Matthew 6:24
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
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No man can serve two masters ... - Christ proceeds to illustrate the necessity of laying up treasures in heaven from a well-known fact, that a servant cannot serve two masters at the same time. His affections and obedience would be divided, and he would fail altogether in his duty to one or the other. One he would love, the other he would hate. To the interests of the one he would adhere, the interests of the other he would neglect. This is a law of human nature. The supreme affections can be fixed on only one object. So, says Jesus, the servant of God cannot at the same time obey him. and be avaricious, or seek treasures supremely on earth. One interferes with the other, and one or the other will be, and must be, surrendered.

Mammon - Mammon is a Syriac word, a name given to an idol worshipped as the god of riches. It has the same meaning as Plutus among the Greeks. It is not known that the Jews ever formally worshipped this idol, but they used the word to denote wealth. The meaning is, ye cannot serve the true God, and at the same time be supremely engaged in obtaining the riches of this world. One must interfere with the other. See Luke 16:9-11.

No man can serve two masters - The master of our heart may be fitly termed the love that reigns in it. We serve that only which we love supremely. A man cannot be in perfect indifference betwixt two objects which are incompatible: he is inclined to despise and hate whatever he does not love supremely, when the necessity of a choice presents itself.

He will hate the one and love the other - The word hate has the same sense here as it has in many places of Scripture; it merely signifies to love less - so Jacob loved Rachel, but hated Leah; i.e. he loved Leah much less than he loved Rachel. God himself uses it precisely in the same sense: Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated; i.e. I have loved the posterity of Esau less than I have loved the posterity of Jacob: which means no more than that God, in the course of his providence, gave to the Jews greater earthly privileges than he gave to the Edomites, and chose to make them the progenitors of the Messiah, though they ultimately, through their own obstinacy, derived no more benefit from this privilege than the Edomites did. How strange is it, that with such evidence before their eyes, men will apply this loving and hating to degrees of inclusion and exclusion, in which neither the justice nor mercy of God are honored!

Ye cannot serve God and mammon - ממון mamon is used for money in the Targum of Onkelos, Exodus 18:21; and in that of Jonathan, Judges 5:19; 1 Samuel 8:3. The Syriac word ממונא mamona is used in the same sense, Exodus 21:30. Dr. Castel deduces these words from the Hebrew אמן aman, to trust, confide; because men are apt to trust in riches. Mammon may therefore be considered any thing a man confides in. Augustine observes, "that mammon, in the Punic or Carthaginian language, signified gain." Lucrum Punic mammon dicitur. The word plainly denotes riches, Luke 16:9, Luke 16:11, in which latter verse mention is made not only of the deceitful mammon, (τω αδικω), but also of the true (το αληθινον). St. Luke's phrase, μαμωνα αδικιας, very exactly answers to the Chaldee ממון דשקר mamon dishekar, which is often used in the Targums. See more in Wetstein and Parkhurst.

Some suppose there was an idol of this name, and Kircher mentions such a one in his Oedip. Egyptiacus. See Castel.

Our blessed Lord shows here the utter impossibility of loving the world and loving God at the same time; or, in other words, that a man of the world cannot be a truly religious character. He who gives his heart to the world robs God of it, and, in snatching at the shadow of earthly good, loses substantial and eternal blessedness. How dangerous is it to set our hearts upon riches, seeing it is so easy to make them our God!

No man can serve two masters,.... Whose orders are directly contrary to one another: otherwise, if they were the same, or agreed, both might be served; but this is rarely the case, and seldom done. This is a proverbial expression, and is elsewhere used by Christ, Luke 16:13. The Jews have sayings pretty much like it, and of the same sense as when they say (w),

"we have not found that , "any man is fit for two tables."''

And again (x),

"that it is not proper for one man to have two governments:''

their meaning is, that two things cannot be done together:

for, either he will hate the one, and love the other; he will have less affection and regard to the one, than to the other; as the service or orders of the one, are less agreeable to him than the others;

or else he will hold to the one; hearken to his commands, obey his orders, and abide in his service;

and despise the other; show disrespect to his person, neglect his orders, and desert his service:

ye cannot serve God and mammon. The word "mammon" is a Syriac word, and signifies money, wealth, riches, substance, and everything that comes under the name of worldly goods. Jerom says, that riches, in the Syriac language, are called "mammon"; and so the word is often used in the above senses, in the Chaldee paraphrases (y), and in the Talmudic writings; where (z) , "pecuniary judgments", or causes relating to money affairs, in which were pecuniary mulcts, are opposed to , "judgment of souls", or causes relating to life and death. The account and interpretation Irenaeus (a) gives of the word, is very wide and foreign; who says, that

"Mammon, according to the Jewish way of speaking, which the Samaritans used, is one that is greedy, and would have more than he ought; but, according to the Hebrew language, it is called adjectively Mam, and signifies one that is gluttonous; that is, who cannot refrain himself from gluttony.''

Whereas it is not an Hebrew word, nor an adjective, but a substantive, and signifies riches; which are opposed to God, being by some men loved, admired, trusted in, and worshipped, as if they were God; and which is incompatible with the service of the true God: for such persons, whose hearts go after their covetousness, and are set upon earthly riches, who give up themselves to them, are eagerly and anxiously pursuing after them, and place their confidence in them; whatever pretensions they may make to the service of God, as did the Scribes and Pharisees, who are particularly struck at by this expression, both here and elsewhere, they cannot truly and heartily serve the Lord. "Mammon" is the god they serve; which word may well be thought to answer to Pluto, the god of riches, among the Heathens. The Jews, in Christ's time, were notorious for the love of "mammon"; and they themselves own, that this was the cause of the destruction of the second temple: the character they give of those, who lived under the second temple, is this:

"we know that they laboured in the law, and took care of the commandments, and of the tithes, and that their whole conversation was good; only that they , "loved the mammon", and hated one another without a cause (b).''

(w) Praefat. Celi Jaker, fol. 3. 1. (x) Piske Tosephot Cetubot, art. 359. (y) Vid. Targum Onkelos & Jon. in Genesis 13.13. & in Jud. v. 19. & in Proverbs 3.9. & in Isaiah 45.13. & passim. (z) Misn. Sanhed. c. 1. sect. 1. & c. 4. sect. 1.((a) Adv. Haeres. l. 3. c. 8. p. 249. (b) T. Hieros. Yoma, fol. 38. 3.

{8} No man can serve {h} two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and {i} mammon.

(8) God will be worshipped by the whole man.

(h) Who are at odds with one another, for if two agree they are as one.

(i) This word is a Syrian word, and signifies all things that belong to money.

24. No man can serve—The word means to "belong wholly and be entirely under command to."

two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other—Even if the two masters be of one character and have but one object, the servant must take law from one or the other: though he may do what is agreeable to both, he cannot, in the nature of the thing, be servant to more than one. Much less if, as in the present case, their interests are quite different, and even conflicting. In this case, if our affections be in the service of the one—if we "love the one"—we must of necessity "hate the other"; if we determine resolutely to "hold to the one," we must at the same time disregard, and (if he insist on his claims upon us) even "despise the other."

Ye cannot serve God and mammon—The word "mamon"—better written with one m—is a foreign one, whose precise derivation cannot certainly be determined, though the most probable one gives it the sense of "what one trusts in." Here, there can be no doubt it is used for riches, considered as an idol master, or god of the heart. The service of this god and the true God together is here, with a kind of indignant curtness, pronounced impossible. But since the teaching of the preceding verses might seem to endanger our falling short of what is requisite for the present life, and so being left destitute, our Lord now comes to speak to that point.

6:19-24 Worldly-mindedness is a common and fatal symptom of hypocrisy, for by no sin can Satan have a surer and faster hold of the soul, under the cloak of a profession of religion. Something the soul will have, which it looks upon as the best thing; in which it has pleasure and confidence above other things. Christ counsels to make our best things the joys and glories of the other world, those things not seen which are eternal, and to place our happiness in them. There are treasures in heaven. It is our wisdom to give all diligence to make our title to eternal life sure through Jesus Christ, and to look on all things here below, as not worthy to be compared with it, and to be content with nothing short of it. It is happiness above and beyond the changes and chances of time, an inheritance incorruptible. The worldly man is wrong in his first principle; therefore all his reasonings and actions therefrom must be wrong. It is equally to be applied to false religion; that which is deemed light is thick darkness. This is an awful, but a common case; we should therefore carefully examine our leading principles by the word of God, with earnest prayer for the teaching of his Spirit. A man may do some service to two masters, but he can devote himself to the service of no more than one. God requires the whole heart, and will not share it with the world. When two masters oppose each other, no man can serve both. He who holds to the world and loves it, must despise God; he who loves God, must give up the friendship of the world. 6:24 No man can serve two masters. He cannot give his heart to two services at the same time. He cannot follow two callings successfully.

Ye cannot serve God and mammon. This is the direct application. The Chaldee word Mammon means money or riches. It is here personified as an idol. Mammon originally meant trust, or confidence, and riches is the trust of worldly men. If God be not the object of supreme trust, something else will be, and it is more likely to be money.

Verse 24. - No man can serve two masters, etc. In Luke 16:13 the saying is found almost word for word immediately after the parable of the unjust steward. As the word "mammon" comes twice in that parable, but nowhere else in the New Testament, it is probable that its occurrence caused the insertion of this saying in that place (cf. ver. 22, note). No man can serve two masters. The thought is still of earnestness of purpose and singleness of heart. Our Lord here speaks of the impossibility of such divided service as he has been warning his disciples against attempting. No man can give due service to two masters. For, apart from the extent of the claim of each master - total bond-service (δουλεύειν) - thorough service of two masters is incompatible with the effects produced upon the servant himself. The result of service is to incline him towards the one master and against the other. Notice how our Lord continues his plan of setting forth the moral effect of modes of thought or action upon the agents themselves (cf. Romans 6:16). For either he will hate the one (τὸν ἕνα), and love the other. Because human nature is such that it must attach itself to one of two principles. "Cor hominis neque its vacuum esse potest, ut non serviat ant Dee aut creaturae: neque simul duobus servire" (Bengel). Or else he will hold to the one (η} ἑνὸς ἀνθέξεται). The Revised Version omits "the." The stress here is on "one - not both." Hold to; in steadfast application (cf. Ellicott, on Titus 1:9). Ye cannot serve God and mammon; "Ye moun not serve god and ricchesse" (Wickliffe). A repetition of the statement of the impossibility of serving two masters, but more than a repetition, for it is enforced by defining who the masters are. Mammon. The change in the Revised Version from a capital to a small m has probably been made to prevent "mammon" being understood as the proper name of some god. The derivation of the word (μαμωνᾶς, ממונא) is very doubtful. The most probable suggestion is that it is formed from the stem of מנה, and is equivalent to that which is apportioned or counted (cf. Levy, 'Neuheb. Worterb.,' s.v.; Edersheim, 'Life,' 2. p. 269). Hence its well-known meaning of property, wealth, especially money. Observe that our Lord does not here contrast God and Satan; he is emphasizing the thought which he has been adducing since ver. 19, viz., the relation that his disciples must hold to things of earth, which are summed up by him under the term "mammon" as with us under the term "wealth." Observe also that it is not the possession of wealth that he condemns, but the serving it, making it an object of thought and pursuit. Gathering it and using it in the service of and according to the will of God is not serving mammon (cf. Weiss, 'Matthaus-Ev.').

serve.

Matthew 4:10 Then said Jesus to him, Get you hence, Satan: for it is written, …

Joshua 24:15,19,20 And if it seem evil to you to serve the LORD, choose you this day …

1 Samuel 7:3 And Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, If you do return …

1 Kings 18:21 And Elijah came to all the people, and said, How long halt you between …

2 Kings 17:33,34,41 They feared the LORD, and served their own gods, after the manner …

Ezekiel 20:39 As for you, O house of Israel, thus said the Lord GOD; Go you, serve …

Zephaniah 1:5 And them that worship the host of heaven on the housetops; and them …

Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, …

Romans 6:16-22 Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, …

Galatians 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for …

2 Timothy 4:10 For Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is …

James 4:4 You adulterers and adulteresses, know you not that the friendship …

1 John 2:15,16 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If …

mammon.

Luke 16:9,11,13 And I say to you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; …

1 Timothy 6:9,10,17 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and …

The other (ἕτερον)

Implying distinction in quality rather than numerical distinction (ἄλλος). For example, "whoever smiteth thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other (τὴν ἄλλην); i.e., the other one of the two (Matthew 5:39). At Pentecost, the disciples began to speak with other (ἑτέραις) tongues; i.e., different from their native tongues. Here the word gives the idea of two masters of distinct or opposite character and interests, like God and Mammon.

Hold to (ἀνθέξεται)

The preposition ἀντί, against, indicates holding to the one master as against the other. He who is for God must be against Mammon.

6:24 Mammon - Riches, money; any thing loved or sought, without reference to God. Luke 16:13.
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