Matthew 5 – Repay Evil with Good / Love Your Enemy

MATT 5:38-48    LUKE 6:27-36


MATT 5:38 – Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

[An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth] – From Ex 21:24-25, Lev 24:20, & Deut 19:21.



MATT 5:39 – But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.  {Similar to Luke 6:29a}

[resist not evil] – Don’t try to get even with someone who wrongs you; see Rom 12:17-21!

[whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also] – Smite = G4474 = to slap: smite, smite with the palm of (one’s) hand, to smite with a rod or staff, or to smite in the face with the palm of the hand.  Slapping someone on the cheek was more of an insult than an act of violence.  Take Jesus for an example:  When an officer slapped Jesus, He didn’t ask the soldier to hit Him again, but asked “why did you hit me?” (John 18:23).  When people tried to stone Jesus, He hid (John 8:59) and He ran away (John 10:31 & John 10:39).  Jesus said, “When they persecute you in this city, flee to another” (Matt 10:23).  So understand that Jesus didn’t mean that you should just let people beat you to death, but instead, that “you shouldn’t repay evil for evil” (Rom 12:17).  Jesus tried to reason with the officer that hit Him and that’s what we should do too.  If the man is too violent, then leave.  This only applies to personal issues between two people, not military action or criminals.



MATT 5:40 – And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. {Similar to Luke 6:29b}

[any man] – Any man who you’ve done no wrong to, unlike the adversary of Matthew 5:25.

[sue thee at the law] – If someone wants to sue you, go ahead and give the guy what he wants.  If you have done wrong to someone who wants to take you to court, try to reason with them (Matt 5:40).  As a side note, Christians shouldn’t sue each other (1Cor 6:7).

[take away thy coat] – The “coat” was an undergarment, like a shirt.

[let him have thy cloke also] – This is the act of “overcoming evil with good” (Rom 12:21), or ‘repaying evil with good’.  The “cloke” was an outer garment.  People slept with clokes, so legally they weren’t supposed to be kept from the owner overnight (Ex 22:26-27 & Deut 24:12-13).  The result of going beyond meeting your enemies needs are to make them feel ashamed; Paul says, “For in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head” (Prov 25:22 & Rom 12:20).  If he takes your shirt and you give him your coat, he’ll understand that you’re actually giving him both; none were actually forcefully taken.



MATT 5:41 – And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

[whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile] – This isn’t typically something that happens today, but in ancient times, soldiers could force anyone nearby to carry heavy things up to a mile, which were actually 1,000 steps.  A good example of this is when Roman soldiers made Simon the Cyrenian carry Jesus’ cross (Matt 27:32 & Mark 15:21).

[go with him twain] – Why go the extra mile?  It’s to bless the enemy (Rom 12:14) so he will be ashamed (Prov 25:22 & Rom 12:20).  The first mile is forced on you, but the second mile is freely given.  In effect, if you choose to go the second mile, it makes the first mile also something freely given.  Take Jesus for example, who said, “No man taketh (my life) from me, but I lay it down of myself (John 10:18).



MATT 5:42 – Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.  {Similar to Luke 6:30}

[Give to him that asketh thee] – If someone asks you for your money, your time, your service, or any of your possessions, give it to them.  If you do, God will give you what you ask of Him.  If you don’t, God won’t give you what you ask from Him.  Whatever measure you give, it will be given back to you even more than what you gave (Luke 6:38), but if you give nothing, you’ll receive nothing.  If your attitude is that a poor person will waste the money you give the, God’s attitude towards you will be that you’ll waste whatever He gives you too.  If you give what people specifically ask for, God will give what you specifically ask for, but for example if you give food when a poor person asks for money, maybe God will give something different to you than what you ask Him for.

[from him that would borrow] – “lend, hoping for nothing again” (Luke 6:34-35).  This doesn’t mean, “When you lend something to someone, don’t expect them to give it back”.  Jews would double lend.  While you borrow my axe, leave me your shovel just in case I don’t get my axe back or it gets damaged.  Therefore, when someone borrows from you, don’t demand something from him to insure that you’ll get it back.  If your thing is taken, lost, or damaged, allow God to repay you instead of the borrower.



MATT 5:43 – Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

[Thou shalt love thy neighbor] – From Leviticus 19:18.

[hate thine enemy] – Is not in the OT writings, but it is implied (Ps 139:21-22).  “Hate your enemy” is what these people had heard from the teachers.



MATT 5:44 – 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;  {Similar to Luke 6:27-28}

[Love your enemies] – Show love toward your enemies by charity or kindly giving (1Cor 13:4).  It doesn’t mean to only feel an emotion of love towards them with no action.  God hates sinners/wicked people (Ps 5:5, Ps 11:5), however “God showed his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).  Does this mean that we should love spiritual enemies like Satan and demons?  No.  We fight against evil spirits, not people (Eph 6:12).  It’s our human enemies we should love.

[bless them that curse you] – Do good things to people who do bad things to you (Rom 12:14).

[do good] – This is how we love – through action, by doing good.  Doing good is our salt and our light that we must show people for God to get glory (Matt 5:13-16).

[pray for them] – Jesus prayed for His killers AS they were killing Him (John 23:34).

[despitefully use] – G1908 = to insult, slander, use despitefully, falsely accuse.

[persecute you] – see Romans 12:14



MATT 5:45 – 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.  {Similar to Luke 6:35}

[children of your Father which is in heaven] – G5207 = Son(s).  Whoever is led by the spirit of God are sons of God (Rom 8:14).  Basically, if you do the same thing that God does, you’re his son, but If you do what Satan does, then you’re Satan’s son (John 8:44).  There’s no other option.

[he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good] – God shows love to good people and evil people by making the sun shine on both of them and by giving rain to both of them.  The idea is that if God shows love to evil unjust people, and not just the good guys who deserve it, so should His children.  To be God’s children, one must do as God does by doing good things to people who don’t deserve it.



MATT 5:46 – For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?  {Similar to Luke 6:32}

[what reward have ye] – Does God reward us for this or is the reward our own self gratification?  The answer should be both.  God rewards everyone according to their works (Matt 16:27 & Rev 2:23).  The beginning of Matthew 6 continues with what to do to receive rewards from God.

[publicans] – Sinners (Luke 6:32).  They were Jewish tax collectors who collected money from common everyday people to give to their Roman enemies.  They were looked down on like traitors and were classed with sinners (Matt 9:10-11 & Matt 11:19).  Many times, they would take more money than the people actually owed (Luke 3:12-13).



MATT 5:47 – And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?  {Similar to Luke 6:33}

[more than others] – Jesus associated “doing good to their own” with sinful publicans.  Do you want to be on their level?  We know they’ll be condemned, so of course you’ve got to do better than them if you don’t want to be on their same level and be condemned like them.  Just like not slapping someone back for slapping you, giving your coat to whoever takes your shirt, and going the extra mile when someone forces you to go one mile is doing more than others.  In the same way, reaching out to people who don’t deserve it is doing more than others.



MATT 5:48 – Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.  {Similar to Luke 6:36}

[perfect] – G5046 = complete, perfect, full, or mature.  This was a command in the OT as well (Gen 17:1 & Deut 18:13).  “Mature” isn’t a good translation here.  If God didn’t show good to evil people, it wouldn’t make Him immature but impartial to only just people.

Is Sinless Perfection Possible? – Yes, we can do all things through Jesus who gives strength (Phil 4:13), but the word “perfect” in Matt 5:48 doesn’t mean to be sinless.  Matthew means to say, “Don’t show impartial love by only doing good to good men, but show perfect and complete love and mercy by doing good to both good and bad men as God does”.  But what does the bible say about being sinless and perfect?  Jesus made a way for us to become sinless by being born again (1Jn 5:18).  In fact, that is the only way to enter God’s kingdom (John 3:5).  Jesus told people to “sin no more” (John 5:14).  Numerous times God says, “be holy, for I am holy” (Lev 11:44-45, 19:2, 20:7, 20:26).  If it is an impossible command, God cannot send people to Hell for being sinners and still claim to be just.  Nowhere in the bible does it say Christians are “sinners saved by grace”.  It is accurate to say Christians WERE sinners, but are now saved by grace, for they are new creations; all old things (sin) have passed away (2Cor 5:17).

[as your Father which is in heaven is perfect ] – Here in Luke, Jesus said, “Be merciful as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).

Kent Owen

Author: Kent Owen

After college I lived in China for 5 years, working as an English teacher and foreign marketing manager. Now i'm an insurance salesman, but my real passion is Christ and learning the bible.

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