Interesting Note: click on the following bibleproject video url link in order to view a good explanation in regard to Jesus Christ's advice in Matthew 5:38-42:


A Roman Catholic priest explained during a service that Matthew 5:38-42 gives the victim a chance to show the opponent/adversary/enemy that said victim is an equal. To elaborate, the aforementioned priest was saying that:

  1. the opponent/adversary/enemy will use a back hand slap with his right hand to strike a victim on the right cheek (The priest said that the opponent/adversary/enemy's use of the back hand slap using his/her right hand was a way of indicating that the opponent/adversary/enemy is superior to the victim )

  2. after the strike upon the right cheek of the victim, the victim can turn the other cheek

  3. now let us understand the physical posture, the victim has turned the other cheek ( which means the victim is showing his left cheek to the opponent/adversary/enemy )

  4. now the opponent/adversary/enemy only had the option of punching the victim with his right hand by turning it into a fist because in ancient times, people do Not use their left hand to use a back hand slap because the left hand is used for filthy use like wiping a person bum/butt or doing dirty work)

  5. therefore if the opponent/adversary/enemy uses the right hand for a fist punch then the opponent/adversary/enemy is suggesting/hinting/indicating that the victim is an equal ]

Matthew 5:38-42 (NASB)

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take your [a]shirt, let him have your [b]coat also. 41 Whoever [c]forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.

Luke 6:27-31 (NASB)

27 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who [a]mistreat you. 29 Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your [b]coat, do not withhold your [c]shirt from him either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. 31 [d]Treat others the same way you want [e]them to treat you.

I found some scholarly article that will support the aforementioned interpretation:

Article Reference: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/unsystematictheology/2016/01/turn-the-other-cheek-explained-in-context/

Understood in it’s context, this teaching should be seen as an expression of nonviolent activism. Glen Stassen and David Gushee, in Kingdom Ethics, explain:

Turning the other cheek has been misunderstood in Western culture that thought there were only two alternatives—violence or passivity. But since Gandhi and King, we can appreciate Jesus’ teaching better. In Jesus’ culture, “to be struck on the right cheek was to be given a hostile, back-handed insult” with the back of the right hand. In that culture, it was forbidden to touch or strike anyone with the left hand; the left hand was for dirty things (Stassen, Just Peacemaking, 64-65, 68-69). To turn the other cheek was to surprise the insulter, saying, nonviolently, “you are treating me as an unequal, but I need to be treated as an equal.” Jesus is saying: if you are slapped on the cheek of inferiority, turn the cheek of equal dignity (138-139).

And by the way, Stassen and Gushee also point out that “do not resist an evil person” (or “evildoer,” in other translations), could also be (and should be) translated: “by evil means.” So, the full line could (should!) read: ” But I say to you, do not retaliate revengefully by evil means.”

Does the aforementioned interpretation seem credible?

Also, if anyone has heard of said interpretation then could you please tell me if this is an interpretation that is commonly used among Catholic theologians?

Interesting Note: click on the following bibleproject video url link in order to view a good explanation in regard to Jesus Christ's advice in Matthew 5:38-42:


  • @john-martin I found a scholarly article reference. Please see the updated post. Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 14:07
  • @john-martin Keep in mind for the enemy, when he back-hand slaps with his right hand, from a cultural viewpoint, it suggests that the enemy is in a superior position to the victim. Just imagine the posture or positioning. If you purposely show your left cheek, it is less convenient for the enemy to back-hand slap with his right hand. Also, keep in mind that using the left-hand is Undesirable because the left hand is used for filthy use like wiping a person bum/butt or doing dirty work. Thus, it is Only Culturally suitable to is use the right-hand as a fist to punch which makes him an equal Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 16:45
  • 1
    @crazyTech Your concept of 'clean and dirty' hand is neither Jewish nor Christian. The concept comes from somewhere else.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 19:14
  • It is not a knockout punch to the jaw. It is not a Grievous Bodily Harm strike to the eye. It is a slap to the cheek. We are not expected to stand up to severe assaults or invite further. Elsewhere Paul argues, metaphorically, against people accepting having 'their face torn off' as the original conveys.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 19:17
  • As a Roman Catholic, the point I heard came from what Jesus did. If someone approach Jesus and hit or spat on Him, He would “not retaliate revengefully”. Jesus would surprise them, leaving Himself open so they could do it again (i.e. “on the other cheek”). I don’t priests mentioning fists at Masses, etc. Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 19:42

1 Answer 1


NIV gave Matthew 5:38-42 a title "Eye for Eye", and Luke 27-36 a title "Love for Enemies; both are parallel in saying;

  • If anyone slaps your right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also
  • If anyone wants to take your shirt, hand over your coat as well
  • If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles
  • If anyone asks to have your belonging, give it to them and don't demand it back

I have been puzzled, why were there so many interpretation on the 1st example alone, and not so much to discuss how these four examples are concurrent to deliver the same message. That is, if someone suggested a certain way to hit one's cheek, how did the same logic apply to the other examples?

I think the message is very simple. Jesus is telling His believers they need to be 'holy', which means 'set apart, sacred and dedicated to God'. Jesus said:

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.

33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. (Luke 6:32-33 NIV)

The fact is, if someone hurt you and you look for a revenge, the anger is a sin. If someone take advantage of you and you curse him, bitterness is a sin. If someone oppress you and you resist with fight, rage is a sin. If someone take your belonging and you insist to have it back, unkindness is a sin.

It should be worth noting that the Lord's message is more important than the examples given. Jesus did not mean when one's right cheek was hit, he should turn and request his left cheek to be hit. Jesus is asking all who belongs to God, should set themselves apart, do not act what sinners usually do.

  • Emphasizing that Christians should Never take revenge is all good and well, But Christians need to understand the complex subtle difference between “revenge” versus “avenging justice-based vengeance” in response to wrongful actions. To elaborate, Psalm 149:5-9 does indicate that "godly ones" will execute "vengeance"( please read: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/a/73589/15888 ) Commented Aug 9, 2023 at 14:38
  • @1338998 - Dottard explained well Psalm 149:5-9, God is the one who took the initiative, not human. Since the Gospel spread, the Church has replaced prophets and priests and we have the scripture to guide us. Should we listen to Jesus, his teaching in the Gospels or believe in someone who claimed he got words from God? God said vengeance is mine and we can see psalmists of 9, 10, 18, 26, 54, 68, 72, 82, 94, 103, 135, 140, 146 all expressed the same cry. Who is a godly ones? Only God knows. Commented Aug 9, 2023 at 20:23
  • click on the following bibleproject video url link in order to view a good explanation in regard to Jesus Christ's advice in Matthew 5:38-42: youtu.be/3EkD-alQhT8?t=182 Commented May 25 at 15:56

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