Bible Book List
Dictionary of Bible Themes – 5495 revenge, and retaliation
5495 revenge, and retaliation

5495 revenge, and retaliation

Scripture teaches that it is wrong to strike back or to return evil for evil, whether by immediate retaliation or by taking revenge later. Justice must be done, but this must be left in the hands of God, or of the authorities ordained by God.

OT teaching about revenge

Revenge forbidden in the OT Ge 4:15; Lev 19:18; Dt 32:35; Pr 20:22 See also Dt 19:5-7,11-13; Dt 23:7; Pr 24:29; Jer 29:7

The “lex talionis” (law of exacting like for like) Ex 21:23-25 This was not a rule for personal revenge but to ensure that judicial punishments were neither unjust nor malicious. See also Lev 24:17-21; Dt 19:18-21

Personal revenge forbidden in the NT

By Jesus Christ Mt 5:38-45 See also Lk 6:27-36

By the apostles Ro 12:17; 1Th 5:15; 1Pe 3:9 See also 1Co 13:4-5

The evil effects of revenge illustrated in the life of Samson

Jdg 15:1-8,9-10,11-12

Alternatives to revenge

Avoiding the problem Ro 12:18; 1Pe 4:8

Evading the attack Mt 10:23; Lk 4:29-30

Accepting the injury 1Co 6:7; Heb 10:32-34

Using the law Ac 22:25; 1Co 6:1-6 going to law

Forgiving and setting an example Lk 23:34; Ac 7:59-60 Ashes on the head were a sign of repentance. Doing good to one’s attackers may lead them to a change of heart: Ro 12:19-21; Pr 25:21-22

God will avenge his people

Lk 18:7-8 See also Dt 32:43; 1Sa 24:12; 2Ki 9:7; Ps 18:47; Rev 6:10; Rev 19:2

See also

7310avenger of blood
7346death penalty
9105last things