But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you – Matthew 6:33
Meaning of Matthew 6:33
The meaning of the verse, ‘But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you’ is that one should not spend his or her time worrying about their necessities, instead, trust God for their needs. “These things” mentioned in verse include: food, shelter, and clothing, which are basic necessities. Hence, Jesus does not want Christians to live in the worries of tomorrow, such as what they will wear and eat. He wants Christians to keep their focus on God and trust him to take care of their every need.
Interpretations of Matthew 6:33
The verse of Matthew 6:33 is one of the key verses of Jesus’ teachings and is commonly used in quotes in churches and Christian groups. However, the verse is commonly taken out of context. Here are the examples.
Interpretation #1 God provides material things
The interpretation of the verse, ‘and all these things shall be added unto you’ is that God can provide every material thing a Christian wants or needs. The reader understands that the verse means that God is promising an endless supply of materialistic requirements or granting wishes to every Christian. Hence, one has to be a Christian to receive material goods from God without them having to work harder. A few readers also believe that this makes a Christian entitled and lucky or blessed as they do not have to get their head down for anything.
Interpretation #2 Christians do not need food or water
The meaning of the verse, ‘But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you’ is that Christians can survive without food and water, which are the sustaining resource for every living thing. The reader believes that a Christian does not need the basic necessities of life as they can live on faith in God even if they are isolated from the world. In this interpretation, the Christian assumes that Jesus discourages his followers from thinking about things like food and water. This also leads them to believe Christians have the superpower to live without sustenance as they get their required strength from God, as narrated in the Old Testament through the story of Elijah.
Interpretation #3 Christians are righteous without effort
The interpretation of the verse, ‘But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness’ is that Christians are righteous without having to do noble acts or following the Biblical commandments. Here, the reader believes that a Christian does not have to put in any extra effort to maintain a good character as long as they believe in Jesus. Once a person is baptized and becomes a Christian, righteousness is awarded to them by default, and they do not have to work for food and pay bills like everyone. Hence, even when a Christian continues committing mistakes and crimes as they did in their life before becoming a believer in Christ, they will be considered righteous.
Interpretation #4 Worrying is a sign of weakness
The readers believe that the meaning of the verse is that a worrying Christian is a weak person. The verse discourages worry and encourages Christians to trust God and also be cheerful. The reader interprets that worry as a sign of weakness according to Jesus’ words. Hence, when someone worries about their life, job, studies, college, etc., they are feeble, especially Christians. The Bible repeatedly talks about being fearless and brave, thus asking Christians to draw their strength from God. A verse in Philippians 4:11-12 says, “Through him who gives me strength.” Here ‘Him’ is God, and the writer talks about receiving strength from God to do everything. Additionally, the reader also believes that lack of faith leads to worry, hence making the believer weak. So, to become a strong Christian, he or she has to give up worrying.
Interpretation #5 God encourages Christians to trust Him
The final interpretation of the verse, ‘But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you’ is that Jesus is asking his followers or believers to trust their needs by having faith in Him. The verse is an encouragement and comfort for Christians as God is asking them not to worry about what they will eat or wear but to trust Him to provide them with everything. However, this interpretation does not encourage anyone to be idle or have blind faith, or get things without working for them. Jesus offers his followers a different outlet for their energy which is pursuing God’s kingdom, hence leaving it to him to take care of their needs and requirements while continuing to focus on studies, careers, and family.
Historical background of Matthew 6:33
The Gospel of Matthew is the first book of the New Testament of the Bible and one of the three Gospels. It tells how the Messiah, Jesus, comes to his people and forms a group of disciples, how he taught people through different events, and how Israel becomes divided, and how Jesus condemns hostile Israel. The sixth chapter in the book of Matthew talks about various subjects like giving to the poor, praying constantly, fasting, treasures in Heaven, and worries. The thirty-third verse is about Jesus telling the readers not to focus on their material needs but instead look up to God for everything.
Literary Devices of Matthew 6:33
The verse of Matthew 6:33 is a commonly quoted and preached verse in the Bible. The verse is also a statement made by Jesus but comes with some noteworthy literary devices. Here are some examples.
Theme – The primary themes of the verse Matthew 6:33 are confidence, strength, and peace.
Assonance – The verse has good use of assonance in verse. For example, the sound of /ee/ and /au/ in ‘But seek ye first the kingdom of God’ and the sound of /a/ in ‘shall be added unto you’.
Metaphor – In the verse, the phrase ‘But seek ye first the kingdom of God’ is a metaphor for heaven.
Consonance – The verse also has good use of consonant sounds making it a good example of consonance. For example, the sound of /d/ in ‘But seek ye first the kingdom of God’; the sound of /s/ in ‘and his righteousness’ and the sound of /z/ in ‘and all these things and all these things’.
Syndeton – The verse Matthew 6:33 uses deliberate conjunction ‘and’ twice in a single sentence; it makes a good example of Syndeton.