Matthew 6:4
That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
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(4) That thine alms may be in secret.—Here again we have a principle rather than a rule. Publicity may be a duty, especially in public work. But this—gifts for schools, hospitals, and the like—is hardly contemplated in the word “alms,” which refers rather to acts of mercy, to cases of individual suffering. Ostentation in those acts is what our Lord especially condemns.

Thy Father which seeth in secret.—The attribute which we call the Omniscience of God is commonly dwelt on as calculated to inspire a just fear of the All-seeing One. He sees, we say, the evil deeds that are done in secret. Here it is brought before us as an encouragement and ground of hope. Do we feel isolated, not understood, not appreciated? He sees in secret and will reward.

Shall reward thee openly.—A curious instance of an early attempt to improve on our Lord’s teaching. The adverb “openly” is not found in the best MSS., and is now omitted by most editors. It would seem either as if a false rhetorical taste desired a more complete antithesis, or that the craving for public acknowledgment in the presence of men and angels asserted itself even here, and led men to add to the words of the divine Teacher. It need hardly be said that the addition weakens and lowers the force of the truth asserted. It is not necessarily in this way, “openly,” that God rewards His servants, nor do the words point only to the reward of the last great day. The reward is at once immediate, and, it may be, secret—the hidden manna, the joy with which a stranger doth not intermeddle, and which no man taketh from us.

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.Let not thy left hand know ... - This is a proverbial expression, signifying that the action should be done as secretly as possible. The Hebrews often attribute actions to members which properly belong to persons. The encouragement for performing our acts of charity in secret is that it will be pleasing to God; that he will see the act, however secret it may be, and will openly reward it. If the reward is not granted in this life, it will be in the life to come. In multitudes of cases, however, alms given to the poor are "lent to the Lord" Proverbs 19:17, and will be repaid in this life. Rarely, perhaps never, has it been found that the man who is liberal to the poor has ever suffered by it in his worldly circumstances. 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).

There are some who think that our Saviour here reflects upon some practice of the Pharisees then in use for ostentation, who, under a pretence of a means to call people together, caused a trumpet to be sounded when they distributed their alms; but those learned in their writings assure us they could never find in them any foundation for such an opinion. The speech is rather metaphorical, prohibiting all ostentation in acts of charity, and inviting others to take notice of them, as Jehu invited Jonadab to come and see his zeal, 2 Kings 10:16; as the third verse is but a proverbial expression expounded Matthew 6:4,

That thine alms may be in secret. Not that it is not lawful to give a poor body money or bread, &c., in the sight of others; but only to do it for that end, that we might be seen of others. The thing forbidden under the metaphorical expression is ostentation, and seeking our own honour and applause. The thing commanded is sincerity with respect to our end. The apostle calls it a giving with simplicity, singly aiming at the glorifying of God, by an obedient performance of our duty. He tells us those who give their alms to be honoured of men have their reward, that is, all which they are like to have; men applaud and cry them up, there is their reward: others shall have their reward from God,

who seeth in secret, and so needeth not such a publication of our good deeds; and he will reward them openly before men and angels at the last day, Matthew 25:31,32,34, and ordinarily in this life, Psalm 37:25 41:1 Psalm 112:9,10.

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.

That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
Matthew 6:4. Ὁ βλέπων ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ] who sees, i.e. knows what goes on in secret, where He is equally present. Grotius and Kuinoel arbitrarily take the words to be equivalent to τὰ ἐν τῷ κρ.

αὐτὸς ἀποδώσει σοι] He Himself will reward you, that is, at the Messianic judgment (i.e. ἐν τῷ φανερῷ, 2 Corinthians 5:10); αὐτός forms a contrast to the human rewards, which the hypocrites, with their ostentatious ways of acting, managed to secure in the shape of applause from their fellow-men, Matthew 6:2.

4. himself] God, not man, will reward.

Matthew 6:4. Ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ, in secret) The godly shine, but shine in secret.—ὁ Πατήρ σου, thy Father) John Despagne observes, that to employ the possessive pronoun of the first person singular, and say, “MY Father,” is the exclusive privilege of the Only Begotten; but “THY Father” is said to the faithful also; FATHER, or OUR Father,” by the faithful; see John 20:17.—ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ, in secret) He is Himself in secret, and performs His works in secret, and approves most those things which are done in secret. The whole essential being of things,[249] has its existence in secret.—ἀποδώσει, shall reward) This word, without the addition of Αὐτὸς (Himself), expresses a reward awarded by God and not man. This reward is sure: see Matthew 6:1. The Αὐτὸς (Himself), appears to have been inserted here, and the ἐν τῷ φανερῲ (openly) in Matthew 6:4; Matthew 6:6; Matthew 6:18, from a fear that the words might have otherwise been rendered, “Thy Father, who seeth that, shall reward thee in secret.”[250]

[249] In the original, “Pii lucent sed latent.”—(I. B.)

[250] Rec. Text has αὐτὸς with D. But BLZabc Vulg. Memph. Versions, and Cyprian omit it. So also ἐν τῷ φανερῷ added in Rec. Text with abc, is omitted in BDZ Vulg. Memph. Versions.—ED.

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. Matthew 6:4
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