What The Bible Teaches About Loving Our Enemies

What The Bible Teaches About Loving Our Enemies June 29, 2018

It’s easy to love those we know, but to even love our enemies? That’s what Jesus’ taught us to do, so here are some of the best Bible verses about loving our enemies.

You Have Heard it Said

In what must have amounted to a stunning teaching to the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, He said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:43-44). Did this mean the Jews who were under Roman rule should love their captives? Was what they “have heard” part of the Old Testament Law? What did Jesus mean by saying, “You have heard it said,” and who is it that said this? Was this part of the civil law of ancient Israel? Modern scholarship believes that this saying wasn’t from in the Law but from the Scribes who interpreted the Law. There is no Old Testament Law anywhere that teaches we are to hate our enemies. God hated the pagan nation’s religions, which often included child sacrifice, but aliens were able to join themselves to Israel, provided they kept the Laws of God, and when Israel came out of their Egyptian bondage, there was a great, mixed multitude, likely containing of Israelites and some Egyptians, perhaps those who had witnessed the mighty miracles of God. There might have even slaves from other nations, but when Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said,” we know hating your enemies was not part of the Law of God. More likely, He was referring to Jewish tradition, or a spurious law that was added by the Scribes in their translation of the Law. Regardless of the original source, it was not taught in the Old Testament, and it was not taught by Jesus Christ. He said to love our enemies, not hate them.

Shattering the Norms

When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman, He shattered the cultural norms of the day (John 4). He spoke with a woman in public and He spoke with a Samaritan woman which would have been unheard of in Jesus’ day. The Jews despised the Samaritans for various reasons, regarding them as a half-breed and traitors. The Samaritans were the remnants of the Northern Kingdom or ten Tribes of Israel, most of which had been taken away into captivity. The few that remained intermarried with the pagans, so the Jews would never talk to a Samaritan, especially a woman, and would go out of their way to avoid traveling through Samaria, even if it meant having to travel an additional twenty miles, but Jesus, turning the cultural norms upside down, said Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27-28). The Apostle Paul must have understood this principle taught by Jesus because he instructed the Christians in Rome to never avenge themselves against their persecutors, but, “To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head” (Rom 12:20).

Good for Bad

Doing good to an enemy is a godly response to hatred. Remember that even “while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom 5:6), “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). Even more astounding, while we were still yet “enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Rom 5:10a). That is contrary to human nature because “one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die” (Rom 5:7), but to die for one’s enemy, and an ungodly, wicked one at that?! Since God showed that much love toward us, then we ought to do the same for those who don’t know Christ yet. Paul doesn’t want us to have spiritual amnesia about our own past and get puffed about God saving us but not others. And God also doesn’t want us to judge those outside the church which are not yet saved, so in order to keep our salvation in perspective, he reminds us that “such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God”  (1 Cor 6:11).  We are  not better than the lost…just better off.

Responding to Hate

James and John where called the Sons of Thunder, and we can see why when they actually wanted to call down fire down from heaven and have the village which rejected Jesus consumed by fire (Luke 9:54), but Jesus rebuked them for that (Luke 9:56). Had the disciples already forgotten that Jesus said, “whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt 7:12)? I’m sure they wouldn’t want that for themselves. Had they not remembered Jesus’ saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt 5:9)? Even in the Old Testament Proverbs they must have been familiar with the proverb that said, “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you” (Prov 25:21-22). We do not love our enemies in exchange for rewards from God. We are told, “love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil” (Luke 6:35). Loving God and loving neighbor are the essence of the Law and the Prophets, so when Jesus gave the disciples a new commandment, it also had to do with loving others. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34-35). We must love our enemies first, not expecting to be loved in return, because remember, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Conclusion

We do not give our enemies what they deserve….we give them what they need, and that is love. To love your enemies is to be more like God Who died for us while still His enemy (Rom 5:10), so take these Bible verses about loving your enemies to heart, and read them over a few times, or at least, mark them in your Bible. And, please share these with someone so they too can see how we are commanded to love our enemies.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

""now watch as pud is waiting... and watching for any random person to bite... see ..."

The Greatest Father In History
"Won't is not equal to can't. I like the 4th grade argument though. It's totally ..."

The Greatest Father In History
"Really? That's all you heard? You don't even care that I added you to my ..."

The Greatest Father In History
"As expected. You won't because you can't. cheers!"

The Greatest Father In History

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Evangelical
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • pud

    “To love your enemies is to be more like God Who died for us while still His enemy”…. What? This sentence doesn’t even make any grammatical sense! Is “god” dead? OH NO! Oh wait…he sent himself as a human blood sacrifice to himself! Makes perfect sense now! LOL Please jack…tell us exactly how this works…the sacrifice of yourself to yourself who cannot die to forgive things you yourself created via blood…waiting…

    “so take these Bible verses about loving your enemies to heart, and read them over a few times, or at least, mark them in your Bible. And, please share these with someone so they too can see how we are commanded to love our enemies”

    YES!! Let’s share this order to love your enemies just like “god” did and gleefully will do!!!!

    How many people will die at the Battle of Armageddon?

    “”The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.
    —Revelation 14:18-20
    Let’s assume that 1600 stadia (320 kilometres = 320,000 metres) is the diameter of the lake of blood, therefore, the radius is 800 stadia or 160km. Let’s also assume that a horse’s bridle is approximately 1.5 metres from the ground, giving us its depth.

    We can then calculate the volume of blood using the formula: V = πr2h. Using biblical value of π = 3 we get the formula:

    3 × 160,000 × 160,000 × 1.5 = 115200000000 = 1.152×1011 cubic metres of blood.
    1 cubic metre = 1000 litres

    115200000000 × 1000 = 115200000000000 = 1.152×1014 litres of blood

    If we divide this number by the average amount of blood in a human body, 5.5 litres:

    115,200,000,000,000 ÷ 5.5 = 20,945,454,545,500
    So we find that according to scripture, at a bare minimum according to one interpretation, God will kill approximately 20,945,454,545,500 people. That’s in the trillions.

    However, since it says flows and not pools, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that a river was formed. Assuming they measured the blood-flow using actual horses, and a horse is 1 metre across.

    320,000 × 1 × 1.5 = 480,000 cubic metres of blood.
    480,000 × 1000 = 480,000,000

    480,000,000 ÷ 5.5 = 87,272,727

    So, in another interpretation, God will kill a minimum of 87,272,727 people to produce a horse bridle-high blood-flow.

    BUT REMEMBER! HE LOVES AND FORGIVES YOU! bhwa!

  • pud

    “We do not give our enemies what they deserve….we give them what they need, and that is love.”

    OOOPS!! You need to read ur bible jack!

    Deuteronomy 32:39
    Verse Concepts
    ‘See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life I have wounded and it is I who heal, And there is no one who can deliver from My hand.

    1 Samuel 2:6
    Verse Concepts
    “The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up.

    2 Kings 5:7
    Verse Concepts
    When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man is sending word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? But consider now, and see how he is seeking a quarrel against me.”

    Isaiah 66:16
    Verse Concepts
    For the LORD will execute judgment by fire And by His sword on all flesh, And those slain by the LORD will be many.

    Exodus 22:24
    Verse Concepts
    and My anger will be kindled, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.

    Psalm 90:5
    Verse Concepts
    You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew.

    Job 9:22
    Verse Concepts
    “It is all one; therefore I say, ‘He destroys the guiltless and the wicked.’

    Ezekiel 21:4
    Verse Concepts
    “Because I will cut off from you the righteous and the wicked, therefore My sword will go forth from its sheath against all flesh from south to north.

    Genesis 18:23
    Verse Concepts
    Abraham came near and said, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?

    Genesis 18:25
    Verse Concepts
    “Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”

    Matthew 10:28
    Verse Concepts
    “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

    Luke 12:5
    Verse Concepts
    “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!

    Jeremiah 25:31
    Verse Concepts
    ‘A clamor has come to the end of the earth, Because the LORD has a controversy with the nations He is entering into judgment with all flesh; As for the wicked, He has given them to the sword,’ declares the LORD.”

    Psalm 68:21
    Verse Concepts
    Surely God will shatter the head of His enemies, The hairy crown of him who goes on in his guilty deeds.

    Luke 19:27
    Verse Concepts
    “But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.”

    Psalm 139:19
    Verse Concepts
    O that You would slay the wicked, O God; Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.

    Isaiah 11:4
    Verse Concepts
    But with righteousness He will judge the poor, And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.

    Proverbs 19:16
    Verse Concepts
    He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, But he who is careless of conduct will die.

    Jeremiah 25:33
    Verse Concepts
    “Those slain by the LORD on that day will be from one end of the earth to the other They will not be lamented, gathered or buried; they will be like dung on the face of the ground.

    Matthew 22:7
    Verse Concepts
    “But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire.

    Leviticus 23:30
    Verse Concepts
    “As for any person who does any work on this same day, that person I will destroy from among his people.

    Jeremiah 27:13
    Verse Concepts
    “Why will you die, you and your people, by the sword, famine and pestilence, as the LORD has spoken to that nation which will not serve the king of Babylon?

    Isaiah 65:15
    Verse Concepts
    “You will leave your name for a curse to My chosen ones, And the Lord GOD will slay you But My servants will be called by another name.

    Job 13:15
    Verse Concepts
    “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him.

  • Guestie

    It would have been helpful if you had identified some enemies. What makes someone your enemy, Mr. Wellman?

    • Jack Wellman

      Enemies are those who kill or really, murder Christians to begin with. A man had just put his trust in Christ, he then was disowned by his family becaues of their faith, he lost his job, and then later, his life by radical extremist. Those are enemies. Why do you ask? Are you opposed to doing good to those who do bad to you? Is Christ’s teaching too radical for you?

      • Guestie

        So at least in the US, it would seem that Christians have relatively few enemies. So far as I know, almost no one in the US is killed because he or she is Christian. If you have data to the contrary, I’d love to see it.

        You wondered why I ask. Curiosity. I had no idea who you were talking about. Now I know. Your enemy is someone who kills Christians for their religion. Let me suggest that you expand that to include Christians who kill others in the name of Jesus. That is bad for your brand.

        Am I opposed to doing good to someone who kills me (you did specify killing, after all)? I don’t see how I could do anything — good or bad — to someone after I’m dead.

        Is Jesus’ teaching too radical for me? No, the stuff attributed to that fellow is pretty mainstream. Obey authorities. The golden rule. Have faith. Nothing very original.