Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
Ash Wednesday ABC


“BewareA of practicingB your righteousnessC

Notes on verse 1a

A “beware” = prosecho. From pros (at, toward) + echo (have, hold, possess). This is have towards, which is to say to give something your complete attention, beware, be cautious, hold to, turn to.
B “practicing” = poieo. This is to make, do, act, construct, abide, or cause.
C “righteousness” = dikaiosune. From dikaios (correct, righteous – implies innocent; this is that which conforms to God’s notion of justice, uprightness); from dike (the principle of justice; that which is right in a way that is very clear; a decision or the execution of that decision; originally, this word was for custom or usage; evolved to include the process of law, judicial hearing, execution of sentence, penalty, and even vengeance; more commonly, it refers to what is right); may be from deiknumi (to show, point out, exhibit; figurative for teach, demonstrate, make known). This is judicial or divine approval of character or action. This is righteousness, justice, justness, divine righteousness.

before othersD in order to be seenE by them, for then you haveF

Notes on verse 1b

D “others” = anthropos. Probably from aner (man, male, husband) + ops (eye, face); {from optanomai (to appear, be seen); perhaps from horao (become, seem, appear)}. This is human, humankind. Used for all genders.
E “seen” = theaomai. From thaomai (to gaze at a spectacle; to look at or contemplate as a spectator; to interpret something in efforts to grasp its significance). This is to behold, look upon, see, contemplate, visit like a spectator. This is the root of the word “theatre.”
F “have” = echo. Related to “beware” in v1. See note A above.

no rewardG from your FatherH in heaven.I

Notes on verse 1c

G “reward” = misthos. This is wages, pay, or salary. It can also be reward, recompense, or punishment. It is pay for services rendered in a literal or figurative way, either good or bad.
H “Father” = pater. This is father in a literal or figurative sense. Could be elder, senior, ancestor, originator, or patriarch.
I “heaven” = ouranos. May be related to oros (mountain, hill); probably related to airo (raise, take up, lift, remove). This is the air, the sky, the atmosphere, and heaven. It is the sky that is visible and the spiritual heaven where God dwells. Heaven implies happiness, power, and eternity.

“So whenever you giveJ alms,K do not sound a trumpetL before you,

Notes on verse 2a

J “give” = poieo. Same as “practicing” in v1. See note B above.
K “alms” = eleemosune. 13x in NT. From eleos (mercy, compassion). This is compassion – particularly in giving to the poor. Often, it is translated as alms or charity.
L “sound a trumpet” = salpizo. 12x in NT. Perhaps from salpigx (a trumpet, bugle, or the sound that a trumpet makes); perhaps from salos (tossing like the waves of the sea; agitation, vibration); perhaps from saino (wag the tail, flatter, beguile, move, shake; figuratively, to disturb); related to seio (to shake, vibrate; figuratively to agitate or show fear). This is making a noise with a trumpet, sounding a blast in a literal or figurative sense. Generally used in reference to judgment day.

as the hypocritesM doN in the synagoguesO

Notes on verse 2b

M “hypocrites” = hupokrites. 18x in NT. From hupokrinomai (to answer, pretend, respond as an actor on stage; figuratively, to lie) {from hupo (by, under, about) + krino (to judge, decide, think good, condemn, determine, pass judgment, stand trial, sue; judging whether in court or in a private setting; properly, mentally separating or distinguishing an issue – to come to a choice or decision, to judge positively or negatively in seeking what is right or wrong, who is innocent or guilty; can imply trying, condemning, punishing, or avenging.)}. This is literally an actor. Figuratively, it is someone playing out a role, which is to say, lying, pretending, or being a hypocrite. This is where the word “hypocrite” comes from.
N “do” = poieo. Same as “practicing” in v1. See note B above.
O “synagogues” = sunagoge. From sun (with, together with, closely associated) + ago (to lead, bring, carry, guide, go, drive). Literally, this is a bringing together, a place of assembly. The term can be used for the people or for the place where they assemble. It is also sometimes used of Christian churches in the New Testament. So, this is synagogue, assembly, congregation, or church. This is where the word “synagogue” comes from.

and in the streets,P so that they may be praisedQ by others. TrulyR I tell you,

Notes on verse 2c

P “streets” = rhume. 4x in NT. Probably related to rheuma (something that flows; a current); from rheo (to flow, to flow like water, overflow) OR from rhoumai (to pull to oneself, rescue from danger, snatch up, set free); from eruo (to draw, drag) This is a street or lane – a street alley as crowded.
Q “praised” = doxazo. From doxa (glory, opinion, praise, honor, renown; particularly used as a quality of God or manifestation of God – splendor); from dokeo (to have an opinion, seem, appear, suppose; a personal judgment; to think); from dokos (opinion). This is to render or hold something as glorious, to glorify, honor, magnify, or celebrate. This is ascribing weight to something by recognizing its true value or essence.
R “truly” = amen. From Hebrew amen (verily, truly, amen, truth, so be it, faithfulness); from aman (to believe, endure, fulfill, confirm, support, be faithful, put one’s trust in, be steadfast. Figuratively, this is to be firm, steadfast, or faithful, trusting, believing, being permanent, morally solid). This word is literally firmness, but figuratively fidelity, faithfulness, honesty, responsibility, trust, truth, steadfastness. Properly, it is to be sure, certain, or firm. This is a word of emphasis indicating that something crucial follows.

they have receivedS their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left handT knowU what your right handV is doing, 

Notes on verses 2d-3

S “received” = apecho. Related to “beware” and “have” in v1. 19x in NT. From apo (from, away from) + echo (see note A above). This is to be distant, have fully, abstain, be paid, be distant, be enough. It is having something by detaching it from something else or releasing something else.
T “left hand” = aristeros. 4x in NT. From aristos (best). This is better, used figuratively to refer to the left or left hand side.
U “know” = ginosko. This is to know, recognize, realize, perceive, learn. It is knowledge gained through personal experience.
V “right hand” = dexios. Perhaps from dechomai (to warmly receive, be ready for what is offered, take, accept, or welcome; to receive in a literal or figurative sense). This is right, right side, or the right hand.

so that your alms may be done in secret,W and your Father who seesX in secret will rewardY you.

Notes on verse 4

W “secret” = kruptos. 19x in NT. From krupto (to hide by covering, secret, hidden things). This is something concealed, hidden, secret, or private. It can also refer to the inner nature. This is the root of the word “cryptography.”
X “sees” = blepo. This is literally to see – it is primarily used in the physical sense. However, figuratively it can be seeing, which includes attention and so to watchfulness, being observant, perceiving, and acting on the visual information. It can also mean beware.
Y “reward” = apodidomi. From apo (from, away from) + didomi (give, offer, place, bestow, deliver; give in a literal or figurative sense). This is to give back, return, give away. It is to restore as when one makes payment – to rend what is due, to sell.

“And whenever you pray,Z do not be like the hypocrites, for they loveAA to standBB and pray in the synagogues

Notes on verse 5a

Z “pray” = proseuchomai. From pros (advantageous for, at, toward) + euchomai (to wish, make a request, pray). This is to pray or pray for, to worship or supplicate. It is more literally exchanging one’s own wishes for God’s.
AA “love” = phileo. From philos (dear, beloved, a friend, an associate; friendship with personal affection, a trusted confidante; love from personal experience with another person). This is friendship love and fondness with personal attachment.
BB “stand” = histemi. This is to stand, place, establish, appoint, stand ready, be steadfast.

and at the streetCC corners,DD so that they may be seenEE by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.FF 

Notes on verse 5b

CC “street” = plateia. 9x in NT. From platus (wide, spread flat, broad); perhaps from plasso (to form, mold; to create like a potter shapes clay). This is a street or some kind of broad place like a public square.
DD “corners” = gonia. 9x in NT. From gonu (knee, foot). This is an angle or corner. It could also figuratively refer to somewhere that is secret.
EE “seen” = phaino. This is to bring light, cause to appear, shine, become visible or clear. This is show in a literal or figurative sense.
FF “reward” = misthos. Same as “reward” in v1. See note G above.

But whenever you pray, goGG into your roomHH and shutII

Notes on verse 6a

GG “go” = eiserchomai. From eis (to, into, for, among) + erchomai (to come, go). This is to go in in a literal or figurative sense.
HH “room” = tameion. 4x in NT. From tamieion (treasury) OR from tamias (dispenser, distributor). This is an inner chamber, store room, or secret closet. It would be on the interior of a house and it would be used to store things or for privacy.
II “shut” = kleio. 16x in NT. This is to close, shut, or lock in a literal of figurative sense. Figuratively used for shutting out of the kingdom of heaven or the wedding banquet, the heavens shutting as in there is no rain, and also for heartlessness.

the doorJJ and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who seesKK in secret will rewardLL you.

Notes on verse 6b

JJ “door” = thura. This is opening or closure so it’s a door, gate, or entrance. Figuratively, this can refer to an opportunity.
KK “sees” = blepo. Same as “sees” in v4. See note X above.
LL “reward” = apodidomi. Same as “reward” in v4. See note YY above.

16 “And whenever you fast,MM do not lookNN somber,OO

Notes on verse 16a

MM “fast” = nesteuo. From a (not, without) + esthio (to eat or figuratively to devour or consume like rust). This is to fast, not eat food, to make a religious fast.
NN “look” = ginomai. This is to come into being, to happen, become, be born. It can be to emerge from one state or condition to another or is coming into being with the sense of movement or growth.
OO “somber” = skuthropos. Related to “others” in v1. 2x in NT– do not look dismal when you fast in Matthew 6:16 & they stood still looking sad on the walk to Emmaus in Luke 24:17. From skuthros (sullen) + ops (see note D above). This is gloomy or sad-faced. It can refer to looking mournful, downcast, or angry.

like the hypocrites, for they markPP their facesQQ to showRR others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.SS 

Notes on verse 16b

PP “mark” = aphanizo. Related to “seen” in v5. From aphanes (invisible, hidden, not apparent); {from a (not, without) + phaino (see note EE above)}. This is to cause to be unseen – to disfigure, consume, perish, vanish, neglect.
QQ “faces” = prosopon. Related to “others” inn v1 & “dismal” in v16. From pros (at, towards, with) + ops (see note D above). This is the face, surface, or front. It can imply presence more generally.
RR “show” = phaino. Same as “seen” in v5. See note EE above.
SS “reward” = misthos. Same as “reward” in v1. See note G above.

17 But when you fast, put oil onTT your headUU and washVV your face, 

Notes on verse 17

TT “put oil on” = aleipho. 9x in NT. From a (with) + liparos (oil, fatty; something luxurious); {from lipos (fat, grease)}. This is to anoint whether for medical reasons, as part of hospitality, for a dead body, for a celebration or festival, or to show respect.
UU “head” = kephale. This is head or chief. It can be a literal head or, figuratively, a ruler or lord. It can also refer to a corner stone. This is where the word “cephalic” comes from.
VV “wash” = nipto. 17x in NT. From nizo (to cleanse). This is to wash, particularly the hands, feet, or face. This word is often used for ceremonial or ritual ablution as when Jesus washes the disciples’ feet in John 13 and during debates about the tradition of the elders as in Matthew 15 and Mark 7.

18 so that your fasting may be seenWW not by others but by your Father who is in secret, and your Father who seesXX in secret will rewardYY you.

19 “Do not store upZZ for yourselves treasuresAAA

Notes on verses 18-19a

WW “seen” = phaino. Same as “seen” in v5. See note EE above.
XX “sees” = blepo. Same as “sees” in v4. See note X above.
YY “reward” = apodidomi. Same as “reward” in v4. See note YY above.
ZZ “store up” = thesaurizo. 8x in NT. From thesauros (treasure, storehouse, deposit; wealth in a literal or figurative sense); from the same as tithemi (to place, lay, set, establish). This is to store up or treasure up – to amass in a literal or figurative sense. This is where the word “thesaurus” comes from.
AAA “treasures” = thesauros. Related to “store up” in v19. 17x in NT. See note YY above.

on earth,BBB where mothCCC and rustDDD consumeEEE

Notes on verse 19b

BBB “earth” = ge. This is earth, land, soil, region, country, the inhabitants of an area.
CCC “moth” = ses. 3x in NT. Perhaps from Hebrew sas (moth, grub); perhaps from the same as sus (root may mean to skip as in jump for joy; a crane or a swift bird; a horse as leaping). This is moth.
DDD “rust” = brosis. 11x in NT. From bibrosko (to eat). This is food and the act of eating. It is eating in a literal or figurative sense.
EEE “consume” = aphanizo. Same as “mark” in v16. See note PP above.

and where thievesFFF break inGGG and steal,HHH 20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heartIII will be also.

Notes on verses 19c-21

FFF “thieves” = kleptes. 16x in NT. From klepto (to steal secretively). This is a thief that steals using stealth rather than violence. It is a thief in a literal or figurative sense.
GGG “break in” = diorusso. 4x in NT. From dia (through, for the sake of, across, thoroughly) + orusso (to dig, burrow, or excavate). This is to dig through i.e. break into a house.
HHH “steal” = klepto. Related to “thieves” in v19. 13x in NT. See note FFF above.
III “heart” = kardia. Literally the heart, but figuratively mind, character, inner self, will, intention, thoughts, feelings. Also, the center of something. The word heart is only used figuratively in the Old and New Testaments. This is where “cardiac” comes from.

Image credit: “A Life of Ponderance and Prayer” by David S. Soriano, 2022.

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