Drinking Deeply

Thursday, May 06, 2010 at 2:44 PM

FighterArc: Matthew 5:38-40

Another Fighter arc. Matthew 5:38-40

Summary: Instead of seeking personal justice against evil, Christians ought to be willing to go above and beyond and bless our enemies

Arcing Commentary: The overall arc is a contrast of two pieces (+/-). Don't do what v. 38 says, "an eye for an eye and a tooth for for a tooth" but rather do v.39-40.

Within the positive construction of v.39-40, there is again a contrast (-/+). Do not resist the evil one (v.39a) but rather go beyond what they are demanding (v.39b-40). Jesus illustrates this with two If-Then constructions in a series.

Within the second If-Then construction (v.40), I've made the interpretive decision to read "If anyone would sue you and take your tunic" as an Ac-Pur relationship. Namely, "If anyone would sue you to take your tunic." This seems to best highlight what the intention of the lawsuit is and our response to that intention.

Passage Commentary: As said before, Christ isn't responding to the Old Testament law, but rather abuses of these laws. We know there are lawful means of punishment for wrongdoing (Romans 13:1-4), so this isn't a prohibition against all forms of justice, but rather against seeking personal justice. This is highlighted by the "If anyone would slap you... " and "If anyone would sue you..."

Now for believers, instead of slapping back and returning an insult for insult, we ought to turn our other cheek. Instead of counter-suing, we ought to be willing to give not only what they demand, but more, even down to our basic necessities (cloak and tunic). Instead of demanding justice against those who act unjustly, we go beyond what injustice demands.

Of course, much wisdom is needed for specific applications, but the general thrust is simply that we ought not to return evil for evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12
17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it [9] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


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