While Jesus was Peaceful and Loving, was He a Pacifist? Pt 1

March 15, 2014 at 8:26 PM 1 comment

Shedding light on problematic passages.

Shedding light on problematic passages.

Most people – when they think of Jesus – think of a Person who was a man of peace and love. They also usually go one better and claim that He was a pacifist. They point to the fact that when soldiers beat or spit on Him, He did not retaliate in kind. He was a gentle Person yet He was powerful as well.

I recall a few years back talking with an atheist who was convinced he had found a surefire way to prove that every Christian is a hypocrite. He would simply go up to a person who claimed to be a Christian and ask them to give him $500 or $1,000. Without fail, one Christian after another refused. He would then point out that they were hypocrites because Jesus stated that Christians were to give to those who asked, citing Matthew 5, which is part of the well-known passage we call the Sermon on the Mount.

During our talk, he also bragged that he could slap me and if I was truly a Christian, I would not be able to respond in kind. He never said he had actually slapped someone who claimed to be a Christian, but said he could do that and if they did not offer the other cheek, that also proved their hypocrisy.

For this guy, he thought he had it down pat. He was convinced that every Christian was a hypocrite. In actuality, I could have told him that yes, every Christian is a hypocrite simply because when someone becomes an authentic Christian (based on John 3, in which Jesus explains to Nicodemus the need for being “born again” or “born from above”), that person does not become perfect from that point forward. Sins are still committed before that person dies. There is still the need to confess those sins to God, agreeing with Him that the sins were grievous to Him and wrong.

But our atheist friend was really trying to find a way that would let him off the hook. He believed (and still does, I’m sure) that if he could so easily prove that Christians are hypocrites, then Christianity in and of itself is not genuine. Unfortunately, he misses the main point altogether, but maybe one day, God will open his eyes and like the thief on the cross, he will see the truth.

Regarding the supposed pacifism of Jesus, what can be said about that? Was Jesus a pacifist and taught His followers to be as well? If so, there are some contradictory passages in Scripture where He actually says other things to His disciples that make it appear as though He wants His disciples and followers to be able to protect themselves and their families from evil people. How do we marry these two seemingly differing ideas?

I’ve been doing a good deal of studying in original languages and the Jewish culture. It’s been a while since I’ve been involved in the original Greek and Hebrew so I’ve had to rely and look to others who are expert in those areas. I have come to believe over the course of numerous years of studying the Bible, that if Christians fail to grasp the culture of Jesus’ time, we will fail to grasp important aspects of the Bible.

The Bible was ultimately written by God as Peter notes (2 Peter 1:21), who used individuals to write down what He ultimately wanted stated. The people He used were primarily Jewish. Others who were not understood Jewish culture very well because they traveled in it.

Here in the U.S., the culture is western. We don’t speak Koine Greek or Hebrew. We do not understand the Jewish mindset or culture. Because of that, we can easily miss the meaning of Scripture because we simply aren’t familiar with Jewish idioms, or Hebrew poetic language. Not knowing these things can be a roadblock in truly understanding God’s Word.

Moreover, two authors (David Bivin and Roy Blizzard, Jr.), believe like many others, that the at the very least, the Gospels of the New Testament were originally written in Hebrew, not Greek. They were then translated into Greek and from there, translated into English. If much of New Testament was largely written originally in Hebrew, it would lose certain nuances when translated into Greek and lose some more when translated in English.

In their book – “Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus” – they discuss all the reasons why they believe they are on a strong foundation in believing that at least some of the New Testament was actually originally written in Hebrew, then translated into Greek. Their short book is jammed with evidence to support their claim. The six chapters are listed as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. An Examination of the Aramaic and Greek Theories
  3. Recent Linguistic Research
  4. Extra-Biblical Evidence for Hebrew
  5. The Evidence of the Gospel Texts Themselves
  6. Theological Error Due to Mistranslation

Their work appears thorough even if their book is slightly more than 130 pages total. The authors themselves appear to be quite qualified to present such a book. David Bivin is founder and director of Jerusalem Perspective, an independent Christian ministry in Jerusalem. He is a member of the Jewish School of Synoptic Research. Though born in the U.S., he relocated to Israel in 1963 where he studied at the Hebrew University (history and literature). From 1970 to 1981 he directed the Hebrew Language Division of the Institute of Holy Land Studies and has taught courses on Hebrew.

Roy B. Blizzard, Jr. is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He has a Ph.D. in Hebrew Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. For six years he was an Instructor in Hebrew, Biblical History, and Biblical Archaeology at the University of Texas at Austin. He has studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel and worked on archaeological digs in Israel as well.

These two gentlemen appear well-equipped to present their findings to us and we can and should benefit from their research. Next time, we will delve into some of the specifics of what these men have to say and how if may well change the way you understand some of the most familiar passages of the Gospels. Join me then!

Entry filed under: Judaism, Religious - Christian - Theology.

Liberal leftists can always be counted on to add nothing to the conversation While Jesus was Peaceful and Loving, was He a Pacifist? Pt 2

1 Comment

  • 1. Lester  |  March 16, 2014 at 8:02 AM

    Very good point. Most religious scholars seem to skip over the original languages and the customs of ancient eastern life. I also see the Chaldean as the major influence on Hebrew, Abraham coming out as it where from UR. We know very little about how these ancient people communicated a deeper meaning into each others lives. When we look at cuneiform , hieroglyphics, and even the Hebrew and Chinese letters we can see the pictorial in the letters as apposed to the Greek to English European style. This puts a whole different slant on the Bible and many of the scriptures are more in the poetic, parable and allegoric meanings. Without the Spirit of God how can anyone see past the literal English words?


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