Posted by / Saturday 1 April 2017 / No comments

Jesus' teachings on violence

In his life and ministry on earth, Jesus taught the people on many subjects. One of the subjects he taught them on was the issue of violence. At the time, he had very revolutionary opinions about violence.

Violence is not only physical
When Jesus taught on violence, he explained that violence should not be limited to the physical harm that is inflicted on the body of another but must include all other forms of emotional maltreatment and verbal abuse. Jesus said in the past, a person who kills must face judgment but then he expands it to include those who get angry at a brother, insults a neighbour or says “You fool” to another person. Such shall also be liable to judgment.

Love for enemies
Jesus also taught that people must love their enemies. This was contrary to the Law of Moses which enjoined the people to love their neighbours and hate their enemies. Jesus explained that if they just love their neighbours; that was not enough because even the tax-collectors also love their neighbours. Also if they greet their friends, that is no news because the gentiles also do same. They must therefore be like God their father by loving all.

No need to retaliate
Jesus taught the people that there was not need to hit back when they are hit as is said in the Old Law that “an eye for an eye”. For example, if they are hit on one cheek, they must turn the other. If someone takes their coat, they must add the cloak and if someone forces them to go one mile, they must go two miles. The implication is that once there is no attempt to hit back or retaliate, there will not be an opportunity to resort to violence.

Using violence to stop violence
Jesus spoke against violence even if it is used as a counter-action. At the time of his arrest, one of the people who were with Jesus took a sword and severed one of the ears of one of the servants of the High Priest. Jesus reacted by telling the attacker to put his sword away because those who live by the sword shall die by the sword. Jesus added that he could have asked for his father to send twelve legions of angels but he chose not to so that the scriptures can be fulfilled. In other words, Jesus did not have a violent disposition. Jesus was teaching that even if one has the means to employ violence, one could still choose not to.

Occasional use of violence
When it became necessary for Jesus to cleanse the Temple of the filth it had been reduced to by the money changers and traders, he overturned their tables and drove them out. According to the accounts “he overthrew the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons”. If Jesus did not approve of the use of violence on such occasions, he would not have resorted to its use. He seemed to have been teaching that sometimes, one could apply violence.

Approval of the carrying of sword
Later on in his ministry, Jesus appeared to have approved violence. Luke recorded Jesus as saying: “Let him who has no sword sell his mantle and buy one.” Some scholars argue that Jesus’ statement was a tacit approval that people could engage in violence. They contend that when the time for his arrest and trial had approached, he saw the need to defend himself that was why he ordered them to acquire weapons, therefore, Jesus was a violent person.

1. What did Jesus teach on violence?

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