Turning the Other Cheek

Scourging of Jesus by Bouguereau

Flagellation of Our Lord Jesus Christ by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1880, Public Domain)

Written in response to “Turn, Turn, Turn,” by Leonard J. Greenspoon, Biblical Archaeology Review:



“Turning the other cheek” is likely a reference to Lamentations 3:30, “He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him:  he is filled full with reproach,” and/or to Isaiah 50:6, “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair:  I hid not my face from shame and spitting.”

Both are references to intercessory prayer before God through such self-abasement that one undertakes no self-defense against abuse and abasement by others.  It is echoed in the words of Paul that love “does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, . . . bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things . . .” (1 Corinthians 13:5, 7, NASB).

Thus Jesus’ saying is in contrast to personal retaliation, which is natural and human, pointing instead toward spiritual goals.  The context of the verse does not, however, lend itself as a prooftext for Pacifism, to which it is often applied.

© 2010 Paul A. Hughes


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s