Matthew 5:38-48 exegesis is attached to
this article ..... :)
Ethics Mt 5:38-48 – love or revenge for your enemies?
In Mt5:38, Matthew opens this passage with a reference to Old Testament
law,which effectively limited revenge against our enemies, in a like-for-like
approach for damages. ie My eye was lost, so my revenge is limited to taking
out one of my enemy’s eyes.
In a radical contrast to the old law, Jesus summons His followers into a new
dependence on Him to deal with our enemies .“Do not resist”, He said Mt5:39
As Christians, we must be meek and we must not retaliate. This takes us
beyond the old law, into a higher realm of obedience. In spirit, we must align
our actions, with Jesus’ principle-based ethics. That is, the end results do not
justify the means. For example, as Christians, we are expected to lovingly
protect our family members, but it is not loving gesture, if we retaliate with
So, in following Jesus’ teachings, if someone does evil to you, then we should not
respond with a similar reaction and most Christians understand, that they
should not respond to evil with evil, although at times it is difficult.
As the degree of the offence against us increases in severity, the urge to
retaliate with a like-for-like mentality, increases.
If someone steals from us, it is relatively easy to forgive them for their actions.
However, if someone threatens us or attacks us physically, then it becomes
more difficult to respond, according to Jesus teachings.
And, if one nation drops a bomb on another nation?
How do Christians respond and is there any limitation to God’s command???
Ideally, there are no limitations, regarding our obedience to Christ.
If somebody offends us greatly, we are still called to forgive them, even 70 x 7
times, instead of retaliating with a like-for-like attitude.
By responding to others, using a like-for-like mentality, then we are no different
to those, who began the offensive evil ..... we become a tool for Satan to extend
evil. Instead, we are called to respond to our enemies, in a loving way. Mt 5:44.
Our battle against evil should not be physically waged against other humans,
but instead, our war should be waged on spiritual grounds, against Satan
himself and our best defence against Satan, is to obey God’s command and
“love your enemies”. In fact, we are called to even PRAY for them !~!Mt5:44
"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good
to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you,
andpersecute you."(Matthew 5:44)
This passage has stirred the emotions and responses of many theologians. Meir Y. Soloveichik, a Jewish scholar, in his essay titled "The Virtue of Hate" writes:
... Is an utterly evil man — like, Hitler, Stalin or bin Laden — deserving of a theist's love? I could never stomach such a notion... The danger inherent in hatred is that it must be very limited, directed only at the most evil and unrepentant. We who hate must be wary...lest we become like those we are taught to despise... The message is that hate allows us to keep our guard up, to protect us. When we are facing those who seek nothing but our destruction, our hate reminds us who we are dealing with. When hate is appropriate, then it is not only virtuous, but essential...
For Christians, the bottom line is:- If someone does evil to you - we cannot respond with evil. If we do, we are no different from the one who began the evil to begin with. Instead, we are called to respond lovingly and pray for our enemy.
" someone does evil to you - we cannot respond with evil. If we do, we are no different from the one who began the evil to begin with. Instead, we are called to respond lovingly and pray for our enemy"
So very true...not always easy to do my dear Yogi!!