The following are my study notes and teaching points on the book of Matthew / Chapter 6
See that chapter below in blue with ***** by my study comments on each verse
1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
****** Here Jesus is instructing us on the practice if our giving. In his day alms (elleemosune in Greek was the mercy/charity and giving to the needy) God always had a heart for the needy as when he had Israelites leave corners of harvest fields open for the needy. (see Lev 19) This is not to be confused with the OT practice of tithing that helped support the Levitical priest and temple. That was food given to the temple (and needy also) but it is NOT in place for us today. We are told by Paul to give as we see fit in 2 Cor 9. Keep in mind this is the truly needy here and not the lazy scammers we see in most modern societies today. Keep that in mind when giving as God wants you to use your money he gave you with wisdom; NOT to pay for men's drugs or alcohol habits they will not quit. Notice he makes it very clear we are NOT to give in a way that we are showing it to others lest we lose our reward for it. This is a matter of the heart (a thread in all of God's word) as if we give to just give, then we do not need to broadcast it like man made religion does in great pride and arrogance.
2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
******** We know this idea if giving in secret is important as Christ again mentions it. He is teaching us that if we give to be seen of men, we have no true heart for giving and God will not reward us. It would be giving out of pride and show; that we know God hates (see Proverbs 6) as we are to have right motives in all we do. There is no evidence anyone actually blew a trumpet when giving but; it is the act of making your giving known and in public that Jesus is referring to. Due to the hypocrite comment, we can say he was pointing to the Pharisees as he called them that openly. (see Matt 23) Again; we can look to man made religion today and how they make a record/show and report of their giving and it is in direct violation of Christ's clear command!
3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
******** Here Jesus makes a statement to prove a point, not to be literal. Obviously, your hands know what they are each doing but; He is saying do it so no one sees what you do. This is what is called a hyperbole; that is a statement that is exaggerated to prove a point. Knowing when Jesus is using this method and when he is not is important to getting at God's truth. Example: Jesus saying "pluck out your eye" is a type of hyperbole used. Learn to see this action used by Christ and it will help your understanding of scripture and how he taught us in the Word.
4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
****** We see the pattern of doing works in secret (giving/prayer) has deep purpose for us per Christ. We know that it removes the motivation of why we do what we do. If we do it when ONLY God sees, it assures us our motives are at least not for others to see. A pure heart is a key to serving God as these chapters of the sermon on the mount are teaching us. (see Mattt 5:8) We need to live and act in ways that honor God and not cater to man or our flesh, as most do today. Again look at how man made denominational religion has left these simple basics to the point of having televised national prayer days and huge give-athons! It is shameful and proves how fleshly/money motivated they all are vs being biblical and God honoring.
5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
******** Jesus now turns to another key aspect of the faith life, prayer. He is calling out the Pharisees again as they had a reputation for wanting to be seen by men. (like modern pastors today) He gives us the same perimeters for praying as he did for giving. It is to be done in secret. Fact: Jesus never prayed with anyone we see in scripture. (it's true look it up) We know the other NT saints prayed in the body (not sure exactly how) but it was ONLY with known true saints. In the book of John 9, we even see God does NOT even hear the prayers of sinners. Today modern prayer is far too public, open and offered to just any one and that is sinful and foolish. Jesus is teaching us that prayer is VERY private and we need to hold it as such.
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
******** Christ makes it clear we are to go get alone with the Father and pray. He does not even say pray in your gatherings, He says get alone! This proves it is NOT a show or even a big group practice at all per Him. It can be done with others of the true NT faith but; alone is what Jesus is clearly teaching here and he modeled that as well. We see again what the Father sees in secret is rewarded as this has a clarifying the intentions of the heart action. We see the religious people today who love to make BIG events/deals/ritual shows out of their faith acts. But; do they walk down the street and reach out to the homeless when no one sees them? God knows and sees all doesn't He?
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
********* Now Jesus moves on to HOW to pray. He warns against the practice of vain (means useless) "memorized repetition prayer" that really is dead and meaningless. Imagine reading your wife the same love letter daily over and over, it would NOT seem from the heart would it? We are to be led by the spirit in life (see Romans 8) and that would include prayer as well. Always make sure your prayers are meaningful and from the heart not a practiced repetition. Imagine a husband has a memorized saying he says to his wife each morning but no heart or feeling. Is it of any value to her really? Isn't she seeking a real heartfelt emotion from him daily not vain words? The heathens (gentiles) believed they could reach God with these many words (like man made religion today) but Jesus is pointing us to be from the heart and then God will hear. This teaches us it is NOT "how much" you say but the quality of what you say from the heart unto to God. Prayer is really for us, our connection to God most of all as He already knows it all, as Jesus covers in the next verse.
8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
******* When we pray, we cry out to God and petition Him in Christs name for needs and areas of importance to us or others. We do NOT need to take this time to "fill God in" as if he does not know already. Jesus is assuring us that He knows what we need already and how very comforting is that to consider dear saints?
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
******* Christ goes on to give us a FORM of a prayer. Sadly many man made faiths (like Lutheran and Roman Catholic) have turned this into the very thing Jesus said to NOT do. They do it as a dead repetitious prayer that is not from the heart or spirit but memorized in the head. It is more proof that these places not only ignore God's truth for their traditions but they twist it to their own demise. It is not so among Gods people.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
******** Jesus reminds us to yearn for the Kingdom of God that will one day come to earth at His return but for now it is within us. (Luke 17:21) It is not yet here, it is in heaven but it is coming. Note: it would do us well to keep in mind that a kingdom has a King, subjects, a place to rule and laws. This also reminds us the other kingdom on earth is satan's, as he is the god of this world per Paul. (2 cor 4:4) In Romans 12;2 we are told by being transformed and not conformed to this world, we will live out the perfect will of God. Sadly most today who claim faith in Christ have mingled the kingdom of God with the kingdom of the world (satan) and this is NOT pleasing to God but it is sinful.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
*******So much could be said here about the "bread of life" who is Jesus the Christ. (John 6:25-59) God gives us our daily needs (bread/food/raiment) and it is both spiritual and physical. Jesus reminds us to live in the day and not worry about tomorrow (Matt 6:24) and this will help our peace and our relying on the Father for all things. Remember how the Israelite's relied on God in the desert for water, manna (bread) and deliverance so we should rely on Him daily, if we are claiming to be of Christ.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
******** This sample prayer moves on to cover forgiving of our debts. Jesus will soon remind us in this chapter that if we do not forgive, we will not be forgiven. (Matt 6:15) So much for once saved always saved. This verse also seems to echo to me the parable of the wicked man who got forgiven but; then he did NOT forgive. (Matt 18:21-35) Let that not be so of God's true saints. The word forgiven in Greek is aphiemi and it is a verb/action meaning to let go, to lay side! We lay aside any bitterness or un-forgiveness and we are set free.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
******* As Jesus closes His prayer, we see this term "lead us not" phrase. We must see that this verse shows we are to be FOLLOWING the Lord, not just believing. To be lead, naturally means we are following/obeying Him. It is a active faith not a static one. Then he says "not into temptation". We know the Father is good and just not leading His children into a situation to cause sin. If we keep the Lord's Word and ways, we can be assured we will not be lead into temptation. That word temptation (peirosmos in Greek) can also mean putting to proof and a trial. (like Job was put to a test) Christ continues with deliver us from evil, a contrast from going into temptation. Evil here meaning sin, wickedness, lewd or malicious. We must rely on God, His spirit, the Messiah / His Word to deliver us from evil. Note: this does not mean we will not go thru evil as most saints did often to their deaths. The promise is to delivery us from it. Like going through a nasty rain/wind storm; we can be in it, touched by it, affected by it but then; we are delivered from it amen? He is our deliverer! Jesus finishes the prayer with a reminder of the kingdom of God. This is a greatly over looked concept today mainly due to false man made denominational religion of easy believe salvation. That word is used 154 times in the NT word alone. We are to be a people of His kingdom (to come) and to not be of the enemies kingdom, this fallen culture. Then He says power and glory which is the substance/realm of God's kingdom. We are partakers of this, if we are born of Him and walking in His ways. We are also reminded it is a forever kingdom like our souls. But as mortals, all we know here is the earth and the flesh which are so temporal. But this promised kingdom of God is spiritual and forever, making it a most valuable and worthy to be striving for, in Christ.
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
******* Christ then reminds us of the reason He himself came. To seek and save the lost (to redeem/forgive via His death burial and resurrection) Luke 10:19 / In order for us to partake of His forgiving/cleansing blood, we must be LIKE Him and forgive other ourselves as fruit we are of Him. To harbor unforgiveness against others, means we feel we are better then them before God. This exposes a heart issue and salvation/redemption is all a heart issue is it not? Jesus says out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45) To not forgive means your heart is NOT changed or right before a Holy God. The Lord is always about conditional salvation never ever unconditional salvation as many teachers say today! Part of the condition here per Jesus is to forgive, as you are forgiven, to be forgiven. Trespass here (parapatoma) is a sin or fault. Note: forgiving others (even those who do not deserve it) serves 3 main purposes for us: it glorifies God, it blesses our enemies and it sets you free. Again since Jesus came to set us fully free (John 8:32) forgiveness must rule in His holy people, lest bondage over take us.
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
********** This is a great warning to us about un-forgiveness and it is a heart issue, about new life we get in Christ. This warning undoes all the false gospel teaching that sayd Jesus did it all and you do not have to do anything. That is a lie. Jesus did His part ( it is finsihed) and we have a part to do as part of our covenant walk with God. To not do it (forgive) is sin and NO willful sinner will enter into His kingdom. ( see Heb 10;26) This verse is a great reminder of faith and works as part of our salvation path. (see James 2:14-26) If your heart is transformed by God's spirit and it is pure before Him, it WILL forgive others. If it is bitter/hardened, it will lead to the deceitfulness of sin (see Heb 3;13) that will destroy you. If you struggle with unforgiveness, just ask the Father for the strength/grace to over come that sin. He will surely give it to you as a good and loving Father.
16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
******** Fasting is brought to attention here which is the denying of the flesh (food mostly) to focus on service or attention to God/spiritual matters. The bible teaches fasting as biblical but not a lot of details are commanded on it. We have liberty how we carry it out as long as we do within God's ordained ways. It is to be all about God and to God. But notice how men, were doing it to appear something they were not (holy) before other men but not unto God. Jesus (in His usual cutting form) goes after the hypocrisy showing how much God hates this sin. (see Matt 23) Hypocrisy is saying and telling others one thing (really not being true to it) then doing something opposite yourself, often hidden. The word countenance denotes; sad and gloomy. Lets picture this scene; religious men get to do something good and pure unto God (fasting) but they fake looking sad and gloomy to get attention/pity of men. This shows a wicked wrong heart and the Lord is really all about our hearts before Him is He not? This is common among Sunday religious folks who do lots of praying/fasting and giving in front of men to be seen. We should do our service to Him (like fasting) with a joy of heart and not looking to get mans notice at all. Christ says "they have their reward" meaning on judgement day, fake works like this fleshly fasting, will be burned up as false and not worthy of reward.
17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;
******** Jesus is teaching us that when we do this service onto God like fasting, we should not show suffering to others around us. This makes our motive pure of heart and right in the Fathers eyes.
18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
******** Here is a key to the biblical life as what we do, we do unto to God, NOT men! Like prayer or giving that is to be done in secret (see Matt 6:4-6) the Father sees our fasting in secret and a reward will be upon us from above. When you fast, no one needs to know but you and perhaps a spouse who lives with you. Lets make sure that our acts to God are not done for favor of man. Preaching the Word is to be done in public but prayer, giving and fasting are to be private matters if God is to be honored fully in it.
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
******** Christ is telling us that we are not to live for the treasures and riches of this temporal life. They are vain, fading and can be lost or stolen by wicked men. Sadly most people (even claimed believers) spend much more of their time on the things of the world, NOT on the eternal things of God. This does not mean we cannot have any money but that money and things should not be our focus, distraction or a main goal. The command is to lay up treasure in heaven and that is done by obeying God, keeping His ordained ways, working for His kingdom to come and then we will reap a reward in eternity.
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
******** This is a very basic concept but it has so much depth to it. Men who invest all they have in the stock market watch it 24-7. People that invest their whole lives in a business venture often are obsessed with it gaining results. Men who are bankers, actors or athletes put all that they are into that pursuit and it becomes "who they are". Their heart (the focus of their life) is over taken by what they put their main effort into daily. As Col 3;2 says we are to set our minds on things above, God and heaven not earthly things that will fade. Jesus is coming to destroy all that is on earth ( 2 Thess 1:8-10) do not live for those things as you suffer great loss.
22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
********* This saying of Jesus is wrestled over by many and hard to understand. He just commanded we NOT store up earthly treasure and we know to do that, we need to make enlightened decisions amen? Those decisions on how we live this life, spend our time and resources for God or for ourselves/flesh. The eye is mentioned here and if we probe its purpose we will get the truth. Often scripture speaks of light vs dark. (See Proverbs 4:18-19) We know it gathers light for us to see and help us make daily decisions. The word that causes difficulty is "single". It is haplous in the Greek and it means to be good, whole and fulfilling its office. Jesus is really saying if the eye is good and sound, it will aid our body / life to see and function properly. The eye has a physical purpose but; as we life for Christ, walking in this world, is can have a spiritual affect as well. What we see, how we discern it does affect our spiritual life amen?
23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
********* This verse further highlights the issue at hand with the eye. It says, "If our eye be evil" and that can have various meanings. Clearly it refers to how we view things, decide things and act upon things from what we see and know in this life. It can be about the eye vision and also about our thoughts / life /spiritual choices as well. If we see things then we covet, hate, slander, gossip or lust; the light is not guiding us and we act out on that darkness/sin. Again, this is a heart issue matter as the eye only shows you what is physically really there. It is the heart of a man that discerns both good and evil. Jesus is saying see/walk in the light, not in darkness. (see 1 John 1:7) The further point is to make good decisions on what you live for being of God's light and not darkness of sin/the world and our flesh.
24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
******* Christ switches us back to life choices and the reminder to have only one master in this life. Who died for us anyway and who should we serve first and only? We cannot be of God and the world (see 1 John 2:15/ James 4:4) and we cannot have two masters. In this case he speaks of mammon that is money and it links back to His verses on not storing up treasures here on earth so we do NOT end up serving them vs God. To serve anything above God, it is a idol and NO idolater will gain heaven. (see 1 Cor 6:9-10)
25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
******* Jesus had a way of saying hard things that cut to a humans soul and flesh. The idea of taking no thought on these matters (life,food,drink, your body or clothing) is very foreign to our nature as fallen fleshly humans. I have some men telling me because of this verse, I should not plan ahead or even think about our needs. They say that we just expect God to drop them down for us but that is NOT the meaning here. Jesus had a treasure who carried money and he told men to get swords for a trip showing even He planned ahead) This is another good example why we look deep at the root words for better understanding. In the Greek that word "thought" is merimnao and it means to not be anxious. Jesus is simply saying to not worry about such matters as life is much bigger then that. We will see we are to trust in the Father for all things. By the way that word raiment (enduma) means a robe in the Greek. They wore robes / tunics to cover their forms and it is why I teach it today as well.
26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
********* Christ next takes us to God's creation and reminds us how He cares for the animals. (Christ is the Creator per John 1) We are told that we are more valuable to God then animals to comfort us. (we are made in His image/ see Genesis 1:27) This in no way means we should not labor, grow or store food/items up for winter. If we keep reading we see it is a call to NOT worry but trust!
27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
******* This verse take us back to that root word thought (merimnao) and it is to NOT worry or be anxious. Paul tells us to not be anxious for nothing in Phil 4:6-7 and it is the same Greek word.
28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
******** This verse again uses the word raiment (enduma) and it is robes. Jesus says do not worry about such things but it does not mean we do not act to cloth ourselves as some claim. Do it without worry is the echoing meaning here. Again He reminds us of the awesome creation and that we need to trust and be lead by the Father/Spirit as even the plants are taken care of. I may be able to offer a good example of this point Jesus is aiming for. We travel all over the nation to street preach. I do plan for our needs on the road, I setup our van to live in, I bring tools, some food and other needed items but; I do NOT worry about it. No I trust the Father most in the end. This is using wisdom and trust in combination and it is what we are commanded to do as we serve Him.
29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
******** I like how here Jesus elevates the awesome creation of God far above what ever any person could create. Have you ever heard people say, well that sunset painting is nice but; it is nothing like the real thing? The Fathers handy work (Christ's) is far superior to any mans effort is the point!
30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
********* Christ gives us a great assurance here as even grass is taken care of by the Father, why should we His children worry? Grass and animals are temporal but man is eternal and of much greater value.
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
******** Here Jesus echoes verse 25 and we need to take extra notice. When things are said once in scripture, it is important. When things are echoed two or three times; a point of great importance is being made. Same word is used thought ... and means worry. Jesus is getting us to see clear to not worry but to lean and trust on the Father, not in the physical. This is apparently His driving point He wants His disciples to understand and grasp.
32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
******** In this verse we are reminded that Jesus main mission was to the house of Israel. (see Matthew 15:24) He makes a comment about how the Gentiles are the ones who worry and seek such material things. (alluding to the Hebrew believers should know better and trust in God) The Greek word for gentile is ethnos and it means non hebrew, pagan or heathen. Realize that at this time, the faith/people Jesus dealt with were mostly all Hebrew's. After Christ resurrected, the gospel was then taken by Paul and others to the gentile areas as thankfully God allowed us to enter in/grafted in by Christ' blood to the covenant with Him.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
******** This raises one of my original early points about the kingdom of God as a main theme of Christ. (that most miss out on) The entire creation rests on the Kingdom of God as even the garden of Eden was a "type" of heaven (perfect) Here Jesus is telling us to seek that kingdom. He rounds out this chapter that has told us to not be hypocrites, to have a pure heart, how to pray, not to worry, not store up earthly wealth, to not have two masters and that we are to seek the kingdom of God. Great foundational points but a area that most all miss is this term; and His righteousness! Many claim to be about the kingdom of God but they are lying/void of righteousness. That word (dikaiosume in Greek) means to be pure, have virtue and to be in right doctrine/standing with God. You cannot be of the kingdom of God and get His righteousness unless you are seeking and walking in His ways NOT your own or man made religious traditions. (see Heb 5:9) You cannot keep pagan holidays that lie like Christmas or easter, you cannot preach a false easy believe gospel, you cannot be of the world and you cannot keep false traditions then still claim to be of Him as truth! This will anger God and void your worship of Him per Jesus (See Mark 7:6-9) Seeking the Kingdom of God is KEEPING His commands and walking in all of His ways to be His friend. (see John 14:15 and John 15;14) The kingdom of God is to be our MAIN goal and it comes by the gospel, new life in Christ and then obeying Him as we follow as disciples. Anything less will cause us to sin, miss the kingdom and fall under condemnation. (see Matthew 25:46)
34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
******** As we close out this chapter 6, Jesus takes us back to that word on not worrying. (thought) We are again told to not worry (trust in God) and we are also reminded to not worry about tomorrow. We need to be humble enough to admit, we are not keepers of tomorrow. God our heavenly Father is the keeper so we will do well to trust in Him for it all as we seek the kingdom. Keeping all of these teachings in mind as we seek after God/His kingdom will round us out, build our faith foundation well and we will NOT be moved in tribulation then receive a reward of eternal life to come!