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Matthew 5:43-48 and common grace

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43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may [a]be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore [b]you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matt. 5:43-48).

This is perhaps the passage which those who reject a general love by God of all mankind stumble over most. I believe, however, that its solution is quite simple. The text should not be seen as teaching that because God gives gifts to the wicked and ungodly, He therefore loves all of the ungodly, including the reprobate. God's gifts to the reprobate in v. 45 should not be seen as teaching that God loves the reprobate. Those who insist that it must make the same mistake as Arminians who insist that 1 Tim. 2:5 teaches that, because Christ is the mediator of men, he is the mediator for all men. This text, like v. 45, does not specify the scope of God's distribution of its object. Other passages in the Bible do that for us. Instead, v. 45 ought to only be understood as referring to the unregenerate elect. Just as God loved us and bestowed upon us gifts while we were rebellious, we ought to do the same to other unregenerate people. Of course, unlike God's knowledge of our spiritual states and eternal destinies, we do not know who is elect. In any case, the point is that just because the text says that God gives gifts to the ungodly does not mean that it necessarily refers to all the ungodly. Are not the unregenerate elect ungodly before they are converted? Of course they are. So Paul:

"For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another"(Titus 3:3)

"I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14 and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. 15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those [l]who would believe in Him for eternal life"(1 Tim. 1:12-16).

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