Love Your Enemy? A Short Commentary on the Greek and Hebrew of Matthew 5:43
Who Is Your Enemy
Roy Blizzard III © 2011
As an ordained minister and a Hebrew, Greek etc student of the Bible as well as the son of a PhD in Hebrew studies and minister, I am well aware of many of the errors spread in the name of Christianity, especially the Old Testament ones the so called pacifist movement so loves to spread, "thou shall not kill" and Jesus' New Testament words "Love your enemies".
Even if one is familiar with Hebrew it can be difficult to trace the real roots behind these Words and if you only know Greek you are at a real disadvantage and will probably never know what the truth is unless someone like me were to tell you.
You may or may not be aware that the Old Testament passage of Exodus 20:13, "thou shall not kill" actually is translated as "thou shall not commit premeditated murder". There has been several good articles about this. However, I have never seen anyone write about what I am going to share with you now except for my father and I, as most Christians probably don't know enough to find where to look for it.
In Matthew 5, where Jesus is speaking on the mount, he is giving a perfectly good Jewish sermon, saying nothing new, but just commenting on Jewish law. But when you read it in Greek and then English, if you know Jewish Law, you are immediately thrown off when you come to the statement to "love your enemies" as this does not make good Jewish sense as they had a teaching that said that if a man were to come to kill you, you should rise up and kill him first as your righteous character and that of your family is worth more than the unrighteous character of the evil one coming to destroy you.
So then, why does Jesus say to "love your enemy"? Is he stating some new law that we were unaware of? No, for to do so would have been to make God out to be changeable.
When I was taking Classical Greek at the University of Texas in 1986, this perplexed me so I started researching it. It took me several days to find out the answer. In the Liddell and Scott Greek English Lexicon which is the authoritative lexical aid for Greek I found an unusual reference that finally led me to the truth. The Greek word in question here is Exthros which is generally translated as Enemy in EVERY NEW TESTAMENT LEXICAL AID.
However, in the Liddell and Scott there is a reference to a 1st century A.D. grammaticus, Ammonius - Grammaticus, which defined the word Exthros as someone who had been a Philos (a brother) but is alienated (out of enmity you had become estranged from them for a while). It was different than a Polamios, who you are at war with (who was a blood enemy who was out to kill you) and a Dusmenos is one who has long been alienated and refuses to reconcile.
Then it all made sense to me.
Jesus was quoting the Jewish Law.
In the Babylonian Talmud, in the Book called Sanhedrin, which dealt with trials and legal issues, # III 5, there is a reference to this subject, "If one had not spoken to his brother (a person of the community or a Philos) for 3 days due to "enmity" then you could not sit on a court of law either for that individual or against that individual.
What Jesus was saying then was that you brothers had better quit behaving badly towards one another or else you won't be able to support your community if such a need arises. A person may be falsely accused and if you haven't spoken to your brother for 3 days you won't be able to get him out of trouble or vice versa if you see your brother committing a crime, you can't bring charges.
So there you have it. Too many Christians have needlessly gone to their deaths and others have let too many individuals take advantage of others due to misunderstanding this one passage. All men should be prepared to defend themselves and their families from thugs and criminals and even false teachers who are coming in as wolves to destroy them through teachings that are just flat out wrong because they haven't studied enough to know the truth.
You can now see that in Judaism, Hatred by a Christian or Believer is only an invalid emotion when it is directed towards the innocent or the righteous. Nowhere does God tell us not to hate the cruel, the wicked, the barbaric, the murderers and especially terrorists who stand against God and the righteous and innocent. In fact, if we are truly Believers/Christians then we are obligated by God’s Law to hate evil in order to resist and fight evil. Just remember that Jesus said "your enemy" in relation to your brother in Christ, he never said to love "Gods enemy" the one who is coming to kill you, the righteous or the innocent.
The enemy of the Believer/Christian in relation to what Jesus spoke on the Sermon on the Mt. is the person who somehow frustrates your day to day relationship with your fellow man and interrupts you fellowship with God by doing something stupid like denting your car or cutting you off while driving and because of it you’re pissed off. Gods enemy is the man who raped and killed some young girl. He is a brute fiend.
We, as Believers/Christians are under no such obligation to forgive ungodly, fiendish behavior. We should be hating, fighting and neutralizing ungodly terrorists within our midst no matter who they are so that they can never harm innocent people again, because when channeled in the right direction hatred is a positively positive emotion.
I hope you can find this useful in your daily lives.
Thanks to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach for the concept on God's enemies vs. Our enemies.
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