QJustice and revenge are often looked at as two sides of the same coin, but in reality there are key differences between them. Before we look at some scriptures that speak of justice and revenge, let’s define them and consider their differences.

JUSTICE is “what is morally right and fair.” It is based on rules and laws that are then upheld by a court system. If one breaks the rules or laws he/she must be punished accordingly and it is society’s justice system that will carry out the punishment that they deserve. REVENGE is “punishment for a wrongdoing.” It is based on an individual’s opinion of what is wrong and what they believe the punishment should be. That punishment is then carried out by the individual.

Because of these differences, JUSTICE is positive and brings closure; REVENGE is negative and often results in more revenge. JUSTICE is impartial; REVENGE is personal and driven by emotion. JUSTICE is lawful and good for society (by deterring crime); REVENGE is unlawful and bad for society (it breeds lawlessness and violence).

Now let’s consider revenge and justice from God’s vantage point. In Romans 12:17-19 we read, “Repay no one evil for evil…If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (NKJV). The believer is exhorted here not to seek revenge, for in due time the Lord will punish those who deserve it. And when He does, it will be according to His perfect sense of justice. It won’t be based on emotion, but on God’s absolute righteousness. It won’t be bad for society, but it will create a society that is orderly and peaceful.

When will this happen? It will happen when the Lord Jesus Christ comes to establish His kingdom on the earth. The promise of this kingdom is given in Isaiah 9:6-7: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder…Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from the time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” Later, in Isaiah 16:5, we read: “A throne will even be established in lovingkindness, and a judge will sit on it in faithfulness in the tent of David; Moreover, He will seek justice and be prompt in righteousness” (NASB). When the Lord Jesus does sit on His throne He will “right every wrong,” but it won’t be based on pure emotion or an unfair punishment; it will be based on God’s perfect holiness which will punish evildoers according to what they deserve.

We must patiently wait for that day to come. In the meantime we must obey the verses we saw in Romans 12 and not seek revenge on those who have wronged us. Does this mean that evildoers can do what they want without any fear of punishment? No, for before Christ comes to establish His perfect form of government, God has ordained certain men on earth to govern and to punish evildoers. We will close our meditation by quoting Romans 13:1-4: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment upon themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.” (250.7) (DO)