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Fall 2021 · Vol. 50 No. 2 · pp. 165–176 

‘Blessed Are the Peacemakers’: Eschatology, Violence, and the Ministry of Jesus

Jesse Nickel

The question of Jesus’s perspective on violence in general and, more precisely, its place in the life of his followers is of perennial interest. For some, Jesus’s position is clear, perhaps best represented by his often-quoted words from the Gospel of Matthew: “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (5:43 NIV, passim). Others, however, contend that things are not quite so straightforward, and appeal to a wide variety of historical, hermeneutical, and theological points to advocate for alternative ways of understanding Jesus’s teaching.

We need to think carefully about whether Jesus’s proclamation of the gospel leaves room for enacting violence of any kind.

To summarize the background and present state of this disputed point of Christian ethics is far beyond the scope of this essay. My purpose here is to contribute to the conversation a perspective which I believe has been much overlooked, by situating Jesus’s teaching on and enactment of nonviolence within the context of the eschatologically motivated revolutionary violence of the first-century Jewish world. Amidst the widespread expectation that when God acted to save the righteous and {166} judge the wicked, this would take the form of the violent destruction of Israel’s oppressors, Jesus articulated and enacted a drastically different vision for this long-awaited moment. The Gospels portray Jesus utilizing his unparalleled power and authority to bring about the inauguration of God’s kingdom, in a way that radically overturned contemporary expectations—for at the heart of Jesus’s victory was the complete rejection of violent means of achieving it.

Therefore, in contrast to some previous examinations of Jesus’s ethics, which treat the question of violence as peripheral to his more central concerns, this essay argues that Jesus’s position on such matters is a critical and central component of his ministry. This is demonstrated by both his refusal to use violence to inaugurate the kingdom, as well as the central place of peace within his descriptions of the kingdom itself and those who belong to it.

The essay will proceed in two sections: first, I will outline the important conceptual connections between violence and eschatology in the Judaism of Jesus’s day, which gave rise to a historical phenomenon which I term “eschatological violence”; second, I will demonstrate how a deeper understanding of the significant place of such eschatological violence within the first-century Jewish worldview enables us more fully to perceive the meaning and power of key moments in Jesus’s ministry. Reading the Gospels in this light, Jesus’s consistent rejection of violence and exhortation to recognize and embrace “the things that make for peace” (Luke 19:42a, author’s translation) becomes even more clear. 1


Before turning our attention to the Gospels themselves, we need to demonstrate the ways in which violence 2 was bound up with the eschatological expectations of many first-century Jews. 3

Since the 1948 discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, many New Testament scholars have put considerable effort toward better understanding the complex world of Second Temple Judaism. Many of its features have, as a result, come into clearer focus. Two that stand out for their relevance to this essay are (1) the significance of eschatology within the Jewish worldview, 4 and (2) the relatively frequent outbreaks of violent revolutionary activity, undertaken by groups of Jews against their Roman overlords (or Rome’s local representatives). 5 Of particular significance to our interests is the way that these two phenomena are connected. {167}

The connections between violence and eschatology can be demonstrated by the existence of a historical phenomenon I have termed “eschatological violence.” Eschatological violence is violence that was in some way associated with eschatological expectations; that is, violent action motivated by the belief that it was necessary for the inauguration of God’s long-awaited deliverance of his faithful people. 6 Those who acted on the basis of such motivation did so believing that the defeat of the enemies of God and his people would come about—at least in part—by means of God’s people taking up the sword to demonstrate their faithfulness, righteous zeal, and desire to see God’s promises fulfilled. Not only would such violent action set in motion eschatological events, it would also identify those who were truly God’s people; those who would enter the kingdom and receive its blessings.

That eschatological violence was a live option in the first-century Jewish world can be demonstrated both literarily and historically. First, literarily, an extensive body of Jewish writings from the Second Temple period expresses eschatological expectations of one form or another. 7 These texts have several elements in common, including passages which depict God fulfilling his promises to deliver his people from their enemies and establish his dominion over all creation, inaugurating a new age of blessing and righteousness. Although the means of this forthcoming deliverance is variously portrayed, these texts unanimously attest the expectation that all who opposed it—both human kingdoms as well as the cosmic forces that stood behind them—would be defeated.

Violence is consistently associated with such events. 8 In the book of Daniel we read that the suffering of “the holy people of the Most High” (7:18) gives way to the beast being put to death and destroyed with fire (7:11, 22, 26); the “fierce-looking king” is destroyed (8:23, 25), and the decreed end is poured out upon the desolator (9:27). In the “Animal Apocalypse” of 1 Enoch 85–90, the great battle between the “sheep” (God’s faithful people) and the “birds” (their wicked pagan oppressors) reaches its conclusion when the sheep are given a “large sword,” and go “out against all the wild beasts to kill them” (90:19), leading to the last judgment, in which sinners are condemned and cast into an abyss of fire (90:20–27). 9

However, when it comes to the description of violent conflict in the eschatological age, no other text compares to the War Scroll (1QM). The War Scroll documents the conflict of the archangel Michael, the heavenly armies, and the human “sons of light,” against the forces of evil, led by Belial, and the human “sons of darkness.” The violence of this event is described in graphic terms: it will involve “savage destruction before the God of Israel, for this will be the day determined by him since ancient {168} times for the war of extermination against the sons of darkness” (I, 9–10). 10 The armies of the sons of light “shed the blood” of the wicked (VI, 17), and God is implored to “place your hand on the neck of your enemies and your foot on the piles of slain! Strike the peoples, your foes, and may your sword consume guilty flesh!” (XII, 11–12; cf. XIX, 3–4). The Yaḥad (the sectarian Jewish community with whom this text is identified) expected to be the instruments of victory wielded by God to bring about an end to wickedness. In this way, “the rule of the Kittim” would “come to an end,” and “[God’s] exalted greatness” would “shine for all the et[ernal] times, for peace, blessing, glory and joy” (I, 6, 8–9). 11

Historically, the presence of eschatological violence in the world of first-century Judaism can be demonstrated by examining outbreaks of Jewish revolutionary violence in the Second Temple period. Although such incidents appear to have been frequent, three were of particularly large scale and impact: the Maccabean Revolt (167–164 BCE), the Jewish-Roman War (66–70 CE), and the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132–135 CE). 12 The historical evidence for each of these conflicts—found in sources including the books of 1 and 2 Maccabees, the writings of Josephus, and a variety of inscriptions, coins, and other archaeological data—suggests that eschatology functioned as a motivational and ideological factor in each one. In other words, the Jews who took up the sword against their Gentile oppressors did so, at least in part, because of what they believed would occur in the last days of the present age, and what the role of faithful Israel would be in these events. When YHWH would fulfill his promises to deliver his people from their enemies, judge the wicked, and inaugurate the age to come, righteous human violence would be an integral factor.

Finally, we must not ignore the clear precedents for such violence found in the biblical narrative itself. 1 Maccabees 2:51–60 is instructive in this regard, drawing the revolt initiated by Mattathias into the history of Phinehas, Joshua, David, and Elijah. This clearly shows that Jewish revolutionaries in the Second Temple period looked back not just to the Maccabees, but beyond them to the tradition of zeal for YHWH that runs throughout the biblical narrative. Such zeal was often manifested in righteous acts of violence against the enemies of God and his people. 13

Taken together, this evidence convincingly demonstrates that those Jews who took up the sword against their Gentile oppressors did so for more than simply political or nationalistic reasons. Integrated within the Jewish worldview, such factors were inseparable from beliefs about who God was and God’s promises about the days to come––that is, from eschatology. {169}


This matters to our reading of the Gospels for the simple reason that the fulfillment of Jewish eschatological expectations was at the very heart of the ministry of Jesus. If one were asked to sum up Jesus’s ministry with a single phrase, “the kingdom of God” would be a strong candidate. References to this kingdom are everywhere in Jesus’s teaching, particularly as presented in the Synoptic Gospels. It stands at the very center of his ministry: Jesus announced its imminent arrival (e.g., Mark 1:15a), described its character (e.g., Luke 13:18–19), summoned his listeners to “enter” it (e.g., Matt 19:23–24), and even proclaimed its presence among them as a result of his own actions (e.g., Luke 11:20).

In all these cases, Jesus used “the kingdom of God” as shorthand for the eschatological hope of Israel. In other words, when Jesus declared that “the kingdom of God has come near” (Mark 1:15), he was in effect announcing that all that God had promised, he would do—gather and redeem his people, deliver them from destructive oppression, forgive their sins, cleanse, and purify them, and dwell amongst them once more—was about to take place. 14

This provides important background for understanding Jesus’s ministry, for in his words and deeds Jesus not only announced that God’s promises were about to be fulfilled, he claimed to be the agent of that fulfillment. The preceding section demonstrated that among Jesus’s contemporaries, there was widespread belief that human violence, enacted by God’s faithful people, had an integral role to play in this fulfillment. We turn now to examine how Jesus’s ministry, focused as it was on proclaiming and inaugurating the kingdom, was perceived in the light of such expectations.

The remainder of this paper will briefly discuss several accounts in the Gospels in which contemporary expectations about God’s forthcoming deliverance are a significant interpretive factor. When we come to our reading of the text conscious of eschatological violence, we are able to see more clearly how Jesus repeatedly articulated an alternative vision for the fulfillment of God’s eschatological promises, one in which human violence had no part.

2.a. John’s Question to Jesus

All four Gospels make it clear that Jesus challenged contemporary conceptions of the role and identity of the Messiah. 15 Prominent within the diversity of these conceptions was the association of God’s “anointed one” with deliverance of a militaristic sort, 16 and numerous accounts demonstrate that Jesus himself bore the burden of such expectations. {170} Once his public activity began to make clear the overwhelming power (dynamis) and authority (exousia) with which he spoke and acted, many of his followers began to believe it was only a matter of time before Jesus matched this power—seemingly, the power of YHWH himself—against that of Rome. Jesus repeatedly faces the disparity between what his contemporaries expect of him, and his own understanding of the kingdom of God and his role in its inauguration. 17

One of the most notable of such situations is recorded in Matthew 11. The chapter begins with John the Baptist in prison, and hearing about the “deeds of the Messiah” (11:2). Matthew—intentionally, I would argue—does not write that John had been informed about Jesus’s activity, but that of the Messiah: the emphasis is placed upon the role Jesus was perceived to be fulfilling. Having received this news, John was evidently disappointed, confused, or both: the deeds of Jesus do not seem to have matched up with what he expected the Messiah to do. John’s question—“Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (11:3)—comes across as an indirect way of asking, “If you are the one we’re waiting for—the one I named ‘the stronger one’—why aren’t you doing what I expected?” 18 If Jesus was the one who would “proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners” (Isa 61:1; cf. Luke 4:18), then why was John still in Herod’s custody? Where was the “vengeance of our God” (Isa 61:2)? 19

When John’s disciples dutifully put the Baptist’s question to Jesus, he responds by exhorting John to open his eyes to the eschatological significance of his deeds (Matt 11:5), describing his ministry with words resonant of the prophet’s depiction of YHWH’s restoration of his faithful people (Isa 29:18–19; 35:5–6; 61:1). Jesus concludes his response by pronouncing blessing upon anyone who recognizes the true significance of his works, who does not “stumble” over them but perceives their eschatological character and understands what this implies about the nature of Jesus’s Christos-identity (Matt 11:6). 20 Turning to address all those present, Jesus then identifies John as the last and greatest prophet of the present age (vv. 10–11). With Jesus’s own presence, however, and through him the inbreaking of the age to come, the greater is here: “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been going forth powerfully, and the violent are trying to seize it” (11:12, author’s translation). 21

This enigmatic statement provides an interpretive lens for the preceding interaction. John had been led by his expectations to question whether Jesus truly the anointed deliverer for whom God’s people was had long been waiting. Prominent among these expectations was the use of (violent) power to overcome the wicked and deliver the righteous. In {171} response to John’s challenge, Jesus pointed out the incredible deeds of power that had characterized his ministry from its outset—deeds that brought about restoration and life rather than destruction and death. In his work, the kingdom had indeed been “going forth with power”—just not, perhaps, the type of power that many in Israel had expected. Over and over again, Jesus had been confronted by those who looked for him to take up the sword, to call God’s faithful people to arms. This pressure—whether overt or, as in John’s question, subliminal—is alluded to by Jesus when he says, “the violent try to seize control of [the kingdom]” (11:12). Jesus sees this temptation represented by John’s question for what it is. But he remains committed to his own prophetically-shaped understanding of the true “deeds of the Messiah” embodied in his mighty deeds and pronounces blessing upon all who can perceive their meaning. 22

2.b. The Sermon on the Mount

Deeper understanding of the significance of eschatological violence also enables us to more accurately interpret what is perhaps Jesus’s best-known statement on violence: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:43–44). 23 The careful structure of Matthew’s Gospel suggests that the evangelist presents the Sermon on the Mount (within which we find these words) as a summary of Jesus’s teaching on the kingdom. 24 Having announced the inauguration of his mission in 4:17, the Sermon (5:2–7:27) gathers together Jesus’s description of what it looks like to live within this inbreaking eschatological reality.

It is within this framework that we receive Jesus’s exhortation to enemy-love, followed by the declaration that in doing so, one demonstrates one’s own identity as a child of the Father (5:45a). Despite the relative abundance of references to God as “father” in the Sermon (e.g., 5:16; 6:1, 9), and the associated presence of parent-child metaphors (e.g., 7:9–11), at only two points are the actions of a child of God explicitly described: making peace (5:9) and loving enemies and praying for one’s persecutors (5:45). Given the significance of being named a child of God elsewhere in the Scriptures—such familial language often signifies the intimate and unique covenantal relationship between God and God’s faithful people (e.g., Exod 4:22; Deut 14:1)—the association of this identity with these two closely-linked actions in the Sermon is noteworthy. 25 Those who observed these commands would identify themselves as God’s true people, those who would receive the blessings promised by God through his prophets. {172}

Read in the light of the prominence of eschatological violence, Jesus’s words here clearly confront those of his contemporaries who longed for the day when the ekthroi (“enemies”)—the wicked oppressors of God’s people—would be utterly destroyed by the sword of the righteous, who would in this way demonstrate their own faithful allegiance to YHWH. 26 Instead, Jesus declares that it is peacemaking and enemy-love that truly identify one as a child of the kingdom.

2.c. The Passion Narrative

Jesus’s rejection of eschatological violence reaches its climax in the events leading up to and including his crucifixion. Following the Passover meal shared with the twelve, Jesus departed for Gethsemane (Matt 26:36). 27 After prayerfully wrestling with his impending fate (vv. 37–46), Jesus and his disciples were approached by “a large crowd armed with swords and clubs,” led by Judas Iscariot (v. 47). For the purposes of this essay, at least two aspects of the well-known events that follow warrant closer attention. 28

The first is Jesus’s response to his disciple’s attempt to prevent Jesus from being arrested (vv. 52–54). Jesus rebukes the disciple’s use of violence, commanding him to put away his sword and making it clear that any use of violence only leads to more of the same (v. 52). 29 Next, he states that if it were his desire to be delivered from this armed mob, he would have no need for the swords of his followers, for all the armies of heaven were at his summons (v. 53). 30 Even in this moment Jesus still holds power, but chooses to set it aside and hand himself over to these representatives of his adversaries, in order that “the Scriptures be fulfilled” (v. 54).

Jesus’s words to the armed mob constitute the second noteworthy component of this incident (vv. 55–56). Jesus chastises the crowd with the challenge, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me?” (v. 55). More literally, Jesus asks whether they have come for him “hōs epi lēstēn”—that is, as if he were a lēstēs. Lēstēs is often translated as “brigand” or “robber” (Luke 10:30, 36), but it was commonly used in first-century literature (most notably, the works of Josephus) to describe just the sort of Jewish revolutionaries who embraced eschatological violence. 31 Jesus observes that the actions of this mob—coming to arrest him at night, outside the city, in a secluded place, and heavily-armed—suggest that they perceived him as precisely this sort of figure. The mob comes prepared for a fight, expecting that Jesus will not come quietly.

So began the final hours of Jesus’s (pre-resurrection) life, which are characterized by a series of points at which Jesus is juxtaposed with {173} lēstai (plural of lēstēs). The word is also used to describe Barabbas in John 18:40, and the Synoptic descriptions of him support John’s use of the term. 32 When Pilate presents the Jerusalem crowd with the chance to have either Jesus or Barabbas released, he is inviting them to choose between Jesus and a lēstēs. Furthermore, both Matthew (27:38) and Mark (15:27) describe the two individuals between whom Jesus is himself crucified as lēstai, reinforcing what other ancient sources make clear: crucifixion was the punishment handed out to those who dared to challenge Roman hegemony. 33 The mystery of the cross is thus heightened: the one who proclaimed and inaugurated the kingdom of God without violence and called his followers to be peacemakers suffered the punishment given to those who took up the sword against their enemies.

At these three points, therefore—in Gethsemane, on trial before Pilate, and in his crucifixion—Jesus’s messianic identity and task is juxtaposed with those who had embraced violent means of bringing about eschatological deliverance. 34 The distinction between these lēstai and Jesus could hardly be more striking.


In this essay, I set out to accomplish two main tasks: first, to identify and describe the significance of “eschatological violence” in the world of Second Temple Judaism; and second, to demonstrate the difference that an increased awareness of and appreciation for this can make to our reading of the Gospel’s presentation of Jesus’s ministry. Among other outcomes, I argue that we are thus enabled to better understand the significance of Jesus’s consistent dissociation of violence from his vision for both the inauguration of the kingdom of God and the character of those who belong to it.

This essay is, of necessity, limited in scope, and there are several ways in which the observations and interpretive claims made here could be explored much more fully. By way of conclusion, I will offer a few comments on two such areas for further consideration. First, exegetically, there are of course numerous Gospel passages that warrant additional attention. More broadly, however, the approach for which this paper advocates raises questions about God’s fulfillment of his promises in and through Jesus. If it is indeed the case that in Jesus’s ministry, the kingdom of God was breaking in, and Jewish expectations for that event included the defeat of the enemies of God and God’s people, then how was this component of the eschatological hope fulfilled by Jesus? If, according to the Gospels, Jesus rejected eschatological violence, then how did he envision and embody the defeat of the enemies of the {174} kingdom? I have argued elsewhere that the answer provided by the Gospels (and numerous other passages in the New Testament) focuses on Jesus’s exorcistic activity and the crucifixion. 35 In his authoritative confrontations with unclean and destructive spirits, and—almost inconceivably—in his own violent death at the hands of the Romans, we see Jesus accomplishing the goals which many of his contemporaries expected to come through revolutionary violence: he defeated eschatological enemies and provided deliverance for God’s people.

Second, practically, the approach to understanding Jesus and his ministry for which this essay advocates has significant implications for contemporary Christian ethics and discipleship. If indeed it is the case that Jesus consistently rejected the violent option, clearly dissociating it from his description of the kingdom and those who belong to it, this ought to have a considerable impact upon discussions about the place of violence in the lives of the followers of Jesus today. It is no secret that Christian perspectives on violence both personal and corporate are diverse. I suggest that close attention to Jesus’s words and deeds leaves us with fewer options than some might like to think. If we seek to “conduct [ourselves] in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil 1:27a), we need to think carefully about whether Jesus’s own proclamation of the gospel and inauguration of the kingdom leave any room for enacting violence of any kind, no matter the ends for which we embrace such means.


  1. This essay summarizes some of the main points made in Jesse P. Nickel, The Things that Make for Peace: Jesus and Eschatological Violence, BZNW 244 (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2021), a revision of my doctoral thesis.
  2. We should note here that “violent” / “violence” have become rather difficult terms to define, because of the flexibility with which they have been used in recent scholarship. A helpful discussion can be found in Thomas R. Yoder Neufeld, Killing Enmity: Violence in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011), 1–8; I define my own use of the term in Nickel, Things that Make for Peace, 41–47.
  3. This section is a revised version of pages 51–56 of Jesse Nickel, “Jesus and the Lēstai: Competing Kingdom Visions,” Ex Auditu 34 (2018): 42–61. My thanks to the very helpful folks at Wipf and Stock ( for permission to reuse the material.
  4. See, among many others, E. P. Sanders, Judaism: Practice and Belief, 63 BCE–66 CE (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2016), 457–94; N. T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992), 280–338. {175}
  5. For overview and bibliography, see W. J. Heard and K. Yamazaki-Ransom, “Revolutionary Movements,” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2013), 789–99.
  6. More detailed definition of the term is provided in Nickel, Things that Make for Peace, 47–49.
  7. Some of the most significant examples include Daniel, 1 Enoch, Jubilees, the Testament of Moses, the Psalms of Solomon, 4 Ezra, 2 Baruch, the Sibylline Oracles, and numerous texts from the Dead Sea Scrolls.
  8. Some of the most prominent descriptions of such eschatological violence can be found in Jub. 23:9–32 (esp. 23, 30); T. Mos. 10.1–10; Pss. Sol. 17 (esp. vv. 22–25); 4 Ezra 11.1–12.3, 10–29; 13.1–13, 21–56; 2 Bar. 27.1–30.5; 36.1–40.4; 53.1–76.5; and Sib. Or. 3.669–701; 4.40–48.
  9. Quotations from 1 Enoch are from George W. E. Nickelsburg and James C. VanderKam, 1 Enoch: A New Translation based on the Hermeneia Commentary (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2004).
  10. Quotations from the Dead Sea Scrolls are from Florentino García Martínez and Eibert J. C. Tigchelaar, eds., The Dead Sea Scrolls: Study Edition, 2 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 1997).
  11. For further examples of the violence of 1QM, see III, 8; VIII, 8–9, 16–18; IX, 1–2; XVI, 7, 9; XVII, 12–13.
  12. Note Josephus, War 6.329; Ant. 14.77. For a helpful overview of 164 BCE–66 CE (the years between the end of the Maccabean Revolt and the outbreak of the Jewish-Roman war), see James C. VanderKam, An Introduction to Early Judaism (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001), 18–41.
  13. Josephus frequently names “zeal” as a motivational factor in Jewish revolutionary activity (e.g., War 2.230; 3.9; 5.21, 100; 6.79; 7.270). On the centrality of “zeal” to first-century Jewish revolutionary movements, see Martin Hengel, The Zealots: Investigations into the Jewish Freedom Movement in the Period from Herod I Until 70 A.D., trans. David Smith (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1989), 146–228.
  14. For further discussion of the phrase “kingdom of God,” see Nickel, Things that Make for Peace, 38–41.
  15. We must, of course, be careful not to suggest that first-century messianic expectations were in any way simplistic or homogenous; in fact, they were complex and diverse. See the essays collected in Jacob Neusner et al., eds., Judaisms and Their Messiahs at the Turn of the Christian Era (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987).
  16. See, e.g., Psalms of Solomon 17:22–23.
  17. See, e.g., (1) Luke 13:1–5, where Jesus has a report brought to him about “the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices” (v. 1); (2) Mark 8:31–33 (and parallels), where, after declaring for the first time that as Messiah his role will be to suffer, be rejected, and be killed, Jesus is rebuked by Peter; and (3) Mark 11:1–10 (and parallels), where Jesus, arriving at Jerusalem, chooses to approach the city riding not a mighty war horse, but a donkey, thus evoking the kingly figure described in Zechariah 9:9–10, who will “proclaim peace to the nations” (v. 10). These passages {176} are discussed further in Nickel, Things that Make for Peace, 122–27, 169–77, and 225–28.
  18. So H. Stettler, “Die Bedeutung der Täuferanfrage in Matthäus 11,2–6 par Lk 7,18–23 für die Christologie,” Biblica 89 (2008), 174.
  19. Craig A. Evans, Matthew, NCBC (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 233.
  20. See Matthias Konradt, Das Evangelium nach Matthäus, NTD Neues Göttinger Bibelwerk—Neubearbeitungen 1 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015), 177.
  21. This verse is notoriously difficult to translate. The bia– root lying behind both the verb biazetai (“going forth powerfully”) and the noun biastai (“the violent [ones]”) connotes the use of force, but whether the force is to be understood as positive or negative depends on a wide range of factors both grammatical and contextual. For further discussion, see Nickel, Things that Make for Peace, 165–69.
  22. See Konradt, Das Evangelium, 183.
  23. For more thorough discussion of Matthew 5:38–48, see Nickel, Things that Make for Peace, 177–85.
  24. Scot McKnight, Sermon on the Mount, Story of God Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013), 19–21.
  25. Simon J. Joseph, The Nonviolent Messiah: Jesus, Q, and the Enochic Tradition (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2014), 218–20.
  26. Cf. 1QS I, 3b–11a; Evans, Matthew, 133.
  27. The events in Gethsemane are presented in all four Gospels, but for the sake of clarity I will focus here on Matthew’s account; cf. Mark 14:32–52; Luke 22:39–54; and John 18:1–14.
  28. For further discussion, see Nickel, Things that Make for Peace, 185–89.
  29. Note the connection to Rev 13:10 and cf. Gen 9:6; Prov 22:8; and Hos 10:13. See also W. D. Davies and Dale C. Allison, Jr., Matthew 19–28, ICC (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1997), 512–13, and Evans, Matthew, 438–39.
  30. The concept of heavenly forces fighting alongside God’s people is well-attested in Second Temple Jewish literature. See, e.g., 1QM VII, 6; cf. XII, 4–5, 8–9; XIII, 10. See further Davies and Allison, Matthew, 513–14.
  31. See, e.g., War 2.253–54, 274–75, 585–87; Ant. 14.159–60; 15.245–48.
  32. Matt 27:16; Mark 15:7; Luke 23:19, 25. See Nickel, “Jesus and the Lēstai,” 44.
  33. See Nickel, “Jesus,” 48–49, esp. notes 25–27.
  34. For further discussion of the significance of the Jesus-lēstai juxtaposition, see Nickel, “Jesus and the Lēstai.”
  35. Nickel, Things that Make for Peace, 191–230; Nickel, “Jesus and the Lēstai,” 58–61.
Jesse Nickel has a PhD in New Testament from Saint Andrews. He served for several years as a youth pastor and now teaches New Testament at Columbia Bible College. He is passionate about knowing Jesus more deeply and teaching others about the already/not-yet, shalom-centered kingdom of God.

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