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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 6

Broadus' Commentary on MatthewBroadus on Matthew

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Verses 1-4

Matthew 6:1-4 . Good Works Without Ostentation

I. Alms-Giving

Since Matthew 5:17 (see Analysis at beginning of Matthew 5:0 ), our Lord has been showing that he requires in the subjects of the Messianic reign, a higher and more spiritual morality than that which was taught and practised by the Scribes and Pharisees. This is continued in Matthew 6:1-18 ; and as Matthew 5:20 introduced the first main section, (Matthew 5:20-48 ) so Matthew 6:1 introduces the second. (Matthew 6:1-18 ) In Matthew 5:20 it is said that their righteousness must exceed the Scribes and Pharisees; accordingly (Weiss, Luketteroth) Matthew 5:20-48 gives examples from the teachings of the Scribes, and Matthew 6:1-18 from the practice of the Pharisees. The general principle of Matthew 6:1 is illustrated by applying it to three exercises highly valued among the Jews (commended together in Tobit 12:8 ), viz. almsgiving, (Matthew 6:2-4 ) prayer, (Matthew 6:5-15 ) and fasting. (Matthew 6:16-18 ) Each of these, he says, should be performed, trot with a view to human approbation and reward, but to that of God. Calvin : "A very necessary admirer in all virtues the entrance of ambition is to be avoided, and there is no work so laudable as not to be in many instances corrupted and polluted by it."

Matthew 6:1 . Your righteousness [1] i. e. , righteous actions or good deeds (as in Matthew 5:6 , Matthew 5:10 , Matthew 5:20 ), including such as alms-giving, prayer, and fasting. [2] To do righteousness is a phrase of frequent occurrence, as in Psalms 106:3 Isaiah 58:2 , 1 John 2:29 , 1 John 3:7 , 1 John 3:10 . To be seen of them , More fully rendered, 'with a view to be looked at (or gazed at) by them'; the Greek construction is the same as in Matthew 5:28 , Matthew 23:5 , conveying distinctly the idea of purpose, design; and the Greek verb is a strong word (the root from which comes theatre), and suggests the being gazed at as a spectacle. So 'hypocrite' is originally 'actor,' one who plays a part. This meaning of 'to be seen,' is very strongly brought out by Tyndale, Great Bible, and Geneva, 'to the intent that,' etc.; and for 'seen' Geneva says, 'looked at.' What our Lord forbids is therefore not publicity in performing good deeds, which is often necessary and therefore proper, but ostentatious publicity, for the purpose of attracting attention and gaining applause. This obviously does not conflict with Matthew 5:16 , where the object to be had in view is that God may be glorified, not ourselves (See on that passage) No reward of or, with (compare margin of Com. Ver.), as if laid up in God's presence for you. Compare Matthew 5:12 , Matthew 5:46 ; 1 Peter 1:4 . The Greek and Roman philosophers and the Jewish writers have many maxims upon the importance of being unostentatious in virtue, especially in deeds of benevolence. A desire for the approbation of our fellowmen is not in itself wrong, and not incompatible with piety, but it should be completely subordinated to the desire that God may approve us, and that he may be glorified in us. This entire subordination is manifestly very difficult, and hence many think it easier to denounce ambition altogether, forgetting that ambition is an original principle of our nature, to destroy which would be as injurious as it is impossible. But while not inherently sinful, ambition, like anger (see on Matthew 5:22 ), is exceedingly apt to become sinful, and hence the solemn warning here given.

[1] This (compare Com. Ver. margin) is the reading of the three oldest uncials that contain the passage (B. ‏ א ‎ D.), of the Latin versions (nearly all copies) and Latin Fathers, and is adopted by Lach., Tisch., Treg., W. H. It might easily be altered to the word meaning'alms,' partly because that is the subject of Matthew 6:2-4 , and many did not see that Matthew 6:1 presented a distinct general precept, and partly because the later Jews often used 'righteousness' as meaning alms, that being in their view the foremost righteousness. (Compare our modern employment of 'charity' to denote simply alms-giving.) This use is seen in the Talmud, and in the frequent translations of the Hebrew word for righteousness by 'alms' in the Sept., but is not found in N. T., nor in the Hebrew O. T.; for Gesenius' examples, Proverbs 10:2 , Proverbs 11:4 Psalms 24:5 Micah 6:5 , do not at all require or justify such a sense. But this notion of righteousness as alms, spreading among Christians, might cause 'alms' to be written in the margin of Micah 6:1 as explaining the supposed meaning of righteousness, and then its substitution by copyists. Notice that the Oriental versions generally read alms, as the usage just mentioned would be readily adopted in an Oriental language.

[2] Several early MSS. and versions insert de , 'But take heed,' etc., which is adopted by Tischendorf, and given in brackets by Westcott Hort. The question of its genuineness is hard to decide. If adopted, it would seem to imply the expectation that Matthew 5:20 and Matthew 5:48 would stir in the persons addressed a desire to be righteous, and so they would need the caution,"But take care," etc.

Matthew 6:2-4 . The first of the three subjects to which our Lord applies the great principle of Matthew 6:1 is Alms-giving. (Matthew 6:2-4 ) Therefore presents what follows as an inference from what precedes, the specific precept inferred from the general. Thou , see on Matthew 5:23 ; Matthew 6:5 . When thou doest , appears to take for granted that they will do so, as likewise in Matthew 6:5 and Matthew 6:16 . The English word 'alms' is an abridged form of the Greek word here used, eleemosune (compare our adjective eleemosynary), gradually reduced to German almosen, Wyclif's almesse, Scotch awmous, our alms (ams). Sound a trumpet , is by the Greek commentators and nearly all recent writers understood as merely a figurative expression, common to many languages, for parade and effort to attract notice and applause. There is no authority for the conjecture of Calvin (mentioned as early as Euthymius) and some others (including Stier), that it was a practice among the Jews for an ostentatious alms-giver literally to sound a trumpet before him in public places to summon the needy (sounding it through another person, see margin of Com. Yet.). Lightf. sought long and earnestly for evidence of such a practice, but found none; and it is very improbable that such a thing would have been permitted 'in the synagogues.' We see much benevolence at the present day so ostentatious that the giver might very naturally be figuratively described as sounding a trumpet before him. The notion of Edersheim,"The Temple," p. 26, that the expression refers to trumpet-shaped contribution-boxes, in the temple treasury, appears extremely far-fetched and fanciful. Hypocrites . The word is borrowed by us from the Greek, and in classic use signified an actor, who wore a mask and played a part. This well illustrates, as it naturally led to, the sense in which the word is so often used in Scripture. As to synagogues , see on "Matthew 4:23 ". That they may have glory , or, be glorified of men , in contrast to seeking the glory which God gives. (Compare John 5:44 ) Verily I say unto you , see on "Matthew 5:18 ". They have , or, have received . So Vulgate, Wyclif; and so Com. Ver. translates the same word in Luke 6:24 . The Greek verb is a compound, signifying to have entirely, have the whole of, have in full. The idea is that in being gazed at and glorified by men they have all the reward they will ever obtain, for they must fail of the reward marooned in Luke 6:1 . (Compare Psalms 17:14 ) See the same word below in Matthew 6:5 , Matthew 6:16 . But when thou doest alms , the position of the words making 'thou' emphatic, in contrast to the hypocrites. Let not thy left hand , etc. Here, as in Matthew 6:2 , we have a figurative expression. It suggests the pleasing and striking image of a man passing one who is in need, and with his right hand giving alma in so quiet a way that, so to speak, even his own left hand does not know what is going on. That , in Matthew 6:4 , is not 'so that' but 'in order that,' expressing not simply the result. but the purpose; just as in Matthew 6:2 , in Matthew 5:15 , etc. Of course this does not require that all benevolence shall be literally secret, but that no benevolence shall be ostentatious (see on "Matthew 6:1 "). So far from trumpeting your almsgiving before the public, do not even let it be known to yourself. Which seeth in secret , not exactly who sees what is done in secret, but who is present in secret and sees there. Compare Matthew 6:6 , Matthew 6:18 , 'which is in secret.' Calvin : "He silently glances at a kind of folly which prevails everywhere among men, that they think they have lost their pains if there have not been many spectators of their virtues." Reward , recompense , or, repay , is the word explained on Matthew 5:33 , [1] and different from the noun rendered 'reward' in Matthew 5:1 f. We are not told when or how the recompense will be given, and may understand that it will be both in time and in eternity, both in character and in felicity.

[1] Himself and 'openly' are omitted by the earliest manuscripts and most of the early versions. We can see how they may have been written on the margin to bring out the implied contrast, and then supposed to be part of the text because quite appropriate; while if present originally, we cannot imagine why any one should have wished to omit them. So they must be rejected without hesitation.

The Jews held alms-giving in the highest estimation. Thus Tobit, Matthew 12:8 , says, "It is good to do alms rather than to treasure up gold. For alms delivers from death a misinterpretation of Proverbs 10:2 , Proverbs 11:4 , and this will purge away every sin." Compare Sirach 29:11 ff. The Talmud says that almsgiving is "more excellent than all offerings," is "equal to the whole law," will "deliver from the condemnation of hell," and makes a man "perfectly righteous." In the Talmud of Babylon, Psalms 17:15 , is explained to mean, "I shall behold thy face on account of alms" properly, 'in righteousness', and the inference is drawn that "on account of one farthing given to the poor in alms, a man becomes partaker of the beatific vision." Maimonides particularizes eight degrees of alms-giving, the merit being graded according to the circumstances. (In like manner the Roman Catholics attach great value to gifts and other kindnesses to the poor, believing that they atone for sins.) Holding the books of Tobit and Sirach to be canonical, they find in them proof-texts for this doctrine. Add to the above Sirach 3:30 ,"alms will atone for sins." In this, as in various other cases, there is reason to fear that Protestants by a natural reaction from Romish error, fail to value an important Christian duty as they should do. See Proverbs 19:17 , also the cup of cold water, (Matthew 10:42 ) the judgment scenes, (Matthew 25:35 ff.) also 1 Corinthians 9:6 ff.; Philippians 4:18 f.; 1 Timothy 6:19 ; James 1:27 . That is a good saying of a Roman poet, "It is only the riches you give that you will always have." And see Tobit 4:7 ff.

Some of the Jewish writers also enjoin secrecy in alms-giving. Talmud: "He that does alms in secret is greater than Moses." A Mohammedan proverb says: "Hast thou done a good deed, cast it into the sea; if the fish find it not, yet will God see it." And among the traditional sayings of Mohammed, we find,"In alms-giving, the left hand should not know what the right has given" one of the numerous instances in which Mohammed borrowed from the Scriptures, not only the Old but also the New Testament.

Homiletical And Practical

Matthew 6:1 . Vinet (in Luketteroth): "To be perfect, (Matthew 5:48 ) it is absolutely necessary to seek the notice and aim at the approval of a perfect being."Chrys.: "It may be, both that one doing alms he had the wrong text before men may not do it to be seen of them, and again that one not doing it before men may do it to be seen of them..... He (Christ) defines both the penalty and reward not by the result of the action, but by the intention of the doer." Matthew 6:1 and Matthew 5:16 . Good Works in Public. (1) Wrong motive, that men may honour us.

(2) Right motive, that men may glorify God. Boardman: "Distinguish between doing right in order to help others, as when one lights a beacon in order to guide the sailor, and doing right in order to be praised by others, as when one stands in full blaze of a chandelier in order to display his own jewelry." Dykes: "The actions of piety, like its tones or its gaits, are so imitable, and the imitation is so hard of detection, that they become the invariable livery of the hypocrite. For the same reason, they seduce those who are not yet hypocrites into becoming so. When a man would increase or preserve a reputation for piety which he has once honestly enough obtained, it is fatally easy to perform pious acts, with this end in view, a little oftener or a little more ostentatiously than he would do were he only careful about serving God."

Matthew 5:2-4 . Two ways of doing good, and two kinds of reward. what is the hypocrite's reward? Praise from some of his fellow-men, with the consciousness that he does not deserve it, a perpetual dread lest they find him out, and frequent fears of that coming time when the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed. It is not necessarily wrong to employ example and emulation in persuading men to give. (1 Corinthians 8:0 and 1 Corinthians 9:0 ) Hypocrisy. (1) Its nature. (2) Its unwilling tribute to true piety as counterfeit coin is abundant because genuine coin is so valuable. (3) Its reward. (a) the reward it may gain, (b) the reward it must miss. Rochefoucauld: "Hypocrisy is a sort of homage that vice pays to virtue." Henry: "The hypocrite catches at the shadow, but the upright man makes sure of the substance." Ecce Homo: "But there are subtler forms of hypocrisy, which Christ does not denounce, probably because they have sprung since out of the corruption of a subtler creed.... They would practice assiduously the rules by which Christ said heaven was to be won. They would patiently turn the left cheek, indefatigably walk the two miles, they would bless with effusion those who cursed them, and pray fluently for those who used them spitefully. To love their enemies, to love any one, they would certainly find impossible, but the outward signs of love might easily be learnt. And thus there would arise a new class of actors, not like those whom Christ denounced..... hoping to impose by their dramatic talent upon their Father in heaven." Luther: "If we cease our charitable deeds because men are ungrateful, that shows that we were not aiming to please and honour God."

Verses 1-34

Matthew 5-7. Sermon On The Mount.

General Introduction To The Sermon On The Mount

The discourse in Matthew 5-7 is well known by the traditional name of The Sermon on the Mount. Several general questions in regard to it require to be answered.

(1) Unity of the discourse. Some contend that we cannot, or need not, suppose Jesus to have spoken on a single occasion all that Matthew here gives, but that he has grouped together things said at different times, for the purpose of furnishing a comprehensive exhibition of our Saviour's teachings. This they argue partly from the fact that many things contained in the discourse as given by Matthew are recorded by Luke, and even by Matthew himself, as said on other occasions (see on Matthew 5:13 , Matthew 5:15 , Matthew 5:18 , Matthew 5:25 , Matthew 5:29 , Matthew 5:32 , Matthew 6:9 , Matthew 6:22 , Matthew 6:24-25 , Matthew 7:2 , Matthew 7:7 , Matthew 7:17 , Matthew 7:23 ), and partly from the manifest design on Matthew's part to compose not so much a chronological narrative as a historical argument, in which things are so arranged as to bring out the points he wishes to make prominent. But in grouping the miracles of Matthew 8-9, he does not at all say that they occurred in that order, nor that the discourse of Matthew 5-7 preceded them all; while he does distinctly say that this discourse was delivered on a single occasion (compare Matthew 5:1 , and Matthew 8:1 ), and if the facts were otherwise his account of the matter would be definitely erroneous, which cannot be admitted until it is proven. And as to the occurrence of similar sayings elsewhere, why may we not suppose that our Lord would repeat substantially the same sayings? It would have been very unnatural had he not done that which is freely practised by all travelling teachers, and which, apart from any question as to the speaker's resources, is really demanded by the similarity in the condition and wants of different audiences. And we have abundant evidence, from passages having no connection with the Sermon on the Mount, that he frequently made such repetitions, with greater or less variation of statement, and particularly in the case of brief, pithy sayings, such as would naturally be introduced in different connections, and of very important doctrines and exhortations, such as various audiences would alike need. e. g. ,"He that hath ears to hear, let him hear," Matthew 11:15 ; Matthew 13:9 ; "Except ye become as little children, "etc., Matthew 18:3 ; Matthew 19:14 , and add the repeated inculcation of humility in other ways, Matthew 20:26 John 13:13 ff.; Luke 12:24 ff. (Compare also Matthew 23:12 ; Luke 14:11 ; Luke 18:14 .) "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed," etc., Matthew 17:20 , Matthew 21:21 ; Luke 17:6 . "Whosoever shall confess me," etc., Matthew 10:32 ; Luke 12:8 , Luke 9:26 ;. "The servant is not greater than his Lord," Matthew 10:24 Luke 6:40 John 18:16 , John 15:20 ; in the last of which passages Jesus refers to his having told them the same thing before, as he does also in John 13:33 . (Compare John 7:34 , John 8:21 ) "He that finds his life shall lose it, and he that loses his life for my sake shall find it," Matthew 10:38-39 , Matthew 16:24 f.; Luke 17:33 ; John 12:25 . See also the image of taking up the cross and following him, in Matthew 10:38 , Matthew 16:24 ; Luke 14:27 ; Mark 10:21 . With such facts before us, it is manifest that the recurrence in other connections of particular ideas and expressions which appear in this discourse, is no proof that it was not all delivered on the occasion before us. Thus both the supposed reasons fail, and we have no ground for setting aside the view which an unprejudiced reader of Matthew would naturally adopt, that he has recorded what was actually spoken by Jesus as he sat on the Mount. It is not said that nothing else was spoken; and the supposition that Matthew's report is somewhat condensed (as often in the Gospels), will account for the apparent lack of connection in some places (see on Matthew 7:1-12 ), and for the rapid succession of separate points, which some have thought (Bleek) that a miscellaneous out-door audience could hardly follow or retain. Neander : "The discourse is made up of many sententious passages, calculated separately to impress the memory of the hearers, and remain as fruitful germs in their hearts; but, on the other hand, bound together as parts of an organic whole."

(2) Is this the same discourse as that given by Luke, in Luke 6:20-49 ? They are held to be different discourses by Augustine, after him by nearly all writers till the Reformation (Bleek), and by a few writers since, as Erasmus, Doddridge, Macknight, Alexander, Lange, G. W. Clark, Coleridge, Plumptre; some of these thinking the two were delivered on the same day, and others with a longer interval. They are taken as different reports of the same discourse by Origen and Chrys., by Calvin, and by almost all recent expositors. In favour of this view are the obvious facts that the two begin and end exactly alike, and nearly everything which Luke gives is also given by Matthew; and that both are immediately followed by the record of the same events, viz., the entrance into Capernaum and the healing of the centurion's servant. The objections (well stated in Clark's Harm.) rest on supposed differences of place, time, circumstances , and contents . (a) But Luke (Luke 6:17 ) does not say 'stood in the plain,' but 'stood on a level place,' which might very naturally be a bit of level ground, or a narrow plain in the mountain region, exactly what is found at the traditional place (see on Matthew 5:1 ). [1] (b) As to the time and circumstances, Luke's discourse follows the choice of the Twelve, and Matthew's seems to come earlier, soon after the beginning of the ministry in Galilee. But Matthew's arrangement in Matthew 8-13, is obviously topical rather than chronological, and so it is natural that without saying at what precise period of the ministry it was spoken, he should give at the outset this great discourse, which would set before his Jewish readers the relation of Jesus' teaching to the law of Moses, and the true nature of the Messianic reign. (See the connection traced on Matthew 4:12 ) And if the events preceding the discourse seem different in Matthew, it must be observed that he does not at all state just when the discourse was delivered. (e) As to contents, Luke omits the large portions (Matthew 5:17-37 , and Matthew 6:1-18 ) which were specially important and interesting to Jews, but less so to the Gentile readers whom Luke had chiefly in view; and also omits some portions, probably because he gives substantially the same thing elsewhere, as said by our Lord on other occasions ( e. g. , Matthew 6:9-18 Luke 11:2-4 Matthew 6:25-34 Luke 12:22-31 ) We thus account for every omission of any great importance. There are various other instances also (as in Matthew 10:11 , Matthew 10:18 , Matthew 10:25 ) in which Matthew has recorded an extensive discourse of which Mark or Luke gives only a part. Some conclude from these examples that Matthew was quite in the habit of collecting into one discourse many things said at different times; but the facts do not in any of the cases require this view, and therefore do not justify it, since we must take for granted, unless the contrary has been proven, the inspired apostles' accuracy. At the same time we may suppose that Matthew has here given, at least in some places, only a summary report of what was said, for he has several times omitted matters which Luke records ( e. g. , compare Matthew 5:12 with Luke 6:23-26 ; Matthew 5:47 ; with Luke 6:33-35 , Luke 7:12 with Luke 6:31-40 ) In regard to the general fact that the Evangelists sometimes differ as to details in reporting the same saying, see on "Matthew 3:17 ".

[1] The Greek word pedinos is commonly used with reference to a plain as opposed to a mountain (a natural opposition), but sometimes for a plain or flat valley among mountains, or a flat place on a mountain. Thus in Jeremiah 21:13 Jerusalem is called 'rock of the plain,' and in Isaiah 13:2 we have in Sept. 'lift up a signal upon a level (flat) mountain' ( ep orous pedinou ), Hebrew, 'upon a bare hill,' not covered with trees. This latter passage is obscure (see Gesen., Schleus., and commentaries on Isaiah), but either this or the use in Jeremiah seems to furnish a parallel for the use in Luke.

(3) Design of the discourse. Our Lord had been proclaiming, (Matthew 4:17 ) as John had done before him, that the reign of heaven was near, and that therefore the people ought to repent. In this discourse he sets forth the characteristics of those who are to be subjects of this reign and share the privileges connected with it, and urges upon them various duties. In particular, he clearly exhibits the relation of his teachings to the moral law, in order to correct any notion that he proposed to set the law aside, or to relax its rigor, when, on the contrary he came to inculcate not merely an external but a deeply spiritual morality. It is a strange fancy of some that Jesus was a revolutionary reformer, overturning existing ideas and institutions to substitute his own, when he himself expressly declares the contrary (see on "Matthew 5:17 "). Neander : "The connected system of truths unfolded in this discourse was intended to exhibit to the people the kingdom of God as the aim of the Old Dispensation; as the consummation for which that dispensation prepared the way. The Sermon on the Mount, therefore, forms the point of transition from the Law to the Gospel; Christianity is exhibited in it as Judaism spiritualized and transfigured." Regarded as addressed especially to the Twelve, it becomes the great opening lecture in a course of instruction by which they were to he fitted for their work as his witnesses and representatives; just as the farewell discourse of John 14-17 may be called (Bernard) the closing lecture. It is quite an error if men expect to find in the discourse an epitome either of Christian doctrine or of Christian ethics. Many of the distinguishing and fundamental doctrines of Christianity were never distinctly and fully taught by the Saviour himself, because men could not understand them till after the great facts on which they rest, his death, resurrection, and ascension, had taken place. And while he here teaches us many weighty and precious lessons for the proper conduct of life, they are by no means presented as a complete system of morals, but seem to be introduced chiefly as contributing to, or incidentally connected with, the discussion of his great theme, the nature and requirements of the Messianic reign. It is therefore very unwise and presumptuous to single out this one discourse and propose to live by it, in disregard of the further teachings of Christ and his apostles. True, he here gives a single precept, (Matthew 7:12 ) which he lays 'is the law and the prophets.' But that no more warrants the neglect of everything beyond this discourse, than the closing precept 'Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the all of man,' would warrant us m neglecting the Old Testament for the one Book of Ecclesiastes. He who spoke the Sermon on the Mount has also said, 'Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,' and 'even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should riot perish, but have eternal life,' and he in departing promised his apostles the Holy Spirit to 'lead them into all the truth,' and set them before the world as authoritative teachers of Christian doctrine and duty. It is not honouring the Sermon on the Mount, or its Author, to represent this as all that met. need, seeing he has given us much more.

The unrivalled beauties of our Lord's thought and style, the lofty simplicity, the charming freshness and perfect naturalness, the familiar and vivid illustration, the pointed and sometimes paradoxical and startling statement, which even when imperfectly understood could never be forgotten, the sublime elevation of sentiment, and the inimitable tone which marks all his teachings, shine conspicuous in this address, which is sweet to the heart of a child, and before which the noblest intellects in every age have bowed in devout admiration. Well might Daniel Webster say, in the inscription he left for his tomb, "My heart has always assured and re-assured me, that the gospel of Jesus Christ must be a divine reality. The Sermon on the Mount cannot be a merely human production." [1]

[1] Edersheim remarks that our Lord's use of phrases and modes of teaching current at the time, 'renders more striking the contrast between this discourse and the Jewish contemporary teaching as to the whole spirit and tone. The supposed Rabbinic parallels are in general only superficially similar, and often exactly opposite in spirit. See examples in Edersheim, Book iii., ch. 18.

(4) Analysis. The discourse, as given by Matthew, admits of being analyzed in various ways, the connection being less obvious in some places, and the arrangement of the whole being very simple and inartificial. The following analysis may be useful, though we must take care not to draw too broadly the lines of division between the different sections.

I. Characteristics and privileges of the subjects of the Messianic reign, Matthew 5:3-12 .

II. Their influence and responsibility, Matthew 5:13-16 .

III. Relation of Christ's mission to the Moral Law, Matthew 5:17-48 .

1. This relation stated in general, Matthew 5:17-19 .

2. Superiority of the morality he enjoined to that taught and practised by the Scribes and Pharisees, Matthew 5:20-48 . Illustrated by reference to murder, etc. (Matthew 5:21-26 ), adultery and divorce (Matthew 5:27-32 ), oaths (Matthew 5:33-37 ), requital of injuries (Matthew 5:38-42 ), love of enemies (Matthew 5:43-48 ).

IV. Good works to be performed out of regard to God's approval rather than man's, Matthew 6:1-18 , e.g., alms-giving (Matthew 6:2-4 ), prayer (Matthew 6:5-15 ), fasting (Matthew 6:16-18 .)

V. Single-hearted devotion to God, as opposed to worldly aims and anxieties, Matthew 6:19-34 .

VI. Censoriousness must be avoided, Matthew 7:1-6 .

VII. Encouragement to pray to God for strength to fulfill this and all the preceding requirements, Matthew 7:7-11 .

VIII. General principle or rule, which sums up all the (moral) teachings of the discourse, and of the Old Testament, Matthew 7:12 .

IX. Concluding exhortations to practice as well as hear and profess, Matthew 7:13-27 .

Verses 5-15

Matthew 6:5-15 . Good Works Without Ostentation

II. Prayer

Matthew 6:5 . The general principle of Matthew 5:1 , that good works must not be performed ostentatiously, is now applied to a second example (compare on Matthew 6:2 ). And when thou prayest . The correct text is, and when ye pray . It was early changed in some copies into "thou prayest," to agree with the singular verbs which precede. But throughout this passage (v. l-18) the plural is used in the general injunctions, (Matthew 6:1 , Matthew 6:5 , Matthew 6:16 ) and the singular in the pointed personal applications. (Matthew 6:2-4 , Matthew 6:6 , Matthew 6:17-18 ) Compare on Matthew 5:23 . Hypocrites , compare on Matthew 6:2 . Synagogues , see on "Matthew 4:23 ". Some would take the word here in its etymological sense, as denoting "gatherings" anywhere, but there is no propriety in departing from the usual meaning. It was not wrong to pray in the synagogues, which was a common usage; but these hypocrites prayed there rather than in secret, and did so for the purpose of display. In the corners of the streets , they could be seen from four directions, and be delightfully conspicuous. The word for "streets" is different from that of Matthew 4:3 , and denotes broad, spacious streets. To pray standing . Three postures in prayer are mentioned in Scripture; standing , (1 Samuel 1:26 ; Mark 11:23 ; Luke 18:11 , Luke 18:15 ) kneeling ; (2 Chronicles 6:13 ; Daniel 6:10 ; Luke 22:41 ; Acts 7:60 , Acts 9:40 , Acts 20:36 , Acts 21:5 ) and in eases of peculiar awe or distress, prostration on the face . (Numbers 16:22 ; Joshua 5:14 ; Daniel 8:17 ; Matthew 26:39 ; Revelation 11:16 ) Standing being therefore a common posture, it is plain that this formed no part of the display, which consisted in choosing the most public places to parade their devotions. The Talmud of Babylon says that persons would sometimes stand three hours in a public place and a praying posture (Lightfoot). The excuse for such parade of devotion was found in the idea that when the hour of prayer arrived, one must pray wherever he was; so with the Mohammedans now, who may often be seen praying in the most public places. The practice of indolently sitting during prayer finds no support either in Scripture precedent, in (unless 2 Samuel 7:18 be claimed as such) the natural feeling of propriety, or in devout experience.

Verily I say unto you , see on "Matthew 5:18 ". They have , have received "have in full." See on "Matthew 6:26 ".

Matthew 6:6 . But thou , changing again to the singular number for pointed personal an application (see on "Matthew 5:23 "). The word rendered closet signifies originally a store-room, and then any private or retired room. Rev. Ver.,"inner chamber."It is frequently applied in the Septuagint to a bed-chamber; compare Isaiah 26:20 ,"Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast." Compare also Matthew 24:26 Luke 12:3 . The notion that our Lord designs to refer to a particular room on the top of a Jewish house, or over the main entrance of the building, is unwarranted, and unnecessarily restricts the meaning of the passage. The inner chamber may in fact often be best found in the solitude of nature: as Jesus frequently did. (Mark 1:35 , Mark 6:46 , Mark 14:32 ) Shut thy door , the word denoting that it is not only closed, but fastened, thus giving the idea of the most complete privacy. (Compare 2 Kings 4:33 ) In secret our Father is present, in secret he sees, and though men will not recompense, he will. Compare Proverbs 15:3 .( Openly is a spurious addition, as in Matthew 6:4 )

Matthew 6:7 f. Slightly digressing in a very natural way from the precise line of thought in Matthew 6:1-18 , and resuming the plural of general address, our Lord here appends a censure of another and kindred fault in prayer, in the injunction, use not vain repetitions . The Greek has a rare word formed so that its sound shall resemble the sense (onomatopoeia), and used to express stuttering, the indistinct speech of little children, or any confused babble. This well represents the practice common in the public worship of some of the heathen, as when the priests of Baal continued from morning until noon to cry: "o Baal, hear us I ", (1 Kings 18:26 ) and the multitude in the theatre at Ephesus for two hours shouted, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians." (Acts 19:34 ) A great crowd continuing to repeat the same words, every one for himself, would make just the babbling noise which the Greek word expresses; and so would a single person, when, wearily and without interest, and as rapidly as possible, repeating the same word or phrase. Tyndale rendered "babble not much," followed by Great Bible and Geneva. The Com. Ver. rendering, "use not vain repetitions," was suggested by the commentary of Beza, whose guidance that version frequently follows. It is possible that as a stutterer often repeats the same word, the Greek word came to be used to denote idle and unmeaning repetitions in general. The idea of the heathen was that for ( in ) their much speaking they would be heard. So the Roman comic writer Terence makes one person tell another not to stun the gods with thanksgivings, "unless you judge them to have no more sense than yourself, so as to think they do not understand anything unless it has been said a hundred times." The Jews must have been inclining to the same practice, thinking that there was merit in saying over certain words of prayer many times. In Talmud Bab., R. Hanin says,"If prayer is prolonged, it will mot be without effect." Another objects that it may make one sick, and a third that it may make him gloomy. Compare Mark 12:40 , "And for a pretence make long prayers." Yet Ecclesiastes 5:2 had pointed out the impropriety of much speaking in prayer, "Therefore let thy words be few," and the apocryphal book of Sirach (Ecclus.) Sirach 7:1 , said, "Do not prattle in a multitude of elders, and do not repeat a word in thy prayer." So the Roman poet Plautus says, "Transact divine things in few words." The practice of praying a long time, as a formal observance, would naturally lead to unmeaning repetition. The Buddhist monks at the present time, will for whole days together cry aloud the sacred syllable Um ; and some Mohammedans "turn about in a circle, and pronounce the name of God until they drop down." After a Mohammedan funeral in some countries, devout men assemble, and repeat Allah el Allah." God is God, "three thousand times. A traveller in Persia tells of a man "who prayed so loud and so long that he lost his voice, and then groaned out, in voiceless accents, the name of God fifty times." ( Tholuck .) So in some prayers recorded in the Avesta, and in the old Egyptian writings. M. Huc tells of Buddhist students in Chinese Tartary, who will put a written prayer on a wheel, which is turned with a crank, or even by wind or water; and they believe that every revolution is a prayer, and adds to their merit. In like manner, Roman Catholics now think it very devout to repeat many times often fifteen, and in some cases a hundred and fifty times the Ave Maria (Hail, Mary), and the Pater Noster (Our Father, i. e. , the Lord's Prayer), and count the repetitions by slipping the beads of the rosary thus employing (Tholuek) the very prayer our Saviour set in contrast to such notions and practices. This use of a rosary is a Buddhist practice, which came through the Mohammedans to the Spanish Christians. But our Father (see on Matthew 6:9 ) is not slow to attend, as Elijah mockingly represented Baal to be, nor unable to understand unless it is said a hundred times; he knoweth what we need, not only as soon as we ask it once, but even before we ask it. Observe, however, two things: (1) God's knowing before we ask is no pray in order to give him information, but to express our own desire, out feeling of need and dependence. Not that prayer, as many say, is designed simply to influence ourselves; men would pray very little if they really believed that to be all. We pray, as hoping thereby to induce God to grant what we desire; and his foreknowledge and even predestination of all things is no more an objection to praying than to acting. (2) Our Saviour cannot mean that long-continued praying is in itself improper, for he himself sometimes spent a whole night in prayer, (Luke 6:12 ) and he spoke more than one parable to encourage perseverance in prayer; nor is it necessarily wrong to repeat the same words a thing sometimes very natural when we are deeply in earnest for in Gethsemane he "prayed a third time, saying again the same words." (Matthew 26:44 ) The difference between these and the practice condemned is plain. Augustine justly distinguishes between much speaking in prayer, and much praying.

Matthew 6:9 . After this manner therefore pray ye , with a strong emphasis (as the Greek shows) on "ye." This injunction is presented as a consequence of what precedes. Since it is unavailing for us, and unworthy of our God, to pray as the heathen do, (compare Matthew 6:7 , Matthew 5:47 ) therefore do ye pray thus . The special (though of course not exclusive) design with which the prayer that follows is here introduced is to put in contrast with that of which he has just been speaking (Matthew 5:7 ) a specimen of the right kind of prayer. He thus teaches them "by example as well as by precept," to avoid the faults in question. Regarded from this point of view, we are struck with the comprehensiveness and simplicity of the prayer, truly the very opposite of "much speaking," of babbling repetitions and boisterous passion. How vast its scope, how varied its applications, how simple its language. Tertullian already observed that it is "as copious in meaning as it is condensed in expression." Yet with all this comprehensiveness, there is no propriety in gravely defending, as some do, and seeking to establish by artificial exposition, the mere rhetorical hyperbole which Tertullian adds ("On Prayer," chap. 1), that "in this prayer is comprised a compend of the whole gospel."

Substantially the same prayer is recorded in Luke 11:2-4 as a specimen or model of prayer in general, given in response to a special request from one of the disciples. Now we know that Jesus repeated many striking or important sayings at different times and in different connections (see General Introduction to Matthew 5:0 ). There is thus no difficulty in understanding that he gave this prayer on two different occasions. They who think otherwise must either suppose that Matthew has artificially constructed this discourse out of scattered materials, or that Luke has introduced on an unreal occasion (Luke 11:1 ) what actually belonged to this discourse; and there is no sufficient ground for either supposition. Recent studies in the harmony of the Gospels (Wieseler, Clark's Harmony) make it highly probable that the occasion on which Luke gives the prayer was long after the Sermon on the Mount, during the last few months of our Lord's ministry, and away in Judea or Perea. But even if it be supposed that the prayer was given only once, it would remain true that the two Evangelists have recorded it in very different terms. Even in the common Greek Text and the Common Version, there are several different expressions; and the unquestionably correct text given in the Revised Version makes the differences quite considerable.

Matthew 6:9-13 .

Our Father who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts,

As we also have forgiven our debtors.

And bring us not into temptation,

But deliver us from the evil one.

Luke 11:2-4 .


hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come.

Give us day by day our daily bread.

And forgive us our sins ;

For we ourselves also forgive every one that is

indebted to us.

And bring us not into temptation.

If then our Lord gave the prayer on two occasions, he gave it in quite different terms, which shows, beyond all question, that it was not intended as a form of prayer, to be repeated in the same words . If, on the other hand, it be supposed that he gave the prayer only once, then the Evangelists certainly did not understand it to be a form of prayer, or they would not have recorded it in such different terms. There is no important difference in the substance of the two prayers; for the petition, "Thy will be done," etc., only brings into special prominence something that is involved in "Thy kingdom come," and the petition, "But deliver us from the evil one" only gives the other side of the foregoing, "And bring us not into temptation." There is no material difference in the two prayers, but there is certainly a great difference in form. It is entirely proper in praying, and indeed very desirable, to repeat any passage of Scripture that seems specially appropriate. Few passages, if any, would be so often appropriate for such a purpose as this prayer, because it is so rich and sweet, and because the Saviour expressly gave it, on both occasions, as a model of praying. But in the face of the above facts, it cannot for a moment be maintained that he has made it our duty to repeat this prayer whenever we pray, or to use these precise words from beginning to end whenever we feel moved to adopt the prayer.

The common title "The Lord's Prayer" has been in use among Christians from an early period, being found already in Cyprian, about A. D. 250, if in no earlier writer, [1] The prayer contains no allusion to the mediation of Christ, says nothing about asking in his name, for which the disciples were not yet prepared. (John 16:23 f.) Like many other portions of Scripture, it was especially adapted to the precise times in which it was spoken, and the interpretation and applications of it must be made accordingly.

[1] In the fourth century we find it maintained that only the baptized may repeat this prayer, some holding that the unbaptized could not properly say "Our Father," others that they could not partake of "the supersubstantial bread" in the Eucharist. (See Suicer, "Euche.")

It is often asserted by modern Jews and rationalistic Christian writers that no portion of this prayer is original; for they say that all its petitions are found in the Talmud or in the liturgies now used among the Jews, and supposed by them to be ancient. Let us collect and consider the facts. They must be mainly stated at second hand; but the sources will be indicated.

"Our Father, who is in Heaven," occurs often in the Jewish liturgies. One of the Jewish prayers contains: "Let us sanctify thy name in the world, as they sanctify it in the high heavens." Among the prayers the Kaddish is especially valued, and has to be often recited: "Magnified and sanctified be his great name in the world which, according to his good pleasure, he created, and may he spread abroad his reign in your days; and may his redemption blossom forth, and may Messiah be at hand and deliver his people." (Wet.). And there are various other prayers that God's name may be sanctified. In the Talmud a Rabbi says: "Every prayer in which the name of God is not mentioned is no prayer." And another says: "That prayer in which the kingdom of God is not named, is no prayer." As a matter of course, the Jewish prayers often include many petitions in regard to God's kingdom, though the exact phrase, "Thy kingdom come," has not been cited, the nearest approach to it being, "Reveal the glory of thy kingdom upon us speedily." The Talmud of Bab. (Berach. f. 29b) gives short prayers proper for time of peril, derived from several Rabbis, and among them this: "Rabbi Eliezer says, 'Do thy will in heaven above, and give place to those that fear thee below; and do what thou pleasest.' " The same treatise (f. 60 b), gives as a prayer before falling asleep: "Do not make us enter into the hand (power) of sin, nor into the hand of temptation, nor into the hand of contempt." And again (f. 16 b): "Rabbi was wont thus to pray: 'Let it be thy good pleasure to deliver us from impudent men and impudence, from an evil man and from an evil chance, from an evil affection, from an evil companion, from an evil neighbour, from Satan the destroyer, from a hard judgment, and from a hard adversary,' " [So Lightfoot, Wetstein, Sepp, and Wünsche, in his German translation of Talmud Bab., Vol. I., A. D. 1886. Schwab's French translation of Talmud Jerusalem has "from a corrupter," instead of "from Satan the destroyer."]

It thus appears that no parallel has been found to several important clauses of the prayer, such as "Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth," or the prayer for daily bread, to which nothing similar has been adduced save one of the short prayers in the Talmud, "The wants of thy people Israel are many, their thought is limited; may it please thee, O Lord our God, to give each one what he needs for nourishment, and to every creature what it lacks" which is really no parallel at all. Nor is any parallel offered to the petition that we may be forgiven as we forgive, upon which our Lord laid special stress by repeating its thought after the close of the prayer (Matthew 6:14 f.) The nearest approach is in Ecclus. Sirach 28:2 . (See below on "Matthew 6:12 ".)

Again, the resemblance in several cases is not very marked, as in "Thy kingdom come," "Deliver us from the evil one." The only exact parallels are to the address, "Our Father who art in heaven," and to the petitions," hallowed be thy name," and "Bring us not into temptation."

In all these cases of resemblance the expression is one most natural to be employed. In regard to calling God our Father, see below; and petitions as to God's name and kingdom, and as to temptations, must of course enter sometimes into Jewish prayers. What then is the amount of the charge that the prayer is not original? Some of its petitions have no parallel in Jewish literature, and others only partial parallels. And as to the resemblances, exact or partial, a little reflection shows that nothing else would have been natural. Is it reasonable to suppose that the Great Teacher would give as a model of prayer to his followers a series of petitions that were throughout such as nobody had ever thought of or felt the need of? A wise teacher links new instruction to what is already known and felt. And our Lord's ethical and devotional instructions would have been really less efficient if they had been marked by the startling originality which some have unwisely claimed for them. Grotius : "Our Lord was far removed from all affectation of unnecessary novelty." Those, on the other hand, who have represented this prayer as entirely wanting in originality, are refuted by the facts; for we have seen that several of the petitions are without parallel, and that the cases of resemblance are perfectly natural; while the brevity and comprehensiveness of the prayer as a whole are wonderful in the extreme. It may be added, without treating it as an important fact in the present case, that some prayers in the Jewish liturgies are unquestionably more recent than the time of Christ, (see Margoliouth, Weiss, Ebrard in Herzog), and that even prayers and other matters in the Talmud may have been derived from the New Testament. The Rabbis borrowed freely from Greeks and afterwards from Arabians, and it is by no means so certain as some modern Jews imagine, that they did not also borrow from Jesus and his apostles. But the explanation of the matter before us is independent of that question.

The prayer naturally falls into two divisions, and it is an instructive and impressive fact that the first petitions are those which relate to God, his kingdom and his glory, and hose relating to ourselves come afterwards, as being of less importance. Bengel : "The first three are thy, thy, thy ; the others, us, us, us ." So likewise the Ten Commandments fall into two parts; the former setting forth our duty to God, the latter to our neighbour. At the present day, the prevalent tendency is to begin with human nature and wants, and to ask how Christianity suits itself to these; the Bible teaches us to think of God, and ask how we may suit ourselves to his nature and will. As we are afterwards taught to seek his kingdom first, (Matthew 6:33 ) so here to pray first that it may come. Yet the distinction in the prayer is not absolute, since the fulfilment of the first petitions will be also for our good, and the fulfilment of the others will be also for God's glory. There has been much useless discussion in Germany as to whether the prayer contains seven petitions (the Lutheran view, following Augustine), or only six (the Reformed or Calvinian view, following Chrysostom), according as we consider Sirach 28:13 to be one petition or two. Some writers try to find in the several petitions sets of threes, as if illustrating the Trinity; but this is artificial and fanciful.

Matthew 6:9 . Our Father . The use of the plural, throughout the prayer, instead of changing to the singular, as is done in Sirach 28:2 , Sirach 28:6 , Sirach 28:17 , evidently presents this as a specimen of social rather than secret prayer; and so, involves prayer for each other, and not for ourselves alone. Compare Matthew 18:19 Malachi 2:10 . The thought of God as our Father is presented in some passages of the Old Testament, (as Isaiah 63:16 ; Psalms 103:13 ; Deuteronomy 32:6 ) and oftener in subsequent Jewish writings ( Tobit 13:4 ; Ecclus. Sirach 28:1 ; Sirach 51:10 ; Wisdom 2:16 ; Wisdom 14:3 ); and the later Jews have several prayers in which God is addressed as "our Father in heaven," an idea doubtless drawn by them from the Old Testament The heathen, too, were not wholly unfamiliar with the thought. Max Müller : "We have in the Veda the invocation Dyauspiter , the Greek Zeu pater , the Latin Jupiter ; and that means in all the three languages what it meant before these languages were torn asunder it means heaven-Father." (Boardman.) Plutarch says that the superstitious man recognizes only that which is sovereign in God, and not the fatherly; and Seneca, that God has a fatherly mind towards good men. But it is Jesus who has rendered this idea so clear and precious; distinctly comparing the feelings of human parents towards their children, (Matthew 7:11 ) and making the great thought familiar by frequent repetition. In one sense God is the Father of all men, as in one sense all men are brothers; and so we can fitly speak of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man; and yet it is only believers in Christ who can in the fullest sense call God Father, (1 John 3:1 ; John 8:42 ) and call each other brethren. (1 John 3:14 ) In heaven . God, who is everywhere present, is constantly represented in Scripture as making his special abode, and the special manifestation of the presence of his glory, in heaven . Aristotle noticed that this idea was common to all nations. But the heathen made heaven itself, variously personified, an object of worship; while in Scripture, heaven is but the dwelling-place of God. (Compare Plumptre.)

hallowed be thy name . To pray that his name, Jehovah, by which he is distinguished from all heathen deities, and marked out as his people's God, may be sanctified , regarded and treated as holy (compare Exodus 20:8 Leviticus 22:2 , Leviticus 22:32 Ezekiel 36:23 , 1 Peter 3:15 , and contrast "despise my name "Malachi 1:6 ), involves the idea of praying that God, in all his character and dealings, may be reverenced and glorified. Compare such expressions as "they that love thy name," "that know thy name" in the Old Testament, and "glorify thy name" in John 12:28 Revelation 15:4 . This idea of taking the proper name as representing the person in his entire character, is altogether natural, but was rendered peculiarly impressive to the Israelitish mind by their remarkable reverence for the name of Jehovah a reverence which at length became superstitious, so that the later Jews would never pronounce that proper name at all, but uttered instead of it the word Adonai, which means Lord and this led to the translation of Jehovah in the Septuagint by Kyrios, and in the English by Lord. The Anglo-Saxon word " hallow ," though often employed in the Old Testament, is used nowhere in the King James Version of the New Testament, except here and Luke 11:2 . Elsewhere that version uses the Latin word sanctify. But in this familiar and cherished prayer the old Anglo-Saxon word was retained (compare on Matthew 1:18 , as to the use of Holy Ghost). So likewise the Latin Vulgate, while translated anew from the Hebrew, retained the old Latin Version of the Psalms, as being so familiar that change would not be tolerated; and the English Book of Common Prayer, though altered elsewhere to suit the King James Version, retains still the translation of the Psalms from the Great Bible, or Coverdale.

Matthew 6:10 . Thy kingdom come . Of the three words, kingship, reign , and kingdom , to which the Greek word here employed is equivalent (see on "Matthew 3:2 "), it would be best in this and many passages to use the second term reign, since we can use only one. The reference is plainly to that Messianic reign which all devout Jews were expecting, (Mark 15:43 Luke 23:51 ) and which John and Jesus had been proclaiming as now near at hand. (Matthew 3:2 , Matthew 4:17 ) The prayer that it might come would in the minds of our Lord's hearers refer especially to the beginning of the reign, the introduction of the kingdom; (Luke 17:20 f.) but just as in the prophetic view the whole period from the beginning of Messiah's reign to its ultimate triumph, frequently appears as a point, so in the full sense the coming of that reign or kingdom includes the idea of its complete establishment. It is therefore perfectly legitimate for us to use the petition with our minds specially directed towards the consummation of Christ's reign, the complete establishment of his kingdom, his final glorious triumph, when the kingship (sovereignty) of the world, shall become our Lord's and his Christ's. (Revelation 11:15 ) Thy will be done is more exactly thy will come to pass , 'take place,' the same verb as in Matthew 1:22 (see foot-note "Matthew 1:22 "), Matthew 5:18 , Matthew 24:6 , Matthew 24:34 (where it is rendered 'come to pass,' in Com. Ver.), and the same expression as in Matthew 26:42 , and Acts 21:14 . This of course involves the idea that moral creatures are to do his will, as in Matthew 7:21 , Matthew 12:50 (where the word 'do' is employed), but it expresses a more comprehensive thought. Theological writers distinguish three senses of the term will . God's will of purpose always comes to pass, in heaven, earth, and hell. But his will of desire does not yet always come to pass on earth as it does in heaven. He wished Jerusalem to be saved, (Luke 13:34 ) and they would not. He does not "wish that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance", (2 Peter 3:9 ) and yet many refuse to repent, and perish. He wishes "all men to be saved", (1 Timothy 2:4 ) yet many are led captive by Satan according to his own will. And God's will of command , how often and how flagrantly it is disobeyed; how few of his moral creatures on earth are prepared to say,"I delight to do thy will, O my God", (Psalms 40:8 ) or as Jesus said, literally,"My food is to do the will of him that sent me"; (John 4:34 ) how few are joined to Christ by the fullness of that tie,"Whosoever shall do the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother." (Matthew 12:50 ) In earth as it is in heaven. The Rev. Ver., As in heaven, so on earth , gives the order of the Greek, and makes a difference in the emphasis. We ought to be continually praying this prayer. In heaven, everything takes place as God wishes, everything is perfectly pleasing in his sight. Ah! when shall it be so on earth? When shall his reign fully come, and his will take place, 'as in heaven, (so) also upon earth?' O Lord, how long! This impressive petition is really involved in the foregoing, simply stating separately one element of it; for when God's reign is fully come, his will must come to pass, etc. When therefore this is omitted from the prayer on the second occasion, (Luke 11:12 ) we perceive that no principal thought of the prayer is thus lost. Yet this is by no means a mere repetition or expansion, for it brings into prominence one practical element of God's reign, which we ought specially to desire and aim to bring about. Some ( e. g. , Westcott and Hort's Greek Testament) would affix "as in heaven, so also upon earth," to all the three foregoing petitions, making it apply separately to each of them. This is a possible view, but not probable. (1) The words would not harmonize so well with "thy reign come," as with "thy name be sanctified," and "thy will come to pass." (2) The omission of these words in Luke 11:2 would thus be harder to account for.

Matthew 6:11 . Here begins the second division of the prayer, that which contains petitions for ourselves (compare on Matthew 6:9 ). The grammatical construction here changes. The foregoing clauses pray that something may come to pass in the course of God's providence. The succeeding clauses directly petition God to give and forgive. Daily bread . Bread naturally represents food in general, all that is necessary to support life, of which bread is commonly esteemed the most important and indispensable part. (Mark 3:20 , 2 Thessalonians 3:12 Proverbs 30:8 , margin.) There seems to be no warrant for understanding the term as here including spiritual nourishment. It is altogether natural and proper to draw the inference that if we are bidden to ask God for bodily food, we need quite as much to ask him for that of the soul; but inference is a different thing from interpretation. Conant : "The beauty and propriety of this single petition for earthly good (restricted to that without which life cannot subsist), has been felt in all ages of the church." Many Fathers, and many in every age, have wrongly insisted upon "spiritualizing" the passage, as they have done with well-nigh everything in Scripture. Against the overdriven spirituality which affects to be too indifferent to earthly good to think it worth asking for, Jesus vindicates a place for earthly good in our prayers. In the present age, it is especially important to urge that men shall pray for temporal good, since so many think that the recognized presence of law in all temporal things puts them beyond the sphere of prayer; as if that would not exclude God from his universe; and as if there were not law in spiritual things also. The word ( epiousion ) rendered daily , is extremely rare and obscure. Origen says, that it was not found in any Greek writer or in colloquial use, but seemed to have been coined by the Evangelists. Only three senses of the term have now any advocates: (1) '(bread) for to-morrow,' and so 'daily,' Bishop Lightfoot, Meyer, Grimm, Wunsche, Nicholson, margin of Rev. Test.; (2) 'needful,' Godet, Keim, Keil, Cremer, margin of Rev. Test. (American Revisers); (3) 'supersubstantial,' Jerome in Matthew, and many Romanists. Etymological considerations [1] strongly favour (1), and render (3) practically impossible. Bishop Lightfoot, "On a Fresh Revision of the New Testament" App., has conclusively shown (and McClellan and Canon Cook vainly strive to meet his facts and arguments), how strongly (1) is supported by the early versions, being uniformly given by the Old Latin (and even Jerome retains it in Luke), by both the Egyptian versions, the Old Syriac, and the "Gospel according to the Hebrews."Origen preferred (2), explaining it as meaning needful for the soul a spiritualizing conception, which suited Origen's turn of mind and habitual methods of interpretation; and he gave this view great currency among the Greek Christians (see Suicer) and the later Syrians. Jerome, by an impossible etymology, rendered it. 'supersubstantial' in Matthew, though retaining in Luke the 'daily' of the Old Latin, and is followed in both passages by Wyclif and the Rheims version. Many Romanist writers have tried to use this rendering in Matthew for the support of transubstantiation, though the Romanist prayer-books have uniformly retained 'daily.' Plumptre strangely adopts Jerome's rendering, understanding it to mean "over and above material substance" (in which a material word is gratuitously inserted), and thus entirely restricting the petition to spiritual bread. In (1) "Give us today our bread for to-morrow," would mean our daily bread, if we remember that one should not let the day close without knowing how he is to have food for the next morning. It is very difficult to see how (2) could ever have suggested the idea of daily, which is found in all the earlier versions, and often referred to by Greek Fathers (Suicer). Moreover, the idea of (2) could have been easily expressed by existing Greek words, while that of (1) would have required the coining of a Greek adjective (Origen above). The objection to (1) is that it seems to conflict with Matthew 6:34 , "Be not anxious for the morrow"; but it is fairly answered that the way to prevent such anxiety is to pray that to-morrow's bread may be given us to-day, as in Philippians 4:6 , the remedy for anxiety is prayer; and if Matthew 6:34 prohibits prayer for to-morrow's bread, then (Achelis) Matthew 6:31 would prohibit prayer for any food. If we combine all the evidence, it would seem that (1) must be very decidedly preferred. [2] With this compare James 2:15 , Rev. Ver., "And in lack of daily food "; Proverbs 30:8 , lit., "Feed me with my portion (or allowance) of bread"; (Acts 6:1 ; 2 Kings 25:30 ) also the fact that the manna was given one day's supply at a time. This day , or simply 'to-day.' In Luke 11:8 it is 'day by day.' The phrase in Matthew is said by various Fathers (Wet.) to have led to the daily repetition of this prayer, which is mentioned as early as the beginning of the third century; but Luke's phrase shows that at least in the second case nothing of the sort was contemplated.

[1] Epiousios comes easily and naturally from he epiousa , 'the oncoming (day),' a very common expression for 'to-morrow' or 'next day.' As to the possible etymology for (2), and the etymological impossibility of (3), see the special treatises and the lexicons.

[2] Mark. Paspati, a Greek gentleman of Constantinople, published (Athens, 1883), a lecture on the English Revised Version, in which he says (p. 14), that the word epiousios "is in general use among the Greeks. Many poor people complain that they cannot gain their bread. Epiousios means whatever can sustain or maintain." Mr. Sakellarios writes from Athens (Feb. 1886), that the word "was and is used in the sense of necessary, food necessary for sustenance." Now it is well known, as above stated, that this interpretation prevailed among the Greek Fathers, and so Mark. Constantine interprets, in his Greek comm. on Matt. and Mark (Athens, 1878). So far as the word is now generally used among the Greeks in that sense, it is evidently a mere appropriation of a Scripture term as commonly understood. Mark. Paspati remarks (p. 12) upon the frequent use of Scriptural expressions among the Greeks, including phrases relating to Pilate and to Satan. There is here then no independent testimony as to the meaning of the word. It should be added that Mark. Paspati's elucidations in general show a lack of acquaintance with scientific philology. Warth and Löckle, Stud. u. Krit. , 1884, No. 4, argue that the phrase may mean to-day's bread, because epiousa , 'oncoming' (which commonly means to-morrow), is occasionally used by a person speaking at or before dawn with reference to the then approaching day. They suppose the prayer to have been designed as a morning prayer and it would have to be made very early, to render such a sense possible. This view is highly ingenious, but too fine spun to be probable in so simple and general a prayer. (Rejected by Cremer, Exodus 4:0 ) Moreover how would this idea be expressed in Aramaic.

Matthew 6:12 . Debts . This term is here used for transgressions, sins. In Aramaic, the native language of our Lord and the Evangelists, the word debt ( chob ) is very often used for sin. See numerous examples from the Targums in Buxtorf. This use is perfectly natural in itself, since an obligation to God which is not duly met becomes to us a sin; compare the illustration of sin by a debt in Matthew 18:21 , Matthew 18:24 , Matthew 18:28 . In like manner the English word duty denotes that which is due, owed. (Plumptre.) Accordingly in Matthew 6:14 f., the same idea is represented by 'trespasses,' transgressions. And in Luke, (Luke 11:4 , Rev. Ver.) the prayer reads, "And forgive us our sins; for we ourselves also forgive every one that is indebted to us." So clear is it that debts here means sins that Tyndale translates in Matthew 6:12 by trespasses and trespassers; but this is unwarranted, and was not followed by any other English translators. Observe that this petition is connected with the foregoing by and . The life sustained by daily bread is not enough; we need also the forgiveness of sin (Weiss); compare 'And bring,' Matthew 6:13 . As we forgive or, as in Rev. Ver. also have forgiven our debtors . This does not present our forgiveness of others as the ground of our being forgiven, nor as strictly the measure of God's forgiveness towards us (for he forgives perfectly', while everything in us is imperfect); but by comparing the forgiveness we supplicate with that we have shown, it states very impressively the idea, afterwards still further emphasized in Matthew 6:14 f., that the unforgiving cannot be forgiven. Observe that the Revised text (no doubt correct) makes it "have forgiven," already before we seek forgiveness not a mere momentary effort at forgiveness, trumped up for the nonce. In Luke 11:4 , it is, 'For we ourselves also forgive every one that is indebted to us,' which means not simply present but habitual forgiveness, as shown by the 'every one? Luke's term 'for' might seem to make our forgiving the ground of our being forgiven; but it rather means that there is no unforgivingness on our part to form an obstacle to our being forgiven. Compare Matthew 5:7 ; Luke 23:34 ; 1 Timothy 1:3 , and the beautiful illustration in the parable of Matthew 18:21-35 . The gospel ground of forgiveness the atonement and intercession of Christ in of course not here stated. The disciples could not have clearly understood a reference to it until after Christ's death, resurrection, and ascension.

The Greeks and Romans admired shining instances of forgiveness, but did not venture to inculcate or seem to expect it. A Jewish sage of about B. C. 200 (Ecclus. Sirach 28:2 ), urged that men must forgive if they hoped to be forgiven: "Forgive thy neighbour his wrongdoing, and then when thou hast prayed, thy sins shall be forgiven." (Compare Ecclus. Sirach 28:1-5 .) But it is Christianity that has made this a thing actual and looked for. Ecce Homo : "The forgiveness of injuries, which was regarded in the ancient world as a virtue indeed, but an almost impossible one, appears to the moderns in ordinary cases a plain duty..... a new virtue has been introduced into human life. Not only has it been inculcated, but it has passed so completely into the number of recognized and indispensable virtues, that every one in some degree practices it, and that by not practising it men incur odium and loss of character. To the other great changes wrought in men's minds by Christ, this is now to be added, the most signal and beneficent, if not the greatest of all." (Compare on Matthew 5:38 f.) But, like many terms expressive of Christian duty, the word forgive has come to be often used in a weakened sense, and many anxious minds are misled by its ambiguity. If forgive means merely to "bear no malice" (Ecclus. Sirach 28:7 ), to abstain from revenge, leaving that to God, (Romans 12:19 ) then in that sense we ought to forgive every wrongdoer, even though impenitent, and still our enemy. But this is not the Scripture use of the word forgive; and in the full sense of the term it is not our duty, and not even proper, to forgive one who has wronged us until he confesses the wrong, and this with such unquestioned sincerity and genuine change of feeling and purpose as to show him worthy of being restored to our confidence and regard. Thus our Lord says, (Luke 17:3 , Rev. Ver.) "If thy brother sin, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him." Here again the example of our Heavenly Father illustrates the command to us. He sends rain and sunshine on the evil and the good (compare on Matthew 5:45 ), but he does not forgive men, restoring them to his confidence and affection, until they sincerely and thoroughly repent. In judging as to the sincerity and trustworthiness of those who profess repentance, our Lord inculcated great patience, and charitable judgment. If a wrong forgiven is repeated a second or third time, we are apt to lose all patience and refuse to forgive again; but he said, "If he sin against thee seven times in the day, and seven times turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him." (Luke 17:4 , Rev. Ver.) Nay, in Matthew 18:21 f., he makes it even "seventy times seven" not of course as an exact limit, but as a general and very strong injunction of long-suffering and charitable judgment towards human infirmity.

Matthew 6:13 . And lead or, bring us not into temptation . Here again 'and,' because the forgiveness of past sin is not enough; we need also preservation from sin in future. All the early English versions have 'lead,' doubtless influenced by the Latin inducas . The Latin Fathers, Tertullian and Cyprian, explain it to mean 'Do not suffer us to be led,' and Augustine says (Wet.) that many so pray, and that it so reads in many (Latin) copies; but that in the Greek he has never found anything but: 'Do not bring us.' This is the uniform reading and unquestionable meaning of the Greek, and the difference is important. Men lead each other into temptation by offering Inducements to do wrong; but the thought here is of God's so ordering things in his providence as to bring us into trying circumstances, which would put our principles and characters to the test. This providential action does not compel us to do wrong, for such conditions become to us the occasion of sin only when our own evil desires are the impelling cause. (James 1:13-15 ) The same conditions properly met would but manifest and strengthen one's piety, as when God "did prove Abraham", (Genesis 23:1 . Rev. Ver.) or allowed Satan to test the fidelity and patience of Job. There is thus no contradiction between this petition and the precept, (James 1:2 , Rev. Ver.)"Count it all joy when ye fall into manifold temptations." One may be tested (see on "Matthew 4:1 " for the explanation of 'tempt'), either with good or with evil intent. In the evil sense, God "tempteth no man." (James 1:13 ) The humble believer, self-distrustful because conscious of remaining tendencies to sin, and weakness in restraining them, prays that God will not bring him into temptation. (Compare Matthew 26:41 , 1 Corinthians 7:5 Galatians 5:7 ) And yet, when God sees fit, notwithstanding his prayer and effort, to bring him into temptation, he is then to rejoice,(James 1:2 ) because when met in the strength of the Lord, it will certainly be overcome, (1 Corinthians 10:13 ) because it will develop his Christian character and thus prove a blessing, (James 1:3 ff.) and because it will secure for him an eternal reward. (Matthew 5:12 ; James 1:12 ; Romans 8:18 ) In like manner (Mansel), our Lord directed the apostles to avoid persecution, (Matthew 10:23 ) though he had told them to rejoice when persecuted. (Matthew 5:10-12 ) But deliver us from evil , or, the evil one . This is not really a distinct petition from the foregoing, but further unfolds and separately states something involved therein. When therefore it was omitted on the second occasion, (Luke 11:4 ) no principal thought of the prayer was lost. (Compare above on Matthew 6:10 ) The Greek phrase rendered'the evil one' is here ambiguous, as in Matthew 5:37 , and may equally well mean evil. The same expression is certainly masculine, and means Satan in Matthew 13:19 , Matthew 13:38 Ephesians 6:16 , 1 John 2:13-14 , 1 John 3:12 , 1 John 5:19 ; (compare Matthew 6:18 ) it is clearly neuter, meaning evil in the abstract, in Luke 6:45 Romans 12:9 , 1 Thessalonians 5:22 (and several examples of the neuter plural, 'evil things'); while the meaning is doubtful in Matthew 5:37 , Matthew 5:39 , Matthew 6:13 John 17:15 , 2 Thessalonians 3:3 . It is understood here as masculine, meaning Satan, by Tert., Origen. Cyril (Jerus.), Gregory Nyss., Chrys., Thee. Phyl., Erasmus, Zwingli, Beza, Bengel, Fritz., Olsh., Ebrard, Meyer, Grimm, Wordsworth, Reuss, Plumptre. It is taken as neuter, meaning evil in general, by Augustine, Luther, Melanchthon, Tholuck, Ewald, Bleek, Stier, Lange, Alford, Conant, Weiss, Cremer, Keil, Achelis. Those who object so vehemently to translating here by "the evil one" are usually influenced largely by sentiment and habit, and sometimes by scepticism as to the real personality of Satan. But the New Testament familiarly associates evil with the evil one, as its leading embodiment and central director ( e. g. , Acts 5:3 ; John 13:27 , John 8:44 ) It is therefore quite impossible to escape from that idea, if we believe the Scriptures. It can never be certainly determined whether the phrase is masculine or neuter in this passage and in John 17:15 . But the more frequent occurrence of the clearly masculine use, with the tendency of the New Testament to speak rather of evil persons and evil actions than of evil in the abstract, makes it more probable that the sense is masculine in each of these interesting passages. The Revisers have bravely followed the stronger probability (putting 'evil' in the margin), though it was inevitable that there would be a great outcry. Compare Humphrey. As to the substantial meaning, it is the same in either case, as Calvin already remarks, and in fact either involves the other.

The doxology to this prayer in Com. Ver. is beyond all question spurious, [1] and rightly omitted by Rev. Ver. We may give up the pleasing and familiar words with regret, but surely it is more important to know what the Bible really contains and really means, than to cling to something not really in the Bible, merely because it gratifies our taste, or even because it has for us some precious associations.

[1] It is wanting in the Uncial MSS. ‏ א ‎, B, D, G, and in five cursives, and many other cursives have marks in the text or notes on the margin, showing that it is doubtful; also wanting in several copies of the Old Latin, in the Vulgate, and the Memphitic. Especially remarkable is the adverse testimony of Fathers. Thus Tertullian, in his interpretation of this prayer, calls the phrase "But deliver us from evil" the conclusion ; and not a single Latin Father who comments on the prayer has the doxology except the Anonymous comm. So with Greek commentators, except Chrysostom and his followers. Cyril of Jerusalem, in concluding his exposition, says: " 'From the evil one.' And the opposing demon is evil, from whom we pray to be delivered. Then, after the completion of the prayer you say 'Amen,' sealing thereby the contents of the prayer." Gregory of Nyssa: "From the evil one who in this world possesses the power, fromwhommay we be delivered by the grace of Christ, because to him be the power and the glory, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now, and forever and ever, Amen " these words concluding Gregory's exposition of the whole prayer. This and several similar Patristic conclusions show the origin of our familiar doxology, namely, in the custom of concluding a prayer with some form of doxology. And several early versions appear to exhibit this doxology in the process of gradual formation. Time the Old Syriac has, "Because thine is the kingdom and the glory for ever and ever." The Thebaic gives another independent form: "Because thine is the strength and the power for ever and ever."The "Teaching of the Twelve Apostles," Matthew 8-10, "For thine is the power and the glory forever," once with this prayer, and then with two other prayers there proposed for use in the Eucharist. And one copy of the Old Latin: "Because thine is the power forever and ever." We are thus able to explain how the doxology came in here, if originally wanting; while if originally present, it would be impossible to account for its omission, since it is beautifully appropriate, and could not be at all objectionable either to heretics or to the orthodox. Now remembering that it is wanting in several of the earliest Greek manuscripts and earliest versions, that there is no mention of it in a number of detailed Patristic expositions of the prayer, and that we see it growing up before our eyes in the earliest versions which contain it (perhaps suggested by 1 Chronicles 29:11 ), we can have no doubt that the doxology is spurious. It will doubtless continue to be used in liturgies like other ancient doxologies ( e. g. ,"Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen"), but it is not a part of Scripture. Nor was it introduced into the Book of Common Prayer until the time of Charles II.

Matthew 6:14 f. The fact that this alone of all the topics of the prayer is taken up a second time, and amplified by stating it both positively and negatively, ought to impress upon us very deeply the importance of forgiving if we wish to be forgiven. Compare Matthew 18:21-35 ; Mark 11:25 ; Luke 17:3 f. For introduces what follows as a confirmation of Matthew 6:12 . Trespasses , more literally transgressions, interprets the word 'debts' in Matthew 6:12 ; hence the practice of substituting this word in repeating the prayer.

Homiletical And Practical

Matthew 6:5 f. Origen: 'The hypocrites wearing the mask of goodness, are actors in their own theatre, the synagogues and the corners of the streets.' Henry: 'Those who would not do as the hypocrites do in their way and actions, must not be as the hypocrites are in their frame and temper. As it is a terror to hypocrites, so it is a comfort to sincere Christians, that God sees in secret.' There might be ostentation in a much less public place than the synagogue or the street, and there might be true, unostentatious prayer elsewhere than in a private room. These places merely illustrate a principle, which is to be applied according to circumstances. It is therefore a mistake to suppose that our Lord here forbids individual prayer except when in solitude. The publican of the parable prayed openly, and aloud, with striking manifestations of grief, in the court of the temple, attracting the contemptuous observation of the Pharisee, and no doubt of others; yet his prayer was acceptable. Jesus himself sometimes made private prayer in the presence of his disciples. (Luke 11:1 ) Still, literal privacy is best where it is attainable, and our Saviour frequently sought it in the open air, at early dawn, or at night. Solitude is favourable to self-examination, and to individual communion with the Father.

Landor: 'Solitude is the antechamber of God.'

Young: 'O lost to reason, lost to lofty thought, Lost to the noblest sallies of the soul, Who think it solitude to be alone!'

Chrys.: "Some, even when their person is concealed, make themselves manifest to all by their voice." One advantage of praying in solitude is that then we need feel no hesitation in speaking aloud, which greatly aids in restraining wandering thoughts, and attaining a deeper solemnity and emotion. Regularity in private prayer is indispensable to the attainment and maintenance of a high order of piety. It is well to lift the heart to God, even for a moment, whenever we feel special inclination or need; but at stated hours we must pray, even though we feel no inclination. Thus may we combine the advantages of regularity and impulse. How rich the reward of regular private devotion. How it soothes the perturbed spirit, strengthens for every trial, and sweetens every pleasure. Strange and sad that one who has known the blessedness of this privilege should ever permit himself to neglect it. Chrys.: "Let us not then make our prayer by the gesture of our body, nor by the loudness of our voice, but by the earnestness of our mind: neither with noise and clamour, and for display, so as even to disturb those that are near us, but with all modesty, and with contrition in the mind, and with inward tears." Theophyl.: "What, then, shall I not pray in church? By all means, but with a right intention, and without display, for it is not the place that hurts, but the manner and the aim. Many in fact, when praying in secret, are doing it to please men." Euthym.: "If thou wishest spectators, thou hast, instead of all, God himself." Würt. Bible (Lange): "Those brief ejaculatory prayers sent up to heaven in few words, and which may be uttered even while engaged in our daily labour, are by far the richest and best." Henry: (Matthew 15:25 ) "Secret prayer is to be performed in retirement, that we may be unobserved, and so may avoid ostentation; undisturbed, and so may avoid distraction; unheard, and so may use the greater freedom."

Matthew 6:7 . Cyprian: "God hears not the voice, but the heart." Calvin: "In true prayer the tongue does not go faster than the heart; the grace of God is not attained by the empty utterance of words, but the pious heart sends forth its affections like arrows to penetrate into heaven." To keep repeating the same thought in synonyms is a fault of the same nature as these vain repetitions, though less gross. Gill: "The omniscience of God is a considerable argument, and a great encouragement to prayer; he knows our persons and our wants beforehand; and as he is able to help us, we have reason to believe he will."

Matthew 6:9 . Cyril: "Christ commands us to pray briefly, because he knows our minds are easily led off into wandering thoughts, especially in time of prayer." Quesnel (Lange): "A king who himself draws up the petition which is to be presented must surely take great pleasure in granting it." (Isaiah 65:24 ; John 16:23 ) beda (Blyth): "A prayer sweetened by the name of Father, makes me confident of getting all I ask." Maldonatus: "The very name of father prays for us; because it is the part of a father to provide things necessary for his children." Euthym.: "He that lives a bad life, and calls God his Father, lies both against God and himself." Chrys.: "We must then pray straightway, and lift our mind on wings and exalt it above the earth and attach it to the heavens; for he commands us to say, 'Our Father who art in the heavens.'" Williams: "The opening invocation presents the Parentage, 'Our Father ,' the Brotherhood , ' Our Father'; and the Home , 'Our Father which art in heaven .'" Griffith: "We pray for our Father's honour, dominion, service; and then for our own preservation, pardon, protection." Theophyl.: "For as God is blasphemed for my sake, so also for my sake he is sanctified, that is, glorified as holy." If we wish and pray that God's name may be hallowed, we ought ourselves never to speak irreverently, either of him, or of anything that is sacred from its connection with him (compare on Matthew 5:33-37 ); and if "actions speak louder than words," it is still more important to avoid acts which would profane anything that he has made holy. Is it not polluting and blaspheming the Name of God, for people to say prayers or sing praises to him when they are grossly wicked, and have no present intention to turn from their wicked ways? (Compare Ruskin.) No church would employ a notorious drunkard, or adulterer, or an avowed infidel, to read the Bible in public worship, because of his being a good elocutionist; why employ such a man to sing solos in praise of God because he is a good vocalist? Weiss: "The! fear of God is the source of all religious life and the antecedent condition of all that is asked for in the progress of this prayer."

Matthew 6:10 . stanford: "Oh, it is coming! The reign of the Father is sure in due season to show itself, for no power can ever frustrate his purpose or falsify his word." Williams: "To pray for Christ's kingdom is to pray for the conversion of sinners and the edification and sanctification of disciples. It is to ask the evangelization of the Gentiles and the restoration of the Jews. It is to implore that Antichrist may fall, and the idols perish from under the whole heaven. It is to profess sympathy with all that relieves and elevates and enfranchises man; and to implore the removal of all that corrupts and debases him, and that sells him, soul and body, to the service of the Evil One......... Did we but know aright the necessities of our kind, and the truest, deepest wants of our own souls, the hourly burden of intercession, from our acts, and plans, and alms, and prayers, would still be, 'Let thy kingdom come.'" Milton: "Come forth out of thy royal chambers, O Prince of all the kings of the earth! Put on the visible robes of thy imperial majesty, take up that unlimited sceptre which thy Almighty Father hath bequeathed thee; for now the voice of thy bride calls thee, and all creatures sigh to be renewed."

Chrys.: "He hath enjoined each one of us who pray, to take upon himself the care of the whole world. For he did not at all say, 'Thy will be done in me,' or 'in us,' but everywhere on the earth; so that error may be destroyed, and truth implanted, and all wickedness cast out, and virtue return, and no difference in this respect be henceforth between heaven and earth." Seneca: "Let men be pleased with whatever God pleases." Epictetus: "Do not seek for things to happen as thou wishest; but wish for things to happen as they do happen." Pythagoras: "It shows knowledge and sense if we do not strive against, and worry at, Divine Providence." This petition means not merely resignation to God's will when painful;

(Matthew 26:42 ; Acts 21:14 ) but we pray that God's will may come to pass, and should accordingly be striving to bring to pass whatever we believe to be his will.

Matthew 6:11 . Boardman: "This teaches (1) Our dependence on God give/ (2) Modesty in our requests bread ;(3) Trustfulness this day ;(4) Brotherhood us, our ."Ruskin: "No words could be burning enough to tell the evils which have come on the world from men's using this petition thoughtlessly, and blasphemously praying God to give them what they are deliberately resolved to steal..... For the man who is not, day by day, doing work which will earn his dinner, must be stealing his dinner."

Matthew 6:12 . We incur debt to God by sins of omission, as truly as by sins of commission. Compare Matthew 25:42 . And as every wise business man takes distinct account of all his pecuniary debts, so we should think over and deal with our moral debts. Boardman: "This is the way in which our Heavenly Father forgives us, for his Son's sake, our debts. We, finite, sinful mortals, contracted the debt in the currency of earth; the Son of God paid the debt, so to speak, in the currency of heaven." Theophyl."For God takes me as an exemplar; and what I do to another, he does to me." Euthym.: "He makes us masters of the forgiveness of our sins." Boardman: "Here is a man who has been bitterly wronged by another; he says to him, 'I forgive you this, but I cannot forget it.' He enters his closet and prays: 'Father, forgive me, as I have forgiven him! Say to me in words that thou forgivest me, but do not forget my offences! Blot them not out of the book of thy remembrance I Do to me as I do to him!' Oh, how often does this prayer, if offered sincerely, mean a curse." Seneca: "Let him easily pardon who needs pardon."

Matthew 25:13 . Theophyl.: "Men are weak, wherefore we must not fling ourselves into temptations; but, if we have fallen into them, must pray that we may not be swallowed up." We do very wrong when we expose servants or other dependents to temptation, by negligently giving them opportunity to defraud us, or by failing to pay them what they really need for support, or by showing them only the more forbidding aspects of our own life as professed Christians, thus inclining them to think ill of Christianity. Lange: "Thou who temptest others to sin, who exposest thyself wantonly to temptation, or who in temptation tightest yet not with the armour of God, why wilt thou mock God by praying, 'Lead us not into temptation?'" (1 Peter 5:6 ; Ephesians 6:11 ) Origen: "Let us pray that when struck by the fiery darts of the evil one we may not be kindled: and they are not kindled who with the shield of faith quench all the fiery darts which he sends against them." (Ephesians 6:16 ) Ruskin: "Supposing we were first of all quite sure that we had prayed, honestly, the prayer against temptation, and that we would thankfully be refused anything we had set our hearts upon, if indeed God saw that it would lead us into evil, might we not have confidence afterwards that he.... would turn our hearts in the way that they should go?" Boardman: "Well may this petition take its place as the conclusion of the Pattern Prayer. The evil it deprecates is the summary of all woe on man's part: the deliverance it craves is the summary of all love on God's part." [1]

[1] Blyth on the Lord's Prayer, re-published by James Pott, New York, contains an immense collection of quotations from ancient and modern writers, one of which has been used above.

The Lord's Prayer: I. That God may be glorified. 1. His name be hallowed. 2. His reign come. 3. His will come to pass, etc.

II. That we may be blessed. 1. Temporal wants. 2. Spiritual wants; (a) Forgiven our sins; (b) Preserved from temptation, and delivered from Satan.

We may imagine (Bengel) that in heaven all these petitions will be turned into praises. "God's name is sanctified: his reign is come: his will comes to pass. He has forgiven us our sins: he has put an end to temptation: he has delivered us from Satan."

Verses 16-18

Matthew 6:16-18 . Good Works Without Ostentation.

III. Fasting

The third application of the general principle laid down in Matthew 6:1 is to Fasting. Compare on Matthew 6:2 and on Matthew 6:5 . The reference here is obviously not to general public fasts, but to voluntary individual fasting. This was common among the pious Jews, but the Pharisees had reduced it to a system (as formalists usually do with their religious observances), fasting "twice in the week." (Luke 18:12 ) The Talmud informs us that they chose the second and fifth days of the week, because of the tradition that Moses went up Mount Sinai on the fifth day, and came down on the second.

Matthew 6:16 . Be not , or more exactly,' do not become ,' implying the assumption of such looks for the time. Of a sad countenance . [1] It had always been the custom among the Israelites, as among other Oriental nations, on occasions of severe personal or national affliction, to manifest their grief and humiliation by wearing sackcloth, putting ashes on the head and face, etc. (Compare on Matthew 11:21 ) These the Pharisaic hypocrites appear to have adopted in their regular individual fasting, in order to make known the fact and gain credit for singular devoutness. The Talmud of Babylon says, "Whoever makes his face black (a common expression in the Jewish writers for fasting) on account of the law in this world, God will make his brightness to shine in the world to come." Verily I say unto you see, on "Matthew 5:18 ". They have received , more literally, have in full, 'have all of.' See on "Matthew 6:2 ". Instead of they may appear, etc., (the more literal rendering), May be seen of men (Tyndale, Geneva), is preferred, because the former might suggest a mere appearance, which is not here intended. (So in Matthew 6:18 )

[1] See the same Greek term in Luke 24:17 (Rev. Text), and in the Septuagint of Genesis 40:7 , Daniel 1:10 .

Matthew 6:17 . The Saviour requires his disciple to dress on a day when he was fasting precisely as on other days. So far from ostentatiously a voluntary act of devotion, he should even purposely conceal it. But it is a gross misunderstanding to take this as an injunction to dissimulation. We cannot too often remind ourselves of the distinction between deception and concealment. Anoint thy head . This was an established custom among the Jews from an early period. (Ruth 3:3 ; 2 Samuel 12:20 ; Psalms 23:5 , Psalms 104:15 , Psalms 133:2 ; Ecclesiastes 9:8 ; Matthew 26:7 ; Luke 7:46 ) When in great distress, they would omit this, as in 2 Samuel 14:2 ; Daniel 10:8 , and the Talmud enjoins a like course in connection with fasting. In one passage, however, we read of a man as "weeping at home, but when he went forth in public, he bathed, anointed, ate, and drank. But why did he not do it openly? God answered Although he himself did not manifest the thing, yet I will manifest it." But thou , the change our Lord so frequently makes from the plural to the singular (compare Matthew 6:2 , Matthew 6:6 , and see on "Matthew 5:23 "). This shows that the reference is to a case of private, individual fasting, as in Matthew 6:6 to private praying. For the various phrases in Matthew 6:18 , see on similar phrases in Matthew 6:4 and My Matthew 6:6 .

As to the propriety of fasting on the part of Christians now, we see that Jesus speaks as if taking for granted that his disciples would fast. It might be said that this was in the early part of his ministry, when things were in a transition stage. But in Matthew 9:15 , he likewise takes for granted that his disciples will fast after he shall have left them. Observe, however, that it is voluntary fasting of which he is speaking, and there is no trace in the New Testament of any appointment of a particular season for fasting. Indeed, the only fast enjoined by the law of Moses was that on the Day of Atonement; (Leviticus 16:29-34 ) all the other fasting mentioned in the Old Testament, whether national or individual, was voluntary. In Matthew 9:15 , the Saviour clearly teaches that fasting is right only when one's condition makes it natural. In a time of joy, fasting would be unnatural, and could not express a genuine feeling. But persons who are in great distress are naturally inclined to abstain from eating. Now every feeling is deepened by being in any natural way manifested; and so a sincere, though less strong feeling of distress, as on account of sin, may be strengthened by abstinence from food. This may also help us for a time in fixing our attention upon worship and devout meditation. Yet fasting is not in itself a meritorious action, but is proper only so far as it is natural under the circumstances, and useful in such ways as have been indicated. Wherever this utility would be counterbalanced by injury to health, disqualification for active duties, or other grave evils, then fasting ought not to be practised. The observance of national fasts would appear to be in like manner optional, and subject to the same conditions. As to fasts appointed by some ecclesiastial authority for regular seasons of the week or year, no Scriptural authority can be claimed for making the injunction, and such regularly recurring fasts are extremely apt to degenerate into formality, (compare Isaiah 58:3 ff.) or to encourage excesses at other times ("Mardi Gras," etc.), or to be invested with an imaginary intrinsic meritoriousness, opposed to the spirit of the gospel. The mortification of the flesh, which is sometimes urged as a benefit of regular fasting, "can be better attained by habitual temperance than by occasional abstinence." ( Alexander .) (Compare on Matthew 4:2 and on Matthew 9:15 ) But many Christians of the early centuries had an exaggerated conception of the importance of fasting (one of the many elements of Judaism which they imported into Christianity), and so the word fasting crept into numerous manuscripts and versions in Mark 9:29 Matthew 17:21 (whole verse spurious); Acts 10:30 , 1 Corinthians 7:5 . (See these passages in Ray. Test.) The word is part of the genuine text in Matthew 9:15 Luke 2:37 Acts 13:2 f; Acts 14:23 .

Homiletical And Practical

Fasting. I. When? (1) On public occasions, if we really feel grief, and really desire to deepen it. (2) On private occasions, if it would be natural in our providential situation, (Matthew 9:15 ) and would be profitable. (3) In either case, only so far as compatible with health and the proper discharge of existing duties.

II. How? (1) Without the least ostentation. (Matthew 6:1 , Matthew 6:16 ) (2) With sincere desire and earnest effort to commune with God and gain spiritual profit. Hypocrisy. (Matthew 6:18 )

I. Methods. (1) Religious observances e. g. , alms-giving, fasting, prayer. (2) Religious professions.

II. Rewards. (1) Glory of men, (Matthew 6:2 ) and even this usually very partial and very transient. (2) No reward from God. (Matthew 6:1 ) (3) Not even the approval of one's own conscience. (4) Aggravated punishment in eternity. (Mark 12:40 ) Compare in general Matthew 23:0 .

Chrys.: "And, whereas, in the matter of almsgiving..... after saying, 'Take heed not to do it before men,' he added, 'to be seen of them'; yet in the matter of fasting and prayer, he made no such limitation; why was this? Because for alms-giving to be altogether concealed is impossible, but for prayer and fasting, it is possible." Vinet (in Luketteroth): "Fasting has no value save according to the dispositions by which it is accompanied; it is good only in proportion as it is not the body alone, but the heart, that fasts."

Verses 19-34

Matthew 6:19-34 . Single-Hearted Devotion To God, As Opposed To Worldly Aims And Anxieties

Having urged that good deeds should be performed, out of regard, not for human approbation and reward, but for that of God, (Matthew 6:1-18 ) our Lord now passes to the kindred topic of inculcating, in general, an exclusive and entire devotion to God, as opposed to worldly aims and anxieties. (Matthew 6:19-34 ) (See Analysis at the beginning of chapter 5.) This section of the great discourse naturally divides itself into four parts, viz., Matthew 6:19-21 , Matthew 6:22 f; Matthew 6:24 , Matthew 6:25-34 . We can discern between these an internal, though not a formal connection. The sayings are gnomic in form, and only an internal connection could be expected.

Matthew 6:19-21 . He begins with the thought that as the believer's heart ought to be in heaven (which is here taken for granted), and as the heart will be where the treasure is, therefore we should treasure to ourselves treasures in heaven, not on earth; and to this he encourages by contrasting the treasures of earth and heaven as respectively perishable and imperishable. The same idea occurs in Luke 12:33 f., as used on a different occasion. The Jews of our Saviour's age were very largely a trading people, possessing much the same characteristics as at present, and among them an uncommon love of money. What is here said was therefore especially appropriate to them, but fully applies to men of all ages. It is also naturally understood as extending to all the other objects after which men long and seek; in general, we are to have regard to, and strive to obtain, heavenly rather than earthly things, (compare Colossians 3:1 ff.) because the heart will be fixed on that which we are labouring to possess.

Lay not up for yourselves literally, Do not treasure to yourselves treasures . The English idiom is disinclined to this immediate repetition of the same word, and hence our popular versions express it otherwise. Jesus does not mean absolutely to forbid the accumulation of wealth. It is a peculiarity of the Hebrew style, often occurring in Scripture, to make an absolute statement (especially a prohibition), which is designed to be understood relatively. See other instances in Luke 14:12 ; John 4:21 ; 1 Peter 3:3 f. This makes the expression more striking and impressive, like hyperbolical phrases, etc., and such statements were not meant, or expected to be taken literally and absolutely, any more than hyperboles are so taken. This principle of interpretation is capable of being abused, as all others are; but it requires to be applied in such passages as the present. 1 Peter 3:20 is the opposite of Matthew 6:19 , expanded for greater impressiveness. Compare Matthew 6:15 , and see on "Matthew 5:30 ". Men lay up treasures in heaven by righteousness in general, both in doing and suffering for Christ's sake; (Matthew 5:12 , Matthew 5:46 , Matthew 6:6 , 1 Corinthians 4:17 ) and among other things, by a right use of earthly possessions, as proposed to the rich young man, (Matthew 19:21 ) and as taught in Luke 12:33 , and in the parable of the unjust steward. (Luke 16:1 ) Remember also the cup of cold water, (Matthew 10:42 ) the awards of the judgment, (Matthew 25:40 ) and the remarkable passage in 1 Timothy 6:17-19 ; also Revelation 14:13 . These heavenly rewards are not deserved by our good deeds, being a gift of free grace; but God chooses to connect them with, and proportion them to, our deeds of kindness to others, and devotion to him.

Moth, rust . The garments of the Jews, as of other Oriental nations, seldom changed their fashion; and hence great store of garments, perhaps in part inherited, would often form an important item in one's possessions. (Genesis 45:22 ; 2 Kings 5:5 ; Job 27:16 ) These were liable to be destroyed by moth. The term rendered 'rust' signifies 'eating,' and so consumption in whatever way. It may be understood here in the general sense of whatever consumes or destroys property; or in the special sense of rust, just as we say that rust eats. Compare James 5:2 f., in which, as in various other passages, James seems to be referring to the Sermon on the Mount. The word rendered corrupt in Rev. Ver., consume is literally 'cause to disappear,' and in Matthew 6:16 is rendered disfigure. 'Corrupt' does not correctly express the idea. Thieves . As to the other word sometimes rendered 'thief,' but more properly 'robber,' see on "Matthew 27:38 ". Break through is literally ' dig through ,' as in margin of Rev. Ver., following Geneva and Rheims. It doubtless refers to the clay walls which many houses had. (compare Job 24:16 ) "The houses in Mexico are chiefly built of adobes (large sun-dried bricks), and in the attack on Monterey (1846), the American troops advanced into the heart of the city by digging occasionally through the walls of courts and houses." Gen. D. H. Hill . It is sometimes objected that the precious metals do not rust. But they can be stolen. The heart is spoken of in Scripture, not according to our modern view, as the seat of the affections only, but as the seat of all the powers of the soul, both intellect, sensibilities, and will. (To speak of the head as the seat of intellect, is a thing unknown to the Bible.) Many passages of Scripture are popularly misunderstood, from failure to keep this usage in view. The connection in the present case leads us to think of the affections as especially meant, but not exclusively. The thoughts, as well as feelings, will be where the treasure is; (compare Colossians 3:2 ) and it is the power of knowing truth that is especially referred to in the next two verses. Your R.V., thy (twice) in Matthew 6:21 . The singular represents the correct Greek text, which was changed to 'your' by copyists who observed the plurals of Matthew 6:19 f, and did not think of that impressive change to the singular which is so often made in this discourse (compare Matthew 6:2 , Matthew 6:6 , Matthew 6:17 ; and see on Matthew 5:23 ).

Matthew 6:22 f. This passage is in some respects obscure, and has given commentators much trouble; but by remembering the connections and carefully noting the precise meaning of the terms, the difficulty may be cleared up. Compare Luke 11:34-36 , nearly the same passage, spoken on a different occasion. The light literally, the lamp . The word is the same as in Matthew 5:15 , and denotes any portable light. The eye is the lamp of the body because it is that part which gives the body light, by means of which the body sees. The word single , or, 'simple,' represents the eye as giving one image of an object; as opposed to an eye which sees double, which gives dim, flickering images that displace one another, so that the object is not seen clearly and steadily. This last is described by a more general term as a 'bad' eye, the Greek word commonly expressing moral evil (and the phrase is so employed in Matthew 20:15 Mark 7:22 ), but being sometimes found in the other, which is really its primary sense, as in the phrases 'bad diet,' 'bad health,' 'badness of eyes,' all employed by Plato. (Some early expositors understood it to denote moral evil here, and hence Tyndale, Great Bible, Geneva, and Darby translate 'wicked.') Many interpreters conclude that 'single' should be here understood as meaning a sound, healthy eye in general, as opposed to a bad, diseased one, which does not see well. But there is no support in Greek usage for such an interpretation of the word, and the Latin versions render it simplex , the Peshito gives the same sense, while the Memphitie borrows the Greek word. It is very undesirable to abandon the specific meaning of this word, which precisely suits the whole connection, and in contrast with which the general term 'bad' will naturally here take to itself a corresponding application. The 'single' eye forms but one image of its object, and does not blend that with the images of other objects; the 'bad' eye forms different images of the same thing, or blends different objects in its confused vision. So the single eye really sees; while the bad eye practically does not see at all. If the eye be single, the whole body will be 'full of light,' thoroughly light; while if the eye be bad, the whole body will be 'full of darkness,' thoroughly dark. The light that is in thee , the lamp of the mind, or as Plato calls it, "the eye of the soul" would be our inner power of perceiving truth and duty what we commonly call reason and conscience; and would include both the natural light which these give, and their capacity to receive the light of revelation So Philo says (following Aristotle): "For what the intellect is in the soul, that the eye is in the body." Or we might recall (Weiss) the term 'heart' from Matthew 6:21 , which would then represent the mind, and amount to the same thing. Now why is it that the good eye of the illustration is specifically described as a 'single' eye? The reason lies in that general truth with which the whole connection is dealing, viz., the propriety and necessity of exclusive regard to God. Just before, we are taught to store up heavenly and not earthly treasure, that our hearts may be in heaven, not on earth. Just after, that we cannot be the servants of both God and mammon, but must serve God alone; that we must not be anxious about temporal wants, but must seek his kingdom and the righteousness he requires, and trust his providence for the supply of temporal necessities. And so in the present passage. If the 'heart', (Matthew 6:21 ) the "mind's eye," the reason and conscience, is fixed partly on God and partly on mammon, sometimes on heavenly and sometimes on earthly things, then it resembles the bad eye, which mixes images of different objects, so that we really see nothing. Epictetus expresses a similar thought by a similar image: "If you strive after moral excellence, and yet at the same time clutch at power and pelf, you will most likely lose these last from having an eye to the former also; and most certainly you will lose the former." The general thought is therefore of reason and conscience darkened, blinded as by inheritance of faults, by miseducation, by bodily excesses, by covetousness, ambition, or other strong passions but with special reference here to a reason and conscience divided in aim and thus darkened. The heart must be directed with exclusive and steady gaze towards God, not distracted by worldly aims and anxieties, or we shall be sadly lacking in clear perception of truth and duty. (Compare Olsh.. Alex.. Plumptre.) How great is that ( the ) darkness ! 'That' is an imitation of the Latin, which has no article, and sometimes overstates its meaning by a demonstrative. In the similar passage, (Luke 11:34-36 ) the bright side of the illustration is finally made prominent, while here it is the dark side.

Matthew 6:24 . A further and very distinct illustration of the same great truth, viz., the duty and necessity of exclusive devotion to God. See a similar passage in Luke 16:13 , as spoken on a different occasion. No man can serve two masters . All difficulty or cavil about this statement, on the ground that there are circumstances in which a person might serve two masters, is at once set aside by observing that the word rendered 'serve' signifies to 'be the slave of,' a relation which necessarily implies exclusive ownership, and demands exclusive service. True, a slave might belong to two masters in partnership; but here it is obviously implied that the two are altogether opposed to each other. For the different terms rendered 'serve' and 'servant,' see on "Matthew 8:9 "; and for the various words rendered 'master,' see on "Matthew 8:19 ". The next words are not tautological, but have been thus explained (Meyer): "for either he will hate A and love B, or (on the contrary) he will hold to A and despise B." The change of the verbs in the second clause (instead of simply saying, "will love A and hate B") seems to intimate that even if he should feel no positive hatred to either of the two, he will attach himself to one, and neglect, slight, despise, the other. Our Lord does not simply furnish the illustration, leaving it to be understood of itself, but distinctly applies it to the subject in hand. Ye cannot serve God and mammon . The word mammon is Aramaic, signifying wealth, riches. It is here personified, in being contrasted with God-as the other of two masters; but there is no sufficient evidence that mammon was, as some assert, actually worshipped as a Syrian divinity. [1] Milton personified Mammon as one of Satan's host. (Par. Lost, Book I.)

[1] The proper spelling of the Greek, as found in nearly all MSS., would give us mamon; but it is too late to alter the English form. The etymology is most likely, as usually given, from the Hebrew aman , meaning that which props, supports, or that which is relied on, trusted. (See Grimm, Bleek, Tholuck, Achelis.) There is probably an allusion to this, in the common text of Mark 10:24 , B. U. Ver "those who trust in riches"; and the words may hays been omitted in a few of the earliest documents (followed by Tischendorf and Wescott Hort) for the very reason that this allusion was not understood, and the words were not found in the parallel passages Matthew 19:23 and Luke 18:24 . The different etymology of Gesenius (Meyer, Keil), is much less probable, though it yields the same meaning, viz., wealth.

The Saviour does not teach that the possession of wealth is inconsistent with piety. He delighted in the friendship of the little family at Bethany, whom the circumstances show to have been wealthy (compare on Matthew 26:6 ), and he commended Zaccheus, who gave the half (not the whole) of his goods to the poor. But he has pronounced it an impossibility to be the servants (slaves) at once of God and of mammon. Yet this is what men are constantly attempting to do, and Christians are sorely tempted to the same course. Tile Israelites of Elijah's time did not avowedly renounce Jehovah, but tried to worship both him and Baal; and the prophet calls on them (1 Kings 18:21 ) to decide which of the two is God, and follow him to be one thing or the other. (Compare another striking example in 2 Kings 17:24-41 ) So we must choose between being the servants of God and Wealth; we cannot be both. Whatever efforts we make to obtain wealth must be in entire subordination to the service of God, and, in fact, a part of that service; he alone must be Master. Porteus : "Every one has his ruling passion. That of the Christian must be the love of his Maker and Redeemer." Observe carefully that the principle here presented applies not merely to those who have great possessions, but to all. "No one can serve two masters." The poor also are tempted to make wealth a master and an idol, (Colossians 3:5 ) and sometimes do so as grievously as the rich.

Three reasons have thus been given (Matthew 6:19-24 ) why we should be exclusively devoted to God. (1) The things of the world are so perishable. (2) If our minds are directed at the same time towards earthly and heavenly things, our view becomes distracted, confused, darkened. (3) It is impossible to be God's servants and the servants of mammon.

Matthew 6:25-34 Here the duty of entire and exclusive devotion to God (see on "Matthew 6:1 "and Matthew 6:19 ) is set in opposition to worldly anxieties, which are shown to be both unnecessary, unavailing, and unbecoming; to spring from unbelief, and augment the ills of life; and it is added that by following the other course we shall gain, without anxiety, the very objects in question. The paragraph is found in Luke 12:22-31 , with slight variations, as on a later occasion repeated to the disciples in the hearing of a new audience. This passage "is one of the beauties of Scripture. Had it no other recommendation than its felicity of illustration and its graces of composition, it would deserve our warm admiration; and indeed it has received the tribute of admiration from men who were only in pursuit of literary' beauties. But it has higher qualities of excellence than these; it speaks to the understanding, and the heart, on themes of deep and universal importance." John Harris .

Matthew 6:25 . Therefore , viz., because of the truth he has been enforcing (in Matthew 6:19-24 , but with special reference to Matthew 6:24 ), that single-hearted devotion to God is proper and needful. Consuming anxiety about the necessaries of life, instead of trusting God, betrays the same worldly-minded and ungodly feeling that is seen in the slave of mammon Trust in God would prevent all such worldly anxieties. So the suffering Hebrew Christians, who had been plundered of their possessions, (Hebrews 10:34 ) are urged to be free from the love of money, on the ground that God has promised never to fail nor forsake his people. (Hebrews 13:5 f.)

Food and clothing are the most urgent wants of our earthly condition; and if we ought not to be anxious about these, much less should we be anxious about other things. Take no thought or, be not anxious for your life 'Take no thought' was a good rendering when King James' version was made (so also in 1 Samuel 9:5 ), for in Bacon, Shakespeare, and other writers of that period, 'thought' is used as including the idea of anxiety, as when a person is said to have died of thought. Tyndale and the succeeding English versions translate 'be not careful' in this passage, but 'take thought' or 'take careful thought' in Matthew 6:27 , Matthew 6:31 , and 'care,' in Matthew 6:27 , Matthew 6:34 . The Greek verb used throughout this passage is also found (besides Luke 12:22-26 ) in Matthew 10:19 Luke 10:41 , 1 Corinthians 7:32 Philippians 2:20 and Philippians 4:6 , and a few other passages; and the corresponding substantive in Matthew 13:22 , 1 Corinthians 11:28 (Rev. Ver.) "anxiety for all the churches," 1 Peter 5:7 (Rev. Ver.),"casting all your anxiety upon him, because he careth for you" (where careth is a different verb); Ecclus Sirach 30:24 , "anxiety brings old age before the time." These passages show that the word sometimes expresses a lawful feeling of intense concern, which is directed towards proper objects, kept within due bounds, and stimulates efforts to do our duty; and that this feeling becomes wrong when misdirected or when existing in greater measure than is expended upon action, and so eating like an acid into the soul especially when it is a feeling which springs from lack of trust in God, this last being the idea of the present connection. The term care is used by us in a similar twofold sense, expressing sometimes a right and sometimes a wrong feeling. Our Lord of course does not mean that we are to exercise no forethought, and put forth no effort. Trust in God by no means implies the lack of these. Augustine refers to a sect in his time who called themselves Euchites, or Prayer-men, because they simply prayed for everything they wanted, without labouring to attain it. This grievous folly has been reproduced by some well-meaning persons in the present generation.

The first consideration by which Jesus seeks to restrain from the anxiety just forbidden is an argument from the greater to the less. (Matthew 6:25 ) If God has given us the greater, viz., life, the body, is he likely to withhold the less, viz., the food and the raiment? Life is the word which often denotes 'the soul,' but in many other cases, as here, simply the vital or animating principle (compare on Matthew 16:25 ), to sustain which there is need of food. [1] Meat lit. as in Rev. Ver., the food . The word 'meat' formerly signified food, but is now restricted to a particular kind of food.

[1] Some early authorities omit 'or what ye shall drink,' and W. H. place these words in brackets; but the omission is readily explained by desire to assimilate the passage to Luke 12:22 (where also some early documents insert the words by way of assimilation to Matthew).

Matthew 6:26 . The second consideration is an argument from the less to the greater, and this applied first to food, (Matthew 6:26 ) and afterwards to clothing. (Matthew 6:28-30 ) Behold the fowls of the air or, as in Rev. Ver., the birds of the heaven , birds that fly free in the sky, and over which men exercise no care. (Compare Matthew 8:20 , Matthew 13:32 Genesis 1:26 ) 'Fowls' formerly signified birds in general, but is now restricted to a certain variety of domesticated birds. Instead of the general term 'birds,' the similar discourse in Luke 12:24 , has the specific term 'ravens.' As sowing, reaping, and gathering into barns are the three leading processes of agriculture, we thus have it very strongly affirmed that the birds perform no part whatever of the work which men have to perform in order to obtain their food. Of course we know that the birds exert themselves; God does not feed them in idleness. But they find their food without any of our elaborate processes. The inserted 'yet' in the Com. Version enfeebles the simple and beautiful expression. Are ye not , better, not ye ; the 'ye' being expressed in the original, and thus shown to be emphatic. Much better , Of much more value , as Com. Ver. translates the same Greek phrase in Matthew 10:31 . The conclusion that much more will God feed those who are greatly more important than the birds, is here left to be understood, but in the similar argument of Matthew 6:30 is stated. The Mishna says, "Have you ever seen brutes or birds that had any trade? and yet they are nourished without trouble."

Matthew 6:27 . Before passing to the argument as to raiment, (Matthew 6:28-30 ) our Lord pauses to add another remark to the effect that it is quite unavailing for us to be anxious about food. The general meaning is plain, but the ablest scholars of every period have been divided in opinion as to whether the leading term of the sentence here signifies stature or age. Its primary meaning and usual sense in Greek writers is the latter (so in John 9:21 Hebrews 11:11 ); but it is sometimes used in the former sense (Luke 19:3 , and probably in Luke 2:52 ; while Ephesians 4:13 may be understood either way.) The Septuagint uses it seven times in the sense of age, and only once in that of stature. The early versions, Latin, Peshito, Memphitic, Gothic, give 'stature,' and so do most of the Fathers, followed by all the early English versions. Yet the American Revisers translate 'the measure of his life,' with 'stature' in the margin; and this sense of 'age' is more appropriate to the connection. The object of the sentence is to show that it is in vain to be anxious about food. (Matthew 6:25 f.) Now few men are anxious to obtain food that they may increase their stature, but all men that they may prolong their life. This also best suits the expression in Luke 12:26 , "If then ye are not able to do that which is least," since a cubit added to one's life would be very little, while a cubit (about nineteen inches)added to the stature would be an enormous addition. It is objected that 'cubit' is nowhere in Scripture found in this metaphorical application to the duration of life; but it is supported by the analogous expression in Psalms 39:5 ,"Thou hast made my days as hand-breadths; and mine age is as nothing before thee"; also by the expression of a Greek poet, "For a cubit's time we enjoy the bloom of our youth"; compare also (Achelis) Job 9:25 , and the Greek phrases "a span of life" and "a finger. long day." In this state of things it is not strange that the great mass of recent commentators prefer the sense 'age.' Morison urges that we can add to our life by carefulness; "otherwise the medical profession is an absurdity." But our efforts to do this are fruitless without God's blessing. He thinks the idea is that we cannot enlarge ourselves, into giants; but this overlooks Luke 12:26 . Still, the other sense will yield the same general meaning for the passage. With all our anxiety about food, we cannot (apart from God's blessing) make the smallest addition to our life or to our stature.

Matthew 6:28 . In Matthew 6:28-30 , the argument from the less to the greater is urged with reference to raiment. The lilies of the field , like 'the birds of the heaven,' are those which grow wild without human care, and thus all the more strikingly display the care of God. We cannot determine the kind of lily meant, and the argument holds for the plainest flower as well as the most gorgeous. The writer observed in Palestine lilies of a dark violet colour, looking like violet velvet, and these might very naturally have suggested a king in his rich purple robes. Solomon's Song (__ Song of Song of Solomon 5:13 ) indicates coloured lilies, and Dioscorides speaks of purple lilies (Smith's Dictionary). Tristram describes purple flowers, which he says would be popularly called lilies. The various attempts made to "spiritualize" this reference to the lily, are, as usual, wholly unwarranted and out of place. They who are not satisfied with the simple beauty of our Lord's teaching, but must be seeking some mystical meaning which they think more pleasing and instructive, are truly attempting "to gild refined gold, to paint the lily."

Matthew 6:29 . Solomon in all his glory , does not directly mean in glorious apparel, but in all the glory of his royal station, wealth, and fame, which involved the use of beautiful garments.

Matthew 6:30 . If God so clothe translate, clothes indicative mood, assuming it as a fact that he does. The grass of the field . The term rendered grass includes weeds and flowers. All these wither very rapidly in the East, especially when a hot south wind is blowing; (compare Psalms 90:6 ) and owing to the scarcity of fuel, this dried vegetation is still often used to heat ovens for baking bread. The oven , This (Smith's Dict.) was a large jar made of clay, wider at the bottom. It was heated by placing the fuel within, and the ashes being removed through a hole at the bottom, the flat cakes of bread were spread both on the inside and the outside, and thus baked. Sometimes it was not a movable jar, but a fixture; and the primitive contrivance was probably a hole in the earth, with compacted sides. O ye of little faith , represents a single compound adjective, somewhat like little-believing , used also in Matthew 8:26 , Matthew 14:31 , Matthew 16:8 ; in all cases with reference to distrust of God' s protection, providential or miraculous. Unbelief is the root of the anxiety our Lord is here rebuking, as it is of every other sinful feeling; and thus we see one of the ways in which unbelief leads to unhappiness. In Talmud of Babylon, R. Eliezer says: "Whoever has a mouthful yet remaining in his basket, and says, 'What shall I eat to-morrow,' belongs to the number of those who have little faith."

Matthew 6:31-32 . Therefore , viz., in view of the argument just adduced. On the ground of this, the prohibition of Matthew 6:25 is repeated, and the succeeding verses append further considerations to the same effect. In Matthew 6:32 there seem to be two distinct reasons for avoiding this anxiety: (l) The Gentiles (or heathen) seek after all these things, and it is unworthy of God's people to be like them (compare on Matthew 5:47 ); (2) our Heavenly Father knows that we have need of all these things, and we may be sure he will not fail to supply our need. Some think, however, that the second clause furnishes the ground of the first; and explain by supplying a thought, thus: The heathen seek after these things, because ignorant that God knows and cares for their wants; but do not imitate them, for your Heavenly Father knoweth, etc. (Compare Matthew 6:7 f.) But it is very rarely well to explain "for" by a supposed ellipsis, and the former explanation seems preferable. Luke 12:30 has 'but,' which gives the same idea a little differently. The verb rendered seek is a compound of that in Matthew 6:33 , and denotes an over-intense or anxious seeking. All these things all the things of the class to which these (food and raiment) belong, everything of this kind, i. e. , all temporal wants.

Matthew 6:33 . But seek ye , etc. Do not, like the heathen, seek these things, but seek first his kingdom, and his righteousness, and these things (emphasis here on 'these things') shall all be added unto you . Our Lord does not simply command us to avoid worldly anxiety, but gives us something positive to do instead, as a means of precluding it. So in Philippians 4:6 , Rev. Ver.: "In nothing be anxious; but in everything.... let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God.... shall guard your hearts," etc. So likewise above in Matthew 6:20 we are to lay up treasures in heaven, instead of laying them up upon the earth. 'His kingdom.' This evidently means the kingdom of our Heavenly Father, who is mentioned in the preceding sentence. But the Greek phrase is not so entirely explicit as the Com. Version; so some one put the word God in the margin, to explain what is meant, and it crept into the text. [1] So likewise in Luke 12:31 . Seek first his kingdom, and there will be no need of afterwards anxiously seeking food and raiment, etc., for they will be added, not indeed without seeking, but without anxious seeking; and so there will in this way be no occasion left for anxiety about them. Wünsche quotes from the Talmud: "If a man occupies himself always with the law, the Eternal supplies his wishes and needs." Our Father's kingdom is here the Messianic kingdom or reign (see on "Matthew 3:2 "; Matthew 6:10 ). To seek this kingdom is to endeavour to become admitted into it, and share the privileges and duties of its subjects. But not leaving us altogether to our own conclusions as to what is involved, the Saviour here adds (not in Luke 12:31 ) one point more specifically, and his righteousness . This means that personal righteousness which our Father requires in the subjects of the Messianic reign, which they ought to hunger and thirst after; (Matthew 5:6 ) which ought to exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, (Matthew 5:20 ) extending not merely to outward acts, but to the inner life of purpose and desire; (Matthew 5:21-48 ) which ought to be practised, not with a view to the praise of men, but to the approval and rewards of the Father in heaven. (Matthew 6:1-18 ) We must not introduce here the idea of imputed righteousness, which is foreign to the tone of this discourse, and does not distinctly appear anywhere in the Gospels, being chiefly set forth in Paul's Epistles to the Galatians, Romans, and Philippians. The great fact of imputed righteousness must have existed from the beginning of human repentance and forgiveness, but it does not follow that the idea was always revealed.

[1] The word God is omitted by B ‏ א ‎., three cursives, some copies of the old Latin, and of the Vulgate, the Memphitic and Ethiopic, and by one or two Greek Fathers. We readily see how the word came in, and cannot imagine why any one should have wished to exclude it. This consideration makes the evidence sufficient for omitting it. Tyndale and Geneva have kingdom of heaven,' which is here found only in one cursive and three Greek Fathers. Whence did they derive it?

This saying sums up the great principles of the whole passage, Matthew 6:19-34 , viz., things spiritual first, and things temporal will follow. He does not forbid our desiring or seeking temporal good; but says it must always be held as secondary and subordinate, to be obtained as a minor consequence of the pursuit of a higher aim. (Compare Mark 10:30 ; 1 Kings 3:11-13 ) In like manner the sayings in Matthew 5:48 and Matthew 7:12 form, as it were, a summing up of what precedes them.

Matthew 6:34 . This section of the discourse now ends with a renewed injunction not to be anxious, founded on the whole previous discussion ( therefore ), and directed especially to anxiety for to-morrow. It is concerning the future that we are most likely to be anxious, and to-morrow is the nearest future; and yet there is special reason for avoiding this, since to-morrow will have its own anxieties, and if we anticipate them, we uselessly add to the burden of to-day. Whether to-morrow's anxieties will be proper or improper, is not here the question; they will be felt then, and so should not be borrowed to-day. The shall of Com. Version is somewhat misleading; the Greek is a simple future, and in this connection merely predicts. For the things , etc., better as Rev. Ver., for itself . 'For the things of itself' represents a very feebly supported reading of the Greek. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof . This means not moral evil, the ordinary sense of the term, but natural evil, i. e. , suffering, trouble, etc., as in Amos 3:6 Ecclesiastes 7:14 , Ecclesiastes 12:1 Luke 16:25 ; also in 1 Maccabees 7:23 ; 1 Maccabees 10:46 .

A Jewish writer (Wet.) says, "Be not anxious about what is coming, before it takes place; for there is enough of vexation in its own hour." All men observe the folly of borrowing trouble from the future, and yet we continue to do it, and even to have a large part of our distresses spring from the dread of future evil, which likely enough will never come. A French proverb says, "The worst misfortunes are those which never arrive"; and a homely English proverb, "Never cross a bridge till you get to it." Anacreon : "I care for to-day; who knows to-morrow?" Horace : "What is to be on to-morrow avoid inquiring. Whatever sort of day fortune shall give, count it gain." But there is a broad distinction between our Saviour's teaching and such Epicurean counsels. They mean that it is foolish to harass ourselves about an unknown and uncertain to-morrow and so we must simply enjoy to-day; he, that we ought to trust in the protection and blessing of our Heavenly Father, and thus, while not heedless of the future, we may be free from anxiety about it. They say, "Tomorrow depends on chance; therefore try to forget it, and enjoy life to-day." He says, "Tomorrow and all its wants will be provided for by your Heavenly Father; therefore think of it without anxiety, and try to do right and please God to-day." On the other hand, our Lord's teaching is very different from fatalism. He does not say, the morrow is fixed by fate, and you cannot help yourself, but speaks of the personal God, our Father, who cares for us, (1 Peter 5:7 ) and will supply our wants.

Homiletical And Practical

Matthew 6:19-21 . Laying up treasures in heaven.

(1) Meaning. (2) Motives. (a) These treasures are imperishable; (b) Thus our heart will be in heaven. A Roman poet says: "A cunning thief will break your chest and carry off your money..... whatever is given to friends is beyond the reach of chance." A Jewish writer tells of a king, who was reproached for expending in time of famine the treasures of his fathers, and who replied, "My fathers collected treasures on earth, but I in heaven." Augustine: "Why do you lay up where you may lose; and where, if you do not lose, you cannot always stay? There is another place to which I will remove you. Let what you have go before, and fear not lest you lose it; I was the giver, I will be the guard." Euthym.: "That which is distributed among the poor, where is it treasured up? In heaven. How? The rewards of all this are there stored up and kept safe." Calvin: "If honour is thought to be the summum bonum , then men's minds must be wholly possessed by ambition; if money, then avarice will at once become sovereign; if pleasure, then nothing can prevent men from degenerating into brutal indulgence."

Matthew 6:22-23 . Blindness. I. Lamentable evils, (1) of bodily, (2) of spiritual blindness.

II. Responsibility. (1) Blindness of the body is usually a misfortune. (2) Blindness of the soul always involves guilt.

III. Cure. (1) In physical blindness, cure seldom natural. (2) In blindness of the soul, cure always supernatural. (3) Yet this cure may be sought from God, and means employed for promoting it. Stier: "In a certain sense and measure, indeed, must our eye, from the very beginning, be singly fixed upon God, his kingdom, and his righteousness, upon the treasures in heaven; but is it not consummate holiness when this is perfectly realized, and there is no oblique or other regard?"

Matthew 6:24 . The service of Mammon. I. Nature. (1) What it is not. (2) What it is.

II. Temptations. (l) For personal gratification of appetite, taste, social and other ambition love of possession love of power. (2) For benefit of others our families the needy around us the great good one hopes to do after a while .

III. Some of the ways in which men try to serve Mammon and serve God also.

IV. The two hopelessly incompatible. Compare serving Jehovah and Baal. (1 Kings 18:21 ) Whenever trying to do both, a man is, in fact, only serving Mammon not at all serving God, and not in the highest sense benefiting himself. "Religion must be everything, or it is nothing."

A Roman writer speaks of one who did not own riches, but was owned by riches; by title a king, but in mind a miserable slave of money. Seneca: "Wealth is the slave of a wise man, the master of a fool." Plutarch speaks of Pelopidas as relieving the needy, that he might appear to be truly master of wealth, not slave. Plato: "To prize wealth, and at the same time largely acquire wisdom, is impossible, for a man necessarily disregards the one or the other."demophilus (Wet.): "For the same man to be a lover of riches and a lover of God, is impossible." Luther: "To have money and property is not a sin, only you must not let it be your master, but you must he its master." Chrys.: "How then, saith one, did Abraham, how did Job, obtain a good report? Tell me not of them that are rich, but of them that serve riches. Since Job also was rich, yet he served not Mammon, but possessed it and ruled over it, and was a master, not a slave." Achelis: "The servant of Mammon estimates persons and things according to their money value; he regards loss of money as the highest loss, gain of money as the highest gain, and money as the highest aim of life." Lutteroth: "A man will obey the master he loves; God, if he loves God more than money; money, if he loves money more than God."

Matthew 6:25-34 . Anxiety about temporal wants. I. Reasons for avoiding anxiety. (1) Apart from God, it is futile, Matthew 6:27 . (2) Trusting in God, it is needless; (a) If he cares for the life and the body, he will care for the food and raiment, Matthew 6:25 ; (b) If he feeds his birds, he will feed his children, Matthew 6:26 ; (c) If he clothes the lilies, he will clothe human beings, Matthew 6:28-30 . (3) It makes God's people no better than heathen, Matthew 6:31 f. (4) It is adding to-morrow's evils to those of to-day, Matthew 6:34 . II. Means of avoiding anxiety. (1) Remember that our Heavenly Father knows our temporal needs, Matthew 6:32 . (2) Seek spiritual good as supreme, and temporal good will, with due exertion on our part, but without anxiety, be amply supplied, Matthew 6:28 . A lesson from the birds and the lilies, Matthew 6:25 f. and Matthew 6:28 f. Matthew 6:32 . God's children should be better than the heathen. (1) Why? (2) In what respect?

Matthew 6:25 . Chrys.: "tie that formed the flesh that is nourished, how will he not provide the nourishment?"

Matthew 6:26 . Chrys.: "Even though it is theirs by nature, yet possibly we too may attain it by choice. For neither did he say, 'Behold, how the birds fly' which were a thing impossible to man; but that they are fed without being anxious, a kind of thing easy to be achieved by us also, if we will. And this they have proved, who have accomplished it in their actions." Quesnel (in Lukett.): "Nobody ever saw an earthly father feed his birds, and abandon his children, and shall that be believed of the Heavenly Father?" Bengel: "Not their Father, but your Father." Euthym.: "So the Old Scripture, when wishing to bit men hard, sends them to the bee and the ant..... What then? Must we not sow? He did not say, 'Do not sow;' but, 'Do not be anxious.'" Luther: "We are commanded (Genesis 1:28 ) to have dominion over all creatures, and yet we behave so shamefully that a feeble sparrow must stand in the gospel as doctor and preacher for the wisest of men, and daily hold forth before our eyes and ears, teaching us to trust God, though we have the whole Bible and our reason to help us."

Matthew 6:28 . Our Lord's manner of teaching is remarkable for the frequency with which he draws illustration from the objects of nature, the pursuits of common life, and the ordinary experiences of mankind. Every preacher of the gospel, and religious teacher of the young, should be a close observer of common things, that he may he better qualified to imitate this example of the Great Teacher.

Matthew 6:31 . Theophyl: "He does not forbid eating; he forbids saying, 'What shall we eat?'" Luther: "The Lord says, 'Be not careful; working is your business, caring is mine!'"

Matthew 6:32 . Euthym: "But if we do not even surpass the heathen, though commanded to surpass the Scribes and Pharisees, (Matthew 5:20 ) what punishment shall we not deserve?.... So the cause of your anxiety ought to be the cause of your freedom from anxiety. The more necessary these things are, the more cheerful ought you to be. For what father will endure not to supply his children's necessities?"

Matthew 6:33 . Which first, spiritual or temporal good?

I. Suppose we seek the temporal first. (1) We shall be constantly less inclined to seek the spiritual. (2) We shall be constantly less prepared to find it. (8) Soon all temporal good must be abandoned, and for us there will be no spiritual good forever.

II. Suppose we seek the spiritual first. (1) We shall not seek it in vain. (Compare Matthew 7:7 ) (2) We shall obtain temporal good also, not without seeking, but without anxious seeking.

Matthew 6:34 . To-morrow. (1) We must not forget tomorrow, thinking only of to-day. The importance of to-day for civilized man is felt to lie largely in yesterday and to-morrow. (2) We must not presume on to-morrow, for we know not what morrow a day may bring forth. (Proverbs 27:1 ) (3) We must not be anxious about to-morrow, but let each day bear its own sufficient burden. (4) We shall best provide for to-morrow, by faithfully performing the duties of to-day. (5) Trusting God for to-day, why can we not trust him for tomorrow?

Matthew 6:33 . Euthym.: "For we have not come into existence that we may eat and drink and wear, but that we may please God, and enjoy everlasting blessings." Theophyl.: "It is enough for thee that thou art afflicted for to-day; but if thou shalt be anxious for to-morrow, when wilt thou have leisure for God?" Talmud (Wünsche): "Be not anxious for to-morrow, for thou knowest not what to-day brings forth; perhaps to-morrow will not find thee, and so thou hast troubled thyself about a world which does not pertain to thee." Antoninus: "Cast the future upon Providence and direct your present care solely towards piety and justice." Henry: "The conclusion of this whole matter then is, that it is the will and command of the Lord Jesus, that his disciples should not be their own tormentors, nor make their passage through this world more dark and unpleasant by their apprehensions of troubles, than God has made it by the troubles themselves."Chrys.: "Let us not suppose his injunctions are impossible; for there are many who duly perform them." Oh, sweet, sustaining trust in God, that can enable us to bear present ills without repining, and to look at the unknown future without fear; that can reconcile contentment with aspiration, and blend activity with repose; that can discern everywhere in nature and providence the proofs that all things are indeed working together for our good! Lord, increase our faith.

Bibliographical Information
Broadus, John. "Commentary on Matthew 6". "Broadus' Commentary on Matthew". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jbm/matthew-6.html. 1886.
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