Because the question has arisen about Jesus and non-violent direct action, I thought I'd post Walter Wink's excellent thoughts on the subject. He does a better job of explaining than I can.
One of the most misunderstood passages in all of the Bible is Jesus' teaching about turning the other cheek. The passage runs this way: "You have heard that it was said, `An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, do not resist one who is evil. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also. And if anyone takes you to court and sues you for your outer garment, give your undergarment as well. If one of the occupation troops forces you to carry his pack one mile, carry it two."
This passage has generally been understood by people as teaching non-resistance. Do not resist one who is evil has been taken to mean simply let them run all over you. Give up all concern for your own justice. If they hit you on one cheek, turn the other and let them batter you there too, which has been bad advice for battered women. As far as the soldier forcing you to take his pack an extra mile, well are you doing that voluntarily? It has become a platitude meaning extend yourself.
Jesus could not have meant those kinds of things. He resisted evil with every fiber of His being. There is not a single instance in which Jesus does not resist evil when He encounters it. The problem begins right there with the word resist. The Greek term is antistenai. Anti is familiar to us in English still, "against," "Anti"-Defamation League. Stenai means to stand. So, "stand against." Resist is not a mistranslation so much as an undertranslation. What has been overlooked is the degree to which antistenai is used in the Old Testament in the vast majority of cases as a technical term for warfare. To "stand against" refers to the marching of the two armies up against each other until they actually collide with one another and the battle ensues. That is called "taking a stand."
Ephesians 6:13 says, "Therefore put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand (antistenai) in that evil day and having done all to stand (stenai)."
The image there is not of a punch drunk boxer somehow managing to stay on his feet even though he is being pummeled by his adversary. It is to keep on fighting. Don't retreat. Don't give up. Don't turn your back and flee but stay in there and fight to the bitter end.
When Jesus says, "Do not resist one who is evil," there is something stronger than simply resist. It's do not resist violently. Jesus is indicating do not resist evil on its own terms. Don't let your opponent dictate the terms of your opposition. If I have a hoe and my opponent has a rifle, I am obviously going to have to get a rifle in order to fight on equal terms, but then my opponent gets a machine gun, so I have to get a machine gun. You have a spiral of violence that is unending.
Jesus is trying to break that spiral of violence. Don't resist one who is evil probably means something like, don't turn into the very thing you hate. Don't become what you oppose. The earliest translation of this is probably in a version of Romans 12 where Paul says, "Do not return evil for evil."
Written by Walter Wink