The Bible has a lot to say about war. In fact, the Hebrew word for “war” appears more than 250 times in the Old Testament alone. While there is no one clear answer as to what the Bible says about war, there are certainly some principles that can be gleaned from Scripture. Here are four things that the Bible says about war.
Contents: Biblical Teaching about War
War is a reality of this world according to Scripture.
The Bible doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of war. In fact, it acknowledges that war is an unfortunate but necessary part of life in a fallen world. The book of Ecclesiastes even goes so far as to say that “there is nothing new under the sun” when it comes to war (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
Biblically speaking, war is often a result of human sin.
The Bible also makes it clear that war is often the result of human sin. In the book of James, we read that “where there is envy and self-seeking, there will be conflict and every evil practice” (James 4:1-2). This is true not just on an individual level, but also on a national level. When countries seek their own interests above those of others, it often leads to conflict and war.
Some war can be justifiable by God’s Word.
While the Bible acknowledges that war is often a result of human sin, it also says that there can be such a thing as a just war. In the book of Exodus, God tells the Israelites that they are allowed to defend themselves against those who would do them harm (Exodus 22:2). And in the book of Romans, Paul says that it is right for the government to use force to punish those who do evil (Romans 13:4).
War can be an opportunity for God to work.
Finally, the Bible also teaches that war can be an opportunity for God to work in people’s lives. In the book of Isaiah, we read that God uses even the Babylonians – a cruel and ruthless people – to accomplish his purposes (Isaiah 10:5-6). And in the book of Revelation, we see that God will one day use even the forces of nature to defeat his enemies (Revelation 16:14).
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10 Bible Verses about War
So, what does the Bible say about war? While are many scripture quotes to consider, we can see that the Bible acknowledges war as a reality of this world, but also teaches that it is often the result of human sin. War can be justifiable, but it can also be an opportunity for God to work in people’s lives. Read these 10 Bible Verses about war to learn more.
Ecclesiastes 3:8 ESV
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
Matthew 24:6 ESV
And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.
Romans 7:21-25 ESV
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
Jeremiah 51:20 ESV
“You are my hammer and weapon of war: with you I break nations in pieces; with you I destroy kingdoms;
James 4:1-2 ESV
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.
Exodus 15:3 ESV
The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is his name.
Psalm 144:1-2 ESV
Of David. Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.
Proverbs 21:31 ESV
The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.
“When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. And when you draw near to the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people and shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, for the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.’
Romans 12:18 ESV
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
FAQ About War in the Bible
The New Testament is actually relatively quiet on the subject of war. Jesus Christ addresses the topic in just a handful of verses, and even then, He doesn’t take a particularly strong stance for or against military conflict. That being said, the few times that Jesus does address war in the New Testament, He makes it clear that He is not a fan. In Matthew 5:9, Jesus says “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” And in Luke 22:36, He says “If you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.” But immediately after saying this, He adds “for I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in Me.”
The Bible is clear that Christians are called to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them. However, given the fallen nature of our world, there may be situations where self-defense or defense of others may be necessary. In those cases, Christians should always act with grace, compassion, and restraint.
Christians should never desire war or unnecessarily take lives. But in a broken world where there is evil and injustice, sometimes Christians need to fight – not just through prayer and worship but also through earthly means. If we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31), then that means defending them from harms way. Sometimes that will require violence in the form of self-defense.
The Sixth Commandment is “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13). To properly answer the question, we must understand what “kill” means. The word “murder” comes from the Latin word “morteri” which means “to kill.” Thus, when we murder someone, we are killing them in a way that is contrary to the Law of God. When the Government goes to war, they are not committing murder because they are acting in accordance with the lawful use of force. The rightful use of force is necessary at times to protect innocent life and defend one’s countrymen from evil aggressors.
There is no one definitive answer to this question. However, there are several scriptures that suggest war will be a part of the end times. For instance, in John’s Revelation, there is mention of a war between the forces of good and evil (Revelation 19:19-21). In addition, Jesus said that wars would increase before His return (Matthew 24:6-7) and Paul wrote about a time when people would be “lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,…without natural affection” (2 Timothy 3:1-3). From these verses it seems that war and violence may become more prevalent in the end times.
Check out Open Bible’s 100 Bible verses on war to see more of what scripture has to say.