Question:

First of all, I love your web site because it provides me with a tremendous amount of godly information.

I have a two part question that I was unable to find on your web site: Should Christians always be pacifists. There are several who claim that we should be claiming that Jesus was a pacifist.


Answer:

A pacifist is someone opposed to violence for any purpose. He believes that every matter can be handled without violence. Thus a pacifist is opposed to the military and police because of their use of violence. A pacifist is against the death penalty because it is the ending of life. And he is against self-defense because it requires some form of violence.

When Jesus returns, a point that is made several times in the Bible is that he will be punishing the wicked: "And to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power" (II Thessalonians 1:7-9). This is not a non-violent image of Jesus. We cannot forget that God does punish the wicked. "Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off" (Romans 11:22).

Jesus had sent His disciples, first the twelve (Luke 9:1-6), then seventy (Luke 10:1-17), on two preaching campaigns. Each time, He had told them to take no provisions along, but to rely on the generosity of those they would preach to, since their efforts would be directed toward their own countrymen (Matthew 10:5-6). Prior to His death, after which He would send them on a worldwide campaign (Matthew 28:18-20), Jesus prepared His apostles for something different. He asked, "'When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?' So they said, 'Nothing.' Then He said to them, 'But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one'" (Luke 22:35-36). Jesus knew that thieves preyed upon travelers (Luke 10:30), so He urged His disciples to prepare accordingly. So important was this point that He taught them it was better to be armed than have extra clothing.

But also notice that after telling this to his disciples, they respond: "So they said, "Lord, look, here are two swords." And He said to them, "It is enough"" (Luke 22:38). Thus, the apostles were not unarmed as they traveled with Jesus. The Bible does teach that violence may be needed at times, such as in self-defense. See: A Bible and a Gun.