Many people, opposers, and especially apostates, like to say, as if it were a bad thing, that Jehovah's Witnesses are "pacifists". The word "pacifist", in Webster's dictionary, is described as someone who is "strongly and actively opposed to conflict and especially war". Under the definition of "pacifism" it says further: "1: opposition to war or violence as a means of settling disputes...2: an attitude or policy of nonresistance." Is this true of Jehovah's Witnesses?
Why Jehovah's Witnesses Do Not Go to War
It is true that we do not actively participate in the wars of the world and we are not to give our verbal consent to such wars. But is this because we are "pacifists"? Jehovah's Witnesses believe as Jesus stated: "Return your sword to its place. For those who take the sword will die by the sword."
The Scriptures also state: "Finally, go on acquiring power in [the] Lord and in the mightiness of his strength. Put on the complete suit of armor from God that you all may be able to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil; because we have a wrestling, not against blood and flesh, but against the governments, [Compare Matthew 4:8-9], against the authorities [Compare Ephesians 2:2; Revelation 13:2], against the world rulers [same] of this darkness [Compare Daniel 10:20-21] against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places. On this account take up the complete suit of armor from God, that you all may be able to resist in the wicked day and, after you all have done all things thoroughly, to stand firm." (Ephesians 6:10-13) Note the language there. It is anything but pacifist. "Go on acquiring power," "the mightiness of his strength," "put on the complete suit of armor from God," "stand firm against the machinations," "we have a wrestling...against," and "resist in the wicked day". Yes, we are to put up a resistance against those persecuting us, but not in flesh, but in spirit.
Jehovah's Witnesses also find a conflict between going to war for the nations and Jesus' Christ's command to love our neighbor and our enemies and to do good to those persecuting us. (Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 6:27-29) If we take up weapons against people in the world without a command from God, then we are sinning. The Jews went to war because it was commanded by God. But when God said "stand still and see the salvation of Jehovah", then the Jews stood still. (2 Chronicles 20:17-24) Today we have been commanded to "stand firm", so we do not take up swords. (Ephesians 6:11, 13) Even still, if we did go to war under God's command, we would not take delight in the act of war itself. The Scriptures state: "Lovers of violence [Jehovah's] soul certainly hates." This is Satan's world, so a Christian should leave it to Satan.
Jehovah's Witnesses Resist Persecutors
However, Jehovah's Witnesses do not take their mistreatment lying down. They have fought and won many court cases and have sent their persecutors to prison and have seen the destruction of those who have sworn the destruction of Jehovah's Witnesses. Hitler himself swore regarding Jehovah's Witnesses in a public tirade, "This lot will be exterminated!" But Jehovah's Witnesses stood their ground, and after the war, they held a convention in the very building where Hitler gave that speech. The same has occurred in many lands, and despite these proclamations, Jehovah's Witnesses remain one of the fastest growing religious organizations in the world. Has their firm stand caused their eradication? On the contrary, it has galvanized them.
In country after country, Jehovah's Witnesses have defeated their persecutors at law and not bent to the will of those holding them at gunpoint. Is it because they are pacifists that they do not fight back with swords? No. It is because they are obedient to the word of God who commanded them not to fight, because "Vengeance is mine; I will recompense". (Hebrews 10:30) If Jehovah's Witnesses took up weapons and fought in war and against those persecuting them, they would be claiming for themselves what belongs to God. However, they do fight in courts for the freedom to preach.
Is Pacifism Wrong?
Though only partially describing the attitude of pacifists, Wiktionary.com gives this first definition to "pacifist": One who loves, supports, or favours peace; one who is pro-peace. Under this definition, Jehovah's Witnesses would indeed classify as pacifists because we have hope toward God of an eternity of peace in God's righteous new world; but mind you this is a new definition that did not exist before Wiktionary.com.
But is pacifism really something to look down on? Imagine, if the whole world was made up of pacifists, would there be war? Strife? Even fist fights or murder? Our world would quite certainly be at relative peace. Many have said just such a thing of Jehovah's Witnesses. Indeed, in the new world there will be no more war or violent strife of any kind. This is the plan of God, not of men.
Jehovah's Witnesses Await the Greatest War
Jehovah's Witnesses await the day when Jesus Christ and all his heavenly army will come and destroy Satan's wicked world and put an end to injustice, war, plague, famine, oppression, and all unrighteousness. The book Worship the Only True God does not mince words when it states in very strong language:
Soon now, at his appointed time, Jehovah will send his executional forces into action to cleanse the earth. They will destroy forever those humans who of their own choice refuse to acknowledge his soverignty and who treat with scorn the loving provisions that he makes through Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9) That will be Jehovah's day, the long-awaited time for his vindication as Universal Soverign. "Look! The day of Jehovah itself is coming, cruel both with fury and with burning anger, . . . that it may annihilate the land's sinners out of it." (Isaiah 13:9) "That day is a day of fury, a day of distress and of anguish, a day of storm and of desolation, a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick gloom."—Zephaniah 1:15.
All false religion and all human governments and their armies, which have been manipulated by the unseen wicked ruler of this world, will be annihilated forever. All who identify themselves with this world by pursuing a self-centered, dishonest, immoral way of life will be cut off in death. Satan and his demons will be removed from contact with earth's inhabitants, securely confined for a thousand years. God's Kingdom will then have complete control of all earth's affairs. What a relief that will be for all who love righteousness!—Revelation 18:21, 24; 19:11-16, 19-21; 20:1, 2.
After that time, the Bible says that Satan will be let loose for a little while, then he and all those who follow after him will be destroyed for all eternity, and their memory will become nothing more than a proverbial saying. (Revelation 19:3; 20:3, 7-10) So while Jehovah's Witnesses "seek peace and pursue it," and are "peaceable with all men," they are not pacifists in the strictest sense. They are holy warriors who have been told to "stand still and see the salvation of Jehovah." (Psalm 34:14; Romans 12:18) Because, in the new world, "they will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. They will not lift up sword, nation against nation, neither will they learn war anymore. And they will actually sit, each one under his vine and under his fig tree, and there will be no one making tremble; for the very mouth of Jehovah of armies has spoken." —Micah 4:3-4
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