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

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

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

: Total pacifism is not taught in this . Indeed, Abraham blessed by the Most High (Gen 14:19) after engaging in a war against the unjust aggression of the kings who captured nephew Lot. In Luke 3:14, soldiers come to inquire of John the Baptist about what they should do. John never told them to leave the army. Likewise, Cornelius, in Acts 10, a centurion. He called 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 him to leave the army. Also, in Luke 22:36–38, Christ says that the one who has no sword should sell robe and buy one. The apostles responded saying that they two swords. Jesus responded saying that “it enough.” In other , they did not need to get rid of their swords. The Apostle Paul accepted the protection of the Roman army to save life unjust aggressors (Acts 23). Indeed, he reminded the Roman Christians that given the sword to the who did not bear it in vain (Rom. 13:1–4). When Jesus returns to earth, He come the armies of and war against the kings of the earth (Rev. 19:11–19). So, the beginning to the end, the Bible is filled examples of the justification of war against evil aggressors.

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

Likewise, capital punishment is not forbidden in , but was established by . 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, Jesus recognized that Rome capital authority and submitted to it (John 19:11). The Apostle Paul informed the Romans that governing authorities are ministers of and that they still possessed the -given sword of capital authority (13:1, 4). So Jesus in no way did away the just of the sword by civil authorities. He simply noted that those who live lives of aggression often die by the same means.

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

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