03 June, 2019

Deuteronomy 20:10-13—“… an offer of peace …”

When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee. And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it: And when the Lord thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword (Deut. 20:10-13).

Alternate version (NKJV):

When you go near a city to fight against it, then proclaim an offer of peace to it.  And it shall be that if they accept your offer of peace, and open to you, then all the people who are found in it shall be placed under tribute to you, and serve you.  Now if the city will not make peace with you, but war against you, then you shall besiege it.  And when the Lord your God delivers it into your hands, you shall strike every male in it with the edge of the sword (Deut. 20:10-13).

This text is appealed to in order to refute the idea that the gospel cannot be called an “offer” because with an “offer” there are no consequences for rejecting it, whereas there are dire consequences for rejecting the gospel; therefore the gospel cannot be an “offer.”

The passage is said to contain a concrete example of an “offer” with dire consequences for the rejection of it.


Rev. Angus Stewart


There is indeed a well-known phrase, an “offer of peace.” It may be made by person A to person B to try to effect reconciliation. If it is used in an (older) military sense, as in Deuteronomy 20 or the seventeenth century wars, to a besieged city, it means that, if the city surrenders, they will be spared. But if not, they will be slaughtered.

But this is not what people think of by the word “offer” in the twenty-first century. This makes them think, typically, of an item for sale at reduced price for which there are no serious consequences for non-compliance.

Besides, Deuteronomy 20 does not merely use the word offer. It uses a technical phrase in a military context: “offer of peace.”



More to come! (DV)

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