14 "Bless them which
persecute you: bless, and curse not."
The Greek word for bless means to
"invoke a benediction upon." In other words it means that we should
pray for them that persecute us. This is consistent with what the
Lord taught in Matt. 5:38=48 "Ye have heard that it hath been said,
An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That
ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right
cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at
the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And
whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to
him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn
not thou away.
Ye have heard that it hath been said,
Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 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; That ye may be the children of your Father which is
in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the
good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love
them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans
the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than
others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even
as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
While there are others who hate our beliefs and hate our practices
and hate the fact that our beliefs and practices conflict with their
religious or governmental systems, yet we are not to curse those who
curse us nor are we to persecute those who persecute us. The Lord
set an example for us. When he was persecuted and beaten at the
cross, he prayed for his persecutors. When false accusations were
laid against him, he opened not his mouth. Similarly, we are to pray
for our persecutors and return not evil for evil. We are to overcome
evil with good.
16 5 "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep
with them that weep. 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind
not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in
your own conceits."
"Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep."
As children of God we have mixtures of joy and sorrow as we pass
through the realm of this life. This is true of all of us. As a
natural brother cares for the conditions of his natural family,
rejoices with them during their seasons of joy, and sorrows with
them during their seasons of sorrow, so it should be in the church
family of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are brothers and sisters in
Christ. Especially is this true as they are members of the same
body. When a member of our natural body hurts, the whole body feels
the pain. Likewise, when a member of the church body hurts, so all
the church body should feel the pain. Similarly, when a member of
the church body rejoices, the whole body can rejoice with that
"Be of the same mind one toward another." To be of a same mind
indicates a unity. Unity comes to us through the leadership of the
Spirit of God and through the teachings of God's word. We are not to
be unified in an error. We are to be unified with the truth. Having
a mind towards another also indicates having a feeling toward that
individual. Love is the feeling that we should have towards the
children of God and especially towards the children of God in our
local church. This feeling and care for one another should also be
expressed "toward" one another by our actions and words. To tell
someone we love them is good, but to show that love by our actions
is even better. This unity of Spirit, truth, and love should be
manifest by all of the members of the body towards all the members
of the body.
"Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not
wise in your own conceits." The phrase "high things" comes from the
Greek word, "hupselos." This word means to be exalted, lofty,
eminent, distinguished. The lesson is that we are not to set our
mind to seek to be exalted, lofty, eminent, etc. The word,
condescend, comes from the Greek word, "sunapago." Sunapago means to
take off together with. The lessons is that we should take off
together with the humble and meek in companionship and fellowship.
"Be not wise in your own conceits." We can have an exalted view of
ourselves for many reasons. One of the more common reasons that
people exalt themselves is that they think themselves to be more
knowledgeable and wise than other people. True wisdom comes from
God. We should seek to increase in the knowledge of God's word. This
is to our benefit to do so. But we should not be exalted in
ourselves and think ourselves more knowledgeable and wiser than
others. The scriptures teach that God resist the proud, but giveth
grace unto the humble.
Verses 17-21 "Recompense to
no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with
all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give
place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will
repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him;
if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals
of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil
In Lev. 24 we read, 19 "And if a man cause a blemish in his
neighbour; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him; 20 Breach
for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a
blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again. 21 And he that
killeth a beast, he shall restore it: and he that killeth a man, he
shall be put to death." Some have taken this and similar passages of
scripture as giving them license to get even for the wrongs that are
done to them. However, the context in which this passage is given
indicates that it applies to the national government of Israel.
Furthermore, we read where God is the judge of all the earth. Also,
several times the scriptures teach us that God is just.
God takes care of the judgment of individuals for their trespasses.
He has not left this in our hands. We are not the judge of all the
earth. We are not the lawgiver and we are not the executioner of
The mentality of getting even is fostered in most cultures and
tribes of people. However, this is not the way for a child of God in
God's kingdom. We are not to bear grudges. We are to forgive one
another their trespasses as God for Christ's sake has forgiven us.
We are not to render evil for evil.
There are many who will persecute us when we stand for what is truth
and walk uprightly before God and man. There are many who will do
evil towards us. But how is this different than the evil we did and
expressed towards God in the former walks of our lives? Did God show
us mercy or did he exact revenge upon us? He showed us mercy.
Likewise, we are to be merciful to others who do us evil.
"Provide things honest in the sight of all men." The word, honest,
comes from the Greek word, kalos, which means good, honest, worthy,
or well. While we may have people be evil towards us and we have
people who are dishonest in their dealings with us or will cheat us
or speak evil against us, yet we are not to respond in kind. We are
to live our lives as though we are living them for the Lord and
presenting our bodies a living sacrifice unto God. We are to do good
and be honest in our dealings with others. We are to do good to
others, regardless of how they treat us. Furthermore, this is to be
the case in the "sight of all men." Sometimes people will behave one
way before the preacher and then behave another way when the
preacher is not around. Or they may be diligent in their work when
the boss is around, yet be lazy and slothful when the boss is not
around. We, as the disciples of Christ, are to behave ourselves in
the same manner regardless of who is around.
"If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all
men." Sometimes some people will not allow us to live peaceably with
them. Yet we are to behave ourselves in such a way, but we are to
strive with all of our ability to live peaceably with them. Then
when they will not allow us to be peaceable with them, it is not our
fault for we have done everything that we can honestly do to live
peaceably with them.
"Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto
wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the
Lord." This is written in the Old Testament:
1. Deu 32:35 "To me belongeth vengeance, and recompense; their foot
shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand,
and the things that shall come upon them make haste."
2. Psa 94:1 "O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom
vengeance belongeth, show thyself."
Furthermore, we read in the Old Testament that we are not to avenge
ourselves: Lev 19:18 "Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge
against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy
neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD."
David is a good example of someone who refused to avenge himself.
Saul had sought to kill David even though David had only done good
to Saul and the kingdom. When David had the opportunity to kill
Saul, yet he refused to do so for he knew that God would avenge the
wrong that Saul had done unto him. Likewise, we should leave
vengeance in the hands of the Lord.
"Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him
drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21
Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." The way the
Lord has established that we may overcome evil is to overcome evil
with good. Rather than seeking vengeance or repaying evil, we should
take every opportunity to good for our enemies. We read this same
principle in Prov. 25:21, 22, "If thine enemy be hungry, give him
bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For
thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall
reward thee." Coals of fire are very hot. The lessons seems to be
that in doing good to our enemy that we will strongly convict the
conscience of that person to see that his course of action is wrong.