Six Great Bible Verses on Retaliation

Two wrongs make a right, some think, if the second wrong will cancel the impact of the first one.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, others say, to prevent the person to whom wrong is done from responding with more wrong.

The more we examine these concepts, the more complicated it becomes to determine our right and responsibility to retaliate. Not surprising, then, that the Good Book gives clear, simple instructions concerning the best way to deal with retaliation. Actually, there are alternatives.

(1) Retaliation or Kindness?

You have heard that it was said, “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.” But I tell you, do not resist an evil person (Matthew 5: 38, 39).

Mahatma Gandhi:


The Hebrew rule of eye for eye, first cited in Exodus 21: 24, is an emphasis on the punishment fitting the crime. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus terminated that law and advised people to practice forgiveness instead of retaliation.

Retaliation extends the evil. Those who must punish extreme crimes like kidnapping, terrorism and murder need God's wisdom to know how not to reward evil with evil. Sometimes an unexpected act of kindness will break a criminal's heart.

By going the extra mile to appease our offenders, as Jesus suggested in the rest of that sermon, we confuse the spirits of evil, and make it easier for our offenders to return our kind gesture. Forgiveness and kindness are effective alternatives to retaliation.

(2) Retaliation or Self-Control?

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12: 21).

It is very easy to get caught up in getting even. Gradually, we lose focus on the more important reasons for living. We feed vices like hatred, resentment or hostility. These negative forces overcome our wise judgment and we stop thinking clearly. Self-control is an alternative.

Feuding parents forget about the children when they focus on getting back at the ex-spouse. Spiteful employees lose control when they focus on undermining coworkers who undermine them. In such situations, individuals with self-control are able to delay possibly-harmful responses while they think through other actions which are more profitable than retaliation.

(3) Retaliation or Patience?

A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense (Proverbs 19:11).

What does retaliation tell others about us? Will it serve us better for onlookers to see us as no-nonsense, tit-for-tat fighters; or as patient, level-headed individuals?

What will it tell us about ourselves? Do we prefer to hurt someone and live with regret for years to come; or might we consider maintaining inner peace and a clear conscience without retaliation?

  • If we steal from someone who steals from us, we increase the number of thieves in our neighborhood.
  • If we set fire to the neighbor’s house, because he set fire to ours, we further decrease the value of our properties.

It is better to react with wisdom and patience and experience better, safer results in the long run.

(4) Retaliation or Blessing?

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing (1 Peter 3:9).

Stuck in Retaliation

"Bulls Fighting" - oil on panel - by George Stubbs
"Bulls Fighting" - oil on panel - by George Stubbs | Source

This directive came immediately after instruction for spouses. It included advice that they “be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” The author’s argument was that such character, even without words, could win over the heart of a contrary mate.

Spousal abuse of any kind—physical including sexual, verbal, emotional, mental, spiritual—should not be tolerated. Having said that, whatever decision the individuals make, retaliation is not an option. It will weaken personal faith and the power of influence.

If a spouse decides to endure an unfortunate situation, it will take all the courage he or she can muster to bless instead of curse; but the blessing he or she gives will boomerang to bless the one who initiated the blessing.

(5) Retaliation or Love?

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18).

Reconciliation, Not Retaliation

By Leekimbud
By Leekimbud | Source

First, love for ourselves. Why would we want to subject ourselves to the stress, the making of enemies, and the restlessness that comes with retaliation? Having experienced God’s love and forgiveness, we have an inner peace which might baffle our offenders.

Secure in the love we receive, we long for our offenders to share our experience. If they give us trouble because that is what they have, we respond with love since that is what we have. The power of love to change their attitude can never be matched by the impact of retaliation.

(6) Retaliation or God's Mercy?

Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the Lord, and he will avenge you (Proverbs 20:22).

We may feel humiliated, victimized, taken advantage of when someone blatantly commits a wrongful deed against us; but it is not our responsibility to punish them. In fact our form of retaliation may not even be correct for the offender. What goes around, comes around; and it better to leave the coming around to One who is wiser than we are.

Meanwhile, we know that there is also some retaliation due to us, for the offenses we caused. So it makes sense to submit ourselves to God’s mercy, at the same time we submit our offenders to Him. We are forgiven as we forgive.

Scripture quotations are from the New International Version.

© 2014 Dora Isaac Weithers

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DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

The true words as quoted ''You have heard that it was said, “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.” But I tell you, do not resist an evil person.'' and ''An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind,'' does make sense. Kill them with your kindness it is not worth fighting for why stoop to their levels?

MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

DDE, you said it very well. Thank you.

word55 profile image

word55 3 years ago from Chicago

You make top notch sense of it all here. You can help turn an angry person into a saint. Superb articles are welcomed here. What a difference a change of heart makes. Voted up! -:)

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MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Word, thank you very much for your kind comment. I appreciate you!

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Dora the notion of retaliation is so ingrained in our society that people just assume that is what you are doing when you try to "right" a wrong. To me me this fine hub reminds me of the idea "correct the wrong, not the child". And conversely I must daily reflect that 99% of all my perceived wrongs against me have almost nothing to do with me.

This is truly a gift of a hub!

MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Eric, I appreciate your input. Thank you.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

My days of striking back in anger are gone, replaced with a desire to find common ground and friendship. It is not always possible but that does not keep me from trying. Beautiful message my friend and well-written.

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MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thank you, Billy. We keep learning from you.

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

Yes, retaliation equals revenge and that can never be the right thing, though it is hard for many to fight, but it is better left to God. Love is a much better tool. Only fools fight love.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Jackie, thank you for your input. Like that statement: only fools fight love.

manatita44 profile image

manatita44 3 years ago from london

Great quotes and arguments. Well done, Dee.

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MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Manatita, quite a pleasure to receive a comment from you. Thank you.

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

I used to investigate cases of retaliation in the workplace, and some of the things that people do to one another are astounding. It can be an upward spiral of force and one-up-manship and no one wins.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Flourish, thank you for sharing that. When will we ever learn? Hopefully, before we spend all our lives doing the wrong thing.

rdsparrowriter profile image

rdsparrowriter 3 years ago

Very well said. I learnt this valuable thoughts from you today as I was exactly going through some temper towards what my sis told me about one of her friends who is harassing her as she's so jealous of my sis being an excellent student. My sister is still so nice to her, but she's very sensitive and seems very upset when her own friends are like that.... Well I guess all we can do is pray and ask for blessing for those who hurt us as battle belongs to the Lord. Thank you.

Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 3 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

Sound advice, and I like your "Check my profile" inclusion for more visiting. Sound advice, too!

Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 3 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

This is in keeping with the advice to "Let go, and let God."

Ann1Az2 profile image

Ann1Az2 3 years ago from Orange, Texas

MsDora, on the "eye for eye and tooth for tooth" scripture, I think you may be confusing punishment with retaliation. Jesus spoke of meeting evil with good. That is how we are all called to live as Christians - to not retaliate. But punishing someone for killing someone such as they do in the courts is an entirely different matter. In Exodus, God was giving them the rules for punishment. In the New Testament, Jesus plainly says in Matthew 5:15, "“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill." God's laws never change and He has never revoked them. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." Hebrews 13:8

MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

RD, thank you for sharing. At all cost, please encourage your sister to continue being her sweet self. It is not easy to always ignore offenders, but tell her to try. When they catch themselves focusing on her, and she's not focusing on them, they'll see how futile their efforts are. Pray for her to demonstrate the fruit of the spirit, so that's all they see. I'm praying for her, too.

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MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Ann, thank you for sharing your opinion. For me, punishment is retaliation; in the case of murder, the law authorizes the punishment, and I have no condemnation for those who have that task. That's why I mentioned: "Those who must deal with extreme crimes like kidnapping, terrorism and murder need wiser-than-human consultation." I appreciate your input.

rdsparrowriter profile image

rdsparrowriter 3 years ago

Thank you MsDora for the words of wisdom and prayers :) I hope it'll be solved by the grace of God as it's troubling her a lot. I'm glad I came by here. God bless you!

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sheilamyers 3 years ago

This is an excellent hub! What people tend to miss about retaliation is it's not an equal injury for injury. Instead, it's all about getting back at a higher level. It goes around and around until one person decides to stop it. Evil begets evil, violence begets violence, and so on. It can only be stopped one person at a time and the person we stop first should be us.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Sheila, so well said. I really appreciate your input on this topic. Thank you.

lifegate profile image

lifegate 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

Hi MsDora,

The word "wisdom" seems to keep popping up. you shared a lot of it here. Thank you for insight. Have you ever noticed that -2 + -2= -4. two negatives still equal a negative. Just a thought.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Lifegate, thanks for your kind comment. The situation involving the negatives deserves some contemplation. Thanks for that also.

CMCastro profile image

CMCastro 3 years ago from Baltimore,MD USA

An excellent way of looking at things. I think that if individuals look carefully at their concequences before they act then perhaps that will pause a lot of regretfulness. Treating one another the way we each want to be treated begins improved communication between persons. The basic rule from the Bible should always exist: Love one another. Because we are all God's creation, we should treat each other like we want God to treat us. Thank you for your hub.

Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Wow, another excellent hub dear MsDora! I almost missed this one, but glad I did not. Yes, vengeance is mine says the Lord! I leave it up to the Lord to deal with such and do as He tells us and that is to bless our enemies, which is sometimes a very hard thing to do, but when I do, a wonderful peace just comes over me.

Up and more and sharing


Faith Reaper

MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

CM. thank you very much for your contribution to this topic. I agree that the basic rule of love makes a great difference.

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MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Faith, that "wonderful peace" is so worth it. Thank you for adding to the discussion. I appreciate your views.

BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

A really good hub. This is where 'turning the other cheek' comes in, but it's not always so easy to do!

MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Blossom, I was too chicken to mention that. Glad you did. Thank you.

word55 profile image

word55 3 years ago from Chicago

Blossom, on behalf of what was said in MsDora's hub here , here's what I say, If you are considered a Christian, you are not to provoke a person to slap you under any circumstances. God has the way to protect His own but if you do provoke a person to do such a thing then you owe it to turn to them the other cheek. This wouldn’t happen to a Christian. Christians are to display Christ-like character at times. When Jesus quoted such hyperbolic commands, he was commanding us to have a generous and compassionate attitude toward the needy. The point is, if you give the shirt off your back then God promises to repay to you much more than that, the value of what you gave. Of course, I wouldn’t turn the other cheek if someone known or not walked up to and slapped me for no apparent reason otherwise, they’d better runaway fast.

Michael-Milec profile image

Michael-Milec 3 years ago

Hello MsDora.

Exceptional overview evolving " justice ." Wow! God the Creator , finding one people to responding to Him ( somehow ) left to humanity " Hebrew rule" of eye for eye." Sound so gruesome! Assuming it is desire of the Creator His man to obstain of evil against his fellowman . Happen just the opposite : the evil voice from the Garden continued influencing man's decision ... Consequently God came in person of Jesus from Nazareth to show a solution pattern , " not to resist anyone who would do you wrong."(Matt.5:39) [ Almost unachievable !] Being nice to evil and evil will be restrained from acting?! What followed, " good" and " obedient" are being taken advantage of when " doing to others what you would have them to do to you."(Matt. 7:12) -a principle proving not too effective in the area we live. The " idea" itself is fenomenal! St. Paul pointed to it's implementing, St.Peter reinforced it- some world respected philosophers suggested to happen... Then a picture in a real world - in - a neighborhood : an elderly lady came to her pastor asking , what shall I do to protect myself after seeing my friend losing life when she wanted to get back her snatched purse?! The Pastor shrugged. Not long after , when her own purse has been grabbed from her , some seconds later she pulled her " toy" from the pocked and before having chance turning her other cheek, the body wasn't responding. (She was acquitted.)

Following suggestions , you're pointing to is an excellent pattern to please the will of The Lord. Am I suggesting retaliation ? God forbid ! In my experience " lifestyle" required of me to set an example .. . Very difficult beginning to" wait upon The Lord" to avenge " me". And he did, and He does... Oh, in some cases , turned to be very sad situation when a person was removed from this earthly journey apparently withou securing the crown of the Life... Here we are presented the mercy of The Lord to depend on it . He is so faithful: in our family we gratefully enjoy His faithfulness , by calling upon asigned angels to guard and to protect us just by standing upon the word. It works, worth applying the faith.

" It makes sense to submit ourselves to God's mercy..."

Voted up, useful, beautiful.

Peace be with us.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Michael, thank you for your comment. I follow your argument about how difficult it is to do the right thing--people take advantage of kind people who do not retaliate. Still, the best we can do is to do follow the Bible's directive. I appreciate the effort it takes to express your thoughts in English.

Jodah profile image

Jodah 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

Wonderful Biblical lessons here MsDora. I was going to say "turn the other cheek" but I see Blossom already did. I admit I used to retaliate when I felt I had been wronged, but I have learnt from experience that this isn't the best way to fight for what is right. Leave it in the Lord's hands and he always initiates a better outcome. If I feel there is a wrong in society though I will fight it through writing so it isn't ignored. Good hub, voted up.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Jodah, thank you. You have the right approach. We can address wrongs and demand rights without rendering evil for evil.

denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

This is a very powerful concept, to turn our offenders over to God, and let him deal with them. It takes a lot of humility and faith to do this, especially in our current world of push button satisfaction. We have to believe that justice will be done in the long run, even if we do not initiate it ourselves.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Denise, you expressed my thoughts exactly. Thank you for your support.

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 3 years ago from Northern California, USA

Avoiding thoughts of retaliation use to be the hardest thing for me to do. But once I learned to forgive and turn incidents over to God's handling, I felt liberated from the things people inflict on me in anger or because they are simply mean-spirited people. You have some solid words of wisdom here.

CraftytotheCore profile image

CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

My grandfather always said his entire life, "two wrongs do not make a right". By nature, I always stop and think before impulsively reacting because he instilled that in me. Otherwise, yes, imagine a whole world with no eyes. LOL

MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Marlene, thanks for your kind comment. Glad you learned the best way to deal with retaliation.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Crafty, thank God for godly grandfathers and thank you for your input.

ologsinquito profile image

ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

Hi MsDora, this is excellent advice. No matter what someone does to you, two wrongs don't make a right. All bad deeds eventually catch up to the person in question anyway. As Christians, our job is to pray for them, and ask God to be merciful, to them and to us.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Ologsinquito, you summarized it very well. Thanks for your validation.

Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 2 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

A fine "other cheek" piece in keeping with good principles.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Demas, that's an interesting way to put it. Thank you for your contribution.

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    Dora Isaac Weithers (MsDora)961 Followers
    267 Articles

    MsDora, former teacher and Christian counselor is also an avid Bible student and loves to compile user-friendly Bible quotes by topics.

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