“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay saith the Lord.’”

“Dearly beloved”
Literally: “Beloved.”–This expression of tenderness was peculiarly appropriate in an exhortation to peace.  Paul is reminding these Roman believers of the affection and friendship which ought to exist among them as brethren.

“avenge not yourselves”
Literally:  “Not avenging yourselves”–(present perfect tense); denoting continuous action.

          AVENGE: (Grk.–ekdikeô)—“to vindicate one’s right;  do one justice; to avenge one’s self.”  To avenge is to take satisfaction for an injury by inflicting punishment on the offender.

          To take such satisfaction for injuries done to society is lawful and proper for a magistrate, (13:4); and to take satisfaction for injuries done by sin to the universe is the province of God.  But Paul here is addressing private individual Christians. And the command is to avoid a spirit and purpose of revenge. But this command is not to be so understood that we may not seek for justice, in a regular and proper way; that is, before civil tribunals.
          Even when the Christians has been wronged, he is not to take the law into his own hand, and vindicate himself.  If our character is assaulted, if we are robbed and plundered, if we are oppressed contrary to the law of the land, our Christin faith  does not require us to submit to such oppression and injury without seeking our rights in an orderly and regular manner. If it did, it would be to give a premium to iniquity, to countenance wickedness, and require a man, by becoming a Christian, to abandon his rights.  The magistrate is appointed for the praise of those who do well, and to punish evil-doers, (I Pet. 2:14).  Further, our Lord Jesus did not surrender His rights, (John 18:23;) and Paul demanded that he himself should be treated according to the rights and privileges of a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37).
          The command here not to avenge ourselves means that we are not to take it out of the hands of God, or the hands of the law, and to inflict it ourselves.  It is well known that where there are no laws, the business of vengeance is pursued by individuals in a barbarous and unrelenting manner.  In a state of savage society, vengeance is immediately taken, if possible, or it is pursued for years, and the offended man is never satisfied until he has imbrued his hands in the blood of the offender.  But Christianity seeks the ascendancy of the laws; and in cases which do not admit or require the interference of the laws, in private assaults and quarrels, it demands that we bear injury with patience, and commit our cause unto God (See Lev. 19:18).

“give place unto wrath”
Literally:  “Give place to wrath.”“Give place” means, give it room to work.  Do not get it
God’s way when He is dishing out His own wrath. The idea of personal vindictiveness must be eliminated from our thinking.

           But if he be unfaithful to the trust reposed in him by the state, leave the matter to God, Who is the righteous Judge, for by avenging yourselves you take your cause both out of the hands of the civil magistrate and out of the hands of God. 
          “Give place” means to give room for it to work.  In other words,  Don’t get in its way,” as you will be doing if you take vengeance into your own hands.  Individuals against whom crimes are committed are not to avenge themselves by themselves punishing the criminals. There is no room in God’s plan for “vigilante justice.”  Civil government, which God has established for this purpose, is to punish criminals so far as is needful for the terror of evildoers and the security of those who do well. This is one way in which God displays His wrath against transgressors in this world, and gives an earnest of the fullness of wrath which, unless they repent and believe on His Son, He will display against them in the world to come.

WRATH:  (Grk.–orgê)—“Wrath” here has the definite article, making it literally read as, the wrath;” referring to the wrath of God. 

“for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine.’”
Literally:  “For it has been written, ‘Vengeance {is} Mine.’”  The verb, “is” is not in the original Greek text, but is to be understood so it was added by the English translators.

FOR IT IS WRITTEN:  (Grk.–gagraptai gar)—Literally:  “For it has been written” (in Deut. 32:35).

“vengeance is Mine”
Literally, “unto Me is vengeance” The Hebrew reads, “To Me belongs vengeance and requital.”  The LXX (Septuagint) reads, “In the day of vengeance I will requite.”

        “Vengeance is mine, saith the LordThat is, it belongs to Me to inflict revenge.  This expression implies that it is improper for men to interfere with that which properly belongs to God. When we are angry, and attempt to avenge ourselves, we should remember, therefore, that we are infringing on the prerogatives of God Almighty. 
        This fixes Paul’s meaning and shows that the exhortation, give place to wrath or punishment, means, “Leave the matter to the judgment of God.”  It is His law that is broken in this case; and the infliction of deserved punishment belongs solely to Him.  God claims it as His prerogative to avenge what needs to be avenged.  When we attempt do it, we trample on the divine rights.

         “I will repay”– This is said in substance, though not in so many words, in Deut. 32:35,36.

           REPAY:  (Grk.–apodidomi)–Meaning, “to give back.”  The  purpose of this phrase is to assure us, that those who deserve to be punished, shall be; and that, therefore, the business of revenge may be safely left in the hands of God.

          Though we should not do it, yet, if it ought to be done and it will be done. This assurance will sustain us, not in the desire that our enemy shall be punished, but in the belief that God will take the matter in His own hands; that He shall administer it better than we can; and that if our enemy ought to be punished, he will be. Therefore, we should leave it all with God. That God will vindicate His people, is clearly and abundantly proved in II Thess. 1:6-10; Rev. 6:9-11; Deut. 32:40-43.  Let us not dare seek to steal from God what He so distinctly asserts to be His province alone, which is VENGEANCE—the dealing out just desert to evil action.  In His own time and in His own way.
          He gives the sinner space to repent, and this longsuffering leads to salvation.  Paul may have had his eye upon the indignities which the Jews, and probably the Christians too, (for they were often confounded by the heathen,) suffered by the edict of Claudius, mentioned Acts 18:2, which “commanded all Jews to depart from Rome.”  Because of this edict Aquila and Priscilla moved to Corinth, where Paul found them, and dwelt with them a considerable time.  No doubt they gave him a full account of the state of the Christian Church at Rome, and of everything relating to the late persecution under Claudius Caesar.  That emperor's edict probably died with him, if it were not repealed before, and then the Jews and Christians (if the Christians were also expelled) returned again to Rome; for Aquila and Priscilla were there when Paul wrote this epistle, (16:3), which was in the fourth year of Nero, successor to Claudius. 

“Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him  drink:  for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.”

“Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him”
Literally:  “Then if {one} hostile {to} you hungers, feed him.”–The word, “therefore,” is not in the original Greek text, but it was added by the English translators.  This verse is taken almost literally from Prov. 25:21-22.  Hunger and thirst are put here for want in general. If your enemy is needy in any way, do him good, and supply his wants. In spirit, this is, the same as the command of the Lord Jesus, (Matt. 5:44,) “Do good to them that hate you,” etc.

Do not withhold from any man the offices of mercy and kindness; you yourself have been God's enemy, and yet He fed, clothed, and preserved you alive.  Do to your enemy as God has done to you, His former ednemy.  If your enemy be hungry, feed him; if he be thirsty, give him drink: so has Goddealt with you.  And has not a sense of His goodness and long-suffering towards you been a means of melting down your own heart into penitential gratitude, and love towards Him?  How do you know you that a similar conduct towards your enemy may not have the same gracious influence on him towards you?  Your kindness may be the means of begetting in him a sense of his guilt; and, from being your enemy, he may become your real friend! 

“for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.”
Literally:  “For doing this you will heap coals of fire on his head.”–It is most evident, from the whole connection of the place and Paul’s use of it, that the “heaping of the coals of fire” upon the head of the enemy is intended to produce not an evil, but the most beneficial effect; and the following verse is an additional proof of this. This is the spirit of Christ's command, to return good for evil.  You will by this kindness most readily subdue him, and make him feel most keenly the wrong he has done.

            SHALL HEAP:  (Grk.–sôreuseis)–Used only here and II Tim. 3:6.

“heap coals of fire on his head.”–Which will be adapted to melt him into penitence and love.  It does not mean that we are to do this for the sake of heaping coals of fire on him, but that this will be the result.  Coals of fire are doubtless emblematic of pain. But the idea here is not that in so doing we shall call down Divine vengeance on the man; but Paul is speaking of the natural effect or result of showing him kindness.

Burning coals heaped on a man's head would be expressive of intense agony, or the memory of the wrong awakened in your enemy by your kindness shall sting him with penitence. So Paul  says that the effect of doing good to an enemy would be to produce pain; but the pain will result from shame, remorse of conscience, a conviction of the evil of his conduct, and an apprehension of Divine displeasure that may lead to repentance. To do this, is not only perfectly right, but it is desirable. If a man can be brought to reflection and true repentance, it should be done. By coals of fire some understand it to mean:
1.      A
heart-melting fire:
As if Paul had said, “By your kindness you wilt melt and mollify his spirit towards you, as hardest metals are melted by coals of fire: it must be a very stony heart indeed that this fire will not melt, a very disingenuous nature that meekness will not mollify. Clemency will melt an enemy, and even force him by a sweet compulsion to become a friend, though of a rough and rugged disposition.”

2.      A sin-punishing fire. That is, the fire of divine vengeance, upon his head, by making his malice and hatred against you more inexcusable.

“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”

“Be not overcome of evil”
“Do not be conquered by evil.” —Do not, by giving place to evil, become precisely the same character which you condemn in another.  Overcome evil with good-however frequently he may grieve and injure you;  always repay him with kindness; in the end, your good-will may overcome his evil. Don't let the fact that you are treated wickedly induce you to do wrong.

           Do not defeated or subdued by injury received from others.  Do not allow your temper to be excited; your Christian principles to be abandoned; your mild, amiable, kind, and benevolent temper to be ruffled by any opposition or injury which you may experience. Maintain your Christian principles amidst all opposition, and thus show the power of the Gospel.  They are overcome by evil who suffer their  temper to be excited, who become enraged and revengeful, and who engage in contention with those who injure them (Prov. 16:32).
         Do not, by giving place to evil, become the same type of  character which you condemn in another.  Overcome evil with good, however frequently he may grieve and injure you, always repay him with kindness; in the end, your good-will may overcome his evil.
        A moral enemy is more easily overcome by kindness than by hostility. Against the latter he arms himself; and all the evil passions of his heart concentrate themselves in opposition to him who is striving to retaliate, by violence, the injurious acts which he has received from him. But where the injured man is laboring to do him good for his evil—to repay his curses with blessings and prayers, his evil passions no longer have any motive or incentive.  He is disarmed, his mind relaxes; the turbulence of his passions is calmed; reason and conscience are permitted to speak.  In other words, he finds that he has no use for his weapons; he beholds in the injured man a magnanimous friend whose mind is superior to all the insults and injuries which he has received, and who is determined never to permit the heavenly principle that influences his soul to bow itself before the miserable, mean, and wretched spirit of revenge.
        Savonarola said, “A Christian’s life consists in doing good and suffering evil.”  It is not for him to take matters into his own hands, but rather to a act according to verses 20 and 21, in confidence that God will not allow any trial to come up him through others which will nto eventually work out for good.

         “but overcome evil with good.”
         Literally:  “But conquer with good the evil.”–That is, subdue or vanquish evil by doing good to others.

         Show them the loveliness of a better spirit; the power of kindness and benevolence; the value of an amiable, Christian deportment. So doing, you may disarm them of their rage, and be the means of bringing them to better minds. This is the noble and grand sentiment of the Christian faith.  Nothing like this is to be found in the heathen classics; and nothing like it ever existed among pagan nations.  Christianity alone has brought forth this lovely and mighty principle; and one design of it is to advance the welfare of man by promoting peace, harmony, and love. The idea of overcoming evil with good never occurred to men until the Gospel was preached.  It never has been acted on except under the influences of the Gospel.
         On this principle God shows kindness; on this principle the Savior came and bled, and died;  and on this principle all Christians should act in treating their enemies, and in bringing a world to the knowledge of the Lord Jesus.  If Christians will show benevolence, if they will send forth proofs of love to the ends of the earth, the evils of the world will be overcome. Nor can the nations be converted until Christians act on this great and most important principle of their religion, on the largest scale possible, to  “OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD.”
         Overcome evil by returning good for evil.  Then the victory is yours; you have subdued your enemy in the noblest sense. This sums up the whole matter respecting the treatment of adversaries. Happy would it be if the Christian world could come up to these requirements!  The logic of kind deeds is more powerful than the logic of argument