One of the biggest criticisms leveled against biblical evangelists is that our words are unChristlike, degrading, and divisive towards other people. The argument states that Jesus would never say “mean things” or act this way, but only ever responded in love and lifted people up. Below is a list of verses in which Jesus actually said harsh things in a polemical context. Further, we must remember that Jesus’ words, no matter how harsh they may sound, never return void and always accomplish its purpose (Isaiah 55:11).
- “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” –Matthew 10:34
- “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred?” –Matthew 23:16-17
- And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.” –Luke 11:39
- “And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” –Matthew 25:30
- “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” –Mark 9:42
- “But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word.” –John 8:55
- “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?” –Matthew 23:33
- “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.” –Matthew 23:27
- “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” –John 8:44
- “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, 8 ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me.” 9 ‘But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’” –Matthew 15:7
- “But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.” –Luke 19:28
- “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” –Matthew 7:6
- “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” –Luke 12:51
- “And will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” –Matthew 24:51
- “Woe to those who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.” –Luke 6:25
- “…but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” –Luke 13:3,5
- “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” –Matthew 25:41
And perhaps the harshest thing Jesus ever said (or will say) is:
- “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” — Matthew 7:21-23
But we’re not Jesus, so we shouldn’t talk to people this way, it just turns people away from Christ, right? The Apostle Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 4 that the open statement of the truth is the only commendable method of carrying forth the Great Commission. Watering down Jesus’ words with a veil of niceness is “cunning” and “underhanded,” according to Paul. The Word of God serves two purposes; either it draws God’s people to Him, or it further hardens the hearts of those not called. Does this mean we go around condemning everyone? No. But Paul clearly teaches that blunt speaking, even using harsh words when needed, is how we should carry forth the gospel.
1Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. — 2 Corinthians 4:1-6
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