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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : Will You Kill or Be Killed?

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Joined: 2009/4/24
Posts: 280


“Concerning the Sword”: A Hutterian Apologia of 1577
[Article IV of the Great Article Book]


This translation first appeared in the January 2009 issue of the
Mennonite Quarterly Review.

“Concerning the Sword” is the fourth article of what is known as the Great Article Book.

It was written in the 1570s, at a time when a
proliferating number of confessions of faith were at hand and available for a new synthesis of where the Hutterites stood, on the basis of biblical theology. Five select points were decided upon, which together expressed the central and essential elements of Anabaptist faith from the Hutterian perspective. The result served well both for instructional purposes within the community and as a witness to interested individuals outside it.
Four of these themes were basic to the preservation of the movement: believer’s baptism, the Lord’s Supper,community of goods, and the relationship of church and state. A fifth theme arose out of the mission program: the question of existing marriages between Hutterite converts and their non-Hutterite spouses.

The Great Article Book became the synthesizer and simplifier. Its five articles, presented in a format that all members could understand,
provided a foundation around which the fundamental Hutterian truths were built. This work reflects a new era within Hutterian history parallel to general European history of the 1570s and 1580s: the age of confessionalism and a beginning orthodoxy.


4. This title supplied by Robert Friedmann, in Friedmann, Glaubenszeugnisse oberdeutscher Taufgesinnter II, 239.


Psalm 72:[7]
In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, till the moon be no more!

Matthew 5:[39] But I say to you, “Do not resist one who is evil.”

Matthew 20:[25-26]
But Jesus called to his disciples and said to them, “You know that worldly rulers lord it over the nations, and their great men rule with force. It shall not be so among you.”

Luke 22:[25-26]
The powerful are called gracious lords, but not so with you: the greatest among you shall become the least.

Early on, God said to Noah, “For your lifeblood I shall surely require a reckoning; of every beast I will require it and of man; of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image”
(Gen. 9:[5 f]; Mt. 26:[52]; Rev. 13:[10]). Therefore God did not want a blood sacrifice, to indicate that if the blood of unreasoning beasts is so precious, how much more is that of a man!

King David planned to build a house in honor of the name of the Lord his God. But the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “You may not
build a house for my name, for you are a warrior and have shed blood. Lo, the son who will be born to you will be a man of peace. I will give
him peace from his enemies round about, for his name shall be Solomon; for I will give peace and rest to Israel throughout his lifetime. He shall
build a house to my name” (1 Chr. 28:[3], 23:[24-32], 29:[1-30]).5 This foreshadows the house of Christ as a wholly peaceable people, unspotted
by bloodshed.

And when Solomon built the house—the temple (which was to be a symbol or figure of the church of Christ in the New Testament)—it was
built with undressed stone from the quarry, so that neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron was heard while the temple was being built (1
Kings 6:[7]). This foreshadows that the church of Christ shall not be brought to faith or built with noise or with force, as the papists do,
together with their stepbrothers, who have handed over the gift of faith to kings and princes, allowing them to rule over faith with the sword and ramming it into the people.

The people said to Samuel, “Appoint us a king to govern us, like other nations, to go before us in battle and conduct our wars.” This displeased
Samuel, and the Lord said, “They have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. They are now doing to you what they have always done from the day I brought them out of Egypt, up to this day; they have forsaken me and served other gods” (1 Sam. 8:[5-8]).

5. Text reads: 1 Chr. 18, 23, 29.
6. Reference to the Peace of Augsburg, 1555.

If God was thus displeased with his earthly people Israel, what will he not do to us, to whom he sent his dearly beloved Son from heaven, had him appear on the earth and crowned him as our king. What if we were to forsake him, refuse to have him rule over us (Lk. [19:14]), and choose a fleshly arm to rule in his church, or even want to be king ourselves such as other nations have! (Ps. 52:[1-9]). For Christ is the only king in his church, and the word of the Lord is the only judge and sword of Christians. Whoever rejects this and wants to have it otherwise, rejects not Christ but the Father who sent him, just as it was not Samuel who was rejected, but God. Here is one greater than Samuel, the fathers and the prophets.

In the Book of Judges we have a parable or analogy of this with the house of Gideon, who said to Israel, “I will not rule over you, and my
son will not rule over you;7 the Lord will rule over you.”8
But Abimelech, the son of his concubine,
proceeded to make himself king. Then Jotham, Gideon’s son, said, “Listen to me, you men of Shechem, and may God listen to you: ‘Once upon a time the trees came to anoint a king, and they said to the olive tree: Be king over us. But the olive tree answered: What, leave my rich oil by which God and men are honored, to come and hold sway over the trees? So the trees said to the fig tree: Then will you come and be king over us? But the fig tree answered: What, leave my good fruit and all its sweetness, to come and hold sway over the trees? So the trees said to the vine: Then will you come and be king over us? But the vine answered: What, leave my new wine which gladdens gods and men to hold sway over the trees? Then all the trees said to the thornbush: Will you then be king over us? And the thornbush said to the trees: If you really mean to anoint me as your king, then come under the protection of my shadow; if not, fire shall come out of the thornbush and burn up the cedars of Lebanon.’” (Judg. 9:[7-15]).

From this we see and learn that a Christian, who throughout the Scriptures is likened to an olive tree, a fig tree, a vine and other good trees, can today so much the less be a ruler. If he does become a lord and ruler he forsakes his Christian fruit-bearing and has to go out to hold
sway over the trees. For being a spiritual and Christian person cannot be combined with being a worldly power. The son of the concubine (who

7. “and my son will not rule over you” was left out in Friedmann, 1967,
but is in the original codex.
8. Judg. 8:23.

has no part in the inheritance with the legitimate son) is the government(Gal. 4:[30]). That is why government is likened to a thornbush as having the same nature, for it shares its nature. It is appointed, like wild trees, to
tear, scratch, and prick. It is on account of these thorns that a ruler with thorns and claws is appointed to hold sway over others.
But we, dear brethren, ought not to be so, but as Isaiah prophesies: Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the briar shall come up the myrtle (Isa. 55:[13]).

Jacob the Patriarch also prophesied the same outcome, saying, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah until the hero (Christ) comes” (Gen.
49:[10]). Because the rulership of the Jews (who were at that time God’s people) comes to an end in Christ, ceases, and is taken from them, it is
indeed clear that the Jewish rule shall not exist in Christ and that he alone will rule among Christians with his spiritual sword. The fact that the power of the temporal sword is to be taken from the Jews means that henceforth, God’s people shall no longer wield the sword, use it or govern with it. And the fact that it has been turned over to the heathen indicates that those who do not submit to the Spirit of Christ, that is, all the heathen and unbelievers, shall be subject to the rule and penalty of the sword, as it is written: “God has appointed that all nations have a government, but he alone has become Lord over Israel” (Sir. 17:[17]).

Israel—the Jews as a figurative people—wielded the sword against its enemies, evildoers and opponents; nevertheless they did not move into
battle without the Lord’s orders and command (Num. 21:[32-35]; 20:[14-29]), but asked his counsel through his prophets and servants and
heeded his word as to whether they should go to battle. When they failed to do this, marching out of their own free will (as happens today),
they did not succeed, but at times suffered great humiliation and loss.
Therefore, because the people of the New Testament have no command from the Lord to wage war—on the contrary, are forbidden to do so—on
no account are they to take such a liberty.

Job, the God-fearing man, says: “Be afraid of the sword, for wrath brings the punishment of the sword, that you may know there is a judgment” (Job 19:[29]). Therefore the temporal sword has been assigned to those who do not fear God and his final Judgment, so that they must
learn to fear the sword and learn thereby, that while men punish with the sword, all the more will God punish at his Judgment. That is why
Paul says, The power of the sword is given to be feared, not by those who do good, but by those who do evil.9

David, the royal prophet, prophesying of the church of Christ and describing the kingdom of Christ, says: “Come and see the works of the
Lord, who has wrought such desolation on earth. He has made wars to cease to the ends of the earth (namely, through the Gospel, which the
apostles carried to all parts of the world, doing away with war among all believers). He has broken bows, shattered spears, and burned the
chariots with fire” (Ps. 46:[8-9]).10

“His abode has been established in Salem, his dwelling place in Zion. There he broke the flashing arrows, the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war” (Ps. 76:[2-3]). Now, if man makes and prepares what God destroys, he is acting in direct opposition to God.


Lee Chapel

 2009/12/6 19:44Profile

Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4587


Hi ChrisJD...

Thank you for your posts.

Those of us who believe that there are certain limited uses of physical force (such in the protection of a child, wife or a weaker person) are not "lovers of violence." We don't WANT to physically defend someone else. We just feel compelled to do so. I agree with your analysis of that particular passage. I also find it interesting that we can attempt to make an established doctrine from the interpretation of that passage but often fail to consider the verses surrounding it.

Too often, I fear that we "pick and choose" the verses upon which we build a doctrine by which we judge the views that others appear to have with a clear conscience before God.


 2009/12/6 20:02Profile

Joined: 2006/2/11
Posts: 2895
Philadelphia PA


Hi Chris and others,

I appreciate the opportunity to express some thoughts about these things, if they are true.

Whatever the case, it would be terrible to condemn others wrongly on either side. Violence is not only a physical beast and has no physical boundaries.

Christopher Joel Dandrow

 2009/12/6 21:43Profile

Joined: 2006/2/11
Posts: 2895
Philadelphia PA


I realise that another article has been posted here but I hope it will be alright to continue to respond to the one previous.

In a Church service, a worship service to God by God's children, should a prayer be made for "Our troops in combat"? The Church of Christ--according to Jesus--is not supposed to have any troops in combat. Any prayer supporting combat and the terrible violence involved is out of place in the Church of Christ. Combat is a direct violation of the teaching of Jesus Christ and must not be connected to the Church in any way. The lack of opposition to this is letting heresy creep into the Church.

Paul writes to Timothy with the exhortation that:

"...supplications, prayers, intercessions, [i]and[/i] giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority"

And this he instructs so that:

"...we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty"

I think it is no coincidence that Paul mentions both kings and those who are in authority in this exhortation to prayer which has as its end the providential blessing of a quite and peacefull life for beleivers.

As is pointed out further on in this article, Paul says in Romans chapter 13 that rulers(and in this context those that bear the sword under their authority) are(he calls them) "...the minister of God to thee for good". The author points out also that "thee" is intended to mean the believer, that is, that their rule and authority(those of rulers and governments) provide for the welfare, protection, and benefit of those who are peacefull and lawabiding.

If Paul would have us to pray for those [i]who are in authority[/i], I cannot imagine that he would not have us to pray for those [u]who are under it[/u], and who he otherwise calls:

"...the minister of God to thee for good"

Now I realise that a specific kind of prayer was mentioned here, and that is, "Our troops in combat", but this is entirely vauge.

What is meant here: that prayers should not be made for men that are hazarding their lives? for their immediate protection? or for those who have left families behind? for the comfort of those whose loved ones they may not see for a long time or even ever again?

Now it may be put forward that the primary objection here is to offer a prayer for the victory of one side or the other, and to this I would recall what the author says elsewhere:

We can't always rightly judge which war is for a good cause and which is for a bad cause, but it makes no difference.

Whether or not [b]we[/b] can, God certainly can and does, and anyone that prays to Him on the behalf of someone fighting in a war could certainly take great comfort in that.

Besides this, there are times when a cause is either manifestly evil or good, and what then:

should there be silence from those who alone on earth have the means of direct communion with God?

Any prayer supporting combat and the terrible violence involved is out of place in the Church of Christ.

In Luke it says that when the Lord Christ taught us to pray and to not give up in praying, He taught a parable about a certain widow and an unjust judge. The widow He says, went to the judge asking that he avenge her of her adversary. Strong's says this word [i]adversary[/i] in the greek is an-tid'-ee-kos, meaning 'an opponent(in a lawsuit)' and specifically it means 'Satan'. After telling the parable, and how the unjust judge finally grants her request after she persists in asking, the Lord says that won't God avenge His own elect that cry unto Him day and night? And is this not also similar to the cry in Revelation 6:9-10?

I mention this first(not to suggest that we should want to see revenge opon others) because the author seems to suggest that anything that has to do with violence of any kind is inappropriate to be even heard in the Church. And yet this cry in Revelation, is not heard in the Church only, but coming from the very Throne Room of God.

And secondly I mention this because, in the first century, those who were the first and primary opponents to the Christians and the spread of the Gospel were the Jews that did not believe(See for instance 1Th 2:14-16).

While there is [b]in no way [u]any[/u] room[/b] to say that the Jews or any Jews are to be called the devil, yet I think the scriptures indicate that at least a part of them were in league with the devil in their actions.

Paul says in Romans 16:20 that "The God of peace" would bruise satan under their feet shortly.

He says that the wrath had come upon them to the uttermost, and the Lord Jesus said that there was wrath going to come upon the people(Luke 21:23).

I mention all of this in connection with what the Lord Jesus said in the parable that He taught about the people that took the king's servants and killed them that had invited them to the wedding, He says:

"But when the king heard [i]thereof[/i], he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city."

- Matthew 22:7(KJV)

Christopher Joel Dandrow

 2009/12/6 23:12Profile

Joined: 2006/9/13
Posts: 3172


"But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew.. . ." - Exodus 1:12

It is in affliction that power is gained. If we afflict our enemies, take up arms against them, we actually empower them for greater destruction. When the single grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, more wheat springs up as a result. One might say that it is not the same for tares, but in reality it is - and it seems to me that weeds multiply even faster than wheat.

It was this way for the Anabaptists, their enemies found that whenever one was killled, even more would spring up to take their place. Would this not also work in reverse, or rather, from the opposing viewpoint? Is this why the Father warns us against such things?

We must remember that we are dealing with the spiritual realm and the rules are different, in fact they are the opposite of what we would suppose. If we were fighting against flesh and blood the enemy would die as the result of being stricken - but we are not fighting against flesh and blood, we are fighting against vessels that are possessed of the enemy, of principalities and powers in high places. If a vessel is destroyed, the enemy just moves on to a new one - and from the sound of it, he multiplies.

War is a win-win for the enemy of our souls. He gains the soul of the stricken vessel as well as the soul of the one that is doing the striking; for God's commandment reads:

"Thou shalt not kill." - Exodus 20:13

And if soldiers feel fully justified in having killed another, they will not repent, and therefore, they will not be forgiven.

 2009/12/6 23:25Profile

Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4587


Hi HeartSong...

"Thou shalt not kill." - Exodus 20:13

..and yet, many people killed by the direction of God shortly after those words were written in stone. I feel that it is incorrect to quote this verse in such a context when we know that this commandment of God was not directed at people who were in the military or those who were acting in defense of someone else. There is a world of difference between someone who willfully murders (with intent) and those who are simply acting on behalf of someone in their care...or even those who are serving in the military or local police.
And if soldiers feel fully justified in having killed another, they will not repent, and therefore, they will not be forgiven.

I completely disagree with this opinion. You have effectively declared a final spiritual judgment of hellfire upon every soldier (including those who have bled for your right to say such things in a public forum). I suppose that this is one of the problems that I have with these sort of "pacifist" or "non-resistance" discussions. We are declaring a personal opinion about Scripture as though it clearly sends all soldiers to Hell (unless they repent for, well, being soldiers). Likewise, we often see those who claim a Scriptural prohibition from every form of physical "resistance" (but who are often quick to send someone to Hell simply for disagreeing with their opinion) and feel securely enough about their opinion to turn it into a required doctrine.

John the Baptist, Peter, Paul and even Jesus did NOT tell the soldiers that they encountered to change their professions. Even in Luke 3, John didn't tell soldiers to quit their jobs. Yes, the KJV uses the term "do violence to no man," but in the context it is talking about taking (via extortion) money by force (as it reads in versions like the NASB, NIV and, well, the Greek). Yet, if someone were to be contentious, ChrisJD has already pointed out that the word "violence" is not meant to convey a utter prohibition of physical resistance. Jesus himself cleared out the Temple with a whip just three and a half years later.

I think that we need to be careful not to verbally condemn people to Hell based simply upon the way we personally (or as a sect or group) interpret the meaning of these passages. At the same time, I think that we should be clear that those of us who believe in limited forms of physical resistance are not bloodthirsty men. In fact, many are actually acting to [i]preserve[/i] life. The two police officers who shot the Muslim shooter at Fort Hood did not want to kill him. In fact, they did NOT kill the guy. They simply wanted to put an end to the killing on that base. With this in mind, they were quite successful. They physically resisted the shooter by shooting him. As a result, the killer couldn't kill any more people. I imagine that, if you were to speak with any of the officers involved, they will say the same thing -- that they don't want to be shoot. However, they do so when they feel a need that is greater than the result of doing nothing.

In this context, we need to be careful about condemning such people to Hell. That is what we are doing with hasty words that echo our views rather than admitting that there are differing views on this matter. Using your same analogy, I think that we need to be careful not to separate the wheat and the tares ourselves. Let the Lord do it as He is the only righteous judge.


 2009/12/7 0:12Profile

Joined: 2006/2/11
Posts: 2895
Philadelphia PA


This is a very difficult subject to wrestle with and I think it can be hard for any of us to understand everything involved. I for one have had a difficult time understanding these things.

I feel that it is incorrect to quote this verse in such a context when we know that this commandment of God was not directed at people who were in the military or those who were acting in defense of someone else.

I agree with Chris, but let me say first that I understand too why others may object and I believe I can understand why others do not accept that certain kinds of violence are not always wrong.

But as Chris mentioned, I don't think that the commandment in Exodus 20:13 is referring to killing that is done in wars or by governments in enforcing laws. Both of those are also part of the same Old Testament Law.

I think what is forbiden is [b]unjust killing[/b].

When David heard that Joab his General had killed Abner, who had been General to Saul, David said

"I and my kingdom [i]are[/i] guiltless before the LORD for ever from the blood of Abner the son of Ner"

David had done nothing to provoke or encourage this and had only ever been carefull to preserve the life of Saul and to not take the kingdom from him.

And perhaps in the same setting, or line of events(I could be wrong in remembering this or connecting the two) Shimei(who was related to Saul) when he saw that David's kingdom was being divided from him by his son Absalom, came and was accusing and taunting David, saying,

"Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial: The LORD hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned..."

Shimei was partly right in his accusation; [b]but not for the reason he stated[/b].

David had done no wrong to Saul or his kingdom, but a sword had come into David's house, not for blood he had shed in battle, but for the blood of Uriah, who he had unjustly and wickedly killed(2Sa 12:9-10).

And so again, I think that the Bible makes a distinction between killing in general, and [b]unjust killing[/b], which is what I believe is prohibited in the commandment in Exodus 20:13.

That said, I think it can be noted too, that when David went to fulfill his desire to build a House for God, the Lord refused him, because he had been involved in many great wars and in the shedding of much blood(see 1Chronicles 22:7-8).

And so I think it is rightly stated that the Church(as a whole and as a public and visible entity) should not be associated with wars and with the violence and fighting in the earth.

The Lord's house was to be built in a time of peace(during the reign of Solomon). And peace should be the conspicous and prevading element whenever the Church is visibly and publicly seen in the world.

A good reason why Chaplins, serving consipicoulsy and openly in the Name of Christ and as agents of the Church, do not themselves carry weapons.

Christopher Joel Dandrow

 2009/12/7 8:30Profile

Joined: 2009/4/24
Posts: 280

 Re: “Concerning the Sword”

“Concerning the Sword”: A Hutterian Apologia of 1577
[Article IV of the Great Article Book]


This translation first appeared in the January 2009 issue of the
Mennonite Quarterly Review.

Isaiah and Micah, two prophets, prophesy thus about the house and church of Christ: “Then the law will go forth from Zion and the word of
the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall administer justice among the nations and arbitrate among many peoples, so that they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, sickles and saws; no more will a nation take up arms against another nation nor will they learn war any more” (Isa. 2:[3-4]; Mic. 4:[2-3]). See how clearly the people of Christ will be such a peaceable people!

“Then the wolf shall live with the sheep, and the leopard lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion shall grow up together, and a
little child shall lead them; the cow and the bear shall be friends, and

9. Rom. 13:3.
10. Text reads: Ps. 45.

their young shall lie down together. The lion shall eat straw like cattle.
No one will harm or destroy another in my entire holy mountain” (Isa. 11:[6-9]; 65;[25]). That is how it will be in Christ, the branch of the tree of Jesse. And so he is saying that even the wolves will become friendly animals like sheep.

“These are the words of the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: ‘Come back, keep peace, and you will be safe. But you would have none of it’;
you said, ‘No, we will take horse and flee; therefore you shall be put to flight: We will ride apace; therefore swift shall be the pace of your pursuers’” (Isa. 30:[15-16]). Likewise false Christians even today continue to disobey and say the same things. Therefore the same thing will happen to them.

“Where previously dragons dwelt, reeds and rushes will grow. . . . No lion shall come there, no savage beast climb onto it, but one shall walk freely and safely” (Isa. 35:[7,9]). Dragons and beasts of prey that bare their teeth at one another and dare to eat another represent the poisonous, tyrannical people who use the sword and have swords for teeth (Prov. 30:[14]); they will no longer exist in the kingdom of Christ.

“All your children shall be taught by God, to whom I shall give abiding peace. In righteousness you shall be established, dwelling far away from violence” (Isa. 54:[13-14]).

“I will appoint Peace as your overseer and Righteousness as your taskmaster. The sound of violence shall no more be heard in your land, nor devastation or destruction within your borders” (Isa. 60:[17-18]); for all your peoples will fear God.

“The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like cattle, but the food of the snake shall be dust. No one shall
harm or kill another in my entire holy mountain, says the Lord” (Isa. 65:[25]). So where there is beating, lashing, stabbing, shooting, injuring
one another, laying to ruin, quarreling, fighting, killing and shedding blood, that is the devil’s ungodly and unclean mountain and Lucifer’s place. For just as one recognizes the kingdom of Christ and his disciples by their love, peace and unity, so also the devil’s kingdom by the wrangling, quarreling and warring of those who take after Cain.

Jeremiah the prophet says: “Thus says the
Lord: . . . Tell the king and the mighty: ‘Give up your power and be like the common people, for
your proud crowns will fall from your heads’” (Jer. 13:[18]). All the more must this take place today in Christendom if they want to repent and become Christians.

Ezekiel prophesied: “Behold, it comes; it shall be, says the Lord God, the day of which I have spoken. The dwellers in the cities of Israel shall come out and gather weapons to light their fires, buckler and shield, bow and arrows, throwing-stick and lance, and they shall kindle fires with them for seven years. They will not need to take wood from the field or cut down any in the forests. They will have enough weapons to light their fires” (Ezek. 39:[8-10]). How then can the people of Christ be rulers who use weapons of vengeance, when the people of Christ have rooted out and stopped using weapons of wrath and of vengeance, lifelong?
(That is the meaning of the seven years). If weapons of bloodshed are to be rooted out and burned, what will become of those who cannot make
enough of them?

Daniel prophesies concerning the end-time, the time of the Antichrist, that those who are willing to acknowledge his God will prevail and lead the way. And so the wise among God’s people will give the church understanding and will have to struggle for a long time through fire, through prison and through robbery.11 Note here who the ruler will be; note also that the wise will fall victim to the sword and fire—not that
they will kill anyone, or use the sword, or take vengeance.12

11. Dan. 11:32-33.
12. This is the theme of the so-called theology

of martyrdom of the Anabaptists, expecting and accepting suffering and persecution as something unavoidable in this world.
The Anabaptists found the biblical foundation for this already in the Book of Daniel. See
Robert Friedmann, “Martyrdom, Theology of,” ME 3:519-521.

Hosea writes that the Lord says: “I will have pity on the house of Judah, and I will deliver them by the Lord their God; I will not deliver
them by bow, nor by sword, nor by war, nor by horses, nor by horsemen” (Hos. 1:[7]). “I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land; and I will make them dwell in safety.”13

“O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help. Where are your kings who were to help you in all your cities? Where are your
rulers and protectors who were to save you? For you said, ‘Give us a king and prince.’ In my anger I gave you a king, and in my fury I took
him away” (Hos. 13:[9-11]). Thus God gave men rulers simply out of anger as is seen here in Israel’s case. “For the Lord said: ‘It is I whom
they have rejected, I whom they will not accept as their king.’”14 Because they then forsook God and wanted to have a king like all the nations, he gave them one and fulfilled their desire, to their own harm, so that his Spirit would not always have to contend with men, for they were flesh (Gen. 6:[3]). What God ordered and gave in wrath is neither fitting nor appropriate in Christ, in whom there is blessing and mercy, and the child of blessing cannot be the servant of wrath and revenge. For God’s intention for us was not to inherit wrath, but to inherit blessedness through Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:[9]).

Jonah the prophet began by going a day’s journey into the city of Nineveh, proclaiming to the Ninevites: “‘In forty days Nineveh shall be
overthrown!’ And the people of Nineveh believed God’s word. They proclaimed a public fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. When the news reached the king of Nineveh he rose from his throne, stripped off his robes of state, put on sackcloth and sat in
ashes. Then he issued a proclamation to all of Nineveh: ‘By the decree of the king and his nobles, let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; let them not taste food, or graze, or drink water, but let man

13. Hos. 2:18.
14. 1 Sam. 8:7.

and beast be covered with sackcloth and call on God without ceasing. Let everyone turn from his evil ways and his habitual acts of arrogance and
violence. It may be that God will again be gracious, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we not perish’” (Jon. 3:[4-9]). And that is what happened. The only sign that will be given this wicked and adulterous generation, said Christ, is the sign of Jonah;15 if they want to repent they must descend from their thrones and forsake worldly pomp and splendor. How, then, is a Christian to ascend the throne in the first

Zechariah says: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion, be glad, daughter of Jerusalem; for see, your king, the Just One, the Savior, is coming to you. He is humble and lowly, riding on an ass, on a foal, the young of a she-ass. He shall banish chariots of war from Ephraim and war horses from Jerusalem; the warrior’s bow shall be banished. He shall proclaim laws of peace to the nations and his rule shall extend from sea
to sea, from the River to the ends of the earth” (Zech. 9:[9-10]).

Ezra the prophet, upon receiving from God the secret knowledge of the end-time (how it will be with Christ and his followers), says: “I saw a
man who waxed strong with the clouds of heaven; wherever he turned his eyes, all things they fell upon trembled. And whenever a voice
proceeded from his mouth, all that heard him were burned up like dry kindling that is ignited. Then I saw that many people assembled, so many that no one could count them. They came from the four winds of heaven to make war on the man who arose out of the sea. Then he hewed out a high mountain and flew on to it. Then I saw that all who had assembled to make war on him were terrified, and yet they dared to fight. But when he saw the attack and the violence of the crowd, however, he raised neither hand nor blade (note, neither hand nor blade) indeed, no weapon at all; but he blew a blast like fire from his mouth, and from his lips a flame, and from his tongue a storm of sparks. All these things combined, and fell with fury upon the people that had armed themselves to attack him, and consumed them with fire, so that

15. Mt. 12:39.

nothing was to be seen but dust and ashes and smoke. Then I saw the same man descend from the mountain and call unto himself another, peaceable people” (note, Christ will call and prepare a peaceable people for himself—not like the first Israelites, but one that like him, raises neither hand, sword nor any other weapon), “and many nations came to him; some were joyful, some fearful, some enslaved, and they were brought before him” (2 Esd. 13:[3-12]).

This was interpreted to Ezra thus: “The man whom you saw is the one whom God Most High has kept for a long time; he will himself set his creation free;”16 truly the Son of God will be revealed and will punish the nations that have assembled for their wickedness. He will, without
exertion, simply destroy them through the word that is likened unto the fire (Heb. 4:[12]), which Paul calls the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:[17]), and John in Revelation calls the sword of his mouth (Rev. 1:[16]; 19:[15]).

The peaceable nation, however, is the ten tribes that Salmanasser, the King of Assyria, led away captive from their homeland. Hereby, by way
of hidden allegory, he indicates the people of Christ in the end time, who have been ensnared into Babylonian and Assyrian captivity and released by Christ, and will henceforth be peacemakers and a peaceable people who will never engage in warfare, the shedding of blood, secular courts, or the use of the sword or violence.


Lee Chapel

 2009/12/9 20:30Profile

Joined: 2009/4/24
Posts: 280

 Re: Concerning the Sword

“Concerning the Sword”: A Hutterian Apologia of 1577
[Article IV of the Great Article Book]


This translation first appeared in the January 2009 issue of the
Mennonite Quarterly Review.

Christ, the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:[6]), teaches us this Gospel, saying:
“Blessed are the meek, blessed are the merciful, blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake” (Mt. 5:[5, 7, 9, 10]).
From this it follows that the arrogant and surly are unchristian and unblessed, the
unmerciful are unblessed, the war makers and those who quarrel are unblessed, those who cause persecution are unblessed. For that reason, whoever exercises the office of the sword cannot be in Christ. Whoever carries the sword at his side is not a peacemaker but a combat maker.

16. 2 Esd. 2:26. This book is missing in all Protestant Bibles, but is found at the end of
the complete Latin Vulgate. It has to do with a late-Jewish apocalypse, around A.D. 100.
The book is usually included as one of the Jewish pseudo-epigraphs, strongly influenced
by the (Pharisaic) Schamai school. Chapters 3 to 14 are original; chapters 1, 2, 15 and 16 are later Christian additions. The Anabaptists Michael Sattler and Peter Riedemann quote from this book.—Robert Friedmann, “Ezra, IV,” ME 2:283f.

Christ says: “You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill,’” (now this command includes assaulting, for assaulting is killing a heart), “and ‘whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says ‘you fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire” (Mt. 5:[21-22]).
Now, if a Christian is not to be angry with his brother nor call him a fool without deserving eternal fire, how would it be possible for him to wield the sword, even to kill him, or attack anyone in body or soul or help another to do so? No Christian may do this.

But if you say, then nobody could be safe from robbers and enemies:

Answer: What do you and I have to do with the world,17 since we want to be Christians? We are now speaking of true Christians, not of the heathen and Jews. It does not befit a Christian to condemn to death.
These verses do not apply to worldly authorities nor the heathen nor to the Jews, but only to true Christians. For the judgment that Christ has given and commanded us is not
applicable to outsiders who are not members of the church [gmain]. Whoever wants to be
a secular ruler, let him be one, and whoever wants to be a Christian, let the person be a
Further says Christ: “You have heard that it was said ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you” (the Christians), “Do not resist one who is evil. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (that is, rather than avenge yourself and return blow for blow you should suffer still more); “and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well” (Mt. 5:[38-40]).
Now, if Christians did not sue at law, so also has conducting court trials, or being a judge, fallen away of itself and been discontinued in Christendom. All this clearly shows, since he has taken away occasion and cause for a secular court, that he has forbidden and done away with such things among all of his own. He will not have his people of the
New Testament resist evil with revenge, sword and bloodshed. Nor will he have them make a legal demand for corporal punishment—this is expressly forbidden them, for there is to be no eye for an eye or hand for a hand in his church. On the contrary, one must consider whether God’s law has been broken and treat a transgressor in accord with what he deserves, that is, in accord with the Gospel, which has the ban only and

17. 1 Cor. 5:12.

no sword, the force of the keys and not the force of the executioner like the world.
But someone may say, If all of us put away our swords and did what you do and say, who would resist the Turks and enemies?
Answer: If everyone were Christian, it would be God who would resist the enemy. For he alone is the protection of his little church; otherwise they would be devoured by enemies like bread.

Further says Christ: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and speak kindly to those who persecute you; do good to those who hate you’” (Mt. 5:[43-44]). Thus the office of government and the power of the sword is in itself in all matters the contrary and opposite of the words and statements of Christ. Consequently, there can be no Christian government nor can a Christian hold such an office. For it is impossible for two mutually contradictory things to be reconciled. But in the world, which does not live according to God’s will, government is as necessary as daily bread. So we should hold it in honor, and be subject to it in all that is good.

Christ teaches his followers to pray to God: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors (Mt. 6:[12]; Lk. 11:[4]). The apostle teaches: “Forgive one another. As Christ has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”18 But if we requite evil and injury with the sword, with killing, with imprisonment and similar revenge, and pray God to forgive us as we forgive these actions, we will be praying for death, for the sword and prison and revenge upon ourselves. That is why Christ says: All who take the sword will perish by the sword, and he who imprisons will be put in prison. That is what such people are asking for and praying for daily, in the Lord’s Prayer. Therefore, he who does not forgive his brother draws the sword upon himself like a senseless madman. He is prescribing his
own punishment and passing sentence upon himself. It does not fit together and is like black and white.

18. Col. 3:13.

“Judge not,” says Christ to his followers, “that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce, you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get (Mt. 7:[1-2]). Therefore, the sword, judgment and vengeance can never be mixed into the church, nor can any Christian wield and administer them.

Christ says, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ I have come to call sinners to repentance” (Mt. 9:[13]).
Therefore Christ wants mercy and grace on earth among his people, and not wrath and the sword. For Christians are not to nurse anger or hatred toward anyone on earth, not to mention protecting oneself with the sword. For in heaven there is neither envy nor hatred. For if there were envy and hatred in heaven, the earth would long since have perished,
the sea long since drained away, and there would not be a drop of blood left on earth. But because it is the nature of heaven to do good to those who injure them, so Christ wants his people to take on that kind of manner and nature. Therefore he has taught us to pray: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Christ is the Lamb of God (Jn. 1:[29]) and was led like a lamb to the slaughter (Isa. 53:[7]). A lamb never tears a wolf to pieces. Therefore he says to his people, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of savage wolves; so be wise as the serpent,”19 which offers itself up and heeds little how its body is cut up as long as its head remains whole. We likewise are to care little about the loss of other things, even our bodies, if only we keep our faith, which is the head and the root. We should therefore be like amiable, nonresistant and long-suffering lambs, and for that reason we are called sheep (Jn. 10). But those who are armed with horns and have the characteristics of goats are called goats (Mt. 25), and are the ungodly who are equipped for butting back.

“Do not fear those who kill the body, but who cannot kill the soul” (Mt. 10:[28]). If there were supposed to be a government wielding the sword in the Christian church of God as there is today in the false Christendom of the world, Christ would hardly have needed to speak

19. Mt. 10:16.

those words. For Christians could then have fled behind the sword and fought back and struck the enemy’s throat as quickly as the enemy could strike theirs. But the words actually declare that Christians (true Christians I mean) are killed, tortured, imprisoned and persecuted in the world. But they absolutely never kill, or imprison or persecute
How then could they be secular rulers?

All the Evangelists testify that Christ prophesied of the Christians:
“They will deliver you up to the councils, and flog you in their synagogues, and they will drag you before governors and kings for my sake” (Mt. 10:[17-18]; Mt. 24:[9]; Lk. 21:[12]). “They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is doing service to God” (Jn. 16:[2]). Note again whether rulers can be Christians. For this is happening today just as in earlier times.

Christ gives the apostles in his church the power of the keys, as he says to Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Mt. 16:[19]). Likewise he says to all of them: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Mt. 18:[15-18];20 Jn. 20:[22-23]). This power Christ gave his apostles and his church. But the power of the sword he did not
give to any apostle or disciple, nor to anyone in his church. You would have to search until you died to find it in the New Testament. The ban, ordained for the church of Christ, and the sword, ordained for the world, are as different as night and day; they are as incomprehensibly different as life and death. Hence they cannot be combined.

The power of the keys, the Christian ban, removes from the church what is evil (1 Cor. 5:[5]). The worldly sword removes completely from the earth. The Christian punishment is love, indeed, a brotherly reproof; the punishment of the sword is wrath and ruthlessness. After the ban of Christians one can repent; but after the sword or worldly justice, penitence and reform are forever cut off. The ministers of the keys are the vessels of mercy, the ministers of the worldly sword are the vessels of wrath (Rom. 9:[16-18]; Hos. 13:[11]). He who applies and holds the power of the keys over the Christian brotherhood banishes greed and private ownership. He who holds the power of the sword over greed and property (Acts 5:1; 1 Cor. 5:[1-13]) has his own land and people; hence

20. Text reads: Mt. 28.

from time immemorial the power of the sword has been identified by the name, “the worldly government.” That is why its office cannot be fitted into the unadulterated Christian church. For each walks its own way; the paths go in opposite directions and never meet.

In the parable of the tares, when the servants said: “Do you want us to go and pull them out?” the Lord answered: “No, lest in gathering the tares you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest” (Mt. 13:[28-29]). Christ said this because he wanted to prevent wars and bloodshed among his people, as almost the entire fifth chapter of Matthew shows. He does not forbid removing the evildoers and tares from his church by the power of the keys, but removing them with the sword. Killing
and executing them is what he forbids, lest the tares that might still be transformed into good grain be thereby cut off.

Christ says to his disciples: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mt. 16:[24]). He does not say “take up the sword,” for the sword has absolutely no place next to the cross, and Christ cannot agree with Belial. Hence the worldly sword and the cross of Christ are as alike as Christ and Pilate. They get along together like wolves and sheep in one stall. The friends of the sword cannot be anything but enemies of Christ’s cross. And the teaching of the sword is contrary to the teaching of the cross, which must be witnessed to by bearing the cross and not with fighting back. To bear the cross is to accept suffering and sorrow, and even persecution, with patience. The sword does not suffer anything, but terminates everything in its path. Christians are counted as sheep for the slaughter.21 The sword is what kills them.

When the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus called a child and put him in the midst of them: “Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:[1-3]). With this he wants to forbid, and remove from among his disciples, all rulership, domination, violence, sword and wrongdoing. For the souls of small

21. Ps. 44:23; Rom. 8:36; 2 Cor. 4:11.

children are pure of all temptations; they desire no revenge upon those who have injured them but, as if nothing had happened, they turn back to the people as to their friends. Yes, what child is greater than another? If a thousand were together, not one of them would know of a lord, a master or a mayor; they are all on the same level and none is special as long as they are children.

Therefore, we as God’s children need to be and become like innocent children, without domination, without vengeance, without pride, not domineering, not vengeful, not pompous—all these things standing in the way of our salvation. Take note, secular authorities! If you ask whether you can be Christians, the answer is given by the Son of God himself: “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” That has to take place; you must demonstrate a turning if you want to be Christians.

The Lord became very angry at the man who seized his fellow man by the throat and threw him into prison for the debt that he owed. The Lord called him a wicked servant and delivered him to the torturers (Mt. 18:[23-34]). With this parable he declares that he does not want such a thing among his people in Christendom.


Lee Chapel

 2009/12/11 16:49Profile

Joined: 2009/4/24
Posts: 280

 Re: Concerning the Sword

“Concerning the Sword”: A Hutterian Apologia of 1577
[Article IV of the Great Article Book]


This translation first appeared in the January 2009 issue of the
Mennonite Quarterly Review.

When the two sons of Zebedee appealed to Christ and asked to be
seated in his kingdom, the one to his right and the other to his left (Mt.
20:[20-21]), thus wanting the upper and most honorable seats (since they
understood it to be a worldly and temporal kingdom because they were
still immature), Christ deflected them away from that desire and warned
them of the sweat, struggle and suffering to come, that they would have
to drink his cup and be baptized with his baptism. Hence Christians
cannot occupy governmental positions, but must drink the cup of
suffering on earth (Mt. 26:[39]) and be baptized with the baptism of
anxiety (Lk. 12:[50]).

Jesus called his disciples and said to them: “You know that secular
rulers lord it over the nations and their great men coerce them, but it
shall not be so among you” (Mt. 20:[25-26]; Lk. 22:[25-26]). You see, he
thereby ties a firm knot that cannot be untied or undone. For he mentions the
government and the lords of the world and says expressly,
“It shall not be so among you, my people. The overlords proceed with
coercion; it shall not be so among you; whoever will be great among you
must be your servant; whoever will be the most prestigious among you
must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to
serve” (Mk. 10:[42-43]). There will always be a flawed, earthly splendor,
and it would be not at all fitting, when Christ lived as a poor slave, for us
disciples to desire to be “gracious lords.”

Therefore, in Christendom it shall not be like the rulers of this world
who have authority on earth, each one above the other. One is the chief
marshal, another the deputy marshal, another the mayor, another the
chancellor, another this, another that. “It shall not be so among you,”
says Christ. With this statement Christ does not abolish temporal
government, but leaves it in the world. He abolishes it from among his
disciples and Christians; they shall not use force nor have jurisdiction
over life and death. There shall therefore be as little worldly lordship
among them as there is in heaven—that is to say, there is to be none at all
among Christians on the earth. For if Lucifer had to be cast out because
he wanted to be above others in heaven, how much more will those be
cast out on earth who are guilty of such heathen deeds, which means
they cannot be Christians.

Luke says that those in authority over them are called “gracious
lords,” but it must not be so among you (Lk. 22:[25-26]). For nothing
leads to pride like the desire to rule and be the chief; great abominations
have sprung from this, for human honors and prestige lead to much
more that is shameful. Wanton honor makes men puffed up,
irresponsible blasphemers and hypocrites. Splendor removes the bridle
from their eyes and opens to them the door to hell, as if in a violent
storm their spirit were turned around, overturning their boat into the
depths of the water.

But it is not our will or intention to abolish temporal government or to
be disobedient in all good and proper things. For there shall and must be
government on earth among men, just as a schoolteacher must have a
rod for disobedient children. For since the world and heathen nations do
not fear God, nor allow themselves to be ruled by his Spirit and are thus
without God’s order, government with the sword is prescribed among
them to be feared, as children fear the teacher’s rod, to prevent complete
chaos, and the earth from becoming completely stained with blood. The
world still needs to preserve a worldly piety, like a horse in an
emergency stall, a wolf in a pit, or a lion and bear on a chain.

Christ calls worldly government and force the gates of hell (Mt.
16:[18]).22 For just as Christ is the door and gate to God’s kingdom,23 they
are called the gates of hell. As one can see, if the king, prince or authority
is papist, then his subjects must also be papist; if he becomes Lutheran,
they must also become Lutheran; if he is Zwinglian, they must also be
Zwinglian; and what the government believes, its land and people must
also believe. They enforce this with the sword, the hangman, fire and
water, tower and dungeon, and so it happens that one believes in order
to please another and goes with the crowd; everyone believes whatever
his lord wishes. According to how the wind blows for the ruler, that is
the direction the world takes, entering through such gates of hell with an
ungodly, wicked life. That is why Christ also calls it the power of
darkness (Lk. 22:[53]); Paul calls it the dominion of darkness, and the
rulers of the present darkness in this world against whom the God-
fearing must contend (Col. 1:[13]; Eph. 6:[12]).24

“If anyone will not receive you, leave the place,” says Christ, “and
shake the dust from your feet” in response (Mt. 10:[14]). See, Christians
have this command. It does not say, proceed against them with the
sword (like the greedy false prophets, teachers of war, and doctors of
hangmen [i.e., learned judges] and priests of this world are wont to do);
for nowhere is there a word about the apostles or Christ laying violent
hands on anyone, but violent hands are laid on them. No one should
dare to fight with the sword for the sake of his faith or God’s justice, for
if God wanted that, and rods and violence had to be used, he would no
doubt send down from heaven his legion of angels. Therefore, those who
falsely attempt to spread the kingdom of God on earth by force are
acting contrary to God’s command and example. For it is not given to all
(2 Thess. 3:[2]), but only to the chosen; we do not call compelled people
believers. When John the Baptist came,25 he did not strike at the people
with a sword but said, “Bear fruits that befit repentance.”26

22. Text reads: Mt. 6.
23. Jn. 10:7, 9.
24. This paragraph is a clear reference to the practice of cuius regio eius religio (whose
region, his religion) which granted each territorial ruler the right to determine the religion
of the land—a principle proposed at the Diet of Speyer in 1526 and confirmed in the Peace
of Augsburg in 1555.
25. Jn. 3:23.
26. Mt. 3:8 and elsewhere.

When the Pharisees tempted him and showed him the tax coin, the
Lord said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the
things that are God’s” (Mt. 22:[21]). Therefore it is Christ’s will that his
people, in subjection to worldly authority, give and offer its dues—what
belongs to it—for the sake of its office and God’s order. We may give it
its due, and what belongs to God we are to give to God. But if men
tamper with God’s word and glory, acting contrary to it, we must
faithfully keep that for God. For governments are lords only over what is
physical, not over word and Spirit. That is why Paul also says, “Give all
men their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue
is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due”
(Rom. 13:[7]). But if you hear that you should give the emperor the
things that are the emperor’s, you should know without a doubt that the
things are to be understood as only those that do not sully the faith, and
that do not injure piety and religion or the conscience. For whatever is
detrimental to faith and virtue is tribute paid not to the emperor but to
the devil. For slaying and killing is the nature and work of the devil; he
was a murderer from the beginning (Jn. 8:[44]) and instigates wars in the
world. A Christian cannot assist in this, for we have the reputation that
we are called Christians. And since we bear the name of Christ, we are to
do absolutely nothing that is contrary to a Christian life.

“When his disciples entered a village in Samaria to spend the night at
an inn, and the people refused to admit them, his disciples James and
John said, ‘Lord, do you want us to bid fire come down from heaven and
consume them, as Elijah did?’ Then Jesus turned and rebuked them and
said, ‘Do you not know what manner of spirit you are of? For the Son of
Man came not to destroy men’s lives but to save them’” (Lk. 9:[54-55]; 2
Kings 1:[10]). Hence, his followers cannot destroy anyone. Not many
words are needed; it is obvious that revenge has no place in the kingdom
of Christ and that a Christian can neither engage in warfare and revenge
nor contribute to such activities. How then can he hold a government
office? Whoever does so has forsaken and denied Christ and Christ’s
It does no good for you to say, David was a king and many pious men
have exercised the power of the sword and gone to war. When the
disciples cited Elijah as an example, Christ rebuked them, refusing to
allow it, and said: “Do you not know what manner of spirit you are of?”
Therefore you cannot say: He who had the Spirit of God has also the
Spirit of Christ. For here Christ admonishes the disciples to distinguish
between his Spirit and that of Elijah or of the people of the Old
Testament, between the spirit of Christians and that of the world (Ps.
51:[12]). Therefore Paul says, “We have received not the spirit of the
world, but the Spirit which is from God” (1 Cor. 2:[12]). Christ says that
the world cannot receive the Spirit of truth, because it neither sees nor
knows him. “But you,” he says, “know him, for he dwells with you and
will be in you” (Jn. 14:[17]).

Herein can one recognize the Spirit of God: the fruit of the Spirit (says
Paul) is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:[22-23]). The fruit of the spirit of the world
is hatred, disunity, enmity, strife, envy, wrath, fighting, quarreling,
divisions, murder, drunkenness, gluttony and the like. The Holy Spirit
loathes and flees from hypocrites who merely pretend to be disciplined
and wise (Wis. 1:[5]). Where evil takes the upper hand, the Spirit departs
and refuses to constantly bicker with them. But the spirit of the world
loathes those who withdraw from evil and hates those who no longer go
along with its unruly crowd (Gen. 6:[3]).

The spirit of Christians is a steadfastly gentle and quiet spirit (1 Pet.
3:[4]); the spirit of the world is a fickle, rough spirit of gambling and
poltergeists, yes, a vengeful spirit. But the Lord is not there; he is neither
with it nor in it; the Lord showed the prophet Elijah an indication of this
difference when he bade him go to the mountaintop. Then the Lord
passed by, and “a great and strong wind rent the mountain and broke in
pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and
after the wind came an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the
earthquake; and after the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in
the fire; and after the fire there came a still small voice”—and there was
the Lord (1 Kings 19:[11-12]).

Christians have a new heart and a new spirit that God gives and
implants in their innermost being (Ps. 68; Ezek. 11:[19]; 36:[26]). And all
drink of one Spirit (1 Cor. 12:[13]). But old wineskins that cannot hold
the new wine27 and do not have Christ’s Spirit are not his (Rom. 8:[9]).
Therefore we have to distinguish and note whose spirit we are children
of:28 not of the world, or of the spirit of evil, who is now at work in the

27. Mt. 9:17 and elsewhere.
28. Lk. 9:55.

children of unbelief, among whom we all once lived according to the will
of the flesh and of reason (Eph. 2:[3]), but of Christ’s Spirit, yea, the Spirit
of the New Testament that practices no vengeance or destruction of
human souls, but always seeks their salvation and preservation.

When one of the multitude said to Jesus, “Master, bid my brother
divide the inheritance with me,” Jesus said to him, “Man, who has made
me a judge or divider over you?” (Lk. 12:[13-14]). It was as though he
meant to say, “In what way does your quarreling over temporal things
concern me? I did not come and was not sent to judge such matters.” For
whoever seeks earthly things does not seek what is in Christ, and
therefore cannot get a ruling from him. Likewise no pupil or disciple of
his who wants to be Christian can hold a judicial office or be a judge over
temporal things. But he who dares to do this does not have the mind of
Christ but the mind of the world. The apostle, however, says, “We have
the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:[16]).

When Jesus perceived that the people were about to come and take
him by force to make him king, he escaped and fled (Jn. 6:[15]). He did
this in part as a precedent and example for us. For he who has chosen all
the simple things (1 Cor. 1:[27-28])—mother, home, fatherland, food,
clothing—yes, also calls the simple and lowly of the world; for what is
exalted among men is an abomination to God (Lk. 16:[15]). And so he
also desires that we follow in his footsteps. For, as the apostle says, those
whom he called he has predestined to be conformed to the image of his
son (Rom. 8:[29]). Whoever acts otherwise reviles the footsteps of
Christ.29 From this it is clear that the man who wants to be a worldly
ruler does not have the Spirit of Christ. If he does not have the Spirit of
Christ, he is by no means a Christian; if he had the Spirit, he would leave
the office, since no Christian can be a worldly ruler. But if you want to be
a king, I will show you a realm—govern yourself, keep yourself under
good control, and you will be a true king. For he who can govern and
conquer himself is the greatest and most powerful of kings.

Christ refused to condemn to death or pass judgment on the woman
caught in adultery (Jn. 8:[11]) although the law upholds such judgment.
Neither can a Christian do so with God’s approval even though the
office of the ruler demands it. For “just as the Father sent me into the
world,” says Christ, “so send I you.”30 If Christ was not sent into the
world to reign as a worldly king, prince or lord, or an authority using
force, sword and splendor, much less are we. For he says, “the servant
shall not be greater than his lord, nor the messenger than he who sent
him” (Jn. 13:[16]); it is enough if he is like his master.


Lee Chapel

 2009/12/15 16:49Profile

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