Is that sinless perfection in Matthew 5:48?


by Shawn Brasseaux

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Indeed, this is often assumed to be sinless perfection… but the context does not allow that interpretation.

Verses 44-48: “[44] But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; [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. [46] For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? [47] And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? [48] Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

God’s sinlessness is not under consideration here: His absolute kindness, nothing lacking, is being stressed in this passage. The Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5–7) is designed to bring the Messianic Church—Israel’s Little Flock—to spiritual maturity. It is not enough for them to love people who love them, for even the unbelievers love those who love them. Spiritual maturity concerning kindness is they should love those who hate them! As the Creator God deals gently with people who despise His words and refuse to believe them (going so far as to give these people material sustenance such as sunshine and rain), so believing Israel is to deal tenderly with their persecutors. This will be especially crucial in the end-times scenario, when Messianic Jews are mercilessly pursued, imprisoned, tortured, and executed! Their suffering is described most graphically in Matthew 10:16-42, Matthew 25:31-46, 1 Peter 3:14-17, 1 Peter 4:12-19, 1 Peter 5:1-9, among other places (see also Daniel 7:25, Psalm 10, James 5:10-11, Revelation 13:15, Revelation 20:4, et cetera).

Also see:
» Will Israel’s Little Flock be put to death or not?
» Who are “the fatherless and widows” of James 1:27?
» Is Matthew 25:31-46 a plan for our salvation unto eternal life?