An Eye For An Eye – What Jesus Really Meant

“You have heard it said, an eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth”

When Jesus said these words, He was not correcting Old Testament scriptures or the Mosaic Law. The Old Testament is just as much, actually more so, the living breathing Word. Jesus IS the Word. He would not correct Himself. That would be contradictory, and an excellent attack vector for atheists to debunk both Jesus and the Bible in it’s entirety. I’m a former Gnostic Atheist, so I would know.

So what or who was Jesus correcting?

I heard the eye for an eye thing brought up last night in a lesson on forgiveness and it jumped out at me. The implication that seemed implied was that Jesus was correcting the Mosaic law as it was written. I hear minor miscommunication like this all the time. My ears instantly tune into thing like this and seem to be doing so even more lately. Not condemning the source of this implication because I hear similar things from every single pulpit. It’s mostly unintentional and just the nature of communication.

My plan, was to not mention it at all last night. It’s a technicality. No one will really care about such minor semantics. I will bore people to death. A clarification on what Jesus really meant would be unnecessary. Who am I to speak up when a thought like this flows across my ears? I am unworthy. No Lord. I won’t do it. It’s not that big of a deal. Okay! Enough with the pulling and the tugging. I will share what I found when I Googled an eye of an eye. These were the thoughts going through my head last night. Kind of ironic too because of something I had said earlier in the evening concerning my calling and being resistant to it. The Lord decided to test me and I was about to fail. He wanted me to open my mouth and speak forth that which He had put on my heart.

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When I googled the phrase “an eye for an eye” I was looking for verses in the Old Testament that actually taught this concept and the context of those verses. One of the first things to pop up was an article by Got Questions, which I consider a fairly trustworthy site on most subjects of doctrinal truth. I haven’t read every one of their articles, not have I read any future articles that they may write, which is why I say they are a fairly trustworthy source.

In a nutshell, the Pharisees were, incorrectly, teaching that “an eye for an eye” meant that you can engage in a personal vandetta and seek your own revenge at a personal relationship level with other people. This is not what G-d’s law said. The verses in the Old Testament were concerning the civil judicial system that the law of G-d required to be established. It was addressing judges and law givers (what we would call the judicial branch and the legislative branch of government). It was saying that when they serve restitution, that the restitution should be equal in proportion to the crime or civil wrong being done. That we don’t execute someone for talking in the classroom and we don’t slap someone on the wrist for murder or rape.

When I say equal, I don’t mean the same. Back up and read what I said, “equal in proportion”. Proper biblical restitution is usually an amplification of the original transgression. If you mad at me and you do $1000 damage to my car, biblically correct restitution would be $3000. Not only did you do a $1000 damage to my car, but you caused a whole string of costly inconveniences and repercussions as a direct result of your $1000 in damages. The multiplier increases with greater offenses which is why when Adam sinned, it condemned the entire world for all earthly time. This is also why it’s a bad idea to go into debt. Anyone who is familiar with how the Law of G-d works would know this.


Yes, the religious leaders of the time has twisted G-d’s truth so much that they had a completely different and opposite understanding of what G-d had said. Yet they considered themselves clean and participated in the Passover feasts of the time both before, during and after crucifying the Messiah. They were immensely deceived.


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Fred Dickey

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