Matthew 5:38-48

Talks for Growing Christians

Other Misinterpretations of the Law Corrected by the Lord

Matthew 5:38-48

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Lesson Number 11

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. The command to “Turn the other cheek”, does not mean to forget justice.
  2. The command to “Love your enemies”, does not mean to forsake justice.

Practical Application

  1. Let’s aim for perfection.


  1. How is Matthew 5:43 typical of how the Jews handled the Law in Jesus’ day?
  2. Why was the Lex talionis given?
  3. Give an example of the proper application of “An eye for an eye.”
  4. How had the Pharisees of Jesus’ day distorted the law “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”?
  5. Why is it not enough to love our friends?
  6. How is God an example for us as we seek to love our enemies?


  1. The first part, “You shall love your neighbor”, is scripture, from Leviticus 19:18. But the second part, “and hate your enemy”, is not scripture. Many Jews ignored the original intent of God’s Law. They misinterpreted God’s Law by distorting it, or adding or subtracting from it, so the Law would suit their own purposes.
  2. This so-called “Law of Retaliation” was not given as a justification for revenge or personal vendettas; it was given as a limit for punishment under civil justice. See Deuteronomy 19:21.
  3. If you punch your boss at work, he can not take you to court and have you beheaded. “The punishment must fit the crime.”
  4. The Jews had turned this Law into an excuse for personal revenge. Jesus said, Don’t take revenge – turn the other cheek.
  5. Because even non-Christians love people who love them. It is more commendable to love those who do not deserve it. See Matthew 5:46.
  6. God gives grace to all people, by causing the sun to shine and the rain to fall on all. See Matthew 5:45.


  1. God’s moral laws are good for all time, not just for Israel under the Mosaic Law during Old Testament times. The ceremonial and civil parts of the Mosaic Law do not apply to believers today. But God’s moral law continues. Did you know that nine of the Ten Commandments are repeated in the New Testament, because they are moral laws? The only one not repeated is the ceremonial law to “Remember the Sabbath.” Do you have a high view of Old Testament scripture? Realize that God’s moral laws in the Old Testament still apply today.
  2. How far do we take the Lord’s commands to “Turn the other cheek” and “Love your enemies” ? Discuss why these principles should not be practiced by the government. Remember that these principles are given in the context of personal enemies.


  1. Don’t settle for mediocrity in your Christian life. Look at the example of our Heavenly Father, and aim for perfection.

Key Verses

  • “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.” Matthew 5:38-39
  • “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies.” Matthew 5:43-44

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