Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 5 Study # 21
March 2, 2008
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.
1901 ASV Translation:
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.
- I. God's Kindness Toward the Unthankful and Evil.
- A. The word translated "kind" is a word which Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says focuses upon the concept of "usefulness". That concept is of a need that can be met by a "useful" means. It implies a certain willingness in those who are "kind" to be instruments of solution. It seems to boil down to a willingness and ability to be helpful to someone in a bind. Romans 3:12 fits this concept to a "T" in that it posits the antitheses of "unprofitable" and "doing good".
- B. The exhortations to "love", to "do good", and to "lend" are all interconnected by the common thread of the desire to prove to be helpful to someone in need. If a "tool" proves to be "just the thing" needed to apply to a task, it is "kind" (a relatively weird use of the English word).
- C. The setting of such "kindness" in respect to ingratitude and evil is instructive.
- 1. In the first place, it is the "kindness" of God that leads to repentance (Romans 2:4) and, in the final analysis, there is no final good for the impenitent. This makes "kindness" a potent link in the chain of the experience of true "good". First comes "kindness", then, perhaps, comes "repentance" and, by that, comes the goodness of the Life of God. This highlights the reason for Jesus' setting of the term in the context of the unthankful and evil: they have a terrible need that "kindness" might meet.
- 2. The "ungrateful" are those who do not respond to grace as they ought. There is, in them, a significant "failing of the grace of God" in that they have adopted the attitude of self-righteousness as a "self-qualification for good" as a thing due. They believe they are "due" the good that they receive. It is odd that the instruction is, in effect, to do them even more good.
- 3. The "evil" are those characterized by an aggressive intention to be destructive (OnLine Bible). Again, it is odd that the instruction is to, in effect, allow the destructiveness by being "helpful".
- D. The larger perspective.
- 1. "Kindness" may lead to a kind of self-condemnation that allows a person to come to the humility of repentance.
- a. That Paul addressed the problem of impenitence in the face of the kindness of God is an indication of the "iffyness" of this process.
- b. That Paul strongly condemned the self-righteous in the context of his declaration of the impact of the kindness of God to them is indicative that "kindness" does not always mean "niceness". [The word translated "goodness" in Romans 2:4a is a variation of the word translated the same way in Romans 2:4b.] The issue is not "nice" but whether the need is met.
- c. Peter, in 1 Peter 2:3, raised the issue of "motivation" to grow up by saying, "If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious ('kind')".
- 2. There is an alternative, according to Romans 11:22: the "severity of God". The verse establishes a fairly clear issue of determination: "...continuing in His goodness...". In His dealings with "persons", God insists upon a continuing "faith" and, if it is not forthcoming, He ceases to operate in the same manner as He was wont to do.
- a. It is not the norm to expect believers to attempt to exercise the "severity of God" in that it is tied to reciprocation and that is impossible for man to do justly. For this cause the apostle forbids the taking of vengeance.
- b. That leaves, for believers, only the exercise of "kindness".
- E. The kindness of God as "the Most High".
- 1. Luke refers to "the Most High" first in 1:32 where Gabriel tells Mary that she is to bear one Who "shall be called 'Son of the Highest'". This sets the stage for the disciples to be "sons of the Highest". In 1:32, the "Son of the Most High" is to receive from the Lord God the throne of David; in 6:35, the "sons of the Most High" are such by reason of their "kindness" to the unthankful and evil. There has to be a link here between the rule of the House of David and the character of that rule.
- 2. In 1:35, in answer to Mary's "how?" question, Gabriel tells her that "the power of the Most High shall overshadow her" and her son would, by that, be known as the Son of God.
- 3. Then, in 1:76, John is declared to be "the prophet of the Most High" who was to go "before the face of the Lord". Because he went "before the face of Jesus", we know who that "Lord" is, and because he was "the prophet of the Most High", we know Who the "Most High" is.
- 4. Later is Luke's record, the demoniac of the Gerasenes is said to have fallen before Jesus uttering a loud cry that was somewhat typical of the demons: "What have I to do with Thee, Jesus, thou Son of the Most High God?" (8:28) because Jesus had demanded that the "Legion" depart from the man.
- 5. In these references there is one major thesis: the Power of the Most High is beyond contradiction. The implication is, therefore, relatively obvious: the exercise of "kindness" to the ungrateful and evil is the most powerful thing one can do in respect to the Kingdom's rule as it applies to the "enemies". It is, therefore, a lesser power to send the enemies off into destruction.