For Bible Study Nerds

“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness…” Jesus told his hearers on the mountainside (Matthew 6:33). This command was both a promise of freedom (from worry) and a promise of daily provision. So what does it mean to “seek” God’s kingdom and righteousness? The Greek word used here is zeeteo, and it entails a few important concepts.

First is the most obvious: Zeeteo means “to search for, to try to find or obtain.” Each day we have the privilege to begin anew that search for God’s kingdom wherever it may be found. We search for it in the words of the Bible. We try to find it in our own attempts pray and to listen in prayer. We try to obtain it by paying attention to the inner whisper of Christ’s Holy Spirit who guides us each day. We search for it in the relationships found in our churches and communities of believers, and also in the daily re-creation of lives filled with integrity and service. We search for it in a constant effort simply to know Jesus better in personal, intimate, honest ways.

Seek also implies time and effort invested in our search. As theologian R.T. Kendall explains, “It is a way of living…In the ancient Hellenistic world, this Greek word (zeeteo) referred to a philosophical investigation that could mean a lifelong pursuit. It means making an effort…It is a pursuit.”

Interestingly, the word zeeteo in Matthew 6:33 is used reciprocally elsewhere in the New Testament, often associated with God seeking people, not vice versa. For example, Luke 19:10’s commentary on Jesus’ encounter with Zacchaeus reveals, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” As such, it could be said that Jesus’ real promise in Matthew 6:33 is the same as that of James 4:8, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.”

After all, it’s in his presence alone that we find true freedom and provision, no matter what our daily circumstances may be.


Works Cited:

[SOM, 318]



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