An Analysis of 
Agape Love

Part 3 - Love Your Enemy

As I mentioned agape love is not driven by selfish incentives. Loving others because they love us is quite common in the world. But agape love goes beyond that. The god of Islam only loves those who love him, but does not love his enemies.  But of the God of the Bible it is written, "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 and "if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!" Romans 5:10 And so also Jesus instructs God's children, "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." Luke 6:27,28 For "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them." Luke 6:32 For God "is kind to the ungrateful and wicked." Luke 6:35b Are you kind to people who are ungrateful to you? Do you become embittered when you do something for someone and receive nothing in return or perhaps even receive insult in return? Does the fact that you will most likely get nothing back from the wicked when you give to them hinder you from giving? "Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High." Luke 6:35a This is not to say that we should be driven to meet just any whim or desire whether of friend or enemy. Nor does this mean that we need to develop friendships or a phileo love for our enemies (see part 1). But we should allow empathy to drive us to meet the needs of people.

The Jews justified their hatred for their enemies with Leviticus 19:18 "love your neighbor as yourself" and then proceeded to interpret "neighbor" to apply only to a very limited context and infer that love is supposed to be limited to that context outside of which one should hate others. And thus Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’" Mat  5:43 and goes on to instruct them to "Love your enemies". He was not contradicting the Old Testament. For the God never says to hate your enemy. But the Jews through their own traditions developed this saying. Thus Jesus introduced the parable of the good Samaritan to illustrate what he had in mind. Samaritans are reckoned enemies and held in contempt in the Jewish mindset as no doubt were Jews to the Samaritan mindset. But it was the good Samaritan who behaved more as a child of God than the elitist Jews in helping this stranger who was apparently a Jew traveling from Jerusalem. These days especially we live in a world surrounded by enemies of the gospel. We need not make them our friends, as some preachers demand, but rather that we love them by providing for their needs.

"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord.  On the contrary: 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.'  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:18-20


The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Feb 10,2009