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Eye for an Eye

Jesus’ teaching on “an eye for an eye” is found in the Sermon on the Mount, where He introduces a new way of understanding and applying this Old Testament principle. Instead of advocating for retribution, Jesus encourages His followers to respond to wrongdoing with grace and non-retaliation. Here’s what Jesus said, along with relevant Bible verses and three key takeaways:

What Jesus Said

Matthew 5:38-42 (ESV):
“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 one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”

Three Takeaways

  1. Principle of Non-Retaliation:
    Jesus’ teaching shifts the focus from seeking personal retribution (“an eye for an eye”) to offering grace and forgiveness. This doesn’t mean allowing injustice or abuse, but rather, it challenges the cycle of vengeance by not responding to evil with evil.
  2. Call to Radical Love:
    The command to “turn the other cheek” and go the extra mile is a call to radical love and grace, even towards those who wrong us. This love is proactive, seeking the good of others regardless of how they treat us, embodying the love of God who “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good” (Matthew 5:45).
  3. Example of Jesus:
    Jesus not only taught these principles but lived them out. His response to betrayal, denial, and violence was forgiveness and sacrificial love. Through His death and resurrection, He provided the ultimate example of loving one’s enemies and laying down one’s life for others.


Jesus’ reinterpretation of “an eye for an eye” sets a high standard for His followers, calling them to respond to wrongs with forgiveness, love, and grace. This teaching challenges conventional wisdom and human instincts for revenge, pointing towards a kingdom where love overcomes hate and grace triumphs over retribution.


  • Greg Gaines

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