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Bible verses about Vengeance
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Numbers 35:9-34

The cities of refuge were sanctuaries to which those who accidentally killed another could flee. There were six of them located throughout Israel, three on each side of the Jordan River. Even if the killer made it to a city of refuge, he still had to undergo a trial. If he was found guilty of committing an accidental death, he had to remain in the city until the death of the current high priest. Thus, the city served as his jail. However, he was otherwise free to move about, find employment, and live with and support his family.

If he left the city for any reason, the avenger of blood could lawfully take the killer's life. The avenger of blood (verses 12, 19) was usually a blood-relative of the manslaughter victim. His assignment from the family was to protect the family's rights and to avenge the family's loss of the killed person. The vengeance taken was not always to take the killer's life. If the avenger actually took the killer's life before he managed to reach a city of refuge, then he truly was an "avenger of blood." However, the Hebrew term translated "avenger" is go'el, which has fascinating ramifications when appearing in other contexts, as it can also be translated "redeem" or "redeemer."

In the book of Ruth, it is translated as "redeem" seven times. Boaz was Ruth's redeemer. The redeemer was the one who stood for his family in order to protect its rights. Boaz protected the rights of his family in behalf of Ruth and Naomi due to Naomi's husband's death. He was the family's "avenger."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sixth Commandment


 

Psalm 110:1-7

Even the Psalms describe the awesome might of Christ's return, showing that it is one of war and vengeance with great wrath. He is coming with power to set things straight.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Shock and Awe - and Speed


 

Amos 1:3-15

In one way or another, these Gentile nations took vengeance in retaliation for injustices that they believed other nations committed against them. God promises to judge their barbarity, but He does not say when. Many years may pass before He takes action because His overriding goal is repentance and a change in character.

He will execute proper judgment—true justice, and it is our responsibility to have faith in that. Fifty years passed before God avenged the depredating acts of Hazael, king of Syria, against Gilead (Amos 1:3; II Kings 10:32-33). God waited for the right time and place to act. But He did act with a punishment from which He will not turn back (II Kings 13:22-25). When He decides to act, He acts!

When He says that He knows our sitting down and rising up (Psalm 139:2), He is not speaking metaphorically. He is involved with His people. We must learn that sometimes God may not take action within our lifetime, but when He says, "I will repay" (Romans 12:19; Deuteronomy 32:35), He means it!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part One)


 

Amos 2:1-3

Moab's major transgression was the result of a long-burning feud between Moab and Edom. Out of spite and anger, the Moabites dug up the bones of a long-dead Edomite king and threw them into a fire. This is another example of taking advantage of someone who is weak and defenseless. Can a corpse fight back? The principle here is that every sin has a boomerang. God noticed the sin, burning the bones of the king of Edom, and promised to avenge it (Deuteronomy 32:35).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part One)


 

Matthew 5:22

It could be difficult to understand what Scripture means when it describes one who is angry without cause. One might think a person has to have a cause to be angry. Jesus is saying that, if a person has an angry nature—if he flies off the handle at the drop of a hat—he has a character flaw of which he must repent.

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Don't Take God for Granted


 

Luke 18:2-8

Jesus compares God, not with a good man, but with a godless man to emphasize the vast difference between this unjust judge and the righteous God. The conduct of the unjust judge exposes the chaotic and corrupt judgments in which he had prostituted himself. No one can compel him to do anything because he feels no regard for anyone, including God. He acts purely out of self-interest. Yet, if this unjust judge could avenge a widow whom he disdained, how much more will the righteous God avenge his elect (Jeremiah 11:20)?

This parable reveals God's willingness to hear and answer the supplications of His elect (Luke 18:7), responding when they are offered according to His will. The word "avenge" (verses 5, 7-8) implies the working out of His vengeance in justice, not in retaliation. If God's elect are wrongly treated, they can be sure of vindication. So, if the unjust judge because of a selfish irritation avenges a troublesome widow, how much more will the selfless God come to our aid? We can expect substantially better treatment from a God of lovingkindness than from a heartless judge.

The widow, who speaks only five words, does not prevail because of her persuasive plea but because of her persistence. Sometimes too many words reveal a scarcity of desire or a lack of purpose. Jesus tells us long prayers and useless repetitions will not make God hear us any better (Matthew 6:7). He already knows our needs (verse 8).

God has assured us that He hears and answers prayer. We must have the faith of Christ that God can provide what we need, enjoys hearing us ask according to His will, and desires to give us abundantly what we should have.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Persistent Widow


 

Romans 12:17-19

Resentment and incivility, in which we take our revenge with a blast of insults, are not an option for us either, even when it may seem justified. Paul expects us to bring our relationships with others into the scope of our relationship with God. Would we do the same thing to God? In verse 14 Paul says, "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse."

If we take vengeance, we encroach on the prerogative of God, seizing power that does not belong to us. By intruding, we get into the way of what He has claimed as His responsibility. Man is incapable of taking vengeance with proper wisdom, justice, and love. Paul instructs us, by faith, not to take the prerogative of revenge to ourselves but allow God to execute judgment.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sixth Commandment (Part One) (1997)


 

Romans 12:17-21

These remarkably high standards are possible because God is our strength. He works unseen to human eyes and makes living according to these standards possible.

Deuteronomy 32:35-37 is the source for Paul's instruction. God demands this apparently passive requirement of us as an act of faith in our intensely close relationship with Him. It may seem as if a Christian who submits to God's instruction is spineless and easily intimidated, but in God's judgment, he is strong where it really matters: in faith. The Christian, like Christ, has committed himself to the One who judges righteously, who will act in due time, using His powers in love toward all concerned (I Peter 2:23). When a person in a situation like this uses his natural powers to retaliate, he invariably does more damage than good.

Because our God is all-powerful, we must grow to trust Him, understanding that His judgment will be exactly right because He is not only there, He is also powerful in wisdom and mercy. This measure of faith enabled Abraham to trust God to raise Isaac should he actually be sacrificially slain.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Power Belongs to God (Part One)


 

Romans 12:17-20

Paul's counsel to the congregation in Rome (Romans 12:17-20; 13:8-10) is clearly in line with what Jesus taught. He insists that we must never allow vindictiveness, the desire to get even with someone for a suffered wrong, to drive us.

In the same vein, Peter taught that we must not repay evil with evil, insult with insult, but we must bless (I Peter 3:8-9). Why are we called to react this way? Because if we want to be in God's Kingdom, it can only happen without the spirit of murder dwelling in us, and those evil retaliations are the spirit of murder. We are not to take vengeance because God has retained that responsibility to Himself. Is that not the way it should be? Only He fully knows and understands every facet of the circumstances and can judge perfectly. By the way, Paul addresses the issue of retaliation four times in Romans 12, which begins by stating that we are to be living sacrifices and not to conform to this world's ways.

The picture should be clear. Somebody must be willing to do this if there will be peace. Jesus set the example: He, refusing to strike back, died for the entire world. Christ's non-retaliatory remedy is ultimately for everybody's benefit, but until He returns, the standards He set can be met and lived only by those who, like Jesus, have the Spirit of God, are living by faith, and are enabled to keep God's ways by God Himself.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sixth Commandment


 

Romans 12:19-21

God alone has the wisdom and power and the right to take vengeance. Regarding war, Exodus 14:14 says, "The LORD will fight for you." War has never solved man's problems, and God promises that those who live by violence will die by it (Matthew 26:52). Christians must treat others with kindness, gentleness, and love (Luke 6:31; Galatians 5:14-15).

Martin G. Collins
The Sixth Commandment


 

1 Corinthians 6:1-7

Paul is saying, "If you go to man's law in charging your brother, you have already lost! It does not matter how the judge decides it; as far as God is concerned, you have lost the case!"

Paul's instructions are clear. In a case involving brothers, a Christian had better be prepared to "lose," as an act of faith, out of respect for Christ, the Head of this church. By faith, we know that He will judge the situation. Does He have enough wisdom to do that—and power to carry out His judgments? Do we have enough faith to allow Him to do it?

Is there a legal basis for this? Absolutely—He owns us! We are His slaves! He purchased every single one of us with His blood! He has legal right to judge between brothers. We are to submit to the authority of Christ by faith and allow Him to judge if no judgment can be reached within the church. If a judgment is reached within the church, but the church has judged wrongly, then the brothers must be willing to accept it with the knowledge that they can, by faith, appeal to a higher court, and that Christ will vindicate the righteous. It may not happen right away, but if we pray for that in faith, then we can patiently wait for it. He will do it!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Submitting (Part 2)


 

1 Thessalonians 5:15

Two wrongs do not make a right, and in our irritated or angry impatience, we frequently say or do something just as bad or worse as was done to us! Then where are we? Often, our patience does not delay our wrath as God's does.

The obvious meaning of Paul's advice is that we should not take vengeance. In Romans 12:19, Paul repeats this more plainly:

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.

This, in turn, feeds directly into Jesus' teaching in Matthew 5:39-45, where Jesus' consistent instruction is that we not set ourselves against an evil person who is injuring us, whether verbally, physically or judicially. Rather, Jesus teaches us to be willing to give the offender something that might defuse the immediate situation—and perhaps even provide some small example that will promote his eternal welfare. Patience is of great value in this respect.

This in no way means we are weak, though to them we may at first seem so. Nor does it mean that we approve of their conduct. Though we may hate their conduct and suffer keenly when it affects us, Christ tells us to bless them, meaning we should confer favor upon or give benefits to them. We can do this by wishing the person well, speaking kindly of and to him, and seeking to do him good.

Situations like this may be the most difficult test we will ever face. Patiently deferring retaliation and committing the circumstance to God's judgment are indispensable to the best possible solution. But the primary point of Jesus' instruction, however, is not how to resolve these situations, but that we may be children of our Father. By imitating God's pattern, we will resemble Him and take a giant stride toward being in His image.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Patience


 

1 Peter 2:21-23

This shows shows Christ's example, even when He had the love, wisdom, and discernment to judge righteous judgment and correctly put His enemies in their place. So strong was Jesus' commitment to these principles that, even when His life was on the line, and His enemies reviled Him intensely, He did not respond in kind. He set us an example to do likewise.

Perhaps the key statement is He "committed Himself to Him who judges rightly." His response was an act of faith in God's awareness of His situation and God's perfect ability not merely to act but to act in exactly the right way for the good of all. The reality of God's sovereignty over His creation led to Jesus' minute-by-minute faithful submission.

If vengeance belongs to God, then men, especially those who have pledged their lives to be subject to His government, have no right to take it to themselves. Very frequently, it takes real strength of character, bolstered by faith, to help and serve someone who has directly tried to harm us. God's instructions to us are clear: "'Therefore if your enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:20-21).

"Enemy" does not mean one we hate, but one who is bitter toward us. If we hate others, we are right back in the spirit of murder. Paul is stating a critical universal principle: Over time, kindness removes enmity, but seeking revenge increases it. Booker T. Washington said, "The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sixth Commandment (Part One) (1997)


 

Revelation 6:10

Theirs is not a bloodthirsty cry for vengeance, as some have seen it, since this does not accord with Christian character (Romans 12:19-21), but a call for justice or judgment—a major theme of the seals—as well as a question about the proximity of Christ's return. It is well known that at His second coming, He will both reward His saints and judge His enemies (see Matthew 24:30-31; Revelation 11:15-18; Joel 3:9-17; Zechariah 14:1-5).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Fifth Seal (Part Two)


 

Revelation 6:10

This plaintive cry, "How long . . .?" is a New Testament echo of the Old Testament prophets, many of whom were persecuted and slain for their testimony. The psalmists use it most frequently: from David in Psalm 13:1 ("How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever?") to Asaph in Psalm 74:10 ("O God, how long will the adversary reproach?") to Moses in Psalm 90:13 ("Return, O LORD! How long? And have compassion on Your servants"). Even Ethan the Ezrahite gets in on the act: "How long, LORD? Will You hide Yourself forever? Will Your wrath burn like fire?" (Psalm 89:46; see also Psalm 6:3; 35:17; 79:5; 80:4; 94:3).

This question continues in both the major and minor prophets. Isaiah writes, "Then I said, 'Lord, how long?' And He answered: 'Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant, the houses are without a man, the land is utterly desolate. . .'" (Isaiah 6:11). Later, Habakkuk asks, "O LORD, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, 'Violence!' and You will not save" (Habakkuk 1:2; see also Daniel 12:6; Zechariah 1:12). "How long?" has been a constant prayer to God through the ages, especially during times of great distress, particularly when God's servants are under intense persecution, when the surrounding culture has reached its nadir and the nation is ripe for judgment, or as it often works out, when both are happening simultaneously.

The intent of the request in Revelation 6:10 is for an indication from God of how long the saints have to endure the worst that Satan-inspired humanity can throw at them before He acts on their behalf as He has promised. As early as Deuteronomy 32:43, the conclusion of the Song of Moses, it is promised, "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people; for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and render vengeance to His adversaries." Jesus Himself promises, "And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily" (Luke 18:7-8). Paul later expands this considerably:

. . . it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed. (II Thessalonians 1:6-10)

There is never a doubt about God's eventual intervention to avenge the deaths of His saints. God's promises are sure (Isaiah 46:11; 55:11; Matthew 24:35; John 10:35). Obviously, "How long, O Lord . . .?" is a query about the duration of events until God intervenes, and the souls under the altar ask it, not in impatience or exasperation, but in anticipation of the end of the saints' tribulations and of the receipt of their reward.

In reading this, however, we must not forget that these martyred saints are dead, resting in their graves, as Revelation 6:11 confirms. Thus, the answer to their question is not for them—they know nothing (Ecclesiastes 9:5), their testimony having finished in death (Acts 20:24; II Timothy 4:7; Revelation 11:7)—but for living saints, who will undergo persecution and eventual martyrdom.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Fifth Seal (Part Two)


 

Find more Bible verses about Vengeance:
Vengeance {Nave's}
 




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