Some hold that Jesus, while rejecting "eye for an eye," built upon previous Jewish ethical teachings in the Tanakh, "You will not exact vengeance on, or bear any sort of grudge against, the members of your race, but will love your neighbor as yourself." (Leviticus 19:18). See also Expounding of the Law. The idea of "offering one's cheek" to a smiter is also seen in , in which context the narrator is rationalizing suffering and describing the proper way to bear it.
It is also thought to be possible that Jesus was influenced by the teachings of the Pharisee Hillel the Elder who is famously quoted as describing the Golden Rule to be an effective summation of the Torah, and also "If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?" (Pirkei Avot 1:14) In this way, personal dignity is both to be given to your brother and demanded for yourself. (see figurative interpretations below for turn the other cheek as an act of defiance )
An analogous sentiment is spoken by Socrates in his conversation with Crito in 399 BC before his execution in Athens. “One should never do wrong in return, nor mistreat any man, no matter how one has been mistreated by him.” This moral guides Socrates in his argument to a conclusion that he should not attempt to escape from punishment despite being wrongfully imprisoned. From the Grube translation of Crito found in Plato's Five Dialogues revised by Cooper.
Since this passage calls for total nonresistance, and since human governments defend themselves by military force, it has led some to Christian anarchism, including the notable Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, author of the nonfiction book The Kingdom of God Is Within You.
By giving the lender the cloak as well the debtor was reduced to nakedness. Public nudity was viewed as bringing shame on the viewer, not the naked, as evidenced in Genesis 9: 20-27:
The succeeding verse from the Sermon on the Mount can similarly be seen as a method for making the oppressor break the law. The commonly invoked Roman law of Angaria allowed the Roman authorities to demand that inhabitants of occupied territories carry messages and equipment the distance of one mile post, but prohibited forcing an individual to go further than a single mile, at the risk of suffering disciplinary actions. In this example, the nonviolent interpretation sees Jesus as placing criticism on an unjust and hated Roman law as well as clarifying the teaching to extend beyond Jewish law. As a side effect this may also have afforded the early followers a longer time to missionary to the soldier and or cause the soldier not to seek followers of Jesus to carry his equipment in the future so as not to be bothered with their proselitizing.
Some point out that Jesus said "he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one" from Luke 22:36 and the Old Testament laws regarding killing in self-defense to support this view. However, even Luke 22:36 could have been figurative as in Luke 22:38 the disciples point out that they have two swords among the twelve of them, to which Jesus replies "That is enough." If Jesus meant his statement to be taken literally then twelve swords would have been required, not two.