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THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW
LOVE AND MONEY
Matthew 6:1-34 – The Nazarene’s Commentary on Leviticus 19:18 Continued
a) Charity and neighbor love
MT6:1“But, listen to this:269
Do not exhibit your ‘righteousness’270before men to be observed by them271or you will have no reward272 fromyour heavenly Father.
Listen to this: The Nazarene’s commentary on neighbor love continues and takes many forms and applications.
Do not exhibit your ‘righteousness’: Motive is involved here. Nothing demonstrates more hatred for a neighbor than trying to
be a “show-off” and parade self-righteousness in front of a neighbor. The Nazarene rabbi has not shifted from his subject of Leviticus 19:18 and neighbor love. He begins to give practical application to it with several examples.
Various renderings are: RIEU: exercise your virtues in public; NEB: make a show of your religion; MOF: in order to be noticed; WMS: to attract the attention of people. Compare Matthew 23:5.
To be observed by them: The “them” are also your neighbors.
Reward: A word and idea the Nazarene uses 8 times in the sermon (Matthew 5:12, 46; 6:1, 2, 4, 6, 17).
MT6:2So, when you give charitable donations273do not trumpet before you as hypocrites274do in religious gatherings and roadways to be honored by men.I tell you in truth:275They have their full reward!276
Charitable donations: The Greek is ELEEMOSYNEN and may be rendered “gifts of mercy”. Various renderings are: TCNT: acts
of charity; BAS: give money to the poor. The idea and word only occurs in Matthew in this sermon (Matthew 6:2-4) and 8 times in Acts. However, there are two occurrences in Luke of particular note: Luke 11:41, inner gifts of mercy; and Luke 12:33, where the
apostolic Little Flock is commanded to ‘sell your belongings and give.’ Material giving is right at the top of the short list of Jesus’ favorite topics.
Hypocrites: Various renderings are: PHI: like those play-actors in the synagogue; TCNT: praised by others; MOF: to win men; PHI: make sure that men admire them. The Greek word translated “hypocrite”
is HYPOKRITAI (hypo + critic/judge) and refers to that mask actors wear when playing roles. It carries the idea of “two-faced.”
I tell you in truth: This is literally “amen” and is often used by the Nazarene to stress a serious warning.
Reward: Reward and credit or repayment is a much-used expression by Jesus as though God were an accountant keeping a tally of debits and credits in a ledger.
you who give charitable donations, let your left hand not knowwhat your right hand is doing.277
Let your left hand not know what your right hand is doing: Right or left. There may be a scientific truth here for left-handed people
operate mainly in the brain’s right hemisphere which is not the “knowing” or intellectual side. The Nazarene Saint must exercise caution in giving so that his motive and manner are pure. Compare Proverbs 19:17: giving.
MT6:4So, your charitable donations will be secret. Then your Father watching secretly will reward you secretly.
b) Prayer and neighbor love
|| Luke 11:2-4
MT6:5“And, when you pray, be not as the hypocrites. For they like to pray standing in religious gatherings and in town squares to be viewed by others.278I tell you the truth: They have their full reward!
To be viewed by others: Compare Matthew 6:16: appearances. Various renderings: BAS: like the false-hearted men; PHI: like the play-actors;
RHM: shine before men; WMS: to attract the attention of people.
MT6:6But, you, when you pray, enter your private room and shut the door praying to your Father secretly.279And, the Father watching secretly will reward you.280
Praying to your Father secretly: See Luke 6:12: privacy. Various renderings: WEY: into your own room; NEB: into a room by yourself;
RHM: and fastening thy door; BECK: who is with you when you are alone; PHI: pray to your Father privately; PHI: who sees all private things. Remember that even Jesus on occasion wandered off some distance from his disciples when praying.
The relationship with ‘love your neighbor’ in private prayers rather than a showy display is the affect such hypocritical prayers have on your neighbor. You give the impression you take yourself too seriously and judge your neighbor to be less “spiritual” than yourself. A private prayer in a cafe or restaurant without show is heard just as easily, or more so, by the Father.
The Father watching secretly will reward you: The Nazarene does not explain what this “reward” is, only that it will occur. This requires “faith,” a word only occurring one time in this sermon (Matthew 6:30) and only in reference to his disciples – “little faith.”
MT6:7But, praying, do not babble many words as the Non-Jews. For they think by uttering many words281they will be heard.
Uttering many words: Either “babbling” or “wordy”. Various renderings: GDSP: do not repeat empty phrases;
WMS: repeating set phrases; PHI: don’t rattle off long prayers; NEB: do not go babbling on. For thousands of years religious worshippers have resorted to long prayers filled with a multitude of repetitions. Even the Nazarene’s famous prayer (the
Lord’s Prayer, or Our Father, pater nostra) has come in for many repetitions though Jesus counseled against that. Some Asian religions use prayer wheels, beads, and flags to continue their repetitions.
MT6:8So, you should not be like them. For The God your Father knows282what you need283 before you ask.
Your Father knows: See Matthew 6:32: needs; and, Luke 12:30: Father knows.
What you need: “Needs” not “wants.”
Our Heavenly Father,285
Let your Name be sanctified.286
Pray: This most famous prayer outlines what we call Nazarene Principles.
Father: The First Principle. The word “father” occurs 1,180 times in the OT in a family or secular context but less than 15 times in a religious
or spiritual relationship. Most of these apply to the Messiah, leaving only a handful with reference to the Saints. The idea is rare in Judaism but “father” occurs 134 times in the Gospel of John. In the Mountain Teachings Jesus uses “your
Father” 8 times, “our Father” 1 time, and “my Father” 1 time for a total of 10 occurrences. Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Volume 1, page 615: “In the oldest version of this prayer, the invocation reads pater, (dear) Father, and indicates abba as the Aramaic original. This means that when Jesus gave his disciples
the Lord’s Prayer, he gave them authority to follow him in addressing God as abba and so gave them a share in his status as Son.” Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Volume 1, page 617: “The description of God as Father never refers to any other individual or to mankind in general. To be a child of God is not a natural state or quality.… In Palestinian Judaism of the pre-Christian period the description of God as Father is rare. The Qumran texts provide but a single example.… We have yet to find an example of an individual addressing God as ‘my Father.’… Jesus did not teach the idea that God is the Father of all men.… It must have been nothing short of outrageous that Jesus should make use of the completely unceremonious Aramaic word abba.”
For more information search the words “sons,” “children,” “born,” or “begotten” in a concordance or computer program.
Let your Name be sanctified: The Second Principle. The Nazarene does not use the opportunity to incorporate the noma sagrada or Divine Name (YHWH = Jehovah; Exodus 3:15) in his model prayer. Jesus uses the words
“your name” with reference to the Father rarely in the Synoptic Gospels. In John the Nazarene uses the expression at John 12:28 and John 17:6, 26. However, he never uses or pronounces YHWH in these contexts. Why? In Jesus’ day the Jews refrained
from uttering the name YHWH and substituted Elohim (God) or Adonay (Lord). The Jews never removed YHWH from its nearly 7,000 occurrences in the Old Testament. About the year 1,000 AD Jewish copyists began to incorporate vowel points in YHWH to
warn to say God or Lord in its place.
Does the Nazarene ever use YHWH? The Gospel evidence would indicate this could only be when he is quoting the Hebrew Bible. It is now thought that the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, known as The Septuagint (LXX), had YHWH untransliterated in the
Greek text. There is a good reason for this. The Greek language cannot convert the Hebrew letters for YHWH. Modern Greek dictionaries use dzehoba or Iekhoba for “Jehovah” but original Greek did not have an “h” as it were,
other than a breath sound. Modern Greek attempts to capture the sound of the English pronunciation of the name.
Given the attitude of the Jews what would have happened if Jesus used YHWH in quotes or normal speech? Certainly equal to that misguided accusation that he violated the Sabbath! Yet the Gospels are silent on this. What about private meetings with his disciples
when the use of YHWH could not cause a public stir? Compare the lengthy closing words in John chapters 13 to 17. Not once does Jesus use YHWH even though he alludes to the “name” four times.
Given the facts that the Jews do not attack him for violating their understanding of one of the Ten Commandments and the absence of his use in private speeches and prayers, it would seem he respected the Jewish tradition of the time.
This does not minimize the importance of the “Name” as Jesus’ words in his prayer shows. The idea of this sanctification occurs scores of times in the Hebrew Bible. Compare Exodus 3:14, 15 and 6:3.
Various renderings are: TCNT: May thy name be held holy; MOF: thy name be revered; PHI: may your name be honored. For more information on this subject see Nazarene Principles.
MT6:10Let your Kingdom come.287
Let your Will take place,288as in heaven, also on earth.
Let your Kingdom come: The Third Principle. After the subject of the “Name” in the Hebrew Bible with its 7,000
occurrences of YHWH, the next most important topic is the Kingdom. The Messiah and his “kingdom” are inseparable (Note Psalm 2 and 110 as well as Daniel chapters 2 and 7). In the Nazarene’s teachings there are two “kingdoms”: the Son’s and the Father’s (Matthew 13:41, 42). The “kingdom” here in his prayer is the Father’s.
“Kingdom” is a word used often by the Nazarene. The word occurs 55 times in Matthew, 23 times in Mark, 45 times in Luke and 5 times in John.
When does the Nazarene begin to reign? The Second Psalm is quoted by Peter at Acts 4:24, 25 and Paul at Acts 13:33 and applied to the resurrection and ascension of Christ in the year 33 AD. This was in fulfillment of Psalm 110:1 (Note 1 Corinthians 15:24-28).
Daniel chapters 2 and 7 would argue this kingdom’s beginning is during the reign of the “fourth kingdom” or Rome (Daniel 2:44; 7:9-14). Upon his ascension the Nazarene took up his Power as described by Paul at Ephesians 1:20-23.
Upon the Return or Arrival (parousia) of the Son of Man, and his gathering to himself his Saints, there will be a milestone in the King’s rule (Matthew 24:3, 30; John 14:2,3; Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; Revelation 11:18; 12:10).
Let your Will take place: The Fourth Principle. The “kingdom” is the agency by which the “Name” is sanctified and
the “eternal purpose” (Ephesians 3:9, 10) or will of the Father is accomplished (Psalm 72; Daniel chapters 2, 7). God’s original purpose was for a global paradise (Genesis chapters 2, 3). His Will has not changed (Isaiah 45:18; 55:11). Messiah
and his Saints will rule the earth (Psalms 2, 110; Daniel 7:13, 27; 1 Corinthians 6:2; Revelation 5:10; 20:4, 6). The earth will never be destroyed (Psalms 104:5; Ecclesiastes 1:4; Psalm 72:8). The City of God will one day descend out of heaven to rule the
earth for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:4, 6; 21:1-5).
God has a “will” or purpose for “heaven” as Daniel 4:35 shows. This will for “heaven” will be realized by virtue of the Son and the Messiah’s Church (Ephesians 1:10; 3:9, 10 Colossians 1:20).
Give to us our bread today: The Fifth Principle. The first four Principles of the Nazarene’s prayer deal with God, the
last three deal with the individual disciple. The first of these, or the Fifth Principle, deals with that necessary bread for each day (Psalm 37:25). This is not “daily bread” but “bread for today.” From the Nazarene’s viewpoint
it would be materialistic to pray for tomorrow’s bread (Matthew 6:33, 34).
Various renderings: ALF: our needful bread.
Prayer for “today’s bread” does not guarantee a disciple may not go hungry on occasion. Compare 2 Corinthians 11:27 and Matthew 25:37 (Philippians 4:11-13). Some see the daily offering of loaves at the Temple here. Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Volume 1, page 251: “Origen suggested that we should understand it as eip ten ousian (the bread) necessary for existence. It can be supported by reference to Proverbs 30:8 and it reminds us of Exodus
16:4. The Israelites were to gather only so much manna as they needed for ‘the day.’”
MT6:12Forgive our debts290as we forgive those in debt to us.291
Forgive our debts: The Sixth Principle (Luke 11:14). Various renderings: WEY: shortcomings… those who have failed in
their duty towards us; PHI: forgive us what we owe to you as we have also forgiven those who owe anything to us. Note there is the tax collector’s tone here as earlier in debits, credits and rewards. Not only are financial debts canceled but moral and
emotional debts as well (Romans 13:8: owe only love).
Forgiveness is a kissing cousin to agape or that love which has an unselfish, even selfless, interest out of pure motive for others. The word group “forgive” occurs 48 times in the Gospels (1 Corinthians 13:5: log, or, keep account; LOGIZETAI).
Such forgiveness cannot be separated from love of neighbor. Such a quality ought to characterize the Nazarene Saint.
Debt to us: This may be moral or emotional indebtedness but it also may be literal monetary debts (Luke 6:34). One of the clearest ways to judge a man is by his wallet and how he uses it in relation to his dealings with others. When it comes to spirituality,
the use of money from the standpoint of God separates the men from the boys.
MT6:13Bring us not into temptation292but rescue us from evil.293
Bring us not into temptation: The Seventh Principle. Various renderings: BAS: let us not be put to the test. This is a subject the Nazarene knows something about (Matthew 4:1; Luke 4:1; 22:40; Hebrews 4:15). The word group “tempt” occurs 36 times in the Bible and 14 times in the Synoptics, but not once in John. A related word “test” occurs 113 times in the Bible with 11 in the Gospels. Compare 1 Corinthians 10:13.
1 Corinthians 10:13 and James 1:13 are good commentaries on the Nazarene’s words. God does not tempt or test one with evil, so He does not cause a prostitute pass before a man to test him. The Temptation of Christ had two phases: a beginning and an end. At the beginning he was tempted (tested) by Satan (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13). These tests or temptations dealt with doubt in the word “if,” as well as greed and pride. The later test was manifest at the end of his life beginning in the Garden of Agony and finally, the Tree (Hebrews 4:15). Test or tempt really find their best definition in the word “endurance.”
Evil: Some render the Greek PONERON as either “evil,” “wicked,” or Wicked One, alluding to the Devil (Matthew 4:1; Luke 4:1).
c) Forgiveness and neighbor love
MT6:14“For, if you forgive the missteps of others294your heavenly Father will forgive yours.295
Forgive the missteps of others: The first commentary on the Lord’s Prayer was by the Nazarene himself in the verses following
it. The Nazarene avoids the word AGAPE (or, love) and gets right to the root of man’s problem in his relations with others: forgiveness. This attribute must characterize the Friend of the Nazarene, for their Lord stands ready to forgive any who repent!
(John 3:16) Complaints, even legitimate ones, will occur even among those possessed of the Transformed Mind (Colossians 3:13: complaint). If one does not forgive then all is lost, for God’s forgiveness is voided and any further hypocritical worship is
in vain or worthless. One cannot claim discipleship to the Nazarene and at the same time hold a single, unforgiving thought!
Father will forgive yours: Compare James 2:13: mercy. Colossians 3:13 is a virtual commentary on the Nazarene’s words.
MT6:15But, if you do not forgive
the missteps296 of othersneither will the Father forgive your missteps.
Missteps: This Greek PARAPTOMATA is variously rendered: faults, trespasses, false-steps, mistakes.
MT6:16But, when you fast297
do not be gloomy hypocrites298with distorted faces to make fasting obvious.299I tell you in truth: They are having their full reward!
Fast: (Compare Acts 13:2) Fasting was a regular and normal feature of Jewish life and much mileage could be made from a religious
standpoint if one’s motive was to curry the spiritual favor of others. Some religions do not fast but have similar obligations or requirements that give some public evidence of sacrifice.
The word group “fast” occurs 159 times in the Bible and 38 times in the Gospels with a descending order as the particular Gospel ages (Matthew 15x, Mark 13x, Luke 8x, John 2x).
Do not be gloomy hypocrites: Various renderings: RHM: sullen countenances; TCNT: gloomy looks; RSV: do not look dismal; PHI: don’t look like those miserable play-actors; RHM: darken their
looks; MOF: they look woebegone; GDSP: they neglect their personal appearance; NOR: trying to make a show.
fasting obvious: The motive of fasting is clear. NOR: trying to make it show. Neighbor love enters the picture here because of the affect on one’s neighbor by such a hypocritical showing of religiosity. There are a multitude of other ways to do the
Oil your head and wash your face: Note Ecclesiastes 9:8: glow. Various renderings: WEY: pour perfume on your hair; PHI: brush your
hair. Exactly the opposite of the intent of the hypocritical person fasting. No one will know! Just as in the matter or prayer and charity.
MT6:18So you will not
be obvious to men in your fasting but secretly301 to your Father.
Secretly: The Greek here is related to “cryptic.” PHI: let it be a secret between you and your Father. Nothing can be more thrilling than this intimacy between the disciple and his God: only the two of you know about the object of the prayer, the secret giving, and the private fasting. Does the Nazarene encourage fasting of the proper kind? What would be some conditions or situations in which the Friend of the Nazarene might go without food?
d) ‘Treasures’ and neighbor love
|| Luke 11:34-36
treasure303 up for yourselves‘treasures’ on earthwhere moth and rust consume304and where thieves break in and steal.
Treasure: This is the Greek word from which the English thesaurus comes. The word occurs 15 times in Matthew and Luke. A more modern word for it would be “save” or “store.” Compare Luke 12:20: savings. Various renderings: store up no treasures for yourselves; don’t pile up treasures on earth. Is it fair to state that the Nazarene discouraged “savings” in a material sense? In all the Christian Bible there are only two exhortations to “save.” (1 Corinthians 16:2; Ephesians 4:28) Both deal with “saving” in order to give to those in need. One cannot “save” and at the same time ‘sell belongings to give to the poor’ (Luke 12:33). Unless this be a brief and momentary storage in preparation to give to the needy.
Stop saving! is a Nazarene command not to horde or store despite any supposed encouragement in the Solomonic Proverbs to the contrary. Whatever the Proverbs might counsel, ‘God now speaks by His Son.’ (Hebrews 1:1) This is
a severe test of faith when the Western or Capitalist World is encouraging exactly the opposite.
The Nazarene and his disciples lived what he taught. Ghandi noted that Jesus was the only religious leader who actually lived what he preached. Solomon had a yearly income of 666 talents of gold. But, Jesus and Peter were unable to come up with the Temple
tax, something like two-bits, and had to resort to a piscerian miracle to pay their proper debt so as not to stumble any (Matthew 17:25-27).
Money, material things, possessions and property (riches) can have a powerful influence on love of neighbor. Nothing can injure relations between friends or brothers more than riches. Seldom do the rich or propertied socialize with the poor or needy. These
two classes have been separated from that first moment money was invented.
Consume: It is true that in modern
times rust and moths do not have the same affect on money as in the First Century. However, there are still thieves, and more importantly there is always the danger of electronic viruses, or transmission failures, or banking collapses that endanger hard earned
savings. There is a prophetic warning in The Apocalypse about a future world power with the capacity to enforce the entire globe to use an “engraving” in order to “buy or sell.” (Revelation ch. 13) So, there are other forms of
“moths” and “rust” and “thieves,” as property and financial accounts exist in an electronic atmosphere of computer wizardry always dependent on electric power, and totally under the control of economic powers, constantly
manipulating stock markets, and materialistic institutions under the control of greedy persons world-wide.
MT6:20But, treasure up ‘treasures’ in heaven305where neither moth nor rust consume and where thieves cannot break in and steal.
Heaven: The Celestial Bank protected by God! (Note Luke 12:33, 34: sell and heart; Luke 16:9: friends) Various renderings: WMS: keep
on storing up your riches in heaven. Heavenly treasure is God’s view of what is valuable (Proverbs 2:1-9: treasure) and it includes the “gold” of faith founded on Christ (1 Corinthians 3:12 and 1 Peter 1:7: tested faith). The Greek for “treasure”
is the English “thesaurus” which is a dictionary of words. This is apropos with regard to the Divine Thesaurus found in the Holy Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16: inspired).
MT6:21For where your ‘treasure’ is there your heart will be also.306
Where your ‘treasure’ is there your heart will be also: It is left to the heart of each Friend of the Nazarene to determine
the degree these teachings will be followed. Each person is in a different set of circumstances. However, the spirit of all of this cannot be ignored (1 Timothy 6:9, 10: materialism). There is no better indicator judging a person’s heart than how one
uses and views money (1 John 3:17; James 2:15, 16; Matthew 25:31-46). This is surely “the bottom line” with most persons concerned about earthly credits and debits, unaware of the Divine Accountant who is keeping a perfect set of books (Revelation
20:12-14). Most will find themselves in the “red” with God, and unless they repentantly plead their cause and admit their materialism as a desertion of Christ, they can expect no payment except that gleaned from earthly coffers.
One way to judge the “heart” is what a person talks about. That is, what are the main subjects that occupy a persons dialogue and communications? Is the central topic those things of a spiritual nature, or do material matters dominate speech? (Consider Ephesians 5:3-5, 12)
MT6:22The lamp of the body is the eye.307So, if your eye is focused right308your whole body will know the Way.
The lamp of the body is the eye: Still on the subject of earthly or celestial treasures, the Nazarene turns to the eye: what and how it looks at various matters. Light enters the eye as an opening to the body or the entire person as a physical entity. However, spiritual light imbues the inner person, the Nazarene Saint’s Transformed Mind. The purpose of this divine illumination is to direct each footstep in the direction of God’s path (Psalm 119:105: lamp).
Focused right: The Greek involved here is APLOUS and is variously translated “simple, sincere, generous, single, unclouded.” The word occurs in various forms in contexts of simplicity and generosity (Romans 12:8; 2 Corinthians 8:2), sound or sincere (Matthew 6:22; Luke 11:34), and, liberal (James 1:5). It seems to us the Nazarene’s subject is how we view matters and if our eye is healthy, and therefore focuses well, we will look properly on things and persons. The simple eye is generous in giving because it does not fret or worry about tomorrow’s anxieties, and so the view or focus on the morrow is bright with gleaming hopes of that “real life” only God can give (1 Timothy 6:19: real life).
Adam’s “eye” was focused wrongly and rather than see the Tree as harmful he viewed it as good (Genesis 3:6). Note the Nazarene’s offer of “eyesalve” to the materialistic in Revelation 3:17, 18. Compare the beloved Apostle’s
thought at 1 John 2:16.
Luke 11:33-36 puts the subject of the well-focused eye in the context of the light hidden under a basket. Verse 34: ‘When your eye is single (simple, sincere, generous, focused) your whole body will be illuminated.’ There are various warnings
in Proverbs about eyesight and how one views or does not view something (Proverbs 4:25; 23:31). The Bible provides numerous real-life examples of the improper “eye”: Eve (Genesis 3:6); Achan (Joshua 7:21); David (2 Samuel 11:2).
The association of the eye with the word “generous” is a good one when considering Jesus’ sub theme of neighbor love and charity. Note the word “beholds” at 1 John 3:17 (James 2:15, 16). Note also: ‘The generous eye will be blessed, the one who feeds the poor’ (Proverbs 22:9); and, ‘Eat not the bread of the one with a selfish eye, nor desire his delicacies, for he inwardly figures the expense.’ (Proverbs 23:6)
MT6:23But, if your eye is focused wrong309your whole body will be blind.310So, if the ‘Light’ in you is ‘Dark’311 –
O, how much darkness!
Focused wrong: Various renderings: KJ: evil; TCNT: diseased; MOF: if your eye is selfish; NOR: if you
have poor eyesight. The wicked eye, which is wrongly focused, is the envious one who cannot be satisfied with those things already possessed, but must have more than his neighbor. Such a wrongly focused eye is covetous. The Nazarene warns at Luke 12:15: ‘With
eyes wide open, guard against covetousness, because Life does not come from possessions.’ The “evil eye” is greedy and desires more of what his neighbor has and is stingy when it comes to showing love to his neighbor.
Blind: The Greek literally, ‘The whole body will be dark’ inferring blindness.
If the ‘Light’ in you is ‘Dark’: Various renderings are: TCNT: inner light is darkness; WMS: the very source of light in you is darkness. On the exterior there is the appearance of light as an illuminator of souls (Romans 2:19) but inside the divided heart is bedarkened by choices between God and Riches. No greater darkness can there be than the person who thinks by his riches to serve God with extravagant contributions to holy orders – often with show and often with the purchase of another Saint’s soul – believing by such charity the way into the Kingdom of God is purchased.
e) Anxiety and neighbor love
|| Luke 12:22-31
MT6:24“No one can slave for two masters,312for either he will hate one and love the other313or embrace314 one and despise the other.You cannot serve God and Riches!315
Two masters: Or, masters. 2 Timothy 2:4 expresses a similar idea by Paul.
He will hate one and love the other: Various renderings are: TCNT: attach himself; BECK: be loyal to the one. Hate here means to love less of two, much as a man with
two maidens to please. Woe to him if the other finds out. The disciple who slaves for Mammon, or sticks to riches by his conversation and agenda, though unknown to himself, despises his true Lord.
Embrace: Or, “stick”. On the word “stick” see Deuteronomy 30:20 where it equals love and obedience. Rather than try to balance the two, God and Riches, the Friend of the Nazarene is better off sinning on the side of God and poverty than on the side of Riches and self. Better to die penniless with God as your Business Partner than end life wealthy with a lost soul as your only investment (Luke 12:20).
God and Riches: It is not, “God or Riches,” but, “God and Riches.” The Nazarene says it cannot be done, though untold numbers of Christians have attempted it miserably (1 Timothy 6:7-10, 17-19). Various renderings are: KNX: you must serve God or money; you cannot serve both. This is an impossibility illustrated by the mental image of a poor servant running back and forth between the two demands of two different lords. He is obediently with the one when the other requires his service. Riches can easily become a taskmaster greater than God. Riches can become God itself.
In the modern Western capitalist world there are millions of Christians trying to do the very thing the Nazarene said cannot be done: serve God and Riches. There are those Prosperity Preachers who speak in the voice of Revelation 3:17 and who insist riches
are proof of God’s blessing. They particularly encourage tithing and giving one’s money to them in promise of God’s blessing. The Nazarene Saint has only to look at the life-style of the Master and those early disciples to see what Jesus meant.
MT6:25For this I tell you: Do not be overly concerned316 about your soul317as to what you might eator what you might drink,318nor about your body as to clothing.319
Overly concerned: Various renderings are: KJ: take no thought for your life; WMS: stop worrying about your life; NEB: put away anxious
thoughts. Stop! This is a negative command of the Nazarene, and based on John 15:14 and John 14:15, a failure to obey this directive proves one does not love him, nor is a friend of the Lord. To persist in anxiety and worry is a desertion of Christ. For those
hapless and bedarkened souls who suffer physical and chemical ailments are captive to frightening insecurities and paranoia. Note Paul’s “secret” at Philippians 4:6, 12.
The affects of worry, anxiety, and being overly concerned about material matters, can have a strong influence on neighbor love, for one may be so occupied with these secular things as to ignore one’s neighbor.
Soul: The Greek is PSYCHE and many translate this “life.” It is interesting that it is the “soul” linked to the functions of
eating and drinking and then the “body” (SOMA) with clothing. In Hebrew and Greek the “soul” is the living, breathing creature itself and at death becomes “a dead soul.” (Leviticus 21:11; Numbers 6:6, 11: dead soul) To Paul
the “soul” is the animal, physical, earthly, dusty, corruptible, mortal (1 Corinthians 15:42-49). See lexicons and dictionaries on “soul.”
Drink: Usually this does not mean water but wine or milk as both were staples.
Clothing: In the world of the Nazarene the majority of people possessed a single set of clothes meant to last a life-time. Note Matthew 5:40; 9:16, 20, 21; 11:8; 24:18; Luke 22:36; John 19:25. The “naked” state mentioned in Matthew 25:36 can
infer improperly clothed for the conditions.
MT6:26Look well to the birds320 in the sky,they do not sow or reap.Nor do they gather into storage barns.321 Your heavenly Father feeds
them.322Are you that much different?323
Birds: In Luke 12:23, 24 these “birds” are “ravens,” the bird which Noah released first (Genesis 8:7), and
which fed Elijah (1 Kings 17:4, 6). The raven is considered the smartest of birds, mate for life, and is the most wide-ranging of all birds. It is found on Mount Everest, in the worst of deserts, and the Arctic. Job 38:41 is a foreview of the Nazarene’s
words, ‘Who provides the ravens food when its young cry to God for help?’
They do not sow or reap. Nor do they gather into storage barns: According to the Nazarene birds do not toil, but they survive. Jesus is encouraging the simple life in which toil is non-existent. For three and a half years Jesus did not toil, nor did his disciples until that day they lost faith and returned to their fishing businesses (John 21:1-19).
Father feeds them: The Nazarene credits God for feeding the birds even as Job 38:41 states. If the Nazarene has this kind of conviction, how can one of his disciples not trust God to care.
Different: Many translate DIAPHERETE as “worth” and this may be well, but one can see the English corruption “different” in the word. Regarding “worth” each person has a value or worth and in the Nazarene’s absurdum the disciples can see their true value in the eyes of the Creator of sparrows which sell for little in the market (Matthew 10:29).
MT6:27But, who among you can add one minute to your life-span324by being overly concerned?
Add one minute to your life-span: Various renderings: GDSP: which of
you with all his worry can add a single hour to his life span; TCNT: prolong his life a single moment; PHI: make himself an inch taller. Note Psalm 39:4, 5: life; Psalm 90:10: seventy or eighty years. Unknown then, but presumed by human reasoning, and now confirmed by medical studies, anxiety does not prolong life, but shortens it, in a painfully slow and a daily agonizing death.
MT6:28And, why are you overly concerned about clothing? Learn something from how the flowers of the field325 grow.They do not labor or spin.326
Flowers of the field: Some identify the flower with the lily. Compare Matthew 11:28 and Proverbs 23:4: toil. These beauties of the
field neither toil nor sow and are an example for the Nazarene disciple (Matthew 6:26).
They do not labor or spin: The bird does not gather or store, and the flower does not labor or spin, and the Nazarene infers this is an example for his disciples. The storage and labor here are of a material kind. No one could argue that the Nazarene or Paul did not labor and toil, but this they did in the Master’s harvest. Compare Paul’s arguments in 1 Corinthians 9:3-18.
MT6:29But, I tell you: Solomon in all his glory327was not clothed as one of these.
Solomon in all his glory: Note Solomon’s wealth at 1 Kings 10:5 and read of his endeavors in Ecclesiastes ch 2, where he admits
the futility or vanity of what appears to be security in material things. Note his conclusions at Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14. The Queen of Sheba, so overcome at Solomon’s wealth, may have been unimpressed by the humble lifestyle of the Nazarene.
MT6:30But, if The God clothes the fields of grass,328here today and tomorrow tossed in the oven, how much more you,329 ones
of little faith?
The God clothes the fields of grass: The Nazarene credits God for the carpets of flowers.
How much more you: See Luke 12:28. The standard clothing of the poor in the days of the Nazarene was three layers of covering, the outer of such a nature
to serve also as a night blanket, or a tent in foul weather. This served a lifetime and was so well made and needful as to be a guarantee against a debt (Matthew 5:40). Such a pledge had to be returned before night. It is doubtful Jesus had a wardrobe that
allowed a daily, weekly, or even monthly change of apparel. Note Matthew 11:8 where soft or fine garments are found in king’s castles and splendid, luxurious dress in royal houses (Luke 7:25). These fine clothes may be beautiful and carry a delicate feel to the skin, but useless for the night bivouac of a wandering troop of itinerant teachers spending the occasional evening under the stars with God as their blanket, their only entertainment the nocturnal crickets, frogs and owls. Who among those genuine disciples of the Nazarene would not give everything they possess to spend one such night under the open celestial darkness with Jesus. Then to listen to his restful breathing in that Innocent’s sleep, only to wonder of such divine dreams?
In the Western world much time is spent in shopping at luxurious malls, which would rival the pyramids in their architecture, and absorb untold hours of dressing and undressing, only to have clothes hang limp in the darkness of a closet.
MT6:31So, do not be overly concerned,330
saying,‘What will we eat?’ Or, ‘What will we drink?’ Or, ‘What will we put on?’331
Not be overly concerned: See Luke 12:29: worry. Various renderings: PHI: do not worry. ‘Stop worrying!’ is a Nazarene
command (John 14:15). To worry or be unduly anxious is a desertion of Christ. Better to die of starvation or thirst or nakedness than to give in to anxiety over transient things.
Note the austere sincerity of Peter’s haste to build a mountain bivouac from available boughs, for those august personages of Moses and Elijah, so they had some shelter from the lofty mountain’s night – a heart so sweet and swift in its goodness. Such an enthusiastic suggestion is unthinkable in the modern Western world where one would rather worry about the credit limit on a gold bankcard and where the nearest luxury hotel was, let alone have the knowledge to build such a temporary shelter (Matthew 17:1, 4).
‘What will we eat?’ Or, ‘What will we drink?’ Or, ‘What will we put on?’: These questions seem out of place to a Western reader where these are the least of one’s problems. In Third World Countries these are still timely questions of daily concern. In the West most are struggling with various weight programs, drink too much, and have closets filled with unused clothing. A woman dressing for the evening may go through a dozen changes before the mirror, try on several pairs of heels, select from drawers of jewelry and choose from dozens of perfumes.
However, the spirit of the Nazarene’s teachings ought to ring in the ears of the Saint living near the top of the social and economic pyramid: seek a life of simplicity with a generous eye toward the less fortunate. It is Paul who instructs the missionary
Timothy to “give orders to the rich.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19) Who dare do that today? What Christian pastor has the courage to even read these words without rationalizing to his affluent congregation?
MT6:32For all these the Non-Jews overly seek.332Your heavenly Father knows you need all these.333
Non-Jews overly seek: And the Nazarene would have to admit, and perhaps he avoids saying so, many Jews of his world sought the same.
Various renderings: BECK: the people of the world run after all these things. These words were not lost on the Nazarene’s beloved when John writes ‘Do not love the world and its things… for all worldly things (fleshly desire, greedy eyes,
and self-assuming materialism) are not of the Father.’ (1 John 2:15, 16)
Here “things” are merely food, drink and clothing and this is ludicrous in a modern Western society where payments for debts on autos, mobile phones, TV cable-hookups, electricity for refrigerators, and other modern conveniences make economic slaves of men, their wives and families. Jesus’ sermon would be meaningless to a modern audience in America or Europe accept for those unfortunate living on the street and who have fallen outside the sumptuous table of capitalist and social democratic orders.
Father knows you need all these: The comforting thought that God knows our needs saturates the Psalms. If there is one group of peoples the Almighty pays close attention to, it is the poor (1 Timothy 6:8; Philippians 4:12). The word “poor” occurs 117, times with Psalms having the most occurrences (23 times). A comparison of a concordance on the words poor, poverty, affliction, or oppressed, will reveal God’s loving care for such multitudes.
MT6:33But, you, seek first His Kingdom and righteousness334and all these will be added to you.
Seek first His Kingdom and righteousness: First the Kingdom, and then God’s righteousness, not some other standard (See Romans
14:17: kingdom). Various renderings are: PHI: set your heart on his kingdom; RIEU: pursue the kingdom; BECK: first be eager to have God as your King; GDSP: but you must make his kingdom and uprightness your greatest care. When the Nazarene here uses the word
“kingdom” he first means that opportunity to gain entrance into the kingdom or realm of the Son which is the Church, the Nazarene Community of Christian Saints with its heavenly call (Matthew 13:41; Colossians 1:12; Hebrews 3:1). This “righteousness”
is not that of the Law but those commandments of the Lord (John 14:15; 1John 3:23).
MT6:34So, do not be overly concerned about tomorrow.335For tomorrow will have its own concerns. The hardships of each day are enough!336
Do not be overly concerned about tomorrow: Apparently he does not mean ‘give no thought of the morrow’ for the Nazarene himself prepares
for the future day on occasion. The Greek MERIMNESETE may be rendered anxious or worry. It is often used in the context of “concern” and thus the use of “overly concerned.” Some reasonable concern is necessary as shown in Jesus’
instructions regarding the colt and the upper room. Compare Job 14:1 and Exodus 16:4, 19: depression. Various renderings are: MOF: so never be troubled; KNX: do not fret.
Note a practical commentary on this verse at Philippians 4:11-13. It takes a certain natural or developed bent of mind to trust in God to such an extent and the majority of Christians who ever lived were not of this caliber. Paul, after the Nazarene’s
model, was such a person who took the Lord’s word at face value and lived his life accordingly. An unnamed scribe, overcome by the crowds, and the healing works of this wandering Rabbi, offered, ‘I will follow you anywhere.’ Jesus’
simple reply pointed the difficult way, ‘Foxes have dens, birds have roosts, but I have nowhere to sleep. Come, follow me!’ (Matthew 8:18-22)
Words and promises are big but deeds and examples are few. Today millions are spent on treatment for anxiety and depression. It is obvious the more things one has to care for or worry about, the more anxiety occupies and distracts, leading to those modern
ills. In the end, even the most security conscious have no control over his finances, his life, his inheritance. For an example, a commentary on this verse, there is none better than Luke 12:13-34. ‘Tomorrow will have its own concerns.’ You can rely on this as much as death and taxes! One day at a time, as the AA phrase goes, is right out of the Nazarene’s teachings. Most anxieties are not worth the time and energy wasted on
them, for those real fears do not materialize in most cases; and in those justified cases, the majority of time there is little that can be done about them. Each day’s badness, evil, or anxieties is sufficient, so why fret about those which have not yet appeared? Why add to it all by anxiety and those attitudes and actions which it creates?
Hardships of each day are enough: There are those “hardships” which are beyond our control, like an earthquake, or the outbreak of war, or a wave of persecution, or sudden illness. There are those hardships which we bring upon ourselves by bad decisions, laziness, stupidity, or poor preparation.