No Man Can Serve Two Masters; Matthew 6
Posted by hystar on May 30, 2010
KJV Matthew 6:24
24. No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
The first detail noticed in this parable is the warning, no man can serve two masters. To understand the spiritual meaning of this text, we need to identify two masters, using only God’s scriptures. The second detail which requires clarification is the word mammon. To understand the meaning of this word, we can use Strong’s Bible dictionary.
Strong’s Ref. # 3126
of Aramaic origin (confidence, i.e. wealth, personified); mammonas, i.e. avarice (deified):
Understanding the definition of personify will help in understanding Jesus’ comparison.
–verb (used with object), -fied, -fy·ing.
1. to attribute human nature or character to (an inanimate object or an abstraction), as in speech or writing.
2. to represent (a thing or abstraction) in the form of a person, as in art.
3. to embody (a quality, idea, etc.) in a real person or a concrete thing.
4. to be an embodiment or incarnation of; typify: He personifies the ruthless ambition of some executives.
5. to personate.
Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2010.
In this particular instance, the definition of the word mammon adds clarity to the parable. Jesus was comparing God to human nature or character. In other words, we cannot serve God and our own desires.
By defining a single word, we now have obtained a clearer meaning of this parable. While most people use the definition of wealth to describe mammon, understanding that this parable reaches beyond the physical aspects of the word mammon is the beginning to a deeper understanding. To reach the next level, we need to understand the spiritual definition of the word master. This is accomplished by comparing scripture.
KJV Luke 8:24. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm.
KJV Luke 8:45. And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?
KJV Matthew 23:10. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
KJV John 13:13. Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
Examining scripture containing the word master not only shows, Jesus is the master, it also illustrates His power, actions, and examples He expects His disciples to follow. For all Christians, identifying Jesus as master, should be a simple task. Supporting texts should be easy to find and identify.
This parable requires the identification a second master. How many texts do you think clearly identify Satan, or the devil as the other master? Think about this for a moment and make a list of the texts you think will accomplish this task. If you prefer, write your list in preparation of a future study.
After an extensive search of the Bible, I could not find a single text clearly identifying Satan or the devil as a master. It occurred to me, why would God waste the time, or a single word on such a subject. Imagine how many people would take this type of information and misapply it. The closest text I could find is in Matthew 10.
KJV Matthew 10:24. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. 25. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?
Because of the context of Matthew 10:25, this would not be considered a proper supporting text. At this point of a study it is time to shift gears, from a simple word study to an inductive method, in which we look for words or ideas which are the same, similar or related. To continue this study we need to shift from the obvious key words to secondary key words which will lead us to related texts. In this case the word serve will help to identify the other master.
KJV Psalms 97:7. Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods.
KJV Galatians 4:8. Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.
KJV Judges 10:6. And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the Lord, and served not him.
The Bible identifies a list of other gods and idols as entities people have chosen to serve. God has been very careful not to identify these as masters, because they neither own, nor do they have power to possess the souls of those who serve them. To understand the contrast between the two masters, we need to study the attributes of each. When identifying Jesus as the master, it is impossible not to recognize His nature and example. It only requires a few texts to identify the nature and the results which occur when serving idols and other gods.
KJV Judges 3:6. And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods. 7. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgat the Lord their God, and served Baalim and the groves.
KJV Deuteronomy 12:30. Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. 31. Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God: for every abomination to the Lord, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.
KJV Judges 10:13. Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more. 14. Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.
It may not be evident at the time, but serving idols and other gods can be very costly. In modern times we may not see parents physically offering their children to other gods, but what about the spiritual facets?
What are parents accomplishing by teaching their children to follow after the latest fads and fashions? What are parents teaching when they provide children with an abundance of the latest toys while making it appear the parent suffered a major sacrifice to provide lavish gifts? The parent is teaching the child, a sacrifice is necessary to obtain material goods. The parent is establishing an example the child will follow the rest of their life, associating personal gain through the sacrifice of others. This was the same lesson taught by the misguided Israelite parents?
Why did parents force their children to walk through the fire? Why were they sacrificing their own children? Today we refer to it as superstition, but no matter what name we put on it, the end result was for personal gain. It may have been to bless the crops, insure rain, or protection against natural disasters. The ultimate reason was to insure their own prosperity. The children of past generations were taught their prosperity relied upon the sacrifice of others. This resulted in the belief that prosperity was physical evidence a person was blessed by the gods.
Nothing much has changed over the years. The gods the Israelites chose to serve still exist today. Is there a difference between sending children through the fires of strange gods, and neglecting their education in spiritual matters today? The end results are the same.
KJV 2 Peter 3:5. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6. Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7. But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
KJV Jude 1:7. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. 8. Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
KJV Revelation 14:9. And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10. The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
KJV Revelation 19:20. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
KJV Revelation 20:15. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
God must have had a good reason to record the incidents where parents sentenced their children to death by fire. A number of texts testify to this fact. This is another instance where physical evidence teaches a spiritual lesson. Although parents think they have found a better explanation, or reason for their actions, it still remains the same old excuse, modified, but which has been used for generations.
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun. For what hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun? For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity. There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God. He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes? Ecclesiastes 1:9-10, 1:14, 2:11, 2:22-24, 5:10-11.