Jesus was not the first to teach 'Love Your Enemy'

A Christian wrote: I don't have the time to respond to everything, but right off the top, I suggest that "loving your enemy" is a teaching attributed directly to Jesus.

The teaching predates Jesus.

Do not return evil to your adversary; Requite with kindness the one who does evil to you, Maintain justice for your enemy, Be friendly to your enemy.
- Akkadian Councils of Wisdom (from the ancient Babylonian civilization that existed two millennia before Jesus was born)


Shame on him who strikes, greater shame on him who strikes back. Let us live happily, not hating those who hate us. Let us therefore overcome anger by kindness, evil by good, falsehood by truth. Do not hurt others in ways that would be hurtful to yourself.
- Buddhist wisdom (written centuries before Jesus was born)



In this world
Hate never yet dispelled hate.
Only love dispels hate.
This is the law,
Ancient and inexhaustible.

- The Dhammapada


Return love for hatred. Otherwise, when a great hatred is reconciled, some of it will surely remain. How can this end in goodness? Therefore the sage holds to the left hand of an agreement but does not expect what the other holder ought to do. Regard your neighbor's gain as your own and your neighbor's loss as your own loss. Whoever is self-centered cannot have the love of others.
- Taoist wisdom (written centuries before Jesus was born)


People were Christian before Christ ever existed. People were humanistic before Humanism was ever organized. People were loving before LSD was ever discovered. I dug defecating before I ever knew it was a Zen thing to do.
- Timothy Leary, as quoted by Paul Krassner, "The Cynic Route from Crazy SANE to Loving Haight," The Realist, 1967


For additional "love your enemy" verses from the world's religions visit:
WORLD SCRIPTURE : A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts, Dr. Andrew Wilson, Editor (International Religious Foundation, 1991)

Make a shorter URL to this article. Highlight link and "Copy To Clipboard"


  1. Which of the afore mentioned teachers died on a cross for us?

    1. Hi Tony, I like to look at it this way, the practical moral teaching, "Do unto others as you would have then do unto you," doesn't mention God, and does not depend on a magical-bloodletting form of forgiveness.

  2. I like Leary's comments, however it should go without saying that what Jesus said was true before jesus taught it, before he was born, before Budhha et al. The point about Jesus teaching it was that he was opposing the 'eye for an eye, life for a life' prevailing teaching of the religion and ethos around him. He was claiming that actually Yahweh, the Jews' God, wanted them to to love their enemies. And besides, strictly speaking, for believer sin Jesus, Christ existed before Buddha, before anyone, as he is God.