Origin and Application:
The literal meaning is clear on the surface, that a person should be punished exactly like the crime they committed. If one took the life of another person, the killer should be punished by giving up their life. This punishment was first introduced in the Book of Exodus in the Old Testament. God set the laws and revealed to Moses, the prophet, “But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.”
The same phrase appears again in the New Testament, but with a new focus. Instead of paying an eye for eye, Jesus asked us to love our enemies. “You have heard that it was said, “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.” But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” The difference in teachings shows a transition from the Old Testament era to the New Testament era, where love reigns over rules and laws. God made a new covenant with the people after the Old Testament times. In this new era, writes Jeremiah, the Old Testament prophet, God will put His law in their minds and write it on their hearts. He will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more. (Jeremiah 31:33-34).