“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’; But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. f anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.
How do you end a feud? One way is retaliation. This is what Jesus describes in v. 38 when he quotes “eye for eye, tooth for tooth” from Leviticus 24:20.
The problem with this method is that it never tends to end. More and more revenge and retaliation is needed to settle the score.
Jesus gives us a new way. This way can be summed up as non-retaliation and forgiveness. Christ uses hyperbole to make the point of non-retaliation. Turn the other cheek and non- resistance are the way of kingdom living. If the Roman soldier’s compel you to carry there armor a mile, carry it two miles. These examples serve to illustrate the importance of not seeking revenge.
Forgiveness is not mentioned explicitly here but it is in view in light of the totality of Scripture. Biblical forgiveness means to cancel the debt. One can certainly see how forgiveness fits into Jesus teaching at this point. In the Kingdom of Heaven, Christians do not seek revenge and retaliation, rather, we are to go forward in love, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Jesus shows us the way by being our example.