What does "Turn the Other Cheek" actually mean?

An atheist asked me this. He said :"If I slapped you, would you turn the other cheek".

I said: "Well, I'd probably laugh because I know you and we are friends, and slap you back as a joke... but if anyone else did it, would definitely slap them back, if not go beyond that".

What are your thoughts. What do our Church fathers say about this?? 


  • edited October 2015
    Matthew 5:39 (NKJV)
    But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

    Attached is an explanation that is in St. Mark's Masr El-gedida Bible explanations (a quick source for explanations to me)...rough translation:
    Christ brings our attention to not have any anguish of heart--in which we would return evil with evil--If a heart is full of love, it will feel sorry for the other person and it will not worry about outside physical oppression/harm, which is a slap
    Also, the literal meaning of slap is not intended here since a person is slapped on their left cheek and not their right, except if the slapper is left-handed (using his left hand to slap) and the slap is on the right cheek. But the spiritual meaning is intended here: tolerance/forgiveness and patience/resistance, not only that continuous patience to also take another slap, which is considered more oppression.  

  • 3. Abba Daniel said, 'At Babylon the daughter of an important person was possessed by a devil. A monk for whom her father had a great affection said to him, "No-one can heal your daughter except some anchorites whom I know; but if you ask them to do so, they will not agree because of their humility. Let us therefore do this: when they come to the market, look as though you want to buy their goods and when they come to receive the price, we will ask them to say a prayer and I believe she will be healed." When they came to the market they found a disciple of the old men setting there selling their goods and they led him away with the baskets, so that he should receive the price of them. But when the monk reached the house, the woman possessed with the devil came and slapped him. But he only turned the other cheek, according to the Lord's Command. (Matt. 5.39) The devil, tortured by this, cried out, "What violence! The commandment of Jesus drives me out." Immediately the woman was cleansed. When the old men came, they told them what had happened and they glorified God saying, "This is how the pride of the devil is brought low, through the humility of the commandment of Christ."
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