Matthew 5:45 is the forty-fifth verse of the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament and is part of the Sermon on the Mount. This is the third verse of the final antithesis, that on the commandment: "Love thy neighbour as thyself". Jesus here explains why one most love one's enemies.
- 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.
The World English Bible translates the passage as:
- That you may be children of your
- Father who is in heaven. For he makes
- his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and
- sends rain on the just and the unjust.
For a collection of other versions see BibRef Matthew 5:45
Barclay notes that Hebrew had relatively few adjectives, and referring to a person as "son of something" is a way of creating an adjective. Thus "son of peace" is a term for someone who is peaceful, and "son of God" can simply be a term of godly. Jesus is saying that to be godlike, and thus to be good, one must treat people as God does.
This is one of the few New Testament verses that depicts God as commander of nature. Schweizer notes that in Palestine rain was extremely important and beneficial, the hot sun, was less so. He notes that in Greece at this time the burning power of the sun was often a symbol of godly power while the rain was a symbol of godly benevolence. By contrast in wetter and more northern societies, rain is often viewed as unpleasant. Most scholars feel that in this verse both rain and sun are meant to be positive. The prominent Rabbi Joshua ben Nehemiah had made similar note of rain's equal treatment of the good and the wicked, and saw it as a sign of God's benevolence. Greek philosopher Seneca, writing in the same era as Jesus lived, also has a very similar discussion of how nature aids both the good and the ill.
France notes that this verse only addresses practical kindness. On a spiritual level the Bible portrays God as being far less even handed, with the good being granted salvation and the wicked punishment.
- Barclay, William. The Gospel of Matthew: Volume 1 Chapters 1-10. Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 1975.
- Schweizer, Eduard. The Good News According to Matthew. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1975
- Luz, Ulrich. Matthew 1-7: A Commentary. trans. Wilhlem C. Linss. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortess, 1989.
- France, R.T. The Gospel According to Matthew: an Introduction and Commentary. Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1985.
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