Matthew 6:25

Be not anxious for your life (mh merimnate th psuch mwn). This is as good a translation as the Authorized Version was poor; "Take no thought for your life." The old English word "thought" meant anxiety or worry as Shakespeare says:

"The native hue of resolution Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought."

Vincent quotes Bacon (Henry VII): "Harris, an alderman of London, was put in trouble and died with thought and anguish." But words change with time and now this passage is actually quoted (Lightfoot) "as an objection to the moral teaching of the Sermon on the Mount, on the ground that it encouraged, nay, commanded, a reckless neglect of the future." We have narrowed the word to mere planning without any notion of anxiety which is in the Greek word. The verb merimnaw is from meri, merizw, because care or anxiety distracts and divides. It occurs in Christ's rebuke to Martha for her excessive solicitude about something to eat ( Luke 10:41 ). The notion of proper care and forethought appears in 1 Corinthians 7:32 ; 1 Corinthians 12:25 ; Philippians 2:20 . It is here the present imperative with the negative, a command not to have the habit of petulant worry about food and clothing, a source of anxiety to many housewives, a word for women especially as the command not to worship mammon may be called a word for men. The command can mean that they must stop such worry if already indulging in it. In verse Philippians 31 Jesus repeats the prohibition with the ingressive aorist subjunctive: "Do not become anxious," "Do not grow anxious." Here the direct question with the deliberative subjunctive occurs with each verb (pagwmen, piwmen, peribalwmeqa). This deliberative subjunctive of the direct question is retained in the indirect question employed in verse Philippians 25 . A different verb for clothing occurs, both in the indirect middle (peribalwmeqa, fling round ourselves in Philippians 31 , endushsqe, put on yourselves in Philippians 25 ).

For your life (th psuch). "Here psuch stands for the life principle common to man and beast, which is embodied in the swma: the former needs food, the latter clothing" (McNeile). Psuch in the Synoptic Gospels occurs in three senses (McNeile): either the life principle in the body as here and which man may kill ( Mark 3:4 ) or the seat of the thoughts and emotions on a par with kardia and dianoia ( Matthew 22:37 ) and pneuma ( Luke 1:46 ; cf. John 12:27 ; John 13:21 ) or something higher that makes up the real self ( Matthew 10:28 ; Matthew 16:26 ). In Matthew 16:25 ( Luke 9:25 ) psuch appears in two senses paradoxical use, saving life and losing it.