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The Gospel According to Matthew: Chapter 6

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1“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2“So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 3But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. c Gk throughout the whole age

5“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. c Gk throughout the whole age

7“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.9

“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. a Other ancient authorities read the witness 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And do not bring us to the time of trial, b Other ancient authorities read my race but rescue us from the evil one. c Gk and so gave up; other ancient authorities readgave up his spirit or his soul

14For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

16“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. d Gk they

19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust e Or souls consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust e Or souls consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; 23but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

24“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. f Other ancient authorities read suffer

25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, g Or O minds or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? h Gk it 28And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But strive first for the kingdom of God a Gk according to God and his b Or For to the degree that mothers are weaker and the more children they bear, the more they are devoted to their children. righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

34“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today.

Notes:

b Gk throughout the whole age

a Other ancient authorities read the witness

b Other ancient authorities read my race

c Gk and so gave up; other ancient authorities readgave up his spirit or his soul

d Gk they

e Or souls

f Other ancient authorities read suffer

a Or O minds

a Gk it

b Gk according to God

c Or For to the degree that mothers are weaker and the more children they bear, the more they are devoted to their children.

Text Commentary view alone

6.1–8 : On justice and prayer.

1 :

Piety is the term elsewhere translated “justice” or “righteousness.”

2 :

Alms, charitable gifts, were a prime religious obligation for Jews (Tob 4.7 ). Hypocrites, originally referred to actors (Aristotle, Poetics 1456a). It was used by moralists for those whose deeds did not match their words (Sir 1.29 ).

3–4 :

Acts of justice, like prayer (vv. 5–6 ), are between the doer and God, not for public approval, in contrast to Roman philanthropy, which included the public display of good works.

6.9–15 : The Lord's Prayer.

Cf. Lk 11.2–4 . Matthew's version is the better known.

9 :

Father, Isa 63.16; 64.8 .

10 :

The prayer for the coming of God's kingdom is for God's rule, not that of foreign or false leaders. On earth as it is in heaven applies to the first three petitions; it expresses the community's desire to reflect God's priorities in its actions and relations.

11 :

Daily bread, basic needs; if the meaning is bread for tomorrow (see note a), it may refer to the eschatological banquet.

12 :

Debts, a metaphor for “sins” (see 18.23–35 ).

13 :

The community is in a time of trial and opposition.

14–15 :

Reciprocity is vital in the economy of God's kingdom.

6.16–18 : Fasting.

Jesus returns to the third example of pious deeds. Fasting, often associated with festivals and holy days of the Second Temple period, was adopted as a mark of individual piety (Mk 2.18–20; Lk 18.12 ).

6.19–34 : Religion and possessions

(Lk 12.33–34; 11.34–36; 16.13; 12.22–31 ). These verses form a unity devoted to the subject of possessions.

21 :

Heart, the center of will.

22–24 :

Undue focus on possessions can distort judgment.

25–32 :

A warning against allowing concern for basic needs to supersede God's rule.

29 :

Solomon, see 1 Kings 10 .

33–34 :

The Matthean summary of how to balance human needs and priorities with service to God illustrates the disciple's trust in God ( 6.11 ).

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