“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44).
These verses offer a telling difference between the Law and the gospel. The command to hate one’s enemy is a law of both limitation and protection. By limiting hate to the enemy only, it worked to protect the ethnic community of God’s people and all the various relationships within that community. Loving one’s enemy, however, cannot be legislated by law. It is the working of Jesus and the transforming power of his gospel that makes it possible. The Law allows room for hatred while the gospel does not.