The UK Bible Students Website
Christian Biblical Studies
All Scripture references are to the
NIV-UK unless stated otherwise.
45 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. 46 He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
– Matt. 5: 45, 46 –
JESUS HERE teaches a most valuable lesson: if we would be children of our Father in heaven, we ought to emulate Him. Loving one’s enemies and praying for them is no mean accomplishment, but it is a necessary mark of the character if one wishes to be like Him. Such an attitude goes well beyond merely the withholding of a grudge. Rather, this quality manifests the Divine love that prompted the Father to send His son into the world to save the human family.
Jesus follows up His admonition with the profound observation that God not only shows His love, but also His impartiality, when He permits the ‘sun to rise on the evil and the good’ and ‘sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous’. (Compare with the statement in Luke 6: 35 that God ‘is kind to the ungrateful and wicked’.)
In v. 46, the evil and the good are the ungodly and the faith-justified, respectively; the righteous and unrighteous corresponding in reverse parallel to the same two classes. In this text we find a declaration of the Father’s impartiality, the elements of the weather conferring no preference on the crowds below based on personal virtue or lack of it. The sun warms the earth, the showers water the crops, and saint and sinner alike benefit.
First, irreversible predestination (‘decided beforehand’) of the particular person to eternal life or eternal damnation or, worse yet, to a mythical burning hell is an erroneous doctrine. It is a misunderstanding of Rom. 8: 29, 30 and other texts, and properly applies to a pre-determined class of believers who would in the fullness of time form the Gospel-Age Church also described as a ‘Little Flock’, the ‘Bride of Christ’, the ‘144,000’. That there would be such a class was determined by God far in advance of the Gospel call, but the candidates who comprised that class were selected only in their response to the invitation to the ‘high calling’.
‘8 Then [the master] said to his servants, “The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.” 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.’
Those thus scooped from the streets comprised the ‘bad’, the (ostensibly) unworthy, and the ‘good’, the (ostensibly) worthy, their eventual place in the Gospel-Age picture being determined by their subsequent faithfulness or lack thereof, adjudged by their response to the invitation.
Second, God intends eternal salvation for all in the Millennium, subject to each individual’s response and faith in Christ Jesus. The Apostle Paul, during his interrogation before Felix says as much (Acts 24: 14, 15):
‘14 . . . I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, 15 and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.’
Paul’s assertion here is unambiguous. No doubt he has in mind the general resurrection that is to take place in God’s kingdom on earth (the aforementioned Millennium). (Note that Paul attributes the same core belief to those Jews who testified against him.)
02/2021 – ukbiblestudents.co.uk – no copyright – image: Dreamstime