MATTHEW 5:38-42 – IT’S A TRAP
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘EYE FOR EYE, and TOOTH FOR TOOTH.’ 39 But I say to you, do not show opposition against an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other toward him also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
WHAT DOES IT SAY?
Many contemporary and postmodern Jewish teachers will argue that these verses were never meant to be a means of retaliation, retribution or revenge, and instead were meant to maintain social and legal justice and equilibrium. But, the Bible, the Torah and history show otherwise.
Jesus is equally clear that an “EYE FOR EYE, and TOOTH FOR TOOTH” were like-kind compensation based on retaliation, and it is evil. This is why He says, do not show opposition against an evil person”, comparing this law of retribution to evil. So, it is no wonder Jewish teachers were making volumes of excuses and alternate explanations as to the meaning of this Law.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
The expression “lex talionis” is a Latin word meaning “retaliation” and comes from the first compilation of the Roman law, written in 450 BC and known as the Twelve Tables and written: “If a man has broken the limb of another man, unless he makes his peace with him, there shall be like for like, talio esto.” Different legal documents of the Ancient Near East sorts three kinds of retaliation that pattern the logic of the lex talionis, that is to say, based on a substantial restitution. The first is restitution in kind for someone’s property that someone else has damaged. To Rothkamm, this is a civil talio.
The second is an identical and equivalent retaliation that affects a bodily part of the perpetrator who has bodily harmed his victim. To Rothkamm this is a criminal talio.
Finally, there is what he calls the vicarious talio, which consists inharming or killing a relative of the perpetrator because the latter has harmed or killed someone’s relative. This solution is obviously violent and unfair since it ends up harming an innocent who is strange to the conflict.
Jewish law (The Torah) with all the subsequent additions, meant exactly what it said. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”, and if you live by this law, you shall die by this law. There is never fulfillment or satisfaction of this Law. It breeds resentment, sorrow, hatred and the continuing need for revenge.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?
Christianity should not reflect the culture of the world around it because Christianity is “Counter Cultural” and her mission is to influence and change the culture to reflect the image. Person and mind of Christ Jesus. Therefore, this teaching and these verses are exactly that: COUNTER CULTURAL, reflecting the image and mind of Christ Jesus.
Jesus, first reveals and then teaches the Eternal Truth, which has always been in existence, “do not show opposition against an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other toward him also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. “
A contemporary or postmodernist is likely to argue that Jesus’ teaching makes no sense whatever. But, then again, Spiritual matters are Spiritually discerned, so they are foolishness to the natural man or woman because they do not have the Spirit of God within them.
It is unfortunate that many, if not most, churches are no longer COUNTER to the current culture, instead, they are teaching you to mirror the culture as an attempt to appear relevant, thinking their relevance will attract them to the Truth. Another word for that is “Pandering”; the postmodern church is pandering to the current culture in order to appear relevant. It does not work.
God is calling people out of the world’s culture of false images, deception, and atheistic or religious humanism which promulgates fear, resentment, greed and ultimately, death, disease and destruction of the human soul.
WHAT WILL YOU DO?
Jesus says to Christians:
“Whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other toward him also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
Don’t surrender. Surrender is a trap to draw you away from God.
Don’t pander. Pandering is deceitful and it makes you a liar.
Don’t shrink back. That is cowardly and God takes no pleasure in that.
DO 10 Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.
DO 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
DO 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
DO 14 Stand firm therefore, having belted your waist with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and having strapped on your feet the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all,
DO take up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
DO 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
The “bottom line” is that the “power of our strength” comes from Him.
It is the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, Who gives you and me a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. The eyes of our hearts have been enlightened, so that you and I can know the hope of His calling, the riches of the glory of His inheritance in us, His saints, so you and I can know the boundless greatness of His power toward us who believe. This is in accordance with the working of the strength of His might (Ephesians 1:17-19, paraphrased)
IT IS A TRAP of Satan, to lure you away from His Holiness and from His and to snare you with evil thoughts of retribution and sin thereby rendering you exposed and ineffective in the Kingdom.
Your Brother and Friend,