Repay No One Evil For Evil

The father’s reaction to the prodigal son and his elder son mirrors the answer Abraham Lincoln gave to a question he was asked about how he would treat all the Confederate soldiers once the ... More


These verses in this passage summarize the core of Christian living. In this day of constant lawsuits and demands for legal rights, Paul’s command sounds almost impossible. When someone hurts you deeply, instead of giving him what he deserves, Paul says to befriend him (vv. 17-21). We are given four Biblical principles on how to treat our fellow men, no matter how they may treat us.


1. “Recompense to no man evil for evil” (v. 17a). This is the way Joseph treated his brothers. Even though they persecuted him and sold him into slavery he protected, pardoned, promoted, and provided for them.

2. “Provide things honest in the sight of all men” (v. 17b). We are not to say one thing and practice another. Our word must be trustworthy no matter how inconvenient it may be to make it good.

3. “Live peaceably with all men” (v. 18). This does not mean that it is always possible to live peaceably with all men, but as Christians we should never be the “peace-breaker”.

4. “Avenge not yourselves” (v. 19). If you defend yourself, then the Lord can’t defend you. God has promised to take care of us. Our job is not to protect ourselves, but to obey the Lord and leave the results up to Him. 


In the last three verses of this chapter Paul gives three reasons we are to keep from taking revenge:


1. Vengeance belongs to God and not to us (v. 19). He will settle all accounts in His time. 

2. We are to treat men with kindness (v. 20). Vengeance may break his spirit, but kindness will break his heart.

3. Evil can never be conquered by evil (v. 21). If hatred is met with hatred, it only increases.  



Which one of the above is my weakest area? What am I doing to make this a positive area of my life?

Romans 12:17-21 (English Standard Version)

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