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Holman Bible Dictionary


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Use of force to injure or wrong. The Old Testament affirms that God hates violence (Malachi 2:16 ). The flood was God's response to a world filled and corrupted by violence (Genesis 6:11 ,Genesis 6:11,6:13 ). The Exile was likewise God's response to a Jerusalem filled with violence (Ezekiel 7:23 ). The Wisdom Literature often warns that those who live lives of violence will meet violent ends (Psalm 7:16; Proverbs 1:18-19; Proverbs 21:7; compare Matthew 26:52 ). Through the prophets God demanded an end to violence (Jeremiah 22:3; Ezekiel 45:9 ). Such violence was especially evidenced in the oppression of the poor by the rich (Psalm 55:9 ,Psalms 55:9,55:11; Psalm 73:6; Jeremiah 22:17; Micah 6:12; James 5:1-6 ). The servant of the Lord models a nonviolent response to violence (Isaiah 53:9; compare 1 Peter 2:23; James 5:6 ). Isaiah anticipated the end of violence in the Messianic age (Isaiah 60:18 ).

Matthew 11:12 is one of the most difficult texts in the New Testament. Does the kingdom of heaven suffer violence (KJV, NAS, REB, NRSV), or does the kingdom come “forcefully” (NIV)? The violence which John the Baptist ( Matthew 14:3-10 ) and believers (Matthew 5:10-11; Matthew 10:17; Matthew 23:34 ) suffer argues for the former. Other “violent” images of the kingdom's coming (Matthew 10:34-36; Luke 14:26-27 ) support the latter. Likewise, do violent men lay siege to the kingdom, or do “forceful men lay hold of it” (NIV)? Though the NIV interpretation fits well with Luke's parallel (Luke 16:16 ), it appears too much like an effort to tone down the real harshness of Matthew's language. Candidates for church leadership should be nonviolent persons (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7 ).

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Violence'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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