tanakh. See my web article The Blessed Name. Rather the phrase "hallowed by Your Name" is a reminder that God is a holy God, and hallowing is a pledge to live in accordance with His character.
10 'Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven."
Your Kingdom: Grk. basileia, may mean (1) as abstract 'act of ruling' and thus 'kingship, royal power, royal rule, or kingdom; (2) a territory ruled over by a king; kingdom; or (3) the royal reign of God or kingdom of God as a chiefly eschatological concept (BAG). In the LXX basileia renders Hebrew noun derivatives of the verb malak (SH-4427, become a king; reign) (DNTT 2:373). It's important to note that the Hebrew words are used primarily for the reign of earthly rulers and only secondarily of the God of Israel ruling as King. come: Grk. erchomai, aor. imp., to come, come back, return or appear and in a few instances it means to go. When used of persons erchomai often indicates traveling or a journey. The verb is in the aorist tense, equivalent to the English past tense, but the aorist tense is frequently used in the Besekh to express a future event.
The hope that God would establish his reign as King over all the earth, with all idolatry banished, is expressed frequently in Scripture (e.g., Ex 15:18; Ps 22:28; 29:10; 93-99; 103:19; 145:10-13; Isa 34:23; 52:7; Dan 2:44; 4:3; 7:27; Micah 4:7; and Zech 14:9). Ancient Jewish prayer liturgy, such as Aleinu and Kaddish, include the phrase that "God may establish His Kingdom speedily" It was even laid down by the Sages that no blessing would be effective without reference to the Kingdom (Berachot 12a).
The prayer perhaps anticipates the question of the apostles, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6). The kingdom equaled Israel and independent national sovereignty The message of the prophets no doubt fueled their question.
"There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this." (Isa 9:7)
"Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him." (Dan 7:27)
The second sentence of the Kaddish expresses the desire of the followers of John the Immerser and the Essenes, indeed all Jews for God, to speedily establish his kingdom on the earth.
"May he establish his kingdom during your life and during your days, and cause his salvation to sprout, and bring near his Messiah, during the life of all the house of Israel, even speedily and at a near time. And all say, Amayn.
The problem for interpretation is that Yeshua had already announced that the kingdom had come in his person (Matt 4:17; 12:28). Why is he now telling his disciples to pray "Your kingdom come?" Notice that Yeshua does not say "Your Church come." When Yeshua began his ministry he announced that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, not the Church. In fact, the word translated "church" (Grk. ekklēsia) occurs only three times in the apostolic narratives of Yeshua's life (Matt 16:18; 18:17), whereas "kingdom" occurs over 100 times. The few usages of ekklēsia do not denote a future religion of Christianity, but the community of faith of which the synagogue is the foundation. In contrast, the term "kingdom" points to the reign of the King of Kings, which began in humility with the first advent and will be established in glory with the second advent.
The Kingdom of God announced by Yochanan the Immerser and foreseen by the prophets (Isa 9:7; 40:3; Dan 7:27; Mic 2:12-13; Mal 3:1; 4:5f; cf. Matt 11:12; Luke 16:16) is centered in the nation of Israel, fulfilling God's inviolate covenant promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Luke 1:68-73; Acts 1:6f; 28:23; Rom 9:7; Gal 3:29). Yeshua said that salvation is from the Jews (John 4:22) and must be presented to the Jews first (Matt 10:5f; 15:24).
Yeshua was clear that His kingdom did not originate from the Gentile world and does not operate by worldly (Gentile) values and methods (John 18:36; 1Cor 15:24). God never intended that Gentiles would form a separate body to supplant Israel. Conversely, God also never intended that Gentiles would be saved apart from Israel but rather be grafted into the Jewish root and enjoy the privileges of citizenship in the commonwealth of Israel (Rom 11:17-24; Eph 2:11-13).
Recognizing God as King means that the kingdom's citizens put complete trust in the King for their welfare, surrender their hearts, lives and fortunes to the King, accept the authority of the King for life, and obey the King's commands (Matt 5:3, 10, 19; 6:21, 33; 7:21; 18:3; Luke 12:31-34; 17:21; John 3:5). Such obedience reflects the primary character of God's kingdom, namely "righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom 14:17). There may be many congregations in the present age, but there is only one Kingdom in the present age and the age to come.
The petition "your Kingdom come" might be explained as referring to the Second Coming of the Messiah and ushering in the eternal kingdom of God. The interpretation may be found in the wish prayer, "come Lord Yeshua" (Rev 22:20). Another approach is to consider that Yeshua's kingdom came in power through the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension in which he triumphed over Satan (Col 2:9-15) and then culminated on Pentecost with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. And, thus his disciples pray that his kingdom which began in their hearts will spread around the earth, fulfilling the Great Commission. Yeshua may also have been alluding to a promise in the Torah, "and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Ex 19:6). Praying for his kingdom to come is praying that the sort of kingdom he wants will happen.
Your will: Grk. thelēma may mean (1) that which is to be carried out according to wish or purpose, will; or (2) the act of willing, will or desire. The first meaning applies here. be done: Grk. ginomai, aor. pass. imp., to transfer from one state or condition to another, which may be expressed in one of three ways: (1) come into being birth or natural process; be born or produced; (2) exist through application of will or effort by a person; be made, be performed; or (3) undergo a state of existence, change or development; come to be, become, take place, happen, occur, arise, be, appear, come, arrive. The third meaning applies here. The petition means "may your will come to pass."
The phrase "your will" in reference to God's will occurs with three meanings in Scripture, first, God's moral will expressed in the Torah (Ps 40:8; 143:10; cf. Rom 2:18), second, God's mission will (Matt 26:42; Heb 10:7, 9) and third, God's sovereign will (Rev 4:11). For a complete explanation of these expressions of "God's will" see my web article The Will of God. In reality Yeshua could have intended all three expressions be the focus of the congregation's petition. We pray that God's moral will be done in people's lives, among followers of Yeshua and within society. We pray for God's sovereign will to be done by submitting our plans to divine oversight (cf. Rom 15:30, 32; Jas 4:13-15). Then we pray for God's mission will to be done in the spread of the good news of the Messiah to the ends of the earth.
on earth: Grk. gē can mean soil (as in receiving seed), the ground, land as contrasted with the sea, and the earth in contrast to heaven. The last usage applies here. as it is in heaven: Grk. ouranos. See verse 1 above. The last clause would be lit. translated "as in heaven and on earth," without any suggestion of offering a contrast in how God's will is done in the two locations. The focus of God's redemptive activity is on the earth, not in heaven. Therefore, the essence of the kingdom is that God's will is and will be exercised through His reign on the earth. The prayer is first personal, meaning that I must bow down to Yeshua as my King, making his moral will the guiding compass for my life, surrendering the fortunes of my life to his sovereign will and in so doing becoming a partaker in His mission will (Rev 1:9).
The emphasis on "earth" in the context of the kingdom coming would likely express the more immediate Jewish hope of the age to come, the millennial kingdom in which the Messiah will reign on the earth from Jerusalem (cf. Luke 22:18; 1Cor 15:25; 2Tim 2:12; Rev 5:10; 11:15-17; 20:4-6; 22:20). Rabbi Eliezer (1st cent.) prayed: "Do Thy will in heaven above and give rest of spirit to those that fear Thee on earth, and do what is good in Thine eyes. Blessed be Thou who hearest prayer!" (Berakoth 29b).
We might consider how is God's will done in heaven as a basis for His will being done on earth.
1. The angels give him glory and serve him daily (Ps 103:20; Rev 7:11-12).
2. God makes his sovereign plans in and executes them from heaven (Deut 4:39; Ps 103:19; Rom 1:18).
3. Yeshua gave his apostles authority to make rulings that would have the authority of heaven (Matt 16:19). As a result there are almost a thousand apostolic commands given in the Besekh applying Torah.
4. Yeshua also gave the body of believers authority to make decisions to resolve disputes between disciples. If private efforts fail to resolve the dispute then the congregation may settle the matter upon request of the parties (Matt 18:18-19).
5. In heaven God's moral will is not only the law, but it keeps out any who would not live by it (Rev 22:14-15).
11 'Give us this day our daily bread.
Give: Grk. didōmi, aor. imp., to give, used in a wide variety of situations, often with the focus on generosity and the context determining whether the focus is on generosity or some other rationale for the giving. In the LXX didōmi generally renders Heb. natan, to give, used in one of three settings (1) by men one to another; (2) by men to God; and (3) by God to men (DNTT 2:41). us: 1p-pl. pronoun. this day: Grk. sēmeron, today, this very day, now. our: 1p-pl. pronoun. daily: Grk. epiousios, adj., what is needed for subsistence to sustain life. The adj. refers to God's provision that is needed for each day (HELPS). The noun occurs only twice in the Besekh (also in Luke's version of the Lord's Prayer, 11:3). bread: Grk. artos (for Heb. lechem, SH-3899), bread or food, which refers to a baked product made from cereal grain.
Since bread was eaten at every meal in biblical lands, the term was often used as a synonym for food and the support of life in general quite apart from its literal meaning (DNTT 1:250). The prayer recalls the days of the wilderness wanderings when God literally provided the daily manna, the bread of heaven (Ps 105:40; John 6:31). Consider that in ancient times when there was no refrigeration, shopping for food was a daily necessity. Wages for workers were also paid daily in order to buy food. We should note that the plural pronouns focus on the community and not just the individual.
This petition is unselfish. We are praying that God will do for the people of God what we want him to do for us as individuals. Some in our midst don't have money for food. By praying this prayer we are taking responsibility to ask God to supply their needs. The petition also recognizes that God's blessings are shared as a people. What He gives is not the sole property of the recipient (Isa 58:7). The early disciples understood this principle and shared their bread with one another (Acts 2:44-46).
The petition contains profound spiritual meaning. Bread was a metaphor for the resources that sustain us (Eccl 11:1). Bread represents all the promises God made to Israel (Matt 15:26). Bread represents eternal life and that life is found in Yeshua. (John 6:27, 48). To pray for our daily bread is not to ask for just what our bodies need, but what will also nourish our souls and spirits. Just as the Israelites were provided manna to sustain them while they were pilgrims in the wilderness, so we pray for the bread that will sustain us during our sojourn on earth.
12 'And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And: Grk. kai, conj. forgive: Grk. aphiēmi, aor. imp., may mean to (1) release from one's presence; (2) release from an obligation; (3) let remain behind; (4) leave standing or lying or (5) in a permissive sense to let, let go, allow or tolerate. The second meaning applies here. Confession and repentance are prerequisites of God's mercy, a prayer for forgiveness of sin is also required in this connection. The verb is in the imperative mood, ordinarily the mood of command. However, we cannot command God to forgive us; rather the mood indicates the urgency with which the disciple prays. This is not a light request.
The LXX uses aphiēmi, to translate two different Heb. words for forgiveness: nasa and salach (DNTT 1:698). Of the two Hebrew words, salach, to forgive or pardon, is only used of God's forgiveness. Nasa is also used of God's forgiveness in the Tanakh, and means to release from guilt or punishment (e.g., Gen 18:26; Ex 32:32; Ps 32:5), but it is used once of human forgiveness in the story of Joseph (Gen 50:17).
us: 1p-pl. pronoun. The pronoun points to the need of the community for the grace of God. Since the sin of one can harm the whole (e.g., Achan), then we pray that the community will not suffer for that one sin. The petition also expresses the willingness to forgive as the second part alludes.
our debts. Grk. opheilēma, that which is owed, (1) particularly of a financial nature, a debt, usually created by a loan; also (2) moral obligations to people or state laws. In the LXX opheilēma renders hōb, a debt (Ezek 18:7). The Torah regulates loans in a very distinctive way. Every seven years monetary debts were to be remitted by the creditor, called Heb. sh'mittah, lit. "a release" (Deut 15:1-2, 9; 31:10). Luke 11:4 has "forgive us our sins." The Tanakh does not make use of the concept of legal debt in order to depict obligation to God. In the Torah God directed certain obligations be carried out in relation to family members, to employers and to neighbors. Failure to carry out these obligations results in "debts" both to God and to those wronged.
as: Grk. hōs, adv. used generally for comparison purposes, "as" or "just as." The adverb would have the effective meaning of "in the same manner as" or "to the same degree as." we also have forgiven: Grk. aphiēmi, aor. While the aorist tense depicts action in past time, it can also be used in an ingressive sense, by viewing the action from its initiation. Thus, some versions translate the verbal phrase "as we also forgive" (CEV, KJV, MRINT, NKJV). The translation of "have forgiven" might imply a quid pro quo. "We have forgiven others so now you owe us forgiveness." Yet, it is a dangerous thing to ask God for forgiveness on the same basis as we give it.
What must be considered is how the plural pronouns representing the prayer of the congregation affect the meaning of the petition. Is the "we" strictly rhetorical stressing the individuals in the congregation, or is it literal, referring to the congregation as a deliberative body? On this point special stress was laid by the Jewish sages of old. "Forgive your neighbor the hurt that he has done to you, so shall your sins also be forgiven when you pray" (Sirach 38:2). Accordingly Yeshua said: "Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions" (Mark 11:25).
John Wesley said in his Plain Account of Christian Perfection that if it wasn't for the blood of Yeshua, even our mistakes would condemn us. Consider what we owe the Father in return for what he's done for us. Consider the example of Yeshua and the values he sought to instill in his disciples. If we stand in the light, we can find many areas exposed by the perfection and holiness of God that need his forgiveness.
our debtors: pl. of Grk. opheiletēs may mean (1) one who is under obligation to another financially, debtor, or (2) by extension one ;who is under obligation interpersonally, either involving responsibility to God or humans. The second usage applies here. Relevant to this context is the legal fiction created by Hillel to prevent the forgiveness of debts every seven years as specified in the Torah. (see note on 5:42) This petition constitutes a rebuke of Hillel's policy.
In the Judaism of Yeshua' day opheilēma translates Heb. hobah, which now comes to refer to arrears in payment, a debt, obligation, and to sin. Sin is no longer conceived of as intrinsic disobedience, but as an outstanding debt, for which one can compensate by appropriate righteous acts. The Besekh contains hundreds of commands, i.e., obligations toward God. When we fail to meet those expectations we are in debt to God.
However, those in the congregation who have sinned owe something to the congregation, even if the sin was not directly against a member of the congregation. If someone were to confess to the congregation that they had committed some sin, how would the congregation react? Shock? Revulsion? Compassion? We are saying that we can forgive those in the congregation who have sinned.
13 'And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [KJV: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."]
And: Grk. kai, conj. do not lead: Grk. eispherō, aor. subj., cause to be brought into a place or condition; bring in or lead in. Danker suggests a translation of "do not expose us to." us: 1p-pl. pronoun. into temptation: Grk. peirasmos may mean either (1) a means to determine quality or performance or (2) exposure or enticement to possibility of wrongdoing. The prayer "lead us not into temptation" is also is found in a Jewish daily blessing.
"May it be Thy will, O Lord, my God, to make me lie down in peace, and set my portion in Thy law and accustom me to the performance of religious duties, but do not accustom me to transgression; and bring me not into sin, or into iniquity, or into temptation, or into contempt." (Berakoth 60b)
One Rabbi cautioned: "Never should a man bring himself into temptation as David did, saying, 'Examine me, O Lord, and prove me' [Ps 36:2], and stumbled" (Sanhedrin 107a). Even so, the petition in the Lord's Prayer as translated by the NASB (and most versions) is paradoxical since God expressly says that He tempts no one (Jas 1:3), whereas Satan is the great tempter (Matt 4:1; Luke 4:13; 1Cor 7:5; 1Th 3:5). On the contrary, God does test His people (Ex 15:25; 16:4; Deut 8:2; Jdg 2:21-22; 3:1; Ps 11:4-5). Jacob (aka "James") offers this exhortation,
"My brothers and sisters, when you might encounter various trials, consider every joy, 3 knowing that the testing of your faithfulness produces patience. 4 And let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (Jas 1:2-3 mine)
Thus, a few versions translate peirasmos here as "a test" (EXB), "the final test" (GNC) or "hard testing" (CJB, TEV). On the other hand the petition with "temptation" could be appropriate since Yeshua was "led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted [or tested] by the devil" (Matt 4:1). The petition would be like asking God not to take us where Yeshua had to go. Nevertheless, Yeshua wants his disciples to offer this petition. So, by this prayer the disciple could be asking God (1) to spare him trials that would in fact destroy his faith; and/or (2) to give him overcoming faith to handle the trials that come his way.
but deliver: Grk. rhuomai, aor. mid. imp., remove from peril by personal intervention; deliver, rescue, save. Mounce adds "drag out of danger." The imperative mood has the force of an entreaty and the emphasis could be either in the sense of prevention or deliverance. us from evil: Grk. ponēros may be used as an adjective and mean (1) in poor condition, sick, painful, virulent, bad, spoiled, worthless; or (2) in the ethical sense wicked, evil, bad, base. The term may also be used as a pure substantive (noun) and refer to (1) a wicked or evil-intentioned person, evil-doer, (2) the evil one (the devil), or that which is evil, such as thoughts or deeds (BAG). Danker adds another meaning of "marked by lowness in social worth."
In the LXX ponēros renders Heb. ra, which can mean adversity, bad, evil, or of little value (DNTT 1:565). In the Tanakh ra is used to describe (1) that which is ethically evil (Deut 1:35; 4:25) and (2) something or someone that is displeasing, injurious, unhappy, unkind or unpleasant (e.g. Lev 27:10; Deut 22:14; 28:35; Prov 25:20; Isa 3:11). The broad range of meaning of the term requires close attention to the context to determine its usage. With the presence of the definite article (ho ponēros), the term would be intended as a noun and could refer either to the devil or exposure to the evil deeds of others. Either of these options would work in the prayer. The translation choice is really dependent on how peirasmos is viewed, if "temptation" then "evil one" is appropriate, if "testing" then "evil" is appropriate. The reality is that the devil is always working to destroy God's people, so the plea for rescue is always relevant, whether from Satan's schemes or his traps into which we may fall (cf. John 17:15; 1Pet 5:8).
Other Possible Meanings
1. Deliver the earth of evil. This petition could have an eschatological thrust. We pray for the coming of the Holy One who will rid the earth of the influence and power of evil. Yeshua came to destroy evil (1Jn 3:8) and we pray for his final victory.
2. Deliver us from our own tendency toward sinning and selfishness, and in particular considering the next verse our own resentment and unforgiveness. In other words, "the evil" might be our own yetzer ra, evil inclination or inherent selfishness. (As in the Pogo comic strip: "We have found the enemy and he is us.") This is the theme of many Jewish prayers.
"My God, keep my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking guile. May my soul be silent to them that curse me and may my soul be as the dust to all. Open Thou my heart in Thy law, and may my soul pursue Thy commandments, and deliver me from evil hap, from the evil impulse and from an evil woman and from all evils that threaten to come upon the world. As for all that design evil against me, speedily annul their counsel and frustrate their designs!" (Berakoth 17b)
[In a bedtime prayer] "And may the good inclination have sway over me and let not the evil inclination have sway over me. And deliver me from evil hap and sore diseases, and let not evil dreams and evil thoughts disturb me, and may my couch be flawless before Thee, and enlighten mine eyes lest I sleep the sleep of death." (Berakoth 60b)
Considering the context of forgiving debts and the following comments of Yeshua in verses 19-23 below, then the petition may well have to do with praying for deliverance from our own inclination toward putting self-interest first.
Doxology: The doxology ["For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."] found in Matthew's version of the Lord's Prayer (cf. Luke 11:1-4), and preserved in the KJV, does not occur in the earliest and best manuscripts. It echoes the doxology of Ezra, "Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all" (1Chr 29:11). The doxology is preserved in the second century works Didache 8 and the Diatessaron 8:36, so it was not the invention of late MS copyists.
Instruction on Forgiveness, 6:14-15
14 "For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
For: Grk. gar, conj. generally accepted as a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that." if: Grk. ean, conj. that serves as a conditional particle and produces an aspect of tentativeness by introducing a possible circumstance that determines the realization of some other circumstance. you forgive: Grk. aphiēmi, aor. subj., 2p-pl. See verse 12 above. others: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 1 above. The noun refers to human beings in general and not just men. for their transgressions. Grk. paraptōma, "a false step," violation, trespass. In this context the term refers to offenses committed against others. The disciple is expected to forgive any grievance (cf. Mark 11:25). The requirement of forgiveness is not dependent on the character of the offender, the nature of the offense, whether the offender admits the offense or even whether the offender is living or dead.
your heavenly: Grk. ouranois, adj., relating to a transcendent realm, of God's dwelling-place. Father: See verse 1 above. will also forgive: Grk. aphiēmi, fut. you: 2p-pl. pronoun. The pronoun certainly applies to individuals, but there is also the sense that as individuals experience the Father's forgiveness, so does the congregation. Yeshua stresses the fact that forgiveness proceeds from the Father, not the Son nor the Spirit. The atoning sacrifice provides the basis for divine forgiveness and the Spirit communicates that forgiveness to the person's heart.
When the Father forgives, He cancels the debt of sin, lifts the guilt burden and restores the relationship. Forgiveness is primarily an act, not a feeling, although deep emotion may result from the experience. God's forgiveness shows the way we are to forgive others. Forgiveness by God requires penitence on the part of the seeker and one of the chief evidences of true repentance is a forgiving spirit. When we view the enormity of our transgressions from God's point of view, then the offenses of others are put in the right perspective. Resentment tends to exaggerate the offenses of others while minimizing one's own.
There are two types of forgiveness: First, as stated in this verse Yeshua expects that disciples forgive in their hearts. This is a readiness or willingness to verbally forgive if and when asked. Heart forgiveness sets no preconditions on the part of the offender. Contrary to popular myth, forgiveness doesn't mean forgetting. Forgiving does not lead to amnesia. Instead forgiveness is choosing not to remember the hurt. Satan may tempt with the memory, but remind the tempter of the completed forgiveness and pray for God's blessing on the offender.
Second, Yeshua commanded that disciples share forgiveness (Luke 17:3). Sharing forgiveness requires going to the offender and confronting concerning the wrong (Matt 18:15). If the offender admits the wrong and repents then forgiveness should be granted verbally. Verbal forgiveness should never be spoken without confession and admission of wrong-doing. This is God's way of dealing with us (1Jn 1:9). The wrongdoer's performance after repentance cannot be a condition to granting forgiveness when it is requested. After all, God forgives us when we confess even though He has foreknowledge of our future behavior. Heart forgiveness ("readiness") is essential to the success of the "going" mandate. This principle presumes that one should not go to confront the offender without being ready to forgive.
Yeshua intends that forgiveness be a lifestyle. Disciples should always be initiators of reconciliation. The forgiving spirit could lead the non-believer to Yeshua and salvation. When a disciple has a dispute with a non-believer, he must follow the example of Yeshua. In his suffering Yeshua did not resort to deceit, insults, threats or retaliation (1Pet 2:21-23). Being ready to forgive is no guarantee that others will repent. Going and confronting should be followed not because they might work, but simply because Yeshua has commanded his disciples to do so. The responsibility of the disciple is to remove barriers to reconciliation that he has control over, such as attitudes and actions. In the end a disciple of Yeshua must trust his Heavenly Father to work justice for him, just as Yeshua "kept entrusting himself to Him who judges righteously" (1Pet 2:23).
For more instruction on this topic see my web article Reconciling a Broken Relationship.
15 "But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
Yeshua repeats the terms of the previous verse, but from a
negative point of view.
Without being ready to forgive the injustice of the wrong remains and there will be the temptation for continual mental reenactment of the hurt. Reminding oneself of the wrong can create a bitter spirit, which, in turn, can produce barriers in other relationships. Prolonged bitterness and resentment can also adversely affect one's health. Most important of all one's spiritual health can be damaged. The Lord is clear that forgiveness is a duty, the avoidance of which brings spiritual consequences. This is one of several inhibitors to answered prayer (cf. Eph 4:30-32; Heb 12:15-17). For more instruction on this topic see my web article Overcoming Resentment.
Instruction on Fasting, 6:16-18
16 "[Now] Whenever 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.
[Now: Grk. de, conj.] Whenever: Grk. otan, conj. See verse 2 above. you fast: Grk. nēsteuō, pres. subj., to abstain from food for a devotional or religious purpose. Dieting is not fasting. In the LXX nēsteuō renders Heb. tsūm (SH-6684), to abstain from food or to fast, first in Judges 20:26. The verb occurs 21 times in the Tanakh and the corresponding noun Heb. tsom (SH-6685) occurs 26 times, primarily in occasions of mourning the dead, but also for giving personal devotion to ADONAI (1Sam 7:6), or seeking an answer from God (Ezra 8:23). Fasting is also indicated in passages where someone abstained from eating while communing with ADONAI, as Moses (Ex 34:28), Ezra (Ezra 10:6) and Ezekiel (Ezek 24:17). Abstaining from leavened bread during Passover might be considered a form of fasting. For a historical review of fasting among Israelites see my web article Fasting and Prayer.
The first clause alludes to the regular fasts engaged in by Jewish people. These fasts included the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, Tishri 10 (Lev 16:29; 23:27), and fast-days established during the captivity in commemoration of the various sad events that had befallen the Jews (Zech 8:19; cf. 7:3-5). These were the fasts of the fourth month, Tammuz 17 (July), of the fifth month, Av 9 (August), of the seventh month, Tishri 3 (Sept-Oct), of the tenth month, Tevet (January), of the twelfth month, Adar 13 (Esth 9:13). In addition, Pharisees engaged in fasting as a personal discipline at least two times per week, which in the time of Yeshua fell on the second day (Monday) and fifth day (Thursday) of the week. Fasting was not permitted on Sabbaths, during festivals, on a new moon, or during the month of Nisan.
We should note that Yeshua did not command his disciples to fast. Indeed, his disciples did not engage in fasting beyond the obligatory fasts (Mark 2:18). He did acknowledge that when he was taken from them his disciples would fast in mourning (Matt 9:15). From a Jewish point of view Yeshua anticipated his disciples would continue to participate in the customary fasts of the Jewish people. There is likewise no instruction from the apostles to engage in fasting, although it might be implied in exhortations to humble oneself (Jas 4:10; 1Pet 5:6). On the contrary there is warning against asceticism and abstinence from the good things God has provided (1Cor 7:3-5; Col 2:23, 1Tim 4:1-5).
do not put on a gloomy face. Grk. skuthrōpos refers to a grumpy or sullen countenance. Isaiah criticized a similar practice of "bowing one's head like a reed and for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed" (Isa 58:5). In other words, making a show of penitence, a form of godliness without any heart intention is abhorrent to the Lord. as the hypocrites do: pl. of Grk. hupocritēs. See verse 2 above. for they neglect: Grk aphanizō, pres., cause to be in a condition not subject to appearance, to hide from view. their appearance: Grk. prosōpon, that which forms the prominent identifying part of a person, the face. By extension the noun can refer to one's countenance or appearance.
Neglecting appearance refers to a practice of rendering unsightly or unrecognizable with ashes and by leaving the hair and beard unattended or by coloring the face to look pale as though suffering deprivation from fasting. In the Talmud it is noted that on Yom Kippur some zealous worshippers put ashes on their faces to illustrate their spiritual poverty (Yoma 8; cited by Kasdan 69). so that they will be noticed: Grk. phainō, aor. pass. subj. See verse 5 above. by men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 1 above. when they are fasting: Grk. nēsteuō, pres. part. Truly, I say to you: See verse 2 above. they have their reward in full: Grk. mistos. See verses 1 and 5 above. Yeshua warns that false fasting will bring no reward from God and whatever notice or praise the hypocrite received from men would be all the reward he could expect.
17 "But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face
But: Grk. de, conj. you: 2p-sing. pronoun. when you fast: Grk. nēsteuō, pres. part. Unlike verse 16 this should be lit. translated "But you, fasting" or "fasting one." The present tense refers to contemporaneous time and the participle points to both the person doing the action and the action itself. The pronoun "you" is singular. The translation of "when" may be implied and likely referred to the obligatory fasts shared by the Jewish people. He could have even been addressing one of the hypocrites. Yeshua then gives some simple guidelines for fasting.
anoint: Grk. aleiphō, aor. mid. imp., to apply a substance in a smearing or rubbing action; anoint. your head: Grk. kephalē, the head as an anatomical term. Anointing the head probably refers to putting oil on the head. In contrast Daniel refrained from anointing himself when he fasted (Dan 10:3). and wash: Grk. niptō, aor. mid. imp., to cleanse with water; wash, wash oneself. your face: Grk. prosōpon. See the previous verse. Yeshua prohibits smearing something on the face to symbolize suffering. In other words, maintain hygiene.
18 so 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.
so that: Grk. hopōs, conj. See verse 4 above. your fasting: Grk. nēsteuō, pres. part. See verse 16 above. will not be noticed: Grk. phainō, aor. pass. subj. See verse 5 above. by men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 1 above. but by your Father: See verse 1 above. who is in secret: Grk. kruptos, adj. See verse 4 above. and your Father who sees: Grk. blepō, pres. part. See verse 4 above. what is done in secret: Grk. kruptos. will reward: Grk. apodidōmi, fut. See verse 4 above. you: 2p-sing. pronoun.
Yeshua here gives the rationale for anointing and washing. It will help to avoid notice by others and drawing attention to one's fasting. Yeshua also promised that there are rewards to be gained from fasting, but offers no definitive list. The reward could be as simple as God's approval and the personal blessing of drawing closer to God. A disciple's goal should be to please God in all things. Since fasting in Scripture generally accompanies prayer then a reward would be God granting the petition(s) associated with the fasting (verse 6 above).
Instruction on Stewardship, 6:19-24
19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
Do not store up. Grk. thēsaurizō, pres. imp., means to store up, gather or save. With the negative adverb that begins the verbal command would mean to stop something in progress and keep it stopped. Yeshua is not against saving, but against selfishness, as in the parable of the rich man who plans on storing his grain for his own future use without consideration to the needs of others (Luke 12:18). Many Christians have been co-opted by the simplicity movement that attempts to take Yeshua literalistically. Living simply with few possessions is supposed to help the poor and the environment. Yeshua, who was poor and homeless (Matt 8:20; 2Cor 8:9), is held up as the model. Yet, the simplicity movement advocates are not quite ready to forsake all property ownership.
The simplicity movement is a variation on the asceticism of the Middle Ages, but with a different philosophical foundation. It is based on the assumption of a zero sum game, that there is a finite and fixed amount of resources. The poor are poor because the rich have taken a greater share of the pie, so if you want the poor to have more everybody must have less. America is often painted as a villain, supposedly hoarding most of the world's resources.
Liberalism and Socialism aid this process politically by supposedly taking from the rich to give to the poor, except that most of the money is consumed by the government and not the poor. Such a practice is ultimately destructive of a society's prosperity. The poor of America are rich compared to the poor of Africa and third-world countries who suffer because of oppressive dictatorial governments, cultural degeneration and paganism.
for yourselves treasures. pl. of Grk. thēsauros may mean (1) the place where something is kept, whether a treasure box or chest or a storehouse, storeroom; (2) that which is stored up, treasure. Although it might appear that Yeshua was advising his disciples to avoid acquiring wealth, Yeshua is more concerned about one's priorities. What is first in one's life? Yeshua then alludes to the three most valued treasures in ancient Israel: clothing, grain and gold. on earth: Grk. gē. See verse 10 above. The mention of "earth" considers this present world in contrast to heaven. where moth. Grk. sēs, moth, although it is the larvae of the moth that eats clothing (cf. Job 4:19). Scripture tells of the downfall of two men who coveted clothing: Achan (Josh 7:21) who stole a beautiful mantle made in Shinar, and Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, who sought forbidden profit of clothing out of Naaman after he was healed by Elisha (2Kgs 5:22).
and rust. Grk. brōsis, which means eating or consuming food. This verse is the only place where the brōsis is translated as "rust" and yet in context there is no mention of anything that might rust. However, as a general term for consuming, brōsis likely means another insect. In the LXX brōsis translates Heb. akal in Mal 3:11 ("devourer") which alludes to the destruction caused by grasshoppers and locusts. In ancient times wealth often consisted of grain, which could be destroyed in the fields by locusts or eaten in storage by worms, rats or other vermin. It should be noted that when James 5:3 says, "Your gold and silver have rusted," the Grk. text has katioō, which does mean to rust, corrode or tarnish.
destroy. Grk. aphanizō, pres. See verse 16 above. When the verb is used of treasures or material possessions it means to destroy, to ruin or to cause to perish. In Greek literature it was also used to refer to destruction by animals. and where thieves: pl. of Grk. kleptēs, thief, one who steals, one who violates the eighth commandment (Ex 20:15; Deut 5:19). In the LXX the noun kleptēs translates the Heb. gannab (SH-1590), which like the Greek word includes the sense of stealth (DNTT 3:377). Thievery was a pervasive problem in the ancient world (Matt 24:43; Luke 12:33; Eph 4:28; 1Pet 4:15).
break in. Grk. diorussō, pres., to dig through or break through. In ancient times walls of many houses were made of baked clay and burglars would seek to gain entry by digging through the wall. and steal: Grk. kleptō, pres., to unlawfully take property belonging to another in violation of the eighth commandment (Ex 20:15). The use of kleptō emphasizes the secrecy, craftiness, and cheating involved in the act of stealing or embezzlement. Unlike the concept of robbery, kleptō normally does not imply violence. In the LXX kleptō also translates the Heb. ganab.
20 "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;
But: Grk. de, conj. store up: Grk. thēsaurizō, pres. imp. See the previous verse. for yourselves treasures: pl. of Grk. thēsauros. See the previous verse. in heaven: Grk. ouranos. See verse 1 above. The term is used here of the third heaven where the Father dwells. Yeshua explains this treasure to the rich young ruler: "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven" (Matt 19:21; cf. Luke 12:33). where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal: Yeshua repeats the terms from the previous verse and counsels his disciples to pour energy in storing up things which cannot be lost. Storing up in heaven is similar to the modern concept of "paying it forward." Storing up in heaven is not limited to almsgiving, but even more so investing in kingdom outreach by supporting the spread of the good news.
21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
for: Grk. gar, conj. where: Grk. hopou, adv. of place; where, in what place. The adverb is noteworthy is that Yeshua changes the terms of investing from a person to a place, i.e. heaven. your treasure: Grk. thēsauros. See verse 19 above. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 4 above. there: Grk. ekei, adv., in that place. your heart: Grk. kardia, the pumplike organ of blood circulation, used fig. of selfhood or the combination of character, emotion, intelligence and the will. In the LXX kardia renders Heb. lebab (SH-3824), inner man, mind, heart, will (DNTT 2:181).
will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. also: Stern observes that this is why God refused to let the Israelites take their property from Egypt (Ex 10:8–11, 24–27). The corollary is also true. Where your heart is, your treasure will be there also. If one's heart is set on things that will perish, then the way is open for heart-break when those things are taken away.
22 "The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.
Yeshua uses a scientific observation to express a powerful spiritual truth. The eye: Grk. ophthalmos, the physical organ of sight; eyes. In the Tanakh the mention of "eyes" functions as a parallelism of the heart (Ps 19:8; 36:1; 73:7; Prov 21:4). is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 4 above. the lamp: Grk. luchnos, lamp, a vessel used for providing light. In the first century the lamp was normally a small oil and wick lamp that sat on lampstands. The term is used figuratively here. of the body: Grk. sōma, a structured physical unit in contrast to its parts, body of human or animal, whether living or dead, but normally of a human body. so then: Grk. oun, conj. if: lit. "if therefore." your eye: Grk. ophthalmos. is: Grk. eimi, pres. subj. clear: Grk. haplous, adj., open and aboveboard, artless, without guile.
Mounce defines haplous as single; hence, simple, uncompounded; sound, perfect. HELPS comments that the adj. means being without a secret "double agenda," which prevents an over-complicated life (i.e., becoming needlessly distracted). Jacob uses the corresponding noun haplotēs to speak of God giving generously (Jas 1:5). your whole: Grk. holos, adj., signifier of a person or thing understood as a complete unit and not necessarily every individual part; all, whole, entire. body: Grk. sōma. In Hebrew thought the body stood for the whole person including soul and spirit. Yeshua does not engage in a form of Greek dualism by speaking of the body. In Hebrew thought a person is a unified soul-body. will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. full of light: Grk. phōteinos, having the characteristics of light; bright, illuminated.
Yeshua's observation relies on the Hebrew concept of seeing. Truly seeing goes beyond the physical capacity for apprehending one's surroundings. It is using one's eyes to see the true condition of those who inhabit one's surroundings and responding to their needs. God expressed this idea to Moses.
"I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings." (Ex 3:7)
23 "But 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!
But if your eye: Grk. ophthalmos. See the previous verse. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 4 above. bad: Grk. ponēros, adj. See verse 13 above. A number of versions as the NASB render the adjective as "bad" (CEB, CEV, CSB, ESV, NEB, NKJV, TLV), and some have "unhealthy" (NIV, NLT, NRSV). Yet, perhaps a better translation considering the context is "evil" (ASV, CJB, ISV, KJV, NCV, NOG, OJB). Stern comments that in Judaism having a "good eye," an ayin tovah, means "being generous" and "having a bad eye," an 'ayin ra'ah, means "being stingy." In usage, making a wide opening in a wine cask so that the wine would flow freely, not meagerly, was called a "good eye" (Shabbat 146a).
The idiom of having a "bad eye," an ayin ra'ah, was used in two related ways. First, a "bad eye" represents stinginess. This might be expressed in denying loans or neglecting the poor.
"Beware that there is no base thought in your heart, saying, `The seventh year, the year of remission, is near,' and your eye is hostile [LXX Grk. ponēros] toward your poor brother, and you give him nothing; then he may cry to the LORD against you, and it will be a sin in you." (Deut 15:9)
R. Joshua b. Korha said, Any one who shuts his eye against charity is like one who worships idols" (Kethuboth 68a; Baba Bathra 1:4). The rabbis in the school of Hillel taught that an individual who gave one-fortieth of his income had a good eye, but a person who gave only one-sixtieth of his income had a bad eye. The idiom applied to sales of property: if the seller sought to benefit the buyer, then the seller had a good eye; if the seller sought to benefit only himself, he had a bad eye (Baba Bathra 3:1).
Second, a "bad eye" represents self-seeking. Yeshua uses the same idiom to represent in the parable of the landowner who pays all the laborers the same and when faced with complaint, replies,
"Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious [Grk. ponēros] because I am generous?" (Matt 20:15)
your whole body: See the previous verse. will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. full of darkness: Grk. skoteinos, dark, full of darkness, covered with darkness. If then the light: Grk. phōs (Heb. or), that which serves as a revealing or disclosing medium; light. that is in you is darkness: Grk. skotos is used for (1) absence of light, darkness, and (2) fig. of ignorance in moral or spiritual matters. The first meaning applies here. It may seem as if Yeshua is mixing his metaphors. Light and darkness are clearly different properties. Rather he uses "light" in the sense of self-deception, much as he will later chastise certain Pharisees:
"And Yeshua said, "For judgment I came into this world, that the ones not seeing may see, and the ones seeing may become blind." 40 Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard these things, and they said to him, "Surely we are not also blind?" 41 Yeshua said to them, "If you were blind, you would not have sin; but now you say, 'We see," your sin remains." (John 9:39-41 mine)
how great: Grk. posos, interrogative pronoun with a numerical aspect, here with focus on degree or extent. is: Grk. eimi, pres. the darkness: Grk. skotos. The clause, "how great is the darkness" is actually a rhetorical question, although Bible versions make it an exclamation. Yeshua poses the question for reflection, not because he thinks the disciples have a definitive answer.
An idiom similar to "clear eye" is "single eye," which means a sincere, selfless outlook on life. This interpretation is confirmed by the context, since Yeshua is talking about greed and anxiety about money. Generosity is one of the chief ways of demonstrating the light of God in one's life. If we love others as God intended and have a generous spirit, our life will be full of light. If we think of only our own needs and desires, turning a blind eye to the needs of others, our lives will be darkness to those around us.
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.
Parallel: Luke 16:13
No one: Grk. oudeis, adj., adj. used here to indicate negation of a person or thing as actually existing at a given place or moment; no one, not one, nobody, none. The adjective admits no exceptions other than what is stated. can: Grk. dunamai, pres. mid., to be capable of doing or achieving, to have power; lit. "is able." serve: Grk douleuō, pres. inf., to be in slavery to, to function in total obedience to a master as a slave or bond-servant. two: Grk. duo, adj. The number two. masters: pl. of Grk. kurios, may mean either (1) one in control through possession, and therefore owner or master; or (2) one esteemed for authority or high status, thus lord or master. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, the great majority to translate Heb. words for God. Kurios also occurs a number of times to identify men of higher rank to whom respect is owed (DNTT 2:511). Yeshua is stating a simple truth. Ownership of a slave or servant was absolute; it wasn't shared.
for either he will hate: Grk. miseō, fut., means to detest, abhor or reject. In the LXX miseō renders Heb. sane (SH–8130; "saw–nay"), which has the same meaning (first in Gen 26:27). The Hebrew word often indicates an emotional impulse to despise that can result in an action to turn against (e.g., Joseph's brothers, Gen 37:2–8). Hatred in Scripture also refers to the hostility shown by an enemy (Gen 24:60; Ex 1:10; Num 10:35; Deut 30:7; Matt 24:9; Luke 1:71). However, miseō may simply mean to love less (e.g., Jacob loved Leah less than Rachel, Gen 29:30; cf. Deut 21:15–17). Yeshua applied the same idiomatic usage of "hating" to one's parents (Matt 10:37). the one: Grk. heis, the numeral one, used here in reference to one of the two masters.
and love: Grk. agapaō, fut., may mean (1) to have such an interest in another that one wishes to contribute to the other's well-being; or (2) to take delight in, value, esteem. In the LXX agapaō translates aheb (SH-157), but aheb is a far more comprehensive word than agapaō. The Hebrew word is comparable to the English verb "love," which may be used in a variety of ways. the other: Grk. heteros, adj., a distributive pronoun that may (1) distinguish one item from another in a numerical sense, other, another; or (2) express dissimilarity of one item relative to another, whether generically or qualitatively; other, another or different. The second meaning applies here. or he will be devoted: Grk. antechō, fut. mid., to have a close attachment to or interest in; respect, esteem. to one: Grk. heis.
and despise: Grk. kataphroneō, fut., look down upon; despise, disdain, scorn. the other: Grk. heteros. You cannot: Grk. dunami, pres. mid. with the negative particle ou. serve: Grk. douleuō, pres. inf. The phrase is lit. "you are not able to serve." God: Grk. theos, God or god, which must be determined from the context. In the LXX theos primarily renders the name of the Creator God Elohim (DNTT 2:67-70). Here the noun is the God of Israel, the only true God. From the beginning God intended that people give exclusive service to Him (Ex 23:24-25). Joshua called the people of his day to choose whether they would serve God only (Josh 24:15). Yeshua echoed this theme when he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Matt 4:10).
and wealth: Grk. mamōnas, wealth of various kinds. Originally the word meant that which was entrusted to someone's care, but it eventually came to mean that in which one placed his trust. The term occurs only four times in the Besekh (also Luke 16:9, 11, 13). The Greek word does not occur in the LXX at all, and its earliest usage is in the apostolic writings (DNTT 2:837). In itself the word may be neutral, but in the parable of the unrighteous steward Yeshua gives it a negative connotation of possessions dishonestly gained or used.
To expression "serve wealth" would imply far more than just earning a living. God expects His people to work for their bread and not be lazy (cf. Eph 4:28; 2Th 3:10). And, from the fruit of that labor God expects tithes and offerings to be brought to the sanctuary (Deut 12:6; Mal 3:8; Matt 10:8-10; 23:23; 1Cor 9:4-7; 16:2; 2Tim 2:6). However, to "serve wealth" refers to the pursuit of wealth, making the accumulation of wealth as the priority of life, which can only result in many stresses and sorrows (1Tim 6:10, 17).
Additional Note on Mamōnas
The Greek word mamōnas corresponds to the Heb. mamôn, although lexicons generally consider the origin of the Greek word as Aramaic. Hamp presents a persuasive argument that mamōnas is a loanword from Hebrew (63-66). According to Hamp Heb. mamôn comes from an old Hebrew root המון, hamôn, essentially meaning "many, a multitude" (63). In fact, Delitzsch translates Grk. mamōnas with Heb. hamôn. According to the standard Hebrew lexicons hamôn includes the meanings of abundance of animals (2Chr11:23; Jer 49:32) and of things (1Chr 29:16; 2Chr 31:10), and abundance of wealth (Ps 37:16; Eccl 5:9; Isa 60:5) (BDB 242; Gesenius 227).
The Heb. word mamôn is found many times in the Mishnah and Talmud, which Jastrow defines as accumulation, wealth, or value (794). In rabbinic writing mamōn was not just money but all material possessions that have the equivalent to money and even all that a man possesses apart from his body and life. Talmudic passages typically use the term discussing money and terms of payment or monetary penalties for some offense (e.g., Avot 2:12; Baba Kama 83b; 116b; Baba Metzia 2b; Berakoth 61b; Ketuboth 3:2; Sanhedrin 1:1). However, the rabbis considered the Torah true wealth (cf. Tosephtha Avot 1:6).
Instruction on Anxiety, 6:25-34
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?
For this reason: lit. "because of this," which alludes to the instruction in the previous section. I say: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 2 above. to you: 2p-pl. pronoun. do not be worried about: Grk. merimnaō, pres. imp., be uneasy in mind or spirit, here with the focus on worrying about meeting one's needs. It is a level of fretting that begins to unsettle sleep and interfere with normal activities. your life: Grk. psuchē may mean (1) a quality without which a body is physically dead; life; (2) that which possesses vital being; person; or (3) that which is integral to being a person beyond physical function; life (inner) self, soul. The third meaning applies here. In the LXX psuchē corresponds to Heb. nephesh (SH-5315), which represents the inner self and the seat of desires, passions, appetites, and emotion.
as to what you will eat: Grk. phagō, aor. subj., to take in one's mouth, to partake of food. or what you will drink: Grk. pinō, aor. subj., to take in a liquid, to drink, usually of water or wine. nor for your body: Grk. sōma. See verse 22 above. as to what you will put on: Grk. enduō, aor. mid. subj., to provide covering, thus, to put on, clothe oneself or wear. Is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 4 above. not life: Grk. psuchē. more: Grk. pleiōn, adj., a comparative form of polus ("great in number") with the effect of greater in quality. than food: Grk. trophē, that which is needed to nourish or sustain physical life; food, victuals. In the case of Jews the food would be kosher. and the body: Grk. sōma. more than clothing: Grk. enduma, apparel, garment or clothing, especially the outer garment.
The first principle is that God gave us life, and, since He gave us life, which is priceless, surely we can trust him for the things of much less value. Conversely, the admonition to quit worrying is not permission to avoid planning for the needs of life.
26 "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
Look: Grk. emblepō, aor. imp., to look at, with a suggestion of some intensity. Yeshua exhorts his disciples to study nature. at the birds: pl. of Grk. peteinon, is a generic word for bird, whether clean or unclean. of the air: Grk. ouranos. See verse 1 above on "heaven." The term refers here to the first heaven or atmosphere, indicating that the birds are of the type capable of flight. There are several animals classified as birds that cannot fly at all (e.g., penguin, ostrich, kiwi). The qualification may seem unnecessary since no flightless birds have been identified as indigenous to Israel. Chickens are not really flightless since they can fly short distances. (The translation of Heb. ya'anah in Lev 11:16 et. al. with "ostrich" in some versions is inaccurate.)
that they do not sow: Grk. speirō, pres., to sow seed in the agricultural sense. nor reap: Grk. therizō, pres., to bring in a crop, reap, harvest. nor gather: Grk. sunagō, pres., to bring together in a collective manner, gather. into barns: Grk. apothēkē, a place for storage, such as a storehouse or granary. and yet your: 2p-pl. pronoun. heavenly: Grk. ouranios, adj. See verse 14 above. Father: See verse 1 above. feeds: Grk. trephō, pres., take care of by providing food; nourish. them: 3p-pl. pronoun. Are you not worth: Grk. diapherō, pres., be unlike, to differ, used here of a difference in worth or value. much more: Grk. mallon, adv. of increase or additive to some aspect of activity, situation, or condition; (much) more. than they: 3p-pl. pronoun. Yeshua asks another rhetorical question to establish that God has greater care for humans than for birds.
The second principle is illustrated by the example of birds. They are very industrious, yet the Father feeds them. God doesn't just drop the food in their nests, but he does exercise control over their environment. The insect population increases just at the time which birds are having their young, so they are able to give their babies protein. Also, the seed pods of some plants don't open until winter and thereby sustain birds through harsh months.
God gives man the ability and wisdom to make wealth (Deut 8:18) and provides the raw materials to construct a prosperous society (Matt 5:45; 2Cor 9:10; 1Tim 6:17). The salient point is that birds do not worry (indeed are incapable of it). Surely, we are more important to God than birds. [Note: we live in a wicked world in which animals have more value than people.]
27 "And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?
And: Grk. de, conj. who: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. of you: 2p-pl. pronoun. by being worried: Grk. merimnaō, pres. part. See verse 25 above. can: Grk. dunamai, pres. mid. See verse 24 above. add: Grk. prostithēmi, aor. inf., to put to, add on to. a single: Grk. heis, adj., the numeral one. hour: Grk. pēchus, cubit, a measure of length about 18 inches. The NASB as other versions interprets the term in terms of one's lifespan. to his life: Grk. hēlikia, stage in life span, and may mean (1) a temporal sense with focus on qualitative aspect; maturity; or (2) in a corporal sense of stature. Both these meanings are reflected in the various Bible versions.
However, given the context, why would anyone want to increase his height? Increasing one's lifespan is a common longing. Jeremiah asked a similar question. "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots?" (Jer 13:23). The third principle is that worry is useless, because it cannot make any substantive change to your life.
28 "And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin,
And: Grk. kai, conj. why: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See the previous verse. are you worried: Grk. merimnaō, pres. See verse 25 above. about clothing: Grk. enduma. See verse 25 above. Observe: Grk. katamanthanō, aor. imp., study closely, with focus on paying careful attention to something. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. how the lilies: pl. of Grk. krinon may mean flower or lily. It isn't really clear what flower Yeshua was talking about. Various nominations have been made including the autumn crocus, Turk's cap lily, scarlet poppies, anemone, or gladiolus. He may have just been referring to all the beautiful blooms that adorn the fields of Galilee.
of the field: Grk. agros, a country area chiefly open space or for agricultural purposes; field. grow: Grk. auxanō, pres., become greater in extent or amount; grow, increase, used here in reference to plants. they do not toil: Grk. kopiaō, pres., may mean (1) experience fatigue as a result of exertion; become weary or tired; or (2) engage in fatiguing activity, work hard, toil. The second meaning applies here. nor do they spin: Grk. nēthō, pres., spin. The verb refers to spinning cloth (cf. Ex 35:25). Yeshua states the obvious so that we might consider his point.
29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.
yet: Grk. de, conj. I say: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 2 above. to you: 2p-pl. pronoun. that not even Solomon: Grk. Solomōn transliterates Heb. Shelomoh, a personal name meaning "his peace." Solomon was the tenth son of David and the second son of Bathsheba. He became the third king of Israel by the expressed will of God (1Kgs 1:29-30) and reigned forty years, c. 970-930 B.C. (1Kgs 11:42). Solomon is remembered for his wisdom, which the historical record offers anecdotes of the judging of two harlots over a baby (1Kgs 3:16-27) and the visit of the Queen of Sheba who came to test him with difficult questions (1Kgs 10:1). Solomon was credited with originating three thousand proverbs and a thousand and five songs (1Kgs 4:32). Thus, it is not surprising that Proverbs (Heb. Mishlei), Ecclesiastes (Heb. Qohelet) and Song of Songs (Heb. Shir HaShirim) in the Bible are attributed to Solomon, as well as Psalm 72 and Psalm 127.
Solomon expanded his kingdom until it covered about 50,000 square miles, from Egypt to Mesopotamia (NIBD 1000). Solomon also increased trade by land and sea, which promoted the prosperity of the nation and helped build his personal fortune. He engaged in important building projects, including a magnificent Temple constructed according to detailed plans that his father David prepared with divine inspiration (2Sam 7:13; 1Kgs 5—8; 1Chr 28:10-19; 2Chr 8:14). The Temple complex in Jerusalem was composed of several buildings including Solomon's palace, other ostentatious buildings, and a palace for one of his wives, the daughter of the Pharaoh of Egypt (1Kgs 7:1). While the Temple was the most famous of his building projects, it was by no means the only one.
in all his glory: Grk. doxa has four categories of meaning: (1) splendor or radiance in the sense of brightness, (2) magnificence in the sense of what catches the eye, (3) fame, renown, honor or approval, and (4) glorious as in the angelic beings and majesties (BAG). In the LXX doxa translates Heb. kabod (pronounced "kah-vohd"), which refers to the luminous manifestation of God's person, his glorious revelation of Himself. Characteristically, kabod is linked with verbs of seeing and appearing and stresses the impact that the manifestation of a person or God makes on others. In the apostolic writings doxa is a continuation of the underlying Hebrew concept (DNTT 2:45). In relation to Solomon the second and third meanings have relevance.
clothed: Grk. periballō, aor. mid., to cover around, especially to throw an article of clothing around one's self; put on. himself like one of these: Yeshua makes a startling comparison. To the eyes of God the glory of Solomon represented by his magnificent building projects, great wealth, and reputation for wisdom, pale in comparison to the beauty of the flowers of the field. This analogy provides the fourth principle. God does not stint his artistry in creation. If He goes to such lengths to instill beauty in flowers, won't he care for us?
30 "But 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!
But: Grk. de, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker used here to introduce a circumstance assumed to be valid for the sake of argument. God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. so: Grk. houtōs, adv. See verse x above. clothes: Grk. amphiennumi, pres., to dress, clothe. the grass: Grk. chortos, green growth, here associated with a field or meadow grass. of the field: Grk. agros. See verse 28 above. which is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 4 above. alive: There is no word for "alive" in the Greek text and thus is a non sequitur. In Scripture plants are never depicted as living. today: Grk. sēmeron. See verse 11 above.
and tomorrow: Grk. aurion generally means the next day, tomorrow, but also may lack a nocturnal interval and mean soon, in a short time (cf. 1Cor 15:32). is thrown: Grk. ballō, pres. pass. part., cause movement toward a position, which may be used of a vigorous action and be translated as "cast, throw or hurl," or of a more subdued action and be translated as "put, place, lay or bring" (BAG). The first usage applies here. into the furnace: Grk. klibanos, a clay device for baking bread, with focus on the heating procedure. will He not much: Grk. polus, adj., extensive in scope, here indicating a high degree number or quality.
more: Grk. mallon, adv. See verse 26 above. Stern observes that the words "much more" allude to a rabbinic form of argument known as kal v'chomer ("light and heavy"), corresponding to what philosophers call a fortiori reasoning. If A is true, then B must also be true. Kal v'chomer is the first of seven rules of hermeneutics compiled and taught by Hillel (Kasdan 71). This illustrates that Yeshua and the apostles participated in the commonly used principles of interpretation (hermeneutics) for understanding the Hebrew Bible. clothe you: 2p-pl. pronoun.
You of little faith: 2p-pl. of Grk. oligopistos, voc. case, having little confidence or trust. Besides the Sermon on the Mount Yeshua only uses the term to refer to his disciples in three circumstances - when they thought they would perish in a storm (Matt 8:26), when Peter was distracted from walking on the water (Matt 14:31) and when the disciples had forgotten to take bread on an outing and worried over having enough to eat (Matt 16:8). The idiom also occurs in the Talmud.
"For it has been taught: R. Eliezer the Great declares: Whoever has a piece of bread in his basket and Says. 'What shall I eat tomorrow?' belongs only to them who are little in faith." (Sotah 48b)
In Hebrew thought faith is not just believing that something is true. The Heb. root aman means to be reliable or faithful. Yeshua is encouraging his disciples to be faithful, but at the same time to remember the truth of Habakkuk 2:4, which is in the LXX is rendered as "the righteous will live by my faith." In other words, we live by God's faithfulness.
31 "Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?'
Do not worry: Grk. merimnaō, aor. subj. See verse 25 above. then: Grk. oun, conj. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 2 above. What: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. will we eat: Grk. phagō, aor. subj. See verse 25 above. or What: Grk. tís. will we drink: Grk. pinō, aor. subj. See verse 25 above. or What: Grk. tís. will we wear for clothing: Grk. periballō, aor. mid. subj. See verse 29 above. Yeshua implies that one cause of worry is a feeling of dependency or even victimology. In other words, it's the responsibility of other people to take care of me. If they don't take care of me then I am a victim of their selfishness and uncaring attitude. We should be asking "what am I going to do to earn the means to buy what I need?" Worry is not productive work and therefore will not provide what we need.
32 "For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
For: Grk. gar, conj. the Gentiles: pl. of ethnos, humans belonging to a people group. In the Besekh the plural form ethnos normally corresponds to the Heb. goyim, which in the Tanakh referred to all nations, including Israel (cf. Gen 10:5; Ex 19:6; Deut 4:6; Ps 106:5; Isa 9:1). The term is used often in the Besekh for "Gentiles" in contradistinction to Jews and Israel (e.g., Matt 5:47; Acts 2:27; 21:21; 26:17; Rom 3:29; 1Cor 1:23; Gal 2:14-15), but is also used of the Samaritan Jews (Acts 8:9) and Israel (Matt 21:43; John 18:35; Acts 24:10; 26:4; 1Cor 10:18). Often ethnos is used in a geographical sense with a diverse population that would include descendants of Jacob as residents or citizens (Matt 12:21; 24:14; Acts 17:26; Rom 1:5; 16:26; Gal 2:9; 1Tim 3:16). In my view "pagans" would be a better translation (as in CJB, EXB, LEB, NAB, NIV, PNT, TEV, TLV), because the term would certainly include Hellenistic Jews who were known for adopting pagan culture.
eagerly seek: Grk epizēteō, pres., may mean (1) try to find something, look for, search for; or (2) show strong interest in, seek, want. The first meaning applies here. all these things: pl. Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes its use or follows it; this, these. The pronoun refers back to the previous verse of basic needs. for: Grk. gar. your heavenly: Grk. ouranios, adj. See verse 14 above. Father: See verse 1 above. knows: Grk. oida, perf. See verse 8 above. The perfect tense conveys the sense that God has always known. that you need: Grk. chrēzō, pres., experience the lack of, need, here of things relating to personal well-being. all these things: pl. of Grk. houtos.
The fifth principle is that worry is characteristic of an unbeliever and not of one who knows what God is like. God knows what you need and will supply it.
33 "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
But: Grk. de, conj. seek: Grk. zēteō, pres. imp., may mean (1) be on the search for in order to find someone or something one has difficulty in locating; (2) search for ways to satisfy an interest; (3) have an interest in; or (4) press for. The third meaning applies here with a nuance of the second. first: Grk. prōton, adv., having to do with beforeness, with resultant meanings of (1) having a primary position in sequence and (2) standing out in significance or importance. The first meaning has application here. His kingdom: Grk. basileia. See verse 10 above. If we pray for His kingdom to come, then it only makes sense to seek it. and His righteousness: Grk. dikaiosunē. See verse 1 above. This implies doing the right thing in the right place in the right way to please the right person.
and all these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See the previous verse. will be added: Grk. prostithēmi, fut. pass. See verse 27 above. to you: 2p-pl. pronoun. You can have everything he told you not to store up in verse 19 above. This affirms that the earlier admonition has to do with whether you worship God or wealth. The sixth principle is that focusing on His kingdom and His righteousness is an antidote to worry.
34 "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
So: Grk. oun, conj. do not worry: Grk. merimnaō, aor. subj. See verse 25 above. about: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." tomorrow: Grk. aurion. See verse 30 above. In other words, don't carry the worry into the next day. for: Grk. gar, conj. tomorrow: Grk. aurion. will care for: Grk. merimnaō, fut. itself: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun of the third person to denote that the agent and the person acted on are the same. Each day: Grk. hēmera may refer to (1) the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, (2) the civil or legal day that included the night, (3) an appointed day for a special purpose or (4) a longer or imprecise period, such as a timeframe for accomplishing something or a time of life or activity (BAG). The second usage applies here.
has enough: Grk. arketos, sufficient, enough. trouble: Grk. kakia may mean (1) moral offensiveness or (2) troublesome circumstances. The second meaning applies here. of its own: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Stern suggests that Yeshua may be quoting a proverb already current in the Jewish culture of his own time. This is parallel to the Jewish folk saying, "Don't worry about tomorrow; who knows what will befall you today." Inspiration for the saying may have been drawn from Solomon.
"In the day of prosperity be happy, but in the day of adversity consider-- God has made the one as well as the other so that man will not discover anything that will be after him." (Eccl 7:14)
"Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, "I have no delight in them." (Eccl 12:1)
God grants protection in the midst of all evil (Ps 23:4). Even in bad times God's "plans are for welfare and not for evil" (Jer 29:11). God's gracious purpose is "to give you a future and a hope." When evil attacks on every side, man can only seek a still closer relationship with God through prayer. The seventh principle is that worry can be defeated by the art of living one day at a time. We may make plans for tomorrow, but our living has to be in the Today. As it says in Isaiah, "The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You" (Isa 26:3).
Works Cited and Consulted
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
Barclay: William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series. Revised Ed., 16 Vols. The Westminster Press, 1975-76.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. London: Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981. Online at BibleHub.com.
Carson: D.A. Carson, Matthew, Vol. 8, Expositor's Bible Commentary, Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp., 1989-1999.
Clarke: Adam Clarke (1762-1832), Commentary on the Holy Bible: Acts (1826). Abridged by Ralph Earle, Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1967. Complete commentary Online.
Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. The University of Chicago Press, 2009.
Delitzsch: Franz Delitzsch (1813-1890), Hebrew New Testament. Leipzig, 1877. Online. (Translation into biblical Hebrew.)
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 Vols. Colin Brown, ed. Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.
Edersheim: Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889), The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah(1883). New Updated Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1993. Also online.
Gale: Aaron M. Gale, Annotations on "Matthew," Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
Gesenius: Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius (1786-1842), Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament. Trans. Samuel P. Tregelles (1846). Baker Book House, 1979. Online.
Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.
Jastrow: Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud and Midrashic Literature. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1903, 1926. Online.
Kasdan: Barney Kasdan, Matthew Presents Yeshua, King Messiah: A Messianic Commentary. Lederer Books, 2011.
Lightfoot: John Lightfoot (1602-1675), A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (1859 ed.), 4 Vols. Hendrickson Pub., 1989. Online.
LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon. Revised and augmented by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online.
Mounce: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.
NIBD: Nelson's Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible. Herbert Lockyer, ed. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986.
Philo: Philo of Alexandria (aka Philo Judaeus, c. 25 BC─50 AD), The Works of Philo. Online.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Copyright © 2010-2017 Blaine Robison. All rights reserved.