Whisper Gathering

Love Your Enemies: Matthew 5:43-47

“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 in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His son to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentles do the same?” Matthew 5:43-47 NASBLet’s begin with some basic Greek word studies:

  • “love” = agapao. We’ve seen this word before. It is agape, the love of God, in action. (1)
  • “enemies” = echthros, which comes from a root word meaning “to hate” and indicates an enemy who is actively hostile toward you. This is a person who poses an active threat or disadvantage to you. (2)
  • “pray” = prosechomai simply means to pray for your enemy’s advantage or blessing. It does not mean to pray for God’s vengeance on the person or for their utter destruction. (3)
  • “persecute” = dioko. From a root word meaning “to flee,” the action of one meant to harass, trouble, or drive away. (4)
  • “you may be” = ginomai and does not mean you become a child of God by praying for those who persecute you. Instead, it indicates “can become” or “can be finished or completed.” The idea here is one of intentional action taken in order to be all that we were intended to be. (5)

In verse 43, Jesus quotes a portion of the Mosaic law from Leviticus 19:18. Along the way, Jewish teachers had added the admonition “hate your enemy” with those enemies being the uncircumcised, AKA Gentiles.
QUESTION: What does God say about adding to the law?  (Deuteronomy 4:2, Deuteronomy 12:32)

QUESTION: Why did Jesus propose such a radical, not-our-default way of dealing with our enemies?   (See Exodus 23:4,5 and Deuteronomy 23:7 to see how God responds to His enemies.)

Once again, Jesus shows us obedience to the law is not our goal but the spirit of the law, the going beyond to be more like Christ, should be. The purpose of the law is not to give us rules to live by, although it did accomplish that task. The purpose of the law is to help us understand who God is, to become more like our Father and to please the One who is perfection personified.

“If a man could live the way Jesus has told us to in this chapter, he would truly be perfect.
· He would never hate, slander or speak evil of another person.
· He would never lust in his heart or mind, and not covet anything.
​· He would never make a false oath, and always be completely truthful.
· He would let God defend his personal rights, and not take it upon himself to defend those rights.
· He would always love his neighbors, and even his enemies.”Matthew Henry summed the entire passage up in one short phrase, a quote from Plutarch: “do good to our friends, and make friends of our enemies.” (6)

Jesus gives two reasons for which we should love and bless so extravagantly. First, because our aim should be to emulate Jesus and be like God the Father. Second, our actions should be radically and recognizably different from the rest of the world.

When we love and bless even those who wrong us, we create the condition in which the rest of the world can say, “If that’s how she treats me, is that how Jesus would respond to me?” If we are the only sermon some people ever hear it needs to be a good one.

QUESTION: Can we be children of God if we don’t love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us? (John 3:16, John 14:16, Acts 4:12)

QUESTION: According to Scripture, we come to the Father only through Jesus. What does 1 John 2:9-11 say about how believers should respond to our enemies?

Think of someone who might be your enemy and choose to pray for him/her daily for at least one week. Make a list of three positive characteristics in them and thank God for them. Consider how your life has been positively impacted because of them, despite any negative actions they may have taken.

1. “G25 – agapaō – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (NASB).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 18 May, 2020. https://www.blueletterbible.org//lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G25&t=NASB
2. “G3404 – miseō – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (NASB).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 18 May, 2020. https://www.blueletterbible.org//lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3404&t=NASB
3. “G4336 – proseuchomai – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (NASB).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 18 May, 2020. https://www.blueletterbible.org//lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4336&t=NASB
4. “G1377 – diōkō – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (NASB).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 18 May, 2020. https://www.blueletterbible.org//lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1377&t=NASB
5. “G1096 – ginomai – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (NASB).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 18 May, 2020. https://www.blueletterbible.org//lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1096&t=NASB
6. Guzik, D. “Study Guide for Matthew 5 by David Guzik.” Blue Letter Bible. Last Modified 21 Feb, 2017. https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide2017-Mat/Mat-5.cfm
7. Henry, M. “Commentary on Matthew 5 by Matthew Henry.” Blue Letter Bible. Last Modified 1 Mar, 1996. https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/Mat/Mat_005.cfmPhoto by Designecologist from Pexels