War, Peace and Human Rights

Bible quotes supporting the use of violence Bible quotes supporting a non-violent approach

[Jesus] 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

“Do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

Matthew 5:39

"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."

Matthew 10:34

“Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”

Matthew 5:44

[Jesus] 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..." The disciples said, "See, Lord, here are two swords."  "That is enough," he replied.

Luke 22:36,38

"Jesus said... ‘all who live by the sword will die by the sword.'”

Luke 22:51

"He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives and to set the oppressed free"

Luke 4:18

“Do not repay evil with evil.”

1 Peter 3:9


Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he's thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don't let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

Romans 12:21

The Bible tells the story of the Jewish nation right from its conception, so there are many examples of violence both within itself and with other nations, as is discussed in the other sections on war and pacifism. However, there are far more passages, in the Old and New Testament, that urge peace, kindness, gentleness etc. Clearly the Bible teaches, as do the scriptures of most of the world's religions, that we should treat people as we would like to be treated.

However, the interesting question is what to do if you are oppressed. Here, Christians disagree. Some point to Jesus as Prince of Peace, while others show him as a radical revolutionary, not afraid to take on the authorities. They might point out that Jesus took the time to make a whip before going to the Temple to drive out the money-changers. Some people say Jesus was against violence, telling Peter off for using a sword when Jesus was arrested, but it was Jesus who asked Peter to buy the sword in the first place.

Faced with aribtrary arrests, detention without trial, torture, even murder by corrupt authorities, Christians who ask "What would Jesus do?" get very different answers. Some say "Love your enemies" others say "Freedom for prisoners" and "release the oppressed".

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