Jesus Christ Was Not A Pacifist

There are many who have claimed that Jesus Christ was a pacifist and that He would never condone violence or war. Of course, Christ’s emphasis on love is sometimes perceived to imply that he was a pacifist who condemned all violence and war. But this is a misunderstanding. Knowing that Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever and that He is the one that created all things and is the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob should cause people to think about just who it was that gave the law and commands of the Old Testament.

The Bible demonstrates that Jesus Christ was not a pacifist and will demonstrate that he approved of the justified use of deadly force. Neither John the Baptist, nor Jesus, nor the apostles condemned soldiering.

“Then some soldiers asked him, ‘And what should we do?’ He replied, ‘Don’t exhort money and don’t accuse people falsely — be content with your pay'” (Luke 3:14).

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John the Baptist did not tell soldiers that being soldiers was immoral per se, but simply condemned the abuse of their position as soldiers.

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Jesus did not rebuke the centurion for being a soldier, but commended him for the faith that came from his understanding of authority in the military (Matthew 8:5-13; see also Acts 10:1-48).

Jesus Christ both permitted and commanded his followers to be armed.

“He said to them, ‘But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one'” (Luke 22:36).

Now that the apostles had learned the lesson of trusting in God (Luke 10:4), they were to be prepared to defend themselves as they traveled through dangerous areas to take the gospel to the whole world.

“Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. Jesus commanded Peter, ‘Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?'” (John 18:10-11).

Notice that Jesus allowed Peter to have the sword both before and after this incident. The problem was not that defending someone is wrong; the problem was that it was inappropriate at this time since Jesus came to die for the sins of His people (Mark 10:45).

“‘Put your sword back in its place,’ Jesus said to him, ‘for all who draw the sword will die by the sword'” (Matthew 26:52).

Again, Jesus did not necessarily condemn using the sword. He told Peter to put it back in its scabbard, not to get rid of it. What Jesus is saying is that anyone who fights risks his life in doing so. This is a matter of fact, not of ethics.
Jesus Christ used just force.

“Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of money changers and the benches of those selling doves” (Matthew 21:12).

“So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables” (John 2:15).
“When Jesus said, ‘I am he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.” He used his divine power against aggressors (John 18:6).

Jesus Christ would have been justified in defending himself.

Many other texts could be used to point to the fact that Christ was not a pacifist and that His followers should not be either (Rev 19:11-16; 2 Thess 1:7ff; Matt 10:28). One of the greatest demonstrations of love is to lay down one’s life for their friends, which Jesus did. However, defending one’s neighbors, friends and family with deadly force is also an act of love that should not be shunned, but should be encouraged.

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