“It Rains On the Just and the Unjust” Doesn’t Mean What You Think
What if I told you that “It rains on the just and the unjust” has been misquoted and misused for decades?
You know how they say, “You learn something new every day” or “You always find something new, no matter how many times you read the Bible”? Well, I’ve learned something new today and I’ve found something new as well after carefully reading scripture, and I consider it a blessing. “It rains on the just and the unjust” has been completely taken out of context.
How many times have you heard it stated or preached, “It rains on the just and the unjust” as if it’s a bad thing? If a natural disaster happened and someone who you believe was a “good person” was affected, it wouldn’t be uncommon to hear someone quote the phrase based on the popular scripture, “It rains on the just and the unjust!” (Matthew 5:45).
But what if I told you that this Bible verse has been popularly misquoted for as long as any of us can remember and that it actually doesn’t mean what we’ve thought?
While I was reading Matthew chapter five, every word just jumped off the page at me and the interpretation became so clear. Once I hit verse 43, I knew we were on the subject of loving our enemies and being kind to those who treat us unfairly. When I got to Jesus’ words, “He makes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust,” revelation from Holy Spirit exploded inside of me!
This is why it’s always good to search out a matter (Proverbs 25:2). Rain has always symbolized “blessings” and “growth”. The only time rain may have been seen as a bad thing for mankind was during the Great Flood due to the evil state of the hearts of humanity, but even that could be up for debate.
Here are a few scriptures that speak of rain being a positive thing:
- I will give you rain in due season. (Lev. 26:4)
- My doctrine shall drop as the rain. (Deut. 32:2)
- No rain because they have sinned. (1 Ki. 8:35)
- Who gives rain on the earth. (Job 5:10)
- Who prepares rain for the earth. (Ps. 147:8)
- Favor is a cloud of the latter rain. (Prov. 16:15)
- Lord our God that giveth rain. (Jer. 5:24)
- Ask ye of the Lord for rain in the time of the latter rain. (Zech 10:1)
Matthew 5:43-48 talks all about treating your neighbors and enemies fairly and with love, so it would be completely out of place if a whole section of scripture talks about loving on people, but then randomly squeezed in is something in the lines of “God causes bad things [rain] to happen to the righteous and unrighteous”.
Yes, we know that bad things do in fact happen to the just and unjust, but that would probably fall in line with a completely different area of scripture.
Scripture does not contradict itself—people do.
When Holy Spirit gives you any type of revelation, it can always be backed up with scripture, as God cannot contradict Himself. The Passion Translation translated the interpretation almost exactly the way Holy Spirit spoke it to me:
“He [the Lord] is kind to all by bringing the sunrise for warmth and rainfall to refresh whether a person does what is good or evil.”
Then, scripture concludes with speaking of loving others, regardless if they’re good to you or not, mimicking our Father in heaven. So here, Jesus is basically saying, “I will pour blessings on the just and the unjust”, as He is not a respecter of persons, and has a strong, fiery love incomparable to any other!
So, the next time you see someone who’s far from God or who isn’t such a pleasant person receiving favor or increase, then would be the appropriate time to quote, “Well, you know what they say: ‘It rains on the just and the unjust’”.
I’ve always interpreted it as God takes care of everyone whether they believe or not. We should be so generous when viewing everyone also. That puts us on the same page, right? THANK YOU for reading so much on my site. I’m glad you are finding it useful!
Thank you for this and praise God for His revealing word through the Holy Spirit to you! This makes so much sense, and like you say has been misquoted for generations. As I read the spirit brought to mind yet another confirmation of your writing that even if good is shown to the wicked yet they will not learn righteousness, therefore it rains on the good and the evil. Only the wicked are not changed by the grace of God showing them His goodness (Isaiah 26:9,10) 9 With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. 10 Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the LORD.
May you be Blessed with His favour for obeying His word.
Amen , thank you Holy Spirit wow
I found your post quite interesting, as I’ve never understood this verse any other way. Someone must have reinterpreted it since i was young. Its meaning is quite clear by the context, something to the effect of “If you want to be children of your Heavenly Father, then be fair to others, just as He distributes blessings equally to all.”
Christine, you’re absolutely right: “it’s meaning is quite clear by the context”. Somewhere along the line, “It rains on the just and the unjust” was flipped for negative purposes. It’s a blessing that you’ve always know this scripture in its purity.
I’ve never read that passage as God sending something bad on the just and unjust alike. In an agricultural society, rain is a tremendous blessing. So, if God sends what is good and necessary to all of us, then, as you said, we need to be mindful to give good and necessary things to all.
I consider it an absolute blessing that you’ve always known the accurate interpretation of this scripture. God is so good and faithful! God bless
I too grew up in a farm community and always knew rain to be a real blessing. So I always thought of it backwards, that people who tried to do good things got rain just as people who didn’t try to do good things. The lesson as I understood it was it trying to do “godly things “ to get ahead here on earth is futile. Store at riches in heaven
Since writing this article, I’ve come to realize that those who grew up in rural areas understood that scripture without misinterpretation! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Jennifer, I enjoyed your post on rain falling on the just and the unjust. That’s a good example of letting the Bible explain itself. You look deep into the scriptures. That’s excellent. Thanks for dropping by my bog and following it. Betsy
You’re welcome, Betsy!
Thanks for liking my blog! As you do, I write my blog to encourage Believers, instruct, correct as is revealed to me, and to put salt in the oats of others. Onward we go, spreading light and encouragement to help bring the whole Church into accord with the plans of God!
Amen! Nice meeting you.
Jennifer, this was so refreshing to read. Thank you so very much for writing it. And thank you for following my poetry blog.
Hello. I love your post and thank you for visiting my site. I am really interested in your book and plan on purchasing it. It the meantime, I pray that the love of Jesus surrounds you each and every day. This day being very special for without His sacrifice we’d all be living horrible lives. Praise God for the cruxification of His Son and His resurrection which gives live to all of us.
Amen, WarriorForChrist! I completely agree. The sacrifice Jesus paid for us was love at its finest.
I’ve heard that passage quoted in negative circumstances, but reading what you wrote got me to look at the first part – about the sun shining. We tend to look at that as a good thing, and yet people in Southern California might have another opinion, after the lengthy drought they’ve experienced. Worth remembering that Elijah prayed for rain …. (first time reading your blog, and thank you for following mine!)
Amen. It’s a reminder to love our neighbors–close friends and enemies. It’s easier said than done, but clearly what we are called to.
Amen, my sister <3
Such an insightful post. Thank you for writing it.
You’re welcome, Mary! God bless you
I had this exact same revelation! In fact I made a note of it in my Bible! “Rain is a blessing” ❤️
Amen! That’s how we know we serve the same God 😁
Great insight on this verse, Jennifer. Thank you for sharing what you have learned and what the Holy Spirit revealed to you. That’s so awesome.
You’re welcome. Happy New Year!
Thank you for this. So insightful!