Pure-hearted Giving
1 “Be#tc ‡ Several mss (א L Z Θ Ë1 33 892 1241 1424 al) have δέ (de, “but, now”) at the beginning of this verse; the reading without δέ is supported by B D W 0250 Ë13 Ï lat. A decision is difficult, but apparently the conjunction was added by later scribes to indicate a transition in the thought-flow of the Sermon on the Mount. NA27 has δέ in brackets, indicating reservations about its authenticity. careful not to display your righteousness merely to be seen by people.#tn Grk “before people in order to be seen by them.” Otherwise you have no reward with your Father in heaven. 2 Thus whenever you do charitable giving,#tn Grk “give alms,” but this term is not in common use today. The giving of alms was highly regarded in the ancient world (Deut 15:7-11). do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in synagogues#sn See the note on synagogues in 4:23. and on streets so that people will praise them. I tell you the truth,#tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amhn), I say to you.” they have their reward. 3 But when you do your giving, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your gift may be in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.#tc L W Θ 0250 Ï it read ἐν τῷ φανερῷ (en tw fanerw, “openly”) at the end of this verse, giving a counterweight to what is done in secret. But this reading is suspect because of the obvious literary balance, because of detouring the point of the passage (the focus of vv. 1-4 is not on two kinds of public rewards but on human vs. divine approbation), and because of superior external testimony that lacks this reading (א B D Z Ë1,13 33 al).
Private Prayer
5 “Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray while standing in synagogues#sn See the note on synagogues in 4:23. and on street corners so that people can see them. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But whenever you pray, go into your room,#sn The term translated room refers to the inner room of a house, normally without any windows opening outside, the most private location possible (BDAG 988 s.v. ταμεῖον 2). close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.#tc See the tc note on “will reward you” in 6:4: The problem is the same and the ms support differs only slightly. 7 When#tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated. you pray, do not babble repetitiously like the Gentiles, because they think that by their many words they will be heard. 8 Do#tn Grk “So do not.” Here οὖν (oun) has not been translated. not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 So pray this way:#sn Pray this way. What follows, although traditionally known as the Lord’s prayer, is really the disciples’ prayer. It represents how they are to approach God, by acknowledging his uniqueness and their need for his provision and protection.
Our Father#sn God is addressed in terms of intimacy (Father). The original Semitic term here was probably Abba. The term is a little unusual in a personal prayer, especially as it lacks qualification. It is not the exact equivalent of “daddy” (as is sometimes popularly suggested), but it does suggest a close, familial relationship. in heaven, may your name be honored,#tn Grk “hallowed be your name.”
10 may your kingdom come,#sn Your kingdom come represents the hope for the full manifestation of God’s promised rule.
may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread,#tn Or “Give us bread today for the coming day,” or “Give us today the bread we need for today.” The term ἐπιούσιος (epiousio") does not occur outside of early Christian literature (other occurrences are in Luke 11:3 and Didache 8:2), so its meaning is difficult to determine. Various suggestions include “daily,” “the coming day,” and “for existence.” See BDAG 376-77 s.v.; L&N 67:183, 206.
12 and forgive us our debts, as we ourselves#tn Or “as even we.” The phrase ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς (Jw" kai Jhmei") makes ἡμεῖς emphatic. The translation above adds an appropriate emphasis to the passage. have forgiven our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,#tn Or “into a time of testing.”sn The request do not lead us into temptation is not to suggest God causes temptation, but is a rhetorical way to ask for his protection from sin. but deliver us from the evil one.#tc Most mss (L W Θ 0233 Ë13 33 Ï sy sa Didache) read (though some with slight variation) ὅτι σοῦ ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία καὶ ἡ δύναμις καὶ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, ἀμήν (“for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, amen”) here. The reading without this sentence, though, is attested by generally better witnesses (א B D Z 0170 Ë1 pc lat mae Or). The phrase was probably composed for the liturgy of the early church and most likely was based on 1 Chr 29:11-13; a scribe probably added the phrase at this point in the text for use in public scripture reading (see TCGNT 13-14). Both external and internal evidence argue for the shorter reading.tn The term πονηροῦ (ponhrou) may be understood as specific and personified, referring to the devil, or possibly as a general reference to evil. It is most likely personified since it is articular (τοῦ πονηροῦ, tou ponhrou). Cf. also “the evildoer” in 5:39, which is the same construction.
14 “For if you forgive others#tn Here ἄνθρωπος (anqrwpo") is used in a generic sense: “people, others.” their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins.
Proper Fasting
16 “When#tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated. you fast, do not look sullen like the hypocrites, for they make their faces unattractive#tn Here the term “disfigure” used in a number of translations was not used because it could convey to the modern reader the notion of mutilation. L&N 79.17 states, “‘to make unsightly, to disfigure, to make ugly.’ ἀφανίζουσιν γὰρ τὰ πρόσωπα αὐτῶν ‘for they make their faces unsightly’ Mt 6:16.” so that people will see them fasting. I tell you the truth,#tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amhn), I say to you.” they have their reward. 17 When#tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated. you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others when you are fasting, but only to your Father who is in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.
Lasting Treasure
19 “Do not accumulate for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth#tn The term σής (shs) refers to moths in general. It is specifically the larvae of moths that destroy clothing by eating holes in it (L&N 4.49; BDAG 922 s.v.). See Jas 5:2, which mentions “moth-eaten” clothing. and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But accumulate for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your#tn The pronouns in this verse are singular while the pronouns in vv. 19-20 are plural. The change to singular emphasizes personal responsibility as opposed to corporate responsibility; even if others do not listen, the one who hears Jesus’ commands should obey. treasure#sn Seeking heavenly treasure means serving others and honoring God by doing so. is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If then your eye is healthy,#tn Or “sound” (so L&N 23.132 and most scholars). A few scholars take this word to mean something like “generous” here (L&N 57.107). partly due to the immediate context concerning money, in which case the “eye” is a metonymy for the entire person (“if you are generous”). your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is diseased,#tn Or “if your eye is sick” (L&N 23.149). sn There may be a slight wordplay here, as this term can also mean “evil,” so the figure uses a term that points to the real meaning of being careful as to what one pays attention to or looks at. 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 either he will hate#sn The contrast between hate and love here is rhetorical. The point is that one will choose the favorite if a choice has to be made. the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise#tn Or “and treat [the other] with contempt.” the other. You cannot serve God and money.#tn Grk “God and mammon.”sn The term money is used to translate mammon, the Aramaic term for wealth or possessions. The point is not that money is inherently evil, but that it is often misused so that it is a means of evil; see 1 Tim 6:6-10, 17-19. God must be first, not money or possessions.
Do Not Worry
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry#tn Or “do not be anxious,” and so throughout the rest of this paragraph. about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t there more to life than food and more to the body than clothing? 26 Look at the birds in the sky:#tn Grk “the birds of the sky” or “the birds of the heaven”; the Greek word οὐρανός (ouranos) may be translated either “sky” or “heaven,” depending on the context. The idiomatic expression “birds of the sky” refers to wild birds as opposed to domesticated fowl (cf. BDAG 809 s.v. πετεινόν). They do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds#tn Or “God gives them food to eat.” L&N 23.6 has both “to provide food for” and “to give food to someone to eat.” them. Aren’t you more valuable#tn Grk “of more value.” than they are? 27 And which of you by worrying can add even one hour to his life?#tn Or “a cubit to his height.” A cubit (πῆχυς, phcu") can measure length (normally about 45 cm or 18 inches) or time (a small unit, “hour” is usually used [BDAG 812 s.v.] although “day” has been suggested [L&N 67.151]). The term ἡλικία (Jhlikia) is ambiguous in the same way as πῆχυς (phcus). Most scholars take the term to describe age or length of life here, although a few refer it to bodily stature (see BDAG 436 s.v. 3 for discussion). Worry about length of life seems a more natural figure than worry about height. However, the point either way is clear: Worrying adds nothing to life span or height. 28 Why do you worry about clothing? Think about how the flowers#tn Traditionally, “lilies.” According to L&N 3.32, “Though traditionally κρίνον has been regarded as a type of lily, scholars have suggested several other possible types of flowers, including an anemone, a poppy, a gladiolus, and a rather inconspicuous type of daisy.” In view of the uncertainty, the more generic “flowers” has been used in the translation. of the field grow; they do not work#tn Or, traditionally, “toil.” Although it might be argued that “work hard” would be a more precise translation of κοπιάω (kopiaw) here, the line in English reads better in terms of cadence with a single syllable. or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these! 30 And if this is how God clothes the wild grass,#tn Grk “grass of the field.” which is here today and tomorrow is tossed into the fire to heat the oven,#tn Grk “into the oven.” The expanded translation “into the fire to heat the oven” has been used to avoid misunderstanding; most items put into modern ovens are put there to be baked, not burned.sn The oven was most likely a rounded clay oven used for baking bread, which was heated by burning wood and dried grass. won’t he clothe you even more,#sn The phrase even more is a typical form of rabbinic argumentation, from the lesser to the greater. If God cares for the little things, surely he will care for the more important things. you people of little faith? 31 So then, don’t worry saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the unconverted#tn Or “unbelievers”; Grk “Gentiles.” pursue these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But above all pursue his kingdom#tc ‡ Most mss (L W Θ 0233 Ë1,13 33 Ï lat sy mae) read τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τὴν δικαιοσύνην αὐτοῦ (thn basileian tou qeou kai thn dikaiosunhn aujtou, “the kingdom of God and his righteousness”) here, but the words “of God” are lacking in א B pc sa bo Eus. On the one hand, there is the possibility of accidental omission on the part of these Alexandrian witnesses, but it seems unlikely that the scribe’s eye would skip over both words (especially since τοῦ θεοῦ is bracketed by first declension nouns). Intrinsically, the author generally has a genitive modifier with βασιλεία – especially θεοῦ or οὐρανῶν (ouranwn) – but this argument cuts both ways: Although he might be expected to use such an adjunct here, scribes might also be familiar with his practice and would thus naturally insert it if it were missing in their copy of Matthew. Although a decision is difficult, the omission of τοῦ θεοῦ is considered most likely to be original. NA27 includes the words in brackets, indicating doubt as to their authenticity.sn God’s kingdom is a major theme of Jesus. It is a realm in which Jesus rules and to which those who trust him belong. and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.#tn Grk “Sufficient for the day is its evil.”
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