Verses 43-48

VERSES 43-48:



VERSE 43:  “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.’”

            “Thou shalt love thy neighbor”
            Literally:  “You shall love your neighbor.” 

         NEIGHBOR: (Grk.–plêsion)It is interesting that instead of plêsion or “neighbor,” the CODEX GRAEVII, a MS. of the Eleventh Century, reads philon which means “friend.”

           “Thou shalt love thy friend, and hate thine enemy.”–This was certainly the meaning which the Jews put on it: for neighbor, implied to them those of the Jewish race, and all others were, considered by them as natural enemies.  Besides, it is evident that plêsion among the Hellenistic Jews, meant friend
          “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  I am the LORD”  (Lev, 19:18).  The Jews gave the command a very limited application. For Jesus’ application, see Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). It embraces anyone so near us as to need and to receive our acts of kindness.

       LOVE:  (Grk.–agape)–This is he Greek word for Godly love that Jesus uses here.  Here He uses the verb form of the word (Grk.–agapaō).

This word indicates unconquerable benevolence, or invincible goodwill. If we regard a person with agape love it means that no matter what that person does to us, no matter how he treats us, not matter if he insults us or injures us or grieves us, we will never allow any bitterness against him to invade our hearts; but will regard him with that unconquerable benevolence and goodwill which will seek nothing but his highest good.  This is the kind of love that is to be displayed in the Kingdom; when the will of God “will be done in earth as it is in heaven” (6:10).

            “and hate thine enemy”
            Literally:  “And hate your enemy.”–This phrase is not in Lev. 19:18, but is a rabbinical  inference which
Jesus bluntly repudiates.

          The Talmud says nothing of love to enemies. Paul, in Rom. 12:20, quotes Prov. 25:22 to prove that we ought to treat our enemies kindly. Jesus taught us to pray for our enemies and did it Himself even when He hung upon the cross. Our word “neighbour” is really “nigh-bor,” that is, one who is nigh or near like the Greek word plêsion here. But proximity often means strife and not love. Those who have adjoining farms or homes may be hostile in spirit. The Jews came to look on members of the same tribe as neighbors as even Jews everywhere. But they hated the Samaritans who were half Jews and lived between Judea and Galilee. Jesus taught men how to act as neighbors by the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29).
            The command to love our neighbor was a law of God (Lev. 19:18). That we must, therefore, hate our enemy, was an inference drawn from it by the Jews. They supposed that if we loved the one, we must, of course, hate the other. They were total strangers to that great, peculiar law of religion, which requires us to love both. A neighbor is literally one that lives near to us; then, one that is near to us by acts of kindness and friendship. This is its meaning here

“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.”

            “Love your enemies”--Not their character or their conduct, but their souls.

            Pray for them and seek their good. Love to enemies, and a disposition to do them the greatest good which duty will permit, likens men to God. It is impossible to love the conduct of a man that curses and reviles us, and injures our person or property, or that violates all the laws of God; but though we may hate his conduct, and feel deeply that we are affected by it, yet we may still wish well to the person.
1.         We may pity his madness and folly;
2.         We may speak kindly of him, and to him; we may NOT return evil for evil;
3.         We may aid him in the time of trial; and seek to do him good here, and to promote his eternal welfare hereafter, Rom. 12:17-20.
            This seems to be what is meant by
loving our enemies.

          This is the most sublime piece of morality ever given to man.  Has it appeared unreasonable and absurd to some?  It has.  And why?  Because it is natural to man to avenge himself, and plague those who plague him; and he will ever find abundant excuse for his conduct, in the repeated evils he receives from others; for men are naturally hostile to each other.  Some have contrasted this “realistic” ethics of Judaism with Christian romanticism” and cite this as an example.  However, the command is not have good feelings about your enemies, but to want and do good for them, and more specifically, to pray for those who persecute you.
          There are two kinds of love, involving the same general feeling, or springing from the same fountain of goodwill to all mankind, but differing still so far as to admit of separation in idea. The one is that feeling by which we approve of the conduct of another, commonly called the love of complacency; the other, by which we wish well to the person of another, though we cannot approve his conduct. This is the love of benevolence; and this love we are to bear towards our enemies.

           LOVE:  (Grk.–agapate)–Again Jesus refers to the agape type of love.  The form of  the word here for love used here , (agapate), denotes moral love, as distinguished from the other word (Grk.–phileō), which expresses personal affection.   Usually, the former denotes “complacency in the character” of the person loved; but here it denotes compassionate outgoings of desire for another's good.

            This is the love that Christ will have in the Millennial Kingdom, and it will be learned by those who are going through the Great Tribulation.  Only a true believer during that horrible time will be able to manifest this kind of love.  Agape does not mean simply a feeling of the heart, which we cannot help, and which come unbidden and unsought; rather, it means a determination of the mind, whereby we achieve this unconquerable goodwill even to those who hurt and injure us. 
            Someone has said that
agape is the power to love those whom we do not even like and who may not like us.  It must be noted that , Jesuslaid this love down as a basis for personal relationships.  People use this passage as a basis for pacifism, and as a text on which to speak about international relationships.  It may possibly include such, but first and foremost it deals with personal relationships.

“bless them that curse you”
Literally:  “Bless the ones cursing you.”—Speak all the good you can to and of them, who speak all evil to and of you.  Repay love in thought, word, and deed, to those who hate you, and show it both in word and deed (Luke 6:27, 35).

            BLESS:  (Grk.–eulogeō)–Meaning to speak well of or to.  Not to curse again, or to slander, but to speak of those things which we can commend in an enemy; or if there is nothing that we can commend, to say nothing about him.

The word “bless,” spoken of God, means to regard with favor, or to confer benefits, as when God is said to bless His people. When we speak of our blessing God, it means to praise Him, or give thanks to Him. When we speak of blessing men, it unites the two meanings, and signifies to confer favor, to thank, or to speak well of.

“do good to them that hate you,”
Literally:  “Do well to those hating you.”–Give your
enemy every proof that you love him.  We must not love only in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

“pray for them which despitefully use you”
Literally:  “Pray for those abusing and persecuting you.”–No man can pray for another man and still hate him.  When he takes himself and the man whom he is tempted to hate to    God, something happens.

You cannot go on hating another man in the presence of God.  This is how it will be during the Kingdom when Jesus is reigning and things will be on earth as they are in heaven.   Even while He was hanging from the cross, Jesus prayed for them who had crucified Him. There is an old Jewish saying from Medieval times that says, “Pray for your enemy that he serve God.”

          PRAY FOR THEM: (Grk.–proseuchesthe)–This is another exquisitely reasonable precept.  I cannot change that wicked man's heart; and while it is unchanged he will continue to harass me: God alone can change it: then I must ask Him to do that which will at once secure the poor man's salvation, and contribute so much to my own peace.  

           DESPITEFULLY USE YOU: (Grk.-epepazonton humas)—These words mean, first, “to injure by prosecution in law;” then, “wantonly and unjustly to accuse,” and “to injure in any way.”  This seems to be its meaning here.  This would seem to denote persecution during the time of the Great Tribulation. Those who are making continual war upon you, and constantly harassing and calumniating you.

          PERSECUTE YOU:  (Grk.–diokoton humas)–Those who press hard on and pursue     you with hatred and malice accompanied with repeated acts of enmity.  This describes the   minions of antichrist during the Great Tribulation.

This seems to be a referral to the conditions described in verse 10; the beatitude which says, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake:  for their’s is the Kingdom of Heaven.”  Persecution will be a normal way of life during the Great Tribulation. that time that will precede the bodily return of Christ.  We are presently seeing the rise of antisemitism, both in Europe and here in America, and even more dispicablely, in the Church.  like has not been seen in decades.  Someone has said that antisemitism in Europe is as bad as it was under Nazi Germany. This has caused an upsurge of migration of Jews from Europe to Israel.

“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.”

“ye may be the children of your Father”
Literally:  “You may be sons of your Father.” The word “son” has a variety of applications. We are God's children when we have the spirit of our Father.  We are not “children of the Father” if we have the spirit of the world.        

           CHILDREN:  (Grk.–huioi)–It is interesting that, Instead of huioi–“children,”–some MSS., the latter Persic version, and several of the primitive fathers, we find the Greek word (homoioi), meaning that you may be “like,” or “resemble,” your Father Who is in heaven.

This is certainly Jesus’ meaning here.  As a man's child is called his, because a partaker of his own nature, so a holy person is said to be a child of God, because he is a partaker of the Divine nature.

“for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good,”
Literally:  “Because He causes the sun to rise on {the} evil and {the} good.”–He gives them such blessings as they will receive at His hands.

          Spiritual blessings they will not receive.  Read it, (without the article, “the”) as “on evil and good, and on just and unjust.” When we find God's own procedure held up for imitation in the Law, and much more in the prophets (Lev. 19:2; 20:26; and compare I Peter 1:15,16), we may see that the principle of this surprising verse was nothing new: but the form of it certainly is that of One who spake as never man spake.
          Our Father above sends blessing, the rain, and the sunshine, on the just and the unjust  alike.  He loves all, and even sent His Son to this wicked world because He loved (John 3:16). He makes His sun to rise on the evil and good, and sends rain, without distinction, on the just and unjust. So His people should show that they imitate or resemble Him, or possess His Spirit by doing good in a similar way.

VERSES 46-47:

“For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye?  Do not even the publicans the same?

“if ye love them which love you”
Literally:  “If you love those loving you.”–He who loves only his friends, does nothing for God's sake.  He who loves for the sake of pleasure or interest, pays himself.

God has no enemy which He hates but SIN; we too should have no other. The word reward seems to be used in the sense of deserving of praise, or reward. If you only love those that love you, you are selfish, you are not disinterested; it is not genuine love for the character, but love for the benefit; and you deserve no commendation. The very publicans would do the same.

“what reward have ye?”         
Literally:  “what reward do you have?”– If you only love those that love you, you are selfish, you are not disinterested; it is not genuine love for the character, but love for the benefit; and you deserve no commendation. The very publicans would do the same.

                        REWARD:   (Grk.–misthos)–The word “reward” seems to be used in the sense of “deserving of praise.”

“Do not even the publicans the same?”
Literally:  “Do not even the the tax-collectors do the same?”Publicans were tax-collectors; more specifically,  they were Jews   who collected taxes for the Roman rulers; and they were the most despised people in the Jewish community.

           PUBLICANS:  (Grk.–telōnês)–Judea was a province of the Roman empire. Not only were these publicans serving the     oppressors of their own people, but they found it easy to abuse the system and to fill their own purses by exploiting their fellow Jews.  Also, keep in mind, that Matthew himself had been a tax collector when Jesus called him.

          The Jews bore this foreign yoke with great impatience, and paid their taxes with great reluctance. It happened, therefore, that those who were appointed to collect taxes were objects of dispisal by their fellow Jews. They were, beside, men who would be supposed to execute their office at all hazards; men who were willing to engage in an odious and hated employment; men often of abandoned characters, oppressive in their collections, and dissolute in their lives.  The Jews associated them in character with thieves, and adulterers; those who were profane and dissolute.  Jesus is telling the people that even these wretched men would love their benefactors.
          Not only does
Jesus scruple to speak of them as others did, which we may be sure He never would have done if it had been calumnious. The meaning, then, is, “In loving those who love you, there is no evidence of superior principle; the worst of men will do this: even a publican will go that length.”

“And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others?  Do not even the publicans so?”

“if ye salute your brethren only”
Literally:  “And if you only greet your brothers.”

Even the Gentiles, the heathen nations, had enough of love for this. Unless the disciples could love better than the Jews, they would be on a level with publicans and heathen.  Jesus probably glances at those prejudices, which even different sects had against each other, and intimates, that He would not have His followers imbibe that narrow spirit.

          SALUTE:  (Grk.–aspazomai)–The word “salute” here means to show the usual tokens of civility, or to treat with the common marks of friendship.

“more than others”
Literally: “What exceptional (thing) do you do?”  This is really a poor rendering of this phrase. This would have been better rendered as “what extraordinary you do.” 
Jesus is telling them that their actions really have no merit.  Not even the tax collectors act that way.

“do not even the publicans so?”
Literally: do not the tas collectors do so?"–Compare Matt. 18:17, where the excommunicated person is said to be “as an heathen man and a publican.”

          The Jews usually disdained to speak to a Gentile, a publican, or a "sinner," but would salute orthodox Jews. Even the Gentiles, the heathen nations, had enough of love for this. Unless the disciples could love better than the Jews, they would be on a level with publicans and heathen.
         Juvenal, the Roman Christian writer of the apostolic age, when he satirizes the Jews for their religious opinions, represents them as unfriendly, and even malevolent, to other people, Sat. xiv., and when he mentions their refusing to show travelers the way, Non monstrare vias, etc., or to point out to them where they might find water to drink when thirsty with journeying, takes no notice of their not saluting those of another nation; yet there is no reason to believe, from these words of Jesus, that many of them at least would not, and that even a Jewish public an received no salutations from one of his own nation, excepting brother publicans.

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

Be ye therefore perfect,
Literally:  “therefore you be perfect.”–These words are very emphatic:
“You shall then  be  perfect;, or, “You shall therefore be,” or “You are therefore to be,” as My disciples and in My kingdom.”

God Himself is the grand Law Giver, and only pattern of the perfection which he recommends to His children.

           PERFECT:  (Grk.–teleios)–The word comes from the Greek noun (telos)  meaning “end, goal, limit”.  Here it is the goal set before us, the absolute standard of our Heavenly Father. The word is used also for relative perfection as of adults compared with children.

         Jesus concludes this part of the discourse by commanding the potential citizens of His kingdom to be perfect.  This word commonly means “finished, complete, pure, holy.” Originally it is applied to a piece of mechanism, as a machine that is complete in its parts. Applied to men, it refers to completeness of parts, or perfection, when no part is defective or wanting. Thus Job (Job 1:1) is said to be perfect; that is, not holy as God, or sinless–for fault is afterwards found with him, (Job 9:20; 42:6) but his faith or piety was proportionate–had a completeness of parts–was consistent and regular.  
         Job exhibited his religion as a prince, a father, an individual, a benefactor of the poor. He was not merely a pious man in one place, but uniformly. He was consistent everywhere. This was the meaning here in Matthew. Be not merely religious in loving your friends and neighbors, but let your godliness be shown in loving your enemies; be perfect; imitate God; let your piety be complete, and proportionate, and regular.   This every believer may be; this every true believer must be.