Matthew 6:5 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 6:5, NIV: And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.

Matthew 6:5, ESV: “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

Matthew 6:5, KJV: And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Matthew 6:5, NASB: 'And when you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they will be seen by people. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

Matthew 6:5, NLT: 'When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.

Matthew 6:5, CSB: "Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward.

What does Matthew 6:5 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Jesus is warning His listeners not to be hypocrites when it comes to doing good (Matthew 6:1–4). He has in mind Israel's religious leaders (Matthew 5:20). He has already shown that their emphasis on outward actions and not inner attitudes leads to a false spirituality. The righteousness God desires starts in the heart. Thoughts and attitudes are as much a part of righteousness as words and deeds; this was a major theme of chapter 5. Doing good in ways that cause people to praise God is a good thing (Matthew 5:16). What's not good is giving with a motive of earning worldly praise (Matthew 6:1). If necessary, Jesus says to hide your giving, so nobody knows but you. Then you can be sure that your only motive is pure devotion to God (Matthew 6:2–4).

Keeping with the same theme, Jesus applies the idea of motivation to public prayer. Those looking to announce their own spirituality loved to pray out loud and loudly both on the street and in the synagogue. While this might not be as common in the modern era, it is still possible to pray with an inappropriate concern for how we look or sound to other people.

As with selfishly motivated charity, Jesus says those who pray "for show" have received all the reward they're going to get. The Father will not honor acts of spiritual pride disguised as acts of righteousness. Even in prayer, one cannot "do good" for the wrong reasons.