"THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT"
Taking Revenge (Mt 5:38-42)
1. As we continue our study of Matthew 5 and Jesus'
"Sermon On The Mount," bear in mind that we are still
discussing the "The Righteousness Of The Kingdom"
2. We have seen Jesus contrast this "righteouseness" to that of the
scribes and Pharisees, in how they interpreted and applied the Law
to such matters as:
a. Murder (Vs 21-26)
b. Adultery (Vs 27-30)
c. Divorce (Vs 31-32)
d. Swearing Oaths (Vs 33-37)
3. In this lesson, we shall consider what Jesus taught concerning
[First, by comparing...]
I. THE LAW OF MOSES AND "THE TRADITIONAL INTERPRETATION AND APPLICATION"
A. CONCERNING THE STATEMENT: "AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A
1. It is found in Exo 21:24-25
2. A parallel passage is Deu 19:21
B. FROM THE CONTEXT, IT IS SEEN THAT THESE STATEMENTS WERE ACTUALLY LAWS
FOR THE CIVIL COURTS TO APPLY...
1. Notice carefully Deu 19:15-21; Exo 21:22-23
2. They were given to guide the priests in assigning proper punishment
C. IT APPEARS THAT THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES HAD...
1. Interpreted these statements so as to justify PERSONAL
2. Applied them by frequently taking matters of revenge into their
3. Acted just as many people do today!
D. BUT THE LAW OF MOSES REPEATEDLY FORBAD "PERSONAL" VENGEANCE...
1. Consider Lev 19:18; Prov 20:22; Prov 24:29
2. Both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, the matter of
vengeance was to be left up to God and His duly appointed
agents: CIVIL GOVERNMENTS - cf. Rom 12:19; Rom 13:1-4
[Therefore, there is really no difference between what the Law taught
and what we find in the New Testament; there is no place for personal
vengeance in the lives of those who are the children of God.
Now let's examine more closely...]
II. THE "RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE KINGDOM" AS TAUGHT BY JESUS
A. JESUS PROCLAIMED TWO PRINCIPLES...
1. DO NOT RESIST AN EVIL PERSON (v39a)
a. Not only should you not take vengeance into your own
b. But don't even oppose (resist) the evil person when the
evil is being done.
2. REACT TO THE EVIL BEING DONE, BY DOING GOOD. (39b-42)
a. This principle is illustrated by Jesus with several
1) Reacting to PHYSICAL ABUSE (v39b)
a) "Turn the other cheek"
b) This may refer to offering the other cheek as an
expression of love
2) Reacting to a CIVIL SUIT, by giving more than what the
person is suing for. (vs 40)
3) Reacting to GOVERNMENT OPPRESSION, by offering to do
more than what is being demanded of you. (vs 41)
4) Reacting to THOSE ASKING FOR HELP, by giving them what
ask for. (vs 42)
b. In each case, the principle is the same
1) We are not to resist the person...
a) Who would mistreat us
b) Who would try to deprive us of our possessions
2) Instead, react in a positive manner...
a) Demonstrate love towards them
b) Do so by giving them freely MORE than they were
hoping to gain by force, oppression, or manipulation.
B. IS THIS TO BE TAKEN LITERALLY?
1. Why not?
a. We have several Old Testament examples...
1) JOSEPH, in forgiving his brothers - Gen 45:4-15
2) DAVID, in sparing the life of Saul - 1 Sam 24:8-15
3) ELISHA, in feeding the army of the Arameans - 2 Kings 6:8-23
b. We also have several New Testament examples...
1) JESUS, our prime example - 1 Pe 2:20-23
2) STEPHEN, when he was being stoned - Ac 7:59-60
3) THE HEBREW CHRISTIANS, who "joyfully accepted" the
plundering of their goods - He 10:32-34
2. If not, then how do we apply these words of Jesus?
a. What does Jesus mean?
b. Are there other examples of how to apply these teachings?
C. ARE WE TO APPLY IT "UNCONDITIONALLY"?
1. That is, must we decide who is "worthy" to receive
this kind of treatment?
a. Jesus does not give us any indication that we are to use
b. Paul does give some qualifying instructions, e.g., 2 Th 3:10...
1) But it applies to those who are Christians
2) And we have a responsibility to "judge" those in the
church, leaving those outside to God - 1 Co 5:9-13
2. We find Christian attitude in the second century, A.D. quite striking.
a. "Do good, and give liberally to all who are in need from
the wages God gives you. Do not hesitate about to whom you
should not give. Give to all. For God wishes gifts to be
made to all out of His bounties." (Hermas, 135 A.D.)
b. "And he said to love not only our neighbors but also our
enemies, and to be givers and sharers not only with the
good but also to be liberal givers towards those who take
away our possessions." (Irenaeus, 185 A.D.)
c. "Do not judge those who is worthy and who is unworthy, for
it is possible for you to be mistaken in your opinion. In
the uncertainty of ignorance it is better to do good to the
unworthy for the sake of the worthy, than by guarding
against those who are less good not to encounter the good.
For by sparing and trying to test those who are well-
deserving or not, it is possible for you to neglect some
who are loved by God, the penalty for which is the eternal
punishment of fire. But by helping all those in need in
turn you must assuredly find some who are able to save you
before God." (Clement of Alexandria, 190 A.D.)
These statements were written at a time when Christians were constantly
mistreated, abused, and manipulated by others. Their attitude of
unconditional "peace and love," unique in the history of the world up until
that time, proved to be an inspiration
1. Summarizing the teachings of Jesus concerning vengeance...
a. Do not resist evil
b. Respond to evil by doing good in return
2. The teachings of Jesus in this passage are admittedly challenging,
and opposed to what we might call "human nature"
3. But we are called upon to be "partakers of the divine nature"
2 Pe 1:4; in other words, to be more like God than men
4. And as we will see in the next lesson, it is in order to be truly
"sons of your Father in heaven" that Jesus teaches a standard of
righteousness that far exceeds that of the Scribes, Pharisees, and
most people today.
At the very least, let us expend energy in seeing how we can apply this
passage to our lives. After all, many spend their energy trying to explain
that it doesn't really mean what it appears to say.
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