|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:1-4 Our Lord next warned against hypocrisy and outward show in religious duties. What we do, must be done from an inward principle, that we may be approved of God, not that we may be praised of men. In these verses we are cautioned against hypocrisy in giving alms. Take heed of it. It is a subtle sin; and vain-glory creeps into what we do, before we are aware. But the duty is not the less necessary and excellent for being abused by hypocrites to serve their pride. The doom Christ passes, at first may seem a promise, but it is their reward; not the reward God promises to those who do good, but the reward hypocrites promise themselves, and a poor reward it is; they did it to be seen of men, and they are seen of men. When we take least notice of our good deeds ourselves, God takes most notice of them. He will reward thee; not as a master who gives his servant what he earns, and no more, but as a Father who gives abundantly to his son that serves him.
Verse 4. - And thy Father which seeth in secret (comp. ver. 6, note). Himself. Revised 'Version omits, with the manuscripts. Shall reward thee; Revised Version, shall recompense thee (ἀποδώσει σοι). Shall give to thee in full measure corresponding to the contents of that which is really due (cf. Isaiah 65:6, 7, LXX.). When this" recompense" shall be given is not stated. If, as is probable, our Lord is thinking of the" reward" of ver. 1 and Matthew 5:12, it would naturally be given at the judgment-day. Openly. Revised Version omits, with the manuscripts; similarly vers. 6,18. The interpolation was probably made not only because of the contrast suggested by "in secret," but also to indicate more precisely the time when God would do this.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
That thine alms may be in secret,.... May be done in secret, and be kept a secret. The allusion seems to be to the secret chamber, where money was brought privately for the relief of the poor.
"There were two chambers in the sanctuary, the one was , "the chamber of secrets", and the other the chamber of vessels: the chamber of secrets was that into which pious persons put "in secret", and the poor children of good men were maintained out of it privately (q).''
The Jews say many things in favour of doing alms privately.
"Greater, (say they (r),) is he that gives alms in secret, than Moses our master.''
They tell us (s), that
"R. Jannai seeing a certain man give Zuz (a piece of money) to a poor man publicly, said unto him, it would have been better, if thou hadst not have given him anything, than to have given him in this manner.''
This was the practice of the ancient religious Jews, to give their alms privately; but the Scribes and Pharisees had brought that practice into disuse, and which our Lord labours to restore; adding, for encouragement,
and thy Father, which seeth in secret; beholds all secret actions, and knows the secret springs of actions,
himself shall reward thee openly; in the great day of account, before angels and men, when all secret things shall be brought to light, and every good man have praise of God. This duty, of giving alms to the poor, is mentioned by Christ before prayer to God; it may be for this reason, because it was usual to give alms before prayer.
"The great, or famous men, among the wise men, used to give a Prutah (a small piece of money) to a poor man before every prayer, and after that they prayed; as it is said, "I shall behold thy face in righteousness" (t).''
(q) Misn. Shekalim, c. 5. sect. 6. Mainnon. Hilch. Eracin, c. 2. sect. 12. (r) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 9. 2.((s) T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 5. 1.((t) Maimon. Hilch. Mattanot Anayin, c. 10. sect. 15.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. That thine alms may be in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly—The word "Himself" appears to be an unauthorized addition to the text, which the sense no doubt suggested. (See 1Ti 5:25; Ro 2:16; 1Co 4:5).
Prayer (Mt 6:5, 6).
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