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If you have a question for Ms. Magnolia, please mail it to P.O. Box 669, Vidalia, GA 30475, or e-mail to [email protected]

Ms. Magnolia

Dear Ms. Magnolia, I am a minister in a small community church. I read your letter about “turn the other cheek,” and I agree with your answer. I want to discuss the phrase “go the extra mile,” which I feel is also usually misinterpreted. “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain” (Matthew 5:41).

Consider the times Jesus lived in: Because of common highway robberies (Luke 10: 30-35), if civilians wanted to travel from one village to another safely, they would go when Roman soldiers would be walking from one outpost to another, as with regular mail deliveries. Each Roman soldier had to carry 70 pounds of clothes, food and weapons as he walked. In order for the soldiers to be able to react quickly to attacks and to protect the other travelers, the Romans made a law that the soldier could ask any civilian male to carry his military pack one mile on the journey and then pass it on to another civilian. Jesus was suggesting that his followers help out by offering to carry the pack two miles, instead of just one.

Not all Romans were bullies forcing their subjects to be pack mules, as some have suggested. Many Roman soldiers became friends with the inhabitants, married into the local families, and continued to live among them (Luke 7:1-10). Jesus was actually more critical of the self-righteous Jewish leaders than of the soldiers. Although many Roman emperors were harsh, Roman law forms the basis for many law codes of America and other Western cultures today.


Dear Pastor, Thank you. We obviously really need more history lessons.

Letters have been edited for length and clarity.

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