We have been united as follows concerning the sword. The sword is an ordering of God outside the perfection of Christ. It punishes and kills the wicked and guards and protects the good. In the law the sword is established11 over the wicked for punishment and for death and the secular rulers are established to wield the same.
But within the perfection of Christ only the ban is used for the admonition and exclusion of the one who has sinned, without the death of the flesh, simply the warning and the command to sin no more.
Now many, who do not understand Christ’s will for us, will ask; whether a Christian may or should use the sword against the wicked for the protection and defense of the good, or for the sake of love.
The answer is unanimously revealed: Christ teaches and commands us to learn from Him, for He is meek and lowly of heart and thus we shall find rest for our souls (Mt. 11:29). Now Christ says to the woman who was taken in adultery (Jn. 8:11), not that she should be stoned according to the law of His Father (and yet He says, “What the Father commanded me, that I do”) (Jn. 8:22) but with mercy and forgiveness and the warning to sin no more, says: “Go, sin no more.” Exactly thus should we also proceed, according to the rule of the ban.
Second, is asked concerning the sword: whether a Christian shall pass sentence in disputes and strife about worldly matters, such as the unbelievers have with one another. The answer: Christ did not wish to decide or pass judgement between brother and brother concerning inheritance, but refused to do so (Lk. 12:13). So should we also do.
Third, is asked concerning the sword: whether the Christian should be a magistrate if he is chosen thereto. This is answered thus: Christ was to be made King, but He fled and did not discern the ordinance of His Father12. Thus we should also do as He did and follow after Him, and we shall not walk in darkness. For He Himself says: “Whoever would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mt. 16:24). He Himself further forbids the violence of the sword when He says: “The princes of this world lord it over them etc., but among you it shall not be so” (Mt. 20:25). Further Paul says, “Whom God has foreknown, the same he has also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,” etc. (Rom. 8:30). Peter also says: “Christ has suffered (not ruled) and has left us an example, that you should follow after in his steps” (1 Pet. 2:21).
Lastly, one can see in the following points that it does not befit a Christian to be a magistrate: the rule of the government is according to the flesh, that of the Christians according to the spirit. Their houses and dwelling remain in this world, that of the Christians is in heaven. Their citizenship is in this world, that of the Christians is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). The weapons of their battle and warfare are carnal and only against the flesh, but the weapons of Christians are spiritual, agains the fortification of the devil. The worldly are armed with steel and iron, but Christians are armed with the armor of God, with truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and with the Word of God. In sum: as Christ our Head is minded, so also must be minded the members of the body of Christ through Him, so that there be no division in the body, through which it would be destroyed.13 Since then Christ is as is written of Him, so must His members also be the same, so that His body may remain whole and unified for its own advancement and upbuilding. For any kingdom which is divided within itself will be destroyed (Mt. 12:25).