3. Law and Grace, 5:1-7:29

v] Social righteousness, 6:19-34

a) Treasures in heaven


Having exposed an external religious piety that is little more than outward show 6:1-18, Jesus calls on his disciples to exhibit loyalty to God.


A believer can only stand secure in Christ's loyalty to God, but should none-the-less strive to exclude all rival loyalties, in particular, the concern for possessions and material comfort and security.


i] Context: See 5:1-10. Matthew now deals with the business of discipleship in a secular world, 6:19-34. In 6:19-24 disciples are exhorted to make their consuming passion eternal verities rather than earthly mammon. Jesus then tackles the issue of faith in God's providential care, 6:25-34.


ii] Structure: Treasure in heaven:

Discipleship in a secular world:

Laying up treasure in heaven, v19-24:

Proposition / exhortation, v19-21:

Parabolic saying, v22-23;

being single-minded.

Parabolic saying, v24;

single-minded loyalty.

Dependence on God / faith, v25-34.


iii] Interpretation:

Matthew now deals with the business of discipleship in a secular world - living with the things of this world, 6:19-24. In 6:19-21 there is an initial exhortation that disciples make their consuming passion eternal verities rather than earthly mammon, v19-21, followed by two short parabolic sayings which warn that the choice should be one or the other, v22-23, and v24.

Jesus' exposition of the law in chapter 6 continues to reveal the law's prime function of exposing sin and thus the necessity for a disciple to seek a righteousness which is apart from obedience to the law, a righteousness given rather than earned. The secondary function of the law, that of guiding the Christian life, is also evident in this chapter. In the passage before us Jesus establishes "the importance of single-minded adherence to God", Morris. Of course, the degree of compromise evident in our lives, particularly in respect to the things of this world, reminds us that our eternal security depends on taking to ourselves the "single-minded adherence" of Christ, without, of course, in any way lessening our responsibility to strive to be what we already are in Christ.


The righteousness that exceeds that of the Scribes and the Pharisees is found in a personal relationship with God in Christ: As already indicated, Matthew's placement here of this package of Jesus' sayings, may well serve as his answer to the problem posed by the impossible demands of the law outlined in chapter 5. The answer will ultimately in a personal relationship with God, 6:1-18, which is both loyal / focused, v19-24, and faith-dependent, v25-34. By his arrangement of Jesus' teachings Matthew is giving us a clue to the mystery / gospel of God's grace, namely, that a person's standing in the sight of God is not dependent on works of the law, but on divine grace appropriated through faith. Matthew will continue to make this point in chapter 7 and will emphatically state it in the narratives of chapters 8 and 9.


iv] Synoptics:

All the material in this passage is found in Luke, although within different contexts. Q (usually viewed as a written document) is regarded by most commentators as the source.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 6:19

The secret of laying up treasure in heaven, v19-24: i] The principle; eternal treasure, v19-21. By contrasting heavenly and earthly treasures Jesus encourages his disciples to make their eternal treasure, a treasure found in Christ, their consuming passion, v19-21. The form of this passage evidences Aramaic poetic style. Note the parallel passage in Luke, 12:32-34. Luke stresses the idealistic nature of the saying ("sell your possessions"), while Matthew similarly maintains the principle of surpassing righteousness ("no one can serve two masters"). Luke links the saying with the parable of the rich fool and thus encapsulates it within the context of eschatological judgment, which context is similarly contained in Matthew's rendering of the saying, given that the whole of the sermon on the mount is framed within the context of the coming "flood", 7:27.

mh qhsaurizete (qhsaurizw) pres. imp. "do not store up" - do not gather together. Imperative. It is often held that this construction forbids habitual action. "Store up" in the sense of "provide for yourselves."

umin dat. "for yourselves" - to you. Dative of interest, advantage; "for you".

qhsaurouV (oV) "treasures" - That which is an important object of life apart from a devotion toward our Lord. A person's treasure can be anything, eg., "people's good opinion and praise", Lloyd-Jones.

epi + gen. "on [earth]" - Spacial; "upon".

o{pou "where" - Local, expressing space, seems best, as NIV, but a causal sense is possible.

afanizei (afanizw) pres. "destroy" - [moth and rust] cause to disappear. Moths certainly cause materials to disappear; "where the moth eats them away", Barclay.

kleptai (hV ou) "thieves" - [and where] thieves. A thief who steals by deception rather than someone who steals by force.

diorussousin (diorussw) pres. "break in" - dig through [and steal]. As of digging through a mud wall to break into the courtyard of an Eastern home.


As against providing ourselves with ephemeral earthly treasures, Jesus encourages us to provide ourselves with eternal heavenly treasures. The treasures themselves are presented as negations of that which is ephemeral, of this age, and thus disappearing, ie., "they endure forever in all their sparkling luster, as the irremovable possession of the children of the heavenly Father", Hendriksen. So, a disciple is to provide for themselves a heavenly treasure, rather than earthly treasure. The contextual setting for this idea is Rabbinic where it was held that "good works result in a heavenly accumulation of credit that is paid out on the day of final judgment", Strecker, cf. 4Ezra.7:77. The nomistic theology of second temple judaism, of law-obedience maintaining covenant standing for the realization of covenant blessings, is totally undermined by Jesus' teaching that it is impossible to maintain covenant compliance by works of the law, cf. chapter 5. So, it is unwise to view the treasure as eternal reward for "doing righteous deeds, suffering for Christ's sake, forgiving one another ", so Carson. The notion of reward in the NT is never what it seems and certainly does not lead us toward adopting pharisaic nomism. In the end, only one person has been rewarded for his righteous deeds and it is his eternal treasure, his reward, that we need to access for ourselves - a blessing of life-giving living water, Jn.4:14, etc. Thankfully the provision of this treasure is a gift of divine grace.

de "but" - but/and [store up for yourselves treasure]. Transitional, here to a contrastive point, as NIV.

en + dat. "in [heaven .......]" - Local, expressing space; the place of this provision is in heaven.


gar "for" - for [where is the treasure of you, there will be also the heart of you]. Expressing cause / reason. Possibly explanatory in the sense of drawing a conclusion, namely, the reason for the challenge to provide for ourselves heavenly treasures rather than earthly. Plummer suggests a reciprocal sense is intended; "where our treasure is, there will our hearts be; and where our hearts are, there is our treasure", so the point is "one's treasure tells the tale of one's heart", D&A. Yet, a causal sense is also possible, explaining the reason why a disciple needs to "stockpile heavenly treasures" (Nolland), namely, because the heart/mind follows the treasure. "If one centers on earthly treasures, so transient, so easily lost, one becomes thing-minded and self-concerned", Filson. "For your heart will always be where your riches are", TEV.


ii] A parabolic saying on being single-minded, v22-23. Contextually, the first parabolic saying supports the exhortation toward "a healthy orientation in the disciple's life", France, although it is anything but straight forward. It is usually interpreted in the sense that the eye is the window of the soul. If a person is blind the inner self is left in darkness. If the eye is sound, but what it looks at is dark (the fading light of this age as compared with the brilliance of eternity), then the inner self is doubly dark. Yet, this is most likely not the right interpretation. For the ancients, the eye is not a window, but a lamp. The evil eye adds to the darkness of a person's surrounds, whereas the good eye shines light out into the environment enlightening that environment. The righteous are like a lamp dispelling darkness in a lost world, whereas the unrighteous exist in the darkness as servants of mammon. This approach is particularly evident in the translation of Luke 11:36 offered by Torrey and followed by Manson. Torrey suggests that the original Aramaic is not properly represented by the Gk., giving the translation: "if however your whole body is lighted up with no part dark, then all about you will be light, just as the lamp lights you with its brightness." See D&A, p635-7. Although the illustration is somewhat unclear, its implication is clear enough: our eye is either healthy, or unhealthy, the light shines, or it doesn't - we can only be one or the other, which fact is brought out in v24. See comment on v23.

oJ ofqalmoV "the eye" - [the lamp of the body is] the eye. Predicate nominative, although it could be the subject with "lamp" the predicate nominative. The eye probably metaphorically represents intent: the evil eye = evil intent, the good eye = good intent.

oJ lucnoV "lamp" - The eye is a lamp in that it enlightens the environment with good intent, or adds to the darkness with evil intent.

tou swmatoV (a atoV) gen. "of the body" - The genitive is adjectival, possessive.

oun "-" - therefore. Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion.

ean + subj. "if" - if, as the case may be [the eye of you is healthy then the whole body of you will be shining]. Introducing a conditional clause, 3rd class, where the condition has the possibility of coming true. D&A read this conditional clause as causal; "if your eyes are good, then this is because / this shows that your whole body is full of light". The good eye (which radiates light enlightening its environment) is an evidence of the inner light.

aplouV "good" - Predicate adjective. The word means "single, undivided" and leans toward a moral / ethical sense, namely, "a single-minded God-like moral disposition", as opposed to ponhroV, "bad", ie., "a jealous stinginess, selfish greed, or meanness", France. So, it is likely that both words carry contrasting double meanings: a single-minded pursuit of the values of the kingdom of heaven, as opposed to a selfish pursuit of treasure on earth.


Jesus has made the point that "just as the healthy, good eye sends light into the world, so too do the righteous, filled with the light of God, dispel the shades of darkness around them. They are like a lamp that gives light to its environment", D&A. This truth is now contrasted with the opposite scenario. The disciple is bound to decide which of these mutually exclusive scenarios best represents them. Given our obvious accumulation of mammon, we need to urgently seek the radiance of the one righteous man before it's too late. Of course, for our part, we should do the best we can to shine "this little light of mine", dull though it is!

ean + subj. "if" - [but] if [the eye of you is evil]. As above, so possibly a causal conditional clause, "if, as may be the case, ..... then this is because ......" If the eye is bad (it has evil intent, driving a jealous stinginess, selfish greed, or meanness, with its consequent pursuit of worldly mammon), then this is because the person is full of inner darkness, is devoid of the divine.

ponhroV adj. "bad" - evil [then the whole boy of you will be in darkness]. Predicate adjective. See aplouV above.

ei oun "if then" - if therefore [the light in you is darkness]. Conditional clause, 1st. class, where the condition is assumed to be true; "if, as is the case, .... then ...." If a person is full of darkness, is devoid of the divine, then how terrible is that void. These words are phrased as a warning - if this is the way you are, you are lost. As such, the warning serves as another example of the use of ethics to expose sin within the framework of eschatological judgment.

poson pro. "how great [is that darkness]" - [the darkness] is how great. Correlative pronoun serving as an exclamation, predicate of an assumed verb to-be. "What a terrible darkness that darkness is!", Barclay.


iii] Saying on single-minded loyalty, v24. The saying "states clearly the intent of the two previous paragraphs; God claims complete loyalty; the disciple cannot divide his loyalty between God and his possessions", Filson. God is served with single-eyed devotion, or he is not served at all. Note the chiastic parallelism such that "love" is explained by "be devoted to" and "hate" by "despise".

douleuein (douleuw) pres. inf. + dat. "[can] serve" - [no one is able] to serve as a slave. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "is able". The present tense, being durative, probably indicates the sense "habitually to serve."

dusi kurioiV dat. "two masters" - two lords. Dative of direct object after the verb douleuw, "to serve"; "give service to two masters."

gar "-" - for. Introducing a causal clause explaining why a person cannot serve two masters, although the NIV takes it as explanatory rather than causal; "for if he does the result would be that ...", TH.

h] ..... h] "either ...... or ...." - Here forming a disjunctive correlative construction.

mishsei (misew) "he will hate" - he will hate [the one]. Here with the sense "disregard". The word "hate is very strong, but it is nothing more than an emphatic way of referring to the absolute commitment .

anqexetai (antecomai) fut. "he will be devoted to" - [and] he will be attached to, hold fast to [the other]. "Support one, despise the other", Phillips.

katafronhsei (katafronew) fut. "despise" - [or one he will hold to one and] he will despise, look down on. "He will look up to one and look down on the other", Junkins.

tou eJterou (oV) gen. "the other" - Genitive of direct object after the kata prefix verb "to despise."

qew/ (oV) dat. "[you are not able to serve] both God" - [you are not able to serve] god [and mammon]. Dative of direct object, as above.

kai "and" - Translated as correlative in the NIV, "both .... and", although te, or tai is not present, none-the-less a correlative sense is indicated; "you cannot be the servant both of the God of heaven and of the god of this world's wealth", Barclay.

mamwna/ (aV a) dat. "money" - mammon, wealth, money. Dative of direct object, as above. The word extends to property and possessions. "You cannot serve God and the things of this world at the same time."


Matthew Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]