Jesus' teaching to "love your enemies" is known to practically everyone. But in several cases the NT portrays him as expressing anger toward those who opposed him. He famously drove the moneychangers from the Temple with a whip in John 2:15. In Mark 11, he "he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons; and he would not allow any one to carry anything through the temple." In John 8:44, he condemned those who did not believe his teaching to be "of your father the devil."

In Matthew, Jesus pronounced numerous "woes" against his opponents. For example:

  • Matthew 23:13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in.

  • Matthew 23:27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.

In Luke, Jesus coupled his blessings with "woes."

  • 20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 “Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh. 22 “Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

  • 24 “But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 “Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger. “Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. 26 “Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

In Mt. 25 Jesus declared that at the Coming of the Son of Man, the King will declare : 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels, for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink. I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.'

The king in this passage is usually understood to mean Jesus.

So the question is: did Jesus curse his enemies; and if not, how are the woes and condemnations that he pronounced to be understood?


3 Answers 3


There is a difference between:

  • a curse that hopes for bad things upon one's enemies
  • bluntly explaining the consequences (eternal destruction, etc) of sin and a sinner's choice of they reject Jesus.

That is, if a person curses their enemy for no good reason, then Jesus correctly condemned such actions. However, Jesus, in all his pronouncements of woes and curses to eternal fire, etc, did so in the context of sinful people's rejection of the freely offered salvation.

Such pronouncements are explicitly stated in the salvation covenants such as the blessings for obedience (Lev 26:1-13, Deut 28:1-14) and the curses for disobedience (Lev 26:14-39, Deut 28:15-68). Jesus' New Covenant is no different in this respect as the OP's quotes ably demonstrate.

Further, while Jesus simply repeated the covenant curses for rejecting God's free offer of salvation, God continues to love those who reject Him as we are reminded:

  • John 12:32, “I [Jesus] … will draw all people to myself.”
  • John 12:47, “… for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.”
  • Acts 17:30, “God … commands all people everywhere to repent.”
  • 1 Tim 2:3, 4, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
  • 1 Tim 2:6, “[Jesus Christ] gave Himself as a ransom for all people.”
  • 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

APPENDIX - Salvation Choice

There is a sense in which the disobedient, at Jesus' return, will bring curses upon themselves. Note the difference in the predicted reaction of people at Jesus' return:

The Righteous

  • Isa 25:9 - In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

The Wicked

  • Rev 6:15-17 - Then the kings of the earth, the nobles, the commanders, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and free man hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. And they said to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of Their wrath has come, and who is able to withstand it?”
  • excellent answer @Dottard. I hesitate for now to mark it accepted only because I don't want to discourage more discussion. Personally I think that some of Jesus' declarations are curses, especially those that condemn people to eternal damnation. Whether they are justified or not is another question. Aug 15, 2022 at 23:10

Woe is a denunciation (strong criticism or condemnation) of someone for causing misfortune in the tone of expressing sorrow. It is the opposite of blessing, so in a sense, it is indeed a curse. Why do we bless someone? Because he will receive good fruit of his righteousness, he is fortunate. Why do we curse someone for his evil? Because he will definitely receive justice for his evil. It is not just wishing his misfortune, but he has already seen as misfortunate, pitiable, & condemnable.

Pronouncing or judging someone blessed or woeful simply means what we believe about his judgment from God. A man's hope for the divine punishment of the evildoers or lawless isn't gonna change their fate. Justice is perfect with God and each will reap what he sows. Jesus was not praying for the punishment of the lawless, he was pronouncing their judgment as to how pitiable and condemned they are. It is more about lamenting for the pathetic sinners for their certain divine punishment, rather than wishing their destruction in this world.

woe (n.) late 12c., from the interjection, Old English wa!, a common exclamation of lament in many languages (compare Latin væ, Greek oa, German weh, Lettish wai, Old Irish fe, Welsh gwae, Armenian vay).

woe noun Sorrow or grief; misery. synonym: regret.Misfortune or wretchedness.A cause of sorrow or misery; a misfortune.Grief; sorrow; misery; heavy calamity.


Used to express sorrow or dismay.

idiom (woe is me) Used to lament one's situation or fate.(woe to (someone)) Used to express the wish that misfortune befall someone.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

The wicked transgressors will go to hell, there is nothing wrong in such denunciation and condemnation that you will go to hell. Damn you. (To condemn to everlasting punishment or another terrible fate in the afterlife; doom. To condemn to an undesirable fate; destine.)

Mark 12:40 those who devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation."


Some people make a big thing about eternal damnation and whether it's justified or not. God can do whatever he wants. Honestly, we cannot question our Creator's motives because it's pointless unless you don't have anything worthwhile to do and you're bored or you're teaching in some Bible college. Fear God first, follow his commands and be grateful. God can always wipe the memories of those who suffered in Hell (and were eventually rehabilitated) and put His spirit in those who are saved. Did you think Job's innocent children were critical of God for allowing them to be killed? Of course not. They're just grateful to be alive again (somewhere). Paul told us pots not to criticize or question the potmaker, in a manner of speaking. He made us this way or that way, some are more sinful than others. Again for the glory of God, look at Pharaoh. Humans need to chill questioning God.

Was Jesus really "angry" at those who oppose him? I highly doubt that. To go against God's plan for the earthly life of Jesus is futile. It was all an act, for his followers. Jesus was trying to change how the Jews think about how they can save themselves. The laws of Moses were put in place to guide the early Jews toward proper and godly living, until the coming of the other prophet in Deu 18:15. In the OT, God has promised them that they will prosper if they follow his commands to the letter. They thought that to become a rich Jew, one must be blessed by God even though his riches were ill-gotten. So now Jesus was saying to stop strictly implementing the law that they forget how to take care of the unfortunate ones. Look at Jesus and the rich man in Mark 10. Though, I doubt that Jesus meant what he said to the young rich guy. Otherwise, the super-rich blessed patriarchs in the OT will find it hard (not impossible) to enter heaven. We are ordered to follow the teachings of Jesus that apply to us as Gentiles not living with the Jews. This is in the NT. The laws of Moses only apply to Gentiles who are living with Jews. That's in the OT. Follow the teachings of Jesus and not what he did.

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