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Amplified: You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy; (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: "You have heard that the law of Moses says, 'Love your neighbor' and hate your enemy. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Philips: "You have heard that it used to be said, 'You shall love your neighbour', and 'hate your enemy' (New Testament in Modern English)
Wuest: You heard that it was said, You shall love your friend and hate the one who is hostile to you, hates you, and opposes you. (Wuest: Expanded Translation: Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: 'Ye heard that it was said: Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and shalt hate thine enemy;
|YOU HAVE HEARD THAT IT WAS SAID, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AND HATE YOUR ENEMY: Ekousate (2PAAI) hoti errethe, (3SAPI) Agapheseis (2SFAI) ton plesion sou kai miseseis (2SFAI) ton echthron sou: (Mt 19:19; 22:39,40; Lv 19:18; Mk 12:31, 32, 33, 34; Lk 10:27, 28, 29; Ro 13:8, 9, 10; Gal 5:13,14; Jas 2:8) (Ex 17:14, 15, 16; Dt 23:6; 25:17; Ps 41:10; 139:21,22)
You have heard - "You have heard"—that's the human standard. Then He said, "But I say to you"—that's God's standard.
Love (25) (agapao [word study] see related study of noun agape) means to love unconditionally and sacrificially as God Himself loves sinful men (John 3:16), the way He loves the Son (Jn 3:35, 15:9, 17:23, 24). This verb as used in the Scripture (and here by Jesus) expresses the purest, noblest form of love, which is volitional (personal choice), is not motivated by the recipient's superficial appearance, by one's emotional attraction, or by a sentimental relationship.
This quality of love is not just a feeling but ultimately can be known only by the actions it prompts in the one who displays agape love. For example, God gives the supreme example of this love in the sending of His only Son (see 1Jn 4:9, 10) to die for undeserving sinners. Obviously then, agapao is not the love of complacency nor is it a love that is dawn out by some excellency in its recipients (e.g., as shown in Ro 5:8 [note]). This type of love was perfectly present in and modeled by Jesus when He lived among men (Ep 5:22-note).
From these brief notes it is clear that to love your neighbor (whether they are "lovable" or not) requires a self denial. In other words agape is a selfless love that thinks of others before it thinks of self. It follows that the only way one can truly love… another (with this quality of love) is by divine enablement, which Paul explains is the fruit of His Spirit in Gal 5:22 (note).
This OT command to love your neighbor is from Lv 19.18, and was interpreted by the Jews so as to apply to fellow Israelites, not to aliens.
Jamieson adds this comment regarding "and hate thine enemy"…
Neighbor (4139) (plesion from pélas = near, near to) literally means near, quite near, nearby = position quite close to another position. Figuratively, plesion means to be near someone and thus be a neighbor. (See Neighbor - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology)
Plesion - 17x in 17v - Mt 5:43; 19:19; 22:39; Mk 12:31, 33; Lk 10:27, 29, 36; Jn 4:5; Acts 7:27; Ro 13:9f; 15:2; Gal 5:14; Ep 4:25; Jas 2:8; 4:12. NAS = near(1), neighbor(16).
The point of this Greek word especially in the context in which Jesus uses it is that our "neighbor" is anyone "near" (plesion), and thus is anyone we encounter in our life who needs our help. Love is (or at least ideally should be) the inevitable response of the heart in which God's love has been poured by the Holy Spirit (Ro 5:5-note).
Vincent explains that neighbor is…
Miseo - 42x in 38v - Matt 5:43f; 6:24; 10:22; 24:9f; Mark 13:13; Luke 1:71; 6:22, 27; 14:26; 16:13; 19:14; 21:17; John 3:20; 7:7; 12:25; 15:18f, 23ff; 17:14; Rom 7:15; 9:13; Eph 5:29; Titus 3:3; Heb 1:9; 1 John 2:9, 11; 3:13, 15; 4:20; Jude 1:23; Rev 2:6, 15; 17:16; 18:2. NAS = hate(13), hated(12), hateful(1), hates(12), hating(2).
Enemy (hostile) (2190)(echthros [word study] from échthos = hatred, enmity; noun = echthra = enmity, hostility) is an adjective which pertains to manifesting hostility or being at enmity with another, where enmity is a deep seated animosity or hatred which may be open or concealed or a "deep-rooted hatred."
In the active sense echthros means to be hateful, hostile toward, at enmity with or adversary of someone, hating and opposing another.
In the passive sense echthros pertains to being subjected to hostility, to be hated, to be odious or to be regarded as an enemy.
Echthros is one who has the extreme negative attitude that is the opposite of love and friendship. An enemy is one that is antagonistic to another; especially seeking to injure, overthrow, or confound the opponent. Scripture often uses echthros as a noun describing "the adversary", Satan! Like father like son!
Echthros - 32x in 32v - Matt 5:43f; 10:36; 13:25, 28, 39; 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke 1:71, 74; 6:27, 35; 10:19; 19:27, 43; 20:43; Acts 2:35; 13:10; Rom 5:10; 11:28; 12:20; 1 Cor 15:25f; Gal 4:16; Phil 3:18; Col 1:21; 2 Thess 3:15; Heb 1:13; 10:13; Jas 4:4; Rev 11:5, 12. NAS = enemies(20), enemy(10), enemy*(1), hostile(1).
Hate your enemy - On this statement A T Robertson comments that
MacDonald adds that…
Spurgeon has the following devotional thought regarding "Love thy neighbour"…
Violent hatred sinks us below those we hate. -Anon.
Animosity cloaked in piety is a demon even if it sits in church praising the Creator. - Calvin Miller
Christ prayed for his -Lk 23:34
The lives of, to be spared -1Sa 24:10; 2Sa 16:10,11
The goods of, to be taken care of -Ex 23:4,5
Loved -Matthew 5:44
Prayed for -Acts 7:60
Assisted -Proverbs 25:21; Ro 12:20
Overcome by kindness -1Sa 26:21
Rejoice not at the misfortunes of -Job 31:29
Rejoice not at the failings of -Pr 24:17
Desire not the death of -1Ki 3:11
Curse them not -Job 31:30
Be affectionately concerned for -Ps 35:13
The friendship of, deceitful -2Sa 20:9,10; Pr 26:26; 27:6; Mt 26:48,49
God defends against -Ps 59:9; 61:3
God delivers from -1Sa 12:11; Ezra 8:31; Ps 18:48
Made to be at peace with saints -Proverbs 16:7
Pray for deliverance from -1Sa 12:10; Ps 17:9; 59:1; 64:1
Of saints, God will destroy -Ps 60:12
Praise God for deliverance from -Ps 136:24
Hostage of Guerrilla Soldiers - In August 1983, Russell Stendal was taken hostage into the jungle of Columbia, South American, by a band of guerrilla soldiers. For nearly 5 months he learned what it really means to love one’s enemies. He wrote a letter home, saying, “I am in danger only of losing my life; they are in danger of losing their souls.” Through kindness, Russell befriended his guards. One day the commander told him, “We can’t kill you face to face; we like you. So we will have to kill you in your sleep.” God enabled Russell to forgive, but for the next 10 days and nights he couldn’t sleep. A submachine gun was repeatedly thrust in his face under his mosquito net, but the guards couldn’t bring themselves to pull the trigger. On January 3, 1984, Russell was released. When he said goodbye, tears fill the eyes of some of his captors. (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
A HEART FREE OF HATRED - THE message of Jesus is simple yet astounding: Love your enemies; do good to those who mistreat you; repay evil with kindness. When we live by these principles, we keep our hearts free of hatred no matter how others feel toward us.
Steve Estes reported a remarkable example of this in the Wycliffe Bible Translator. In January 1981, Colombian rebels kidnapped Chet Bitterman, shot him, and left his body in a hijacked bus. Imagine how his parents and loved ones must have felt at the senseless death of this young man!
But in April 1982, as a demonstration of international good will, the churches and civic groups of Bitterman's native area, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, gave an ambulance to the state of Meta in Colombia, where the young linguist was killed.
Bitterman's parents traveled to Colombia for the presentation of the ambulance. At the ceremony his mother explained, "We are able to do this because God has taken the hatred from our hearts."
This is the power of Christ in action! When we are wronged and ill will begins turning to hatred in our hearts, we need to ask God to change us and enable us to show kindness to the one who has wronged us. This is the way to turn hatred into love.—D C Egner
Difficult People - I haven't always appreciated every member of the churches I pastored. Early in my ministry one man berated me in front of a group of people for my deep and dull sermons. A week later a deacon said my sermons were interesting but too simple--like little Sunday school lessons.
Thinking It Over
"PERFECT AS GOD"
(Mt 5:43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48)
IN the garden the serpent suggested to our first parents that they should be as God, in knowing good and evil; but the Master tells us that we are to be as God in the character and temper of our inner life. If His words here are compared with the parallel ones in Luke 6., we discover that He desires us to resemble our Heavenly Father, not in our knowledge-which would, of course, be impossible, but in our love and mercy. The perfection on which He insists is a perfection of love. Our natures are, of course, limited in extent and shallow in depth as compared to the ocean fulness of the Infinite God; but a cup may be in its measure as brimming full as an ocean when the tide is high. Up to our measure we may become as full of Love as, in His far greater measure, our Father is; and this is what Christ demands when He says:
"Be ye therefore perfect,
even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
This is the fifth illustration which He gives, that He is come, not to destroy, but to fulfil the Law by shedding abroad in our hearts that love which is the fulfilling of that Law; and it is interesting to notice exactly the change which He wrought in the ancient code.
The precept which our Lord quotes: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy," cannot be found in the Old Testament. On the contrary, its pages are strewn with the most moving exhortations to love. If any of my readers would take the pains to investigate the matter, they would be startled to find the numerous exhortations to love which are scattered through the ancient code, generally considered so rigorous and severe. "If," said Moses, "thou meet thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again." And again: "If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, woudst thou forbear to help him? Thou shalt surely help with him" (Exod. 23:4-5). In a later age the same kindly spirit appears in the injunction of the preacher: "Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth, lest the Lord see it, and it displease Him."" When, therefore, our Lord said: "Ye have heard that it hath been said, ' Love your neighbour and hate your enemy,'" He did not mean to refer to the inspired teachers of His people, but to those later Rabbis and Scribes who had overlaid the pure gold of Moses with their own incrustations.
There were two ways in which the teachers of the corrupt periods of Hebrew history had vitiated the scope of these ancient laws. First, they had obliterated the words "as thyself," and whittled down the precept from "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," to "Thou shalt love thy neighbour." Next, they had, out of their own bad hearts, added the words, "and hate thine enemy" lowering the Word of God to suit their own tradition.
Was it not high time that the moss and grit of centuries should be removed from the ancient characters which the Spirit of God had cut in the legislation of Sinai, and that Christ should re-edit the old law, doing away with the hateful additions, and enlarging the significance of that word "neighbour"? They had delighted in limiting it. He rejoiced to level the walls of religious bigotry, jealousy, and national exclusivism, and taught that our neighbour is simply anyone to whom we can show kindness, so that the word stands for the universal brotherhood of man.
Our Lord desires that we should show love and kindness not only to man as man, but equally to our enemies as to our friends; to those that curse, hate, and despitefully use us, as to those who will sacrifice everything on our behalf.
To enable us to realize such a command He suggests the Inspiration of a great Nature, a great Example, and a great Hope.
(1) WE NEED THE INSPIRATION OF A GREAT NATURE.
"Sons of your Father which is in Heaven "; "Sons of the Highest" (Luke 6:35). Men count much on ancestry. To be connected, however distantly, with the great of bygone times, is a subject of never-ceasing congratulation. To be able to point to some tomb, where the cross-legged effigy on the stone denotes the Knight Templar, or the shell indicates the pilgrim who crossed the seas on the Crusades, is of prouder boast than wealth and lands. To wear a coat-of-arms, which proves royal affinity, ah, how much is this! And there is ground for it, because descent and blood undoubtedly count for something. When the special call comes there is something in heredity that answers it.
How much then must it not count for, when we stand face to face with urgent duty, that the capacity for its due discharge is certainly within us by virtue of our relationship to God through Jesus Christ?
We have been born again by the Word and the Spirit. From the family of the first Adam we have become grafted into the family of the second. We are all the children of God by faith in Him, and if children then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ. And because we are sons God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts. Since, then, we are partakers of the Divine Nature, we have within us the capacity for Divine Love. We may not be aware of its presence within us, but it is there, and if only we would dare to give it exercise, and allow it to make for itself an outlet in our kindly advances towards those who have served us ill, we should find that through the channels of outward expression the very fountains of Divine Love which are within us would pour their crystal tides.
You can love as God, not in quantity, but in quality, because God's own nature has been begotten in you, and awaits the opportunity of approving itself before men and angels.
(2) BUT WE NEED, ALSO, THE INSPIRATION OF A GREAT EXAMPLE.
Who is there that has not sometimes stood on the mountain of Transfiguration with Moses and Elias? A visit from some celestial nature, a biography, a noble act, a reunion which has revealed depths and emotion that surpass all previous experiences these have greatly influenced our lives, and made us resolve that life should henceforth be new. And so our Lord brings us face to face with a marvellous illustration of the love which He desires us to show.
Of course, He Himself, as He sat there, was the supreme instance of God's impartial love. But the time had not arrived when He could speak plainly of Himself; so He selected His example from the humbler book of Nature, which He had often studied in His highland home, and which lies open before all men's eyes.
It was the month of April. Before His eyes was spread a charming landscape, on which probably the natural incidents to which He referred were at that moment taking place.
At that moment the sun was shining. It was the Father's sun, " He maketh His sun to shine." It was His thought, His creation, the instrument of His benediction. "See," said the Master, "how the sun is shining on the children as they play their merry games, and at the same moment on the prison filled with hardened criminals; on the casement of the cottage to revive the sick girl's drooping life, and on the path of the poor fallen one, as she avoids it, and steals into the shade; upon the little patch of ground belonging to the poor widow, which barely affords her a living, and the acres of the avaricious tyrant, who cares neither for God nor man, and would despoil her of her holding if he could. The sun shines equally on them all."
Then the Master may have pointed towards the heavy rain-cloud, born from the Mediterranean, which came trailing over the country, dropping its beneficent showers from its impartial buckets. Yonder lie two fields with but a narrow fence between. That to the right belongs to an atheist of the worst type, who blasphemes God's name, underpays his servants, robs the widow, and browbeats the poor. That to the left is the holding of one who is as careful of his religious observances as the other is careless. The swift shadow of the cloud draws near. If it were steered by a human hand, it would probably be guided, so as to leave the one untouched whilst it poured its stores on the other. But there is no shade of difference in the distribution. The abundant and refreshing showers fall on either side of the fence.
Life is like an April day. It is not all sun, nor all cloud. The saddest lives have some patches of blue, some hours of sun. The happiest have some showers, and are overspread now and again with shadow. And surely this is best, for those characters are not the noblest which are spent always on the tableland, and never descend unto the valley of shadow. For Sun, you have had love at home, a happy childhood, a loving wife, sweet children, prosperous years in business, long spells of good health, happy episodes, weeks and months of country or sea. For Rain, you have had seasons of ill-health, of business anxiety, and of bereavement. Now, if we were to compare experiences between the men and women of our acquaintance in the same position of life, putting away all considerations of the inner peace of heart which religion gives, I do not suppose that in the outward life there would be much apparent difference. There are thousands of homes where God's name is not honoured, where but goodness and mercy, like guardian angels, follow the inmates all the days of their lives.
Why? Because the course of events in this world moves by a blind machinery? No. Because God has no special care whether a man be good or bad? No. But because God loves His enemies, blesses those that curse Him, and is kind to the unthankful and unloving. If anything, He seems more bountiful to those who oppose Him most, that by His mercy He may lead them to repentance.
A man will sometimes speak thus: "I am one of the luckiest fellows living; all my dreams have been realized; I have a good wife, have not had an hour's illness, and have never wanted for money." Such men do not realize that it is God who has given them all things richly to enjoy, making no distinction between them and His dearest children, because so set on breaking in upon their shameful neglect of His claims. He gives "rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with good and gladness," that we may turn from vanity unto the living God, which made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein (Acts 14:15-17).
We might, from the experience of these men, edit a new edition of the parable of the Prodigal in this wise: that when the father in the distant home heard that his son had spent all that he had, instead of letting him come down to the herding of pigs and the eating of their husks, he sent him day by day supplies of sumptuous food, on each hamper of which these words were inscribed, "I love thee still; come home, haste to come home."
But God has given us another and better Sun than that which He has hung in heaven's porch. "He commendeth His Love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." And the benefits of the death of the Redeemer are for the world. Therefore it was possible to carry the Gospel, in the' first instance, to Jerusalem. The men who had used Him most despitefully lived there, therefore the Master bade His disciples to begin at Jerusalem. "Tell Caiaphas, who sneered at My royalty, that I love him. Tell the grey-haired Annas, the irresolute Pilates and the mocking Herod, that I desire to bless them. Go and find out the men who drove the nails into My hands and laughed at My dying anguish, that I will pray for them." So the Master left us an example, that we should follow in His steps.
And God has given another and better Rain than that which fertilizes the fields, the rain of the Holy Spirit's influence and grace, which is for the most stubborn and obdurate offenders. Did He not descend in copious effusion upon the city of Jerusalem at the first, though it had but lately crucified the world's Redeemer? Take heart, you who think that you have grieved Him away, who have done Him despite, who fear that you have committed the unpardonable sin; even to you He comes with a shower of grace, falling with refreshing bounty.
This is the example that we are to follow. Nothing less than God's even-handed love is to be our model. We are to be perfect, even as our Heavenly Father is perfect. We are called to be imitators of God, as dear children, walking in love, as Christ also hath loved us, even to the point of giving Himself for us (Eph. 5:1, 2). Anything short of this is not Christianity as our Lord taught it.
Dr. Abbott has said that he remembers, when he was a boy, sitting by the fireside of a little country inn in Maine, and hearing some men discuss the Sermon on the Mount. They were rough fellows, and one of them, scoffing at Christianity, said, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour, nonsense! It is not in human nature." Exactly; such love is not in human nature. Men love those who love them, and salute their brethren, and stop there. But it was in Christ's nature, and it is in the Divine nature; and it is in the Divine nature to be imparted through Christ to those who claim it.
(3) WE REQUIRE, LASTLY, THE INSPIRATION OF A GREAT HOPE.
What animates a woman to spend her life on some brutal husband or ungrateful son? Is it not the hope that, at last, her love will conquer? And is it not this, in an infinitely higher sphere, that leads God, our Father, to pour out the ceaseless tides of His heart on the disobedient and rebellious? Does He not see the consummation when the heavens and the earth shall have become new as the result of His unstinted love? And ought not the same purpose to animate us?
It is recorded of a certain Chinese emperor that, on being apprised that his enemies had raised an insurrection in a distant province, he said to his officers: "Come, follow me, and we shall quickly destroy them." On his arrival the rebels submitted to him, and all expected that he would take the most signal revenge. Instead of this the captives were treated with the utmost humanity. "How!" cried his first Minister of State, "is this the manner in which your promise is fulfilled? Your royal word was given that your enemies should be destroyed, and, lo, you have pardoned them all, and even some of them have been caressed." "I promised," said the Emperor, generously, "to destroy my enemies. I have fulfilled my word, for, see, they are enemies no longer; I have made friends of them."
We must henceforth amend our ways, lest we be counted not worthy of Christ. We must rise to the level of His high demands, not in our own strength but His. And let us remember two things: First, not to wait for an emotion, but to obey by the sheer power of our will; and, secondly, to begin with individual's.
Have we an enemy who is always trying to curse us? We must be willing to bless him with the benediction of our goodwill.
Is there someone in our life who envies and hates us? We must be willing to be kind and good so long as we are sure that our behaviour is not misinterpreted or hurtful to his independence and moral life.
Is there one who despitefully uses and persecutes us? We must compel ourselves to pray for him, until presently a warm feeling of compassion fills our hearts.
Are there within our reach churlish and bearish people? Let us salute them, when we meet, with Christian courtesy and grace.
Thus you will reach perfection. It will not be the absolute and infinite perfection of God, for at best it can be only relative and finite. It will not be the perfection of angels, for they have never left their first estate. It will not be a perfection of knowledge, for we are all liable to error. It will not be freedom from temptation, or from such infirmities as weakness of body, dullness of understanding, and incoherence of thought. But it will be after your measure a full-orbed, equable, and loving nature, which shall go through the world shedding sunshine and rain on weary and hopeless souls until they be led to take up heart and hope again.
A little child gets into a railway carriage. In perfect simplicity she begins to play with some austere-looking man until he relaxes and the two become friends; and from them a genial warmth steals through the carriage, until everyone begins to talk kindly with his neighbour, and the tedium of the journey is relaxed. Oh, to go through the world like that, with God's radiance on our faces and His love in our hearts! Every day be sunshine or rain to someone, and especially to your enemies, and the people from whom you are naturally repelled.
You say that all this is impossible for you. It is high: you cannot attain unto it. But remember those sweet old words: "When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. I taught Ephraim also to go" (Hos. 11:1, 2, 3). Ask your Heavenly Father to teach you to go; to put His Spirit within you as the fountain of His life and love; to work in you to will and to do of His good pleasure.
Everything lies in the will. Are you willing that His will should be done in and through you in respect to the life of love of which we have been treating? If so, then yield yourself to Him, saying, "I cannot be perfect in love, unless Thou dost undertake to realize in me and through me the image of Thine own perfection." (F. B. Meyer. The Directory of the Devout Life)
Amplified: But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (Note: Textus Receptus has the added phrase in bold. NET Bible note = "bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you," is surely a motivated reading, importing the longer form of this aphorism from Lk 6:27, 28. The shorter text is found in a a B ¦1pc as well as several fathers and versional witnesses.)
NLT: But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! (NLT - Tyndale House)
Philips: but I tell you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, (New Testament in Modern English)
Wuest: But, as for myself, I am saying to you, be loving with a divine, self-sacrificial love those who are hostile to you and hate and oppose you, and be praying for those who are persecuting you ( Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: but I -- I say to you, Love your enemies, bless those cursing you, do good to those hating you, and pray for those accusing you falsely, and persecuting you,
BUT I SAY TO YOU, LOVE YOUR ENEMIES: ego de lego (1SPAI) humin, agapate (2SPAM) tous echthrous humon:
Related Resources: Given the fact that inherent in the love of our enemy is an attribute of forgiveness here are some resources on forgiveness (Of love there be two principal offices, one to give, another to forgive - John Boys).
What Is Real Love = God's definition of love from 1 Corinthians 13
How Has God Loved Us? = Understanding the truth of God's love for us
Love (25) (agapao from the noun agape) (Click study of agape) describes an unconditional, sacrificial love, which ultimately is the love that God is (1Jn 4:8,16) and that God demonstrates (Ro 5:8-note) (Jn 3:16, 1Jn 4:9) in its supreme form at Calvary.
Agapao is not love of the emotions but of the will . Thus this type of love is not borne from mere human affection but is divine love, commanded by God, produced as fruit in the heart of a surrendered saint by the Holy Spirit (Who is at work in us to will and to work to His good pleasure - Php 2:13-note) (Ro 5:5-note; Gal 5:22-note), self-sacrificial in nature, seeking the benefit of the one who is loved (Love seeks one thing only: the good of the one loved. It leaves all the other secondary effects to take care of themselves.- Thomas Merton), a love which means death to self (Mk 8:34) and defeat for sin since the essence of sin is self-will and self-gratification, a love activated by personal choice of our will (working out our salvation in fear and trembling - Php 2:12-note; cp Ezek 36:27 = note God's "part" and man's responsibility! This OT passage refers to the promise of the New Covenant) not based on our feelings toward the object of our love (in this case to enemies who may actually hate us) and manifested by specific actions (summarized in 1Co 13:4, 5, 6, 7, 8 an excellent pragmatic, "real time" definition of "love in action" - see notes 1Cor 13:4 13:5 13:6 13:7 13:8). This type of love may involve emotion, but it must always involve action. It is not passive, but active. Love is service rather than sentiment (Stott). Love is the outgoing of the entire nature in self-sacrificing service. (W. H. Griffith Thomas)
As Amy Carmichael so aptly said…
John Owen - Love is that jewel of human nature which commands a valuation wherever it is found.
This quality of love is not just a feeling but ultimately can be known only by the actions it prompts in the one who displays agape love. For example, God gives the supreme example of this love in the sending of His only Son (see 1John 4:9, 10) to die for undeserving sinners. Obviously then, agapao is not the love of complacency nor is it a love that is dawn out by some excellency in its recipients (e.g., as shown in Ro 5:8 [note]). This type of love was perfectly present in and modeled by Jesus when He lived among men (Ep 5:2- note).
From these brief notes it is clear that to love your enemies (whether they are "lovable" or not) requires a self denial. In other words agape is a selfless love that thinks of others before it thinks of self. It follows that the only way one can truly love… another (with this quality of love) is by divine enablement, which Paul explains is the fruit of His Spirit in Gal 5:22 (note).
Note that in using the present imperative Jesus commands (rather than suggests) this supernatural love as a lifestyle or continual practice. Clearly this command can only be obeyed by grace through faith in the fact that the Spirit of Christ Who indwells will manifest His love through us. It is impossible but is Him-possible!
W. H. Griffith Thomas wrote that…
G K Chesterton once quipped that
Hunt illustrates the principle of loving (and forgiving) your enemy…
In Mt 18:21 Peter asked Jesus about the degree of forgiveness a disciple should exhibit. In response to Peter's generous offer of forgiving up to seven times (the Rabbis taught that 3 times was sufficient), Jesus replied that one must forgive "seventy times seven"! (Mt 18:22). Jesus then illustrated this degree of forgiveness in a parable in which He also explained the grave "danger" of unforgiveness…
Dwight Pentecost explains agape love writing that…
Corrie Ten Boom (who should know about loving one's enemy) once said…
An enemy is one that is antagonistic to another; especially seeking to injure, overthrow, or confound an opponent. Echthros refers to those whose actions and words manifest hatred for you, like that in-law who refuses to speak to you, the work associate who tried to get you fired, and the list goes on.
Jesus says hateful ("hate full") people (with their enmity directed at us) are the very ones we are called to love! Jesus leaves no room for speculation in this passage, commanding love for those who hate, despise, and persecute us. Such love is only possible through the indwelling power of the Spirit of Christ, manifesting Christ's very love in and through us supernaturally (clearly it cannot be natural) Jesus Himself loved in that way and now seeks vessels through whom to love again the hate-filled who assail Him as they oppose you. Remember Jesus' words of encouragement and warning to His disciples…
John Piper explains that there are…
Kent Hughes remarks that Jesus' call to love one's enemies
Today in the Word had the following illustration in their devotional…
J C Ryle writes that…
AND PRAY FOR THOSE WHO PERSECUTE YOU: kai proseuchesthe (2PPMM) uper ton diokonton (PAPMPG) humas: (Ex 23:4,5; 2Ki 6:22; 2Chr 28:9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15; Ps 7:4; 35:13,14; Pr 25:21,22; Lk 6:27,28,34,35; 23:34; Ac 7:60; Ro 12:14,20,21; 1Co 4:12,13; 1Co 13:4, 5, 6, 7, 8; 1Pe 2:23; 3:9)
Jamieson comments that…
Pray (4336) (proseuchomai [word study] from prós = to, toward + eúchomai = wish, pray) describes prayer directed consciously to God, with a definite aim. The prefix "pros" in the verb pictures the idea of motion towards and adds the idea of a conscious direction of one’s prayer to God, and a consciousness on the part of the one praying, of God’s presence and attention. This word for pray is always used of requests addressed to God, whereas deomai “to pray,” may be used of requests addressed to man as well. Proseuchomai carries with it a notion of worship which is not present in the word deomai. (see study of related word deesis)
Note that not just the verb love but also the verb pray are both present imperative which calls for a lifestyle of love and prayer for those we would in our natural (flesh - evil disposition) state least like to pray for! God never commands that which He does not also empower. Just try to do these in your own strength!
Proseuchomai - 85x in 80v - Matt 5:44; 6:5ff, 9; 14:23; 19:13; 24:20; 26:36, 39, 41f, 44; Mark 1:35; 6:46; 11:24f; 12:40; 13:18; 14:32, 35, 38f; Luke 1:10; 3:21; 5:16; 6:12, 28; 9:18, 28f; 11:1f; 18:1, 10f; 20:47; 22:40f, 44, 46; Acts 1:24; 6:6; 8:15; 9:11, 40; 10:9, 30; 11:5; 12:12; 13:3; 14:23; 16:25; 20:36; 21:5; 22:17; 28:8; Rom 8:26; 1 Cor 11:4f, 13; 14:13ff; Eph 6:18; Phil 1:9; Col 1:3, 9; 4:3; 1 Thess 5:17, 25; 2 Thess 1:11; 3:1; 1 Tim 2:8; Heb 13:18; Jas 5:13f, 17f; Jude 1:20. NAS = make prayers(1), offer prayers(2), pray(44), prayed(14), prayer(1), praying(24),prays(1).
Recall the example of our our Lord Jesus (1Pe 2:21-note) Who prayed for His persecutors even while the spikes were being driven through his hands and feet. Luke in fact uses the imperfect tense in the following verse which suggests that Jesus kept praying and kept repeating over and over his entreaty,
Persecute (1377) (dioko from dío = pursue, prosecute, persecute) means to follow or press hard after, and so literally to pursue as one follows after a fleeing enemy. Dioko also includes the nuances of to chase, to harass, to vex (to bring trouble, distress, or agitation to another) or to pressure and was used for chasing down criminals. Dioko speaks of an intensity of effort leading to a pursue with earnestness and diligence in order to lay hold of and oppress or harass. And these are the very ones Jesus is commanding us to pray for! And furthermore Jesus uses the present tense which indicates their continual attitude and action toward us is to persecute us! Have you ever been on the receiving end? This is a difficult passage to practice! In fact, it is impossible, outside of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and the all sufficient grace by which we in our weakness are made strong (and able not to respond "in kind") (see 2Cor 12:9-note; 2Co 12:10- note)
Dioko - 44x in 45v - Matt 5:10ff, 44; 10:23; 23:34; Luke 11:49; 17:23; 21:12; John 5:16; 15:20; Acts 7:52; 9:4f; 22:4, 7f; 26:11, 14f; Rom 9:30f; 12:13f; 14:19; 1 Cor 4:12; 14:1; 15:9; 2 Cor 4:9; Gal 1:13, 23; 4:29; 5:11; 6:12; Phil 3:6, 12, 14; 1 Thess 5:15; 1 Tim 6:11; 2 Tim 2:22; 3:12; Heb 12:14; 1 Pet 3:11; Rev 12:13. NAS = persecute(10), persecuted(13), persecuting(7), persecutor(1), practicing(1), press on(2), pursue(7), pursuing(2), run after(1), seek after(1).
Jesus has set the bar very high for us. If the torture of crucifixion did not prevent our Lord from praying for His enemies, what insult, injury, enmity, pain, cruel word, etc from our persecutors should silence our prayer?! Are you as convicted as I am? How quick my reaction is to "Get even!", when it should be "Get on your knees!" And not to pray "Get 'em Lord!" but "Forgive them Lord!" As Stephen was being stoned (an ultimate form of persecution!), Luke records Stephen's supernatural, Spirit empowered response to his persecutors…
Jesus set the example as He was being crucified by His persecutors and yet was still able to say…
Kent Hughes comments that…
General Robert E. Lee was riding through a battlefield when a wounded Union soldier, lying nearby, began to curse and revile the Confederate leader. Very deliberately, Lee dismounted, walked toward the stranger, and knelt beside him. The man ceased his torrent of abuse, and Lee said,
How can such radical behavior by citizens of the kingdom of heaven impact such a dark society? The story of Jacob DeShazer gives us a powerful answer to that question…
Compliments For An Enemy - Why did David say that Saul and Jonathan were "beloved and pleasant in their lives"? (2Sa 1:23). We can understand why he would say this of Jonathan, his good friend. But why say this of King Saul, who had brought him so much sorrow?
There were good things David could say of Jonathan that he could not say of Saul. Yet, instead of pointing out Saul's faults and failures, he commended what was good in him: his courage, his military victories, and his prosperous kingdom (2Sa 1:21, 22, 23, 24).
David's graciousness causes me to wonder: How often have I brooded over and judged the flaws of my opponents? How often have I been offended when others have found good in those who have harmed me? How much do I dwell on the bad I see in someone rather than the good that God and others can see?
The Bible says that we need to leave judgment in the Lord's hands, for when Jesus returns He will "reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God" (1Co 4:5).
Do we focus only on the traits that make our enemies so unlikeable? Accentuating the positive qualities of those who trouble us is a good way to deal with resentment, and to transform our hatred into love (Mt 5:44). — David H. Roper (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
How To Destroy An Enemy - Someone has said that the best way to destroy an enemy is to make him your friend. This is consistent with Christ's command that we are to love those who hate us (Mt. 5:44).
Our Lord gave three reasons we should love our adversaries. First, when we show them kindness, we are imitating the heavenly Father, who "makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Mt 5:45).
Second, we are to love our foes because there's no reward for loving only those who love us (see note Matthew 5:46).
Third, gracious treatment of our enemies sets us apart from the ungodly. Jesus said, "If you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others?" (see note Matthew 5:47). Genuine concern for all should be a distinguishing mark of a Christian (1Jn 4:7-21).
Obeying Jesus' command to love our enemies doesn't come naturally, however. Often our first response is to retaliate. But when we choose to display an attitude of love and helpfulness toward those who despise us, we may actually break down their hostility and eventually win their favor.
Yes, the best way--the Christ-like way--to destroy an enemy is to make him your friend! --R W De Haan
Not Enough Mercy - A nationally known radio commentator once went on a tirade against Christians. He ridiculed their views of the end times, particularly the return of Christ for His church. He said that "the evaporation of 4 million people who believe this nonsense would leave this world a better place."
It wasn't long before the network apologized to any listeners who were offended. But the commentator himself refused to say he was sorry. He received hate mail, venomous condemnations, and even death threats from professing believers. This convinced him more than ever that the world would be better off without people filled with this kind of hatred.
It's unfortunate and sad to see Christians become so enraged. As Joseph Stowell, President of Moody Bible Institute, said,
When followers of Jesus spend more time condemning their enemies than praying for them or showing love to them, they lose their spiritual credibility.
Jesus expects us to stand out from the world by letting our "light so shine before men, that they may see [our] good works and glorify [our] Father in heaven" (Mt 5:16-note). One way we live that out is by obeying His command to love our enemies (Mt 5:44). —David C. Egner
It's easy to love one who loves in return,
Let The Healing Begin- What goes through the minds of people whose lives are torn apart by a tragedy like murder? What keeps them going when a cherished loved one has been gunned down?
For Mae Allen, the answer is prayer. Her husband Jimmy, a small-town Virginia jeweler, had a loyal clientele and a reputation for fair treatment of his customers. He was shot to death in his store 15 years ago, and his murderer is still unknown.
On that cold winter afternoon, Jimmy Allen's grandchildren were deprived forever of their loving Grandpa. Jimmy and Mae Allen's 38-year marriage was cut short. And their daughter Vickie Fuquay, the mother of two of their grandchildren, had to depend on her mother's comforting words to help her face the future without bitterness.
Mae Allen told Vickie, "Before you go to bed tonight, pray for the man who shot your daddy. The fact that he did this shows he doesn't know Jesus." Pray for a killer? It's not the natural response to such a tragedy, but it was the best way to let the healing begin.
Anytime someone wrongs us, let's search for the godly response. Praying for that person is perhaps the best medicine for a wounded heart. — Dave Branon
When the trials of this life make you weary
When You're Unappreciated - Samuel was a Mount Everest personality who appeared when the historical landscape was monotonously flat. As God's prophet, he judged the people. Since Israel was a theocracy (ruled by God), Samuel was virtually a king. He discharged his duties with skill and dedication to both God and the people.
But the people wanted a king such as the pagan nations around them had (1Sa 8:5). So they asked the man of God to step aside. Samuel was hurt by their rejection. He understood the scope of their disobedience (1Sa 12:17, 18, 19).
The prophet could have turned his back on the new king and his rebellious people. Instead he declared, "Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you" (1Sa 12:23).
Why did Samuel say that? He knew that even as doors were being slammed in his face, another door was open to him--the door of intercessory prayer. Samuel demonstrated his godliness by the way he reacted. He was still God's man, and he would still care for God's people.
When we are snubbed by those we try to serve, we must resolve not to sin against the Lord by snubbing them in return. Instead, by God's grace, we can pray sincerely for those who may not value our best efforts. — Haddon W. Robinson
How deep does it wound you when others despise
A Forgiving Spirit - During the war in Kosovo in 1999, three Americans were captured and held hostage for more than a month. After intense negotiations, a breakthrough occurred and the prisoners were allowed to go free.
For Further Study:
Returning Good For Evil - A soldier was astonished when he heard General Robert E. Lee speak in complimentary terms about a fellow officer. "General," he said, "do you know that the man you spoke so highly of is one of your worst enemies, and that he misses no opportunity to slander you?"
When wrongs to me from others come,
Let The Healing Begin - What goes through the minds of people whose lives are torn apart by a tragedy like murder? What keeps them going when a cherished loved one has been gunned down?
When the trials of this life make you weary
In August 1983, Russell Stendal was taken hostage into the jungle of Columbia, South American, by a band of guerrilla soldiers. For nearly 5 months he learned what it really means to love one’s enemies. He wrote a letter home, saying, “I am in danger only of losing my life; they are in danger of losing their souls.” Through kindness, Russell befriended his guards. One day the commander told him, “We can’t kill you face to face; we like you. So we will have to kill you in your sleep.” God enabled Russell to forgive, but for the next 10 days and nights he couldn’t sleep. A submachine gun was repeatedly thrust in his face under his mosquito net, but the guards couldn’t bring themselves to pull the trigger. On January 3, 1984, Russell was released. When he said goodbye, tears fill the eyes of some of his captors.
Ruby Bridges - In Christianity Today, psychiatrist Robert Coles told an amazing story of a girl who had learned to pray for those who were hostile to her. Coles was in new Orleans in 1960 when a federal judge ruled that the city schools must be integrated. A 6-year-old girl, Ruby Bridges, was the only black child to attend the William T. Frantz School. Every day for weeks as she entered and left the building, a mob would be standing outside to scream at her and threaten her. They shook their fists, shouted obscenities, and threatened to kill her. One day her teacher saw her lips moving as she walked through the crowd, flanked by burly federal marshals. When the teacher told Coles about it, he asked Ruby if she was talking to the people. “I wasn’t talking to them,” she replied. “I was just saying a prayer for them”
Coles asked her, “Why do you do that?”
“Because they need praying for,” came her reply
What Passes for Love - In our relationships with others, often what passes for love is little more than a neat business transaction. People are kind to us, so we repay them with equal consideration. When they threat us unjustly, our negative response is really what they asked for. Everything is so balanced, so fair, so logical with this eye-for-an-eye and tooth-for-a-tooth kind of justice. But Christian love never settles for only what’s reasonable. It insists on giving mercy as well as justice. It breaks the chain of logical reactions.”
F B Meyer writes the following discourse on …
GOD'S PRIMAL LAW
WHAT must be done for life, eternal life, the deepest and best? Everyone desires to know that. We all want to drink of the goblet of life, and to drink it to the last drop, to know everything that can be known in the brief limits of our existence, of true enjoyment. Everyone asks the question, in one form or another, How can I taste the inner meaning of life?
This is the answer,
You may be startled for a moment, having been wont to hear from the lips of teachers and preachers the formula, Believe and live.
Is there then a contradiction when the Master says, Love and live? No, as you will discover as soon as you endeavour to live a life of perfect love without believing in Christ. You cannot do it. If you could the Gospel would be needless; but because it is impossible for man to love like this, the Lord Jesus came to renew our natures and teach us to love; yea, He ascended on high to send the Holy Spirit, that He might shed abroad the love of God in our hearts.
But when we speak of love, we do not mean that it is primarily an emotion of the soul; it is the expression of the soul in action. Love consists in being willing to do. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy strength." Many are disappointed because they try to love God with their hearts before they make Him first in their will. They who begin by serving another will end in loving Him with warmth and tenderness of sympathy.
How beautiful it is to see the amenities of human life, the trust of man in his fellow, the love of parent to child, the devotion of wife to husband. These things, like the flowers that festoon unsightly ruins, adorn the lives and characters and homes of men who lay no claim to godliness. The abandoned woman presses her babe to her breast with maternal pity; the bandit is attached to his comrade, who shares his rug and spoils and plunder; and even the grim tyrant is attached to the woman he calls wife. These virtues are the wild flowers that grow over the rugged nature of man. But they are not the test of our religious life. If you simply love those who love you, and are kind to those that are generous, and salute those who salute you, you are not doing more than those who act at the prompting of their own human heart.
The children of God must do more than this. If the religion of Jesus Christ does not lift its professors out of the ordinary level of mankind into an altogether new atmosphere, to stand amid a fresh environment, and to give proof that they have found something which others do not possess, it can boast nothing better than was yielded by the hoary religions of the past, and is doomed to pass away. No; the Lord demands that, as there are men and women in our social circles whom naturally we dislike, whose temperament offends us, and whose prosperity is a matter for which naturally we cannot pray, so we cannot attain His ideal until we have learnt to love, pray for, and bless them with a Divine and heaven-born unselfishness.
How many Christians form a false estimate of themselves! Their friends flatter them that are generous and kind, and with such estimates they are only too ready to concur. We judge ourselves by the way in which we behave to wife, child, or friend, to those in our own circles of life, where it is easy to be open in heart and hand. That, however, is far from being an adequate test of what we really are. Men of the world can be attractive and winsome under similar surroundings. The only adequate gauge of the quality of our religious life is furnished by our attitude towards those from whom we are separated by prejudice, temper, or the consciousness of unfair and unkind behaviour. These relationships furnish the real test of what we are before God; since we are towards God what we are to them. Such an attitude of kindness and prayerful sympathy is impossible to men of the world. Thus Christ's command is a profound and searching test when He reiterates the ancient law: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour."
(1) Every man loves himself.
That is universally true. The whole tendency and drift of human life which has not been regenerated by the Holy Spirit is to revolve around the pivot and centre of one's own individuality. This is the result of being born of the first Adam, proving the necessity of being born again of the Holy Spirit.
(2) Every man has a neighbour.
This is also taken for granted. You are not only the centre of your own life, but part of the circumference of someone else's life. That circumference may be a very wide and far-extended one, but you cannot evade the fact that you have been born into a community or family of people; and, as we shall see, the point is not, who is your neigh-hour, so much as whom you will neighbour. Any man whom you shall encounter within the next hour on the king's highway needing your help is your neighbour.
(3) The world's method is at variance with God's.
The children of this world try to limit as far as possible the number of their neighbours, and to admit as few as possible within the pale of their generosity; whereas God's principle is to go forth to all who need comfort and help. The Scribes said, "Who is my neighbour?" (Luke 10:29), hoping that Christ would limit the duty of neighborliness within as narrow limits as possible, a blood relation, or such like; whereas our Lord always taught that we were to be on the outlook to prove our neighborliness. Go through the world proving as far as possible your neighborliness. The Scribes said, "Who is my neighbour?" But the Lord answered, "Go, and show yourself a neighbour."
IN SHOWING OURSELVES NEIGHBOURS
(1) Every man has his rights.
There are his inherited rights, such as his right to freedom; for no man enslave his fellow, and everyone in whose heart there is a part of God's love is bound, so far as he may, to secure liberty for the enslaved. Every man has a right also to fresh air, fresh water, sufficient land for the maintenance of life (whether cultivated by himself or by others is not material). Every man also has a right to freedom of conscience; so that no man is justified in imposing his creed o; manner of Divine worship on another.
These are rights which every individual member of the human family has a claim to; and, if we would live a life of perfect love, we must respect these rights in every man, though a beggar; in every woman, though a servant-girl.
We all have acquired rights, such as those of character and of reputation. No one has a right to take another's character or impair his reputation. If there is some blemish in another's character which calls for reprehension and blame, dare to tell it him between himself and yourself; but do not filch away his reputation.
There are also the rights of property. These must be respected. Anything like a compulsory division of property is impossible to Christ's disciples, though we all may proceed on the voluntary principle which was practised by the early Church, and of which the early chapters of the Acts tell so wonderful a story. Directly we begin to live the life of perfect love, we begin to respect the rights of another, and to care for them as if they were our own.
(2) Every man has his necessities.
How infinite the variety of need! The master needs the servant quite as much as the servant the master. We are bound to each other by a network of necessities, and the man in whose heart is God's perfect love learns to minister to those needs, whatever they may be and whenever there is an opportunity, it being always remembered, of course, that a man may be compelled to turn aside from some needs he would like to meet because of the call of other and more clamant ones.
A recent writer has contrasted the demand of Christ with the demand of the world, as the contrast between ministry and mastery.
The difference is that one set of men go blustering over the world showing the strength of their arm, and insisting on other men serving them; whilst the other set are perpetually giving themselves away in ministry, losing their souls to find them.
(3) Every man has his sins.
We often seem to forget how clearly Christ has laid down our duty about our behaviour to such. "If thy brother trespass against thee" (Matt. 18:15), what do we do? We are cool to him, do not speak to him, give him a wide berth. He has done us a wrong, and we tell our wife and child to have no intercourse with his wife and child. If we meet him in the street, we bow stiffly and pass. But Jesus 'says, "Go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone." Go? Let him come to me. Go? Why should I? If he should be in need or at the point of death I would go, but why should I go now? Yet the Lord will have us go, and go now, that we may gain and win our brother to a better mind. Ah, we shall never do it until we have learned to love.
Yet another text,
Too often we whisper to this and the other the story of his sin, saying, "Of course you will not tell."
But that is not God's way. No, says the Lord; lovingly lift that fallen man or woman up again in the spirit of meekness, remembering how easily tempted you are, too. Then go to your place of secret prayer, and pray God that you may not be tempted to your undoing, and, if you are, that someone's love should do for you what your love has done for him.
Instead of talking of it, let us hasten away to a secret place and cry to God. What will be the result? "God shall give him life for those that sin not unto death." And the man who has sinned shall feel life coming back into his soul. He may not know whence, but in heaven he will discover that it was because his brother, who saw the act, went away and prayed for him. Why do we not act thus? Ah! We need "the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us" (see note Romans 5:5). (F. B. Meyer. The Directory of the Devout Life)
Amplified: To show that you are the children of your Father Who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and the wrongdoers [alike]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and on the unjust, too.
Philips: so that you may be sons of your Heavenly Father. For he makes the sun rise upon evil men as well as good, and he sends his rain upon honest and dishonest men alike. (New Testament in Modern English)
Wuest: in order that you may become sons of your Father in heaven, because His sun He causes to shine on those who are actively opposed to that which is good and upon those who are good, and causes it to rain on those who are fair and equitable in their dealings with others and on those who are not. (Wuest: Expanded Translation: Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: that ye may be sons of your Father in the heavens, because His sun He doth cause to rise on evil and good, and He doth send rain on righteous and unrighteous.
SO THAT YOU MAY BE SONS OF YOUR FATHER WHO IS IN HEAVEN FOR HE CAUSES HIS SUN TO RISE ON THE EVIL AND THE GOOD, AND SENDS RAIN ON THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE UNRIGHTEOUS: hopos genesthe (2PAMS) huioi tou patros humon tou en ouranois, hoti ton helion autou anatellei (3SPAI) epi ponerous kai agathous kai brechei (3SPAI) epi dikaious kai adikous: (Mt 5:9; Luke 6:35; John 13:35; Ephesians 5:1; 1John 3:9) (Job 25:3; Psalms 145:9; Acts 14:17)
So that - Introduces why we should love and pray like Jesus' commands. That we might fulfill the maxim, "Like father, like son".
Or as Jamieson writes…
Be (1096) (ginomai) means to become or to come into being. Doing these things does not make us sons nor merit God's Fatherhood, but the fact that He is our Father and we are His sons (and daughters) should motivate (e.g., His amazing love displayed to us) and empower us (His grace, His Spirit)
Spurgeon comments that…
For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good - Jamieson rightly states that…
Good (18) (agathos) (Click word study on agathos) means intrinsically good, inherently good in quality but with the idea of good which is also profitable, useful, benefiting others, benevolent (marked by or disposed to doing good). Agathos is one whose goodness and works of goodness are transferred to others. Good and doing good is the idea. Agathos describes that which is beneficial in addition to being good.
Righteous (1342) (dikaios from dike = right, just) (Click word study on dikaios) defines that which is in accordance with high standards of rectitude. It is that which is in right relation to another and so in reference to persons defines the one who is morally and ethically righteous, upright or just. From a legal viewpoint dikaios refers to one who is law-abiding (doing all that law or justice requires), honest and good in behavior and from a religious viewpoint one who is rightly related to God. In simple terms this trait describes being in accordance with what God requires. The righteous man does what he ought. He is the person who conforms to the standard, will or character of God.
For example, Luke describes Zacharias and Elizabeth (John the Baptist's parents) as
They were rightly related to God and because of that right relationship, they walked accordingly. Notice that righteous character is associated with righteous conduct.
Rain on the righteous and the unrighteous - As Paul said in his great apologetic speech on Mars Hill…
This principle is found in the OT also, the Psalmist declaring that…
So that you may be sons of your Father - Jesus is saying that loving without limits (or "asterisks" or "fine print" exception clauses) will demonstrate a love which is like our Father Who art in heaven. And oh the power of the Father's love. This quality of love will light up a household, a church, a school, a town, a nation! Impartially demonstrating love to one's enemies as well as to one's friends is to love sacrificially and supernaturally like God loves.
Clearly from this teaching one cannot conclude that God's love toward men is completely without distinction, and (as some falsely teach) that therefore all will be saved in the end (see discussion on The Eternal Punishment of the Lost). The Scriptures clearly do not teach universal salvation. And yet they do teach that God is impartial, as demonstrated in this verse. And His sons and daughters are to go and live likewise in a world filled with evil.
As Dwight Pentecost says…
Rabbi Joshua ben Nehemiah wrote,
Expositor's Bible Commentary adds that…
F B Meyer writes the following homiletical note…
The Way God Works - My bill came to $4.40. The dollar bills and change in my pocket left me 40 cents short.
A man standing nearby quickly handed me 40 cents. "Here," he said, "and God bless!" His generosity took me by surprise. Before leaving, I thanked him again. "That's the way the world works," he replied.
That man's kindness reminded me of the common grace God extends to a fallen world. Our world works because of God's unconditional generosity. Let me explain.
Jesus said that our heavenly Father gives warmth, light, and all the life-giving benefits of the sun to this world's inhabitants, good and bad alike (Mt. 5:45). Imagine what would happen to our world if we went one day without the sun. Even more generous, however, is God's immeasurable love in making forgiveness and eternal life available through Jesus' death on the cross to atone for our sins.
What ingratitude I would have shown to the man who gave me 40 cents if I had ignored him, or rejected his offer! Yet that's how we often treat God. And His response? He keeps giving while holding open the offer of forgiveness.
Let's thank God daily for His generosity, and help others know that God's grace is what makes the world work. —Dennis J. De Haan
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,