August 8, 2018

“Do Not Resist by Evil Means”? (Matthew 5:39)

Category: Bible - NT - Matthew :: Permalink

In his lectures on Matthew 5:38-42, Peter Leithart, following Glenn Stassen, who is following Clarence Jordan, claims that Jesus is not saying “Do not resist the evil one” but rather is saying “Do not resist by evil means.” It is, after all, a dative: to ponero.

That’s pretty attractive, given that elsewhere in Scripture we are told to “resist the devil” and given what appears to be resistance of some kind to evil people on Jesus’ part throughout his ministry.

On the other hand, the verb here, anthistemi, seems to take its direct object in the dative in many many passages. Furthermore, if it was supposed to be “by evil means,” would there be an article? Wouldn’t it just be  ponero, instead of to ponero?

Greek scholars out there, is there anything to be said for the Leithart/Stassen/Jordan interpretation? Is it even possible? Or must we, however regretfully, set it aside and conclude that Jesus was indeed saying that we must not resist “the evil one” (whatever that means, and whoever that might be)?

Posted by John Barach @ 2:49 pm | Discuss (1)

One Response to ““Do Not Resist by Evil Means”? (Matthew 5:39)”

  1. Jim Says:

    Hi John, I’m not a Greek scholar, I’m an engineer. When I read God’s Word for direction in my life, I, like 99% of the others out there don’t have the luxury of Greek language training to call the historically accepted view of this passage into question.
    It appears pretty straight forward to me and in line with Jesus’ radical Gospel message. The Gospel says the last will be first, we must give up our life to lose it, take up our own cross, etc. This passage tells me to avoid retaliation in matters that are not life and death related.

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