Turn the other cheek? This is a phrase that many Christians are brought up believing. But what is the meaning of turning the other cheek. Was this a teaching for all people?
Let’s see what the actual saying is, we can start with the words of the Messiah:
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
These are the famous words of the Messiah used by both Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.
They both understood these verses to be a kind of passive? Political resistance…”What!” Personally I don’t know how you get any type of ‘political’ resistance from the Messiahs words in Matthew. But I shall explain this.
A MODERN DAY INTERPRETATION
This popular understanding today appears to come from the belief that in the Messiahs time it was disrespectful to ask a person to slap you with the back of there hand or on your left cheek?
As the full saying is “but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also”…
But questions have to be asked, if this is so…such as, did the Messiah mention the back of a hand? the answer is NO!
Although I do agree that the Messiah was in noway! promoting a submissive stance, it is sad to see that people have to result to fictitious arguments to arrive at this point.
Let’s get the truth about turning the other cheek:
Firstly I have to start by saying if you have never read all the scriptures, including what is called the old testament, you will never understand what the Messiah was talking about (it’s virtually impossible!)
What all the commentary on this subject seem to miss out, (deliberately or naively) is the verse that precedes this famous phrase.
Let’s take a look at it
38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
As you can see we see the “eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:”
Before there is any mention of turning the other cheek. I highlight this because this is the only thing we really need to be concerned with. Turning the other cheek was a command given to fulfill this LAW which was given to Israel.
It is always important to remember that the Messiah always addressed Israel when he spoke and not the whole world! (this doesn’t mean the whole world can’t believe, but he came to fulfill an obligation to the people his Father chose and sent him too)
As soon as we know who the Messiah is addressing we can find out what he was talking about. Remember he says “ye have heard”, the question should be where have they heard?
When you go into the 5 books of the Law, specifically the book of Exodus, we find what the Messiah is talking about:
22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.
23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,
24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
So, if you read these verses above we get the full picture of what the Messiah was talking about. Before the Messiah came there was an express LAW that the Israelites had, which said that they could take a life if a life was taken, or to hit back if they were hit!
The Messiah in-order to fulfill this law, which is definitely deemed as a sacrifice (especially in the instances where death is concerned) had to let Israel know that this was no longer the permitted principle to follow.
This is what the Messiah was commanding when he said
“But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
The Messiah was taking away the element of sacrifice (mainly the like for like portion)
The Messiah highlight that he has come to fulfill the laws in Matthew chapter 5
17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
If we look at further scripture concerning a false witness, we see that exacting the eye for an eye LAW was a way of making Israel fear the Father.
16 If a false witness rises up against any man to accuse him of wrongdoing,
17 Then both parties to the controversy shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days.
18 The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely,
19 Then you shall do to him as he had intended to do to his brother. So you shall put away the evil from among you.
20 And those who remain shall hear and [reverently] fear, and shall henceforth commit no such evil among you.
21 Your eyes shall not pity: it shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
As you can see from above, even a person that attempted to accuse a person falsely was to be put to death!
I know in today’s societies everyone is so passive aggressive, and pretend that violence solves nothing, but the fact is it does…It creates fear, and in the Fathers case the right kind of fear, towards him.
It’s also safe to say that the Messiah had foresight of the times we would be living in today, and the inability that Israel would have to enforce the laws he originally gave them.
I hope this has enlightened somebody, so in future if anyone asks what was meant by “turning the other cheek”, you can say:
This was the Messiah telling the Israelites that their law of life for life was no longer applicable.
We know the Messiah was not advocating, non violence in the sense of being a doormat as in later scripture he says
35 And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.
36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.
And it’s important to note that these laws related to Israelites and sincere believers. This would not be applied to outsiders who are deliberately attacking you. DON’T BE A DOOR MAT! We are allowed to stand for the truth as believers….