Verses 14-18


“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:”

          “if ye forgive men their trespasses,
          Literally:  “For if you forgive men their sins.”–
Jesus is telling these Jews regarding the coming Kingdom that he who shows mercy to men receives mercy from God.

Jesus is making a condition for obtaining forgiveness: by having a merciful, forgiving spirit.  Such conditional forgiveness definitely has not part under grace.  This definitely is a protocol for under Law.  However, again I remind the reader, keep n mind that this has NOTHING whatsoever to do with this present Age of Grace, but regarding Jews gaining the Kingdom; but not receiving salvation as we know it today in this Church Age.

          TRESPASSES: (Grk.–paraptômata)–This is not part of the Model Prayer. The word trespass” literally means “falling to one side,” i.e., a lapse or deviation from truth or uprightness. The ancients sometimes used it of intentional falling or attack upon one's enemy, but “slip” or “fault” (Gal. 6:1) is the common N.T. idea.

“your heavenly Father will also forgive you”–Again we must remember that we are referring to something under the Mosaic Law; i.e., under the  Dispensation of the Law , and the Jews that is not for this Church Age, or Dispensation of Grace.

            The Apostle Paul tells us, in Romans 10:13 that, “whosoever (Jew or Gentile alike—and NO pre-conditions are given either) shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” PERIOD! When one is saved/born-again in this present Dispensation of Grace, he has ALL his sins forgiven!  No conditions are given!  Just total forgiveness, PERIOD!   The next verse gives the converse of this.
            During that time know as the Great Tribulation, when God is dealing with National Israel, He will (at least at first during that time) revert back to the  Dispensation of Law.    He must go back to the Law because the Jews consider themselves to still be under the Law so He can bring them out of the Law into the Dispensation of the Kingdom (the Millennial Kingdom), or the Thousand Year Reign of Christ when the Jewish remnant finally recognizes Christ as their Messiah. That is when the things spoken of here in this Sermon on the Mount will be truly fulfilled.


“But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you trespasses”.
Literally:  “But if you do not forgive men their sins, neither will your father forgive the sins of you.”  A vindictive man will exclude himself from all hope of entering into the Kingdom, and seals his own damnation.  Again referring to being under the Law, NOTunder grace (See Matt. 25:31-46)

Having concluded His supplementary directions on the subject of prayer, Jesus now returns to the subject of non-ostentatiousness in deeds of righteousness, in order to give one more illustration of it, He goes back to the matter of fasting.

“Moreover when ye fast, be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance:  for they disfigure their faces that they may appear unto men to fast.  Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.”

Having concluded His supplementary directions on the subject of prayer with this Divine Pattern, Jesus now returns to the subject of unostentatiousness in our deeds of righteousness, in order to give one more illustration of it, in the matter of fasting.          

“moreover when ye fast”
Literally: “And when you fast;”–This is the third example of the right and wrong way of righteousness, in contrast.

Jesus still insists on the principle of doing nothing for mere show.  Fasting is not wrong, and, indeed, is often blessed richly, but not when our object is to appear to men to fast.  Jesus may be referring to private and voluntary fasting, which was to be regulated by each individual for himself; though in spirit it would apply to any fast.  

          YOU FAST:  (Grk.–nêstêute)–This is in the present-perfect tense, denoting a continuioual action.  A fast is termed by the Greeks as nêsteuō) from (nê), “not,” and (esthiō), “to eat”; hence fast means, a “total abstinence from food” for a certain time. Fasting had risen under the teaching of the Pharisees into a new prominence.

         Abstaining from flesh, and living on fish, vegetables, etc., is no fast, or may be rather considered a caricature of fasting.  Many pretend to take the true definition of a fast from Isa. 58:3, and say that it means a fast from sin.  This is a MISTAKE, for there is NO such term in the Bible as fasting from sin.   The very idea is ridiculous and absurd, as if sin were a part of our daily food.  In the fast mentioned by the prophet, the people were to divide their bread with the hungry, Isa 58:7; but could they eat their bread, and give it too?  No man could be saved by a fast: he should give all the food he might have eaten to the poor.  He who saves a day's expense by a fast, commits an abomination before the Lord.
          The Jews fasted often. They had four annual fasts, in commemoration of the capture of Jerusalem, (Jer. 52:7), of the burning of the temple, (Zech. 7:3) in memory of the death of Gedaliah, (Jer. 41:4,) and, in memory of the commencement of the attack on Jerusalem (Zech. 8:19). In addition to these, they had a multitude of occasional fasts. It was customary, also, for the Pharisees to fast twice a week, Luke 17:12.

            “of a sad countenance”
            Literally:  {with}  sullen faces”

           SAD COUNTENANCE: (Grk.–skuthrôpos)-Literally: “sullen faces.”  From the Greek word, skuthros,  “sour, crabbed, morose, or gloomy.”  An uncommon expression in the N.T., used  only here and Luke 24:17.  In classical Greek it signifies “sullenness.

That is, sour, morose, assumed expressions of unfelt sorrow. It was common to assume a woe-begone look in order to show to the world deep humiliation. This is condemned. A hypocrite always has a difficult part to act, for when he wishes to appear as a penitent, not having any godly sorrow at heart, he is obliged to counterfeit it the best way he can, such as by a gloomy and austere look. They went about with a slovenly appearance, and ashes sprinkled on their head.

“they disfigure their face”–That they may look like they are fasting. It is this pretence of piety that Jesus so sharply ridicules. They conceal their real looks that they may seem to be fasting; conscious and pretentious hypocrisy. It was not the deed of fasting, but rather the reputation for the deed which they sought; and with this view those hypocrites multiplied their fasts. And are the exhausting fasts of the Church of Rome, and of Romanized Protestants, free from this taint?

           THEY DISFIGURE:  (Grk.–aphanizousi)–Jesus is giving another of His play on the words in the Greek, in an allusion to the Greek  word,  phanôsin,   meaning, “figure”.

            By the dust and ashes which they put upon their heads, as was usual at the times of solemn humiliation.  They even would rub flour on their faces in order to make them look like they were pale and unhealthy from so much fasting. By leaving their face unwashed, and their hair and beard undressed, even by rubbing flour on their faces to give them a pale look, as if they were starving from long periods of lack of food. In religious duties, all should be especially careful to avoid ostentation, and the seeking of the praises of men. 
           Jewish fasting laws were quite rigid.  Fasting lasted from dawn to sunset; outside that time normal meals could be eaten.  In the time of Jesus, there was one compulsory fast, the fast on the Day of Atonement  (Yom Kippur).  On that day, from morning to evening, all men had “to afflict themselves” (Lev. 16:31).  The Jewish scribal law lays it down:  “On the Day of Atonement it is forbidden to eat, or to drink, or to bathe, or to anoint oneself, or to wear sandals, or to indulge in conjugal intercourse.”  Even the children had to trained to some measure of fasting on the Day of Atonement so that, when they grew up, they would be prepared to accept the national fast.
            In many cases, fasting was an act of National Penitence.  So the whole nation fasted after the disaster of the civil war with Benjamin (Judges 20:26).  Samuel made the people fast because they had strayed after Baal (I Sam. 7:6).  Nehemiah made the people fast and confess their sins (Neh. 9:1).  Several times the nation fasted as a sign of national penitence before God.     

“But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face,”

“when thou fastest anoint thine head, and wash thy face.”
Literally: “On fasting anoint your head, wash your face.””– The meaning is, “Appear as usual;” that is, appear so as not to attract notice.  Appear as you do daily. Do not assume any new appearance, or change your visage or dress.

These were forbidden in the Jewish canon on days of fasting and humiliation; and hypocrites availed themselves of this ordinance, that they might appear to fast.  Jesus cautions against this: as if He had said, “Affect nothing-dress in the ordinary manner, and let the whole of your deportment prove that you desire to recommend your soul to God, and not you face to men.” That factitious mourning, which consists in putting on black clothes, crapes, etc., is utterly inconsistent with the simplicity of the Gospel of Christ; and if practiced in reference to spiritual matters, is certainly forbidden here: but sin is so common, and so boldly persisted in, that not even a crape is put on, as an evidence of deploring its influence, or of sorrow for having committed it.

          “anoint thine head”
            Literally:  “anoint your head”–That is, dress as usual. Dress yourself as if to go to a festive entertainment.

            “wash thy face”
            Literally:  “wash your face”–The usual practice before

“That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.”

“That thou appear not unto men to fast,”
Literally:  “so as not to appear to men to be fasting”–Which is just the reverse of the hypocrites, the Scribes and Pharisees; and quite contrary to the customs of the Jews, who when they fasted, particularly on their noted fasts.

The meaning of this whole commandment is, when you regard it to be your duty to fast, do it as a thing expressing deep feeling or sorrow for sin, not by assuming unfelt gravity and moroseness, but in your ordinary dress and appearance; not to attract attention, but as an expression of feeling toward God, and he will approve and reward it.

“thy Father, which seeth in secret”
Literally:  “but to your Father in secret”–Let us not be afraid that our hearts can be oncealed from
God; but let us fear lest He perceived them to be more desirous of the   praise of men than they are of that glory whic comes from Him.

           IN SECRET: (Grk.–en tôi kruptaôi)–Here as in 6:4, 6 the Textus Receptus adds  en tôi phanerôi— in the open,” or simply, “secretly,” but it is not genuine. The “openly” seems evidently a later addition to the text of this verse from verses 4, 6.

            “shall reward thee.”
            Literally:  “Will repay you.”--Our self-denial must be for the eyes of God, not of men.