Did Jesus preach non-violent submission?

Christian View

The Christian Perspective

Jesus preached faith in Himself.

Sometimes, this involves non-violent submission. Other times, it involves the use of violence and uprising.

Christ taught that He Himself was God in the flesh (John 6:51-54, 8:58, 10:30, 14:7-9). This means that according to Him, His teachings and God's teachings are one-in-the-same (John 5:19). Therefore, if God commands either non-violent submission, or violent uprising, then Jesus also commands these same things.

Further, Christ acknowledged that the Old Testament was authoritative and submitted Himself to what it said (Matthew 4:4, 4:7, 4:10, 7:10-13, 21:13, 26:24, 26:31; Mark 7:6, 12:26; Luke 5:14, 16:29-31, 24:45-47; John 10:35). Therefore, if the Old Testament commands either non-violent submission, or violent uprising, then Jesus also commands these same things.

Because of this, in any circumstance in scripture where either non-violent submission is clearly commanded by God, or violence or uprising are commanded by God, they are also endorsed by Jesus Himself.

A few examples should suffice to make the point.


Matthew 26:52
Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword."

Here, Jesus teaches that Peter, the one who cut off the High Priest's servant's ear (John 18:10), ought to put away his sword, because Christ was to die via crucifixion, not by the sword. The clear evidence of this is in the next two verses, where Christ states, "or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?" Thus, in this instance, non-violent submission was what Christ preached. But it was circumstantial. Note that here, Jesus does not say "No one must ever use the sword," or, "do not use the sword under any circumstances". He simply makes it clear that He is not supposed to die in battle, and thus His followers should not drag Him into a battle.


Judges 3:7-10
The sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth. Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, so that He sold them into the hands of Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia; and the sons of Israel served Cushan-rishathaim eight years. When the sons of Israel cried to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for the sons of Israel to deliver them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel. When he went out to war, the LORD gave Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand, so that he prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim.

Here, we see that God ordained and endorsed an armed rebellion, a violent uprising, led by Othniel against the Mesopotamians, who had taken over the land of Israel. This type of thing happens repeatedly in the Book of Judges. The Israelites sin, God hands them over to an evil people who enslave them, Israel repents and turns to God, and then, honoring their repentance, God delivers them through the hands of a chosen judge, like Othniel. Othniel, the text specifically states, did this by means of the Spirit of the Lord. This is the same Spirit that Christ teaches leads us into all truth (John 16:13). This same Spirit also testifies of Christ (John 15:26). Note that again, though, this endorsement of violent uprising was entirely circumstantial.


In sum, the words of the author of Ecclesiastes most clearly demonstrate the attitude of Christ toward non-violent submission as well as violent uprising...

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven -- A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace.
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

While there are different times for different events, the Bible is abundantly clear that today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2; Hebrews 4:17). If you have not turned to Christ and asked His forgiveness for your sins, don't wait another minute (Romans 10:9-10). This very night your own soul may be required of you (Luke 12:20).

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