Matthew 6:19
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
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(19) Lay not up for yourselves treasures.—Literally, with a force which the English lacks, treasure not up your treasures.

Where moth and rust doth corrupt.—The first word points to one form of Eastern wealth, the costly garments of rich material, often embroidered with gold and silver. (Comp. “Your garments are moth-eaten” in James 5:2.) The second word is not so much the specific “rust” of metals, as the decay which eats into and corrodes all the perishable goods of earth.

Matthew 6:19-21. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth — Our Lord here makes a transition from religious to common actions, and warns us of another snare, the love of money and earthly things, as inconsistent with purity of intention as the love of praise: where moth and rust doth corrupt, &c. — Where all things are perishable and transient. “In the eastern countries, where the fashion of clothes did not alter as with us, the treasures of the rich consisted not only of gold and silver, but of costly habits, and finely-wrought vessels of brass, and tin, and copper, liable to be destroyed in the manner here mentioned.” But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven — Build your happiness on a more noble and certain foundation, where none of these accidents can happen; but the arms of everlasting power and love shall secure you from every calamity and invasion. “Nothing can be conceived more powerful to damp that keenness with which men pursue the things of this life, than the consideration of their emptiness and uncertainty; or to kindle in them an ambition of obtaining the treasures in heaven, than the consideration of their being substantial, satisfying, durable, and subject to no accident whatever. These considerations, therefore, were fitly proposed by our Lord on this occasion.” — Macknight. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also — A most undoubted truth, and a most weighty reason why we should not make any thing on earth our treasure: for whatever we make our treasure gains possession of our hearts; we set our affections upon it, and of consequence, according to St. John, (1 John 2:15,) the love of the Father is not in us, and we are not his children.

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.Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth - Treasures, or wealth, among the ancients, consisted in clothes or changes of raiment, as well as in gold, silver, gems, wine, lands, and oil. It meant an abundance of "anything" that was held to be conducive to the ornament or comfort of life. As the Orientals delighted much in display, in splendid equipage, and costly garments, their treasures, in fact, consisted much in beautiful and richly-ornamented articles of apparel. See Genesis 45:22, where Joseph gave to his brethren "changes of raiment;" Joshua 7:21, where Achan coveted and secreted "a goodly Babylonian garment." Compare also Judges 14:12. This fact will account for the use of the word "moth." When we speak of "wealth," we think at once of gold, and silver, and lands, and houses. When a Hebrew or an Orientalist spoke of wealth, he thought first of what would make a "display;" and included, as an essential part, splendid articles of dress. The "moth" is a small insect that finds its way to clothes and garments, and destroys them. The "moth" would destroy their apparel, the "rust" their silver and gold; thus all their treasure would waste away. The word rendered "rust" signifies anything which "eats into," and hence, anything which would consume one's property, and may have a wider signification than mere rust.

And where thieves break through and steal - The houses in the East were not unfrequently made of clay hardened in the sun, or of loose stones, and hence it was comparatively easy, as it was not uncommon, for thieves to "dig through" the wall, and effect an entrance in that way. See the notes at Job 24:16.

Mt 6:19-34. Concluding Illustrations of the Righteousness of the Kingdom—Heavenly-Mindedness and Filial Confidence.

19. Lay not up for ourselves treasures upon earth—hoard not.

where moth—a "clothes-moth." Eastern treasures, consisting partly in costly dresses stored up (Job 27:16), were liable to be consumed by moths (Job 13:28; Isa 50:9; 51:8). In Jas 5:2 there is an evident reference to our Lord's words here.

and rust—any "eating into" or "consuming"; here, probably, "wear and tear."

doth corrupt—cause to disappear. By this reference to moth and rust our Lord would teach how perishable are such earthly treasures.

and where thieves break through and steal—Treasures these, how precarious!

See Poole on "Matthew 6:21".

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth,.... Meaning either treasures that are of an earthly nature and kind, the more valuable and excellent things of the earth, worldly wealth and riches; or the things and places, in which these are laid up, as bags, chests, or coffers, barns and other treasuries, private or public. Christ here dissuades from covetousness, and worldly mindedness; an anxious care and concern, to hoard up plenty of worldly things for themselves, for time to come, making no use of them at present for the good of others: and this he does, from the nature of the things themselves; the places where they are laid up; the difficulty of keeping them; and their liableness to be corrupted or lost.

Where moth and rust doth corrupt, and thieves break through and steal. Garments, formerly, were a considerable part of the treasures of great men, as well as gold and silver; see Job 27:16. So according to the (m) Targumist, Haman is bid to go , "to the king's treasury", and take from thence one of the purple garments, the best, and raiment of the best silk, &c. and these were liable to be eaten with the moth, James 5:2. The word translated rust, does not here signify the rust of metals, as gold and silver; by which there is not so much damage done, so as to destroy them, and make them useless; but whatever corrupts and consumes things eatable, as blasting and mildew in corn, or any sort of vermin in granaries: for gold and silver, or money, with jewels and precious stones, which make a very great part of worldly treasure, seem to be more particularly designed, by what thieves break through into houses for, and carry away. So that here are three sorts of earthly treasures pointed at, which are liable to be corrupted, or taken away: garments, which may be destroyed, and rendered useless for wearing; provisions of things eatable, as all sorts of corn and grain, which may be so corrupted by smut and vermin, as not to be fit for use; and money and jewels, which may be stolen by thieves: so that no sort of worldly riches and treasure is safe, and to be depended on; and therefore it is a great folly and vanity to lay it up, and trust in it.

(m) Targum Sheni. in Esth. vi. 10.

{6} Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

(6) The labours of those men are shown to be vain, which pass not for the assured treasure of everlasting life, but spend their lives in scraping together stale and vain riches.

Matthew 6:19. Θησαυρούς] Treasures. To understand particular kinds of them, either stores of corn, or costly raiment, or gold and silver, is a mistake, for the special treasure meant would also require to have been specially indicated.

βρῶσις] eating, corroding in general. Any further defining of the matter, whether with the Vulgate and Luther we understand rust (Jam 5:2-3) or weevils (Clericus, Kuinoel, Baumgarten-Crusius) to be meant, is arbitrary, as is also the assumption of a ἓν διὰ δυοῖν for σὴς βρώσκουσα (Casaubon in Wolf).

ἀφανίζει] causes to disappear, annihilates. Comp. note on Matthew 6:16. On ὅπου (upon earth) Bengel correctly observes: “Habet vim aetiologiae.” The thieves dig through (the wall, comp. Dem. 787. 13, 1268. 12; Job 24:16; Ezekiel 12:5) and steal.

Matthew 6:19-34. Comp. Luke 12:33 f., Luke 11:34 ff., Luke 12:22 ff. The theme stated in Matthew 6:1 is still pursued, and, without any formal indication of a transition, a new and essential point in the discourse is here introduced, viz. care about earthly things, which is treated (1) as striving after wealth, Matthew 6:19-24, and (2) as care for food and raiment, Matthew 6:25-34. To give up the idea of a fixed plan from this point onwards (de Wette), and especially to regard Matthew 6:19-34 as an irrelevant interpolation (Neander, Bleek, Weiss), is quite unwarranted, for we must not lose sight of the fact that the discourse was intended not merely for the disciples, but for the people as well (Matthew 7:28). The unity of the Sermon on the Mount is not that of a sermon in our sense of the word; but the internal connection of the thought in Matthew 6:19 ff. with what goes before lies in the ἀποδώσει σοι just mentioned, and the object belonging to which is, in fact, the heavenly treasures.

Matthew 6:19-34. Counsels against covetousness and care (reproduced in Luke 12:22-34, with exception of Matthew 6:22-23, which reappear in Luke 11:34-36). An interpolation, according to Weiss. Doubtless, if the Sermon on the Mount was exclusively an anti-Pharisaic discourse. But this homily might very well have formed one of the lessons on the hill, in connection with the general theme of the kingdom, which needs to be defined in contrast to worldliness not less than to spurious types of piety.

(d) Earthly possessions and daily cares, 19–34.

19. treasures upon earth] Love of amassing wealth has been characteristic of the Jews in all ages.

moth and rust] Oriental wealth consisted to a great extent in stores of linen, embroidered garments, &c., which were handed down and left as heir-looms.

moth] The English word = “the devourer.”

rust] Money was frequently buried in the ground in those unsettled times, and so would be more liable to rust. Banks in the modern sense were unknown. Rust, lit., an eating away, it is not confined to corrosion of metals.

break through and steal] An expression applicable to the mud walls of Oriental huts.

Matthew 6:19. Ὅπου, where) i.e. on earth. This has a causative force,[271] being equivalent to because there.[272]—ΒΡῶΣΙς, corrosion) This word, in opposition to moth, expresses rust, and every evil quality by which anything can become useless.—καὶ κλέπτουσι, and thus steal.

[271] Aetiology. See Appendix.—ED.

[272] Such is the principle of the life of not a few men, that they seem to exist in the world only for the purpose of amassing an abundance of earthly possessions.—V. g.

The particle δὲ in Matthew 6:20 indicates that both cannot at the same time stand together.—V. g.

Verse 19-Matthew 7:12. -

(3) General principles regarding the relation of the disciples to wealth and to men. Verses 19-34. -

(1) The principle of regarding God alone in our religious actions is also to be maintained in the relation that we hold to wealth in the broadest sense. Vers. 19-21: seek true wealth, because earthly wealth, though gathered, may be rendered useless by earth's chances. Vers. 22, 23: further, because it is the single eye that receives the light. Ver. 24: in fact divided service is impossible. Vers. 25-34: place God first, and he will provide. Verses 19-21. - Ver. 19 comes here only, but vers. 20, 21 have much in common with Luke 12:33, 34. They are there in the middle of a long discourse (vers. 22-53), which immediately follows the parable of the rich fool, itself spoken on the occasion when a man wished his brother to divide the inheritance with him. There seems no reason to believe that that discourse is at all necessarily in historical position, and that our verses belong originally to it and to its occasion rather than to the present place in Matthew. Verse 19. - Lay not up... but lay up (ver. 20). Lay up treasure indeed, but in the right place (cf. a still more striking case in John 6:27); observe that in both cases it is "for yourselves." Lightfoot ('Hor. Hebr.,' on ver. 1) quotes an interesting Haggada from Talm. Jeremiah,' Peah,' 15b (equivalent to Talm. Bob., 'Baba Bathra,' 11a), in which "Monobazes, the king," when blamed for giving so much to the poor, defends himself at length: "My fathers laid up their wealth on earth; I lay up mine in heaven," etc. But our Lord here does not mean to limit his reference to almsgiving. He thinks of all that has been mentioned since Matthew 5:3 (cf. Weiss) as affording means of heavenly wealth. Upon earth; upon the earth (Revised Version). Our Lord here wishes to emphasize the locality as such (ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς): in ver. 20 rather the nature and quality of the locality (ἐν οὐρανῷ). Where moth (cf. James 5:2, 3; Isaiah 51:8, especially LXX.). Either directly or by its larvae, whether the treasure be clothes or food. Or rust. Any power that eats, or corrodes, or wastes (βρῶσις). Doth corrupt; Revised Version, doth consume. "Corrupt" "has now a moral significance, which does not in any degree appertain to the Greek" (Humphry). Ἀφανίζει (ver. 16, note) is here used of the complete change in the appearance or even of the complete destruction caused by these slow but sure enemies of earthly wealth. And where thieves. Before, physical or non-responsible agents; here, human beings. Break through (διορούσουσιν); "dig through" (cf. Matthew 24:43; Luke 12:39; cf. Job 24:16, LXX.). Where the houses are so frequently made of mud or sun-burnt bricks, this would be comparatively easy. Matthew 6:19Lay not up treasures (μὴ θησαυρίξετε)

Lit., treasure not treasures. So Wyc., Do not treasure to you treasures. The beautiful legend of St. Thomas and Gondoforus is told by Mrs. Jameson ("Sacred and Legendary Art"): "When St. Thomas was at Caesarea, our Lord appeared to him and said, 'The king of the Indies, Gondoforus, hath sent his provost, Abanes, to seek for workmen well versed in the science of architecture, who shall build for him a palace finer than that of the Emperor of Rome. Behold, now I will send thee to him.' And Thomas went, and Gondoforus commanded him to build for him a magnificent palace, and gave him much gold and silver for the purpose. The king went into a distant country and was absent for two years; and St. Thomas, meanwhile instead of building palace, distributed all the treasures among the poor and sick; and when the king returned he was full of wrath, and he commanded that St. Thomas should be seized and cast into prison, and he meditated for him a horrible death. Meantime the brother of the king died, and the king resolved to erect for him a most magnificent tomb; but the dead man, after that he had been dead four days, suddenly arose and sat upright, and said to the king, 'The man whom thou wouldst torture is a servant of God; behold, I have been in Paradise, and the angels showed to me a wondrous palace of gold and silver and precious stones; and they said, 'This is the palace that Thomas, the architect, hath built for thy brother, King Gondoforus.' And when the king heard these words, he ran to the prison, and delivered the apostle; and Thomas said to him, 'Knowest thou not that those who would possess heavenly things have little care for the things of this earth? There are in heaven rich palaces without number, which were prepared from the beginning of the world for those who would purchase the possession through faith and charity. Thy riches, O king, may prepare the way for thee to such a palace, but they cannot follow thee thither.'"

Rust (βρῶσις)

That which eats; from the verb βιβρώσκω, to eat. Compare corrode, from the Latin rodo, to gnaw.

Doth corrupt (ἀφανίξει)

Rev., consume. The same word which is used above of the hypocrites concealing their faces. The rust consumes, and therefore causes to disappear. So Wyc., destroyeth.

Break through (διορύσσουσιν)

Lit., dig through, as a thief might easily penetrate the wall of a common oriental house of mud or clay. The Greek name for a burglar is τοιχωρύχος, wall-digger. Compare Job 24:16, "In the dark they dig through houses." Also Ezekiel 12:5. Wyc., Thieves delve out.

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