This is one topic that will clearly demonstrate the "two languages," LITERAL (physical) and SPIRITUAL (parables), of the words of God in the Holy Bible. Our Lord validated His words that they are indeed in parables when He said, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again..." His listeners, including His apostles, thought of the physical edifice until He proved it upon His death and resurrection that He was actually referring to His body. From this revelation, the truth in the following verse will be clearly appreciated:
2 Corinthians 3:6 " Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life."
"Smite on the right cheek"
How did Jesus, as model showing the Way, follow what He preached in the following?
Matthew 5:39 " But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also."
It is written our Lord Jesus Christ did not follow this literally-physically. This was seen when He was presented to Annas the priest. A Roman soldier struck Him with the palm of his hand. Our Lord did NOT offer the "other cheek."
John 18: 21 " Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said. 22And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so? 23Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, whysmitest thou me? 24Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest."
Paul who said, " Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ" (1 Corinthians. 11:1), did NOT "offer the other cheek" either. This is his reaction when he was smitten on the mouth by a soldier:
Acts 23:2 " And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. 3Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?"
The common interpretation we hear from preachers is that Jesus Christ followed this by preaching the virtue of patience, humility, perseverance, forgiveness, and love of enemy. Who would question the MORALITY of the rendition? However this is only man's way of "spiritualizing" the words of God. Just like our Lord using the word "temple" which has a different meaning from the literal, "smite" also has another meaning in the "language of God."
God explains His words
God spoke in parables (Ezekiel 20:49 ), so did our Lord Jesus Christ. He however explained these to His disciples:
Mark 4:34 " But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples. "
In our time since our Lord cannot speak to us personally, it is through His words that He explains the spiritual message. God guides us with the following:
Isaiah 28:10 " For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little. "
God does the "smiting"
To be noted, it is God who does the smiting:
Ezekiel 7:9 " And mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: I will recompense thee according to thy ways and thine abominations that are in the midst of thee; and ye shall know that I am the LORD that smiteth.
Hosea 6:1 " Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up."
It is with the truth in the words that our Lord does the smiting:
Revelation 19:15 " And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron…"
Hebrew 4:12 " For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. "
Spiritual smiting with the word of God therefore means rebuke:
Isaiah 11:4 " But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked."
"God is love." Since spiritual smiting is rebuke, it is therefore God's way of showing His love.
Proverbs 27:5 " Open rebuke is better than secret love"
Examples of "smites"
Our Lord Jesus Christ smote His listeners with the following:
John 8:43 " Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. 44 Ye are of your father the devil , …He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. 45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not."
Two reactions were seen from His listeners. The Scribes and Pharisees unfavorably reacted to it, plotting our Lord's crucifixion. They "did not offer the other cheek." To Christ disciples, however, they "offered the other cheek" by welcoming and accepting more reproofs from our Lord. We saw how our Lord openly rebuked His disciples, and they gladly accepted it. As a result, they were delivered from being "sons of the devil," and became "sons of God."
John 1:12 " But as many as received him (Truth), to them gave he power to become the sons of God..."
Peter received the most reproofs. He gladly accepted them, meaning, "being smitten on his right cheek and turning the other also."
Matthew 15:15 " Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. 16And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?
Matthew 16:21 " From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must…suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. 22Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. 23But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men."
"Let the righteous smite me"
Since "smite" means reproof, a person who has the Truth has the privilege to smite with the word of God. After all it is the Truth in the person that actually does the smiting.
Psalms 141:5 " Let the righteoussmite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil…"
2 Timothy 3:16 " All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. "
Now it is clear why our Lord "did not offer the other cheek" when smitten by a Roman officer, an unbeliever. And why Paul reacted when smitten by a soldier before Ananias. While this was done physically, the "other cheek cannot be offered" spiritually, because the "smiters" did not have the Truth. The command, "to offer the other cheek," is only a smite for the Truth.
"Only a few"
"Right cheek smitten with TRUTH needs also the left" to receive more TRUTH. If people, with man's explanation of the command willingly want to have the virtue of morality, why are only very few want to follow it spiritually? The religious people under the leadership of the Scribes and Pharisees during the time of our Lord did not turn the left cheek. If it is Truth that smites, why do many people not willing "to turn the other face also?" Truth will never pass away. Since it is the Truth that smites, it is expected that only a few will really "turn the other cheek" because it is written:
Matthew 22:14 " For many are called, but few are chosen."
Luke 13:23 "Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, 24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able."
For comparing the "strait gate and the broad way," read the article:
CHRIST AND SATAN IN CONTRAST
"Ye resist not evil"
Literally speaking, evil is everything that comes from the enemy of God. However it is inconceivable, using human understanding, why our Lord commands His chosen "not to resist evil."
Matthew 5:39 " But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also."
Does our Lord mean that His disciples have to welcome and love evil? On the contrary, God hates evil:
Psalms 10:15 "Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man: seek out his wickedness till thou find none."
Psalms 26:5 " I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked."
Without God explaining His words, it is full of contradictions. How could God who is the epitome of goodness and righteousness command His people "not to resist evil?" However, God guides us through His words sans human wisdom. Look here how Job willingly "accepted evil" and did not resist it as commanded in Matthew 5:39.
Job 2:9 " Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. 10But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips."
"Evil" therefore has two meanings: ( 1) "evil" that refers to the wiles and deception of Satan, and (2) "evil" referring to the chastening of God that may come from the enemy, with the permissive will of the Lord. God commended Job in "not resisting evil" in Job 2:10. We now find that "resisting not evil" with the permissive will of God is actually a sign of love, for "evil" in this case means "grievous."
Hebrew 12:5 "… My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness…"
It is true God confirmed Job's righteousness before Satan. But why did God still chasten him? Again, righteousness has two different meanings. (1) Righteousness for morality, and (2) Spiritual righteousness.
Job 1:7 " And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. 8And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?"
Job's righteousness is only morality. That is why he openly professed it.
Job 31:4 Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps? 5If I have walked with vanity, or if my foot hath hasted to deceit; 6Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity. 7If my step hath turned out of the way, and mine heart walked after mine eyes, and if any blot hath cleaved to mine hands; 8Then let me sow, and let another eat; yea, let my offspring be rooted out.
9 If mine heart have been deceived by a woman, or if I have laid wait at my neighbour’s door; 10Then let my wife grind unto another, and let others bow down upon her. 11For this is an heinous crime; yea, it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges. 12For it is a fire that consumeth to destruction, and would root out all mine increase. 13If I did despise the cause of my manservant or of my maidservant, when they contended with me; 14What then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him?
16 If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail; 17Or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof; 18(For from my youth he was brought up with me, as with a father, and I have guided her from my mother’s womb;) 19If I have seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering; 20If his loins have not blessed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep; 21If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, when I saw my help in the gate: 22Then let mine arm fall from my shoulder blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone. 23For destruction from God was a terror to me, and by reason of his highness I could not endure.
24 If I have made gold my hope, or have said to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence; 25If I rejoiced because my wealth was great, and because mine hand had gotten much; 26If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness; 27And my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand: 28This also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: for I should have denied the God that is above
32 The stranger did not lodge in the street: but I opened my doors to the traveller.
But Job did not see that his righteousness, which God referred to when talking to Satan, pertains only to the "cleanliness on the outside." This is obedience to the "letter of the law" as the Rich Young Ruler proudly claimed since childhood. To demonstrate the two levels of righteousness, our Lord by example did not admit that He is good:
Luke 18:18 " And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 19And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.
If our Lord Himself did not admit that He is good, how could Job profess goodness? Job's righteousness results only from obedience to the "letter of the law." This is "cleanliness on the outside" as the Scribes and Pharisees claimed to be. Christ emphasized "cleanliness in the inside" first that the "outside" would follow.
Matthew 23:25 " Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter… 26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also."
If "cleanliness on the outside" is MORALITY, "cleanliness in the inside" is SPIRITUALITY. Christ preached spirituality, but the Teachers of the Law did not understand Him. They did not see the Way. Our Lord therefore called them, "blind guides leading the blind." For details, read the article:
CLEANLINESS ON THE "OUTSIDE" AND "INSIDE"
Fruit of "not resisting evil"
When our Lord therefore told His disciples to "resist not evil," He was actually enjoining them to gladly accept His chastening. This may come from Satan as Job was subjected to. God is purifying His chosen as gold is purified in fire from its dross. Job professed goodness when not even our Lord accepted that He is good. But, by "not resisting evil," meaning accepting the chastening of our Lord, Job was purified from his self-righteousness. "Not resisting evil" has the same message as a "smite on the right cheek and turning the other also."
By following the command of our Lord, what Job lost was returned to him a hundred-fold. This is however viewed spiritually rather than literally-physically.
1 Peter 2:9 " But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; "
Job 42:11 " Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him:
Luke 18:20 " You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ 21 And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”
Job 42:10 " And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. 11Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him:… 12So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning…"