My friend Rance assembled this list of early Christian quotes about violence and the christian life. I hadn't seen a number of these, so I'm posting them here for your perusal:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they
shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of
righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and
falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the
same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
"You have heard that it was said, 'AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH
FOR A TOOTH.' But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but
whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your
coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give
to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to
borrow from you."
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the
rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this
darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly
I Peter 3:8-17
To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly,
kindhearted, and humble in spirit; do not repay evil with evil or
insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were
called so that you may inherit a blessing.
For, "THE ONE WHO DESIRES LIFE, TO LOVE AND SEE GOOD DAYS,
MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING DECEIT.
HE MUST TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD;
HE MUST SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT.
FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS,
AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER,
BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL."
Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But
even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are
blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED,
but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to
make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the
hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a
good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered,
those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.
For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for
doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.
And when the Spirit of prophecy speaks as predicting things that are
to come to pass, He speaks in this way: "For out of Zion shall go
forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall
judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they
shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into
pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more." And that it did so come to
pass, we can convince you. For from Jerusalem there went out into
the world, men, twelve in number, and these illiterate, of no
ability in speaking: but by the power of God they proclaimed to
every race of men that they were sent by Christ to teach to all the
word of God; and we who formerly used to murder one another do not
only now refrain from making war upon our enemies, but also, that we
may not lie nor deceive our examiners, willingly die confessing
Christ. For that saying, "The tongue has sworn but the mind is
unsworn," might be imitated by us in this matter. But if the
soldiers enrolled by you, and who have taken the military oath,
prefer their allegiance to their own life, and parents, and country,
and all kindred, though you can offer them nothing incorruptible, it
were verily ridiculous if we, who earnestly long for incorruption,
should not endure all things, in order to obtain what we desire from
Him who is able to grant it. (First Apology 39)
And we who were filled with war, and mutual slaughter, and every
wickedness, have each through the whole earth changed our warlike
weapons, - our swords into ploughs, and our spears into implements
of tillage, - and we cultivate piety, righteousness, philanthropy,
faith, and hope, which we have from the Father Himself through Him
who was crucified. (Dialogue with Trypho 50)
For it is not in war, but in peace, that we are trained. War needs
great preparation, and luxury craves profusion; but peace and love,
simple and quiet sisters, require no arms nor excessive preparation.
The Word is their sustenance. (Instructor I 12)
And to those who inquire of us whence we come, or who is our
founder, we reply that we are come, agreeably to the counsels of
Jesus, to cut down our hostile and insolent wordy swords into plows,
and to convert into pruning-hooks the spears formerly employed in
war. For we no longer take up sword against nation, nor do we learn
war any more, having become children of peace, for the sake of
Jesus, who is our leader, instead of those who our fathers followed,
among whom we were strangers to the covenant. (Against Celsus 5 33)
For the Christians have changed their swords and their lances into
instruments of peace, and they know not how to fight.
Nor an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, for him who counts no
man his enemy, but all his neighbors, and therefore can never
stretch out his hand for vengeance. (Proof of the Apostolic
Ignatius of Antioch
Nothing is more precious than peace, by which all war, both in
heaven and earth, is brought to an end. Therefore have need of
meekness, by which the prince of this world is brought to nought.
(Epistle to the Trallians 4)
How, then, when we do not even look on, lest we should contract
guilt and pollution, can we put people to death? And when we say
that those women who use drugs to bring on abortion commit murder,
and will have to give an account to God s for the abortion, on what
principle should we commit murder? For it does not belong to the
same person to regard the very foetus in the womb as a created
being, and therefore an object of God's care, and when it has passed
into life, to kill it. (A Plea for the Christians 35)
But now inquiry is made about this point, whether a believer may
turn himself unto military service, and whether the military may be
admitted unto the faith, even the rank and file, or each inferior
grade, to whom there is no necessity for taking part in sacrifices
or capital punishments. There is no agreement between the divine and
the human sacrament, the standard of Christ and the standard of the
devil, the camp of light and the camp of darkness. One soul cannot
be due to two masters--God and Caesar. And yet Moses carried a rod,
and Aaron wore a buckle, and John (Baptist) is girt with leather and
Joshua the son of Nun leads a line of march; and the People warred:
if it pleases you to sport with the subject. But how will a
Christian man war, nay, how will he serve even in peace, without a
sword, which the Lord has taken away? For albeit soldiers had come
unto John, and had received the formula of their rule; albeit,
likewise, a centurion had believed; still the Lord afterward, in
disarming Peter, unbed every soldier. (On Idolatry)
...we who hated and killed one another, and on account of their
different cultures would not live with men of a different country,
now, since the coming of Christ, live familiarly with them, and pray
for our enemies, and endeavour to persuade those who hate us
unjustly to live comformably to the good precepts of Christ, to the
end that they may become par-takers with us of the same joyful hope
of a reward from God the ruler of all. (First Apology 14)
Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus
Inquiry shall likewise be made about the professions and trades of
those who are brought to be admitted to the faith. ?A gladiator or a
trainer of gladiators, or a huntsman in the wild beast shows, or
anyone connected with these shows, or a public official in charge of
gladiatorial exhibitions must desist or be rejected. A heathen
priest or anyone who attends to idols must desist or be rejected. A
soldier of the civil authority must be taught not to kill men and to
refuse to do so if he is commanded, and to refuse to take an oath;
if he is, unwilling to comply, he must be rejected. A military
commander or civic magistrate that wears the purple must resign or
rejected. If a catechumen or a believer seeks to become a soldier,
they must be rejected for they have despised God. (Hippolytan
For when God forbids us to kill, He not only prohibits us from open
violence, which is not even allowed by the public laws, but He warns
us against the commission of those things which are esteemed lawful
among men. Thus it will be neither lawful for a just man to engage
in warfare, since his warfare is justice itself, not to accuse any
one of a capital charge, because it makes no difference whether you
put a man to death by word, or rather by the sword, since it is the
act of putting to death itself which is prohibited. (The Divine
1st Council of Nicea
As many as were called by grace, and displayed the first zeal,
having cast aside their military girdles, but afterwards returned,
like dogs, to their own vomit... (Canon 12)
The whole world is wet with mutual blood; and murder, which in the
case of an individual is admitted to be a crime, is called a virtue
when it is committed wholesale. Impunity is claimed for the wicked
deeds, not on the plea that they are guiltless, but because the
cruelty is perpetrated on a grand scale. (To Donatus 6)