Published Mar 20, 2024
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Matt. 5:39. “I say unto you, resist not evil…”

The word “evil” necessarily means, in this connection, personal injury or evil inflicted by human beings on human beings.

But what did Jesus mean by the words “Resist not”? There are various kinds of resistance, which may be offered to personal injury, when threatened or actually inflicted. There is passive resistance – a dead silence, a sullen inertia, a complete muscular helplessness, an utter refusal to speak or move. Does the context, show that Jesus contemplated, pro or con, any such resistance in his prohibition? No. There is an active, righteous, moral resistance – a meek, firm remonstrance, rebuke, reproof, and protestation. Does the connection show that Jesus prohibits this kind of resistance? No.

There is a determined resistance of personal injury by means of injury inflicted; as when a man deliberately takes life to save life, destroys an assailant’s eye to save an eye, inflicts a violent blow to prevent a blow… It was of such resistance as this that our Savior was speaking. It is such resistance as this that he prohibits. His obvious doctrine is: Resist not personal injury with personal injury.

If smitten on the one cheek, they must submit the other to outrage, rather than smite back. If the life of their dearest friend has been taken, or an eye or a tooth thrust out, or any other wrong been done to themselves or their fellow men, they must not render evil for evil, or railing for railing, or hatred for hatred. But they are not prohibited from resisting, opposing, preventing, or counteracting the injuries inflicted, attempted or threatened by man on man, in the use of any absolutely un-injurious forces, whether moral or physical. On the contrary, it is their bounden duty, by all such benevolent resistances, to promote the safety and welfare, the holiness and happiness of all human beings, as opportunity may offer.

Adin Ballou