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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.

What does this mean? Not to fight evil? Does it mean one should ignore evil?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Lee Woofenden, Flimzy, Nathaniel, Mr. Bultitude, curiousdannii Apr 11 at 0:44

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

up vote 8 down vote accepted

It does not mean:

  • do not fight temptation to sin
  • do not defend yourself

Look at the context in which the passage is found:

38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

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.

40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.

41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Jesus here rejects conventional wisdom to return evil with evil, and to hate one's enemies. Instead, he says we should be humble and love (will the good of) those who do evil to us.

Try the ASV: "resist not him that is evil." In the KJV, "evil" seems to mean "evil actions directed toward you" or "evil in others."

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Hold on it does mean do not defend yourself!

Sir you have twisted the verse to take away it's true meaning

Matthew Chapter 5 (NKJV):

19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Christ told his followers to accept suffering and oppression and murder all in his name for the kingdom of God so that they would be have great treasure in heaven, and by doing this they would be God's children. The whole sermon on the mount testifies to that!

9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

...

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. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. 43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Remember

5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Did Christ defend himself? Did Paul defend himself? Did Peter defend himself? Nay, but they all followed their lord to the cs to the glory of God!

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Welcome to the site! This next has nothing to do with the quality of your answer, it's just standard to help new visitors avoid misunderstanding the site (as I did at first.) As a new visitor, I'd recommend checking out the following two posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": the help page and How we are different than other sites? – David Jan 6 '14 at 13:30

If you look at the pattern in Matthew 5:20-44, Jesus is not telling us not to resist evil. Quite the opposite. Jesus responds in one of two ways to the old laws. He uses a direct command to in effect disobey the old law as in "Swear not at all" 5:33-34, and "Love your enemies.." 5:43-44. But,as in the case of 5:38-39, he first adds a "that" which I read not as a command word but as a description of the condition of obeying the old law. "That ye resist not evil" then describes what it means to demand an eye for an eye. When you do that, you are not resisting evil. Jesus then gives examples of responses that do resist evil.

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