Matthew 5:44, Love Your Enemies

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.

//Having grown up reading the Bible, Jesus’ sayings don’t sound so radical to me. But can you imagine how contrary they would have sounded to his first listeners? Today’s verse is a perfect example, which goes against everything Jews were taught about righteous hatred. Take this verse as an example:

Psalm 139:21-21, Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them as my enemies.

Instead, says Jesus, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. We’re following the famous “sermon on the mount” in Matthew, and Jesus’ transforming teachings at this time are of theological significance. The Jews anticipated a coming Messiah who would bring a new Torah, a new Law, superseding the Sabbath and its law. As Moses delivered the law to Israel from Mount Sinai, so does Jesus the Messiah stand upon a mountain and for three chapters in Matthew deliver a renewed law. Repeating the refrain, “You have heard that it was said … But I say to you …,” Jesus gives new instructions with a much higher standard than the old law. This is the law for the new kingdom of God.


  1. Sandra Currie

    The main reason I left organized religion was the rampant militarism of my fellow parishioners and the clergy. I could never reconcile this contradiction with the teachings of Christ.

  2. One does wonder what Jesus would have thought of today’s organized religion.

  3. Anonymous

    I can witness to the power and blessings that came from praying for people who conspired against me (and not even knowing me). When we pray for those who bully us, we give God the license to get involved. Mario

  4. Mario Bernheim, I bet! Welcome to my blog, and yes, there is hardly any more effective way of changing our hatred into love than praying for someone.

Leave a Reply to The Dubious Disciple Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>