Was Jesus A Pacifist ? No He Was Not A Pacifist


14 Arguments Against The Notion That Jesus Was A Pacifist:

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"At no point in Jesus’ ministry did He ever tell Israel or Rome that governments should disarm. He never condemned the just use of force as taught in the Scriptures, nor did He ever condemn the police for using force to punish criminals. Despite the clarity of the Old Testament in its divine approval of the use of force, Jesus never once preached against a nation having an army or the state maintaining a police force.

Logically, this can lead us to only one possible inference. Jesus’ silence meant that He approved of and accepted the Old Testament precedent of the valid use of force. Whenever we study the Scriptures, a biblical and historical precedent stands until directly removed by divine revelation.

The following 14 points from the Gospels further strengthen this logical inference:

  1. Jesus spoke with obvious approval of a king who waged a just war to punish a wicked people by putting them to death (Matt. 21:33-41). While Jesus was not discussing war per se, His use of a just-war model for this parable is possible only if Jesus accepted the Old Testament concept of the just use of force.

  2. When dealing with Roman or Jewish soldiers, Jesus never told them to leave the military or that it was morally wrong to be soldiers (Matt. 8:5-13; Luke 6:15). This lends further support to the inference that Jesus accepted the scriptural position of the valid use of force. If He were a pacifist and opposed in principle any violence by anyone, He would not have failed to rebuke those who were in the military. Jesus was not known for overlooking sin in the lives of those who sat under His teaching. He denounced sin wherever and in whomever He saw it.

  3. In Matt. 24:6, 7, Jesus clearly stated that wars would remain part of human experience until the end of the age. If He were a pacifist, then this would have been a perfect opportunity to condemn all wars. Jesus did not do so in this passage. This underscores the fact that although Jesus referred to the use of force in war or self-defense on many occasions, not once did He condemn such things.

  4. Since the people of God had been involved in political and military life throughout history (Abraham, Joshua and Daniel, for example), the fact that Jesus never once told His disciples that they could no longer be involved in those spheres of life is significant.

  5. One searches in vain for a secular/sacred dichotomy in Jesus’ teaching. To Him all of life was sacred. His disciples were involved in every walk of life. Jesus did not condemn governmental or military careers as being “secular” or sinful.

Once we understand that Jesus Christ is Lord of all life and all life has been sanctified by His dominion, the secular/sacred dichotomy is destroyed. There is no occupation or area in life which a child of God may not be involved in as long as it is not in violation of God’s moral law as given in Scripture.

  1. Jesus said in John 18:36 that if His church were an earthly kingdom, it would be perfectly proper for His disciples to take up weapons and fight for Him.

While Jesus is clearly, in this passage, forbidding the church as an institution to use physical force in its discipline or defense, He clearly states here that an earthly kingdom can and should fight when necessary.

  1. In His parables, Jesus often pictured rulers using valid force to punish wrongdoers (Matt. 18:23-35; 21:38-41; 22:13, etc.). While this is compatible with the teaching of the Old Testament on the just use of force, Jesus would never have given such parables if He were a pacifist. This logically implies that Jesus carried on the teaching of the Old Testament.

  2. When the Jews brought Jesus to Pilate, they claimed that Jesus was trying to overthrow the Roman government (Luke 23:1-5). While it is clear that the Jews were wrong in saying Jesus had come to start a violent revolution, it is equally clear that such an accusation could never have been used against Jesus if He had been publicly preaching pacifism.

  3. At the beginning and the end of His ministry, Jesus used just force to cleanse the temple (Matt. 21:12; John 2:15). His whip of cords and the Greek words used to describe His driving out the money-changers (drove, poured out, overthrew) cannot be legitimately interpreted to mean anything else than a forcible ejection of the money-changers. The only logical inference possible is that Jesus condoned the just use of force.

When the Apostle John described this episode in Jesus’ life, he recorded that the disciples appealed to an Old Testament passage as a justification of Christ’s use of force (John 2:17). This demonstrates beyond all doubt that the disciples were not pacifists.

  1. Throughout His ministry, Jesus spoke of His using force on the Day of Judgment to punish rebellious sinners (Matt. 25:41, 46). If the sinless Son of God is going to use force to destroy His enemies, then it is not possible to view the use of force as being intrinsically wrong or immoral. We must therefore conclude that force is right in some situations.

  2. When Jesus’ enemies tried to capture Him, He demonstrated that no one could take His life away from Him (John 10:17, 18). Jesus exercised divine force and knocked down His attackers (John 18:1-6). Since the Son of God himself exercised force in self-defense, then the use of force in self-defense should be viewed as good.

[COLOR="#0000CD"]Jack note: The operative sentence is in John 18:6 “When Jesus said, ‘I am He,’ they drew back and [U]fell to the ground[/U].” The argument affirms that Jesus in some way, using some means whether natural or supernatural, personally knocked them to the ground. He may well have done that. Knocking evil men to the ground is totally insignificient in comparison to what the Lord Christ does to evil men at the end of history. He directs His angels to force them away from His presence. My irrefutable point here is that it is not out of character for the Lord Jesus to personally knock evil men to the ground because knocking evil men to the ground is child’s play compared to directing His angels to force (the Biblical word is “throw”) evil men into Hell at the end of history. Conclusion: Something caused them to draw back and “fall to the ground”, most likely the Lord Christ did use physical force against them in John 18:6
End Jack note. [/COLOR]

  1. Jesus told His disciples to buy weapons to arm themselves (Luke 22:36-38). While this is hardly consistent with a pacifist picture of Jesus, it does strengthen the inference that Jesus approved of the Old Testament principle of the use of weapons in self-defense. We cannot imagine a pacifist arming his disciples with weapons.

  2. After Peter had cut off Malchus’ ear, Jesus did not tell Peter to throw away his sword but to put it back in its sheath. Evidently there would be other occasions where it could be rightfully used (John 18:11).

God’s plan of salvation called for Christ to die. The disciples would have hindered God’s plan if they had risen up to fight for Christ and delivered Him from the Jews. When force is exercised to hinder God’s plan or revelation, it is unjustified violence. Such illegitimate violence will only lead to further violence (Matt. 26:52).

  1. Later during one of His trials, Jesus said He could call upon an entire army of angels to fight for Him if He wished to be delivered from death (Matt. 26:53).

Obviously, Jesus felt that the use of such force in certain circumstances would be perfectly just. But Christ had come to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies concerning His death (Matt. 26:54). This explains why Jesus did not call upon His disciples or the angels of God to fight for Him. It was not because He was a pacifist, but because He had come to die for our sins.

In the light of these fourteen points, we can logically conclude that the most probable position of Jesus according to the Gospel data is that He supported the scriptural use of force in personal or civil defense. From the beginning to the end of His ministry, Jesus spoke with approval of the just use of force. At no time did He condemn it."

Faith Defenders - Was Jesus a Pacifist?
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At the above link see also an interpretation of the Sermon On The Mount, an interpretation that harmonizes with the above 14 points.

All 14 points are from Robert A. Morey’s "When Is It Right To Fight"
New $11.00 + $3.99 S/H
Amazon.com: When is it Right to Fight? (9781931230384): Robert A. Morey: Books

Jack Notes:

  • I did not include Dr. Morey’s Introduction to the 14 points, 3 or 4 paragraphs worth reading.
    Faith Defenders - Was Jesus a Pacifist?

  • Again, Dr. Morey’s interpretation of the Sermon On The Mount is a perfect companion essay to the 14 points above. In pushing forward these 14 points you will always have to deal with liberal pacifists’ objections based upon their liberal interpretation of the Sermon On The Mount.
    Faith Defenders - Was Jesus a Pacifist?

  • I have this book in my library and have read it carefully and refer to it several times per year. Very handy book to have around.



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