Matthew 5:45
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.
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(45) That ye may be.—Literally, and with far fuller meaning, that ye may become. We cannot become like God in power or wisdom. The attempt at that likeness to the Godhead was the cause of man’s fall, and leads evermore to a like issue; but we cannot err in striving to be like Him in His love. (Comp. St. Paul’s “followers [or, more literally, imitators”] of God” in Ephesians 5:1.) And the love which we are to reproduce is not primarily that of which the children of the kingdom are the direct objects, showing itself in pardon, and adoption, and spiritual blessings, but the beneficence which is seen in Nature. Our Lord assumes that sunshine, and rain, and fruitful seasons are His Father’s gifts, and proofs (whatever may be urged to the contrary) of His loving purpose. Here, again, the teaching of the higher Stoics presents an almost verbal parallel: “If thou wouldst imitate the gods, do good even to the unthankful, for the sun rises even on the wicked, and the seas are open to pirates” (Seneca, De Benefic. iv. 2, 6).

5:43-48 The Jewish teachers by neighbour understood only those who were of their own country, nation, and religion, whom they were pleased to look upon as their friends. The Lord Jesus teaches that we must do all the real kindness we can to all, especially to their souls. We must pray for them. While many will render good for good, we must render good for evil; and this will speak a nobler principle than most men act by. Others salute their brethren, and embrace those of their own party, and way, and opinion, but we must not so confine our respect. It is the duty of Christians to desire, and aim at, and press towards perfection in grace and holiness. And therein we must study to conform ourselves to the example of our heavenly Father, 1Pe 1:15,16. Surely more is to be expected from the followers of Christ than from others; surely more will be found in them than in others. Let us beg of God to enable us to prove ourselves his children.That ye may be the children of your Father - In Greek, the sons of your Father. The word "son" has a variety of significations. See the notes at Matthew 1:1. Christians are called the "sons" or "children" of God in several of these senses: as his offspring; as adopted; as his disciples; as imitators of Him. In this passage the word is applied to them because, in doing good to enemies, they resemble God. He makes His sun to rise upon the evil and good, and sends rain, without distinction, on the just and unjust. So His people should show that they imitate or resemble Him, or that they possess His spirit, by doing good in a similar way. 45. That ye may be the children—sons.

of your Father which is in heaven—The meaning is, "that ye may show yourselves to be such by resembling Him" (compare Mt 5:9; Eph 5:1).

for he maketh his sun—"your Father's sun." Well might Bengel exclaim, "Magnificent appellation!"

to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust—rather, (without the article) "on evil and good, and on just and unjust." When we find God's own procedure held up for imitation in the law, and much more in the prophets (Le 19:2; 20:26; and compare 1Pe 1:15, 16), we may see that the principle of this surprising verse was nothing new: but the form of it certainly is that of One who spake as never man spake.

As your heavenly Father hath a common love, which he extendeth to all mankind, in supplying their necessities, with the light and warmth of the sun, and with the rain; as well as a special love and favour, which he exerciseth only toward those that are good, and members of Christ; so ought you to have: though you are not obliged to take your enemies into your bosom, yet you ought to love them in their order. And as your heavenly Father, though he will one day have a satisfaction from sinners, for the wrong done to his majesty, unless they repent; yet, to heap coals of fire on their heads, gives them good things of common providence, that he might not leave them without witness, yea, and affords them the outward means of grace for their souls: so, although you are bound to seek some satisfaction for God’s honour and glory from flagitious sinners, and though you may in an orderly course seek a moderate satisfaction for the wrong done to yourselves, yet you ought to love them with a love consistent with these things; that so you may imitate your heavenly Father, and approve yourselves to be his children.

That ye may be the children of your father,.... Not that any became the children of God, by doing things in imitation of him: for as in nature no man becomes the son of another by imitating him, or by doing the things he does but either by birth, or by adoption; so in grace no man becomes a child of God by the works he does, as a follower of God, but by adopting grace; and which is discovered in regeneration. Christ's meaning is, that they might appear, and be known to be the children of God, by doing those things in which they resemble their heavenly Father; and which are agreeable to his nature and conduct; as the tree is known by its fruit, and the cause by its effect: for where adoption and regenerating grace take place, the fruit of good works is brought forth to the glory of God. Some copies, instead of "children", read "like": and accordingly, the Persic version renders it thus, "that ye may be like your Father, which is heaven". Our Lord seems to have respect to the Jews, often having in their mouths this expression, , "our Father which is in heaven"; and to their frequent boasting that they were the children of God; and therefore he would have them make this manifest by their being like him, or acting in imitation of him;

for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil, and on the good. Christ instances in one of the greatest blessings in nature, the sun, so useful to the earth, and so beneficial to mankind for light and heat; which he calls "his sun": his own, and not another's; which he has made, and maintains, orders to run its race, and commands it to rise morning by morning, and that upon good and bad men; one, as well as another; all equally share in, and partake of its benign influences, and enjoy the comfortable effects and blessings of it:

and sendeth rain on the just and unjust; that is, on the fields of persons of such different characters, even both the early and the latter rain; which makes the earth fruitful, crowns it with goodness, and causes it to bring forth bread to the eater, and seed to the sower. This is one of the most considerable blessings of life; the gift of it is God's sole prerogative; it is peculiar to him; it is what none of the vanities of the Gentiles can give; and yet is bestowed by him on the most worthless and undeserving. This flows from that perfection of God, which the Cabbalists (u) call

""chesed, mercy", or benignity, to which it is essential to give largely to all, both "to the just and unjust".''

The Jews have a saying (x), that

"greater is the day of rain, than the resurrection of the dead; for the resurrection of the dead is for the just; but rain is , "both for the just, and for the wicked":''

a way of speaking much like this here. They also used to praise God for rain, on this consideration, because it was given to unworthy persons.

"(y) R. Jose Bar Jacob went to visit R. Joden of Magdala; whilst he was there, rain descended, and he heard his voice, saying, thousands of thousands, and millions of millions are bound to praise thy name, O our king, for every drop thou causest to descend upon us, , "because thou renderest good to the wicked".''

Now our Lord instances in things which could not be denied, and they themselves allowed; and makes use of their own words, to engage them to imitate God, whom they call their Father, by doing good to their enemies, and them that hated them, as well as to their friends and neighbours: yet sometimes they could scarcely allow, that the Gentiles had the same share in this divine favour with themselves; for they say (z), that

"God works by way of miracle, that rain should not be wanting in his land, although it is wanting in the countries of the Heathen; as he says, Job 5:10 "who giveth rain on the earth", which is the land of Israel; for on that , "a great rain" descends, and "sendeth waters", "few (which is added to the text) upon the fields"; which relates to what is without the land, whereupon it does not descend, but the substance of the land of Israel; therefore he saith, the Lord will open to thee his good treasure, and not to others.''

(u) Sepher Shaar Hassamaim, Tract. 7. c. 12. p. 155. (x) T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 7. 1.((y) T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 14. 1. & Taanith, fol. 64. 2.((z) Tzeror Hammor, fol. 152. 4.

{10} 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.

(10) A double reason: the one is taken of the relatives, The children must be like their father: the other is taken of comparisons, The children of God must be better than the children of this world.

Matthew 5:45. Ὅπως γένησθε υἱοὶ, κ.τ.λ.] is commonly understood, in keeping with the ὅτι τὸν ἥλιον, κ.τ.λ., that follows, of the ethical condition of similarity to God, according to which the child of God also exhibits in himself the divine disposition and the divine conduct (Ephesians 5:1 f.). But the correct interpretation is given by Matthew 5:9, and is supported by γένησθε (for γίνεσθαι is never equivalent to εἶναι). What is meant is, as in Matthew 5:9, the obtaining of the coming salvation in the kingdom of the Messiah, which, according to the connection, as in Matthew 5:9, is designated as the future sonship of God, because the participators in the Messianic blessedness must necessarily be of the same moral nature with God as the original type of love; therefore the words that follow, and Matthew 5:48.

τοῦ ἐν οὐραν.] See on Matthew 6:9. As to the thought, comp. Seneca, de benef. Matthew 4:25 : “Si deos imitaris, da et ingratis beneficia; nam et sceleratis sol oritur, et piratis patent maria.”

ὅτι] is not equivalent to ὅς, but the simple as (for), stating that ὅπως γένησθε υἱοὶ, κ.τ.λ., is rightly said. Fritzsche here inappropriately (comp. already Bengel) drags in the usage of εἰς ἐκεῖνο ὅτι (see on John 2:18; John 9:17, etc).

ἀνατέλλει] transitive, Hom. Il. v. 777; Pind. Isthm. vi. 5, v. 111; Soph. Phil. 1123; Diod. Sic. xvii. 7; LXX. Genesis 3:18; Sir 37:17; Clem. Cor. I. 20.

τὸν ἥλιον αὐτοῦ] “Magnifica appellatio; ipse et fecit solem et gubernat et habet in sua unius potestate” (Bengel). The goodness of God towards His enemies (sinners) Jesus makes His believers feel by the experimental proof of His all good administration in nature—a proof which, like every one derived a posteriori in favour of a single divine attribute, is, on account of opposing experiences (God also destroys the good and the evil through natural manifestations), in itself insufficient, but, in popular instruction, has its proper place, and is of assured efficacy, with the same right as the special consideration of individual divine attributes in general.

Matthew 5:45-47. Characteristically lofty inducements to obey the new law; likeness to God (Matthew 5:45); moral distinction among men (Matthew 5:46-47).—υἱοὶ τοῦ πατρὸς ὑμῶν: in order that ye may be indeed sons of God: noblesse oblige; God’s sons must be Godlike. “Father” again. The new name for God occurs sixteen times in the Sermon on the Mount; to familiarise by repetition, and define by discriminating use.—ὅτι, not = ὅς, but meaning “because”: for so your Father acts, and not otherwise can ye be His sons.—ἀνατέλλει, sometimes intransitive, as in Matthew 4:16, Luke 12:54, here transitive, also in Sept[34], Genesis 3:18, etc., and in some Greek authors (Pindar. Isth. vi., 110, e.g.) to cause to rise. The use of καίειν (Matthew 5:15) and ἀνατέλλειν in an active sense is a revival of an old poetic use in later Greek (exx. of the former in Elsner).—βρέχει = pluit (Vulg[35]), said of God, as in the expression ὔοντος τοῦ Διὸς (Kypke, Observ. Sac.). The use of this word also in this sense is a revival of old poetic usage.—πονηροὺς, ἀγαθούς; δικαίους, ἀδίκους, not mere repetition. There is a difference between ἀγαθός and δίκαιος similar to that between generous and just. πονηροὺς may be rendered stubborn—vide on Matthew 6:23. The sentiment thus becomes: “God makes His sun rise on stubborn and generous alike, and His rain fall on just and unjust”. A similar thought in Seneca, De benif. vi. 26: “Si deos imitaris, da et ingratis beneficia, nam et sceleratis sol oritur, et piratis patent maria”. The power of the fact stated to influence as a motive is wholly destroyed by a pantheistic conception of God as indifferent to moral distinctions, or a deistic idea of Him as transcendent, too far above the world, in heaven, as it were, to be able to take note of such differences. The divine impartiality is due to magnanimity, not to indifference or ignorance. Another important reflection is that in this word of Jesus we find distinct recognition of the fact that in human life there is a large sphere (sun and rain, how much these cover!) in which men are treated by Providence irrespectively of character; by no means a matter of course in a Jewish teacher, the tendency being to insist on exact correspondence between lot and character under a purely retributive conception of God’s relation to man.

[34] Septuagint.

[35] Vulgate (Jerome’s revision of old Latin version).

45. that ye may be the children of your Father] See note on Matthew 5:9. To act thus would be to act like God, Who blesses those who curse Him and are His enemies, by the gifts of sun and rain. This is divine. Mere return of love for love is a human, even a heathen virtue.

Matthew 5:45. Ὅπως γένησθε, that ye may become) When they love their enemies, they become His sons [but] in such a manner as [not to contravene the fact], that they already previously have Him for their Father.[234] An instance of Ploce:[235] Sons become sons, as disciples become disciples.—Cf. John 15:8. Thus, the God of Israel became the God of Israel; 2 Samuel 7:24. Great is God’s condescension in not disdaining to invite His sons to imitate Him. ὅτι, κ.τ.λ., for, etc.) Such is the principle upon which the Father is to be imitated. As God treats and rules us, so ought men to treat and rule each other.—τὸν ἥλιον Αὐτοῦ, His sun) A magnificent expression. He both made the sun and governs it, and has it exclusively in His own power.—ἀνατέλλει, maketh to rise.—βρέχει, raineth, sendeth rain) It is the part of piety to speak of natural things as received from God, rather than to say impersonally, It rains, it thunders.—See ch. Matthew 6:26; Matthew 6:30; Job 36:27-28, and chapters 37–41; Psalms 104, etc. Franzius urges this strongly in his treatise on the Interpretation of Scripture, pp. 83, 632. Rain is a great blessing.

[234] i.e. He first loves them, and is their Father already; but they become His sons, and prove their sonship afterwards, when they love their enemies, even as He loved them when still enemies.—ED.

[235] See Appendix.—ED.

Verse 45. - Parallel passage: Luke 6:35, which is more full, but hardly so original in form. That ye may be the children (ὅπως γένησθε υἱοί); sons (Revised Version); cf. ver. 9, note. The meaning of the clause is not certain. It may be:

(1) Love to enemies is the means whereby you may become possessed of the full privileges involved in the nature of sons. These privileges are more than the mere participation in Messianic glory (Meyer), and are rather all the blessings present and future which belong to sonship.

(2) Love, in order that on each occasion you may become in fact (almost our "show yourselves") sons of your Father, sons corresponding in ethical conduct to your position already received. Your Father. Not "the Father" (cf. ver. 16, note). Which is in heaven: for ὅτι The privileges generally, or the resemblance on each occasion, can only be obtained by behaviour similar to his, namely, kind treatment of those who injure you; for this is what he himself shows. He maketh his sun to rise (ἀνατέλλει). If we may lay stress on the Greek, our Lord expresses the popular notion of the sun ascending. It must, however, be remembered that the word he himself probably used was זרח in hiph. (, Peshito), which contains no thought of motion, but rather of appearance. Sun... rain. The two great sources of maintenance. On the evil and on the good... on the just and on the unjust. The first pair connotes, as it seems, the extreme of evil (Matthew 6:13, note) and good, in each case manifesting itself according to its opportunities; the second, the life and character as tried by the standard, especially the human standard, of just dealing. Notice how, by chiasm, the emphasis is laid on the ungodly alike at the beginning and at the end. Our Lord here brings out God's active love as seen in nature, nourishing and maintaining men, irrespective of the qualities of individuals and of their treatment of him and his laws. The thought is found elsewhere, e.g. in Seneca (vide Meyer), "Si deos imitaris, da et ingratis benelicia; ham et sceleratis sol oritur, et piratis patent maria" (cf. Bishop Lightfoot, on 'Philippians' ["St. Paul and Seneca," p. 281], for a collection of parallels to the sermon on the mount). Matthew 5:45
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