Matthew 5:43-48

Matthew 5:43-48

     This is an exposition of that great fundamental law of the second table. The first part of the phrase is correct but the second part (hate your enemies) is not found in the OT law.

I.  The Misunderstanding of the Law  v. 43

“You shall love thy neighbor” meant those only of their own country, nation, and religion. The only choices for people were your neighbor or your enemy (a method of deductive reasoning). The deduced that anyone who was not my neighbor was an enemy and gave them justification for hate-Exodus 23:4-5; Deuteronomy 23:7.  The Law always had room for people and nations joining Israel. Ruth was a Moabite. Rahab was a Cananite and a citizen of Jericho. “Love your enemies,” v. 44-we may never practice this but we may, at times, wish suffering or pray for God’s vengeance on those that hate us.

II.  The Message of Jesus “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”  v.  44

This was a shock to the audience. Remember how the parable of the good Samaritan starts? With a question from a Scribe – Who is my neighbor? Luke 10:27-29 and then the parable teaches about 3 people. The Samaritans were enemies of Israel. Jews went out of their way to avoid passing through Samaria.

 1. Jesus tells us that we will have enemies. Not everybody will like you.

 2. Jesus is not trying to make you feel guilty. I may not “like” my enemies but I must “love” like God did.

 3. Jesus is saying “Love your enemies.” You are not able to obey this without God’s love working in you. Loving your friends is a natural kind of love. Loving your enemies can only be done through God’s power in us.

 4.  Jesus is saying to pray for your enemies and those who persecute you. This is the first time Jesus uses the word “pray” in Matthew and it is this context. Luke 6:27-36 gives us an expanded teaching on this subject. He says we should do good and bless them. It is not a new thing for true Christians to be hated or have enemies. Take a look at the NT and church history.

III.  The Meaning of Jesus v. 45-48

1. That we may be sons of your Father. God makes His sun to rise, and sends rain, on the just and the unjust, v. 45. God has given common grace to all men. Treat all people with love.

2. That we may exceed in the love of God v. 46, 47. Publicans only loved their friends. To do good to those who do good to us is common politeness. What reward can we expect for this? Jesus says to go beyond scribes and Pharisees and even more beyond publicans.

3.  That we may be perfect (Greek-being complete) like our Father. Perfect is the sense of following the example of the Father.

Life Application

Remember that your enemies are really not against you, but against the things of God.

Remember what we were before we met Jesus. 

Remember that even the worst of your enemies can be saved.

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