Teaching about Almsgiving.
#The sermon continues with a warning against doing good in order to be seen and gives three examples, almsgiving (Mt 6:2–4), prayer (Mt 6:5–15), and fasting (Mt 6:16–18). In each, the conduct of the hypocrites (Mt 6:2) is contrasted with that demanded of the disciples. The sayings about reward found here and elsewhere (Mt 5:12, 46; 10:41–42) show that this is a genuine element of Christian moral exhortation. Possibly to underline the difference between the Christian idea of reward and that of the hypocrites, the evangelist uses two different Greek verbs to express the rewarding of the disciples and that of the hypocrites; in the latter case it is the verb apechō, a commercial term for giving a receipt for what has been paid in full (Mt 6:2, 5, 16). 1“[But] take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them;#a. [6:1] 23:5. otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. 2When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites#The hypocrites: the scribes and Pharisees, see Mt 23:13, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29. The designation reflects an attitude resulting not only from the controversies at the time of Jesus’ ministry but from the opposition between Pharisaic Judaism and the church of Matthew. They have received their reward: they desire praise and have received what they were looking for. do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.#b. [6:2] Jn 12:43. 3But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, 4so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
Teaching about Prayer.
5“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. 7#Matthew inserts into his basic traditional material an expansion of the material on prayer that includes the model prayer, the “Our Father.” That prayer is found in Lk 11:2–4 in a different context and in a different form. In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.#The example of what Christian prayer should be like contrasts it now not with the prayer of the hypocrites but with that of the pagans. Their babbling probably means their reciting a long list of divine names, hoping that one of them will force a response from the deity. 8Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
The Lord’s Prayer.
9#Matthew’s form of the “Our Father” follows the liturgical tradition of his church. Luke’s less developed form also represents the liturgical tradition known to him, but it is probably closer than Matthew’s to the original words of Jesus. “This is how you are to pray:#c. [6:9–13] Lk 11:2–4.
Our Father in heaven,#Our Father in heaven: this invocation is found in many rabbinic prayers of the post-New Testament period. Hallowed be your name: though the “hallowing” of the divine name could be understood as reverence done to God by human praise and by obedience to his will, this is more probably a petition that God hallow his own name, i.e., that he manifest his glory by an act of power (cf. Ez 36:23), in this case, by the establishment of his kingdom in its fullness.
hallowed be your name,
10your kingdom come,#Your kingdom come: this petition sets the tone of the prayer, and inclines the balance toward divine rather than human action in the petitions that immediately precede and follow it. Your will be done, on earth as in heaven: a petition that the divine purpose to establish the kingdom, a purpose present now in heaven, be executed on earth.
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.#d. [6:10] 26:42.
11#Give us today our daily bread: the rare Greek word epiousios, here daily, occurs in the New Testament only here and in Lk 11:3. A single occurrence of the word outside of these texts and of literature dependent on them has been claimed, but the claim is highly doubtful. The word may mean daily or “future” (other meanings have also been proposed). The latter would conform better to the eschatological tone of the whole prayer. So understood, the petition would be for a speedy coming of the kingdom (today), which is often portrayed in both the Old Testament and the New under the image of a feast (Is 25:6; Mt 8:11; 22:1–10; Lk 13:29; 14:15–24). #e. [6:11] Prv 30:8–9. Give us today our daily bread;
12and forgive us our debts,#Forgive us our debts: the word debts is used metaphorically of sins, “debts” owed to God (see Lk 11:4). The request is probably for forgiveness at the final judgment.
as we forgive our debtors;#f. [6:12] 18:21–22; Sir 28:2.
13and do not subject us to the final test,#Jewish apocalyptic writings speak of a period of severe trial before the end of the age, sometimes called the “messianic woes.” This petition asks that the disciples be spared that final test.
but deliver us from the evil one.#g. [6:13] Jn 17:15; 2 Thes 3:3.
14#These verses reflect a set pattern called “Principles of Holy Law.” Human action now will be met by a corresponding action of God at the final judgment. If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you.#h. [6:14] 18:35; Sir 28:1–5; Mk 11:25. 15But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.#i. [6:15] Jas 2:13.
Teaching about Fasting.
16“When you fast,#The only fast prescribed in the Mosaic law was that of the Day of Atonement (Lv 16:31), but the practice of regular fasting was common in later Judaism; cf. Didache 9:1. do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18so that you may not appear to others to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.
Treasure in Heaven.
19#The remaining material of this chapter is taken almost entirely from Q. It deals principally with worldly possessions, and the controlling thought is summed up in Mt 6:24, the disciple can serve only one master and must choose between God and wealth (mammon). See further the note on Lk 16:9. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.#j. [6:19] Jas 5:2–3. 20But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.#k. [6:20–21] Lk 12:33–34.
The Light of the Body.
#In this context the parable probably points to the need for the disciple to be enlightened by Jesus’ teaching on the transitory nature of earthly riches. 22“The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; 23but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.#l. [6:22–23] Lk 11:34–36.
God and Money.
24#Mammon: an Aramaic word meaning wealth or property. “No one can serve two masters.#m. [6:24] Lk 16:13. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
Dependence on God.
#Jesus does not deny the reality of human needs (Mt 6:32), but forbids making them the object of anxious care and, in effect, becoming their slave. 25#n. [6:25–33] Lk 12:22–31. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?#o. [6:26] Ps 145:15–16; 147:9. 27Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?#Life-span: the Greek word can also mean “stature.” If it is taken in that sense, the word here translated moment (literally, “cubit”) must be translated literally as a unit not of time but of spatial measure. The cubit is about eighteen inches. 28Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. 29But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. 30#Of little faith: except for the parallel in Lk 12:28, the word translated of little faith is found in the New Testament only in Matthew. It is used by him of those who are disciples of Jesus but whose faith in him is not as deep as it should be (see Mt 8:26; 14:31; 16:8 and the cognate noun in Mt 17:20). If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ 32All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness,#Righteousness: see note on Mt 3:14–15. and all these things will be given you besides. 34Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.