Matthew 6:19 and 6:20 are the nineteenth and twentieth verses of the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament and are part of the Sermon on the Mount. These verses open the discussion of wealth. These verses are paralleled in Luke 12:33.
- 19: Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth
- and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
- 20: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor
- rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
This passage marks a change in subject matter from the first half of the chapter. While the earlier portion focused on proper procedure for worship, and criticized those who made public display of their piety, this section begins a discussion of wealth and material goods, and why they are not useful.
The use of the word "treasures" could refer to the contents of a treasure box or a store house. Moths are often associated with the destruction of fabrics, and in this era, pieces of clothing were a major investment. What is meant by the Greek, brosis, sometimes translated as "rust", is less certain. The word generally means "eating". This could refer to the oxidization that eats away metals, or it could be referring to vermin, such as the mice that might consume a supply of grain, the worms that eat through wood, or even a reiteration of the aforementioned moths.
The text goes on to say that in contrast to all of the material things that can be destroyed or stolen, investments in Heaven cannot be threatened by others. Thus Jesus suggests that this is the most secure form of investment. This is a very rational and economic argument for piety, somewhat similar to Pascal's Wager. The idea of heaven as a storehouse for spiritual treasures existed before Jesus, being found in several Jewish works of the period and having an analogue in the Hindu theory of karma. It has been noted that the verse may specifically be an encouragement to alms giving, an argument that one should spend money on alms rather than luxuries. It contains very similar wording to Matthew 19:1, which is specifically on alms.
- France, R. T. The Gospel According to Matthew: An Introduction and Commentary. Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1985. p. 138.
- Hill, David. The Gospel of Matthew. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981
- Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to Matthew. Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 1992.
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