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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Matthew: Chapter 6)

6:1 {Take heed} (\prosechete\). The Greek idiom includes "mind"
(\noun\) which is often expressed in ancient Greek and once in
the Septuagint (Job 7:17). In the New Testament the substantive
\nous\ is understood. It means to "hold the mind on a matter,"
take pains, take heed. "Righteousness" (\dikaiosunēn\) is the
correct text in this verse. Three specimens of the Pharisaic
"righteousness" are given (alms, prayer, fasting). {To be seen}
(\theathēnai\). First aorist passive infinitive of purpose. Our
word _theatrical_ is this very word, spectacular performance.
{With your Father} (\para tōi patri humōn\). Literally "beside
your Father," standing by his side, as he looks at it.

6:2 {Sound not a trumpet} (\mē salpisēis\). Is this literal or
metaphorical? No actual instance of such conduct has been found
in the Jewish writings. McNeile suggests that it may refer to the
blowing of trumpets in the streets on the occasion of public
fasts. Vincent suggests the thirteen trumpet-shaped chests of the
temple treasury to receive contributions (Lu 21:2). But at
Winona Lake one summer a missionary from India named Levering
stated to me that he had seen Hindu priests do precisely this
very thing to get a crowd to see their beneficences. So it looks
as if the rabbis could do it also. Certainly it was in keeping
with their love of praise. And Jesus expressly says that "the
hypocrites" (\hoi hupokritai\) do this very thing. This is an old
word for actor, interpreter, one who personates another, from
\hupokrinomai\ to answer in reply like the Attic \apokrinomai\.
Then to pretend, to feign, to dissemble, to act the hypocrite, to
wear a mask. This is the hardest word that Jesus has for any
class of people and he employs it for these pious pretenders who
pose as perfect. {They have received their reward} (\apechousin
ton misthon autōn\)
. This verb is common in the papyri for
receiving a receipt, "they have their receipt in full," all the
reward that they will get, this public notoriety. "They can sign
the receipt of their reward" (Deissmann, _Bible Studies_, p.
. So _Light from the Ancient East_, pp. 110f. \Apochē\ means
"receipt." So also in 6:5.

6:4 {In secret} (\tōi kruptōi\). The Textus Receptus added the
words \en tōi phanerōi\ (openly) here and in 6:6, but they are
not genuine. Jesus does not promise a _public_ reward for private

6:5 {In the synagogues and in the corners of the streets} (\en
tais sunagōgais kai en tais gōniais tōn plateiōn\)
. These were
the usual places of prayer (synagogues) and the street corners
where crowds stopped for business or talk. If the hour of prayer
overtook a Pharisee here, he would strike his attitude of prayer
like a modern Moslem that men might see that he was pious.

6:6 {Into thy closet} (\eis to tameion\). The word is a late
syncopated form of \tamieion\ from \tamias\ (steward) and the
root \tam-\ from \temnō\, to cut. So it is a store-house, a
separate apartment, one's private chamber, closet, or "den" where
he can withdraw from the world and shut the world out and commune
with God.

6:7 {Use not vain repetitions} (\mē battalogēsēte\). Used of
stammerers who repeat the words, then mere babbling or
chattering, empty repetition. The etymology is uncertain, but it
is probably onomatopoetic like "babble." The worshippers of Baal
on Mount Carmel (1Ki 8:26) and of Diana in the amphitheatre at
Ephesus who yelled for two hours (Ac 19:34) are examples. The
Mohammedans may also be cited who seem to think that they "will
be heard for their much speaking" (\en tēi polulogiāi\). Vincent
adds "and the Romanists with their _paternosters_ and _avast_."
The Syriac Sinaitic has it: "Do not be saying idle things."
Certainly Jesus does not mean to condemn all repetition in prayer
since he himself prayed three times in Gethsemane "saying the
same words again" (Mt 26:44). "As the Gentiles do," says Jesus.
"The Pagans thought that by endless repetitions and many words
they would inform their gods as to their needs and weary them
('_fatigare deos_') into granting their requests" (Bruce).

6:9 {After this manner therefore pray ye} (\houtōs oun
proseuchesthe humeis\)
. "You" expressed in contrast with "the
Gentiles." It should be called "The Model Prayer" rather than
"The Lord's Prayer." "Thus" pray as he gives them a model. He
himself did not use it as a liturgy (cf. Joh 17). There is no
evidence that Jesus meant it for liturgical use by others. In Lu
11:2-4 practically the same prayer though briefer is given at a
later time by Jesus to the apostles in response to a request that
he teach them how to pray. McNeile argues that the form in Luke
is the original to which Matthew has made additions: "The
tendency of liturgical formulas is towards enrichment rather than
abbreviation." But there is no evidence whatever that Jesus
designed it as a set formula. There is no real harm in a
liturgical formula if one likes it, but no one sticks to just one
formula in prayer. There is good and not harm in children
learning and saying this noble prayer. Some people are disturbed
over the words "Our Father" and say that no one has a right to
call God Father who has not been "born again." But that is to say
that an unconverted sinner cannot pray until he is converted, an
absurd contradiction. God is the Father of all men in one sense;
the recognition of Him as the Father in the full sense is the
first step in coming back to him in regeneration and conversion.

{Hallowed be thy name} (\hagiasthētō to onoma sou\). In the Greek
the verb comes first as in the petitions in verse 10. They are
all aorist imperatives, punctiliar action expressing urgency.

6:11 {Our daily bread} (\ton arton hēmōn ton epiousion\). This
adjective "daily" (\epiousion\) coming after "Give us this day"
(\dos hēmŒn sēmeron\) has given expositors a great deal of
trouble. The effort has been made to derive it from \epi\ and
\ōn\ (\ousa\). It clearly comes from \epi\ and \iōn\ (\epi\ and
like \tēi epiousēi\ ("on the coming day," "the next day,"
Ac 16:12)
. But the adjective \epiousios\ is rare and Origen
said it was made by the Evangelists Matthew and Luke to reproduce
the idea of an Aramaic original. Moulton and Milligan,
_Vocabulary_ say: "The papyri have as yet shed no clear light
upon this difficult word (Mt 6:11; Lu 11:3), which was in all
probability a new coinage by the author of the Greek Q to render
his Aramaic Original" (this in 1919). Deissmann claims that only
about fifty purely New Testament or "Christian" words can be
admitted out of the more than 5,000 used. "But when a word is not
recognizable at sight as a Jewish or Christian new formation, we
must consider it as an ordinary Greek word until the contrary is
proved. \Epiousios\ has all the appearance of a word that
originated in trade and traffic of the everyday life of the
people (cf. my hints in _Neutestamentliche Studien Georg Heinrici
dargebracht_, Leipzig, 1914, pp. 118f.)
. The opinion here
expressed has been confirmed by A. Debrunner's discovery (_Theol.
Lit. Ztg_. 1925, Col. 119)
of \epiousios\ in an ancient
housekeeping book" (_Light from the Ancient East_, New ed. 1927,
p. 78 and note 1)
. So then it is not a word coined by the
Evangelist or by Q to express an Aramaic original. The word
occurs also in three late MSS. after 2Macc. 1:8, \tous
epiousious\ after \tous artous\. The meaning, in view of the
kindred participle (\epiousēi\) in Ac 16:12, seems to be "for
the coming day," a daily prayer for the needs of the next day as
every housekeeper understands like the housekeeping book
discovered by Debrunner.

6:12 {Our debts} (\ta opheilēmata hēmōn\). Luke (Lu 11:4) has
"sins" (\hamartias\). In the ancient Greek \opheilēma\ is common
for actual legal debts as in Ro 4:4, but here it is used of
moral and spiritual debts to God. "Trespasses" is a
mistranslation made common by the Church of England Prayer Book.
It is correct in verse 14 in Christ's argument about prayer,
but it is not in the Model Prayer itself. See Mt 18:28,30 for
sin pictured again by Christ "as debt and the sinner as a debtor"
(Vincent). We are thus described as having wronged God. The word
\opheilē\ for moral obligation was once supposed to be peculiar
to the New Testament. But it is common in that sense in the
papyri (Deismann, _Bible Studies_, p. 221; _Light from the
Ancient East,_ New ed., p. 331)
. We ask forgiveness "in
proportion as" (\hōs\) we _also_ have forgiven those in debt to
us, a most solemn reflection. \Aphēkamen\ is one of the three k
aorists (\ethēka, edōka, hēka\). It means to send away, to
dismiss, to wipe off.

6:13 {And bring us not into temptation} (\kai mē eisenegkēis eis
. "Bring" or "lead" bothers many people. It seems to
present God as an active agent in subjecting us to temptation, a
thing specifically denied in Jas 1:13. The word here translated
"temptation" (\peirasmon\) means originally "trial" or "test" as
in Jas 1:2 and Vincent so takes it here. _Braid Scots_ has it:
"And lat us no be siftit." But God does test or sift us, though
he does not tempt us to evil. No one understood temptation so
well as Jesus for the devil tempted him by every avenue of
approach to all kinds of sin, but without success. In the Garden
of Gethsemane Jesus will say to Peter, James, and John: "Pray
that ye enter not into temptation" (Lu 22:40). That is the idea
here. Here we have a "Permissive imperative" as grammarians term
it. The idea is then: "Do not allow us to be led into
temptation." There is a way out (1Co 10:13), but it is a
terrible risk.

{From the evil one} (\apo tou ponērou\). The ablative case in the
Greek obscures the gender. We have no way of knowing whether it
is \ho ponēros\ (the evil one) or \to ponēron\ (the evil thing).
And if it is masculine and so \ho ponēros\, it can either refer
to the devil as the Evil One _par excellence_ or the evil man
whoever he may be who seeks to do us ill. The word \ponēros\ has
a curious history coming from \ponos\ (toil) and \poneō\ (to
. It reflects the idea either that work is bad or that this
particular work is bad and so the bad idea drives out the good in
work or toil, an example of human depravity surely.

The Doxology is placed in the margin of the Revised Version. It
is wanting in the oldest and best Greek manuscripts. The earliest
forms vary very much, some shorter, some longer than the one in
the Authorized Version. The use of a doxology arose when this
prayer began to be used as a liturgy to be recited or to be
chanted in public worship. It was not an original part of the
Model Prayer as given by Jesus.

6:14 {Trespasses} (\paraptōmata\). This is no part of the Model
Prayer. The word "trespass" is literally "falling to one side," a
lapse or deviation from truth or uprightness. The ancients
sometimes used it of intentional falling or attack upon one's
enemy, but "slip" or "fault" (Ga 6:1) is the common New
Testament idea. \Parabasis\ (Ro 5:14) is a positive violation,
a transgression, conscious stepping aside or across.

6:16 {Of a sad countenance} (\skuthrōpoi\). Only here and Lu
24:17 in the N.T. It is a compound of \skuthros\ (sullen) and
\ops\ (countenance). These actors or hypocrites "put on a gloomy
look" (Goodspeed) and, if necessary, even "disfigure their faces"
(\aphanizousin ta prosōpa autōn\), that they may look like they
are fasting. It is this pretence of piety that Jesus so sharply
ridicules. There is a play on the Greek words \aphanizousi\
(disfigure) and \phanōsin\ (figure). They conceal their real
looks that they may seem to be fasting, conscious and pretentious

6:18 {In secret} (\en tōi kruphaiōi\). Here as in 6:4,6 the
Textus Receptus adds \en tōi phanerōi\ (openly), but it is not
genuine. The word \kruphaios\ is here alone in the New Testament,
but occurs four times in the Septuagint.

6:19 {Lay not up for yourselves treasures} (\mē thēsaurizete
humin thēsaurous\)
. Do not have this habit (\mē\ and the present
. See on ¯Mt 2:11 for the word "treasure." Here there
is a play on the word, "treasure not for yourselves treasures."
Same play in verse 20 with the cognate accusative. In both
verses \humin\ is dative of personal interest and is not
reflexive, but the ordinary personal pronoun. Wycliff has it: "Do
not treasure to you treasures."

{Break through} (\diorussousin\). Literally "dig through." Easy
to do through the mud walls or sun-dried bricks. Today they can
pierce steel safes that are no longer safe even if a foot thick.
The Greeks called a burglar a "mud-digger" (\toichoruchos\).

6:20 {Rust} (\brōsis\). Something that "eats" (\bibrōskō\) or
"gnaws" or "corrodes."

6:22 {Single} (\haplous\). Used of a marriage contract when the
husband is to repay the dowry "pure and simple" (\tēn phernēn
, if she is set free; but in case he does not do so
promptly, he is to add interest also (Moulton and Milligan's
_Vocabulary_, etc.)
. There are various other instances of such
usage. Here and in Lu 11:34 the eye is called "single" in a
moral sense. The word means "without folds" like a piece of cloth
unfolded, _simplex_ in Latin. Bruce considers this parable of the
eye difficult. "The figure and the ethical meaning seem to be
mixed up, moral attributes ascribed to the physical eye which
with them still gives light to the body. This confusion may be
due to the fact that the eye, besides being the organ of vision,
is the seat of expression, revealing inward dispositions." The
"evil" eye (\ponēros\) may be diseased and is used of stinginess
in the LXX and so \haplous\ may refer to liberality as Hatch
argues (_Essays in Biblical Greek_, p. 80). The passage may be
elliptical with something to be supplied. If our eyes are healthy
we see clearly and with a single focus (without astigmatism). If
the eyes are diseased (bad, evil), they may even be cross-eyed or
cock-eyed. We see double and confuse our vision. We keep one eye
on the hoarded treasures of earth and roll the other proudly up
to heaven. Seeing double is double-mindedness as is shown in
verse 24.

6:24 {No man can serve two masters} (\oudeis dunatai dusi kuriois
. Many try it, but failure awaits them all. Men even
try "to be slaves to God and mammon" (\Theōi douleuein kai
. Mammon is a Chaldee, Syriac, and Punic word like
_Plutus_ for the money-god (or devil). The slave of mammon will
obey mammon while pretending to obey God. The United States has
had a terrible revelation of the power of the money-god in public
life in the Sinclair-Fall-Teapot-Air-Dome-Oil case. When the
guide is blind and leads the blind, both fall into the ditch. The
man who cannot tell road from ditch sees falsely as Ruskin shows
in _Modern Painters_. He will hold to one (\henos anthexetai\).
The word means to line up face to face (\anti\) with one man and
so against the other.

6:25 {Be not anxious for your life} (\mē merimnate tēi psuchēi
. This is as good a translation as the Authorized Version
was poor; "Take no thought for your life." The old English word
"thought" meant anxiety or worry as Shakespeare says:

"The native hue of resolution Is sicklied o'er with the pale
cast of thought."

Vincent quotes Bacon (Henry VII): "Harris, an alderman of London,
was put in trouble and died with thought and anguish." But words
change with time and now this passage is actually quoted
(Lightfoot) "as an objection to the moral teaching of the Sermon
on the Mount, on the ground that it encouraged, nay, commanded, a
reckless neglect of the future." We have narrowed the word to
mere planning without any notion of anxiety which is in the Greek
word. The verb \merimnaō\ is from \meris, merizō\, because care
or anxiety distracts and divides. It occurs in Christ's rebuke to
Martha for her excessive solicitude about something to eat (Lu
. The notion of proper care and forethought appears in
1Co 7:32; 12:25; Php 2:20. It is here the present imperative
with the negative, a command not to have the habit of petulant
worry about food and clothing, a source of anxiety to many
housewives, a word for women especially as the command not to
worship mammon may be called a word for men. The command can mean
that they must stop such worry if already indulging in it. In
verse 31 Jesus repeats the prohibition with the ingressive
aorist subjunctive: "Do not become anxious," "Do not grow
anxious." Here the direct question with the deliberative
subjunctive occurs with each verb (\phagōmen, piōmen,
. This deliberative subjunctive of the direct
question is retained in the indirect question employed in verse
25. A different verb for clothing occurs, both in the indirect
middle (\peribalōmetha\, fling round ourselves in 31,
\endusēsthe\, put on yourselves in 25)

{For your life} (\tēi psuchēi\). "Here \psuchēi\ stands for the
life principle common to man and beast, which is embodied in the
\sōma\: the former needs food, the latter clothing" (McNeile).
\Psuchē\ in the Synoptic Gospels occurs in three senses
(McNeile): either the life principle in the body as here and
which man may kill (Mr 3:4) or the seat of the thoughts and
emotions on a par with \kardia\ and \dianoia\ (Mt 22:37) and
\pneuma\ (Lu 1:46; cf. Joh 12:27; 13:21) or something higher
that makes up the real self (Mt 10:28; 16:26). In Mt 16:25
(Lu 9:25) \psuchē\ appears in two senses paradoxical use,
saving life and losing it.

6:27 {Unto his stature} (\epi tēn hēlikian autou\). The word
\hēlikian\ is used either of height (stature) or length of life
(age). Either makes good sense here, though probably "stature"
suits the context best. Certainly anxiety will not help either
kind of growth, but rather hinder by auto-intoxication if nothing
more. This is no plea for idleness, for even the birds are
diligent and the flowers grow.

6:28 {The lilies of the field} (\ta krina tou agrou\). The word
may include other wild flowers besides lilies, blossoms like
anemones, poppies, gladioli, irises (McNeile).

6:29 {Was not arrayed} (\oude periebaleto\). Middle voice and so
"did not clothe himself," "did not put around himself."

6:30 {The grass of the field} (\ton chorton tou agrou\). The
common grass of the field. This heightens the comparison.

6:33 {First his kingdom} (\prōton tēn basileian\). This in answer
to those who see in the Sermon on the Mount only ethical
comments. Jesus in the Beatitudes drew the picture of the man
with the new heart. Here he places the Kingdom of God and his
righteousness before temporal blessings (food and clothing).

6:34 {For the morrow} (\eis ten aurion\). The last resort of the
anxious soul when all other fears are allayed. The ghost of
tomorrow stalks out with all its hobgoblins of doubt and

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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Matthew: Chapter 6)