Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Handout - Matthew Chapter 5 - Love Your Enemies

Matthew 5:43-48 - Love Your Enemies

With regards to "loving your neighbor", Jesus is pointing out a passage in Leviticus Lev 19:18. A "neighbor" here is a fellow Israelite, not someone next door. This is important to our understanding of similar New Testament passages, as the special relationship between God and His people is a significant testimony to the world Gal 6:10, Joh 13:34-35.

With regards to hating your enemies, the Rabbi's oral tradition promoted hatred enemies. Although there is no passage in the law that states we should hate our enemies, these passages were misused to promote just that Psa 139:21-22 , Psa 26:5 , Psa 31:6 .

Jesus then gave us His correction of the Pharisees misuse of passages like these, and reveals what attitude we should have in the new kingdom, that of loving our enemies and praying for those that persecute us Luk 23:33-34, 1Pe 2:21, Rom 12:20.

Old Testament passages also show that Israel was to have this attitude, contrary to the oral law Pro 25:21, 2Ki 6:21-23.

Verse 45 then shows that by loving our enemies and praying for our persecutors we will be acting like our Father in heaven. The CEV conveys this meaning better than the NIV. The idea is that loving ones enemies demonstrates that we are already God's children, not that one becomes a child of God by performance.

Mat 5:45 (CEV) Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong.

Mat 5:45 (NIV) that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

God's provision of love is demonstrated in His goodness, even to those who hate Him, the sun rises on the evil, the rains fall on the unrighteous, etc., as well as the fact that He gave us salvation even when we were sinners Rom 5:8.

Verses 46-47 fit perfectly into the context of being more righteous than the Pharisees. Loving ones enemies shows the inner change that has taken place in our hearts, and transformed who we are as a people. We Are God's people, and it is a testimony to the world of God's grace and power when we are able to love our enemies.

Finally, Jesus finishes this pericope with a call to be perfect. Perfection in this context again is a call to be in Christ, to allow the Holy Spirit to bring transformation to who we are to be more like He is. We are to reflect His character, to be complete, whole, and mature.

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