Matthew 5:43-48

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

LOVE YOUR ENEMIES

INTRODUCTION:

In Matthew 5:43-48 Jesus deals with the subject of loving your enemies. The ancients had taught that someone should love his neighbor but hate his enemy. Jesus, however, taught that a person should love his enemies and treat well those who would harm him. This would result in his being like God the Father Who provides sunshine and rain for everyone, whether saved or lost. Their love for others must go beyond what the tax collectors would do. Instead, they were to be perfect just like God the Father.

 

Matthew 5:43-4843 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 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; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 46 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

 

In this passage Jesus is teaching that people who do not love are guilty of sin and on their way to a Christless eternity in hell.

 

Jesus is showing that the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees is inadequate in God’s sight to get them into heaven in contrast to another righteousness in which God delights.

 

The scribes and Pharisees have adopted and taught the wrong meaning of the law, just as the ancient rabbis had done. They were not teaching the original intention of the law with its proper application.

We see –

    I.     THE TEACHING OF THE ANCIENTS - 5:43

 

Matthew 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

 

In verse 43 Jesus begins yet another teaching of the rabbis which was still being taught by the scribes and Pharisees.

 

Ye is you and refers to the ones listening to the Sermon on the Mount and is also applicable by extension to all those who read it.

 

Have heard is heard, and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

 

What the people have heard is that it hath been said, i.e. that it was said. Again Jesus is criticizing what had been emphasized by the ancient rabbis and what was still being emphasized by the scribes and Pharisees.

 

Thou shalt love thy neighbour is you shall love your neighbor. This was taught in Leviticus 19:18 .

 

Leviticus 19:18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.

 

Even in this verse the two words as thyself were left out by the Jewish rabbis, scribes, and Pharisees.

 

There is nothing wrong with teaching that you should love your neighbor. However, the ancient rabbis had taught something in addition to loving your neighbor. They also taught and hate thine enemy; and the scribes and Pharisees were continuing to teach, And you shall hate your enemy.

 

As a result, the attitude among the Jews that someone’s enemy was not his neighbor was prevalent. This attitude was seen in the lawyer’s question and Jesus’ answer regarding the good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37 ,

 

Luke 10:25-3725 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him [i.e. tested Him], saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. 28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. [Of course, this was impossible for him to do because he was a sinner. He would have to be perfect in order to do what Jesus told him; and this was Jesus’ point; furthermore, if this lawyer were perfect, he would have no need for salvation. But he was not perfect.] 29 But he, willing to justify himself [i.e. to declare himself righteous], said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? 30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment [i.e. of his clothing], and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. [Note that the priest did not show love to this man.] 32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. [The Levite also did not show love to this man.] 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast [i.e. his own animal], and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence [i.e. two denarri – the equivalent of two days’ wages for a working man], and gave them to the host [i.e. to the innkeeper], and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. 36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? 37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

 

Nowhere in the Old Testament were the Jews taught to hate their enemies.

We also see –

  II.     THE TEACHING OF JESUS - 5:44-48

 

We note that –

            1.   A PERSON SHOULD LOVE HIS ENEMIES AND TREAT WELL THOSE INTENDING TO HARM HIM – 5:44

 

Matthew 5:44 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.

 

Beginning in verse 44 Jesus indicates God’s intent in loving others.

 

But introduces a statement in mild contrast to what the Jewish rabbis, scribes, and Pharisees taught regarding loving your neighbor and hating your enemy in verse 43.

 

I is Christ and is emphatic.

 

I say is I am saying, I am declaring, or I am asserting.

 

Unto you is referring to Christ’s hearers in the Sermon on the Mount and includes those who read it.

 

Love your enemies is be loving your enemies, a direct contradiction to what the Jewish people have been and were being taught. It is a command whose tense indicates that this is always to be done.

 

Loving your enemies shows itself in blessing them that curse you, in doing good to them that hate you, and in praying for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.

 

Bless is another command whose tense indicates that this is always to be done.

 

It is understood in the sense of be blessing and implies be calling down God’s blessing upon them that curse you, i.e. on the ones who are cursing you.

 

Do good to them that hate you is a third command and suggests be doing good (or be doing well) to the ones who are hating you. It does not matter what their attitude toward you is or how they are treating you, you must have a right attitude toward them and treat them in a right manner just as you would like them to treat you. You know that Christ died for them just like He died for you, and you know that they need to be saved just like you did. You know that, were it not for the grace of God, you would be just like they are.

 

And introduces a fourth imperative or command: pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.

 

The tense of pray indicates be praying. It is something which should be done continuously or repeatedly.

 

For them which despitefully use you suggests on behalf of the ones who are treating you in a despicable manner, on behalf of the ones who are threatening (i.e. mistreating or abusing) you.

 

And persecuting you suggests that they are mistreating you because of your beliefs. The tendency of the old sin nature is to hate your enemies, to curse the people who are cursing you, to treat those who hate you badly, and to retaliate toward those who are mistreating you and persecuting you. Loving your enemies demonstrates a genuine salvation; whereas, hating your enemies is characteristic of people who need to be saved.

We also note that –

            2.   LOVING THEIR ENEMIES AND TREATING WELL THOSE INTENDING TO HARM THEM WILL RESULT IN THEIR BEING LIKE GOD THE FATHER – 5:45

 

Matthew 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

 

Verse 45 indicates that loving your enemies, blessing the ones who are cursing you, doing well to the ones who are hating you, and praying for the ones who are despitefully using you and persecuting you are characteristics which demonstrate that you are God’s sons and that you act like He does.

 

That is in order that.

 

Ye may be is you may be and refers to those hearing or reading the Sermon on the Mount.

 

Ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven is you may be sons of your Father, the One in heaven.

 

Your Father which is in heaven refers to your heavenly Father.

 

For is the word ordinarily translated because and should be understood in this sense in this verse.

 

He (i.e. God the Father) maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good because He loves both the evil and the good people.

 

He maketh his sun to rise is He causes His sun to rise.

 

On the evil and on the good refers to the character of all people or to the way they behave. God the Father demonstrates His love for all people by providing them with the benefits of His sun.

 

Another and introduces something else God the Father does in demonstrating His love to all humanity: sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

 

Sendeth rain is causes it to rain, and on the just and on the unjust is on righteous ones and on unrighteous ones, which includes everyone. Similarly, Jesus’ listeners should love everyone just as their heavenly Father loves everyone, and they should demonstrate this love by the way they treat them.

 

One is reminded of many verses which speak of the love of God for all humanity.

 

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

 

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

 

I John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

 

I John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

 

Luke 6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

 

In addition, we note that –

            3.   THEIR LOVE FOR OTHERS MUST GO BEYOND WHAT THE TAX COLLECTORS WOULD DO – 5:46-47

 

Matthew 5:46-4746 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

 

In verse 46 Jesus asks two questions which point out that people must love even those who do not love them.

 

For continues Jesus’ teaching and is understood in the sense of now.

 

If ye love them which love you is the conditional portion of a conditional statement. Its structure indicates that no assumption may be made regarding its truthfulness.

 

If it is true, then its conclusion, what reward have ye? will also be true.

 

If ye love them which love you is if you love the ones who are loving you. It expresses something which is normally true of people. They only love the ones who love them. There is nothing special about this.

 

What reward have ye? suggests what reward do you have? and implies that there is no reward for loving those who love you.

 

The structure of do not even the publicans the same? implies a positive answer and is understood in the sense of, Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? Yes, they do.

 

Matthew 5:47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

 

In verse 47 Jesus asks two questions which point out that people must greet even those who do not greet them. The structure of verse 47 is the same as the structure of verse 46. It contains a conditional statement whose conclusion asks a question, and the conditional statement is followed by a question, which expects a positive answer.

 

And continues the thought.

 

If ye salute your brethren only is if you greet your brothers only. It is a condition about which no assumption is made. It may or may not be true.

 

If it is true, the conclusion, What do ye more than others? will also be true. It suggests, What are you doing more than others are doing? and implies, Nothing.

 

The question, Do not even the publicans so? expects a yes answer. It is, The tax collectors are also doing so (i.e. greeting those who greet them), are they not? Yes, they are.

 

Finally, we note that –

            4.   THEY MUST BE PERFECT LIKE GOD THE FATHER – 5:48

 

Matthew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

 

In verse 48 Jesus summarizes His emphasis in verses 17-47 by indicating that God’s standard for everyone is perfection.

 

Be ye is a futuristic command and is understood in the sense of you shall be.

 

Ye is you and is used for emphasis. It refers to those whom Jesus is addressing in the Sermon on the Mount as well as to those who read it.

 

Therefore draws an inference based on what Jesus has said thus far in the Sermon on the Mount and is understood in the sense of consequently, accordingly, then, or so.

 

Perfect indicates that perfection is God’s standard for humanity. Sadly, humanity does not measure up to God’s standard. Jesus has said as much in verses 3-47 of this chapter.

 

Even as is just as.

 

Your Father which is in heaven (i.e. your heavenly Father) is perfect. God is perfect in every way. There is no sin or imperfection whatsoever in Him. He is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, eternal, and perfectly holy. When compared to God’s absolute standard of perfection, humanity falls far short and is in need of salvation from sin and its consequences.

CONCLUSION:

 

The problem is that no one measures up to God’s standard of being perfect.

 

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

 

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

 

Romans 10:9-139 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

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