Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 28th, 2023
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
Take your personal ministry to the Next Level by helping StudyLight build churches and supporting pastors in Uganda.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries
Matthew 6

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors


Matthew 5-7. The Sermon on the Mount.— This is the first of five blocks in which Mt. collects the greater part of the words of Jesus. He places it here in view of Mark 1:21. Attempts to locate the mountain or the exact time are useless in view of the fact that the sermon is a collection of material, not a discourse spoken in one place at one time.

Verses 1-18

Matthew 6:1-18 . The “ fulfilled” Law in Relation to the Life of the Pharisees.— Mt. only, though the digression on Prayer ( Matthew 6:7-15) has parallels in Lk.

Matthew 6:1 is a general warning; three aspects of the mechanical “ righteousness” that is “ done” are given in detail in the following verses. Beneath the apparent contrast with Matthew 5:16 is an underlying unity.

Matthew 6:2-4 . Almsgiving.— This practice was not enjoined in the Law; it was a work of supererogation earning special merit ( Tob_12:9 ; Tob_14:11 ). Trumpets were sounded at public fastings in time of drought; services were held in the streets ( cf. Matthew 6:5) to pray for rain, and almsgiving was reckoned essential for God’ s acceptance of the prayers. Mt. uses the word “ hypocrites” (lit. actors) as almost identical with Pharisees.— They have received their reward: good deeds merit only one reward; to gain it from men is to lose it from God, who will give it in the coming Kingdom ( Matthew 6:4).

Matthew 6:5 f. Prayer.— chamber is figurative, as in Matthew 24:26. “ The secret of religion is religion in secret.”

Matthew 6:7-15 . A collection of sayings on Prayer from various contexts.

Matthew 6:7 . use not vain repetitions: the emphasis is on “ vain.” We are not to pray by idle rote. The Gr. word perhaps means to stutter, to utter meaningless sounds, perhaps to speak thoughtlessly, to be long-winded.

Matthew 6:8 . Though the Father knows His children’ s need, yet because He is the Father, His children must pray.

Matthew 6:9-12 . The Lord’ s Prayer.Luke 11:2-4 differs in the requests for bread and forgiveness, and omits certain phrases and clauses. Had Lk. known the longer form he would have used it; his version is probably more original, for liturgical formulae tend to expansion rather than abbreviation. Note also Lk.’ s setting of the prayer ( Matthew 11:1). Much of the prayer is paralleled in OT, and later Jewish writings— e.g. the Shemoneh-Esrek, or Eighteen (benedictions), and the Kaddish— furnish close parallels. Jesus gives it as a model, not a formula. “ Ye” ( Matthew 6:9) is emphatic.— Our Father: true prayer is social and intercessory. Only in late Judaism had the individual Israelite begun to speak of God as his Father, but the practice was growing. The intimacy thus implied is balanced by the reverent desire that His name ( i.e. His nature and being and everything whereby He makes Himself known) may be treated as holy. This can be fully realised only in the consummation of the Kingdom, which is the next petition. The Rabbis used to say that a prayer in which no mention is made of the Name and the Kingdom is no prayer.— Thy will be done is omitted by Lk., and probably has its source in the prayer of Gethsemane; the words have a present as well as a future force.— as in heaven, so on earth may refer to all the preceding petitions; if so, it brings out their eschatological force.

Matthew 6:11. The desire for God’ s glory is followed by petitions for human needs; note, however, that Marcion ( c. A.D. 140) has “ thy bread,” applying the words to spiritual food. Origen has a similar interpretation, and an old Irish Latin MS. (Harl., 1023) in the British Museum reads: “ Give us to-day for bread the Word of God from Heaven” (Exp., Sept. 1915, p. 275, 287ff.; Nov. 1915, p. 423). The word translated “ daily” is difficult and much debated. It probably means “ for the coming day,” and could mean (bread) “ for the day then in progress” or “ for the morrow,” according as the prayer was used in the morning or in the evening.

Matthew 6:12 . The Jews often regarded sins as debts. For a parallel to the petition cf. Sir_28:2 . On forgiveness cf. Matthew 18:21-35.— Temptation ( Matthew 6:13) includes trial, though trial may be a cause of joy if it must be encountered ( James 1:2). To “ enter into” must not be limited to mean “ yield to” ; temptation or trial, like hunger, may be for man’ s good, yet the prayer contains petitions against both. Temptation is primarily the fiery trial which is about to usher in the End. On the whole we should read “ from evil” rather than “ from the evil one.” The words “ For thine is the kingdom,” etc., are a liturgical addition, appended to Mt.’ s version rather than Lk.’ s, because it was already the fuller form.

Matthew 6:14 f. is from some other context ( cf. Mark 11:25), brought in here as a marginal note on Matthew 6:12. Sins here are not debts but transgressions. See further DCG (arts. on “ The Lord’ s Prayer” ), where the literature, ancient and modern, is fully cited. Add Gore, Prayer and the Lord’ s Prayer.

Matthew 6:16-18 . Fasting.— The sequel of Matthew 6:6. Jesus assumes that His hearers practised fasting as an ordinary act of piety, though He does not appear to have enjoined it, or practised it, save during the Temptation.— disfigure: lit. “ make invisible,” “ cause to disappear.” The meaning, as we learn from the papyri, is simply that they refrain from washing, and smear the face with ash so that it disappears under accumulated dirt. Hence Jesus’ advice, “ When thou fastest, anoint thy head and wash thy face.” The injunction is more suited for a festival. There is humour here. The practice of fasting is not forbidden, but it is not to be paraded. Self-denial is to be cheerful, cf. Matthew 9:14-17.

Verses 19-34

Matthew 6:19-34 . True Righteousness in Relation to Wealth.— The Sermon here passes from the shortcomings of the Scribes and Pharisees. There are scattered parallels to this section in Lk.

Matthew 6:19-21 . Treasure ( Luke 12:33 f.).— Jesus has already spoken of earthly and heavenly reward; here the theme is earthly and heavenly wealth. Note the Hebraic parallelism and tautology in this thumbnail sketch of Oriental wealth, consisting largely of garments ( cf. James 5:2 f.).— rust ( Matthew 6:19 f.) is literally “ eating,” and refers to the mice and other vermin that play havoc in the granary.— dig through ( mg.) : see Exodus 12:22 *.

Matthew 6:22 f. The Single Eye ( Luke 11:34 ff.).— If the eye, the outer lamp of the body, is healthy, the body is wholly lit up; if it is out of order, the body is wholly dark. In the same way, if the inner light be extinguished, how great is the darkness! By putting the saying here, Mt. seems to have interpreted it of a right and wrong attitude towards material possessions. “ Single” often means liberal; “ evil,” grudging, or niggardly. “ Dark” was a colloquialism for uncharitable. The verses are a warning against covetousness.

Matthew 6:24 . The Single Service ( Luke 16:13).— The papyri show cases where a third as well as half a slave is bequeathed in a will. Such a usage may have been in our Lord’ s mind, and the strife it engendered may have given point and force to His saying.— hold to: stand by, or look to for support and help.— mammon: an Aramaic word (meaning gain or wealth) preserved by Mt. probably because it is personified. Either God or wealth must be loved and held to or hated and despised. The principle is stated, as usual, in the most absolute way.

Matthew 6:25-34 . Earthly Anxiety ( Luke 12:22-31).— As the service of wealth only causes anxiety, we should give it up.— Life ( psuche) is the life-principle embodied in the body; it needs food as the body needs clothes. If God has given the greater things (life and body), He can surely provide the less (food and raiment). Learn from the birds, not idleness, but freedom from worry; if God provides food for them, He will surely provide food for you.

Matthew 6:27-30 returns to the question of the body. To add a cubit to one’ s height (less probably “ age” ) is beyond man’ s most anxious effort. But God can do it— why then worry about the smaller matter, clothing?— lilies: rather “ blossoms,” in-eluding gladioli and irises, whose stems are used as fuel ( Matthew 6:30). The flowers neither toil (like men in the field) nor spin (like women in the house).

Matthew 6:31 ff. Anxiety is not only unreasonable and useless, it is irreligious— natural perhaps in Gentiles (note how Lk. adds “ of the world”— to him many Gentiles were the Father’ s children), but not for sons of God. With Matthew 6:33 cf. the Lord’ s Prayer, where God’ s name, kingdom, and will take precedence of the request for food. The thought of Matthew 6:34 is different from that of Matthew 6:25-33, where no day will have its trouble because God will provide. Here we are not to worry about to-morrow, because to-morrow will bear its own worry; and, further, there is enough worry for to-day. Cf. Matthew 10:9 f.

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Matthew 6". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/matthew-6.html. 1919.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile