For Bible Study Nerds

For Bible Study Nerds

Matthew 6:19-24; Treasures in Heaven (Word Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). This proverb from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is nice poetry and is often quoted as though everyone instantly understands it. But do we really get Christ’s meaning here? Perhaps it’d be helpful for us to take a closer look at two keywords in his message.

Thēsaurus is the Greek word translated “treasure” here, and Jesus made it both literal and symbolic in this one use. In the earthly, literal sense, it references any accumulation of wealth or any storehouse of wealth such as gold, silver, spices, military arms, expensive cloths, rugs, and furnishings, artwork, jewelry, and so on. In the heavenly, symbolic sense, it references spiritual valuables such as wisdom, insight, heavenly blessings and rewards, eternal life, forgiveness of sins, and the like.

Kardía is the Greek word translated as “heart” in Matthew 6:21. In Jesus’ use it’s much more than simply the center of someone’s personality—it the very essence of being, that which makes a person uniquely alive. It includes the totality of what makes you, you—your desires, your feelings, your passions and impulses, your affections, your dreams, your intellect, your rational (and irrational) thoughts, your spiritual awareness, your psychological makeup, “the inner person with every function that make a person human…the conscious awareness each of us has that makes us persons.”

In this context, then, Jesus isn’t just saying that choosing earthly things as your life’s “treasure” will distract you from God and make it harder for you to follow him. He’s saying it will consume your very essence of being; that earthly treasure will own all of you in a way that’ll corrupt every part of you—your desires, your feelings, your passions and impulses, your affections, your dreams, your intellect and…well, you get the idea.

One last, random thought. The gender assignments of these two Greek words may also be significant for interpretation. Thēsaurus in the Greek is a masculine noun, while kardía is feminine. In a symbolic sense, then, Jesus could be using these terms to refer to a figurative “marriage” between your heart and your treasure, calling you as a symbolic bride of Christ to fix your heart on him as the eternal Bridegroom and “treasure” of your every affection.

 

Works Cited:

[CWD, 735, 819; EDB 335, 601]

 

ΩΩΩ

About: For Bible Study Nerds™

About: Mike Nappa

Copyright © 2014 to present by Nappaland Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Matthew 6:19-24; Treasures in Heaven (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

In the ancient world, storing treasure typically boiled down to one of these two methods: hide it or guard it (or both). There were no banks or safety deposit boxes in those days, so a man’s wealth was, literally, only those valuables which he could somehow protect.

Royal wealth (including riches in the temple treasury) had to be guarded by soldiers because it was always a primary aim of any invading army. It required heavy military defenses in order to discourage enemies from attempting to plunder the nation’s assets. Still, even then, it was never really safe because there was always some army that was stronger lurking nearby.

Personal wealth could be used to buy luxury and power, sure, but it was also a constant target for lawless men, bands of robbers, and even enemy armies. Since people with personal wealth didn’t typically posses soldiers to guard their treasure, they most frequently resorted to hiding their riches: underneath a house; in a field; in a cave or some other secret place nearby. The trouble with hiding treasure was that natural elements—rust, insects, wild animals, water and natural disasters—could sometimes “invade” and destroy it. And, of course, robbers could find it and steal it away.

So, despite its obvious advantages, wealth in Jesus’ time was always a precarious thing—easily taken or destroyed. Jesus, then, advised against placing too much of one’s life into the acquisition and holding of earthly wealth. A better investment for your life, he said, was to “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20).

 

 

Works Cited:

[ZP5, 807-809]

 

ΩΩΩ

About: For Bible Study Nerds™

About: Mike Nappa

Copyright © 2014 to present by Nappaland Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Matthew 6:16-18; Fasting (Symbolism)

posted by Mike Nappa

The act of fasting, biblically speaking, is both a physical and symbolic expression. Physically, it’s simply deprivation of food and/or water for a specified period of time. Symbolically, though, it represents something much more.

In the best sense, fasting symbolizes two things in the believer. First is deep sorrow or grief, which explains why the Hebrew expression for it was: “afflicting the soul.” This sense of great sorrow is the basic understanding that Jesus himself emphasized in Matthew 9:14-15. When asked why his disciples didn’t fast, he immediately equated fasting with mourning: “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn,” he responded, “while he is with them?” Sorrow is also the symbolic expression seen most frequently in Old Testament history, particularly in regard to the death of a loved one, the appearance of a sudden calamity, or in the face of an extreme threat (see 1 Samuel 31:13, 2 Samuel 1:12, 3:36, Nehemiah 1:4, and Esther 4:3).

Second, fasting signifies abject humility and repentance before Almighty God. In this context, fasting is a physical symbol of spiritual desperation over sin, both individually and as a community. It is a visual plea for God to show mercy instead of administering deserved judgment on the helpless, sinful one (see see 1 Kings 21:27, Jonah 3:6-10). There is no example in Scripture of God refusing mercy to one who expresses this kind of sincere, helpless plea for pity.

On the opposite end of those two symbols, fasting can also represent an unpleasant third option. Fasting that is insincere and self-important appears to be something God finds repugnant. When that happens, fasting becomes symbolic of an ugly aspect of spirituality: Hypocrisy. In the Old Testament, God rebuked the Israelites sternly  for insincere ritual fasting (Isaiah 58:1-5), and Jesus did the same in the New Testament in his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:16-18).

Fasting then, is not something to be approached casually, but is instead intended to be an intimate, humbling, sincere time of sorrow shared between God and each individual believer.

 

Works Cited:

[DBI, 272]

 

ΩΩΩ

About: For Bible Study Nerds™

About: Mike Nappa

Copyright © 2014 to present by Nappaland Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Matthew 6:16-18; Fasting (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

Generally speaking, fasting was never intended to be used as a badge of honor or as a mark of super-spirituality. It is almost always associated with sorrow for sin and an expression of humility before God alone. In spite of this, Pharisees in Jesus’ time had turned fasting into something of a performance art—expecting figurative applause and literal admiration for their ostentatious displays of humility.

Old Testament Law only called for fasting once a year, on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) when the high priest would make a holy sacrifice for the sins of the nation. In spite of that, religious leaders by Jesus’ time had added 108 required fasting days to the year!

Pharisees and other religious leaders insisted that the devout fast four times a year to commemorate the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. They also insisted on ritual fasting twice a week, every Tuesday and Thursday. To make sure everyone knew they were among the religious elite, those who fasted on these days made a point of exaggerating the outward signs of a fast: A disheveled, haggard look; some kind of mark on their faces—likely smeared ashes that added to a gaunt impression; and ashes poured over their head and clothing. As one Bible historian reports, “This was a pretentious way of letting others see and appreciate their extensive efforts to increase their godliness.”

Jesus roundly condemned this kind of spiritual-act-as-preening-exercise. Instead, he advised that fasting should be a humble, intimate moment between God and the individual person—not a public display of self-admiration.

 

Works Cited:

[RBD 373-374, ASB, 1568]

 

ΩΩΩ

About: For Bible Study Nerds™

About: Mike Nappa

Copyright © 2014 to present by Nappaland Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Previous Posts

Matthew 6:19-24; Treasures in Heaven (Word Study)
“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). This proverb from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is nice poetry and is often quoted as though everyone instantly understands it. But do we really get Christ’s meaning here? Perhaps it’d be helpful for us to take a closer l

posted 12:00:11pm Oct. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Matthew 6:19-24; Treasures in Heaven (Historical Backgrounds)
In the ancient world, storing treasure typically boiled down to one of these two methods: hide it or guard it (or both). There were no banks or safety deposit boxes in those days, so a man’s wealth was, literally, only those valuables which he could somehow protect. Royal wealth (including rich

posted 12:00:19pm Oct. 27, 2014 | read full post »

Matthew 6:16-18; Fasting (Symbolism)
The act of fasting, biblically speaking, is both a physical and symbolic expression. Physically, it's simply deprivation of food and/or water for a specified period of time. Symbolically, though, it represents something much more. In the best sense, fasting symbolizes two things in the believer.

posted 12:00:01pm Oct. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Matthew 6:16-18; Fasting (Cultural Commentary)
Generally speaking, fasting was never intended to be used as a badge of honor or as a mark of super-spirituality. It is almost always associated with sorrow for sin and an expression of humility before God alone. In spite of this, Pharisees in Jesus’ time had turned fasting into something of a per

posted 12:00:00pm Oct. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Matthew 6:16-18; Fasting (Factual Info)
Jesus’ instruction about fasting assumes that it is a normal part of a life devoted to God…but why fast? Why did (and do) people go without food and/or water as a religious observance? Here are a few reasons from Scripture: • Once a year, as a commemorative action on the Day of Atonement

posted 12:00:58pm Oct. 20, 2014 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.