Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Bless them which persecute you.—Apparently with allusion to Matthew 5:44. It was probably just about the time that St. Paul was writing this Epistle, or at most a year or two later, that the series of compositions which ultimately took the shape of our present Gospels began. It is not, however, necessary to suppose that St. Paul had actually seen one of these. The record of our Lord’s teaching was no doubt at first preserved and circulated in the Church orally, and it would be in this form that St. Paul first became acquainted with the precept to which he here seems to allude. There is, perhaps, another reference to the Sermon on the Mount in 1Corinthians 7:10. Such references occur (as we should expect) more frequently in the Epistle of St. James.Matthew 5:44; compare Luke 6:28.
Bless, and curse not - Bless only; or continue to bless, however long or aggravated may be the injury. Do not be provoked to anger, or to cursing, by any injury, persecution, or reviling. This is one of the most severe and difficult duties of the Christian religion; and it is a duty which nothing else but religion will enable people to perform. To curse denotes properly to devote to destruction. Where there is power to do it, it implies the destruction of the object. Thus, the fig-tree that was cursed by the Saviour soon withered away: Mark 11:21. Thus, those whom God curses will be certainly destroyed; Matthew 25:41. Where there is not power to do it, to curse implies the invoking of the aid of God to devote to destruction. Hence, it means to imprecate; to implore a curse from God to rest on others; to pray that God would destroy them. In a larger sense still, it means to abuse by reproachful words; to calumniate; or to express oneself in a violent, profane, and outrageous manner. In this passage it seems to have special reference to this.
them which persecute you, &c.—This is taken from the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:44), which, from the allusions made to it, seems to have been the storehouse of Christian morality among the churches.Bless them which persecute you; i.e. pray for them, and wish well to them. This is borrowed from Matthew 5:44 Luke 6:28: see the like in 1 Peter 3:9. This is commended to us by the example of Christ himself, Isaiah 53:12 Luke 23:34 1 Peter 2:23; of Stephen, Acts 7:60; of Paul, and the primitive Christians, 1 Corinthians 4:12.
Bless, and curse not: his doubling the exhortation shows the difficulty of the duty; it is contrary to corrupt nature: and it denotes the constancy of it; we must persevere therein. When he saith, curse not, he means, wish no evil to your enemies.
Objection. The prophets and apostles went contrary to this: see 2 Kings 2:24 Psalm 69:22,23 Ac 8:20 13:10,11 23:3.
Answer. These did it by a special vocation and instinct of the Spirit.
bless them; that is, to pray for them, that God would show them their evil, give repentance to them, and the remission of their sins; which is the order Christ gave to his disciples, Matthew 5:44; and encouraged to an observance of, by his own example, Luke 23:34; and has been followed herein by his disciples and apostles, Acts 7:60 1 Corinthians 4:12. Moreover, by "blessing" may be meant, giving them good words, mild and soft answers, "not rendering evil for evil, railing for railing", 1 Peter 3:9; but, on the contrary, blessing, in imitation of Christ, who, "when he was reviled, reviled not again", 1 Peter 2:23, "bless",
and curse not: to have a mouth full of cursing and bitterness, Romans 3:14, is the character of an unregenerate man, and what by no means suits one who names the name of Christ; for blessing and cursing to proceed out of the same mouth, is as absurd and unnatural, as if it should be supposed that a fountain should send forth sweet water and bitter, or salt and fresh, James 3:10. The imprecations upon wicked men, used by David and other good men, are no contradictions to this rule; since they were made under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, and were predictions of God's vengeance, which in righteous judgment should fall on them, and are not to be drawn into an example by us.Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Romans 12:14. Τοὺς διώκ. ὑμ.] who persecute you (in any respect whatever). The saying of Christ, Matthew 5:44, was perhaps known to the apostle and here came to his recollection, without his having read however, as Reiche here again assumes (comp. on Romans 2:19), the Gospels.Romans 12:14. εὐλογεῖτε τοὺς διώκοντας, εὐλ. κ. μὴ καταρᾶσθε: not a quotation of Matthew 5:44, but probably a reminiscence of the same saying of Jesus. The change in construction from participle to imperative, the participle being resumed in the next sentence, suggests that the form of the sentence was given to Paul—i.e., he was consciously using borrowed words without modifying them to suit the sentence he had begun on his own account. It may be that when Paul said διώκοντες in Romans 12:13, the other sense of the word passed through his mind and prompted Romans 12:14; but even if we could be sure of this (which we cannot) we should not understand either verse a whit better.14. Bless them which persecute you] According to the Lord’s own express precept; see Luke 6:28. See also His example, Luke 23:34.—The Roman Church was not at this time under special trial of persecution; so we seem to gather from the general tone of this Epistle. But soon the Neronian persecution was to break upon it; and meantime, in one form or another, persecution was always going on, if only on a private scale. Cp. 2 Timothy 3:12.Romans 12:14. Διώκοντας, persecuting) for the sake of Christ.—καὶ μὴ καταρᾶσθε, curse not) not even in thought.
See on blessed, 1 Peter 1:3.
Them that persecute (τοὺς διώκοντας)
Plutarch relates that when a decree was issued that Alcibiades should be solemnly cursed by all the priests and priestesses, one of the latter declared that her holy office obliged her to make prayers, but not execrations ("Alcibiades").
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