Posted by: sean | September 1, 2007

Why didn’t John the Baptist Rebuke the Soldiers?

the following is taken from  page 41 of War Inconsistent with the Religion of Jesus Christ by David Low Dodge (published in 1815).  Mr. Dodge founded the first peace society ever organized in America or in the world and was its first president (The New York Peace Society).  His book in its entirety can be read in .pdf or .html formats on the website.

John the Baptist did not Rebuke the Soldiers

by David Low Dodge

Objection.  When the soldiers demanded of John the Baptist what they should do, one of the directions that he gave them was to be content with their wages.  If their occupation had been unlawful, then he would not have directed them to be contented with the wages of wickedness.

Answer.  John the Baptist was under the Mosaic economy, the new dispensation not having commenced.  He was only the forerunner of the Lord, a herald to sound his approach.  But he gave the soldiers another direction, i.e. to “do violence to no man,” obedience to which is totally incompatible with war, as that is nothing else but violence.  Only hinder soldiers from doing violence to any man and you stop at once the whole progress of war.  Therefore, if the directions of John are insisted on as gospel authority, then they will prove much more against the lawfulness of war than in favor of it.


  1. Indeed, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus first explained the Jesuanic covenant. Before this one can only see hints of God’s ultimate purpose. Now Jesus makes the the truth plain by dispelling the shadow of the Law via God’s holy illumination.

    Matthew 5:43-48
    43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ 44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

    John the Baptist never heard these life giving words. He was already in prison (Matt 4.12). Even so, we live on the other side of this great covenantal change (Heb 7.12). We dare not revert to another teacher than the very son of God when thinking about how we should live. Afterall, Jesus is only our Lord if we in fact do what he says (Luke 6.46).

  2. One thing i might add to this subject is the fact that many modern translations render the text to say “Don’t extort money” instead of “do violence to no man.”

    The word here used for either violence or extort is “diaseiō” and most lexicons define it:
    1. to shake thoroughly
    2. to make to tremble
    3. to terrify
    4. to agitate
    5. to extort from one by intimidation money or other property

    This is the only time the word is used in the scriptures and for some reason older translations use the word violence while newer ones use the word extort. I suppose why this is translated this way is that the translators see the focus of the section about money and possessions.
    He told the multitudes in verse 11″ `He having two coats — let him impart to him having none, and he having victuals — in like manner let him do.’
    the tax-collectors in verse 13:`Exact no more than that directed you.’
    and the solders in verse 14: ‘be content with your wages.’
    So i can see the point of using the extortion word, but it can be much as easily be translated violence in general.

    I’ve read that the first definition “to shake violently” is the literal translation of the word. John also takes a second to depart from the covetous theme of the q&a section to tell them not to lie as well.

    I think, as far as the translation of this word between violence in general or specific to extortion we just might have a stalemate here, it can go either way. We must fall back and the point that Sean has raised on Luke 6.46 about Jesus being our Lord.

  3. This is only one example of professional soldiers coming face to face with the gospel. There is Cornelius, and others. Nowhere are they instructed to stop being professional soldiers and kill people. I think that would’ve been the first, most important thing sticking out, for them to do, but it’s not mentioned.

  4. as i have come to understand, that those under satans rule are used by God as His agents of anger, as He used the Roman Empire as His army to Punish Jerusalem in 70 AD and Assyria towards the Hebrews then also the Hebrews while yes still under bondage to sin.God has sovereignty over everyone while everyone still having free will. God states that those whom are still unbelievers were given such authority from above to do His Will such as Pilate to keep such sinners at bay and in order. but as Christians we are not under such rule anymore but Under God who ordains and anoints us for a different purpose, we Have our own Kingdom, government, authority and disciplinary actions. Jesus Christ as our king and example came to spiritually liberate us, correct us and save us and not condemn us. This was the Will of Father who sent Him and we must continue the same Will as Jesus sent us back to perform.

    once Father enables one spiritually through the Gospel to Believe they will have to cease from such activity as they are no longer under satan and will not be used by God as such an agent because we are spiritually alive, given a new mind and heart(filled with Gods love) and are under Christ’s Law in a new Priesthood. Even though it was not directly stated it was shown in Jesus’ teachings and commands through out the Gospels, Acts and Epistles just as Him being God and the Messiah was not at first directly stated. His teachings shown to not resist the enemy nor try to destroy them. Jesus disarmed Peter and with His admonishment towards everyone of the contrary acts of Peter disarmed all those who are to deny themselves, pick up their cross and follow Jesus. the sword we are to carry was not meant towards people, but as we all know if your going to travel in the wilderness your going to come upon predators, no different if i was walking down the street and came across an aggressive dog, and i am sure we have all been in that situation.

    sense people seem to twist teachings to paint a false picture of Christ then see His actions and of His first Century we are to imitate the first Church of Judea.they will practice what they preach and live by what they teach.Even Jesus told the Pharisees that if you do not believe in what i say then believe the works of Father. so in the same sense if you do not believe in what someone says about Jesus and His entrusted Apostles see their actions within the Words of God so you can visually see what the Will of Father is.

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