Almsgiving (Mt 6:2-6:2)

“Thus,

Whenever you give alms,

Do not sound a trumpet

Before you,

As the hypocrites do

In the synagogues

And in the streets.

Thus,

They may be praised

By other men.

Truly,

I say to you!

‘They have received

Their reward.’”

 

Ὅταν οὖν ποιῇς ἐλεημοσύνην, μὴ σαλπίσῃς ἔμπροσθέν σου, ὥσπερ οἱ ὑποκριταὶ ποιοῦσιν ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς καὶ ἐν ταῖς ῥύμαις, ὅπως δοξασθῶσιν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων· ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀπέχουσιν τὸν μισθὸν αὐτῶν.

 

This is another saying of Jesus, only found in Matthew, that carries on with the same theme of not showing off your good righteous actions.  The followers of Jesus were not to give charity or alms (Ὅταν οὖν ποιῇς ἐλεημοσύνην) with a trumpet blast leading them (μὴ σαλπίσῃς ἔμπροσθέν σου).  Apparently, the hypocrites were doing this in the streets and in the synagogues (οἱ ὑποκριταὶ ποιοῦσιν ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς καὶ ἐν ταῖς ῥύμαις).  Actually, there is no indication that any Jewish or Christian person ever did this, but certainly there was a strong emphasis on giving charity in late Second Temple Judaism.  This Greek word for hypocrites “οἱ ὑποκριταὶ” originally meant actors or someone who sought praise, while acting deceitfully.  According to Matthew, these hypocrites were usually the enemies of Jesus.  They wanted glory and praise from other men (ὅπως δοξασθῶσιν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων·) for their good works.  However, Matthew has Jesus give a solemn saying (ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν) concluding that these men who sought human appeal have already received their reward (ἀπέχουσιν τὸν μισθὸν αὐτῶν).  Charitable giving should be done quietly without any fanfare.

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