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Is Jesus advocating pacifism and denouncing capital punishment in this passage? MATTHEW 26:52

MATTHEW 26:52—Is advocating pacifism and denouncing capital punishment in this passage?

PROBLEM: When the soldiers came to arrest , Peter took out his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant. told Peter to put back the sword those who take up the sword by the sword. Some use this verse to support pacifism and to oppose capital punishment, which the affirms elsewhere (Gen. 9:6).

SOLUTION: Total pacifism is not taught in this Scripture. Indeed, Abraham was blessed by the Most High God (Gen 14:19) engaging in a war against the unjust aggression of the kings who captured his nephew Lot. In Luke 3:14, soldiers come to inquire of the Baptist about what they should do. never told them to leave the army. Likewise, Cornelius, in Acts 10, was a centurion. He was a devout man (v. 2), and the Scriptures say that the Lord heard the prayers of Cornelius (v. 4). When Cornelius becomes a Christian, Peter does not tell to leave the army. Also, in Luke 22:36–38, says that the one who no sword should sell his robe and buy one. The apostles responded saying that they two swords. responded saying that “ was enough.” In other words, they did not need to get rid of their swords. The Apostle Paul accepted the protection of the Roman army to save his life from unjust aggressors (Acts 23). Indeed, he reminded the Roman Christians that God given the sword to the who did not bear in vain (Rom. 13:1–4). When returns to , He come with the armies of heaven and war against the kings of the (Rev. 19:11–19). So, from the beginning to the end, the is filled with examples of the justification of war against evil aggressors.

What, then, did mean when He commanded Peter to put away his sword? Peter was making two mistakes in using his sword. First, while the permits the sword by the government for civil purposes (Rom. 13:1–4), does not endorse its use for spiritual ends. is to be used by the state, not by the church. Second, Peter’s use was aggressive, not purely defensive. His life was not being unjustly threatened. That is, was not clearly an act of self-defense (Ex. 22:2). appears to have endorsed the use of the sword in civil self-defense (Luke 22:36), as did the Apostle Paul (Acts 23).

Likewise, capital punishment is not forbidden in Scripture, but rather was established by God. Genesis 9:6 affirms that whoever sheds man’s blood, the blood of the killer also be shed. Numbers 35:31 makes a similar statement. In the NT, recognized that Rome capital authority and submitted to ( 19:11). The Apostle Paul informed the Romans that governing authorities are ministers of God and that they still possessed the God-given sword of capital authority (13:1, 4). So Jesus in no did away with the just use of the sword by civil authorities. He simply noted that those who live lives of aggression often by the same means.

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[1]Geisler, N. L., & Howe, T. A. (1992). When critics ask : A popular handbook on difficulties (360). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

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