Was Jesus Teaching Pacifism in Matthew 5:38-42?

Was Jesus Teaching Pacifism in Matthew 5:38-42? We answered that question on this episode of Real Truth Real Quick.

Show Notes:


1. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus references the last part of the Ten Commandments that speak about how we are to relate to one another.

2. The Sermon on the Mount is a message on how Kingdom people are called to live and love others.

3. Jesus is teaching a Kingdom ethic to heirs of the Kingdom. He’s describing the heart of a disciple, not the qualification to become one.

4. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is correcting His followers’ understanding of the law and teaching it’s true intention.

5. Retaliation and asserting rights is NOT the first response of a citizen of the Kingdom of heaven.

6. The Law was there to limit human aggression but the love of Christ implores us to excel still more.

7. The Bible does not teach that we should let people be abusive towards us.

8. The reason most people hurt you, is because they are hurting. You ought to be God’s source of grace in their life.

9. don’t confuse your obligation as a faithful follower of Christ with your role as a faithful citizen of your God ordained government. (Romans 13:1-7)

10. Christians can and should participate as ministers of God in the prosecution of evil as part of a God ordained, sovereign, nation-state.

11. Be a peacemaker, not a pacifist. A minister of reconciliation, not a punching bag. (James 3:18)

12. It is not loving to let someone continue in sin towards you.


“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.” Matthew 5:38-40

But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners… 1 Timothy 1:8-9

“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ And whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; ” Matthew 5:20-22

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28

If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell. Matthew 5:30

…but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Matthew 5:32

But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Matthew 5:34-35

But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.” Matthew 5:37

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:20-21

But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise. Exodus 21:23-25

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9

…for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:35-36

…or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 1 Peter 2:14

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Galatians 6:1-3

But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.” Matthew 18:16

But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. Luke 23:34

Love…does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered. 1 Corinthians 13:5

If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Romans 12:18

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20

Other Resources:

Biblical “Pacifism”: Anybody who takes the name of God should never act aggressively toward somebody else.

Conflict Resolution Field Guide

How Do I Start A Hard Conversation?

What Does It Mean to “Overlook A Minor Offense”? 

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