Commands of Christ

Love Your Enemies

Where is this command found?

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Matthew 5:43–45

Applying This Command

It is hard to imagine that God loved us while we were His enemies! But it is this very truth that can motivate us to fulfill the command, Love Your Enemies. Without recognizing that we were the enemies of God, we will have little reason to love our enemies.

Why? Because we will always see ourselves as better than them. It is only when we recognize that our enemies have the same need for Christ as we do, that we will be able to humble ourselves and love them unconditionally with the same love that Christ has loved us.

The love of Jesus is exactly what our enemies need; demonstrated through those who have personally experienced it! It is the believer’s privilege to be a channel of the very love that has saved and redeemed them. It is this love that has the power to lead our enemies to Jesus and give them new life in Him!

Bible Verses for Meditation

In addition to meditation on Matthew 5:44–45, meditating on the verses below will provide you with further insight and understanding of Christ’s command: Love Your Enemies.

Romans 12:14, 18–21

“Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. … If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written,Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”

I Peter 3:8–9

“…Love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing.”

Matthew 5:9

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”

Luke 6:35

“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.”

Related Episodes

From the Podcast

Dive deeper into the command Love Your Enemies with these episodes from the Commands of Christ podcast!

Study Question

Q: If we are to honor the king and love our enemies, why did Elijah call down fire from heaven to consume the 102 soldiers whom the king of Israel sent to arrest him, whereas Elisha directed the King of Israel to welcome and feed the great host of soldiers whom the King of Syria sent to arrest him? (See II Kings 1, 6:8–23).

A: Scripture promises, “When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7). However, when our ways do not please the Lord, He will often stir up enemies to oppress us and draw us back to Himself.

This was God’s continual practice with the nation of Israel. When they forsook Him and worshiped other gods, He raised up nations to war against them (see Judges 2:14). On other occasions, He raised up prophets and judges and gave them supernatural power to bring judgment upon His people.

In Elijah’s case, the king whose soldiers came to arrest him was evil King Ahaziah, who served Baal and “provoked to anger the LORD God of Israel” (I Kings 22:53). In calling down fire upon them, Elijah was the minister of God’s judgment to the King and to the nation that had turned from God.

On the other hand, in Elisha’s day, the Syrian nation was used by God to afflict Israel. When the King of Syria sent “a great host” to arrest Elisha for revealing his secret strategy to Joram, who was the King of Israel, Elisha asked God to smite the Syrians with temporary blindness and then led them to King Joram. King Joram wanted to kill the Syrians, but Elisha instructed him to give them a banquet and send them back to the King of Syria.

The result was that “the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel” (II Kings 6:23). This affirms the wisdom of this command and the instruction of Scripture: “If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:20–21).

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