Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. – John 18:36
Pray for all the saints. Pray also for kings and powers and princes and for them that persecute and hate you and for the enemies of the cross, that your fruit may be manifest among all men, that you may be perfect in Him.
Clement of Alexandria
“God might have bestowed upon his people both riches and kingdoms, as he had given previously to the Jews, whose successors and posterity we are. However, he would have Christians live under the power and government of others, lest they should become corrupted by the happiness and prosperity, slide into luxury, and eventually despise the commandments of God. For this is what our ancestors did.”“Why should the just man wage war, and mix himself up in other people’s passions – he in whose mind dwells perpetual peace with men?”
Wherefore we have no country on earth, that we may despise earthly possessions.- ibid
“If you enroll as one of God’s people, then heaven is your country and God your lawgiver.” – ibid
For how can a man be just who injures, who hates, who despoils, who puts to death? And they who strive to be serviceable to their country do all these things…Whoever, then, has gained for his country these goods – as they themselves call them – that is, who by the overthrow of cities and the destruction of nations has filled the treasury with money, has taken lands and enriched his country-men – he is extolled with praises to the heaven: in him there is said to be the greatest and perfect virtue. And this is the error not only of the people and the ignorant, but also of philosophers…Therefore, when they are speaking of the duties relating to warfare, all that discourse is accommodated neither to justice nor to true virtue, but to this life and to civil institutions.
(Lucilius, a Pagan writes) “It is a virtue to give that which is really due to honor… That is, we should consider the interests of our country first, those of our parents should come next and our own interests should be in the third and last place.”… (Christian Reply) “However, we will presently see how false these things are… It is a virtue to restrain anger to control desire, and to curb lust. For this is to flee from vice. …Also, if desire is restrained, no one will use violence by land or sea. Nor will anyone lean an army off and lay waste to the property of others. For what are the interests of our country but the hardships of another state or nation? To extend the boundaries that are violently taken from others, to increase the power of the state to improve revenues – all these things are not virtues, but the overthrowing of virtues.- ibid
Letter to Diognetus
But while (The Christians) dwell in cities of Greeks and barbarians as the lot of each is cast, and follow the native customs in dress and food and the other arrangements of life, yet the constitution of their own citizenship, which they set forth, is marvelous, and confessedly contradicts expectation. They dwell in their own countries, but only as sojourners; they bear their share in all things as citizens, and they endure all hardships as strangers. Every foreign country is a fatherland to them, and every fatherland is foreign.
“Oh emperor, it is the Christians that have sought and found the truth, for they acknowledge God. They do not keep for themselves the goods entrusted to them. They do not covet what belongs to others, but they show love to their neighbors. They do not do to another what they would not like done to themselves. They speak gently to those who oppress them, and in this way, they make their enemies their friends. It has become their passion to do good to their enemies. They live in the awareness of their own smallness. Everyone of them who has anything gives ungrudgingly to the one who has nothing. And if any of them sees a homeless stranger, they bring them into their own home, under their roof. If anyone of them becomes poor while the Christians have nothing to spare, then they fast two or three days until everyone can eat. In this way, they supply for the poor exactly what they need. This, oh emperor, is the rule of life for the Christians. This is how they live. –
But as for you, you are a foreigner in this world, a citizen of Jerusalem, the city above. Our citizenship, the apostle says, is in heaven. You have your own registers, your own calendar; you have nothing to do with the joys of the world; nay, you are called to the very opposite, for “the world shall rejoice, but you shall mourn.”
“Shall we carry a flag? It is a rival to Christ.” – ibid
“‘Nation will not take up sword against nation, and they will no more learn to fight.’ Who else, therefore, does this prophecy apply to, other than us?”- ibid
“I owe no duty to forum, campaign, or senate. I stay awake for no public function. I make no effort to occupy a platform. I am no office seeker. I have no desire to smell out political corruption. I shun the voter’s booth, the juryman’s bench. I break no laws and push no lawsuits; I will not serve as a magistrate or judge. I refuse to do military service. I desire to rule over no one – I have withdrawn from worldly politics! Now my only politics is spiritual – how that I might be anxious for nothing except to root out all worldly anxieties and care.……..So we have no pressing inducement to take part in your public meetings. Nor is there anything more entirely foreign to us than the affairs of state. We acknowledge one all-embracing commonwealth – the world. We renounce all your spectacles.”“For what difference is there between provoker and provoked? The only difference is that the former was the first to do evil, but the latter did evil afterwards. Each one stands condemned in the eyes of the Lord for hurting a man. For God both prohibits and condemns every wickedness. In evil doing, there is no account taken of the order… the commandment is absolute: evil is not to be repaid with evil.” “As for you, you are a foreigner in this world, a citizen of Jerusalem, the city above. Our citizenship, the apostle says, is in heaven.” …… No one gives the name of ‘sheep’ to those who fall in battle with arms in hand, or those who are killed when repelling force with force. Rather, it is given only to those who are slain, yielding themselves up in their own place of duty and with patience – rather than fighting in self-defense.” – ibid
“I recognize no empire of this present age.” – (martyred 180AD)
Thus also, says He, “Those who wish to behold Me, and lay hold of My kingdom, must through tribulation and suffering obtain Me.”
And you know, brethren, that the sojourn of this flesh in this world is mean and for a short time, but the promise of Christ is great and marvelous, even the rest of the kingdom that shall be and of life eternal. What then can we do to obtain them, but walk in holiness and righteousness, and consider these worldly things as alien to us, and not desire them? For when we desire to obtain these things we fall away from the righteous path.
But the Lord said, No servant can serve two masters. If we desire to serve both God and mammon, it is unprofitable for us: For what advantage is it, if a man gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? Now this age and the future are two enemies. The one speaks of adultery and defilement and avarice and deceit, but the other bids farewell to these. We cannot therefore be friends of the two, but must bid farewell to the one and hold companionship with the other. Let us consider that it is better to hate the things which are here, because they are mean and for a short time and perishable, and to love the things which are there, for they are good and imperishable. For, if we do the will of Christ, we shall find rest; but if otherwise, then nothing shall deliver us from eternal punishment, if we should disobey His commandments.
Justin the Martyr
“God called Abraham and commanded him to go out from the country where he was living. With this call God has roused us all, and now we have left the state. We have renounced all the things the world offers…. The gods of the nations are demons.”
And when you hear that we look for a kingdom, you suppose, without making any inquiry, that we speak of a human kingdom; whereas we speak of that which is with God, as appears also from the confession of their faith made by those who are charged with being Christians, though they know that death is the punishment awarded to him who so confesses. For if we looked for a human kingdom, we should also deny our Christ, that we might not be slain; and we should strive to escape detection, that we might obtain what we expect. But since our thoughts are not fixed on the present, we are not concerned when men cut us off; since also death is a debt which must at all events be paid. – ibid,
Shepherd of Hermas
He said to me; “You know that you, who are the servants of God, are dwelling in a foreign land; for your city is far from this city. If then you know your city, in which you shall dwell, why do you here prepare fields and expensive displays and buildings and dwelling-chambers which are superfluous?
He, therefore, that prepares these things for this city does not purpose to return to his own city.
O foolish and double-minded and miserable man, do you not perceive that all these things are foreign, and are under the power of another? For the lord of this city shall say, “I do not wish you to dwell in my city; go forth from this city, for you dost not conform to my laws.”
You, therefore who have fields and dwellings and many other possessions, when you are cast out by him, what will you do with your field and your house and all the other things that you prepared for yourself? For the lord of this country said to you justly, “Either conform to my laws, or depart from my country.”
What then shall you do, who are under law in your own city? For the sake of your fields and the rest of your possessions will you altogether repudiate your law, and walk according to the law of this city? Take heed, lest it be inexpedient to repudiate the law; for if you should desire to return again to your city, you shall surely not be received [because you didst repudiate the law of the city], and shall be shut out from it. Take heed therefore; as dwelling in a strange land prepare nothing more for yourself but a competency which is sufficient for you, and make ready that, whensoever’s the master of this city may desire to cast you out for your opposition to his law, you may go forth from his city and depart into your own city and use your own law joyfully, free from all insult. – (A.D. 150) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg. 30
“You know that you who are the servants of God dwell in a strange land. For your city is far away from this one. If, then, you know your city in which you are to dwell, why do you here provide lands, and make expensive preparations, and accumulate dwellings and useless buildings? He who makes such preparations for this city cannot return again to his own… Do you not understand that all these things belong to another, and are under the power of another? …Take note, therefore. As one living in a foreign land, make no further preparations for yourself except what is merely sufficient. And be ready to leave this city, when the master of this city comes to cast you out for disobeying his law.:- ibid
“(Origen, quoting Celsus:) “If everyone were to act the same as you Christians, the national government would soon be left utterly deserted an without any help, and affairs on earth would soon pass into the hands of the most savage and wretched barbarians.” (Origen:) Celsus exhorts us to help the Emperor and be his fellow soldiers. To this we reply, “You cannot demand military service of Christians any more than you can of priests.” We do not go forth as soldiers with the Emperor even if he demands this. (Origen goes on to say that if the Romans followed the teachings of Jesus there would be no barbarians.)
“but when the law of nature , that is, the law of God , commands what is opposed to the written law? Does not reason tell us to bid a long farewell to the written code… and to give ourselves up to the Legislator, God. This is so even if in doing so it may be necessary to encounter dangers, countless labors, and even death and dishonor.” – ibid
“It is not for the purpose of escaping public duties that Christians decline public offices, but that they may reserve themselves for a divine and more necessary service in the church of God for the salvation of men.” – ibid
How, then, was it possible for the Gospel doctrine of peace, which does not permit men to take vengeance even upon enemies, to prevail throughout the world, unless at the advent of Jesus3288 a milder spirit had been everywhere introduced into the conduct of things? – ibid
And as we by our prayers vanquish all demons who stir up war, and lead to the violation of oaths, and disturb the peace, we in this way are much more helpful to the kings than those who go into the field to fight for them. And we do take our part in public affairs, when along with righteous prayers we join self-denying exercises and meditations, which teach us to despise pleasures, and not to be led away by them. And none fight better for the king than we do. We do not indeed fight under him, although he require it; but we fight on his behalf, forming a special army—an army of piety—by offering our prayers to God. – ibid
“If all the Romans were to be converted they will by praying overcome their enemies – or rather they will not make war at all, being guarded by the Divine power, which promised to save five whole cities for the sake of fifty righteous men.” – ibid