What Does The Bible Say About War

What Does The Bible Say About War?

The Bible has very strong teachings about war and combat. It is not a pacifist text, but instead advocates for both justice and caution. Ultimately, the Bible offers an important moral or ethical framework for Christian believers when confronted with questions about war and peace.
In the Old Testament, there is abundant prophetic material condemning war, with strong warnings and dire punishments for those who start them. The prophets condemned those who initiated war, declaring that only justice and righteousness could bring peace (Isaiah 9:7).
The Bible, however, also describes stories where God commanded the Israelites to enter war, such as in the Book of Joshua 9:1-2. This is illustrative of the belief that war can be a just and necessary action, where the enemy is driven off and the people of God can live in peace and security.
Nevertheless, the Old Testament did not condone any war as absolutely right or just. Instead, it described a set of looming divine punishments that would manifest if a nation was too aggressive. God would determine when a war was “just” and would intervene when it crossed a certain moral threshold.
In the New Testament, Jesus taught the disciples to love their enemies and pray for those who persecuted them (Matthew 5:44). This is a presentation of a pacifist attitude, with Jesus strongly advocating for non-violent solutions over violent ones.
However, Jesus also spoke of a kingdom that could never be destroyed, implying that God’s kingdom might require the use of war in order to defend it. Jesus also spoke of the horrors of war and destruction associated with the coming of the Kingdom of God, and he noted that those who lived by the sword would die by the sword (Matthew 26:52).
Nevertheless, Jesus ultimately speaks of love, grace, and forgiveness as being primary tools for bringing about justice and peace. The Old Testament itself supports this, noting that a just war is only one of several possible options for ensuring justice and peace. All options should be considered before making a decision about whether or not to enter a war.
The Bible, then, provides a variety of perspectives on war, from calling for strong self-defense in certain circumstances, to reminding us of the importance of avoiding violence through love, grace, and forgiveness. Ultimately, the Bible offers guidance and wisdom to Christian believers contemplating engaging in war.

The Just War Theory

The Just War Theory, a moral justification for war, has played an important role in religious, legal, and political thought for centuries and is a framework taken from the Bible. According to this theory, it is possible for a state to enter into a war that is both just and necessary.
At its core, the Just War Theory proposes that war can be just and waged under specific conditions. The conditions include persecution, the righting of a wrong, the right to self-defence, and the preservation of rights or property. It further stipulates that war can only be initiated by the proper authorities and in accordance with internationally accepted regulations and laws.
The Just War Theory has been used by Christian theologians over the centuries to provide a moral rationale for engaging in war. With its core principles taken from the Bible, Just War Theory is offered as an assurance that war is not always wrong or evil, but can be used as a necessary and just tool for accomplishing good.
In the modern era, debates continue to surround the application of Just War Theory and its ethical framework. The holistic framework of the Just War Theory encourages moral and ethical thinking when considering whether a war is just or not, and it is an important reminder that war should only be resorted to when all other methods have been exhausted.

Non-Violent Resistance

The Bible also speaks heavily of non-violent resistance and its potential for achieving justice and liberation. Jesus’ teachings of loving your enemies, as noted before, instructs Christians to reject violence as a primary means of resolving disputes.
Jesus advocated for peaceful resistance as a way of demonstrating justice, which was strengthened by the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement in the US. Christian leaders since have continued to advocate for non-violence as a tool for bringing about social and political change.
Non-violent resistance is framed around several core principles, including the rejection of force, the practice of non-violence, the belief in non-violent action leading to change, and the pursuit of justice and fairness over retribution. As a source of guidance and ethics, the Bible is a valuable resource for considering the moral implications of engaging in non-violent actions and discerning how best to make use of non-violent practices.
The nonviolent resistance shown by members of the civil rights movement, and later by Gandhi, showed the power of civil disobedience and the willingness of ordinary people to make extraordinary sacrifices for justice and peace. This kind of determination and courage can be seen in the biblical teachings about non-violent resistance, and those teachings continue to be an inspiration for activists today.


Much of the discussion around war over the centuries has been rooted in religious beliefs and the moral codes which religions provide. The Bible, with its complex and layered teachings about war and combat, provides an important framework for Christians to consider before engaging in war.
The Bible upholds the principle of Just War Theory and advocates for justice and caution when engaging in war. It also stresses the importance of non-violence and peaceful resistance as an effective way of pushing for change and justice without necessarily resorting to violence.
Ultimately, the Bible provides an ethical and moral foundation which drives the Christian perspective on war, emphasizing the complexity and moral considerations which need to be taken into account when grappling with questions around war and peace.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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