Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 5 Study # 12
December 16, 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. Do Good To Them Which Hate You.
- A. This is a re-statement of the "Love Your Enemies" thesis. Those who hate you are your enemies. In fact, the entire paragraph is an explanation of the kinds of responses we are to give to our enemies.
- 1. The "hate" word...
- a. In its most benign form, it means "to devalue". Devaluing, however, is always in respect to something else. Nothing is "devalued" until it is compared to something else in respect to two other matters. First, one must evaluate his/her "objective" to see how the "valued" entity fits; then one must evaluate his/her "method(s)" to see how the "valued" entity works. Since the Greek term involved has to do with "value" it is the opposite of "Love" when it is seen through the eyes of the Greek word "agape". But "value" is always of one of two "sorts": it is either a "value" in terms of some "objective"; or it is a "value" in terms of some "methodology". Nothing has value outside of one, or both, of these questions. If "you" are completely out of the loop in regard to a possible "enemy's" objectives or methods, you will not have, in that person, an "enemy". Enemies are competitors for the same objectives. If someone completely dismisses "you" as of any value in either form (objectives or methods), you have been "hated" in the most benign form of "hate".
- b. In its most virulent form, it means "to seek to destroy". The issue is still "value", or its opposite, but now the issue of how one is going to act toward you comes into higher definition and focus: you are no longer "ignored"; you are now a "target". But, the reason for this shift and the degree of its intensity depends entirely upon one thing: how important (valuable) is the objective/means to the individual for whom you represent frustration? If it is a little thing, you will be a "minor" enemy; if it is is a major thing, you will be a "major" enemy.
- c. But there is another perspective: some people seek to destroy because it gives them something they are seeking. If you happen to be innocent of any real opposition to this type of person, but you are in his/her path when he/she is on the burn to "destroy" for whatever cause is driving them, you may well become a target because you are now a means to the end. In this case, as wierd as it sounds, you have become "valued" as a means to an end and, thus, have become, in a twisted way, "beloved".
- 2. A question: was Jesus addressing "enemies" as those who "hate" in terms of the "lack of value" because of "opposition" alone, or was He addressing those whose "loves" are so twisted that you are in danger because you are beloved? The former is the only scenario that fits the words. "Hate" means "devaluing even to the point of murder".
- a. A person who seeks to harm is an "enemy" -- regardless of the reason.
- b. But a person who seeks to harm because you represent opposition is "one who hates you".
- B. This instruction brings the "over view" issue of "loving" into a more concrete definition: "do good to...". In the contrast between "love" and "hate" there is this one distinctive: love seeks to do good; hate seeks to harm. So, even when one "loves" another because he/she represents a means to an end; it is "hate" if it means harm to that "means". In Romans 12:20 Paul is giving even more concrete definition to what it means to "do good".
- 1. In this command, Jesus is calling for an active response to the "enemy". It is not simply "staying out of the way".
- 2. It is simply not possible to "love" or "hate" inactively. Jesus' assumption is that we will be active and, thus, will be "getting in the way of others who have an opposing agenda". So, we are to "be active" toward those who see us as "in the way": do good to them.
- C. In Matthew 10:34-38 Jesus told His disciples that their "enemies" would, sometimes, be those of their own genealogical families and that they needed, in those times, to keep their priorities straight.