Matthew 6:4

4 so that your giving will be in secret; and 1your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

Matthew 6:4 Meaning and Commentary

Matthew 6:4

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 (Myavx tkvl) , "the chamber of secrets", and the other the chamber of vessels: the chamber of secrets was that into which pious persons put (yavxb) , "in secret", and the poor children of good men were maintained out of it privately F17.''

The Jews say many things in favour of doing alms privately.

``Greater, (say they F18,) is he that gives alms (rtob) , in secret, than Moses our master.''

They tell us F19, 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" F20.''


FOOTNOTES:

F17 Misn. Shekalim, c. 5. sect. 6. Mainnon. Hilch. Eracin, c. 2. sect. 12.
F18 T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 9. 2.
F19 T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 5. 1.
F20 Maimon. Hilch. Mattanot Anayin, c. 10. sect. 15.

Matthew 6:4 In-Context

2 "So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
3 "But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
5 "When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
6 "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

Cross References 1

  • 1. Jeremiah 17:10; Matthew 6:6, 18; Hebrews 4:13

Footnotes 1