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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 6

Gray's Concise Bible CommentaryGray's Concise Commentary

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Verses 1-34


The King has announced His kingdom at hand, and now declares the laws or code of that Kingdom. These which we began to speak of in the last lesson, have a two-fold application, ultimately to the Kingdom when it shall be set up, and approximately and in an accommodated sense to the Christian at present. Except at the first of these is kept in mind, confusion and uncertainty must attend the interpretation.

We have two figurative descriptions of disciples, “Salt” and “Light” (Matthew 5:13-16 ). Salt is a preservative, and true Christian disciples counteract worldly corruption. They are the light of the world whose conduct is to reflect the Savior. These two descriptions are a text for what follows, which shows how the disciple is to preserve the world and shine in it.

We have a statement of Christ’s relation to the law, (Matthew 5:17-20 ). His mission was not to set aside the Old Testament, but to fill it out, in that He obeyed the law perfectly, and fulfilled in Himself all the prophets had spoken of the Coming One. He also completely revealed the meaning of the Old Testament, which involves the warning of Matthew 5:19 , made necessary by what He says in Matthew 5:20 .

We have a comparison between righteousness outward and inward (Matthew 5:21-48 ). The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was outward and ceremonial, that of the Kingdom of God on earth must go deeper. The spirit of murder is anger (Matthew 5:21-22 , compared with 1 John 3:15 ). Raca (a word of contempt) uttered against a brother will involve a condemnation by the Sanhedrim, and “thou fool” shall subject the guilty one to “hell fire” when the Kingdom is on earth. In the meantime these penalties show us God’s estimate of sin now and always, and intensify our thanksgiving for the salvation we have in Christ.

As anger is the spirit of murder, so a lustful look is adultery (Matthew 5:27-30 ). It were better to be blind than be guilty of it. The Greek word for hell is Gehenna, the place in the valley of Hinnom where human sacrifices were formerly offered and which is used in Scripture as identical with “the lake of fire.” Divorce is linked with adultery, and becomes adultery under the circumstances indicated (Matthew 5:31-32 ). The command against swearing (Matthew 5:33-37 ) does not forbid legal oaths, but profanity, which includes expletives common in everyday speech. Retaliation (Matthew 5:38-42 ) is personal, not judicial nor governmental. If the cause were that of another we have no right to do some of the things here commanded, or permit others to do them, but they are clearly within one’s own rights. This is how men will act in the Kingdom, and how they ought to act now. And the absence of such a spirit shows how far we are from God, and what it is to be lost. What would become of us, without a Savior! This leads to the law of love (Matthew 5:43-47 ) which is as far from human hearts in their natural state as the foregoing. Our example is God (Matthew 5:48 ), but who has attained to it? And if not, how can we see His face, except as He has in grace made provision for us in His Son?

Following these laws on our relation to others, we have those touching the religious life, i.e., our relations to God almsgiving (Matthew 6:1-4 ), worship (Matthew 6:5-15 ), fasting (Matthew 6:16-18 ), all of which must be done as in the presence of the Father. The “Lord’s Prayer” will be dealt with in Luke.

Next are laws relating more particularly to one’s self trust (Matthew 6:19-34 ), self-judgment (Matthew 7:1-6 ), prayer (Matthew 7:7-12 ), false teachers (Matthew 7:13-20 ), future reward (Matthew 7:21-23 ). Under the head of “trust,” note (Matthew 7:22-24 ), that the eye cannot look to earth and to heaven at the same time; and (Matt. 7:34), that lack of trust is always pessimistic of the future. Under self-judgment, we are not denied privilege, or liberated from the duty, of passing upon the conduct of others and the evil that is in the world, which would be contradictory of Matthew 18:15-18 ; 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 and other places; but to defer judgment as to motives, the sources from which such conduct or evil springs. (Romans 14:0 .) To abuse this spirit of restraint, however, and permit evil to remain unjudged, would be to “cast that which is holy unto the dogs.”

Reasons for the Golden Rule (7:12) have been suggested thus: (1) We are to be careful about judging others; (2) we should seek divine wisdom in doing so; and (3) which obtained, would lead us to act in love towards all.

How many foolishly say they live by the Golden Rule! The Bible and experience prove that no one has ever done so except Him who uttered it. And yet it is that by which the man out of Christ elects to be judged! What madness! Some tell us that Christ borrowed this word from the sacred books of the east, but this is folly, for what is found there is merely a negative teaching, while this is positive. What you would not have others do to you, do not to them, is different from doing to others what you would have them do to you.

Under “false teachers,” note that “fruits” (Matthew 7:20 ) does not necessarily mean open immorality, but the counterfeit of the truth of God. False prophets and teachers are sometimes very attractive in their lives, but their words, rightly understood, are inconsonant with Holy Writ.

The conclusion of this discourse shows our Lord’s mind to be resting on the end of the age, and the incoming of the Kingdom. That is how our study of the Old Testament taught us to interpret the phrase, “in that day” (Matthew 7:22 ).


1. What is meant by the code of the Kingdom?

2. What two figures of speech describe the relation of disciples to the world?

3. In what sense did Christ fulfill the law and the prophets.t 4. What does Gehenna refer to, and how is it used in Scripture?

5. What kind of retaliation does our Lord refer to?

6. What is meant by “Judge not”?

7. Does any one really live by the Golden Rule?

8. What is meant by the “fruits” of false prophets?

Bibliographical Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on Matthew 6". Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jgc/matthew-6.html. 1897-1910.
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