Matthew 6:24

Matthew 6:24
Narrative Lectionary 145


24 “No one canA serveB twoC masters;D

Notes on verse 24a

A “can” = dunamai. This is to be able, or something that is possible. It can also be empowered or being powerful. The Greek word for “miracle” (dunamis) comes from this root.
B “serve” = douleuo. From doulos (a servant or for a slave, enslaved; someone who belongs to someone else, but could be voluntary to pay off debt or involuntary – captured in war and enslaved; a metaphor for serving Christ); perhaps from deo (to tie, bind, fasten, impel, compel; to declare something against the law or prohibited). This is to be a slave, serve, do service, obey, be devoted.
C “two” = duo. This is two or both.
D “masters” = kurios. From kuros (authority, supremacy). This is a respectful address meaning master or sir. It refers to one who has control or power greater than one’s own. So, it was also applied to God and Jesus as Master or Lord.

for a slave will either hateE the oneF and loveG the other,H

Notes on verse 24b

E “hate” = miseo. From misos (hatred). This word is used in two ways in the New Testament. One has to do with how we prioritize. In order to prioritize something the highest, it means we have to rank other things lower. We cannot have 10 number one priorities. So, the nine that are not number 1, we love less or we value them lower. We make a moral choice the springs from our values about where we put our time, efforts, energy, etc. The other way is detesting or hatred as we normally think of it. This sense has a particular affinity with persecuting the one we hate.
F “one” = heis. This is one, a person, only, some.
G “love” = agapao. Perhaps from agan (much). This is love, longing for, taking pleasure in. It is divine love or human love that echoes divine love.
H “other” = heteros. This is other, another, different, strange. It is another of a different kind in contrast to the Greek word allos, which is another of the same kind. This could be a different quality, type, or group.

or be devotedI to the one and despiseJ the other. You cannot serve GodK and wealth.L

Notes on verse 24c

I “be devoted” = antecho. 4x in NT. From anti (opposite, instead of, against) + echo (to have, hold, possess). This is to hold against – to be devoted, cling to, hold fast support. It is a holding close that corresponds to what is being held lose, adhering to or caring for.
J “despise” = kataphroneo. 9x in NT. From kata (down, against, among, according to) + phroneo (to think, judge, use one’s mind, have an opinion, shape one’s opinion through action); from phren (diaphragm, heart, intellect, understanding; figurative for personal opinion or inner mindset; thought regulating action; sympathy, feelings, cognition); perhaps from phrao (to rein in or curb). This is to disregard despise look down, think little of. It can be active scorn or a generally hostile view. It can be disregarding or ignoring something because it is considered of little importance. This can also be thinking someone unworthy and hating them. Additionally, it can be to think against something.
K “God” = Theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.
L “wealth” = mamonas. 4x in NT– also used in the parable of the dishonest manager in Luke 16:9, 11. From Aramaic mamona (money, wealth); related to Hebrew mamon (money, property). This is riches, wealth, possessions, mammon, or property. See

Image credit: Artwork at Virgin’s Monastery (benedictine nuns), Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil by Cláudio Pastro. Photo by Eugenio Hansen.

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