Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 5 Study # 11
December 9, 2007
27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
1901 ASV Translation:
27 But I say unto you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you,
- I. Love Your Enemies.
- A. What (Who) is an "enemy"?
- 1. In the teaching of Israel there was a distinction made between the "neighbor" and the "enemy" and the teaching was that one should "love" his neighbor and "hate" his enemy (Matthew 5:43).
- 2. In the illustrations of what an "enemy" does, we have Matthew 13:25 where an "enemy" came and sowed tares among the wheat. In Matthew 22:44 the Father says to the Son, "Sit thou on My right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool." From Luke 1:71 we discover that an "enemy" is one who "hates" us and in 1:74 we are told that "enemies" are to be "feared" because of what they can (and often) do. In Luke 10:19, "enemies" exercise "power" (dunamis) to injure and in 19:27 the One Who tells us to "love" our enemies commands His to be slain. In Luke 19:43, the "enemies" of Israel will destroy Jerusalem. Acts 13:10 makes it clear that an "enemy" is someone who opposes one's agenda.
- 3. In Romans 5:8-10 "sinners" are re-identified as "enemies". In 11:28 they oppose the proclamation of the Gospel and in 12:20 believers are to "feed" and "give drink to" their enemies. According to 1 Corinthians 15:25-26, "enemies" are to be destroyed. In Galatians 4:16 Paul asks if he has become an "enemy" because he tells uncomfortable truth. According to Colossians 1:21 the essence of an "enemy" is someone who uses his "mind" to pursue "wicked works". A misbehaving brother is to be shunned, but not "counted" as an "enemy". And James 4:4 says that "friends" of the world are "enemies" of God. And in Revelation 11:5 the two prophets of the God Who said to love one's enemies kill their enemies.
- B. Where is the reconciliation between God's instructions to us to "love" our enemies while His own Word tells us He intends to "destroy" His?
- 1. This is not an example of some kind of divine "double standard".
- 2. This is the reality of "love": it functions at two levels simultaneously. There is always a two-way reality to love where the consideration is only about two -- the lover and the beloved. But there is also always a multiple-way reality to love where the consideration is of multiple involved and "beloved" persons. Many of these second level situations simply cannot be "loving" to everyone involved because of the presence of sin. What is "loving" to one is not going to be "loving" to another. This is the conundrum of John 3:16 where the God of Love chooses to forego pouring out His righteous wrath upon sinners and, instead, pours it out upon His righteous Son. The fact is that God, in every "two-way" reality will sacrifice Himself for the "other", but in every "multiple-way" reality will, at some point, stop sacrificing "others" for a wicked "other".
- C. In Jesus' teaching regarding this matter, He is limiting Himself to the "two-way" level and does not intend for us to understand that He is requiring us to sacrifice each other for an "enemy". It is one thing to be willing to endure the wickedness of an enemy upon ourselves, but it is altogether a different thing to compel our "friends" to endure the wickedness of an enemy of ours upon them. In every biblical statement about God's destruction of His enemies, the issue is the "multi-level" reality.