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Bible verses about Retaliation
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Exodus 1:22

As long as a family is intact and its members love one another and share the privation and hardships, they can stand scorn, rigor, even slavery. But perhaps this edict to destroy the family and Israel's heritage was the most bitter element of all. Could the tenth plague have been a divine payback for what this Pharaoh did? Was the killing of Egypt's firstborn a retaliatory measure for what they did to the Israelites? Maybe.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Conviction and Moses


 

Ecclesiastes 7:20-22

"Others" here is referring to another person; it could even refer to a stranger. What Solomon is giving us in this section (verses 15-29) is counsel for balanced living.

Verse 20 shows that no one on earth does what is right all the time, never making a mistake. It is the character of a just man to do good, but that is not what always happens.

Then verse 21 begins with the word "also," which means "in addition," "likewise," "too," "in like manner," and "furthermore," suggesting that verses 21-22 continue the thought of verse 20. In just about every situation, sin is involved. Either we have sinned or others have sinned against us—or both.

Solomon advises us not to pay attention to or take to heart everything people say, even if we hear an employee or someone under our authority insulting us—because we know that we have insulted other people many times.

Understanding the word "curse" is important here. It does not mean "to invoke or bring evil or misfortune upon" or "to damn." It is the Hebrew word qalal, which means "to make light, trifling, bring into contempt, abate." Our English word abate means "to make less," "to reduce in quantity, value, degree, or intensity," "to beat down," and even "to deprive."

These verses do not give specific examples of what might have been said. Perhaps it was a defaming remark, an unwarranted comment, an angry threat, a joke at another's expense, or deliberate untruths. What was said is ultimately unimportant.

Baptist commentator John Gill (1697-1771) writes in his Exposition of the Old Testament on verse 21:

Seeing so it is, that imperfection attends the best of men, no man is wise at all times, foolish words and unguarded expressions will sometimes drop from him, which it is better to take no notice of; they should not be strictly attended to, and closely examined, since they will not bear it. A man should not listen to everything that is said of himself or others; he should not curiously inquire what men say of him; and what he himself hears he should take no notice of; it is often best to let it pass, and not call it over again; to feign the hearing of a thing, or make as if you did not hear it; for oftentimes, by rehearsing a matter, or taking up words spoken, a deal of trouble and mischief follows.

In the face of provocation, the true quality of self-restraint is displayed in our ability to take it patiently with forbearance and longsuffering. A person who is longsuffering is not quick to retaliate or promptly punish someone who has insulted, offended, or harmed him.

Ted E. Bowling
Sticks and Stones


 

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)


 

Obadiah 1:15-16

The theme of Obadiah 15-16 appears in Jeremiah 25:28: "And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup from your hand to drink, then you shall say to them, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts: "You shall certainly drink!"'" Edom, God proclaims, shall certainly drink of the wine of His wrath.

Upon the heels of the Great Tribulation comes the Day of the Lord, as Obadiah declares in verse 15. It is a time of reckoning, or as the prophet phrases it, "As you have done, it shall be done to you." This is a biblical law. The Romans called it lex talionis, meaning "law of retaliation" or "law of just retribution." In biblical terms, we know it as the "eye for an eye" principle (Exodus 21:23-25; Leviticus 24:19-20; Matthew 5:38). Jesus says that whatever we measure out to others will be measured back to us (Luke 6:38). Paul writes of it as, "Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap" (II Corinthians 9:6; Galatians 6:7-8). God says that this is how He will judge Edom in the Day of His wrath: "Your reprisal shall return upon your own head."

He continues in Obadiah 16: "For as you drank on my holy mountain, so shall all the nations drink continually; yes, they shall drink, and swallow, and they shall be as though they had never been." This last part can be better translated, "Yes, they [Edom and its confederates] shall drink and drink and drink until they drink themselves right out of existence." What a dire threat! God essentially tells them that, though they may gloat at first, He will deal with them in His day of vengeance and wipe them from the face of the earth! God does not take these things lightly.

Edom may have drunk on God's holy mountain numerous times. Edomites likely drank in feasting and gloating over Israel when Babylon and later Rome captured and destroyed Jerusalem. Perhaps they thought that the land of Canaan would finally be their inheritance. It could also be descriptive of the present status of the Temple Mount, currently held by the Palestinians, who have strict rules against the Jews' use of the Temple area. In effect, they gloat over their ability to forbid Jews from entering and praying there, yet it is truly not theirs to regulate. God's retaliation will be harsh.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part Five): Obadiah and God's Judgment


 

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


 

Matthew 5:40

Certainly, no one likes to be sued. It is a time-wasting, frustrating, chaotic legal mess. It is often a huge disruption of normal life, and for a Christian, a terrible distraction from our spiritual priorities. Our Savior advises us to nip the suit in the bud by taking the loss—and even adding a premium to it if it will settle matters before they get out of hand!

In I Corinthians 6, the apostle Paul faced a situation in which members of the church in Corinth were being taken to court by other members. He writes in verse 7, "Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?" Neither Jesus nor Paul means that a Christian should not use the law properly, but they are more interested in the right attitude in these matters. Many people take advantage of the legal system in a greedy, injurious manner, and Christians should not respond in kind. If confronted by such a person, it is usually better to suffer the loss of one's "shirt" than to fight back.

In Christ's example, He speaks of tunics and cloaks. The Jews of His day wore two principal garments, an interior "coat" or "tunic" (an undergarment), and a more costly exterior cloak (outer garment). This cloak was used, not only as a jacket or overcoat during the day, but also as a covering to sleep under at night. By Mosaic law, the outer cloak was an inalienable possession that could not be withheld from a debtor overnight (Exodus 22:26-27; Deuteronomy 24:12-13). Jesus is saying that, if we are sued even for a trifling amount, rather than countersuing and ratcheting up the hostility, we should be willing to give up what is rightfully ours to defuse the situation.

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Go the Extra Mile


 

Matthew 26:51-53

Jesus shows that retaliation intensifies and continues an evil and that the retaliator can be consumed by it. He acknowledges that He had the power to retaliate, but He held His peace, giving us the example to follow. Verse 54 explains that if He had retaliated, God's will would not have been done!

The spirit of retaliation must be aborted before it leads to murder. We should approach it in the manner Jesus exemplifies here. We must make an honest and sincere attempt to reconcile with an offended brother. If the person truly is a brother, he will forgive quickly and go on with life without a grudge (Luke 17:1-4).

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


 

1 Corinthians 13:5

It is interesting to note that the Revised Standard Version translates this verse as, "It is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful."

The Revised English Bible translates it: "Never rude; love is never selfish, never quick to take offense. Love keeps no score of wrongs."

The Amplified Bible renders it: "It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God's love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]."

Each of these translations clearly catches the essence of why so many are so easily moved from mere irritation to resentment and bitter anger, which in turn lead to retaliation. This progression can divide blood brothers (Proverbs 18:19).

This verse does not deny the fact that offenses will come, just as Jesus said. They will range from hurt feelings, giving rise to a mild animosity, to direct powerful temptations to sin through a flaming temper bent on getting even. Yet we can overcome all of them because love "is not provoked" or exasperated.

There will be temptations to sin, and all of us will offend others from time to time, even unintentionally. But God expects His children to have the love to override the offenses when they come.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Defense Against Offense


 

Colossians 1:9-11

Paul tells the saints in Colosse that he prays they will possess the trait that is the opposite of wrath or revenge. He speaks of having an even temper, an attitude that in spite of injury or insult does not retaliate. We can develop longsuffering only as a fruit of the Spirit, not as an independent character trait. It grows from the common root of love and bears fruit only along with other spiritual fruit.

Martin G. Collins
Longsuffering


 

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 2:23

The Bible reveals God's patience as a quality of His character that deters Him for long periods from retaliating against those who sin against Him. This fits neatly with what Peter says regarding Christ's example. As a man, Christ did not strike back, but wisely and patiently left any retaliation due in the matter to God's judgment. This is also an example to us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Patience


 

1 Peter 2:23

This is a clear example from the life of Jesus that some things must be left for God to take care of. Jesus did not strike out at these people. He turned the other cheek, kept His mouth shut, bit His tongue, and did not strike back.

What is God saying? God recognizes that life is often unfair. We must understand that life is unfair largely because of the way men have chosen to deal with problems. It is the Christian's responsibility to deal with problems the way God says to deal with them. Remember, Satan is still in the picture, and he will try to move us to deal with problems his way. That will not turn out to the good. Instead, it will continue or exacerbate the problems.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 4)


 

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




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