Matthew 6:3

But when you give alms, let not your left hand know what your right hand does:
Read Chapter 6

Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
If you should understand unbelievers to be meant by the left hand, then it will seem to be no fault to wish to please believers; while nevertheless we are altogether prohibited from placing the fruit and end of our good deed in the praise of any men whatever. But as regards this point, that those who have been pleased with your good deeds should imitate you, we are to act before the eyes not only of believers, but also of unbelievers, so that by our good works, which are to be praised, they may honour God, and may come to salvation. But if you should be of opinion that the left hand means an enemy, so that your enemy is not to know when you do alms, why did the Lord Himself, when His enemies the Jews were standing round, mercifully heal men? Why did the Apostle Peter, by healing the lame man whom he pitied at the gate Beautiful, bring also the wrath of the enemy upon himself, and upon the other disciples of Christ? Then, further, if it is necessary that the enemy should not know when w...

Chromatius of Aquileia

AD 407
Here the Lord is not speaking literally of the hands of the human body. Hands as such cannot know, having the senses neither of seeing nor or language. Rather, “on the right hand” means righteous deeds and “on the left” signifies sinful deeds or persons. Thus we read it written in the book of Kings that “hand” means people when it says, “Do I not have ten hands in Israel?”—that is, ten tribes of Israel. Therefore, there is no doubt that “on the right hand” means “the just” and “on the left” means “sinners,” according to what Solomon related: “The Lord acknowledges the divisions on the right; the perverse are those who are on the left.” The Lord makes very plain the meaning of this “right” and “left” in the Gospel when he declares that the just are to be placed at the right, the sinners on the left. If something is to be accomplished according to the teaching of the Lord, then the right hand of the just must not know what the left is doing. That is, in order to labor religiously and fai...

George Leo Haydock

AD 1849
Be content to have God for witness to your good works, who alone has power to reward you for them. They will be disclosed soon enough to man, when at the day of general retribution the good and the evil will be brought to light, and every one shall be rewarded according to his works. (Haydock)

John Chrysostom

AD 407
Here again His enigmatical meaning is not of the hands, but He has put the thing hyperbolically. As thus: If it can be, says He, for yourself not to know it, let this be the object of your endeavor; that, if it were possible, it may be concealed from the very hands that minister. It is not, as some say, that we should hide it from wrong-headed men, for He has here commanded that it should be concealed from all. And then the reward too; consider how great it is. For after He had spoken of the punishment from the one, He points out also the honor derived from the other; from either side urging them, and leading them on to high lessons. Yea, for He is persuading them to know that God is everywhere present, and that not by our present life are our interests limited, but a yet more awful tribunal will receive us when we go hence, and the account of all our doings, and honors, and punishments: and that no one will be hid in doing anything either great or small, though he seem to be hid fr...

John Chrysostom

AD 407
Jesus is not talking about literal left and right hands. Rather, he speaks spiritually with intentional exaggeration. “If it is possible,” he says, “for you to remain unaware, let this be your goal. The result, if it be possible, is that your giving be concealed from the very hands that serve.” It is not, as some say, that we should hide it from wrongheaded people, for he has commanded here that it should be concealed from all. The Gospel of Matthew, Homily ...

Theophylact of Ochrid

AD 1107
Using hyperbole of language, the Lord said, "If it is possible, do not even be aware yourself that you are giving alms." Or, in another sense as well, the left hand represents vainglory and the right hand, almsgiving. Let not your vainglory be aware of your almsgiving.

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. - 2 Peter 1:20

App Store LogoPlay Store Logo