The Sermon On the Mount
Matthew, Chapter 5
Matthew 5:38-42) Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
Deuteronomy 19:21) In such cases show no mercy; the punishment is to be a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, and a foot for a foot. (GNB)
In regards to this command,
“This command is found in Exo_21:24; Lev_24:20, and Deu_19:21. In these places it was given as a rule to regulate the decisions of judges. They were to take eye for eye, and tooth for tooth, and to inflict burning for burning. As a judicial rule it is not unjust. Christ finds no fault with the rule as applied to magistrates, and does not take upon himself to repeal it. But instead of confining it to magistrates, the Jews had extended it to private conduct, and made it the rule by which to take revenge” [Barnes].
NOTE: The rule of law and that of personal conduct towards offenders are two different things. That’s true even today. The law is to be upheld, but believers are to react different than a courtroom judge. JESUS WILL NOW POINT OUT FOUR EXAMPLES TO THIS PRINCIPLE!!
39) But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
(CEV) But I tell you not to try to get even with a person who has done something to you. When someone slaps your right cheek, turn and let that person slap your other cheek.
(GW) But I tell you not to oppose an evil person. If someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn your other cheek to him as well.
(MSG) Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it.
Concerning “turn to him the other also,”
“That is, rather than avenge thyself, be ready to suffer patiently a repetition of the same injury. But these exhortations belong to those principally who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake” [Clarke].
“Our Lord’s own meek, yet dignified bearing, when smitten rudely on the cheek (Joh_18:22-23), and not literally presenting the other, is the best comment on these words” [JFB].
Jesus is not suggesting that we continually offer the other cheek until the offender beats us to a bloody pulp. Rather, He’s teaching that we should forgive the offence of the offender, rather than retaliate.
40) And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have [thy] cloke also.
(GNB) And if someone takes you to court to sue you for your shirt, let him have your coat as well.
(MSG) If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it.
Regarding this verse,
“The former, the shirt-like under-garment or tunic; the latter, the mantle, or ampler over-garment, which served as a covering for the night, and therefore was forbidden by the Levitical law to be retained in pledge overnight (Exo_22:26, Exo_22:27). To yield up this without resistance therefore implies a higher degree of concession” [Vincent].
Paul Taught the Same Principle:
1Corinthians 6:5-7) I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?
6) But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.
7) Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather [suffer yourselves to] be defrauded?
(CEV) When one of you takes another to court, all of you lose. It would be better to let yourselves be cheated and robbed.
(MSG) These court cases are an ugly blot on your community. Wouldn’t it be far better to just take it, to let yourselves be wronged and forget it?
In regards to I Corinthians 6:7,
“Why do ye not suffer yourself to be injured rather than to dishonor the cause of religion by your litigations” [Barnes].
Romans 12:17-21) Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
18) If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
19) Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
20) Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
21) Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good
We are instructed to love our enemies in practice, not just words. Very seldom will you be faced with a situation where someone hits you, but you will be faced with situations where someone mistreats you. What are you going to do then?
41) And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
(CEV) If a soldier forces you to carry his pack one mile, carry it two miles.
(GNB) And if one of the occupation troops forces you to carry his pack one mile, carry it two miles.
(MSG) And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life.
“The word is of Persian origin and means public couriers or mounted messengers (aggaroi) who were stationed by the King of Persia at fixed localities, with horses ready for use, to send royal messages from one to another. So if a man is passing such a post-station, an official may rush out and compel him to go back to another station to do an errand for the king. This was called impressment into service. This very thing was done to Simon of Cyrene who was thus compelled to carry the cross of Christ (Mat_27:32)” [Robertson].
With this same thought in mind,
“Rather, says he, than resist a public authority requiring your attendance and aid for a certain distance, go peaceably twice the distance” [Barnes].
QUESTION: In what way does our government “compel” us to do something?
What if our boss compels us to do something we don’t want to do? The occasion becomes an opportunity to demonstrate our Christian faith. Do what the boss asks us to, and do a little more, unless, of course, he/she is asking us to do something that is morally wrong.
42) Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
Regarding this verse,
“Jesus’ statement presupposes that the person who asks for help has a genuine need” [BBC].
“An acquaintance once told me, ‘Jesus said to give to the one that asks, but He didn’t say to give the asker what he/she was asking for.’ The point this person was making was that if wino was asking for money for food, when we all know that he’s more apt to use that money for whiskey, the more Christian thing to do would be to buy him some food.” [Hannah].
In regards to “give to him that asketh thee,”
“Palestine swarmed with blind, lepers, and maimed, who were dependent on charity” [PNT].
Concerning “turn not thou away,”
“The Lord does not bid to give to every one, not to loan to every one, for this would not be a blessing, but to have a spirit that will be ready to do so whenever it is right” [PNT].
Let’s not get hung up on rather Jesus meant all of these statements literally, or rather, He was using the craft of hyperbole to drive home some important points. Instead, let’s determine to be generous individuals when the situation calls for it.
Walk of Grace Chapel, Council Bluffs Church