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Full text of "The Early Christian Attitude to War: A Contribution to the History of Christian Ethics"

The Online Library of Liberty 

A Project Of Liberty Fund, Inc. 



John Cecil Cadoux, The Early Christian Attitude to War 

[1919] 



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The Online Library Of Liberty I" 1 1" I Y 

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Online Library of Liberty: The Early Christian Attitude to War 



THE EARLY CHRISTIAN 
ATTITUDE TO WAR 

A CONTRIBUTION TO THE 
HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN ETHICS 



C. JOHN CADOUX 



M.A.. D.D. limit'. KA »™> 



WITH A FO&EWOID BY THE 

Rev. W. £, ORCHARD, n u. 



MJNKUM , 

HKADLEV BROS. PUBLISHERS, LTD. 
11 OfltPOfcD STMtT. W. I. 



Edition Used: 

The Early Christian Attitude to War: A Contribution to the History of Christian 
Ethics, with a Foreword by the Rev. W.E. Orchard, D.D. (London: Headly Bros, 
1919). 

Author: John Cecil Cadoux 

Foreword: Rev. William Edwin Orchard 

About This Title: 

Published shortly after the First World War, this book is an examination of Christian 
ethics regarding war and peace which begins with the teachings of Jesus and 
continues through the first 2 centuries of the Christian era. 



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Online Library of Liberty: The Early Christian Attitude to War 



About Liberty Fund: 

Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the 
study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals. 

Copyright Information: 

The text is in the public domain. 

Fair Use Statement: 

This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. 
Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may 
be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way 
for profit. 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 



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Online Library of Liberty: The Early Christian Attitude to War 



Table Of Contents 

Foreword 

Chronological Table 

List of Abbreviations and Explanations 

The Early Christian Attitude to War: Introduction 

Part I: The Teaching of Jesus 

Part II: Forms of the Early Christian Disapproval of War 

Part III: Forms of the Early Christian Acceptance of War 

Part IV: Summary and Conclusion 



To MY WIFE 



O glorious Will of God, unfold 

The splendour of Thy Way, 

And all shall love as they behold 

And loving shall obey, 

Consumed each meaner care and claim 

In the new passion's holy flame. 

O speed the hours when o'er the world 

The vision's fire shall run; 

Night from his ancient throne is hurled, 

Uprisen is Christ the Sun; 

Through human wills by Thee controlled, 

Spreads o'er the earth the Age of Gold. 



Rev. G. Darlaston. 



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[Back to Table of Contents] 

FOREWORD 

This is a book which stands in need of no introduction; it will make its own way by 
the demand for such a work, and by the exact and patient scholarship with which that 
demand has here been met. For we have no work in this country which effectively 
covers this subject; Harnack's Militia Christi has not been translated, but it will 
probably be found that the present work fills its place. 

But it is not only the need for this work (of which scholars will be aware), but the 
serious importance of the subject, which will make the book welcome. Argument for 
and against the Christian sanction of war has had to be conducted in the past few 
years in an atmosphere in which the truth has had small chance of emerging. Dr. 
Cadoux has his own convictions on this subject, which he makes no attempt to 
conceal; he believes that he is supported by the early uncorrupted instincts of 
Christianity, which here he sets out before us; but his personal conviction has never 
been allowed to conceal facts or make them out to be other than they are. He not only 
gives all the evidence on the opposite side, but he everywhere allows for influences 
and motives which might weaken the force of the facts which seem to support his own 
position. The work is impartial in the only way such a work ever can be, not because 
the author is without convictions, but because he has a profound reverence for truth 
and possesses a keen scholarly conscience. 

Here, then, is a survey of the early Christian attitude towards war which must be read 
and pondered. It takes us back to a time when life seems, at least to us, less 
complicated; it shows us faith working largely through instinct, often reinforced by 
crude thinking and poor reasoning, and yet faith which was prepared to pay the price 
of life itself, and an instinct which is deeply planted in our humanity, namely the 
instinct against bloodshed, unsophisticated by argument. Few will be able to read the 
story without feeling that here as on other subjects the Christian faith was acting more 
purely and powerfully than ever since. We need not hold that Christendom has been 
one long story of relapse and apostasy to be able to recognize the essentially 
supernatural gift not only in Christ our Lord, but in the classical prime of Christianity, 
with its glorious apostles, saints, and martyrs. Those early days will ever speak to us, 
however much farther we may progress; to them we must return again and again, not 
necessarily to discover a final and fixed standard, either for thought or practice, but 
certainly whenever we want to renew our faith and see again the vision of what 
Christianity was meant to be. 

Whether the evidence of the early Christian attitude can provide any guidance for 
Christians in the twentieth century is a question into which other considerations have 
to enter. Dr. Cadoux has effectually shown that the false apocalyptic hopes of those 
times did not determine the attitude taken up; he has not shown, as I think he might, 
how a translation of that apocalyptic hope into the belief in the swift possibility of 
great moral change and spiritual advance, is one sanctioned by modern thought, and 
provides again that atmosphere of expectation and faith in which alone great 
adventures can be made; he has preferred to keep the whole subject free from any 



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such entanglement. But he has shown how an uncritical view of the Old Testament 
revelation tended to embarrass and corrupt the pure Christian instinct on the subject of 
war. This view, save for one or two recent examples of adoption for war emergencies, 
has now almost totally disappeared; and since a humaner belief concerning God's 
methods of purgation in another world is demanded by the enlightened conscience, 
we are left with that first Christian instinct about war only further supported by 
modern belief; and this, it should be noted, without reducing God's love to mere 
leniency and sentimentality. God has His ways of punishing, but they are as different 
from man's as the heavens are higher than the earth; and where man's most 
conspicuously fail, there is ground for hope that God's will in the end succeed. 

The only real objection which can be urged against the revival of the early Christian 
attitude is that Christianity has accepted the State, and that this carries with it the 
necessity for coercive discipline within and the waging of war without; in which 
disagreeable duties Christians must as citizens take their part. To refuse this will 
expose civilization to disaster. It may perhaps serve to provoke reflection to notice in 
passing that this was the argument of Celsus and is the general attitude which 
determines German thought on this subject. The truth is that the way of war, if 
persisted in, is going to destroy civilization anyhow, and the continual demand for 
war service will, sooner or later, bring the modern State to anarchy. It would be wise 
also for Christian leaders and thinkers not to imagine that the problem of war is going 
to be solved without this disagreeable question of Christian condemnation, and of 
individual refusal to take part in it, having first to be settled. It is unlikely that we 
shall be relieved of this moral decision, or that the great menace will be removed 
without some advance of Christian opinion, which will have to be taken first by 
individuals and then by the Church, incurring in the process the hatred of the world 
and the hostility of the State. The real principle for which the early martyrs died has 
yet to be established; and we cannot be sure that it will be at less price. 

Here, then, is a subject on which we need clear light, and this excellent piece of 
research certainly brings considerable illumination; it is a subject that will not cease to 
vex the Church until we have decided either to make as unequivocal a condemnation 
of war as we have of slavery, or to abandon altogether any profession of whole- 
hearted allegiance to the Christian faith. 

w. e. orchard. 



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[Back to Table of Contents] 

CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE 

Names of Emperors are printed in Capitals. 

Many of the dates given are conjectural or approximate. Where two figures are given, 
they indicate either the limits of a reign or the probable termini between which the 
date of an event or a composition falls. 

In the case of martyrdoms, it is to be noted that the written Acta do not always date 
from immediately after the events they narrate. The Acta quoted however usually 
contain for the most part early and reliable material. 

A.D. 

14 Death of AUGUSTUS. 

14-37 TIBERIUS. 

29 Crucifixion of Jesus. 

37-41 GAIUS (CALIGULA). 

?40 Conversion of the centurion Cornelius. 

41-54 CLAUDIUS. 

41 Martyrdom of James, the son of Zebedee. 

47 Paul preaches to Sergius Paulus, proconsul of Cyprus. 

49 Conversion of the gaoler of Philippi. 

50-61 The extant Epistles of Paul. 

54-68 NERO. 

?62 The Epistle of James. 

64 Fire at Rome; Nero persecutes the Christians. 

The Martyrdom of Peter and Paul at Rome. 

64-70 The Gospel of Mark. 

The Pastoral Epistles (? of Paul), i.e. 1 and 2 Tim. and 

Tit. 
The Epistle to the 
Hebrews. 

The (First) Epistle of Peter. 

68-69 GALBA : OTHO : VITELLIUS. 

69-79 VESPASIANUS. 

66 Outbreak of Jewish War against Rome. 

?67 Christians of Jerusalem withdraw to Pella. 

70 Jerusalem captured by the Romans. 



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A.D. 

70-80 The Gospel of 'Matthew. ' 

The Gospel and Acts of Luke. 
?75 The Epistle of 'Barnabas' (Egypt). 

79-81 TITUS. 
80-90 The Didakhe (Syria). 
81-96 DOMITIANUS. 
93 The Apocalypse of John (Asia Minor). 

?94 The (First) Epistle of Clemens of Rome to the Corinthians. 

96-98 NERVA. 
98-117 TRAJANUS. 

100 The Vision of Isaiah (= Ascension of Isaiah vi-xi. 40) 

100-1 10 The Fourth Gospel (Asia Minor). 

The Johannine Epistles (Asia Minor). 
?1 10 The Epistles (Asia Minor) and martyrdom (Rome) of Ignatius of Antioch. 
? 1 1 The Epistle of Polukarpos of Smyrna to the Philippians. 
1 1 _ The Correspondence between Plinius and Trajanus about the Christians of 

Bithynia. 
117-138 HADRIANUS. 
1 10-130 The apocryphal Gospel of Peter. 
?130-150The 'Elders' cited by Eirenaios. 
138-161 ANTONINUS PIUS. 
140 The Shepherd of Hermas (Italy). 

140-141 The Apology of Aristeides (Athens). 
144-154 Markion flourished (Italy). 
?150 The so-called Second Epistle of Clemens of Rome. 

The so-called Second Epistle of Peter. 

The Epistle to Diognetos. 
153 The Apology of Justinus (usually reckoned as two) (Rome). 

?154 (before 165) Tatianus' Address to the Greeks (Rome). 
155 The martyrdom of Polukarpos at Smyrna. 

155-160 Justinus' Dialogue with Truphon the Jew. 
? Justinus' On the Resurrection. 

? 1 60 The apocryphal Acts of John. 
161-180 MARCUS AURELIUS. 
160-170 The apocryphal Acts of Paul. 

161-169 The martyrdom of Karpos, Papulos, and Agathonike at Pergamus. 
163-167 The martyrdom of Justinus and his companions at Rome. 
?170 The Excerpta ex Theodoto. 

1 „ . The incident of the so-called 'Thundering Legion.' 

177-180 Athenagoras' Legatio pro Christianis (? Athens) and De Resurrections. 
Celsus' True Discourse. 



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A.D. 

177-178 Persecution at Lugdunum (Lyons) in Gaul. 

180-192 COMMODUS. 

1 80 

, T , N Martyrdom of the Scillitans. 

(July) 

?1 8 1 Theophilos of Antioch's Ad Autolycum. 

180-185 Martyrdom of the Senator Apollonius (Rome). 

181-189 Eirenaios' Adversus Haereses (Lyons). 

Clemens of Alexandria's Logos Protrepticus. 
91 Qn Eirenaios' Proof of the Apostolic Preaching (quoted in footnotes as 

Demons tr) (Lyons). 
170-200 Pseudo-Justinus' Oration to the Greeks. 
193 PERTINAX, etc. 

193-211 SEPTIMIUS SEVERUS. 

195 Julius Africanus serves under Severus in an expedition to Osrhoene. 

1 97 Tertullianus' Ad Martyr es. 

Tertullianus' Ad Nationes. 

Tertullianus' Apologeticus. 
198-203 Tertullianus' De Spectaculis. 

Tertullianus' De Cultu Feminarum. 

Tertullianus' De Baptismo. 

Tertullianus' De Paenitentia. 

Tertullianus' De Patientia. 

Tertullianus' De Oratione. 

Tertullianus' De Idololatria. 

Tertullianus' De Praescriptione Haereticorum. 

Tertullianus' Adversus Judaeos. 
190-210 Clemens' Stromateis. 
190-200 Clemens' Paedagogus. 
?200 Pseudo-Justinus' Cohortatio ad Gentiles. 
200 Hippolutos' De Antichristo. 
200-210 Hippolutos' treatise against Noetos. 
203 Hippolutos' Commentary on Daniel. 

203 Martyrdom of Perpetua, etc., at Carthago. 

?205 Clemens' Quis Dives Salvetur? 
204-206 Tertullianus' De Exhortatione Castitatis. 
207 Tertullianus becomes a Montanist. 

200-220 The apocryphal Acts of Peter. 
208-213 Tertullianus' Adversus Marcionem. 

Tertullianus' DeAnima. 

210 Tertullianus ' De Pallio. 

211-217 CARACALLA and (211-212) GETA. 

211 Tertullianus' De Resurrectione Carnis. 



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A.D. 

Tertullianus' De Corona Militis. 



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A.D. 
21 1-212 Tertullianus' De Fuga in Persecutione. 

212 Tertullianus' Ad Scapulam. 

213 Tertullianus' Scorpiace. 

?215 Pseudo-Meliton's Apology to Antoninus (i.e. Caracalla) (in Syriac). 

217-218MACRTNUS. 

218 Tertullianus' De Monogamia. 

Tertullianus' De Jejunio. 
2 1 8-222 ELAGAB ALUS . 
?220 Hippolutos' Canons. 
220 Tertullianus' De Pudicitia. 
222-235 ALEXANDER SEVERUS. 

Julius Africanus' Kecmi. 
„„. The Bardesanic Book of the Laws of the Countries (otherwise called The 

Dialogue on Fate). 
226 Hippolutos' Refutatio omnium haeresium. 
228-230 Origenes' De Principiis. 
233 Origenes' De Oratione. 
235-238 MAXIMINUS THRAX. 
235 Origenes' Homilies on Judges. 

Origenes' Exhortation to Martyrdom. 
238 GORDIANUS I, II, etc. 
238-244 GORDIANUS III. 
230-250 The apocryphal Acts of Thomas. 
238-248 Minucius Felix' Octavius. 

241 Gregorios Thaumatourgos' Panegyric on Origenes. 

243 Pseudo-Cyprianus' De Pascha Computus. 
244-249 PHILIPPUS ARABS. 

944 Origenes' Homilies on Numbers. 

Origenes' Commentary on Romans. 

247 Cyprianus' Ad Donatum. 

Cyprianus' Ad Quirinum Testimoniorum adversus Judaeos libritres. 
247-265 Dionusios of Alexandria's letters and other writings. 

248 Origenes' Contra Celsum. 

249 Cyprianus' De Habitu Virginum. 
249-251 DECIUS. Persecution. 
250-258 Cyprianus' Epistles. 
249-250 Origenes' Homilies on Joshua. 

250 Cyprianus' De Lau de Marty rii. 
?250 Commodianus' Instructiones. 

Commodianus' Carmen Apologeticum.Didaskalia (Syria). 
250 Martyrdom of Pionios at Smyrna. 



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A.D. 

Trial of Achatius at Antioch in Pisidia. 

251 Cyprianus' DeLapsis. 

25 1-253 GALLUS and VOLUSIANUS. 

252 Cyprianus' Ad Demetrianum. 
Cyprianus' De Dominica Oratione. 

253-60 VALERIANUS. 

253-254 Cyprianus' De Mortalitate. 

254 Gregorios Thaumatourgos' Canonical Epistle (Pontus). 

?255 Novatianus' (?) De Spectaculis. 

Pseudo-Cyprianus' Quod Idola Dii non sint. 

256 Pseudo-Cyprianus' De Rebaptismate. 
Cyprianus' De Bono Patientiae. 
Cyprianus' De Zelo etLivore. 

257 Cyprianus' Ad Fortunatum de exhortatione martyrii. 

258 Martyrdom of Cyprianus (Carthago). 

259 (Jan.) Martyrdom of Fructuosus (Spain). 

(May) Martyrdom of Montanus and Lucius (Carthago). 
(May) Martyrdom of Marianus and Jacobus (Numidia). 



i JFnniiH'Ayti/OS'iaii!. 



260-268 GALLIENUS. Edict of Toleration. 

260 Martyrdom of the soldier Marinus at Caesarea. 

The Periodoi Petrou, which are lost, but of which the Clementine Homilies 
265 and the Clementine Recognitions are later abridgements, and to which the 

so-called Epistles of Clemens and Peter to James were originally prefixed. 
268-270 CLAUDIUS II. 
270-275 AURELIANUS. 

272 Paulus of Samosata ejected from the see of Antioch by the secular power. 
275-284 TACITUS, etc., etc. 

284-305 DIOCLETIANUS and (286-305) MAXIMIANUS. 
270-300 Methodios' Symposium (Olympus in Lycia). 

Writings of Victorinus, bishop of Petavium (Petau). 
293 Constantius Chlorus and Galerius made Caesars. 

Martyrdom of Maximilianus at Teveste in Numidia for refusing to be a 

soldier. 
298 Martyrdom of Marcellus and Cassianus at Tingi in Mauretania. 
?300 The Synod of Illiberis (Elvira in Spain). 

Galerius tries to purge the army of Christians. 
303 Outbreak of the Great Persecution. 
? Martyrdom of the veteran Julius in Moesia. 



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A.D. 

304 (April) Martyrdom of Pollio in Pannonia. 
(Oct.) Martyrdom of Tarakhos, etc., in Cilicia. 
Diocletianus and Maximianus resign, leaving GALERIUS and 

305 CONSTANTIUS as Augusti, and Maximinus Daza and Severus as 
Caesars. 

305 or later (Jan.) Martyrdom of Typasius in Mauretania. 

305 Lactantius' De Opificio Dei. 

Lactantius' Divinae Institutiones. 

Lactantius' De Ira Dei. 

Constantius dies at York: Constantinus becomes Caesar in the West. 

Maxentius supplants Severus in Italy. 
304-310 Arnobius' Adversus Nationes. 
300-3 13 'Adamantios' Dialogus de Recta Fidei. 

Eusebios' Praeparatio Evangelica. 
307 LICINIUS made Augustus by Galerius. 

CONSTANTINUS assumes the title of Augustus. 

309 (Jan.) Martyrdom of Quirinus in Pannonia. 

3 1 MAXIMINUS DAZA becomes Augustus. 

311 Death of Galerius. 

312 (Jan.) Martyrdom of Lucianus at Nicomedia. 
300-325? The Egyptian Church-Order. 

Constantinus adopts the sign of the cross in his campaign against 

Maxentius. 

Maxentius defeated at the Milvian Bridge, and slain. 

313 (Jan.) Constantinus and Licinius issue the Edict of Milan. 

Licinius defeats Maximinus Daza in Thrace and publishes the Edict of 
Milan at Nicomedia. Suicide of Daza at Tarsus. 
, 1 . , 1 . Eusebios completes his Church History (including The Martyrs of 
Palestine). 

Lactantius inserts the panegyrical addresses to Constantinus in his Divinae 
Institutiones (I i. 13-16, VII xxvi. 1 1-17, and four brief apostrophes in II i. 
2,IVi. I,Vi, 1, VI hi. I). 

314 Lactantius' De Morte Persecutorum. 
Synod of Are late (Aries) in Gaul. 

320f Licinius persecutes the Christians. 

Martyrdom of Theogenes and Marcellinus, and of the Forty Martyrs of 

Sebaste. 
323 Licinius defeated by Constantinus, captured, and shortly afterwards slain. 

CONSTANTINUS sole Emperor. 
325 Council of Nicaea. 

A.D. 
330-340 Acta Disputationis Archelai. 
336 St. Martinus of Tours leaves the army. 



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iij-j.li-' oiiKSTwriNr;* n 

.;;.?- 3 S'i CON3TAHS. 
;;;:■ .;6j CONST ASTIUS. 



337-339 Eusebios' Life ofConstantinus. 

Letter of Athanasios to Ammonios (Amun) 
?350 pronouncing slaughter in warfare legal 

(Migne PG xxvi. 1 169 f, 1 173). 
36 1-363 JULIANUS, the last pagan Emperor. 

363 ff JOVIANUS, etc., etc., etc. 

Gregorios of Nazianzus complains of the 

character of soldiers. 

„ . n __, The Testament of Our Lord (Syria or S.E. 

350-375 . . .,. 

Asia Minor). 

„ St. Victricius (later archbishop of Rouen) 

leaves the army. 

Basilios the Great recommends that soldiers 
374 who have shed blood should abstain from 

communion for three years. 
375-400 The Apostolic Constitutions. 

^86 ^87 Ambrosius of Milan declares the 

rightfulness of military service. 
, Qn Johannes Khrusostomos (Chrysostom) 



complains of the character of soldiers. 
Paulinus c 
the army. 



. nn Paulinus of Nola persuades a friend to leave 



Augustinus argues for the legitimacy of 

military service for Christians in Contra 

Faustum Manichaeum. 

412 and in a letter to Marcellinus. 

Non-Christians forbidden by law to serve in 

416 A 

the army. 

418 Augustinus' letter to Bonifacius. 



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[Back to Table of Contents] 

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS AND EXPLANATIONS 

Ac The Book of the Acts of the Apostles (70-80 A.D.). 

Acta Disput Ac hat The Acta Disputationis Achatii (250 A.D.) (in Gebhardt, q.v.). 

Acts of Apollonius (180-185 A.D.) (in Conybeare and Gebhardt). 

, The anonymous Dialogus de Recta Fidei (300-3 13 A.D.), in which the chief 

speaker is Adamantios (? = Origenes). 
Anal Analecta Bollandiana (a selection of martyr- acts). Paris and Brussels, 1882 
Bolland ff. 

The Ante-Nicene Christian Library: translations of the writings of the 
ANCL Fathers down to A.D. 325. Edited by Roberts and Donaldson. Edinburgh, 

1867-1872. 
Ap The Apocalypse of John (about 93 A.D.). 

. . Aristeides' Apology (about 140 A.D.). The section is given, and, in brackets, 

the page in Texts and Studies I 1 . 
Arnob Arnobius' Adversus Nationes (304-3 10 A.D.). 



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Barn The (so-called) Epistle of Barnabas (?75 A.D.). 

B.Baker The Influence of Christianity on War, by J. F. Bethune-Baker. Cambridge, 

ICW 1888. 

Geschichte der christlichen Sitte, by H. J. Bestmann. 2 vols. Nordlingen, 



Bestmann 



1880, 1885. 



. 1 . Die Beteiligung der Christen am offentlichen Leben in 
~ l " vorkonstantinischer Zeit, by Andreas Bigelmair. Munich, 1902. 



Blunt 



The Apologies of Justin Martyr, by A.W.F. Blunt (Cambridge Patristic 



lClem 



Texts). Cambridge, 1911. 
Can Arel Canons of the Synod of Ar elate (Aries) (314 A.D.) (in Hefele, q.v.). 
r .... Canons of the Synod ofllliberis (Elvira) (?300 A.D.) (in Hefele and Dale, 

q.v.). 

The (so-called) first Epistle of Clemens of Rome to the Corinthians (about 

94 A.D.). 

2 Clem The (so-called second) Epistle of Clemens of Rome (about 150 A.D.). 
Clem Ep The so-called Epistle of Clemens to James, prefixed to the Clementine 
Jas Homilies (265 A.D.). 

Clem Horn The Clementine Homilies (see 265 A.D. in the Chronological Table). 

, Clemens of Alexandria's Paedagogus (190-200 A.D.). 

Clem 
Protr 

Clem Ouis 

_. Clemens of Alexandria's Quis Dives Salvetur? (circ. 205 A.D.). 

Dives ^ 

Clem 

Recog 

Clem 

Strom 

Col Paul's Epistle to the Colossians. 



Clemens of Alexandria's Logos Protrepticus (180-190 A.D.). 



The Clementine Recognitions (see 265 A.D. in the Chronological Table). 
Clemens of Alexandria's Stromateis (190-210 A.D.). 



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Conybeare 



The Apology and Acts ofApollonius, and other Monuments of Early 

Christianity, by F. C. Conybeare. London, 1894. 
Cooper and The Testament of our Lord: translated into English from the Syriac, by 
Maclean Jas. Cooper and A. J. Maclean. Edinburgh, 1902. 
1 Cor, 2 Cor Paul's First and Second Epistles to the Corinthians. 

Christianity and Politics, by Rev. W. Cunningham, Archdeacon of Ely. 



Cunningham 



London, 1916. 

Cyprianus' De Bono Patientiae (256 A.D.). 



Cyprianus' Ad Demetrianum (252 A.D.). 
Cyprianus' De Dominica Oratione (252 A.D.). 



Cypr Bon 

Pat 

Cypr 

Demetr 

Cypr Dom 

Orat 

Cypr Donat Cyprianus' Ad Donatum (247 A.D.). 

Cyprianus' Epistles (250-258 A.D.). The first no. is that of the Epistle in 
Cypr Ep Hartel's edition, the second (in brackets) that of the same Epistle in 

ANCL viii, the third that of the paragraph. 

Cyprianus' Ad Fortunatum de exhortatione martyrii (257 A.D.). 



Cypr Fort 
Cypr Hab 
Virg 

Cypr Laps 
Cypr Laud 
Cypr Mort 
Cypr Test 



Cyprianus' De Habitu Virginum (249 A.D.). 



Cyprianus' De Lapsis (251 A.D.). 
Cyprianus' De Laude Martyrii (250 A.D.). 
Cyprianus' De Mortalitate (253-254 A.D.). 

Cyprianus' Testimonia adversus Judaeos (ad Quirinum) (247 A.D.). 
Cypr Zel Liv Cyprianus' De Zelo et Livore (256 A.D.). 

The Synod of Elvira, and Christian Life in the fourth century: a 

historical essay, by A. W. W. Dale. London, 1882. 

A Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, edited by W. Smith and S. 

Cheetham. 2 vols. London, 1875, 1880. 

A Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects, and Doctrines, 

edited by W. Smith and H. Wace. 4 vols. London, 1877-1887. 

Dienstweigering bij de oude Christenen (Refusal of [military] service 

among the early Christians), by K. H. E. De Jong. Leiden, 1905. 

Didaskalia (in Funk's Didascalia et Constitutiones Apostolorum, vol. i, 

Paderborn, 1905) (circ. 250 A.D.). 

The Epistle to Diognetos (?150 A.D.). 

Dionusios of Alexandria (bishop, 247-265 A.D.). 

Eirenaios' (Irenaeus') Adversus Haereses (181-189 A.D.). The bk. and 

ch. according to Massuet's edition are given, and then, in brackets, the 

vol. and p. in Harvey's (Cambridge, 1857). 

Eirenaios' work on the Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching 

(about 190 A.D.). I quote the section (and page) in the German version 

made from the Armenian by Ter-Mekerttschian and Ter-Minassiantz 

and edited by Harnack (Des heiligen Irendus Schrift sum Erweise der 

apostolischen Verkundigung, Leipzig, 1908, 2nd edn.). 



Dale 
DCA 
DCB 

De Jong 

Didask 

Diog 
Dion Alex 

Eiren 



Eiren 
Demonstr 



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Eiren frag 
Eph 
Eus HE 
Eus Mart 

Eus PE 

Eus Vit 
Const 
Excerp 
Theod 

Feltoe 

Gal 

Gebhardt 

Greg Thaum 
Paneg 
Greg Thaum 
Ep Can 

Guignebert 
Harnack C 
Harnack MC 
Harnack ME 

HDB 

Heb 

Hefele 



The fragments of Eirenaios (no. and p. in Harvey). 

Paul's 'Epistle to the Ephesians.' 

Eusebios' Historia Ecclesiastica (finished about 314 A.D.). 

Eusebios' Martyrs of Palestine (at end of HE VIII). 

Eusebios' Praeparatio Evangelica (300-313 A.D.) (sections given as per 

Gifford's edition, Oxford, 1903). 

Eusebios' Life of Constantinus (337-340 A.D.). 

Excerpta ex Theodoto (?170 A.D.) found with the 8th bk. of Clem Strom. 

The letters and other remains of Dionysius of Alexandria, by C. L. 

Feltoe (Cambridge Patristic Texts). Cambridge, 1904. 

The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians. 

Acta Martyrum Selecta. Ausgewahlte Martyreracten und andere 

Urkunden aus der Verfolgungszeit der christlichen Kirche, edited by O. 

von Gebhardt. Berlin, 1902. 

Gregorios Thaumatourgos' Panegyric on Origenes (241 A.D.). 

Gregorios Thaumatourgos' Epistola Canonica (254 A.D.). 

Tertullien: etude sur ses sentiments a I'egard de V empire et de la 

societe civile, by C. Guignebert. Paris, 1901. 

Die Chronologie der altchristlichen Litteratur bis Eusebius, by A. 

Harnack. 2 vols. Leipzig, 1897, 1904. 

Militia Christi: die christliche Religion und der Soldatenstand in den 

ersten drei Jahrhunderten, by A. Harnack. Tubingen, 1905. 

The Mission and Expansion of Christianity in the first three centuries, 

by A. Harnack. London, 1908. ET from 3rd German edition of 1906. 

A Dictionary of the Bible, edited by J. Hastings. 5 vols. Edinburgh, 

1898-1909. 

The Epistle to the Hebrews. 

A History of the Christian Councils from the original documents to the 

close of the Council ofNicaea A.D. 325, by C. J. Hefele. Edinburgh, 

1872. ET from the German. 



Hipp Ant Hippolutos' De Antichristo (200 A.D.). 

Hipp 

Dan 

Hipp 

Noet 

The Statutes of the Apostles or Canones Ecclesiastici, by G. Horner. 



Horner 



Hippolutos' Commentary on Daniel (203 A.D.). 
Hippolutos' treatise against Noetos (200-210 A.D.). 



London, 1904. 






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Karp Acta Carpi, Papyli, et Agathonices (161-169 A.D.). (in Gebhardt). 

History of early Christian Literature in the first three centuries, by G. Kriiger. 
New York, 1897. ET from the German. 



Lact Mort 
Pers 

Lact Opifi 
Dei 



Lactantius' De Morte Persecutorum (314 A.D.). 



Lactantius' De Opificio Dei (circ. 305 A.D.). 



Lecky 



History of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne, by W. E. 

H. Lecky. London (1869), 1913. 
Lightfoot The Apostolic Fathers, edited by J. B. Lightfoot. 5 vols. London (1885), 
AF 1889, 1890. 

Acta Apostolorum Apocrypha. 3 vols. Leipzig, 1891-1903. 

Maclean The Ancient Church Orders, by A. J. Maclean. Cambridge, 1910. 

Methodios' Symposium (270-300 A.D.). 

' Patrologia Graeca, Patrologia Latina, edited by J. P. Migne. 

Minuc Minucius Felix' Octavius (238-248 A.D.). 

, The Epistle of the Church of Lugdunum (Lyons), describing the 
persecution of 177-178 A.D. (in Eus HE V i-iii). 
ff tt jatt Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament, by J. Moffatt. 
Edinburgh, 1912 (2nd edn.). 



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M Pionii 
MPol 

Neumann 

Novat Sped 
Orig Cels 
Orig Comm, 
Horn, etc. 
Orig Mart 
Orig Orat 
Orig Princ 
Perpet 
Phil 

Pick 

Pol 

Pont Vit 
Cypr 

P Scill 

Ps-Cypr Jud 

Ps-Cypr 

Pasch 

Ps-Cypr 

Quod Idola 

Ps-Cypr 

Rebapt 

Ps-Just 

Cohort 

Ps Just Orat 

Ps-Mel 

Robinson 
and James 

Routh 

Ruinart 

Scullard 

Tat 



The Martyrdom ofPionios (250 A.D.) (in Gebhardt). 

The Martyrdom of Polukarpos (155 A.D.) (in Gebhardt and the 

Apostolic Fathers). 

Der romische Staat und die allgemeine Kirche bis auf Diocletian, by K. 

J. Neumann. Leipzig, 1890. 

Novatianus' (?)£><? Spectaculis (255 A.D.). 

Origenes' Contra Celsum (248 A.D.). 

Origenes' Commentaries and Homilies. The vol. and column in Migne 

PG are added to each reference. 

Origenes' De Exhortatione Martyrii (235 A.D.). 

Origenes' De Oratione (233 A.D.). 

Origenes' De Principiis (228-230 A.D.). 

Passio Sanctae Perpetuae (203 A.D.) (in Texts and Studies I 2). 

Paul's Epistle to the Philippians. 

The Apocryphal Acts of Paul, Peter, John, Andrew, and Thomas, by B. 

Pick. Chicago, 1909. 

The Epistle of Polukarpos to the Philippians (circ. 110 A.D.). 

Pontius' Life ofCyprianus (259 A.D.). 

Passio Sanctorum Scillitanorum (180 A.D.). The no. is that of the page 

in Texts and Studies I 2. 

Pseudo-Cyprianus' Adversus Judaeos (?259 A.D.). 



Pseudo-Cyprianus' DePascha Computus (243 A.D.) 
Pseudo-Cyprianus' Quod Idola Dii non sint (?255 A.D.). 
Pseudo-Cyprianus' De Rebaptismate (256 A.D.). 

Pseudo-Justinus' Cohortatio ad Gentiles (?200 A.D.) 

Pseudo-Justinus' Oratio ad Gentiles (170-200 A.D.) 

Pseudo-Meliton's Apology (in Syriac) (215 A.D.). The nos. are those of 

the section in Otto's version, and the p. in ANCL xxiib. 

The Gospel according to Peter, and the Revelation of Peter, etc. By J. 

A. Robinson and M. R. James. London, 1892. 

Reliquiae Sacrac, edited by M. J. Routh. 5 vols. Oxford, 1846-1848 

(2nd edn.). 

Acta Martyrum P. Theodorici Ruinart opera ac studio collecta selecta 

atque illustrata (Paris, 1689). Ratisbon, 1859. 

Early Christian Ethics in the West, by H. H. Scullard. London, 1907. 

Tatianus' Oratio ad Graecos (? 154-165 A.D.). The column in Migne 

PG vi is added in brackets. 



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1 T 1 !-* O 

_,, ' Paul's first and second letters to the Thessalonians. 
Th 

Theoph Theophilos of Aniioch' % Ad Autolycum (181 A.D.) 

. , Die Soziallehren der christlichen Kirchen and Gruppen. Erste Halfte, by 
Ernst Troeltsch. Tubingen, 1912. 
Weinel Die Stellung des Urchristentums zum Staat, by H. Weinel. Tubingen, 1908. 
ET = English Translation, 
f (ff)= 'and the following page(s)', 'verse(s)', etc. 
frag = fragment, 
n = footnote. 

Roman and arabic numerals generally refer respectively to book (sometimes chapter) 
and section in the case of an ancient work, and to volume and page in the case of a 
modern work. 

Bracketed words in passages translated from other languages are those inserted in 
order to bring out the sense or make good English. 



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[Back to Table of Contents] 

The Early Christian Attitude To War 
INTRODUCTION 

While ethics, in the usual sense of the word, do not exhaust the content of 
Christianity, they form one of its largest and most important phases. And inasmuch as 
ethics are concerned with the practical duties of human life, it is not unnatural that 
Christian thought should have included among its various activities many 
investigations into the rules and principles of personal conduct, and should have 
carried these investigations to an advanced degree of speciality and detail. The quest 
however has only too often been marred by errors, oversights, and misunderstandings, 
with the result that 'casuistry' has fallen into bad odour and has become suggestive of 
unreality and pedantry — if not of positive hypocrisy. But a moment's thought will 
show us that every sincere and practical Christian must, however he may dislike the 
word, be a casuist at least for himself; he must think out the practical bearing of his 
principles, weigh up pros and cons, balance one principle against another whenever 
(as is continually happening in the complexities of actual life) they come into conflict, 
and so work out some sort of a code of laws for his daily guidance. Further than that, 
Christianity imposes upon its adherents the duty of explaining, defending, inculcating, 
and propagating the Christian virtues, as well as that of living them out: and this duty 
is not completely met even by the strong witness of a good example, nor is it 
cancelled by the important modifications introduced by the subjective differences 
between oneself and one's neighbour. Casuistry therefore, when properly understood, 
must always remain an important branch of Christian study, as the science which is 
concerned with the determination, within duly recognized limits, of the practical 
duties of the Christian life. 

Of this science the history of Christian ethics will necessarily be a very important 
part. The example of our Christian forefathers indeed can never be of itself a 
sufficient basis for the settlement of our own conduct to-day: the very variations of 
that example would make such dependence impossible. At the same time the solution 
of our own ethical problems will involve a study of the mind of Christendom on the 
same or similar questions during bygone generations: and, for this purpose, perhaps 
no period of Christian history is so important as that of the first three centuries. It is 
true that during that period the Christian mind was relatively immature: it was still in 
the simplicity of its childhood; it was largely obsessed and deluded by mistaken 
eschatological hopes; it was not faced with many of the urgent problems that have 
since challenged the Church and are challenging it to-day; it seems to us to have been 
strangely blind and backward even on some matters that did face it, e.g. the existence 
of slavery, and of various other social anomalies. But over against all this we have to 
set the facts that the first three centuries were the period in which the work of the 
Church in morally and spiritually regenerating human life was done with an energy 
and a success that have never since been equalled, when the power springing from her 
Founder's personal life pulsated with more vigour and intensity than was possible at a 
greater distance, when incipient decay was held in check by repeated purification in 



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the fires of persecution, and when the Church's vision had not been distorted or her 
conscience dulled by compromises with the world. 

Among the many problems of Christian ethics, the most urgent and challenging at the 
present day is undoubtedly that of the Christian attitude to war. Christian thought in 
the past has frequently occupied itself with this problem; but there has never been a 
time when the weight of it pressed more heavily upon the minds of Christian people 
than it does to-day. The events of the past few years have forced upon every 
thoughtful person throughout practically the whole civilized world the necessity of 
arriving at some sort of a decision on this complicated and critical question — in 
countless cases a decision in which health, wealth, security, reputation, and even life 
itself have been involved. Nor — if we look only at the broad facts of the 
situation — would there seem to be much doubt as to the solution of the problem. 
Everywhere by overwhelming majorities Christian people have pronounced in word 
and act the same decision, viz. that to fight, to shed blood, to kill — provided it be done 
in the defence of one's country or of the weak, for the sanctity of treaties or for the 
maintenance of international righteousness — is at once the Christian's duty and his 
privilege. But only by an act of self-deception could anyone persuade himself that this 
is the last word the Christian conscience has to say on the matter. The power with 
which the decision of the majority has been — and is still being — delivered owes a 
large share of its greatness (I say it in no uncharitable spirit) to other factors than the 
calm, impartial, and considered judgment of the Christian intellect and heart. In the 
tense excitement and ever-increasing flood of passion called forth by a state of war, 
an atmosphere is generated in which the truth and reasonableness of the vox populi is 
not only taken for granted, but elevated into a sort of sacrosanctity, and dissent from it 
or disobedience to it appears to merit not toleration or even argument, but contempt, 
censure, and punishment. But however the state of public feeling or the watchfulness 
of a government at grips with the enemy may check or silence the expression of 
dissent, however the exigencies of an acute international crisis may lead many to 
regard the problem of Christianity and war as (for the time being at least) a closed 
question, it cannot but be clear to those who will look beneath the surface that forces 
are at work, within as well as without the organized Church, which will not allow 
Christian feeling to remain where it is on the matter, and which clearly show that the 
growing generation of Christians is not going to rest satisfied with the variegated and 
facile answers that have been given to its doubts and queries in this particular 
emergency, notwithstanding the enormous weight of extra-Christian sentiment with 
which those answers have been reinforced. 

The purpose of the following pages is not to force or pervert the history of the past in 
the interests of a present-day controversy, but plainly and impartially to present the 
facts as to the early Christian attitude to war — with just so much discussion as will 
suffice to make this attitude in its various manifestations clear and intelligible — and to 
do this by way of a contribution towards the settlement of the whole complicated 
problem as it challenges the Christian mind to-day. 1 Having recently had occasion for 
another purpose to work through virtually the whole of pre-Constantinian Christian 
literature, the present writer has taken the opportunity to collect practically all the 
available material in the original authorities. His work will thus consist largely of 
quotations from Christian authors, translated into English for the convenience of the 



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reader, and arranged on a systematic plan. The translations are as literal as is 
consistent with intelligible English2 ; but the original Latin or Greek has as a rule 
been dispensed with : full references are given in the footnotes for those who wish to 
turn them up, and a chronological table is provided as a key to the historical 
development. 

Few fields of knowledge have been so thoroughly worked and amply written upon as 
the New Testament and the Early Church; and, inasmuch as no work on Church 
History, or Christian ethics, or even Christian teaching in the wider sense, could 
altogether ignore the subject before us, it has been out of the question to make an 
exhaustive consultation of the writings of modern scholars upon it. I have, however, 
endeavoured to get hold of the principal modern works either wholly devoted to the 
treatment of this particular subject or containing important references or contributions 
to it. The following list, therefore, is not an exhaustive bibliography, but merely an 
enumeration with brief comments of such works as have come under my notice. 

What may be called the modern interest in the early Christian attitude to war, begins 
with the great work of Hugo Grotius, De Jure Belli ac Pacis, published in 1625. In 
lib. i, cap. ii, of that work, Grotius quotes some of the New Testament and patristic 
passages bearing on the subject, and controverts the conclusion that might be drawn 
from them as to the illegitimacy of all warfare for Christians. In 1678 Robert Barclay 
published An Apology for the True Christian Divinity, as the same is Held Forth, and 
Preached, by the People called, in Scorn, Quakers : the work had already appeared in 
Latin two years earlier. Towards the end of it he argued for the Quaker position in 
regard to war, quoting passages of scripture, and giving a number of references to the 
early Fathers to whose judgment he appealed in support of his thesis. In 1728 there 
was published at Amsterdam a book entitled Traite de la Morale des Peres de I ' 
Eglise, by Jean Barbeyrac. It was written in reply to a Roman Catholic monk, R. 
Ceillier, who had attacked Barbeyrac for some strictures he had passed on the ethics 
of the Fathers. He takes up one Father after another, and thus has occasion to criticize 
the attitude which certain of them took up towards military service. 3 In 1745 there 
appeared at Magdeburg a small quarto pamphlet of thirty pages by Johannes Gottlieb 
Calov, entitled Examen Sententiae Veterum Christianorum deMilitia. It argued that 
those Christian authors who regarded military service as forbidden to Christians were 
mistaken. In 1776 Edward Gibbon brought out the first volume of his Decline and 
Fall of the Roman Empire. Chapters 15 and 16 of that famous work deal with the 
status of Christians in the pre-Constantinian Empire, and contain brief but critical 
paragraphs on the Christian attitude to military service. 1 The passages are interesting 
on account of the eminence and learning of the author and his frank avowal of the 
early Christian aversion to all bloodshed, rather than for their fulness or for the justice 
of the criticisms they contain. 

In 1817 Thomas Clarkson, the great anti-slavery agitator, published the second 
edition2 of his Essay on the Doctrines and Practice of the Early Christians as they 
relate to War (twenty-four pages). It was a brief and popular, and perhaps somewhat 
onesided, treatment of the subject. It has often been republished, e.g. in 1823, 1839, 
1850. A Spanish translation of it appeared in 1821. In 1828 were published Jonathan 
Dymond's three Essays on the Principles of Morality and on the private and political 



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Rights and Obligations of Mankind. The last chapter (xix) of the third Essay is on 
War. The author, a member of the Society of Friends, defends the position of that 
Society that all war is unlawful from the Christian point of view, and attempts to 
justify it from the practice and the words of the early Christians, quoting a few 
examples.3 In 1846 there appeared at Philadelphia, U.S.A., a small book on Christian 
Non-resistance, by Adin Ballou. He treats briefly of the early Christian practice, 
quoting a few passages from the Fathers and from Gibbon. 1 A few pages are devoted 
to the subject in C. Schmidt's Social Results of Early Christianity (published in 
French, 1853; English Translation, 1885),2 Le Blant's Inscriptions chretiennes de la 
Gaule (Paris, two vols, 1856, 1865),3 W. E. H. Lecky's History of European Morals 
(first edition, 1869: several new editions and reprints),4 Loring Brace's Gesta Christi 
(1882),5 and Canon W. H. Fremantle's Pleading against War from the pulpit of 
Canterbury Cathedral (1885).6 P. Onslow's article on 'Military Service,' and J. Bass 
Mullinger's on 'War,' in the second volume of Smith and Cheetham's Dictionary of 
Christian Antiquities (1880), contain a good deal of useful information. In 1881 John 
Gibb wrote an article for The British Quarterly Review on The Christian Church and 
War, 7 suggested by the political situation of the time, and dealing mainly with the 
post-Augustinian age, but also touching briefly on the earlier period. In 1884 appeared 
a volume on Early Church History, which has a special interest in this connection, in 
that it was the work of two Quakers, Edward Backhouse and Charles Tylor, and as 
such naturally laid stress on the early Christian attitude to war: the topic was 
faithfully, though not exhaustively, handled.8 

Hitherto, however, contributions to the study of the subject had been for the most part 
very brief and fragmentary. A more thorough treatment of it was attempted by Mr. 
(now Professor) J. F. Bethune-Baker, of Cambridge, in his Influence of Christianity 
on War, published in 1888. This scholar gave a larger selection of passages from 
ancient authors and a fuller discussion of them than had hitherto appeared, besides 
pursuing his subject far beyond the limits of the early Church : but he unfortunately 
allowed his prepossessions in favour of a particular theory to mislead him in his 
presentation of the facts and in the inferences he drew from them. I shall have 
occasion in the following pages to criticize some of his statements in detail. The 
misconceptions that unfortunately mar his work are the more to be regretted in that it 
has been taken as an authority by a more recent writer, Rev. William Cunningham. 
Archdeacon of Ely (Christianity and Politics, 1916),! who has thus prolonged the life 
of a number of serious inaccuracies. 

In 1890 appeared the first of an important series of works by Continental 
scholars — K. J. Neumann's Derromische Staat und die allgemeine Kirche bis auf 
Diocletian (The Roman State and the general Church down to Diocletianus), vol I 
(Leipzig). The book was a new and scholarly investigation of the historical problems 
connected with the relations between Church and State, and contained a number of 
paragraphs and shorter passages on the Christian view of war.2 In 1901 Charles 
Guignebert brought out at Paris a large work entitled Tertullien : etude sur ses 
sentiments a V egard de V empire et de la societe civile. He handles the views of 
many people besides Tertullianus; and his chapter on 'Le service militaire, le service 
civil et l'impot'l contains much useful information on the whole subject. The 
following year, there appeared at Munich Andreas Bigelmair's Die Beteiligung der 



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Christen am offentlichen Leben in vorkonstantinischer Zeit (Participation of the 
Christians in public life in the period before Constantinus). The book is in two parts : 
the concluding chapter (4) of the first of these deals with the Christian attitude to 
military service. 2 The work is on the whole thorough and scholarly, but the author's 
leanings as a Roman Catholic here and there unduly influence his judgment. In 1902 
also came the first edition of Adolf Harnack's monumental work, Die Mission und 
Ausbreitung des Christentums in den drei ersten Jahrhunderten (The mission and 
expansion of Christianity in the first three centuries) (Leipzig). An English translation 
was published in 1904-5, while in 1906 appeared a new edition of the original, which 
was followed in 1908 by a revised English translation. The work is an encyclopaedia 
of information on all aspects of the growth of early Christianity, and contains a full 
summary of the available evidence on the subject before us, with many quotations 
from the original authorities. 3 In 1905 Harnack brought out a monograph specially 
devoted to the early Christian view of war, and amplifying the material he had 
collected in his Mission und Ausbreitung. It was entitled Militia Christi. Die 
christliche Religion und der Soldatenstand in den ersten drei Jahrhunderten (The 
soldiery of Christ. The Christian religion and the military profession in the first three 
centuries) (Tubingen). It is without doubt the most thorough and scholarly work on 
the subject that has yet been produced. It has, unfortunately, not been translated into 
English : and, despite the author's thoroughness, the extent of his learning, and his 
general saneness and impartiality of judgment, the arrangement of the material, and, 
in some cases, the conclusions arrived at, leave something to be desired. The same 
year (1905) appeared at Leiden a small book by a Dutch scholar, Dr. K. H. E. de Jong 
: Dienstweigering bij de oude Christenen (Refusal of [military] service among the 
early Christians). No translation of this book into English has appeared; but my 
friend, Mr. Cornells Boeke, late of Birmingham, has very kindly placed an English 
rendering at my disposal. The book does not aspire to that phenomenal level of 
scholarship that characterizes all Harnack's work, but it contains a large amount of 
useful material, including some passages from ancient authors which I have not seen 
quoted elsewhere; and its generalizations seem to me to be nearer the truth than those 
of Bigelmair and in some cases even of Harnack. 

In 1906 Mr. F. W. Hirst's The Arbiter in Council appeared anonymously. It is a 
record of discussions, held on seven consecutive days, on various aspects of war. The 
subject of the seventh day's discussion was 'Christianity and War,' and a considerable 
section of itl consists of a freshly written study of the New Testament and early 
Christian teaching on the subject. The same year was published the first volume of 
Edward Westermarck's The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas . This 
comprehensive work contains several chapters (xiv-xxi) on homicide, the second of 
which opens with a brief sketch of the early Christian view of war. 1 Heinrich 
Weinel's brief monograph, Die Stellung des Urchristentums zum Staat (The Attitude 
of Primitive Christianity to the State) (Tubingen, 1908), touches only briefly on the 
particular subject we are to study, 2 but is useful and important for the courageous and 
sympathetic emphasis that it lays on an aspect of early Christian thought which has 
since been largely snowed under and is often belittled and disregarded by modern 
students. The first volume of Ernst Troeltsch's great work, Die Soziallehren der 
christlichen Kirchen und Gruppen (The social teaching of the Christian churches and 
sects) (Tubingen, 1912), has some interesting references to the early Christian attitude 



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to war,3 but does not deal with the topic as a complete or connected whole. More in 
line with The Arbiter in Council and less technical than Westermarck's book and the 
recent works of German scholars are Rev. W. L. Grane's The Passing of War 
(London, 1912, two editions), which however makes only a few random allusions to 
the early Christian attitude,4 and Mr. W. E. Wilson's Christ and War, published for 
the Society of Friends in 1913. The latter was written as a study-circle text-book, and 
has had a wide circulation among the younger generation of Christians. The first two 
chapters of it deal with the teaching of Jesus on the subject, the third with the rest of 
the New Testament and the Early Church down to the time of Constantinus. The 
material is judiciously selected, and the comments are accurate and suggestive. Other 
comparatively recent utterances by members of the Society of Friends are an undated 
pamphlet of sixteen pages by Mr. J. Bevan Braithwaite of London, and Mr. J. W. 
Graham's War from a Quaker point of view (London, 1915).! A brief sketch and 
discussion of the available evidence was attempted by the present writer in chap, ii of 
The Ministry of Reconciliation (London, 1916). Archdeacon Cunningham's 
Christianity and Politics — published the same year — has already been alluded to. 

The question may quite properly be asked why, if so much valuable work on the 
subject has already appeared before the public, it is necessary to add yet another book 
to the list. The answer is that, notwithstanding all that has been produced, we are still 
without an English book dealing solely and thoroughly with this important topic. The 
problem of Christianity and war is one that claims serious attention even at ordinary 
times; and recent events have immeasurably magnified that claim. It is submitted that, 
for the adequate discussion and settlement of it, a full and accurate presentation of the 
early Christian view is indispensable. Harnack's Militia Christi is the only book that 
comes anywhere near meeting the case : and this, not being translated, is of no use to 
those who cannot read German, and furthermore is for the present practically 
unobtainable in this country. But in any case the subject is such as to lend itself to 
more than one method of treatment; and I venture to think that it is possible to present 
the material more proportionately and comprehensibly — and even, on a few 
points — more accurately than has been done by Harnack. 

No writer on the subject — least of all in these days — can be without his own 
convictions on the main question; and a Christian will naturally expect to find support 
for his convictions, whatever they happen to be, in the words and example of our Lord 
and his early followers. It has unfortunately happened only too frequently that writers 
have allowed their own opinions — perhaps unconsiously — to distort their view of 
historical facts. But a strong personal conviction, even coupled with the belief that it 
has support in history, does not necessarily conflict with an honest and thorough 
treatment of that history. While I have not refrained from interpreting the early 
Christian teaching in the sense which I believe to be true, I trust I have succeeded in 
preventing the spirit of controversy from introducing into this treatise anything 
inconsistent with the rigid demands of truth, the dignity of scholarship, and the 
charitableness of Christianity. 

Before we plunge into an examination of the ancient records themselves, something 
must be said on one or two matters which will need to be kept constantly before our 
minds if the documents we are about to study are to be rightly understood and 



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interpreted. The first of these is the distinction between what a man holds to be right 
for himself, and for others also in the sense of his being ready to exhort them to 
follow it as he does, and, on the other hand, what a man may recognize to be 
relatively right for his neighbour in view of the fact that his neighbour's mind, views, 
abilities, etc., are different from his own. The moral standards by which A feels it 
right to live and to recommend others also to live, he may quite fully realize that B, in 
his present state of mind, education, feeling, intellect, etc., cannot in the nature of 
things for the time being adopt; and he may frankly say so, without prejudice to his 
own consistency. This simple fact, which I would call the relative justification of 
other moral standards than our own, and which rests upon our subjective differences 
from one another, is daily illustrated in the judgments, opinions, and thoughts which 
we have of others : and yet it is surprising how easily it is overlooked, and how ready 
scholars have been, whenever they find it, to assume inconsistency and to make it a 
ground for disbelieving or ignoring whichever of the two complementary moral 
judgments conflicts most with their own sense of what is proper. We shall have 
throughout our study frequent occasion to notice mistaken inferences of the kind here 
described. 

Not unconnected with this distinction is another, namely that between a writer's 
personal convictions as to what is morally right or wrong, on the one hand, and on the 
other hand statements and allusions which he may make by way of illustrating 
something else, or of supporting an argument with one who differs from him, when he 
speaks, as we say, ad hominem, and is not for the moment necessarily voicing his own 
view. In order to make this distinction quite lucid, examples would be necessary, and 
these are for the present postponed; but it is well at the outset to be on our guard 
against inferring too much from statements and allusions of this character. 

Lastly, a word must be said on the conditions of military service in the early Roman 
Empire; for these naturally determined very largely the form which the early Christian 
attitude to war took. We must remember in the first place that the Roman soldier was 
also the Emperor's policeman. Police duties throughout the Empire were performed 
by the military. That fact naturally affected Christian thought in regard to the military 
calling. Whatever be the similarity or connection between the offices of the soldier 
and those of the policeman, there are yet important distinctions between them; and 
objections or scruples felt in regard to the former of them might not hold good against 
the latter. The natural result is that Christian utterances against military service are 
often less downright and uncompromising than they would have been if the soldier's 
calling had been in those days as distinct from that of the policeman as it is in ours. 
Secondly, it goes without saying that practical ethical questions are not discussed and 
adjudicated upon before they arise, i.e., before circumstances make the settlement of 
them an urgent matter of practical importance. Now the state of things in the Empire 
was such as to defer for a long time the realization by Christian people of the fact that 
the question whether a Christian might be a soldier or not was an acute and important 
one. It was contrary to law to enrol a slave as a soldier, and Jews were legally exempt 
from military service on account of their national peculiarities : and when we consider 
what a large proportion of the early Christian communities consisted of slaves, Jews, 
and women, we shall realize that the percentage of members eligible for service must 
have been small. Further than that, while the Emperor was entitled by law to levy 



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conscripts, in actual practice he hardly ever found it necessary to have recourse to this 
expedient: the population was so large in comparison with the armies, that the 
Emperor could get all the soldiers he needed by voluntary enlistment. This meant that 
any attempt to force a man into the ranks against his will was a very rare occurrence, 
and rarer still in the case of a Christian.! Now no Christian ever thought of enlisting 
in the army after his conversion until the region of Marcus Aurelius (161-180 a.d.) at 
earliest (our oldest direct evidence dates from about 200 a.d.2 ), while cases of men 
being converted when already engaged in the military profession (such as Cornelius 
the centurion of Caesarea, and the gaoler of Philippi) were during the same early 
period few and far between. There was thus very little to bring the practical question 
before the minds of Christian teachers, not only during this early period, but in many 
cases even subsequently; and this fact must be allowed for in studying statements 
made by them under such conditions. If it be our object to discover the real views of a 
writer or of a body of early Christians, we shall only land ourselves in error if we treat 
their words and acts as conveying their considered judgment on problems which — we 
have reason to believe — were never consciously before their minds at all. 



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[Back to Table of Contents] 

PARTI 

THE TEACHING OF JESUS 

The Range of Jesus' Teaching on the Subject of War. — There is a sense in which it is 
true to say that Jesus gave his disciples no explicit teaching on the subject of war. The 
application of his ethical principles to the concrete affairs of life was not something 
which could be seen and taught in its entirety from the very first, but was bound to 
involve a long series of more or less complex problems; and the short lapse and other 
special conditions of his earthly life rendered it impossible for him to pronounce 
decisions on more than a very few of these. Upon large tracts of human conduct he 
rarely or never had occasion to enter, and hence little or no specific teaching of his is 
recorded concerning them. A familiar instance of this silence of Jesus on a matter on 
which we none the less have little doubt as to the import of his teaching, is the 
absence from the Gospels of any explict prohibition of slavery. And what is true of 
slavery is also true — though to a much more limited extent — of war. Whatever be the 
bearing of his precepts and his example on the subject, the fact remains that, as far as 
we know, no occasion presented itself to him for any explicit pronouncement on the 
question as to whether or not his disciples might serve as soldiers. It does not however 
follow that no definite conclusion on the point is to be derived from the Gospels. The 
circumstances of the time suffice to explain why an absolutely definite ruling was not 
given. Jesus was living and working among Palestinian Jews, among whom the 
proportion of soldiers and policemen to civilians must have been infinitesimal. No 
Jew could be compelled to serve in the Roman legions; and there was scarcely the 
remotest likelihood that any disciple of Jesus would be pressed into the army of 
Herodes Antipas or his brother Philippos or into the small body of Temple police at 
Jerusalem. But further, not only can the silence of Jesus on the concrete question be 
accounted for, without supposing that he had an open mind in regard to it, but a large 
and important phase of his teaching and practical life cannot be accounted for without 
the supposition that he regarded acts of war as entirely impermissible to himself and 
his disciples. The evidence for this last statement is cumulative, and can be adequately 
appreciated only by a careful examination of the sayings in which Jesus utters general 
principles that seem to have a more or less direct bearing on war and those in which 
he explicitly alludes to it, and by an earnest endeavour to arrive at the meaning that is 
latent in them. 

Statements of Jesus inconsistent with the Lawfulness of War for Christians. — I. The 
first precept of which account has to be taken is Jesus' reiteration of the Mosaic 
commandment, Thou shalt not kill. This commandment appears in the Sermon on the 
Mount as the first of a series of Mosaic ordinances which, so far from being narrowed 
down as too exacting, are either reinforced or else replaced by stricter limitations in 
the same direction.! It is included in the list of commandments which Jesus enjoined 
upon the ruler who asked him what he would have to do in order to inherit eternal 
life.2 'Acts of homicide' () are mentioned by him among the evil things that issue 
from the heart of man.3 It is commonly argued that this commandment of Jesus refers 



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only to acts of private murder, and does not apply to the taking of life in war or in the 
administration of public justice. It is true that the Hebrew word used in the Mosaic 
commandment has almost exclusively the meaning of murder proper, and is not used 
of manslaughter in war, and that the Mosaic Law in general certainly did not prohibit 
either this latter act or capital punishment. On the other hand, it has to be noted (1) 
that the Hebrew word for 'murder' is used two or three times of a judicial execution,4 
(2) that the Greek word which appears in the Gospel passages quoted has the more 
general sense of 'killing,' and is used of slaughter in war both in classical Greek5 and 
in the Septuagint,6 and (3) that, while there is undoubtedly an ethical distinction 
between murder or assassination on the one hand and slaughter in war on the other, 
there is also an ethical similarity between them, and the extension of the Mosaic 
prohibition to cases to which it was not commonly thought to apply, but with which it 
was not wholly unconnected, was just such a treatment as we know Jesus imposed 
upon other enactments of the Jewish Law.l 

II. Still more explicit is the well-known non-resistance teaching in the Sermon on the 
Mount. I quote from the version of that Sermon in Mt v : (38) "Ye have heard that it 
was said : 'Eye for eye' and 'tooth for tooth.' (39) But I tell you not to withstand him 
who is evil : but whoever strikes thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also : 
(40) and if anyone wishes to go to law with thee and take away thy tunic, let him have 
thy cloak also : (41) and whoever 'impresses' thee (to go) one mile, go two with him. 
(42) Give to him that asks of thee, and from him who wishes to borrow of thee, turn 
not away. (43) Ye have heard that it was said : 'Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and 
hate thine enemy.' (44) But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who 
persecute you, (45) in order that ye may become sons of your Father who is in heaven, 
for He raises His sun on evil and good (alike) and rains upon righteous and 
unrighteous. (46) For if ye love (only) those who love you, what reward have ye? do 
not even the taxgatherers do the same? (47) and if ye greet your brothers only, what 
extra (thing) do ye do? do not even the gentiles do the same? (48) Ye then shall be 
perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."! Volumes of controversy have been 
written as to the real import and implications of these critical words, and great care is 
necessary in order to discover exactly how much they mean. The obvious difficulties 
in the way of obeying them have led to more than one desperate exegetical attempt to 
escape from them. There is, for instance, the familiar plea (already alluded to) that 
Jesus meant his followers to adopt the spirit of his teaching, without being bound by 
the letter! — a plea which, as has been pointed out by no less an authority than Bishop 
Gore, commonly results in ignoring both letter and spirit alike. 1 Granting that the 
spirit is the more important side of the matter, we may well ask, If in our Lord's view 
the right spirit issues in a 'letter' of this kind, how can a 'letter' of a diametrically 
opposite kind be consonant with the same spirit? Another hasty subterfuge is to say 
that these precepts are counsels of perfection valid only in a perfect society and not 
seriously meant to be practised under existing conditions. 2 The utter impossibility of 
this explanation becomes obvious as soon as we recollect that in a perfect state of 
society there would be no wrongs to submit to and no enemies to love. 

A less shallow misinterpretation argues that Jesus meant this teaching to govern only 
the personal feelings and acts of the disciple in his purely private capacity, and left 
untouched his duty — as a member of society and for the sake of social welfare — to 



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participate in the authoritative and official restraint and punishment of wrongdoers. 3 
Whether or no this interpretation be sound ethical teaching for the present day, the 
idea that it represents the meaning of Jesus cannot be allowed to pass unchallenged. 
For in this very passage, Jesus exhibits society's authorized court of justice, not as 
duly punishing the offender whom the injured disciple has lovingly pardoned and then 
handed over to its jurisdiction, but as itself committing the wrong that has to be borne 
: "if anyone wishes to go to law with thee, and take away thy tunic," and so on. But 
further than that, the Lex Talionis — that ancient Mosaic law requiring, in a case of 
strife between two men resulting in injury to one of them, "life for life, eye for eye, 
tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, 
stripe for stripe"! — was no mere authorization of private revenge, permitting within 
certain limits the indulgence of personal resentment, but a public measure designed in 
the interests of society as a restraint upon wrongdoing, and doubtless meant to be 
carried out by (or under the supervision of) the public officers of the community. Yet 
this law Jesus quotes for the sole purpose of forbidding his disciples to apply it. We 
are therefore driven to the conclusion that he regarded the duty of neighbourly love as 
excluding the infliction of public penalties on behalf of society, as well as the 
indulgence of personal resentment.2 

III. In entire harmony with this conclusion is Jesus' refusal to advance his ideals by 
political or coercive means. In the one corner of the Roman world where the passion 
for an independent national state still survived, he had no use for that passion. As the 
incident of the tribute-money shows, he felt but coldly towards the fierce yearning of 
his fellow-countrymen for national independence and greatness, and he rejected the 
idea of the Messiah which was framed in conformity with these aspirations. At his 
Temptation, if we may so paraphrase the story, he refused to take possession of the 
kingdoms of the world, feeling that to do so would be equivalent to bowing the knee 
to Satan. It is difficult to imagine any other ground for this feeling than the conviction 
that there was something immoral, something contrary to the Will of God, in the use 
of the only means by which world-rule could then be obtained, namely, by waging a 
successful war. The idea that the wrong he was tempted to commit was the indulgence 
of pride or an eagerness for early success does not meet the point : for was he not in 
any case invested by God with supreme authority over men, and was it not his life's 
work to bring in the Kingdom as speedily as possible? Assuming that the use of 
military force did not appear to him to be in itself illegitimate, why should he not have 
used it? Had he not the most righteous of causes? Would not the enterprise have 
proved in his hands a complete success? Would he not have ruled the world much 
better than Tiberius was doing? Why then should the acquisition of political 
ascendancy be ruled out as involving homage to Satan? But on the assumption that he 
regarded the use of violence and injury as a method that was in itself contrary to the 
Will of God, which contained among its prime enactments the laws of love and 
gentleness, his attitude to the suggestion of world-empire becomes easily intelligible. 1 
Other incidents bear out this conclusion. He refuses to be taken and made a king by 
the Galilaeans2 : he does not stir a finger to compel Antipas to release the Baptist or 
to punish him for the Baptist's death or to prevent or avenge any other of the many 
misdeeds of "that she-fox. "3 He was not anxious to exact from Pilatus a penalty for 
the death of those Galilaeans whose blood the governor had mingled with their 
sacrifices.4 He made no attempt to constrain men to do good or desist from evil by the 



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application of physical force or the infliction of physical injuries. He did not go 
beyond a very occasional use of his personal ascendancy in order to put a stop to 
proceedings that appeared to him unseemly.5 He pronounces a blessing on peace- 
makers as the children of God and on the gentle as the inheritors of the earth.6 He 
laments the ignorance of Jerusalem as to 'the (things that make) for peace. '7 He 
demands the forgiveness of all injuries as the condition of receiving the divine pardon 
for oneself. 8 His own conduct on the last day of his life is the best comment on all 
this teaching. He does not try to escape, he offers no resistance to the cruelties and 
indignities inflicted upon him, and forbids his followers to strike a blow on his 
behalfl He addresses mild remonstrances to the traitor and to his captors, 2 and at the 
moment of crucifixion prays to God to pardon his enemies : "Father, forgive them; for 
they know not what they do. "3 

IV. The words in which Jesus expressed his disapproval of gentile 'authority ' point in 
the same direction. "Ye know that those who are reckoned to rule over the gentiles 
lord it over them, and their great men overbear them. But it is not so among you; but 
whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever 
wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to 
be served, but to serve, and to give his life (as) a ransom for many."4 The service 
rendered by the Master was thus to be the pattern of that rendered by the disciples. 
That this service did not mean the abnegation of all authority as such is clear from the 
fact that Jesus himself exercised authority over his disciples and others,5 and 
furthermore expected the former to exercise it as leaders of his Church. 6 What sort of 
authority then was Jesus condemning in this passage? What difference was there 
between the authority of the gentile ruler and that of himself and his apostles? Surely 
this, that the latter rested on spiritual ascendancy and was exercised only over those 
who willingly submitted to it, whereas the former was exercised over all men 
indiscriminately whether they liked it or not, and for this reason involved the use of 
the sanctions of physical force and penalties. There can be no doubt that it was this 
fact that caused Jesus to tell his disciples : "It is not so among you." 

V. Further evidence to the same effect is furnished by three incidental utterances of 
Jesus. . (a) The first of these occurs in the episode of the adulteress who was brought 
to Him for judgment — an admittedly historical incident. 1 The Pharisees who brought 
her were quite right in saying that the Law of Moses required the infliction of the 
death-penalty as a punishment for her offence. 2 With all his reverence for the Mosaic 
Law and his belief in its divine origin,3 Jesus here refuses to have any hand in giving 
effect to it, and sets it on one side in favour of an altogether different method of 
dealing with the guilty party. "Neither do I condemn thee," he says to her, "go, and 
sin no more. "4 The incident reveals the determination of Jesus to take no part in the 
use of physical violence in the judicial punishment of wrongdoers, (b) The second 
utterance expresses a corresponding disapproval of participation in warfare on the part 
of his disciples. It occurs in his apocalyptic discourse, in which he depicts the 
devastation of Judaea and the defilement of the Temple at the hands of a foreign foe, 
and bids his followers in the midst of these distresses 'flee to the mountains. '1 It is 
true that too much ought not to be built on this saying; for it occurs in a highly 
problematical context, and many scholars refuse to regard it as an actual utterance of 
Jesus at all,2 and the whole passage, even if authentic, is not very easily explained. 



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Still, if it be a fact that Jesus anticipated a gentile attack on Judaea and Jerusalem, and 
bade his followers flee instead of resisting it, that fact is not without significance for 
the question before us. (c) The third utterance forbids the use of the sword in a case 
which, in many respects, appeals most strongly to the modern mind, namely, the 
defence of others. When Jesus was being arrested in the garden of Gethsemane, Peter 
drew a sword on his Master's behalf and attacked one of the High Priest's servants. 
Jesus, however, checked him : "Put back thy sword into its place : for all who take the 
sword shall perish by the sword."3 It is only by an unreal isolation of the events of 
Jesus' passion from the operation of all the usual moral and spiritual laws which 
govern humanity, that one can deny some sort of general application to the words here 
used. The circumstances of the case were of course in a measure special, but so is 
every incident in actual life : and, inasmuch as the grim truth with which Jesus 
supported his injunction was perfectly general, one might reasonably argue that the 
injunction itself was more than an order meant to meet a particular case, and had in it 
something of the universality of a general principle of conduct.! 

To sum up, whatever may be thought of the weakness or the strength of any one of the 
various arguments that have just been adduced, it can hardly be questioned that, in 
conjunction with one another, they constitute a strong body of evidence for the belief 
that Jesus both abjured for himself and forbade to his disciples all use of physical 
violence as a means of checking or deterring wrongdoers, not excluding even that use 
of violence which is characteristic of the public acts of society at large as distinct 
from the individual. On this showing, participation in warfare is ruled out as 
inconsistent with Christian principles of conduct. 2 

Statements of Jesus and other Considerations apparently legitimizing Warfare 
forChristians. — There are, however, a number of passages and incidents in the 
Gospels, which are thought by many to show that Jesus' disuse of violence and 
disapproval of war were not absolute, or at any rate are not binding on his followers 
to-day; and it remains to be seen whether any of them constitutes a valid objection to 
the conclusion we have just reached. 

I. To begin with, in the very passage in which the non-resistance teaching is given, 
occurs the precept : "Whoever 'impresses' thee (to go) one mile, go two with him."l 
It is urged that the word translated 'impresses' is a technical term for the requirement 
of service by the State, and that Jesus' words therefore enjoin compliance even with a 
compulsory demand for military service. But it is clear that military service, as 
distinct from general state-labour, is not here in question : for (1) the technical term 
here used referred originally to the postal system of the Persian Empire, the not being 
a soldier or recruiting officer, but the king's mounted courier; (2) instances of its later 
usage always seem to refer to forced labour or service in general, not to service as a 
soldier2 ; and (3) the Jews were in any case exempt from service in the Roman 
legions, so that if, as seems probable, the Roman 'angaria' is here referred to, military 
service proper cannot be what is contemplated. 

II. Secondly, it is pointed out that, in the little intercourse Jesus had with soldiers, we 
find no mention made of any disapproval on his part of the military calling. His 
record in this respect is somewhat similar to that of the Baptist, 3 whose example, 



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however, must not be taken as indicating or determining the attitude of his greater 
successor. When Jesus was asked by a gentile centurion, in the service of Herodes at 
Capernaum, to cure his servant, he not only did so, without (as far as the record goes) 
uttering any disapproval of the man's profession, but even expressed appreciation of 
his faith in believing (on the analogy of his own military authority) that Jesus could 
cure the illness at a distance by a simple word of command.I No conclusion, 
however, in conflict with the position already reached can be founded on this incident. 
The attempt to draw such a conclusion is at best an argument from silence. 
Considering the number of things Jesus must have said of which no record has been 
left, we cannot be at all sure that he said nothing on this occasion about the 
illegitimacy of military service for his own followers. And even supposing he did not, 
is it reasonable to demand that his views on this point should be publicly stated every 
time he comes across a soldier? Allowance has also to be made for the fact that the 
centurion was a gentile stranger, who, according to Luke's fuller narrative, was not 
even present in person, and in any case was not a candidate for discipleship. The 
utmost we can say is that at this particular moment the mind of Jesus was not focused 
on the ethical question now before us : but even that much is precarious, and 
moreover, if true, furnishes nothing inconsistent with our previous conclusion. 

III. The expulsion of the traders from the Temple-courts\_ is often appealed to as the 
one occasion on which Jesus had recourse to violent physical coercion, thereby 
proving that his law of gentleness and nonresistance was subject to exceptions under 
certain circumstances. Exactly what there was in the situation that Jesus regarded as 
justifying such an exception has not been shown. If however the narratives given by 
the four evangelists be attentively read in the original, it will be seen (1) that the whip 
of cords is mentioned in the Fourth Gospel only, which is regarded by most critical 
scholars as historically less trustworthy than the other three, and as having in this 
instance disregarded historical exactitude by putting the narrative at the beginning 
instead of at the close of Jesus' ministry,! (2) that even the words of the Fourth 
Gospel do not necessarily mean that the whip was used on anyone besides the cattle,3 
(3) that the action of Jesus, so far as the men were concerned, is described in all four 
accounts by the same word, . This word means literally 'to cast out,' but is also used 
of Jesus being sent into the wilderness,4 of him expelling the mourners from Jairus' 
house,5 of God sending out workers into his vineyard,6 of a man taking out a splinter 
from the eyel of a householder bringing forth things out of his store,2 of a man taking 
money out of his purse,3 and of a shepherd sending sheep out of the fold.4 Here 
therefore it need mean no more than an authoritative dismissal. It is obviously 
impossible for one man to drive out a crowd by physical force or even by the threat of 
it. What he can do is to overawe them by his presence and the power of his 
personality, and expel them by an authoritative command. That apparently is what 
Jesus did.5 In any case, no act even remotely comparable to wounding or killing is 
sanctioned by his example on this occasion. 

IV. In his prophecies of the Last Things, Jesus spoke of the wars of the future. He said 
that nation would rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, that wars and 
rumours of wars would be heard of, that Judaea would be devastated, Jerusalem 
besieged and taken by the gentiles, and the Temple defiled and destroyed.6 It is 
difficult to separate these announcements from those other general prophecies in 



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which calamity is foretold as the approaching judgment of God upon the sins of 
communities and individuals. 7 In this connection too we have to consider the 
parabolic descriptions of the king who, angered at the murder of his slaves, sent his 
armies, destroyed the murderers, and burnt their city,l of the other king who executed 
the citizens that did not wish him to rule over them,2 and of other kings and masters 
who punished their offending servants with more or less violence. 3 These passages 
seem to prove beyond question that, in Jesus' view, God under certain conditions 
punishes sinners with terrible severity, and that one notable example of such 
punishment would be the complete overthrow of the Jewish State as the result of a 
disastrous war with Rome. That being so, may we not infer from God's use of the 
Roman armies as the rod of His anger, that Jesus would have granted that under 
certain circumstances his own followers might make themselves the agents of a 
similar visitation by waging war? As against such an inference, we have to bear in 
mind (I) that wherever the infliction appears as the direct act of God, the language is 
always highly parabolic, and the exact interpretation proportionately difficult; nothing 
more than the single point of divine punishment is indicated by these parables; even 
the more fundamental idea of divine love — the context in which the divine severity 
must admittedly be read — is omitted. Can we infer from the parable of the 
hardworked slave,4 illustrating the extent of the service we owe to God, that Jesus 
approves of a master so treating his slaves, or from the parabolic description of 
himself plundering Satan,5 that he sanctions burglary? (2) that the difference between 
divine and human prerogatives in the matter of punishing sin is deep and vital, God's 
power, love, knowledge, and authority making just for Him what would be unjust if 
done by manl ; (3) that, in the case of the Jewish war, the instruments of God's wrath 
were unenlightened gentiles who in a rebellion could see nothing better to do than to 
crush the rebels; duty might well be very different for Christian disciples; (4) that the 
conception of foreign foes being used to chastise God's people was one familiar to 
readers of the Hebrew Scriptures, and did not by any means imply the innocence of 
the foes in question! (5) that, while Jesus holds up the divine perfection in general as 
a model for our imitation, yet, when he descends to particulars, it is only the gentle 
side of God's method of dealing with sinners — to the express exclusion of the 
punitive side — which he bids us copy,3 and which he himself copied in that supreme 
act in which he revealed God's heart and moved sinners to repentance, namely, his 
submission to the cross. 

V. Difficulty has sometimes been raised over Jesus ' illustrative allusions to war. 
There cannot be any question as to the purely metaphorical character of his picture of 
the two kings at war with unequal forces — given to enforce the duty of counting in 
advance the cost of discipleship,! or of his allusion to violent men snatching the 
Kingdom or forcing their way into it2 — a demand for eagerness and enterprise in 
spiritual things. 3 The parabolic description of the king sending his armies to avenge 
his murdered slaves4 has already been dealt with. More easily misunderstood is the 
passage in which Jesus states that he was sent not to bring peace to the earth, but a 
sword. 5 But there is no real difficulty here: Jesus is simply saying that, as a result of 
his coming, fierce antipathies will arise against his adherents on the part of their 
fellow-men. The context clearly reveals the meaning; the word 'sword' is used 
metaphorically for dissension, and a result is announced as if it were a purpose, quite 
in accordance with the deterministic leanings of the Semitic mind. No sanction for the 



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Christian engaging in war can be extracted from the passage, any more than a 
sanction of theft can be drawn from Jesus' comparison of his coming to that of a thief 
in the night.l More serious difficulty is occasioned by an incident narrated by Luke in 
his story of the Last Supper. After reminding his disciples that they had lacked 
nothing on their mission-journeys, though unprovided with purse, wallet, and shoes, 
Jesus counsels them now to take these necessaries with them, and adds : "And let him 
who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this which has been 
written must be accomplished in me, 'And he was reckoned with the lawless.' For that 
which concerneth me has (its own) accomplishment" . They tell him there are two 
swords there, and he replies abruptly : "It is enough."2 No entirely satisfactory 
explanation of this difficult passage has yet been given. 3 The obvious fact that two 
swords were not enough to defend twelve men seems to rule out a literal 
interpretation; and the closing words of Jesus strongly suggest that the disciples, in 
referring to actual swords, had misunderstood him. The explanation suggested by 
Harnack,4 that the sword was meant metaphorically to represent the stedfast defence 
of the Gospel under the persecution now approaching, is perhaps the best within our 
reach at present : at all events, until one obviously better has been produced, we 
cannot infer from the passage that Jesus was really encouraging his disciples to go 
about armed. Peter took a sword with him that very night, but on the first occasion on 
which he used it, he was told by Jesus not to do so. 1 

VI. It is clear that Jesus accorded a certain recognition to the civil governments of his 
day. It is doubtful whether the Temptation-story compels us to believe that he 
regarded the Roman Empire as objectively Satanic : an explanation of the story has 
been offered which involves no such supposition.2 He called the Roman coins 'the 
things that belong to Caesar, '3 and bade the Jews pay them to their owner : in the 
Fourth Gospel he is made to tell Pilatus that the latter's magisterial power over him 
had been given to him 'from above '4 : he revered King David and the Queen of 
Sheba5 : he spoke of the old Mosaic Law, with its pains and penalties, as 'the word of 
God'6 : he reckoned 'judgment' (? = the administration of justice) among the 
weightier matters of the Law, and rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for neglecting it 7 
: courtiers, judges, rulers, and councillors were numbered among his friends and 
admirers8 : he was scrupulously obedient to the Jewish Law,9 and paid the 
Templetax, even though he though it unfairK) he enjoined compliance with the State's 
demand for forced labour 1 1 : he would undertake no sort of active opposition to the 
governments of his day : he submitted meekly to the official measures that led to his 
own death; and his refusal to be made a king by the Galilaeans 1 marks a certain 
submissiveness even towards Herodes, for whom he seems to have had much less 
respect than for other rulers. Does not all this — it may be asked — does not, in 
particular, the command to 'Give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar's,' carry 
with it the duty of rendering military service if and when the government demands it? 
Important as the words about Caesar doubtless are, they must not be made to bear 
more than their fair weight of meaning. Caesar, it was well understood, had formally 
exempted the Jews from service in his legions; and the question was, not whether they 
should fight for him, but whether they should bow to his rule and pay his taxes. To 
part with one's property at the demand of another person does not make one 
responsible for all that person's doings, nor does it imply a readiness to obey any and 
every command that that person may feel he has a right to issue. Jesus sanctioned 



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disobedience to Caesar in forbidding his followers to deny him before kings and 
governors! ; and refusal to disobey his ethical teaching at Caesar's bidding would be 
but a natural extension of this precept. If it be urged that the phrase and the other 
evidence quoted point to some sort of real justification on Jesus' part of the imperial 
and other governments, it may be replied that that justification was relative 
only — relative, that is, to the imperfect and unenlightened state of the agents 
concerned. The fact that they were not as yet ready to be his own followers was an 
essential condition of his approval of their public acts. That approval, therefore, did 
not affect the ethical standard he demanded from his own disciples. 1 

VII. It is commonly assumed that obedience to the non-resistance teaching of Jesus is 
so obviously inconsistent with the peace and well-being of society that he could not 
have meant this teaching to be taken literally. Thus Professor Bethune-Baker says : "If 
the right of using force to maintain order be denied, utter social disorganization must 
result. Who can imagine that this was the aim of one who. . . ? It was not Christ's aim; 
and He never gave any such command." 2 "The self-forgetting altruism, the ideal 
humanity and charity," says Schell, "would, by a literal fulfilment of certain precepts 
of the Sermon on the Mount, offer welcome encouragement to evil propensities, and 
by its indulgence would even provoke the bad to riot in undisciplined excess."! "A 
country," says Loisy, "where all the good people conformed to these maxims would, 
instead of resembling the kingdom of heaven, be the paradise of thieves and 
criminals. "4 This plausible argument is however erroneous, for it ignores in one way 
or another three important facts : (I) The ability to practise this teaching of Jesus is 
strictly relative to the status of discipleship : the Teacher issues it for immediate 
acceptance, not by the whole of unredeemed humanity, still less by any arbitrarily 
chose local group of people (one nation, for instance, as distinct from others), but by 
the small though growing company of his own personal disciples. It is essentially a 
law for the Christian community. (2) The negative attitude which this teaching 
involves is more than compensated for by its positive counterpart. Jesus and his 
disciples use no force, but they are on that account by no means ciphers in the 
struggle against sin. The changes wrought by Jesus in the Gerasene maniac, the 
prostitute, the adulteress, the extortionate taxgatherer, and the thief on the cross, show 
what a far more efficient reformer of morals he was than the police. As we shall see 
later, his first followers worked on the same lines, and met with the same splendid 
success. Nor is it very difficult to see how enfeebled would have been this policy of 
Jesus and the early Christians, if it had been combined by them with a use of coercion 
or of the punitive power of the state. True, as long as man's will is free, moral suasion 
is not bound to succeed in any particular case; but the same is true also of the use of 
force. The point is that the principles of Jesus, as a general policy, so far from leaving 
human sin unchecked, check it more effectively than any coercion or penalization can 
do. (3) The growth of the Christian community is a gradual growth, proceeding by the 
accession of one life at a time. Two gradual processes have thus to go on pari passu, 
firstly, a gradual diminution in the number of those who use violence to restrain 
wrong, and secondly, a gradual diminution in the number of those who seem to them 
to need forcible restraint. 1 The concomitance of these processes obviously means no 
such "utter social disorganisation" as is often imagined, but a gradual and steady 
transition to greater social security. 



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VIII. Lastly, we have to consider the view which frankly admits that the teaching of 
Jesus is inconsistent with the use of arms, but regards that teaching as an 'interim 
ethic,'' framed wholly with an eye to the approaching break-up of the existing world- 
order (when by God's intervention the Kingdom would be set up), and therefore as 
having no claim to the strict obedience of modern Christians who perforce have to 
take an entirely different view of the world. Dr. Wilhelm Herrmann of Marburg 
presents this view in a paper which appears in an English form in Essays on the Social 
Gospel (London, 1907).2 On the ground of the supposed historical discovery that 
Jesus looked upon human society as near its end, he cheerfully emancipates the 
modern Christian from the duty of "absolutely obeying in our rule of life to-day, the 
traditional words of Jesus. "3 "Endeavours to imitate Jesus in points inseparable from 
His especial mission in the world, and His position — which is not ours, — towards that 
world — efforts like these lacking the sincerity of really necessary tasks, have so long 
injured the cause of Jesus, that our joy will be unalloyed when scientific study at last 
reveals to every one the impossibility of all such attempts."! "As a result of that frame 
of mind whereby we are united with Him, we desire the existence of a national State, 
with a character and with duties with which Jesus was not yet acquainted; we will not 
let ourselves be led astray, even if in this form of human nature various features are as 
sharply opposed to the mode of life and standpoint of Jesus as is the dauntless use of 
arms."l This view, though quoted from a German author, represents the standpoint of 
a good deal of critical opinion in this country, and is in fact the last stronghold of 
those who realize the impossibility of finding any sanction for war in the Gospels, but 
who yet cling to the belief that war is in these days a Christian duty. In regard to it we 
may say (I) that 'scientific study' has not yet proved that the mind of Jesus was 
always dominated by an expectation of a world-cataclysm destined to occur within 
that generation. The Gospels contain non-apocalyptic as well as apocalyptic sayings, 
and there are no grounds for ruling out the former as ungenuine. Early Christian 
thought tended to over-emphasize the apocalyptic element, a fact which argues 
strongly for the originality of the other phase of Jesus' teaching. His ethics cannot be 
explained by reference to his expectation of the approaching end. On the contrary, 
"where He gives the ground of His command, as in the case of loving enemies, 
forgiveness, and seeking the lost, it is the nature of God that He dwells upon, and not 
anything expected in the near or distant future. "2 (2) Herrmann maintains that "the 
command to love our enemies" and the words of Jesus "dealing with the love of 
peace" are not to be included among the sayings which have to be explained by the 
idea of the approaching end.l But he does not point to anything in these sayings 
which entitles him to treat them as exceptional; nor does he explain how obedience to 
them — seeing that after all they are to be obeyed — can be harmonized with "the 
dauntless use of arms." (3) The appeal to the interim-ethic theory, however sincere, 
has a pragmatic motive behind it, as Herrmann's words about the desire for a national 
state clearly reveal. "Thus Jesus brings us into conflict," he confesses, "with social 
duties to which we all wish to cling. "2 He takes no account at all of the three facts 
which have just been referred to3 as governing compliance with Jesus' teaching. 
These facts, when properly attended to and allowed for, show how utterly baseless is 
the prevalent belief that to adopt the view of Jesus' teaching advocated in these pages 
is to ensure the immediate collapse of one state or another and to hand society over to 
the control of any rascals who are strong enough to tyrannize over their fellows. 
When that pragmatic motive is shown to be based on a misapprehension, no ground 



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will remain for withholding, from our Lord's prohibition of the infliction of injury 
upon our neighbour, that obedience which all Christian people willingly admit must 
be accorded to his more general precepts of truthfulness, service, and love. 

The interim-ethic theory is, as we have said, the last fortress of militarism on 
Christian soil. Driven from that stronghold, it has no choice but to take refuge over 
the border. Its apologists eventually find that they have no option but to argue on 
grounds inconsistent with the supremacy of Christianity as a universal religion or as a 
final revelation of God. Most of the arguments we hear about 'the lesser of two evils,' 
'living in an imperfect world,' 'untimely virtues,' and so on, reduce themselves in the 
last analysis to a renunciation of Christianity, at least for the time being, as the real 
guide of life. In the fierce agony of the times, the inconsistency is unperceived by 
those who commit it; or, if it is perceived, the sacrifice of intellectual clearness 
becomes part of the great sacrifice for which the crisis calls. But he, to whose words 
men have so often fled when the organized Christianity of the hour appeared to have 
broken down or at any rate could not solve the riddle or point the way, will, when the 
smoke has cleared from their eyes, be found to possess after all the secret for which 
the human race is longing; and the only safe 'Weltpolitik' will be seen to lie in simple 
and childlike obedience to him who said : "Happy are the gentle, for they will inherit 
the earth." 

In chalking out the main divisions of our subject from this point onwards, it is not 
proposed to give the first place to any set of chronological landmarks between the 
death of Jesus about 29 a.d. and the triumph of Constantinus about 313 a.d. This does 
not mean that the Christian attitude to war underwent no change in the course of that 
long period; but such changes as there were it will be convenient to study within 
subdivisions founded on the subject-matter rather than on the lapse of time. The 
material — excluding the final summary and comments — falls naturally into two main 
divisions, firstly, the various forms in which the Christian disapproval of war 
expressed itself, such as the condemnation of it in the abstract, the emphasis laid on 
the essential peacefulness of Christianity, the place of gentleness and non-resistance 
in Christian ethics, the Christians' experience of the evils of military life and 
character, and their refusal to act as soldiers themselves; and secondly, the various 
forms of what we may call the Christian acceptance or quasi-acceptance of war, 
ranging from such ideal realms as Scriptural history, spiritual warfare, and so on, right 
up to the actual service of Christians in the Roman armies. I When we have examined 
these two complementary phases of the subject, we shall be in a position to sum up 
the situation — particularly the settlement involved in the Church's alliance with 
Constantinus, and to offer a few general observations on the question as a whole. 



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[Back to Table of Contents] 
PART II 

FORMS OF THE EARLY CHRISTIAN DISAPPROVAL OF 
WAR 

The Condemnation of War in the abstract.l — The conditions under which the books 
of the New Testament were written were not such as to give occasion for Christian 
utterances on the wrongfulness of war. The few New Testament passages expressing 
disapprobation of 'wars' and 'battles'2 probably refer in every case, not to military 
conflicts, but to strife and dissension in the more general sense. Reflection is, 
however, cast on the incessant wars of men in 'The Vision of Isaiah' : the prophet 
ascends to the firmament, "and there I saw Sammael and his hosts, and there was 
great fighting therein, and the angles of Satan were envying one another. And as 
above, so on the earth also; for the likeness of that which is in the firmament is here 
on the earth. And I said unto the angel who was with me : 'What is this war, and what 
is this envying?' And he said unto me : 'So has it been since this world was made 
until now, and this war will continue till He whom thou shalt see will come and 
destroy him'."l Aristeides attributed the prevalence of war — chiefly among the 
Greeks — to the erroneous views of men as to the nature of their gods, whom they 
pictured as waging war : "for if their gods did such things, why should they 
themselves not do them? thus from this pursuit of error it has fallen to men's lot to 
have continual wars and massacres and bitter captivity. "2 He specially mentions Ares 
and Herakles as discredited by their warlike character. 3 Justinus said that it was the 
evil angels and their offspring the demons who "sowed murders, wars, adulteries, 
excesses, and every wickedness, among men."4 Tatianus equated war and murder, 
and said that the demons excited war by means of oracles. "Thou wishest to make 
war," he says to the gentile, "and thou takest Apollon (as thy) counselor in murder" (). 
He refers to Apollon as the one "who raises up seditions and battles" and "makes 
announcements about victory in war."5 Athenagoras instances the usages of unjust 
war — the slaughter of myriads of men, the razing of cities, the burning of houses with 
their inhabitants, the devastation of land, and the destruction of entire populations — as 
samples of the worst sins, such as could not be adequately punished by any amount of 
suffering in this life.6 He also says that Christians cannot endure to see a man put to 
death, even justly. 7 In the apocryphal Acts of John, the apostle tells the Ephesians that 
military conquerors, along with kings, princes, tyrants, and boasters, will depart hence 
naked, and suffer eternal pains. 1 

Clemens of Alexandria casts aspersions on the multifarious preparation necessary for 
war, as contrasted with peace and love, and on the type of music patronized by "those 
who are practised in war and who have despised the divine fear."2 He likens the 
Christian poor to "an army without weapons, without war, without bloodshed, without 
anger, without defilement."! In the Pseudo-Justinian 'Address to the Greeks,' the 
readers are exhorted: "Be instructed by the Divine Word, and learn (about) the 
incorruptible King, and know His heroes, who never inflict slaughter on (the) 
peoples. "4 Tertullianus says that when Peter cut off Malchus' ear, Jesus "cursed the 



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works of the sword for ever after. "5 He criticizes the gentiles' greed of gold in hiring 
themselves out for military service. 6 He objects to the literal interpretation of Psalm 
xlv. 3 fas applied to Christ: 'Gird the sword upon (thy) thigh. . . extend and prosper 
and reign, on account of truth and gentleness and justice': "Who shall produce these 
(results) with the sword," he asks, "and not rather those that are contrary to gentleness 
and justice, (namely), deceit and harshness and injustice, (which are) of course the 
proper business of battles?"! "Is the laurel of triumph," he asks elsewhere, "made up 
of leaves or of corpses? is it decorated with ribbons, or tombs? is it besmeared with 
ointments, or with the tears of wives and mothers, perhaps those of some men even 
(who are) Christians — for Christ (is) among the barbarians as well?"l Hippolutos, in 
his commentary on Daniel, explains the wild beasts that lived under the tree in 
Nebuchadnezzar's dream as "the warriors and armies, which adhered to the king, 
carrying out what was commanded (them), being ready like wild beasts for making 
war and destroying, and for rending men like wild beasts. "2 One of the features of the 
Roman Empire, when viewed by this writer as the Fourth Beast and as a Satanic 
imitation of the Christian Church, was its preparation for war, and its collection of the 
noblest men from all countries as its warriors.3_ The Bardesanic 'Book of the Laws of 
the Countries' mentions the law of the Seres (a mysterious Eastern people) forbidding 
to kill, and the frequency with which kings seize countries which do not belong to 
them, and abolish their laws. 4 Origenes spoke depreciatively of the military and 
juridical professions as being prized by ignorant and blind seekers for wealth and 
glory.5 

Cyprianus declaims about the "wars scattered everywhere with the bloody horror of 
camps. The world, "he says, "is wet with mutual blood(shed): and homicide is a crime 
when individuals commit it, (but) it is called a virtue, when it is carried on publicly. 
Not the reason of innocence, but the magnitude of savagery, demands impunity for 
crimes." He censures also the vanity and deceitful pomp of the military office. 1 
"What use is it," asks Commodianus, "to know about the vices of kings and their 
wars?"2 Gregorios censures certain Christians for seizing the property of others in 
compensation for what they had lost in a raid made by the barbarians: just as the 
latter, he says, had "inflicted the (havoc) of war" on these Christians, they were acting 
similarly towards others. 3 The Didaskalia forbids the receipt of monetary help for the 
church from "any of the magistrates of the Roman Empire, who are polluted by 
war. "4 The Pseudo-Justinian Cohortatio censures the god Zeus as being in Homer's 
words "disposer of the wars of men."5 In the Clementine Homilies, Peter asks, if God 
loves war, who wishes for peace?,6 speaks obscurely of a female prophecy, who, 
"when she conceives and brings forth temporary kings, stirs up wars, which shed 
much blood,"7 and points his hearers to the continual wars going on even in their day 
owing to the existence of many kings8 ; Zacchaeus depicts the heretic Simon as 
'standing like a general, guarded by the crowd'9 ; and Clemens tells the Greeks that 
the lusts of the flesh must be sins, because they beget wars, murders, and confusion. 10 
Similarly in the Recognitions, Peter pleads that a decision by truth and worth is better 
than a decision by force of arms, 1 1 and says: "Wars and contests are born from sins; 
but where sin is not committed, there is peace to the soul,"l "hence" (i.e. from 
idolworship) "the madness of wars blazed out"2 ; and Niceta remarks that implacable 
wars arise from lust.3_ Methodios says that the nations, intoxicated by the devil, 



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sharpen their passions for murderous battles,! and speaks of the bloody wars of the 
past.5 

The treatise of Arnobius abounds in allusions to the moral iniquity of war. Contrasting 
Christ with the rulers of the Roman Empire, he asks: "Did he, claiming royal power 
for himself, occupy the whole world with fierce legions, and, (of) nations at peace 
from the beginning, destroy and remove some, and compel others to put their necks 
beneath his yoke and obey him?"6 "What use is it to the world that there should be. . . 
generals of the greatest experience in warfare, skilled in the capture of cities, (and) 
soldiers immoveable and invincible in cavalry battles or in a fight on foot?"7 
Arnobius roundly denies that it was any part of the divine purpose that men's souls, 
"forgetting that they are from one source, one parent and head, should tear up and 
break down the rights of kinship, overturn their cities, devastate lands in enmity, make 
slaves of freemen, violate maidens and other men's wives, hate one another, envy the 
joys and good fortune of others, in a word all curse, carp at, and rend one another with 
the biting of savage teeth."8 He rejects with indignation the pagan idea that divine 
beings could patronize, or take pleasure or interest in, human wars. Speaking of Mars, 
for instance, he says:" If he is the one who allays the madness of war, why do wars 
never cease for a day? But if he is the author of them, we shall therefore say that a 
god, for the indulgence of his own pleasure, brings the whole world into collision, 
sows causes of dissension and strife among nations separated by distance of lands, 
brings together from different (quarters) so many thousands of mortals and speedily 
heaps the fields with corpses, makes blood flow in torrents, destroys the stablest 
empires, levels cities with the ground, takes away liberty from the freeborn and 
imposes (on them) the state of slavery, rejoices in civil broils, in the fratricidal death 
of brothers who die together and in the parricidal horror of mortal conflict between 
sons and fathers."! 

Lactantius also, in his 'Divine Institutes,' again and again alludes to the prevalence of 
war as one of the great blots on the history and morals of humanity. I quote three only 
of the numerous passages. Speaking of the Romans, he says: "They despise indeed the 
excellence of the athlete, because there is no harm in it; but royal excellence, because 
it is wont to do harm extensively, they so admire that they think that brave and 
warlike generals are placed in the assembly of the gods, and that there is no other way 
to immortality than by leading armies, devastating foreign (countries), destroying 
cities, overthrowing towns, (and) either slaughtering or enslaving free peoples. Truly, 
the more men they have afflicted, despoiled, (and) slain, the more noble and 
renowned do they think themselves; and, captured by the appearance of empty glory, 
they give the name of excellence to their crimes. Now I would rather that they should 
make gods for themselves from the slaughter of wild beasts than that they should 
approve of an immortality so bloody. If any one has slain a single man, he is regarded 
as contaminated and wicked, nor do they think it right that he should be admitted to 
this earthly dwelling of the gods. But he who has slaughtered endless thousands of 
men, deluged the fields with blood, (and) infected rivers (with it), is admitted not only 
to a temple, but even to heaven."! "They believe that the gods love whatever they 
themselves desire, whatever it is for the sake of which acts of theft and homicide and 
brigandage rage every day, for the sake of which wars throughout the whole world 
overturn peoples and cities. "2 In criticizing the definition of virtue as that which puts 



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first the advantages of one's country, he points out that this means the extension of the 
national boundaries by means of aggressive wars on neighbouring states, and so on: 
"all which things are certainly not virtues, but the overthrowing of virtues. For, in the 
first place, the connection of human society is taken away; innocence is taken away; 
abstention from (what is) another's is taken away; in fact, justice itself is taken away; 
for justice cannot bear the cutting asunder of the human race, and, wherever arms 
glitter, she must be put to flight and banished. . . . For how can he be just, who injures, 
hates, despoils, kills? And those who strive to be of advantage to their country do all 
these things."3 Eusebios ascribed the incessant occurrence of furious wars in pre- 
Christian times, not only to the multiplicity of rulers before the establishment of the 
Roman Empire, but also to the instigation of the demons who tyrannized over the 
nations that worshipped them.I He refers to Ares as "the demon who is the bane of 
mortals and the lover of war"2 and remarks that "the din of strife, and battles, and 
wars, are the concern of Athena, but not peace or the things of peace. "3 

This collection of passages will suffice to show how strong and deep was the early 
Christian revulsion from and disapproval of war, both on account of the dissension it 
represented and of the infliction of bloodshed and suffering which it involved. The 
quotations show further how closely warfare and murder were connected in Christian 
thought by their possession of a common element — homicide; and the connection 
gives a fresh significance for the subject before us to the extreme Christian 
sensitiveness in regard to the sin of murder — a sensitiveness attested by the frequency 
with which warnings, prohibitions, and condemnations in regard to this particular sin 
were uttered and the severity with which the Church dealt with the commission of it 
by any of her own members. The strong disapprobation felt by Christians for war was 
due to its close relationship with the deadly sin that sufficed to keep the man guilty of 
it permanently outside the Christian community. 4 

The Essential Peacefulness of Christianity. — The natural counterpart of the Christian 
disapproval of war was the conception of peace as being of the very stuff and 
substance of the Christian life. Peace, of course, meant a number of different things to 
the early Christian. It meant reconciliation between himself and God; it meant the 
stilling of turbulent passions and evil desires in his own heart; it meant the harmony 
and concord that normally reigned within the Christian community; it meant (to Paul, 
for instance, in writing 'Ephesians') the reconciliation of Jew and gentile; it meant 
immunity from annoyance and persecution at the hands of pagans; it meant also 
freedom from the distractions, toils, and dangers of actual war. Little purpose would 
be served by attempting an analysis of all occurrences of the word 'peace' in early 
Christian literature according to the particular shade of meaning in each case, with the 
object of dissolving out the exact amount said about peace as the antithesis and 
correlative of war. The result would be little more than a general impression of the 
Christian inclination towards, and approval of, peace. That fact in itself is not without 
significance: for, while there are many places in which peace is mentioned without 
any apparent reference to the military calling — for instance, where Peter, shortly 
before baptizing the centurion Cornelius, gave him the pith of the Christian gospel as 
"the word which God sent to the sons of Israel, giving the good news of peace 
through Jesus Christ"! — yet the close and repeated identification of Christianity with 
peace even in a vague sense (e.g., in the opening and closing salutations of letters, and 



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in phrases like 'the God of Peace') has an important bearing on the Christian attitude 
to war, particularly in view of the many direct and explicit allusions we find to peace 
in the military sense. It will be sufficient for our present purpose to quote only a few 
of the more explicit passages. Paul, for instance, tells the Romans: "If possible, as far 
as lies in your power, be at peace with all men"2 : similarly, the author of Hebrews: 
"Pursue peace with all (men). "3 The evangelist 'Matthew' quotes the words of Jesus: 
"Happy are the peace-makers "4 and Luke tells us that at the birth of Jesus the host of 
angels sang: "Glory in the highest to God and on earth peace among men whom He 
favours,"5 and represents Zacharias as praying God "to guide our feet into (the) way 
of peace. "6 In the liturgical prayer at the end of the epistle of Clemens of Rome 
occurs a petition for world-wide peace among men generally: "Give concord and 
peace to us and to all who inhabit the earth, as Thou gavest to our fathers."! Then he 
prays specially for the rulers: "Give them, Lord, health, peace, concord, stability, that 
they may administer without offence the government given to them by Thee. . . . Do 
Thou, Lord, direct their counsel. . . in order that they, administering piously with 
peace and gentleness the authority given them by Thee, may find favour with Thee." 1 
Ignatius exclaims: "Nothing is better than peace, by which all war of those in heaven 
and those on earth is abolished."2 A Christian Elder quoted by Eirenaios said that 
King Solomon "announced to the nations that peace would come and prefigured the 
reign of Christ. "3 Justinus told the Emperors that the Christians were the best allies 
and helpers they had in promoting peace,4 on the ground that their belief in future 
punishment and in the omniscience of God provided a stronger deterrent from 
wrongdoing than any laws could do. 

The Christian Church appropriated to itself that old prophecy, found both in Isaiah 
and Micah, of the abolition of war in the Messianic age. "And many peoples shall go 
and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the 
God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for 
out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He 
shall judge among the nations, and convict many peoples; and they shall beat their 
swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-knives; nation shall not lift 
sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. "5 This prophecy is 
quoted, in whole or in part, by a succession of Christian writers, who all urge that it is 
being fulfilled in the extension of Christianity, the adherents of which are peace- 
loving people, who do not make war. Thus Justinus quotes it in his Apology, and goes 
on: "And that this has happened, ye can be persuaded. For from Jerusalem twelve men 
went out into the world, and these (were) unlearned, unable to speak; but by (the) 
power of God they told every race of men that they had been sent by Christ to teach 
all (men) the word of God. And we, who were formerly slayers of one another, not 
only do not make war upon our enemies, but, for the sake of neither lying nor 
deceiving those who examine us, gladly die confessing Christ."! He quotes it again in 
his Dialogue with Truphon the Jew, and insists in opposition to the Jewish 
interpretation that it is already being fulfilled: "and we," he goes on, "who had been 
filled with war and mutual slaughter and every wickedness, have each one — all the 
world over — changed the instruments of war, the swords into ploughs and the spears 
into farming instruments, and we cultivate piety, righteousness, love for men, faith, 
(and) the hope which is from the Father Himself through the Crucified One. "2 
Eirenaios quotes it, and comments upon it as follows: "If therefore another law and 



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word, issuing from Jerusalem, has thus made peace among those nations which 
received it, and through them convinced many a people of folly, it seems clear that the 
prophets were speaking of someone else (besides Jesus). But if the law of liberty, that 
is, the Word of God, being proclaimed to the whole earth by the Apostles who went 
out from Jerusalem, effected a change to such an extent that (the nations) themselves 
wrought their swords and lances of war into ploughs and changed them into sickles, 
which He gave for reaping corn, (that is), into instruments of peace, and if they now 
know not how to fight, but, (when they are) struck, offer the other cheek also, (then) 
the prophets did not say this of anyone else, but of him who did it. Now this is our 
Lord," etc. 1 Tertullianus quotes it, and asks: "Who else therefore are understood than 
ourselves, who, taught by the new law, observe those things, the old law — the 
abolition of which the very action (of changing swords into ploughs, etc.) proves was 
to come — being obliterated? For the old law vindicated itself by the vengeance of the 
sword, and plucked out eye for eye, and requited injury with punishment; but the new 
law pointed to clemency, and changed the former savagery of swords and lances into 
tranquillity, and refashioned the former infliction of war upon rivals and foes of the 
law into the peaceful acts of ploughing and cultivating the earth. And so. . . the 
observance of the new law and of spiritual circumcision has shone forth in acts of 
peaceful obedience."! He quotes it again clause by clause in his treatise against 
Markion, inserting comments as he goes along: '"And they shall beat their swords 
into ploughs, and their spears into sickles,' that is, they shall change the dispositions 
of injurious minds and hostile tongues and every (sort of) wickedness and blasphemy 
into the pursuits of modesty and peace. 'And nation shall not take sword against 
nation,' namely, (the sword) of dissension. 'And they shall not learn to make war any 
more,' that is, to give effect to hostile feelings: so that here too thou mayest learn that 
Christ is promised not (as one who is) powerful in war, but (as) a bringer of peace;" 
and he goes on to insist that it is Christ who must be referred to I He adverts to the 
prophecy again a little later: "And then 'they beat their swords into ploughs. . . ,' that 
is, minds (that were) once wild and savage they change into feelings (that are) upright 
and productive of good fruit. "2 Origenes quotes it: "To those who ask us whence we 
have come or whom we have (for) a leader, we say that we have come in accordance 
with the counsels of Jesus to cut down our warlike and arrogant swords of argument 
into ploughshares, and we convert into sickles the spears we formerly used in 
fighting. For we no longer take 'sword against a nation,' nor do we learn 'any more to 
make war,' having become sons of peace for the sake of Jesus, who is our leader, 
instead of (following) the ancestral (customs) in which we were strangers to the 
covenants."! It is quoted in the Pseudo-Cyprianic treatise 'Against the Jews' and in 
the 'Dialogus de Recta Fidei' as a reference to the state of affairs inaugurated by 
Christ.4 Lastly, Eusebios quotes it — after referring to the multiplicity of rulers in pre- 
Christian times and the consequent frequency of wars and universality of military 
training — as prophesying the change that was actually introduced at the advent of 
Christ. True, he conceives the fulfilment to lie — in part at least — in the unification of 
all governments in that of Augustus and the resultant cessation of conflicts; but he 
goes on to point out that, while the demons goaded men into furious wars with one 
another, "at the same time, by our Saviour's most pious and most peaceful teaching, 
the destruction of polytheistic error began to be accomplished, and the dissensions of 
the nations immediately began to find rest from former evils. Which (fact)," he 



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concludes, "I regard as a very great proof of our Saviour's divine and irresistible 
power."! 

Resuming our account of the various laudatory allusions of Christian authors to peace, 
we find Athenagoras saying to the Emperors: "By your sagacity the whole inhabited 
world enjoys profound peace. "2 Clemens of Alexandria says of the Christians: "We 
are being educated, not in war, but in peace"; "We, the peaceful race" are more 
temperate than "the warlike races"; among musical instruments, "man is in reality a 
pacific instrument," the others exciting military and amorous passions; "but we have 
made use of one instrument, the peaceful word only, wherewith we honour God."3 
Tertullianus, defending the Christian meetings, asks: "To whose danger did we ever 
meet together? What we are when we are separated, that we are when we are gathered 
together: what we are as individuals, that we are as a body, hurting no one, troubling 
no one"4 : he calls the Christian "the son of peace. "5 The devil, says Hippolutos, 
"knows that the prayer of the saints produces peace for the world."6 The Pseudo- 
Melitonian Apologist prescribed the knowledge and fear of the one God as the only 
means by which a kingdom could be peaceably governed.7 The Bardesanic 'Book of 
the Laws of the Countries' foretold the coming of universal peace as a result of the 
dissemination of new teaching and by a gift from God. 1 In the Pseudo-Justinian 
'Address to the Greeks,' the Word of God is invoked as: "O trumpet of peace to the 
soul that is at war! "2 Commodianus says to the Christian: "Make thyself a peace- 
maker to all men."3 Cyprianus commends patience as that which "guards the peace. "4 
Arnobius tells the pagans: "It would not be difficult to prove that, after Christ was 
heard of in the world, those wars, which ye say were brought about on account of (the 
gods') hatred for our religion, not only did not increase, but were even greatly 
diminished by the repression of furious passions. For since we — so large a force of 
men — have received (it) from his teachings and laws, that evil ought not to be repaid 
with evil, that it is better to endure a wrong than to inflict (it), to shed one's own 
(blood) rather than stain one's hands and conscience with the blood of another, the 
ungrateful world has long been receiving a benefit from Christ, through whom the 
madness of savagery has been softened, and has begun to withhold its hostile hands 
from the blood of a kindred creature. But if absolutely all who understand that they 
are men by virtue, not of the form of their bodies, but of the power of their reason, 
were willing to lend an ear for a little while to his healthful and peaceful decrees, and 
would not, swollen with pride and arrogance, trust to their own senses rather than to 
his admonitions, the whole world would long ago have turned the uses of iron to 
milder works and be living in the softest tranquillity, and would have come together 
in healthy concord without breaking the sanctions of treaties."! The martyr Lucianus 
told the judge at Nicomedia that one of the laws given by Christ to Christians was that 
they should "be keen on peace. "2 

It might of course be urged that these expressions or at least the bulk of them voiced 
the sentiments of a community that bore no political responsibility and had been 
disciplined by no political experience. "The opinions of the Christians of the first 
three centuries," says Lecky, "were usually formed without any regard to the 
necessities of civil or political life; but when the Church obtained an ascendancy, it 
was found necessary speedily to modify them."3 It must of course be frankly admitted 
that the passages we have quoted do not explicitly handle the ultimate problems with 



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which the philosophy of war and penal justice has to deal: but it is quite another 
question whether the policy of conduct dictated by what many might consider this 
blind attachment to peace and this blind horror of war did not involve a better solution 
of those problems than had yet been given to the world. The modifications of which 
Lecky speaks were due to other causes than the enlargement of the Church's vision 
and experience. The grave relaxation of her early moral purity had a good deal to do 
with it: and, as we shall see later, the early Church was not without at least one 
competent thinker who was fully equal to giving a good account of the peace-loving 
views of himself and his brethren in face of the objections raised by the practical 
pagan critic. 

The Christian Treatment of Enemies and Wrongdoers. — A very interesting sidelight is 
cast on the attitude of the early Christians to war by the serious view they took of 
those precepts of the Master enjoining love for all, including enemies, and forbidding 
retaliation upon the wrongdoer, and the close and literal way in which they 
endeavoured to obey them. This view and this obedience of those first followers of 
Jesus are the best commentary we can have upon the problematic teaching in 
question, and the best answer we can give to those who argue that it was not meant to 
be practised save in a perfect society, or that it refers only to the inner disposition of 
the heart and not to the outward actions, or that it concerns only the personal and 
private and not the social and political relationships of life. The Christian emphasis on 
the duty of love may be thought by some to have little bearing on the question of war, 
inasmuch as it is possible to argue that one can fight without bitterness and kill in 
battle without hatred. Whatever may be thought on that particular point, the important 
fact for us to notice just now is, not only that the early Christians considered 
themselves bound by these precepts of love and non-resistance in an extremely close 
and literal way, but that they did actually interpret them as ruling out the indictment of 
wrongdoers in the law-courts and participation in the acts of war. And when we 
consider that these same simple-minded Christians of the first generations did more 
for the moral purification of the world in which they lived than perhaps has ever been 
done before or since, their principles will appear to be not quite so foolish as they are 
often thought to be. 

We proceed to quote the main utterances of the early Christian writers on this subject. 
The Apostle Paul writes to the Thessalonians: "May the Lord make you to increase 
and abound in love towards one another and towards all. 1 . . . See (to it) that no one 
renders to any evil in return for evil, but always pursue what is good towards one 
another and towards all. "2 To the Galatians: "As then we have opportunity, let us 
work that which is good towards all. "3 To the Corinthians: "What (business) is it of 
mine to judge outsiders?. . . outsiders God will judge. "4 To the Romans: "Render to 
no one evil for evil. . . . If possible, as far as lies in your power, be at peace with all 
men. Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but leave room for the wrath (of God); for it 
is written: 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.' But if thine enemy 
hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for by doing this thou wilt heap coals of 
fire on his head. Be not conquered by evil, but conquer evil with (what is) good. . . . 
Owe no man anything, except mutual love: for he who loves his neighbour has 
fulfilled the Law. For the (commandment): 'Thou shalt not commit adultery,' 'Thou 
shalt not kill ' 'Thou shalt not steal,' 'Thou shalt not covet,' and whatever other 



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commandment there is, is summed up in this saying: 'Thou shalt love thy neighbour 
as thyself.' Love does not work evil on a neighbour: love therefore is the fulfilment of 
the Law."5 To the Philippians: "Let your forbearance be known to all men."6 A 
practical instance of the way in which Paul 'conquered evil with what is good' 
appears in his treatment of Onesimos, the slave who had robbed his Christian master 
and then run away from him: Paul, who came across him at Rome, called him 'My 
child, whom I have begotten in my bonds,' and gained by love so great and good an 
influence over him as to be able to send him back with a letter of apology and 
commendation to his offended master. 1 In the Pastorals we read: "The servant of God 
ought not to fight, but to be mild to all, a (skilled) teacher, patient of evil (), gently 
admonishing his opponents — God may possibly give them repentance (leading) to a 
knowledge of truth, and they may return to soberness out of the snare of the devil"2 ; 
"Remind them. . . to be ready for every good work, to rail at no one, to be 
uncontentious, forbearing, displaying all gentleness towards all men."3 In the Epistle 
of James: "With it (the tongue) we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse 
men who are made in the likeness of God. Out of the same mouth issues blessing and 
cursing. My brothers, this ought not to be so. "4 In the Epistle of Peter: "Honour all 
men.5 . . . For unto this were ye called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you 
an example in order that ye might follow in his footsteps:. . . who, when he was 
reviled, did not revile in return, when he suffered, did not threaten, but entrusted 
himself to Him who judges righteously. 6 . . . Finally, (let) all (be). . . humble, not 
rendering evil in return for evil or reviling in return for reviling, but on the contrary 
blessing (those who revile you): for unto this were ye called, in order that ye might 
inherit a blessing. 1 . . . For it is better, if the Will of God wills (it so), to suffer for 
doing right rather than for doing wrong: because Christ also suffered once for sins, the 
righteous for the unrighteous, in order that he might bring us to God."2 We do not 
need to quote over again the passages in the Gospels bearing upon this aspect of 
Christian conduct, as they have already been fully considered in our examination of 
the teaching of Jesus; but it is important to bear in mind the immense significance 
which those passages would have for the evangelists who embodied them in their 
Gospels and for the contemporary generation of Christians. Echoes of them are heard 
in other Christian writings of the time. Thus the Didache says: "This is the way of 
life: first, thou shalt love the God who made thee, secondly, thy neighbour as thyself: 
and all things whatsoever thou wouldest not should happen to thee, do not thou to 
another. The teaching of these words is this: Bless those who curse you, and pray for 
your enemies, and fast on behalf of those who persecute you: for what thanks (will be 
due to you), if ye love (only) those who love you? do not the gentiles also do the 
same? But love ye those who hate you, and ye shall not have an enemy. ... If anyone 
give thee a blow upon the right cheek, turn the other also to him, and thou shalt be 
perfect: if anyone impress thee (to go) one mile, go two with him: if anyone take 
away thy cloak, give him thy tunic also: if anyone take from thee what is thine, do not 
demand it back.3 . . . Thou shalt not plan any evil against thy neighbour. Thou shalt 
not hate any man; but some thou shalt reprove, on some thou shalt have mercy, for 
some thou shalt pray, and some thou shalt love above thine own soul. 1 . . . Thou shalt 
not become liable to anger — for anger leads to murder — nor jealous nor contentious 
nor passionate, for from all these things murders are born."2 "Every word," says the 
Epistle of Barnabas, "which issues from you through your mouth in faith and love, 
shall be a means of conversion and hope to many. "3 



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An eloquent practical example of the true and typical Christian policy towards sinful 
and wayward paganism, is that beautiful story told by Clemens of Alexandria about 
the aged apostle John. The story has every appearance of being historically true, at 
least in substance; but, even if fictitious, it must still be 'in character,' and therefore 
have value as evidence for the approved Christian method of grappling with heathen 
immorality. The story is briefly as follows. John, while visiting the Christians in some 
city — perhaps Smyrna — saw in the church a handsome heathen youth, and feeling 
attracted to him, entrusted him, in the presence of Christian witnesses, to the bishop's 
care. The bishop took the youth home, taught, and baptized him; and then, thinking 
him secure, neglected him. When thus prematurely freed from restraint, bad 
companions got hold of him, and by degrees corrupted and enticed him into evil ways 
and finally into the commission of some great crime. He then took to the mountains 
with them as a brigand-chief, and committed acts of bloodshed and cruelty. Some 
time after, John visited the same city again, and, learning on enquiry what had 
happened, called for a horse and guide, and at length found his way unarmed into the 
young captain's presence. The latter fled away in shame; but the apostle pursued him 
with entreaties: "Why, my child, dost thou flee from me, thine own father, unarmed 
(and) aged (as I am)? Have mercy on me, my child; fear not. Thou still hast hope of 
life. I will give account to Christ for thee. If need be, I will willingly endure thy death 
(for thee), as the Lord endured it for us. I will give my life for thine. Stand; believe; 
Christ has sent me." The youth halted, looked downwards, cast away his weapons, 
trembled, and wept. When the apostle approached, the youth embraced him, and 
poured forth confessions and lamentations. John assured him of the Saviour's pardon, 
and, falling on his knees, and kissing the right hand which the youth had concealed in 
shame, prevailed upon him to suffer himself to be led back to the church. There the 
apostle spent time with him in intercessory prayer, prolonged fasting, and multiplied 
counsels, and did not depart until he had restored him to the church, 'a trophy of 
visible resurrection. '1 

Ignatius writes to the Ephesians: "And on behalf of the rest of men, pray unceasingly. 
For there is in them a hope of repentance, that they may attain to God. Allow them 
therefore to become disciples even through your works. Towards their anger (be) ye 
gentle; towards their boasting (be) ye meek; against their railing (oppose) ye your 
prayers; against their error (be) ye steadfast in the faith: against their savagery (be) ye 
mild, not being eager to imitate them. Let us be found their brothers in forbearance: 
and let us be eager to be imitators of the Lord, (to see) who can be most wronged, 
who (most) deprived, who (most) despised, in order that no plant of the devil be found 
in you, but in all chastity and temperance ye may remain in Jesus Christ as regards 
both flesh and spirit."! He says to the Trallians of their bishop: "His gentleness is a 
power: I believe even the godless respect him."2 "I need gentleness," he tells them, 
"by which the Ruler of this age is brought to nought."3 He exhorts his friend 
Polukarpos, the bishop of Smyrna: "Forbear all men in love, as indeed thou dost."4 
Polukarpos himself tells the Philippians that God will raise us from the dead if we "do 
His will and walk in His commandments. . . not rendering evil in return for evil, or 
reviling in return for reviling, or fisticuff in return for fisticuff, or curse in return for 
curse. "5 "Pray also," he says, "for kings and authorities and rulers and for those who 
persecute and hate you and for the enemies of the cross, that your fruit may be 
manifest among all, that ye may be perfect in Him."6 Aristeides says of the 



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Christians: "They appeal to those who wrong them and make them friendly to 
themselves; they are eager to do good to their enemies; they are mild and 
conciliatory."? Diognetos is told that the Christians "love all (men), and are 
persecuted by all;. . . they are reviled, and they bless; they are insulted, and are 
respectful."8 Hermas includes in his enumeration of Christian duties those of 
"withstanding no one,. . . bearing insult, being longsuffering, having no remembrance 
of wrongs."! The author of the so-called second Epistle of Clemens reproves his 
readers for not being true to these principles: "For the gentiles, hearing from our 
mouth the words of God, are impressed by their beauty and greatness: then, learning 
that our works are not worthy of the things we say, they turn to railing, saying that it 
is some deceitful tale. For when they hear from us that God says: 'No thanks (will be 
due) to you, if ye love (only) those who love you; but thanks (will be due) to you, if 
ye love your enemies and those that hate you' — when they hear this, they are 
impressed by the overplus of goodness: but when they see that we do not love, not 
only those who hate (us), but even those who love (us), they laugh at us, and the 
Name is blasphemed."! 

"We," says Justinus, "who hated and slew one another, and because of (differences in) 
customs would not share a common hearth with those who were not of our tribe, now, 
after the appearance of Christ, have become sociable, and pray for our enemies, and 
try to persuade those who hate (us) unjustly, in order that they, living according to the 
good suggestions of Christ, may share our hope of obtaining the same (reward) from 
the God who is Master of all. 3 . . . And as to loving all (men), he has taught as 
follows: 'If ye love (only) those who love you, what new thing do ye do? for even 
fornicators do this. But I say to you: Pray for your enemies and love those who hate 
you and bless those who curse you and pray for those who act spitefully towards 
you. '4 . . . And as to putting up with evil and being serviceable to all and without 
anger; this is what he says: 'To him that smiteth thy cheek, offer the other (cheek) as 
well, and do not stop (the man) that takes away thy tunic or thy cloak. But whoever is 
angry is liable to the fire. Every one who impresses thee (to go) a mile, follow (for) 
two (miles). Let your good works shine before men, that seeing (them) they may 
worship your Father in heaven.' For (we) must not resist: nor has (God) wished us to 
be imitators of the wicked, but has bidden (us) by patience and gentleness lead all 
(men) from (the) shame and lust of the evil (things). And this we are able to show in 
the case of many who were (formerly) on your side. They changed from (being) 
violent and tyrannical, conquered either (through) having followed the constancy of 
(their Christian) neighbours' life, or (through) having noticed the strange patience of 
fellow-travellers when they were overreached, or (through) having experienced (it in 
the case) of those with whom they had dealings."! 

"We have learnt," says Athenagoras, "not only not to strike back and not to go to law 
with those who plunder and rob us, but with some, if they buffet us on the side of the 
head, to offer the other side of the head to them for a blow, and with others, if they 
take away our tunic, to give them also our cloak.2 . . . What then are those teachings 
in which we are brought up?" He then quotes the familiar words of Mt v. 44 f, and 
asks what logician ever loved and blessed and prayed for his enemies, instead of 
plotting some evil against them: but among the Christians, he says, there are those 
who "do not rehearse speeches, but display good deeds, (viz.) not hitting back when 



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they are struck, and not going to law when they are robbed, giving to those that ask, 
and loving their neighbours as themselves."! He speaks of the Christians later as 
those "to whom it is not lawful, when they are struck, not to offer themselves (for 
more blows), nor, when defamed, not to bless: for it is not enough to be just — and 
justice is to return like for like — but it is incumbent (upon us) to be good and patient 
of evil. "2 Speratus, the martyr of Scilli, told the proconsul: "We have never spoken 
evil (of others), but when ill-treated we have given thanks — because we pay heed to 
our Emperor" (i.e. Christ). 3 Theophilos wrote: "In regard to our being well-disposed, 
not only to those of our own tribe, as some think (but also to our enemies), Isaiah the 
prophet said: 'Say to those that hate and loathe you, Ye are our brothers, in order that 
the name of the Lord may be glorified and it may be seen in their gladness.' And the 
Gospel says: 'Love your enemies, and pray for those who treat you spitefully. For if 
ye love (only) those that love you, what reward have ye? even the robbers and the 
taxgatherers do this '."4 

Eirenaios refers on several occasions to this teaching. One of the passages we have 
already had before us.5 Elsewhere he quotes Jesus' prayer, 'Father, forgive them 
as an instance of obedience to his own command to love and pray for enemies. He 
argues from the prayer that the sufferings of Jesus could not have been in appearance 
only, as the Docetic errorists maintained: if they were, then his precepts in the Sermon 
on the Mount would be misleading, and "we shall be even above the Master, while we 
suffer and endure things which the Master did not suffer and endure."! The Lord bade 
us, he says later, "love not neighbours only, but even enemies, and be not only good 
givers and sharers, but even givers of free gifts to those who take away what is ours. 
'For to him that takes away (thy) tunic from thee,' he says, 'give to him thy cloak 
also; and from him who takes away what is thine, demand (it) not back; and as ye 
wish that men should do to you, do ye to them' : so that we may not grieve as if we did 
not want to be defrauded, but rejoice as if we gave willingly, rather conferring a 
favour on neighbours, than bowing to necessity. 'And if any one,' he says, 'impress 
thee (to go) a mile, go two more with him,' so that thou mayest not follow as a slave, 
but mayest go in front like a free man, showing thyself ready in all things and useful 
to (thy) neighbour; not regarding their badness, but practising thy goodness, 
conforming thyself to the Father, 'who makes His sun rise on bad and good, and rains 
on just and unjust'. "2 Eirenaios in another work remarks that the Law will no longer 
say '"Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth' to him who regards no one as his enemy, but 
all as his neighbours: for this reason he can never stretch out his hand for 
vengeance."! Apollonius told the Roman Senate that Christ "taught (us) to allay (our) 
anger,. . . to increase (our) love (for others) (),... not to turn to (the) punishment () of 
those who wrong (us). . . ."! 

Clemens of Alexandria alludes several times to the teaching of Mt v. 44 f, Lk vi. 27 
f,2 and says further that the Gnostic, by which he means the thorough-going Christian, 
"never bears a grudge (), nor is vexed () with anyone, even though he be worthy of 
hatred for what he does: for he reveres the Maker, and loves the one who shares in 
life, pitying and praying for him because of his ignorance."! Those who pray that the 
wrongs they suffer should be visited upon the wrongdoers, Clemens considers as 
better than those who wish to retaliate personally by process of law; but he says that 
they "are not yet passionless, if they do not become entirely forgetful of wrong and 



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pray even for their enemies according to the Lord's teaching." After some further 
words about forgiveness, he goes on to say that the Gnostic "not only thinks it right 
that the good (man) should leave to others the judgment of those who have done him 
wrong, but he wishes the righteous man to ask from those judges forgiveness of sins 
for those who have trespassed against him; and rightly so. "4 "Above all," he says 
elsewhere, "Christians are not allowed to correct by violence sinful wrongdoings. For 
(it is) not those who abstain from evil by compulsion, but those (who abstain) by 
choice, (that) God crowns. For it is not possible for a man to be good steadily except 
by his own choice. "5 

Tertullianus adverts to the command to love enemies and not to retaliate, and 
reassures the pagans that, although the numbers of the Christians would make it easy 
for them to avenge the wrongs they suffer, this principle puts an actual revolt out of 
the question: "For what war," he asks, "should we not be fit (and) eager, even though 
unequal in numbers, (we) who are so willing to be slaughtered — if according to that 
discipline (of ours) it was not more lawful to be slain than to slay?"l "The Christian 
does not hurt even his enemy."2 In his treatise on patience, he quotes the words about 
turning the other cheek, rejoicing when cursed, leaving vengeance to God, not 
judging, etc., and insists on the duty of obeying them in all cases. "It is absolutely 
forbidden to repay evil with evil. "3 It is true that Tertullianus smirches somewhat the 
beauty of the Christian principle of the endurance of wrongs, by inviting the injured 
one to take pleasure in the disappointment which his patience causes to the 
wrongdoer. The spirit of retaliation is kept, and 'coals of fire' selected as the most 
poignant means of giving effect to it. But his failure to catch the real spirit of 
Christian love renders his testimony to what was the normal Christian policy all the 
more unimpeachable. He calls the Christian the son of peace, for whom it will be 
unfitting even to go to law, and who does not avenge his wrongs. 4 The Bardesanic 
'Book of the Laws of the Countries' compares those who take it upon themselves to 
inflict vengeance, to lions and leopards. 5 

Origenes has several important allusions to this aspect of Christian teaching. I select 
three only for quotation. He points out that God united the warring nations of the earth 
under the rule of Augustus, in order that by the suppression of war the spread of the 
gospel might be facilitated: for "how," he asks, "would it have been possible for this 
peaceful teaching, which does not allow (its adherents) even to defend themselves 
against 1 (their) enemies, to prevail, unless at the coming of Jesus the (affairs) of the 
world had everywhere changed into a milder (state)?"2 Later he says: "If a revolt had 
been the cause of the Christians combining, and if they had derived the(ir) origin from 
the Jews, to whom it was allowed () to take arms on behalf of the(ir) families and to 
destroy (their) enemies, the Lawgiver of (the) Christians would not have altogether 
forbidden (the) destruction of man, teaching that the deed of daring (on the part) of his 
own disciples against a man, however unrighteous he be, is never right — for he did 
not deem it becoming to his own divine legislation to allow the destruction of any 
man whatever" () 3 Later still, in dealing with the difference between the Mosaic and 
Christian dispensations, he says: "It would not be possible for the ancient Jews to 
keep their civil economy unchanged, if, let us suppose, they obeyed the constitution 
(laid down) according to the gospel. For it would not be possible for Christians to 
make use, according to the Law of Moses, of (the) destruction of (their) enemies or of 



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those who had acted contrary to the Law and were judged worthy of destruction by 
fire or stoning. . . . Again, if thou wert to take away from the Jews of that time, who 
had a civil economy and a land of their own, the (right) to go out against the(ir) 
enemies and serve as soldiers on behalf of their ancestral (institutions) and to destroy 
or otherwise punish the adulterers or murderers or (men) who had done something of 
that kind, nothing would be left but for them to be wholly and utterly destroyed, 
the(ir) enemies setting upon the nation, when they were weakened and prevented by 
their own law from defending themselves against the(ir) enemies."! These statements 
of Origenes are important for several reasons — for the clear indication they give that 
in the middle of the third century the 'hard sayings' of the Sermon on the Mount were 
still adhered to as the proper policy for Christians, for the direct bearing which those 
sayings were felt to have on the question of war, and for the frank recognition which 
Origenes accords to the place of sub-Christian ethical standards in the world's 
development. 

Cyprianus lays it down that "when an injury has been received, one has to remit and 
forgive it," "requital for wrongs is not to be given," "enemies are to be loved," "when 
an injury has been received, patience is to be kept and vengeance left to God."2 He 
was horror-struck at the torture that went on in the law-courts: "there at hand is the 
spear and the sword and the executioner, the hook that tears, the rack that stretches, 
the fire that burns, more punishments for the one body of man than (it has) limbs!"! 
"None of us," he says, "offers resistance when he is seized, or avenges himself for 
your unjust violence, although our people are numerous and plentiful. . . it is not 
lawful for us to hate, and so we please God more when we render no requital for 
injury. . . we repay your hatred with kindness," and so on.2 In his treatise on patience, 
he takes occasion to quote Mt v. 43-48 in full.3_ When a plague broke out and the 
pagans fled, he urged the Christians not to attend to their co-religionists only, saying 
"that he might be made perfect, who did something more than the taxgatherer and the 
gentile, who, conquering evil with good and practising something like the divine 
clemency, loved his enemies also, who prayed for the safety of his persecutors, as the 
Lord advises and exhorts." Cyprianus drove this lesson home, we are told, with 
arguments drawn from Mt v. 44-48.4 Commodianus utters the brief precept: "Do not 
hurt."5 The Didaskalia lays it down: "Those who injure you, injure not in return, but 
endure (it), since Scripture says: 'Say not: I will injure my enemy since he has injured 
me; but bear it, that the Lord may help thee, and exact vengeance from him who has 
injured thee.' For again it says in the Gospel: 'Love those who hate you and pray for 
those who curse you, and ye shall have no enemy '."6 "Be prepared therefore to incur 
a loss, and try hard to keep the peace; for if thou incurrest any loss in secular affairs 
for the sake of peace, there shall accrue a gain with God to thee as to one who fears 
God and lives according to His commandment."! In the Clementine Homilies Peter 
disclaims all wish to destroy the heretic Simon, saying that he was not sent to destroy 
men, but that he wished to befriend and convert him; and he touches on the Christian 
custom of praying for enemies in obedience to Jesus' example: and Clemens rehearses 
to his father the teaching of Mt v. 39-41.2 

Lactantius refers to the Christians as "those who are ignorant of wars, who preserve 
concord with all, who are friends even to their enemies, who love all men as brothers, 
who know how to curb anger and soften with quiet moderation every madness of the 



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mind.3 . . . This we believe to be to our advantage, that we should love you and confer 
all things upon you who hate (us). "4 Since the just man, he says, "inflicts injury on 
none, nor desires the property of others, nor defends his own if it is violently carried 
off, since he knows also (how) to bear with moderation an injury inflicted on him, 
because he is endowed with virtue, it is necessary that the just man should be subject 
to the unjust, and the wise man treated with insults by the fool," etc. 5 "God has 
commanded that enmities are never to be contracted by us, (but) are always to be 
removed, so that we may soothe those who are our enemies by reminding them of 
(their) relationship (to us). "6 The just man, once again, must return only blessings for 
curses: "let him also take careful heed lest at any time he makes an enemy by his own 
fault; and if there should be anyone so impudent as to inflict an injury on a good and 
just man, let him (i.e. the just man) bear it kindly and temperately, and not take upon 
himself his own vindication, but reserve (it) for the judgment of God." After more to 
the same effect, Lactantius proceeds: "Thus it comes about that the just man is an 
object of contempt to all: and because it will be thought that he cannot defend himself, 
he will be considered slothful and inactive. But he who avenges himself on (his) 
enemy — he is judged to be brave (and) energetic: all reverence him, (all) respect 
him."l A little later comes the famous passage, in which he deals with the divine 
command about homicide, and interprets it as prohibiting both capital charges and 
military service: "And so in (regard to) this commandment of God no exception at all 
ought to be made (to the rule) that it is always wrong to kill a man, whom God has 
wished to be a sacrosanct creature." Of this application of the teaching we must speak 
later.2 

Probably one of the first things that will strike a modern reader on surveying this 
remarkable body of evidence is the apparent absence of any treatment of the question 
of the defence of others as a special phase of the general question concerning the 
treatment of wrongdoers. The silence of Christian authors on this particular point is 
certainly remarkable. Tertullianus even takes it for granted that, if a man will not 
avenge his own wrongs, a fortiori he will not avenge those of others! — a sentiment 
pointedly at variance with the spirit of modern Christianity; which is at times disposed 
to accept (as an ideal at all events, if not always as a practicable policy) absolute non- 
resistance in regard to one's own wrongs, but which indignantly repudiates such a line 
of action when the wrongs of others — particularly those weaker than oneself — are in 
question. It is on the validity of this distinction that the whole case of the possibility 
of a Christian war is felt by many to rest. The point is so important that we may be 
pardoned for devoting a few lines to it, even though it carries us a little beyond the 
strictly historical treatment of the subject. In the first place, it needs to be borne in 
mind that the question is not the general one, whether or no the Christian should try to 
prevent others being wronged. That question admits of only one answer. The life of a 
Christian is a constant and effective check upon sin; and he is therefore at all times, in 
a general though in a very real way, defending others. The question is, Which is the 
right method for him to use — the gentle moral appeal or violent physical coercion? 
Whatever method he may choose, that method is not of course bound to succeed in 
any particular case, for circumstances may at any time be too strong for him: 
possibility of failure, therefore, is not to be reckoned a fatal objection to a policy of 
defence, for it tells in some measure against all policies. And be it remembered that 
the restraining power of gentleness is largely diminished, if not entirely destroyed, if 



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the user of it attempts to combine it with the use of coercion and penalty. 1 We are 
therefore driven to make our choice between two policies of conduct, which to all 
intents and purposes are mutually exclusive. 1 Now in the use of violence and injury 
for the defence of others, the Christian sees a policy which he is forbidden, 
exhypothesi, to use in his own defence — and that for a reason as valid in the case of 
others' sufferings as in that of his own, viz. the absolute prohibition of injury! — and 
which is furthermore a less effective policy than that of bringing the force of his own 
Christian spirit to bear on the wrongdoer, as the Salvationist, for instance, often does 
with the violent drunkard. If the objection be raised that few people possess this 
powerful Christian spirit capable of restraining others, I reply that we are discussing 
the conduct of those alone who, because or in so far as they are faithful Christians, do 
possess it. Again, when the wrongs of innocent sufferers are brought in in order to 
undermine obedience to the Sermon on the Mount, a fictitious distinction always has 
to be made between wrongs inflicted on others in one's very presence and the 
possibly far more horrible wrongs that go on out of one's sight. "Pity for a horse 
o'erdriven" easily evaporates when once the poor animal has turned the corner. Many 
a man would feel it a duty to use his fists to defend a woman from being knocked 
about under his own eyes, but would not by any means feel called upon to use either 
his fists or his powers of persuasion on behalf of the poor wife being beaten in her 
home a few streets off or on the other side of the town. Still less would he admit it as 
a general principle that he must not rest as long as there is any injustice going on in 
the world, which he might feel disposed to rectify by the use of violence if it were 
happening close at hand: and though he may allow himself to be swayed by this 
particular plea in a political crisis, it is obvious that it could never be taken and is 
never taken as a general guide for conduct. Unfortunately, we have to recognize the 
fact that countless acts of cruelty and injustice are going on every day, all around us, 
near and far; and the practical demands of Christian usefulness forbid the sensitive 
man to allow his spirit to be crushed by the awful thought that he cannot yet put a stop 
to these things. The sentiment which bids a man stick at nothing in order to check 
outrageous wrongdoing is entitled to genuine respect, for it is closely akin to Christian 
love; but it is misleading when it comes into conflict with a considered Christian 
policy for combating sin, for, as we have seen, it operates only within the compass of 
a man's vision and in certain occasionally and arbitrarily selected areas beyond, and, 
when erected into a general principle of conduct, immediately breaks down. The 
rejection of this sentiment does not mean the rejection of the Christian duty "to ride 
abroad redressing human wrong": it means the adoption, not only of gentler, but of 
more effective, tactics, calling — as the Christian persecutions show — for their full 
measure of danger and self-sacrifice; it means too a refusal to stultify those tactics 
under the impulse of a rush of feeling which so soon fails to justify itself as a guide to 
conduct. 

The early Christians therefore were not guilty, either of selfish cowardice or of an 
error of judgment, in interpreting the Master's words as ruling out the forcible defence 
of one another against the manifold wrongs which pagan hatred and cruelty and lust 
brought upon them. It was clear indeed that the Master had so interpreted his words 
himself. He did nothing to avenge John the Baptist or the slaughtered Galilaeans; and 
when he forbade the use of the sword in Gethsemane, the occasion was one on which 
it had been drawn in a righteous cause and for the defence of an unarmed and 



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innocent man. The way in which the Christians endured the injuries inflicted upon 
them in persecution had the effect — so Christian authors continually tell us — of 
evoking pagan admiration and sympathy, and even adding considerably to the number 
of converts. By the time the victory over the persecutors was won. Christian ethics 
had largely lost their early purity; but we see enough to be able to say that that victory 
was in no small measure due to the power of the Christian spirit operating against 
tremendous odds without the use of any sort of violent resistance. It took time of 
course to win the victory, and during that time countless acts of unthinkable cruelty 
and horror were endured: but would anyone seriously argue that that suffering would 
have been diminished, or better results achieved for the world at large or for the 
sufferers themselves, if from the first Christian men had acted on the principle that, 
while ready themselves to submit meekly, it was their duty to defend others if need be 
by force and bloodshed? When Plinius tortured the two Bithynian deaconesses, and 
when Sabina was threatened at Smyrna with being sentenced to the brothel, no 
Christian knight came forward to prevent the wrong by force of arms or perish in the 
attempt. Sabina said simply, in answer to the threat: "The holy God will see about 
that." There must have been innumerable instances of Christians deliberately 
abstaining from the defence of one another. Such conduct, amazing as it may seem to 
us, does not argue callousness, still less cowardice, for cowards could never have 
endured torture with the constancy normally shown by the Christian martyrs. It 
simply means a strenuous adherence to the Master's teaching — an adherence based 
indeed on a simple sense of obedience to him, but issuing, as posterity can see, in the 
exertion of an immense positive moral power, and involving, in a situation from 
which conflict and suffering in some measure were inseparable, probably a less severe 
conflict and a smaller amount of suffering than any other course of conduct consistent 
with faithfulness to the Christian religion would have involved. 

The Christians' Experience of Evil in the Character of Soldiers. — Before we enter 
upon an examination of the course actually pursued by Christians in regard to service 
in the Roman legions, there is one more introductory study we shall have to 
undertake, viz. that of the unfavourable criticisms passed by Christians on the seamy 
side of the military character as they knew it in practical life, and the harsh treatment 
they received at the hands of soldiers with whom they came into conflict. The reader 
will of course understand that what we are here concerned with constitutes only one 
side of the picture; the other side, showing us instances of kind treatment and so on on 
the part of soldiers, will come to light at a later stage of our enquiry. At the same time, 
the aspect now before us was a very real and a very painful one, and is not without a 
fairly direct bearing on the early Christian attitude to war. 

The main fact in the situation was that the soldier, being charged with ordinary police 
duties as well as with military functions in the narrower sense, was the normal agent 
of governments in giving effect to their measures of persecution. While the illegality 
of Christianity did not become a part of the imperial policy until 64 a.d., numerous 
acts of persecution were committed before that date. John the Baptist had been 
beheaded in prison by one of Antipas' guards. 1 Jesus himself had been mocked, spat 
upon, scourged, and crucified by soldiers. 2 James, the son of Zebedee, was executed 
by one of Agrippa's soldiers.3 Peter was guarded in chains by others, and escaped a 
like fate only by a miraculous deliverance. 4 Paul endured long confinement in the 



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hands of the military; and, when the ship in which he and other prisoners were being 
taken to Rome was wrecked, the soldiers advised that they should all be killed to 
prevent any of them escaping.5 Both Paul, and Peter were eventually martyred at 
Rome, doubtless by the hands of soldiers. In 64 a.d. Nero's act in persecuting the 
Christians in order to divert from himself the suspicion of having set Rome on fire, 
inaugurated what proved to be the official policy of the Empire until the time of 
Constantinus. That policy was that the profession of Christianity was regarded as in 
itself a crime against society — like piracy, brigandage, theft, and arson — and as such 
was punishable with death by virtue of the ordinary administrative powers of the 
Roman Governor. Refusal to participate in the widely practised worship of the 
Emperor or to recognize any other of the pagan gods, strong disapproval of idolatry 
and all other manifestations of pagan religion, dissent and aloofness from many of the 
social customs of paganism, secret meetings, nocturnal celebration of Tove-feasts,' 
disturbance caused to family life by conversions — all these had resulted in making the 
Christians profoundly unpopular, and brought upon them the suspicion of being guilty 
of detested crimes, such as cannibalism and incest, and the stigma of being regarded 
as thoroughly disloyal and dangerous members of society. Such was the basis upon 
which the imperial policy rested. As individual Emperors varied in their attitude to 
Christianity (some even going so far as to grant it a de facto toleration), as the popular 
hatred would flame out and die down at different times and in different places, and 
lastly as the provincial governors had large discretionary powers and would differ 
widely in their personal views, the imperial policy of stern repression was not carried 
out consistently or uniformly. There would be extensive regions and lengthy intervals 
in which it would lie dormant. Here and there, now and then, it would break forth in 
varying degrees of severity: and whenever it did so, the task of carrying out the state's 
decrees devolved upon the soldiers, as the policemen of the Empire. More than that, it 
is easy to see that, inasmuch as the conduct of official proceedings against the 
Christians rested in the hands of the military, they must often have borne the main 
responsibility for the occurrence of persecution.! We come across many traces of 
their activities in this direction. Thus Ignatius of Antioch wrote to his friends at 
Rome: "From Syria as far as Rome I am fighting with beasts, by land and sea, night 
and day, having been bound to ten leopards, that is (to say), a squad of soldiers, who 
become worse even when they are treated well. By the wrongs they do me, I am 
becoming more of a disciple. "2 The arrest and burning of Polukarpos at Smyrna were 
evidently carried out by the military. 3 When Karpos was burnt at Pergamum, it was a 
soldier's hand that lit the faggots. 4 In the dreadful persecution at Lugdunum (Lyons) 
in 177-8 a.d., we are told that "all the wrath of populace and governor and soldiers 
fell in exceeding measure" upon certain of the martyrs, whose appalling sufferings 
cast a sinister light upon the character of their tormentors. 5 Clemens and Origenes 
group soldiers with kings, rulers, etc., as one of the parties regularly implicated in the 
futile persecution of Christianity.! Tertullianus numbers them as strangers and 
therefore enemies of the truth, their motive being the desire for gain.2 Christians seem 
to have been exposed to as much danger from the interference of the military as from 
the hatred of the mob.3_ It seems to have been not unusual for imperilled or 
imprisoned Christians or their friends to secure better treatment or even release or 
immunity by secretly bribing an influential soldier, justifying their action by saying 
that they were rendering to Caesar the things that were Caesar's: Tertullianus 
disapproved of the practice.4 The apocryphal Acts of Thomas (225-250 a.d.), tell how 



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the Apostle, being sentenced to death, was struck by four soldiers and slain.5 When 
Pionios was burnt at Smyrna in the persecution of Decius (250 a.d.), a soldier nailed 
him to the stake.6 The sufferings of Dionusios of Alexandria in the same persecution 
were due to his treatment by the military. 7 In the persecution of Valerianus (258-9 
a.d.) the same story is told: the arrest, custody, and execution of Cyprianus at 
Carthago were carried out by the proconsul's soldiers8 : the martyracts of Marianus 
and Jacobus, who suffered in Numidia, tell us that in the region of the martyrdom "the 
attacks of persecution swelled up, like waves of the world, with the blind madness and 
military offices of the gentiles," that "the madness of the bloody and blinded governor 
sought for all the beloved of God by means of bands of soldiers with hostile and 
aggressive minds," that the martyrs were guarded by "a violent band of centurions," 
and that they were "assailed with numerous and hard tortures by a soldier on guard, 
the executioner of the just and pious, a centurion and the magistrates of Cirta being 
present also to help his cruelty."! Fructuosus, who suffered death in Spain, was 
hurried to prison by the soldiers.2 In the interval of comparative peace between 259 
and 303 a.d., the bigotry of certain pagan soldiers was more than once the cause of 
death to Christians in the army.3_ The great persecution begun by Diocletianus and his 
colleagues in 303 a.d. and continued in some parts of the Empire until 313 a.d. opened 
with the sack of the great church at Nicomedia by military and other officials, and the 
complete destruction of the building by the Praetorian Guards, who "came in battle 
array with axes and other instruments of iron."4 In the account given by Eusebios of 
the sufferings of the Christians, particularly in the East, soldiers appear at every turn 
of the story, as the perpetrators either of the diabolical and indescribable torments 
inflicted on both sexes5 or of the numerous other afflictions and annoyances 
incidental to the persecution. 1 In Phrygia, for instance, they committed to the flames 
the whole population of a small town which happened to be entirely Christian. 2 

Besides these allusions to the iniquities of persecution and besides the expressions of 
horror at the barbarities of war in general, we come across other references to the evil 
characters and evil deeds of soldiers. The Didaskalia forbids the acceptance of money 
for the church "from soldiers who behave unrighteously or from those who kill men 
or from executioners! or from any (of the) magistrate(s) of the Roman Empire who 
are stained in wars and have shed innocent blood without judgment, who pervert 
judgments," etc.4 Lactantius alludes to the calamities caused by the multiplication of 
armies under Diocletianus and his colleagues,! to the misdeeds of the Praetorians at 
Rome in slaying certain judges and making Maxentius Emperor,6 to the terrible 
ravages committed by the troops of Galerius in his retreat from Rome,7 and to the 
rapacity of the soldiers of Maximinus Daza in the East. 8 Eusebios gives us similar 
information in regard to the last-named ruler,9 and tells us of the massacre committed 
in Rome by the guards of Maxentius. 10 

Let us repeat that the grim indictment of the military character constituted by this long 
story of cruelty and outrage forms only one side of the picture, and obviously does not 
of itself imply any view as to the abstract rightfulness or otherwise of bearing arms: 
on the contrary, its sharpest charges belong to a time when there were certainly many 
Christian soldiers. Nevertheless, our study of the Christian view of war would be 
incomplete without the inclusion of this aspect of the case on the debit side of the 
account, an aspect which is more or less closely connected with the central question to 



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which we have just alluded. It is to an examination of the view taken by the early 
Christians of that question that we have now to turn. 

The Christian Refusal to participate in War. — The evidence as to the actual refusal of 
the early Christians to bear arms cannot be properly appreciated, or even fully stated, 
without a consideration of the parallel evidence touching the extent to which they 
were willing to serve as soldiers. The material of the present section will therefore be 
found to a certain extent to interlace with that of the corresponding section in our next 
part. For the sake, however, of simplicity of arrangement, it will be best to marshal 
the facts as we have them, first on one side, and then on the other, and to postpone our 
final generalizations until we have given full consideration to both. 

It will probably be agreed by all that the substance of the last four sections creates at 
least a strong prima facie presumption that the persons who expressed themselves in 
the way explained in those sections would decline on principle to render military 
service. This presumption becomes very much stronger when we are reminded that 
there was practically nothing in the conditions of the time which would put such 
pressure on any early Christian as to compel him either to be a soldier against his will 
or to suffer the consequences of refusing to do so. We should expect therefore to find 
these Christians, at all events during the first few generations, refusing to serve as 
soldiers. With that expectation the little information that we possess is in almost entire 
harmony.l Apart from Cornelius and the one or two soldiers who may have been 
baptized with him by Peter at Caesarea (?40 a.d.) and the gaoler baptized by Paul at 
Philippi (circ a.d. 49),2 we have no direct or reliable evidence for the existence of a 
single Christian soldier until after 170 a.d. 

Partly in justification, partly in amplification, of this negative statement, a few words 
must be said in regard to one or two incidents and epochs within the period indicated. 
Thus it is stated that Sergius Paulus, the proconsul of Cyprus, 'believed' as a result of 
the teaching of Paul on his first mission journey! (47 a.d.). If this meant that Sergius 
Paulus became a Christian in the ordinary sense, he would have to be reckoned as 
another Christian soldier, for the proconsul of Cyprus was a military, as well as a 
civil, official: but the adherence of a man of proconsular rank to the Christian faith at 
this early date would be a very extra-ordinary occurrence; no other event of the same 
significance occurs till nearly the end of the century; no mention is made of the 
baptism of Sergius Paulus; and when it is said that he 'believed,' what is probably 
meant is that he listened sympathetically to what the apostles said and expressed 
agreement with some of their most earnest utterances. 1 In writing from Rome to his 
friends at Philippi (60 a.d.), Paul says: "My bonds became manifest in Christ in the 
whole praetorium and to (or among) all the rest."2 Various opinions have been held as 
to the exact meaning of 'praetorium' here3 ; but, even if it means the camp of the 
Praetorian Guards, the passage would not imply that some of the guards became 
Christians, but only that it became known to all of them that Paul was in custody 
because he was a Christian, and not for any political offence. 

A more positive piece of information consists in the fact that, shortly before the siege 
of Jerusalem by the Romans (70 a.d.), the Christians of that city, in obedience to "a 
certain oracular response given by revelation to approved men there,"4 left Jerusalem, 



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and settled at Pella in Peraea beyond the Jordan, thus taking no part in the national 
struggle against Rome. We are too much in the dark as to the details to be able to 
ascertain the motive that really prompted this step. How far was it due to a 
disapproval of the national policy of the Jews? how far to a sense of a final break with 
Mosaism? how far to a simple desire for personal safety? how far to a recollection of 
the Master's words, "Flee to the mountains"? or how far, possibly, to a feeling that the 
use of the sword was forbidden them? None of these reasons can be either definitely 
affirmed or definitely denied. The one last suggested is by no means impossible or 
unnatural. It is in keeping with what we know of the facts of the case. At all events the 
flame of Jewish patriotism was extinct in the hearts of these Jerusalemite Christians. 
Their policy on this occasion formed a contrast to that of a certain section of the 
Essenes, who, despite the fact that they were not usually over-patriotic and that they 
abjured the use of arms on principle, yet joined with their fellow-countrymen in the 
revolt against Rome. 1 

The letter written about 1 12 a. d. by Plinius, proconsul of Bithynia, to the Emperor 
Trajanus concerning the Christians, does not refer either to their willingness or 
unwillingness to serve in the legions, and there would therefore be no occasion to 
mention it in this connection, were it not for the attempt which has been made to 
represent its silence as implying that the Christians of that time had no objection to 
bearing arms. Thus, Professor Bethune -Baker says: "Pliny's letter shows that there 
was no complaint against the Christians then with regard to their view of war"; and in 
this judgment he is followed by the Venerable Archdeacon of Ely.2 But inasmuch as 
there was nothing in the circumstances of the time to bring about a collision between 
the imperial government and the Christians on the subject of military service, and 
very probably nothing even to bring the views of the latter to the governor's notice at 
all, the silence of the letter is perfectly compatible with the supposition that the 
Christians would not serve; and the attempt to deduce the opposite conclusion from it 
can only be described as entirely unwarranted. While we are speaking of the reign of 
Trajanus, it may be mentioned that in the Acts of Phokas, who is said to have been put 
to death in Pontus under this Emperor, the martyr-bishop baptizes a number of 
soldiers at their own request. 1 But the acts as a whole are of very questionable 
authority as history! ; and least of all could an ornamental detail like this be accepted 
on such slender grounds. 

The idea has also been entertained that there is evidence for the existence of Christian 
soldiers in the time of the Emperor Hadrianus (117-138 a.d.). The late Dr. J. Bass 
Mullinger of Cambridge says: "Aringhi (Antiq. Christianae, i. 430) gives an epitaph 
of a soldier of the time of Hadrian, and (ii. 170) that of a soldier in the praetorian 
guard; Boldetti (Osservazioni sopra I cimiteri, & c, p. 432), one of a VETERANUS 
EX PROTERIORIBUS (?"protectorioribus"), and also (p. 415) one "Pyrrho militi," 
and (p. 416) that of one who is described as "felicissimus miles." Marangoni (Act. S. 
Vict. p. 102) gives us that of a centurion, and Ruinart (Act. Mart. i. 50) that of two 
brothers, Getulius and Amantius, who were military tribunes under Hadrian."3 The 
first of these inscriptions, (which occurs, by the bye, on p. 525, not on p. 430, of 
Aringhi's first volume), reads as follows: "Tempore Hadriani Imperatoris: Marius 
adolescens dux militum, qui satis vixit dum vitam pro Ch(rist)o cum sanguine 
consunsit, in pace tandem quievit. Benemerentes cum lacrimis et metuposuerunt." It 



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is, I am informed on competent authority, unquestionably a forgery. As regards the 
second inscription from Aringhi, there is not only no evidence of its pre-Constantinian 
date, but none even of its Christian origin. As regards the three inscriptions given by 
Boldetti, there is no evidence that any one of them is as early as the second century. 
That given by Marangoni is probably post-Constantinian, as it contains the nomen 
Flavius in the contracted form Fl.l As for Getulius and Amantius, their existence rests 
on the witness of the highly-coloured Acts of Symphorosa.2 The names of 
Symphorosa and her seven sons are those of real martyrs: but that apparently is all 
that can be affirmed in support of the historicity of the story. Lightfoot, after a full 
discussion, decides that "the story condemns itself both in its framework and in its 
details," and that "there is no sufficient ground for assigning their martyrdom to the 
reign of Hadrian."3 

It has already been remarked that the sentiments expressed by Christian authors in 
regard to the iniquity of war, the essentially peaceful character of Christianity, the 
fulfilment of the great ploughshare prophecy in the birth and growth of the Church, 
the duty of loving enemies, and so on, all point to the refusal to bear arms as their 
logical implicate in practice. What has already been said, therefore, on these various 
points has a certain place in the consideration of the concrete topic now before us. 
While this is so, it would be merely tedious to reiterate all the evidence previously 
adduced: but there are certain pieces of that evidence which are more direct and 
explicit than others, and which therefore deserve to be either repeated or referred to 
here. 

First in order among these are one or two passages in Justinus. What view, we may 
ask, in regard to military service must have been taken by the man who said: "We 
who hated and slew one another, and because of (differences in) customs would not 
share a common hearth with those who were not of our tribe, now, after the 
appearance of Christ, have become sociable, and pray for our enemies, and try to 
persuade those who hate (us) unjustly, in order that they, living according to the good 
suggestions of Christ, may share our hope of obtaining the same (reward) from the 
God who is Master of all"?j_ "We, who had been filled with war and mutual slaughter 
and every wickedness, have each one — all the world over — changed the instruments 
of war, the swords into ploughs and the spears into farming implements, and we 
cultivate piety, righteousness, love for men, faith, (and) the hope which is from the 
Father Himself through the Crucified One. "2 Hefele3 maintains that the language of 
Justinus in his (first) Apology, ch. xiv, does not necessarily imply a general 
disapproval of the profession of the warrior; and Professor Bethune-Baker, referring 
to ch. xi (where Justinus denies that the Christians are looking for a human kingdom) 
and xiv ff, remarks that he "expresses no definite view on the subject of war. . . . 
What he says. . . really only amounts to a general repudiation of warlike aims or 
methods on behalf of Christians. Had he regarded war as actually incompatible with 
Christian sentiment he would probably have taken this opportunity of disposing 
absolutely of the suspicion to which the Christians were exposed by their Master's use 
of earthly metaphors to shadow forth eternal spiritual relations."! This reasoning is, in 
my opinion, faulty. Justinus said all that was necessary in order to controvert the 
suspicion in question, and also, I would add, quite enough to show where he stood on 
the subject of military service: he would needlessly have prejudiced the Emperor 



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against his main plea, viz. for toleration, had he gone out of his way to say that, if ever 
the attempt were made to compel Christians to serve in the legions, they would refuse 
to obey the Emperor's order. It is worth while to notice, though Justinus does not 
mention the point in connection with war, that he regarded the Christians as making a 
positive contribution to the maintenance of peace by their very Christianity, and he 
commends them to the Emperor's favour on this ground.2 

Tatianus, as we have seen, condemned war as murderous,! and, as Harnack says, 
"was undoubtedly opposed to the military calling." He wrote: "I do not want to be a 
king: I do not wish to be rich: I decline military command: I hate fornication. "4 

What again must have been the attitude of Athenagoras, who declared that the 
Christians could not endure to see a man put to death, even justly, considering that to 
do so was practically equivalent to killing him, and that for this reason they could not 
attend the gladiatorial games?! 

The heathen philosopher Celsus in the 'True Discourse' which he wrote against the 
Christians about 178 a.d. (the approximate date of Athenagoras' 'Legatio' also), not 
only exhorts the Christians to take part in civil government, but "urges us" (so 
Origenes said later, quoting Celsus' words) "to help the Emperor with all (our) 
strength, and to labour with him (in maintaining) justice, and to fight for him and 
serve as soldiers with him, if he require (it), and to share military command (with 
him)." Celsus argued that, if all did as the Christian, nothing would prevent the 
Emperor being left alone and deserted and earthly affairs getting into the hands of the 
most lawless and savage barbarians, so that the glory neither of Christianity nor of 
true wisdom would be left among men.2 "It is quite obvious from this," Harnack says, 
"that Christians were charged with a disinclination to serve in the army, and the 
charge was undoubtedly well founded."! 

The first reliable evidence for the presence of Christians in any number in the Roman 
army belongs, as we shall see later, to the reign of Marcus Aurelius (161-180 a.d.), 
more precisely to about the year 174 a.d. This epoch is therefore an important 
landmark in the history of the subject, and we may pause here for a moment to 
summarize one or two aspects of the situation. It is only in this period that the 
question of service or abstention becomes one of real and practical significance to 
Christian people. Up to that time the conditions had constituted no challenge for 
anyone. "It is not therefore surprising," says Harnack, "that until about the time of the 
Antonines, in particular Marcus Aurelius, a question of military service 
(Soldatenfrage) did not exist in the churches: the baptized Christian did not become a 
soldier; and those who were caught by the Christian faith in the camp had to see how 
they could come to terms with their military profession."! The same scholar gives a 
useful enumeration of the various features of military life, which could not have failed 
to thrust themselves on the Christian's notice as presenting, to say the least, great 
ethical difficulty. The shedding of blood on the battlefield, the use of torture in the 
law-courts, the passing of death-sentences by officers and the execution of them by 
common soldiers, the unconditional military oath, the all-pervading worship of the 
Emperor, the sacrifices in which all were expected in some way to participate, the 
average behaviour of soldiers in peace-time, and other idolatrous and offensive 



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customs — all these would constitute in combination an exceedingly powerful 
deterrent against any Christian joining the army on his own initiative. 2 

As a transition from this point to the full material furnished by Tertullianus, we may 
recall in passing the phrase in the Pseudo- Justinian 'Address to the Greeks,' exhorting 
them thus: "Learn (about) the incorruptible King, and know his heroes who never 
inflict slaughter on (the) peoples,"! the passage in Eirenaios, in which he applies the 
ploughshare prophecy to the Christians and says that they "now know not how to 
fight, but, (when they are) struck, offer the other cheek also, "2 and the remark of 
Clemens of Alexandria: "We do not train women like Amazons to be manly in war, 
since we wish even the men to be peaceable."! 

The writings of Tertullianus make it abundantly clear that in his time there were 
considerable numbers of Christians serving in the Roman army. This fact, the nature 
and significance of which will be considered later, is one of great importance, but it is 
very far from exhausting the contribution of this great writer to our subject. He 
testifies not only to the willingness of many to serve, but also to the unwillingness of 
many others; and the views he expresses on the question are more than mere 
statements of a personal opinion — they represent the convictions of a very large 
proportion of his fellow-Christians. Our best plan will be, first, to quote the pertinent 
passages from his works in chronological order, and then to add a few necessary 
comments. It may, however, be stated here that, bound up with the problem of 
military service was the problem of undertaking public office as a magistrate. The 
police-work of society was done largely by soldiers, and the magistrate was not so 
sharply distinguished from the army officer as he is now. In any case, the Christian 
difficulty was pretty much the same with the one as with the other: common to both 
were the two great stumbling-blocks of idolatrous contamination and the shedding of 
blood (either judicially or in battle). It will therefore help us to understand the 
Christian position if we include a few passages bearing upon the question of the 
Christian's abstention from public office. 

We recall first the passage in Tertullianus' 'Apologeticus,' in which he tells the 
pagans that, though the Christians are numerous and reckless enough to avenge their 
wrongs, there is no fear of their doing so. "For what war," he asks them, "should we 
not be fit (and) eager, even though unequal in numbers, (we) who are so willing to be 
slaughtered — if, according to that discipline (of ours), it was not more lawful to be 
slain than to slay?"l It is doubtless in the light of this sentiment that we are to read the 
assumption earlier in his apology that Caesars could not be Christians. 2 In his 'De 
Idololatria,' written while he was still a loyal Catholic, he states the conditions under 
which he believes it to be possible for a Christian to be a magistrate. "And so let us 
grant," he says, "that it is possible for anyone to succeed, in whatever office (he may 
happen to hold), in going on under the mere name of the office, without sacrificing, or 
lending his authority to sacrifices, or contracting for sacrificial victims, or assigning 
(to others) the care of the temples, or seeing after their revenues, or giving shows at 
his own (expense) or at that of the public, or presiding at them when they have to be 
given, or making a proclamation or an edict for any solemnity, or even swearing 
(oaths), or — as regards (his magisterial) power — judging anyone on a capital or 
criminal charge 1 — for thou mightest allow (him to judge) about (questions of) 



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money — or condemning (anyone),! binding anyone, imprisoning anyone, or torturing 
(anyone): if it can be believed that these things are possible."! In the next chapter he 
brands all magisterial garb and pomp as idolatrous and diabolic, but does not touch on 
the objection of violence and bloodshed. In the following chapter he deals specifically 
with the question of military service. "(The question) also concerning military service, 
which is concerned both with rank and power,4 might seem (to have been) definitely 
settled in that (last) chapter. But now the question is asked on that (very point), 
whether a believer may turn to military service, and whether the military — at least the 
rank and file or (say) all the inferior (grades), who are under no necessity of (offering) 
sacrifices or (passing) capital sentences — may be admitted to the faith. There is no 
congruity between the divine and human 'sacramentum,' the sign of Christ and the 
sign of the devil, the camp of light and the camp of darkness: one soul cannot be owed 
to two, God and Caesar. And (yet, some Christians say), Moses carried a rod, and 
Aaron (wore) a buckle, and John was girt with a leather belt,l and Joshua (the son of) 
Nun led a line of march, and the people waged war — if it is your pleasure to sport 
(with the subject). But how will (a Christian) make war — nay, how will he serve as a 
soldier in peace(-time) — without the sword, which the Lord has taken away? For, 
although soldiers had come to John and received the form of a rule, although also a 
centurion had believed, (yet) the Lord afterwards, in disarming Peter, ungirded every 
soldier. No dress is lawful among us which is assigned to an unlawful action."2 In 
'Adversus Judaeos,' which belongs roughly to the same period as 'De Idololatria,' 
Tertullianus says: "The old law vindicated itself by the vengeance of the sword, and 
plucked out eye for eye, and requited injury with punishment; but the new law pointed 
to clemency, and changed the former savagery of swords and lances into tranquillity, 
and refashioned the former infliction of war upon rivals and foes of the law into the 
peaceful acts of ploughing and cultivating the earth. And so. . . the observance of the 
new law and of spiritual circumcision has shone forth in acts of peaceful obedience."! 
In the treatise 'Adversus Marcionem,' which came a few years later, about the time 
when Tertullianus broke with the Church and became a Montanist, he asks: "Who 
shall produce these (results, viz. truth, gentleness, and justice) with the sword, and not 
rather that which is contrary to gentleness and justice, (namely), deceit and harshness 
and injustice, (which are) of course the proper business of battles?"! A little later in 
the same work, he says: '"And they shall not learn to make war any more,' that is, to 
give effect to hostile feelings; so that here too thou mayest learn that Christ is 
promised not (as one who is) powerful in war, but (as) a bringer of peace. "2 In 'De 
Pallio,' written about 210 a.d., he confesses, in the person of his philosophic mantle, 
that he is "no barking pleader, no judge, no soldier."3 

We next come to his important treatise 'De Corona Militis,' written — in 211 a.d., 
some years after his attachment to Montanism — in defence of a Christian soldier who 
had refused to wear a garland on the Emperor's birthday. Tertullianus takes occasion 
to touch on the prior question whether a Christian ought to be a soldier at all. "And in 
fact, in order that I may approach the real issue of the military garland, I think it has 
first to be investigated whether military service is suitable for Christians at all. 
Besides, what sort (of proceeding) is it, to deal with incidentals, when the (real) fault 
lies with what has preceded them? Do we believe that the human 'sacramentum' may 
lawfully be added to the divine, and that (a Christian) may (give a promise in) answer 
to another master after Christ, and abjure father and mother and every kinsman, whom 



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even the Law commanded to be honoured and loved next to God, (and) whom the 
Gospel also thus honoured, putting them above all save Christ only? Will it be lawful 
(for him) to occupy himself with the sword, when the Lord declares that he who uses 
the sword will perish by the sword? And shall the son of peace, for whom it will be 
unfitting even to go to law, be engaged in a battle? And shall he, who is not the 
avenger even of his own wrongs, administer chains and (im)prison(ment) and tortures 
and executions? Shall he now go on guard for another more than for Christ, or (shall 
he do it) on the Lord's Day, when (he does) not (do it even) for Christ? And shall he 
keep watch before temples, which he has renounced? and take a meal there where the 
Apostle has forbidden it? 1 And those whom he has put to flight by exorcisms in the 
daytime, shall he defend (them) at night, leaning and resting upon the pilum with 
which Christ's side was pierced? And shall he carry a flag, too, that is a rival to 
Christ? And shall he ask for a watchword from his chief, when he has already 
received one from God? And (when he is) dead, shall he be disturbed by the bugler's 
trumpet — he who expects to be roused by the trumpet of the angel? And shall the 
Christian, who is not allowed to burn (incense), to whom Christ has remitted the 
punishment of fire, be burned according to the discipline of the camp? (And) how 
many other sins can be seen (to belong) to the functions of camp(-life) — (sins) which 
must be explained as a transgression (of God's law). The very transference of (one's) 
name from the camp of light to the camp of darkness, is a transgression. Of course, 
the case is different, if the faith comes subsequent(ly) to any (who are) already 
occupied in military service, as (was, for instance, the case) with those whom John 
admitted to baptism, and with the most believing centurions whom Christ approves 
and whom Peter instructs: all the same, when faith has been accepted and signed, 
either the service must be left at once, as has been done by many, or else recourse 
must be had to all sorts of cavilling, lest anything be committed against God — (any, 
that is, of the things) which are not allowed (to Christians) outside the army, or lastly 
that which the faith of (Christian) civilians has fairly determined upon must be 
endured for God. 1 For military service will not promise impunity for sins or immunity 
from martyrdom. The Christian is nowhere anything else (than a Christian). . . . With 
him (i.e. Christ) the civilian believer is as much a soldier as the believing soldier is a 
civilian. The state of faith does not admit necessities. No necessity of sinning have 
they, whose one necessity is that of not sinning. . . . For (otherwise) even inclination 
can be pleaded (as a) necessity, having of course an element of compulsion in it. I 
have stopped up that very (appeal to necessity) in regard to other cases of (wearing) 
garlands of office, for which (the plea of) necessity is a most familiar defence; since 
either (we) must flee from (public) offices for this reason, lest we fall into sins, or else 
we must endure martyrdoms, that we may break (off our tenure of public) offices. On 
(this) first aspect of the question, (namely) the illegitimacy of the military life itself, I 
will not add more, in order that the second (part of the question) may be restored to its 
place — lest, if I banish military service with all my force, I shall have issued a 
challenge to no purpose in regard to the military garland."! In the following chapter, 
he asks: "Is the laurel of triumph made up of leaves, or of corpses? is it decorated with 
ribbons, or tombs? is it besmeared with ointments, or with the tears of wives and 
mother, perhaps those of some men even (who are) Christians — for Christ (is) among 
the barbarians as well?"2 



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The clear, thorough-going, and outspoken opinions of Tertullianus have naturally 
attracted a good deal of attention and criticism; and there are one or two points in 
connection with them which it will be well briefly to consider and emphasize. 

1. The 'De Idololatria' (198-202 a.d.) is the earliest evidence we have for the 
enlistment in the army of Christians who were already baptized.3 Any Christian 
soldiers mentioned in documents of an earlier date may well have consisted, for aught 
we know to the contrary, of men converted when already engaged in military life. 

2. He recognizes only two practicable alternatives for the converted soldier: he must 
either leave the service, or suffer martyrdom. Harnack indeed says that Tertullianus 
displays some uncertainty in regard to converts who were already soldiers, and that he 
does not present them this dilemma of either leaving the army or dying as martyrs, 
"but opens to them yet a third possibility, namely that of avoiding pollution by 
heathenism as much as they can."l But it has to be remembered that the pollution 
was, in Tertullianus' view, practically inseparable from military life; he runs over a 
large number of the commonest duties of the soldier, and raises objections to them 
one after another; and his third alternative must therefore be regarded as an ironical 
concession of a bare abstract possibility, which would be obviously impossible in 
practice, like his concession that a Christian may hold office, provided he has nothing 
to do with sacrifices, temples, public shows, oaths, judgment of capital or criminal 
cases, pronunciation and infliction of penalties, and so on. 

3. The emphasis which he lays on the danger of contamination by idolatry has led 
some authors to represent this as his one real objection to military service and to use it 
for the purpose of dissociating him from those who in later times have objected to war 
on humanitarian grounds. Thus Professor Bethune-Baker says: "It is important to 
notice what Tertullian means by those offences against God which are inseparable 
from the soldier's life. It is not the modern idea at all. The special objections which 
he feels, the only offences against Christian sentiment that seem to really weigh with 
him, are the military oath over which the heathen gods presided — and the pagan 
ceremonial with which so many military acts and operations were invested."! This 
remarkable statement is approvingly quoted by Archdeacon Cunningham.2 The 
passages just quoted from Tertullianus are sufficient proof of its amazing inaccuracy. 
Great as was his horror of idolatry, his conviction of the illegitimacy of all bloodshed 
and violence was equally great. Nor can I understand how Gass can say: "Tertullian 
was prepared to put up with Christian soldiers, only without the ostentatious crown of 
victory." 3 Even Troeltsch falls a victim to this error: he says that Tertullianus and 
Origenes, "despite the(ir) contention that the soldiers' handiwork of blood was 
absolutely unchristian, would have acquiesced, if service in the army had not brought 
the Christians into contact with the worship of the Emperor and (the religious 
customs) of the camp. "4 This statement is unwarranted even in regard to Tertullianus, 
and still more so in regard to Origenes, who never raises the difficulty of idolatrous 
contamination in the army at all. 5 

4. Tertullianus has been accused of lack of candour in boasting to pagans in one 
treatise6 of the large number of Christians in the army, and after that arguing with his 
fellow-Christians that there ought not to be any Christians in the army at all. 1 But 



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unless candour requires a writer to explain his whole mind on a subject every time he 
mentions it in a purely incidental way, the charge of disingenuousness is unwarranted. 
Each time that Tertullianus spoke to pagans of Christian soldiers without reproaching 
them, he was simply adverting to an obvious and admitted fact, in order to prove the 
numbers and ubiquity of the Christians and their readiness to take part in the activities 
of society. It would have been not only futile, but out of place, to introduce a topic 
upon which Christian opinion was divided, unless the course of the argument 
distinctly called for its treatment. 

5. Again, Tertullianus' attempt to find an application of Christianity to every 
department of life has been criticized as in itself a mistake. His earnestness, it is 
admitted, was commendable; but he was on wrong lines: "he failed, as every man is 
bound to fail, who conceives of Christianity in the light of a Rule, as a law of 
commandments contained in ordinances, rather than as a law of the spirit of life in 
Christ Jesus. "2 We may concede that the province of Christian casuistry is a strictly 
limited one, and that the limits are at times overpassed both by Tertullianus and 
others. But even the Pauline Epistles, not to mention the Synoptic Gospels, teach us 
that there is such a thing as the Law of Christ, which, while springing from 'the spirit 
of life in Christ Jesus,' issues in certain very definite and concrete principles of 
conduct. This being so, it becomes the duty of every Christian, not only to work out 
the application of these principles to his own life, but also — and this is particularly the 
duty of the Christian teacher and writer — to assist others to do the same. 

6. It is interesting to notice in Tertullianus the idea already suggested by Justinus 1 of 
the 'alternative service' rendered by the Christian to society and the State, despite the 
fact that he does not engage officially in public affairs. The idea forms, as we shall see 
later, a very important item in the apologia of Origenes. Tertullianus does not work it 
into any organic system of thought; but his expressions of it, such as they are, are 
interesting. "I might deservedly say," he argues, "Caesar is more ours (than yours), 
inasmuch as he is appointed by our God. So that I do more for his (health and) safety 
(than ye do), not only because I demand it of Him who is able to give (it), nor because 
I who demand it am such as to deserve to obtain it, but also because, in reducing the 
majesty of Caesar below God, I the more commend him to God, to whom alone I 
subject him." 2 He makes his philosophic cloak say in reply to the charge of idleness 
and neglect of public affairs: "Yet to me also it will be to some extent allowed that I 
am of advantage to the public. I am wont, from every boundary-stone or altar, to 
prescribe for morals medicines that will confer good health more happily on public 
affairs and states and empires than your works (will). ... I flatter no vices; I spare no 
lethargy, no scabbiness; I apply the cautery to ambition," and so on. 3 

7. Lastly, it is a mistake to regard Tertullianus as an individual dissenter from the 
Church as a whole on this question of whether Christians ought to serve in the army 
or not. Harnack, for instance, urges (in my opinion, without sufficient ground) that the 
Christian soldiers in the army had up till then never agitated as malcontents (frondiert) 
on account of their Christian profession, and that his "attack on the service of 
Christians in the army was something new, hitherto unheard of: easy as it was for him 
to prove the essential incompatibility of the service of Christ and service in the army, 
even in peace(-time), it was just as impossible for him to appeal to a rigorous custom 



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and practice already in force hitherto,"! It is true that no general or authoritative 
ruling on the point had yet been given — circumstances not having called for it, that 
Christian conviction in regard to it was never absolutely unanimous, that many of 
Tertullianus' Christian contemporaries (how many we do not know) differed from 
him, and that the Church on the whole ultimately agreed with them rather than with 
him. It must however be borne in mind that this last fact would have its own effect in 
submerging to some extent earlier utterances of a contrary tendency; and this effect 
must be allowed for in explaining whatever paucity there is in records of this kind. 
Tertullianus clearly tells us that 'many' soldiers, when converted to Christianity, 
immediately left the service. 2 His own views are not to be set aside as those of a 
Montanist, for his objection to military service is as clear and emphatic in 'De 
Idololatria,' written before he had adopted Montanism, as it is in 'De Corona,' written 
after he had adopted it.l And when we consider that these views, as will be shown 
presently, agree with the testimony of Origenes and the oldest Church-Orders as to the 
normal Christian practice in the earlier part of the third century, and were apparently 
endorsed by so representative a churchman as his own fellow-countryman and 
admirer Cyprianus, we shall hardly be inclined to believe that at this time he was 
voicing the opinion of a minority of Christians, still less that he represented the views 
of a mere handful of fanatical extremists. 2 

We have now to consider the evidence of the Canons of Hippolutos; but in order to do 
so, it is necessary to say something, by way of introduction, on a tiresome and as yet 
unsolved literary problem. Hippolutos was a learned Roman Christian, who flourished 
during the first thirty years of the third century. He was the critic and rival of Pope 
Kallistos (218-223 a.d.), and for a time headed a separate congregation, as 
opposition-bishop; in 235 a.d. he was exiled to Sardinia, where probably he died. He 
is known to have interested himself in ecclesiastical regulations and to have written . 
Whether this is the title of one work or of two ('Concerning Ministerial Gifts' and 
'Apostolic Tradition') we do not know; neither do we know the exact meaning he 
attached to These uncertainties have added to the difficulty of identifying Hippolutos' 
composition among the various extant works possessing some sort of claim to 
embody it. The works concerned are members of a large family of documents and 
fragments in different languages and of different dates, but all closely related to one 
another and all dealing with rules and regulations to be observed in the government of 
the Church. Without attempting to enter into the tangled details of the problem, we 
may briefly outline the chief points. Three documents are in question: (1) the so- 
called 'Hippolytean Canons,' which cannot have come from Hippolutos as they stand, 
but must in any case have been heavily interpolated:! (2) the so-called 'Egyptian 
Church-Order,' the contents of which closely resemble those of the Hippolytean 
Canons, and which is usually assigned to the first half of the fourth century, though it 
has recently been claimed (by Dom Conolly) as virtually the composition of 
Hippolutos himself2 : (3) 'The Testament of our Lord,' a Syrian or Cilician version of 
the same general collection of rules, dating about the middle of the fourth century,! 
but in some respects preserving older material than either of the two lastnamed works. 
Even if we cannot take Conolly 's theory as proven, we may yet well believe that 
Hippolutos did actually compose detailed regulations for Church-management, 
particularly if is to be regarded as the title of a separate work, distinct from , and that 
these regulations found their way to the East and are contained in a more or less 



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modified form in the 'Egyptian Church-Order,' and the 'Hippolytean Canons' and 
also lie at the basis of 'The Testament of our Lord' and the still later Apostolic 
Constitutions (circ. 375 a.d.). It would be difficult to account for the connection of 
Hippolutos' name with this body of documents, unless we could regard him as the 
author of some of the material contained in them.2 The reader will easily see that no 
investigation of the ruling given by Hippolutos on any point is adequate without a full 
quotation of what is said on it in each of the three documents mentioned. We must 
therefore proceed next to quote their respective regulations on the subject of 
Christians acting as magistrates and soldiers. These regulations occur in that part of 
each document which deals with the acceptance of new members into the Church and 
with the question of the trades and professions which it is legitimate or otherwise for 
Church-members to follow. As several versions are in question, I have set forth their 
contents in tabular form (pp. 122, 123) to facilitate the comparison of one with 
another. 



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It will be observed that only 'The Testament of our Lord' is consistently rigorous in 
refusing baptism to soldiers and magistrates except on condition of their quitting their 
offices, and forbidding a Christian to become a soldier on pain of rejection. All the 
other documents introduce some sort of modification. The Ethiopic version of the 
Egyptian Church-Order seems to allow a soldier already received to remain as such in 
the Church, on condition that he kills no one; but immediately afterwards it goes back 
on this concession by requiring a soldier among the believers to leave off or be 
rejected. The Coptic version of the Egyptian Church-Order first forbids the Christian 
soldier to kill men, and then says that, if he is commanded to kill men, he is not to 
thrust himself forward; but, like 'The Testament,' it refuses to admit a magistrate, and 
forbids the Christian to become a soldier on pain of rejection. The 'Hippolytean 
Canons' in one form forbid soldiers and magistrates to kill, even when commanded to 
do so, and prescribe 'unarmedness' for the latter; in the other form they first forbid the 
admission of magistrates and soldiers, and then apparently accept soldiers who have 
fought but who have neither used bad language nor worn garlands, and magistrates 
who are clothed with the adornment of justice. 

While we are unfortunately not able to extract with any confidence from this 
bewildering maze of contradictions and modifications the exact words of Hippolutos 
himself, or of the original regulation, by whomsoever it was framed, it is not very 
difficult to see what the provisions of that original regulation must have been. All that 
we know from other sources — and from the inherent probabilities of the case — goes 
to show that the constant trend of Christian thought on this and similar questions was 
from strictness towards relaxation, from an almost complete abstention to an almost 
equally complete freedom to participate.! An incidental confirmation of this view 



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comes from the Apostolic Constitutions, which are certainly later than the Egyptian 
Church-Order and almost certainly later than the other two documents we have been 
dealing with. In those Constitutions we can see that the movement towards leniency 
has got still further, and all that is required of a soldier applying for Church- 
membership is that he shall "inflict injury on no one, make no false accusation, and be 
content with the pay given to him."2 This is of course simply a repetition of the 
precepts of John the Baptist, and clearly does not imply that soldier-candidates would 
have to leave the army. We shall therefore not go far wrong in seeking for the original 
terms of Hippolutos' Church-Order in the most stringent of the requirements still 
embedded in the documents as we have them. As the demand for a relaxation of this 
stringency made itself felt, the terms of the original would be little by little 
abbreviated, added to, or otherwise modified, so as to provide loopholes in favour of a 
laxer policy. Hence would arise that weird mixture of inconsistent permissions and 
prohibitions which gives such a curious appearance of vacillation to most of the 
existing codes. The only one of them which has kept the full strictness — whether or 
nor in the actual words — of the original is 'The Testament of our Lord,' which dates 
in its present form from the middle of the fourth century or a little later, and arose 
among the conservative Christians of Syria or south-eastern Asia Minor. 1 The 
substance of that original regulation must have been that a soldier or a magistrate who 
wielded the power of the sword could not be admitted by baptism to membership in 
the Christian Church, unless he had first resigned his military or quasi-military 
calling, that if a catechumen or a baptized Christian became a soldier, he must give it 
up or else suffer exclusion from the Church, and that similarly a mere desire on his 
part to become a soldier, showing, as it was thought, contempt for God, must be 
relinquished on pain of rejection or excommunication. 

That some such regulations as these should have emanated — as they probably 
did — from so influential and representative a Churchman as Hippolutus of Rome, that 
the document embodying them should have been made the basis of virtually all 
subsequent Church-Orders, including some that were apparently highly esteemed and 
closely followed throughout whole regions of eastern Christendom, and that these 
particular rules should have survived unmodified in at least one such Church-Order 
until late in the fourth century and should still be so clearly visible as they are, under 
the moss-growths of successive editions, in other Church-Orders of approximately the 
same date — are facts of the first importance in the history of our subject, and facts, 
too, which as yet have not received anything like the attention they deserve. The 
comparative recency of the investigation of the Church-Orders accounts, in part at 
least, for the total omission of all reference to them in many of the writings that deal 
with this topic. 1 But even in the most recent and scholarly works the place assigned to 
them is scarcely adequate. Bigelmair quotes the passages from the Egyptian Church- 
Order, the 'Hippolytean Canons,' and 'The Testament of our Lord,' and admits that 
"they mark clearly and distinctly the views which prevailed in wide circles": but he 
describes them as emanating from circles where "tertullianic views" were prevalent 
(aus tertullianischen Anschau-ungskreisen), and says that they possessed no generally 
binding power.2 Even Harnack, whose work is that of an impartial, thorough, and 
accurate scholar, confines himself to a quotation of the 'Hippolytean Canons,' Nos. 
13 and 14, as given by Riedel, combining it in a single paragraph with quotations 
from Origenes and Lactantius, and then remarks: "But these injunctions of the 



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moralists were by no means followed in the third century," adding as his grounds for 
this statement sundry pieces of evidence showing that many Christians of the third 
century and later were either in the army themselves or knew of no objection to 
Christians being there.l But this latter fact, the nature and extent of which we shall 
have to examine later, in no wise invalidates the conclusion to be drawn from the 
Church-Orders, viz. that in the third century the conviction that Christianity was 
incompatible with the shedding of blood, either in war or in the administration of 
justice, was not only maintained and vigorously defended by eminent individuals like 
Tertullianus of Carthago, Hippolutos of Rome, and Origenes of Palestine and Egypt, 
but was widely held and acted on in the Churches up and down Christendom.2 For 
reasons to be stated later, the conviction was not unanimous; but the various 
indications of its absence can quite easily be explained without adopting Harnack's 
view that it was simply the personal opinion of a few uninfluential 'moralists.' That 
view seems to me, in face of the evidence we have just had before us, and even in face 
of the facts on the other side of the case, not only unnecessary, but also erroneous. 

Minucius Felix says: "It is not right for us either to see or hear of a man being slain; 
and so careful are we (to abstain) from human blood, that we do not even touch the 
blood of eatable animals in (our) food. . . . Even though we refuse your official 
honours and purple, yet we do not consist of the lowest dregs of the population."! 

We turn next to Origenes, the prince of early Christian thinkers. Apart from his 
general eminence as scholar, theologian, apologist, and practical Christian, he is far 
and away the most important writer who handles the question before us. Though he 
yields to Tertullianus in rhetorical brilliance and to Augustinus in his influence over 
posterity, his defence of the early Christian refusal to participate in war is the only one 
that faces at all throughly or completely the ultimate problems involved. He has 
however been strangely misunderstood and misinterpreted, and certainly never 
answered. Our procedure will be, as before, to let our author first speak for himself, 
and then add a few elucidations and comments of our own. We begin, therefore, with 
a series of passages from Origenes' reply to Celsus (248 a.d.), some of which we have 
already had occasion to quote in another connection. 

"How would it have been possible for this peaceful teaching (of Christianity), which 
does not allow (its adherents) even to defend themselves againstl (their) enemies, to 
prevail, unless at the coming of Jesus the (affairs) of the world had everywhere 
changed into a milder (state)?"2 "If a revolt had been the cause of the Christians 
combining, and if they had derived the(ir) origin from the Jews, to whom it was 
allowed () to take arms on behalf of the(ir) families, and to destroy (their) enemies, 
the Lawgiver of (the) Christians would not have altogether forbidden (the) destruction 
of man, teaching that the deed of daring (on the part) of his own disciples against a 
man, however unrighteous he be, is never right — for he did not deem it becoming to 
his own divine legislation to allow the destruction of any man whatever."! "To those 
who ask us whence we have come or whom we have (for) a leader, we say that we 
have come in accordance with the counsels of Jesus to cut down our warlike and 
arrogant swords of argument into ploughshares, and we convert into sickles the spears 
we formerly used in fighting. For we no longer take 'sword against a nation,' nor do 
we learn 'any more to make war,' having become sons of peace for the sake of Jesus, 



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who is our leader, instead of (following) the ancestral (customs) in which we were 
strangers to the covenants."! "It would not be possible for the ancient Jews to keep 
their civil economy unchanged, if, let us suppose, they obeyed the constitution (laid 
down) according to the gospel. For it would not be possible for Christians to make 
use, according to the Law of Moses, of (the) destruction of (their) enemies or of those 
who had acted contrary to the Law and were judged worthy of destruction by fire or 
stoning. . . . Again, if thou wert to take away from the Jews of that time, who had a 
civil economy and a land of their own, the (right) to go out against the(ir) enemies and 
serve as soldiers on behalf of their ancestral (institutions) and to destroy or otherwise 
punish the adulterers or murderers or (men) who had done something of that kind, 
nothing would be left but for them to be wholly and utterly destroyed, the(ir) enemies 
setting upon the nation, when they were weakened and prevented by their own law 
from defending themselves against the(ir) enemies."! "We ought, however, to despise 
currying favour with men and kings, not only if we curry favour with them by means 
of acts of blood-guiltiness and licentiousness and savage cruelty, but also if (we do it) 
by means of impiety towards the God of all or any speech (uttered) with servility and 
obsequiousness, (which is) foreign to brave and high-principled men and to those who 
wish to join to the(ir) other (virtues) bravery as (the) highest virtue."! 

Origenes, however, does not set himself seriously to grapple with the difficulties of 
the problem until near the end of his eighth and last book, Celsus having placed his 
criticism on this particular point at the end of his work and being followed in the 
matter of arrangement by his Christian opponent. Practically the whole of the eight 
chapters that come last but one in Origenes' reply are taken up in justifying the 
Christian attitude of aloofness from all forms of violence in the service of the state. 
We shall confine our quotations to the most pertinent passages. First, in replying to 
the objection that, if all did the same as the Christians, the Emperor would be 
deserted, and the Empire would fall a prey to the barbarians, Origenes says: "On this 
supposition" (viz. that all did the same as himself and took no part in war or 
magistracy), "the Emperor will not 'be left alone' or 'deserted,' nor will 'the world's 
(affairs) fall into the hands of the most lawless and savage barbarians.' For if, as 
Celsus says, 'all were to do the same as' I (do), clearly the barbarians also, coming to 
the Word of God, will be most law-abiding and mild; and every religious worship will 
be abolished, and that alone of the Christians will hold sway; and indeed, one day it 
shall alone hold sway, the Word ever taking possession of more (and more) souls. "1 
Then in the next chapter: "Since he puts the question: 'What would happen if the 
Romans, persuaded by the argument of the Christians, should neglect the (services 
owed) to the recognized gods and the laws formerly in force among men, and should 
worship the Most High?,' hear our answer on this. We say that if two of us agree upon 
earth concerning anything that they shall ask, they shall receive it from the heavenly 
Father of the righteous: for God rejoices over the agreement of rational beings, and 
turns away from discord. What must (we) believe if, not only — as now — very few 
agree, but the whole Empire (governed) by the Romans? For they will pray to the 
Word, who said of old to the Hebrews when they were pursued by the Egyptians: 
'The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall be silent'; and, praying with all concord, 
they will be able to overthrow far more enemies who pursue them than those whom 
the prayer of Moses — when he cried to God — and of those with him overthrew. . . .2 
But if, according to Celsus' supposition, all the Romans were to be persuaded, they 



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will by praying overcome their enemies; or (rather) they will not make war at all, 
being guarded by the Divine Power, which promised to save five whole cities for the 
sake of fifty righteous. For the men of God are the salt that preserves the earthly order 
of the world; and earthly things hold together (only) as long as the salt is not 
corrupted."! The next chapter is an obscure one. Origenes quotes Celsus as saying to 
the Christian the following: "It is absolutely intolerable that thou shouldst say that, if 
those who now reign over us, having been persuaded by thee, should be taken captive, 
thou wilt persuade those who reign after (them, and) then others, if they should be 
taken captive, and others again, (and so on), until, when all who have been persuaded 
by thee have been taken captive, some one ruler who is prudent and foresees what is 
happening shall altogether destroy you, before he himself is destroyed." Origenes 
replies that no Christian talks like this, and attributes it to the nonsensical invention of 
Celsus himself; and unfortunately we cannot get any further with it.l He then 
proceeds: "After this, he utters a sort of prayer: 'Would that it were possible for the 
Greeks and barbarians that occupy Asia and Europe and Libya unto the ends (of the 
earth) to agree (to come) under one law'; (but) judging this to be impossible, he adds: 
'He who thinks this (possible) knows nothing.' If it is necessary to speak of this, a few 
(words) shall be said on the subject, though it needs much investigation and 
discussion, in order that what was said about the whole rational (creation) agreeing (to 
come) under one law might appear to be not only possible but certain. Now the Stoics 
(say) that, when the strongest of the elements prevails, the conflagration will occur, all 
things being changed into fire: but we say that the Word (will) one day master the 
whole rational creation and transform every soul into his own perfection. . . . For the 
Word is stronger than all the evils in a soul, and the healing that is in him leads it (the 
soul) forward for each man according to the will of God: and the end of things is the 
destruction of evil." He then has a long passage on the Christian anticipation of the 
complete destruction of evil, and concludes: "This I thought it reasonable to say, 
without exact statement (of details), in answer to Celsus' remark, that he thought it 
impossible for the Greeks and barbarians inhabiting Asia and Europe and Libya to 
agree. And perhaps such (an agreement) is really impossible to those still in bodies, 
but not impossible to those who have been released from them."l 

He then turns to the concrete appeal of Celsus that the Christians should serve in the 
army and take part in the business of government. "Celsus next urges us to help the 
Emperor with all (our) strength, and to labour with him (in maintaining) justice, and 
to fight for him and serve as soldiers with him, if he require (it), and to share military 
command (with him). To this it has to be said that we do help the Emperors as 
occasion (requires) with a help that is, so to say, divine, and putting on 'the whole 
armour of God.' And this we do in obedience to the apostolic voice which says: 'I 
therefore exhort you firstly that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanks-givings, 
be made for all men, for Emperors and all who are in high station'; and the more 
pious one is, so much the more effectual is he in helping the Emperors than (are) the 
soldiers who go forth in battle-array and kill as many as they can of the enemy. And 
then we should say this to those who are strangers to the faith and who ask us to serve 
as soldiers on behalf of the community and to kill men: that among you the priests of 
certain statues and the temple-wardens of those whom ye regard as gods keep their 
right-hand(s) unstained for the sake of the sacrifices, in order that they may offer the 
appointed sacrifices to those whom ye call gods, with hands unstained by (human) 



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blood and pure from acts of slaughter; and whenever war comes, ye do not make the 
priests also serve. If then it is reasonable to do this, how much more (reasonable is it, 
that), when others are serving in the army, these (Christians) should do their military 
service as priests and servants of God, keeping their right-hands pure and striving by 
prayers to God on behalf of those who are righteously serving as soldiers and of him 
who is reigning righteously, in order that all things opposed and hostile to those that 
act righteously may be put down? And we, (in) putting down by our prayers all 
demons — those who stir up warlike feelings, and prompt the violation of oaths, and 
disturb the peace, help the Emperors more than those who to all appearance serve as 
soldiers. We labour with (him) in the public affairs — (we) who offer up prayers with 
righteousness, with exercises and practices that teach (us) to despise pleasures and not 
to be led away by them. And we fight for the Emperor more (than others do): and we 
do not serve as soldiers with him, even though he require (it); but we do serve as 
soldiers on his behalf, training a private army of piety by means of intercessions to the 
Deity.1 And if Celsus wishes us to exercise military command on behalf of (our) 
country, let him know that we do this also, not in order to be seen by men and to 
obtain empty glory in their eyes by doing so: for in secret (and) under the control of 
our inner reason are our prayers, sent up as from priests on behalf of those in our 
country. And Christians benefit the(ir) countries more than do the rest of men, 
educating the citizens and teaching them to be devout towards the God of the State, 
and taking up into a sort of divine and heavenly State those who have lived well in the 
smallest states. . . .1 But Celsus urges us also to (take part in) govern(ing) the country, 
seeing that this has to be done for the sake of the safety of the laws and of piety. But 
we, knowing in each state another organization of a 'country' — (an organization) 
founded by the Word of God — exhort those who are powerful in speech and who lead 
a wholesome (moral) life to rule over churches, not accepting those who are fond of 
ruling, but constraining those who through (their) great modesty are unwilling rashly 
to accept the public charge of the Church of God. . . . And (it is) not (for the sake of) 
escaping from the public services of life that Christians shun such things, but (because 
they are) reserving themselves for a diviner and more necessary service, (namely that) 
of (the) Church of God, both necessarily and rightly taking the lead for the salvation 
of men, and having taken charge of all — of those within (the Church), in order that 
they may daily live better (lives), and of those who are apparently without, in order 
that they may become (engaged) in the serious words and works of piety, and thus, 
truly worshipping God and training as many as they have power to, may be mingled 
with the Word of God and the divine Law and may thus be united to the God who is 
over all through the Son of God — Word and Wisdom and Truth and 
Righteousness — who unites to Him every one who is bent on living in all things 
according to (the will of) God."l 

There are several points in the teaching set forth in these passages which call for 
special comment. 

1. It will have been noticed that Origenes speaks of the Emperor as 'reigning 
righteously' and of his soldiers as 'righteously rendering military service,' that as a 
Christian he was prepared to pray for their victory in a righteous conflict,! and that he 
recognized the right of the ancient Jews to fight against their enemies. 3 Elsewhere he 
speaks of "people everywhere being compelled to serve as soldiers and to make war 



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on behalf of the(ir) countries" in the times before Augustus, "when there was need 
that there should be war, for instance, between Peloponnesians and Athenians, and 
similarly between others. "4 He also says that "the wars of the bees perhaps constitute 
a lesson for the conduct of just and orderly wars among men, if ever there should be 
need (for them). "5 All these passages but the last explicitly refer to the warfare of 
some set of non-Christians: and in the last there is no indication that Origenes has 
Christians in mind. When the fact is once clearly grasped that his allusions to 
justifiable wars are always, either explicitly or implicitly, to wars waged by non- 
Christians, many of the criticisms levelled at his teaching will be seen to rest on a 
misapprehension.6 

2. His candid recognition of the temporary place and value of what was good in pagan 
and Mosaic ethics must not be taken as stultifying or cancelling his equally candid 
declaration that Christians ought not to and would not take part in war. Several 
modern writers have fallen into this fallacy. Thus Grotius says that Origenes and 
Tertullianus are not consistent, and he quotes in regard to the former the passage 
about the bees.l Guizot, in a note on Gibbon,2 says: "Origen, in truth, appears to have 
maintained a more rigid opinion (Cont. Cels. 1. viii); but he has often renounced this 
exaggerated severity, perhaps necessary to produce great results, and he speaks of the 
profession of arms as an honourable one (1. iv. c. [83] 218. . . )." Professor Bethune- 
Baker writes: "From all these passages together it is perhaps fair to conclude that 
Origen considered the Christian ideal incompatible with war, but would in practice 
have permitted Christians to engage in war. It is clear he regarded it as a Christian 
duty to pray for 'those that are warring justly.' Further, as it is quite certain that there 
were many Christians in the armies at the time when Origen was writing, it is not 
improbable that in his specific answer he is thinking particularly of the Christian 
clergy. Several of his phrases suggest this limited application."! This guardedly 
expressed, but nevertheless quite erroneous, suggestion is invested by Archdeacon 
Cunningham with dogmatic certainty: "It is clear that the Great Alexandrian did not 
regard War as a thing in which the Christian was wrong to take part."l Guignebert 
remarks: "But already Origenes seems to admit at least defensive war"2 : and 
similarly Bigelmair: "Even Origenes at times gave a less rigorous judgment," for he 
meets a point brought forward by Celsus "with the remark — which contrasts curiously 
with his position elsewhere — that the wars of the bees were a pattern for the righteous 
and orderly wars of men."3 All this misses the point. Origenes' view of the 
Christian's duty in regard to war is put as clearly as words could make it: and though 
he compares the intercessions of the Christians to the sacrifices of the pagan 
priesthood and speaks about the duty of the Christian clergy in training and governing 
others, the supposition that he meant to limit the abstention from bloodshed to the 
clergy is quite out of keeping with his actual statements. It is abundantly clear that he 
regarded the acceptance of Christianity as incompatible with the use of arms; and his 
relative justification of the wars of non-Christians cannot be made a ground either for 
doubting that his rigorism was seriously meant, or for accusing him of inconsistency 
in maintaining it.4 

3. Origenes accepts as true the charge implied in the appeal made by Celsus seventy 
years before, that Christians did as a body refuse to serve in the army and to hold 
magistracies. "We do not serve as soldiers with the Emperor, even though he require 



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(it). . . . Christians avoid such things" (i.e. public offices). 5 He speaks as if he was not 
aware that Christians ever took any other linel : and though this cannot be construed 
as showing that none of them ever did so — for there is evidence to prove that many 
did — or that Origenes dishonestly concealed what he knew to be a fact — for the 
dishonesty would have been so patent as to serve no purpose, yet it proves that even at 
this date, the middle of the third century, the predominant opinion among Christians 
was that their religion forbade them to serve in the legions. 2 

4. It is often urged that the early Christian disapproval of all violence has to be read in 
the light of early Christian eschatology. For if you could assume that within the near 
future, possibly almost immediately, the existing world-order was going to fall to 
pieces with a crash, the wicked were going to be rooted out and punished, and the 
reign of righteousness set up — all by the exercise of a special Divine 
intervention — then obviously there would not be much difficulty in proving all 
fighting, and indeed all judicial procedure, to be useless. Now whatever weight must 
be assigned to this consideration in criticizing the views of primitive Christians, or 
even of a man like Tertullianus, it is highly significant that the most gifted thinker of 
the early Church, the man who maintained the Gospel-principle of non-resistance as 
earnestly and explicitly as any, was unique also in this other excellence — that his 
mind was not fettered by the crude obsessions of orthodox Christian eschatology: he 
had little or nothing to say of a bodily return of Christ, or of an end of the world due 
to occur in the near future; he contemplated an indefinite prolongation of human 
history under the divine control; he had his eyes open to the needs of society, and, 
though keen on the spiritual side of things, suffered from no blind 
'otherworldliness' — from none of what Weinel aptly calls 'Jenseitsfanatismus.' 
Eschatology, it is urged, invalidates the early Christian witness in regard to war: it 
cannot however invalidate the witness given by Origenes, for he did not share even 
the weakened eschatological beliefs of his Christian contemporaries. Yet none gave a 
clearer or more intelligent witness on the subject of Christian gentleness than he. 

5. Note further that fear of idolatrous contamination had nothing to do with Origenes' 
disapproval of military service. He does indeed once mention 'impiety towards God' 
as a means of currying favour with kings, but never as a bar to service in the army. 
His view was based — as his analogy with the pagan priesthood, as well as many other 
passages, clearly shows — on the Christians' determination to keep their hands free 
from the stain of blood. Yet the late Dr. Gwatkin, in his criticism of Origenes' reply to 
the charge of disloyalty,! altogether ignores this aspect of the case, and speaks as if 
squeamishness on the subject of idolatry were the only difficulty that had to be 
considered. Even Troeltsch, as we have seen,2 says that, if it had not been for this 
difficulty, Origenes would have acquiesced in Christians serving as soldiers. 

6. Origenes happily lays great stress on the positive service which the Christians 
render to the State, a service which he claims is diviner, more needful, and more 
effective than that of the soldier or magistrate. "We do help the Emperors as occasion 
(requires). . . We labour with (him) in the public affairs. . . we fight for the Emperor 
more (than others do). . . Christians benefit the(ir) countries more than the rest of 
men," and so on.l Of this service he specifies two forms, (a) Intercessory prayer, 
which he rightly regards as exceedingly effective when coming from Christians: this 



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prayer is that the Emperor and those associated with him may be successful in their 
efforts, in so far as their purposes are righteous, "in order that all things opposed and 
hostile to those that act righteously may be put down" . It assumes that the Emperor 
has a standard of righteousness which is valid relative to his own sub-Christian 
condition, and it does not commit the Christian who offers it to an approval of the 
same standard for himself The Christians, moreover, by their prayers, put down the 
demons who rouse warlike passions and disturb the peace, (b) Influence for good over 
others by the activities of the Church and the power of Christian life, "educating the 
citizens and teaching them to be devout towards the God of the State," taking charge 
of those within and those without the Church, and working effectually for their moral 
and spiritual salvation. No criticism of Origenes, which does not give full weight to 
this positive side of his plea, is either fair to him or worthy of a Christian critic. The 
words of the late Dr. Gwatkin unfortunately fail in this respect. "Even Origen only 
quibbles," he says, "in his answer that they do not serve in the army because they 
support the emperor with their prayers, that they fight for their country by educating 
their fellow-citizens in true piety, that they help to govern it by devoting themselves 
to the nobler and more needful service of the church of God. All this evades the 
point — that men have no right to renounce at pleasure their duties to their country."! 
Now the party guilty of evading the point in this case is not the ancient apologist, but 
the late lamented historian himself; for in speaking of military service as a duty to 
one's country, he is, of course, simply assuming without argument the very point 
under debate: he has not a word to say on the very serious question as to how 
slaughter in war is to be reconciled with the teaching of Jesus. Not only does he 
assume that military service is a duty, but he calls the Christian refusal of it a 
renunciation of duty at pleasure. He does not realize that the early Christian, in 
refusing the use of arms, more than compensated for his withdrawal from the army by 
the moral and spiritual power for good which he exercised as a Christian, that he 
did — as Origenes claimed — really and literally help the Emperor in the maintenance 
of peace and justice, and really did benefit his country more than the rest of men. 

7. This brings us to our last point, namely the question whether the Christian ethic as 
interpreted by Origenes can be safely advocated as a practical policy, or whether it is 
open to the fatal charge of anarchy. What is going to happen, Celsus had asked, as 
people are asking now, if this sort of thing spreads? Will not civilization become the 
prey of barbarians and savages? On the score of the results which, it is assumed, 
would follow from the adoption of his teaching, the political views expressed by him 
have been criticized as extravagant.! The criticism is in my judgment unwarranted. 
To foresee accurately the future history of Christianity is under no conditions and at 
no period an easy task, even when one is emancipated — as Origenes happily 
was — from the crude obsessions of orthodox eschatology . It is therefore not to be 
wondered at that he should hesitate to affirm positively that all the inhabitants of the 
world would be able, while still in the body, to come together under one law, though 
he does not rule out this contingency as impossible, just as, in repudiating the 
extravagant utterance attributed by Celsus to a Christian, he does not rule out 
absolutely the possibility of an Emperor's conversion.2 His task was to show that a 
Christianity, which sets its adherents to work in the varied external and internal 
activities of the Church, which endows them with moral purity and energy and 
spiritual power, and which forbids them to participate in the penal bloodshed and 



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violence which pagan society finds necessary for its own preservation and well- 
being — that such a Christianity can be allowed to spread indefinitely among mankind, 
without any fear of a disastrous breakdown of civilization being occasioned by its 
expansion. That task he performs with admirable common-sense and insight. He does 
not desire or advocate or expect a sudden and wholesale abandonment by society of 
its usual methods of dealing with internal and external enemies, without any of those 
compensating safeguards and improvements which the gradual and steady growth of 
Christianity would ensure. And it is as a gradual growth that he thinks of the 
expansion of Christianity — as a growth consisting of the accretion of one individual 
after another, "the Word ever taking possession of more (and more) souls" until it has 
mastered the whole rational creation,! as a growth going on, not only among the 
civilized inhabitants of the Empire, but also among the uncivilized barbarians beyond 
its borders,! not only among the virtuous, but also among the sinful and criminal 
people, and therefore as removing steadily the wrongdoing which evokes wars and 
calls for penalties, while supplying steadily pari passu a more effectual cure for that 
wrongdoing in the shape of the mighty spiritual and moral influence of the Church. 
His programme thus consists of two gradual processes going on side by side as the 
result of the spread of Christianity: firstly, the gradual diminution of crime and the 
risk of foreign aggression, and secondly, the gradual substitution of spiritual influence 
for physical coercion, i.e. of a more for a less effective remedy for crime and 
aggression.3 What ground does such a programme give for the charge of anarchy? 
Celsus actually made such a charge, but had to contradict himself in doing so. He first 
professed to posit the conversion of all to Christianity — in itself a legitimate 
supposition — but immediately had to make an exception of the barbarians in order to 
manufacture some sort of a bogey. Origenes had no difficulty in pointing out that 
Celsus' assumption of all doing the same as the Christian presupposed the conversion 
of the barbarians as well as the subjects of the Empire. Some modern writers have 
pointed to the attacks later made on the Empire by Christianized barbarians as if they 
proved the shortsightedness of Origenes! : but they do nothing of the sort, for the 
Christianity given to these barbarians was not the same article as that for which 
Origenes was bargaining; it was the Christianity of a Church that had made a compact 
with the powers that be and was accordingly obliged to sanction for its adherents the 
use of the sword at a ruler's bidding. It was the Church's failure to remain true to the 
full Christian ethic advocated by Origenes, which made possible the scene of 
Christian barbarians invading the Empire. The extraordinary supposition — which 
forms part of Origenes' apologia — of a united and converted Empire holding its 
barbarian foes at bay by the power of prayer, was no part of his own programme: it 
concludes his reply to the illogical challenge of his opponent. Extravagant as that 
challenge was, he shows himself fully equal to meeting it, by a grand profession of 
the Christian's confidence in God — a confidence not so foolish as it sounds to worldly 
ears, as the history of many a mission-field would be amply sufficient to prove. 

The position of Cyprianus, bishop of Carthago, a universally respected and highly 
influential Churchman, is somewhat uncertain. On the one hand, he includes in his 
general complaint over the degeneracy and calamities of the time the fact that the 
numbers and efficiency of the soldiers were decreasing,! and never says in so many 
terms that a Christian ought not to serve in the legions, even when he has occasion to 
refer to two who had done so. 2 On the other hand, he says some remarkably strong 



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things about war, which more than overbalance his casual and rhetorical allusion to 
the deficiency of soldiers. He speaks of the "wars scattered everywhere with the 
bloody horror of camps. The world is wet with mutual blood(shed): and homicide is a 
crime when individuals commit it, (but) it is called a virtue, when it is carried on 
publicly. Not the reason of innocence, but the magnitude of savagery, demands 
impunity for crimes."! "God wished iron to be for the cultivation of the earth, and for 
that reason acts of homicide ought not to be committed."! "Adultery, fraud, homicide 
is mortal sin (mortale crimen). . . after celebrating the eucharist, the hand is not (i.e. 
ought not to be) spotted with (the use of) the sword and with blood."3 Further than 
that, his immense respect for his fellow-countryman Tertullianus, whom he called his 
'master' and whose ardent antipathy to secular things in general he evidently shared, 
creates a very strong presumption that he agreed with him as to the illegitimacy of 
military service for Christians. This presumption is supported by the fact that the body 
of Maximilianus, who was martyred at Teveste in Numidia in 295 a.d. for refusing to 
allow himself to be enrolled as a soldier, was conveyed by a Christian matron to 
Carthago, and buried near Cyprianus' tomb. 4 

The Neoplatonic philosopher Plotinos, writing about 268 a.d., said: "God Himself 
ought not to fight on behalf of the unwarlike; for the law says that (men) ought to be 
brought safe out of wars by being courageous, but not by praying. For it is not those 
who pray, but those who attend to the earth, that (ought to) reap its produce."! When 
we consider the connections of Plotinos with Egypt and Alexandria, the fact that both 
he and Origenes had been pupils of the philosopher Ammonios Sakkas, the reputation 
of Origenes in philosophic circles, and the standing hostility of the Neoplatonists to 
Christianity, we can hardly doubt that the passage just quoted is an allusion to the 
closing chapters of Origenes' Contra Celsum, where the author defends the Christians 
for refusing military service on the ground of the intercessory prayers they offer. Such 
an allusion would be somewhat pointless, unless Plotinos believed that the position he 
was criticizing was at least fairly widespread among Christians. 

In 295 a.d. occurred the famous and oft-told martyrdom of Maximilianus, to which 
allusion has just been made. He was a young Numidian Christian, just over twenty- 
one years old, and was brought before Dion the proconsul of Africa, as fit for military 
service. He refused to serve, or to accept the soldier's badge, saying repeatedly that he 
could not do so, because he was a Christian and served Christ. Dion tried again and 
again to overcome his objections, but without success. It is fairly clear from the 
martyr's own words that his objection was largely, if not solely, to the business of 
fighting. The question of sacrificing to idols or to the Emperor is not mentioned by 
either party. "I cannot serve as a soldier," said maximilianus; "I cannot do evil; I am a 
Christian." Dion told him: "In the sacred retinue of our lords Diocletianus and 
Maximianus, Constantius and Maximus, there are Christian soldiers, and they serve." 
Maximilianus replied: "They know what is fitting for them: but I am a Christian, and I 
cannot do evil." "What evil do they do who serve?" asked the proconsul. "Thou 
knowest what they do," was the reply.! Nothing more could be done, and 
Maximilianus was sentenced to and suffered the death-penalty. His body, as has been 
stated, was taken to Carthago and buried near the tomb of Cyprianus; his father 
returned home thanking God that he had sent forward such a gift to the Lord2 ; the 
story of his trial and death were speedily committed to writing; and he was ultimately 



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received among the saints of the Church. All this shows what a large measure of 
sympathy and approval was evoked by the stand he took, among the Christians of his 
own and the immediately succeeding period.3 There are, as far as I know, no grounds 
for supposing that Maximilianus had come more under the influence of Tertullianus 
than other Christians of northern Africa, or that Christians who refused to serve 
belonged for the most part to Montanistic sects. 1 It is probably true that such 
instances of refusal were sufficiently numerous to have helped to bring about that 
imperial suspicion and dislike, out of which sprang the great persecution of 303 a.d.2 

In the latter part of the third century, the difficulty over idolatry, etc., in the army 
became acute. Regulations had long been in existence which forbade any who would 
not sacrifice to the Emperors to hold a commission in the army. While these 
regulations had been allowed by the authorities to fall into desuetude, the fact that 
they were still technically in force made it possible for any one to appeal to them, if a 
favorable opportunity arose; and when that was done, they had to be enforced. It is 
possible that the two soldiermartyrs mentioned by Cyprianus were the victims of 
some such occurrence.3 However that may be, a clear instance occurred at Caesarea 
in 260 a.d., when, after the cessation of persecution, a distinguished military officer 
named Marinus was about to be promoted to the rank of centurion, but, being 
denounced as a Christian by the next claimant to the vacancy and declared ineligible 
for promotion in view of the ancient laws, was given three hours for reflection, 
returned at the end of that time from an interview with his bishop (who told him he 
must choose between his sword and the Gospels), reaffirmed his Christianity, was 
sentenced to death, led away, and beheaded. 1 Marinus waited for the occasion of 
conflict to arise, and when it arose he seems neither to have had nor to have sought a 
chance of retiring from the service. But Marcellus the centurion, who was martyred at 
Tingi (Western Mauretania) in 298 a.d., took the initiative himself, and insisted on 
resigning his office. On the occasion of the Emperor's birthday, he cast off his 
military belt before the standards, and called out: "I serve (milito) Jesus Christ, the 
eternal king." Then he threw down his vine-staff and arms, and added: "I cease from 
this military service of your Emperors, and I scorn to adore your gods of stone and 
wood, which are deaf and dumb idols. If such is the position of those who render 
military service, that they should be compelled to sacrifice to gods and emperors, then 
I cast down my vine-staff and belt, I renounce the standards, and I refuse to serve as a 
soldier." While the objection to sacrifice thus appears as the main ground for the bold 
step Marcellus took, it is clear that he was also exercised over the nature of military 
service as such: for his last words to the judge were: "I threw down (my arms); for it 
was not seemly that a Christian man, who renders military service to the Lord Christ, 
should render it (also) by (inflicting) earthly injuries."! When he was sentenced to 
death, Cassianus, the clerk of the court, loudly protected, and flung his writing- 
materials on the ground, declaring that the sentence was unjust: he suffered death a 
few days after Marcellus. I 

In the years preceding and following the outbreak of persecution in 303 a.d., we come 
across several cases of Christian soldiers leaving the army or suffering martyrdom, 
either on the ground of a general sense of the incompatibility of their official 
functions with their religious duty, or else on the specific ground of refusing to offer 
heathen sacrifices. The doubtful 'Acts of Typasius' tells us that he was a soldier of 



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Mauretania, who had served with credit, but, desiring to devote himself wholly to 
religion, refused a royal donative, and shortly after obtained from Maximianus an 
honourable discharge. Some years afterwards (305 a.d. or later) he was recalled to the 
ranks, but as he refused to re-enter the service, he suffered martyrdom.2 Seleukos, a 
stalwart Cappadocian, who held a distinguished position in the army, at the beginning 
of the persecution had to endure scourging, but then obtained his discharge. 3 
Tarakhos of Cilicia also obtained his discharge on the outbreak of persecution: at his 
subsequent trial at Tarsus, he told the governor that he had been a soldier, "but 
because I was a Christian, I have now chosen to be a civilian"4 — words which 
suggest rather more than a mere objection to offer pagan sacrifices. The martyrdom of 
Nereus and Achilleus at Rome also probably falls to be included here. Pope Damasus 
(366-384 a.d.), who took a great interest in the records and tombs of the martyrs, put 
up an epitaph (which has since been discovered) to two praetorian soldiers, Nereus 
and Achilleus, who, he says, "had given (their) name(s) to military service, and were 
carrying on (their) cruel duty," but "suddenly laid aside (their) madness, turned round 
(and) fled; they leave the general's impious camp, cast down (their) shields, helmets, 
and bloodstained weapons; they confess, and bear (along) with joy the triumph of 
Christ": they were put to death with the sword. Uncertain as we are of the date of their 
martyrdom, the most reasonable supposition is that it fell in or shortly before the time 
of the persecution of Diocletianus — a supposition which is confirmed by the various 
other cases of a similar kind which we have just noticed. The references to the 
'impious camp' and the 'bloodstained weapons' remind us both of the offence of 
idolatry and also of that of bloodshed.l 

The office of the judge and magistrate, though it shares with that of the soldier the 
infliction of bodily damage and death upon other men, yet exhibits this infliction in a 
less wholesale and indiscriminate, a less objectionable and shocking, form. Further 
than that, it resembles far more closely than the soldier's position does those 
numerous and useful public services which involve nothing in the way of violence to 
others. While the element common to the law-court and the army made Christians 
sensitive in regard to the former as well as to the latter, the dissimilarity between them 
caused the objections to the one to be far more strong and definite than the objections 
to the other. The views of Christians in the latter part of the third century in regard to 
law-courts, magistracies, death-penalties, and so on, would form an interesting 
supplement to their views on military service. The evidence unfortunately is more 
scanty than we could wish. Two passages, however, of some interest may be quoted. 
The Didaskalia definitely forbids the Christian to sue a wrongdoer in a pagan court. 
"It is very high praise for a Christian to have no evil dispute with anyone: but if, 
through the work of an enemy, temptation arises against anyone,! let him try 
earnestly to be freed from him, even though he has to suffer some harm; only let him 
not go to the judgment of the gentiles. . . . Let not the gentiles know of your legal 
disputes; and do not accept evidence from them against yourselves: nor in your turn 
prefer suits in their courts."! We have seen that the Canons of Hippolutos in their 
original form forbade the admission to the Church of a magistrate who wielded the 
power of the sword. We do not know how long this original regulation remained 
unmodified. Very probably the modifications took place at different times and rates in 
different places. We know that in the latter part of the third century it was certainly 
not universally observed; for in the times preceding 303 a.d., there were Christian 



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governors of provincesl : at Alexandria there was a Christian official who daily 
administered justice attended by a guard of soldiersl : in Spain there were Christian 
magistrates. But a regulation may remain in existence a long time after people have 
begun to break it, as the long survival of the Eastern Church-Orders proves; and even 
where it was felt that such a rule, however desirable as an ideal, could not be enforced 
in practice and ought not therefore to be authoritatively laid down, the sentiment of 
repulsion towards the penal and bloody side of a magistrate's work still made itself 
felt. One of the Canons of the Synod of Illiberis (Elvira, in the south of Spain), which 
apparently met about 300 a.d., ran: "Resolved, that it be laid down that a (Christian) 
magistrate, during the one year in which he holds the office of duumvir, should keep 
himself away from the church."2 Hefele regards the patronage of idolatry connected 
with the office as the ground of this decision,! but Dale rightly views this as 
insufficient. "Tertullian," says Dale, "enumerates acts which, though part of the 
common experience of all magistrates and rulers during that age, were inadmissible in 
the true servant of Christ. "As to the duties of civil power," he says, "the Christian 
must not decide on any one's life or honour — about money it is permissible; he must 
bind no one, nor imprison and torture any." It was considerations of this nature, rather 
than the idolatrous associations connected with the office, which led the Synod to 
exclude the official, during his year of tenure, from communion with the Church: for 
to sentence even a slave to death, to imprison the debtor, or to put the household of a 
suspected criminal to the rack, though the duty of a magistrate, would in the Christian 
be a sin."l The sense of the incongruity of Christianity and political life in general, 
more particularly on its punitive and coercive side, expressed itself in the strong 
disapproval that was felt — even down to medieval and modern times — to the direct 
participation of the Christian clergy in any activities of this kind.2 

We conclude our study of this section of the subject with a few passages from two 
Christian authors who flourished towards the close of our period, viz. Arnobius and 
Lactantius. Arnobius speaks as if abstention from warfare had been the traditional 
Christian policy ever since the advent of Christ. The amount of war had been 
diminished, he said, not increased, since Christ came. "For since we — so large a force 
of men — have received (it), from his teachings and laws, that evil ought not to be 
repaid with evil, that it is better to endure a wrong than to inflict (it), to shed one's 
own (blood) rather than stain one's hands and conscience with the blood of another, 
the ungrateful world has long been receiving a benefit from Christ, through whom the 
madness of savagery has been softened, and has begun to withhold its hostile hands 
from the blood of a kindred creature. But if absolutely all. . . were willing to lend an 
ear for a little while to his healthful and peaceful decrees, and would not, swollen with 
pride and arrogance, trust to their own senses rather than to his admonitions, the 
whole world would long ago have turned the uses of iron to milder works and be 
living in the softest tranquillity, and would have come together in healthy concord 
without breaking the sanctions of treaties."! 

Lactantius is still more definite and uncompromising. He explicitly rules out both 
military service and capital charges on the ground that, involving homicide, they are a 
violation of justice. We may recall a few salient passages. Referring to some 
indefinite earlier time, he says: "Fire and water used to be forbidden to exiles; for up 
till then it was thought a wrong to inflict the punishment of death on (those who,) 



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though (they were) evil, (were) yet men."2 "If God alone were worshipped, there 
would not be dissensions and wars; for men would know that they are sons of the one 
God, and so joined together by the sacred and inviolable bond of divine kinship; there 
would be no plots, for they would know what sort of punishments God has prepared 
for those who kill living beings. "3 Latterly the gentiles had banished justice from their 
midst by persecuting the good; but even "if they slew the evil only, they would not 
deserve that justice should come to them; for justice had no other reason for leaving 
the earth than the shedding of human blood."4 "Someone will say here: 'What, 
therefore, or where, or of what sort is piety?' Assuredly it is among those who are 
ignorant of wars, who keep concord with all, who are friends even to their enemies, 
who love all men as brothers, who know how to restrain (their) anger, and to soothe 
all fury of mind by quiet control"! In controverting the argument that the just man is 
foolish, for, to save his own life, he will not in warfare take a horse away from a 
wounded man, Lactantius answers that, for one thing, the just man will never be faced 
with these circumstances. "For. . . why should he wage war, and mix himself up in 
other people's passions — he in whose mind dwells perpetual peace with men? He. . . 
who regards it as wrong, not only to inflict slaughter himself, but even to be present 
with those who inflict it and to look on, will forsooth be delighted with. . . human 
blood! "2 In criticizing patriotic wars, he says: "In the first place, the connection of 
human society is taken away; innocence is taken away; abstention from what is 
another's is taken away; in fact, justice itself is taken away, for justice cannot bear the 
cutting asunder of the human race, and, wherever arms glitter, she must be put to 
flight and banished. . . . For how can he be just who injures, hates, despoils, kills? 
And those who strive to be of advantage to their country do all these things. "3 
"Whoever reckons it a pleasure that a man, though deservedly condemned, should be 
slain in his sight, defiles his own conscience, just as if he were to become spectator 
and sharer of a murder which is committed in secret. "4 "When God prohibits killing, 
He not only forbids us to commit brigandage, which is not allowed even by the public 
laws; but He warns (us) that not even those things which are regarded as legal among 
men are to be done. And so it will not be lawful for a just man to serve as a 
soldier — for justice itself is his military service — nor to accuse anyone of a capital 
offence, because it makes no difference whether thou kill with a sword or with a 
word, since killing itself is forbidden. And so, in this commandment of God, no 
exception at all ought to be made (to the rule) that it is always wrong to kill a man, 
whom God has wished to be (regarded as) a sacrosanct creature."! Lactantius does 
not either claim or suggest that there were no Christians in the army when he wrote; 
and his language may perhaps be held to imply that he is counteracting the opinions 
of other Christians: but he could hardly have written as he did, if his views were 
merely those of an inconsiderable handful of extremists. One would rather gather that 
he must have been conscious of having at his back a very large body of Christian 
sentiment and conviction. 



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[Back to Table of Contents] 
PART III 

FORMS OF THE EARLY CHRISTIAN ACCEPTANCE OF 
WAR 

Hitherto we have concentrated our attention on the various ways in which the 
Christian abhorrence and disapproval of war expressed itself. We have now to study 
the reverse side of the picture — the various conditions and connections in which war 
was thought of by Christian people without that association of reproach which so 
frequently attached to it. The contents of this reverse side of the picture are very 
heterogeneous, ranging from the use of military metaphors and similes up to the 
actual service of Christians in the legions. It will be our task to examine each phase of 
this side of the subject candidly and carefully, and to attempt an estimate of the 
precise value of each in its relation to that strong antipathy towards war, the various 
manifestations of which we have just been reviewing. We begin with 

The Christian Use of Military Terms and Phrases to illustrate the Religious Life. — It 
was apparently Paul who introduced this custom of drawing from the military world 
metaphors and similes illustrative of different aspects of Christian, particularly 
apostolic, life. He urged the Thessalonians to put on the breastplate of faith and love, 
and to take the hope of salvation as a helmet. 1 He supported his right to subsist at the 
expense of the Church by asking: "Who ever engages in military service at his own 
expense?"! He spoke of his spiritual and disciplinary powers in the Church in the 
language of one holding a military command and suppressing a mutiny.3 He spoke of 
his weapons of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, i.e. for attack and 
defence.4 He called Epaphroditos and Arkhippos his fellow-soldiers and others his 
fellow-captives. 5 In a detailed enumeration of the items that make up the offensive 
and defensive equipment of a soldier, he elaborated the parallel between human 
warfare and the Christian's struggle against evil angelic powers. 6 Further use of 
military metaphors is made in the Pastoral Epistles. There the author bids Timotheos 
join him in bearing hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. "No one going on 
military service gets entangled in the affairs of (civil) life, (for his aim is) to please 
him who enrolled him."7 It is important to notice that Paul, as if aware of the liability 
of such language to misconstruction, twice went out of his way to remind his readers 
that in using it he was not referring to earthly warfare. "Though we walk in the flesh, 
we do not serve as soldiers according to the flesh; for the weapons of our military 
service are not those of the flesh, but powerful through God for the demolition of 
strongholds, demolishing theories and every rampart thrown up against the knowledge 
of God, and taking prisoner every project (to bring it) into obedience to Christ," and 
so on. 1 Again, "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the (angelic) 
rulers, against the (angelic) authorities, against the world-potentates of this darkness, 
against the spiritual (forces) of wickedness in the heavenly (regions). Wherefore take 
up the armour of God," and so on.2 



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The Gospel of Luke preserves for us the one explicitly military parable of Jesus, that 
of the two kings preparing for war.3 Clemens of Rome says to the Corinthians: "Let 
us render service then, brothers, as strenuously as we can, under His faultless orders. 
Let us consider those who serve our governors as soldiers, in what an orderly, 
obedient, and submissive way they carry out their instructions. For all are not prefects 
or chiliarchs or centurions or captains of fifty, and so on; but each one in his own rank 
carries out what is ordered by the Emperor and the governors. The great cannot exist 
without the lower, nor the lower without the great. There is a union among all, and 
that is why they are (so) useful" (). 4 Ignatius writes: "Please Him whom ye serve as 
soldiers, and from whom ye receive wages. Let no one of you be found (to be) a 
deserter. Let your baptism abide as (your) weapons, faith as a helmet, love as a spear, 
patience as armour. Let your works be your deposits, in order that ye may receive the 
recompense due to you."l It will be seen that, while Ignatius does not do more than 
use military metaphors, Clemens goes a good deal further. In two respects his allusion 
to military life is a novelty. Firstly, he draws from his illustration the lesson of 
subordination of Christians to Church-leaders; and secondly, he unquestionably feels 
a real admiration for the Roman army as such. We shall have occasion to refer later to 
this second point. 

Justinus uses the military analogy in rather a striking way. "It would be a ridiculous 
thing," he says to the Emperors, "that the soldiers engaged and enrolled by you should 
respect their agreement with you in preference to their own life and parents and 
country and all their friends, though ye can offer them nothing incorruptible, and that 
we, loving incorruptibility, should not endure all things for the sake of receiving what 
we long for from Him who is able to give (it). "2 In the apocryphal 'Martyrdom of 
Paul,' both the author himself and the characters he introduces speak of Christians as 
soldiers in the service of God3 : similar language is put into Peter's mouth in his 
apocryphal 'Martyrdom. '4 In the Gnostic 'Excerpts from Theodotos,' it is said: "(We) 
must be armed with the Lord's weapons, keeping the body and the soul 
unwounded."5 Eirenaios refers, chiefly in Scriptural language, to the achievements of 
Christ under the figure of military exploits.l Clemens of Alexandria has a large 
number of military expressions and comparisons designating various features in the 
Christian life.2 The pugnacious Tertullianus, despite his aversion to military service 
in actual life, was especially fond of using language of this sort. 3 It was adopted in 
fact far more readily and extensively in the Western than in the Eastern Church. The 
use of the one Latin word 'sacramentum' for the soldier's oath and for certain 
important Christian observances facilitated the introduction of the military conception 
of Christianity. While nothing was further from Tertullianus' real meaning than that 
Christians should actually take arms on behalf of their religion, yet the thought of 
Christians as soldiers was sufficiently vivid and real to him to enable him to play with 
the idea of an actual revolt.4 

Origenes found the idea of the Christian life as a spiritual warfare of great value in 
that it furnished a key to much in the Old Testament that would have been repugnant 
to him, had he felt obliged to accept it in its literal meaning. Military metaphors 
appear in his best4aiown works, but are naturally most fully worked out in his 
Homilies on the books of Numbers, Joshua, and Judges. In the Homilies on Joshua, he 
says: "If those carnal wars did not carry a figure of spiritual wars, the books of Jewish 



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history would, I believe, never have been handed down by the apostles (as) fit to be 
read in the churches by the disciples of Christ, who came to teach peace."! 

Other writings of the first half of the third century containing military phrases and 
illustrations are Hippolutos' treatise against Noetos,2 the apocryphal 'Acts of 
Thomas, '3 the Pseudo-Cyprianic 'De Pascha Computus,'! and the 'Octavius' of 
Minucius Felix, which has a fine rhetorical comparison of the steadfast martyr to a 
victorious soldier.5 

From the middle of the third century onwards the frequency with which military 
language is used to describe phases of Christian life and experience becomes very 
noticeable, particularly in Latin writers. Christians are spoken of as Christ's soldiers; 
Christ is the imperator; the Church is his camp; baptism is the sacramentum; heretics 
and schismatics are rebels and deserters, and so on. A multitude of military phrases 
occur in the portrayal of Christian trials and achievements, particularly in connection 
with persecution. A detailed analysis of the passages would tell us very little in regard 
to our main enquiry: some of them are simply edifying rhetoric; in some the parallel is 
carried out in great detail; in others it consists of a bare illustrative analogy. 1 We 
observe that the military metaphor commended itself most strongly to Cyprianus and 
those who corresponded with him,2 Commodianus,3 and the authors of the martyr- 
acts,! that it was on the whole more popular with the Latin or Western5 than with the 
Eastern6 writers; and that fondness for it was greatly stimulated by persecution.7 The 
way in which the word 'paganus,' which originally meant civilian as distinct from 
soldier — a sense which it kept till after 300 a.d., came eventually to mean non- 
Christian, indicates how strongly the idea of the Christian as the soldier par excellence 
permeated the mind of Latin Christianity. 8 

Most of the passages in which military metaphors and similes are used are obviously 
quite non-committal as to the writer's attitude to earthly warfare, though there are 
certainly some in which the analogy is put in such a way as to suggest that the writer 
accepts the rightness of war. Thus cyprianus says: "It is a good soldier's (business) to 
defend the camp of his commander against rebels and enemies: it is the business of a 
proud general to keep the standards entrusted to him," and he goes on to plead 
accordingly for the rebaptism of heretics.l Or again: "If it is a glorious thing for 
earthly soldiers to return in triumph to their country after conquering the enemy, how 
much more excellent and great is the glory of returning in triumph to Paradise after 
conquering the devil! "2 Lactantius reinforces a strong appeal to the reader to enter 
upon the toilsome spiritual warfare against the devil by drawing an elaborate parallel 
between the demands of that conflict and the wisdom of enduring, for the sake of 
peace and security in the future, the bother of having to prepare to defend oneself and 
one's home against an earthly foe. 3 But despite appearances, passages like these 
cannot be taken as more than mere illustrations. For the purpose of pointing an 
argument or decorating a lesson, a writer will sometimes use rhetorical analogies 
which seem likely to carry weight, but which do not represent his own considered 
opinions on that from which the analogy is drawn. We know, for instance, that 
Lactantius, despite these glowing words on the obvious need of self-defence, as a 
matter of fact totally disapproved of all bloodshed, including capital punishment and 
military service: and it seems practically certain that Cyprianus did the same.! 



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At the same time, the frequent and unrestricted use of military metaphors was not 
without its dangers. Harnack remarks: "When the forms of military life are taken over 
into the higher religions, the military element appears at first to be thereby converted 
into its exact opposite, or to be changed into a mere symbol. But the form too has a 
logic of its own and its own 'necessitates consequentiae.' At first imperceptibly, but 
soon more and more clearly, the military element, which was received as a symbol, 
introduces also the thing itself, and the 'spiritual weapons of knighthood' become the 
worldly (weapons). But even where it does not get as far as that, there enters in a 
warlike disposition which threatens the rule of meekness and peace."! And again 
later, of the Latin Christianity of the third century: "A tone that was on the one hand 
fanatical and on the other hand bombastic entered into the literature of edification in 
the West. The Christian threatened to become a 'miles gloriosus.' Even though it 
might all through be a question of spiritual warfare, (yet) an earthly delight in battle 
and strife, in plunder and victory in the ordinary sense, could (quite easily) develop 
itself in this fashion. Military speech was not by any means justified by the actual 
circumstances, apart from the intermittent persecutions: it (just) became the fashion. 
The martyr-acts that were written in the great persecution under Diocletian and his 
colleagues, and still more those that were written later, are often enough lacking in the 
peace and prudence which was prescribed to the Christians in their classic 
documents — except the Apocalypse. But who can criticize the attitude of people who 
were handed over to the executioner and went to meet a dreadful death? Their 
biographers only are open to criticism."! We may say therefore, with regard to this 
first department of Christian thought in which war stood for something good, that 
while it lent itself to abuse and misconstruction, particularly in the case of the cruder 
minds and harsher spirits in the Church, it dealt strictly speaking only with warfare in 
its purely spiritual sense, and comprised nothing that was necessarily at variance with 
the most rigid abstention from the use of arms. 

The Wars of the Old Testament and of Hebrew History. — The broad fact that meets 
us here is the ease with which the early Christian was able, whenever necessary, to 
keep his own ethic and that of the Old Testament in different compartments of his 
mind, without being seriously disturbed by — and even without noticing — the 
discrepancies between them. The Scriptures were for him divinely inspired; the 
history they recorded had been divinely controlled; whatever was narrated and 
approved by the Biblical authors was regarded as sacred, and as such not a proper 
subject for human criticism — it was accepted with childlike and unquestioning 
reverence. The reader had no trained historical sense with which to discern 
development in man's knowledge of God's Will: hence he lacked, not only the 
inclination, but also the means, of properly relating the ethic of his own faith to that of 
a long distant foretime. The soundness of his own moral intuitions saved him from 
presuming to follow indiscriminately the example of those great ones of old, of whom 
he read and spoke with such genuine reverence and admiration. No greater mistake 
could be made than to suppose that the early Christian would have permitted himself 
or his fellow-Christians to do whatever he could peruse without censure or even with 
approval in the pages of Scripture. An instance will suffice to make this point clear. 
Concubinage and prostitution were practices which early Christian sentiment strongly 
condemned as sinful. Whatever might be the frailty of his flesh, no early Christian 
ever seriously thought of advocating or even defending such practices in his own 



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day — least of all from the pages of Scripture. Yet we find Paul referring to the 
concubinage of Abraham without a hint that it was sinful,! and James and the author 
of Hebrews alluding to Rahab the harlot, not only without censure, but even in terms 
of high praise.2 Similarly with the subject of war. For the early Christian the warlike 
habits of 'the great of old' and his own peaceful principles formed two separate 
realms, both of which he recognized without attempting — or feeling any need to 
attempt — to harmonize them. He could recall with complacency, and even with a 
devout admiration, the wars of the ancient Israelites, totally unconscious of any 
problem presented to him by their horrors, and without in any way committing 
himself to a belief in the propriety of similar action on his part. Thus it was that 
Stephen and Paul both recalled with a glow of patriotic enthusiasm how God had 
subdued and destroyed the Canaanites before their ancestors under Joshua,3 and the 
author of Hebrews spoke proudly of Abraham returning from the slaughter of the 
kings, reminded his readers how "by faith the walls of Jericho fell down,. . . by faith 
Rahab the harlot was not destroyed with the disobedient, because she had received the 
spies in peace," and mentioned in his catalogue of the heroes of faith "Gideon, Barak, 
Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets, who by means of faith subdued 
kingdoms,. . . escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, 
became mighty in war, routed armies of foreigners."! Clemens of Rome tells in detail 
the story of Rahab and the spies, making the scarlet thread she bound in the window a 
type of the Lord's redeeming blood.2 'Barnabas' finds a type of the cross in the hands 
of Moses extended above the battle between Israel and Amalek, and a type of Jesus 
himself in Joshua, whom Moses ordered to record God's determination to destroy 
Amalek.3 Justinus quotes to Truphon the words of Moses: "The Lord thy God, who 
goeth before they face, He shall destroy the nations," and says: "Ye, who derive your 
origin from Shem, came, according to the judgment of God, upon the land of Canaan, 
and took possession of it"4 : he reminds him how the angel of the Lord slew 185,000 
Assyrians before Jerusalem in Hezekiah's time.5 Like the other writers just 
mentioned, he sees types of Christ, the cross, etc., in military incidents, objects, and 
persons that appear in the Old Testament, in Joshua, in Moses' outstretched arms, and 
the stone he sat on, in Rahab 's scarlet thread, and in the horns with which Joseph 
would push the nations (Deut. xxxiii. 17).6 

While the juxtaposition of the discrepant standards of Scripture and of the Christian 
life created no difficulty for the childlike mind of the first generations of Christians, 
yet it was obviously bound sooner or later to attract attention. As soon as the Church 
began to develop her thinking powers and to face the tangled and perplexing problems 
of practical life, the antinomy had to be reckoned with. That the sanction of war in the 
Old Testament had some influence on Christian practice by the time of Tertullianus, 
we know; though we cannot say how soon that influence began to make itself felt. In 
the realm of theology, however, the difficulty came to a head in the heresy and schism 
of Markion, about the middle of the second century. Markion's theory was that all 
divinely ordained wars, judgments, penalties, and so on, were to be referred, not to the 
Supreme Being, the good God who was the Father of Jesus, but to an inferior Deity, 
the just God of the Jews. This dualism the orthodox Christians rejected and resisted 
with horror, and indeed it was as easy to find disproof of it, as support for it, in 
Scripture. Neither Markion nor his opponents had the modern key, viz. the theory of 
the progressive revelation of the Divine character to men; and the orthodox, in 



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meeting his arguments, were driven to seek for warlike features in the God of the New 
Testament, and thereby gravely imperilled one of the most essential features of the 
Christian gospel.l 

Forty or fifty years later, the situation had developed. We find indeed, as before, many 
allusions to the ancient Hebrew wars without any question being raised as to their 
incompatibility with Christian usage. Joshua continues to be represented as a type of 
Jesus, and the massacres he is said to have perpetrated are complacently referred to. 
Moses is praised as a great general, his outstretched arms are taken as a sign of the 
cross, the Maccabees' decision to fight on the Sabbath is quoted, and so on.I But the 
importance and urgency of the question raised by Markion were more than ever 
realized, for his church was still strong and flourishing. Lengthy exposures of his 
errors were penned by Eirenaios, Tertullianus. and Hippolutos. More significant for 
our immediate purpose — for these replies to Markion deal only incidentally with the 
question of wars — is the fact revealed by Tertullianus, that the Old Testament was 
now being used by certain Christians in order to justify themselves for bearing arms. 
The plea does not seem to have been always very intelligently framed, for we are told 
that these Christians appealed not only to the wars of Joshua and the Israelites, but 
also to Moses' rod, Aaron's buckle, and John the Baptist's leather girdle!2 How 
utterly and seriously misleading this reverence for the Old Testament could be for 
simpleminded Christians — particularly of the less scrupulous and puritanical sort — we 
gather from a treatise belonging to about the middle of the third century, and probably 
written by Novatianus, in which certain Christians are referred to who justified 
themselves for attendance at the public shows in the amphitheatre on the ground that 
David had danced before the ark and Elijah had been the charioteer of Israeli But 
even among the more intelligent and sincere Christians, who lived in the times when 
participation in warfare had become a Christian problem, the fact that the Old 
Testament wars were traditionally justified had some effect in preventing a 
unanimous decision against such participation.2 

One way out of the difficulty was to regard the Old Testament wars as parables, 
allegories, and types, descriptive of the spiritual life. Many Christians, we are told, 
regarded these difficult narratives as types, though they were not quite clear as to 
what they were types of.3 It needs a special insight, Origenes contends, to enable one 
to interpret these passages aright: "strangely enough, by means of the history of wars 
and of conquerors and of (the) conquered, certain mysteries are made clear to those 
that are able to test them."4 What large use Origenes himself made of this method of 
interpretation we have already seen. We may note that, great as was his confidence in 
it, his historical sense prevented him from applying it completely; and not having the 
one clue to the problem, he had eventually to leave the discrepancy between the two 
dispensations unresolved. Thus, when Celsus pointed out the contradiction between 
the Old Testament promises of wealth and dominion and precepts for the conduct of 
war, on the one hand, and the teaching of Jesus on the other, Origenes argued that the 
former are to be taken in a spiritual sense, as the Jews themselves eventually took 
them, the literal sense being in many cases obviously impossible. The promises of the 
Law were never literally fulfilled; the Jews therefore would not have remained so 
zealous for the Law, had they understood it — as Celsus does — literally. At the same 
time, Origenes recognizes that the Law had a literal, as well as a spiritual, meaning, 



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that the Jews understood the laws permitting them to punish offenders and to fight 
against their enemies literally and not spiritually, and that they were allowed to do so, 
as otherwise they would have perished as a nation. Yet he also argues that the promise 
that the Jews should slay their enemies cannot be taken literally, and points out that 
the destruction of Jerusalem proved that God did not wish the Jewish State to stand 
any longer. 1 It is easy enough to see the unresolved contradiction in Origenes' 
position — indeed, one can hardly believe that he himself could have been quite 
satisfied with it: but further advance was impossible without the more modern ideas 
of the part played by man's subjective conditions in the determination of human duty 
and the consequent necessity of a progressive, i.e. a changing, revelation of the divine 
Will. A further point along this very line was reached by a Christian writer (the author 
of the 'Dialogus de Recta Fidei') of the early years of the fourth century, in 
connection with the closely allied problem of the contradiction between the Mosaic 
Law of Retaliation and the Sermon on the Mount. That problem, however, is still 
more closely connected with the question of the justifiability of judicial penalties than 
with the question of war, and will accordingly have to be considered later. 1 We may, 
however, notice here the full approval which this author gives to the spoliation of the 
Egyptians by the Israelites and to Moses' punishment of the rebels: "It does not 
therefore seem at all undeserved that those, who had waged war unjustly, should be 
despoiled like enemies by the laws of war. ... It was just that those who had revolted 
should be slain like enemies and conspirators. . . . We have shown concerning those, 
who wage war unjustly, that the proper result is that they should receive what is 
(usually) given (ea quae. . . referuntur) by the law of war; whence we have taught that 
Christ also ordered (his) enemies to be thrust into outer darkness, where there will be 
weeping and gnashing of teeth."2 

Apart from this author and Origenes and those who touch on the problem of the Lex 
Talionis, no other writer makes any contribution to the settlement of the difficulty of 
Old Testament wars. 3 This difficulty however did not bulk so large but that authors of 
even the latest part of our period could refer to those wars in the same happy and 
unconscious way as their predecessors. Minucius Felix speaks of the military 
successes of the Jews, as long as they worshipped God: "(though) unarmed, they 
pursued armed men as they fled, (and) overwhelmed (them) by the command of God 
and with the help of the elements. "4 In Cyprianus we once more find mention of 
Moses making the sign of the crossl and other allusions to Old Testament wars,2 as 
well as commendations of Cornelius, the centurion-convert of the New Testament. 3 
Lastly, Joshua appears as a type of Jesus in the 'Divine Institutes' of Lactantius.4 

Summing up, we may say that all orthodox Christians agreed in regarding the wars 
waged by the ancient Hebrews as having been waged with the Divine sanction, if not 
always at the Divine bidding; that few of them were concerned, and none fully 
succeeded, in harmonizing the divergent views of the Old and New Testaments in 
regard to the use of violence, but that, inasmuch as the approval accorded to ancient 
Hebrew wars was — whether the Christian fully recognized the fact or not — relative to 
the ancient Hebrew mind, i.e. relative to subjective human conditions which were 
very different from those of the Christians themselves, the instinct which withheld the 
latter from copying the military precedents of Scripture was perfectly sound, and 
could have been logically justified if the requisite philosophical apparatus had been 



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available; that the use normally made of these stories of ancient times was simply that 
of edifying types or allegories of Christ and the Christian life; that the use of them in 
order to justify Christians in bearing arms was in many cases the product of an 
extremely crude habit of mind; that it satisfied both sides of the question even less 
than did the view of the rigid abstentionist (in that it could give no account of its 
departure from the teaching of Jesus), and that it involved the subtle fallacy of 
supposing that what God permits or enjoins for men in one stage of development, He 
equally permits or enjoins for men in quite a different stage. 

Apocalyptic Wars. — But Scripture spoke of other wars than those of past history. The 
Jews looked forward to an approaching cataclysm, a great intervention of God in 
human affairs, involving a general resurrection and judgment, the reward of the 
righteous, the punishment of sinners, and the establishment of a divine kingdom under 
the regency of the Messiah. It seems to have been generally expected that the 
occurrence of terrific wars, involving the overthrow and slaughter of the enemies of 
the Chosen People and their Messiah, would form a part of this series of events, 
though there was no unanimity as to the details of the programme. The Christian 
Church practically took over the Jewish apocalyptic beliefs en masse: hence we find 
war entering into their hopes and expectations of the future. Mark includes in the 
apocalyptic discourse of Jesus the following passage: "When ye hear (of) wars and 
rumours of wars, be not amazed: (this) must happen, but the end is not yet. For nation 
shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there shall be earthquakes in 
divers places; there shall be famines. These things (are the) beginning of (the 
Messianic) birth-pangs." Matthew and Luke report the same or similar words. 1 Luke 
represents Jesus in the Parable of the Pounds as describing the king on his return 
summoning into his presence for execution those who did not wish him to reign over 
them. 1 Paul says that the Lord Jesus will destroy the Lawless One (i.e. Antichrist) 
with the breath of his mouth, and bring him to nought by the manifestation of his 
coming.2 This theme of Messianic warfare appears in a multitude of different shapes 
in the Apocalypse. The openings of the first, second, and fourth seals usher in 
disastrous wars.3 Christ is represented as a conqueror,4 having a sharp two-edged 
sword issuing from his mouth5 : he threatens to make war with it upon the 
Nikolaitans,6 and to slay Jezebel's children.7 A tremendous conflict is about to come, 
in which he will conquer the Beast and the kings of the earth with terrific slaughter. 8 
After his millennial reign, there will be further wars against Gog and Magog. 9 The 
Book of Elkesai, written apparently during the reign of Trajanus, prophesied that, 
when three more years of that reign had elapsed, war would break out among the 
ungodly angels of the north, and a convulsion of all ungodly kingdoms would 
ensue. 10 Justinus quotes several passages from the Old Testament, speaking of a 
warlike triumph on the part of God or of the Messianic King. 1 1 In the apocryphal 
'Acts of Paul,' the apostle tells Nero that Christ "is going one day to make war upon 
the world with fire."l In the Gnostic 'Excerpts from Theodotos,' we read of a great 
battle going on between the rebel 'powers' and the angels, the former fighting against, 
the latter — like soldiers — for, the Christians: God rescues the Christians from the 
revolt and the battle and gives them peace. 2 The Montanist prophetess Maximilla 
foretold wars and anarchy.3 Tertullianus, in his Apology, assures the pagans that the 
events going on around them — "wars, bringing external and internal convulsions, the 
collision of kingdoms with kingdoms, famines, and pestilences, and local 



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massacres" — had all been foretold in Scripture4 ; and in his reply to Markion he 
quotes Jesus' announcement of eschatological wars, etc., as demonstrating his 
connection with the severe and terrible Creator, inasmuch as he says that they must 
come to pass, and does not concern himself to frustrate them, as he would have done 
had they not been his own decrees. 5 Hippolutos quotes the passage in Daniel where 
Michael is said to have been sent to make war on the prince of Persia6 ; he speaks in 
some detail of the warlike character and doings of Antichrist,! and refers generally to 
the wars that are to be the prelude of the Last Things. 8 The Didaskalia quotes for the 
guidance of the Christian bishop the passage in Ezekiel, where the watchman is 
bidden warn the people when God is bringing a sword upon the earth, and adds: "So 
the sword is the judgment, the trumpet is the gospel, the watchman is the bishop 
appointed over the Church."9 Cyprianus told his people that the wars and other 
calamities, which had been foretold as due to occur in the Last Times, were then 
actually occurring, showing that the Kingdom of God was night. 1 Victorinus of 
Petavium, in his Commentary on the Apocalypse, said: "Now the white horse and (the 
One) sitting on it shows our Lord coming with a heavenly army to reign; and at his 
coming all the nations will be gathered together and will fall by the sword. But the 
other (nations), that were more noble, will be kept for the service of the saints, and 
they themselves also will have to be slain at the last time when the reign of the saints 
is over, before the judgment, when the Devil has been again sent away. Concerning 
all these things the prophets uttered predictions in like manner."! Lactantius refers to 
the wars and troubles of the Last Times, particularly those of the time of Antichrist,! 
and quotes in connection with them a passage from the Hermetic writings, which says 
that God, "having recalled the wandering and purged away the wickedness, partly 
(by) flooding (it) with much water, partly (by) burning (it) up with sharpest fire, 
sometimes casting (it) out by wars and pestilences, led his own world (back) to (its) 
ancient (state) and restored it. "4 

The vague idea of a victorious war to be waged by the Messiah against the wicked 
was thus taken over from Jewish apocalyptic and seems to have become a fairly 
regular element in Christian belief. With the Jews, who had a land and a Holy City of 
their own, and whose Messianism was consequently of a materialistic and political 
kind, such a belief might at any time take practical form in the proclamation of a holy 
war against the enemies of God's Chosen People. When however it was transplanted 
to Christian soil, the risk of an attempt to anticipate by force of arms the Messiah's 
final triumph virtually disappeared. It was not until the time of Constantinus that the 
success of Christianity appeared to be bound up with a military victory — and not till 
long after that that a 'holy war' was proclaimed in Christendom. The Christian took 
no part as an earthly warrior in fighting for Messiah's victories. Those victories were 
expected to be won with armies of angels, or better still were interpreted in a spiritual 
sense. Tertullianus went out of his way several times to explain that the military 
character ascribed to Christ in Scripture was to be understood spiritually and 
figuratively, not literally: war, literally understood, he said, would produce deceit, and 
harshness, and injustice, results the very reverse of what was foretold as the work of 
Christ. 1 The expectation, therefore, of the quasi-military triumph of Christ, like the 
respectful view taken of the Old Testament wars, was not likely to encourage the 
Christian to take arms on behalf of his faith, except perhaps in the case of crude 
intellects that had barely grasped the essentials of Christianity, and here and there in 



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the earliest times when the Church had hardly emancipated herself from the sway of 
the apocalyptic and Jewish political spirit. "One must not forget the psychological fact 
that the world of imagination and the world of actual life are separate, and that under 
(certain) conditions a very quiet and very peaceable man can at times give himself up 
to extravagant imaginations, without their actually influencing his own inner attitude. 
History proves that the military Jesus Christus redivivus of apocalyptic never in the 
(course of the) first three centuries turned the Christians into warlike 
revolutionaries."! Nevertheless, this belief in a warrior-Christ who would conquer his 
enemies, played a certain part in preventing a unanimous and uncompromising 
rejection of warfare as a permissible element in Christian life. 2 

The Jewish War of 67-71 a.d. was itself the fulfilment of certain apocalyptic 
prophecies which Jesus was believed to have uttered, and as such it got separated off 
from the general body of Messianic wars (which were regarded in the main as yet to 
come) and invited the formation of a special judgment concerning itself. The Gospel 
of Mark, as we have seen, represented Jesus as announcing the devastation of Judaea, 
the siege and capture of Jerusalem, and the destruction of the Temple, in connection 
with the "wars and rumours of wars," the rising of nation against nation and kingdom 
against kingdom, which formed part of the "birth-pangs" that were to usher in the 
coming of the Son of Man.3 The unanimous verdict of Christiarts who wrote after 70 
a.d. was that the disastrous war culminating in the fall of Jerusalem that year — in 
which, it will be remembered, the Christians had refused to take a part 4 — was a 
divinely ordained punishment inflicted on the Jewish nation for its sin in rejecting and 
crucifying Christ. Luke and Matthew, in their versions of the apocalyptic discourses 
and other sayings of Jesus, represent the matter pretty clearly in this light. 1 
'Barnabas' says that the Temple of the Jews was destroyed because they went to war 
with their enemies. 2 A Christian interpolation in the Sibulline Oracles represents the 
destruction of the Temple as a punishment for the murders and ungodliness of which 
the Jews were guility.3 The Gospel of Peter pictures the Jews, immediately after the 
burial of Jesus, as "knowing what evil they had done to themselves" and lamenting 
and saying: "Woe (to us) for our sins: for the judgment and the end of Jerusalem has 
drawn nigh."4 Justinus tells Truphon the Jew: "If ye were defeated in war and cast 
out, ye suffered these things justly, as all the Scriptures testify.5 . . . And that the sons 
of Japheth came upon you by the judgment of God and took away from you your land 
and possessed it, is apparent."6 The Christians of Celsus' time said "that the Jews 
having punished Jesus. . . drew upon themselves wrath from God."7 Theophilos 
mentions God's threat to the Israelites that they should be delivered into subjection to 
all the kingdoms of the earth, if they did not repent, and adds: "And that this has 
already happened to them is manifest."8 Tertullianus tells the Romans that Judaea 
would never have been beneath their sway, "but for their culminating sin against 
Christ"! and in the course of his argument against the Markionites, he bids them 
"recollect that end of theirs, which they (i.e. the Jews) were predicted as about to 
bring (on themselves) after (the time of) Christ, for the impiety wherewith they both 
despised and slew him. . . (many prophecies quoted). Likewise also the conditional 
threat of the sword: 'If ye refuse and hear me not, the sword shall devour you,' has 
proved that it was Christ, for not hearing whom they have perished," and more to the 
same effect.2 Hippolutos has several allusions to the matter: for instance, in his 
Commentary on Daniel he says: "The Lord having come to them and not being 



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acknowledged by them, they were scattered throughout the whole world, having been 
cast out of their own land; and having been defeated by their enemies, they were 
thrust out of the city of Jerusalem, having become a source of hostile rejoicing to all 
the nations."! The main burden of the surviving fragment of Hippolutos' 
'Demonstration against the Jews' is the awful sufferings they had drawn on 
themselves from God in return for their treatment of Christ.4 Minucius Felix makes 
Octavius say to his pagan interlocutor about the Jews: "For their own wickedness they 
deserved this (mis)fortune, and nothing happened (to them) but what was previously 
foretold for them if they should continue in (their) contumacy. So thou wilt 
understand that they forsook before they were forsaken, and that they were not, as 
thou impiously sayest, captured with their God, but were given up by God as deserters 
from (His) discipline."! In the Pseudo-Cyprianic 'De Pascha Computus' it is said that 
the Temple at Jerusalem, "with the state itself, was again in the time of Vespasianus 
destroyed (exterminatum) by our Lord himself on account of the unbelief of the 
Jews. "2 Origenes says repeatedly in the course of his reply to Celsus and elsewhere 
that the calamities which had overtaken the Jewish nation were a punishment for their 
sins in general and for their treatment of Christ in particular. I select three passages 
for translation. "One of the (things) which prove that Jesus was something divine and 
sacred is the fact that (calamities of) such greatness and such quality have on his 
account befallen the Jews now for a long time. And we say boldly that they (the Jews) 
will not be restored. For they committed a crime the most unhallowed of all, (in) 
plotting against the Saviour of the race of men in the city where they offered to God 
the appointed symbols of great mysteries. It was needful, therefore, that that city, 
where Jesus suffered these things, should be altogether destroyed, and that the race of 
Jews should be overthrown, and that God's invitation to happiness should be 
transferred to others," etc. 3 "If the Jews, then, after treating Jesus in the way they 
dared, were destroyed with (all their) youth, and had their city burned, they did not 
suffer this as the result of any other wrath than that which they had stored up for 
themselves, God's judgment against them having been passed by God's appointment, 
(and) being named wrath according to a certain ancestral custom of (the) Hebrews."! 
"The city, in which the people of the Jews asked that Jesus should be crucified, 
saying: 'Crucify, crucify him' — for they preferred that the robber who had been cast 
into prison for sedition and murder should be released, but that Jesus, who had been 
handed over through envy, should be crucified — after no long time was attacked, and 
was besieged for a long time in such a sort that it was overthrown from the 
foundations and laid waste, God judging those who inhabited that place unworthy of 
civic life (). And — though it seems a strange thing to say () — (when God) handed 
them over to the(ir) enemies, (He was) sparing them, for He saw () that they were 
incurable so far as (any) change for the better was concerned and that they were daily 
increasing in the(ir) outpour of evil. And this happened because by their design the 
blood of Jesus was shed upon their land, which was (consequently) no longer able to 
bear those who had dared (to commit) such a crime against Jesus. "2 It is interesting to 
notice that Origenes says elsewhere that we must guard ag ainst interpreting scriptural 
references to the wrath of God and His punishment of offenders in a literal or 
materialistic way: we must seek, he says, for the spiritual meaning, that our feelings 
and thoughts about Him may be worthy. 3 He explains on another occasion that God's 
wrath is not a human passion, but a stern disciplinary measure, and though He may 
make use of the wicked in His administration of the world, the wicked are no less 



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censurable for that. 4 The martyr Pionios at Smyrna (250 a.d.) speaks of "the whole 
Judaean land. . . testifying up to the present day the wrath of God which came upon it 
on account of the sins which its inhabitants committed, killing (and) acting 
violently."! The Pseudo-Cyprianic treatise, 'Quod Idola Dii non sint,' speaks in a 
general way of the calamities that had overtaken the Jews on account of their sins and 
in particular their rejection and crucifixion of Jesus. 2 Another Pseudo-Cyprianic 
work, 'Adversus Judaeos,' says: "Christ, being repudiated by the people, sent (them) 
the tyrant they wished for, who overthrew their cities and condemned their population 
to captivity and took plunder and reduced their country to the desolation of Sodom," 
depicts the exile, misery, and beggary of Israel, and adds: "This is the punishment in 
Israel('s case) and the situation in Jerusalem. "3 The Didaskalia says: "Our Lord and 
Saviour, when he came,. . . taught the things that save, and destroyed the things that 
are of no advantage, and abolished the things that do not save, not only (by) teaching 
(the truth) himself, but also (by) working through the Romans! ; and he put down the 
Temple, causing the altar to cease (to be), and destroying the sacrifices and destroying 
all the bonds which had been enjoined in the ceremonial law. "5 Lactantius mentions 
that it had been foretold "that after a short time God would send a king, who should 
conquer the Jews and level their cities with the ground and besiege them (till they 
were) consumed with hunger and thrist; that then they should feed on the bodies of 
their own (people) and consume one another; lastly that they should come (as) 
captives into the enemies' hands and should see their wives bitterly maltreated in their 
very sight, (their) maidens violated and prostituted, their sons torn in pieces, their 
little ones dashed (to the ground), everything finally laid waste with fire and sword, 
the captives banished for ever from their lands — because they had exulted over the 
most loving and most approved Son of God." After quoting this prophecy, Lactantius 
adds: "And so, after their death" (i.e. Peter's and Paul's), "when Nero had slain them, 
Vespasianus destroyed the name and nation of the Jews, and did everything that they 
had foretold would happen."! Eusebios says that the Hebrew Prophets foretold "the 
unbelief and contradiction which the race of Jews would display towards him (Christ) 
and the things done by to him and the calamities which immediately and not long 
after came upon them for this — I mean the last siege of their royal metropolis and the 
entire destruction of the(ir) kingdom and their dispersion throughout all the nations 
and their enslavement to the(ir) enemies and foes," etc. 2 Finally, we read in the 
'Dialogus de Recta Fidei' : "At last, after Christ stretched his hands over Jerusalem, 
that people, who did not believe him, was overthrown together with the temple itself 
and the city; and anyone who by chance survived was exiled from his country and led 
away as a captive. "3 

War as an Instrument of Divine justice. — The destruction of Jerusalem in 70 a.d., 
while from the point of view of the Gospels at least it partook of the nature of an 
apocalyptic event, was perhaps even more accurately regarded as an instance of the 
divine use of war as a chastisement or punishment for human sin.! Besides the 
allusions, just quoted, to the special exemplification of this principle in the case of 
Jerusalem, we come across several allusions to the general theory. Clemens of Rome 
speaks of God as the champion and defender () of those who serve Him, and quotes 
the Isaianic threat: "If ye are unwilling and will not hear me, the sword shall devour 
you."2 Theophilos quotes with tacit approval a Sibulline oracle, in which God is said 
to raise up against the wicked wrath and war and pestilence and other woes. 3 



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Eirenaios, referring apparently to the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites, says that 
the posterity of cursed Ham was mown down by God,4 and, referring to the parable of 
the King's marriage-feast, says of God: "He requites most fairly according to (their) 
desert(s those who are) ungrateful and do not realize His kindness: He repays with 
entire justice: and accordingly it says: 'Sending His armies, He destroyed those 
murderers, and burned their city.' Now it says 'His armies,' because all men are 
God's. "5 Tertullianus assumes the idea of war being a chastisement sent by the 
Creator as a doctrine common to himself and the Markionites, and presses in 
opposition to them the saying that Christ had come to send a swordl : he refers to a 
number of incidents in early Hebrew history in which those who had offended against 
God were punished with slaughter, and concludes: "And thus, throughout almost all 
the annals of the judges and of the kings who succeeded them, the strength of the 
surrounding nations being preserved, He meted out warth to Israel by war and 
captivity and a foreign yoke, as often as they turned aside from Him, especially to 
idolatry."! Origenes says that Jesus "had no need of the use of whips and bonds and 
torture against men in the fashion of the former dispensation."! Cyprianus, in answer 
to the pagan complaint that the frequency of wars, famines, plagues, droughts, etc., 
was due to the Christians, urges that "those (calamities) happen, not because your 
gods are not worshipped by us, but because God is not worshipped by you."4 When, 
early in the fourth century, the persecuting colleagues and successors of Diocletianus 
were overthrown in war by Licinius and Constantinus, the Christians regarded the 
defeat of the former as a divine chastisement for the sufferings they had inflicted on 
the Church.5 

It perhaps hardly needs to be pointed out that a belief in the use of war for the divine 
chastisement of the Jews and of others who have been guilty of great offences, 
whatever theological problems it may raise, certainly does not involve the believer in 
the view that it is right or permissible for him to take a part in inflicting such 
penalties. While Christians agreed that the fall of Jerusalem and its accompanying 
calamities were a divine chastisement, no one thought of inferring from that that the 
Roman army was blameless or virtuous in the bloodthirsty and savage cruelty it 
displayed in the siege. And in regard to the more general view of war as a divine 
chastisement, if it could be inferred from the fact of its being so that a Christian might 
lawfully help to inflict it, it would follow that he might also under certain conditions 
help to cause and spread a plague or to inflict persecution on his fellow- 
Christians — for both plagues and persecutions were regarded as divine chastisements 
just as war was. The obvious absurdity of this conclusion ought to be enough to 
convince us that the Christian idea of war being used by God to punish sin certainly 
does not mean that the Christian may take part in it with an easy conscience: on the 
contrary, the analogy of pestilence, famine, persecution, etc., which are often coupled 
with war, strongly suggests that participation in it could not possibly be a Christian 
duty. And there can be no doubt that the vast majority of early Christians acted in 
conformity with that view, whether or not they theorized philosophically about it. At 
the same time, just as to-day a superficial view prompts some people to leap at 
conclusions in this matter which their premises do not justify, so probably in those 
days there were some who allowed their conduct and thought to be unduly swayed by 
the fact that there were sundry departments of their minds in which war could be 
thought of without reproach. "A total rejection of war could not follow — for this 



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reason, that God himself, according to the view of the earliest Christians, brings about 
and conducts wars. He has done it in earlier times through Joshua and David; He has 
done it in the present through the overthrow of the Jewish people and the destruction 
of Jerusalem; and He will do it in the future through the returning Christ. How 
therefore can one reject wars in every sense and universally, when God Himself 
provokes and leads them? Apparently there exist necessary and righteous wars! and 
such a war will be the war at the end of the day. If that is certain — even supposing it 
was forbidden to the Christian to go on service — the attitude towards war could no 
longer be an unbroken one. . . . Thus, apocalyptic," and, we may add, the Old 
Testament, and the Christian philosophy of history generally, each "contributed in its 
(own) measure to the (result) that the Christians did not shut themselves off altogether 
against war."l 

The Functions of the State. — All the connections, hitherto studied, in which war 
received some sort of recognition from the early Christians, lay within ideal realms of 
thought remote from the concrete and practical duties of the times in which they lived. 
The Christian warfare was a purely spiritual struggle; the wars of the Old Testament 
belonged to a far-distant past; the fall of Jerusalem in a.d. 70 soon receded into the 
background; the apocalyptic wars lay in the indefinite, even though possibly the near, 
future, and would be waged, so far as the Messiah's side was concerned, with armies 
of angels, not of men; even the idea of war being a divine chastisement was simply a 
general abstraction and a pious conviction. But there was yet another connection in 
which the early Christians gave a quasi-recognition to war, a connection which was 
more nearly concerned than any of the foregoing with the practical affairs of their 
own day, — I mean the functions of the State in the maintenance of order and the 
suppression of crime. Thought the severity of persecution (among other causes) led 
some to take up a position of uncompromising hostility towards the Roman Empire as 
a Satanic Beast-power,! the Church as a whole adopted the view that the State was a 
useful and necessary institution, ordained by God for the security of life and property, 
the preservation of peace, and the prevention and punishment of the grosser forms of 
human sin.2 The general adoption of this view was largely owing to the immense 
authority of the A postle Paul In writing to the Christians at Rome, Paul had occasion 
to warn them against an anarchical unwillingness to submit to the government and to 
pay their taxes. His specific reference to taxation suggests that he was enlarging on 
the Gospel precept: "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's." He drove his 
point home by insisting on the divine origin of civil government. "There is no 
authority," he said, "except (that given) by God; and those that exist have been 
constituted by God. . . the rulers are not a terror to good work, but to evil. Dost thou 
wish not to be afraid of the magistracy () ? do what is good, and thou shalt have praise 
from it: for he is to thee the servant of God for good. But if thou doest evil, be afraid, 
for he bears not the sword for nothing; for he is God's servant, for the infliction of 
(His) wrath as a punishment () upon him who does evil. . . . They are God's officers, 
subsisting for this very (purpose)."! The view of Peter is substantially similar, though 
he calls the state a human, not a divine, institution. "Be submissive to every human 
institution () for the Lord's sake, whether to the Emperor as supreme, or to governors 
as (men) sent by him for (the) punishment of evil-doers and (the) praise of those who 
do well. . . . Honour the Emperor."2 The author of the Pastoral Epistles enjoins prayer 



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"for Emperors and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a quiet and 
peaceful life with all piety and gravity."! 

The history of the Pauline theory of civil government as an arrangement instituted by 
God is one of fascinating interest, but a full study of it would take us far astray from 
our immediate enquiry. It is worth while, however, to note the fact that it appears, in a 
more or less definite form, in most of the representative writers of our period, viz. 
Clemens of Rome, the Fourth Gospel,4 Polukarpos, Athenagoras, the apocryphal Acts 
of John, Theophilos, the Acts of Apollonius, Eirenaios, Tertullianus, Hippolutos,5 
Minucius Felix, Origenes, Dionusios of Alexandria, the Didaskalia, the Clementine 
Recognitions, Lactantius, and Eusebios. 1 It is absent from Cyprianus and Arnobius.2 

Such a view carried with it a recognition of the rightfulness of judicial penalties; and 
Christian writers, despite the non-resistance principles of their faith, are on the whole 
very frank in the way they express this recognition. Paul, as we have seen, connects 
the punitive functions of government with the Divine wrath against sin. The 
magistrate is "God's servant, for the infliction of (His) wrath as a punishment on him 
who does evil." Peter enjoins respectful submission to the Emperor's governors "as 
(men) sent by him for the punishment of evil-doers." The Christian belief in the future 
punishment of the wicked in eternal fire undoubtedly did something to facilitate this 
justification of judicial penalties. Thus Justinus, in reply to the criticisms levelled at 
the doctrine of eternal punishment, says that, if eternal punishment is unjust, then 
"lawgivers unjustly punish those who transgress the(ir) good ordinances. But since 
those (lawgivers) are not unjust, and neither is their Father, who teaches them by the 
Word to do the same (as Himself),3 those who agree with them are not unjust."4 
Athenagoras speaks about a man being put to death justly. 1 Theophilos calls the 
Emperor "a man appointed by God. . . for the purpose of judging justly: for he has in 
a way been entrusted by God with a stewardship. . . .(My) son," he says, quoting 
Proverbs, "honour God and (the) Emperor, and be not disobedient to either of them; 
for they will speedily punish their enemies. "2 Eirenaios says that the devil, in 
claiming to have the control of the kingdoms of the world, was a liar and was 
claiming what did not belong to him. He reaffirms the doctrine of the divine 
appointment of rulers,3 and continues: "Since man, (by) departing from God, grew so 
savage as to reckon even a kinsman his enemy, and to engage without fear in every 
(sort of) disturbance and murder and avarice, God imposed upon him the fear of 
man — for they did not know the fear of God — so that, being subjected to the power of 
men and restrained by their law, they might attain to some (measure) of justice and 
exercise mutual forbearance, in dread of the sword openly held forth, as the Apostle 
says: 'For not without cause does he bear the sword: for he is God's servant, an 
avenger for wrath to him who does evil.' And for this reason, too, the magistrates 
themselves, wearing the laws as a garment of justice, shall not be questioned or 
punished for what they do justly and lawfully. But whatever they do for the overthrow 
of justice, unfairly and impiously and illegally and in a tyrannical fashion, in these 
things they shall perish, the just judgment of God coming upon all equally and failing 
in nothing. For the benefit of the gentiles, therefore, was earthly rule established by 
God — but not by the devil, who is never quiet, nay, who does not wish even the 
(heathen) nations to live in tranquillity — in order that, fearing the rule of men, men 
might not consume one another like fishes, but by the establishment of laws they 



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might smite down the manifold wrongdoing of the gentiles. And accordingly, those 
who exact tribute from us are 'God's servants,' 'serving for this very purpose. '1 'The 
powers that are have been ordained by God': it is clear that the devil lies when he 
says: 'They have been handed over to me, and to whomsoever I will, I give them.' For 
by the order of Him, by whose order men are born, are kings also appointed, fitted for 
those who are ruled over by them at that time. For some of them are given for the 
correction and benefit of (their) subjects and the preservation of justice, but some for 
fear and punishment and rebuke, and some for deception and disgrace and pride, 
according as they (the subjects) deserve, the just judgment of God, as we have already 
said, coming upon all equally. "2 

Tertullianus, in protesting against Christians being tortured in order to make them 
deny their faith, says to the Roman rulers: "This (imperial) government whose 
servants ye are is the rule of a citizen, not of a tyrant. For with tyrants, torture is 
applied also as a penalty: with you it is confined solely to (extorting) evidence. Keep 
(to) your own law in (using) it (only) until confession (is obtained); and if it is 
anticipated by confession, there will be no occasion for it. There is need of sentence 
(being passed); the wrongdoer has to be marked off for the (penalty which is his) due, 
not to be released. No one is agitating for his acquittal; it is not lawful to desire that, 
and so no one is compelled to deny (his crime)."! In attacking the gladiatorial fights, 
he makes the concession: "It is a good thing when evil-doers are punished. Who but 
an evil-doer will deny this?"2 He refers elsewhere to "the justice of the world, which 
even the Apostle testifies is not armed with the sword in vain, which in being severe 
(saeviendo) on man's behalf is a religious (justice)."! He quotes the words of Paul in 
Rom xiii, and says that the Apostle "bids the be subject to the magistrates 
(potestatibus). . . in consideration of their being as it were assistants of justice, as it 
were servants of the divine judgment, which here also judges of wrongdoers in 
advance."4 The Pseudo-Melitonian apologist tells Caracalla: "It is a shameful thing 
that a king, however badly he may conduct himself, should judge and condemn those 
who do amiss"5 — implying apparently that he would be perfectly right in doing so, if 
he lived uprightly. 

In his Commentary on Romans, Origenes says, a propose of the question whether a 
persecuting government is included in the phrase 'There is no power except from 
God,' that persecution is a culpable misuse of a power which, like all powers, e.g. 
those of sight, hearing, etc., is given by God for a good purpose, in this case "for the 
punishment of evil men, and the praise of good men."6 Discussing the question of the 
sense in which the earthly judge is God's servant, he observes that the Apostolic 
Decree in Acts xv. 23 f, 28 f, does not forbid murder, adultery, theft, sodomy, and so 
forth: it might seem therefore that these are permitted. "But behold the ordinance of 
the Holy Spirit! Since indeed other crimes are punished by secular laws, and it 
seemed superfluous that those which are sufficiently embraced by human law should 
now be forbidden by a divine law, He decrees those alone concerning which the 
human law had said nothing and which seem to pertain to religion. Whence it appears 
that the earthly judge fulfils a very large part of the law of God. For all the crimes 
which God wishes to be punished, He wished to be punished not by the leaders and 
rulers of the churches, but by the earthly judge; and Paul, knowing this, rightly names 
him God's servant and an avenger against him who does what is evil. . . . We have 



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shown that the Holy Spirit has given a place in many things to human law."l Later, in 
his reply to Celsus, Origenes quotes Romans xiii. 1, 2a against Celsus' contention that 
kings were appointed by demons: he touches on the problem presented by the 
existence of evil kings, but passes it by, referring the reader to the Commentary on 
Romans.2 He also says that the proceedings taken by bees against drones offer no fair 
comparison "with the judgments and punishments inflicted on the idle and evil in the 
cities. "3 He broaches the question whether evil demons may not have been appointed 
by the Logos "like the executioners in the cities and those who are appointed for 
gloomy but needful public duties. "4 

Many of the complaints made about the maladministration of justice, in persecution 
and otherwise, voice the Christian recognition of the need and value of good 
administration. Achatius said to the Prefect: "The public law punishes the fornicator, 
the adulterer, the thief, the corrupter of males, the evil-doer, and the murderer. If I am 
guilty of these, I condemn myself before (thou utterest) thy voice: but if I am led to 
punishment because I worship Him who is the true God, I am condemned by the will, 
not of the law, but of the judge."! Cyprianus complained that, not only are the 
innocent often condemned in the law-courts, but the guilty do not even perish with 
them.2 "A crime is committed by a wrongdoer, and no innocent man is found who 
will avenge it. There is no fear of accuser or judge: bad men secure impunity, while 
modest (men) are silent, accomplices are afraid, (and) those who are to judge (the 
case) are open to bribes."! According to the Clementines, man has received wisdom 
to enable him to administer justice. 4 "Who is there among men," asks Clemens, "who 
does not covet his neighbour's goods? And yet he is restrained and acts with more 
self-control through fear of the punishment which is prescribed by the laws. "5 
Methodios says that adulterers ought to be tortured and punished.6 Arnobius says that 
as the images of the gods do not deter men from crime, "recourse is had to the 
sanctions of laws, that from them there might be a most certain fear and a fixed and 
settled condemnation."! Lactantius re-echoes the sentiment of Cicero, who "prefers to 
the teachers of philosophy the statesmen, who control public affairs,. . . who preserve 
the safety and liberty of citizens either by good laws or sound advice or weighty 
judgments (grauibus iudiciis)."! "Not from our number," he says, "but from theirs" 
(i.e. the pagan persecutors) "always arise those. . . who, if they sit (as) judges, are 
corrupted by a bribe, and either destroy the innocent or discharge the guilty without 
punishment."! He speaks of a man being condemned to death on account of his 
deserts.3 He tells Constantinus that it is his task "to correct misdeeds" and to remove 
the evil men themselves from the State. 4 He comes much closer to the theory of the 
subject in his treatise 'On the Anger of God': "They are deceived by no small error," 
he says, "who defame censure, whether human or divine, with the name of bitterness 
and wickedness, thinking that he who visits wrongdoers with punishment ought to be 
called a wrongdoer. But if so, we have wrongful laws, which ordain punishments for 
sinners, and wrongful judges, who visit those convicted of crime with 'capital' 
punishment.5 But if the law is just, which repays to the wrongdoer what he deserves, 
and (if) the judge is called upright and good, when he punishes evil deeds — for he 
who punishes evil men guards the safety of the good — therefore God, when He 
opposes evil men, is not a wrongdoer; but he is a wrongdoer, who either wrongs an 
innocent man, or spares a wrongdoer so that he may wrong many.! • • • The public 
laws condemn those who are manifestly guilty; but there are many whose sins are 



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hidden, many who restrain the accuser either by prayers or by a bribe, many who 
elude judgment by favour or infiuence.2 . . . Unless fear guards this earthly kingdom 
and empire, it is dissolved. Take away anger from a king, (and) not only will no one 
obey him, but he will even be cast down from his high rank."3 Eusebios accounts for 
the moral blindness with which primitive man glorified vices, by pointing out that "at 
that time laws were not yet being administered among men, nor did punishment 
threaten offenders."! He speaks of the hierophants and others, who confessed their 
impostures under torture in the Roman court at Antioch and were put to death by 
Licinius with torture, as "paying the just penalty of their pernicious deception."5 The 
doctrine of Fate, he urges, "would upset the laws, which are made for men's 
advantage. For what must one enjoin or forbid to those who are held down by another 
constraint? Nor will one be obliged to punish offenders who have done no wrong 
against the same cause, nor to assign honours to those who act excellently — though 
each of these has furnished a cause for the repression of injustice and for the 
encouragement of well-doing (respectively). "6 

If the view that the government was an institution ordained by God implied the 
rightfulness, in some sense, of judicial penalties, it also implied the rightfulness, in 
some sense, of war. The fact that the police and the military were not distinguished, 
that the characteristic work of each was done with the 'sword,' made it easy for ideas 
concerning the one to be transferred in the minds of Christians to the other. The 
eulogistic terms in which Clemens of Rome spoke of the imperial armies and the 
discipline that made them so usefull are probably to be connected with his clear and 
repeated statements that the Emperors had been given their authority by God. 2 
Eirenaios mentions 'the military arts' among human activities generally recognized as 
useful,! and says that God "requites most fairly according to (their) desert(s those 
who are) ungrateful and do not realize His kindness: He repays with entire justice: and 
accordingly it says: 'Sending His armies, He destroyed those murderers, and burned 
their city.' Now it says 'His armies,' because all men are God's. . . and for this reason 
the Apostle Paul. . . says: 'There is no power except from God'" — then follows a full 
quotation of Rom xiii. lb-6, about the divinely ordained function of the magistrate in 
repressing evil.! Clemens of Alexandria deals at some length with generalship as 
being, like legislation and the administration of justice, one of the usual departments 
of the royal office, and in particular with the military genius of Moses, from whom, he 
says, Militiades and Thrasuboulos borrowed their tactics. 5 Some of his military 
illustrations are more than mere illustrations, e.g. "(It is) not only the athletic warriors, 
(who) wage the contest of freedom in wars, but those who have been anointed by the 
Word (wage it) at banquets and in bed and in the courts, being ashamed to become 
captives of pleasure."! Tertullianus speaks scornfully of the unwarlike habits of 
Puthagoras, "who avoided the battles that were then going on in Greece. "2 In trying to 
prove that the body as well as the soul can be morally guilty, he draws a contrast 
between the way in which "a sword drunk with acts of brigandage" would be shunned 
as guilty, and the way in which "a sword (which is) honourably bloodstained in war, 
and is a worthier slayer of men" (than the brigand's weapon) would receive praise and 
consecration.3 

Julius Africanus dedicated to the Emperor Alexander Severus an encyclopaedia of all 
the natural sciences, and gave it the title of ('Embroidered Girdles'): he included in it 



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a section on military science, in which he treated frankly of the different means of 
destroying the enemy, and even included instructions for poisoning food, wine, wells, 
and air.4 But Africanus is merely an individual curiosity in this matter, and represents 
no one but himself Only the fact that he was nominally a Christian entitles him to be 
mentioned here. How little the ethical side of Christianity had touched him is clear 
from the fact that his included a section on aphrodisiac secrets, which was full of 
obscenities. 1 

We have already had occasion to allude by way of anticipation to Origenes' relative 
justification of war2 ; and it remains for us in this place to put together the relevant 
passages. Referring to the timely unification of all kingdoms in the Empire of 
Augustus, he says: "The existence of many kingdoms would have been an obstacle to 
the extension of Jesus' teaching to the whole world,. . . on account of people 
everywhere being compelled () to serve as soldiers and to make war for the(ir) 
countries: and this (was what) happened before the time of Augustus and still earlier, 
when there was need () that there should be war, for instance, between 
Peloponnesians and Athenians, and similarly between others."! He concedes to 
Celsus that "the so-called wars of the bees perhaps constitute a lesson for the conduct 
of just and orderly wars among men, if there should ever be need (for them). "4 He 
mentions in a tone of protest that Celsus tries to "depreciate as far as he can not only 
our — (the) Christians' — but all men's, cities and constitutions and sovereignties and 
governments and wars for fatherlands. "5 He speaks of the Emperor's soldiers as 
"those who render military service righteously."! 

Cyprianus reckons it among the calamities of the time that the numbers and efficiency 
of the soldiers are decreasing. 2 The Clementine Recognitions speak of the obedience 
of armies as an instance of the beneficial effect of fear. 3 Methodios says that kings, 
rulers, generals, and various other classes of people, are useful to themselves and the 
community, if they are temperate. 4 Lactantius says that God made man naked and 
unarmed, because he could be armed by his talent and clothed by his reason5 : he 
censures Epikouros for his policy of being all things to all men, by virtue of which he 
forbade the timid man to serve as a soldier6 : he criticizes Maximinus Daza as 
ignorant of military affairs,! while he eulogizes Constantinus for having endeared 
himself to his soldiers by his personal attractions and character and his "diligence in 
military matters. "8 He describes with satisfaction and gratitude to God the victories of 
Constantinus and Licinius over Maxentius and Daza respectively,! mentions how 
Licinius prescribed a form of prayer for his soldiers to use before the battle,2 tells us 
how Constantinus, in obedience to a dream, had the sacred monogram inscribed on 
his soldiers' shields,! and warmly congratulates him on his triumph.4 Eusebios writes 
in a very similar strain. He criticizes Daza for rendering his soldiers wanton, 
rapacious, and effeminate,5 and says that his death was not like "the brave endurance 
of a glorious end, such as often befalls generals who act bravely in war on behalf of 
virtue and friends. "6 The closing chapters of his Church History and the whole of his 
later Life of Constantinus abound in grateful and even fulsome eulogies of the 
sovereign who had overthrown the persecutors by force of arms and thereby secured 
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It was quite in keeping with the foregoing view of the imperial armies that the 
Christians, who habitually prayed for the Emperor and his subordinates, not only as 
enemies and persecutors,! but also (and usually) as the guardians of law and order,8 
should pray also for the efficiency and success of his soldiers who helped him keep 
out the barbarian invader and administer justice throughout the Empire. 9 While prayer 
for rulers in general appears at a very early point in Christian literature, prayers 
specifically for the army are not mentioned, as far as I have been able to discover, 
before the time of Tertullianus. This writer however refers to it as a standing Christian 
usage. "(We are) all (of us) always praying for all emperors, that their life may be 
prolonged, (their) rule secure, (their) household (kept) in safety, (their) armies strong, 
the senate faithful, the people upright, the world quiet, and whatever (else his) wishes 
are (as) man and (as) Caesar."! Origenes says that it is the special province of 
Christians, who do not themselves fight, to "strive by prayers to God on behalf of 
those who render military service righteously and on behalf of him who is reigning 
righteously, in order that all things opposed and hostile to those that act righteously 
may be put down."2 Achatius said to the judge in the Decian persecution: "Our prayer 
for him (the Emperor) is persistent and constant, that he may spend a long time in this 
life and rule the peoples with just power and pass the time of his reign in peace, then 
for the safety of the soldiers and the stability of the world."3 "We always ask," says 
Cyprianus, "and pour (out our) prayers for the repulse of enemies, for the obtaining of 
rain, and for the removal or moderation of troubles; and we beg constantly and 
urgently for your (the pagans') peace and safety, propitiating and appeasing God night 
and day."4 "Why have our meetings deserved to be cruelly broken up," asks 
Arnobius, "seeing that in them the Supreme God is prayed to, peace and pardon are 
asked for all — magistrates, armies, kings, friends, enemies?"! 

In estimating the meaning and value of the foregoing teaching in regard to the State, 
some allowance must be made for the immense authority of Paul's words, for the fact 
that they were written before the outbreak of imperial persecution in 64 a.d. and in 
order to counteract a strong tendency towards rebellious and aggressive anarchy in the 
Christian Church, particularly at Rome,2 for immaturity of reflection in some of the 
writers we have quoted, and also for the natural habit, in controverting an opponent, 
of speaking ad hominem in a way that one would not speak if simply delivering a 
personal view. But all this takes us only a short way towards accounting for the 
language used. We are brought here to the very heart of the Christian problem of the 
State. Nothing could be more clear and explicit than the declarations as to the origin 
and purpose of civil government. It is an institution ordained by God for the purpose 
of restraining, by means of coercion and penalty, the grosser forms of human sin. If 
this view was a fixed datum in Christian political theory, the rule that a Christian must 
never inflict an injury on his neighbour, however wicked that neighbour may be, was 
also a fixed datum in Christian ethical theory: and the problem consists in reconciling 
these two apparently conflicting data. One thing is clear — that the fact of being 
appointed by God for a certain work or permitted by God to do it, did not, in the 
Christian view, guarantee the righteousness of the agent or of his doings. The 
Apocalypse says that 'it was given' to the Beast to have authority over all peoples and 
to make war upon the saints, that is to say, he was in some sense allowed or 
authorized by God to do it, for the achievement of some good end, such as the 
chastisement or discipline of the Church.! But this did not mean that the Beast was 



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righteous or that his persecution of the saints was not blameworthy. Eirenaios makes 
it fairly clear that he could as easily think of wicked rulers being appointed by God as 
he could of good ones. 2 God uses the wickedness of some as a chastisement for 
others. But even this does not get to the bottom of the matter, for it refers only to the 
crimes of rulers, not to the just legal penalties they inflict. The key to the problem is 
simply this, that the just ruler who as the servant of God enforces the laws, punishes 
wrongdoers, and wages war against the unrighteous aggressor, is, in the thought of 
Paul and the early Fathers, always a pagan ruler, and therefore, though eligible for 
conversion, is yet, qua pagan, not to be expected to obey the distinctively Christian 
laws of conduct or to exercise the distinctively Christian restraint upon wrongdoing. 
Not all the servants of God are necessarily Christians. God has a use for those in the 
sub-christian stage of moral development, as well as for those who enjoy the full light 
of the Gospel. Paul evidently had a genuine respect for the nobler elements in the 
gentile mind,3 including that sense of responsibility for the peace and well-being of 
society, that love of law and order, that appreciation of the elements of justice, 
which — with whatever admixture of baser motives and whatever crudity of unloving 
restrictive method — formed the fundamental principles of the Roman Empire. In other 
words, the Christian justification of coercive government and of war, though real and 
sincere, was only a relative justification: it was relative to the non-christian condition 
of the agents concerned. It therefore furnished no model for Christian conduct and no 
justification for any departure on the part of the Christian from the gentler ethics 
characteristic of the religion of Jesus. That the matter in its various bearings was 
always fully understood in this light by Christian authors, I do not argue. Indeed, from 
the slowness of the modern mind to grasp the relativity of all moral acts to the 
subjective conditions of the agent concerned, one can easily understand how it was 
that this view of the divine appointment of rulers was by the end of our period widely 
understood to carry with it the Christian's right to participate in the violence and 
bloodshed of the State. But I do maintain that this doctrine in its strict and proper 
meaning is perfectly consistent with the practice and advocacy of the completest 
abstention on the part of the Christian from such participation, and that the 
explanation of it which I have offered furnishes the key to a good many paradoxes in 
Christian literature. It explains, for instance, how Paul himself can forbid Christians to 
avenge themselves, telling them to stand aside and leave room for the wrath of God, 
to whom vengeance belongs, and to conquer evil with good by feeding the hungry 
enemy, and so forth, and then a few verses lower speak of the pagan magistrate as the 
servant of God for the infliction of His wrath as a punishment on the wrongdoer. 1 It 
explains how Hermas can speak of the persecuting command of the Emperor to the 
Christians: "Either keep my laws or go out of my country," as a just command.2 It 
explains how Athenagoras can say that Christians cannot endure to see a man killed, 
even justly, and a fortiori cannot kill him. 3 It explains how Origenes can maintain that 
it is never right for a Christian to kill a man, and defend the Christian refusal to serve 
in the legions, and yet speak of the legionaries as "rendering military service 
righteously," can refer to the "just and orderly wars of men" as being sometimes 
necessary, can speak with approval of Judith's act in murdering Holofernes,4 and can 
even argue for the right of the Christians to contravene the laws of the State on the 
analogy that it is right to conspire against and assassinate a tyrant. 5 



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While it may be confidently asserted that the relative justification accorded by 
Christians to the use of the sword by the pagan magistrate and soldier cannot logically 
be made to justify the use of it by themselves, we are still left with ultimate questions 
unsettled, viz. how to relate God's use of the pagan sword to the gentle love that He 
shows through Jesus, and how to harmonize the justice of it when regarded as a divine 
ordinance with the evil of it when looked at from the Christian point of view. These 
questions were never finally answered, but one or two things that were said in 
connection with them are interesting as bringing out the Christian attitude still more 
clearly. 

We have already seen that Origenes broached the question whether the evil demons 
may not have been appointed by the Logos "like the executioners and those in the 
cities who are appointed for gloomy but needful public duties."! It is clear from this 
comparison that it is to the normal execution of justice — not to the maladministration 
of it — that Origenes attaches a quasi-demonic stigma. He expresses this view at 
greater length when replying to Celsus' contention that the Christian's opinion of 
what is evil is not necessarily true, for he does not know what is of advantage to 
himself or his neighbour or the world. Origenes replies that this argument "suggests 
that the nature of evil (things) is not absolutely wicked, for that which is regarded as 
evil in individual cases may be admitted to be of advantage to the whole 
(community). But lest anyone, misconstruing what has been said, should find (in it) an 
incentive to violence, on the ground that his wickedness is an advantage to the whole 
(community) or may possibly be an advantage, it has to be said that, although God, 
without prejudice to the freewill of each of us, may use the wrongdoing of the wicked 
for the administration of the whole (community), appointing them for the service of 
the whole (community), nevertheless such a man is blameable, and, as blameable, has 
been appointed to a service (which is) abominable for an individual, but useful to the 
whole (community); just as in the cities one would say that a man who had committed 
certain crimes, and because of th(os)e crimes had been condemned to certain public 
works useful to the whole (community), was doing something useful to the whole 
city, but was himself engaged in an abominable task and (one) in which no one of 
moderate intelligence would wish to be engaged."! Origenes does not explicitly 
mention the secular power in this connection, but there can be little doubt that he had 
it at the back of his mind; for on what other topic would his declared views have so 
obviously compelled him to admit that on act might be wrong for an individual but 
useful to the community as a whole?2 

In the Clementine Homilies a quasi-manichaean view of the world is set forth. "God 
appointed two kingdoms and established two ages. . . . Two kingdoms have been 
appointed, the one (the kingdom) of what are called the heavens, and the other (the 
kingdom) of those who now reign upon earth. And two kings have been established, 
one of whom is chosen to reign by law over the present and temporary world, who has 
also been composed (so as) to rejoice over the destruction of (the) wicked; but the 
other, being king of the age to come, loves the whole nature of man.! • • • Of these 
two, the one acts violently to the other, God having bidden (him). But each man has 
power to obey whichever of them he wishes for the doing of good or evil. ... If 
anyone does evil, he becomes the servant of the present evil (king), who, having by a 
just judgment received the power against him on account of (his) sins, and wishing to 



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use it before the coming age, rejoices (in) inflicting punishment in the present life, and 
by thus indulging his own passion accomplishes the Will of God. . . . But these two 
governors are the swift hands of God, eager to anticipate the accomplishment of His 
Will: that this is so has been said in the Law. . . 'I will kill, and I will make alive; I 
will strike, and I will heal.' For truly He kills, and brings to life. He kills by means of 
the left hand, that is, by means of the Evil One, who has been composed (so as) to 
rejoice over the evil treatment of the impious. But He saves and benefits by means of 
the right hand. . . . These do not have their beings outside of God; for there is no other 
source (of being besides God); nor are they cast forth from God like animals, for they 
were of the same mind with Him. . . . The wicked one, therefore, having served God 
blamelessly to the end of the present age, in as much as he is not of the one essence 
which is solely inclined to evil, can, by a change in his composition, become good. 
For not even now does he do evil, though he is evil, having received power to do evil 
lawfully ()."1 This view, despite its crudity, is interesting as an apparent attempt to 
explain how it is that an act like the punishment of a criminal may be right and lawful 
when done by an imperfect creature of God, and might lead to good and useful 
consequences, and yet might have to be put right outside the pale of Christianity, and 
therefore be wrong if performed by Christian hands. 

The problem of how to reconcile the Christian ethic with the Christian justification of 
the State was virtually the same as the problem of how to reconcile the former with 
the Christian reverence for the Mosaic Law as divinely inspired. Of the many things 
said on this question, by far the most important is a suggestion made by the unknown 
author of the 'Dialogus de Recta Fidei' (a work of the early years of the fourth 
century). He shows us Adamantios, who is apparently meant to be Origenes, in 
discussion with a Markionite. The latter argues from the discrepancy between the Old 
and New Testaments that there must be more than one God. Adamantios points out 
traces of gentleness, love, etc., in the Old Testament, and of severity and vengeance in 
the New, and thus upsets his opponent without really solving the problem. At one 
point, however, he puts his finger for a moment on the real key to it. "I do not think it 
will seem absurd," he says, "if we use an illustration, in order that the sense of what 
we are saying may become clearer. Does not a woman, when she has borne a son, first 
nourish him with milk, and afterwards, when he has grown up, with more solid foods? 
And I do not think the woman is on this account reckoned by anyone to act 
inconsistently, because she first gave her breasts to the baby with milk, (and) 
afterwards, when he had grown up, provided (him with) stronger foods. The Apostle 
Paul, too, knew how to promulgate laws to men according to their several progress, 
when he says: 'I gave you milk to drink, not food, for ye were not yet able (to take it); 
but not even yet are ye able, for ye are still carnal.' In the same way, therefore, God 
also gave laws to men according to the progress of their minds. To Adam he gave a 
law in one way as to a little child, but in another way to Noah, in another way to 
Abraham, in another way to the people of Israel through Moses. Through the Gospel 
also, according to the further progress of the world, the law-giving is different. Why 
therefore does God seem inconsistent, seeing that, in the same way as (He might treat) 
a man from (his) birth on to old age, He has so treated the whole world, which began 
from its first childhood, then after that, growing and progressing, came to middle age, 
and thence hastened to the maturity and perfection of old age, (and treated) each age 
of it with apt and adequate laws? But lest ye should think that I affirm this without 



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evidence, I (will) show that this is written, how one and the same God commands 
different things. God bids Abraham sacrifice his own son: afterwards by Moses, He 
forbids a man to be slain at all, but orders him who is caught in this act to be 
punished. Because therefore He orders at one time a son to be slain, but at another the 
slayer to be punished, do we say that there are two Gods contrary to one another?" 
Here Eutropios, the pagan arbiter of the discussion, asks: "Does He Himself order (a 
man) to be killed, and (yet) say: 'Thou shalt not kill'?" Adamantios replies: 
"Precisely. And not only is it found so in this, but also in many other things. For 
sometimes He orders sacrifices to be offered to Himself, and then again He forbids it. 
. . ."1 The passage is unique in early Christian literature for the place it gives to the 
differing subjective conditions of men in the determination of the content of the moral 
law. 

We cannot pursue further the question of the early Christian view of the State; but 
enough has been said to show that there was nothing in the relative justification which 
Christians accorded to the ordinary functions of government, including even its 
punitive and coercive activities, which logically involved them in departing from the 
ethics of the Sermon on the Mount and personally participating in those activities. If a 
modern reader be disposed to reject this doctrine as one which selfishly leaves the 
dirty work of society to non-Christians, it is right to remind him, firstly, that, so far as 
the endurance of hardship and danger went, the early Christians were far worse off 
than the magistrates, executioners, and soldiers; for not only had they to take their 
share as civilians in ordinary and special risks to which people are exposed alike in 
peace and war, but they had also to endure all the troubles and disabilities and 
persecutions which public odium heaped upon them; and secondly, that they had their 
own method of repressing crime, more thorough and effective than the method of the 
State, and that their power to remove occasions for the use of the sword increased 
directly in proportion to their numbers and their zeal. 

None therefore of the various forms in which Christians may be said to have 
'accepted' war necessarily committed them to participation in it. It cannot, however, 
be maintained that this fact was always adequately appreciated by them, or that their 
words and conduct were always consistent with the avowed ethics of their faith. We 
shall see in a later section how numbers of them came after a time to serve in the 
army; but, short of this, there are several cases of real or apparent compromise on 
which a word may be said. Some of these lie so near the borderline between the 
permissible and the impermissible as to be patient of different interpretations. The 
sudden death of Ananias and Sappheira, for instance, when their deceit was exposed 
by Peter, was not the execution of a death-sentence, but the natural consequence of a 
well-merited rebuke, and was doubtless looked upon as a divine visitation.! Paul on 
the whole has a firm grasp of the real principles of Christian conduct, but his Roman 
citizenship, his legal type of mind, and his preoccupation with other aspects of 
Christian truth, led him at times into expressions and actions which are not easily 
harmonized with his words at the end of Rom. xii. His demand for the recognition of 
his legal rights, his readiness to plead his cause in a court of law, and his appeal to 
Caesar,2 are not to be numbered amongst these; for they concerned simply his own 
immunity from injustice, and did not involve the punishment of his accusers or 
enemies. But his sentence of blindness on Elymas the sorcerer,! which reminds us of 



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the case of Ananias and Sappheira, his apparent silence on the unchristian character of 
the Philippian gaoler's calling,2 which again recalls the similar silence of Peter in the 
case of the centurion Cornelius,! his wish that the Judaizing errorists would castrate 
themselves,4 his consignment of the incestuous Corinthian to Satan for the destruction 
of his flesh that his spirit might be saved on the day of the Lord Jesus,5 the one 
sidedness of the terms in which his doctrine of the State is set forth,6 and his 
communication to the military commander of the plot against his life,7 — are cases so 
near the border-line that much discussion would be needed to enable us to measure 
what degree of inconsistency, if any, was involved in each of them. 

Many instances occur throughout our period of Christians pleading, protesting, 
appealing, etc., to pagan magistrates, and this has often been taken as showing that 
they were allowed by the Church to sue their enemies in pagan courts in order to get 
them punished. So Bigelmair: "In disputes between Christians and non-christians, the 
legal protection of the heathen courts, which was not denied to the Christians, had to 
be appealed to. . . . Recourse to heathen courts was never contested."8 Similarly 
Bestmann.9 But the cases quoted by Bigelmair prove nothing of the kind, for in all of 
them the Christians were the defendants, not the plaintiffs, and did not ask for the 
punishment of their enemies. Justinus, indeed, sadly compromises the Christian 
position when, in his eagerness to disavow the wrongdoings of pseudo-Christians, he 
asks the Emperors to punish those who were Christians only in name, but who were 
not living in conformity with Christ's teachings. 1 Origenes has been criticized for his 
willingness to pray for the victory of the Emperor's soldiers, when he would not fight 
along with them.2 But one who thinks it wrong to fight may well recognize that one 
of two warring parties is better than the other and may wish that, while neither is 
acting in a Christian way, one may prevail rather than the other: and if the wish is 
legitimate, so too may be the prayer for the fulfilment of that wish. Lactantius could 
have justified a good deal of what he said about the justice of anger, and so on, had he 
made allowance for the partial relativity of all morality to subjective conditions; but 
even so he would have had to find a larger place for love, expressing itself through 
non-resistance and gentleness and suffering, as the characteristically Christian policy 
for overcoming sin in others. 

We are without exact information as to the extent to which Christians entered on 
political life in general, held office as magistrates, and brought suits to the pagan 
courts. There may have been a few cases of such action in the very early times. But 
broadly speaking, such cases were very rare before the middle of the third century. 
Athenagoras, Clemens of Alexandria, Tertullianus, and the Didaskalia, all regard it as 
forbidden to Christians to sue wrongdoers in the pagan courts. Origenes wrote in 248 
a.d. as if Christians generally refused public office. But Christian feeling and practice 
grew laxer from that time onwards. The Clementines relate how the friends of Peter, 
being alarmed at the indignation which Simon of Samaria had excited against him at 
Antioch, sent for the Roman centurion Cornelius, who happened to be there with a 
message from the Emperor to the Governor of the province, and asked for his 
assistance. Cornelius offered to give it out that the Emperor had ordered sorcerers to 
be sought for and slain at Rome and in the provinces, that many had already been so 
dealt with, and that he (Cornelius) had been secretly sent by the Emperor to seize and 
punish Simon. This news being conveyed to Simon by Peter's spies, the former 



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speedily departed in accordance with the Apostle's desire. 1 This amusing piece of 
fiction sheds an interesting sidelight on the author's view of the Christian's relations 
with the State and the army; but too much of course must not be made of it. In 272 
a.d. a synod of Christian bishops appealed to the Emperor Aurelianus to eject from the 
cathedral house and church of Antioch the bishop, Paulus of Samosata, who had been 
condemned for heresy and deposed some years earlier, but had kept his place under 
the protection of Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra. The Emperor's decision was in favour 
of the appellants. "Thus," says Eusebios, "the aforesaid man was expelled from the 
church by the secular government with the utmost disgrace."! Under Diocletianus, 
before the persecution, Christians were appointed to the governorships of provinces,! 
which of course involved judicial and military duties. One of the martyrs in the 
persecution was Philoromos, who "had been appointed to no mean office in the 
imperial administration of Alexandria, and daily administered justice, attended by 
soldiers according to his rank and Roman dignity."! Another case was that of the 
governor () of the Phrygian town, the population of which was martyred en masse. 2 
Constantius, who governed Western Europe, regularly employed Christians as his 
ministers of state.3 The Synod of Illiberis provided for Christians who held the annual 
office of duumvir in Spanish towns and took part in the violence and bloodshed of the 
law-courts. 4 After the triumph of Constantinus all but a few remaining barriers were 
swept away. The clergy were not supposed to shed blood in war or to administer 
justice outside the ecclesiastical courts, and the ascetics and a few like-minded 
Christian laymen also refrained: but apart from these cases, it came to be taken for 
granted that the ordinary functions of civil government were as open to the average 
Christian as they had been to the average pagan. 

The Christians' Experience of Good in the Character of Soldiers. — Before 
investigating the actual participation of Christians in military life, it will be well to 
take note of the favorable impressions received by them on various occasions in 
regard to non-Christians engaged in it. This study thus forms the counterpart of our 
earlier sketch of the Christians' experience of bad treatment at the hands of soldiers. 5 
The penitent soldiers baptized by John the Baptist,! the centurion of Capernaum, who 
built the Jews a synagogue and at whose faith Jesus marvelled,2 the centurion at the 
cross who exclaimed at the death of Jesus: 'Truly this man was a son of God,'3_ 
Cornelius, the centurion of Caesarea, and the 'pious soldier' who waited on him,4 
Sergius Paulus, the proconsul of Cyprus,5 the man — doubtless a soldier — who, at 
Agrippa's bidding, led James the son of Zebedee to the judgment-seat, confessed 
himself a Christian, asked and received the Apostle's pardon as they were led away, 
and was beheaded with him,6 the dutiful and officious but otherwise humane gaoler 
of Philippi,7 the various military officials who had charge of Paul8 — more 
particularly the centurion Julius, who took him to Rome and showed him great 
kindness on the journey9 — all these are significant for the impression they made on 
the minds of Christians in their own day, as well as of the evangelists, etc., who wrote 
of them later. The apocryphal Acts of John represent the soldiers who had charge of 
the Apostle as treating him with great kindness. 10 Basileides, a military officer in 
Egypt at the time of the persecution of Severus, had to lead the maiden Potamiaina to 
death, and on the way defended her from the insults of the crowd and showed her 
much pity and sympathy. 1 1 When Perpetua and her friends suffered at Carthago in 
the same persecution, the military adjutant Pudens, who was in charge of the prison, 



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was struck with their virtue, allowed many of their friends to visit them, and was 
ultimately converted; the tribune also was induced to grant them privileges.! Origenes 
performed his visit to the Emperor's mother Julia Mammaea at Antioch — and 
doubtless also that to the Governor of Arabia — under a military escort. 2 Gregorios 
Thaumatourgos, with his brother and sister, were conducted from his home at Neo- 
Caesarea in Pontus to Palestine by the soldier who had been sent to bring the last- 
named to her husband, and to invite her brother to travel with her.3 In the Decian 
persecution, Besas, a soldier of Alexandria, rebuked those who insulted the martyrs, 
and soon after perished as a Christian.4 Imprisoned Christians were often able to 
procure minor privileges by paying money to the soldiers who had charge of them; 
and the Didaskalia bade the friends of prisoners send them money for this purpose. 5 
When Cyprianus was waiting to be taken before the proconsul just before his death, a 
military officer, who had formerly been a Christian, offered him a dry suit of clothes, 
as the martyr's own garments were soaked with sweat. 6 Eusebios of Laodicea, while 
resident at Alexandria at the time of the revolt of Aemilianus (260 or 262 a.d.), was 
on the friendliest terms with the Roman general, and obtained from him a promise of 
safety for those who should desert from the besieged quarter of the town.7 We may 
recall here the episode in the Clementines, in which the Apostle Peter and his friends 
are represented as availing themselves of the friendly help of Cornelius the 
centurion.8 

The Participation of Christians in Military Service. — The purpose of this section is to 
present the reader with as complete and accurate a statement as possible of the extent 
to which Christians actually served as soldiers in the pre-Constantinian period. It will 
thus serve as the complement to the former section dealing with the Christian refusal 
of service, alongside of which it will naturally be read, and will involve a certain 
amount of overlapping with what has gone before. Taking first the period of the New 
Testament, and excluding the converts of John the Baptist, the centurion of 
Capernaum, and the centurion at the cross, as not being disciples of Jesus at all, 
Sergius Paulus, the proconsul of Cyprus, as not being a full convert to Christianity in 
the ordinary sense,! and the soldier — if soldier he was — who was executed with 
James the Apostle, as being relieved by his prompt martyrdom of all necessity of 
deciding whether he ought to remain in his calling or to resign it,2 we are left with 
Cornelius, the one or two soldiers who may have been baptized with him, and the 
gaoler at Philippi,3 as the only real cases of Christian soldiers in New Testament 
times. The New Testament itself and the earliest Christian literature nowhere express 
disapproval of the continuance of these men — assuming they did continue — in their 
calling, or of the military calling in general. It is even possible that Luke, who records 
these cases, as well as the conversation between John the Baptist and the soldiers, 
may have meant to intimate thereby his view as to the propriety of admitting soldiers 
to the Church without requiring them to abandon the profession of arms! : and the 
existence even of these few cases makes it possible that from the earliest times there 
may have been soldier-converts in the Church.2 But as a matter of fact there is no 
trace of the existence of any Christian soldiers between these cases mentioned in Acts 
and — say — 170. a.d. The supposed records of Christian soldiers of the times of 
Trajanus and Hadrianus are without historical value. 3 



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We come however upon an important piece of evidence in the reign of Marcus 
Aurelius. During one of that Emperor's campaigns against the Quadi, a tribe 
inhabiting what is now Moravia, in 173 or 174 a.d., the Roman army found itself in 
serious difficulties owing to lack of water. In the Twelfth Legion, the Legio 
Fulminata, which was recruited and usually stationed in Melitene, a region in eastern 
Cappadocia where Christianity was strong, there were a considerable number of 
Christian soldiers. These prayed for relief from the drought, and at once a shower 
refreshed the Roman troops, while a storm discomfited the enemy. Such is, in bare 
outline, the story of what — as far as we can make out — actually happened. It was 
evidently an incident of some importance, for it was commemorated on the column 
set up by Marcus Aurelius at Rome, and noticed by a number of writers, both 
Christian and pagan. The pagan accounts do not mention the Christians in the army at 
all,4 and so are of no value for our immediate purpose, beyond confirming the 
historical background of the story. The earliest Christian witness is Apolinarios, 
bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, who gave a simple account of the incident — probably 
very soon after its occurrence — perhaps in the Apology which he addressed to Marcus 
Aurelius. 1 As reported by Eusebios, he spoke as if the whole legion had been 
Christian, and said that it received from the Emperor the name of (i.e. thundering) in 
memory of what happened.2 Now there is no doubt at all that either Eusebios 
misunderstood and misreported Apolinarios,! or else Apolinarios himself made a 
mistake about the name of the Legion: for the Twelfth Legion was called Fulminata 
(thunderstruck) not Fulminatrix (thundering), and had moreover borne that name 
since the time of Augustus or at least that of Nero. 4 In view of this error, the value of 
Apolinarios as a witness for the existence of a whole legion of Christian soldiers 
simply disappears; and it is more than doubtful whether he meant to speak of such a 
legion at all. The next witness whom we can date with any confidence is Tertullianus, 
who twice mentions the incident,5 but without committing himself as to the number 
of soldiers. Even the so-called Letter of Marcus Aurelius to the Senate6 (which some 
put before the time of Tertullianus, some as late as early in the fourth century,7 and 
which is usually regarded as a Christian forgery,8 though Harnack regards it as 
substantially genuine, but interpolated! ), does not claim a whole legion of Christian 
soldiers — does not in fact mention the legion at all — but contents itself with the vague 
phrase, 'a great crowd'2 of 'those who with us are called Christians.' Eusebios seems 
to have believed that the whole legion was Christian,! and was probably 
unintentionally responsible for the attribution of this view to Apolinarios. The 
remarks of Xiphilinos4 are interesting, but much too late to be of any value as 
evidence. While the Christian versions contain obvious embellishments and 
exaggerations, and the idea of a whole legion of Christian soldiers must be 
dismissed,.!) there can be no doubt about the main fact, that, in or about 174 a.d., the 
Legio Fulminata contained a considerable number of Christian soldiers. This means 
that the conversion of soldiers to Christianity must have been going on for some little 
time previously, though for how long we do not know. It is often said that these men 
were not censured or criticized by their fellow-Christians for their position6 ; but in 
view of the fact that Celsus's censure of the Christians in general for objecting to 
military service came within a few years of the incident just described,7 and in view 
of the fact that the later decision of the Church would tend to obliterate records of the 
earlier rigorism, it is not safe to conclude from the absence of any extant criticism of 
these Christian soldiers that their position passed uncriticized. 



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Julius Africanus appears to have served as an officer in the expedition of the Emperor 
Severus against Osrhoene in 195 a.d. 1 : but we have already seen reason for refusing 
to regard him as in any way a representative Christian.2 Clemens of Alexandria does 
not seem ever to have faced the problem of Christianity and war; and hence, despite 
his clear grasp of Christian principles in the abstract,! he uses expressions which 
concede the compatibility of military service with the Christian faith. He appeals to 
the Greek thus: "Be a farmer, we say, if thou art a farmer; but know God (while thou 
art) farming: and sail, thou lover of navigation, but (sail) calling upon the heavenly 
Pilot: has the (true) knowledge taken hold of the (when) serving as a soldier? Listen to 
the General who orders what is righteous. "4 Some years later, when writing for 
Christian readers, he says: "Barefootedness is very becoming to a man, except when 
he is on military service"5 ; and later, criticizing the love of wealth and display: "But 
even now the soldiers wish to be adorned with gold, not having read that (passage) in 
the poet: 'He came to the war, wearing gold, like a young girl'. "6 He says that the 
divine 'Instructor,' under the heading of forbearance, "enjoins by John upon those in 
military service to be content with their wages only."7 He quotes the Mosaic 
regulations in regard to the exemption of certain classes of men from military service 
and of summoning the enemy to come to terms before attacking them, without any 
intimation that they would not be applicable to Christians.! He mentions "the 
soldier's hope and the merchant's gain" along with life, angels, etc., as examples of 
the "things present" which are powerless to oppose faith.2 

We have already had occasion to notice the susceptibility to Christian influence of 
soldiers employed in the horrible work of persecution — a susceptibility which led in 
many cases to their conversion.3 One or two cases merit repetition here. The soldier 
Basileides of Alexandria had, while still a heathen, received instruction under 
Origenes. During the persecution of 202 a.d., it fell to his lot to conduct the Christian 
maiden Potamiaina to death, and apparently to preside over the execution, which 
consisted of boiling pitch being poured over the girl's body from the feet upwards. He 
showed her what sympathy and kindness he could under the circumstances, and the 
experience issued — as well it might — in his conversion. This was at first kept a secret, 
but soon became known through his refusal as a Christian to take an oath when 
challenged to do so by his fellow-soldiers. He was led to the judge, confessed, and 
received sentence. He was visited in prison by the Christians, and baptized, and the 
next day was beheaded. Nothing is said in the extant record as to his conversion 
leading him to want to resign his post in the army.4 Somewhat similar was the case of 
the adjutant Pudens, whose conversion took place at the time of the martyrdom of 
Perpetua and her companions at Carthago,! though we do not know what became of 
him afterwards.! 

The information contributed by Tertullianus is important. In 197 a.d. he wrote to the 
pagans: "Ye cry out that the state is besieged — that there are Christians in the fields, 
in the fortified towns, in the islands."! "We are (people) of yesterday, and we have 
filled all that belongs to you — cities, islands; fortified towns (?) (castella), country 
towns, places of assembly, the very camps, the tribes, the decries, the palace, the 
senate, the forum."4 "With you we go on voyages and serve as soldiers and farm and 
trade: we mix (our) industries (with yours); we make our work public for your 
service."! He refers to the incident in the reign of Marcus Aurelius, when the drought 



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afflicting the Roman army was removed "by the shower obtained by the prayers of the 
Christian soldiers (who were) by chance (serving under him). "6 A little later, in 
arguing that no Christian ought to be a soldier, he lets us see that there were 
Christians who took the opposite view and supported their position by appealing to 
the examples of Moses, Aaron, Joshua, the Israelites, and even John the Baptist. 7 He 
himself says that Paul, in "teaching that everyone ought to live by his own labour, had 
introduced plenty of examples, (those, namely), of soldiers, shepherds, and 
husbandmen."! Later still (211 a.d.), we have from him an account of the 
circumstances which occasioned the composition of his treatise 'De Corona Militis.' 
Shortly after the accession of the Emperors Caracalla and Geta, an imperial largess 
was being distributed to the Roman troops in Numidia, when one Christian soldier 
made himself conspicuous by refusing to put on the laurel garland which everyone 
else was wearing for the occasion. His fellow-Christians in the army — not to mention 
the heathen soldiers — and some at least of the Christian civilians as well, condemned 
his action on the ground that it was rash and presumptuous and likely to provoke 
persecution, and that nowhere in Scripture are we forbidden to be crowned.2 The 
incident shows that there were at that time many Christians in the Roman army in 
Africa, and that some — possibly a majority — of the members of the local church 
raised no objection to their being there. It does not prove that the whole of the local 
church — still less that the Church generally — had no scruples at all about its members 
serving as soldiers. 3 

It is important also to notice that the 'De Idololatria' and 'De Corona' of Tertullianus 
are our oldest pieces of evidence for the existence of Christian soldiers who had 
joined the army after their conversion. In the former, his discussion of the questions 
'whether a believer may turn to military service, and whether the military. . . may be 
admitted to the faith' 1 may be taken to imply that in practice cases had already arisen 
in which both these questions had been answered in the affirmative. In the 'De 
Corona' his condemnation of the act of 'transferring (one's) name from the camp of 
light to the camp of darkness'2 shows pretty clearly that the thing had been done. 
Immediately afterwards he speaks of those who had been converted when already in 
the army as a special class of Christian soldiers! ; evidently, therefore, there were 
others who had become soldiers after conversion. These passages, however, are the 
earliest references we have to Christians becoming soldiers after baptism: all the 
Christian soldiers mentioned before the period of 'De Idololatria' (198-202 a.d.) may 
quite well have been — for all we know to the contrary — converted when already in 
the army. Such would obviously have been the more normal case. 

In the year 217 a.d. the tomb of an imperial official, Marcus Aurelius Prosenes, 
received a supplementary inscription from his freedman, the Christian Ampelius, who 
described himself as 'returning from the campaigns.'! Another inscription, about the 
middle of the third century, found at Hodjalar in Phrygia, gives us the epitaph on the 
family tomb of two Christian soldiers. 1 

Cyprianus tells us that the two uncles of a certain Christian who suffered in the 
persecution of Decius (250 a.d.) had been soldiers. 2 Dionusios of Alexandria tells us 
that there were soldiers among the martyrs in that very persecution.! At Alexandria 
during the persecution, a soldier named Besas rebuked the crowd that was insulting 



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the martyrs on their way to execution. He was immediately challenged, arraigned as a 
Christian, confessed, and was beheaded.4 On another occasion a squad of five 
soldiers, attending at the trial of a Christian, attracted attention by making violent 
gestures of anxiety when the accused threatened to deny his faith, and then rushed 
before the tribunal and confessed themselves Christians. The governor, as well as his 
council, was amazed, but seems to have ordered them to execution.5 We have already 
spoken of the Christian military officer Marinus, who was martyred at Caesarea in 
260 a.d.l "The number of Christian officers and soldiers in the army gradually 
increased. . . after the reign of Gallienus; so much so that the military authorities 
began to connive at Christianity; they made allowance for it, and looked on quietly 
while Christian officers made the sign of the cross at the sacrifices. Moreover they 
also dispensed silently with their attendance at these sacrifices."! In 295 a.d., on the 
occasion of the martyrdom of Maximilianus inNumidia, the proconsul of African said 
to him: "In the sacred retinue of our lords Diocletianus and Maximianus, Constantius 
and Maximus, there are Christian soldiers, and they serve (as such). "3 The silence of 
the Synod of Illiberis on the legitimacy of military service is significant. The Spanish 
bishops seem to have realized that there was too much to be said on both sides for 
them to commit themselves to either.4 Eusebios tells us that long before the outbreak 
of the general persecution in 303 a.d., the Emperor Galerius attempted, by means of 
degradation, abuse, and menace of death, to compel the Christians in the army, 
beginning with those in his own household, to desert their faith.5_ We learn from 
Eusebios and Hieronymus that about 299 a.d. a general named Veturius attempted to 
purge the troops under him of Christian soldiers; and a great number of them 
consequently retired from the service, and a few suffered the penalty of death. The 
devil, says Eusebios, thought that if he could first subdue the Christians in the army, 
he would easily be able to catch the others — a remark which indicates that in 
Eusebios' belief the Christians in the army at that time were numerous and highly 
respected.l The martyrdom of the Christian centurion Marcellus in Mauretania in 298 
a.d.2 may have been the outcome of a similar movement on the part of the military 
authorities in that quarter of the Empire. Typasius, another soldier of Mauretania, is 
said to have obtained his discharge from the army before the persecution broke out. 3 
The famous legend of the martyrdom of the whole Thebaic legion (recruited in the 
Egyptian Thebaid) at the hands of Maximianus at Agaunum near the Lake of Geneva, 
is variously referred to 286, 297, or 302 a.d. The evidence for it is late, and the story 
as it stands is impossible. It may be that the actual martyrdom of a few — conceivably 
a few hundred — Christian soldiers for refusing to sacrifice underlies the legend: more 
than that cannot be said.4 In 302 a.d. Diocletianus, alarmed by unfavourable omens, 
which the priests attributed to the presence of Christians, required his whole retinue to 
sacrifice on pain of being scourged, and wrote to the commanding officers that 
soldiers should be required to sacrifice and, if they would not obey, dismissed from 
the service. 5 The following winter, when Galerius was urging him to undertake a 
general persecution of the Christians, Diocletianus long persisted "that it would be 
enough if he forbade that religion only to those at court and to the soldiers."! When 
the persecution actually began, Christian soldiers were its first victims. 2 The fact that 
many of them suffered martyrdom is sufficiently established, and little purpose would 
be served by adding details concerning all the individual cases known to us. One of 
them, Julius, who suffered in Moesia, said to the judge: "During the time that I was, 
as it appears, going astray in the vain service of war (in vana militia), for twenty- 



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seven years I never came before the judge as an offender or a plaintiff (scelestus aut 
litigiosus). Seven times did I go out on a campaign (in bello), and I stood behind no 
one (post neminem retro steti), and I fought as well as any (nee alicuius inferior 
pugnavi). The commander never saw me go wrong; and dost thou think that I, who 
had been found faithful in the worse things, can now be found unfaithful in the 
better?"3 Other soldier-martyrs were Marcianus and Nicander in Moesia (or Italy),4 
Dasius, also in Moesia,5 Nereus and Achilleus, apparently at Rome,6 Tarakhos in 
Cilicia,7 Ferreoleus, a military tribune, at Vienna in Gaul,8 Theodorus of Tyrus at 
Amasia in Pontus,9 and Seleukos of Cappadocia at Caesarea.K) In 303 a.d. a revolt 
broke out in Melitene and Syria, and Diocletianus suspected that the Christians were 
at the bottom of it, and it is possible that his suspicions were not altogether without 
foundation.! We know that the Christians of Armenia, when the Emperor Maximinus 
Daza tried to force them to abandon their Christianity, took up arms and defeated 
him.2 

There must have been large numbers of Christians in the armies of Constantinus and 
Licinius in their campaigns against Maxentius and Maximinus Daza. Pachomius, later 
famous as a monk, served in the war against Maxentius, and was won to Christianity 
by the love which his Christian fellow-soldiers showed to himself and others. 3 The 
Constantinian troops were witnesses of the professed adherence of their great leader 
to the Christian faith just before the battle of the Milvian Bridge, and actually bore in 
that battle the sign of the cross upon their shields and in their standards: they took part 
in the bloodshed of the battle, and doubtless joined in their leader's confident boast 
that he had conquered by virtue of that same sign.4 The campaign of Licinius against 
Daza, after his meeting with Constantinus at Milan, would enlist Christian sympathy 
as warmly as did that of Constantinus against Maxentius. Both conflicts were 
regarded, not unnaturally, as struggles between Christianity and Paganism. Licinius 
himself prescribed for his soldiers a form of prayer, which was monotheistic, if not 
overtly Christian, in tone. 1 His victory would naturally attract additional Christian 
favour and support.2 We do not know how far Christian soldiers were implicated in 
the bloody acts of vengeance — the massacres, tortures, and murders — that marked his 
triumph.3_ Later in his reign, between 315 and 322 a.d., Licinius relapsed into 
paganism, and required the soldiers in his army to sacrifice on pain of being degraded 
and dismissed the service. A number of martyrdoms resulted.4 The final war between 
Licinius and Constantinus was again a war between Paganism and Christianity, and 
ended in a decisive triumph for the latter.5_ 

Reserving for Part IV all discussion of the position finally attained through the 
ascendancy of Constantinus and all attempt to summarize the movements of Christian 
thought and practice which we have been studying, we may bring this section to a 
close with a word or two on the question of the numbers of Christians in the army 
during these closing years of our period. In the unfortunate absence of any definite 
statistics, we have to content ourselves with a few vague statements. It is clear that 
there were more soldiers in the armies at the end than in the middle of the third 
century, and that Constantinus' accession to power increased the number still further. 
We may perhaps conjecture that before the persecution there was a larger percentage 
of Christians in the army of Constantinus, the tolerant Emperor of the West, than in 
those of the southern and eastern Emperors, though of this we cannot be sure, and the 



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comparatively larger numbers of Christians in the eastern than in the western empire 
would tend to put the position the other way round. It is doubtless true that there were 
'many' soldiers in the legions of Diocletianus and Galerius round about 300 a.d.; but 
what does 'many' mean? Figures are, of course, out of our reach; but when we 
consider that these two emperors endeavoured to purge all the Christians out of their 
army, we cannot imagine that the percentage of Christians could have been very high. 
No sovereign readily deprives himself of a tenth, or even of a twentieth part of his 
military power. Furthermore, as we shall see presently, Christian opinion, even at this 
date, was still very far from being unanimous as to the propriety of military service 
for Christians. A good deal of caution is necessary in accepting some of the phrases in 
which the state of affairs is at times described. 1 



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[Back to Table of Contents] 

PART IV 

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION 

An attempt must now be made to gather together the scattered threads of the 
foregoing records and to present something in the nature of a general summary of the 
whole question. We saw at the outset that Jesus adopted for himself and enjoined 
upon his followers principles of conduct which, inasmuch as they ruled out as illicit 
all use of violence and injury against others, clearly implied the illegitimacy of 
participation in war, and that it was for this reason that he resisted the temptation to 
establish the Kingdom of God by the use of arms. We saw that his principles were 
meant to guide the conduct, not of the whole of unredeemed humanity all at once, but 
that of the growing group of his own followers as members of the Kingdom, that these 
principles of so-called 'non-resistance' had their positive counterpart in the power of 
love to overcome sin in others and did not reduce those who adopted them to helpless 
cyphers in the conflict against evil, but on the contrary made them more efficient units 
in that conflict. We saw too that the various pleas that have been put forward with a 
view to emancipating the Christian disciple from compliance with these 
principles — as, that they are meant to refer only to the inner disposition or spirit and 
not to the outward actions, or that they are counsels of perfection practicable only in a 
perfect world, or that they affect only the personal and private conduct of the disciple 
and not his duties as a member of society, or that they are an interim-ethic which is 
invalidated by the existence of historical conditions which Jesus did not foresee — all 
rest on various easily demonstrated misapprehensions. 

The early Christians took Jesus at his word, and understood his inculcations of 
gentleness and non-resistance in their literal sense. They closely identified their 
religion with peace; they strongly condemned war for the bloodshed which it 
involved; they appropriated to themselves the Old Testament prophecy which foretold 
the transformation of the weapons of war into the implements of agriculture; they 
declared that it was their policy to return good for evil and to conquer evil with good. 
With one or two possible exceptions no soldier joined the Church and remained a 
soldier until the time of Marcus Aurelius (161-180 a.d.). Even then, refusal to serve 
was known to to be the normal policy of the Christians — as the reproaches of Celsus 
(177-180 a.d.) testify. In the time of Tertullianus (say 200-210 a.d.), many soldiers 
had left the army on their conversion; and his writings are the earliest record we 
possess of any Christians joining the army when already converted. While a general 
distrust of ambition and a horror of contamination by idolatry entered largely into the 
Christian aversion to military service, the sense of the utter contradiction between the 
work of imprisoning, torturing, wounding, and killing, on the one hand, and the 
Master's teaching on the other, constituted an equally fatal and conclusive objection. 
The Church-Order framed probably by Hippolutos of Rome early in the third century 
and widely circulated in the East required magistrates and soldiers to abandon their 
calling before baptism, and excommunicated the Christian who insisted on joining the 
army. Origenes, the finest thinker the Church possessed for many generations, the 



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man who was exempt from those crude eschatological notions which are generally 
represented as the context in which all early Christian utterances on social duty are to 
be read, took it for granted that Christians generally refused to serve in the army, and 
that they did so, not in fear of idolatrous contamination, which does not seem to have 
been a difficulty when he wrote (248 a.d.), but on the score of bloodshed; and he 
defended them for doing so in a series of acute arguments that have never since been 
answered. Cyprianus, a highly influential and thoroughly loyal Churchman, appears to 
have held the same views on the matter as his 'master' Tertullianus. Arnobius almost 
certainly disapproved of Christians fighting, and his contemporary Lactantius (early 
fourth century) unequivocally pleaded for the same conclusion. No Church writer 
before Athanasios ventured to say that it was not only permissible, but praiseworthy, 
to kill enemies in war, without the qualification — expressed or implied — that he was 
speaking of pagans only.l 

While the application of Jesus' teaching to the question of military service was in a 
way unmistakable, and was in fact generally made in the way that has just been 
described, it is nevertheless true that the conditions in which the early Christians were 
placed did not in many localities call for any such application for a very long time. 
Jews and slaves were not enrolled at all in the Roman army. The Emperors (who were 
legally entitled to fill their legions by conscription) — not to mention the Herodian 
princes and the Jewish Temple-authorities — could normally get all the soldiers they 
wanted by means of voluntary enlistment; hence the chances of a Christian being 
pressed into military service against his will were practically nil. This position of 
affairs meant that for the vast bulk of Christians in the earliest times, the question as 
to the legitimacy or otherwise of their entering the army simply did not arise; the 
mind of the Church, while in full possession of the pertinent teaching of Jesus, had for 
a long time no occasion to make a definite application of it to this particular question 
or to lay down a definite ruling in regard to it. There was thus a certain 
unguardedness, a certain immaturity of reflection, which, besides accounting for the 
silence of early Christian authors on the point, helped to make room for various 
compromises and commitments. 

For during this embryonic and quiescent stage of Christian ethical thought there were 
certain other factors at work, which militated against aclear pronouncement on the 
illegitimacy of the use of arms by Christians. To begin with, warfare stood on a 
different footing from other pagan customs which it was quite easy for the Church to 
condemn and reject without compromise. It was unlike adultery, in that it was 
esteemed and honoured by pagans, and not condemned: it was unlike idolatry, in that 
it concerned only a few, and not members of society in general. It was inseparably 
bound up with the police system by which law and order were maintained; and the 
severity of the Christian judgment against it was thus mitigated by its association with 
that against which the Christian objection was not so easily felt or framed. Then 
again, there were various connections in which the Christians themselves thought of 
war without any admixture of repulsion or censure. They were fond of speaking of the 
Christian life itself as a warfare and of themselves as soldiers of Christ. Scripture 
taught them to think with reverence and esteem of the warriors of old as men acting 
with the approval and under the guidance of God. Many of them looked forward to a 
great military triumph of Christ over his enemies at the end of the age. In the 



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meantime, they could think of war as a means of divine chastisement: they regarded 
the great victories of the Romans over the Jews in 67-71 a.d. as a divine punishment 
of the latter for their treatment of Christ. They were taught to think of the Emperor as 
appointed by God for the purpose of checking sin and maintaining order — tasks which 
they knew he could not fulfil without using soldiers. We have already examined in 
detail all these Christian aspects of war and seen that none of them, when rightly 
understood, contained anything inconsistent with the most rigid abstention of the 
Christians themselves from the use of arms. At the same time, it is easy to see that 
these lines of thought must have predisposed many Christians to miss the essential 
point when they came to consider the question of their own personal conduct. The 
various complications just enumerated and the absence of a unanimous or 
authoritative ruling on the point combined to render the issue far less clear to many 
than it would otherwise have been. This, of itself, meant that at any time after the 
inception of Christianity, the existence of Christian soldiers was at least a possibility. 

Several other factors contributed to facilitate the actualization of this possibility. Not 
only was the question in some respects a complicated one; but many members of the 
Christian Church were, as we know, of a very simple, unintellectual, and unreflective 
type of mind, and shunned on principle anything in the nature of clear dialectics. Such 
people were peculiarly liable, in that day as in this, to draw illogical conclusions 
touching their conduct as Christians from Old Testament wars or from Paul's use of 
military similes. As a matter of fact, we learn from Tertullianus, that the Christian 
soldiers of his time justified their position, not by any public-spirited appeals to the 
obvious needs of society,! but by references — often of an extremely puerile kind — to 
Old Testament precedents. They quoted not only the wars of Joshua and the Israelites, 
but Moses' rod, Aaron's buckle, and John the Baptist's leather belt, just as Christians 
who wished to attend the circus appealed to David's example in dancing before the 
ark and to Elijah as the charioteer of Israel. 2 Another circumstance that operated in 
the same direction was the gradual and steady growth throughout the Church of a 
certain moral laxity, which engaged the serious and anxious attention of Christian 
leaders as early as the time of Hermas (140 a.d.) and had become an acute problem by 
the time of Pope Kallistos (216-222 a.d.): this abatement of the primitive moral rigour 
would naturally assist the process of conformity to the ways of the world. 1 The same 
too would be the effect of the gradual waning of the eschatological hope, which, while 
far from constituting the true ground of the Christian refusal of military service, was 
yet with many a main plea for their general aloofness from worldly life. 2 And not 
only was the eschatological hope itself waning, but even in circumstances where it 
was still powerful, the Christian was reminded of the Apostolic counsel: "Let 
everyone remain in the calling wherein he was called"! — a ruling which had not yet 
received in any definite form the limitation which it obviously needed. The converted 
soldier was the more willing to give himself the benefit of this ruling, inasmuch as his 
withdrawal from the army on the ground of his change of religion was a process 
attended with no little difficulty and danger.4 Finally, Christianity was characterized 
by several features, such as monotheism, absolutism, universalism, use of military 
language, wars in Scripture, and so on, which would naturally appeal to the military 
mind. 5 



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There were therefore quite a large number of factors at work, which combined to 
facilitate the conversion of soliders to Christianity and their continuance in military 
life after their conversion, despite the fact that such a state of affairs conflicted in 
reality with the ethical demands made by the Church. The anomaly of their position 
was easily overlooked by the men themselves, who had become inured to their grim 
duties and had all their lives regarded the profession of arms as honourable. Most of 
the considerations helping to justify their position to themselves would also help to 
secure toleration for it in the eyes of their fellow-Christians; and the inclination of 
these latter to disapprove would also be further checked by yet other considerations, 
such as the fewness of the cases involved, at any rate in early times, joy at the erection 
of Christ's banner in the devil's camp,l distance from the battlefield and easy 
blindness to its horrors, and lastly, that charitable leniency which naturally deters the 
Christian from objecting to a good many acts of a co-religionist which he would not 
feel justified in doing himself. It is thus that we are to account for the omission of the 
Church to take a decided line on this matter from the beginning. Apart from the 
Church-Orders, the influence of which — though probably extensive — we cannot 
exactly measure, we have no extant record of any attempt being made to compel 
solider-converts to leave the army on baptism. 

The admission of these few soldier-converts to the Church sometime, let us say, in the 
second century, perhaps not earlier than the reign of Marcus Aurelius, proved to be 
the thin end of the wedge. It constituted a precedent by which the judgment of the 
Church at large was imperceptibly compromised. If a Christian who was a solider 
before conversion may remain so after it, then it follows that a Christian layman 
might become a solider if he wished to. That this conclusion was drawn by the end of 
the second century we have already seen. If a few soliders can be tolerated in the 
Church, then any number can be: if a few Christians may enlist, then any number may 
do so. Once the beginning has been made and allowed to pass muster, the obstacles in 
the way of a general reversion to a stricter standard become virtually insuperable. 1 

While all this is true, it is very easy to exaggerate and misrepresent the extent of the 
concession which the Church made to her solider-members. For one thing, the 
absence of a definite ruling on the concrete point decades before circumstances had 
arisen calling for such a ruling, has been interpreted, quite erroneously, as if it implied 
a considered judgment, on the part of the whole Church, in the direction of conformity 
with the ways of the world. Thus Professor Bethune-Baker refers to the centurion of 
Capernaum, the soldiers baptized by John, Cornelius of Caesarea, Sergius Paulus, the 
soliders who defended Paul, the command in I Tim to pray for kings, and the words of 
Paul in Rom xiii, as proving that war was sanctioned by the immediate disciples of 
Christ.2 Like many others who have written on the subject, he not only makes no 
allowance for the immaturity of Christian thought on this topic, but recognizes no 
distinction between what is sanctioned for the Christian and what is sanctioned for 
those who have not yet reached Christianity. If his argument is meant to show that the 
Christians of the first generation had come to the conclusion, after full consideration, 
that there was nothing in their Master's teaching which interfered with their own 
participation in war, then the double oversight just alluded to must be held to 
invalidate the argument. The attitude of laissez-faire, to which he alludes, was the 
attitude of those who had not yet realized that there was a problem to be solved: it is 



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inadequate as an index even to the convictions and practice of the apostolic age, and 
still more so as a basis for modern Christian ethics. Bigelmair's account of the early 
Christian position embodies what may well have been the plea of some of the most 
unintellectual of the early Christian apologists for war. He regards the abolition of war 
as one of the ideals foreshadowed in the Sermon on the Mount, but as unattainable 
even in our own day and much more so in the time of the early Church. "Besides," he 
says, "in the struggle for it the individual is almost powerless." From this he 
concludes that the apostolic dictum "Let everyone remain in the condition in which he 
was called" was regarded as applying to soldiers, and that that is why we find 
Christian soliders in the earliest times. 1 But if the fact that a certain calling cannot yet 
be abolished because the world is imperfect is sufficient to justify a Christian in 
pursuing it, then it is difficult to see why the sale of intoxicants, and prostitution, and 
even highway robbery, should not be regarded as permissible Christian vocations. 1 It 
is probable that there were in the early Church those who argued as Bigelmair does, 
but the argument is none the less radically unsound, and furthermore unrepresentative 
of the normal Christian habit of mind, both in regard to behaviour in general — for the 
early Church was very sensitive as to the rightfulness of the callings pursued by her 
members — and in regard to the particular question we are considering. 

But apart from misinterpretations due to treating the silence or the laissez-faire 
attitude of the early Christians (which as we have seen arose largely from the 
immaturity of the problem and of the minds that had to solve it) as if it were the 
mature and deliberate judgment of men long familiar with the ins and outs of the 
question, we find even in the best modern authors a striking tendency to overestimate 
the degree of approval that was given by the Church to those of her members who 
took arms. Thus Bestmann, speaking of Origenes, says: "In regard to military service, 
his Church thought differently from her apologist."! Bethune-Baker: "The Christian 
society of the time found no cause of complaint in the fact of its members serving in 
the legions."3 Bigelmair: Tertullianus "may very well have stood quite alone in his 
circle, somewhat as the soldier, who lays aside the crown,. . . is the only one of his 
many comrades. "4 Harnack: "As for the rigorous party, they hardly made anything of 
their prohibitions. . . . But these rigorists effected no change whatever in the actual 
situation"5 : "these injunctions of the moralists were by no means followed in the 
third century."! Cunningham: "Military service was uncongenial to Christians, but 
was not regarded as in itself wrong. "2 All this fits in well enough with one set of 
facts, but is flagrantly out of keeping with another set. It underrates, in the first place, 
the immense compromises to which the Christian soldier was committed by his 
position. Apart from all question of contact with idolatry and special temptations to 
which his place in the army exposed him, he had not only to take the lives of his 
fellow-men in the indiscriminate conflicts of the battle-field and to scourge and 
torture prisoners in the judgment-courts, but he was not even allowed to use his own 
discretion as to whether this severe treatment was justified in any given 
circumstances: for his military oath obliged him to inflict it, not when he felt it was 
needed, but whenever his superior officer — usually a pagan, and possibly a cruel and 
unjust man as well — thought fit to order him to do so. It is impossible to believe that 
the early Church swallowed this enormous compromise as easily as these modern 
authors would have us believe. 



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That as a matter of actual historical fact the Church did not do so, there is abundant 
evidence to prove — evidence to which the statements just quoted give far too little 
weight. The view usually taken is that the Church as a whole sided from the first with 
the soldiers, and that the authors who took a different line were individual extremists, 
mere voices crying in the wilderness, to whom nobody paid much attention. The 
reverse of this would be nearer the truth. The Christian soldiers of the time of 
Tertullianus were evidently under the necessity of defending their position, and the 
way in which they seem to have done it does not enhance our respect for their clear- 
mindedness. No Christian author of our period undertook to show that Christians 
might be soldiers. The Church-Order of the third century forbade them to be so. 
Celsus, Tertullianus, Hippolutos, Origenes, Cyprianus, and Lactantius, all testify to 
the strength of the Christian objection to military service. If it is allowable to speak at 
all of a general position taken by the early Church in this matter, it will be that of the 
stricter rather than that of the laxer party to which we shall have to apply the term. 

It is generally thought that, with the accession of Constantinus to power, the Church 
as a whole definitely gave up her anti-militarist leanings, abandoned all her scruples, 
finally adopted the imperial point of view, and treated the ethical problem involved as 
a closed question.! Allowing for a little exaggeration, this is broadly speaking true. 
The sign of the cross of Jesus was now an imperial military emblem, bringing good 
fortune and victory. The supposed nails of the cross, which the Emperor's mother 
found and sent to him, were made into bridle-bits and a helmet, which he used in his 
military expeditions. 2 In 314 a.d. the Synod of Arelate (Aries) enacted a canon which, 
if it did not, as many suppose, threaten with excommunication Christian soldiers who 
insisted on quitting the army, at least left military service perfectly free and open to 
Christians.3 Athanasios, the 'father of orthodoxy,' declared that it was not only 
lawful, but praiseworthy, to kill enemies in warl ; Ambrosius of Milan spoke 
similarly, if less baldly! ; while Augustinus defended the same position with detailed 
arguments.3 In 416 a.d. non-Christians were forbidden to serve in the army.4 

Historians have not failed to notice, and in some cases to deplore, the immense 
compromise to which the Church was committed by her alliance with Constantinus. 
Thus Dean Milman says: "And so for the first time the meek and peaceful Jesus 
became a God of battle, and the cross, the holy sign of Christian redemption, a banner 
of bloody strife.l This irreconcilable incongruity between the symbol of universal 
peace and the horrors of war, in my judgment, is conclusive against the miraculous or 
supernatural character of the transaction," viz. Constantinus' vision of the cross 
before the battle of the Milvian Bridge. Milman adds in a footnote: "I was agreeably 
surprised to find that Mosheim concurred in these sentiments, for which I will readily 
encounter the charge of Quakerism." Then follows a quotation from Mosheim. The 
text above continues: "Yet the admission of Christianity, not merely as a controlling 
power, and the most effective auxiliary of civil government (an office not 
unbecoming its divine origin), but as the animating principle of barbarous warfare, 
argues at once the commanding influence which it had obtained over the human mind, 
as well as its degeneracy from its pure and spiritual origin."2 Lecky remarks: "When 
a cross was said to have appeared miraculously to Constantine, with an inscription 
announcing the victory of the Milvian bridge; when the same holy sign, adorned with 
the sacred monogram, was carried in the forefront of the Roman armies; when the 



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nails of the cross. . . were converted by the emperor into a helmet, and into bits for his 
war-horse, it was evident that a great change was passing over the once pacific spirit 
of the Church."3 Bigehnair observes: "It was a long way from the cross, at the foot of 
which Roman soldiers had once cast lots for the garment of the Jewish misleader of 
the people, to the cross which hovered at the head of the Roman legions as a military 
standard."! 

But while the greatness and importance of this historic decision are unquestionable, 
we must be careful not to imagine that the capitulation of the Church to the demands 
of the State was more complete or decisive than was actually the case. An important 
piece of evidence in this connection is the existence of the various Church-Orders. 
Without repeating all that has already been said in regard to them, it may be observed 
that 'The Testament of our Lord,' which forbids a soldier to be baptized unless he 
leaves the service, and forbids a Christian to become a soldier on pain of 
excommunication, was compiled in Syria or southeastern Asia Minor not earlier than 
the middle of the fourth century.2 The Egyptian Church-Order, which lays down the 
same ruling, with the modification that, if a soldier has been received into 
membership and is commanded to kill, he is not to do it, and if he does he is to be 
rejected, is usually thought to belong to the first half of the fourth century.3 The 
'Hippolytean Canons,' in their present form, introduce further relaxations, but are of 
very uncertain, probably still later, date. The Apostolic Constitutions, in which the old 
stringency is really abandoned, are not earlier than the last quarter of the fourth 
century. 4 The existence of these Church-Orders is conclusive proof that in large 
sections of the Christian community, the decision taken by official Christendom, as 
seen for instance in the Canons of the Synod of Arelate, was not accepted.! 
Testimony is borne to the same effect from several other quarters. 'The Disputation of 
Arkhelaos with Manes,' a composition belonging probably to the second quarter of 
the fourth century, opens with an episode, one feature of which is the rejection of the 
military belt by a large number of soldiers at Carchar in Mesopotamia, on being 
converted to Christianity through the generosity of a certain Marcellus, who ransomed 
a crowd of captives from them.2 Then we have the martyrdom of Theogenes in 
Phrygia, under Licinius, for refusing — in the manner of Maximilianus — to allow 
himself to be enrolled in the legions3 ; the sudden decision of the revered St. Martinus 
of Tours to leave the army the day before a battle (he met the taunt of cowardice by 
offering to stand unarmed in front of the ranks)4 ; the similar step taken later by his 
friend, St. Victricius, afterwards archbishop of Rouen5 ; the letter of St. Paulinus of 
Nola (about 400 a.d.), persuading a friend to do the same! ; the strictures passed by 
St. Gregorios of Nazianzus and by Khrusostomos (St. Chrysostom) on the military 
character! ; and lastly the opinion of St. Basilios the Great that those who had shed 
blood in war should abstain from communion for three years. 3 It would carry us 
beyond the scope of our subject to go further in this direction; but enough has been 
said to show that the decision to which the leaders and the majority of the Church 
were committed by the patronage of Constantinus was very far from winning the 
immediate and unanimous assent of Christendom. It is evident that in many quarters 
the settlement was accepted only gradually and with an uneasy conscience. 

It was in the nature of the case that this should be so. For the settlement was itself the 
result, not of any attempt to solve the ethical problem on its merits, but of a more or 



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less fortuitous combination of circumstances. During the period when the conditions 
of life in Empire and Church relieved all but a very few of the need of making a 
personal decision, with the result that the problem in its different bearings dawned on 
the Christian mind only fragmentarily and by slow degrees — during that period, I say, 
the simplemindedness of some, the worldliness of others, and the charitable 
tolerance — not necessarily the approval — of the rest, were already silently 
determining what the result was to be. The consequence was that when the triumph of 
Constantinus suddenly called upon the Church to come down definitely on one side of 
the fence or the other, she found that a free decision was no longer open to her. Her 
joy at the deliverance Constantinus had wrought for her was so great that it put her off 
her guard. She found herself compelled by the eagerness with which she had 
welcomed him, and by her own immaturity of thought and inconsistency of practice, 
to make his standards of righteousness in certain respects her own. Henceforth it was 
out of the question for her to insist on an ethical view and practice, on which her own 
mind was not completely made up, and which her great protector would inevitably 
regard as dangerous disloyalty to himself. Official Christianity was now committed to 
the sanction of war, so far as the practical conduct of Christian men as citizens was 
concerned, not only when they were convinced that the maintenance of righteousness 
demanded war — that in itself would have been a great and fundamental 
compromise — but in any cause, good, bad, or indifferent, for which the secular ruler 
might wish to fight. Further than that, the decision not only settled the practical 
question for the time being and doomed the dissentient voices, many and firm as they 
still were, to ultimate and ineffectual silence, but it tied up the freedom of Christian 
thought and made any unfettered discussion of the problem on its merits next to 
impossible for centuries to come. 

The testimony of the early Church in regard to the participation of Christians in war 
will naturally vary very considerably in the strength of the appeal it makes to different 
types of Christians to-day. In view of all that we have just seen of pre-Constantinian 
times and in view of the subsequent history of Europe, it is difficult to resist the 
impression that the Church took a false step when she abandoned her earlier and more 
rigorous principles. How far the discovery of that mistake imposes upon Christians in 
these times the duty of correcting it — how far even the possibility of correcting it is 
still open to them — are questions on which opinion will be sharply divided. It is quite 
true that the Christian Church stands in a very different position from that in which 
she stood in the first three centuries of our era. But the question is, Is there anything in 
that difference, is there anything in our modern conditions, which really invalidates 
the testimony against war as the early Christians bore it, and as Origenes defended it? 
Not, we may answer, the passing away of the eschatological outlook, for the great 
apologia of Origenes is as independent of that outlook as any modern Christian could 
wish — not the development of national life and sentiment, for Christianity lifts the 
disciple of Christ above racial divisions and interests just as truly now, as it did 
then — not laws making military service compulsory, for the laws of States can never 
make right for the Christian what according to the higher law of the Kingdom of God 
is wrong for him — not his obligations to society, for these obligations he already 
renders in overflowing measure by the power and influence of his life and prayers as a 
Christian — not the breaking forth of high-handed aggression and tyranny and outrage, 
for these things were continually breaking forth in those early times, and the Christian 



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now, as then, has his own appointed method of curing them, a method more radical 
and effectual than the use of arms and involving him in a full measure of suffering 
and self-sacrifice — not admiration for, or indebtedness to, fellow-citizens who have 
risked life and limb in the struggle for righteousness on the field of battle, for the right 
thing for a man to do has to be decided by reference to his own subjective conditions, 
and one can fully esteem and honour the relative good in a sub-christian course of 
conduct without being thereby bound to adopt it oneself — not our inability to discover 
at once the full meaning of Jesus' teaching for our complicated social and economic 
institutions, for such discovery is a lengthy process, in which one forward step at a 
time has to be taken, and unless the step is taken on each issue as it becomes clear, no 
further light is to be hoped for on the issues that are next to it in order of obscurity and 
complexity — not the unreadiness of the rest of the world to become Christian, for the 
Christian's work now as then is essentially one that has to be done by those who 
constitute only a portion, for the present a very small portion, of society — not the 
unreadiness of the rest of the Church to become pacific, for the individual Christian 
with a true message must never wait until the whole Church agrees with him before 
he lives up to it and declares it, otherwise all promise of spiritual progress within the 
Church is gone — not, finally, the offence and unpopularity which the message evokes 
or the vastness of the obstacles that lie in its path, for the best service Christians have 
ever done for the world has been done under the shadow of the world's frown and in 
the teeth of the world's opposition. Men of very varied opinions are in agreement to- 
day that the Church has failed: but the Church, unlike other religious bodies, 
possesses in the personal example and guidance of her Lord an ever ready corrective 
to bring her back from her aberrations. As Lecky (ii. 9) tells us: "Amid all the sins and 
failings, amid all the priestcraft and persecution and fanaticism that have defaced the 
Church, it has preserved, in the character and example of its Founder, an enduring 
principle of regeneration." We can in fact measure the value of all the great 
reformative movements of Christendom — Franciscan, Lutheran, Puritan, Methodist, 
and so on — by the extent to which they embodied attempts to bring human life and 
conduct into closer conformity to the spirit and teaching of Jesus; and conversely, we 
can measure the unworthiness and harmfulness of the Church's failures, for instance, 
the tone of her many controversies, and the great stain of persecution, by the extent to 
which they involved departure from the same spirit and teaching. Of those who accuse 
the Church of failure many will none the less still keep their faith in her and their 
hope for her; and of these again some will know clearly in which direction lies the 
way of amendment. It is for them to pass on to the world in its confusion and to the 
Church in her perplexity the knowledge that the true remedy for the most crying and 
scandalous evil of our time — an evil beneath which the whole human race is groaning 
and suffering — lies in a new and closer application to thought and life of the teaching 
of the Prince of Peace. 

"Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life." 

[1]I am sorry to see that Dr. P. T. Forsyth, in his Christian Ethic of War (1916), 
hardly touches (68) on the early Christians' views on the subject (see below, pp. 115, 
191), except in connection with the exegesis of the N.T. 



[2]See the last observation on p. xxxii. 



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[3]See pp. xix f, xxiv, 85 f, 104 f n I, 141 f, 154 ff. 

UQSee vol ii, pp. 38 f, 120 f, in Bury's edition (1897). 

[2]I have not succeeded in discovering the date of the first edition. 

[3] The third edition of Dymond's Essays was published in 1836, the eighth in 1886. 
The chapter on war has been published separately, first in 1823, then in 1889 with an 
introduction by John Bright, and again in 1915 with a Foreword by the Rt. Hon. 
Thomas Burt, M. P. 

[11pp. 61-64. 

[21pp. 282-289. A new edition appeared in 1907. 

[3]voli, pp. 81-87. 

[4] See vol ii, pp. 248 ff of the 1911 impression. 

[5]See pp. 88-92 (several quotations from Dymond). 

[61pp. 51 f 

[7]Brit. Quarterly Review, vol lxxiii (Jan and April, 1881), pp. 80-99. 

[8]See pp. 126-130, 313-317 of Backhouse and Tylor's third edition 1892). 

£JQSee the Appendix to Cunningham's book, pp. 249 ff, 251 n 3. 

[2]See, e.g., pp. 37, 115, 126-128, 182 ff, 197, 240 f 

[11pp. 189-210. 

[21pp. 164-201. 

[3]vol. ii, pp. 52-64 (ET). 

[i]pp. 516-534. 

[i]pp. 345 ff. 

[21pp. 25 ff. 

[3]e.g. pp. 40, 70, 111, 123 ff, 153. 

[4]pp. 31, 151, 161 f (second edition). 



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JTJSee pp. 14 f, 23-32. 1 might also mention a briefer pamphlet issued by the Peace 
Society, and the Rectorial Address delivered by Andrew Carnegie at the University of 
St. Andrews, entitled, A League of Peace (Boston, 1906, pp. 6 f) 

[JQNeumann 127 f; Harnack ME ii. 57 n i, MC 48f; Bigelmair 25, 175-177, De Jong 2 
f 

[2]See below, pp. 113; 235 f 

[UMtv. 21 ff, cf27f, 31-48. 

[2]Mtxix. 16-19 ?s. 

[3]Mt xv. 18-20; Mk vii. 20-23. 

[4]Numb xxxv. 27, of the avenger of blood slaying a murderer; ibid. 30, of the 
officers of justice doing so; 1 Kings xxi. 19, of Naboth's execution. 

[5]Herodot i. 21 1; Aiskhulos Theb 340: cf the Homeric use of . 

[6]Exod xvii. 13; Levit xxvi. 7; Numb xxi. 24; Deut xiii. 15, xx. 13; Josh x. 28, 30, 
32, 35; Isaxxi. 15. 

£1]B. -Baker parries the force of this argument by an appeal to the well4aiown 
distinction between letter and spirit. He says (ICW 1 1-13): "Thus it is that Christ 
never seems to wish so much to assert a new truth, or a new law, as to impress upon 
His hearers the spiritual significance of some old truth or law; to raise them altogether 
out of the sphere of petty detail into the life of all-embracing principles;. . . It is 
essential to our understanding of Christ's meaning to observe that He designs to give 
a spiritual turn, if we may say so, to the old specific law. . . So we cannot regard the 
extension which the law 'Thou shalt not kill' received from Jesus as a comprehensive 
denial of the right of man ever to deprive a fellow-creature — in the beautiful language 
of the sermon on the mount, a brother — of his earthly life." Arguing in this way, the 
author has no difficulty in proving that Christ "countenanced and sanctioned war" 
(15, 18). Something will be said later in regard to this antithesis between letter and 
spirit and the use here made of it (p. 23). 

[l]The Lucan parallel (vi. 27-36) adds to 'Love your enemies' the words: 'do good to 
them that hate you, bless them that curse you.' Its other additions and differences are 
unimportant, and on the whole it has perhaps less claim to originality than the 
Matthaean version. It is worth remarking that the word used for enemies (), besides 
being used for private and personal enemies, is also used in the Septuagint, the New 
Testament, and elsewhere, for national foes (Gen xiv. 20, xlix. 8, Exod xv. 6, Levit 
xxvi. 7, 8, 17, 1 Sam iv. 3, etc., etc.; Lk i. 71, 74, xix, 43 : also Orig Cels ii. 30, viii. 
69). 

[2]Thus C. E. Luthardt {History of Christian Ethics before the Reformation, ET p. 
187) criticizes Tertullianus' view that Christians ought not to wield the sword as 
soldiers or as magistrates as "the necessary consequence of the standpoint that makes 



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the words of Christ which refer to the internal attitude of the disposition directly into a 
law for the external orders of life." Cf Magee, in The Fortnightly Review, January 
1890, pp. 38 f B. -Baker's view to the same effect has already been quoted (see 
previous p, n I). The reader may judge for himself how far astray the latter author's 
method of dealing with the teaching of Jesus leads him, from the following statement, 
taken from the same context. (ICW 12): "The theory upon which the Inquisition acted, 
that physical sufferings are of no moment in comparison with the supreme importance 
of the spiritual welfare, is quite consonant with the tone of Christ's commands and 
teaching." The error here arises from the neglect of the vital distinction between the 
glory of enduring suffering and the guilt of inflicting it. 

£!]See Bishop Gore's article on The Social Doctrine of the Sermon on the Mount in 
The Economic Review for April 1892, p. 149 : "The vast danger is that we should 
avail ourselves of a popular misinterpretation of St. Paul's language, and observe 
these precepts, as we say, "in the spirit," — which is practically not at all in the actual 
details of life. . . . Therefore we must apply Christ's teaching in detail to the 
circumstances of our day." 

[2]See for example Bigelmair 165 : "The abolition of war and therewith the necessity 
of forming armies was indeed certainly one of those ideals which the Divine Master 
foreshadowed in the Sermon on the Mount and which will be reached some day in the 
fulness of time. But just as such an ideal appears to be still remote from our present 
day, so its fulfilment was unrealizable in the earliest times," etc. (see below, p. 253): 
cf also this author's treatment (100) of Jesus' prohibition of oaths : "The Divine 
Master had in the Sermon on the Mount. . . held out the abolition of all swearing as an 
ideal for humanity, an ideal which will first become attainable, when the other ideals 
of the Kingdom of God. . . , namely that unselfishness, of which the Saviour spoke in 
connection with the oath, shall have succeeded in getting carried out" (zur 
Durchfuhrung gelangt sein werden). 

[3]See, for instance, an article by Bishop Magee in The Fortnightly Review for 
January 1890 (pp. 33-46) on The State and the Sermon on the Mount. Dr. Charles 
Mercier {The Irrelevance of Christianity and War, in The Hibbert Journal, July 1918, 
pp. 555-563) frankly recognizes that Jesus' teaching of gentleness cannot be 
harmonized with war; but he cuts the Gordian knot by dividing ethics into the Moral 
realm and the Patriotic realm, penning up the words of Jesus within the former as 
applicable only to individuals within the same community, and therefore as not 
forbidding war, which belongs wholly to the latter! 

[l]Exod xxi. 23-25; there is some difficulty about the literary setting (see Driver's 
note on this passage in the Cambridge Bible), but the scope and purport of the 
enactment are clear. 

[2]Troeltsch (40) remarks, a propos of the teaching of Jesus about love : "Thus there 
exists for the children of God no law and no compulsion, no war and struggle, but 
only an untiring love and an overcoming of evil with good — demands, which the 
Sermon on the Mount interprets in extreme cases." 



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[l]This view of the third temptation (Mt iv. 8-10 = Lk iv. 5-8) is substantially that 
suggested by Seeley in Ecce Homo, ch. n. 

[2]Johnvi. 15. 

[3]Mk i. 14 f, vi. 14-29, etc., and parallels; Lk iii 19 f, xiii. 31 

[4]Lkxiii. 1-3. 

[5]The incident of Jesus' clearing the Temple-courts — often regarded as an exception 
to his usual policy of abstaining from violence — will be discussed later (see pp. 34 f). 

[6]Mt v. 5, 9. 

[HLkxix. 41 f (). 

[8]Mt vi. 12, 14 f; Mk xi. 25. The context shows that this type of forgiveness at all 
events is irrespective of the wrongdoer's repentance, though there may be another 
type which requires it (Lk xvii. 3/; cf Mt xviii. 15-17, 21-35). 

[JQMt xxvi. 51 f ?s; John xviii. 36. 

[2]Mt xxvi. 50?; John xviii. 22 f 

[3]Lk xxiii. 34. 

[4]Mk x. 42-45 ?s. 

[5]Mt xi. 27, xxiii. 10, xxviii. 18; John xiii. 13. 

[6]Mt v. 5, xvi. 19, xviii. 17 f, xxiv. 45-47, xxv. 21, 23; Lk xix. 17, 19. 

£ljJohnvii. 53-viii. 11 : cfMoffatt/iVr555 f 

[2]Levit xx. 10; Deut xxii. 22-24. 

[3]Mkvii. 8-13?. 

[4]Compare Jesus' announcement — perhaps literally meant — that he had been sent 
"to proclaim release to captives and restoration of sight to the blind, to set the 
oppressed at liberty" (Lk iv. 18), and his words in the Sermon on the Mount about 
judging others (Mt vii. 1 f; Lk vi. 37f : the Lucan version has a distinctly legal ring 
about it). His refusal to be a 'judge and divider' in a case of disputed inheritance (Lk 
xii. 13f) may have an indirect bearing on the subject. 

rjQMk xiii. 2, 7-9, 14-20?s; cf Lk xvii. 31-37. 

[2] On the theory that Mk xiii contains (7f, 14-20, 24-27) a 'little apocalypse,' dating 
from 60-70 a.d., see Moffatt INT '207-209. 



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[3]Mt xxvi. 51 ff : cf Lk xxii. 50f; John xviii. 10 f, 36 (Jesus says to Pilatus : "If my 
Kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, in order that I should not be 
handed over to the Jews : but now my Kingdom is not from thence"). 

[l]The question has been asked, how Peter came to be carrying a sword at all, if his 
Master discountenanced the use of weapons (J. M. Lloyd Thomas, The Immorality of 
Non-resistance, p. ix : E. A. Sonnenschein, in The Hibbert Journal, July 1915, pp. 
865f). The answer is that Peter may very well have failed to understand his Master's 
real meaning (particularly perhaps the 'two swords' saying — which we shall discuss 
presently), and, apprehending danger, may have put on a sword without Jesus noticing 
it. 

[2] Well may a present-day scholar, not himself a pacifist, say : "I think, then, it must 
in fairness be admitted that there is a real case for the plea of the conscientious 
objector that Jesus totally forbade war to his followers. ... I cannot shut my eyes to 
the possibility that Jesus Himself may have been a pacifist" (Dr. A. S. Peake, 
Prisoners of Hope, pp. 28, 30). 

UlMtv. 41 : 

[2]Mt xxvii. 32 ? (the soldiers 'impressed' Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross). 

See the article 'angaria' in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities : "The 
Roman angaria. . . included the maintenance and supply, not only of horses, but of 
ships and messengers, in forwarding both letters and burdens." The Lexicons give no 
hint that the word was used for impressing soldiers. 

[3]See Lk iii. 14 : "And men on service" (, who had received his baptism) "asked him, 
saying, 'And what are we to do?' and he said to them, 'Never extort money from 
anyone (), or falsely accuse anyone; and be content with your pay'." 

[l]Mt viii. 5-13 ?. Seeley (Ecce Homo, pref. to 5th edn, p. xvi), says of the centurion : 
"He represented himself as filling a place in a graduated scale, as commanding some 
and obeying others, and the proposed condescension of one whom he ranked so 
immeasurably above himself in that scale shocked him. This spirit of order, this 
hearty acceptance of a place in society, this proud submission which no more desires 
to rise above its place than it will consent to fall below it, was approved by Christ 
with unusual emphasis and warmth." This misses the point : the centurion's words 
about being under authority and having others under him expressed, not his humility 
or reverence for Jesus, who was not above him in military rank, but his belief in 
Jesus' power to work the cure by word of command; and it was this belief that Jesus 
approved so heartily. 

[JQMk xi. 15-17; Mt xxi. 12 f; Lk xix. 45 f; John ii. 13-17. 

[2]I mention this argument for what it is worth, though personally I incline to accept 
the historicity of the Fourth Gospel here, both as regards chronology and details. 

[3] John ii. 1 5 says : 



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[4]Mk i. 12. 

[5]Mk v. 40 ?. 

[6]Mt ix. 38 ?. 

[JQMt vii. 4 ?. 

[2]Mt xii. 35, xiii. 52. 

[3JLkx. 35. 

[4]John x. 4. 

[5]"It is the very point of the story, not that He, as by mere force, can drive so many 
men, but that so many are seen retiring before the moral power of one — a mysterious 
being, in whose face and form the indignant flush of innocence reveals a tremendous 
feeling they can nowise comprehend, much less are able to resist" (Horace Bushnell, 
Nature and the Supernatural, p. 219). 

[6]Mk xiii. 2, 7 f, 14-20 ?s; Mt xxiv. 28; Lk xvii. 22-37, xix. 41-44, cf xxiii. 28-31. 

[7]Mt xi. 23 f ?, xiii. 37-43, 49 f, xxi. 41 ?s, xxiii. 33-36; Lk xii. 54-xiii. 9, xix. 44b, 
xxi. 22. 

[JQMt xxii. 7. 

[2]Lk xix. 27. 

[3]Mt xviii. 34 f, 13, xxiv. 50 f ?, xxv. 30; cf Lk xviii 7 f 

[4]Lk xvii. 7-10 (Moffatt's trans). 

[5]Mk iii. 27 ?s. 

[l]For this view, cf 1 Sam xxiv. 12: "The Lord judge between me and thee, and the 
Lord avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee." 

[21Isa x. 5-19; Jer 1. 23, li. 20-26; Zech i. 15, etc. 

[3]Mt v. 44-48 ?, cf vii. 1 1. A similar distinction appears in Paul (Rom xii. 17-xiii. 7), 
which we shall have to discuss later. I cannot refrain from quoting here an interesting 
conversation that occurs in Dickens' Little Dorrit (Bk ii, ch. 31): "I have done," said 
Mrs. Clennam, "what it was given me to do. I have set myself against evil; not against 
good. I have been an instrument of severity against sin. Have not mere sinners like 
myself been commissioned to lay it low in all time?" "In all time?" repeated Little 
Dorrit. "Even if my own wrong had prevailed with me, and my own vengeance had 
moved me, could I have found no justification? None in the old days when the 
innocent perished with the guilty, a thousand to one? When the wrath of the hater of 



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the unrighteous was not slaked even in blood, and yet found favour?" "Oh, Mrs. 
Clennam, Mrs. Clennam," said Little Dorrit, "angry feelings and unforgiving deeds 
are no comfort and no guide to you and me. My life has been passed in this poor 
prison, and my teaching has been very defective; but let me implore you to remember 
later and better days. Be guided only by the healer of the sick, the raiser of the dead, 
the friend of all who were afflicted and forlorn, the patient Master who shed tears of 
compassion for our infirmities. We cannot but be right if we put all the rest away, and 
do everything in remembrance of Him. There is no vengeance and no infliction of 
suffering in His life, I am sure. There can be no confusion in following Him, and 
seeking for no other footsteps, I am certain." 

[ilLkxiv. 31-33. 

[2]Mtxi. 12;Lkxvi. 16. 

[3]Seeley, in the passage quoted above (p. 33 n 1), says: "As Christ habitually 
compared his Church to a state or kingdom, so there are traces that its analogy to an 
army was also present to his mind." Seeley has, as I have pointed out, misunderstood 
the words of Jesus and the centurion about each other; but Jesus' approval of the 
centurion's ascription to him of quasi-military power on the analogy of his (the 
centurion's) own power lends a little colour to the view which Seeley here expresses. 

[4]Mt xxii. 6f 

[5]Mtx. 34:cfLkxii. 51. 

rjQMt xxiv. 43?. 

[2]Lk xxii. 35-38. 

[3]One recent attempt may be referred to. B.W. Bacon distinguishes two sections in 
Jesus' Messianic programme; first, the gathering of the flock, when premature 
Zealotism was guarded against by non-resistance; secondly, when the flock would 
have to defend itself. Thus, Peter's sword is "returned to its sheath to await the 
predicted day of need" (Christus Militans, in The Hibbert Journal, July 1918, pp. 542, 
548, 550 f). But Peter had to sheathe his sword, because "all they that take the sword 
will perish by the sword, because" not simply because his act was badly timed: and 
beyond this precarious reading of the 'two-swords' passage, there is nothing in the 
Gospels to support the idea of a coming period of violent self-defence, and much that 
is highly inconsistent with it. 

[4]HarnackMC4f 

[l]See above, p. 30. 

[2]See above, pp. 26 f 

rjQMkxii. 17 ?s: 



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[4] John xix. 1 1 . 

[5]Mk ii. 25 f ?s, xii. 35-37 ?s; Mt xii. 42 ?. 

[6JMk vii. 8-13?. 

[7]Mt xxiii. 23 ?. 

[8]Mk xv. 43; Lk vii. 2-6 viii. 3, xiv. 1, xxiii. 50 f; John iii. 1, 10, iv. 46 ff, vii. 50-52, 
xii. 42, xix. 38 f. 

[9]Mt v. 17-19 ?, viii. 4 ?s, xxiii. 2, 23 fin; Lk xvii. 14. 

[10]Mt xvii. 24-27. 

[HlMtv. 41;cfxxvii. 32. 

[ilJohnvi. 15. 

[2]Mtx. 17 f, 28-33 ?s. 

[l]John indeed tells us (xii. 42) that 'many of the rulers believed on him' and (xix. 38) 
calls Joseph of Arimathaea, who we know was a councilor (Mk xv. 43), a disciple; but 
how much does this prove? These people were afraid to let their discipleship be 
publicly known, and the rulers 'loved the glory of men more than the glory of God' 
(xii. 43). We certainly cannot argue from silence that Jesus approved of any regular 
disciple of his pronouncing or executing judicial penalties or acting as a soldier. 

[2]B.-Baker/Cn3. 

[3] Quoted by Holtzmann, Neutestamentliche Theologies (1911), i. 229 f 

[4]Ibid. 

£l]The power of Christianity to extirpate crime was insisted on by Tolstoi in his novel 
Work while ye have the Light (ET published by Heinemann, 1890). 

[21pp. 176-185,202-225. 

[Up. 182. 

[41p. 181. 

[iiPP.217f. 

[2]I borrow these words from a private pamphlet by my friend Mr. J.A. Halliday, of 
Newcastle, and others. 

[11pp. 178 f, 202 f. 

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[2]p. 163 (italics mine). 

[3]See above, pp. 42 ff. 

[l]The reader is reminded that the dates of the early Christian authors and books 
quoted and events referred to are given in the chronological table at the beginning of 
the book, in order to avoid unnecessary explanations and repetitions in the text, and 
that with the same object full particulars of works quoted are given in another list, the 
references in the footnotes being mostly in an abbreviated form. 

[l]No purpose would be served by retailing to the reader passages in which war is 
cited simply as a calamity or as a mere historical incident, without any direct hint of 
moral blame or of divine visitation. 

[2]2 Cor vii. 5 ("wrangling all round me" — Moffatt); Jas iv. 1 f (even if the proposed 
substitution of (ye envy) for (ye kill) in verse 2 be rejected, and the latter given its 
literal meaning (so Mayor), the reference can hardly be to warfare as usually 
understood); 2 Tim ii. 23 f; Tit iii. 9. 

[ljCharles, The Ascension of Isaiah (vii. 9-12) p. 48, cf 74 (x. 29-31). 

[2]Arist8(104). 

[3]Arist 10 (106 and— Syriac— 43). 

[4]Just 2 Ap v. 4. When the martyr Karpos at Pergamum accused the devil of 
preparing wars (Karp 17), he was referring to the persecutions carried on against the 
Christians. 

[5]Tat 19 (849). 

[61Athenagite?19(1013). 

[7]Athenag Legat 35 (969). We shall discuss later the qualification 'even justly'. 

\Y[Acts of John 36 fin (ii. 169; Pick 148). 

[2]Clem Paed i xii. 99, II iv. 42. 

[3]Clem Quis Dives 34. 

[4]Ps-Just Orat 5 init. 

[5]Tert Pat 3 (i. 1254): itaque et gladii opera maledixit in posterum. 

[6]Tert Pat 7 (i. 1262). 

[TJTert. Marc iii. 14 (ii. 340), Jud 9 (ii. 621). 



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[l]Tert Cor 12 (ii. 94 f). In Pudic 10 (ii. 999), he groups soldiers with tax-gatherers as 
those to whom, besides the sons of Abraham, the Baptist preached repentance. 

[2]Hipp Dan III viii. 9. 

[3] Hipp Dan IV viii. 7, ix. 2. 

\4\ANCL xxiib. 101, 108. 

[5] Greg Thaum Paneg vi. 76 f. On the low idea entertained of the soldier's calling in 
the third century, and particularly by philosophers and Christians, see Harnack MC 69 
f 

[l]Cypr Donat 6, 10 f In Ep 73 (72) 4 he calls heretics pestes et gladii. 

[2]Commond Carm 585 f; cf Instr i. 34 (1.12), ii/ 3 (11. 12f).22 

[3]Greg Thaum Ep Can 5 (). 

[4]Didask IV vi. 4 (omni magistratu imperii Romani, qui in bellis maculati sunt). We 
are left uncertain as to whether all — or only some — magistrates are spurned as 
bloodstained: but probably the latter is meant. 

[5]Ps-Just Cohort 2 (Horn 1 1 xix. 224): Cf 17 (wars etc. represented by Homer as the 
result of a multiplicity of rulers). 

[6]Clem Horn ii. 44. 

[7]op cit iii. 24, cf 25 fin, 26. 

[8]op cit iii. 62; cf ix. 2f. 

[9}op citiii.29 

\\0]op cit iv. 20. 

\\X\Clem Recog ii. 24. 

[l]qp cit ii. 36. 

[2]op cit iv. 31. 

[3]op cit x. 41. 

[4]Method Symp v. 5. 

[5]op cit x. i, 4. 

[6]Arnob ii. 1 . 



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[Hid ii. 38. 

[8]idii. 45. 

[ljArnob iii. 26. Rhetorical allusions to this and other aspects of the wrongfulness of 
war occur in ii. 39, 76, iii. 28, v. 45, vi. 2. vii. p, 36, 51. 

[TjLact Inst I xviii. 8-10; cf 1 1-17. 

[2]Lact Inst ii vi. 3. 

[3]Lact Inst VI vi. 18-24. The words quoted are taken from 19 f, 22. For other 
passages dealing with the subject, see Inst I xix. 6, V v. 4, 12-14, vi. 6f, VI v. 15, xix. 
2f, 10, VII xv. 9ff 

rjQEusP^lOb-lla, 179ab. 

[21EusP£163b. 

[3_lEus/>£192c. 

[4]I have not attempted to quote or give references to the numerous allusions to 
murder in Christian literature. The attitude of condemnation is, as one might expect, 
uniform and unanimous. 

Archdeacon Cunningham's summary statements on the early Christian attitude to war 
are completely at variance with the facts we have just been surveying: thus, "there 
was not in primitive times any definite protest against this particular symptom in 
society of the evil disease in human hearts" {Christianity and Politics, 249); the first 
four centuries are taken as a single period under the heading "The acceptance of War 
as inevitable in an evil world" (249 f); "so far as we can rely on the argument from 
silence, Christians do not appear to have been repelled by bloodshed in war. Pliny 
does not complain of them, and there seem to be no special warnings in regard to un- 
christian conduct in connection with military service" (251) (italics mine: the 
argument from Plinius will be touched on later). 

[JQAc x. 36, 48. 

[2]Romxii. 18. 

[3]Heb xii. 14. 

[4]Mt v. 9. 

[5]Lk ii. 14: are the men generally, or Christians only, or Jews? 

[6]Lk i. 79; cf the reference to national enemies in vv. 71, 74. 

[711 Clem Ix. 4. 



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[ill Clem lxi. 1 f. 

[2]Ig E xiii. 2. 

[3]Eiren IV xxvii. i (ii. 240): the reference is apparently to Ps. lxxii. 7. 

[4]Just 1 ^ xii. 1 : . 

[5]Isaii. 3f;cfMiciv. 2 f . 

[l]Just 1 Ap xxxix. 1-3. 

£21Just Dia/ 109 f (728 f). 

[ljEiren IV xxxiv. 4 (ii. 271 f). Cf the use made by Eirenaios of Isa xi. 6-9 in 
Demonstr 61 (35). 

[2]Tert Jud 3 (ii. 604): the last words are in pacis obsequia eluxit. 

UJTert Marc iii. 21 (ii. 351). 

[2]Tert Marc iv. 1 (ii. 361). 

[3]Orig Cels v. 33. What exactly Origenes means by I do not know: anyhow, the 
reference to actual warfare is clear. 

[4]Ps-Cypr Jud 9; Adamant i. 10. 

[JQEus PE 10b- 11a, cf, 179ab. 

[2JAthenag Legat 1 (892), cf 37 fin (972). 

[3]Clem Paed i xii. 98 fin, II ii. 32, iv. 42. 

[4]Tert Apol 39 (i. 478). 

[5_lTert Cor 11 (ii. 92). 

[6]Hipp Dan III xxiv. 7. 

[71Ps-Mel 10 (ANCL xxiib. 121.) 

ULjANCL xxiib. 111. 

[2]Ps-JustC>r^5. 

[3]Commod Instr ii. 22. 

[4]Cypr Bon Pat 20: cf Clem Horn hi. 19, Recog ii. 27-3 1 . 

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[ljArnob i. 6 : the general prevalence of peace since the time of Christ is alluded to by 
Methodios (Symp x. i fin). 

[2]Routh iv. 6 (studere paci). 

[3]Lecky ii. 39. 

[Ill Th iii. 12. 

[211 Th v. 15. 

[3]Galvi. 10. 

[4]1 Cor v. 12 f The allusions in 2 Cor vi. 6 to 'longsuffering' and 'love unfeigned' 
refer to Paul's attitude to outsiders in his missionary work. 

[5]Rom xii. 17-21, xiii. 8-10. 1 postpone for the present all commen on the 
intervening passage on the State (Rom xiii. 1-7). 

[6]Phil iv. 5(). 

[ljPhilemon, passim. 

[2]Tim ii. 24 ff (but see above, p. 49). 

[3]Tit iii. 1 f 

[4]Jas iii. 9 f 

[5]Petii. 17. 

[6]Pet ii. 21, 23: the words are actually addressed to slaves, who (vv. 18-20) are 
exhorted to submit patiently to unjust treatment from their masters, but, as the next 
quotation shows, the words apply to all Christians. 

[JQ1 Pet iii. 8 f 

[211 Pet iii. 17 f 

[3}Did i. 2-4. 

[\}Did ii. 6 f: cf Barn xix. 3 ff. 

\ZlDid in. 2. 

[3]Barn xi. 8. Cf. also the allusions to meekness, for bearance, long suffering, etc., in I 
Clem xiii. I, xix. 3, xxx. I, 3. 

[l]Clem Quis Dives xiii. 1-15; Eus HE III xxiii. 6-19. 



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[UIg£x. 1-3. 

[2]Igriii.2. 

[3]I g riv.2. 

[41I gj Pi.2. 

[5]Pol ii. 2: on the duty of love, cf iii. 3, iv. 2, (xii. I). 

[6]Polxii. 3. 

JTlArist 15 (III), cf 17 (Syriac, 51). 

IMDiog v. II, 15. 

[ljHermMVIII 10. Hernias has many inculcations of gentleness, longsuffering, etc., 
etc. 

[2J2 Clem xiii. 3 f 

[3] Just 1 Apxiv. 3. 

[4]Just 1 Ap xv. 9. 

[l]Just 1 Ap xvi. 1-4. Similar professions are made by Justinus in Dial 96 (704), 133 
fin (785), ites 8 fin (1588). 

[2]Athenag Legal 1 (893). 

UQAthenag Legal 1 1 (912 f), cf 12 (913, 916). 

[2]Athenag Legal 34 fin (968). 

[3]P Scill 1 12. A little later, when persuaded by the proconsul to give up his 
Christianity, Speratus replies: Mala est persuasio homicidium facere, falsum 
testimonium dicere (114). I am not clear to what exactly the first clause alludes. 

[4]Theoph iii. 14. 

[5]Eiren IV xxxiv. 4 (ii. 271 f), quoted on pp. 61 f, and illustrating the direct bearing, 
according to the Christian view, of this teaching on the subject of war. 

[JQEiren III xviii. 5 f (ii. 99 f). 

[2]Eiren IV xiii. 3. (ii. 182). Another paraphrase of the teaching of the Sermon on the 
Mount in regard to returning good for evil occurs in Eiren II xxxii. 1 (i. 372). 

[3]Eiren Demonstr 96 (50). 

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[lL4cta ofApollonius 37 (Gebhardt 56; Conybeare 46). 

[2]Clem Strom II i. 2, xviii. 88, IV xiv. 95. 

[3]Clem Strom VII xi. 62. 

[4]Clem Strom VII xiv. 84 f. 

[5]Clem frag in Maximus Confessor, Serm 55 (Migne PG xci. 965). 

[l_]Tert^o/37(i. 463). 

[2]Tert^o/46(i. 512). 

[3]Tert Pat 8 (i. 1262 f), 10 (i. 1264) (absolute itaque praecipitur malum malo non 
rependendum). 

[4]Tert Cor 1 1 (ii. 92):. . . filius pacis, cui nee litigare conveniet. . . nee suarum ultor 
injuriarum. 

[5JANCL xxiib. 94. 

[l]Or possibly, 'take vengeance on' — . 

[2]Orig Cels ii. 30. 

[3]Orig Cels iii. 7. 

[l]Orig Cels vii. 26. Origenes refers in Cels ii. 10 to the incident of Peter's sword; in 
v. 63 he quotes the beatitudes about the meek and the peace-makers, etc., in order to 
demonstrate the gentleness of the Christian attitude to opponents and persecutors; in 
vii. 25 he proves from Lamentations that the command to turn the other check was not 
unknown to the O.T.; in viii. 35 he quotes Mt v. 44 f and gives a couple of 
illustrations from pagan history of kindness to enemies. 

[2]Cypr Test in. 22 f, 49, 106. 

[ilCyprDona/lO. 

\2\Cypr Demetr 17, 25. 

[3]Cypr Bon Pat 5. 

[4]Pont Vit Cypr 9. 

[5]Commod Instr ii. 22 (noli nocere). 

[6]Didask I ii. 2 f : cf I ii. 1 (on blessing those who curse) and V xiv. 22 (on praying 
for enemies). 

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[l]Didask II xlvi, 2; cf II vi. 1 (bishop not to be angry or contentious). 

[2] Clem Horn vii. lOf, xi. 20 fin, xv. 5. Arnobius (iv.36) also mentions the Christian 
custom of praying regularly for enemies. 

[3]Lact Inst V x. 10. 

[4]Lact Inst V xii. 4. 

[5]Lact Inst V xxii. 10. 

[6]Lact Inst VI x. 5. 

£]JLact Inst VI xviii. 10-13: cf also xi. 1 f (against injuring others generally), and 
xviii. 6 (about speaking the truth to one's enemy). 

[2]Lact Inst VI xx. 15-17. The martyr Pollio told his judge that the divine laws 
demanded pardon for enemies (Passio Pollionis 2, in Ruinart 435); the martyr 
Lucianus that they required Christians "to cultivate mildness, to be keen on peace, to 
embrace purity of heart, to guard patience" (Routh iv. 6). 

[3]Tert Cor 1 1 (ii. 92): Et vincula et carcerem et tormenta et supplicia administrabit, 
nee suorum ultor injuriarum? 

£!]Consider how little influence for good would have remained to Jesus and the 
Apostles over the Gerasene maniac, the prostitute, the adulteress, the extortionate tax- 
gatherer, the thief on the cross, Onesimos, and the young robber of Smyrna (see 
above, pp. 43, 69, 71 f), if they had tried to combine with the spiritual means of 
regeneration any form of physical coercion or penalty. 

[l]It may be mentioned in passing that we are here dealing solely with the behaviour 
of Christians towards adult and responsible human beings. God's treatment of man, 
and man's treatment of his children, are, in some important respects, different 
problems. 

[2] What else can the Golden Rule mean here but that the Christian must defend his 
neighbour, not as his neighbour wishes, but as he himself — the Christian — wishes to 
be protected, viz. without violence? 

£l]Mk vi. 27 f 

[2]Mk xv. 16-20, 24; Mt xxvii. 27 ff; Lk xxiii. 1 1, 36 f; John xix. 2, 32 ff The 
soldiers of Antipas, as well as the Roman soldiers, were implicated. 

[3] Ac xii. 2: this is surely implied when it is said that Herodes slew him with a sword. 

[4]Acxii. 6, 18 f 

[5]Ac xxvii. 42, xxviii. 16, etc. Cf xvi. 23 f. 



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[l]There is no need here to discuss in greater detail the legal aspect of persecution or 
to give a sketch of the different outbreaks. The reader will find the former excellently 
dealt with in E. G. Hardy's Christianity and the Roman Government (London, 1894), 
and the latter in any good Church History. 

[2]Ig R. v. 1. Gibbon, writing in 1776, said of the imperial Roman armies: "The 
common soldiers, like the mercenary troops of modern Europe, were drawn from the 
meanest, and very frequently from the most profligate, of mankind" (Gibbon, Decline 
and Fall, i. 9 f, ed. Bury). Harnack says: "The conduct of the soldiers during peace 
(their extortion, their license, their police duties) was as opposed to Christian ethics as 
their wild debauchery and sports {e.g. "the Mimus") at the Pagan festivals" {ME ii. 
52). Marcus Aurelius {Medit x 10) called successful soldiers robbers; but he was a 
soldier himself, and was obliged to fill his ranks with gladiators, slaves, and 
Dalmation brigands {Capitolinus, Hist. Aug. Life ofM. Antoninus Philosophus xxi. 6 
f). 

[3]M Pol vii. 1 mentions xviii. I burns the body. 

\4\Karp 40. 

[5}MLugd in Eus HEYi.ll ff 

[JQClem Strom VI xviii. 167; Orig Cels i. 3. 

[2]Tert Apol 7 (i. 308): Tot hostes ejus quot extranei, et quidem proprii ex 
aemulatione Judaei, ex concussione milites, ex natura ipsi etiam domestici nostri. 

[3] Thus Tertullianus warns those who wished to buy themselves off: neque enim 
statim et a populo eris tutus, is officia militaria redemeris (Tert Fug 14 (ii. 119). 

[4]TertFwg 12-14 (ii. 110-120). 

\S\Acts of Thomas 168 (iii. 282; Pick 360). 

[6]MPionii xxi. 2. 

[TJDion Alex in Eus HE VII xi. 22, VI xi. 2, 4. 

[8]Pont Vit Cypr 15, 18. Similarly in the Passio Montani et Lucii iii. 1, iv. 2, vi. 3, xi. 
2, xxi. 9 (Gebhardt 146 ff). 

[IJPassio Mariani etJacobi ii 2, 4, iv. 3, vi. I (Gebhardt I35ff). 

[2]Passio Fructuosil (Ruinart 264). 

[3]See the facts reported by Eusebios in HE VII xv. and VIII xv. and VIII iv., and cf 
below, pp. 151 ff. 

[4]Lact Mort Pers xii. 



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[5]Eus HE VIII x. 3 ff, Mart iv. 8-13, vii. 2, ix. 7: cfPassio Tarachi, etc. 2 (Ruinart 
454). It is fairly safe to assume that the infliction of torture referred to in other 
passages (Eus HE VIII iii. 1, v. 2, vi. 2-4 6, viii, ix., etc., etc.) was carried out by 
soldiers, even though they are not explicitly mentioned. 

[JQEus HE VIII iii. 3 f, Mart ix. 2, xi. 6, HE IX ix. 20. 

[2]Eus HE VIII xi. 1 : cf Lact Inst V xi. 10. 

[3]I suppose this is the meaning of speculatoribus condemnationis. 

[4]Didask IV vi. 4 (see above, p. 53 n 4). 

[5]Lact Mort Pers vii. 2 ff. 

[6]op czYxxvi. 3. 

[7]op cit xxvii. 5 ff. 

[8]op cit xxxvii. 5 f 

[9]Eus HE VIII xiv. 11. 

[10]Eus /ffi VIII xiv. 3. 

[iiSuch is the conclusion of Harnack, who is not likely to be suspected of 
exaggerating the evidence in its favour. See his ME ii. 52 ("The position of a soldier 
would seem to be still more incompatible with Christianity than the higher offices of 
state, for Christianity prohibited on principle both war and bloodshed"), MC 1 1 ("We 
shall see that the Christian ethic forbade war absolutely (uberhaupt) to the 
Christians"), 47 f ("Had not Jesus forbidden all revenge, even all retaliation for 
wrong, and taught complete gentleness and patience? and was not the military calling 
moreover contemptible on account of its extortions, acts of violence, and police- 
service? Certainly: and from that it followed without question, that a Christian might 
not of his free will become a soldier. It was not however difficult to keep to this rule, 
and certainly the oldest Christians observed it"). 

[2]Ac. x. 1 ff, 7 ff, 47 f, xvi. 27-34. 

[3]Ac xiii. 12. 

[l]Cf. Knowling's note on Ac xiii. 12 in The Expositor's Greek Testament; McGiffert, 
Apostolic Age, 175; Bartlet, Apostolic Age, 68 n 2. Bigelmair (125) believes in his full 
conversion. 

[2]Phil i. 13: . 

[3]See Purves in HDB iv. 33. 



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[4JEus#£IIIv. 3. 

[ljHortzmann, Neutestamentliche Theologie (1911) i. 147. 

[2]B.-Baker 1CW21; Cunningham 251 (quoted above, p. 58 n). 

UQConybeare 118. 

[2]Harnack (C i. 317 n 3) says that Conybeare has not convinced him that the 
Armenian text of these acts contains a genuine ancient document. The acts were 
rejected even by the Bollandists. 

\3\DCA ii. 2028b (Art. War). 

[l]On the evidence of the inscriptions for Christians in military service, cf DCA ii. 
2028 f, Brace, Gesta Christi, 91, HarnackMC 121 n, Bigelmair 182 f 

[2]Ruinart 71 (ET in ANCL ixb. 192-194): Symphorosa says to Hadrianus, Vir meus 
Getulius, cum fratre suo Amantio, tribuni tui cum essent, pro Christi nomine passi 
sunt diversa supplicia, ne idolis consentirent ad immolandum. . . . Elegerunt enim 
magis decollari quam vinci, etc. 

[3]Lightfoot^F 11 i. 503-505. 

[ljJust 1 Ap xiv. 3: "We who were formerly slayers of one another, not only do not 
make war upon our enemies, but," etc. (see above, p. 61). 

[2]JustZ)m/110(729). 

[3]Quoted in DCA ii. 2028a. 

£1]B.-Baker/Cr21. 

[2] Just 1 Ap xii. 1 (see above, p. 60 n 4). 

[3]See above, p. 50. 

[4]Tat 1 1 (829). Harnack (ME ii. 55 n 5) understands the word translated 'military 
command' () to indicate the praetor-ship, i.e. a magisterial office. But Tatianus has 
already dealt with magistracy in his first clause (); and in a list of this sort some 
reference to military life is almost desiderated. 

[ljAthenag Legat 35 (969). Hefele (quoted above) does not regard this as 
disapproving of the warrior's profession: but Bigelmair (166) recognizes that it is at 
least possible that Athenagoras had war in mind. 

[2]Orig Cels viii. 73, 68: cf 74, 75 (see below, pp. 131 ft). 



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[3}Harnack ME ii. 57 n 1. Guignebert (190 f) imagines that Celsus is attacking the 
doctrines of the Christians rather than the "applications pratiques qu'ils en peuvent 
deja faire." Professor B. -Baker (ICW 21 ff) ignores the evidence of Celsus for the 
latter part of the second century: he does not mention his date, but treats him along 
with Origenes, as if they were contemporaries (ib. 27: cf 29: "By this time, therefore," 
(i.e. the time of Origenes' reply, 248 a.d.) "many Christians shrank from military 
service"). 

[ilHarnack MC 51. 

[2]CfHarnackMC46f 

fJLJPs-Just Orat 5. 

[2]Eiren IV xxxiv. 4 (ii. 271 f), quoted above, pp. 61 f. 

[3]Clem Strom IV viii. 61. 

[l]Tert Apol 37 (i. 463). The Latin runs: Cui bello non idonei, non prompti fuissemus, 
etiam impares copiis, qui tarn libenter trucidamur, si non apud istam disciplinam 
magis occidi liceret quam occidere? The meaning is sufficiently clear, viz. that the 
Christians, though few, were so careless of death that they would fight their pagan 
enemies, were it not for their rule that it is better to be killed than to kill. Professor B.- 
Baker, however, translates (ICW "23): "Tell me a war for which we have not been 
useful and ready, even when inferior in numbers; ready to be cut down, as none would 
be whose tenets were not that it is more lawful to be killed than to kill," and quotes it 
as showing that "the chief thing by which they" (i.e. Christians in the Army) "were 
distinguished from their Pagan comrades — so far as concerned their action in the 
field — was their greater readiness to encounter death, in proportion as they had 
received a more excellent hope for the future" (italics mine). This surprising 
misinterpretation of Tertullianus has been followed by Cunningham (251 f). 

[2]Tert Apol 21 (i. 403): Sed et Caesares credidissent super Christo, si aut Caesares 
non essent saeculo necessarii, aut si et Christiani potuissent esse Caesares. Further 
reference will have to be made later to this important passage. 

[ljLatin: neque judicet de capite alicujus vel pudore. 

[2]neque damnet neque praedamnet. 

[3]Tert/Jo/17(i. 687). 

[4]de militia, quae inter dignitatem et potestatem est. 

£l]The allusions are to various items in the Roman soldier's equipment. 

[2]TextWo/19(i. 690 f). 

[3] Text Jud 3 (ii 604): see above, p. 62. 

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[JQTert Marc iii. 14 (ii. 340), cf Jud 9 (ii. 621). 

[2]Tert Marc iii. 21 (ii. 351). 

[3]Tert Pall 5 (ii. 1047): caussas non elatro, non judico, non milito, secessi de populo, 
etc. 

[l]An allusion to 1 Cor. viii. 10 

[l]dum tamen, suscepta fide atque signata, aut deserendum statim sit, ut a multis 
actum, aut omnibus modis cavillandum, ne quid adversus Deum committatur, quae 
nee extra militiam permittuntur, aut novissime perpetiendum pro Deo, quod aeque 
fides pagana condixit. The phrase 'quae nee extra militiam permittuntur' is difficult to 
construe; but by retaining this reading instead of the suggested 'ex militia' (so 
Rigaltion and Migne), one does not get rid of the proposal to desert, as the Translator 
in ANCL xi. 348 n seems to imagine. 

UJTert Cor II (ii. 91-93). 

[2]Tert Cor 12 (ii. 94 f). 

[3] It will be seen (p. 108) that he asks the question "whether a believer may turn to 
military service," which almost certainly implies that some believers had already done 
so. Similarly in De Corona (211 a.d.) (see p. Ill) he speaks of 'transferring one's 
name from the camp of light to the camp of darkness,' and mentions those converted 
when they were already soldiers as a special class, thus making it evident that there 
were others who had enlisted after conversion. 

£l]HarnackMC67. 

[!lB.-Baker/CW25. Italics mine. 

^^Christianity and Politics, 253. What is, I think, the one solitary allusion to the early 
Christian attitude to war in Dr. Forsyth's Christian Ethic of War contains a serious 
over-statement, if not a positive in accuracy. He says (68 f): "The demand from 
Christian soldiers of the military oath. . . was objected to less on the grounds of the 
Sermon on the Mount than because it involved a confession of the Emperor's deity 
inconsistent with the place of Christ in His Gospel." 

[3]Gass, Geschichte der christlichen Ethik, i. 93. 

[4]Trocltsch III n 56. 

[5]The remarks of Ramsay (The Church in the Roman Empire, pp. 435 f) on the 
subject imply that fear of participating in heathen rites was the one ground for the 
early Christian refusal of military service. Cf also Milman, History of Christianity, ii. 
142. 

[6]Tert Apol 1, 37, Nat i. 1, (see below, p. 234). 



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[USo Harnack MC59f: cf B. -Baker /OF 23; Guignebert 192; Bigelmair 180; De Jong 
9ff. 

[2]Scullard212. 

[JQSee above, pp. 60, 103. 

{2]Tert4po/33(i. 448). 

[3]Tert Pall 5 (ii. 1047 f). 

£l]HarnackMC67. 

[2]See p. 1 12 n. 1. Harnack (MC 66) waters down Tertullianus' 'multis, into vielleicht 
viele'. 

[ljProfessor B. -Baker's treatment of this point (ICW 22-26) is peculiarly conflicting 
and difficult to follow. He knows the date of 'De Idololatria,' and quotes what is said 
in it about Christ disarming every soldier, and so on: yet he makes much of the 
distinction between "Tertullian (a) Catholic" and "(b) Montanist," quotes the former 
as testifying to the presence of Christians in the army, adding that "in the opinion of 
Tertullian this redounded to their credit," speaks of "Tertullian' s change of mind," 
points out how his Montanism is revealed in his later writings, and concludes that "the 
opinions recorded in them must be proportionately discounted." Some remarks have 
already been offered (pp. 115 f) on the real bearing to Tertullianus' boasts in Apol 37 
and Nat i. 1 . They cannot be taken as showing that in his Catholic period he approved 
of Christians acting as soldiers. 

[2]Ramsay (The Church in the Roman Empire, pp. 435 f) speaks as if it was only a 
few individuals here and there who objected to Christians serving as soldiers. 

[ljAchelis, in Texte und Untersuchungen VI 4 (38-137) gives a Latin version of the 
Canones Hippolyti, and argues for the authorship, in the main, of Hippolutos. Riedel, 
in Die Kirchenrechtsquellen des Patriarchats Alexandrien (Leipzig, 1900) (193-230), 
gives a German version based on better MSS than those used by Achelis. 

[2]See Kriiger 360; Maclean 160 f: Dom R.H. Conolly in Texts and Studies VIII 4 
(1916). The text is given in the last-named work, pp. 175-194, and also by Funk in 
Didascalia et Constitutiones Apostolorum (Paderborn, 1905) ii. 97—119. 

[ljCooper and Maclean 41; Maclean 166. 

[2]The subject is more fully dealt with by the authors already quoted; cf also Kruger 
341 f; Harnack C ii. 501-517; Funk op cit ii. xix-xx viii; Bardenhewer, Patrologie, 
219, 353-357; Maclean 156 ff 

[ljProfessor B. Baker is undoubtedly mistaken in treating the Christian objection to 
war on the ground of bloodshed as a comparatively new development belonging to 
"the last forty years of the third century, when the practical life and example of Christ 



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and the Apostles was receding far into the background," etc. (ICW31; cf 29: "By this 
time, therefore," (i.e. 249 a.d.), "many Christians shrank from military service"). 
Archdeacon Cunningham (253) follows Professor B. Baker in this error: "there seems 
to have been an increasing aversion to military service on the part of Christians in the 
third century." The evidence of Celsus (see p. 104) shows that the Christians as a 
general rule refused service at least as early as 180 a.d. 

[2]Apostolic Constitutions VIII xxxii. 10. 

[ljCooper and Maclean 41-45. 

[l]Grouts goes so far as to argue from the absence of regulations. He contends that 
"nothing more can be gathered from those sayings (of the Fathers) than the private 
opinion of certain people, not the public (Opinion) of the Churches," and says: "But 
setting aside private authorities, let us come to the public (authority) of the Church, 
which ought to be of the greatest weight (with us). I say therefore that those who 
served as soldiers were never rejected from baptism or excommunicated by the 
Church, which nevertheless ought to have been done and would have been done, if 
military service conflicted with the conditions of the new faith" (Grotius, De Jure 
Belli ac Pacis, I ii. ix, 2 and x, 2). Cf Ramsay, Cities and Bishoprics ofPhrygia, ii. 
718 ("The Church as a whole never sanctioned this prohibition, or called on its 
converts to abandon the ranks or on its adherents to refuse to enter them"). 

[2]Bigelmair 133, 171-173. 

£l]HarnackMC72f 

[2]Cooper and Maclean 209: "The Church-Orders lean to the stricter view. But we 
cannot therefore ascribe them to sectarian bodies, who kept themselves all of from 
ordinary Christian life"; etc. 

[3]Minuc xxx. 6, xxxi. 6. 

[l]Or possibly 'take vengeance on' — 

[2]Orig Cels ii. 30. 

[UOrig Cels iii. 7. 

[2]Orig Cels v. 33 (see above, p. 63 n 3). 

[UOrig Cels vii. 26. 

£l]Orig Cels viii. 65. This is the only passage I have noticed in which Origenes 
alludes to idolatry as a bar to state-service. Bigelmair (136) recognizes that the risk of 
idolatrous contamination was not brought prominently forward by Origenes. 

[UOrig Cels viii. 68. 



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[2]Orig Cels viii. 69. He goes on to explain that God had not always fought for the 
Hebrews, because they had not always fulfilled the conditions of receiving such help 
by observing His law. 

[3]Orig Cels viii. 70. On the strength of this thought of the protective providence of 
God, he says that the Christians look forward calmly to the possible recrudescence of 
persecution. 

[l]Orig Cels viii. 71. Harnack {ME i. 264 n) says: "I do not understand, any more than 
Origen did, the political twaddle which Celsus (lxxi) professes to have heard from a 
Christian. It can hardly have come from a Christian, and it is impossible nowadays to 
ascertain what underlay it. I therefore pass it by." 

UlOrig Cels viii. 72. 

lUOrigCe/^viii. 73. 

UQOrig Cels viii. 74. 

lUOrigCe/^viii. 75. 

[2]Orig Cels viii. 73 (p. 135). 

[3]Orig Cels iii. 7, vii. 26 (p. 130). 

[4]Orig Cels ii. 30 (see below, p. 207). 

[5]Orig Cels iv. 82. In the following chapter he rebukes Celsus for his attempt to 
depreciate the political institutions and defensive wars of men (see below, p. 207). 

[6]The question is more fully discussed below, pp. 21 1 ff 

[l]Grotius, DeJure, etc., I ii. ix, 2. 

[2]Wm Smith's edition of the Decline and Fall, ii. 189. 

[3]B.-Baker/C^30. 

\Y\Christianity and Politics, p. 252. 

[2]Guignebert p. 196: a note refers to Orig Cels iv. 82 f. 

[3]Bigelmair 180f The same view is suggested by Schmidt (284). 

[4]Barbeyrac {Morale des Peres, p. 104 fn) recognizes that Origenes does not 
contradict himself in this matter. 

[5]Orig. Cels viii. 73, 75 (see pp. 135 f). 



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[ljNeumann (241) is surely mistaken in supposing that Origenes' reference to soldiers 
as opponents of Christianity implies the presence of Christians in the army. 

[2]De Jong 1 5 : "Considering that Origenes is here defending, not only his own 
opinion, but Christendom in general, we must assume that also in his time. . . the great 
majority of Christians was opposed to military service, and that principally out of 
aversion to bloodshed, and that only a small number took part in it — a conclusion to 
which in fact the archaeological data, negative on this point, also lead us." 

[l]Gwatkin, Early Church History, i. 191 (cf 236). 

[2]Above,p. 115. 

UQOrig. Cels viii. 73 f (pp. 134-136). 

[l]Gwatkin, I.e. 

[ljLecky ii. 39 ("The opinions of the Christians of the first three centuries were 
usually formed without any regard to the necessities of civil or political life"); 
HarnackMis i. 263 f ("How extravagant (hochfliegend) are his ideas!" Yet Harnack 
recognizes Origenes as "a great and sensible statesman" — "ein grosser und 
einsichtiger Politiker"); Troeltsch 123 f ("With such presuppositions [as those of 
Origenes] every venture in regard to social possibilities (and) every idea of the 
Christian criticism of society having to be also an organic reformation of it, were out 
of the question. God would take care that society held together. The cutting-off of the 
forbidden callings suffices; the rest will remain standing. . . . Elsewhere there are not 
wanting compromises and compositions which recognize the necessity of these 
callings for the social system, and therefore enjoin here too continuance in the 
calling"). 

[2]See above, pp. 133 f 

[ilOrig Cels viii. 68 fin, 72 (see pp. 132-134). 

[2]Orig Cels i. 53, viii. 4, 68. 

[3] As furnishing a modern instance of the soundness of this plea, I transcribe the 
following passage from W. T. Stead's Progress of the World in the Review of Reviews 
for August 1890 (p. 104): "The enthusiastic Americans who constituted the driving 
force of the Universal Peace Congress which met at Westminster in July, were 
provided with a very striking illustration of the fashion in which the practical 
impunity with which the individual can kill has told for peace in the Far West. For 
years the Modoc Indians, thanks to their occupancy of the lava beds, a natural 
stronghold where a handful of men could hold an army at bay, defied the utmost 
efforts of the United States army. The Modocs, although only a few hundred strong, 
baffled all the efforts to subdue them. The war cost millions. Only twelve Modocs 
were killed, but General Canby was slain and 160 of his men. After all, the war 
seemed no nearer an end than it was at the beginning. In their despair the Americans 
abandoned the bullet and took to the Bible. Then, according to Mr. Wood, the 



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Secretary of the American Christian and Arbitration Society, in the providence of God 
one little Quaker woman, '"believing in the Lord Jesus Christ's power, and in non- 
resistent principles, has converted the whole Modoc tribe to non-resistent Quakers, 
and they are now most harmless, self-supporting farmers and preachers of the Gospel 
of Christ'." The story of the transformation effected in the relations between the 
Redskins and the United States Government by substituting Christian for military 
principles is one of the strangest of the true stories of our day. It is not surprising that 
the men who have found the Gospel a talisman for civilising a Modoc and an Apache 
should cross the Atlantic full of faith that it would be equally efficacious in staying 
the blood- feud of the Germans and the French. 

[ljNeumann 240; cf Bigelmair 177. 

£l]Cypr Demetr 3 (decrescit ac deficit in aruis agricola, in mari nauta, miles in 
castris), 17 (deminutione castrorum). 

[2] Referring to a certain Celerinus, who had suffered in the persecution of Decius 
(250 a.d.), he says (Ep 39 (33) 3): "His paternal and maternal uncles, Laurentinus and 
Egnatius, themselves at one time serving as soldiers in the secular camp, but (being) 
true and spiritual soldiers of God, in overthrowing the devil by the confession of 
Christ, earned by their famous passion the Lord's palms and crowns." We shall have 
to refer to this passage later; but here we may note that it is at least possible that 
Laurentinus and Egnatius suffered because they wished to leave the service on the 
ground either of idolatry or bloodshed or both. We shall meet several similar instances 
later on. 

UQCypr Donat 6. 

[2jCypr Hab Virgil. 

[3]Cypr Bon Pat U. 

[4]Ruinart 342. 

[ljPlotinos, Ennead III ii. 8 (Teubner i. 237). I owe this reference to De Jong (16). 

[ljRuinart (341), to whom we are indebted for an edition of the Acta Sancti 
Maximiliani Martyris, tells us that this last question and answer are absent 'in editis,' 
the reason for the omission apparently being that the words contradict the traditional 
Roman Catholic view of war. Ruinart inserts the words, but suggests that they mean 
that Maximilianus "did not reject military service as if it were evil in itself, but on 
account of the opportunities of sinning which soldiers often meet with." This is 
clearly insufficient to account for the language used; and the Roman Catholics remain 
faced with the awkward fact that one of the canonized saints of the Church died as a 
conscientious objector! It is significant that Bigelmair, throughout his full treatment of 
the Christian attitude to military service, makes no mention of Maximilianus at all. He 
is certainly an awkward martyr for a Romanist to deal with, but doubly so for one 
who is both a Romanist and a German. 



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[2 ] Maximilianus ' father, Fabius Victor, is somewhat of an enigma: though he refused 
at Dion's bidding to persuade his son to give way and rejoiced over the latter's 
witness, yet as 'temonarius' (? = person responsible for finding a recruit) he had 
himself presented Maximilianus before the proconsul, and had got him a new coat in 
anticipation of his enlistment. The exact situation is a little obscure: but I do not know 
what grounds Harnack (MC 85) has for assuming that Fabius Victor was himself a 
soldier and remained so after his son's death. The 'temonarius,' as far as I can 
discover, was not necessarily a soldier: De Jong (19 f) discusses the meaning of the 
word at length. 

[3] The genuineness of the Acta Maximiliani is generally admitted (Gibbon, ch xvi, 
note 146 (ii. 120, ed. Bury); Harnack C ii. 473, MC 84 n 2). Harnack reprints them 
(MC 114 ff) from Ruinart. 

[l]These are Guignebert's suggestions (199). 

[2]Gibbon, ch xvi (ii. 120 f, ed. Bury); Lecky i. 460; Gwatkin, Early Church History, 
ii. 328 f. 

[3]See p. 147, n 2. It is also just possible that the martyrs to whom he says (Laps 2): 
"(Your) forehead, pure with God's sign, could not bear the devil's crown, (but) kept 
itself for the Lord's crown," were soldiers who had refused some pagan rite (so 
apparently B. -Baker ICW3Y); but more probably the phrase is simply metaphorical. 

£i]Eus HE VII xv. Cf the remarks of Harnack ME ii. 58 f, MC 78 ft. 

[2] Ruinart 344 (Projeci. Non enim decebat Christianum hominem molestiis 
saecularibus militare, qui Christo Domino militat); cf 345 (cum Marcellus. . . 
proclamaret, summa auctoritate constantiae molestiis saecularibus militare non posse). 

£!]See the Passio S. Cassiani in Ruinart 345. 

[2]Anal Bolland ix. 116 ff. The historical reliability of the story is very doubtful; cf 
Harnack C ii. 481 f, MC 83 n 4. 

[3]Eus Mart xi. 20-22. 

[4]Acta Tarachi, etc., in Ruinart 452. 

£l]See Achelis in Texte und Untersuchungen XI 2 (esp. pp. 44 f), for a full study of 
the fictitious Acta of these martyrs, as well as of the historic groundwork. Harnack 
(MC 83) says: "The Acts of Nereus and Achilleus. . . are to be left on one side" — but 
the same need not be said of Damasus' epitaph. 

[1]I omit the words "eique fit iudicium," which follow here in Funk's Latin version: 
they are out of keeping with the context, do not appear in the parallel Greek of the 
Apostolic Constitutions, and are clearly a gloss. 

[2]Didask II xlv. I, xlvi. I. 



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[3JEus#£ Villi. 2. 

UQEus HE VIII ix. 7. 

\2\Can 1Mb 56. The duumvir in a provincial town was roughly what the consul was at 
Rome, viz. the chief magistrate. The same Synod penalized Christians who acted as 
'informers' {Can 1Mb 73). 

[3]Hefelel61. 

£1]A. W. W. Dale, The Synod of Elvira, 234 f The Synod of Arelate (Aries, 314 a.d.) 
provided that Christian magistrates, who "begin to act contrary to the discipline, then 
at last should be excluded from communion; and similarly with those who wish to 
take up political life" {Can Arel 7). 

[2]Cf Cypr Laps 6 for an early expression of this sentiment. 

[ljArnob i. 6: see above, pp. 65 f 

[2jLact /wrt II ix. 23. 

[3]Lact Inst V viii. 6. 

[4]Lact Inst V ix. 2. 

UQLact Inst V x. 10. 

[2]Lact Inst V xvii. 12 f The gaps in my quotation deal with the parallel case of the 
just man who in a wreck will not take a plank from a drowning companion. Lactantius 
absurdly argues that the just man will never need to take a voyage, being content with 
what he has. Though in this point he allows his rhetoric to get the better of his 
common sense, it does not follow that his argument on the other point, ill-adapted as 
it was to the immediate purpose in hand, was equally frivolous. 

[3]Lact Inst VI vi. 20,22. 

[4]Lact Inst VI xx. 10. 

UQLact Inst VI xx. 15-17. 

Ii]Thess v. 8. 

[2]ICorix. 7;cf2Corxi. 8. 

[3]2 Cor x. 3-6. 

[4]2 Cor vi. 7; cf, for other military expressions, Rom vi. 13, 23, xiii. 12. 

[5]Phil ii. 25, Philemon 2, 23, Rom xvi. 7, Col iv. 10. 

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[6]Ephvi. 12-18. 

[7]2 Tim ii. 3f; cf 1 Tim i. 18. It is to be observed that the language of 1 Tim vi. 12, 2 
Tim iv. 7, from which we get the familiar phrases about 'fighting the good fight,' is 
drawn, not from the battle-field, but from the race-course (cf 1 Cor ix. 25, Heb xii. 1). 
Harnack discusses these NT military metaphors in great detail {MC 12-18). He finds 
their origin "in the pictures of the Old Testament prophets" (12), having apparently in 
mind such passages as Isa xi. 4 f, xlix, 2, lix. 17, Hosea vi. 5. He observes that while 
every Christian has to fight, it is not usually the ordinary Christian who is described as 
a soldier, but only the apostle and missionary. He points out that the analogy became 
more than a mere analogy, when it was used to prove that the missionary should be 
supported by the Church, and should not engage in the business of civil life. 

[112 Cor x. 3-5. 

[2]Eph vi. 12 f 

[3]Lk xiv. 31-33: see above, p. 38, and cf Mt xi. 12f (= Lk xvi. 16), xxii. 7. 

[4]1 Clem xxxvii. 1-4. 

[l]Ig P vi. 2: cf S i. 2. We may remember that Ignatius was, at the time of writing, in 
the charge of a squad often soldiers. 

[2] Just I Ap. xxxix. 5. 

\3}MPaul 2-4, 6 (i. 108-1 16; Pick 44-48). 

\QMPetr 1 = Act Petr 36 (i. 90; Pick 116). 

[5]Excerp Theod 85. 

[ljEiren IV xx. 1 1 (ii. 223) (quotation of Ap xix. 1 1-17), xxxiii. 1 1 (ii.265) (quotation 
of Ps xlv. 4 f),frag 21 (ii. 490) (the armed angel that met Balaam was the Word): cf II 
ii. 3 (i. 255) (world to be referred to God as victory to the king who planned it). 

[2]Clem Protr x. 93, 100 fin, 110, xi. 116, Paed I vii. 54, viii. 65, Strom I xi. 51, xxiv. 
159 ff, II xx. 110, 120,IViv. 14, 16, viii. 60, xiii. 91, xxii. 141, VI xii. 103, xiv. 112, 
VII iii. 21, xi. 66, xiii. 83, xvi. 100 f, Quis Dives 25, 34 f 

[3]Tert Mart 1, 3, Apol 50 init, Nat ii. 5 (i. 592 f), Sped 24 fin, cul ii. 5, Paen 6, Orat 
19, Jud 7, Praescr 12, 41, Cast 12 init, Marc v. 5 (ii. 480), Fug 10 f, Res 3, Scorp 4 
fin, Pudic 22 fin, Jejun 10, 17. 

[4]Tert Apol 37 (i. 463) (see above, p. 107). Harnack treats the whole subject with 
great thoroughness in MC 32-40. 

[JQOrig Horn in Jos XV init (Migne PG xii. 897). Cf also Orig Princ III ii. 5 (milites 
Christi), IV 14 (see below, p. 175), 24, Orat xiii. 3 f, xxiv, 4, Cels vii. 21 f. Harnack 



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collects the passages from Origenes' exegetical works in MC 26-31, 99-104. 
Westcott says of the Homilies on Joshua: "The parallel between the leader of the Old 
Church and the Leader of the New is drawn with great ingenuity and care. The 
spiritual interpretation of the conquest of Canaan, as an image of the Christian life, 
never flags" (DCB iv. 107b). 

[2] Hipp. Noet 15 (quotation of Ap xix. 11-13). 

\3\Acts of Thomas 39, 126 (iii. 157, 234; Pick 260 f, 328). 

[4]Ps-Cypr Pasch 10. 

[5]Minuc xxxvii. 1-3. 

£i]Cf Harnack M C 40-43 . 

{2jCypr Testii. 16, iii. 117, Donatl 5 mix, Laud 10, 19,26, Ep 10(8) 1,5,37(15) 1, 
28 (24) 1, 31 (25) 5, 30 (30) 2, 6, 38 (32) 1, 39 (33) 2f, 46 (43), 54 (50) 1, 55 (51) 4, 
17, 19, 56 (52) 2, 57 (53) 1-5, 59 (54) 17, 58 (55) 1-4, 6, 8f, 1 1, 60 (56) 2, 61 (57) 2f, 
65 (63) 1, 73 (72) 10, 22, 74 (73) 8f, 77 (77) 2, 78 (78) 1, 80 (81) 2, Laps 2 (see above 
p. 151 n3), 36, Dom Orat \5, Mort 2, 4, 9, 12, 15, Bon Pat \ 2, Zel Liv 2 f, Fort pref 1 
f, 4, treatise 13. 

\QCommo& Instr i- 34, ii. 9-13, 20, 22, Carm 11: cf Scullard, 259. 

[4]Passio Mariani etJacobi i. 3, iii. 4, viii. 4, x. 3 (Gebhardt 134 ff); Acta Fructuosi 3 
(Ruinart 266); Passio Montani et Lucii iv. 6, xiv. 5 (Gebhardt 147 ff); Acts of 
Codratius (Conybeare 195, 202, 206); Passio Quirini 2 init (Ruinart 522); Acta 
Marcelli 1 f , 4 (Ruinart 343 f); Passio Typasii 2 {Anal Bolland ix. 118). 

[5]Pont Vit Cypr 8, 10; Ps-Cypr Rebapt 16 fin, Fud i, 7; Arnob ii. 5, 8; Lact Inst I iii. 
19, III xxiii. 2, V xix. 25, xxii. 17, VI iv. 15-19, xx. 16, VII xix. 5 f, Mort Pers xvi. 
4-11. 

[6]Dion Alex De Natura (Feltoe 142), and in Eus HE VI xli. 16; Didask II vi. 10 f; 
Clem EpJas 4; Clem Horn ix. 21, Recog iv. 33, vii. 24; Eus PE 15c, 16b, 165b, 663b. 

[7]Cf Harnack ME i. 414-418. 

[8]See Harnack's interesting note in ME i. 416-418, MC 122. 

£HCypr£p73(72)10. 

[2]CyprForn3. 

[3]Lact Inst VI iv. 15 ff. 

[4]See above pp. 147 f, 159 f 



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[i]HarnackMC8. 

\2\0p cit 42 f. 

UQGal iv. 22 ff. 

[2]Jasii. 25;Hebxi. 31. 

[3]Ac vii. 45, xiii. 19. 

[l]Heb vii. 1, xi. 30-34. It is quite a mistake to use this passage, as Professor B. Baker 
does (ICW6, 18), in support of his view that "war is sanctioned. . . by the teaching 
and practice of Christ and of His immediate disciples," if by that is meant that war is 
something in which the follower of Jesus was permitted to take part. 

[2]Clem xii. 

[3]Barn xii. 2, 9. 

[4]Just Dial 126 (772), 139 (796). 

{5}Op cit 83 (672). 

[6]Opc^90f(692 f), 111 (732), 113 (736 f), 115 (741,744), 131 (781). 

[ljHarnack says (MC 26): "Marcion's grasp of the Christian idea of God was without 
doubt essentially accurate. But the thought of a development of the Jewish conception 
of God into the Christian was as remote from him as from his opponents; so that he 
had to break with the historical antecedents of Christianity, and his Catholic 
opponents had to adulterate the Christian idea of God with what was out-of-date. Both 
fell into error, for there was no other way out. It will however always remain a credit 
to the Marcionite Church, which long maintained itself, that it preferred to reject the 
Old Testament, than to tarnish the picture of the Father of Jesus Christ by the 
intermixture of traces of a warlike God." 

£l]The reader who cares to study these allusions in detail will find them in Eiren III 
xvi. 4, xvii. 3, IV xxiv. 1, frags 18 f, 44 (ii. 86, 93, 232, 488 f, 509), Demonstr 20 
(11), 27 (16), 29 (17); Clem Strom I xxiv. 158-164, II xviii. 82, 88; Tert Jud 4, 9 f (ii. 
605, 622 f, 627 f), Marc iii. 16 (ii. 343), 18 (ii. 347), iv. 36 (ii. 451), Monog 6 fin, 
Jejun 7, 10; Hipp Dan I viii. 3, III xxiv. 8, IV xliv. 

[2]Tert Idol 19 (i. 690): see above, p. 109. 

[lJNovat Sped 2: ubi, inquiunt, scrip ta sunt ista, ubi prohibita? alioquin et auriga est 
Israel Helias et ante arcam Dauid ipse saltauit. 

[2]CfHarnackMCllf 

[3]Orig Princ IV i. 9 fin. 



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HlOrig Princ JV 14. 
UQOrig Cels iii. 7, vii. 18-26. 
[USee below, pp. 218 ff. 

[2]Adamant i. 10, 12, 13. 

[3]Tertullianus (Virg 1) has some words about the development of righteousness from 
its rudiments in the natural fear of God, through infancy in the Law and the Prophets, 
youth in the Gospel, and maturity in the work of the Paraclete, but he does not work 
the theory out. 

[4]Minuc xxxiii. 3. 

UJCypx Test ii. 21, Fort 8. 

[2]Cypr Bon Pat 10, Zel Liv 5: cf also Ps-Cypr Jud 6; Victorinus in Routh iii. 458. 

[3]Cypr Ep 72 (71) 1, Dom Or at 32. 

[4]Lact Inst IV xvii. 12 f 

[l]Mk xiii. 7 f ?s. According to 'The Vision of Isaiah,' the war continues incessantly 
from the Creation to the Parousia (see above, pp. 49 f). 

[ilLkxix. 27, cf 11. 

[2]2 Th ii. 8. 

[3]Ap vi. 1-8. 

[4]Ap iii. 21, v. 5: cf John xvi. 33. 

[5]Api. 16, ii. 12, xix. 15. 

[6]Ap ii. 16. 

[7]Ap ii. 23. 

[8]Ap xiv. 14-20, xvi. 13 f, 16, xix. 11-21. 

[9]Apxx. 7-10. 

[lOJBrandt in Hastings' Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, v. 263b. 

[lljlsa lxiii. 1-6 (the one in dyed garments from Bosrah) is quoted by Justinus in Dial 
26 (532), Dan vii. 1 1 (destruction of the Beast) and 26 (overthrow of the Horn) in 
Dial 31 (540 f), Ps xlv. 5 (arrows in the heart of the king's enemies) in Dial 38 (557), 

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Ps ex. 1 ("until I make thine enemies thy footstool," etc.) and 5 (kings crushed in the 
day of God's wrath) in Dial 32 (545). From Dial 32 (544) we gather that Justinus 
regarded the putting of Christ's enemies under his feet as a process going on from the 
time of the Ascension. 

[\}MPaul 3 (i. 110 ff; Pick 45). 

\l\Excerp Theodll. 

[3]Eus HE V xvi. 18f 

[4]Tert^o/20(ii. 389 f). 

[5]Tert Marc iv. 39 (ii. 455 f, 458 f>- 

[6]Hipp Dan IV xl. 3 (Dan x. 13, 20 f>- 

[HHipp Dan IV xlix. 1,4. 

[8]Hipp Dan IV xvii. 8 f 

\9}Didask II yL 6-11, 

\\}CyprMort2. 

[2]Victorinus in Haussleiter, Theologisches Liter aturblatt, April, 1895, col. 195. 

[3]Lact Inst VII xv. 10 f xvi. 1-5, 12-14, xvii. 6ff, xix. 

[4]Lact Inst VII xviii. 4. 

[l]Tert Marc iii. 13 init (ii. 337 f) (a ridiculous picture of the infant Immanuel acting 
as warrior), 14 (ii. 340) (see above, p. 51), iv. 20 (ii. 406 f), v. 18 (ii. 516 f), Res 20 
(ii. 821). 

[ljHarnack MC 10: he discusses the whole question very fully (8-12: cf 43 f). 

[2]Harnack MC 1 1 f (see below, pp. 193 f). 

[3]Mk xiii (see above, pp. 35, 179). 

[4]See above, pp. 98 f 

£l]Mt xxiv. 1 f, 6-8, 15-22 (cf x. 14 f, xi. 20-24, xiii. 40-42, xxi. 41-46, xxiii. 
34-39); Lk xvii. 31-37, xix. 41-44, xxi. 5 f, 9-11, 20-24. 

[2]Barn xvi. 4. 

QJSibulline Oracles iv. 115-118, 125-127. 

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[4]Robinson and James, p. 22. 

[5]Just Dial 110 (732): the prophecies are quoted in 1 Ap xlvii. 

[6]JustZ)/a/139(796). 

[HOrig Cels iv. 22. 

[8]Theoph iii. 11. 

[ilTert Apol 26 fin (ii. 432). 

[2]Tert Marc iii. 23 (ii. 353 f), cf Jud 13. 

[3] Hipp Dan IV lviii. 3. In De Antichristo 30, he quotes Isaiah's prophecies about the 
desolation of Jerusalem as being now fulfilled, and mentions the martyrdom of Isaiah 
and the crucifixion of Christ in connection with them. 

\A\ANCL ixb. 41, 43-45: cf Kriiger 331 f 

[ljMinuc xxxiii. 4. 

[2]Ps-Cypr Pasch 15. 

[HOrig Cels iv. 22. 

[HOrig Cels iv. 73. 

[2]Orig Cels viii. 42. Cf also op cit i. 47, ii. 8, 13 fin, 34, 78, iv. 32, v. 43, vii. 26, viii. 
47, 69, Orat xxxi. 7. 

[3]Orig Princ II iv. 4. 

[4]Orig Ce/s iv. 70 (see below, pp. 215 f), 72. 

[\}MPionii iv. 18 (Gebhardt 99). 

[2]Ps-Cypr Quod Idola 10, cf 12 f 

[3]Ps-CyprJ M J6-8. 

[4]per Romanos operans; a variant reading gives inspirans for operans (cf Harnack C 
ii. 496 n 2). 

[5]Didask VI xix. 1 . 

[l]Lact Inst IV xxi: the prophecy was contained in the so-called 'Preaching of Peter 
and Paul,' which may be as early as the first decade or so of the second century (see 
Kriiger 61 f). 

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[2]Eus PE 8d, 9a. 

[3]Adamant i. 1 1 . 

[l]Dr. Forsyth makes great use of this argument, in his Christian Ethic of War (10, 30 
f, 40, 87 f, 138, etc.). 

1211 Clem xlv. 7, viii. 4. 

[3]Theoph ii. 36. 

[4]Eiren Demons tr 20 (1 1). 

[5]Eiren IV xxxvi. 6 (ii. 282 f) — Eirenaios goes on to quote Rom xiii. lb-6, about the 
magistrate's sword, an aspect of the case which we shall deal with later. Cf Eiren^rag 
44 (ii. 509) (Balaam deservedly slain). 

[l]Tert Marc i. 24 (ii. 275) (nee fulminibus tantum, aut bellis, et pestibus, aliisque 
plagis Creatoris, sed et scorpiis ejus objectus — speaking of the Markionite's flesh), iv. 
29 (ii. 435). 

[2]Tert Scorp 3 (ii. 129). 

[3]Orig Cels iv. 9. 

[4]Cypr Demetr 2, 5. 

[5]Lact Inst I i. 15, VII xxvi. 13 f, MortPers lii. 3; Eus HE IX xi. 9, X i. 1, 7, etc., Vit 
Const i. 3, etc. 

JTTHarnackMCll f- 

[l]This attitude appears mainly in the Apocalypse and in Hippolutos' Commentary on 
Daniel. Cf also P. Scill 1 12: ego imperium huius seculinon cognosco. 

[2]An inscription is preserved in which the (pagan) tenants of certain of the imperial 
estates in Africa express their appreciation of their landlord, the Emperor Hadrianus: 
they speak of "the sleepless vigilance with which he watches over the welfare of 
mankind" (H. Stuart Jones, The Roman Empire ('Story of the Nations' Series), p. 
189). 

[IlRom xiii. lb, 3 f, 6b. 

1211 Pet ii. 13 f, 17. 

[3_11 Tim ii. 1 f 

[4]John xix. 1 1 . 



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[5]Mostly with reference to Nebuchadnezzar, but also generally. The idea is not so 
incompatible with Hippolutos' view of the Empire as a Satanic Beast-power, as 
appears at first sight. Weinel (24) has pointed out that Satan could be thought of as the 
servant of God. 

[l]In regard to Constantinus. 

[2]In Arnobius (i. 2) and the Pseudo-Cyprianic Quod Idola Dii non sint (4 f), we find 
a theory of the establishment of empires by chance or lot (cf Tert Pall 1 (ii. 1031) (At 
cum saecularium sortium variavit urna, et Romanis Deus maluit,. . . ); Lact Inst VII 
xv. 13; Scullard 96 f). For a modern opinion on the Divine appointment of the State, 
see Horace Bushnell, Nature and the Supernatural, p. 12. 

[3] Or possibly, "who teaches (men) by the Word to do the same as they (i.e. the 
lawgivers) (do)" ( [Otto: ] ). 

[4]Just 2 Ap ix. 1 f He goes on to say that the Logos had shown that some human 
laws were bad and some good. 

[JQAthenag Legat 35 (969): see below, p. 214. 

[2]Theoph i. 1 1 : cf Prov xxiv. 21 f 

[3]Eiren V xxiv. 1 (ii. 388 f). 

[JQEiren V xxiv. 2 (ii. 389). 

[2]Eiren V xxiv. 3 (ii. 389 f). 

Ii]Tert Apol 2 (i. 276 f). 

[2]Tert%>cn9(i. 651). 

[3JTert^mw33(ii. 706). 

[4]Tert Scorp 14 (ii. 150). 

[5]Ps.Mel 10 (ANCL xxiib. 121). 

[6]Orig Comm in Rom t ix. 26 (Migne PG xiv. 1226 f). 

[JQOrig Comm in Rom t ix. 28 (Migne PG xiv. 1227 f). 

[2]Orig Ce/s viii. 65. 

[3]Orig Cels iv. 82. 

[4]Orig. Cels vii. 70. 



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[l]Acta Disput Achat iii. 2 (Gebhardt 117) 

I2jCypr Donat 10. 

[3]Cypr Demetr 1 1 . 

[4]Clem Horn iii. 36. 

[5]Clem Recog ix. 15. 

[6]Method Symp ii. 

[7]Arnob vi. 26: cf iv. 34, vii. 39 ff, appx (punishment of a slave). 

[JQLact to III xvi. 2. 

[2]Lact to V ix. 15, 17. 

[3]Lact Inst VI xx. 10 (see p. 159). 

[4]Lact Inst VII xxvi. 12: cf I i. 13: tacterrimum aliorum facinus expiasti. 

[5] 'Capital' punishment, in ancient times, did not necessarily mean the death-penalty, 
though it might do so. It meant the complete loss of one's status as a citizen, either by 
death, or exile, or enslavement. 

[l]Lact Ira Dei xvii. 6 f. 

[2]Lact Ira Dei xx. 7. 

[3]Lact Ira Dei xxiii. 10: cf xvii. 16, xviii. 1 f 

[4]Eus PE 73cd. 

[5]Eus PE 135cd, cf HE IX xi. 5 f 

[6]Eus PE 244d. 

[1]1 Clem xxxvii. 1-4 (): see p. 163. 

1211 Clem lxi. 1, 2. Guignebert (191 n 4), Harnack (MC 18 f, 52 f), and Weinel (26) 
have interesting remarks on Clemens' view of the Roman army. 

[3]Eiren II xxxii. 2 (i. 373). 

[4]Eiren IV xxxvi. 6 (ii. 282 f). 

[5]Clem Strom I xxiv. 158-163, xxvi. 168. 



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UQClem Strom VI xiv. 1 12: cf also Paed III iii. 24 f, Strom I xxiii. 157, IV iv. 14, 16. 

[2]Tert Anim 31 (ii. 701): Ecce. . . Pythagoram vero tam residem et imbellem, ut 
praelia tunc Graeciae vitans, Italiae maluerit quietem. 

[3] Text Res 16 (ii. 815):. . . gladius bene de bello cruentus et melior homicida laudem 
suam consecratione pensabit. Passing reference will suffice to the allusions in Tert 
Nat ii. 17 (i. 608) to the part played by war in the rise and fall of States under the 
control of Providence, in Pall 1 (ii. 1031) to the exemplification of this in the wars 
between Rome and Carthago, in Pall 2 (ii. 1036) to the repulse of the barbarians as a 
sign of God's favour to the Emperors, and in Anim 30 (ii. 700) to the useful purpose 
served by wars, pestilences, etc., as remedies for overpopulation. 

[4]The section on military tactics is to be found in Veterum Mathematicorum. . . 
Opera, Paris, 1693, pp. 227-303. A summary and partial translation of it into French 
was published at Berlin in 1774 by Charles Guischard, a Prussian infantry colonel, in 
a work entitled Memoires critiques et historiques sur plusieurs points d'antiquites 
militaires. He censures Julius Africanus for his barbarity as well as for his 
superstition: "The Christian religion in its birth did not always cure men of their errors 
in point of morals," he says, "nor of this leaning which they then had to superstition. . 
. . Julius Africanus therefore could be orthodox, could compose commentaries on the 
Bible, and at the same time a book of magic charms, and could teach the art of 
poisoning wells" (p. 400). 

[l]On Africanus, cfDCB i. 57a, HarnackMC73 n 3; Bardenhewer Patrologie, 163. 

[2] See above, p. 137. 

[3]Orig Cels ii. 30. 1 pass over the casual allusion in i. 59 to stars portending 
revolutions, wars, or other events. 

[4]Orig Cels iv. 82 (). 

[5]Orig Cels iv. 83. It hardly perhaps needs to be said that Origenes does not here 
imply the existence of Christian patriotic wars, as a less rigidly literal translation in 
better English would more strongly suggest. Such an idea is indeed impossible in 
view of what he says elsewhere, not to mention the obvious facts of the situation. The 
phrase is nothing more than a loosely worded enumeration of the standing institutions 
of Church and State. 

[l]Orig Cels viii. 73. His references in 69 f to the Romans praying to the one God and 
so being able to conquer their enemies more effectively (see above, p. 132) must not 
be pressed. He is dealing with an imaginary situation and omits for the moment to 
make allowance for that introduction of the Christian ethic which his hypothesis 
strictly required. In 70 he immediately corrects the omission: ". . . or (rather) they will 
not fight at all," etc. 

[2]Cypr Demetr 3 (decrescit ac deficit in amis agricola, in mari nauta, miles in 
castris), 17 (minis remm, iacturis opum, dispendio militum, deminutione castrorum). 



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[3]Clem Recog ix. 15. 

[4]Method Symp viii. 16. 

[5]Lact OpifDei ii. 6: cf Inst VII iv. 14. 

[6]Lact Zrcrf Ill xvii. 3. 

[7]Lact Mort Pers xix. 6. The loss of military discipline is mentioned in Inst VII xvii. 
9 as one of the disasters of the time of Antichrist. 

[8]Lact Mort Pers xviii. 10. 

[l]Lact Mort Pers xliv-xlviii. 

[2]Lact Mort Pers xlvi: cf Harnack MC 89 f 

[3]Lact Mort Pers xliv. 5 f 

[4]Lact 7iwf I i. 13-16, VII xxvi. 1 1-17. 

[5]Eus HE VIII xiv. 1 1 . Cf Harnack ME ii. 55 n 2 ("Eusebius's feelings thus are those 
of a loyal citizen of the empire"), MC 73. 

[6]Eus7ffiIXx. 14. 

[7]e.g. Polxii. 3. 

[8]1 Tim ii. 1 f 

[9]Harnack ME ii. 53 n. ". . . The emperor, even from the apocalyptic standpoint, had 
a certain divine right of existence as a bulwark against anarchy and the barbarian 
hordes; for the "pax terrena" was a relative good, even from the strictest Christian 
standpoint. . . . Now the emperor needed soldiers to maintain this "pax terrena." They 
were part and parcel of the "sword" which (Rom xiii. 4) is recognized as a divine 
attribute of authority, and which no church-father ever dared to deny, in so many 
words, to the emperor." Similarly MC 123. 

£I]Tert^o/30(i. 443). 

[2]Orig Cels viii. 73: for the context, see pp. 134 f 

[3]Acta Disput Achat i. 3: deinde pro salute militum et pro statu mundi et orbis 
(Gebhardtll5). 

[4]Cypr Demetr 20. 

[l]Arnob iv. 36. 



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[2]Carlyle, Mediaeval Political Theory in the West, vol. i. 91-97. 

[l]Ap xiii. 2, 4, 5, 7, 14, 15: see Moffatt's note on 7 in Expositor's Greek Test. ("The 
beast's world-wide authority goes back to the dragon's commission (2) but ultimately 
to the divine permission (so in 5). There is a providence higher even than the beast"). 

[2]Eiren IV xxxvi. 6 (ii. 282 f) (quoted on p. 205), V xxiv. 3 (ii. 389) (quoted above p. 
199). 

[3]Romii. 14f;cti. 19 f. 

[l]Rom xii. 17-xiii. 6: cf. especially the words of xii. 19 () with those of xiii. 4 (). 

[21HermSI4: . 

[3]Athenag Legat 36(969) (i.e. the gladiatorial shows). 

[4]Orig Orat xiii. 2 f 

[5]Orig Cels i. 1 . It is a complete mistake to assume, as is apparently done by 
Bestmann (ii. 295) and Bigelmair (110), that Origenes meant that a Christian might 
justifiably conspire against and assassinate a tyrant. In the ordinary ethical code of 
historical Greece, to slay a tyrant was an act of the most laudable heroism (Grote, 
History of Greece, iii. 26 f); and Origenes simply accepts, for the purpose of his 
argument, this backward moral sentiment as admitted by his opponent and as 
relatively valid, without thereby implying that the act would be justified in the case of 
one on whom the full light of Christianity has come. Origenes also assumed the 
Tightness of exempting pagan priests from military service in order that they might 
offer sacrifices (see above, p. 135): yet how absurd would it be to infer from this that 
he would have approved of Christians becoming pagan priests and offering sacrifices! 

UQOrig Cels vii. 70: see p. 201. 

UlOrig Cels iv. 70. 

[2]Yet Origenes was unable to do full justice to the relativity of morality see Cels v: 
28, where he insists overmuch on the absolute nature of what is right, and denies that 
differing customs and usages can be right for different nations): hence his attitude to 
governmental coercion lacks something to make it entirely sound. 

[l]Clem Horn xx. 2. 

\Y\Clem Horn xx. 3. 

[l]Adamant i. 9: the discussion on the point occupies i. 9-16, 18 (cf ii. 15). For 
Tertullianus' view of the gradual development of righteousness, see above, p. 177, n 
3. 

OJAcv. 1-11. 



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[2]Ac xvi. 35-39, xxii. 23-29, xxiv. 10 ff, xxv. 6-12. 

UlAcxiii. 9-11. 

[2]Ac xvi. 29-34. 

[3] Ac x, xi. 

[4]Gal v. 12. 

[5]lCorv. 1-5. 

[6]Rom xiii. 1-6. 

[7]Ac xxiii. 12-24. 

[8]Bigelmair 94 f. 

[9]Bestmanni. 403-405. 

[JQJust 1 Ap xvi. 14. 

[2]Backhouse and Tylor, Early Church History, p. 130. 

\Y\Clem Horn xx. 13, Recog x. 54 f. 

[2]Eus HE VII xxx. 19. 

[3JEus#£ Villi. 2. 

UQEus HE VIII ix. 7. 

[2]Eus /ffi VIII xi. 1: see above, p. 95. 

[3]Eus Vit Const i. 16 f. 

[4] See above, pp. 156 f. 

[5]See above, pp. 89-96. 

UQLk. iii. 14. 

[2JLk. vii. 2-10?. 

[3]Mk xv. 39?s. 

[4]Ac x. 1-8, 22. 

[5]Ac xiii. 7, 12. 

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[6]Clem Alex in Eus HE II ix. 

{7]Ac x vi- 24, 27, 33 f. 

[8]Ac xxi. 31-40, xxii. 24-29, xxiii. 10, 17-35, xxiv. 22 f, xxviii. 16, 31. 

[9]Acxxvii. 1,3,43. 

\\0]Acts of John 6 (ii. 154; Pick 129 f)- 

[ll]Eus HE VI v. 3: see more fully below, p. 233. 

[l}Perpet9, 16,21. 

[2]Eus HE VI xix. 15, xxi. 3 f. 

[3]Greg Thaum Paneg v. 67-72. 

[4]Dion Alex in Eus HE VI xli. 16. 

{5}DidaskVl 1. 

[6]Pont VitCypr 16. 

[7]Eus /ffi VII xxxii. 8 f. 

[8]See above, p. 224. 

[JQSee above, pp. 97 f. 

[2] See above, p. 226. 

[3]Ac x. 1, ff, 7 ff, 47 f, xvi. 27-34. 

£l]HarnackMC53. 

[2]SoHarnackAffiii. 52. 

[3]See pp. 99-101. 

[4]The pagan witnesses are the pillar of Marcus, Dio Cassius (lxxi. 8, 10), and 
Capitolinus (Hist. Aug. Life ofM. Antoninus Philosophus, xxiv. 4). 

[l]So Harnack (C i. 360 f), though the dates are a little difficult to reconcile. 

[2]Eus HEVv.3 f 

[3]So LightfootAFII i. 491. 

[4]Z)C5iv. 1024a. 

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[5]Tert Apol 5 (i. 295) (illam germanicam sitim christianorum forte militum 
precautionibus impetrato imbri discussam), Scap 4 (i. 703) (christianorum militum 
orationibus ad Deum factis). 

[6]Text in Otto's Justinus i. 246 ff, Lightfoot AF II i. 485, f, Blunt 133 f; ET in ANCL 
ii. 68 f. 

[TJBigelmair 186 n 1. 

[8]Lightfoot^FII i. 490; Blunt 131 f. 

[JQHarnackCi. 702. 

121- 

[3]Eus HE V v. 1-4. 

[4]Dio Cassius lxxi. 9. 

[5]So Stokes in DCB iv. 1024b. 

[6]So Harnack ME ii. 55 ("Neither then nor subsequently did any Christian censure 
these soldiers for their profession"), MC 57; Bigelmair 189. 

[7]See above, p. 104. 

£!]Gelzer, Sextus Fulius Africanus und die bysanlisnische Chronographie, i. 8. 

[2]See above, p. 207. 

[3]Seepp. 71 f, 78. 

[4]Clem Protr x. 100. 

[5]Clem Paed II xi. 117. 

[6]Clem Paed II xii. 121. 

[TJClem PaeJ III xii. 91. 

UQClem Strom II xviii. 82, 88. 

[2] Clem Strom IV xiv. 96. Ramsay (Cities and Bishoprics ofPhrygia, ii. 718) is 
mistaken in including Clemens among those who "absolutely forbade that Christians 
should be soldiers or bear arms." 

[3]See above, pp. 226 f. Harnack says (MC 75): "That the soldier who accompanied a 
Christian to death, in particular the (soldier who acted as) informer, himself became a 
Christian, gradually became a stereotyped feature in the stories of martyrs, but is not 

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always legendary." For instances in more or less fictitious martyr-acts, see Neumann 
288-290. 

[4]Eus HE VI iii. 13, v. 

£JJSee above, pp. 226 f. 

\Y\DCB iv. 520b. 

[3]Tert Nat i. 1 (i. 559): similar words in Apol i (i. 262). The word translated 'fortified 
towns' — castellis — may mean simply 'villages'. 

[4]Tert Apol 37 (i. 462 f). The statement is of course an exaggeration, and must be 
taken with a grain of salt. Tertullianus makes a reference in Apol 32 (i. 447) to 
Christians taking the military oath. 

[5]Tert 4po/ 42 (i. 491). 

[6]Seep. 230 n 5. 

[TJTert Idol 19 (i. 690 f): see above, p. 109. 

[l]Tert Marc v. 7 (ii. 487). I do not know any passage in Paul's letters justifying this 
statement about soldiers. 

[2]Tert Cor 1 (ii. 76 f). He astutely points out the similarity between the Christian and 
the pagan criticisms: exinde sentential super illo, nescio an Christianorum, non enim 
aliae ethnicorum, ut de abrupto, etc., etc. Harnack has suggested {ME i. 418 n, ii. 56, 
MC 68) that this soldier's object was to secure for his Christian comrades in the army 
the same exemption from the semi-idolatrous garland that was enjoyed by the 
worshippers of Mithras. 

[3] It is therefore a gross exaggeration to say that the fact that the soldier was 
condemned "is conclusive proof that the Christian society of the time found no cause 
of complaint in the fact of its members serving in the legions, and that they did not 
regard such service as incompatible with their religion" (B. -Baker ICW 25). 

IlJTert Idol 19 (i. 690): see pp. 108 f 

[2]Tert Cor 1 1 (ii. 92): see above, p. 111. 

[3]Ib.: see above, p. 1 12. 

[4]The inscription runs: Prosenes receptus ad Deum V non [aprjilis Sa[uro in 
Campjania, Praesente et Extricato II (sc. consulibus). Regrediens in Urbe(m) ab 
expeditionibus scripsit Ampelius lib(ertus) (De Rossi, Inscriptiones Urbis Romae, I 9; 
Marucchi, Christian Epigraphy, 225: Neumann (84 n) gives a slightly different 
interpretation). 



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[ljRamsay, Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia, ii. 717. 

[2]See above, p. 147 n 2. 

[3]Dion Alex in Eus HE VII xi. 20: the letter of Dionusios here quoted refers to the 
Decian persecution, though Eusebios erroneously connects it with that of Valerianus 
(Feltoe 65). 

[4]Dion Alex in Eus HE VI xli. 16. 

[5]Dion Alex in Eus HE VI xli. 22 f Their conversion seems to have been due to a 
sudden rush of feeling under the affecting circumstances of the hour. Harnack, I think, 
overlooks the fact that only five men were concerned, assumes that before their public 
confession they were already virtually Christians ("Christen order. . . christlich 
Gesinnten"), and infers that Christianity must have been very widespread in the army 
in Egypt, as there could have been no idea of picking out Christian soldiers for this 
particular task (Harnack ME ii. 58, MC 76 f). This seems to me to be making too 
much out of the passage. Sudden conversions were not uncommon at scenes of 
persecution; and there is no reason to suppose that these five men were in any way 
definitely Christian before this incident. They may have known about Christianity and 
been sympathetic towards it, but that does not warrant Harnack' s conclusion that 
Christianity was widespread in the army in Egypt. I pass by the untrustworthy 'Acts 
of Polueuktes,' the soldier who is said to have been beheaded for refusing to sacrifice 
in compliance with an edict of 'Decius and Valerian' ! (Conybeare 123-146; Harnack 
ME ii. 61, MC 83). 

[l]See above, pp. 151 f. 

[2]Harnack ME ii. 54: cf MC 81 f 

[3]See above, pp. 149 f Fabius Victor, the martyr's father, seems to have been a 
Christian before the trial, and may have been a soldier (see p. 150 n 2): anyhow, he 
had bought his son a new military coat in anticipation of his joining up. 

[4]Harnack MC 79 n 2 (80). 

[5]Eus HE VIII appendix, 1 . 

£l]Eus HE VIII iv (with McGiffert's note); Hieron Chron ad ann 23 17; Harnack ME 
59 n, MC 80. 

[2]See above, p. 152. 

[3]See above, p. 153. 

[4JDC5 iii. 641b-644b; Bigelmair 194-201; Harnack ME ii. 61 n 1, MC 83; De Jong 
17 f 

[5]Lact Mort Pers x. 4. 



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[l]Lact Mort Pers xi. 3. 

[2]Eus HE VIII i. 8; Epiphanios Haeres lxviii. 2 (Migne PG xlii. 185) (some of them, 
like some of the clergy, gave way and sacrificed). 

[3}See the Acta Fulii in Anal Bolland x. 50 ff reprinted by Harnack in MC 119-121. 
An older edition is given by Ruinart (569 f). Another Christian soldier had been 
martyred just before Julius, and when he went to his death, a third was awaiting 
sentence. 

[4]Ruinart 571-573; cf Harnack ME ii. 62 n 4. 

[5JDC5 i. 789b; Harnack ME ii. 62 n 5, MC 83 n 5; Bigelmair 192f 

[6]See above, pp. 153 f 

JTTRuinart 451 ff; Harnack C ii. 479 f; DCB iv. 781: see above, p. 153. 

[8]Ruinart 489 ff; DCB ii. 506b. 

[9]Ruinart 506-51 1; DCB iv. 956 f. 

[10]Eus Mart xi. 20 ff (see above, p. 153). I pass by the doubtful story of the 'quattuor 
coronati,' four soldiers who are said to have been flogged to death at Rome for 
refusing to sacrifice (DCA i. 461 f; DCB iv. 702 f; Bigelmair 328-330, Harnack C ii. 
478 n 2). It is just possible that Getulius and Amantius, the husband and brother-in- 
law of Symphorose, who are said to have been military tribunes under Hadrianus and 
to have suffered martyrdom for refusing to sacrifice, were really among the soldier- 
martyrs of the great persecution under Diocletianus (see above, pp. 100 f). It is also 
barely possible that Albanus, the proto-martyr of Britain; was martyred about this 
time and was a soldier (Workman, Persecution in the Early Church, p. 271; DCB i. 69 
f). Other soldier-martyrs of minor importance and questionable historicity are 
mentioned by Bigelmair (192-194) and Harnack (MC 84 n 3). 

£l_]Eus #£ VIII vi. 8. 

[2]Eus HE IX viii. 2, 4. 

[3}DCB iv. 170b; Harnack ME ii. 63 n 1, MC 85. 

[4]Eus HE IX ix. 1-12, Vit Const i. 26-31, 37-41, iv. 19-21; Lact Mort Pers xliv. 

[l]Lact Mort Pers xlvi. Harnack regards this act of Licinius as showing how 
widespread Christianity must have been in his army (MC 89 f). 

{2JEus#£IXx. 3. 

[3]Eus HE IX x. 4 (destruction of Daza's army), xi. 3 (all his favoured partizans 
slain), 4 (a few examples out of many given), 5 f (torture and death of Theoteknos and 



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others at Antioch, cf PE 135cd), 7 f (Daza's children and relatives slain); Lact Mort 
Pers xlvii. 2-4 (immense slaughter of Daza's troops), 1. 2 f (death of Candidianus, son 
of Galerius, who had put himself unsuspectingly in Licinius' hands), 4 (Licinius slays 
Severianus, son of the late Emperor Severus), 6 (he slays Maximus, the eight-year-old 
son, and the seven-year-old daughter, of Daza, after throwing their mother into the 
river Orontes), li (Valeria, widow of Galerius, and her mother Prisca, caught at 
Thessalonica, beheaded, and their bodies cast into the sea). To the commission of 
such acts as these did those believers who took up arms under this Christian Emperor 
render themselves liable! 

[4]Eus HE X viii. 10, Vit Const i. 54. It is to this period (320 a.d.) that the legend of 
the forty soldiers martyred at Sebaste in Armenia belongs (cfDCB ii. 556 f; De Jong 
33 f). 

[5]Eus Vit Const ii. 16 f. 

[ljHarnack is on the whole cautious, but is a little inclined to over-estimate the 
evidence (see his remarks quoted above, p. 237 n 5 and 242 n 1, and cf. MC 83, 87). 
Cf Westermarck, The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas, i. 346 ("the 
number of Christians enrolled in the army seems not to have been very considerable 
before the era of Constantine"); De Jong 26 ("this is certain, that the Christians in the 
army were as yet only a small minority"). 

[l]The words of Athanasios are quoted below, p. 257 n 1. His statement is perfectly 
general, and doubtless was meant to apply to Christians as well as pagans. It cannot 
therefore be put on the same level as Origenes' phrase "those who are righteously 
serving as soldiers" (see above, p. 135), which obviously applied only to the pagan 
soldiers of the Emperor. 

[ljTroeltsch represents the advocates of compromise in the third century as wiser than 
they really were, in speaking of "compromises and compositions, which recognize the 
necessity of these callings" (i.e. magistrates and soldiers) "for the social system, and 
therefore enjoin here too continuance in the calling" (Troeltsch 124: see above, p. 144 
n 1). 

[2]See above, pp. 109, 174 f Hence Harnack's {MC 61) criticism of Tertullianus for 
refusing to treat his opponents' appeal to Scripture seriously, is only partially 
justified. Bigg says in another connection: "It was this. . . inability to grasp the idea of 
progress which led to the wholesale importation of ideas and practices from the Old 
Testament into the Christian Church" (The Church 's Task under the Roman Empire, 
P- 27). 

[l]De Jong 26: "the increasing worldliness of Christendom had naturally resulted in 
an increased number of Christian soldiers." 

[2]Harnack ME ii. 53; Troeltsch 1 1 1 n. 

[3]Harnack ME ii. 52, MC 49 f 



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[4]Bigelmair 177-179. 

[5]Harnack ME ii. 53 n 1, MC 54 f. 

[JQHarnack ME ii. 53 n 2. 

[l]"In the rapid expansion of relations and the haste of human affairs practices slide 
insensibly into existence and get a footing as usages, before any conscience has time 
to estimate them; and when they have won the sanction of prescription, they soon 
shape consciences to suit them, and laugh at the moral critic as a simpleton, and hurry 
on to the crash or social retribution" (Jas. Martineau, Essays, Reviews, and Addresses, 
v. 502). 

[2JB.Baker /OF 16-18. 

JJQBigelmair 164-166. 

[l]Cf Shakespeare, King Henry IV, Part I, I ii. 1 \5:Prince. "I see a good amendment 
of life in thee; from praying to purse-taking." Falstaff. "Why, Hal, 'tis my vocation, 
Hal; 'tis no sin for a man to labour in his vocation." 

[2]Bestmann ii. 295. 

[3JB.Baker/CTF25. 

[4]Bigelmair 180. 

[5]Harnack ME ii. 53, 57. 

[JQHarnack MC 73. 

[2] Cunningham 252. 

[JJBigelmair 201; Harnack MC 44 f, 87 ff, 91 f; De Jong 28. 

[2]Sokrates, Eccles Hist i. 17. 

\3}Can ArelZ: De his qui arma projiciunt in pace, placuit abstineri eos a communione. 
Possible meanings are (1) the obvious one, excommunicating those who lay down 
their arms in time of peace, those who do so in time of war being punished by the 
military and so not coming under the Church's jurisdiction at all (Dale 238 f, 281); (2) 
similar, but referring the peace to that now existing between Empire and Church 
(Harnack MC 87 ff); (3) taking arma projicere as = arma conjicere in alium, and 
referring the Canon to the gladiatorial games, as Can 4 deals with charioteers and Can 
5 with actors (so Hefele 186; Bigelmair 182; and — fully and strongly — De Jong 28 
ff). Even on the last interpretation, the Canon implicitly permits Christians to use 
weapons in war-time. How far the decisions of this Synod were regarded as generally 
binding seems doubtful (Hefele 182; De Jong 28 n). 



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\X\Letter to Ammonios or Amun (Migne PG xxvi. 1 173): "We shall find in other 
things that happen in life differences of a certain kind existing. For instance, it is not 
lawful to kill (); but to destroy opponents in war is lawful and worthy of praise. Thus 
those who distinguish themselves in war are counted worthy of great honours, and 
pillars are erected proclaiming their achievements. So that the same (act) in one 
respect and when unseasonable is not lawful, in another respect and when seasonable 
is permitted and allowed." 

[2]Exposition ofS. Luke, ii. 77 (Migne PL xv. 1580): John the Baptist tells "soldiers 
not to make a false accusation, not to demand booty, teaching that pay has been 
assigned to the military for this purpose, lest, while subsistence is being sought for, a 
plunderer should be going about. But these and others are the precepts peculiar to the 
several duties (of life)," but all are required to be merciful. De Officiis Ministrorum, I 
xxvii. 129 (Migne PL xvi. 61): "It will be clear that these and other virtues are related 
to one another. Thus for instance the bravery which guards the fatherland in war from 
the barbarians or defends the weak at home or (one's) allies from robbers, is full of 
justice," etc. 

[3]Migne PL xxxiii. 186 f, 531 f, 854 f, xlii. 444 ff I owe these quotations (notes 1-3) 
to De Jong (50-54): cf also, for Augustinus, Gibb in British Quarterly Review, lxxiii. 
83; Westermarck, The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas, i. 347. 

[4]Codex Theodosianus XVI x. 21. 

[1]H. H. Milman, History of Christianity, ii. 287. 

\2\opcit 2SS. 

[3]Lecky ii. 250. 

[ljBigelmair 8. 

[2]Cooper and Maclean 41-45. 

[3]See above, p. 120. Even if the Egyptian Church-Order be the work of Hippolutos 
himself, it was clearly regarded as authoritative long after his date. 

[4]Maclean 146, 149. 

[ljBigelmair says, a propos of the relaxation: "Time and circumstances demanded 
their rights" (172); "No generally binding force belonged to Church-Orders of this 
kind; but they clearly exhibit the dispositions which prevailed in wide circles" (173): 
cfDeJong39. 

[2]The Acta Archelai are in Routh v. 36 ff (esp. pp. 37 f); ET in ANCL xx. 272 ff. For 
the date, cf Harnack C ii. 163 f: we need not imagine that the story is necessarily true, 
but, as Harnack says, it is "yet not without value" (MC 84 n, ME ii. 63 n 1). 



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[3]His Acta are quoted at length by De Jong 34-38. Baronius (Martyrologium 
Romanorum, Jan 2, note e, p. 8) records the martyrdom of Marcellinus, a youth 
executed by Licinius, as Baronius says, "non odio militiae. . . sed quod. . . Licinius 
suos milites litare praecepisset." Whether that was the only reason in this case we do 
not know. Licinius did persecute his Christian soldiers. Those who left his service 
permanently were treated with indulgence by Constantinus (Eus Vit Const ii. 33); 
those who had left and then rejoined were penalized by the Council of Nicaea as 
'lapsi' (Hefele 417 ff; Harnack MC 91). 

[4]Z)Cff iii. 839b; De Jong 40-42. De Jong also draws attention (48 f) to the fact that 
the popularity of the Emperor Julianus (361-363 a.d.) with the army and the support it 
gave him in his reversion to paganism presuppose a comparatively small proportion of 
Christians in it. 

[5]DCB iv. 1 140b ("He. . . quitted military service for conscience' sake, a desertion 
which entailed such maltreatment as nearly lost him his life"); De Jong 42-46 
(Victricius' motive, in part at least, was 'the aversion to bloodshed' — arma sanguinis 
abiecisti). 

[IJMigne PL lxi. 300 ff; De Jong 47 f 

[2]Migne PG xxxv. 608 f, lviii. 590 f. 

rjQMigne PG xxxii. 681. 



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