“seek.” The Greek word is zēteō (#2212 ζητέω), and it means to seek, to search for, to crave. It is present tense, active voice, imperative mood, which means it is a command that we should be continually doing. “Be seeking first the Kingdom of God!” Charles Williams’ translation reads, “But as your first duty, keep on looking for….” Sadly, people do not “keep seeking first” the Kingdom, but get distracted. Sinners ignore God, and can appear to be doing better (or having more fun) than those who are obeying God, so God admonishes us: “Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day” (Prov. 23:17 ESV).
“righteousness.” There are two aspects to “righteousness” and they both apply here. “Righteousness” refers both to having a right standing in the sight of God and also acting in a godly and just manner toward others. “Righteousness” has a vertical meaning to it—how we stand in the sight of God—and also a horizontal meaning to it—how we treat other people. God’s “righteousness” in the Old Testament referred to how He related to other people in godly and just actions. Here in Matthew 6:33, by using the word “righteousness,” Jesus is encouraging people to live in a way that one has a right relationship with God and also is living in a godly and just manner toward others and seeking justice on earth. No one is demonstrating God’s righteousness unless they are being helpful, just, and doing what is right for other people. This is not new information; what Jesus says here in Matthew 6:33 is quite similar to Zephaniah 2:3.
[For more on “righteousness” having the meaning of doing what is right or just (“justice”), see commentary on Matt. 5:6. For more on the meaning of “righteousness” and that word family, see commentary on Rom. 3:22. For more on Christ’s future Millennial Kingdom on earth, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth.”]
“and all these things will be added to you.” This is an example of a promise and prophecy that might be fulfilled here on earth in this life but definitely will be fulfilled in the future kingdom of Christ on earth. It is always God’s intention to bless His people, and the general principle is that if a person is godly and wise they will be blessed on earth. But not everyone who seeks righteousness here on earth gets what they deserve (“all these things”). Sadly, many people are poor and persecuted here on earth and die that way, but even so, Jesus’ prophecy will come to pass because they will get everything that they deserve in the next life, in Christ’s Millennial Kingdom.
[For more on “ideal” prophecies and promises that are not fulfilled in this life but will be in the next, see commentary on Prov. 19:5.]