“Holy War” as an Excuse for Not Following Jesus

The Biblical Mandate for Peace

The Bible is a pacifist manifesto. From cover to cover it opposes war. People use the Bible to justify war based on the flimsiest evidence. They're missing the Big Picture. The Big Picture is in this column. An analysis of the flimsy support for war is in the column on the left-hand side.

(Isaiah 9:6-7) For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of peace. {7} Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

(Luke 2:8-14) And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them ... and the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, good will toward men.

(Luke 1:77-79) To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, {78} Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, {79} To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

(Matthew 5:9) Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

(Luke 6:27-28) But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, {28} Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.

(Hebrews 12:14) Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

(Leviticus 26:6) I will give you peace in the land, and you will be able to sleep with no cause for fear. I will rid the land of [tyrants and those who seek to impose their will on others by force] and keep your enemies out of your land.

(Proverbs 16:7) When man's ways please the LORD, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.

(1 Peter 2:21-23) For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps: {22} Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: {23} Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously:

(Romans 12:17-20) Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. {18} If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. {19} Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. {20} Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink:

(Hosea 2:18) And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of the heavens, and with the creeping things of the ground; and I will break the bow and the sword and warfare out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely.

(1 Peter 3:9) Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called--that you might inherit a blessing.

(Psalm 34:14) Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

(Psalm 35:20) For they do not speak peace, but they conceive deceitful words against those who are quiet in the land.

(Psalm 37:11) But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

(Psalm 37:37) Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.

(Psalm 72:7) In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.

(Psalm 85:10) Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

(Psalm 119:165) Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

(Psalm 120:2-7) Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.{5} Woe is me, {6} My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace. {7} I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war.

(Psalm 122:6-8) Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. {7} peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. {8} For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, peace be within thee.

(Proverbs 3:17) The ways of Wisdom are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.

(Proverbs 12:20) Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellors of peace is joy.

(Isaiah 26:12) O LORD, you will ordain peace for us, for indeed, all that we have done, you have done for us.

(Isaiah 32:17-18) And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. {18} And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;

(Isaiah 48:18) O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea:

(Isaiah 48:22) There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked.

(Isaiah 52:7) How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

(Isaiah 54:13) And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

(Isaiah 55:12) For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

(Isaiah 57:19) I create the fruit of the lips; peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the LORD; and I will heal him.

(Ephesians 2:14-17) For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; {15} Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; {16} And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: {17} And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.

(Isaiah 59:8) The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.

(Isaiah 60:17) For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron: I will also make thy officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness.

(Isaiah 66:12) For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees.

(Ezekiel 34:25) And I will make with them a covenant of peace

(Ezekiel 37:26) Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.

(Daniel 4:1) Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; peace be multiplied unto you.

(Daniel 6:25) Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; peace be multiplied unto you.

(Nahum 1:15) Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.

(Haggai 2:9) The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.

(Zechariah 6:13) Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.

(Zechariah 8:16) These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates:

(Zechariah 8:19) Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.

(Zechariah 9:10) And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.

(Malachi 2:5-6) My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name. {6} The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity.

(Malachi 2:6) The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity.

(Romans 1:7) To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

(Romans 2:10) But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:

(Romans 3:10-18) As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: {11} There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. {12} They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. {13} Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: {14} Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: {15} Their feet are swift to shed blood: {16} Destruction and misery are in their ways: {17} And the way of peace have they not known: {18} There is no fear of God before their eyes.

(Romans 8:6) For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

(Romans 10:15) And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

(Romans 14:17-19) For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. {18} For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. {19} Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

(Romans 15:33) Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

(Romans 16:20) And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

(1 Corinthians 1:3) Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

(1 Corinthians 14:33) For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

(2 Corinthians 1:2) Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

(2 Corinthians 10:3-5) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: {4} (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) {5} Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

(2 Corinthians 13:11) Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

(Galatians 1:3) Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,

(Galatians 5:22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

(Galatians 6:16) And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

(Ephesians 1:2) Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

(Ephesians 4:3) Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

(Ephesians 6:15) And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

(Ephesians 6:23) peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

(Philippians 1:2) Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

(Philippians 4:9) Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

(Colossians 1:2) To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

(Colossians 1:20) And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

(Colossians 3:15) And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

(1 Thessalonians 1:1) Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

(1 Thessalonians 5:23) And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(2 Thessalonians 1:2) Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

(2 Thessalonians 3:16) Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.

(1 Timothy 1:2) Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

(1 Timothy 2:2) For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

(2 Timothy 1:2) To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

(2 Timothy 2:22) Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

(Titus 1:4) To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.

(Philemon 1:3) Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

(James 3:17-18) But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. {18} And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

(Hebrews 13:20) Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

(1 Peter 1:2) Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

(1 Peter 3:11) Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.

(1 Peter 5:14) Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.

(2 Peter 1:2) Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

(2 Peter 3:14) Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

(2 John 1:3) Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

(3 John 1:14) But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.

(Jude 1:2) Mercy unto you, and peace and love, be multiplied.

(Revelation 1:4) John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;

Christianity: Religion of Peace
Islam: Religion of Jihad?

R.J. Rushdoony

If you were to go through scripture and collect the passages that deal with peace, you would find it surprising how many such passages there are. Very clearly, peace is a central purpose of God's plan for man and the earth. Peace as scripture describes it is first and foremost peace with God. Then when man is at peace with God, there is peace between man and man, and man and nature.

Let us now look a little further into the doctrine of peace. Peace is a translation of a Hebrew word, Shalom. We have it in ‘Jerusalem’. Salem. It is the greeting in Hebrew. Instead of saying hello, it is: ‘Shalom’. Peace. Now, peace, shalom, in Hebrew, comes from the root ‘to be whole’ wholeness, soundness, health, well-being, prosperity, peace as opposed to war, concord as opposed to strife.

As a result the Biblical doctrine of peace is very closely related to the Biblical doctrine of salvation. This is why throughout the New Testament, as well as in Old Testament prophesy, the culmination of Christ’s work is peace. And Christ even in the midst of trouble and of strife and turmoil, gives us peace.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Peace, thus, is a present possession in Christ; and it is a future possession as Christ’s reign is extended throughout the world

Peace is thus, that order of peace and prosperity, a salvation of health, which flows out of our reconciliation to God in Jesus Christ, and our restoration to life under God. Life in Eden was a life of peace with God, therefore peace with yourself, peace with nature. The source of that peace is the primary relationship with God, and Christ having restored it, all other forms of peace shall flow out of that peace we have with God, in Jesus Christ.

Statist peace, on the other hand, is simply an absence of hostility. It means that war has ended. That there has been a suppression, perhaps, of criminal activity. The state cannot regenerate man. It cannot even establish the limited peace it aims at, because the power of the state is essentially the power of the sword. The state cannot order [compel] men to love one another, or to live in peace, and when it tries to do so it only aggravates the situation.

The state therefore can never bring about peace. As a matter of fact, the state, when it tries to make peace its goal, only destroys the peace of citizens and usurps God's peace and the free-man’s peace in Christ. The state can only be an instrument of peace when it ... acknowledges that peace can only come when man is redeemed by God in Christ.

Thus the doctrine of peace is a very important one in law, because it is first of all important in terms of the doctrine of salvation. The vine and the fig tree imagery are thus essential to scripture. They are God-centered doctrines, God-centered symbols, setting forth the peace, the salvation, the fulfillment of man in prosperity, in joy, and in wellbeing. In God through Christ.

There is no peace, no fulfillment for man in any other way.

More Bible Verses about War, Peace, and Pacifism:
For deeper understanding, look up these scripture verses in your own Bible and read them in context.

The Bible is a pacifist manifesto. Those who defend war take a few verses out of their theological context and ignore the rest of the Bible.

Sixth Commandment

Thou shalt not kill

("Kill" is not limited to "murder." See, e.g., Deuteronomy 4:42.)

Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 5

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Luke 6

27 “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. 29 To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. 31 And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.

32 “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

The Sovereignty of God - Providence

Deuteronomy 20:1
“When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.

Leviticus 26:6
I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none will make you afraid;

Micah 4:3-4
3 they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
    and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
    neither shall they learn war anymore;
4 but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree,
    and no one shall make them afraid,

Jeremiah 30:10
10 “Then fear not, O Jacob my servant, declares the Lord,
       nor be dismayed, O Israel;
for behold, I will save you from far away,
      and your offspring from the land of their captivity.
Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease,
      and none shall make him afraid.

Hosea 2:18
18 And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety.

Zephaniah 3:13
13     those who are left in Israel;
they shall do no injustice
        and speak no lies,
nor shall there be found in their mouth
        a deceitful tongue.
For they shall graze and lie down,
        and none shall make them afraid.”

1 Samuel 8:11-13
11 And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. 12 He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers.

Psalm 20:7
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the Lord our God.

Psalm 46:9
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire.

Psalm 76:6
At Your rebuke, O God of Jacob, Both the chariot and horse were cast into a dead sleep.

Isaiah 31:1 Alas for those who go down to Egypt for help and who rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the LORD!

Matthew 10.28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Romans 8.37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Colossians 1.16 for in him [the son] all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him.

Hebrews 1.2-3 In these last days [God] has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Luke 12:22 And he said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat, nor about your body, what you shall put on.


Luke 6:37 "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;

Luke 6:42 Or how can you say to your neighbor, ’Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

Overcoming Evil

1 Peter 3.8 Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love of the brethren, a tender heart and a humble mind. :9 Do not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling; but on the contrary bless, for to this you have been called, that you may obtain a blessing.

Romans 12.17-21 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." 20 No, "if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads."
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good .

1Thessalonians 5:15 See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all.

Sodomites were destroyed not because they were "effeminate" or simply had an alternative sexual preference, but because they were violent rapists, who were so intent on self-gratification, they didn't care if they left their raped victims dead. Jesus said "I was a stranger and you took Me in." "Strangers" are vulnerable. Sodomites wanted to rape the strangers to whom Lot had extended hospitality. Violent people take advantage of vulnerable people. The rich rule over the poor.

Ezekiel 16:49 Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.

How much of that excess would the prophets say had been obtained through "violence," or the lying fraud of currency debasement?

Micah 2:2 And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage.
Micah 6:11 Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights?
12 For the rich men thereof are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.

Habakkuk 2:7-9
7 Will not your creditors rise up suddenly?
   Will they not awaken who oppress you?
   And you will become their booty.
8 Because you have plundered many nations,
   All the remnant of the people shall plunder you,
Because of men’s blood
   And the violence of the land and the city,
And of all who dwell in it.
9 “Woe to him who covets evil gain for his house,
   That he may set his nest on high,
   That he may be delivered from the power of disaster!

In the sermons of the prophets, oppression of the poor is always accompanied by bloodshed.

Isaiah 1
10 Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom!
Give ear to the teaching of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!
15 When you spread out your hands,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
I will not listen;
your hands are full of blood.
16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
17 learn to do good;
seek justice,
correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless

How much of our modern prosperity is do to oppression of the vulnerable by the violent rich?

The Iron Fist Behind the Invisible Hand


James 4
Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Galatians 5.19-23 Now the works of the flesh are clear, which are these: evil desire, unclean things, wrong use of the senses, 20 Worship of images, use of strange powers, hates, fighting, desire for what another has, angry feelings, attempts to get the better of others, divisions, false teachings, 21 Envy, uncontrolled drinking and feasting, and such things: of which I give you word clearly, even as I did in the past, that they who do such things will have no part in the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, a quiet mind, kind acts, well-doing, faith, 23 Gentle behavior, control over desires: against such there is no law.

Matthew 6.24 You cannot serve God and mammon.

Luke 4.5 Then the devil led Jesus up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And the devil said to him, "To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours."


Luke 2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men of good-will.

John 14.27. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.

Matthew 5.9. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called sons of God.

James 3.18. The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for them that make peace.

Romans 10.15. How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace.

Ephesians 6.14 f. Stand therefore . . . having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.

Ephesians 4.1-3 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith you were called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Hebrews 12.14 Follow after peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no man shall see the Lord.

Romans 16.20. The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.

2 Corinthians 13.11 Finally, brethren . . . be perfected; be comforted; be of the same mind; live in peace: and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

Philippians 4.7 The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus..


Matthew 11:29. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Philippians 2:5 10. Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant. He humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross. Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow.

Matthew 5:3, 5. Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Matthew 5:25-28. You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Not so shall it be among you: but whosoever would become great among you shall be your minister; and whosoever would be first among you shall be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Matthew 23.12 Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled; and whosoever shall humble himself shall be exalted.

1 Peter 5:5 -6. God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.


Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

Galatians 5.14 The whole law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Romans 13.10, 8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments ... are summed up in this word, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

Matthew 5.44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

John 13:34 f. A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples.

1 John 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.

I Corinthians 13.4 f. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; ... bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

1 Thessalonians 3.12. The Lord make you to increase and abound in love toward one another, and toward all men.

1 Peter 1:22. Seeing you have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth unto unfeigned love of the brethren, love one another from the heart fervently.

1 Peter 4.8. Above all things be fervent in your love among yourselves; for love covers a multitude of sins.


Luke 23:34. Jesus said, 'Father forgive them; for they know not what they do.'

Mark 11.25 Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any one; that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

Luke 17.3 f. If your brother sin, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he sin against you seven times in the day, and seven times turn again to you saying, I repent; you shall forgive him.

Colossians 3.12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

Ephesians 4:31f. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and railing, be put away from you, with all malice: and be you kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ forgave you.

When someone does evil to us, vengeance is prohibited. But that doesn't mean we have to condone or reward evil acts. When Jesus said "turn the other cheek" when you get slapped, He was prohibiting us from returning evil for evil, slap for slap. But He wasn't prohibiting rebuke:

John 18:22-23
22 And when He had said these things, one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, “Do You answer the high priest like that?”
23 Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?”

We can rebuke cheek-slappers and erect incentives to repentance and restitution and disincentives to future criminal action. In Matthew 18, Jesus maps out a three-step process to respond to evil acts:

Free Market Dispute Resolution Organizations

An "incentive" is not the same thing as retaliatory aggressive vengeance.


1 Peter 2.21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
22 He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted to him who judges justly.

Matthew 26.47 And while [Jesus] was still talking, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a band armed with swords and sticks, from the chief priests and those in authority over the people. 48 Now the false one had given them a sign saying, The one to whom I give a kiss, that is he: take him. 49 And straight away he came to Jesus and said, Master! and gave him a kiss. 50 And Jesus said to him, Friend, do that for which you have come. Then they came and put hands on Jesus, and took him. 51 And one of those who were with Jesus put out his hand, and took out his sword and gave the servant of the high priest a blow, cutting off his ear. 52 Then says Jesus to him, Put up your sword again into its place: for all those who take the sword will come to death by the sword. 53 Does it not seem possible to you that if I make request to my Father he will even now send me an army of angels? (BBE)

John 18.36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. (KJV)

John 12:47. I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.

Luke 9:54 f. When his disciples saw this, they said, Lord, would you that we bid fire to come down from heaven, and consume them? But He turned and rebuked them.

1 Corinthians 4:12. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we intreat.

James 4:12. One only is the lawgiver and judge, even he who is able to save and to destroy: but who are you that judge your neighbor?

Matthew 7:12 In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.

Luke 6:27 f. Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.

Matthew 5.39. Resist not him that is evil: but whosoever smites you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.

I Corinthians 6:7. Why not rather take wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?

2 Timothy 2:24. The Lord s servant must not strive, but be gentle towards all forbearing in meekness, correcting them that oppose themselves.

Romans 12:14 f. Bless them that persecute you; bless, and curse not. . . . Render to no man evil for evil.... If you can, so far as it depends on you, live at peace with all the world... Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." But if your enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him to drink: for in so doing you shall heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

1 Thessalonians 5.15 . See that none render unto any one evil for evil; but always follow after that which is good, one toward another, and toward all.

1 Peter 3:8 f. Finally, be you all like-minded, compassionate, loving as brethren, tenderhearted, : humble minded not rendering evil for evil, or reviling for reviling; but contrariwise blessing; for hereunto were you called, that you should inherit a blessing.


Romans 5:8. God commends his own love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Hebrews 12 :2. Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame.

1 Peter 4.1. Forasmuch then as Christ suffered in the flesh, arm you yourselves also with the same mind.

2 Corinthians 4:8 10. We are pressed on every side, yet not straitened; perplexed, yet not unto despair; pursued, yet not forsaken; smitten down, yet not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our body.

Matthew 16:24 If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me....

Hebrews 13.12f. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people through his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us therefore go forth unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.

John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.


Romans 5.8,10 8 But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.... 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life;
and not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

Colossians 1:19 f. It was the good pleasure of the Father that in him should all the fulness dwell; and through him to reconcile all things unto himself, having made peace through the blood of his cross.

Ephesians 2:14 17. He is our peace, who made both one, and broke down the middle wall of partition, having abolished in his flesh the enmity . . . that he might create in himself of the two one new man, so making peace; and might reconcile them both in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and he came and preached peace to you that were far off, and peace to them that were nigh.

2 Corinthians 5:18 f. All things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and gave .unto us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not reckoning unto them their trespasses, and having committed unto us the word of reconciliation.


Ephesians 3.15 I bow my knees unto the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.

Ephesians 4:25. Wherefore, putting away falsehood, speak you truth each one with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.

1 Corinthians 12:13. In one spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Romans 10:12. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek: for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich unto all that call upon him.

Galatians 3:28. There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male or female: for you are all one man in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3.11 There cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all.


1 Timothy 6.12. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on the life eternal.

1 John 5.4 This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strong holds ; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

Ephesians 6.12f For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Wherefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand.

2 Timothy 2:3. Take your part in suffering hardship, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 4:7 f. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day: and not only to me, but also to all them that have loved his appearing.

What about Exodus 22:2-3

"If a thief is caught in the act of breaking into a house and is struck and killed in the process, the person who killed the thief is not guilty of murder.
But if it happens in daylight, the one who killed the thief is guilty of murder.

Matthew Henry

Yet, if it was in the day-time that the thief was killed, he that killed him must be accountable for it (Exod. 22:3), unless it was in the necessary defence of his own life. Note, We ought to be tender of the lives even of bad men;

Reformation Study Bible

The daytime thief was readily identifiable and killing was not justified.

Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

In the latter case the slayer contracted blood-guiltiness, because even the life of a thief was to be spared, as he could be punished for his crime, and what was stolen be restored according to the regulations laid down in Exodus 22:1 and Exodus 22:4.

Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

If a thief be found - If a thief was found breaking into a house in the night season, he might be killed; but not if the sun had risen, for then he might be known and taken, and the restitution made which is mentioned in the succeeding verse

Barnes' Notes on the Bible

If a thief, in breaking into a dwelling in the night, was slain, the person who slew him did not incur the guilt of blood; but if the same occurred in daylight, the slayer was guilty in accordance with Exodus 21:12. The distinction may have been based on the fact that in the light of day there was a fair chance of identifying and apprehending the thief.

The New Testament was written in the last days of the Old Covenant. The "night" of the Old Age was passing (Hebrews 8:13), and we are now to live in the Day (Romans 13:11-13; Luke 1:78; Malachi 4:2; Revelation 22:5; 1 John 2:8). Christians who live in the Day do not need to kill. God will hold us to the higher standard.

On this page we set forth the case for "pacifism," and then show that Old Testament verses describing "holy war" were never intended to be used after the Cross to justify war.

The Case for Pacifism

The word "pacifism" comes from the Latin word for "peace" -- pax (genitive pacis). It does not come from the word "passive." Indeed, Biblical pacifists are active in overcoming violence, but they overcome evil with good (Romans 12:14-21). The pacifist believes that killing is evil. The pacifist is active in preventing killing, but when push comes to shove, it is better to be killed than to kill. This was the example and teaching of Jesus.

"Everybody knows" that Jesus commanded His disciples to be "pacifists." He commands us to

  1. Love our enemies (Matthew 5:44)
  2. Resist not evil (Matthew 5:39)
  3. Pay your taxes; don't take up arms against the Red Coats (Matthew 22:21).
  4. Turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39)
  5. Go the second mile (Matthew 5:41). If you take this verse seriously, it means "national defense" is a sin.
  6. Christians should believe that it is always sinful to kill a human being ("Thou shalt not kill." Mark 10:19, quoting Exodus 20:13). Better to be killed than to kill. Better Red than dead. (Link goes to an exposition of the 6th Commandment by the Westminster Larger Catechism, which in many ways is a pacifist manifesto.)
  7. In short, even if we get called "pacifists," we will take Jesus seriously and follow Him. [details]

People who want to be respected by Presidents, Generals, Political Science Professors, and Defense Industry CEOs claim Jesus was only talking about our "personal" or "spiritual" side, but His commandments are not to be followed by those who are in positions of public responsibility. As a result, since I was born, the government of the United States has killed, crippled, or made homeless TENS of MILLIONS of innocent non-combatant civilians around the world. The prophets of the Old Testament would say that "The United States" is the modern parallel to Babylon or Assyria of old. The U.S. is the enemy of God and humanity.

Believing that "a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (James 4:4), I don't care if I'm respected by the “military-industrial-congressional” complex (as Dwight Eisenhower at one point called it),

A logically consistent Christian pacifist is also an anarchist, for two reasons: first, a pacifist is against violence, and "the State" is institutionalized, systematic violence; second, Jesus prohibits His followers from being "archists" An "archist" is one who believes he has a right to impose his own will on others. Chiefly, the "archist" imposes his will on others through the machinery of "the State," which includes fines, prisons, torture, executions, armed invasions, and terrorism. The Christian, on the contrary, believes it is always sinful to impose your own will on others by initiating force or threatening violence. (We are to be servants, not "archists." Mark 10:42-45.) I know, that sounds "weird." "Anarchism?"

During the 20th century alone (1900-1999) Non-pacifists and archists using the machinery of "the State"
• murdered hundreds of millions of people,
• infringed on God-endowed unalienable rights and enslaved billions of people under "socialism" and "communism," and
• destroyed or confiscated trillions of dollars worth of private property
But they tell us that if pacifists have their way, and all the men in business suits and military uniforms were to beat their "swords into plowshares" and get a real job, that "evil will take over." But if all the murderers, enslavers, and thieves who run "governments" were to start plowing fields, who are these "evil" people who will "take over the world?" Pathetic meth addicts breaking into your garage to fence your weed-whacker for a couple of dollars of drug money? Really?
"Evil" has already "taken over" the world. It's called "the government."
"Common criminals" will never "take over" the world. The world is ruled by the rich (Proverbs 22:7). The world is ruled by Harvard-educated warmongers.

What are the necessary conditions for us to beat "swords into plowshares" (Miach 4:1-5)? At least a plurality -- if not a majority -- of voters would have to become pacifist/anarchists to vote all the politicians and generals out of office. They would most likely come to this point as a result of conversion to Christian pacifism -- not by becoming atheists, criminals, and meth-heads. The typical cartoon "anarchist" character is a caped, bearded, bomb-throwing assassin. The Christian anarchist is a pacifist who takes personal responsibility to become the servant of others. In America, we would need 200 million church-going Christians to repudiate their support for the MIC and stop their cheerleading for war. At this point, who is going to sign up to help "evil take over?" If Germans had been Christian pacifists, who would have run the trains that took the Jews to the concentration camps? Who would have run the concentration camps? Who would have gone door-to-door rounding up Jews? Hitler could not have done it himself. He needed "sensible," "practical," "realistic" Lutherans who didn't buy into all this "Christian pacifist" nonsense. Christians who limited Jesus to their "personal," "non-public" lives.

Christian Theocracy: The Only Path to Liberty -- Does Anarchy Lead to Chaos?

Take Jesus Seriously

If you take Jesus seriously, the unbelieving world (and most church-goers) will say you're "unrealistic," "impractical," and "utopian." They will call you a "pacifist" and an "anarchist." 

The Westminster Larger Catechism elaborates on the implications of the Sixth Commandment, "Thou shalt not kill." It is pretty much a pacifist manifesto. But the Westminster Divines included three excuses for not being a pacifist, and these three exceptions to the rule against killing virtually swallow up the entire rule:

  • capital punishment
  • war
  • self-defense

We will cover capital punishment and war in a minute.

When God says "Thou shalt not kill," it is clear that God abhors killing. Why did God destroy Sodom and Gomorroah? Most Christians know the Biblical answer. Or think they do. Why did God destroy the world at the time of Noah? The Bible says it was because "great men" were committing "violence" (Genesis 6). Who does most of the killing in the world? "The State" -- rich and powerful people -- through war and capital punishment (or other "police actions," like those in Korea and Vietnam). Very few people are killed in "self-defense," and most of those killings are by non-pacifist private citizens who are imitators of state action. "If the government can do it, so can I." They graduated from government-run "public" schools.

No pacifist I've ever met is opposed to defending oneself against violence. If you have a shield, and some evil man is approaching you with a sword, no pacifist says you cannot use your shield to protect yourself against his sword. But if he gets tired of hitting his sword on your shield and says, "I need to take a break," you cannot bash his skull open with your shield while he sleeps, even though that would prevent him from resuming his attack after his nap. You can defend yourself by running away. "Thou shalt not kill."

What is called "self-defense" is almost always pure vengeance, and vengeance is prohibited by Scripture.

Some will say that Old Testament verses on "Holy War" show that "self-defense" and "national defense" are permitted in our day.

I believe the Bible should be used as a blueprint for all political policies. I don't believe it should be mis-used, however.

Theonomist Greg Bahnsen wrote:

  1. We should presume that Old Testament standing laws26 continue to be morally binding in the New Testament, unless they are rescinded or modified by further revelation.

26. Standing law" is used here for policy directives applicable over time to classes of individuals (e.g., do not kill; children, obey your parents; merchants, have equal measures; magistrates, execute rapists), in contrast to particular directions for an individual (e.g., the order for Samuel to anoint David at a particular time and place) or positive commands for distinct incidents (e.g., God's order for Israel to exterminate certain Canaanite tribes at a certain point in history).

Exterminating Canaanites was not a "standing law."

These commands were also not faithfully executed by Israel. As a result of their sins, they had continuing battles, none of which constitute "standing laws" or any kind of example for today's warfare.

Further, these wars were not "military" in the modern secular sense. They were religious and priestly. They were part of the "ceremonial law."

Bible scholars often divide Old Testament laws into three categories:
      • "Moral,"
      • "ceremonial," and
      • "civil" (or "judicial").
The category of "judicial law" presupposes that God commanded mankind to form empires or "states." This is a mistaken assumption. When we hear the phrase "separation of church and state" we understand a priestly or religious institution ("church") and a "secular" institution of power and violence ("state"). Go through the Bible from cover to cover. You will never hear God say to man, "Form a State." The formation of "the State" was and is an act of rebellion against God's commandments against murder, theft, and vengeance. "The State" does what we all know is sinful if it were to be done in our families, businesses, churches, and charities.

There really is no "judicial law," as we show below. Only "moral" and "ceremonial" law.

And the "ceremonial law" pointed to the work of Christ, and must not be followed as a blueprint today.

Old Testament wars were "ceremonial," not "judicial," and not part of the abiding "moral law."

No war in the last 2,000 years has been a "just war" or justified by Old Testament Scriptures.

The Old Testament "ceremonial law" is priestly law. It is generally about cleansing from sin, or making "atonement" for sin. And this generally involves the shedding of blood. The "ceremonial law" was fulfilled by Christ when He shed His blood on the Cross. In our day, no other blood has any power to atone for sins.

In the Old Covenant, before Christ shed His blood, God required the shedding of blood of both man and beast to atone for sins. Some sins required more than the shedding of the blood of a dove or lamb. They required the shedding of the blood of the perpetrator himself. Today we call these ritual acts of bloodshed “capital punishment,” or in the case of entire nations in the Promised Land, "holy war." Old Testament wars were acts of cleansing or atonement on a national scale.

Neither “capital punishment” or "holy war" are required or even permitted under the New Covenant.

Christians who justify modern secular militarism and imperialism with Old Testament "holy wars" also use Romans 13 as an excuse for war in our day. This too is a mistake.

The word “sword[1] in the Bible does not usually (if ever) refer to individual penal sanctions (e.g., “capital punishment”). When the Bible says God is going to send “the sword” against a people, the reference is to an army, which will invade and plunder and/or take captive. The shedding of a criminal’s blood[2] performed the functions of all other ritual acts of bloodshed, prefiguring the atonement for sin secured by Christ’s blood in His execution.[3] “The Sword” often refers to national “capital punishment” (i.e., a shedding of blood[4]), which is the sacrifice of a sinful people who will not accept the Lord’s sacrifice and righteousness by faith. The sword of vengeance, which belongs to God[5], is the warfare whereby God slaughters a disobedient people in a fiery sacrifice,[6] relegating these idolatrous self-sacrifices and their dreams of Empire to the “dung-heaps” of history.[7]   1. cf. Romans 13:4
2. Genesis 9:4-6
3. Numbers 35:31,33; Deuteronomy 21:1,9
4. Ezekiel 35:5-6
5. Romans 12:17-21; #81:
6. Deuteronomy 32:43 [NIV]; Judges 20:40; Isaiah 34:5-8; Jeremiah 46:10; Ezekiel 39:17-20; Zephaniah 1:7-8; Matthew 23:35 + Revelation 19:3
7. Exodus 29:14; Leviticus 16:27; Zephaniah 1:17-18

For Further Reading:
God Ordains Evil
Is War Ever "Just?"

This thesis is a linchpin.
If true, it destroys both war and capital punishment as legitimate functions of "the State," and effectively destroys the necessity or even legitimacy of "the State."
If false, it is still true that all legitimate social functions (which would include vengeance, war, and capital punishment if this thesis is false) can be carried out by the Family (patriarchy) in a Freed Market rather than the State (polis).

What follows are excerpts from leading "Christian Reconstructionists" showing that "holy war" was priestly and religious ("ceremonial"), not secular/civil.

Gary North,
Inheritance and Dominion
An Economic Commentary on Deuteronomy

Chapter 46


The Whole Burnt Offering and Disinheritance

The Israelites were told to show no mercy to the nations inside Canaan's boundaries (Deut. 7:16). These nations had practiced such great evil that they had become abominations in the sight of God. "For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee" (Deut. 18:12). The language of Deuteronomy 20:10-18 indicates that every living thing inside the boundaries of Canaan was to be killed: "thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth." With respect to the first city to fall, Jericho, this law applied literally (Josh. 6:15-21). But it did not apply literally to the other cities of Canaan. After the destruction of Jericho, the first city inside Canaan to be defeated, cattle became lawful spoils for the Israelites. "And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto Jericho and her king: only the spoil thereof, and the cattle thereof, shall ye take for a prey unto yourselves: lay thee an ambush for the city behind it" (Josh. 8:2). The word "breatheth" did not apply to Canaan's cattle; it applied only to the human population. "And all the spoil of these cities, and the cattle, the children of Israel took for a prey unto themselves; but every man they smote with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, neither left they any to breathe" (Josh. 11:14).

Jericho was the representative example of God's total wrath against covenant-breakers who follow their religious presuppositions to their ultimate conclusion: death.(3) Jericho came under God's total ban: hormah.(4) This was the equivalent of a whole burnt offering: almost all of it had to be consumed by fire. In the whole burnt offering, all of the beast was consumed on the altar (Lev. 1:9, 13), except for the skin, which went to the officiating priest (Lev. 7:8). Similarly, all of Jericho was burnt except for the precious metals, which went to the tabernacle as firstfruits (Josh. 6:24).(5) Nevertheless, because God wanted His people to reap the inheritance of the Canaanites, He allowed them to confiscate the cattle and precious goods of the other conquered Canaanite cities. This illustrated another important biblical principle of inheritance: "A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just" (Prov. 13:22). Canaan's capital, except in Jericho, was part of Israel's lawful inheritance. The Canaanites had accumulated wealth; the Israelites were to inherit all of it. This comprehensive inheritance was to become a model of God's total victory at the end of history. Their failure to exterminate the Canaanites, placing some of them under tribute instead (Josh. 16:10; 17:13), eventually led to the apostasy of Israel and the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities, just as Moses prophesied in this passage (vv. 17-18; cf. 7:1-5; 12:30-31).

The annihilation of every living soul in Canaan was mandatory. "And thou shalt consume all the people which the LORD thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them: neither shalt thou serve their gods; for that will be a snare unto thee" (Deut. 7:16). This was a model of God's final judgment. But it was a model in the same way that Jericho was a model: a one-time event. Jericho was to be totally destroyed, including the animals; this was not true of the other cities of Canaan. Similarly, the Canaanites were to be totally annihilated; this was not true of residents of cities outside Canaan. In this sense, Jericho was to Canaan what Canaan was to cities outside the land: a down payment ("earnest") on God's final judgment -- final disinheritance -- at the end of time. This earnest payment in history on the final disinheritance is matched by the earnest payment in history on the final inheritance. This is surely the case in spiritual affairs.(6) Debates over eschatology are debates over the extent to which these earnest payments in history are also cultural and civilizational, and whether they image the final judgment, i.e., to what extent history is an earnest on eternity.(7)

James B. Jordan
Judges: God's War Against Humanism


17. Then Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they struck the Canaanites living in Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. So the name of the city was called Hormah. Now we see Judah making good her bargain with Simeon. The destruction of Canaanite Zephath was total, so that the place was called Hormah.

This is not the only “Hormah,” for we read in Numbers 21:1-3 of a place that was also “devoted to destruction,” and as a result was called Hormah.

Hormah means “placed under the ban, totally destroyed.” To be placed under the ban is to be devoted to death. Just as the Nazirite was devoted to God in life (for instance, Samson, Samuel), so the banned person or city was devoted wholly to God in death. To put under the ban means to curse and to devote to total destruction.

The preeminent example of a city devoted to total destruction is Jericho, the story of which is recorded in Joshua 6:15-19. Everything living was to be killed, all the treasures brought to the house of God, and the city was to be burned with fire. No personal booty was allowed.

More light is shed on this matter in Deuteronomy 13:12-18. The apostate city is to be banned, and “then you shall gather all its booty into the middle of its open square and burn the city and all its booty with fire as a whole burnt sacrifice to the LORD your God; and it shall be a ruin forever. It shall never be rebuilt” (v. 16).

From this we learn that it was God’s fire, lit by Himself from heaven (Lev. 9:24; 2 Chron. 7:1), kept burning perpetually on the altar, which was used to ignite the city placed under the ban. (See also Gen. 22:6 and 1 Ki. 18:38.) The fact that God starts His fire shows that the sacrifice is His sacrifice, the sacrifice that He Himself provides to propitiate His own fiery wrath. Man has no hand in it, and only an ordained priest may handle it. Man is impotent in his salvation, so that man cannot even light the sacrificial fire. If he dares to do so, God destroys him (Lev. 10:1-2).

All men stand on God’s altar. Those who accept God’s Substitute, the very Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, can step off the altar and escape the fire. Jesus takes the fire for them. He becomes the whole burnt sacrifice. Those who refuse the Substitute, however, are left on the altar, and are burnt up by the fire of God. (See Gen. 19:24; Rev. 18:8; Rev. 20:14f.; and for further study, Heb. 12:29; Ex. 3:2-5; Heb. 12:18; Num. 11:1-3; Num. 16:35; Num. 21:6; Gen. 3:25; 2 Pet. 3:9-12; Rev. 8:3-5).

Thus, the destruction of Hormah was a priestly act, issuing from the flaming swords of the cherubic (priestly) guardians of the land, a revelation of God’s direct fiery judgment against the wicked. Not every city was to be destroyed in this fashion, but certain ones were, as types of the wrath of God. This horrible judgment, introduced here at the beginning of Judges, comes again in Judges 20:40, when it is an apostate Israelite city that is burnt up as a sacrifice to God.

Taxation in the Bible | Gary North
R. J. Rushdoony argued that Exodus 30 -- a man's payment of half a shekel upon reaching age 20 -- was a head tax. He was incorrect. The payment went to the priests, not to a civil magistrate ("captain"). The tip-off was that it was calculated as a shekel of the sanctuary, which was a separate, ecclesiastical coin. This was blood money. It was paid on a man's entry into God's holy army, which was both priestly and civil. I discuss this in Chapter 32 of Tools of Dominion: The Case Laws of Exodus (1990).

(That the army was "priestly" can be seen directly from Scripture. That the army was "civil" may be reading modern categories into the text.)

The military was not necessarily a state function over against a Church function in the Old Covenant. Indeed, holy war was a specifically priestly function. The torching of cities is to be understood as taking God's fire off from His altar and applying His holy fiery wrath to his enemies. Thus, the torched cities were called "whole burnt sacrifices" in the Hebrew Old Testament (Deut. 13:16; Judg. 1:17, 20:40, in Hebrew). During the holy war, the men became temporary priests by taking the Nazirite vow (Num. 6; 2 Sam. 11:11 + Exo. 19:15; Deut. 23:9-14; Judg. 5:2, "That long locks of hair hung loose in Israel. . ."). This is all to say that the rendering of specific judgments is a sabbatical and priestly function, not a kingly one.... The sword of the state executes according to the judgments rendered by the priests....

Thus, the military duty is priestly, and a duty of every believer-priest. Both Church and state are involved in it, since the Church must say whether the war is just and holy, and the state must organize the believer-priests for battle. The mustering of the host for a census is, then, not a "civil" function as opposed to an ecclesiastical one, and the atonement money of Exodus 30 is not a poll tax, as some have alleged.

James Jordan, "Appendix D: State Financing in the Bible," in The Law of the Covenant, 231-32 (1984), at http://www.garynorth.com/freebooks/: HTML, DjVu.

There is no such thing as "judicial law" in the Bible.

Biblical salvation entails not simply the establishment of the Church, but entails the restoration of the whole fabric of life, including social life. Perhaps then we should expect to find God giving us a blueprint of the perfect civil government, of the Christian state. Some people in history have thought that the Bible, in the Mosaic law, was doing just that, but in fact there is no corpus as such of judicial laws in the Bible. The reason why so many people have erred in looking at the Old Testament laws as if they were judicial laws designed for some state is that since the rebellion of man, the human race has been infected with Statism, and thus men tend to look at the Bible through glasses tinted with this Statism.

This explains why we do not find a set of judicial laws in the Bible. All the laws of Scripture, including the social laws, are religious. The social laws are God-centered. Some of them relate to Christian civil government, but there is no corpus of civil law or judicial law because the Bible is not a Statist document.

James Jordan, "Appendix E: Salvation and Statism," in The Law of the Covenant, 240-42 (1984), at http://www.garynorth.com/freebooks/: HTML, DjVu.

“In the literature of Protestantism, it is assumed that the law of God comes in three categories: moral, judicial, and ceremonial. The criticism rightly shows that this category scheme is erroneous. What has been termed ‘judicial law’ is not in fact a legal code, but rather is a set of explanations of the moral law.”
James B. Jordan, “Calvinism and ‘The Judicial Law of Moses': An Historical Survey,” Journal of Christian Reconstruction 5(1978-79):19:

Gary North, p. 259-60

At this point, I am suggesting a weakness in the Westminster
Confession's tripartite division of biblical law: moral, ceremonial,
and judicial. The moral law is said to be permanently binding
(XIX:2). The ceremonial law is said to have been abrogated by [260]
the New Covenant (XIX:3). The judicial law is said to have applied
only to national Israel and not to the New Covenant era,
except insofar as a law was (is) part of something called the
"general equity" (XIX:4) This formulation assumes that the
judicial law applied only to Israel's "body politic." But what of
the family? It is a separate covenantal administration, bound by
a lawful oath under God. Which civil laws in Israel protected
the family? To what extent have these laws been annulled or
modified (perhaps tightened) by the New Covenant? And why?

I am here suggesting the need for a restructuring of this
traditional tripartite division into civil, ecclesiastical, and familial.
In other words, the divisions should match the Bible's tripartite
covenantal and institutional division. There are continuities
(moral law) and discontinuities (redemptive-historical applications)
in all three covenantal law-orders. It is the task of the
interpreter to make these distinctions and interrelationships
clear. The church has been avoiding this crucial task (exegetical
and applicational) for over three centuries. The result has been
the dominance of ethical dualism in Christian social theory:
natural law theory coupled with pietism and/or mysticism.

related: Swords into Plowshares