For Bible Study Nerds

“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]



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About: Mike Nappa

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