Reflection on Matthew 5:39

Matthew 5:39 (KJV)
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.

what is meant by the term ‘evil‘ in this passage?? is it moral wickedness?? malice?? or could it be something else??

in the original greek the word translated as ‘evil‘ here is ‘poneros‘ which primarily means labors, annoyances, hardships; pains, troubles; bad nature (wicked, evil) or bad condition (diseased or blind).

the word ‘whoever‘ is from the greek ‘hostis‘ which can also mean ‘whatever‘.

turn‘ in this passage is from the greek ‘strepho‘, meaning to turn, to turn around; to turn one’s self from one’s course of conduct, i.e., to change one’s mind.

him‘ is from the greek ‘autos’, meaning himself, herself, themselves, itself.

the other‘ could just as well mean ‘another’ (allos in greek)

the second ‘but‘ is ‘alla‘ in greek meaning ‘nevertheless’ as distinct from the first ‘but‘ meaning ‘moreover’

so the passage could read,

Moreover, I advise you, do not resist/oppose the toils/hardships of life, nevertheless, when something befalls you…
 
…turn from your resistance/opposition (which adds to the hardship) to another mind/attitude (e.g.,
acceptance of the pain and the learning)
 
or, …change your conduct/attitude to another; 

 
or, …turn to/within yourself for another way’; 

 
or some other related wording that might better reflect the intended idea.

by turning the other cheek one is fully facing the trying circumstances with thoughtful reflection on one’s own responsibility in the unfolding of experience and consequence. the buffeting we are handed by the unintended consequence (by us) of a choice made against one’s own better judgment or intuition is the needed catalyst for the kind of contemplation that offers redemption and renewal. turning the other cheek leaves us open and vulnerable to life’s blessings and pains. this is wisdom.

i hope this helps show other possibilities of meaning.

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