Resisting Evil: Yahshua’s Third Way

 

I attended a seminar in 1986 with facilitator Walter Wink.  Wink was on a tour after the success of his book, Naming the Powers.  I never forgot the teachings in this seminar and have used them many times since.  If you don’t already know about the Third Way, then read on and get your eyes opened.

 

Matthew 5:38. “You have heard that it was said, 'EYE FOR EYE, TOOTH FOR TOOTH.' But I tell you not to resist (antisthnai) a wicked man, but if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other to him as well.  If any one wishes to go to law with you and to deprive you of your under garment (kitwna, tntk), let him take your outer one (`imation) also.  And whoever shall compel you to convey his goods one mile, go with him two.”  (Weymouth’s New Testament)

 

   “Do not resist” is how mh antisthnai has traditionally been translated.  If we put these words into English letters, it becomes evident that “not resist” is a longstanding and deceiving mistranslation:  antistēnai = not against stand.  To “not resist” and to “not stand against” are two very different things.  The traditional interpretation means that a believer is supposed to do nothing against being victimized.  The correct translation means that a believer should not “stand against” or attempt violence against the wicked one.

   It’s the same word used by Shaul when he tells the Ephesians to “put on the whole armor and withstand antistēnai.  King James wanted his people to think that a believer had no right to stand against temporal authority, so his official version became “resist not”; that is, submit to all evil.  Modern translators have kept it this way though they certainly know better. 

   Yahshua tells us not that  we should submit to evil, but “refuse to oppose it on its own terms” (Wink, The Powers That Be, 100).  We might say that Yahshua is teaching us not to react violently against the violent.  Those who consider themselves sheep will certainly lose out against wolves.  The poor, believing slave would certainly lose against the Roman soldier armed to the teeth.  You or I could seldom win a shouting match with a shouter or a killing match against a killer. 

   But Yahshua also shows us how we can win against the wicked king, the violent predator, the deranged boss or the abusing parent and at the same time, teach them a lesson on what it means to be strong.  Yahshua doesn’t teach pacifism or violent rebellion – he teaches a THIRD WAY.

 

The Turning Cheek Fallacy

 

   To strike you on the right cheek requires the left hand.  In Yahshua’s culture, the left hand wasn’t brought out in public.  It was an offense (as attested in the Dead Sea Scrolls) to even motion with the left hand.  That’s because the left hand was reserved for dirty work and was stained. 

Now your children can learn Hebrew