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Chapter 6



6:1 "Be careful not to display your righteousness merely to be seen by people. Otherwise you have no reward with your Father in heaven.


The word “righteousness” Jesus uses here means "righteous acts", or acts of mercy. The New King James Version reads "charitable deeds". The word is translated as "alms" in the AV, which suggests monetary giving only; but "charitable deeds, righteous acts, and acts of mercy" embrace all kinds of giving. Jesus accepts without question that the disciples were fulfilling their duty to give to the needy as prescribed in Leviticus 25:35 and which he further says in Luke 11:41 "give alms of such things as you have".

What Jesus is concerned about in this verse is the way that his disciples were to give. They were not to give in order to be seen as benevolent; for if they did so then they would receive no reward from their Father in heaven who knows the hearts of all people, and the motive behind their giving.  


6:2-4 Thus whenever you do charitable giving, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in synagogues and on streets so that people will praise them. I tell you the truth, they have their reward. But when you do your giving, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your gift may be in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.


The correct way to give is from a sincere heart with the pure motive of helping the one in distress without any thought of return (1 Cor. 13:3); and to do so in as secretive a way as possible. Do not take too long in deciding or considering the cost of giving (Rom. 12:8). Instead, give with regularity (1 Cor. 16:2) and with a cheerful heart (2 Cor. 9:7). Jesus says "do not do as the hypocrites". The word “hypocrites” was original used to describe actors. In other words, Jesus is saying do not merely play the part of a giving person so that you may be known as such; honoured and praised by men. The Father who sees what is done from the heart will bless you in such a way that it will be seen by others.



6:5 "Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray while standing in synagogues and on street corners so that people can see them. Truly I say to you, they have their reward.


Jesus is not disparaging public prayer, but is stating that private prayer should not be conducted in the open air or church - there is a right place and time for it.   The hypocrites he refers to prayed publicly in order to give the impression that they were very spiritual and had a good standing with God (Luke 18:11-12). They already have all the reward they will get – the adulation of men, for what that is worth. Jesus tells us of a better way to pray.


6:6 But whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.


We are to find ourselves a place where no one can disturb us, where we can shut ourselves in with God and him alone. Personal prayer should be strictly private (Ellicott). Jesus went up on the mountain to pray and Peter up to the roof. As we pray in this fashion so our Father who hears the cry of our hearts will bless us openly.


6:7 When you pray, do not babble repetitiously like the Gentiles, because they think that by their many words they will be heard.


We are not to repeat over and over again the same phrases and words as if by doing so we will get God to hear us (this is not a reference to our being persevering in  intercessory prayer), nor do we necessarily need to pray a long time in order to get an answer (1 Kings 18:26).


6:8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.


We have no need to be like the heathen, for our God hears and answers prayer; he knows what we have need of but still requires us to come and make our requests known to him with thanksgiving (Phil. 4:6).

What should we pray for? The Lord gave his disciples this pattern prayer (often called the Lord’s Prayer) to help them.  


6:9 So pray this way: Our Father in heaven, may your name be honoured,


First of all we are to fully realise our relationship with God in our Lord Jesus Christ, which is that of a Father and his children (Rom. 8:15). He dwells in the heavenly places where we sit with Christ (Eph. 2:6). Therefore we do not have to reach up to bring him down for he is always present with us. Although we have this relationship with God as Father, he is still the Almighty and Everlasting God and so we must approach him with reverence and awesome fear of his very being (his name).


6:10 may your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.


We are to pray that his kingdom will be established on the earth. Although in one sense the kingdom has come into the hearts of those who have received Jesus Christ as their Saviour, God's desire is that his purpose will be fulfilled on the earth, especially in us as his people, as it always is in heaven by the angels.


6:11 Give us today our daily bread,


We pray for our physical needs to be met for each day.


6:12 and forgive us our debts, as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors.


Some translations read “forgive us our debts” and others “forgive us our trespasses”. If debts are sins of omission (the things that we do not do and so are in debt to God for them) and trespasses are the sins we commit; then it is only as we forgive what others have done or neglected to do for us, that we can ask God to forgive us.  


6:13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.


God does not tempt any man (James 1:13) the Amp. N.T. has "bring" not lead and would therefore suggest that we ask God to keep us from the paths that would be a temptation to us and cause us to fall for the next prayer is deliver us from the hand of the evil one.  The prayer finishes with a hymn of praise in acknowledgement that God is sovereign, he reigns over all. All power belongs to him and he is exalted above all.  Amen - so it is.  


6:14-15 "For if you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins.

In these verses Jesus enlarges on verse 12 by saying that our sins will only be forgiven by God as we forgive those who have wronged us.


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This Bible study is taken from Faithbuilders: The Gospel of Matthew


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