Matthew 6

Study the Inner Meaning

American Standard Version         

← Matthew 5   Matthew 7 →

1 Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them: else ye have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.

2 When therefore thou doest alms, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have received their reward.

3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

4 that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret shall recompense thee.

5 And when ye pray, ye shall not be as the hypocrites: for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have received their reward.

6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thine inner chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret shall recompense thee.

7 And in praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

8 Be not therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

9 After this manner therefore pray ye. Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil [one.]

14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may be seen of men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have received their reward.

17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face;

18 that thou be not seen of men to fast, but of thy Father who is in secret: and thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall recompense thee.

19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal:

20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

21 for where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also.

22 The lamp of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is the darkness!

24 No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

25 Therefore I say unto you, be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment?

26 Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value then they?

27 And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life?

28 And why are ye anxious concerning raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

29 yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

30 But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, [shall he] not much more [clothe] you, O ye of little faith?

31 Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

32 For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

33 But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

34 Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

← Matthew 5   Matthew 7 →
   Study the Inner Meaning

Explanation of Matthew 6      

By Rev. John Clowes M.A.

Verses 1, 2. That good ought to be done from the love of good, and not with a view to please men, otherwise the love of God is not in it, neither true blessedness.

Verse 3. That it ought to be done from the Lord, and not from self.

Verse 4. That good thus done brings its own reward from the Divine Good in which it originates.

Verse 5. That truth, in like manner, ought to be spoken from the love of truth, and not to please men, because in this latter case it brings no delight along with it but what arises from human glory.

Verse 6. That it ought to be spoken from the will of good, separated from evil, and opened to the Divine Good; in which case it is accepting of the blessedness of that good.

Verses 7, 8. That in speaking the truth before the Divine, in supplication, the expressions are not attended to, but the affections and thoughts in the expressions.

Verse 9. Which affections and thoughts ought to be open inwards to the reception of the Divine Good, and to acknowledge the Divine Humanity of the Lord to be that good.

Verse 10. And to receive thence Truth Divine, that so the external man may be conformable to the internal.

Verse 11. And thus to incorporate the heavenly goods and truths of the Word continually into the life.

Verse 12. And to give them back again to the Lord, in devout acknowledgement that they are His gifts.

Verse 13. Confessing that the Lord alone defends man under all assaults of evil spirits, and finally delivers him from their power, whilst he acknowledges in true humiliation that all good and truth are from the Lord alone, and nothing from man.

Verses 14, 16. That the Lord separates evil from man, in proportion as man is in the will that it may be separated, but not otherwise.

Verses 16-18. That a defect of truth and good ought not to induce external sadness and severity, but should lead to internal sanctification and purity; in which latter case heavenly good is presently communicated, and heavenly joy succeeds.

Verse 19. That the knowledges of good and truth ought not to be stored up in the external memory only, or in the natural understanding only, because in that case, not being incorporated into the life, they may be taken away and lost.

Verse 20. But they ought to be stored up in the internal man, by influencing the will and its love, in which case they cannot perish, being incorporated into the life.

Verse 21. That the state of the will and its love depends upon the state of its reception of the knowledges of good and truth.

Verse 22. That if the understanding of truth be grounded in the will of good, man becomes enlightened with true wisdom in all things belonging to salvation.

Verse 23. But it is otherwise, if the understanding of truth be grounded in the love of evil, for in this case truth is falsified, which is a worse state than that of mere ignorance.

Verse 24. That man cannot be principled at the same time both in good and evil, or in love to the Lord and self-love; for one must be the ruling love, and the other must serve.

Verse 25. That the good of love with its intelligence, and all the truths of faith, are continually provided for man by the Lord.

Verse 26. That all things of spiritual intelligence are continually nourished by good from the Lord, without any care of their own, much more the things of celestial love.

Verse 27. And that man cannot give increase to that intelligence and love by any care of his own separate from the Divine Providence.

Verse 28. That in like manner all inferior truths are provided of the Lord.

Verse 29. And that in them is contained Divine Truth and Good.

Verse 30. That if the Lord's Divine Providence thus extends to the lowest things and principles in the regenerate life, how much more to the higher?

Verse 31. That therefore man ought to depend upon the Divine Providence for sustenance in all degrees of his life, and not to trust to his own prudence.

Verse 32. That the unregenerate are more solicitous about external or natural life, than about internal or spiritual life, when yet the Lord wills that external or natural life, and the things thereof, should administer to internal or spiritual life.

Verse 33. That therefore spiritual truth and good ought to be exalted above natural; in which case both are preserved.

Verse 34. That man ought thus to love at all times under the protection and blessing of the Divine Providence of the Lord, and free from care and anxiety.

From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 1, 680, 1017, 1285, 1749, 1839, 1875, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 23, 48, 81, 164, 413, 501, 749, ...

Divine Providence 18, 217, 230, 233, 264

Doctrine of Life 28

Heaven and Hell 64, 281

True Christian Religion 112, 113, 299, 306, 318, 383, 403, ...

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 124, 144, 200


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 48, 102, 152, 193, 228, 254, 274, ...

Charity 156

An Invitation to the New Church 37

Spiritual Experiences 252, 361, 732, 1312, 1731, 1790, 1826, ...

Spiritual Experiences (Interim Diary) 4735

Marriage 112, 113

Scriptural Confirmations 6, 68

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



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Bible Word Meanings

To
'To jubilate' or 'make a joyful noise' signifies worship from the delight of good.

seen
The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

reward
A "reward" in the Bible represents something that brings people together, or brings spiritual states together, and binds them. It's easy to see this in...

heaven
"Air" in the Bible represents thought, but in a very general way – more like our capacity to perceive ideas and the way we tend...

streets
The phrase 'in the streets and synagogues' in Matthew 6:2, 5, and Luke 8:26-27, refers to a representative rite amongst the Jews to teach in...

glory
'To glorify' signifies acknowledgment and confession.

say
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

pray
When people pray in the Bible, it means they are opening up their internal states. When it is the Lord praying, or a figure who...

prayest
When people pray in the Bible, it means they are opening up their internal states. When it is the Lord praying, or a figure who...

enter
All changes of place in the Bible represent changes in spiritual state. “Entering” – usually used as entering someone’s house or “going in unto” someone...

door
In a general sense, doors in the Bible represent the initial desires for good and concepts of truth that introduce people to new levels of...

praying
When people pray in the Bible, it means they are opening up their internal states. When it is the Lord praying, or a figure who...

heard
Thanks to modern science, we now understand that hearing actually happens in the brain, not the ears. The ears collect vibrations in the air and...

Hallowed be thy name
'Hallowed be thy name,' as mentioned in Matthew 6:9, signifies going to the Lord and worshipping him, as mentioned in Revelation 15:4, John 12:28, etc....

kingdom
In the most general sense, a kingdom in the Bible represents a church. In a more specific sense, a kingdom represents a church in regards...

come
Coming (Gen. 41:14) denotes communication by influx.

us
Angels do give us guidance, but they are mere helpers; the Lord alone governs us, through angels and spirits. Since angels have their assisting role,...

bread
The idea of a “loaf” in the Bible is very closely tied to the idea of “bread,” and is often used to mean bread: Jesus...

temptation
'Hour of temptation,' as in Revelation 3:10, signifies the time of the last judgment.

fast
To fast as in Mark 2:19, signifies to mourn on account of the defect of truth and good. Fasting corresponds to temptation.

fastest
To fast as in Mark 2:19, signifies to mourn on account of the defect of truth and good. Fasting corresponds to temptation.

treasures
'Treasure,' as in Matthew 13:44, signifies divine truth in the Word.

upon
'Over' or 'upon' in the Word, signifies being within, because the highest part in successive order becomes inmost in simultaneous order. This is why the...

moth
'A moth' denotes falsities and evils in the extreme borders of the natural mind. 'A moth' corresponds to evil uses.

thieves
In Revelation 3:3, it says 'the Lord will come like a thief,' because a person in dead worship is deprived of the external good of...

treasure
'Treasure,' as in Matthew 13:44, signifies divine truth in the Word.

lamp
(Luke 15:8.) By the woman lighting a candle to find the piece of silver she had lost, is signified inquisition in herself from affection.

body
The body (Matt. 6:22), signifies the man (homo). "His body shall not remain all night upon the tree" (Deut. 21:23), signifies lest it should be...

Full
'To satiate' relates to the extent of a person's will, for good or evil.

light
(Luke 15:8.) By the woman lighting a candle to find the piece of silver she had lost, is signified inquisition in herself from affection.

serve
Generally speaking, those who are at lower levels of an organization serve those at higher levels. Bosses boss and their employees serve; coaches devise strategy...

mammon
"Mammon" is an ancient word that means "wealth" or "riches," and is used in the Bible in a negative way, denoting worldly wealth as opposed...

anxious
Those who are 'anxious' are not content with their own lot, and do not trust the Divine, but only themselves. They only look to worldly...

Put
'To put' has reference to order, arrangement, application, and influx.

raiment
Soft raiment,' as in Matthew 11:9, represents the internal sense of the Word.

sow
'To sow,' as in Isaiah 28:24, signifies learning. 'To sow beside all waters,' as in Isaiah 32:20, relates to people who allow themselves to be...

reap
'To reap' signifies executing judgment. 'Reaping' denotes the reception of truth in good.

measure
'To measure' signifies knowing and exploring the quality of something.

Grow
‘To grow’ signifies to be perfected.

morrow
'Tomorrow' signifies eternity.

cast
For something to be cast down or cast out generally refers to a rather dramatic move from a higher spiritual state to a lower one....

seek
The meaning of "to seek" in the Bible is pretty straightforward, but there is a bit of nuance: Swedenborg tells us that in most cases...

righteousness
The word "righteous" has taken on a bit of negative shading in modern language. That may be because we hear it most often as part...

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Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.


 Analyzing the Lord's Prayer
Look at the Prayer to see which parts are statements and which are requests. 
Activity | Ages over 11

 An Eternal Perspective
An examination of why having an eternal perspective is important, especially in our marriages.
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Blessings: Life Is Eternal
Blessings to say at mealtime.
Activity | Ages over 7

 Blessings: The Word of God
Blessings to say at mealtime.
Activity | Ages over 7

 Border for the Lord's Prayer Calligraphy
Color the border around this calligraphy of the Lord's Prayer.
Project | Ages 7 - 17

 Clothes That Angels Wear
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 Conversation with God
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Dare to Give
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Divine Providence and Tragedy
The Lord respects our freedom because He loves us. He respects it so much that He allows us to get into trouble, and then as far as we are willing, He brings us new strength out of our troubles
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Do Not Worry
Worship Talk | Ages 4 - 6

 Earthly vs. Heavenly Treasures
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 For Reflection: Treasure of the Heart
How can we gather spiritual treasure and bring forth good?
Activity | Ages over 15

 Give Us This Day
Project | Ages up to 6

 Golden Rule and Prayer Crossword Puzzle
Crossword puzzle about the Golden Rule and the Lord's Prayer.
Activity | Ages 7 - 14

 Heavenly Clothing
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 His Kingdom
Article | Ages over 18

 Identify and Name False Gods
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Infinite Meaning in the Lord's Prayer
Think of ways that you can become more “connected” with the Lord and the people around you.
Activity | Ages over 15

 Kingdom of God
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Looking More Closely at Flowers
Ways to help children appreciate the beauty of flowers the Lord has created. 
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Lord's Prayer Book
Illustrate your own book about the Lord's Prayer, following the suggestions given below each phrase of the prayer.
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Lord's Prayer in Folding Hands
Put the text of the Lord's Prayer in hands that can be folded in prayer.
Project | Ages up to 10

 Make a Border for the Lord's Prayer Calligraphy
Make your own border for the Lord's Prayer.
Project | Ages 7 - 17

 Make a Mural of the Lord's Prayer
Make a mural with a section depicting each portion of the Lord's prayer. Then illustrate what each part means to you.
Project | Ages 7 - 17

 Memory Verse: Our Daily Bread
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: The Lord Protects Us
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: Trusting in the Lord
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 No Other Gods
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Our Father, Who Art in Heaven
How, then, should we pray, and what should we ask for from the Lord? One of His disciples asked the Lord this while He was on earth.
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Quotes: Holy Is His Name
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Quotes: Praying to the Lord
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Quotes: Trusting in the Lord
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Relationship With God
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Seek First the Kingdom of God
The most important thing for us to do is to think about the Lord and try to obey what He says.
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Simplicity
In order for us to receive the Lord's words, we must be simple - simple in the sense of being single-minded, looking to one source of truth, and in having our internal and external thoughts agree. 
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Spiritual Treasure
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 Taking Care for the Morrow
We must work and plan for the future but trust that the Lord has the ability and the desire to lead us to heavenly happiness. 
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Glory of the Lord
We can know and love the Lord in His glorified human even better than the disciples did.
Article | Ages over 18

 The Life Which Lasts Forever
Death is a new beginning. We continue to be the same people. We meet up with people we know. And husbands and wives who had been separated by death are reunited. This is a beautiful picture, and it can provide tremendous reassurance.
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Lord Is Our Heavenly Father
Make a picture of the Lord who is our Father in heaven, always looking out for us. 
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 The Lord Is Our Heavenly Father (version 1)
Color picture of the Lord with children.
Picture | Ages up to 14

 The Lord Is Our Heavenly Father (version 2)
Color picture of the Lord with children.
Picture | Ages up to 14

 The Lord's Prayer
The Lord’s Prayer is a way of talking directly to the Lord who is our Heavenly Father. The Lord gave us this prayer because it can lead our minds to the important things that will make our spirits grow strong. Sample from the Jacob's Ladder Program, Level 1, for ages 6-7.
Religion Lesson | Ages 6 - 7

 The Lord's Prayer
The Lord's prayer in a color border.
Picture | Ages over 15

 The Lord’s Prayer
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Lord’s Prayer
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Lord's Prayer Calligraphy with Violet Border
The Lord's Prayer with a lovely border of violets around it.
Project | Ages 7 - 17

 The Second Coming
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 The Sermon on Mount: Do Not Worry
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Sermon on Mount: How to Pray
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Sermon on the Mount
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 The Sermon on the Mount (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 The Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer
Activity | Ages over 15

 Thy Kingdom Come
Activity | Ages over 15

 Treasures in Heaven
What would you put in a treasure box for life here on earth? What would you put in a treasure box for heaven?
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Treasures in Heaven, Treasures on Earth
On one chest, write what you would put in a treasure box for life here on earth. In the other treasure chest, write what you would want to pack in a treasure box for heaven.
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 Trusting in the Lord's Providence Bookmarks
Print out these beautiful bookmarks with quotes about trusting in the Lord. 
Project | Ages over 15

 Understanding the Meaning of the Lord's Prayer
This is an overview of the deeper meaning of the prayer.
Activity | Ages over 11

 Vain Repetitions
Activity | Ages over 15

 Why Did God Create Me?
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18


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