by Robert Nguyen Cramer (18.104.22.168)
Harper’s Bible Dictionary
edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)
Vengeance, punishment in retribution for injury. God appears as a God of vengeance, particularly in the ot, exacting punishment both upon Israel for infidelity to the Covenant (Lev. 26:25; cf. Luke 21:22) and upon other nations for their treatment of Israel (Deut. 32:35; Isa. 61:2).
In Israelite society, private vengeance by the ‘avenger of blood’ of the injured family was the rule in cases of injury and death (Num. 35:9-28; cf. Gen. 4:23-24). A tendency to mitigate this practice (cf. Gen. 4:15; 2 Sam. 14:1-24) appears in the institutions of sanctuary (Exod. 21:12-14) and cities of refuge (Num. 35:9-28), which provided some legal protection for one accused of murder, and in ‘an eye for an eye’ (Exod. 21:23-25), which limited retribution to the extent of the original injury. Lev. 19:18 enjoins one to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ rather than to seek revenge (cf. Prov. 25:21), while Jesus, in commenting upon ‘an eye for an eye’ (Matt. 5:38-42), and Paul, in appealing to God as a God of vengeance (Rom. 12:19), both eliminate vengeance as a legitimate motive for human behavior.
Vine’s Dictionary of Bible Words
by W.E. Vine (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997)
ekdikeo (Strong's # 1556), ek, from, dikeo, justice, i.e., that which proceeds from justice, means (a) to vindicate a person’s right, (b) to avenge a thing. With the meaning (a), it is used in the parable of the unjust judge, Luke 18:3, 5, of the vindication of the rights of the widow; with the meaning (b) it is used in Rev. 6:10 and 19:2, of the act of God in avenging the blood of the saints; in 2 Cor. 10:6, of the Apostle’s readiness to use his apostolic authority in punishing disobedience on the part of his readers; here the R.V. substitutes “avenge” for the A.V., “revenge;” in Rom. 12:19 of avenging oneself, against which the believer is warned.
Note: In Rev. 18:20, the A.V. mistranslates krino and krima “hath avenged you;” R.V., “hath judged your judgement.”
1. ekdikos (Strong's # 1558), primarily, without law, then, one who exacts a penalty from a person, an avenger, a punisher, is used in Rom. 13:4 of a civil authority in the discharge of his function of executing wrath on the evildoer (A.V., wrongly, “revenger”); in 1 Thess. 4:6, of God as the Avenger of the one who wrongs his brother, here particularly in the matter of adultery.
2. ekdikesis (Strong's # 1557), literally, ‘(that which proceeds) out of justice,’ not, as often with human vengeance, out of a sense of injury or merely out of a feeling of indignation. Vengeance is used with the verb poieo, to make, i.e., to avenge, in Luke 18:7, 8; Acts 7:24; twice it is used in statements that “vengeance” belongs to God, Rom. 12:19; Heb. 10:30. In 2 Thess. 1:8 it is said of the act of Divine justice which will be meted out to those who know not God and obey not the Gospel, when the Lord comes in flaming fire at His Second Advent. In the Divine exercise of judgment, as holy and right (Rev. 16:7), there is no element of self-gratification or vindictiveness, nothing by way of taking revenge. In Luke 21:22, it is used of the days of vengeance upon the Jewish people; in 1 Pet. 2:14, of civil governors as those who are sent of God “for vengeance on evildoers” (A.V. “punishment”); in 2 Cor. 7:11, of the self-avenging of believers, in their godly sorrow for wrong doing, R.V., “avenging,” for A.V., “revenge.”
Teachings from the Bible (TEV) and early Christians
Mat 5:38-41 (Jesus)
38 You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. 39 But now I tell you: do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap your left cheek too. 40 And if someone takes you to court to sue you for your shirt, let him have your coat as well. 41 And if one of the occupation troops forces you to carry his pack one kilometre, carry it two kilometres.
Rom 12:17-21 (Paul)
Aristides (ca. 125 A.D., ANF 9:762)
They [Christians] comfort their oppressors and make them their friends. They do good to their enemies.
We have learned not to return blow for blow, nor to go to law with those who plunder and rob us. Instead, even to those who strike us on one side of the face, we offer the other side also.
Quotations from the writings of Mary Baker Eddy
S&H 22:30-32 Justice requires reformation of the sinner. Mercy cancels the debt only when justice approves. Revenge is inadmissible.
S&H 48:10-24 Remembering the sweat of agony which fell in holy benediction on the grass of Gethsemane, shall the humblest or mightiest disciple murmur when he drinks from the same cup, and think, or even wish, to escape the exalting ordeal of sin's revenge on its destroyer? Truth and Love bestow few palms until the consummation of a life-work. Judas had the world's weapons. Jesus had not one of them, and chose not the world's means of defence. "He opened not his mouth." The great demonstrator of Truth and Love was silent before envy and hate. Peter would have smitten the enemies of his Master, but Jesus forbade him, thus rebuking resentment or animal courage. He said: "Put up thy sword."
S&H 51:6-27 Jesus could have withdrawn himself from his enemies. He had power to lay down a human sense of life for his spiritual identity in the likeness of the divine; but he allowed men to attempt the destruction of the mortal body in order that he might furnish the proof of immortal life. Nothing could kill this Life of man. Jesus could give his temporal life into his enemies' hands; but when his earth-mission was accomplished, his spiritual life, indestructible and eternal, was found forever the same. He knew that matter had no life and that real Life is God; therefore he could no more be separated from his spiritual Life than God could be extinguished. His consummate example was for the salvation of us all, but only through doing the works which he did and taught others to do. His purpose in healing was not alone to restore health, but to demonstrate his divine Principle. He was inspired by God, by Truth and Love, in all that he said and did. The motives of his persecutors were pride, envy, cruelty, and vengeance, inflicted on the physical Jesus, but aimed at the divine Principle, Love, which rebuked their sensuality.
S&H 104:19-22 The medicine of Science is divine Mind; and dishonesty, sensuality, falsehood, revenge, malice, are animal propensities and by no means the mental qualities which heal the sick.
SCIENTIFIC TRANSLATION OF MORTAL MIND
First Degree: Depravity.
PHYSICAL. Evil beliefs, passions and appetites, fear, depraved will, self-justification, pride, envy, deceit, hatred, revenge, sin, sickness, disease, death.
S&H 188:4 The belief of sin, which has grown terrible in strength and influence, is an unconscious error in the beginning,--an embryonic thought without motive; but afterwards it governs the so-called man. Passion, depraved appetites, dishonesty, envy, hatred, revenge ripen into action, only to pass from shame and woe to their final punishment.
S&H 241:9 Falsehood, envy, hypocrisy, malice, hate, revenge, and so forth, steal away the treasures of Truth. Stripped of its coverings, what a mocking spectacle is sin!
S&H 289:8 A wicked mortal is not the idea of God. He is little else than the expression of error. To suppose that sin, lust, hatred, envy, hypocrisy, revenge, have life abiding in them, is a terrible mistake. Life and Life's idea, Truth and Truth's idea, never make men sick, sinful, or mortal.
S&H 327:8-12 What a pitiful sight is malice, finding pleasure in revenge! Evil is sometimes a man's highest conception of right, until his grasp on good grows stronger. Then he loses pleasure in wickedness, and it becomes his torment.
S&H 405:5-18 Christian Science commands man to master the propensities,--to hold hatred in abeyance with kindness, to conquer lust with chastity, revenge with charity, and to overcome deceit with honesty. Choke these errors in their early stages, if you would not cherish an army of conspirators against health, happiness, and success. They will deliver you to the judge, the arbiter of truth against error. The judge will deliver you to justice, and the sentence of the moral law will be executed upon mortal mind and body. Both will be manacled until the last farthing is paid,--until you have balanced your account with God. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."
S&H 407:6 Man's enslavement to the most relentless masters--passion, selfishness, envy, hatred, and revenge--is conquered only by a mighty struggle. Every hour of delay makes the struggle more severe. If man is not victorious over the passions, they crush out happiness, health, and manhood. Here Christian Science is the sovereign panacea, giving strength to the weakness of mortal mind,--strength from the immortal and omnipotent Mind,--and lifting humanity above itself into purer desires, even into spiritual power and good-will to man.
S&H 419:1 A moral question may hinder the recovery of the sick. Lurking error, lust, envy, revenge, malice, or hate will perpetuate or even create the belief in disease. Errors of all sorts tend in this direction. Your true course is to destroy the foe, and leave the field to God, Life, Truth, and Love, remembering that God and His ideas alone are real and harmonious.
S&H 445:19 Christian Science silences human will, quiets fear with Truth and Love, and illustrates the unlabored motion of the divine energy in healing the sick. Self-seeking, envy, passion, pride, hatred, and revenge are cast out by the divine Mind which heals disease. The human will which maketh and worketh a lie, hiding the divine Principle of harmony, is destructive to health, and is the cause of disease rather than its cure.
S&H 542:14-26 Genesis iv. 15. And the Lord [Jehovah] said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord [Jehovah] set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.
"They that take the sword shall perish with the sword." Let Truth uncover and destroy error in God's own way, and let human justice pattern the divine. Sin will receive its full penalty, both for what it is and for what it does. Justice marks the sinner, and teaches mortals not to remove the waymarks of God. To envy's own hell, justice consigns the lie which, to advance itself, breaks God's commandments.
S&H 564:24-26 From Genesis to the Apocalypse, sin, sickness, and death, envy, hatred, and revenge,--all evil,--are typified by a serpent, or animal subtlety.
S&H 588:1 HELL. Mortal belief; error; lust; remorse; hatred; revenge; sin; sickness; death; suffering and self-destruction; self-imposed agony; effects of sin; that which "worketh abomination or maketh a lie."
S&H 593:7 RED DRAGON. Error; fear; inflammation; sensuality; subtlety; animal magnetism; envy; revenge.
S&H 595:3 SWORD. The idea of Truth; justice. Revenge; anger.
Mis 10:4-10 We have no enemies. Whatever envy, hatred, revenge --the most remorseless motives that govern mortal mind --whatever these try to do, shall "work together for good to them that love God." Why? Because He has called His own, armed them, equipped them, and furnished them defenses impregnable.
Mis 36:13 Appetites, passions, anger, revenge, subtlety, are the animal qualities of sinning mortals; and the beasts that have these propensities express the lower qualities of the so-called animal man; in other words, the nature and quality of mortal mind,--not immortal Mind.
Mis 114:7-21 The teachers of Christian Science need to watch incessantly the trend of their own thoughts; watch that these be not secretly robbed, and themselves misguided, and so made to misteach others. Teachers must conform strictly to the rules of divine Science announced in the Bible and their textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." They must themselves practise, and teach others to practise, the Hebrew Decalogue, the Sermon on the Mount, and the understanding and enunciation of these according to Christ. They must always have on armor, and resist the foe within and without. They cannot arm too thoroughly against original sin, appearing in its myriad forms: passion, appetites, hatred, revenge, and all the et cetera of evil.
Mis 118:21-24 Self-ignorance, self-will, self-righteousness, lust, covetousness, envy, revenge, are foes to grace, peace, and progress; they must be met manfully and overcome, or they will uproot all happiness.
Mis 129:5-9 One's first lesson is to learn one's self; having done this, one will naturally, through grace from God, forgive his brother and love his enemies. To avenge an imaginary or an actual wrong, is suicidal.
Mis 129:15-16 np If a man is jealous, envious, or revengeful, he will seek occasion to balloon an atom of another man's indiscretion, inflate it, and send it into the atmosphere of mortal mind--for other green eyes to gaze on: he will always find somebody in his way, and try to push him aside; will see somebody's faults to magnify under the lens that he never turns on himself. What have been your Leader's precepts and example! Were they to save the sinner, and to spare his exposure so long as a hope remained of thereby benefiting him? Has her life exemplified long-suffering, meekness, charity, purity? She readily leaves the answer to those who know her. Do we yet understand how much better it is to be wronged, than to commit wrong? What do we find in the Bible, and in the Christian Science textbook, on this subject? Does not the latter instruct you that looking continually for a fault in somebody else, talking about it, thinking it over, and how to meet it,--"rolling sin as a sweet morsel under your tongue,"--has the same power to make you a sinner that acting thus regarding disease has to make a man sick? Note the Scripture on this subject: "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."
Mis 227:31-19 Not to avenge one's self upon one's enemies, is the command of almighty wisdom; and we take this to be a safer guide than the promptings of human nature. To know that a deception dark as it is base has been practised upon thee,--by those deemed at least indebted friends whose welfare thou hast promoted,--and yet not to avenge thyself, is to do good to thyself; is to take a new standpoint whence to look upward; is to be calm amid excitement, just amid lawlessness, and pure amid corruption. To be a great man or woman, to have a name whose odor fills the world with its fragrance, is to bear with patience the buffetings of envy or malice--even while seeking to raise those barren natures to a capacity for a higher life. We should look with pitying eye on the momentary success of all villainies, on mad ambition and low revenge. This will bring us also to look on a kind, true, and just person, faithful to conscience and honest beyond reproach, as the only suitable fabric out of which to weave an existence fit for earth and heaven.
Mis 280:30-5 The doors of animal magnetism open wide for the entrance of error, sometimes just at the moment when you are ready to enter on the fruition of your labors, and with laudable ambition are about to chant hymns of victory for triumphs. The doors that this animal element flings open are those of rivalry, jealousy, envy, revenge. It is the self-asserting mortal will-power that you must guard against.
'00 3:25 In the heathen conception Yahwah, misnamed Jehovah, was a god of hate and of love, who repented himself, improved on his work of creation, and revenged himself upon his enemies. However, the animus of heathen religion was not the incentive of the devout Jew--but has it not tainted the religious sects? This seedling misnomer couples love and hate, good and evil, health and sickness, life and death, with man--makes His opposites as real and normal as the one God, and so unwittingly consents to many minds and many gods. This precedent that would commingle Christianity, the gospel of the New Testament and the teaching of the righteous Galilean, Christ Jesus, with the Babylonian and Neoplatonic religion, is being purged by a purer Judaism and nearer approach to monotheism and the perfect worship of one God.
'01 30:10-12 (to ;) Christian Scientists are practically non-resistants; they are too occupied with doing good, observing the Golden Rule, to retaliate or to seek redress;
'02 8:24 Love, purity, meekness, coexist in divine Science. Lust, hatred, revenge, coincide in material sense. Christ Jesus reckoned man in Science, having the kingdom of heaven within him. He spake of man not as the offspring of Adam, a departure from God, or His lost likeness, but as God's child. Spiritual love makes man conscious that God is his Father, and the consciousness of God as Love gives man power with untold furtherance. Then God becomes to him the All-presence --quenching sin; the All-power--giving life, health, holiness; the All-science--all law and gospel.
My 161:26 Trust in God, and "He shall direct thy paths." When evil was avenging itself on its destroyer, his preeminent goodness, the Godlike man said, "My burden is light." Only he who learns through meekness and love the falsity of supposititious life and intelligence in matter, can triumph over their ultimatum, sin, suffering, and death.
My 249:9-16 The moral abandon of hating even one's enemies excludes goodness. Hate is a moral idiocy let loose for one's own destruction. Unless withstood, the heat of hate burns the wheat, spares the tares, and sends forth a mental miasma fatal to health, happiness, and the morals of mankind,--and all this only to satiate its loathing of love and its revenge on the patience, silence, and lives of saints.
Edited for BibleTexts.com by Robert Nguyen Cramer