Friday, April 03, 2015

How Should We Apply God's "Eye for Eye" and Jesus' "Turn the Other Cheek"?

In the Old Testament, Yahweh God Almighty required "an eye for an eye," but in the New Testament, Jesus said, "Whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also." (Matthew 5:39, WEB) Is that a contradiction? No, "an eye for an eye" and "turn the other cheek" do not contradict. Allow me to explain and clarify this common misconception of the Bible. The principle of "an eye for an eye" is how God's perfect justice system works. This means that in a court of law, the criminal should be punished in proportion to the crime they committed. A person who committed a big crime should receive a tougher punishment appropriate for their crime, while a person who committed a less significant crime should receive a lesser punishment. For example, if I steal something from you, I should not be punished with a death sentence, which is intended by God for murderers. Thus, "an eye for an eye" promotes fair judgment and punishment, and prevents unfair judgment and punishment. "An eye for an eye" should be followed and enforced in the court, not in personal, everyday matters. However, after God gave this law, people began abusing this law by using this in their personal, non-criminal matters. For example, if I slapped you, you would slap me back. If I pulled your hair, you would pull mine. This promoted personal revenge. This is the issue that Jesus dealt with. This is why he told us to "turn the other cheek," meaning that we should not take revenge. Slapping someone on the cheek, especially the right cheek, was a form of great insult in ancient Israel. So when Jesus said, "Whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also," he meant, "If someone greatly insults you, don't insult them back at all. Even let them continue to insult you without protesting." This follows God's principle: do not overcome evil with evil, but overcome evil with good. "An eye for an eye" should be used in only dealings with criminal matters in the court, while "turning the other cheek" should be used in everyday matters. Jesus is the most perfect example of "turning the other cheek." When he was insulted, hit, and spat at, he kept quiet. He never took revenge. As you can see, there's no contradiction concerning "an eye for an eye" and "turning the other cheek," because each principle is used for different purposes in different situations. Learn the Entire Bible in Depth from Genesis to Revelation via E-mail with Dr. Shirley Cheng: Want to know your Creator, understand your origin, and fulfill your purpose? Do you desire to obtain true, enduring wealth, happiness, and wisdom? Then obtain an in-depth knowledge of the Holy Scriptures (both the Tanakh and Greek Scriptures) by signing up for the free virtual class at

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