Matthew 6:24 MEANING

Matthew 6:24
(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).

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.').

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,.... 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.

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