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Bailey Sadler Class



Study Theme:  Transformed: My Life in God’s Kingdom

What This Lesson Is About:

Week of:

Lesson Title:

The focus of this week’s study continues from Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. He gave us the solution to worry, and it’s also a call to trust fully in God’s care and provision.


June 05

Transformed in My Worship


June 12

Transformed in My Prayer


June 19

Transformed in My Possessions


June 26

Transformed in My Plans


July 03

Transformed in My actions


July 10

Transformed in My Choices



God is able to provide all I need.


Matthew 6:25-34





Trust In God’s Care (Matthew 6:25-30)

Trust In God’s Knowledge (Matthew 6:31-32)

Trust In God’s Provision (Matthew 6:33-34)


Jesus gathered His disciples on a mountainside and taught them about the essentials for living like citizens of the kingdom of God. After He taught His disciples about the attitude toward possessions they needed to nourish in order to grow in Him, He moved on to give them careful instructions about worry. He urged them to turn their backs on fretting and to trust God completely to provide everything they would need.

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.


Worry is never healthy, yet so many of us engage in it. Worry affects our appetites, relationships, sleep, and our ability to work. Regardless of the level worry plays in our lives, a pat response like “Don’t worry; be happy” just doesn’t cut it. Jesus gives us the solution to worry, and it’s a call to trust fully in God’s care and provision.

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.


Trust In God’s Care (Matthew 6:25-30)

25 “This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? 27 Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! 30 If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith?








1.   What does the word “worry” mean to you?

2.   What were some of your biggest worries growing up?

3.   What is your initial reaction to these verses?

4.   Why do you think Jesus felt He needed to encourage His disciples not to worry, especially regarding the things needed to live?

5.   To what does the opening phrase of verse 25 refer (“This is why I tell you:)?

6.   What is it that Jesus is telling us in verse 25?

7.   What rhetorical question does Jesus ask in verse 25?

8.   Based on verse 26, what illustration does He use to make His point?

9.   What rhetorical question does Jesus ask in verse 27?

10.   According to verse 28, what illustration does He use to further illustrate His point?

11.   How does Jesus sum up His point that we should trust God for all our needs (v. 30)?

12.   How did Jesus sum up the faith of His disciples?

13.   How do you think these verses fit into the larger lesson Jesus addressed in last week’s study (verses 19-24)?

14.   What are some things you would do to help a young Christian family cope with struggling to make ends meet?

15.   Do you think there is a positive aspect to “worry”?  If so, how would you explain it? 

16.   What light does 1 Corinthians 12:25 and Phil. 2:20 add to the discussion relating to the positive side of worry?

17.   How do we know when we’ve crossed the line from reasonable concern to harmful worry?

18.   What are some consequences of being enslaved to worry?

19.   What do you think is the biggest cause of “worry” in our society today?


Lasting Lessons in Matthew 6:25-30:

1.  Jesus never worried, and He does not want His disciples to worry.

2.  Believers are created in the image of God and can always depend on God’s provision for their every need.

3.  God’s provision for our needs does not imply that we should not work.

4.  Worry never accomplishes any good in our lives.

5.  Faith conquers worry.



Trust In God’s Knowledge (Matthew 6:31-32)

31 So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

1.   What are some things that tends to keep you up at night?

2.   When have you been successful at walking away from worry?

3.   How does Jesus reinforce His command not to worry in this passage?

4.   Who are the idolaters and why should followers of Christ not think like them?

5.   If worry is a characteristic of the idolaters what can we do to keep them from infecting our trust in Christ?

6.   How did it make you feel when you completed the journey through the “worry” pit?

7.   What is the summary truth Jesus declared in verse 32?

8.   On what basis can we be assured that God will provide for his children?

9.   If God knows what we need then why do you think it so hard for many believers to trust Him by not worrying?

10.   What does this phrase “He is a self-made man;” imply?

11.   What does worry do to our faith?  What does one’s degree of worry tell him/her about their relationship with the Lord?

12.   What does our faith do to worry?

13.   When we worry about something what are some things we may be neglecting?

14.   What does Jesus’ repetition of the command not to worry say about its seriousness?

15.   What are some things we can do to help each other to overcome times in which we may have a tendency to worry?

16.   If we trust Christ for our salvation, the ultimate trust, why is it sometimes difficult to trust Him to meet our daily needs?

17.   How often has the thing we worried about not amount to much after we had passed through the storm and looked back?

18.   How often have we asked ourselves, “What was I worried about, anyway?  All that worrying didn’t amount to nothing!”?


Lasting Lessons in Matthew 6:31-32:

1.  Because we are believers, we are not to worry about what we will eat, drink, and wear.

2.  Unbelievers worry about their needs because they fear they are on their own.

3.  As believers, we trust in a God who knows and promises to take care of our needs.



Trust In God’s Provision (Matthew 6:33-34)


33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

1.   How are we to understand the use of “first” in verse 33?

2.   What does it mean to seek . . . the kingdom of God and his righteousness?

3.   What promise is associated with doing so? 

4.   What “things” will be provided for you?

5.   What are some ways we can seek God’s kingdom first?

6.   How would you explain what it means to put God’s kingdom first to a new believer?

7.   What steps can we take to increase our trust in God?

8.   According to verse 34, what should be our attitude toward tomorrow and any concerns that may surface?

9.   Because we will spend all day today worrying about tomorrow, what changes in tomorrow will all that worry make?

10.   What does worrying about tomorrow really do to us, anyway?

11.   What difference should Jesus’ promise make for those of us who are prone to worry?

12.   What are some things we can do to help us take Jesus at His word?


Lasting Lessons in Matthew 6:33-34:

1.  Jesus commands His followers not to worry about tomorrow’s needs.

2.  We are to focus on being obedient citizens of the kingdom of God.

3.  We are to seek to live each day in conformity to the principles of righteousness revealed in God’s Word.

4.  Each day’s troubles will be met with God’s help and God’s provision.



Here are some practical ways that we can deal with worry when we may have to face troublesome times. 

·   One a daily basis, write down the things you are worried about and take them to God in prayer.

·   Trust that God is a true source of help and commit yourself to His will.

·   Focus on God’s promises, which will fill your hear with optimism and confidence.

·   Trust that God knows your needs and will supply you with what you need, when you need it.

Because of our faith in Christ, we are able to enjoy life and to live it more abundantly than those who don’t know our Savior and rely on their own strength which gives way to worry and anxiety.  As followers of Christ, we have that peace of mind that surpasses all understanding and allows us to live worry-free because we can trust His promises to supply we will all we need for daily living—worry free!  Praise Him for He is the Lord, God, Almighty!  The Everlasting King of Glory! Amen!   

  What are the implications of these truths for your life?  THE CHOICE IS YOURS, ISN’T IT!

REMEMBER, the safest place for a believer is in the center of God’s will.


Lesson Outline, Introduction, Discussion Questions, and Conclusion adapted from the following sources:

SOURCE: Life Ventures-Bible Studies for Life; Leader Guide; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN.

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.



Focal Passage from three different translations of God’s Word:

King James Version: Matthew 6:25-34:

Matthew 6:25-34 (KJV)

25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought 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 meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God 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 Therefore take no thought, 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 the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

New King James  Version:  Matthew 6:25-34:

 Matthew 6:25-34 (NKJV)

25 "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

New Revised Standard Version:   Matthew 6:25-34:

Matthew 6:25-34 (NRSV)

25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear?' 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 "So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today.

  (NOTE:  Commentary for the focal passage comes from five sources: The New American Commentary,Believer's Bible Commentary,The Complete Biblical Library Commentary,” “The College Press NIV Commentary,” and “The Moody Bible Commentary,” and is provided for your study.)


Lesson Outline — “Transformed in My Plans” — Matthew 6:25-34




Trust In God’s Care (Matthew 6:25-30)

Trust In God’s Knowledge (Matthew 6:31-32)

Trust In God’s Provision (Matthew 6:33-34)


The New American Commentary:  Matthew 6:25-34

25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (NIV)

The Futility of Worry (6:25–34). 

6:25–34 If, on the other hand, we put trust in God first, God will take care of the rest of life. This renders worry unnecessary. “Worry” is the key word of this entire section, since it occurs six times (vv. 25, 27–28, 31, 34 [2x]). The KJV’s “take no thought” is definitely misleading here. Christians must plan for the future, but they need not be anxious. Jesus illustrates his point by discussing the basic provisions of food and clothing.

First, he focuses on the need for food. Birds in their wild state provide a good example because they are tirelessly industrious. Jesus is not discouraging hard work to provide for our needs. Yet despite their constant efforts, birds remain far more dependent on the “whims” of nature (which Jesus views as God’s provisions) than are people. We who have so much more opportunity to use creation for our own ends ought to worry even less than birds.

Two additional rationales for Jesus’ instruction follow. First, we are more valuable in God’s eyes because we are the only creatures made in his image. Second, worry doesn’t accomplish anything anyway, at least not in terms of enabling us to live longer. The NIV marginal note “single cubit to his height” is a somewhat more natural translation of the Greek than “single hour to his life,” but it does not fit as well into the context. Adding a foot and one half to one’s height is not the trifling amount Jesus’ flow of thought seems to demand, and stature does not fit the context of provisions of food and clothing nearly as well as longevity.

To illustrate God’s provision of clothing, Jesus next directs attention to “the lilies of the field” (perhaps a reference to wild flowers and grasses more generally). “See how” is better translated “learn carefully from” (katamathete). Uncultivated vegetation does much less to provide for itself than do birds, yet God adorns it with beauty that at times surpasses the greatest splendor of human raiment (on Solomon’s wealth, cf. 1 Kgs 4:20–34; 7:1–51; 10:14–29). “Labor” (toiling in the field) and spinning (sewing clothing at home) probably refer, respectively, to the characteristic occupations of men and women in ancient rural culture. Yet plants prove even more fragile than birds and more short-lived than humans. People even picked plants and used them as fuel for the ovens in which they baked bread.  If God lavishes such concern over the rest of his creation, how much more does he love us! Again, Jesus uses the characteristically Jewish type of reasoning—from the lesser to the greater. If the logic of his argument be granted, then worry can only result from a lack of genuine belief in God’s goodness and mercy. R. Mounce says, “Worry is practical atheism and an affront to God.”  Anxiety characterized pagan religions, which were dominated by fears of a capricious and despotic deity who constantly had to be appeased.  In its modern, irreligious garb, pagan anxiety displays a great preoccupation with physical exercise and diet without a corresponding concern for spiritual growth and nutrition. Verse 32a recalls the logic of 5:47; v. 32b parallels and recalls 6:8b.

Verse 33 brings this paragraph to its climax. When priorities regarding treasures in heaven and on earth are right, God will provide for fundamental human needs. Seeking first the righteousness of the kingdom implies obedience to all of Jesus’ commands and shows that the thesis of 5:20 continues to be advanced. Of course, the major problem with the promise “all these things [food, drink, clothing] will be given to you” is the contrary experience of many Christians throughout history who have suffered deprivation and even starvation. One possible solution to this problem is to reserve all guarantees for the age to come. “Will be given” does not specify when God will provide. To be sure, the fullness of the kingdom will eradicate all suffering for God’s people, but it is hard to see why Jesus would rule out worry in the present age if his promise applies only to a distant future. And if God’s kingdom has already been inaugurated, then believers should expect to receive in this age the firstfruits of its material blessings. Hence, v. 33b is probably to be interpreted in light of Luke 12:33 and Mark 10:30a, which presuppose the sharing of goods within the Christian community. When God’s people corporately seek first his priorities, they will by definition take care of the needy in their fellowships. When one considers that over 50 percent of all believers now live in the Two-Thirds World and that a substantial majority of those believers live below what we would consider the poverty line, a huge challenge to First-World Christianity emerges. Without a doubt, most individual and church budgets need drastic realignment in terms of what Christians spend on themselves versus what they spend on others (cf. 2 Cor 8:13–15).

In v. 34 Jesus returns full circle to the beginning of his discussion (v. 25), encouraging daily dependence on God (cf. also v. 11). As if to underscore that v. 33 will never be implemented absolutely in this age, he reminds his audience of the daily evil (a more literal rendering than NIV “trouble”) that persists. But there are enough non-Christian sources of evil for believers (most notably the persecutions predicted in 5:10–11) that Christian self-centeredness ought never compound the problems of fellow believers who live in poverty.

SOURCE:  The New American Commentary; Volume 22; Matthew; Craig L. Blomberg; David S. Dockery, General Editor; © Copyright 1992; Broadman Press; Broadman Press; Nashville, TN.


Believer's Bible Commentary: Matthew 6:25-34

Do Not Worry (6:25-34)

6:25.  In this passage Jesus strikes at the tendency to center our lives around food and clothing, thus missing life's real meaning. The problem is not so much what we eat and wear today, but what we shall eat and wear ten, twenty, or thirty years from now. Such worry about the future is sin because it denies the love, wisdom, and power of God. It denies the love of God by implying that He doesn't care for us. It denies His wisdom by implying that He doesn't know what He is doing. And it denies His power by implying that He isn't able to provide for our needs.

This type of worry causes us to devote our finest energies to making sure we will have enough to live on. Then before we know it, our lives have passed, and we have missed the central purpose for which we were made. God did not create us in His image with no higher destiny than that we should consume food. We are here to love, worship, and serve Him and to represent His interests on earth. Our bodies are intended to be our servants, not our masters.

6:26.  The birds of the air illustrate God's care for His creatures. They preach to us how unnecessary it is for us to worry. They neither sow nor reap, yet God feeds them. Since, in God's hierarchy of creation, we are of more value than the birds, then we can surely expect God to take care of our needs.

But we should not infer from this that we need not work for the supply of our present needs. Paul reminds us: "If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat" (2 Thess. 3:10). Nor should we conclude that it is wrong for a farmer to sow, reap, and harvest. These activities are a necessary part of his providing for his current needs. What Jesus forbids here is multiplying barns in an attempt to provide future security independent of God (a practice He condemns in His story of the rich farmer in Luke 12:16-21.) The Daily Notes of the Scripture Union succinctly summarize verse 26:

The argument is that if God sustains, without their conscious participation, creatures of a lower order, He will all the more sustain, with their active participation, those for whom creation took place.

6:27. Worry about the future is not only a dishonor to God—it is also futile. The Lord demonstrates this with a question: "Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?" A short person cannot worry himself eighteen inches taller. Yet, relatively speaking, it would be far easier to perform this feat than to worry into existence all the provisions for one's future needs.

6:28-30.  Next the Lord deals with the unreasonableness of worrying that we will not have enough clothing in the future. The lilies of the field (probably wild anemones) neither toil nor spin, yet their beauty surpasses that of Solomon's royal garments. If God can provide such elegant apparel for wildflowers, which have a brief existence and are then used as fuel in the baking oven, He will certainly care for His people who worship and serve Him.

6:31, 32. The conclusion is that we should not spend our lives in anxious pursuit of food, drink, and clothing for the future. The unconverted Gentiles live for the mad accumulation of material things, as if food and clothing were the whole of life. But it should not be so with Christians, who have a heavenly Father who knows their basic needs.

If Christians were to set before them the goal of providing in advance for all their future needs, then their time and energy would have to be devoted to the accumulation of financial reserves. They could never be sure that they had saved enough, because there is always the danger of market collapse, inflation, catastrophe, prolonged illness, paralyzing accident. This means that God would be robbed of the service of His people. The real purpose for which they were created and converted would be missed. Men and women bearing the divine image would be living for an uncertain future on this earth when they should be living with eternity's values in view.

6:33. The Lord, therefore, makes a covenant with His followers. He says, in effect, "If you will put God's interests first in your life, I will guarantee your future needs. If you seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then I will see that you never lack the necessities of life."

6:34. This is God's "social security" program. The believer's responsibility is to live for the Lord, trusting God for the future with unshakable confidence that He will provide. One's job is simply a means of providing for current needs; everything above this is invested in the work of the Lord. We are called to live one day at a time: tomorrow can worry about its own things.

SOURCE: Believer's Bible Commentary; by William MacDonald; Copyright © 1995, 1992, 1990, 1989 by William McDonald. Database © 2014 WORDsearch.


The Complete Biblical Library Commentary:  Matthew 6:25-34

6:25.  "Therefore" links verses 25 and 34, for the latter verse implies that "being anxious" is actually serving mammon. The verb merimnate means "be anxious, concerned." Concern is not forbidden (cf. Titus 3:8), but worry about material things is. Specifically Jesus was talking about personal concern for one's future and an obsessive concern for security. Individuals should not become distressed about life (soul, body) and sustenance (food, clothing, drink; cf. verse 31).

This, of course, does not mean Christians are not to plan meals or provide for the needs of their families. The Bible teaches that anyone who does not work or serve does not deserve to eat. It also teaches that a believer who does not provide for his family is worse than an unbeliever (2 Thessalonians 3:10; 1 Timothy 5:8). Actually, neither worry nor rich food will help a person live any longer. The finest clothes are no comfort to a corpse. It is foolish to be so preoccupied with even the necessities of life that no attention is given to life itself. Those overly concerned with material comforts never learn to enjoy life, nor do they enjoy God and His provisions. They end up in hell.

Jesus' first rationale for not being anxious is expressed in these words: "Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?" Life is more important than food and the body more important than clothing. Food alone does not guarantee life. Ultimately, life depends upon God and His Word (4:4).

6:26. The second rationale Jesus offered was provided by the example of the birds who witness to the goodness and faithfulness of the Creator (cf. Psalm 104:10-18). If the Heavenly Father cares for the birds, He will surely provide for His children. The Old Testament instructs us about the lesson animals can teach us: "But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee" (Job 12:7). Human beings are worth much more to God. People are more important to Him. The very fact that God sent His Son to die on the cross in the sinner's place should give some idea of the value He places upon human beings who were created in His image and likeness. (See Romans 5:6-10.)

6:27.  Verse 27 gives Jesus' third reason for not worrying, being anxious, or unduly concerned: it makes no sense, for it changes nothing. Verse 26 deals with life; verse 28 deals with the body. Verse 27, though, may deal with either adding height to the physical body or with adding length to one's life. The Greek word hēlikian, "stature," is also used to mean "full age or maturity" in John 9:21, 23, and in Hebrews 11:11 it refers to the term of life, the span of years. It is obvious, of course, that no one could add 18 inches to his height by worrying about it. Neither does a child grow to an adult's height by worrying about it. It is also true that no one can add even a small amount to his life span by worrying about it. God determines each person's life span. Overanxious worry wastes vital energy and does not help in any way that matters. But trusting God makes it possible for God's will to be accomplished in each life.

6:28.  Jesus again picked up the theme of verse 26, the goodness and faithfulness of the Creator. Since God cares for the flowers and grass, and even "clothes" the wild plants of the woods (lilies) and hills with a beauty and splendor surpassing even that of Solomon, how much more will He care for His children. This reality finds support in two facts: First, the lilies "toil not, neither do they spin" (i.e., do not work). Second, the ephemeral nature of grass is contrasted to the more lengthy duration of an individual life.

"Lilies" is probably a general term including brightly colored tulips, lilies, anemones, hyacinths, and other wildflowers. Scarlet anemones and red poppies still grow wild all over the area called Palestine.

6:29.  Solomon's glory, i.e., his riches and wisdom, had become proverbial (1 Kings 3:12, 13; 4:21-34; 2 Chronicles 9:13-28). Yet nature surpasses his glory.

6:30.  Material with which to start fires was scarce in Palestine. Consequently, grass and weeds were used as fuel (cf. 13:30). The oven often was nothing more than a portable earthen pot. Dried weeds, thorns, etc., were placed under the pot and set ablaze. This image appears elsewhere in Scripture functioning in a variety of ways (e.g., Psalm 118:12; Ecclesiastes 7:6). Jesus was stressing God's care for the insignificant.

The expression "ye of little faith" occurs four times in Matthew's Gospel (Matthew 6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8) and once in Luke 12:28. By addressing the disciples in this manner, Jesus both reminded them of the need to grow in faith and encouraged them that such growth is possible.

It may be also that Jesus had in mind the simple beauty of the wildflowers. He lived a simple life here on earth. His life while here is a challenge for believers to cease encumbering themselves with all the trappings of worldly society so that they can enjoy a more beautiful life marked by the beauties of heavenly blessings.

6:31. The admonition against anxiety (verse 25) is repeated here (cf. Psalm 55:22). Jesus emphasized yet again the anxiety brought on by concern for personal security ("What shall we.... Wherewithal shall we...?").

6:32.  Jesus gave two reasons for casting care aside: First, concern for material goods and personal security are the concerns of the godless. With eager desire they focus all their wishes and efforts on these things. For followers of Jesus to adopt such values would be tantamount to adopting heathen practices. Such behavior, of course, neglects God and is quite serious (cf. 5:47; 6:7). Second, because their Father in heaven knows their needs even before they pray about them (see 6:8), they should also realize that He will care for them (verse 33).

6:33.  The demand of verse 33 complements the warning of verse 31. The verb "seek" here is best interpreted "seek continually" (cf. Matthew 5:6; Colossians 3:1). "Seek" also has the idea of "try to obtain" (see BAGD, p. 338f.). The concept corresponds to the "hungering" and "thirsting" that one is to have for righteousness (5:6). "Righteousness" is the very essence of the kingdom of God; it is the divine order of existence. Jesus requires His followers to first seek the spiritual blessings of the Kingdom rather than material gain which is the goal of the heathen (verses 31, 32).

"All these (material) things shall be added unto you." Although this is normative for the kingdom of God, it does not mean that life between the "already-and-not-yet of the kingdom of God" will necessarily be experienced without cares, difficulties, etc. (cf. Matthew 10:16-23, 29-31; 1 Peter 5:7). It does suggest, however, that such uncertainty is not to cause anxiety—everything that transpires is under God's control. The first concern for every believer, therefore, must be for God's rule and His dominion.

6:34.  The passage ends by Jesus' command not to worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will have enough to do to worry about its own affairs. Each day has enough trouble of its own, and it is absurd to be overanxious about a day that has not yet arrived. Actually, overanxious worry about tomorrow keeps believers from giving proper attention to the needs and problems they face today. It can also keep them from expressing faith for God to meet today's needs. It can keep them from seeking and receiving present guidance from the Holy Spirit and the Word.

Worrying about tomorrow can also keep believers from seeking God's righteousness. Though they stand in Christ's righteousness and His righteousness is imputed to them, it is still necessary to keep seeking God's righteousness as well as His kingdom and rule. Overanxious worry about tomorrow can cause believers to do unworthy things that do not show His righteousness. It is therefore better to let tomorrow worry about itself. With God as our Father, Jesus as our Good Shepherd, and the Holy Spirit as our powerful Helper, we can face both today and tomorrow.

SOURCE: The Complete Biblical Library Commentary - Matthew.  Copyright © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.; World Library Press, Inc.


The College Press NIV Commentary: Matthew 6:25-34

Worry (6:25-34)

6:25. Jesus is emphatic that his disciples need not be overly concerned (μὴ μεριμνᾶτε, mē merimnate) with the basics of life, such as food, drink, or clothing. The intent is not to cultivate a carefree irresponsible attitude that refuses to work or plan for the future. The rhetorical question, Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? indicates that Jesus intends his hearers to cultivate a sense of priorities where even the essentials of life are not given ultimate concern. After all, a life consumed by the concern for material needs will of necessity lack commitment and devotion to that which is of ultimate value.

6:26. Jesus then uses a series of illustrations to drive home the absurdity of being anxious about the basic elements of life. First, Jesus calls attention to the birds who, although they do not labor in the typically human sense (sow, reap, gather into barns), are nevertheless sustained by a concerned Creator. The rhetorical question Are you not much more valuable than they? assumes that the hearer (and reader) will agree and draw the proper conclusion. If disciples are of more value than birds they then can live confidently in God’s providential care. However, the promise should not be construed as a guarantee of health, wealth, or the absence of trial and suffering. This text promises that God will provide the sustenance needed to do his will and to be active in service.

6:27. The futility of worry is demonstrated by its inability to add anything to one’s life span (ἡλικίαν, hēlikian). In fact, medical evidence points to the damaging effects of anxiety, possibly resulting in an actual shortening of one’s life. Jesus’ rhetorical question is therefore calculated to remind the hearer that anxiety makes no positive contribution to the quantity or quality of life.

6:28-30. Anxiety concerning clothing is countered by another example from nature, i.e., the lilies of the field. Once again Jesus argues from the “lesser to the greater” to emphasize God’s fatherly concern for his children. The hearer is to take note that “flowers” merely grow, they are not involved in the process of preparing clothing (labor or spin). Yet, God in his providential care suitably adorns each flower for its natural environment. The splendor of God’s creative clothing of flowers surpasses even what Solomon, with all his wealth (cf. 1 Kgs 3:13; 10:14-27) could provide for himself. Although the imagery shifts from “lilies” to grass in verse 30 the point is the same: if God exhibits such care for the temporal existence of a flower or grass, he will certainly be responsive to the needs of his children. Therefore, anxiety must be replaced by a faith that trusts in God’s protection and care. Faith, in Matthew’s Gospel, always demands a committed trust that overcomes anxiety and doubt (8:26; 14:31; 16:8; 17:20; 18:8-10; 19:2, 11-22, 28-29).

6:31-32. In what follows (6:31-34) Jesus summarizes (v. 31) and draws out the implications of 6:25-30. Gentiles are representative of those who do not know God and thus are consumed by the pursuit of earthly needs. But those who know God as Father find confidence that he knows their needs (cf. 6:8), and thus they can give priority to the pursuit of the kingdom (v. 33).

6:33. The climactic exhortation to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness sets forth the dominant concern and highest priority of the disciple. Since the presence of the kingdom is already dynamically present in Jesus (4:17f.), the imperative “seek” (ζητείτε, zēteite) calls for a persistent wholehearted devotion to the realization of God’s reign in one’s life. Giving the kingdom our highest priority necessarily demands a commitment to a new form of righteousness (5:20) as defined by Jesus (5:21-48). When his “kingdom and his righteousness” are given ultimate priority, the disciple can be assured that God will provide the necessities of life (i.e., food, drink, clothing). Anxiety is therefore incompatible with a life devoted to the pursuit of God’s kingdom.

6:34. The final words extend the prohibition of anxiety to include all possible concerns, even about the future. Jesus’ confident assurance should calm all fears concerning what tomorrow may bring. Since God’s faithful presence can be trusted for daily needs it is foolish to be fearful about tomorrow or the distant future. The proverbial saying about tomorrow’s troubles and worries is intended to reinforce the need for living in the present, fully aware of the Father’s care and concern for our well being. It surely is the case that while Christians may not know what the future holds, we live in confidence in the One who holds the future.

SOURCE: The College Press NIV Commentary: Matthew; by Larry Chouinard; New Testament Series Co-Editors: Jack Cottrell, Ph.D., Cincinnati Bible Seminar; Tony Ash, Ph.D., Abilene Christian University; College Press Publishing Company, Joplin, Missouri


The Moody Bible Commentary:  Matthew 6:25-34

6:25-30.  Materialism beguiles one of heavenly treasure, obscures spiritual sight, and enslaves to something other than God (vv. 19-24). For this reason (v. 25) the followers of Christ must not permit themselves to be obsessed with worldly goods. Do not be worried is an imperative verb which means "to have anxiety based upon perceived or real impending misfortune" (see also Php 4:6). God gives the greater gifts (life and one's body) and will supply the lesser ones (food, clothing). The Father feeds the birds (v. 26); but He hardly ever makes worms rain from the sky into opened beaks. They work for their food, but He providentially puts worms where the birds peck. His children are more precious to Him than birds; they can count on Him to provide food, clothing, and shelter, usually through their work (which He also provides). By being worried (v. 27) one cannot add a single hour (literally "one cubit") to one's life span, which is sometimes described in units of measured distances. Wild flowers usually grow only for a few weeks in Israel because it is so arid, but God dresses them with splendor (vv. 28-30). The materials to make dyes were difficult to obtain and yielded mediocre results. Even Solomon could not clothe himself in garments as brilliantly colored as the lilies of the field. Such vegetation, however, was disposable, used for tinder to light the fire in a home's oven. God can be trusted to clothe the follower of Jesus, whom He values more than dried grass.

6:31-32.  For the second time Jesus forbids fixating on things. Such obsession characterizes the Gentiles—probably a reference to those outside the covenant community of God who, as a result, do not know God's provision.

6:33. The kingdom includes both a future cataclysmic coming and present effects (see the commentary on Mt 13). To seek first His kingdom involves not only being prepared for its future coming but also incarnating its values and glorifying its King in the present time. His righteousness (see 6:1) surely includes what He demands of His children ethically (see the connection of kingdom and ethical righteousness in Rm 14:17). All these things include the basic essentials of life. There is no guarantee that God provides luxury items when people claim them or visualize their reception. The main point of 6:33 is that God so demands His people's undivided attention that He promises to provide their necessities so that they will not worry about them and can fully concentrate on Him.

6:34.  In the phrase tomorrow will care [lit., "will worry"] for itself, Jesus probably personifies tomorrow as owning its own anxieties. It is folly to wrest what belongs to "Mr. Tomorrow" and make it one's own today. Instead, when tomorrow comes, it will have enough trouble of its own, but God will enable the believer to handle those troubles then (6:25).

SOURCE: The Moody Bible Commentary; by Michael Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham; © 2014 by The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. Database © 2015 WORDsearch.



Cubit (v. 27; KJV)—Length from the tip of the middle finger to the elbow, equivalent to about eighteen inches. But it could also suggest the idea of lengthening our lives.

SOURCE: Life Ventures-Bible Studies for Life; Leader Guide; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN.

Cubit (‏אַמָּה‎, ʾammāh; πῆχυς, péchus): The standard for measures of length among the Hebrews. They derived it from the Babylonians, but a similar measure was used in Egypt with which they must have been familiar. The length of the cubit is variously estimated, since there seems to have been a double standard in both countries, and because we have no undisputed example of the cubit remaining to the present time. The original cubit was the length of the forearm, from the elbow to the end of the middle finger, as is implied from the derivation of the word in Hebrew and in Latin (cubitum). It seems to be referred to also in Deut. 3:11: "after the cubit of a man." But this was too indefinite for a scientific standard, and the Babylonians early adopted a more accurate method of measurement which passed to the nations of the West. They had a double standard, the so-called royal cubit and the ordinary one. From the remains of buildings in Assyria and Babylonia, the former is made out to be about 20.6 inches, and a cubit of similar length was used in Egypt and must have been known to the Hebrews. This was probably the cubit mentioned by Ezekiel 40:5 and perhaps that of Solomon's temple, "cubits after the first measure" (2 Chron. 3:3), i.e. the ancient cubit. The ordinary cubit of commerce was shorter, and has been variously estimated at between 16 and 18 or more inches, but the evidence of the Siloam inscription and of the tombs in Palestine seems to indicate 17.6 inches as the average length. This was the cubit of six palms, while the longer one was of seven (Ezekiel 40:5). The cubit mentioned in Judges 3:16 is from a different word in Hebrew (‏גֹּמֶד‎, gōmedh) and was probably shorter, for Ehud girded it on his thigh under his clothing.

The New Testament references are Matthew 6:27; Luke 12:25, "Which of you .... can add a cubit unto the measure of his life?"; John 21:18, "about two hundred cubits off"; Rev. 21:17, "the wall thereof, a hundred and forty and four cubits."

SOURCE: International Standard Bible Encyclopedia; James Orr, M.A., D. D., General Editor; Parsons Technology, Inc.; Cedar Rapids, Iowa.


v. (worries, worried)

1. feel or cause to feel troubled over actual or potential difficulties. [as adj. worried] expressing anxiety.

2. annoy or disturb.

3. (of a dog or other carnivorous animal) tear at or pull about with the teeth. (of a dog) chase and attack (livestock, especially sheep).

4. (worry at) pull at or fiddle with repeatedly.

5. (worry something out) discover or devise a solution by persistent thought.

n. (pl. worries) the state of being worried. a source of anxiety.

SOURCE: Concise Oxford Dictionary; Tenth Edition; Oxford University Press



The Lilies of the Field

Jesus’ Use of Plant Imagery

By Bennie R. Crockett, Jr.

Bennie R. Crockett, Jr., is professor of religion and philosophy and is co-director of the Center for Study of the Life and Work of William Carey at William Carey University, Hattiesburg, Mississippi.


ESUS’ USE OF PLANT IMAGERY is nowhere more memorable than in the beautiful English sentence, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin” (Matt. 6:28, KJV).  This translation followed the masterful 1534 translation by William Tyndale.  “William Tyndale gave us our English Bible.”1 



The Greek word krinon in Matthew 6:28 and the parallel verse in Luke 12:27 is a general term that likely could have referred to any kind of flower in the region during the time of Jesus.  The ambiguity appears as “the flowers” (NIV) or even “the wildflowers” (HCSB) and is the only recorded time Jesus mentioned flowers.

The classical historian Herodotus (484-425 BC) referred to lilies (Greek, krina) as growing in water in Egypt,2 and Theophrastus (371-283 BC, Aristotle’s successor) wrote a physical description of krinon.3  For krinon, classical interpreters have suggested the white lily (Latin, Lilium candidum) or the Truk’s cap lily (Lilium chalcedonicum).4  Some biblical linguists, however, think that krinon in Galilee and Judea possibly referred to “an anemone, a poppy, a gladiolus, and a rather inconspicuous type of daisy.”5

Jesus’ teaching about the lilies of the field focused on God’s provision for His people.  If God clothes the lilies of the field with beauty that exceeded Solomon’s grandeur, so much more would God clothe and care for people.  With such provision, Jesus’ followers should seek God’s kingdom and righteousness, not worrying about tomorrow (Matt. 6:33-34).

Jesus’ teaching about the “flowers of the field” may correspond to Psalm 103:15, which speaks of man, saying, “he flourishes like a flower of the field” (ESV).  In accordance with an emphasis on Old Testament fulfillment,6 Jesus’ inclusion of the phrase “of the field” contrasts the transience of human life (Matt. 6:28; see Ps. 103:15) with God’s provision and care for His people (Matt. 6:30; see Ps. 103:17-19; 40:8; Matt. 6:19; 2 Cor. 4:18; 1 Pet. 1:23-25).

Plant Imagery

In the Gospels, 37 different Greek words occur with at least 235 uses as plant images in Jesus’ teachings.  Such wide-ranging imagery displays Jesus’ familiarity with His natural setting; He often extended plant imagery into spiritual meaning.  In addition to flowers, Jesus used at least nine categories for plant imagery. These categories include: (1) produce: “fruit,” “grain,” “wheat,” or “ear” and “pod” (63x); (2) farming: “to plant,” “to sow,” and “seed” (53x); (3) trees and bushes: “tree,” “fig tree,” “mulberry tree,” “mustard tree,” and “bush/shrub” (27x); (4) vineyards and vines (27x); (5) harmful plants: “thorn,” “brier,” and “weed” (20x); (6) parts of plants: “leaf,” “branch,” and “root” (16x). (7) parts of trees: “wood,” “club,” “speck,” “splinter,” “log,” and “timber” (16x); (8) grasses (8x); and (9) herbs and vegetables: “mint,” “dill,” “cumin,” “rue,” and “every herb” (7x).

Food-Producing Plants

Almost two-thirds (62 percent) of Jesus’ plant imagery focused on produce, farming, vineyards, and herbs.  Unlike contemporary technological society with all of its creature comforts and excess of food for many people, Jesus’ teachings from His ancient rural setting reveal an acute awareness and dependence on the fullness of the earth (Ps. 24:1) for survival.

The psalmist wrote that God gives food to all flesh since His mercy endures forever (136:25)—yet one of the most common issues for the people of the land in Jesus’ day was whether they would have any food for the day (Matt. 14:15-16; Mark 8:3; Luke 15:17).  The parable of the laborers in the vineyard (Matt. 20:1-16) illustrates the grinding poverty for day laborers whose “daily bread” (6:11; Luke 11:3) depended on their day-to-day contractual labor (Matt. 20:2).  Later, and in contrast to the bread and fish that fed the 5,000, enough for just one meal (John 6:27), Jesus taught His disciples that He was the true vine for the branches’ ongoing survival (15:1-5).


The most common plant image Jesus used was the Greek word karpos (“fruit,” 40x) in regard to the fruit of a tree (Matt. 7:17-19) or a vineyard (Mark 12:2; Luke 13:6; 20:10).  Additionally, He used “fruit” in regard to people’s good or evil deeds (Matt. 7:16,20), the fruit of the kingdom (21:43), the fruit of some Samaritans’ conversion (John 4:36), or the life-giving results of His death for the world (12:23-24).

Combined together, the Greek words used for produce—“wheat,” “grain/kernel,” “ear of grain,” “fig,” “grape,” and “pod”—comprise 23 uses by Jesus.  All six terms were common words for varied vegetables and fruits in Jesus’ day.  As the ancient source of food, wheat formed the basis of diets throughout the Mediterranean would, since “Grain was to antiquity what oil is to the world of today.”7  Although wheat could be highly productive (yielding 100-fold; Matt. 13:8), severe food shortages still occurred in parts of the Roman Empire during Jesus’ life.8

Jesus occasionally used produce images for spiritual meaning.  Jesus, the Son of man, sowed good seed (the children of kingdom) in the world, but the children of the devil are weeds that will be gathered and destroyed at the end of the age (Matt. 13:37-40).  Jesus also compared a disciple’s little faith to the potential in the minuscule mustard seed (17:20; Luke 17:6), which could grow into a tree or shrub large enough for birds’ nests (Matt. 13:32; Mark 4:32; Luke 13:19).  Squandering his father’s gift, however, ironically provoked the prodigal into both a material and a spiritual poverty of eating pigs’ carob “pods” (Luke 15:16).  In Luke 6:44, Jesus combined six words for plants: “figs” and “grapes” are good “fruit” from the “tree,” while “thorns” and “briers/brambles” are bad.

Parables and Kingdom Growth

At least one-third of Jesus’ teachings in the Synoptic Gospels comprise parables that include plant imagery.  Examples include the sower (Matt. 13:1-9; Mark 4:3-9; Luke 8:4-8), the wheat and the tares (Matt. 13:24-30), the mustard seed (vv. 31-32; Mark 4:30-32; Luke 13:18-19), the laborers in the vineyard (Matt. 20:1-16), the barren fig tree (21:18-19; Mark 11:12-14), the vineyard tenants (Matt. 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-11; Luke 20:9-18), the budding fig tree (Matt. 24:32-33; Mark 13:28-29: Luke 21:29-31), the talents (Matt. 25:14-30), the seed growing secretly (Mark 4:26-29), the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), and the unjust steward (16:1-8).  Some think that the vine and the branches (John 15:1-8) also was a parable.

A major focus of Jesus’ teaching and actions centered on the appearance, growth, and influence of the kingdom of God/heaven (Matt. 4:17; 12:28; 16:19; Mark 1:15; Luke 10:9; 11:20; 17:21).  Jesus’ vivid growth parables focus on the unexpected and certain increase of the kingdom of God (see the parables of the sower, the wheat and the tares, the mustard seed, and the seed growing secretly). 

Unique Use of a Plant Image

The Greek word xulon (“wood”) occurs when Jesus asked of those arresting Him, “As a robber, have you come out against Me with swords and clubs?”9 (Matt. 26:55; Mark 14:48; Luke 22:52).  While xulon refers to “wood” or “tree” (Luke 23:31; Acts 16:24; Rev. 2:7; 18:12; 22:2,14,19), Jesus’ unique use of the term “club” (xulon, “stave” KJV, ASV) provides insight into His mission on the cross made of xulon (“wood”).  The irony and paradox of Jesus’ arrest reveal His intent to submit to both the wood clubs and the wood tree (i.e., cross) through which He would draw all people unto Himself (John 12:32-33) by bearing their “sins in His body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24; see Deut. 21:22-23; Acts 5:30; 10:39; 13:29; Gal. 3:13).                                                                                                                   Bi

1.  Daniell, William Tyndale: A Biography (New Haven & London: Yale Univ. Press, 1994), 1.

2.  Herodotus, The Persian Wars, 2.92.

3.  Theophrastus, Enquiry into Plants, 6.6.8.

4.  (krinon, white lily) in Liddell and Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, rev. and augmented (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1940), 996.

5.  (krinon, wildflower) in Louw and Nida, eds., Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, 2nd ed. (New York: United Bible Societies, 1989), 1:32.

6.  Matthew’s “fulfillment quotations” from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament.

7.  Casson, “The Role of the State in Rome’s Grain Trade” in Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome 36 (1980), 21.

8.  Before and after Jesus’ ministry, grain shortages occurred under the emperors Caesar Augustus, Tiberius, and Claudius; see Luke 15:14; Acts 11:28; Tacitus, Annals of Tacitus, 2.87; Cassius Dio, Roman History, 55.26.2-3; and Suetonius, “Claudius,” in Lives of the Twelve Caesars, 5:18. See Casson, “The Role of the State in Rome’s Grain Trade,” 24-25.

9.  Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are with writer’s translation.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Summer 2016.

The Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew

By Robert A. Weathers

Robert A. Weathers is pastor, First Baptist Church, Shallotte, North Carolina.


EMEMBER THE SONG “Our God Reigns”?  Maybe you sang it last Sunday.  That simple tune proclaims God’s role as the reigning King of the universe.  But especially significant for Christians is the last verse, which emphasizes the biblical truth that Jesus Christ is this King, a fact demonstrated by His resurrection:

Out from the tomb He came with grace and majesty;

He is alive, He is alive.

God loves us so, see here His hands, His feet, His side

Yes we know, He is alive.1

We could sing those lyrics Sunday after Sunday and easily overlook the powerful truth embedded in that song.  But the New Testament writers consistently highlighted the reign of God.  One of those writers, Matthew, carefully emphasized that Jesus Christ is the eternal King and that His reign on earth had begun.

“Kingdom of God” or “Kingdom of Heaven”

With frequency and fervency the Scriptures teach about the coming of God’s kingdom on earth.  In both the Old Testament languages of Aramaic and Hebrew and in the New Testament Greek, the terms translated “kingdom” referred more to the reign and authority of the king than it did to a geographical area.  So in the Bible the “kingdom of God” referred primarily to God’s rule, His divine kingly authority, which had come from heaven to earth.  The kingdom was not first of all a place so much as God in action.2

The Gospel writers used two terms interchangeably to speak of God’s kingdom.  They called it “the kingdom of God” and “the kingdom of heaven” (or in some English translations, “the heavens”).  These are variations of the same idea.  All four Gospels use “the kingdom of God,” but Matthew favored “the kingdom of heaven.”  While he used the designation “kingdom of God” only 5 times, he punctuated his Gospel with the phrase “kingdom of heaven” 32 times.  Since “kingdom of heaven” was a typical Jewish way to “avoid the use to the name of God” when referring to God’s rule, Matthew’s preference for this phrase demonstrated his concern to reach a Jewish audience with the gospel.3

How Jesus Talked About God’s Kingdom

Exploring Jesus’ use of these terms in Matthew’s Gospel illuminates compelling truths about God’s reign in the universe.  In fact, chapters 12; 13; 16; and 19 provide keys to understanding these truths.  Chapter 13 is especially significant, for in that chapter Jesus defined the nature of God’s kingdom through a series of parables.  Four facts about Jesus’ use of “the kingdom of God” or “heaven” emerge as we scan these chapters in Matthew.

First, the kingdom is embodied in Christ.  The early Christians realized that the kingdom of God has actually arrived in Jesus Christ.  As Messiah, Christ was the anticipated King.  But more than that, Christ actually embodied the kingdom of God.  He brought its mission to earth.  He carried bodily the full authority of God.

Matthew recorded events through which Jesus demonstrated His regal authority.  For example, when the Pharisees criticized Jesus for permitting His disciples to eat grain and for healing a man on the Sabbath, Jesus proclaimed Himself “Lord of the Sabbath” (12:8, HCSB).  Jesus was inaugurating the kingdom of God on earth and asserting His authority as King.  Matthew clarified the King had come and did so by quoting a passage from Isaiah that anticipated the Messiah’s arrival (vv. 15-21; Isa. 42:1-4).4

Jesus further validated His kingly authority by casting out demons.  He taught that the contest between God and Satan was a battle of kingdoms.  His arrival on earth meant that Satan was defeated.  To the Pharisees Jesus declared, “If I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you” (Matt. 12:28, HCSB).

Second, the kingdom is a call to discipleship.  Jesus’ coming ushered in God’s kingdom.  Further, it requires a response from all who encounter the King.  Jesus packaged His call to discipleship with His kingdom teaching.  When the Pharisees tried to test Him and asked about His perspective on divorce, Jesus explained God’s original intention for marriage.  He used marriage as a way to call His followers to fulfill God’s intention, rather than to look for a way to dodge God’s design (19:1-12).

Not everyone would accept the demands of discipleship.  Jesus used the parable of the sower and the soil to compare the ways people responded to His call to enter God’s kingdom and become His followers (13:18-23).  Matthew is careful to include with this parable the explanation that although all hear the same message of the kingdom, not all respond the same way.  Only the person who is fit for the kingdom “hears and understands the word” (v. 23, HCSB).  That disciple will produce a great bounty for the kingdom.  Under the tests of time and endurance, his profession of faith will be proven genuine.

Even Jesus’ closest disciples wrestled with the demands of discipleship.  Following Peter’s great Christological confession at Caesarea Philippi, Jesus promised that His followers would be kingdom disciples and would have keys to the kingdom.  The gospel message was that key to the kingdom.  Their actions of “binding and loosing” would create the church on earth, which would then carry out the mission of the kingdom.5  The disciples did not fully understand this teaching, and while they professed their faith in Him as the Son of God, they did not grasp that, as King, Jesus would die a sacrificial death (16:13-23).

Matthew recorded other episodes to underscore Jesus’ expectations for His followers.  Jesus showed that people of His kingdom were to have the faith of a small child, and He taught a rich young man that discipleship was a lifestyle that required a complete surrender to the priorities of God’s kingdom (19:13-30).6

Third, the kingdom is a treasure that God reveals.  Jesus’ disciples wondered why He taught kingdom truths using parables.  Jesus answered, “Because the secrets of the kingdom of heaven have been given for you to know, but it has not been given to them” (13:11, HCSB).  He meant that parables have a dual purpose: to reveal and to conceal.  The inability to understand stemmed from a hardened heart, but people who were open to the truth would understand Jesus’ teaching and choose to follow Him.  To see that the kingdom of God has come required accepting God’s perspective.  God revealed this truth (16:17).7  Jesus also taught that, unlike the pomp and pageantry that so often accompanied earthly kingdoms, God’s kingdom would begin small, with a handful of disciples, but would generate ultimate and grand results.  For that reason the kingdom was like a mustard seed that would become a great tree or like the leaven mixed with dough (13:31-33).  He similarly compared the kingdom of heaven to a treasure found in a field and to a pearl of great value (vv. 44-46).  The kingdom of heaven so precious—anyone would be wise to choose it.

Finally, the kingdom is both a present fact and a future hope.  Though the kingdom of God has come with Jesus Christ, its coming is not yet complete.  He has brought its mission to earth and given that mission to the church, but one day in the future He will return and the kingdom will be realized in all its glory.  Jesus taught that the final coming of the kingdom of God would be a day of judgment for those who reject Him and a day of reward for those who accept Him (16:27-28).  As one scholar stated, “In a very meaningful sense the kingdom has come because Jesus has come.  But in an equally meaningful sense the kingdom will come when Jesus comes.  It is present.  It is future.”8 

Until that time, we will keep singing “Our God reigns!                                                                                                                                                                        Bi

1.  Our God Reigns © 1974, 1978; Leonard E. Smith.  Used by permission.

2.  Morris, New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986), 106; Ladd, “Kingdom of Christ, God, Heaven,” Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Elwel, ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984), 608.

3.  Morris, 127-128.

4.  Carson, Matthew in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 8 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 282-283; 327.

5.  “Jesus’ ‘church’ is not the same thing as His ‘kingdom’.”  The kingdom is the reign of God.  The church is the people of God who are called out through the reign of God to be on mission for Him.  Therefore, the kingdom produces the church.  See Carson, 369.

6.  Blomberg, Matthew in The New American Commentary, vol. 22 (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992), 218, 295-300.

7.  Ibid., 215.

8.  Morris, 129.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Vol. 42, No. 3; Spring 2016.

SOLOMON in All His Splendor

By Lebron Matthews

Lebron Matthews is senior pastor, Eastern Heights Baptist Church, Columbus, Georgia.

THE CORONATION OF SOLOMON marked a milestone in the history of Israel.  For the first time sovereignty over all twelve tribes was passed peacefully at the death of the king.  It would never happen again.

The Kingdom He Inherited

Solomon’s ascension to the throne had no basis other than he was God’s choice to rule the kingdom.  His older brother, Adonijah, had the natural right from a human perspective, and Adonijah enjoyed the support of powerful government officials.  Solomon himself made no attempt to secure the throne until he had been anointed king by Zadok the priest.  His supporters acted out of conviction they were doing God’s will.  And the peaceful acceptance of his authority by the population surely was the result of a similar belief.

Saul, Israel’s first king, was killed in battle against the Philistines. When the news of his death reached the southern tribe of Judah, they anointed the tribe’s favorite son, David, as king.  When David invited other tribes to acknowledge him as king, they refused. Israel’s leading general, Abner, installed Saul’s surviving son, Ish-bosheth, as king over the northern tribes. David established his capital in the ancient city of Hebron.  Ish-bosheth seems to have maintained his capital at Mahanaim in Gilead.  Over the next two years Israel was ravaged by bitter civil war.  David grew stronger while Ish-bosheth became weaker.  David’s success was due in part to military victories and in part to Ish-bosheth’s incompetence.  In the end, Ish-bosheth’s army transferred its loyalty to David and Ish-bosheth was assassinated.

With the civil war over, David attacked the Jebusite city of Jerusalem.  After its fall he transferred his capital there.  Since the city had no connection with either side during the civil war, both sides accepted Jerusalem as a political sign that David would reign over a unified kingdom.  David’s reign, however, was marked by revolt and scandal internally and by constant warfare with Israel’s neighbors.  Yet despite the strife, David succeeded in providing his kingdom with stability and national identity.

As David grew old, the kingdom faced a crisis.  The only precedent for transmission of royal power was civil war, a possibility no one wanted.  Yet David’s successor was either not clear or was not universally accepted.  The threat of violence loomed over the horizon.  Political intrigue abounded.  Although people were familiar with David’s preference of Solomon, a conspiracy developed to install Adonijah as king.  The conspirators included Joab (commander of the army), Shimei (a relative of King Saul), and Abiathar (high priest).  Queen Bathsheba proved to be more than adequate in thwarting Solomon’s opponents.  She persuaded David to instate her son Solomon as his heir.  We must be careful not to minimize Yahweh’s role in Solomon’s rise.  Ultimately, God—and God alone—determined who would be king of Israel.  Bathsheba and her allies were instruments of His divine will.

In the ancient world bloody purges were common aftermaths of a new king’s coronation.  To consolidate power, a new monarch frequently eliminated potential rivals, including members of the royal family.  After David’s death, Solomon also eliminated potential troublemakers.  His purge was instigated by his brother’s foolish maneuvering.  Adonijah, as David’s oldest surviving son, considered himself to be the heir apparent.  Solomon’s coronation failed to weaken Adonijah’s desire to become king.  After his father’s death, Adonijah requested that the new king give him Abishag as a wife.  Abishag had been David’s last concubine.  Adonijah’s request was an inept move to reassert his claim to the throne.  Although Solomon had previously granted him clemency, Adonijah was executed for this new scheme.

Before his death, David commanded Solomon to kill Joab and Shimei.  Joab had been ruthless and violent in his support of David.  But he murdered Abner after Abner made peace with David.  And he killed Absalom despite orders from David to spare him.  David had been ineffective in dealing with Joab’s brutality, perhaps because of Joab’s insight into the Bathsheba incident.

When Bathsheba became pregnant as a result of David’s adultery, David plotted to hide his guilt by killing her husband.  Joab carried the king’s orders into battle with him, orders that would guarantee the death of Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah the Hittite.  Therefore Joab’s death was punishment for his crimes.

Shimei had also been David’s enemy.  Rather than follow his father’s orders to kill Shimei, however, Solomon granted Shimei clemency.  He was allowed to live if he stayed confined to the city of Jerusalem.  He did live in Jerusalem—until he violated the terms of his reprieve three years later.

Another potential enemy of Solomon, Abiathar, also was allowed to live.  He was banished to Anathoth.  Abiathar had been high priest during David’s reign and was part of the conspiracy to make Adonijah king.  Despite its obvious political benefits, his removal from office fulfilled the prophetic condemnation of Eli’s family (1 Sam. 2:27-36).  The elimination of these powerful men consolidated Solomon’s authority and enabled him to govern initially without significant opposition.

The Kingdom He Built

In the steps Solomon took to secure his throne, he demonstrated wisdom and leadership.  His order to put Adonijah to death was neither vindictive nor unwarranted.  It followed clear evidence that his half-brother still entertained hope of becoming king.  The deaths of Joab and Shimei reflected Solomon’s willingness to listen to the advice of others.  His father had instructed him to execute both men.  The banishment of Abiathar revealed respect for God’s servants, even when they failed to measure up to the appropriate standard.  Furthermore it demonstrated that at this point in his life, Solomon’s judgment conformed to God’s word.  In each case, he acted decisively and judiciously.

Early in Solomon’s reign God appeared to him.  Solomon demonstrated his astuteness by requesting that God grant him wisdom.  Wisdom is the proper application of knowledge.  The new king acknowledged that his rise to power was the consequence of Yahweh’s activity, not his own merit.  Furthermore, at this stage in his life, Solomon felt totally inadequate for the task before him.  If he was to succeed in ruling Israel, he would need God’s guidance.  Only God could enable him to rightly apply the knowledge he possessed.  He demonstrated the zenith of this wisdom in discerning the true mother of the infant brought to him by two prostitutes (1 Kings 3:16-28).

Solomon cemented an alliance with Egypt by marrying Pharaoh’s daughter.  The union may have seemed impressive—historically Egypt had been the world’s great super power.  But Egypt now existed in name only.  During the 21st Dynasty, Egypt was in reality a group of independent states held together by trade and title.1

The true significance of Solomon’s marriage to an Egyptian princess was the political recognition it provided.  The loose confederation of Israelite tribes that David had forged into a tenuous kingdom had become a political state equal to its neighbors, including mythical Egypt.  The importance of this cannot be overstated.  Only a generation earlier, the stability of Israel was threatened.  A victorious Philistine coalition had defeated Israel’s army and occupied considerable territory west of the Jordan River.  Under Solomon, the entire region between the Sinai Peninsular in the south and Syria in the north and between the Mediterranean Sea to the west and the Arabian Desert to the east was under Israel’s control.  The marriage to an Egyptian princess signified international respect for Solomon’s power and prestige.

In ancient Israel, people commonly identified themselves by their tribal affiliation.  Solomon reorganized his kingdom into political units called districts rather than maintaining the old tribal confederation.  While this move was politically expedient, it ultimately weakened the of the nation by removing the tribal identity of its citizens.  As a result unrest in the tribes increased.  The scars of his father’s civil wars did not heal.  But initially the reorganization likely produced a jubilant atmosphere of fresh hope that is common to political change and innovation.  Its bureaucracy established the image of a strong and efficient administration.

Solomon aggressively pursued public works projects such as construction of his palace and Yahweh’s temple.  The infrastructure of Israel improved.  Public buildings provided an object of national pride.  The temple would serve as the heart of Israel’s religion of centuries.

Solomon established further foreign political alliances, especially with Hiram of Tyre.  The alliances resulted in peaceful relations with Israel’s neighbors.  Peace benefited both the economy and the society.  The vast building projects produced trade with Israel’s neighbors.  The Phoenician city-state of Tyre provided Israel with world renowned cedar lumber.  But its contribution was not limited to the raw material.  Its expert craftsmen in wood and ivory were among the world’s best and were contracted for work in Jerusalem.  Furthermore, the Phoenicians were seafaring traders who provided access to a larger world market.2 Archeological evidence suggests that Phoenician merchants set up business throughout Israel.  They were joined by merchants from Arabia who brought spices, incense, and gold overland.3 However, Israel’s role in international trade at this time seems mainly to have been in importation, as little evidence exists that they shipped large quantities of materials outside the kingdom.

Unfortunately political alliances often were cemented through marriage.  Solomon began to acquire the harem of an oriental despot.  He erected temples just outside Jerusalem where his wives could worship their native gods the same as in their pagan homelands.  Many citizens obviously considered their presence as evidence of the king’s progressive spirit.

The early years of the reign of Solomon were known as Israel’s “Golden Age.”  It was a time of peace and prosperity.  Cultural achievements expanded.  The king gained a reputation for his proverbs.  In part this was due to his patronage of wisdom literature and his establishing schools to educate Israel’s adolescent boys.  Formal education and literary progress produced works such as those recorded in the biblical Books of Proverbs and Song of Songs.

To the elderly especially, the transformation of Israel must have seemed phenomenal.  To the young, it signified Israel’s rightful place in the world.  Solomon, “in all his splendor,” was a ruler worthy of their allegiance.                                                                  Bi

1.  George Steindorff and Keith C. Seele, When Egypt Ruled the East, rev. ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957), 270, 275; John A. Wilson, The Culture of Ancient Egypt (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1951), 289-292, 320.

2.  Glenn E. Markoe, The Phoenicians, Peoples of the Past (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), 33-35, 94, 129; D. R. Ap-Thomas, “The Phoenicians,” Peoples of Old Testament Times (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973), 273-281.

3.  B. S. J. Isserlin, The Israelites (London: Thames and Hudson, 1998), 185-187.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Vol. 33, Number 4; Summer 2007.

Worry:  A Word Study

By Hal Lane

Harry A. (Hal) Lane is pastor, Westside Baptist Church, Greenwood, South Carolina.


ORRY IS A MENTAL STATE OF ANXIETY concerning an anticipated need or fear.  The prevalence of worry in the 20th century led some philosophers to label it “the age of anxiety.”1  A great deal of attention was devoted to the Angst (dread) of the human condition in the 20th century primarily through the works of the German philosopher Martin Heidegger and the existentialists he inspired.2  Our emergence into the 21st century has not altered the frequency or negative effects of worry.  The jolt of terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and the following aftershocks have only increased the level of national anxiety and fear.

Worry first appeared in the garden of Eden.  It was one of the initial evidences of the radical changes in Adam and Eve following their sin.  Worry and fear caused them to hide from the presence of a holy God for the first time in their lives (Gen. 3:10).  Sin and the resulting separation from God are the sources of worry and fear.

Worry is a testament to people’s powerlessness to control the events of their lives.  Many people try to cope with worry through philosophies, drugs, counseling, and pleasure; but nothing has proved successful in dispelling this anxious state of mind.  Failing to avoid worry, some have attempted to make it a virtue.  Worry for some is an indicator of concern and care.

Jesus did not worry and He commanded His disciples not to worry.  Jesus addressed the issue of worry in Matthew 6:25-34 and 11:28-30.  He explained how we can conquer worry in our daily lives.  This article will seek to explain the meaning of the Greek verb translated “worry” in Matthew 6:25, 28, 31, 34 within the context of Jesus’ instructions to His disciples.  We will also apply these principles to those struggling with worry today.

Matthew 6:25-34 contains a portion of what has been commonly referred to as the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7).  Jesus warned in 6:19-24 against greed and storing treasure on earth to the neglect of seeking treasure in heaven.  The question Jesus anticipated from His disciples was, How are we going to live if we don’t concern ourselves with material things?  Jesus used the present imperative of the Greek verb merimnao commanding them to stop worrying.  Jesus’ prohibition against worry indicated that it is a sin not a virtue.

Greek writers employed the verb merimnao before the first century A.D.  The verb was used to describe differing states of concern or care.3  Many Greek writers lamented the universal existence of worry.  They described how worry disturbed their sleep and lamented that only death could free them from the cares of life.4

The verb merimnao occurs 19 times in 17 verses in the Greek New Testament.  The verb, as in earlier Greek literature, was used in the sense of “to care for” or “be concerned about” (1 Cor. 7:32-34; 12:25; Phil. 2:20). The majority of New Testament uses however describe a fearful state of mind accurately translated by the English word, “worry.”

In Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus used the verb merimnao to refer to anxiety or worry.  His prohibition of worry indicated that He considered it an act of faithless disobedience.  In verse 25-28 Jesus addressed the basic needs of food and drink that we all face daily.  He used an analogy from nature to demonstrate God’s ability to provide for His creatures.  Jesus reminded His disciples how the birds of the air did not accumulate or store large quantities of food, and yet they did not lack nourishment.  He then used a common method of rabbinic teaching called “light to heavy.”  If God takes care of less important creatures like birds, how will He not take care of those created in God’s image.  In verses 28-31 He used a similar argument to show how God, who clothed the flowers of the field, could be trusted to clothe His children.

A careful analysis of Jesus’ argument will help us define what the verb merimnao means in this context.  First to state what it does not mean will be beneficial.  Jesus was not encouraging apathy or laziness.  Birds do not obtain food without effort.  Neither do flowers produce brilliant colors without expending energy.  The command not to worry does not mean that we should not work.  Jesus was not calling on His disciples to be passive and inactive regarding their needs.  The point of the analogy is that we should not worry about the future.  God will take care of our daily needs, and He will provide for our future need.

Worrying about the future is a lack of faith (v. 30).  Worry assumes that we are on our own without our heavenly Father’s provision.  The result is a preoccupation with the things of this world that results in a neglect of spiritual things.  This is the mind-set of the pagan world, Jesus said (v. 32).  The implication is that worry is natural to the unsaved person who does not know the Father.  Those who know the Lord and His love for us through Jesus Christ discover that worry is inappropriate.  Faith and worry are opposites.  A person who has faith will not worry, and a person who worries does not have faith.  Faith believes that an omnipotent God is sovereignly in control of His universe.  Faith affirms that He cares for His children and that they will lack nothing that they need physically and spiritually.  The guarantee is God’s love shown for us through the sending of His Son Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:31).

Jesus also pointed out the futility of worry (Matt. 6:27).  Worry has never solved one problem or provided for any need.  Worry is a waste of energy that could have been expended for a good purpose.  Worry is one of the most powerful schemes of the devil.  He uses it to keep Christians paralyzed by fear.  Worry destroys the Christian’s testimony.  When a Christian worries, he or she appears to have no advantage over the unbeliever in dealing with troubles.  Worry drains the mind and spirit contributing to the development of physical, emotional, and spiritual problems.

God’s promise of provision helps us understand an offer made by Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30.  Jesus offered rest to the weary and burdened.  He said in verse 20, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (NIV).  The yoke represented the life of service to Jesus that a disciple would receive.  The easy yoke and light burden did not refer to easy work or a life without conflict.  Paul’s list of difficulties in 2 Corinthians 11:23-29 described a life of excruciating labor and suffering for Christ.  However Paul’s life was one of perpetual joy in Christ (Phil. 4:4).  What makes the yoke of Jesus easy and the burden light?  The promise of God’s care and provision for our every need makes the burdens light.  We will never have to face our problems alone.  We will know that God works all things together for our good (Rom. 8:28).  We know that to die is gain (Phil. 1:21).  A life without worry is indeed an easy yoke and a light burden.  Many want to live a life that is free of worry but do not know how.  I would like to offer some suggestions as to how we can trust God more and seek to eliminate worry in our lives.

First, we should agree with the Word of God that worry is a sin.  We must stop making excuses for worry or distorting its true nature as legitimate concern.  We must also resist the temptation to surrender to worry as inevitable.  Jesus never commands us to do something that He will not enable us to obey through the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 10:13).

Second, we should direct our concerns to God in prayer (Phil 4:6).  Caring is not a sin but failing to give our cares to God is.  Faith believes that God will take care of our needs and that He will always do what is right.  Paul said that God’s peace would replace fear and worry when we give our burdens to the Lord (Phil. 4:7).

Third, we should stay busy in acts of service to God and for others.  An active mind and body is less likely to dwell on cares and anxieties.  If there are positive things that we can do to help a particular situation, we should pursue them.  When we have done all we can, we should leave the rest to God.

Fourth, meditate on the promises of God’s Word.  The bible has many verses, in addition to those covered by this article, that encourages us to trust the Lord (Ps. 4:5; 37:3; 115:9-11; Prov. 3:5; Isa. 26:4; Rom. 8:28).

An interesting inscription from the days of the early church was discovered in the region of ancient Phrygia.  The inscription mentioned the name Titedios Amerimnos.  Noted archaeologist W. M. Ramsay suggested the possibility that the young man named Titedios received the title Amerimnos (someone who does not worry) at his baptism.5  This is a title that every Christian should aspire to attain.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Bi

1.  D. Simpson, “Anxiety” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 62

2.  Heidegger’s influential work was Being and Time (New York, Harper, 1927).

3.  R. Bultmann, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. IV (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing  Company 1967), 589.

4.  ibid, 590.

5.  See The Vocabulary of the New Testament, James Holt Moulton and George Milligan eds. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1974). 398.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator , LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Winter, 2002-03.




(58.341)  What Is The Answer To & Where In The Bible Is This Week’s Trivia Question Found? What tree’s fruit was symbolically represented on the clothing of Israel’s high priest  Answer Next Week:

Last week’s question:  What prophet was told to cut off his hair and scatter a third of it in the wind? Answer: Ezekiel; Ezekiel 5:1-2.