Fasting (Mt 6:16-6:16)

“When you fast,

Do not look gloomy,

Like the hypocrites!

They disfigure

Their faces

So as to show others

That they are fasting.

Truly,

I say to you!

‘They have received

Their reward.’”

 

Ὅταν δὲ νηστεύητε, μὴ γίνεσθε ὡς οἱ ὑποκριταὶ σκυθρωποί· ἀφανίζουσιν γὰρ τὰ πρόσωπα αὐτῶν ὅπως φανῶσιν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις νηστεύοντες· ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀπέχουσιν τὸν μισθὸν αὐτῶν.

 

Once again, this saying of Jesus is unique to Matthew.  The phraseology and content are similar to the earlier comments on almsgiving.  When you fast (Ὅταν δὲ νηστεύητε), you should not be like the hypocrites (ὡς οἱ ὑποκριταὶ).  The Greek word “οἱ ὑποκριταὶ” originally meant actors or someone who sought praise, while acting deceitfully.  According to Matthew, these hypocrites were usually the enemies of Jesus.  In this case they looked sad, dismal or gloomy (σκυθρωποί) since they were deliberately disfiguring their faces (ἀφανίζουσιν γὰρ τὰ πρόσωπα αὐτῶν).  Thus, other people could see that they were fasting (ὅπως φανῶσιν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις νηστεύοντες).  Some pious Jews would fast twice a week.  Jesus also fasted for 40 days, so his followers could fast also.  As usual, Matthew has Jesus give a solemn saying (ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν) concluding that these men who sought human approval have already received their reward here on earth (ἀπέχουσιν τὸν μισθὸν αὐτῶν).

Public prayer (Mt 6:5-6:5)

“When you pray,

Do not be

Like the hypocrites!

They love to stand.

They pray

In the synagogues,

And at the street corners.

Thus,

They may be seen

By other men.

Truly,

I say to you,

They have received

Their reward.”

 

Καὶ ὅταν προσεύχησθε, οὐκ ἔσεσθε ὡς οἱ ὑποκριταί· ὅτι φιλοῦσιν ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς καὶ ἐν ταῖς γωνίαις τῶν πλατειῶν ἑστῶτες προσεύχεσθαι, ὅπως φανῶσιν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις· ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀπέχουσιν τὸν μισθὸν αὐτῶν.

 

This is another saying of Jesus, only found in Matthew, that carries on with the theme of the hypocrites.  However, this time it is about prayer.  When the followers of Jesus went to pray (Καὶ ὅταν προσεύχησθε), they should not be like the hypocrites (οὐκ ἔσεσθε ὡς οἱ ὑποκριταί) who love to stand praying in the synagogues and the street corners (ὅτι φιλοῦσιν ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς καὶ ἐν ταῖς γωνίαις τῶν πλατειῶν ἑστῶτες προσεύχεσθαι).  Just as they had done with their almsgiving, these hypocrites wanted to be seen by other men (ὅπως φανῶσιν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις).  Certainly, there was the common times for prayer of the faithful Jews.  The 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.  Just as about almsgiving, 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).  Is this a repudiation of public prayer?