Mat. 5:39-41 – Christian Grace (2 of 3)

A Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS, 10 July 2011

Nate’s Translation:

38. Y’all heard that it was declared, “Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.”

39. And I myself am saying to you not to stand opposed to the evil man, but rather, whichever one slaps you in your right cheek, turn to him the other also.

40. And to the one who intends to sue you and to take your underwear, release to him your outerwear also!

41. And whichever one compels you for one mile, keep going with him two.

42. Give to the one who makes requests of you, and do not turn away the one who intends to borrow from you.


Jesus quotes the O.T. law of justice: “Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.” (Lev. 24:17-22/ Ex. 21:22-25/ Deut. 19:15-21)

and then addresses our heart attitude in v.39 “do not not ἀντιστῆναι/resist/stand opposed to” that evil person who bothers you. In vs. 39-42, Jesus gives four scenarios of what this looks like:

Scenario #1. In response to insults, “Turn the other cheek” (v.39b)

s         Jesus says, Don’t antagonize those who have insulted you. Instead take an inoffensive stance – one that will even allow them to take another potshot at you if they want.

s         David provides us with a good example of suffering insults from Shimei and Nabal and leaving vengeance to God.

s         This takes faith to trust that God really will judge the world justly.

s         Notice Jesus says to turn toward the person after the insult. Are you willing to keep your fists at your sides and pray for God to bless them after they insult you? (Prov 25:22)

Scenario #2. If anyone wants to sue you…give him your coat also (v.40)

s         maybe you already paid damages for an offense against him and he hasn’t forgiven you yet and he wants you to pay more.

s         Jesus is saying to give ‘em more than he’s asking for; more than he expected to get from you.

s         Are we willing to hold our possessions so loosely that we’d be willing to let it go if you’re stolen from? Do you need to give your possessions over to God like Missionary Otto Koning did with his pineapples?

Scenario #3. Go the second mile (v.41) – Threats to time & productivity

καὶ ὅστις σε ἀγγαρεύσει μίλιον ἕν, ὕπαγε μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ δύο·

And whichever one compels/forces you to go one mile, keep going with him two


Adam Clarke: This word “compels” is said to be derived from the Persians, among whom the king’s messengers, or posts, were called Αγγαποι, or angari… The Persian messengers had the royal authority for pressing horses, ships, and even men, to assist them in the business on which they were employed. These angari are now termed chappars, and serve to carry despatches between the court and the provinces. When a chappar sets out, the master of the horse furnishes him with a single horse; and, when that is weary, he dismounts the first man he meets, and takes his horse. There is no pardon for a traveler that refuses to let a chappar have his horse, nor for any other who should deny him the best horse in his stable...

It was probably these very “angari” who were dispatched by king Ahasuerus to every province in the book of Esther 3:12-15 NASB  Then the king's scribes were summoned on the thirteenth day of the first month, and it was written just as Haman commanded to the king's satraps, to the governors who were over each province and to the princes of each people, each province according to its script, each people according to its language, being written in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with the king's signet ring. Letters were sent by couriers to all the king's provinces to destroy, to kill and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to seize their possessions as plunder. A copy of the edict to be issued as law in every province was published to all the peoples so that they should be ready for this day. The couriers went out impelled by the king's command while the decree was issued at the citadel in Susa...

Vincent: “A man is travelling, and about to pass a post-station, where horses and messengers are kept in order to forward royal missives as quickly as possible. An official rushes out, seizes him, and forces him to go back and carry a letter to the next station, perhaps to the great detriment of his business.”

The same word is used when Simon of Cyrene was impressed into service to carry the cross of Christ (Mat. 27:32, ēggareusan).



s         The Greek word in this command, hupage/go, is a compound word which literally means “lead under” indicating that you are going out of your way to travel with him, this is not talking about a convenient travelling companion who happens to be going the same place you’re going.

s         Jesus often used that word hupage of Himself and often commanded it of others:

o       Go to your brother and show him his fault (Matt 18:15)

o       Go sell all you have and give it to the poor (Mark 10:21)

o       Go – I send you out as sheep among wolves (Luke 10:5)

o       Go and bear fruit (John 15:16)

s         Being a Christian involves going out of your way to do what God wants you to do. It includes responding appropriately to interruptions that threaten your productivity.

s         My idol of productivity – I tend to feel good about myself when I can accomplish goals. I’ll write things down that I’ve already done on a to-do list sometimes just to have the satisfaction of crossing off something. So when the phone rings or a new email hits my inbox or a member of my household yells for my attention, my natural instinct is to groan and complain that I won’t get as much work done that day.

s         Now, it is possible to open yourself up to too many interruptions and allow yourself to be ruled by the demands of everybody around you. That is the opposite extreme, and there are ways of setting boundaries to protect your health and sanity – Jesus regularly withdrew to lonely places to pray. I don’t answer calls on the church line from people whose numbers I don’t recognize, but just let the answering machine take them, and that has done a marvelous job of screening out panhandlers and salesmen and saving my time to serve people in the church. So it’s one thing to set reasonable boundaries to preserve your ability to love others for the long term, but quite another thing to begrudge being interrupted or begrudge doing anything extra out of laziness and selfishness.

s         There was apparently a tradition in Jesus’ day that religious teachers and students were exempt from impressment into service by the government, so Jesus’ disciples could have claimed this exemption, but Jesus calls His followers to the opposite of laziness and selfishness and says, “Volunteer to serve anyway, even if you are exempt. Don’t insist upon your privileges for your own convenience. Be willing to serve.”

s         Part of the inconvenience of obeying Jesus’ command here is that it means submitting to someone else’s will. Matthew Henry makes a good point in his commentary when he writes, Say not, ‘I would do it, if I were not compelled to it, but I hate to be forced;’ rather say, ‘Therefore I will do it, for otherwise there will be a quarrel;’ and ‘it is better to serve him, than to serve thy own lusts of pride and revenge.’”



s         We fought a few wars in America to be free of government authorities forcing us against our will to do civic duties like housing soldiers and rowing boats, so all that’s left of that would be the military draft and perhaps jury duty. If you were drafted to serve in Afghanistan for a year, would you cheerfully offer two?

s         Employers, however, have a little more claim on our time and can be very imposing. When your boss or your commander lays an extra hard job on you, what is your first thought?

s         In our house, Mama or Papa can impress children for household duties. If you were asked to take out the kitchen garbage, would you cheerfully offer to take out the bathroom trash as well?

s         And it’s not limited to children; parents have to do chores too. A couple of nights ago, it was an hour past bedtime, and I discovered that somebody - who shall remain unnamed - neglected to complete their laundry duty. As the Dad, I feel responsible to take care of things that have fallen through the cracks and that can mess up the whole family’s schedule the next day, so I went out in the pitch black and hung clothes on the line, but I didn’t go the extra mile and put away the dry laundry, and I must confess I didn’t do it with a very cheerful heart.


Spiritual Issues

s         Cheerfully going the extra mile gets people’s attention. Example of Supplies Guys calling back multiple times and replacing image drum on printer even after it became apparent that it was my fault, when the manufacturer wouldn’t even take it back - and even putting a starlight mint in the package. That bought my customer loyalty.

s         “The way to improve the injustice of man to our own advantage, is to exercise under it meekness, gentleness, and long-suffering, without which disposition of mind, no man can either be happy here or hereafter; for he that avenges himself must lose the mind of Christ, and thus suffer an injury ten thousand times greater than he can ever receive from man. Revenge, at such an expense, is dear indeed.” ~ Adam Clarke

s         Only love can motivate us to go the extra mile, to give the extra time for that person who isn’t very quick on the uptake, to give that extra bit of creativity to a gift that really shows you invested yourself rather than just doing your duty.

s         This requires reliance upon God and His supernatural love and power to flow through us. “[T]hough we must not invite injuries, yet we must meet them cheerfully in the way of duty, and make the best of them. If any say, ‘Flesh and blood cannot pass by such an affront, let them remember, that flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God.’” (M. Henry)

s         TRANSITION: Not only are we to not stand against authority when it demands that we go out of our way in service, but we are also not to stand against private individuals who ask more of us than they should:

4. Giving/lending (v.42)

τῷ αἰτοῦντί σε δίδου καὶ τὸν θέλοντα ἀπὸ σοῦ δανείσασθαι μὴ ἀποστραφῇς.

Give to the one who asks (ESV=begs) of you, and do not turn away(ESV=refuse) the one who wants to borrow from you.

s         Here the “problem person” is called τῷ αἰτοῦντί, the one who is characterized by asking – the “mooch,” the one who is always asking you for something. This is not the friend who lets you know of a need from time to time and who you are more than glad to help, this is the one whom you’ve helped many times and keeps coming back asking for more. Maybe it’s your little brother or sister who keeps asking for your toys because your toys look more special to her.

s         The borrower is also mentioned: you know, the one who never comes to work prepared and always asks to borrow something in order to do what he’s supposed to do. Or maybe it’s the neighbor that keeps borrowing your tools and doesn’t take good care of them. You can see him or her coming, and you know they’re going to ask you for something, and you feel like they’re taking advantage of your kindness.

s         What should the attitude of our heart be when we see someone like that coming up to us, about to ask us for something impertinent?

s         Jesus’ command is inescapable: “…give… do not turn away.” (Repeat for emphasis) His command matches God’s earlier commands in the law of Moses:


The O.T. on lending:

s         Deuteronomy 15:7-11 And if there shall be in the midst of thee a poor man of thy brethren in one of thy cities in the land, which the Lord thy God gives thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, neither shalt thou by any means close up thine hand from thy brother who is in want. Thou shalt surely open thine hands to him, and shalt lend to him as much as he wants according to his need. Take heed to thyself that there be not a secret thing in thine heart, an iniquity, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, draws nigh; and thine eye shall be evil to thy brother that is in want, and thou shalt not give to him, and he shall cry against thee to the Lord, and there shall be great sin in thee. Thou shalt surely give to him, and thou shalt lend him as much as he wants, according as he is in need; and thou shalt not grudge in thine heart as thou givest to him, because on this account the Lord thy God will bless thee in all thy works, and in all things on which thou shalt lay thine hand. For the poor shall not fail off thy land, therefore I charge thee to do this thing, saying, Thou shalt surely open thine hands to thy poor brother, and to him that is distressed upon thy land.

s         Psalm 37:21-26 The sinner borrows, and will not pay again: but the righteous has compassion, and gives….  I was once young, indeed I am now old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed seeking bread. He is merciful, and lends continually; and his seed shall be blessed.

s         Proverbs 19:17 He that has pity on the poor lends to the Lord; and he will recompense to him according to his gift.

s         Exodus 22:25 “And if thou shouldest lend money to thy poor brother who is by thee, thou shalt not be hard upon him thou shalt not exact usury of him.”

s         Deuteronomy 23:19-20 Thou shalt not lend to thy brother on usury of silver, or usury of meat, or usury of any thing which thou mayest lend out. Thou mayest lend on usury to a stranger, but to thy brother thou shalt not lend on usury; that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all thy works upon the land, into which thou art entering to inherit it.

s         Using a different word for lending, Psalm 112:5-6 says, “The good man is he that pities and lends: he will direct his affairs with judgment. For he shall not be moved for ever; the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.”

s         (Reprinted from Brenton’s English translation of the Septuagint)


QUALIFICATIONS: Giving should be done wisely so as to truly benefit all concerned:

1.      This includes giving according to your ability, not in such a way as to threaten your ability to give in the future. If the gift being asked would cause you to loose your employment or cause your family to be evicted from your home or something, it is not a request you can fulfill. There are limits to what you CAN give.

2.      This also includes giving according to need. People call our church office number regularly asking for money. Experience has taught me not to give money to them because it will almost always be squandered. It is our general church policy not to write a check directly to a person, but rather to pay their bills indirectly, such as sending rent money directly to the landlord or the utility company. This insures that the asker is truly benefitted with basic needs rather than tempted to spend money on unnecessary things when they are in a financial crisis.

s        “look upon the request of the poor as giving thee an opportunity for the duty of alms­giving. When a real object of charity presents itself, we should give at the first word… yet the affairs of our charity must be guided with discretion (Ps.112:5), lest we give that to the idle and unworthy, which should be given to those that are necessitous, and deserve well... [Lending] is sometimes as great a piece of charity as giving; as it not only relieves the present exigency, but obliges the borrower to providence, industry, and honesty…” ~M. Henry

s         EXAMPLE: The TentMaker Project – much wisdom needed in bringing money from America to Africa, so we have to have a carefully-designed system watched over by wise church elders and deacons on both sides of the ocean, as well as training of recipients in Biblical principles of business and finance.


Three objections to God’s command answered:

1.      “Borrowing is not ideal; I should not aid and abet a poor person toward indebtedness by lending to them.”

§         “Owe no man anything” (Rom. 13:8) [is] not to be taken absolutely; else the Scripture commendations of the righteous for ‘lending’ to his necessitous brother would have no application.” ~ JFB

§        A loan is often more beneficial than an absolute gift: first, because it flatters less the vanity of him who lends; secondly, it spares more the shame of him who is in real want; and, thirdly, it gives less encouragement to the idleness of him who may not be very honest. However, no advantage should be taken of the necessities of the borrower…” ~Adam Clarke

§        So, yes, indebtedness is not ideal, but this is no excuse; Jesus clearly commands us to be willing to lend.

2.      “There are already many public charities which help the needy; I don’t need to do this personally.”

§         This is, in my opinion, part of the problem. The great Baptist Greek scholar A.T. Robertson noted this a century ago when he said, “In the organized charities of modern life we are in danger of letting the milk of human kindness dry up.”

§         Private giving has shriveled as personal relationships between the rich and poor have become increasingly distant, this gave way to the primary means of caring for the poor falling to social action organizations, and this gave way to government entitlements now received by over half of American citizens.

§         According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are 1,202,573 charitable organizations in the United States registered as 501(c) with the IRS, and that does not include the many more small community organizations that are not registered with the IRS. That’s about one charity organization for every 300 citizens, offering professional personel to stand inbetween those citizens and the objects of their charity.

§         Furthermore, “Slightly over half of all Americans – 52.6 percent – now receive significant income from government programs,” according to a 2007 Christian Science Monitor report ( where economist Gary Shilling found that “about 1 in 5 Americans hold a government job or a job reliant on federal spending. A similar number receive Social Security or a government pension. About 19 million others get food stamps, 2 million get subsidized housing, and 5 million get education grants”

§         I see three problems that come from a shift from private charity to public charity:

1.      Governments are less efficient with money than private individuals, so it costs more for taxpayers to pay beaurocrats to provide the same amount of help to the poor that it would have cost if those private citizens had administered that charity themselves.

2.      More importantly, governments are not personal entities, and therefore money coming from the government further alienates poor people who are collecting from this non-personal institution because part of their problem in the first place is that they do not have a good community of personal relationships. The more they look to the impersonal institution, the further alienated they become from healthy relationships which they need as part of their long-term well-being.

3.      Private charity can provide better accountability than institutionalized giving can. For instance, the welfare office has little ability to discover and prevent the exchange of food stamps for street drugs, whereas a private individual can find out these things and hold recipients of their charity accountable. I believe this is one reason why the Old Testament system of indebtedness included selling oneself to become a servant in the household of a master. There are many adult citizens who have failed financially who would do well to start over and sit under the training and discipline of a wise man as though he were one of the children of that man. Whatever today’s application of that may be, my point is that personal relationships are key to accountability and training in wisdom; these things don’t naturally happen in institutions.

3.       “I’ve already given; I shouldn’t have to give anymore”

§         In Luke 6, Jesus doesn’t say, “Give to only a few of those who ask of you,” but rather, “Give to everyone who asks of you…”

§         “Christ exhorts his disciples to be liberal and generous; and next, that the way of doing it is, not to think that they have discharged their duty when they have aided a few persons, but to study to be kind to all, and not to be weary of giving, so long as they have the means…” ~ John Calvin

§         The bottom line is that Jesus has given us a command to give, and we are called to obey His command.


Not only should we give because God has commanded us to give, we should give because our attitude teaches people what our relationship with God is like. God invites us to be askers, and He takes delight in being a giver to us:


These verses have the same words for “ask” and “give” found in the Greek text of Matt. 5:42

s         1 Samuel 1:27 Hannah said, "I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him."

s         2 Chronicles 1:7 God appeared to Solomon and said to him, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you."

s         Psalm 2:8 God the Father says to Jesus, “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.”

s         Zechariah 10:1 Ask the LORD for rain in the springtime; it is the LORD who makes the storm clouds. He gives showers of rain to men, and plants of the field to everyone.

s         Luke 11:9 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you… (Matthew 7:8) For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

s         John 4:10 Jesus said to the woman at the well, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."

s         John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

s         James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

s         1 John 5:16 If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray [ask] and God will give him life...
(These verses are reprinted from the NIV)


We must remember that we are utterly dependent upon God. He invites us to ask of Him and He gives freely and cheerfully to us. It is from an attitude of gratefulness to God and a hope of showing what God is like to others that we can cheerfully give:

s         “What God says to us, we should be ready to say to our poor brethren, ‘Ask, and it shall be given you… [Jesus says to us] ‘From him that would borrow of thee…turn not thou away…’  Be easy of access to him that would borrow: though he be bashful, and have not confidence to make known his case and beg the favour, yet thou knowest both his need and his desire, and therefore offer him the kindness… It becomes us to be thus forward in acts of kindness, for before we call, God hears us, and prevents us with the blessings of his goodness.’” ~ Matt. Henry

s         “God, who makes use of the beggar’s hand to ask our charity, is the same from whom we ourselves beg our daily bread: and dare we refuse Him! Let us show at least mildness and compassion, when we can do no more; and if we cannot or will not relieve a poor man, let us never give him an ill word nor an ill look. If we do not relieve him, we have no right to insult him.” ~ Adam Clarke

s          “…turn not away from him with a frown, or without speaking to him, or with a denial; look upon him with a pleasant countenance, cheerfully lend him what he wants...” ~ John Gill

s         The attitude with which we respond to a request teaches the asker what God is like: teachers, parents, husbands, wives, everybody, take heed, what do you want your students, your children, your roommates, your spouse, your employees, your little brothers and sisters to learn about God’s attitude toward us? Let it show in the way you talk to them.


Biblical illustrations of the spirit which Jesus here commends (William Hendricksen)

a.  Abraham, rushing to rescue his [relative] Lot (Gen. 14:14 ff.), though the latter had earlier revealed himself to be a rather avaricious nephew (Gen. 13:1-13).

b.  Joseph, generously  forgiving his brothers (Gen. .50:19-21), who had not treated him very kindly (37:18-28).

d.   Elisha, setting bread and water before the invading Syrians (II Kings 6).

e.   Above all, God himself, who “so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NASB)


Two Sermonettes from the Bible on giving (without commentary for the sake of time):

1.      2 Corinthians 9:6-12Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written, ‘HE SCATTERED ABROAD, HE GAVE TO THE POOR, HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS ENDURES FOREVER.’ Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God.

2.      Luke 6:27-38 "But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure--pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return."


Do not stand opposed to the evil person who:

  1. Insults (slaps you on the cheek – rather keep an open relationship with him, turned toward him even at the risk of another insult)
  2. Extorts (sues you and tries to take your clothes – rather give him more than he expects and help him overcome his bitterness toward you)
  3. Interrupts (Forces you to go a mile – welcome the opportunity to spend time with this person and go the extra mile)
  4. Asks (Give, even when you think he shouldn’t be asking and even if you’re afraid he can’t pay back the loan; give as the Lord has given to you.)