The word “pacifist” is composed of the two Latin words “pax” and “facere”, and means “peacemaker”. In the Latin translation of the Bible, the word appears in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the peacemakers [pacifici], for they shall be called sons of God. ” (Matthew 5:9). Being a Christian pacifist is more than just passively refraining from violence, it is also actively creating peace. We Christians, then, have a battle to fight, but we “we are not waging war according to the flesh”, that is, our battle is not against men of “flesh and blood” but against “the spiritual forces of evil”. If we want to see an end to war and terror, we fight it with the weapons we have been given by God, not with more war and terror. The only way to end the spiral of violence and revenge that has been going on since time immemorial is for someone to choose not to fight back and instead offer a path to reconciliation. This is exactly what Jesus did when he died on the cross, thus winning a victory over the devil. When we understand that death cannot separate us from God and are no longer afraid to die, then the perpetrators of violence no longer have any power over us. Just as it is not possible to put out a fire with more fire, it is not possible to put an end to evil by using more evil. To be a Christian pacifist, then, is to be a person who follows in the footsteps of Jesus by refraining from retaliation or paying back evil with evil and instead defeats evil with good by loving one’s enemy and making peace by offering reconciliation, bringing people together and working against unjust living conditions and power structures.
“9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Mt 5:9)
“39But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” (Mt 5:39–41)
“43“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Mt 5:43–44)
“14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Ro 12:14–21)
“3For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,” (2 Co 10:3–5)
“11Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” (Eph 6:11–17)
“19If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.” (Jn 15:19–20)
“7Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. 9If anyone has an ear, let him hear: 10If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.” (Re 13:7–10)
“21For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” (1 Pe 2:21)
“28And 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.” (Mt 10:28)
“23When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” (Mt 10:23)
“9Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” (1 Pe 3:9)
“23When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Pe 2:23)
“4He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and 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.” (Is 2:4)
- What is the difference between “actively creating peace” and “passively refraining from violence”?
- How do you make peace?
- What is the difference between peace and inner peace (the same word in both Hebrew and Greek)?
- What weapons have we been given to fight with?
- Can you be a Christian and a soldier?
- Can you be a Christian and a police?
- What do we do if our country is attacked?
Additional Bible Verses
Acts 4:19, 2 Tim 2:3-4, Luke 3:14, Gal 3:26-29, Phil 3:20, Mark 1:15, 1 Pet 2:11, John 11:25, Acts 8:1, Luke 19:41-44, Matt 26:47-53, Luke 9:53-55, Acts 7:59-60, Acts 9:1-5, 1 Pet 2:19-24, Matt 6:10, 1 John 5:19, Matt 10:21-22.