A Most Often Misquoted Text: Matthew 6:33

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1: But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matt. 6:33 ESV)

2: But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all other things will be added to you (Matt. 6:33 ESV)

Compare 1 and 2. Do you see any difference? One is what Jesus actually said. Two is what people often say Jesus said. Jesus never said “all other things” shall be added unto you. If you are still not convinced; cross- check other translations. Most people I have encountered often quote Matt 6:33 as “all other things shall be added unto you” leading to a wrong interpretation and a wrong application.

Of course, if it is “all other things“, then we have the liberty to slot in all we desire eg good health, material wealth, marriage, visa to travel, a fat bank account etc. And that’s what those who quote “all other things” often do. But that is wrong.

What Jesus did say is “all these things shall be added unto you.” This is specific and has a context. It is not left open for us to put in everything we so desire. Vv. 25-31 of Matthew 6 reveals the context of “these things” and what Jesus was speaking about:

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious 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? 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? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear

Firstly, “food, drink and clothing” are the ‘these things’ Jesus was talking about. In other words, God is able to take care of us and provide for us the very basic things all human beings (believer and unbeliever) need. Secondly, because God is able to take care of our basic needs; so we don’t need to be anxious over these things. Christ draws a strong analogy from the birds of the air and flower of the fields to drive home his command against anxiety: “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?(v.26)

“Are you not of more value than they?” This should shatter our every proclivity towards worrying about life. God has guaranteed to take care of us. Unfortunately, if you worry and live in anxiety over the basics of life; you are just behaving like an unbeliever. They worry and chase these things as if “these things” are their very life and existence. But for the believer, God knows we need these basic things and we ought not worry and be anxious over them: “For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all (v.32). Christ then point us away from a lesser good–food, drink, clothing– to a greater good; seeking the Kingdom of God first. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (v.33). First things first. Take care of my kingdom and I will take care of you: “all these things shall be added unto you”. Our basic needs for life is guaranteed by God and we need not worry and be anxious in life.

Matthew 6:33 therefore is a command against anxiety and not a promise for us to seek God’s kingdom for material gains (c.f. 1Tim 6:5).

— Originally posted on The Gospel Network as Misquoting Jesus.

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4 thoughts on “A Most Often Misquoted Text: Matthew 6:33

    • I think the text does define what God will give us. The premise is in the preceding verses: 31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘ What shall we wear?’ 32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. What does the gentile seek after? These things. And vv33 says "and all these things shall be added unto you" 

      What are these things?. They are food, drink and clothing. These simply translates into the basics of life. God says don't worry about these basic things, I'll take care of you. In other words, don't live an anxious life. The text actually teaches more about anxiety and trust in God to provide our needs.

      To the point of God can add "all other things". Well, I will say yes cautiously. God indeed gives us all things that pertain to life and godliness (2Pet 1.3). But this also has limitations: only things that pertains to life and godliness. Just as as Fathers we won't give just everything our kids require. We give what we estimate is good for them

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