Was Jesus a pacifist?

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1A pacifist is someone who is totally against violence, especially war, for any purpose. Pacifists refuse to carry weapons.

In the Bible Jesus is called the “prince of peace” (Isaiah 9:6). But this doesn’t mean he is a pacifist. It means that one day he will bring true and lasting peace to the earth. Whilst his message and teaching was non-violent (Matthew 5:38-44), it is hard to call Him a pacifist as some people have tried to do.

Even the words that the Bible uses to describe Jesus can sometimes paint a military picture. In describing Jesus return Revelation 19:15 says, “Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. ‘He will rule them with an iron sceptre.’ He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.” When Jesus returns, he will come as a warrior-judge, ready to fight against all that’s wrong in the world, including anyone who hasn’t trusted him.

It’s also worth thinking about Jesus’ conversation with a Roman soldier. Jesus healed the soldier’s servant and praised him for his faith (Matthew 8:5-13). What Jesus did not do was tell the soldier to quit the army—for the simple reason that Jesus was not preaching pacifism. John the Baptist also met soldiers, and they asked him, “What should we do?” (Luke 3:14). This would have been the perfect opportunity for John to tell them to lay down their weapons. But he did not. Instead, John told the soldiers, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”

The Bible never tells us that we must be pacifists. When it comes to defeating evil, God is not a pacifist. But we can certain that it is always with justice and perfect reasons that God judges and makes war. Sometimes war is necessary to protect the innocent and fight back against violent regimes. Jesus was very concerned about protecting the vulnerable. So no, Jesus wasn’t a pacifist. And followers of him are free to join the armed forces and fight in warfare.

— Chris, an Our Daily Bread reader

 1 person has responded to this question.
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