From Luke 1:68-79 (RSVCE), Catholics have a prayer that is termed CANTICLE OF ZECHARIAH (the Benedictus [cf. Traditional Prayers — Common Prayers | liturgyoffice.org.uk]). In it there is a section:


Through his holy prophets he promised of old that he would save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us. He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant.

This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to set us free from the hands of our enemies,


From Catholic teaching that is biblically supported, who are these enemies of Christians because obviously applying this passage to Christians, the traditional enemies of Israel - like the nations they battled - may most likely not apply to Christians.


Regarding the promise to Abraham:

Christians consider themselves to be the (spiritual) descendants of Abraham, certainly as it applies to inheriting the promises of God to Abraham. This is based on passages such as Matthew 3:9, Luke 3:8, Romans 9, and Galations 3:7. Therefore the passage you quote is taken to mean that God promises to protect Christians from their enemies.

Regarding Enemies

As for the interpretation of the word 'enemies', there appears to be no reason not to take this word in its straightforward meaning - i.e. those who are opposed to you and would do you harm. That's almost certainly how it was intended in the original. There is nothing inconsistent with Christians having enemies - how could we be commanded to 'love your enemies' if we didn't have them? Note that the prayer does not ask for evil or punishment to be done to those enemies, but only that Christians are protected from them.

  • Catholic teaching that is biblically supported - key in answering this question.
    – user13992
    Jan 20 '15 at 19:06

According to perennial Catholic teaching, the traditional enemies of Christians are the devil, the world, and the flesh.

PENNY CATECHISM Q348. Which are the enemies we must fight against all the days of our life?

A. The enemies which we must fight against all the days of our life are the devil, the world, and the flesh.

Biblical basis (not exhaustive)

The devil:

8 Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. - 1 Peter 5:8 (RSVCE).

The world:

The World’s Hatred 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." - John 15:18-19 (RSVCE).

The flesh: cf. The Inner Conflict - Rom 7:13-25 (RSVCE).


The enemies are spiritual, not temporal. This can be inferred from v. 73-4

The oath which he sware to Abraham our father, that he would give to us that without fear being delivered from the hand of our enemies, we may serve him.

The oath is from Gen. 22:16:

By my own self have I sworn, saith the Lord: because thou hast done this thing, and hast not spared thine only begotten son for my sake:

cf. Heb. 6:13-14:

For God promising to Abraham, because he had none great by whom he might swear, he sware by himself, saying, Unless blessing I shall bless thee, and multiplying shall multiply thee

  • Sorry, I don't think there is any evidence that this means spiritual rather than temporal enemies. The original quote and promise to Abraham certainly isn't just about spiritual enemies. Jan 20 '15 at 3:22
  • The enemies are spiritual - good beginning but incomplete.
    – user13992
    Jan 20 '15 at 19:05

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