turn the other cheek

do not retaliate when someone wrongs you
—My mother always taught me that if someone insults me, I should just turn the other cheek .

In the Old Testament, God told the Israelites, through Moses, that if two men were fighting and hurt a woman, the punishment was to be

life for a life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise. (Exodus 21:23-25)

The meaning of this command is that a just punishment should be equal to, and not go beyond, the crime. From this we get the phrase eye for an eye, which today is used to mean “the punishment should be as severe as the crime.” But Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, taught that we should not seek revenge. Instead we should “turn the other cheek”:

You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, do not resist the evildoer. But whoever strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other to him as well [whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also]. And if someone wants to sue you and to take your tunic, give him your coat also. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two [whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain]. Give to the one who asks you, and do not reject the one who wants to borrow from you. (Matthew 5:38-42)

Because their land was controlled by the Romans, the Jews of Jesus’ day had to submit to the authority of Caesar, the Roman ruler, and his soldiers. Forces you to go one mile refers to a Roman soldier making a civilian travel with him to carry his belongings. Jesus’ teaching to go with the soldier two (“twain”) miles gives us the phrase go the extra mile. It means “to do more than is necessary or expected,” as in “He not only bought my meal, but he went the extra mile and paid for my taxi ride, too.”

Advertisements
Comments are closed.
  • All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://bible.org. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

    Scripture in brackets is from the King James Bible.

  • Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed by Craig Thompson under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

    Any reproduction of this content using passages from the NET Bible must follow NET Bible's copyright policy for use of those passages.

    For information on creating translations of Putting Words in Our Mouths, please go here.

  • Visit My Blog: Clearing Customs

    Culture Stress, Home, and Space, the Final Frontier

    Traveling to far-away places and coping with new surroundings brings about lots of adjustments—adjustments in thought patterns and in ways of doing even mundane tasks. Few know this as dramatically as those who have lived aboard the International Space Station. But you don’t need to venture into outer space to be able to relate to […]

    “Wherever You Go, There You Are” and Other Such Words of Wisdom

    Somewhere, in one of the back rooms of the internet, sits a frazzle-haired, bespectacled gentleman thumbing through a box of yellowed index cards. On each card is typed out a well-known saying, often in multiple versions, and it’s the man’s job to assign to each one a source. He doesn’t track down the actual origin, […]

  • Advertisements