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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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WAR (πόλεμος).—As the Gospels record the story of Christ, whose mission was to bring ‘peace on earth and goodwill to men,’ the references to war are not numerous. But St. Luke has three references well worthy of attention.—1. In Luke 3:14 ‘the soldiers’ (στρατευόμενοι, (Revised Version margin) ‘soldiers on service’) consult John the Baptist. It is not possible to say who the soldiers were, or in what expedition they were engaged, but they were not Roman soldiers, or any part of the force of Herod Antipas against his father-in-law Aretas, since the quarrel between Herod Antipas and Aretas had not developed then.—2. In Luke 14:31 (where He is enforcing the general lesson that we should not undertake what we have neither the strength nor the will to achieve, or enter upon His service unless we are prepared, if necessary, to sacrifice life itself) our Lord draws attention to the action of a king in calling a council of war. Possibly there is here a historical allusion to the war between Herod Antipas and Aretas (Josephus Ant. xviii. v. 3).—3. In Luke 19:43 our Lord shows His familiarity with the history of warfare when He prophesies that the enemy will cast up a bank (χάραξ) or a trench round Jerusalem. This prophecy was literally fulfilled forty years afterwards, when Titus surrounded Jerusalem with a palisaded mound and wall of masonry (agger and vallum).

Jesus seems to have recognized war as rising from the nature of man and the constitution of society; but as His teaching lays hold upon nations, the methods of war become less barbarous, and we have good cause to anticipate a time, and to work for it, when ‘nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.’ While, therefore, Jesus Christ did not condemn war in the abstract, the whole spirit of Christianity is against it (see Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible , art. ‘War’).

Coll. A. Macdonald.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'War'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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