WHAT  DOES  IT  MEAN TO "TURN  THE  OTHER  CHEEK"?


by  Harold  Hemenway (published in 1991)



All emphasis in this study whether by means of underlining, capitalization, or by any other method, is added by this author, and is not part of the original quotation.  Also, all Bible quotations, unless otherwise stated, are from the King James Version.


The reader of this booklet should not construe what is written to be specific advice or a course of action to be followed with regard to any psychological or legal needs, problems or goals. The author is not a psychologist or lawyer and therefore disclaims responsibility for any adverse effects resulting directly or indirectly from the material presented, suggested procedures, undetected errors, or reader misunderstanding.


Is self-defense Biblical? Why did Stephen pray for his enemies who were stoning him to death (Acts 7:60)? Why didn't Paul or Christ resist when both were slapped across the face (John 18:23; Acts 23:2)?  Why should servants (or employees) be subject to overbearing masters (or bosses) by enduring unjust punishment (1 Pet.2:18-20)? Doesn't a Christian become an accomplice when he blesses those who persecute him (Rom. 12:14) and does good to those who hate him (Matt.5:44) and lets himself be defrauded rather than pressing charges in court (1 Cor.6:7)?



These questions deserve answers. APPEASEMENT to evil men merely brings more aggression.  It always has and always will. APPEASEMENT tends to reinforce the rewards of bad behavior as well as cause everyone to LOSE RESPECT for the one doing the APPEASING. If a Christian lets himself be TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF and ABUSED and becomes a WEAKLING and "DOORMAT," he is contributing to crime. And yet Christ himself said "RESIST NOT EVIL, BUT WHOSOEVER SHALL SMITE THEE ON THY RIGHT CHEEK, TURN TO HIM THE OTHER ALSO."



WHAT DID CHRIST MEAN?



What did Christ actually mean? When we look beneath the surface, we find that Christ was actually speaking in a rather NARROW CONTEXT. He was giving advice on how to "SAVE FACE" when being OPPRESSED BY THE GOVERNMENT or PERSECUTED BY THOSE OVER YOU IN AUTHORITY.


In other words, when resisting is unlawful — when the enemy has a LEGAL RIGHT to take advantage of you — you

should submit more than he can LEGALLY require in order to show that your submission is voluntary and not motivated by coercion, intimidation, duress, fear or necessity. By showing that your submission was not due to "any LEGAL obligation, fear of force, or control the enemy has over you, YOU THEREBY TAKE AWAY THE SWEETNESS AND SATISFACTION OF SADISTIC "REVENGE" AND CAUSE THE SINNER TO FEEL ASHAMED AND REPENT. You convey the message that YOU WEREN'T GRUDGINGLY OBEYING HIM, BUT INSTEAD, DID IT BECAUSE YOU WANTED TO.


And indeed this is the case. The Christian is not being HYPOCRITICAL or a LIAR. Once his responsibility to defend himself ceases, he should genuinely want to do good in order to lead his enemy to repentance (cp. Rom. 2:4).  "Face-saving" is just a side benefit.



ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE SLAPPED?



But notice. Don't bless any old enemy. Only "Bless them who PERSECUTE you" (Rom.12:14). Don't pray for any old enemy. Only "pray for them who DESPITEFULLY USE YOU and PERSECUTE YOU" (Matt.5:44). Notice further that the context of 1 Peter 2 and 3 is one of SUPERIOR POWER OPPOSING AND PERSECUTING YOU. A Christian is advised to submit to the KING (2:13) and to GOVERNORS (2:14) and to MASTERS (2:18) and to the GOVERNMENT as Christ did when persecuted (2:21) and to HUSBANDS in the case of wives (3:1). There is no command to submit to a spoiled brat, or to a common hoodlum or psychotic killer.


Under normal circumstances, a man has no right to slap you. Paul said you SHOULDN'T "tolerate anyone who ORDERS YOU AROUND, or PREYS UPON YOU, or TAKES ADVANTAGE OF YOU, or PUTS ON AIRS OF SUPERIORITY, or STRIKES YOU IN THE FACE" (2 Cor. 11:20; TEV, RSV, TCNT).


But Christ wasn't talking about a normal circumstance. He was talking about GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS who had the LEGAL RIGHT to slap, with the backs of their hands, the right cheeks of those subjects they deemed to be impertinent. This practice was sometimes used against innocent people.  1 Kings 22:24 states, "But Zedekiah (the king of Israel) ... went near, AND SMOTE MICAIAH (God's prophet) ON THE CHEEK, and said, Which way went the Spirit of the Eternal from me to speak unto thee?"

John 18:22-23 states, "And when he (Jesus) had thus spoken, one of the OFFICERS who stood by STRUCK JESUS WITH THE PALM OF HIS HAND, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so? Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me?" Acts 23:2-3 states, "And the high priest, Ananias, commanded them that stood by him (Paul) TO SMITE - HIM ON THE MOUTH. Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall; for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?"


Letting the Bible interpret the Bible, the context is clearly GOVERNMENTAL OPPRESSION, not abuse from a backyard bully. If a Christian subject resists "the higher powers," he is resisting "the ordinance of God" (Rom.13:1-2). Besides, he would be easily overpowered and a worse punishment would befall him. If, on the other hand, he merely complies GRUDGINGLY as far as required, his persecutor will GLOAT at causing him pain. He hasn't overcome the evil with good (Rom.12:21).


With this as background, let's read Matthew 5:38-39 in its entirety and try to understand. Christ said, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth; But I say unto you that ye resist not evil (WHEN IT MEANS RESISTING THE ORDINANCE OF GOD), but whosoever (IN GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORITY) shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also (IN OTHER WORDS, SUBMIT MORE THAN HE CAN LEGALLY REQUIRE)"?



GIVE AWAY YOUR COAT?


Christ gave several other examples of how to "SAVE FACE" and LEAD GOVERNMENT OPPRESSORS TO REPENTANCE, but people misunderstand his teaching because they don't see the background or context of his remarks.


For instance, creditors had the RIGHT to take a debtor's shirt away as a pledge for the debt, even if the debtor was conscientiously doing his best to repay the debt. The law, which is found in Exodus 22:25-27, states, "If thou lend money to any of my people who is poor among you, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury (interest). IF THOU AT ALL TAKE THY NEIGHBOR'S RAIMENT TO PLEDGE, thou shalt deliver it unto him by the time that the sun goeth down; For that is his covering only; it is his raiment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep? And it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear; for I am gracious." This law allows a cruel creditor to literally TAKE YOUR SHIRT FROM OFF YOUR BACK, even if you are keeping up your payments on schedule. Furthermore, this puts the debtor in the helpless situation of relying entirely on his creditor's good will to return the shirt each night. The debtor must LEGALLY put himself at the mercy of the creditor.


If the Christian debtor were to resist by refusing to hand over his shirt, saying instead that he is up-to-date in his payments, and complaining that the shirt won't be returned to him each night, he is disobeying "the ordinance of God" and will, no doubt, suffer stricter measures at the hands of his creditor than he otherwise would. But if, on the other hand, he merely submits as far as required, he hasn't shown that his submission was VOLUNTARY and FREELY GIVEN. He appears instead to be complying GRUDGINGLY and UNWILLINGLY. Therefore, Christ said, "And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat (shirt), let him have thy cloak (coat) also (SUBMIT MORE THAN HE CAN LEGALLY REQUIRE)."


This is not being HYPOCRITICAL or LYING. Instead, it is LEADING an ENEMY in AUTHORITY to REPENTANCE. You can defeat an enemy by making him a friend, "FACE-SAVING" is just a side benefit.



WALK THE SECOND MILE?


Another example of PERSECUTION involved GOVERNMENT couriers and soldiers who had the RIGHT to require help from civilians in carrying their baggage one mile along the road. This practice may have been abused in countless ways. Possibly the BUSIEST, or MOST HANDICAPPED, Jews were selected AT THE MOST INCONVENIENT TIMES for this forced Roman labor. Notice an example of this practice in Luke 23:26: "And as they led him (Christ) away, they LAID HOLD UPON one Simon, of Cyrene, COMING FROM THE COUNTRY, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it AFTER JESUS." No doubt this was intended to humiliate Simon.


If a Christian subject RESISTS these "higher powers," he is RESISTING "the ordinance of God" which requires him to carry the baggage. Furthermore, he would suffer further humiliation and punishment for his rebellion. But if he just submits as far as required, he hasn't succeeded in showing that his submission was VOLUNTARY and FREELY GIVEN. The more UNWILLING he appears, the more satisfaction his persecutor gets. Thus Epictetus advised, "If there is a  requisition and a  soldier seizes it (your ass), let it go. Do not resist or complain, otherwise you will be first beaten, and lose the ass after all" (iv.1.79). And Christ said these words, "And whosoever (IN GOVERNMENT SERVICE) shall compel (a word of Persian origin meaning "to be a courier") thee to go a mile, go with him two (SUBMIT MORE THAN HE CAN LEGALLY REQUIRE)" (Matt.5:41).  (Mark 15:21 uses the same Persian-derived word in regard to Simon of Cyrene's forced labor, proving that this indeed is the meaning Christ intended.) Christ spoke these words in Capernaum — a Roman garrison town.

Again this is not HYPOCRITICAL. The Christian should not bother to explain how BUSY or HANDICAPPED he is, all to no avail. Instead, he has an opportunity to defeat his enemy by making him into a friend. He can BRING his ENEMY in POWER to REPENTANCE by his KINDNESS (cp.Rom.2:4). "FACE-SAVING" is a side-benefit also.


"GIVE TO HIM THAT ASKETH THEE"?


The last example Christ gave involved NEEDY BEGGARS who had a RIGHT to ask for, and expect, help from the community of Palestine in Christ's day. Some of these beggars, possibly moved by necessity, TOOK ADVANTAGE of this RIGHT. They became "LEGAL" thieves. As if to confirm this, Luke 6:30-35 records, "and of him that TAKETH AWAY THY GOODS ask them not again.... And if ye lend to them OF WHOM YE HOPE TO RECEIVE, what thanks have ye? For sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love YOUR ENEMIES and do good, and lend, HOPING FOR NOTHING AGAIN; and your reward shall be GREAT."


But what is the CONTEXT of these remarks? How could beggars become "LEGAL" thieves? Deuteronomy 15:7-9 explains:


If there be among you a POOR MAN of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Eternal thy God giveth thee, THOU SHALT NOT HARDEN THINE HEART, NOR SHUT THINE HAND FROM THY POOR BROTHER; BUT THOU SHALT OPEN THINE HAND WIDE UNTO HIM, AND SHALT SURELY LEND HIM SUFFICIENT FOR HIS NEED (not want), in that which he lacketh. Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, THE SEVENTH YEAR, THE YEAR OF RELEASE, IS AT HAND; and thine eye be evil against thy POOR BROTHER, and thou givest him nothing; and he cry unto the Eternal against thee, and it be SIN unto thee."


ALL DEBTS in Israel were CANCELLED OUT at the end of the SEVENTH YEAR (Deut.l5:l-4). By using this welfare system of God, a BEGGAR could easily TAKE ADVANTAGE of his CREDITORS as the SEVENTH YEAR progressed. He could borrow money JUST BEFORE the Day of Atonement in the SEVENTH YEAR, letting on he intended to pay the money back BEFORE THE DEADLINE, then make EXCUSES and STALL till the deadline (Atonement) had passed. LEGALLY, the LENDER was at the MERCY of the BORROWER in this case.


(Atonement was the day and date of release in Israel - Keith Hunt)


If a Christian creditor RESISTS such THIEVERY by not lending anything, he DISOBEYS GOD'S LAW — "the ordinance of God." He hasn't overcome evil with good (Rom.12:21). But because of the fact that BEGGARS were POWERLESS to enforce these welfare laws, many Israelites gave them nothing in spite of what God's law required. Thus, a Christian was NOT REQUIRED, in that sense, TO SUBMIT at all. Therefore, to submit more than he is required, he only needs to give what the BEGGAR ASKS — not TWICE AS MUCH as in the previous examples. This is Christ's advice: "Give to him that asketh thee (not to any "FOREIGNER" [unconverted man], but only to an Israelite brother (Christian), IN THE SEVENTH YEAR, to cover his NEED — Deut.l5:l-4), and from him that would borrow of thee (IN THE SEVENTH YEAR OUT OF NEED) turn not thou away (HE HAS NO POWER TO FORCE Y0U)(Matt.5:42).


The Christian is actually helping the BEGGAR, not because he expects to get his money back, but because ignoring his need would be disobeying "the ordinance of God." But if the Christian RESENTFULLY and RELUCTANTLY supplies PART or all of the need, he hasn't succeeded in showing that he is WILLING to permanently part with his money for the sake of God's law, and the BEGGAR will GLOAT at causing him pain. By FULLY and WILLINGLY supplying the NEED, he can REFORM this BEGGAR and make him into a FRIEND.  "FACE-SAVING" is a side benefit also.



"ENDURE GRIEF, SUFFERING WRONGFULLY"?



Other examples of "FACE-SAVING" submission can be found in the epistles and Acts. Notice especially the VERY IMPORTANT CONTEXT of these scriptures.


In first-century Palestine, masters had the RIGHT to PUNISH their slaves for wrongdoing. Some OVERBEARING masters, no doubt, WRONGLY PUNISHED their innocent slaves.


But, as Exodus 21:20-21 says, "if a man strikes his servant, or his maid with a staff, and he dies under his hand, he shall surely be punished. But if the victim is well after a day or two, HE SHALL NOT BE PUNISHED; FOR HE IS HIS PROPERTY" (Lamsa). Thus, the master is given some latitude to punish any way he sees fit, as long as the injury isn't PERMANENT.  If PERMANENT, the slave must be given his freedom as compensation (Ex.21:26-27).


(SLAVERY was allowed under the Old Covenant because like easy divorce was allowed, because of the hardness of the heart principle [a Jesus gave in Mat.19] -  the Israelite were in the main CARNAL, often  wanting to do as the nations around them. Polygamy also came under this "harness of heart" issue, and allowed under the Old Covenant. But as Jesus said, "from the beginning it was not so." Under the New Covenant practices like slavery, easy divorce, polygamy, is not allowed. Even allowing slavery under the Old Testament, God gave certain laws to make it somewhat humane and certainly not like it was practiced by many modern nations in the past - KEITH HUNT) 


The implications of this "ordinance of God" (Rom.13:2) carry over into 1 Peter 2:18-20, which states, "Servants, BE SUBJECT to your masters WITH ALL FEAR (respect); not only to the good and gentle but also to the OVERBEARING. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God ENDURE GRIEF, SUFFERING WRONGFULLY. For what glory is it if, when ye are buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when YE DO WELL, AND SUFFER FOR IT, YE TAKE IT PATIENTLY, this is acceptable with God."


If a Christian slave RESISTS his master's INJUSTICE, he "resisteth the ordinance of God" and will probably get beaten more severely than he would if he didn't resist. But if, on the other hand, he submits RESENTFULLY, he hasn't gone above and beyond the required point of submission. He has not succeeded in showing that his submission was VOLUNTARY and FREELY GIVEN. He has not LED his ENEMY in POWER to REPENTANCE (cp. Rom.2:4). He hasn't succeeded in making an enemy into a friend.  Nor has he "SAVED FACE." That is why Peter stresses taking the punishment PATIENTLY and WITH ALL FEAR (or RESPECT). These same principles also apply to EMPLOYEE-EMPLOYER relationships today, but not to the same degree.


Of course, the slave or employee should try to explain to his master or boss why he is INNOCENT if the master or boss is not evil or antagonistic. But a person's responsibility to DEFEND HIMSELF ceases when PERSECUTION enters.


(THE IMPLEMENTATION of certain parts of the New Testament or Covenant, sometimes took a while to to be enacted. The New Testament Christian sometimes found themselves under a pagan nation, when it came to slavery, hence he had to conduct himself[herself] accordingly; he[she] could not always get freedom when they became a Christian. Then it was only over time that most nations of the world "did away" with slavery as they realized it really was a wrong custom to practice. So the New Testament gave instructions for people who found themselves between a rock and a hard place, as the saying goes. Likewise polygamy was not stopped immediately under the New Testament. The man with many wives on becoming a Christian, would not throw out his wives onto the street, just saving the one he physically or whatever, he liked the best. He as now a Christian would not take any more wives. Hence the practicality of polygamy was slowly phased out of New Testament Christianity. The argument that Paul and others did not directly with emphasis, teach that tithes should now under the New Testament, come to the apostles, was because the Temple and Priesthood [given by God under Moses] still stood; hence that order could still take tithes from anyone, including Christians. Only after 70 A.D. when the Temple and priesthood was officially in God's sight, ended, could Christians be expected to tithe only to the Church of God. Many people do not stop and think about the fact that some laws of God CHANGED over a period of time, phased out shall we say in time. The Church knew there was no need for a Jerusalem conference to decide the issue as in the matter of circumcision; they knew some laws like polygamy and tithing to whom, would in time work their own way out correctly within the Church of God - KEITH HUNT)



"LAY NOT THIS SIN TO THEIR CHARGE"?



Another example of OPPRESSION involved the Sanhedrin, the supreme court of Israel. Under Roman law, the Sanhedrin didn't have the right to carry out death sentences, even for such sins as blasphemy and idolatry. But under God's law, the Sanhedrin DID HAVE THE RIGHT to punish people with forty stripes (Deut.25:1-3). Felonies and major crimes, however, were Moses' jurisdiction (Ex. 18:22; Deut.17:12). Later, the Sanhedrin sat "in Moses' seat" (Matt.23:2) with power of life and death. Thus, Stephen was put to death by this body on one occasion after false charges were laid against him. Acts 16:11-13 states:


Then they suborned men, who said, We have heard him (Stephen) speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council (Sanhedrin), And set up false witnesses, who said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law.


After Stephen gave a DEFENSE, they cast him out of the city "and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, AND CRIED WITH A LOUD VOICE, LORD, LAY NOT THIS SIN TO THEIR CHARGE. And when he had said this, he fell asleep" (Acts 7:58-60).


(THE JEWS were often, in the way they handed out punishment, OVERLOOKED by the Roman authorities; in other words the Roman authorities often turned a blind eye to Jewish religious practices, unless it got way out of hand. The Roman allowed to Jews to practice their religion [including punishments] if the Jews did not rise up in arms against the Romans. The Romans often could care less if the Jews killed or put to death one of their own, for their religious beliefs, where the Old Testament allowed the death sentence for some crimes within the Jewish religion. It was the basic attitude of the Romans to allow the Jews to practice their religion, as long as the Jews obeyed and did not rise up against the Romans. Then the Jews would also "play both ends against the middle" at times; they wanted Jesus killed under Roman laws, so they said Jesus said He was a king; they dressed it all in the "insurrection" idea against Rome. To make Jesus' death look like it was from Rome, and breaking Roman law, that would have Jesus killed under Roman crucifixion. It was a cunning plot to makeup Jesus was a threat to Rome. The leaders of the Jews were making it look like they were the "good guys" - serving Rome, to get rid of someone planning to overthrow Rome. KEITH HUNT) 


If a Christian subject RESISTS these "higher powers," he is RESISTING "the ordinance of God" in the sense that "there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God" (Rom.13:1-2). Stephen's hands were undoubtedly TIED BEHIND HIS BACK and it would have been FUTILE for him to have tried to RESIST. But on the other hand, if he had merely stood there SILENTLY as the rocks hit his head, he wouldn't have shown that his submission was VOLUNTARY and FREELY GIVEN out of respect for "the ordinance of God" and in order to make his enemies FEEL ASHAMED and REPENT. So he KNEELED DOWN (rather than standing or trying to run away).


(IN CERTAIN SITUATIONS the Christian has not much choice but to stand for the truths of God, and be killed by certain authorities…. such was the fate by thousands of saints down through the last 2,000 years. KEITH HUNT)


Then he followed Christ's advice in Matthew 5:44:  "But I say unto you, Love your enemies (WHEN RESISTING MEANS DISOBEYING THE ORDINANCE OF GOD), bless them that curse you (WHEN RESISTING MEANS DISOBEYING THE ORDINANCE OF GOD), do good to them that hate you (WHEN RESISTING MEANS DISOBEYING THE ORDINANCE OF GOD), and PRAY FOR THEM WHO DESPITEFULLY USE YOU, AND PERSECUTE YOU (WHEN RESISTING MEANS DISOBEYING THE ORDINANCE OF GOD). Anything less is merely required submission that appears FORCED and INVOLUNTARY.


Notice that Stephen didn't QUIETLY pray this "FACE-SAVING" prayer. THAT WOULD HAVE SERVED NO PURPOSE. Rather, he CRIED with a LOUD VOICE so his persecutors could hear and FEEL ASHAMED. Stephen LED his ENEMIES to REPENTANCE by taking away any SATISFACTION or "SWEET REVENGE" these executioners may have felt. Christ did the same thing in front of his executioners by saying OUT LOUD, "FATHER, FORGIVE THEM; FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO" (Luke 23:34). He didn't pray A SILENT PRAYER FOR HIS ENEMIES as so many do today, who misunderstand the whole purpose of this kind of submission.


VERBAL SELF-DEFENSE


Under normal circumstances, of course, a Christian should DEFIANTLY pray AGAINST his ENEMIES just as David did in Psalm-35:1-6, saying, "FIGHT AGAINST those who fight against me. Let them BE CONFOUNDED and PUT TO SHAME ... let them BE TURNED BACK and BROUGHT TO CONFUSION … Let them BE AS CHAFF … Let their way DARK AND SLIPPERY" etcetera.


Or as Zechariah said, "The Eternal look upon it (the evil), and require it" (i.e. "avenge me") (2 Chr.24:22).


We also read that Jeremiah was commanded by God to "PRAY NOT for this people" (Jer.7:16; 11:14; 14:11; cp. 18:18-23) because their sins were so great.


Or as Paul stated in 2 Timothy 4:14: "Alexander, the coppersmith, did me much evil; THE LORD REWARD HIM ACCORDING TO HIS WORKS," and in 1 Corinthians 16:22: "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, LET HIM BE ANATHEMA MARANATHA (literal Aramaic means (let him be ACCURSED at Christ's coming")."


Christian martyres in the middle ages are even pictured as praying, "How long, 0 Lord, holy and true, dost thou not JUDGE AND AVENGE OUR BLOOD ON THEM that dwell on the earth?" (Rev.6:10). This is certainly NOT a BLESSING.


But "Christians" have been misled. They read statements like "Bless them who persecute you" and "if thine enemy hunger, feed him" (Rom.12:14,20) and don't realize that BOTH statements were made in the context of GOVERNMENT PERSECUTION. Both statements prefix the thirteenth chapter of Romans which concerns the subject of SUBMISSION TO LAWFUL GOVERNMENT. At the tail end of the twelfth chapter, Paul said,  Recompense to no man evil for evil (JUSTICE in SELF-DEFENSE is not EVIL!) ... So far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves but, rather, give place unto wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore, if thine enemy (IN GOVERNMENT) hunger, feed him; if he (THE GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL) thirst, give him drink; FOR IN SO DOING THOU SHALT HEAP COALS OF FIRE ("jealous love — Song. 8:6; "purification" — Isa.6:6-7) ON HIS HEAD. Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (N.Sco.; RSV). In other words, LEAD him to REPENTANCE! Then the thirteenth chapter begins with, "Let every soul be SUBJECT unto the HIGHER POWERS .... Whosoever, therefore, RESISTETH the POWER, RESISTETH the ORDINANCE OF GOD" (Rom.13:1-2). This is the key!

Verbal self-defense not only includes praying against one's enemies, but also includes rebuking. More on this later.


PHYSICAL SELF-DEFENSE


One of the little-known facts about Romans 12 is that it is quoted, in part, from Deuteronomy 32:35 which says "To me belongeth vengeance, and recompense." (see also Lev. 19:18). Therefore, THIS PRINCIPLE MUST NOT CONTRADICT OTHER "OLD TESTAMENT" PRINCIPLES TEACHING SELF-DEFENSE OR "AN EYE FOR AN EYE" (Deut.19:21; Lev.24:20). This is not some NEW teaching that Paul thought up for Christians. Other "Old Testament" principles must be COMPLEMENTARY! The admonitions to not pay back evil for evil are found throughout the Old Testament (Deut.32:35,43; Lev.19:18; 1 Sam.25:26,33; Ps.94:1-3; Pr.24:17-19,29; Ez.25:12; Na. 1:2-3). This is proof they don't SUPERCEDE the principles of JUSTICE and SELF-DEFENSE, some of which are even found in the New Testament too.



After all, the court judges and police ARE God's ministers (Rom.13:4) and so for a Christian to use the court system and police to obtain JUSTICE is actually GOD'S vengeance — not MAN'S vengeance. As Deuteronomy 16:18 says, "Appoint yourselves JUDGES and POLICE for your tribes" (Living Torah; cp.l:15). If it is "evil" or "vengeance" to use these officials, then the Bible contradicts itself.


A Christian has the RIGHT and RESPONSIBILITY to defend himself. If he discovers a thief breaking into his home at night, he has a RIGHT to KILL the thief, according to Bible law (but not man's law), since it is UNCLEAR whether the man is a thief or murderer and the thief CANNOT BE RECOGNIZED and APPREHENDED LATER (Ex.22:2-3). SELF-DEFENSE is distinguished from PREMEDITATED MURDER (Ex.21:13-14; Num.35). Even in the New Testament we see this clear distinction. On the one hand, Christ said, "all they that take the SWORD shall perish with the SWORD" (Matt.26:52) when it is used against LEGAL AUTHORITY or the INNOCENT. Christ DEFENDED his Father's house from "THIEVES" on at least two occasions by using "A SCOURGE OF SMALL CORDS" against these thieves and forcefully overturning their tables and pouring out their money (Matt.21:12-13; John 2:14-16) and we should follow his example (1 Pet.2:21; 1 John 2:6). Everyone has the RESPONSIBILITY to protect the temple of his body (1 Cor. 3:16). Even a rape victim has an OBLIGATION to RESIST at least in a VERBAL way (Deut.22:23-27). (AND in the best physical way if possible - KEITH HUNT)


Make no mistake about it. The Bible teaches SELF-DEFENSE (Ex.15:3; Deut.20:3-4; 2 Sam.22:35; Ps.18:24; 118:10; Jer.51:20; Joel 3:9-10; Matt.10:34; Luke 11:21; 12:51; 19:27; 22:360.


God DEFENDS those who DEFEND themselves. God doesn't do for us what we can and should do for ourselves. A Christian who refuses to own a GUN, because he thinks God will protect him, should remember that we "should not TEMPT the Lord" our God (Matt.4:7) by DELIBERATELY putting our lives in JEOPARDY!

(THIS is not to say a Christian SHOULD own a gun. It certainly is not against any law of God to own a gun; but there are many other ways also to do self-defence - KEITH HUNT)


LEGAL SELF-DEFENSE


Yet many Christians think FIGHTING of any kind and for any reason is WRONG. They don't understand that there is "a time for WAR and a time for PEACE" (Eccl.3:8; NIV; cp. Luke 14:31-33).


(FOR THE PURELY CARNAL MINDED AS UNDER THE OLD COVENANT this may have been so. Luke is a PARABLE not automatically a literal teaching in its example that Christians can make war - maybe the large political Roman church took it as such, hence they did make war with other nations, and God's true people down through the last 2,000 years. The subject of the Christian being part of a nation's war machine is covered in other studies on this website - KEITH HUNT) 


But many Christians REFUSE to GO TO COURT against wrongdoers, or to "SUE FOR DAMAGES, thinking they are following Paul's advice in 1 Corinthians 6:1-7. Paul says, "Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? ... Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? No, not one that shall be able to judge between his BRETHREN? But BROTHER goeth to law with BROTHER, and that before the unbelievers. Now, therefore, there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law with one another. Why do ye not rather SUFFER WRONG? Why do ye not rather ALLOW YOURSELVES TO BE DEFRAUDED?"


The context is a disagreement between TWO CONVERTED CHRISTIANS. Therefore, such a disagreement could not possibly be of very GREAT MAGNITUDE or CONSEQUENCE. Otherwise one of the parties is really NOT CONVERTED (Gal.5:10; Philip.3:15) because Christ's mind and spirit won't fight itself. Paul is merely urging a certain TOLERANCE and MERCY toward the MINOR ACCIDENTS and OFFENSES of BROTHERS. Obviously MURDER, RAPE and EXTORTION were not what Paul had in mind.


(A CHRISTAIN DOING such large sins would hardly be a real Christian at that point  - KEITH HUNT)


Also, Christ said, "Agree with thine adversary quickly (SETTLE OUT OF COURT) ... LEST AT ANY TIME THE ADVERSARY DELIVER THEE TO THE JUDGE, AND THE JUDGE DELIVER THEE TO THE OFFICER, AND THOU BE CAST INTO PRISON" (Matt.5:25). In other words, the "ordinance of God" is on his side even though he is in the wrong. So submit before he can require your submission — while it's still VOLUNTARY. LEAD an ENEMY to REPENTANCE because of your GOODNESS and "SAVE FACE" in the bargain. 



But Paul himself was brought to law "BEFORE THE UNJUST" on numerous occasions and DIDN'T HESITATE to DEFEND himself. He didn't "TAKE WRONG." Instead, he used the legal procedure of appealing "UNTO CAESAR" — the higher court at Rome which a Roman citizen had the RIGHT to appeal to (Acts 25:11).  Paul didn't allow himself "TO BE DEFRAUDED" for a moment by Festus, but STOOD HIS GROUND legally, and WOULD NOT ALLOW himself to be tried in the Jerusalem courts (25:9-11). He DIVIDED HIS OPPOSITION on the supreme court of Israel by his SHREWD testimony in court (Acts 23:6). He exercised his RIGHTS of Roman citizenship to DEFEND himself before being bound and scourged (22:24-29) and thereby INTIMIDATED the officers who had bound him. On another occasion, he again REFUSED to "TAKE WRONG," but instead FORCED the magistrates to acknowledge his RIGHT as a Roman citizen to stay in their city of Philippi if he wanted to (Acts 16:35-40). Yes, Paul DEFENDED himself LEGALLY on many occasions (22:1; 23:1; 24:10-13; 25:8-12; Philip.1:7).


BUT SELF-DEFENSE HAS LIMITS


Evil persecutors, with the "ordinance of God" backing them, should not be REBUKED or PUNISHED. Instead, they should be brought to repentance by "TURNING THE OTHER CHEEK." This is one of the LIMITS to SELF-DEFENSE.


But are there other LIMITS? What about when "the ordinance of God" is not backing an evil enemy?


For instance, why did King David allow Shimei to curse and condemn him wrongly without defending himself or punishing this subordinate of his (2 Sam.16:5-14)? Why did Hezekiah command his men to ignore Rabshakeh's boastful insults (2 Kings 18:36)? Why did Christ remain silent when he was falsely accused (Mark 15:3-5; Acts 8:32-33; 1 Pet.2:18-24)? The "ordinance of God" didn't play a part in the submission in any of these cases.


It is normal and biblical to REBUKE and PUNISH sin. The Bible teaches that "If your brother sins against you, REBUKE him; and if he repents, forgive him" (Luke 17:3-4). And "Thou shalt in any wise REBUKE thy neighbor, lest you bear sin because of him" (Lev.19:17; KJV; RSV). And also "Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceits" (Pr.26:4).


(THE SITUATION will usually tell you when SELF-DEFENCE  should and can be used. Thugs in the neighbourhood, someone breaking in your home at night, even a group of armed men from an enemy army, coming and wanting to do you and/or your family harm or even kill you; you have a right within God's law to defend yourself, if it is impossible to flee. No one should stand by [if they are not tied down] and see their wife and daughters raped or killed. In such situations it should be the natural manly thing to defend your love ones. If taken as a Christian, for your faith, and you cannot flee, you may not but have to stand for the faith and take whatever the enemy hands out to you, including death, as many down through time have given their lives for God's truth and Gospel  -  KEITH HUNT) 




IS "AN EYE FOR AN EYE" ABOLISHED?




The law of "tit for tat" or equal retaliation is a good law! It deliberately LIMITS the amount of that can be taken, so the punishment fits the crime. This prevents "BLOOD FEUDS" and ESCALATING QUARRELS.  The law also takes the power of punishing AWAY FROM THE PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL and puts it in the hands of an OBJECTIVE JUDGE.


The truth is that Christ never ABOLISHED, but only MAGNIFIED, the Old Testament laws (Matt.5:17-20; Isa. 42:21). The law said "Thou shalt not KILL" (Ex.20:13) and Christ added that "whosoever is ANGRY with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of judgment" (Matt.5:22). The law said "Thou shalt not COMMIT ADULTERY" (Ex.20:14) and Christ added that "whosoever LOOKETH ON A WOMAN TO LUST AFTER HER hath committed adultery with her already" (Matt.5:28). The law said the husband must write his wife "a bill of divorcement" if he found SOME UNCLEAN-NESS IN HER (Deut.24:l) and Christ added that this uncleanness must be ONLY OF THE "PORNEA" VARIETY — not any minor fault! The law said "ye shall not ... PROFANE THE NAME OF THY GOD" (Lev.19:12) and Christ added that a Christian should merely say "Yea" or "Nay" SO THERE ISN'T EVEN A CHANCE OF PROFANING GOD'S NAME.


In none of these four examples did Christ do away with the Old Testament law. ALL ARE STILL IN EFFECT. He merely added the full principle, spirit and intent to the letter of the law. So why do so many "Christians" think the fifth example of "An eye for an eye" (Ex.21:24) is somehow abolished? God is a God of JUSTICE (Job 34:12). WHY SHOULDN'T A CRIMINAL REAP WHAT HE SOWS? ….


(THIS LAW OF AN EYE FOR AND EYE, IS OFTEN MISUNDERSTOOD. ISRAEL WAS NEVER A NATION OF ONE EYED, ONE ARM, ONE LEG, ONE HAND ETC. PEOPLE. THIS LAW WAS ALWAYS FROM MOSES' TIME, UNDERSTOOD AS "JUST RECOMPENSE" FOR WRONGS COMMITTED. OTHER LAWS IN ISRAEL ALSO SHOW JUST RECOMPENSE AS ANYONE CAN SEE IF THEY READ ALL THE LAWS OF MOSES. THIS SECTION OF SCRIPTURE WITH THE EYE OR AN EYE, IS SIMPLY THE WAY OF PUTTING ALL LAWS OF RECOMPENSE UNDER A FIGURE OF SPEECH PHRASEOLOGY --  KEITH HUNT)



WHEN YOU COMMIT THE SAME SINS AGAINST OTHER PEOPLE


David's conduct can be explained with the maxim that people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.  Shimei wasn't over David in authority. Yet there is no doubt that what Shimei did was wrong (2 Sam.19:16-23). David was guilty of murder and adultery (2 Sam.12:9-11) and so when Shimei threw stones at him (16:6) and cursed David and called him names (16:7-8), David said "let him curse, because the Lord hath said unto him Curse David ... let him alone, and let him curse, for the Lord hath bidden him" (16:10-11).


When you commit the same sins against other people, and want others to tolerate you without REBUKING or PUNISHING, then overlook these sins in other people to the same degree. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" (Matt.5:7). Only perfect people can demand perfect treatment since we all must reap what we have sown (Gal.6;7).


If somebody sins against you, Christ said, "why beholdest thou the mote (splinter) that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote (splinter) out of thy brother's eye" (Matthew 7:3-5). Yes, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone" (John 8:7).


If somebody sins against you, Solomon said, "take no heed unto all words that are spoken, lest thou hear thy servant curse ("insult" — TEV) thee. For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed ("insulted" — TEV) others" (Eccl.7:21-22). Also, "Be not righteous overmuch, neither make thyself overwise. Why shouldest thou destroy thyself?" (Eccl. 7:16).


If somebody is kind to you, by the same token, or has done a good deed for you, and you failed to THANK that person, then you have no right to REBUKE somebody who is unkind or evil to you to the same degree. If you have not REPAYED a kindness, you have no right to PUNISH someone who is unkind to the same degree.



WHEN YOU COMMIT THE SAME SINS AGAINST GOD



Another related principle should also be mentioned here. When you commit the same sins against God that other people commit against you, and you want God to tolerate you by not REBUKING or PUNISHING, then overlook these sins in other people to the same degree as you fall short of what you understand God's will to be, since otherwise nobody could rebuke or punish at all.


We have all sinned against Christ and yet "HE ANSWERED NOTHING. And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? Behold how many things they witness against thee. BUT JESUS YET ANSWERED NOTHING, so that Pilate 'marvelled'(Mark 15:3-5). CHRIST DIDN'T REBUKE US. He didn't defend himself or even answer the questions put to him.


As Acts 8:32-33 says, "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb (silent) before his shearer, SO OPENED HE NOT HIS MOUTH (He didn't rebuke.); In his humiliation his judgment was taken away" BY US TO WHATEVER EXTENT WE'VE SINNED AGAINST HIM. Thus, we don't have the right to REBUKE those who sin against us to the same degree.


He wasn't gagged or muffled into his voluntary silence and neither should we be. He could have fought the injustice and won with "more than twelve legions of angels" (Matt.26:53) but didn't and neither should we. While we were yet sinners (Rom.5:8-10), his goodness led us to repentance (Rom.2:4). While we were "ungodly" and not "righteous" or "good," Christ died for us (Rom.5:6-8). He "endured such contradiction of sinners against himself" (Heb.l2:3) that even God forsook him (Matt. 27:46). He was made "sin for us" (2 Cor,5:21) to whatever extent we've sinned.


In 1 Peter 2:18-24 we read, "Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle but also to the froward (or perverse). For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God ENDURE GRIEF, SUFFERING WRONGFULLY. For what glory is it if, when ye are buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example (to whatever extent we've sinned against him knowing better), THAT YE SHOULD FOLLOW HIS STEPS; Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; Who, when he was reviled, REVILED NOT AGAIN' (didn't answer back); when he suffered, HE THREATENED NOT, but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously; who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree." He also "ANSWERED NOTHING" and "OPENED ... NOT HIS MOUTH" as an example for us to the extent we sin against him.


Thus, we don't have the right to PUNISH everyone who sins against us. It depends on our status with God. Christ hasn't PUNISHED us for whatever part, small or large, we've had in murdering him.


We read that "the kingdom of heaven (is) likened unto a certain king, who would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, who owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not with which to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold ... and payment to be made. The servant, therefore, fell down, and worshipped him, saying, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.  Then the lord of that servant was moved with COMPASSION, and LOOSED HIM, and FORGAVE HIM THE DEBT. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, who owed him an hundred pence (a small debt by comparison, but perhaps the same percentage of the whole as the larger debt was); and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me what thou owest. And his fellow servant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me and I will pay thee all. And he would not, but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.... Then his lord, after he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt because thou desiredst me. SHOULDEST NOT THOU ALSO HAVE HAD COMPASSION ON THY FELLOW SERVANT, EVEN AS I HAD PITY ON THEE? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye, from your hearts, forgive not every one his brother his trespasses" (Matt.18:23-35).


Within certain limits, God's point of tolerance is set by our own treatment of others. But if we were to become altogether lenient and forebearing, God would still REBUKE and PUNISH us to a minimum degree (Pr.3:12; Heb. 12:5-6; Rev.3:19), showing that the ideal is somewhere in between the extremes of absolute justice and totally boundless mercy.


If a person REBUKES and PUNISHES every time somebody sins against him, he hardens and embitters the sinner to the point where it is impossible for the sinner to repent without appearing to grovel. In contrast, God gives "space to repent" (Rev.2;21) and Paul warned fathers to "provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged" (Col.3:21).


Also "A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit on it, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none. Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he, answering, said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it; And if it bear fruit, well; and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down" (Luke 13:6-9).


So we can see that SELF-DEFENSE has additional LIMITS beyond merely submitting to an enemy with the "ordinance of God" backing him. "Turning the other cheek" is also for when you commit the same sins against other people or God. This explains King David's submission and also explains why we should follow Christ's example of submission. But are there any other LIMITS to SELF-DEFENSE?



WHEN OTHER PEOPLE COMMIT PETTY SINS AGAINST YOU



Proverbs 9:7 states, "He that REPROVETH a scorner getteth to himself shame, and he that REBUKETH a wicked man getteth himself a blot." "REPROVE NOT a scorner lest he hate thee; REBUKE a wise man, and he will love thee" (Pr.9:8). The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent man IGNORES AN INSULT" (Pr.l2:16; RSV). "A scorner heareth not REBUKE" (Pr.l3:l). "The beginning of strife is like when one letteth out water; therefore, QUIT before the quarrel breaks out" (Pr.l7:14; KJV & RSV).


Good sense makes a man slow to anger, and it is his glory to IGNORE INSULTS" (Pr.l9;ll; RSV & LB). It is an honor for a man to KEEP ALOOF FROM STRIFE, but every fool will be quarrelling"(Pr.20:3; RSV). "SPEAK NOT in the ears of a fool; for he will despise the wisdom of thy words" (Pr.23:9). "DO NOT ANSWER a fool in the terms of his folly, lest thou also be like unto him" (Pr.26:4; Jerus. & KJV).


Titus 3:9-11 says, "take no part in foolish disputations and pedigrees and arguments and quarrels about the law for they are unprofitable and lead nowhere. If a man is causing division among you, after WARNING HIM ONCE OR TWICE HAVE NOTHING MORE TO SAY TO HIM and excuse yourself knowing that such a person is set in his wrong way. He is sinning and he knows it and stands self-condemned in his sin" (TEV, NIV, NASB, Phi, TCNT, Rhm, Beck, Mof, NEB).


Matthew 7:6 says, "Give not that which is holy unto dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you."


The Bible teaches that quarrelling, arguing, strife, and contention are all evil (2 Tim.2:14,24; Matt.12:19; Titus 3:9; 1 Cor.1:11; 11:16; Rom.2:8; Gal.5:20; 2 Cor. 12:20; Rom.1:29; 1 Tim.6:4; Philip.2:3; James 3:14-16).


An example of these principles can be found in 2 Kings 18:36 where Hezekiah commanded his men to IGNORE the Rabshakeh's boastful threats.and subtle questions. The scripture says "the people HELD THEIR PEACE, AND ANSWERED HIM NOT A WORD; for the king's commandment was, saying, ANSWER HIM NOT."


The examples of Hezekiah, and Christ, illustrate the fact that it is correct to ignore INSULTS and DEMEANING QUESTIONS sometimes. But see also John 18:22-23, Acts 23:4-5, Mark 14:61-62 and 1 Kings 22:24-25.


We've now reviewed many of the LIMITS of SELF-DEFENSE. We must not resist evil men backed by "the ordinance of God." We shouldn't resist evil men when we have committed the same sins against man or God. We must not resist evil men without first giving "space to repent." We shouldn't resist evil men's foolish insults. Many other reasons for not resisting evil men could also be included in this list as valid. These are times to SUBMIT and "TURN THE OTHER CHEEK."


(NOT RESISTING GOVERNMENTS IS A QUESTION THAT MUST BE CAREFULLY EXAMINED, TO SEE WHEN IT IS WITHIN CORRECT GODLY CIRCLES; THE EXAMPLE WOULD  BE THE  GOVERNMENT  OF  ALDOLF  HITLER, AND  MANY  WHO  HAVE  FOLLOWED  HIM  SINCE. IF  THE  GOVERNMENT  IS  OBVIOUSLY  NOT  CLOSE  IN  ITS  LAWS  TO  THE  LORD'S  WORD,  THE  CHRISTIAN  HAS  THE  RIGHT  TO  TAKE  THE  GOVERNMENT  TO  COURT,  AS  MANY  HAVE  DONE,  AND  WON  IN  THE  SUPREME  COURT  OF  THE  LAND.  IF  THERE  IS  NO  SUPREME  COURT  BECAUSE  THE  GOVERNMENT  IS  A  DICTATORSHIP,  THEN  A  CHRISTIAN  EITHER  FLEES,  OR  STANDS  FOR  THEIR  FAITH  AND  TRUTH,  AND  TRUE  CORRECT  JUSTICE,  AND  TAKES  WHATEVER  THAT  GOVERNMENT  HANDS  TO  THEM;  FOR  MANY  CHRISTIANS  THAT  HAS  BEEN  THE  ULTIMATE  -  DEATH,  AS  HISTORY  HAS  RECORDED.  GOVERNMENTS  OF  MEN  ARE  NOT  AUTOMATICALLY  "THE ORDINANCE OF GOD." OBVIOUSLY  THEN,  THE  NEW  TESTAMENT  SAYING  WE  SHOULD  SUBMIT  TO  GOVERNMENTS  MEANS  THE  GOVERNMENT  IS  JUST  AND  HUMANLY  RIGHTEOUS,  AND  GIVES  FREEDOM  OF  RELIGION  TO  ITS  PEOPLE. THOSE  GOVERNMENTS  SHOULD  BE  PRAYED  FOR  THAT  THEY  WILL  SO  CONTINUE  IN  THEIR  BASIC  RIGHT  WAYS,  AS  THEY  DO  WE  HONOR  AND  RESPECT  THEM.  IF  THEY  ARE  NOT  WORTHY  OF  RESPECT  AND  HONOR  THAT  DOES  NOT  MEAN  A  CHRISTIAN  IS  TO  TAKE  UP  PHYSICAL  ARMS  TO  DEPOSE  SUCH  A  GOVERNMENT.  NO  NEW  TESTAMENT  SECTION  CAN  BE  FOUND  IN  DEEDS  OR  WORDS  TO  UPHOLD  THAT  TEACHING.  UNDER  A  GOVERNMENT  SUCH  AS  HITLER  BUILT  THE  CHRISTIAN  WOULD  FLEE  AS  MANY  DID,  OR  STAY,  PRAYING  FOR  PROTECTION,  AND  HELPING  BY  PROTECTING  OTHERS  AS  BEST  THEY  COULD;  MANY  HELPED  AND  HID  JEWS  AWAY  FROM  THE  NAZI  GOVERNMENT. KEITH HUNT)



CHEERFULLY LEAPING INTO FIRE?


We find still more examples of "TURNING THE OTHER CHEEK" in the post-biblical time frame from the first century onward. Notice several examples:


Cyprian, the bishop of Carthage, before he was beheaded by the government for not sacrificing to the gods of Rome, ordered his presbyters and deacons "TO BESTOW FIVE AND TWENTY PIECES OF GOLD ON THE EXECUTIONER" (The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire, vol.2, ch.16, p.109).


From the same chapter, pages 111 and 112, we read:


Some stories are related of the courage of martyrs ... who EXASPERATED the fury of lions, PRESSED the executioner to HASTEN his office, CHEERFULLY LEAPED into fires which were kindled to consume them, and discovered a SENSATION OF JOY AND PLEASURE in the midst of the most exquisite tortures.


From the Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, volume one, page 904, we read:


It was easier to burn Anabaptists than to refute their arguments, and contemporary writers were struck with the INTREPIDITY and NUMBER of their martyrs. Thus Stanislaus Hosius (1504-1579) ... wrote ... "They are FAR READIER than followers of Luther and Zwingli to MEET DEATH, and BEAR the HARSHEST TORTURES for their faith. For they RUN to SUFFER PUNISHMENTS, NO MATTER HOW HORRIBLE, AS IF TO A BANQUET?


These martyrs knew that the more PERSECUTION they endured, the greater their REWARD would be. As Christ said, "Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad (when men persecute you — v.11); for great is your reward in heaven" (Matt.5:12; Luke 6:23). These martyrs were not PUTTING ON AN ACT. Instead, their DESIRE and WILLINGNESS to go FURTHER THAN REQUIRED was an example leading enemies to REPENTANCE (Rom.2:4; cp.Luke 6:35). They DEFEATED their enemies' attempt to HURT them.


But modern "Christian" have been misled. They are eager to help ALL their enemies. They love EVERY evil and wicked person they meet and then they think God is pleased. GOD IS NOT PLEASED! 2 Chronicles 19:2 reads, "Shouldest thou help the UNGODLY, and love them who HATE THE ETERNAL? THEREFORE, THERE IS WRATH UPON THEE FROM BEFORE THE ETERNAL." Such conduct promotes and generates wickedness.


Of course the Bible teaches that we must love our BROTHERS (1 John 2-4) and not be angry at them (Matt. 5:22).The Bible also teaches that we must love our NEIGHBORS as ourselves (Matt.19:19). BUT WHO ARE OUR NEIGHBORS? WHO ARE OUR BROTHERS? MosT Christians are deceived on these points. Christ said, "Whosoever shall do the will of my Father, who is in heaven, the same is my BROTHER" (Matt.12:50). Nobody else. And Luke 10:37 defines a "NEIGHBOR" as "He that showed mercy" toward you. Nobody else. And Christ said, "Ye are my FRIENDS, if ye do whatever I command you" (John 15:14).  Not otherwise.


Under normal circumstances, as Tobit said, "Scatter your bread on the graves of the upright, BUT DO NOT GIVE TO SINNERS" (4:17). Or as Jeshua said, "Give to the godly man, AND DO NOT HELP THE SINNER; Do kindness to the humble-minded, AND DO NOT GIVE TO THE UNGODLY ... SO THAT HE MAY NOT COME TO CONTROL YOU WITH IT" (Ecclesiasticus 12:5). "It is not meet (right) to take the children's bread, and to cast it to DOGS" (Matt.15:26).


But in abnormal circumstances, WHEN IT IS NOT LAWFUL TO RESIST, a Christian should "OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD" (Rom.12:21) and GO ABOVE AND BEYOND any LEGALLY-REQUIRED submission in order to SHOW his submission is VOLUNTARY. Only then will his EVIL ENEMY feel SHAME and REPENT. Only then will the Christian's reward "BE GREAT" (Luke 6:35).


………………


FOR  FURTHER  EXPANSION,  OR  CLARIFICATION,  ON  HOW  A  CHRISTIAN  IS  TO  ACT  IN  VARIOUS  SITUATIONS,  WE  HAVE  THE  SPLENDID  EXAMPLE  OF  THE  LIFE  OF  THE  APOSTLE  PAUL.  READING  THE  BOOK  OF  ACTS,  WILL  SHOW  YOU  HOW  PAUL  ACTED  IN  HIS  PHYSICAL  LIFE,  IN  MANY  CIRCUMSTANCES  HE  FACED,  BOTH  FROM  RELIGIOUS  PEOPLE  AND  FROM  SECULAR  SOCIETY;  SHOWING  INDEED  WHEN  HE  STOOD  HIS  GROUND;  WHEN  HE  FLED;  WHEN  HE  FACED  RELIGIOUS  PERSECUTION;  WHEN  HE  USED  THE  LAWS  OF  THE  LAND  TO  HIS  RIGHTFUL  ADVANTAGE.


Keith  Hunt