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Commands of Christ

Go the Second Mile

Where is this command found?

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 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. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.”

Matthew 5:38–42

Applying This Command

When someone does something wrong to us, a fleshly response is to repay them in the same way. However, Jesus’ command to Go the Second Mile is totally opposite: if they hurt you, don’t hurt them back; if they take something from you, give them even more than what they took; if they require you to serve them, serve them with joy going above and beyond what is required.

Why would Jesus give such a command that is exactly opposite to the way most people would normally respond? First, because it shows us our need to rely on Him to do it in and through us; and second, He is giving us a powerful weapon to overcome wrongs done to us. This weapon is spoken of in Romans 12:21, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” God’s way for us to overcome evil is with good!

The reason why our enemies are persecuting us, is because their lives are being motivated by evil. God is the center of all goodness. Our enemies’ greatest need is that they come to know God by experiencing the goodness of Christ (Romans 2:4). In the command to Go the Second Mile, we are not only given practical steps of how to respond to our enemies, but we are also given the opportunity to lead them to Jesus by our response.

Bible Verses for Meditation

In addition to meditation on Matthew 5:38–42, meditating on the verses below will provide you with further insight and understanding of Christ’s command: Go the Second Mile.

I Peter 2:21–24

“… Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”

Luke 6:31

“And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.”

Proverbs 20:22

“Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.”

Proverbs 3:27

“Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.”

Related Episodes

From the Podcast

Dive deeper into the command Go the Second Mile with these episodes from the Commands of Christ podcast!

Study Question

Q: Why did God promise Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that kings would bow down to their descendants and then bring their descendants down to Egypt for 400 years of slavery?

A: A second-mile response requires us to have the right heart attitude of genuine love for others. Just as God used events to draw the nation of Israel to Himself, He will use people, events, and circumstances to conform us into the image of Christ.

After God promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that they would become a great nation and that kings would bow down to their descendants, God used a famine to bring Israel down to Egypt where they remained for more than 400 years, many of those years in slavery to Pharaoh.

This was actually a time of “child training” in the growth and history of the nation of Israel. Later, when God delivered them from the bonds of Egypt, He continually reminded them of the lessons that He had taught them while they were in Egypt.

There is an amazing parallel between the experiences of Israel in Egypt and events in the life of Christ. Both of these sequences reveal the training that God gives to prepare His people for second-mile responses.

  • Both Jesus and the nation of Israel were born in the Promised Land but later fled to Egypt for survival.
  • Jesus demonstrated obedience to authority when He was a child, and after being approached by His parents when they found Him in the Temple, He “went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them” (Luke 2:51). The nation of Israel learned obedience to their taskmasters, and they were humbled enough to cry out to God. (See Exodus 3:7.)
  • Jesus was baptized, and the Holy Spirit came upon Him and filled Him for service. Israel was baptized through the miraculous parting of the Red Sea, and a cloud came upon them for guidance.
  • Jesus was tested for 40 days in the wilderness, before beginning His ministry among people. Israel was tested for 40 years in the wilderness before they reached the Promised Land.
  • Jesus received power to conquer evil and bring righteousness, and Israel was given power to overcome the pagan nations and establish God’s Law.

This type of training in our own lives will help prepare us to respond with Christ-like love toward others. One of the most painful and difficult ways of sharing Christ’s love is to rejoice while personal insults are being inflicted by others. When we are asked to go the first mile or are grievously insulted, it is vitally important for us to remember what Christ gave up and experienced in order to pour out God’s love upon us.

For Further Study

You can learn more about the command Go the Second Mile in the book Commands of Christ: Series 2.

Other Resources

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