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Matthew 5:41 is the forty-first verse of the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament and is part of the Sermon on the Mount. This is the third verse of the antithesis on the commandment: "Eye for an eye".


In the King James Version of the Bible the text reads:

And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

The World English Bible translates the passage as:

Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.

For additional translations see Matthew 5:41.


The word here translated as compel, angareuo, is a Persian loan word that is a technical term for the Roman practice of requisitioning local goods or labour.[1] Schweizer notes that it specifically refers to the power of the Romans to demand that a local serve as a guide or porter. Later at Matthew 27:32 Simon of Cyrene will be forced by such rules to carry Jesus' cross, the only other time in the New Testament the word translated as compel is used.[2] The Zealots loathed this practice, and their refusal to participate in such tasks was an important part of their philosophy and a cause of the Great Jewish Revolt. According to R. T. France, these commands would have shocked the Jewish audience as Jesus' response to the Roman occupation was starkly different from the other Jewish activists of the period.[3] Jesus says nothing about the propriety of such demands, Schweizer notes that Jesus simply accepts it as fact. Thomas Aquinas wrote that this verse implies that it is reasonable to follow laws that are unjust, but argued that laws that are unconscionable must not be obeyed.[4]

The word here translated as mile refers to the Roman definition of 1000 paces, slightly shorter than a modern mile.[5] The mile was a specifically Roman unit of measure, locally the stadion was used to measure length. Miles would only have been used by the imperial government and the local occupying forces, which further links this verse with imperial repression.[6] This verse is the origin of the English phrase "going the extra mile," which means to do more than is needed. See The Extra Mile (disambiguation) for its usage in popular culture.


  1. ^ Hare, Douglas R. A. Matthew. Interpretation, a Bible commentary for teaching and preaching. Westminster John Knox Press, 1993 p. 57
  2. ^ Harrington, Daniel J. The Gospel of Matthew. Liturgical Press, 1991 p. 89
  3. ^ France, R.T.. The Gospel of Matthew. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2007 pg. 222
  4. ^ Schweizer, Eduard. The Good News According to Matthew. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1975
  5. ^ Craig S. Keener. A commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1999. p. 200
  6. ^ Hare, 1993 p. 37.

Preceded by
Matthew 5:40
Gospel of Matthew
Chapter 5
Succeeded by
Matthew 5:42