Jesus taught His disciples to prioritize two major things in Matthew 6:33. What are these two priorities? What does Matthew 6:33 mean for Christians today?
What does Matthew 6:33 say?
"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."
It’s a pointed example, in one way, of Matthew 6:33 in action. But what impact would it have on someone who didn’t know the meaning of “the kingdom of God” and “His righteousness” and didn’t know how to “seek” them?
The myriad of ideas floating around about the Kingdom of God is evidence that the devil has successfully deceived millions of people about the true meaning of the Kingdom of God—the center of Jesus’ message. Even to this day, Satan actively obscures the heart and core of Jesus’ teaching, leading many sincere preachers to confidently say that the Kingdom of God is the warm, fuzzy feeling people experience when they “invite Jesus” into their lives.
Natural questions to ask about Matthew 6:33
So, just what is the Kingdom of God, and how does one go about seeking it? What exactly is “His righteousness”? What “things” will be added to us if we prioritize seeking the Kingdom and His righteousness? What does Matthew 6:33 say that believers should do?
Matthew 6:33 is a foundational scripture that directs our focus and attention to what God considers to be the most important goal a person can have.
In order to apply this verse in our own lives, we need to have a biblical understanding of its core concepts.
This blog post will break down each component of Matthew 6:33 to show its meaning.
“But seek first the kingdom of God”
The New Testament has much to say about the Kingdom of God, but one of the most memorable visions of God’s government replacing human governments can be found in the Old Testament book of Daniel.
In Daniel 2 Nebuchadnezzar, the ancient king of the Babylonian Empire, dreamed about a great image or statue—presumably of a man—with a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet of iron and clay. But as the dream went on, the image was eventually shattered by a cataclysmic stone (Daniel 2:31-34).
Unsure of the dream’s meaning, Nebuchadnezzar looked to the prophet Daniel for its interpretation.
To “seek” that Kingdom is to have a strong desire to enter it—a willingness to go to any length to do so.Under God’s inspiration, Daniel explained, “You [Nebuchadnezzar] are this head of gold. But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron . . . and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others” (Daniel 2:38-40).
According to Daniel’s interpretation, the statue represented the rise and fall of four great, successive empires. These empires, or kingdoms, have been identified in history as the Babylonian Empire, Medo-Persian Empire, Greco-Macedonian Empire and the Roman Empire. To learn more about these prophecies, read “Daniel 2: Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream.”
With this understanding in mind, notice what Daniel said about the symbolism of the stone that came and broke the image: “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44, emphasis added throughout).
This kingdom that “stands forever” is the Kingdom of God, a literal kingdom with territory, subjects, laws and rulers just like the other great empires.
- Set up here on earth (territory).
- Ruling over and serving human beings (subjects) during Christ’s millennial reign.
- Governed through God’s commandments and statutes (laws).
- Ruled by Christ and the saints (rulers).
The Kingdom of God is not figurative or another way of saying going to heaven, as many passionately argue. It is the very real government of God to be established here on earth at Christ’s return.
Those who will inherit God’s Kingdom are called the “saints of the Most High,” and they will “possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever” (Daniel 7:18).
To “seek” that Kingdom is to have a strong desire to enter it—a willingness to go to any length to do so.
Matthew 6:33 tells us that this must be the main priority of a Christian’s life.
To learn more about the Kingdom of God, read “What Is the Kingdom of God?”
“And His righteousness”
After instructing His followers to prioritize the Kingdom of God, Jesus added that they also need to prioritize not just any kind of righteousness, but “His righteousness.”
What is the biblical definition of God’s righteousness? Psalm 119:172 says, “All Your commandments are righteousness.”
Notice that it does not say “some” or “nine out of 10” (excluding the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy), but rather “all” of God’s commandments.
Yet the Bible is replete with scriptures that prove obedience to God’s law is absolutely necessary to be a true Christian.Understanding the biblical definition of righteousness, this verse could read: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and obey all His commandments.”
Unfortunately, obedience is a very unpopular message in a society where people are obsessed with the idea of freedom to do whatever they please, no matter how much harm that kind of liberty may pose to themselves or others. The result is people who lack respect for authority and refuse to yield to that authority.
Many of the laws of the land—let alone God’s laws—have become more of a suggestion than anything mandatory. They’re viewed as something that is optional for those who “feel” like obeying. People nowadays bristle at the idea of someone else telling them what to do.
Yet the Bible is replete with scriptures that prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, obedience to God’s law is absolutely necessary to be a true Christian. Here is one of the plainest of those scriptures: “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4).
For those who follow the clear teachings of Scripture and value obedience, there is a special blessing in place. Notice Revelation 22:14: “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.”
The blessing is entry into the Kingdom of God. That is the reward for those who seek God’s righteousness. Righteousness and the Kingdom of God are inextricably linked together!
To learn more about true righteousness, read “What Is the Breastplate of Righteousness?”
“And all these things shall be added to you”
To know what this part of the verse refers to, we have to examine the context.
In verses 25-32 Jesus instructs His disciples not to fret or be anxious about the physical necessities of life. Food, water and clothing will always be must-haves as long as we are human beings. But prioritizing these things over prayer, study, obedience and a close relationship with God would be a dangerous misallocation of our focus and attention.
In reassuring fashion, Jesus reminded His disciples, “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ . . . For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.”
“Father” is a fitting description of our loving God!
God could have designated Himself using any number of titles, but Father communicates His authority, strength and, most of all, His tender love. To learn more about this role of God, read “Knowing God as a Loving Father.”
God knows. He sees. He is not blind to our needs or desires. He promises to provide for the physical necessities of this life if we prioritize His Kingdom and His righteousness.The Sermon on the Mount can, in some ways, be seen as an explanation of why God is called our Heavenly Father. Again and again throughout Matthew 5-7, we see God’s function as our ultimate provider. Recognizing God’s commitment to protect and look out for His children is what this part of Matthew 6:33 is all about.
Notice Matthew 7:9-11: “Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
The point is, God knows. He sees. He is not blind to our needs or desires. He promises to provide for the physical necessities of this life if we prioritize His Kingdom and His righteousness.
Look to these scriptures and claim God’s promises if you’ve been seeking God with your whole being but are struggling to make ends meet and are overwhelmed with life’s demands.
To learn more, read “The Sermon on the Mount.”
What does Matthew 6:33 really mean?
In a nutshell, Matthew 6:33 serves as every Christian’s marching orders.
Our ability to seek first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness can be hampered if we become entangled with the cares of this life. Nonetheless, regularly practicing spiritual disciplines like prayer, Bible study, meditation and the occasional fast can help refocus our minds on what matters most.
If we do our part to make our relationship with God our highest priority, He will do His part to provide for our every need, and that is something we can count on.
Always keep the Kingdom of God and His righteousness at the fore.
That is the life-changing meaning of Matthew 6:33.