Obeying Jesus: Love your enemy!

Thesis: Jesus practiced love of enemy to his own death and the NT presents this teaching as an unqualified commandment to be obeyed by his followers: Mat 5.39; 44. This is in stark contrast to Jesus’ own Jewish Torah regarding “holy war” [Deut. 20] and lethal self-defense [Ex 22.2].

Furthermore, Pacifist movements (mainly from the last century) and their practice have misrepresented the New Testament’s prohibition on the use of lethal violence for Christians.

The Paradigm Shift: Torah vs Beatitudes

The Torah “prohibits murder, but Jesus forbids even anger. [In Mat 5.38-42] Jesus actually overrules the Torah. Deuteronomy insists, ‘Show no pity,’ Jesus says, ‘Do not resist an evildoer.’ [Torah’s] concern for maintaining stability and justice is supplanted by Jesus’ concern to encourage nonviolent, long-suffering generosity on the part of those who are wronged. This extraordinary change of emphasis constitutes a paradigm shift that effectually undermines the Torah’s teaching about just punishment for offenders.”[1]

Most NT lethal violence is prophetic, i.e., Apocalyptic/Judgment Parables:

  • Christians “destroy” the enemy at the Feast, Matt 22.1-10;
  • The wicked vineyard tenants are “killed,” Luke 20.9-16, Mat 21.33-41;
  • The talented Christians “slaughter” the enemy, Lk 19.12-27;
  • The goats suffer “eternal punishment,” Mat 25.31-46;
  • Unfaithful servants are “cut in two” by the faithful: Mat 24:42-51; cp. Lk 12.46;
  • False prophets are “cut down/burned,” Mat 7.19;
  • The whole book of Apocalypse!

The wicked were squeezed like grapes; their blood turned into a river 180 miles long, deep enough to cover a horse.’ Rev. 14.20

Pacifism not Passivism; Nonresistance not Noninvolvement


  1. Pacifism: “opposition to war or violence of any kind.”
  2. Nonresistance: “the policy or practice of not resisting violence or established authority, even when tyrannical, by force.”

Misrepresentations that Pacifism is:

  1. Total Inaction
  • turn the other cheek
  1. Cowardice
  • Let the State “do our dirty work”
  1. Unpatriotic
  • Become an “enemy of the State
  1. No Love for anyone.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

The ABCs of the NT

  1. Active: flee.
  • Every Action must be done with love: 1Cor 16.14
  1. Be Creative:
  • Talk: argue/reason/pray: Luke 16.1-8; John 8.7-83.
  1. Call on the proper authorities:
  • Established by God for your own good!” 13

The Church is not the State!

 “It’s true that even just war is attended with evils & so likewise is the administration of government and of justice. [But] they are means by which greater evils are averted. [To prevent this we] must submit to the use of those means, whether agreeable or otherwise.”[2]

“For Augustine the Christian can kill out of love. This might seem like a recipe for hypocrisy, the overwrought distinctions of which can be exposed with little more than a bumper sticker: ‘When Jesus said love your enemies, I’m pretty sure he meant don’t kill them’.”[3]

[1] Hays, Moral Vision of the New Testament, pp. 324-25.

[2] The Life of John Jay, Volume 2, p 396.

[3] Mahn, Becoming a Christian in Christendom, p 254.