Chapter 12, “Revenge”
Bonhoeffer now turns his attention to Matthew 5:38-42. What is the Christian’s response to attack? He asserts that all the Old Testament is to be fulfilled, that here we see the Sermon on the Mount applied not only to the decalogue but to the whole of God’s Law. Sadly, he talks about the disciples as those who fulfill the law. Here, the true disciple fulfills the law by laying down his rights and accepting evil. This is the way the “true disciple will prove himself” (Loc. 1966).
Bonhoeffer builds this idea of the Christian not defending his rights upon the foundation that the Church, unlike Israel, is not a political entity. Since it does not operate in the civil realm it will not resist evil. This non-resistance results in the enemy’s attack being in vain. This does not mean we acknowledge the rights others have to inflict harm, but that we do not respond to that force.
Bonhoeffer describes (Loc. 2001) the Reformers’ idea of the individual and the office. For instance, as an individual we would not meet force with force, but as one in the office of soldier we would. His assessment is that Jesus makes no such distinction. Again, Bonhoeffer discusses the idea of the disciple as an individual called out from the community. therefore he finds no place for resisting evil. God is our protector.