An Eye For An Eye

Posted by Karah

Read Matthew 5:38-42 below. Then, dig deeper into what the words and phrases really mean.

“You have heard that it was said,
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

—Matthew 5:38–42


One of the oldest laws in the world, this principle was supposed to be used to help courts determine appropriate punishments that fit the crime.

A slap on the right cheek was usually a backhanded slap which was considered a high insult. In commanding His followers to turn the other cheek, Jesus was instructing us not to seek vengeance even when facing the worst offense possible.

In Jesus’ day, the outer garment called the coat was an essential garment since it protected people from the cold and doubled as a blanket for the poor. In Old Testament law, people could sue for others’ shirt (inner garment), but taking their coat was not permitted because it was too severe. Jesus’ instructed His followers to go beyond what the law said to reconcile with others.

Roman soldiers could legally force civilians to carry their gear for up to a mile. Jesus instructed His followers to carry it one more mile as an act of service and love.


The Point
If you’re a follower of Christ, you’re called to a radical way of life that won’t make sense in the world’s eyes. Are you living that way?


Take Action
How will you live radically different. Below, list three ways you’ll put today’s Scripture passage into practice in your life this week.

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