Main point summary
Even though you have heard that it is ok to hate your enemy, I say that you should love your enemies, being like your heavenly Father and set apart from the world.
f “You have heard that it was said,
You have heard of the saying,
g ‘You shall love your neighbor
You are to love and care for those among your community
and hate your enemy.’
and those outside of your community, your adversaries, you should hate.
But I say to you,
However, rather than hating your adversary
i Love your enemies
You are to love and care for your adversaries
and j pray for those who persecute you,
and ask God to bless those who treat you badly because you are a Christian,
k so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.
Do this so that you imitate your Heavenly Father just like children imitate their earthly fathers.
For he makes his sun rise on the evil
As you know, he gives sunny days to those who reject him
and on the good,
and to those who obey him.
and l sends rain on the just
And he gives rain to both the righteous farmers
and on the unjust.
and to the unrighteous ones.
m For if you love those who love you,
Indeed, if you love people who love you,
what reward do you have?
are acting in a way that sets you apart from the world earns you a reward?
Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
Even the unrighteous tax collectors do this.
And if you greet only your brothers, 1
Also, if you only kindly greet those who are part of your community,
what more are you doing than others?
are you being holy and set apart from the world?
Do not even n the Gentiles do the same?
Even unbelievers do this!
BUT, I say to you that you should love your enemies for the purpose of being like your Father in heaven. Indeed, if you only love those who love you, you are no better than the world.
As you know, conventional wisdom says that though you are commanded to love your neighbor, but it is ok to hate your enemy.
Loving those who loves you does not result in a reward because everyone can do that.
Greeting only those in your church is nothing special. Indeed, even pagans do that.
The conventional wisdom of the day
Return love with love
“You have heard
that it was said,
‘You shall love your neighbor
and hate your enemy.’
Jesus’s command: love even your enemies
Love your enemies
But I say
Love your enemies
and pray for those
who persecute you,
Purpose: be like your father
so that you may be sons
of your Father
who is in heaven.
For he makes his sun rise
on the evil
and on the good,
and sends rain
on the just
and on the unjust.
Loving those who love you is not special
... ^ if you love those
who love you,
[For] ... what reward do you have?
Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet only your brothers,
what more are you doing
Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
In 1950s Jim Elliot and four other missionaries, some accompanied by their wives, traveled to Ecuador to reach the Auca tribe, a tribe that was known for its violence, isolated from society, and ignorant to the gospel of Jesus Christ. After several attempts to communicate with the Auca via plane, they finally met face to face. At this point, in a horrendous turn of events, the Auca tribesmen killed the five missionaries with spears. Several women instantly became widowed. Children suddenly became fatherless. Imagine what you would feel if you were one of the women that lost their husband. Anger. Sadness. Wanting to get out of Ecuador as soon as possible. But one of the women, Elizabeth Elliot, decided to forgive. And more than that, she decided to go with her young daughter and live among the Auca people, the very people that killed her husband. And the result was miraculous. Many of the Auca tribe became Christians, giving up their violent ways. This story of sacrifice and forgiveness has become very well known amongst Christians and is documented in a book and a movie. People never cease to be amazed by stories in which people return evil with good. We feel the anger these people must have felt and wonder if we could have forgiven in the same way. These forgivers seem to be superheroes! However, if you are familiar with the teachings of Jesus, especially the Sermon on the Mount, you may remember that loving your enemies is not something only for superheroes. Instead, it is something that every Christian is supposed to do. Specifically, let's look at what Jesus commands in Matthew 5:43–48: "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Loving others who love us is typical human behavior As Jesus says in verse 43, loving those who love us is typical human behavior. You don't have to be religious to do that. You don't even have to be a moral person to do that. As I write this, I have a two-month-old girl at home that is just about the sweetest thing I can imagine. When she smiles, my heart melts. She is an easy baby to love. So, it isn't surprising that I like to hold her and do things for her. It is a good thing that I love her. It would be unreasonable not to. But it isn't surprising or noteworthy. No one is going to make a movie about my love for her. Jesus calls us to something more In Matthew 5:43-48 Jesus calls us to something more than loving others who love us. He calls us to be more than typical. To love more than the world loves. The point of this passage is that despite conventional wisdom (during Jesus's day and ours), we should love even our enemies, even those who hate us and do us wrong. And who are the enemies that Jesus refers to? In this context, it is those who persecute Christians for their beliefs. If you are a Christian, perhaps you have been persecuted for talking about your faith. Maybe someone at work was offended when you told them what you believe. Or maybe your family members or neighbors think that you are too religious. Perhaps people have excluded you for your faith. Or maybe they have called you names or yelled at you. And sometimes, the Bible's teaching conflicts with what is generally accepted by society. Jack Phillips, an owner of Masterpiece Cake Shop in Lakewood, Colorado, was not willing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding because of the Bible's teaching on marriage. As a result, he was found guilty of discrimination by the state of Colorado. And Christians in other parts of the world like China, Africa, and North Korea are killed or driven out of their homes because of their faith. However, as bad as this persecution is, Christians should not be surprised by it. Paul tells Timothy that "those who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Timothy 3:12). Persecution is something that Christians should expect. And we are called to do more than just endure with gritted teeth. Earlier in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5:12, Jesus says that "blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you, falsely on my account." So, Christians are to be joyful while being persecuted. Even more, in verse 44, Jesus calls us to love those who persecute us! To many of us, this seems too hard. It is hard enough not to retaliate against our enemies. How could we ever love our enemies? Examples of enemy love Fortunately, we have many examples of people loving their enemies. Our primary example is our savior Jesus Christ. As the soldiers mocked him, he prayed for them, saying, "Father forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). And in Acts 16, Paul was in prison for his faith in Christ, and a miraculous earthquake freed him. However, rather than running away, which would result in the jailer's execution, he stayed. And the result that the jailer became a Christian (see Acts 16:16-40). And there are many examples from history that come to mind. One is Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch woman who hid Jews from the Nazis and ended up in a concentration camp with her sister. After she had returned from the war, she met one of the guards whose actions led to her sister's death. Although she had immense feelings of hurt and anger when facing this man, her knowledge of God's love for her led her to forgive him and receive him as a brother (see Ten Boom and Sherill, 2006). Practical ways that we can love our enemies Given the examples from the Bible and history, what are some practical ways to love our enemies? First, we should forgive them, meaning that we give up the right to stay angry at them. Second, if it is safe to do so, we should receive them into fellowship appropriately. Sometimes it isn't safe to be around our enemies. In this case, it is probably wise to stay clear of them. But in other cases, as in the case of Corrie Ten Boom's repentant soldier, we should receive them into fellowship, welcoming them to our community. Remember that the apostle Paul was once an enemy of the church. But after Jesus saved him, the church received him as a brother. Third, in verse 44, Jesus says that we should pray for them. What should we pray for them about? The context of this verse tells us that we should pray that God would bless them and make them prosper. We should also pray that they would become a child of God and have abundant life. We shouldn't just pray that God would bring justice to our situation and protect us. Also, we should avoid saying bad things about our enemies, especially avoiding slander. And finally, we should try to help our enemies in practical ways such as providing them with material needs such as food, drink, or clothing. Why should Christians love their enemies? Although it is enough for Jesus to command us to love our enemies, in this passage he also gives us a reason for why we should love them in order to encourage us in this challenging task. Verse 45 provides us with the reason that we should love our enemies: "so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven." To paraphrase: "so that you will be like God." You know the phrase "He is his father's son." People ought to say that about Christians. And how does God love his enemies? Keep in mind that every man and woman, including Adam and Eve, was at one time an enemy of God (Romans 5:10). And God doesn't wait to do good to people until they repent of their sins and believe in Christ. Verse 45 says that "he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good." Have you ever witnessed a beautiful sunset? God doesn't hide that from wicked or unjust people. And verse 45 also says that "he sends rain on the just and on the unjust." Rain brings growth, feeding people and making things beautiful. It is a gift to us. Does he only do this in places where believers live? No way. He gives it both to the just and the unjust. So, when we love those who hate us or harm us, we act like God. We are behaving differently than the world. Remember that loving those who love you is typical behavior in the world. But when we love our enemies, the world sees that we are different. It stops to notice. People ask where these people get this love that is foreign to the world. And the answer is that they are just being like their father. How do we get the ability to love our enemies? But if the main message of the Bible is "be like your father," then that isn't good news. Not to those who know they are sinners. Those who have tried to be good but failed. Because if you have ever been hated or persecuted, or wronged, you know that it is hard to love your enemies. The natural response is to hate in return. We need something from outside of us to make us able to do it. So, how do we do it? First, we need to know that God will ultimately bring justice for the wrongs done to us. When telling the Romans not to retaliate, Paul refers to Deuteronomy 32:35, saying, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." Secondly, we need to understand what God has done for us. We have wronged God much worse than anything done to us. And yet "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). God has done the harder thing. God’s for sinful humans is harder to do than our love for even the evilest enemy. Once we grasp that the wrongs our enemies have done to us are minor when compared to our sins against God, we will find it easier to love our enemies. Bibliography Ten Boom, C., Sherrill, E. and Sherrill, J., 2006. The hiding place . Chosen Books.
Head, heart, hands
1. Head How should I think differently about God/myself/others? God even loves his enemies. He is kind to unbelievers. Also, I see that non-believers are able to be good at loving those who love them. The kind of love I should be impressed with is love for one’s enemies. Also, this passage implies that Jesus’s followers will have enemies. It isn’t something we should be alarmed about. Our response shouldn’t be to compromise the gospel. Rather, it should be to love them. What doctrines are taught? What specific contributions to those doctrines does this passage make? 1) God gives common grace to everyone. 2) He is sovereign over the sun and the rain. 3) God is our Father. 4) We will receive a reward for doing hard things (e.g., loving our enemies) for the sake of obeying God. What other scripture texts add to the truths taught here? Luke 6:27-36 is a parallel passage. Several other passages teach that we should love and care for our enemies: Exodus 23:4-5 teaches that we should help our enemy in time of need. Romans 12:20 says that instead of retaliating against our enemies, we should provide for their needs. Also, it says that when we do this we will “heap burning coals on his head.” Job 31:29-30 and Psalm 7:3-4 indicates that a man who is righteou s will not be happy when something bad happens to his enemy or pray for something bad to happen. We also have the example of Jesus (Luke 23:24) and Stephen (7:60) praying for God to forgive the people who are killing them. 1 Peter 3:9 calls us to bless those who persecute us 2. Heart How should I feel differently about God/myself/etc? I should be humbled that God loves even his enemies when I struggle to love my enemies, yea even my friends. I should love God more for this fact. I am also reminded that my love for others who are like me and love me is nothing special. It is is not counter-cultural. Loving these people is certainly good, but it is not all that God requires of me. What emotions are expressed in this passage? I do not see an explicit expression of emotions. But loving and hating can certainly involve emotion. It is very tempting to hate our enemies, being angry with them. And it is naturally to have loving emotions to our friends and family and neighbor. Also, when we emulate our father we have some emotion. Our heart is warmed. It feels good to please our father and be like him. What emotions does this passage lead/exhort me to feel? I think that loving our enemies means more than begrudging service. I think that Jesus is telling us to have loving emotions for our enemies. Not the same emotions we have for friends and family, but still an emotion of love. And this passage shows us that when we love our enemies our hearts can be warmed because we are pleasing our father and emulating him. 3 . Hands How should I act differently? I should love my enemies rather than wanting to harm them. I should do good to them. And I should pray for my enemies so that God would do good to them. Not just that God would change them and save them, but that God would do material good to them. What motivations does this passage give for acting differently? To be like our father. To feel the joy and comfort of being like our father, being like what we were create d to be. What sins do I need to repent of and put off? I need to repent of my hate for my enemies. Rather than praying for my enemies and doing good to them, I am angry with them in my heart. What good works do I need to put on? I need to put on love and good works for my enemies. And also prayer for them.
Love Your Enemies 43 f “You have heard that it was said, g ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, i Love your enemies and j pray for those who persecute you , 45 k so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven . For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and l sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 m For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, 1 what more are you doing than others? Do not even n the Gentiles do the same?
Love Your Enemies 27 “But I say to you who hear, s Love your enemies, t do good to those who hate you, 28 u bless those who curse you, s pray for those who abuse you. 29 v To one who w strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic 1 either. 30 x Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And y as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. 32 z “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And a if you b lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But c love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and d you will be sons of e the Most High, for f he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 g Be merciful, even as h your Father is merciful.
18 s You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but t you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord .
19 Honor your father and mother, and, n You shall love your neighbor as yourself .”
14 e Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them . 15 f Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 g Live in harmony with one another. h Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. 1 i Never be wise in your own sight. 17 j Repay no one evil for evil , but k give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, l live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved , m never avenge yourselves, but leave it 1 to the wrath of God, for it is written, n “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, o “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good .
4 g “ If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him. 5 If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him .
24 y “If I have made gold my z trust or called a fine gold my confidence, 25 if I have b rejoiced because my wealth was abundant or because c my hand had found much, 26 d if I have looked at the sun 1 when it shone, or e the moon moving in splendor, 27 and my heart has been secretly enticed, and my mouth has kissed my hand, 28 this also would be f an iniquity to be punished by the judges, for I would have been false to God above. 29 “ If I have g rejoiced at the ruin of him who hated me, or exulted when evil overtook him 30 ( h I have not let my mouth sin by asking for his life with a curse ),
34 And Jesus said, “ Father , r forgive them, s for they know not what they do .” 1 And they cast lots t to divide his garments.
60 And y falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, z “ Lord , do not hold this sin against them .” And when he had said this, a he fell asleep.
3 O Lord my God, q if I have done this, if there is r wrong in my hands, 4 if I have repaid s my friend 1 with evil or t plundered my enemy without cause ,
2 Timothy 4:16
16 At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me . n May it not be charged against them !
1 Peter 3:9
9 y Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, z bless , for a to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
Walk in Love 5 1 j Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children .
14 Do all things j without grumbling or k disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, l children of God m without blemish n in the midst of o a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine p as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to q the word of life, so that in r the day of Christ s I may be proud that t I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be u poured out as a drink offering upon v the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.
17 Yet c he did not leave himself without witness, for he d did good by e giving you rains from heaven and f fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with g food and h gladness.”
7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as b the Gentiles do, for c they think that they will be heard d for their many words.
32 For l the Gentiles seek after all these things, and m your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.