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. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
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(24) No man can serve two masters.—Literally, can be the slave of two masters. The clauses that follow describe two distinct results of the attempt to combine the two forms of service which are really incompatible. In most cases, there will be love for the one, and a real hatred for the other. The man who loves God cannot love the evil world, and, so far as it is evil, will learn to hate it. The man who loves the world will, even in the midst of lip-homage, hate the service of God in his inmost heart. But there are natures which seem hardly susceptible of such strong emotions as love or hatred. In that case there will be a like though not an identical, issue. The man’s will will drift in one direction or another. He will cleave to one with such affection as he is capable of, and will hold the other cheap. God or mammon, not both together, will be the ruling power with him.

Mammon.—The word means in Syriac “money” or “riches,” and is used in this sense in Luke 16:9. It occurs frequently in the Chaldee Targum, but no word resembling it is found in the Hebrew of the Old Testament. In the fourth century Jerome found it in use in Syria, and Augustine in the Punic dialect of his native country. There is no ground for believing that it ever became the name of any deity, who, like the Plutus of the Greeks, was worshipped as the god of wealth. Here, there is obviously an approach to a personification for the sake of contrasting the service or worship of money with that which is due to God. Milton’s description of Mammon among the fallen angels is a development of the same thought (Par. Lost, I. 678).

Matthew 6:24. No man can serve two masters — Whose interests and commands are directly contrary to each other; for either he will hate the one and love the other — And therefore, while he employs himself in the service of the one, will, of course, neglect the interest of the other: or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other — That is, will adhere entirely to the love and service of the one, and quite abandon the other. Do not therefore impose upon yourselves so far as to imagine that your hearts can be equally divided between heaven and earth. Ye cannot serve God and mammon, that unworthy idol, to which many devote their hearts and their lives. “Mammon is a Syriac word for riches, which our Lord here beautifully represents as a person whom the folly of men had deified. It is well known that the Greeks had a fictitious god of wealth; but I cannot find,” says Dr. Doddridge, “that he was ever directly worshipped in Syria under the name of Mammon.” According to some, the term is derived from

אמן, amen, and signifies whatever one is apt to confide in. And, because men put their trust generally in external advantages, such as riches, authority, honour, power, &c., the word mammon is used to denote every thing of that kind, and particularly riches, by way of eminence. The word hate, in this verse, signifies, to have a less value for, and to love, is to have a greater regard for, as appears from the remaining part of the verse, and from Matthew 10:37, compared with Luke 12:16. See Bishop Newton’s Notes on Paradise Lost, 1:620.

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.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.

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.

No man can serve two masters, that is, two masters that command contrary things each to other, for that is the present case of God and mammon. Or, No man with the like diligence, and alacrity, and faithfulness, can serve two masters. It is a proverbial speech, and in reason to be understood of contrary masters. He will either hate the one, or the first, and love the second, or else he will cleave to the first, and contemn the other, that is, so in his actions behave himself, that he will appear a true servant but to one of them, and despise or slight the other.

Ye cannot serve God and mammon. It is not improbable that some of the ancients have thought, that amongst some of the heathen they had an idol called Mammon, which they made the god of money; thence mammon by a figure signifieth riches, as Luke 16:9. So as it is of an equivalent sense to, no man can serve God and Bacchus, or God and Venus; that is, none can be a drunkard, or an unclean person, and a true servant of God. So no man can serve God, and yet make the getting of riches, right or wrong, his study; hence the apostle calls covetousness idolatry, Colossians 3:5. So that by serving here must be understood a giving up of ourselves chiefly or wholly to the service of God, and to the business of getting the world; or, serving the latter, in what it tempteth or commandeth us to, contrary to the will of 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.

Matthew 6:24. But certainly do not suppose that ye can combine the eager pursuit of wealth with striving after the kingdom of God! no, aut, aut!

δυσί] i.e. of course, two who are of opposite characters.

ἢ γὰρκαταφρονήσει] he will either hate A and love B, or if not, vice versâ, he will cleave to A and despise B. In the second clause ἑνός is without the article, because the idea is somewhat different from that in the first, namely: “or he will cleave to one (not both) and despise the other concerned.”

μισεῖν and ἀγαπᾶν, like שָׂנֵא and אָהַב, are used neither here nor anywhere else (Genesis 29:31; Malachi 1:2-3; Luke 14:26; Luke 16:13; John 12:25; Romans 9:13) “with a less forcible meaning” (de Wette, Tholuck, Bleek), so as to be equivalent to posthabere and praeferre. See, on the other hand, note on Romans 9:12, also Fritzsche on this passage. The two masters are conceived of as being of such a nature that the one is loved, the other hated, and vice versâ,—and that in a decided manner, without any intermediate attitude of indifference. Luther: although the world can do it skilfully; and as it is expressed in German, by “carrying the tree on both shoulders.” In the second alternative, then, the καταφρονεῖν corresponds to the μισεῖν as being the effect of the hatred, while to the ἀγαπᾶν corresponds the ἀντέχεσθαι as the effect of the love.

ἀνθέξεται] he will hold to him, faithfully cleave to him. Plat. Rep. x. p. 600 D; Phil. p. 58 E; Ax. p. 369 E; Dem. 290. 9; 1Ma 15:34; Titus 1:9.

μαμωνᾶς] Chaldee מָמוֹנָא, Syr. ܡܡܘܢܐ, consequently it should be spelt with only one μ, and derived, not from אמן, but from טמן, so that its origin is to be traced to מַטְמוֹן, thesaurus (Genesis 43:23). Gesenius, Thes. I. p. 552. It means riches, and, according to Augustine, is, in the Punic language, equivalent to lucrum. In this instance it is personified owing to its connection with δουλεύειν, and from its antithesis to θεῷ: wealth conceived of as an idol (Plutus). Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. p. 1217 f.

Moreover, the idea implied in the δουλεύειν prevents the possible abuse of the saying. Luther says well: To have money and property is not sinful; but what is meant is, that thou shouldst not allow them to be thy master, rather that thou shouldst make them serve thee, and that thou shouldest be their master. Comp. Chrysostom, who quotes the examples of Abraham and Job. According to the axiom in the text, Christ justly (see on Luke 16:9, the note) requires unfaithfulness in regard to mammon.

Matthew 6:24. Parable of the two masters. Οὐδεὶς: In the natural sphere it is impossible for a slave to serve two masters, for each claims him as his property, and the slave must respond to one or other of the claims with entire devotion, either from love or from interest.—ἢ γὰρμισήσειἀγαπήσει: We may take this clause as referring to the case of honest preference. A slave has his likes and dislikes like other men. And he will not do things by halves. His preference will take the form of love, and his aversion that of hate.—ἢ ἑνὸς ἀνθέξεται, etc.: this clause may be taken as referring to the case of interest. The slave may not in his heart care for either of the rival masters. But he must seem to care, and the relative power or temper of one as compared to the other, may be the ground of his decision. And having decided, he attaches himself, ἀνθέξεται, to the one, and ostentatiously disregards the other. In ordinary circumstances there would be no room for such a competition of masters. But a case might occur in time of war when the conquered were sold into slavery.—οὐ δύνασθε, etc. Application of the parable to God and earthly possessions.—μαμωνᾷ, wealth personified = Plutus, a Chaldee, Syriac, and Punic word (“lucrum punice mammon dicitur,” Aug. de S. D.) derived from טָמַן = to conceal or אָמֵן to trust (vide Buxtorf, Lex. Talm., p. 1217). The meaning is not, “ye cannot serve God and have riches,” but “ye cannot be faithful to God and make an idol of wealth”. “Non dixit, qui habet divitias, sed qui servit divitiis,” Jerome.

24. Another illustration of the singleness of the Christian character, “the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3), drawn from the relation of master and slave.

serve two masters] Strictly, be a slave to two masters. The absolute subjection of the slave must be considered. The interests of the “two masters” are presupposed to be diverse.

mammon] A Syriac word meaning “wealth.” There is no proof that it was the name of a god. It stands here for all that mostly estranges men from God: cp. “covetousness, which is idolatry,” Colossians 3:5.

Matthew 6:24. Κυρίοις, masters) God and Mammon in sooth act as master to their servants, but in different ways.—δουλεύειν, to serve) i.e.[278] to be a servant of.—ἢ γὰρ, for either) Each part of this disjunctive sentence has καὶ (and) with a consecutive force, viz. The heart of man cannot be so free as not to serve either God or a creature, nor can it serve them both at once;[279] for it either still remains in enmity with God or it takes God’s part. In the one case, then (καὶ) it cannot but love Mammon; in the other, then (καὶ) it cannot but despise Mammon. This statement may be inverted, so that the clause referring to the laudable state of mind may precede the other. Cf. Matthew 6:22-23. Attachment and a desire to please are consequent upon either servitude. See Matthew 6:21.—Θεῷ δουλεύειν, to serve God) Which is described in Luke 12:35-36.[280]—μαμωνᾷ, Mammon) Mammon does not only mean affluence, but external goods, however few. See Matthew 6:25.[281] Augustine[282] tells us, that both in Phœnician and Chaldee mammon signifies gain.

[278] With one’s full powers.—V. g.

[279] Although very many think themselves thoroughly versed in this art of combining both.—V. g.

[280] The servants of Mammon, in obedience to their natural instincts, hate Him, who alone is good.—V. g.

[281] Yea, even the commonest necessaries of life. Comp. Matthew 6:32. But if even such a service of Mammon, as affects the mere necessaries of life, is opposed to the service of GOD, what then are we to suppose it to be to serve GOD. It is this: to be borne towards Him with the full tide of love, and with uninterrupted regard.—V. g.

[282] AURELIUS AUGUSTINUS, one of the most celebrated fathers of the Western Church, was born at Tagasta, in Africa, in 354. His mother Monica was a holy Christian woman: his father a heathen, in which religion he was educated. His early career, though one of extreme brilliancy, was disfigured by profligacy. At length, however, he embraced Christianity; was baptized by St Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, in 387; ordained priest in 391; and consecrated in 395 Bishop of Hippo, where he died in 430.—(I. B.)

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.'). Matthew 6:24The 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.

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