"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.”
“Bless them that curse you,”
“Do good to them that hate you.”
“And pray for them which despitefully use you,”
No one, in his right mind, likes to be mistreated. But it stands to reason if you are being hated, that mistreatment surely will follow. The Greek word translated “despitefully use” is defined this way by the commentators.
“A forcible word, meaning ‘to vex out of spite with the sole object of inflicting harm.’”
“Those who are making continual war upon you, and constantly harassing and calumniating you,” (Clarke).
“The word thus translated means, first, to injure by prosecution in law; then, wantonly and unjustly to accuse, and to injure in any way. This seems to be its meaning here,” (Barnes).
Peter in his encouragement to believers, used the word this way.
“Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ,” (1 Peter 3:16).
It’s one thing to be accused if you are guilty, and another to be charged when you are innocent. Peter warns believers that this kind of treatment is coming. You will be lied about.
Jesus’ answer for those who would mistreat us this way is to,
“Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you,” (Luke 6:28).
“And persecute you.”
Prayer for our tormentors is how we answer their harassment.
You do realize that our responses to our enemies are not our “natural” replies. Our “old man” begs us to respond much differently. In fact, these ways to treat our enemy that Jesus taught us are “supernatural” responses from His blood washed, forgiven children. These can only be done in His strength.
Jesus clearly teaches us that the way we would naturally treat our foes is wrong. As His children, we have a higher calling. We are to live as children of the King. Our behavior toward our enemies must still be exemplary. We are to act through the Lord’s strength with “supernatural” actions toward our adversaries, just as Jesus did.
Our four “supernatural responses” to our enemies are to:
Do good to them.
Pray for them.
If you want to “get even” with those who torment you, Jesus says that this is how you do it.
1. Cambridge Bible, the electronic version in eSword.
2. “Calumniating,” “to make false and malicious statements about; slander.” From https://www.dictionary.com/browse/calumniate, downloaded, Monday, May 13, 2019.
3. Adam Clarke, Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible, the electronic version in eSword.
4. Albert Barnes, Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, the electronic version in eSword.