Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do. – 1 Peter 3:9
38 You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’
39 But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.
40 If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too.
41 If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.
Payback often has a very negative connotation. It is all about getting even, seeking retribution or revenge. When wrongs are suffered, reprisals and retaliations are the norm returning like for like.
It seems as though human DNA is programmed in such a way that the normal, natural impulse is to return injury for injury. But this is not so for children of the King.
The Old Testament laid out the “law of retaliation” (Lex talionis). It is often misunderstood and improperly quoted.
23 But if there is further injury, the punishment must match the injury: a life for a life,
24 an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot,
25 a burn for a burn, a wound for a wound, a bruise for a bruise.
It was intended as the Father’s means of maintaining justice, and preventing excessive, and unreasonable punishment. For those who lived under the law of Moses, the punishment was to fit the crime. This was to keep those who were empowered by birth status, class, or great wealth from misusing their authority to exact outrageous revenge.
Sadly, for those not under the law or who are disobedient to it, this has been the case throughout history. An example of this is seen in Genesis during the period soon after the Fall.
23 One day Lamech said . . . I have killed a man who attacked me, a young man who wounded me.
24 If someone who kills Cain is punished seven times, then the one who kills me will be punished seventy-seven times!”
REFLECT & PRAY
“The best way to get rid of an enemy is to turn him into a friend” (Bruce).
Father I want to be like the Lord Jesus Christ. Encourage me not to seek my own revenge or payback, but rather seek to bless those responsible.
The Lord Jesus Christ brought new insight into the true meaning of these words and raised the bar to an incredibly high level for all those who would follow Him.
38 “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’”
39 “But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.”
In so far as it is possible, we are called to live at peace with everyone (Hebrews 12:14). “Wickedness is to be opposed and righteousness lauded” (Mounce).
“Our most powerful weapon against evil is the good. To respond to evil with evil is not to overcome it but to add to it. Believers are called upon to live victoriously in a hostile world by continuing to live as Jesus lived. Right will inevitably prevail against wrong. God is on his throne, and though all is not right in this world, he is the one who will avenge the wicked and reward the righteous” (Mounce).
1 Peter 3:9 Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it and.
Children of the King are strongly admonished not to payback evil for evil, or insult for insult. This is truly incredible. But Peter, Paul, and others are merely echoing the standards set forth by the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Greek word translated payback is apodidomi. Apodidomimeansto give up, give back, return. It has the sense of to recompense, to reward or punish based upon what a person deserves. It has the connotation of doing something to someone because of what they have done.
The Greek word translated insult or cursing is loidoria. Loidoria is verbal abuse intended to injure someone’s reputation, reviling, slander, insult, or curse. To speak in a highly insulting manner.
Alternative explanatory translations are, “If people do evil to you, you should not do evil to them, or if people curse you, you should not curse them.” The same relationships may be expressed by “do not retaliate against people who do evil by doing evil to them, and do not retaliate against those who curse you by cursing them” (UBS).
Instead of responding to those who would reproach us, returning evil with evil and cursing with cursing, they are to pay back with a blessing. “When people harm you or curse you, you should in turn ask God to bless them” or “… ask God to be good to them” (UBS).
The idea can be expressed in various ways: “pay back with good” (Phillips) or speaking well of those who curse. Children of the King are “exhorted to intercede for those who persecute them, and to ask God’s blessings upon them.” (UBS).
The Lord Jesus Christ did not just talk about these high and lofty standards which sound like over the top, seemingly humanly impossible responses to mistreatment by hurtful people, He lived them out! He modeled His own teaching about loving one’s enemies (Luke 6:35).
Luke 23:34 “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
How can this be done? Paul asked and answered that question in Philippians 2, 3. He made a choice to know the Lord Jesus Christ and emulate Him. He chose to share His sufferings through the mighty power that the Father made available (Philippians 3:10).