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Bible: Love and Hate


It is amazing how many people read the Bible and get different ideas about who you should love and who you should hate. There are even many opinions about what love is.


The Bible says you should love your enemies, and yet it is full of wars, deception, and violence.


There are some interesting variations in the way people quote the Bible. This is a reference not to the differences between the Bible versions, but to the way people use what they read. In a recent reading Matthew 5:43
43 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' " (NIV)

(NIV), something very obvious jumped out that was not apparent to me before. Oh, I had read it before, but had not noticed one very glaring fact. The subject matter is love and hate and the speaker was Jesus. Let's get a little background on the issue.

What did Jesus actually say?

Jesus said in Matthew 5:43
43 You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR, and hate your enemy.' (NAS)

(NAS), "You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR, and hate your enemy.' " In the quoting of this passage, part of the text from the NAS version is in capital letters. As this was a little different from most of the words of Jesus in red (shown in regular text in the NIV), curiosity compelled some reasearch to discover the purpose of that way of presenting the quote. It turns out that the capitalized portion is a reference to a quote from the Old Testament (Leviticus 19:18
18'Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.'

), but the second part, not in caps, is not found anywhere else in the Bible. Jesus was referring to what they had heard, not what God had said.

They changed what...?

This is a reference to the Pharisaical tradition of interpreting the additional "intended" meaning of the OT text. They interpreted that you should love your neighbor and hate your enemy. That is why Jesus said "you have heard that it was said". It was never actually said by God in a place that we can find recorded. Jesus' modification of the statement to "love your enemies" in the very next verse (Matthew 5:44
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

) was not to change the meaning of the original, but to clarify the original as God stated it and intended it to be taken. Your neighbor can be your brother, your friend, or your enemy. We are to love them all.

The Old Testament lays down a lot of laws and sets the stage for how we should live our lives. Yes, a lot of people say that these conditions were given only to the Hebrews and the Israelites, and that we Gentiles do not have to follow them. Some say that they were "nailed to the cross" . I do not agree completely (Colossians 2:14
14having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. (NIV)

speaks of our debt being nailed, not the law), and would like to explain why. Bear with me for a bit, and then you can disagree if you still want to do so, and we can get into a discussion when we next exchange thoughts.

Brothers and Neighbors

There is a tendency among readers of the Bible to distinguish between words when it is not clear that they should do so. Take the words "brother" and "neighbor", for example. "Brother" is often taken to mean fellow Christian or, at least a member of the group to which the speaker belongs. "Neighbor" is often taken to mean anyone you meet or live near who is not a member of the group identifying the speaker. Usually, this is a fair way to interpret scripture. However, what do you do when both of the words appear in a single statement of instruction?

In the NIV, Leviticus 19:17 says "Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt." This can be taken as two different statements about two different situations. However, in the KJV, the same passage reads "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him."

Your brother is your neighbor

Likewise, the NAS states "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart: thou shalt surely rebuke thy neighbor, and not bear sin because of him." This implies that the second thought is what you can do instead of the first thought. In this case, I think the KJV and the NAS are correct. In either case, the words "brother" and "neighbor" can refer to the same person. It is also clear that we are expected to point out the neighbor's error, not to play the namby-pamby, mushy, tolerant Christian. You are to set them straight on their misconduct, but to do so in the same manner as you would want it done to you.

In the NIV, Leviticus 19:18 says "Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself." Here is the implication that one of our own people and our neighbors are the same people, and a statement as to the best way to treat them.


The conclusion seems clear. Your brother and your neighbor can be the same person. So, you cannot just treat your brother (fellow believer) kindly and "dis" your neighbor because he does not act the same way you do.

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No longer applies
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