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Teaching About Retaliation. 38 [a]“You have heard that it was said,(A) ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 (B)But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on [your] right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. 40 If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. 41 Should anyone press you into service for one mile,[b] go with him for two miles.(C) 42 Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.(D)

Love of Enemies.[c]

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Footnotes

  1. 5:38–42 See Lv 24:20. The Old Testament commandment was meant to moderate vengeance; the punishment should not exceed the injury done. Jesus forbids even this proportionate retaliation. Of the five examples that follow, only the first deals directly with retaliation for evil; the others speak of liberality.
  2. 5:41 Roman garrisons in Palestine had the right to requisition the property and services of the native population.
  3. 5:43–48 See Lv 19:18. There is no Old Testament commandment demanding hatred of one’s enemy, but the “neighbor” of the love commandment was understood as one’s fellow countryman. Both in the Old Testament (Ps 139:19–22) and at Qumran (1QS 9:21) hatred of evil persons is assumed to be right. Jesus extends the love commandment to the enemy and the persecutor. His disciples, as children of God, must imitate the example of their Father, who grants his gifts of sun and rain to both the good and the bad.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil; be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all.(A) 18 If possible, on your part, live at peace with all.(B) 19 Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”(C) 20 Rather, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.”(D) 21 Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.

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15 See that no one returns evil for evil; rather, always seek what is good [both] for each other and for all.(A)

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