Greek Reading: Matthew 6:16-24

[Yes, this is one post behind schedule, so the Greek reading schedule is officially bumped back by one session.]

16Οταν δὲ νηστεύητε, μὴ γίνεσθε ὡς οἱ ὑποκριταὶ σκυθρωποί, ἀφανίζουσιν γὰρ τὰ πρόσωπα αὐτῶν ὅπως φανῶσιν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις νηστεύοντες: ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀπέχουσιν τὸν μισθὸν αὐτῶν. 17σὺ δὲ νηστεύων ἄλειψαί σου τὴν κεφαλὴν καὶ τὸ πρόσωπόν σου νίψαι, 18ὅπως μὴ φανῇς τοῖς ἀνθρώποις νηστεύων ἀλλὰ τῷ πατρί σου τῷ ἐν τῷ κρυφαίῳ: καὶ ὁ πατήρ σου ὁ βλέπων ἐν τῷ κρυφαίῳ ἀποδώσει σοι. 19Μὴ θησαυρίζετε ὑμῖν θησαυροὺς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, ὅπου σὴς καὶ βρῶσις ἀφανίζει, καὶ ὅπου κλέπται διορύσσουσιν καὶ κλέπτουσιν: 20θησαυρίζετε δὲ ὑμῖν θησαυροὺς ἐν οὐρανῷ, ὅπου οὔτε σὴς οὔτε βρῶσις ἀφανίζει, καὶ ὅπου κλέπται οὐ διορύσσουσιν οὐδὲ κλέπτουσιν: 21ὅπου γάρ ἐστιν ὁ θησαυρός σου, ἐκεῖ ἔσται καὶ ἡ καρδία σου. 22Ὁ λύχνος τοῦ σώματός ἐστιν ὁ ὀφθαλμός. ἐὰν οὖν ᾖ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου ἁπλοῦς, ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου φωτεινὸν ἔσται: 23ἐὰν δὲ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου πονηρὸς ᾖ, ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου σκοτεινὸν ἔσται. εἰ οὖν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἐν σοὶ σκότος ἐστίν, τὸ σκότος πόσον. 24Οὐδεὶς δύναται δυσὶ κυρίοις δουλεύειν: ἢ γὰρ τὸν ἕνα μισήσει καὶ τὸν ἕτερον ἀγαπήσει, ἢ ἑνὸς ἀνθέξεται καὶ τοῦ ἑτέρου καταφρονήσει: οὐ δύνασθε θεῷ δουλεύειν καὶ μαμωνᾷ.

I must say, although I’m sure I’ve read this text dozens of times before, I’ve never before been so intrigued by the idea of the Father who is in secret – τῷ πατρί σου τῷ ἐν τῷ κρυφαίῳ. At the most flat level, this text simply assures us that God sees what goes on in secret places (ὁ βλέπων ἐν τῷ κρυφαίῳ), so we will get a reward for those things. I believe this statement is capable of a more doctrinally rich expansion, though. The Father is invisible, and unlike the Pharisees, he works where there are none to appreciate his works. He upholds the molecular structure of planets and stars in galaxies where man has never set foot. He preserves the life of creatures in the depths of the oceans where, for millennia, man had no ability to see them. His goodness is not just a show that he puts on to dazzle man, but his eternal character that exists “as he is in himself,” which no man will ever see.

Furthermore, God’s ways are hidden from man. Martin Luther’s theology of the cross insists that we look to Christ for our knowledge of God. “The cross of Christ is the standard by which all genuine theological knowledge is measured…. God’s power appears not directly but paradoxically under helplessness and lowliness. Thus it is that God’s grace is hidden under his wrath and that his gifts and benefits are ‘hidden under the cross’” (Paul Althaus, The Theology of Martin Luther). Joy through suffering, peace through victorious warfare against sin, freedom through surrender – there are many seeming incongruities of Christianity that are resolved through looking to the crucified God. In Christ, the hidden Father is made known.

Finally, I found an encouraging parallel passage, 1 Cor. 4:5 – ὥστε μὴ πρὸ καιροῦ τι κρίνετε, ἕως ἂν ἔλθῃ ὁ κύριος, ὃς καὶ φωτίσει τὰ κρυπτὰ τοῦ σκότους καὶ φανερώσει τὰς βουλὰς τῶν καρδιῶν: καὶ τότε ὁ ἔπαινος γενήσεται ἑκάστῳ ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ. Surely, this verse is a deliberate expansion on Matt. 6. Note the φαν- stem language, the idea of reward (επαινος instead of μισθον), and the emphasis on hidden (κρυπ- stem) things. At the last day, God’s actions on earth will no longer be so puzzling and mysterious; they will appear in their completed splendor. At the same time, God will reward with praise those who similarly worked righteousness seemingly without any observation or reward.

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Published in: on March 12, 2010 at 9:42 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. reading post slowly ~ Like muchly


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