Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 12 October 2010; Revised 28 December 2014
Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found here. Unless otherwise indicated Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB Updated Edition (1995). Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. For background information on the Gospel of Matthew go to Introduction to the Gospels. Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); available online at Halakhah.com. Click here for Talmud Abbreviations.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic writings and message I use the terms Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), and Besekh (New Testament) and incorporate other appropriate Hebrew and Jewish terms. (See the glossary.)
Grammar: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." Parsing information for Greek words is taken from Anthony J. Fisher, Greek New Testament. Explanation of grammatical abbreviations and a pronunciation guide for New Testament Greek may be found here.
1 "Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.”
Your righteousness. As we learned in 5:20 the Hebrew concept of righteousness (tzedakah, deliverance or salvation) 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.
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.
Your Father who is in heaven. See note on 5:16.
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.
When. Grk. otan is a particle that means “at the time that,” “whenever,” or “when.”
Give to the poor. Lit. “do almsgiving.”
To the Jews giving alms 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, I, 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. (For information more on the Jewish practice of almsgiving, see the articles “Alms” and “Charity” at JewishEnclyopedia.com)
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
MISHNA R (Avot) identified four kinds of charity-givers:
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.
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. It should be noted that Yeshua is not singling out specifically Pharisees in his criticism. The term denotes a “double heart” and “false lips” (Ps 12:3-4); he always has God on his lips, but keeps him far from his heart (Jer 12:2). He would be the man who possesses the form of godliness without the power (2 Tim 3:5).
Synagogue. Grk. sunagōgē means a gathering-place or place of assembly and in the rest of the Greek NT refers to both the place at which Jews gathered for worship and learning as well as the congregation that met there (Acts 6:9; 9:2), including Messianic Jews (James 2:2). In the LXX sunagōgē is used to translate the Heb. words kāhāl (a summons to an assembly) and ēdah (the assembly or congregation of Israel). streets. Grk rumē means a narrow street, lane or alley.
sound a trumpet. Grk. salpizō, the verb form of salpigx, “trumpet.” In the LXX salpigx renders six Heb. terms, the most common being shofar (curved ram’s horn), as well as the chatsotsrah (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, 1 Chron 16:42; 2 Chron 5:12-13). 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 would imply that 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.
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. (See my commentary on Mark 12:41 for more detail on this subject.) 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 (TJ Shekalim 5:1; 49:3; 50b). 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 Edersheim 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.
Honored. Grk. doxazo means glory and in this context refers to receiving the praise of men.
Reward. See note on 6:1. 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, 4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
When you give to the poor. The opening clause omits the Greek particle “when” and would be lit. “but you doing almsgiving.”
Left hand/Right hand. 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). See also Proverbs 16:5, which uses the same phrase to refer to agreement between two people to commit sin.
Secret. Grk. kruptos means 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. (Maimonides, "Yad," Mattenot 'Aniyyim, 10:7-13)
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 5:6).
'Aniyyim, 10:7-13) also identified ways ancient Jews gave in secret:
2. Casting coins into the houses of the poor, who remain ignorant as to the name of their benefactor: this was done by great masters in Israel.
3. Casting coins among the poor in a public area; the giver wouldn’t know the one receiving, while the recipient would likely know the identity of the giver.
Reward. Grk. apodidōmi 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 (1 Sam 26:23; 2 Sam 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 Old Testament 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 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.”
5 "When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.”
When. Grk. otan. See note on 6:2.
Pray. Grk. proseuchomai. Renders Heb. palal in the LXX. The Hebrew noun for prayer is tephilla. Palal means to intervene or interpose. While we typically classify praise as a form of prayer, the word “pray” in Scripture refers to petitioning God for his help or answer. In the Old Testament palal normally occurs in supplications for the needs of others (e.g., Abraham, the first mention of prayer in the Bible, Gen 20:7), but also on occasion for personal requests (e.g., Hezekiah, 2 Chron 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. (He said “no” to David on at least two occasions, 2 Sam 7:1-5; 12:16-18.)
In the NT prayer is treated as a divine expectation, if not an obligation of every disciple (Luke 18:1; Eph 6:18; Phil 4:6; Col 4:2; 1 Thess 5:17; 1 Tim 2:1; Jas 5:13-16; Jude 1:20). Regular communal prayer among Jews did not occur before Rabbinic Judaism.
Place. 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 (1 Kgs 8:48; Psalm 5:7; Dan 6:10).
Frequency. 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 church is built on the foundation of the apostles we should consider their example for our own lives.
Formality. Christians generally consider Jewish prayer to be formal. Rabbinic Judaism certainly defined when, what and how prayers should be offered. However, rabbis insisted that prayer was only worthwhile if one focused one's emotion and intention, kavanah, to the words of the prayers.
Shema. (Lit. “Hear”) Consists of Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21; and 15:37-41. The Shema had to be recited every morning and evening. Saying the Shema was not regarded as merely an obligation, but a privilege granted by God’s mercy and grace. While generally thought of as prayer by Christians, the Shema is really a declaration of faith and regarded by Jews as a separate duty from prayer. It could be said privately or in the daily synagogue prayer service and while standing or sitting.
Shemoneh Esreh. (Lit. “Eighteen’” that is, eight plus ten). Also called “Amidah” (“standing”) because it is prayed while standing. Among Jews it is designated as the tephilla, because is the prayer par excellence. The eighteen benedictions date from the earliest days of the Pharisaic Synagogue and were established in opposition to, or at least in correspondence with, the Sadducean Temple service. Yeshua and his disciples would have joined in this prayer.
The eighteen benedictions consist of three blessings of praise, twelve petitions, and three concluding ones of thanks. The construction of the "Shemoneh 'Esreh" complies with the rabbinical injunction that in every prayer the praises of God must precede private petitions ('Ab. Zarah 6)
In the early second century Gamaliel II, head of the Sanhedrin, directed another paragraph to be written against informers and heretics (disciples of Yeshua) making the number nineteen (Berakoth 4:3). This addition is the 12th prayer in the modern sequence.
There is no one right position for prayer. Scripture records people praying in a variety of positions.
Standing. Prayer in congregational worship was normally offered while standing, as the hypocrites are mentioned here. Yeshua’s instruction on prayer in Mark 11:25 includes the phrase, “when you [plural] stand praying.” Private prayer was also done while standing (Gen 18:22; 1 Sam 1:26; Matt 6:5; Luke 18:10-13; John 17:1).
Kneeling. Characterizes extreme passion or concern or trouble of soul. Matt 2:11 (Magi); Matt 8:2 (leper); Matt 9:18 (Jairus); Matt 15:25 (Canaanite woman); Matt 17:14f (man w/demon possessed son); Matt 20:20 (mother of James & John); Luke 5:8 (Peter); Luke 22:41 (Yeshua in garden); Acts 7:60 (Stephen); Acts 9:40 (Peter praying for Tabitha); 20:36 (Paul upon departure from Ephesus); 21:5 (Paul and other disciples); Romans 14:11 (prophecy of everyone bowing to Yeshua); Ephesians 3:14 (Paul’s allusion to his prayer practice); Rev 5:8 (angels). Gen 24:52; 1 Kgs 8:54; 18:42; 2 Chron 20:18; Dan 6:10; Luke 22:41; Eph 3:14
Prostrate. Gen 17:18; 24:52; Num 16:45; Josh 5:13-18; Matt 26:38-39
Sitting. 2 Sam 7:18; Rom 8:34; Eph 1:20
Synagogues. 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 Saduccees whereas the Pharisees largely governed the synagogues.
Street corners. Lit. corners of the broad street or square. “Street” is Grk. plateia, the feminine form of platus, which means “broad or wide.” 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.
Seen by men. True prayer must be offered to God not to an audience. No prayer by a minister should be a sermon in disguise or composed to impress the congregation.
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)
It may well be that given the instruction on praying in secret, Yeshua was implying that the hypocrites prayed loudly where everyone could hear.
Reward. Grk. misthos. See note on 6:1.
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.”
Inner room. Grk. tameion, which refers to 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; 2 Sam 4:7; SS 1:4). Jesus is saying to go to a place where you can have privacy. However, Jesus 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 is probably a euphemism for praying silently as Hannah, “spoke in her heart” (1 Sam 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. Praying the Amidah should be audible only to oneself, and not loud enough for others to hear. In an Orthodox Jewish service the Shemoneh Esreh is first prayed silently by the congregation and then recited by the chazzan (reader) with the congregation responding with amen to each benediction.
Reward. Grk. apodidōmi. See note on 6:4.
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.”
When you. For “when” see note on 6:2. “You” is plural; could refer to corporate prayer.
Meaningless repetition. Grk. battologeō, which means to babble, to speak without thinking. The word is variously translated in Christian Bibles as “vain repetitions” (KJV, NASB, NKJV), “babbling” (Holman, NIV), “heap up empty phrases” (RSV), “babble on and on” (CJB, NLT). J.P. Green renders it literally as “babbling vain words.”
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)
This sense is captured in the Douay-Rheims Version, “And when you are praying, speak not much, as the heathens. For they think that in their much speaking they may be heard.”
Yeshua condemned those who “for appearance's sake offer long prayers” (Mark 12:40).
Examples of such “much speaking” by Gentiles 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.
As the Gentiles do
Yeshua exhorted his disciples not to be like the Gentiles (non-Jews) in terms of their manner of praying. How did the Gentiles use empty words?
1. Their 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.
4. Yeshua characterized Gentile praying as involving “many words” (lit. “much speaking), suggesting their prayers were verbose with the intent of impressing the deity with human eloquence.
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 the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue” (1 Cor 14:19).
8 "So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”
"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
Do not be like them. Don’t think like the pagan Gentiles and don’t pray like them. 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).
Before you ask. Even though God knows our needs, Yeshua encourages his disciples to pray and goes on to teach them a prayer. 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.
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. Luke 11:1 gives the occasion and reason for the prayer, “It happened that while Yeshua was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples."
Many Gentile expositors assume that the Lord’s Prayer to be free of Jewish elements because it is not addressed to the ‘Lord God of Israel’ nor does it ask for blessings on Israel. These expositors seem to forget that a Jew authored the prayer at the request of a Jew and given to a group of Jews to use. As my notes will indicate these Gentile expositors must have studied little of Jewish prayers to make such a claim! Recognizing this context it would be more appropriate to call it the Messiah’s Prayer, because it embodied every hope and desire of the Jewish people.
The prayer is a beautiful combination or selection of formulas of prayer in circulation among the Hasidean circles, especially two well-known prayers, the Shemoneh Esreh and the 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 Shemoneh Esreh (Berakoth 16b-17a). While there are a few elements in common, the Messiah’s Prayer is distinctive in its focus on the kingdom.
Pray. See note on 6:5. in this way. Grk. houtō, an adverb, meaning in this manner, thus, so. Since the adverb refers to what follows it means “in this way” or “as follows.” 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…” “Say,” Grk. legō means to utter in words, say, tell, or give expression to. The verb is also in the present tense, imperative mood. It is a command and with the present tense would mean to start doing and keep on doing. In Matthew’s version the verb “pray” likewise is a present tense command. 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 Father. Grk. patēr and in the LXX renders the Heb. av, which may refer to one’s immediate biological parent, a biological and spiritual ancestor, such as Abraham and Jacob as the fathers of the Jewish people (Isa 51:12; John 4:12) or a spiritual guide and mentor as Elisha called Elijah “father” (2 Kgs 2:12).
Apart from comparisons with an earthly father (Deut 1:31; 8:5; Ps 103:12; Prov 3:12), the word father is used of God only 15 times in the Old Testament and only in connection with his relationship to Israel (Deut 32:6; Isa 63:16; 64:8; Jer 3:19; 31:9; Mal 1:6; 2:10) or to the king of Israel (2 Sam 7:14; 1 Chron 17:13; Ps 89:26). The world does not know God as Father.
The invocation "Our Father" = Heb. "Avinu" is common in the Jewish liturgy. See Shemoneh Esreh, the fifth and sixth benedictions, and especially in the New Year's ritual the prayer "Our Father, our King! Disclose the glory of Thy Kingdom unto us speedily."
Yeshua continually referred to almighty God as “my Father,” but in the Sermon on the Mount he repeatedly personalizes the relationship between his disciples and God using the plural pronoun “your” eleven times. David is the only one other than Yeshua who referred to the God of Israel as “my father” (Ps 89:26).
Christians tend to focus on the individual relationship to God almost to the exclusion of the corporate relationship of the body of Messiah. Yeshua wants his disciples to pray “Our Father,” not “My Father.” Whenever we pray the Messiah’s Prayer we are praying in concert with the rest of his body.
Further, “our” points to identification with Israel, because when Yeshua spoke these words the disciples would have understood them in the context of God’s revelation in the Old Testament as the Father of Israel. As the Lord told Moses to say to Pharoah, “Israel is My son, My firstborn” (Ex 4:22). 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. Grk. ouranois, plural of ouranos, would be lit. “in the heavens.” In the LXX ouranois translates the Heb. word shamayim, also plural, but rarely translated that way. The consistent use of the plural form for “heaven” is thought to signify completeness. Interestingly, ouranos is possibly related to an Indo-European root meaning water, rain, or that which moistens (cf. Gen 1:6-8). Uranus, the Latinized form of ouranos, was the name given to the personification of the sky in ancient Greek mythology and in the 19th century the name was assigned to the seventh planet in our solar system.
The Hasidim particularly understood prayer as being directed to "their Father in heaven" (Berakoth 5:1; Avot 5:20). The Hebrew phrase Avinu sh’baShamayim "Our Father in heaven" opens many Hebrew prayers.
The Greek and Hebrew word for “heaven” is used in Scripture to refer to at least three different places (Ps 148:1-4). Only the context can determine which location is intended. Proceeding outward from the earth the first heaven refers to the atmosphere around the earth, the area in which birds fly and from which the rains come, i.e., the sky (Gen 1:20; Matt 6:26; Deut 11:11). The first heaven protects the earth from the harsh vacuum of outer space and provides the oxygen and water that sustains all life.
The second heaven is the area in which God placed the sun, moon and stars, i.e., interstellar space (Gen. 1:14-15; Heb 11:12). The second heaven was likewise created for the good of man (Gen 1:14-18), providing light, regulating the calendar and sustaining life with heat and photosynthesis.
Finally, the third heaven is the abode of God the Father, the home of angels and the place where he sits on a throne (Isa 6:1; Rev 4:2) with Yeshua sitting at his right hand (Matt 6:9; Eph 1:20). The plural ouranois/shamayim is appropriate in that the Father reigns from the third heaven over all three heavens and is omnipresent in all three. Both Paul (2 Cor 12:2-4) and John (Rev 4:1-2) were caught up to the third heaven. God did not permit Paul to report what he saw, but intended that privilege to be left for John.
This is not just an idle statement to open the prayer. The Father Yeshua speaks of is not Abraham, Moses or another blood ancestor, or even himself. The Father is not here. He is in the third heaven, 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 the third heaven might be (cf. Acts 17:27), the Father still knows our activities and marshals the resources of all three heavens to answer our prayers.
Hallowed. Grk. hagiazō (derived from hagios, “holy”) when used of persons means (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. 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 613 commandments. To live contrary to the terms of the covenant dishonors the Name with which his disciples have been sealed (2 Cor 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." (2 Tim 2:19)
Name. Jews frequently use HaShem, the Name, as a substitute for the tetragrammaton, the divine name given to Moses (Ex 3:14) and represented by the letters Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey. In the Hebrew Bible Y-H-V-H actually has the vowel pointing for Adonai so that those who read the Scriptures in public will not attempt to pronounce the special Name. Jews contend that no one knows how to actually pronounce the name and it is better to use a substitute name than mispronounce the name.
In English Bibles Y-H-V-H is rendered as “LORD” (all upper case), even though the English letters do not correspond with the Hebrew letters Y-H-V-H and LORD doesn’t actually translate the meaning of the Name, which is “Existing One.” The irony is that When God spoke to Moses at the burning bush, God told him to say his name, however it was pronounced (Ex 3:13-15), and Moses would have to have been able to pronounce it to carry out the instruction.
The Greek word kurios, “Lord,” frequently used in the New Testament for God, was not originally used in the LXX for Y-H-V-H. The oldest LXX MSS have the tetragrammaton written in Hebrew characters in the Greek text, which support the thesis that the prevalent use of kurios in the present text of the LXX was due to Christian scribes. Hebrew texts of the Qumran sect indicate they used Adonai instead of the tetragrammaton.
Thus, Yeshua follows the Jewish practice in not saying the divine name. When he does quote Scripture with “LORD” (Matt 5:33), he would have spoken Adonai because to do otherwise would have created a great offense and resulted in swift retribution.
10 `Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.”
Your Kingdom come. The Grk. verb erchomai means 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 occurs many times in the NT in reference to the Lord Yeshua “coming,” though not always meaning the Second Advent. The dominant word in the rest of the NT for the Second Coming is parousia. The verb is in the aorist tense, equivalent to the English past tense, but the aorist tense is frequently used in the NT to express a future event.
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” occurs only three times in the Gospels, whereas “kingdom” occurs over 100 times. There are only a small number of NT passages where “church” is used in a universal corporate sense of all true believers, living and dead (cf. Matt 16:18; Acts 9:31; Eph 5:25; Heb 12:23). 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 John 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; 1 Cor 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.
1. One approach is to explain it as referring to the second coming of the Messiah and ushering in the eternal kingdom of God.
2. Another approach is to consider that his kingdom came in power through the cross, 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.
3. Yeshua may 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 be done. The phrase “your will” in reference to God’s will occurs with two meanings in Scripture.
1. God’s statutory will
“I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.” Ps 40:8
“know His will and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law,” Rom 2:18
"By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." Heb 10:10 (IOW, because Yeshua obeyed the Torah and laid down his life as a sacrifice for sins, we have been sanctified. How much more, then, should we obey Torah?)
God’s statutory will is completely revealed in the Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy of the Old Covenant), particularly the commandments given to Moses at Sinai, and affirmed and applied in the New Covenant Torah (New Testament). (Psalm 40:8; 103:21; 143:10; Ezra 10:11; Matthew 6:10; Mark 3:35; Luke 11:2; 12:47; John 7:17; 9:31; Acts 13:22; 22:14; Romans 2:18; 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 8:5; Ephesians 5:17; 6:6; Colossians 1:9; 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6; 5:18; Hebrews 10:7-9, 36; 13:20-21; James 4:15; 1 Peter 2:15; 4:2, 6; 5:2; 1 John 2:17; 5:14.)
To pray for his statutory will to be done would mean that-
● That those who belong to his kingdom will recognize the authority of his laws, instead of claiming they’ve been canceled by the New Covenant.
● That people will seek the knowledge of his laws.
● That people will choose to obey his laws.
“For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Col 1:9-10
2. God’s sovereign will
"My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done." Matt 26:42
God’s sovereign will means that God has determined in advance what He wants to happen and then ensures that it comes to pass. By His sovereign will God exercises masterful omnipotent control of events to work everything that happens for our good and His glory (Daniel 4:35; Matthew 11:27; 26:42; Acts 18:21; 21:14; Romans 1:10; 8:27-28; 9:16, 19; 15:32; 1 Corinthians 4:19; 12:11; 2 Corinthians 7:9-10; Ephesians 1:5, 9, 11; James 1:18; 4:15; 1 Peter 3:17; 4:19). It is hidden unless He chooses to supernaturally reveal it. God’s sovereign will cannot be missed; it can only be humbly accepted.
To pray for his sovereign will to be done would mean that-
● We surrender to the reality that his sovereign will may require sacrifice and suffering on our part as Yeshua prayed in the Garden, and trust in his wisdom and goodness.
“For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.” 1 Peter 3:17
“Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.” 1 Peter 4:19
● We submit our plans to his divine oversight and in so doing demonstrate that he is truly king of our lives.
“Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, … that I may come to you in joy by the will of God and find refreshing rest in your company.” Rom 15:30, 32
Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that." James 4:13-15
● We cooperate with the Holy Spirit.
“He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Rom 8:27
The second request should not be divorced from the first. As related to event prophecy it should be applied in the sense of the time of the Second Coming, it would signify that none but God Himself knows the time of His divine pleasure (Matt 24:36).
On earth. 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 statutory 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 the kingdom (Rev 1:9). By extension the people of God then make the same affirmation, since they are the kingdom (Rev 5:10).
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; 1 Cor 15:25; 2 Tim 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).
In heaven. How is God’s will done in heaven?
1. The angels give him glory and serve him daily.
“Bless the LORD, you His angels, Mighty in strength, who perform His word, Obeying the voice of His word! Ps 103:20
“And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, "Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen." Rev 7:11-12
2. God makes his sovereign plans in and executes them from heaven.
"Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other.” Deut 4:39
“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.” Ps 103:19
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” Rom 1:18
3. Yeshua gave his apostles authority to make halakhah rulings that would have the authority of heaven. Halakhah literally means “the path one walks” and refers to interpretation and application of Torah. As a result there are almost a thousand apostolic commands given in the New Testament applying Torah.
"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven." Matt 16:19
4. Yeshua also gave the body of believers authority to make halakhah rulings to decide disputes between disciples. If private efforts fail to resolve the dispute then the congregation may settle the matter upon request of the parties.
"Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.” Matt 18:18-19
5. In heaven God’s statutory will is not only the law, but it keeps out any who would not live by it.
“Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.” Rev 22:14-15
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
This request would be literally rendered “the bread of us daily give to us today.”
The plural phrasing of ‘give us,” forgive us, lead us in the latter part of the Messiah’s Prayer is characteristically Jewish, focusing the people of God rather than the individual.
1 Unselfish. You are praying that God will do for the people of God what you want him to do for you. Some in our midst don’t have money for food. By praying this prayer you are taking responsibility to ask God to supply their needs.
2. Joint. You recognize that God’s blessings are shared as a people. What he gives you is not yours alone (Isa 58:7). The early church understood this principle and shared their bread with one another (Acts 2:44-46).
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.
Faith being thus the prerequisite of those that wait for the Messianic age, it behooves them to pray, in the words of Solomon, “Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion.” (Prov 30:8) “Apportioned bread” (Heb. leḥem huḳḳi) is the bread we need daily.
Consider the spiritual meaning here:
1. Bread was a metaphor for the resources that sustain us (Eccl 11:1).
2. Bread represents all the promises God made to Israel (Matt 15:26).
3. Bread represents eternal life and that life is found in Yeshua. (John 6:27, 48)
4. 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.
Forgive us. Grk. aphiēmi means to let go, send away (referring to divorce); (2) cancel, remit, pardon; (3) leave, abandon, give up; (4) let, let go, tolerate. Repentance being another prerequisite of redemption, 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 pronoun “us” 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.
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).
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.
Luke 11:4 has “forgive us our sins.” The Old Testament does not make use of the concept of legal debt in order to depict obligation to God. However in the Judaism of Yeshua’s day opheilēma translates Heb. ḥobah, 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 New Testament contains hundreds of commands, i.e., obligations toward God. When we fail to meet those expectations we are in debt to God.
We have forgiven. Already given.
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).
In other words, the disciple should reflect every time he prays the following benedictions of the Shemoneh Esreh on whether there is a breach between him and another person that requires forgiveness.
5. Return us, our Father, to Your Torah, and draw us closer, our King, to Your worship, and bring us back before Thee in complete repentance. Blessed are You, L-rd, who desires repentance.
6. Forgive us, our Father, for we have sinned, pardon us, our King, for we have transgressed, for You are a pardoner and forgiver. Blessed are You, L-rd, gracious One who forgives abundantly.
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.
Debtors. Grk. opheiletēs = Heb. ḥayyabim, "those that are indebted" against us."
1. Family obligations
2. Marital obligations
3. Work obligations
Broken promises, disloyalty, lost time, failure to support
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.”]
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." Temptation: Grk. peirasmos may mean either (1) a means to determine quality or performance, a test; or (2) exposure or enticement to possibility of wrongdoing, to temptation. 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; 1 Cor 7:5; 1 Thess 3:5). On the contrary, God does test His people (Ex 15:25; 16:4; Deut 8:2; Judg 2:21-22; 3:1; Ps 11:4-5). Jacob (aka "James") offers this exhortation,
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (Jas 1:2-3)
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.
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.
Evil. Grk. ho ponēros (“the evil” or “the evil one”). Ponēros has a range of meaning. (1) It is used physically of the eyes as bad or sick (Matt 6:23; Luke 11:34); (2) It is used ethically of men opposed to God (Matt 7:11; 13:49-50); (3) It is used of the Evil One, Satan when the definite article is present (Matt 13:19). In the LXX ponēros translates Heb. ra‘, which means evil, bad, of little value, and used in reference to animals (Lev 26:6), food, land and persons. It is used of the discouraging report the 10 spies brought (Num 14:37). It may simply refer to the disease and suffering of life (Deut 7:15; Prov 15:15). It may also refer to being ungenerous, stingy or miserly (Deut 15:9). 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.
1. Deliver us from evil times or circumstances that cause suffering. In this way the petition would be parallel to “lead us not into trials and testings.”
2. Deliver us from the Evil One, since the Greek possesses the definite article. Satan is a free agent and roams about seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet 5:8). The evil times may be caused by Satan, and thus it is appropriate to pray for deliverance from our enemy. Jesus prayed that his disciples would be kept from the evil one (John 17:15).
3. 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. Jesus came to destroy evil (1 John 3:8) and we pray for his final victory.
4. Deliver us from our own tendency toward sinning and selfishness. In other words, “the evil” might be our own yetzer ra, evil desire or 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 Hasidean 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 Jesus in 6:19-23, then the petition may well have to do with praying for deliverance from our own inclination toward putting self-interest first.
Doxology. The doxology added in Matthew, does not occur in the earliest and best manuscripts. It echoes 1 Chron 29:11, “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.”
Amen. See note on 5:18.
14 "For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 "But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
Transgressions. Grk. paraptōma, “a false step.” Usually used of offenses committed against others, although it may include specific offenses against God.
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.
Given it’s position the exhortation could refer to evil that comes about because of the failure to forgive debts.
Forgiveness necessitates going to the offender as directed in Matthew 18:15. God could not have forgiven us in Yeshua without the Son coming to earth. The purpose of biblical confronting is to enable forgiveness, and hopefully reconciliation.
When God forgives, he cancels the debt of sin, lifts the guilt burden and restores the relationship. Thus, forgiveness is an act, not a feeling. God's forgiveness shows the way we are to forgive others.
Without confronting and 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 (Matthew 6:12; 18:32-35).
Types of Forgiveness
1. Heart Forgiveness. "And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses." Mark 11:25-26
This is a readiness or attitude of willingness to forgive. Readiness to forgive is essential to the success of the "going" mandate in Matthew 18:15. This principle presumes that one should not go to confront the offender without being ready to forgive. What would you do if the offender gives you a hearing, is actually convicted by your words, admits his wrong and asks your pardon?
2. Shared Forgiveness. "If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him." Luke 17:3
This is actual forgiveness granted verbally upon the repentance of the offender. Forgiveness as a judicial act should never be spoken without confession and admission of wrong-doing. This is God's way of dealing with us (1 John 1:9).
Forgiveness must be granted upon a mere statement of repentance. 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 sins.
Do not pronounce forgiveness to the offender before he admits the wrong and asks for pardon. You should release all anger and bitterness against the offender (Mark 11:25), but you should verbally grant forgiveness only after the offender professes repentance. Remember that although God is always willing to forgive, the condition is, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins" (1 John 1:9).
Contrary to popular myth, forgiveness doesn't mean forgetting. Forgiving does not lead to amnesia. Instead forgiveness is choosing not to remember the hurt. In other words, forgiveness is relating to the offender as though the wrong had never occurred and refraining from reminding the offender of the wrong that was forgiven. You may be tempted with the memory, but remind the tempter of the completed forgiveness and pray for God's blessing on the offender.
Yeshua intends that forgiveness be a lifestyle (Luke 17:3-4). If the offending person repeats the offense you must continue to forgive again and again, as many times as the offender repents and asks forgiveness.
Disciples should always be initiators of reconciliation. Your witness could lead the non-believer to Yeshua and His 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 (1 Peter 2:21-23).
Being ready to forgive is no guarantee that others will repent. These steps should be followed not because they might work, but because Yeshua has instructed us to follow His example. You are not responsible for someone else's unwillingness to respond. Your only responsibility is to remove barriers to reconciliation that you have control over, such as your 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” (1 Peter 2:23).
16 "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.”
Whenever: Grk. otan, “whenever.” See note on 6:2. you fast: Grk. nēsteuō, to abstain from food and drink, generally for a religious purpose, rendered in the LXX by the Heb. word tsūm, which means to abstain from food or to fast. Along with this the Massoretic Text has innah nephes, “afflict oneself” (lit., to humble one’s soul). In Hebrew thought man did not have a soul but was a soul; therefore to afflict one’s soul could also mean afflicting one’s body by self-denial. Sometimes Scripture simply refers to “eating no bread and drinking no water” (Ex 34:28; Ezra 10:6; cf. Luke 7:33; Acts 9:9).
It should be noted that the Greek verb is in the present tense, subjunctive mood, which is the mood of mild contingency or probability. Combined with otan, the present tense verb would refer to a contemporaneous event with the sense of “as often as,” or “every time 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 to the Pharisees that when he was taken from them his disciples would fast in mourning (Matt 9:15). Assuming they would fast in the future is not the same thing as requiring it. From a Jewish point of view he would likely anticipate the annual obligatory and 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 (James 4:10; 1 Pet 5:6). On the contrary there is warning against abstinence from the good things God has provided (1 Cor 7:3-5; Col 2:23, 1 Tim 4:1-5).
gloomy face. Grk. skuthropos refers to a sullen or sad 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. neglect. (their faces). Grk aphanizō means to render unsightly or unrecognizable, to disfigure, that is, with ashes and by leaving the hair and beard unattended or by coloring the face to look pale as though fasting.
17 "But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face 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.
But you, when you fast. Unlike verse 16 this should be lit. translated “But you, fasting” or “fasting one.” The present participle “fasting,” a verbal adjective, is obscured in standard Bible versions. The present tense refers to contemporaneous time and the participle points to both the person doing the action and the action itself. “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.
Rules for fasting
1. Anoint. Put oil on your head. In contrast Daniel refrained from anointing himself when he fasted (Dan 10:3).
2. Wash. Don’t smear gunk on your face to symbolize suffering. Maintain hygiene. The commands to anoint and wash oneself would return the practice of “afflicting one’s soul” to the standard of the Torah regulation (Lev 16:29; 23:27).
3. Avoid notice. Do not draw attention to your fasting.
4. Be cheerful and not sad.
5. Don’t expect everyone else to do what you do. (Mark 2:18-20)
6. Conjugal relations should only be interrupted for a spiritual purpose by mutual agreement (1 Cor 7:3-5).
Reward for fasting
Yeshua promised that there are rewards to be gained from fasting. What rewards? See the list of fasts above.
1. Deliverance from enemies or other calamities.
2. Deliverance from divine judgment.
3. Blessings for the community of faith from God if fasting accompanied by doing justice that Torah requires (Isa 58:6-12). No blessing can be expected if the fasting is accompanied with sinful living or injustice.
4. Personal blessing of drawing closer to God. (Anna)
For more on this topic see my web article Fasting in the Bible.
19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Store up. Grk. thēsaurizō means to store up, gather or save. The verb is present tense, imperative mood and with the negative adverb that begins the verse 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. He gives no consideration to the needs of others.
"Then he said, `This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. Luke 12:18
Many Christians have been co-opted by the simplicity movement that attempts to take Yeshua literally. Living simply with few possessions is supposed to help the poor and the environment. Yeshua, who was poor and homeless (Matt 8:20; 2 Cor 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.
Treasures. Grk. thēsauros, which can refer to (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 your life? Yeshua alludes to the three most valued treasures in ancient Israel: clothing, grain and gold.
Moth. Grk. sēs. 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 (2 Kgs 5:22).
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, when used of treasures or material possessions it meant to destroy, to ruin or to cause to perish. In Greek literature it was used to refer to destruction by animals.
Break in. Grk. diorussō means 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.
In heaven. Yeshua counsels to pour one’s energy in storing up things which cannot be lost. Rabbis identified two kinds of treasure:
1. Deeds of charity. Yeshua himself concurred.
"If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." Matt 19:21
“Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.” Luke 12:33
2. Character. That’s the essence of what Yeshua says in the next verse. What you do with your treasure indicates the true nature of your heart.
But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 1 Tim 6:6-7
Where your treasure is. 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. 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!
The eye is the lamp of the body. Yeshua uses a common idiom to express a powerful truth.
Clear. (KJV “single”) Grk. haplous, which means (1) single, simple or sincere, or (2) clear, sound, healthy with the connotation of generous. The noun form haplotēs occurs in James 1:5 where he speaks of God giving generously. The noun is also used in the LXX to render Heb. shalem (“perfect”, “whole”) to describe the heart of the people who gave offerings for the temple (1 Chron 29:9) and Heb b’yoser (“straightness,” “uprightness”; the essence of giving what is right or what is due) to describe David’s heart in his generous offering of silver and gold for the sake of the temple (1 Chron 29:17).
The idiom 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
Thus, having a “good eye,” an ayin tovah, means “being generous.”
In usage, making a wide opening in a wine cask so that the wine would flow freely, not niggardly, was called a “good eye” (Shabbat 146a).
There is a Hebrew expression, "Me'ainai hoaida," literally, "from the eyes of the congregation"; hence the leaders are called the eyes of the congregation.
Bad eye. (KJV “evil eye”) “Bad” translates Grk. ponēros (see comment on 6:13). The idiom of having a “bad eye,” an ayin ra’ah, was used in two related ways.
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” (Kethubot 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).
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
A related idiom of that time is a “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 your 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.
Serve. Grk douleō, may speak of the relationship (1) to be a slave, to be subjected to; or the actions deriving from the relationship (2) to perform the duties of a slave, to serve, to obey.
Master. Grk. kurios. In the LXX kurios translates both adōn (190 times in reference to men) and ba’al (15 times). While ba’al, when used in contexts dealing with marriage and property denotes the owner of the wife or property (e.g., Deut 24:4; Judg 19:22-23; 2 Sam 11:26; Prov 12:4; 30:23; 31:11, 23, 28; Hos 2:18), adōn refers more to one who commands, the one who is responsible for the group (cf. Gen 18:12; 1 Sam 25:41; Ps 45:11). Yeshua is stating a simple truth. Ownership of a slave was absolute; it wasn’t shared.
Wealth. Grk. mamōnas. 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. It essentially translates the Heb. mamōn, which comes from a root that means to entrust. Mamōn was the wealth that a man entrusted to a banker or to someone to keep safe for him. Cf. Luke 16:11, “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth [mamōnas], who will entrust the true riches to you?”
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. Rabbis considered the Torah true wealth.
“R. Meir used to say: One that learns the Torah of one teacher, may be compared to one who has one field, part of which he sowed with wheat and part with barley; in one part he planted olives, and in another fruit-trees. And so this man acquires wealth and blessings. The one, however, who studies under two or three masters is to be compared to one who has many fields: in one he sows wheat, in another barley; in one he plants olives, and in the other fruit-trees. And so this man has to go from place to place in many countries, and has no enjoyment of his wealth.” (Avot 1:6)
The word was essentially neutral, but was also used negatively to refer to wealth dishonestly gained or dishonestly used.
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?
The KJV is not helpful with its opening clause, “Take no thought for your life,” which in modern language would mean to avoid all planning. (cf. James 4:13-15)
Worried. Grk. merimnaō, which means to worry anxiously. It is a level of fretting that begins to unsettle your sleep and interferes with normal activities.
Yeshua sets forth seven principles or perspectives to help his disciples live worry-free. If your thinking is straight, then your life will be straight as well.
First, In verse 25 Yeshua says that God gave us life, and, if he gave us life, which is priceless, surely we can trust him for the lesser things of much less value.
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?
Barns. Grk. apothēkē, a storehouse. A building erected to store grain. Also, used for a cellar to store oil and wine.
Worth. Grk. diapherō, to differ, to be different, to be worth more than, to excel, to be superior to. Refers to things that really matter.
Second, birds are a great example. 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; 2 Cor 9:10; 1 Tim 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 when animals have more value than people.]
27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?
Jeremiah asked a similar question. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots?” Jer 13:23
Single hour. Grk. pēchus. Originally a forearm, then cubit, as a length of measure or can refer to a measure of time. Life. Grk hēlikia, which may refer to size or age. The passage may refer to the height of a person or the age of a person. Both interpretations 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.
Third, 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, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 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!
Lilies. Grk. krinon, which 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.
Four, flowers are very short-lived, but God does not stint his artistry in their creation. If he goes to such lengths to instill beauty in flowers, won’t he care for us?
How much more. This phrase in verse 30 signals 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 arguments occur some twenty-one times in the NT. Kal v’chomer is the first of seven rules compiled and taught by Hillel. This illustrates that Yeshua and the apostles participated in the commonly used principles of interpretation (hermeneutics) for understanding the Hebrew Bible.
Little faith. Grk. oligopistos means having little trust. The term occurs only in the Gospels. 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. A related idea is expressed by Heb. batah with the meaning of to trust, to rely on. In time the meaning of batah was assimilated into the meaning of aman, thus Hebrew faith means trusting faithfulness.
R. Ami taught: “Rain comes only on account of the people of faithfulness.” Taanith 8a (referring to Ps 85:12)
Yeshua is encouraging his disciples to be faithful, but at the same time to remember the truth of Habbakkuk 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?' 32 "For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
Five, 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.
Six, Yeshua offers his first key to prevent worry. Focus on his kingdom and his righteousness. To be in the kingdom of God and to do the will of God is the same thing. Doing defeats worry.
His Kingdom. See comment on 5:3.
His righteousness. See comment on 6:1. Doing the right thing in the right place in the right way to please the right person.
You can have everything he told you not to store up in 6:19. This affirms that the earlier admonition has to do with whether you worship God or wealth.
34 "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Trouble. Grk. kakia may mean (1) badness as a moral condition; or (2) trouble or misfortune. Considering the proverb Yeshua ends with the latter definition is the most likely intention. This is parallel to the Jewish folk saying, “Don’t worry about tomorrow; who knows what will befall you today.”
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.” Where evil attacks on every side, man can only seek for still closer relationship with God through prayer.
Seven, 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.
“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.” Isa 26:3
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