New Testament Teaching Against Persecution of Heretics


A Publication of Separation of Church and State Law Ministry.


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Jerald Finney
Copyright © February 10, 2018


Scriptures—other than those already cited to show that the church and state are not to wed or to enter into any kind of relationship, especially for persecution of those who do not submit to the official religion–teach that the church is not to enforce spiritual laws in society in general, even with the help of civil government; some of those Scriptures have already been cited and more are given in this lesson.

The Lord commanded that men not remove the tares “lest [they] root up also the wheat [the children of the kingdom]” (Mt. 13.24-30, 37-43). Instead, they are to be permitted to grow together until the harvest when the Lord shall send forth his angels to gather the tares and cast them into a furnace of fire (Ibid.). The Lord commanded His disciples to leave the Pharisees, whom He referred to as the “blind leading the blind,” alone because “every plant, which [His] heavenly father hath not planted, shall be rooted up” (Mt. 15.13-14). He told his disciples: “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall in the ditch” (Mt. 15.14). As Roger Williams noted, “This sentence against [the blind Pharisee], the Lord Jesus only pronounceth in his church, his spiritual judicature, and executes this sentence in part at present, and hereafter to all eternity. Such a sentence no civil judge can pass, such a death no civil sword can inflict.”[i]

Some other relevant scriptures dealing with the actions of a Christian against his enemies, those who curse, hate, despitefully use, persecute and disagree with him include:

  • “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so” (Mt. 5.44-47)?
  • The Lord said to his disciples, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in they synagogues; [a]nd ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles” (Mt. 10.16-18). What sheep ever attacked a wolf or anything else?
  • “And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part. For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward” (Mk. 9.38. See also Lu. 9.49-50).
  • The Lord Jesus said to his disciples, James and John, who desired to command fire down from heaven to devour Samaritans who would not receive Him, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye be of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Lu. 9.55-56).
  • “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life of the sheep” (Jn. 10.10-11).
  • “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, [i]n meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; [a]nd they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Ti. 2.24-26).

As mentioned many times, Catholicism, behind perverted doctrine, viciously murdered fifty million or more “heretics” when in power over the middle ages. Protestant churches continued the persecutions when in power.

The reason for not attempting to remove heretics, the tares, from the world seems to be, as Roger Williams noted:

  • “because they who now are tares, may hereafter become wheat; they who are now blind, may hereafter see; they that now resist him may hereafter receive him; that that are now in the devil’s snare, in adverseness to the truth, may hereafter come to repentance; they that are now blasphemers and persecutors, as Paul was, may in time become faithful as he; they that are now idolaters, as the Corinthians once were, 1 Cor. vi. 9, may hereafter become true worshippers as they; they that are now no people of God, nor under mercy, as the saints sometimes were 1 Pet. ii. 10, may hereafter become the people of God, and obtain mercy, as they.
  • “Some come not till the eleventh hour, Matt. xx. 6: if those that come not till the last hour should be destroyed, because they come not at the first, then should they never come, but be prevented” (Williams and Underhill, pp. 11-12).

Persecution of “heretics” is contrary to many New Testament teachings. True believers were promised that they would be persecuted, and never were told to persecute anyone. Jesus told the disciples that “the time cometh that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service” (Jn. 16.2. This was spoken directly to the apostles, but the Bible and history show that it is applicable to all believers who have been persecuted or will be persecuted for Christ’s sake. Christ is actually speaking to all who are not of the world, but are the chosen of God. See, e.g., Jn. 15.).

The promises to the Jew in the Old Testament were significantly different than the promises to the Christian in the New Testament. No greater example can be cited than the contrast between the Old Testament promises that Israel would prosper and be blessed materially if they would keep God’s commandments and statutes or that they would be judged if they failed to do so (See, e.g., Ex. 15.26; 19.5-8; 24.3, 7; 34.18-35.3; Le. 18.3-20.27; 20.22-23; 26 (read in conjunction with De. 28-30); De. 4-11; 12.30-31; 28-30; 28.1-68; I S. 12.1-5; 1 K. 6.12-13; 9.1-9; 2 Chr. 7.12-22; 15.1-7; etc.) and the New Testament promise to Christians that “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Ti. 3.12).

Other New Testament verses on the matter of treatment of enemies and others include: Mt. 5.10-12, 38-48; Mt. 6.8-13, 18.21-35; Lk. 6.27-46, 9.51-56; Ac. 26.17 (what to preach to the lost we love); Ro. 8.28, 12.9-21; 14.13, 19 1 Co. 6.1-20; 2 Co. 6.3-10; Ga. 6.10; Phill. 2.15-16; 1 Thes. 5.14-15; 1 Ti. 1.8, 2.8-10, 3.1-7; 2 Ti. 3.1-12; Ja. 3.17; 1 Pe. 2.9, 2.15-16, 2.20-25, 4.1-19 (Spiritual warfare weapons and methods);

Click here for additional Bible verses and teaching on Persecution and Suffering.


Endnote

[i] Roger Williams and Edward Bean Underhill, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience Discussed and Mr. Cotton’s Letter Examined and Answered (London: Printed for the Society, by J. Haddon, Castle Street, Finsbury, 1848), p. 97, First published in 1644.

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