“We, who used to kill one another, do not make war on our enemies. We refuse to tell lies or deceive our inquisitors; we prefer to die acknowledging Christ.”–Justin Martyr, c. A.D. 138

“Christians have changed their swords and their lances into instruments of peace, and they know not now how to fight.”–Irenaeus, c. A.D. 180

“We have rejected such spectacles as the Coliseum. How then, when we do not even look on killing lest we should contract guilt and pollution, can we put people to death?”

“ So none fight better for the king than we do. Indeed, we do not fight under him even if he demands it. Yet, we fight on his behalf, forming a special army – an army of godliness – by offering our prayers to God…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 nation, nor do we learn any more to make war, having become sons of peace for the sake of Jesus, who is our leader…”
Athenagoras of Athens, 133-190


“The Church is an army of peace which sheds no blood.” (Protrepticus XI, 116), “It can never be lawful for a righteous man to go to war, whose warfare is in righteousness itself.”Clement of Alexandria, 150-215

“But how will a Christian engage in war—indeed, how will a Christian even engage in military service during peacetime—without the sword, which the Lord has taken away? For although soldiers had approached John to receive instructions and a centurion believed, this does not change the fact that afterward, the Lord, by disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier.”

“Under no circumstances should a true Christian draw the sword.”

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 tranquility, and refashioned the former infliction of war upon rivals and foes of the law into the peaceful acts of ploughing and cultivating the earth.”

Tertullian, 155-230

“Any catechumen or believer who wishes to become a soldier must be dismissed from the church because they have despised God.”–Hippolytus, 170-236

after celebrating the eucharist, the hand is not (i.e. ought not to be) spotted with (the use of) the sword and with blood.”

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.”–Cyprian, c. 200-258

To those who ask about our origin and our founder we reply that we have come in response to Jesus’ commands to beat into plowshares the rational swords of conflict and arrogance and to change into pruning hooks these spears that we used to fight with. For we no longer take up the sword against any nation, nor do we learn the art of war any more. Instead of following the traditions that made us “strangers to the covenants” (Eph 2:12), we have become sons of peace through Jesus our founder. (Against Celsus 5.33)

‘Celsus exhorts us to help the Emperor and be his fellow soldiers. To this we reply, “You cannot demand military service of Christians any more than you can of priests.” We do not go forth as soldiers with the Emperor even if he demands this.’

Origen, 185-254


[For extended quotes and description of Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, etc]

Among those who followed their example– Charles Spurgeon, D. L. Moody, …


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