Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 31: Matthew, Mark and Luke, Part I, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
MATTHEW 6:31-34; LUKE 12:29-32
31. Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or what shall we drink? or with what shall we be clothed? 32. For all those things the Gentiles seek: for your heavenly Father knoweth that you have need of these things. 33. But rather seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. 34. Be not therefore anxious about tomorrow: for tomorrow will take care of itself. Its own affliction is sufficient for the day.
29. And seek not what you shall eat, or what you shall drink, and be not lifted on high. 30. For all these things the nations of the world seek: and your Father knoweth that you have need of these things. 31. But rather seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. 32. Fear not, little flock: for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
This has the same object with the former doctrine. Believers ought to rely on God’s fatherly care, to expect that he will bestow upon them whatever they feel to be necessary, and not to torment themselves by unnecessary anxiety.
He forbids them to be anxious, or, as Luke has it, to seek, that is, to seek in the manner of those who look around them in every direction, without looking at God, on whom alone their eye ought to be fixed; who are never at ease, but when they have before their eyes an abundance of provisions; and who, not admitting that the protection of the world belongs to God, fret and tease themselves with perpetual uneasiness.
Matthew 6:32. For all those things the Gentiles seek This is a reproof of the gross ignorance, in which all such anxieties originate. For how comes it, that unbelievers never remain in a state of tranquillity, but because they imagine that God is unemployed, or asleep, in heaven, or, at least, that he does not take charge of the affairs of men, or feed, as members of his family, those whom he has admitted to his friendship. By this comparison he intimates, that they have made little proficiency, and have not yet learned the first lessons of godliness, who do not behold, with the eyes of faith, the hand of God filled with a hidden abundance of all good things, so as to expect their food with quietness and composure. Your heavenly Father knoweth that you have need of those things: that is, “All those persons who are so anxious about food, give no more honor, than unbelievers do, to the fatherly goodness and secret providence of God.”
Luke 12:29. And be not lifted on high 460 This clause corresponds to the last sentence in the passage taken from Matthew, Be not anxious about tomorrow Our Lord now charges them with another fault. When men wish to make arrangements in their own favor, they would willingly embrace five centuries. 461 The verb μετεωρίζεσθαι, which Luke employs, properly signifies to survey from a lofty situation, or, as we commonly say, to make long discourses: 462 for the intemperate desires of the flesh are never satisfied without making a hundred revolutions of heaven and earth. The consequence is, that they leave no room for the providence of God. This is a reproof of excessive curiosity; for it leads us to bring upon ourselves uneasiness to no purpose, and voluntarily to make ourselves miserable before the time, (Mt 8:29.) The expression used by Matthew, its own affliction is sufficient for the day, directs believers to moderate their cares, and not to attempt to carry their foresight beyond the limits of their calling: For, as we have said, it does not condemn every kind of care, but only that which wanders, by indirect and endless circuits, beyond limits.
Matthew 6:33. But rather seek first the kingdom of God This is another argument for restraining excessive anxiety about food. It argues a gross and indolent neglect of the soul, and of the heavenly life. Christ reminds us that there is the greatest inconsistency in men, who are born to a better life, being wholly employed about earthly objects. He who assigns the first rank to the kingdom of God, will not carry beyond moderation his anxiety about food. Nothing is better adapted to restrain the wantonness of the flesh from breaking out in the course of the present life, than meditation on the life of the heavens. The word righteousness may be either understood as applying to God, or to the kingdom: 463 for we know that the kingdom of God consists in righteousness, (Ro 14:17,) that is, in the newness of spiritual life. All other things shall be added This means, that those things which relate to the present life are but favorable appendages, and ought to be reckoned greatly inferior to the kingdom of God
Luke 12:32. Fear not, little flock By this declaration our Lord strengthens the confidence to which he had exhorted his people: for how would God refuse worthless and perishing food to those whom he has adopted as heirs of his kingdom? And he expressly calls his own people a little flock, to hinder them from thinking that they are of less value in the sight of God, because, on account of their small numbers, they are held in little estimation before the world. The verb εὐδοκεῖν conveys the idea, that eternal life flows to us from the fountain of undeserved mercy. For the same purpose the word give is added. When Christ plainly declares, that God hath given us the kingdom, and for no other reason, but because it so pleased him, it is perfectly manifest, that it is not obtained by any merits of works. At whatever time the Lord raises our minds to the expectation of eternal life, let us remember, that we have no cause for fear as to daily food.
“Ne soyez en suspens;” — “be not in suspense.”
“Embrasseroyent volontiers beaucoup de cent annees;” — “would willingly embrace many hundreds of years.”
“Regarder en haut, et estendre sa veue bien loin: ce qu'on dit communement, Faire de longs discours, ou estre en suspens, comme aussi nous l’avons traduit.” — “To look from on high, and to extend one’s view very far: as we commonly say, To make long discourses, or to be in suspense, as we have also translated it.”
On the latter supposition, we would naturally have expected that, instead of τὴν δικαιοσύνην αὐτοῦ, we would have had τὴν δικαιοσύνην αὐτὢς, when αὐτὢς would have stood for τὢς βασιλείας. — Ed.