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VENGEANCE (נָקָם, H5934, and cognates; ἐκδικήσις and cognates, ὀργή, G3973). Punishment inflicted on account of injury or offense. Different aspects of this may be discerned through context or parallelism.

2. The idea of punishment for sin or injury appears often (Lev 26:25; Ps 99:8; Luke 21:22). This gradually shades over into the concept of recompense or retaliation (Gen 4:15; Isa 34:8; Jer 50:15; Ecclus 35:18).

3. The justice of God or the faithfulness of His servants is vindicated by the punishment of enemies (Judg 11:36; Ps 94:1; 2 Thess 1:8). Sometimes an individual appeals to God for divine vengeance (Ps 58:10; Jer 11:20; 15:15; 20:12).

The lex talionis (Exod 21:23-25; Lev 24:19, 20; Deut 19:21) was not for the individual to take into his own hands, but was a part of judicial procedure, and under divine sanction.

In Acts 28:4 and Jude 7 the Gr. is δίκη, G1472. Cremer (183) comments that this is “based upon the idea that right in human society asserts itself essentially as judgment and vengeance.” On Acts 28:4 Robertson (III, 479) says, “The natives speak of Dike as a goddess, but we know nothing of such actual worship in Malta, though the Greeks worshipped abstractions as in Athens.”

On blood vengeance, see Avenge.


TWNT; TDNT; RTWB, s.v. “Reward”; Crem.; A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the NT, III (1947), 479; X. Leon-Dufour, ed., Vocabulaire de Théologie Biblique (1964), s.v., “Vengeance.”

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)