The book of Matthew is one of the four epistles. This in other words is to mean that the book, which is in New Testament, happens to be the first book that records the teachings of Jesus Christ, at the believed time when He was on the earth. In this paper, the interpretation will come from Matthew chapter 6 verses 25-34. These verses contain Christ Jesus teachings on how Christians should live here on earth independently but with the divine intervention of their God.
This in other words is to mean that the verses emphasizes on God and Christians perceptions of possessions. Different strategies of argumentation will be used to discuss this chapter, that is, verse by verse interpretation will be one of the strategic ways of interpretation of the chapter. This will be in an endeavor to bring out the theme of divine providence that Christ Jesus teaches his believers while at the same time drawing a closer look at the theme of cynicism as portrayed by the tone of Christ Jesus in his teachings.
In the process of interpretation, contemporary literature will be used together with various comparisons. This will in an effort to bring the text and its context to the conventions of thought and the characteristic way of life of its people at that particular time. The arguments depicted in this passage will be identified and commented on. This is especially on how the arguments form a persuasive tone as a whole. The contents of the verses in this chapter will also be compared with the discussions of divine providence by Epictectus and Dio.
This will be help to analyze the verse which comes closer than the other. At the end of the discussion, the verses will also be related to chapter 5 verses 7 of the book of Matthew, where the context of the verse brings a personification of Jerusalem (Good New bible 809). In this chapter, Christ Jesus teaches Christians not to worry about their lives but instead, be trusting. This is to mean that Christians are obliged to trust their maker, their God, for their divine provision.
Looking at the lives of the people at that particular time and even today, one can easily decipher the fact that our lives have gone past the worries implied in the text. This is because of the fact that many people get worried of the things that they do not even need. In verse 24, Christ Jesus talks of the two masters that a Christian can serve, either God or the material things. This is the verse that carries weight in the whole of this chapter.
This is because; the others are based from it in the sense that Christ Jesus believes that Christians are more inclined into serving both or focusing mere on material things, where on the other hand, his teachings are centered on serving God, and seeking his righteousness first, and “the rest shall be added” (Good New bible 809) In verses 25: Christ Jesus is commenting on the worries that Christians or the disciples at that particular time needed. These include food, drink, and clothing, which are the basic necessities of life.
At this particular moment, the disciples and the believers at this particular moment were worried about getting enough to get by (Good New bible 809). The principles of chreia (which is defined as a brief reminiscence aptly attributed to someone) are clearly illustrated on this verse. The chreia saying that Jesus made was: do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will put on, is not life more than food and the body more than clothing. The elaboration of Jesus chreia is quite admirable due to the aspect of sarcasm and rhetorical.
It’s considered rhetoric to tell people not to worry about their own lives, the clothes, food and shelter, of which are the basic needs of human being. But to some extent, the chreia in the sentence can be appreciated from the fact that the believer live by the power of God and therefore he who is able to give life can also provide the rest that they need. In one way or another, the chreia is also expressed in other verses, for instance in verse 33: but seek first the kingdom of God and the rest shall be given unto you.
The believers who desire the gifts from God must first seek his kingdom, irrespective of whether it’s a hard and a bitter process or not. this can be compared to such chreia sayings as ‘the roots of education are bitter but the fruits sweet’. This is to mean for one to enjoy the fruits of education, they must first taste the bitter roots of education. The same case with believers; for them to enjoy the gifts of God they must first seek the kingdom of God. Verses 25 to 34 as unit can be said to contain one teaching of Christians, in his admonition, and teachings.
The verses are interlinked, in the sense, they indicate the conditions that believers should follow in order to acquire God’s blessings. The word ‘therefore’ links with verse 24 in the sense that for believers, they cannot serve two masters, that is, God and satan. The word believer in the context of Christianity originates from believe in one God as the creator and maker of heaven and the earth, and therefore having believed in God wholeheartedly, Christians or believers, ‘therefore’ should not worry about their lives.
The word ‘therefore’ in this context is used to connect the two verses and subsequently introduce the other verses. While on the other hand, some of the believers were in the current generation worry about what to do with all the material possessions that we have. Jesus emphasizes on the fact that God is the provider and therefore believers should not be worried about what to eat or drink, but should be satisfied with the little they have. This in other words is to mean that Jesus raises the eyes of the believers above their worries by redirecting their thinking.
He raises their sights above the worries of this world to faith and trust in God, who is their heavenly father and therefore will not forsake but provide for them. This is again to mean that Christ Jesus takes the Christians to the source of their blessings and where their help is guaranteed, that is, from their heavenly father (Good New bible 809). In verse 28, where Christ Jesus is talking about worries on clothing, He delivers his teaching by giving a comparison with the lilies of the field “how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these”.
If God therefore is able to clothe the grass of the field today, which is alive today and gone the following day, who are Christians who are made in his own image not be clothed by Him even more. This is to mean that Christians should focus more on the things of the kingdom of God have a security. Christians should therefore stop the single minded pursuit of financial security but on the contrary should seek the things that last (Good New bible 809). He also brings a comparison in verse 26 where he emphasizes on the fact that Christians are more valued by God than any other creature.
The birds of the air neither sole or reap, nor gather into barns, and yet they never go hungry from the fact that Heavenly father provides for them. This is to mean that Christians, who are better than the birds of the air, should focus their hope from God alone for divine provision. He therefore gives the second reason why Christians are not supposed to get worried. This is found in verse 32: “we have a heavenly father who knows what we need”. This is to mean that the heavenly father as portrayed by Christ Jesus is kind and loving and will therefore provide for their needs (Good New bible 809).
Christians should therefore trust and believe in the heavenly father for his divine provisions. God has therefore given us strength and the ability to work to earn our living. He controls our minds and helps us make wise decisions. He also provides to believers through other people. This can be through our fathers and mothers, relatives, church, friends among other people. These are some of the divine channels that our father in heaven uses to provide for Christians here on earth (Good New bible 809).
In verse 28, Christ Jesus gives the third reason why Christians should not worry about the things of this world. This is because there are more important things that Christians should be seeking after. Christ Jesus says that “therefore do not be anxious, saying, what shall we eat? Or what shall we drink? Or what shall we wear, for the gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly father knows that you need them all. Here the theme of cynicism is portrayed from the fact that Christ Jesus understands the fact that many Christians are pessimistic and anxious about their daily needs (Good New bible 809).
Believers seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”. Here Christ Jesus is trying to emphasize on the fact that Christians should understand that their heavenly father will always provide for them and therefore they should center their focus on the things of the kingdom of God, which will last forever. He is therefore teaching Christians to focus on their energy in seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness. This is to mean that it’s more seeking that the material things of this world.
Christ Jesus came teaching about this fact; the paramount importance of seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness. In this verse, the theme of divine providence is depicted in two ways (Good New bible 809). First, Christians are advised to seek the kingdom of God first. This is to mean that they should work and strive towards attaining the heavenly gifts which only God can give. This being the case therefore, their heavenly father, God, is portrayed as the provider. The only one who is in a position to provide the things of the kingdom, and his righteousness?
The second point comes at the end of the verse whereby, Christ Jesus says that “and all things shall be added unto you”. This is to mean that after seeking the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, they shall or will receive a divine provision from their father, that is, all things they have desired shall be provided. This is a portrayal of the theme of divine providence (Good New bible 809). Looking at the way Christians had misused Jerusalem church; Christ Jesus drives them out claiming that “his house shall be a house of prayer”.
The believers at that particular time were using the church to gain material possession; a place where they were supposed to seeking God and his righteousness. This also brings out the theme cynicism, from the fact that Christians had much doubt and even pessimistic about seeking God. They therefore opted to seek material possessions even his house own house, that is, the church, where they were supposed to seek God (Good New bible 809). The last verse in this chapter gives the ‘Christ Jesus conclusion’ on the whole issue.
Christ concludes his teachings with the following; • Christians should first seek the kingdom of God first and his righteousness • After seeking the kingdom of God, all other things shall be added unto them. • They should therefore not get worried about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about its own things. • He finally concludes that each day has its sufficient trouble and therefore Christians are not supposed to worry about their future. Although the above conclusions are true, there are other results are conspicuous throughout this chapter.
These are based on the theme of divine providence and the theme of cynicism. The results indicate that for Christians to partake of the heavenly gifts, that is, the divine provision from their father, they must have; • Have faith and trust in Him • They must also believe in Him • They must also seek his kingdom and righteousness first. • Have no worry about their basic needs for their father cares and loves them to provide for them. • The results also indicate that Jehovah God is the sole provider of both his righteousness and the daily needs that we need as Christians.
It’s through the focus on the above results that the whole paper has been formatted. The central verse in the chapter that has been analyzed can was considered and identified to be verse 24. This is because it carries the starting and the concluding remarks of the verses studied. That is, Christians must choose one master to serve, either God or material possession (Good New bible 809).
Good News bible. Early Christian Gospels: The book of Matthew 6: 24-34. USA: American Bible Society. 1994.
Courtney from Study Moose
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