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Love for Enemies

27 “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.


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26. Woe to you when all men shall applaud you The last woe is intended to correct ambition: for nothing is more common than to seek the applauses of men, or, at least, to be carried away by them; and, in order to guard his disciples against such a course, he points out to them that the favor of men would prove to be their ruin. This warning refers peculiarly to teachers, who have no plague more to be dreaded than ambition: because it is impossible for them not to corrupt the pure doctrine of God, when they, “seek to please men,” (Galatians 1:10.) By the phrase, all men, Christ must be understood to refer to the children of the world, whose applauses are wholly bestowed on deceivers and false prophets: for faithful and conscientious ministers of sound doctrine enjoy the applause and favor of good men. It is only the wicked favor of the flesh that is here condemned: for, as Paul informs us, (Galatians 1:10,) no man who “seeks to please men” can be “the servant of Christ.”

Luke 6:30. To every one that asketh of thee. The same words, as we shall presently see, are found in Matthew: for it may readily be inferred from the context, that Luke does not here speak of a request to obtain assistance, but of actions at law, which bad men raise for the purpose of carrying off the property of others. From him who takes away what are thine, ask them not again. If it is thought better to read the two clauses separately, I have no objection: and then it will be an exhortation to liberality in giving. As to the second clause, in which Christ forbids us to ask again those things which have been unjustly taken away, it is undoubtedly an exposition of the former doctrine, that we ought to bear patiently the spoiling of our goods.” But we must remember what I have already hinted, that we ought not to quibble about words, as if a good man were not permitted to recover what is his own, when God gives him the lawful means. We are only enjoined to exercise patience, that we may not be unduly distressed by the loss of our property, but calmly wait, till the Lord himself shall call the robbers to account.

Luke 6:35. Lend, expecting nothing again. It is a mistake to confine this statement to usury, as if Christ only forbade his people to be usurers. The preceding part of the discourse shows clearly, that it has a wider reference. After having explained what wicked men are wont to do, — to love their friends, — to assist those from whom they expect some compensations, — to lend to persons like themselves, that they may afterwards receive the like from them, — Christ proceeds to show how much more he demands from his people, — to love their enemies, to show disinterested kindness, to lend without expecting a return. We now see, that the word nothing is improperly explained as referring to usury, or to any interest that is added to the principal:418418     De l’usure et accroissement qui vient outre le principal;” — “of usury and increase which comes beyond the principal.” On the lawfulnesss of lending money at interest, the most enlightened men, at the time when our author wrote, were strangley divded in sentiment. His own views were unfolded in a small work, which has been admired by competent judges for the purity of French style, and for enlarged views of Political Economy. After suffering not a little obloquy for his manner of applying the law of God to commercial questions, he has been vindicated by the unanimous opinion of posterity; and his performance, having served its purpose, has been quietly laid on the shelf. We allude to it only to account for the rapid and cursory manner in which he disposes here of a question, on which all who wish to know his opinions may satisfy themselves by perusing his own complete and elaborate statement of the argument. — Ed. whereas Christ only exhorts us to perform our duties freely, and tells us that mercenary acts are of no account in the sight of God.419419     “Que les plaisirs lesquels les hommes se font les uns aux autres, sous esperance de recompense, ne viennent point en conte devant Dieu.” — “That the gratifications which men give to each other, in expectation of reward, come not into reckoning before God.” Not that he absolutely condemns all acts of kindness which are done in the hope of a reward; but he shows that they are of no weight as a testimony of charity; because he alone is truly beneficent to his neighbors, who is led to assist them without any regard to his own advantage, but looks only to the necessities of each. Whether it is ever lawful for Christians to derive profit from lending money, I shall not argue at greater length under this passage, lest I should seem to raise the question unseasonably out of a false meaning which I have now refuted. Christ’s meaning, as I have already explained, is simply this: When believers lend, they ought to go beyond heathens; or, in other words, they ought to exercise pure liberality.




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