Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 5 Study # 10
December 2, 2007
27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.
30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
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.
36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
1901 ASV Translation:
27 But I say unto you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you,
28 bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.
29 To him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and from him that taketh away thy cloak withhold not thy coat also.
30 Give to every one that asketh thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
32 And if ye love them that love you, what thank have ye? for even sinners love those that love them.
33 And if ye do good to them that do good to you, what thank have ye? for even sinners do the same.
34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? even sinners lend to sinners, to receive again as much.
35 But love your enemies, and do them good, and lend, never despairing; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be sons of the Most High: for he is kind toward the unthankful and evil.
36 Be ye merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
- I. The Form.
- A. Love your enemies (27)
- Aa. Love them (32)
- Ab. Love your enemies (35)
- B. Do good (27)
- C. Bless (28)
- D. Pray (28)
- E. Turn the cheek (29)
- F. Withhold not thy coat (29)
- G. Give to those who ask (30)
- H. Ask not again (30)
- I. Do unto others (31)
- J. Be merciful (36)
- II. The Form Continued.
- A. 6:27-31 -- The Instructions.
- 1. Love, Do good, Bless, Pray, Turn the Other Cheek, Withhold not Thy Coat, Give Your Goods.
- 2. Do to Others What You Wish Them to Do to You
- B. 6:32-34 -- The Rationale as Questions.
- 1. Loving those who love you is no more than what sinners do.
- 2. Doing good to those who do good to you is no more than what sinners do.
- 3. Lending to those who give return is no more than what sinners do.
- C. 6:35-36 -- The Conclusion as Repetition.
- 1. Love, Do Good, Lend -- do not despair; your reward shall be great.
- 2. Be a merciful son of your Most High Father Who is kind to the unthankful and evil.
- III. The Form Continued.
- A. First and Last is Love.
- 1. This restricts all things to the production of true good; it cannot be used as an excuse to do things for/to others which simply make the doer feel good. Giving money without restraint to an addict is not love.
- 2. This also, however, means to actually seek the best interests of those who cross our paths.
- B. Heavily involved is the "personal setting".
- 1. All of the instructions and questions involve real, personal interactions that have generated the strong feelings of antagonism, hatred, cursing, and hard use.
- 2. All of the instructions assume a sharp distinction between the "love/faith states" of those involved. "Believers" have a set of required behaviors that govern their interactions with other believers that are distinct from these instructions (a la Matthew 18; Luke 17; etc.) and "believers" are not supposed to be involved in the actions that Jesus defined for our responses. So, Jesus is not saying, "Love your fellow believer who hates you...", etc. His assumption is that Faith is a dividing line and that line will determine what actions are "loving". Ostracism, for example, was given by Jesus as a "negative" in 6:22 yet both Jesus and Paul insisted upon ostracism for "impenitent believers" who had offended.
- 3. In the "personal setting" of Jesus' instruction, Rome (and Israel) had invoked certain "laws" that permitted its official representatives to do some of the things to which Jesus referred. In Matthew's record, for instance, the "compulsion to 'go a mile' " was a law that allowed a soldier to compel a citizen to carry things for him "one mile". This means that "local law" is involved. This implies that the "behaviors" have to be within "legal" boundaries. Jesus was not requiring of His disciples that they be a doormat for the lawless. He was, however, requiring a glad acquiescence to 'amoral' laws that were simply difficult, not immoral. In fact, a case could be made that "love" refuses to accommodate those who violate the laws of the state (within those boundaries established by Peter and John in Acts 4:19).
- C. The major question is this: to what degree are these instructions of Jesus "qualified"?
- 1. Cultures are corrupted when the people in them discover that they can simply take from others.
- 2. But, on the other hand, cultures are ennobled when the people in them are generous.
- 3. Thus, the question is a matter of how to balance the importunity of the wicked with the generosity of the godly. The overall thesis of the sub-paragraph (6:27-36) is verse 36: exercise "mercy" like God does. God is not "merciful" to the exclusion of any of His other attributes. He is a perfectly "balanced" Person in that all of His attributes play a part in all that He does. For that reason, we cannot "ask" of God and, just because we "ask", He will "give" what we ask. Because of this fact, we also must be judicious in our understanding of these instructions.
- IV. The Details...
- A. "But I am saying to you who are listening..."
- 1. The "But" is highly contrastive (it is the strongest "coordinating, adversative conjunction in the Greek language) and makes a potent suggestion that Jesus knew He had embarked upon a path that few were going to follow.
- 2. The "I am saying" is also the strongest form of declaration that the content of the speech is of the highest import (there are several ways of "saying" in Greek but this form is the one used whenever the content of the sayings is of grave significance -- Jesus consistently used it in the formula, "Verily, verily, I say unto you...).
- 3. The "to you who are listening" is best understood if we put a "still" into the phrase as in "to you who are still listening". The idea is that Jesus knew that the things He was saying were so "off the wall" in terms of the "faith systems" of the vast majority of people that He expected most of His hearers to simply blow it off.
- a. What He had said was...
- 1) Blessed are the poor ... Woe to you who are rich.
- 2) Blessed are those who hunger ... Woe to those who are well-fed.
- 3) Blessed are those who weep ... Woe to those who are laughing.
- 4) Blessed are you when men hate you ... Woe to you when all men speak well of you.
- b. Neither at the surface of these words, nor at the roots of them, do you find many who actually believe them. The "problems" are manifold.
- 1) Since the "surface level" is not really determinative (being "poor" in an economic sense does not actually recommend one to God; nor does being "rich" in the same sense actually undercut one's participation with God), it becomes a difficult thing to ever "see" the root-level reality.
- 2) Since most of the matters to which Jesus addressed Himself are "out of bounds" for believers in terms of "explanation" (Jesus, on another occasion, taught His followers to refrain from "making a show" of their "giving", their "praying" and their "fasting") so that one can never know the reality -- unless they work for the government or the bank. The only "overt" behavior that Jesus addressed was "weeping" and even that has so many causes that no one can really tell what drives it.
- c. And, as if what He had already said was not "enough", what He was about to say was going to be even more "off the wall" in terms of what most people actually value and believe.
- 4. The word I have translated "listening" is the one which Jesus used over and over in the letters to the Seven Churches in Revelation 2-3 when He said "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."
- 5. The major question: Why did Jesus deliberately express Himself in terms that, in everyday life, are impossible to "see"?
- a. On one hand, it was not His purpose to give anyone the ability to "see" into their neighbor's heart and mind.
- b. On the other hand, it was His purpose to set the standards "out there" so that, even though they are highly unlikely to be met, they can be used by those who have a real desire to walk in the light as guides for greater growth in godliness.