Theses Master's

Cheapened Generosity: An Exegetical Look at Hoarding, Abundance, and Living Generously in Matthew 6:19-24

Capungcol, Caroline

Located in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, Matt 6:19-24 could be argued as the most pivotal and climatic passage within the teaching. Far beyond spiritualized messaging, Jesus brings forth the crux of what it means to be a disciple within these few verses. The message received is that to follow him there needs to be action. To bring God’s Kingdom to earth, the values of Matt 6:19-24 must be put into practice. What are some of these actions? The actions followers of Christ must take are not to store up earthly treasures (Matt 6:19-21), to give generously (Matt 6:22-24), and to abandon the master of money (Matt 6:24). The primary concern in verses 19-24 is how resources and possessions are managed, and the primary lesson, when managed properly, results in all people experiencing the abundance of God.

The task of unearthing the realities from which Jesus first spoke, to Matthew’s written recount, to the interpretation read in many Bibles today could take lifetimes. The summary to follow does not come close to attempting this feat, but rather provides a few foundational considerations which to draw when reading Matt 6:19-24. We will first review methodological approaches to reading the Bible, why they are important, and how they support the student of the Sermon on the Mount. This understanding of methodologies leads to the historical and contextual background which will affirm the setting which inspired the Sermon on the Mount and relevant audiences’ positions. Realizing the agrarian context from which Jesus and his audience were familiar, the issues of the time of Matthew’s writing, and the demands of the Roman Empire within both will help to expand the imagination of those readers of the texts to conclude a more grounded and lived understanding of the passages. Next, is a brief background on the sources which scribes used to interpret the Sermon on the Mount and Luke’s Sermon on the Plain. The historical background of the faith traditions of Jesus such as manna, the festival of Jubilee, and the practice of the sabbath will be discussed to lay the foundation and provide insight into these Jewish values. Finally, by establishing the duality of God’s Kingdom to that of Rome, a careful application of the verses leading up to Matt 6:19-24 will be reviewed. This will lead to a close reading of Matt 6:19-24 and briefly highlight the texts that follow it. We will conclude with some modern-day applications based on this study and a conclusion for moving forward.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Union Theological Seminary
Thesis Advisors
Niang, Aliou C.
Carr, David M.
M.A., Union Theological Seminary
Published Here
May 24, 2022