100 Early Christian Quotes on Not Killing

Recently, I compiled a free ebook titled 100 Early Christian Quotes on Not Killing. You can grab a copy of the PDF here. Below is the introduction I wrote for the book.

“Above all,” Clement of Alexandria wrote in the second century, “Christians are not allowed to correct by violence sinful wrongdoings.” These words sum up well the church’s original stance on violence. Under no circumstances—be it war, vengeance or self-defense—were Christians permitted to harm another person. So central was this conviction, that not a single writing from the church’s first three hundred years advocates otherwise.

Sadly, few Christians still hold this view today. And those that do are usually dismissed as naive idealists. Yet the early church’s unanimous agreement on the subject should—at the very least—cause us to pause and consider what they have to say. After all, it’s unwise to only listen to contemporary Christian voices. Learning from Christians throughout time and place protects us from being caught up by every passing, theological fad.

What’s more, some of the quotes in this eBook are from Christian leaders who were taught directly by the apostles. As my friend Eddy Hall once wrote: 

“When we want to better understand the teachings of Jesus, it can help to look at the lives of the early Christians. The apostles learned much more from watching and listening to Jesus than could be included in the Gospels. While the writings of these early Christians don’t have the authority of Scripture, they give us valuable insight into how the apostles, and those who learned directly from the apostles, understood and practiced Jesus’ teachings.” In the pages that follow, I simply want to allow the earliest Christians to speak for themselves on the topic of violence. For 1700 years, their clear teaching on the subject has been pushed aside and ignored. It’s high time we consider what they have to say.

For the peacemakers,

Jason Porterfield