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Matthew 5:38-42

Context
Retaliation

5:38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 1  5:39 But I say to you, do not resist the evildoer. 2  But whoever strikes you on the 3  right cheek, turn the other to him as well. 5:40 And if someone wants to sue you and to take your tunic, 4  give him your coat also. 5:41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, 5  go with him two. 5:42 Give to the one who asks you, 6  and do not reject 7  the one who wants to borrow from you.

1 sn A quotation from Exod 21:24; Lev 24:20.

2 tn The articular πονηρός (ponhro", “the evildoer”) cannot be translated simply as “evil” for then the command would be “do not resist evil.” Every instance of this construction in Matthew is most likely personified, referring either to an evildoer (13:49) or, more often, “the evil one” (as in 5:37; 6:13; 13:19, 38).

3 tc ‡ Many mss (B D K L Δ Θ Ë13 565 579 700 1424 pm) have σου (sou) here (“your right cheek”), but many others lack the pronoun (א W Ë1 33 892 1241 pm). The pronoun was probably added by way of clarification. NA27 has σου in brackets, indicating doubt as to its authenticity.

4 tn Or “shirt” (a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin). The name for this garment (χιτών, citwn) presents some difficulty in translation. Most modern readers would not understand what a “tunic” was any more than they would be familiar with a “chiton.” On the other hand, attempts to find a modern equivalent are also a problem: “Shirt” conveys the idea of a much shorter garment that covers only the upper body, and “undergarment” (given the styles of modern underwear) is more misleading still. “Tunic” was therefore employed, but with a note to explain its nature.

5 sn If anyone forces you to go one mile. In NT times Roman soldiers had the authority to press civilians into service to carry loads for them.

6 sn Jesus advocates a generosity and a desire to meet those in dire need with the command give to the one who asks you. This may allude to begging; giving alms was viewed highly in the ancient world (Matt 6:1-4; Deut 15:7-11).

7 tn Grk “do not turn away from.”



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