What The Bible Teaches About Tolerance

What The Bible Teaches About Tolerance June 14, 2017

Today it is politically correct to teach tolerance about everything, so what does the Bible teach about tolerance and how does it differ from the world’s version of tolerance?


Tolerance has been defined as having sympathy for a cause, person, or belief, even if it’s against one’s own personal preferences or beliefs. We can disagree with someone or something but still not be disagreeable. Tolerating is possible, even when it’s contrary to the person’s beliefs or practices, however tolerance of something or someone doesn’t mean you condone it. Tolerance can be in regards to pain, people, or things. The Apostle Paul wrote that we are to be Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Col 3:13). If we are not exhibiting tolerance toward those around us, then how can we expect to receive the tolerance of others when they disagree with us over something we do or believe, however there are somethings we cannot tolerate, like child abuse, violence, and abuse or neglect of the elderly, but that’s not what this article is about. It is about trying to understand what tolerance is so that we can be tolerant of others and their own way of life. It’s about opening a dialog of mutual respect and living peaceably despite any disagreements. It is accepting who others for who they are, even if it’s totally opposite of what we are like. Tolerance is not permissiveness, especially if it has legal consequences, so we are not speaking of tolerance for criminal acts, but people who have differing opinions and beliefs than we do.

Bearing-with-one-another (1)

Drop the Stone

It’s almost like walking on egg shells today because whatever you say can be taken the wrong way. It seems we can tolerate just about anything except those who we disagree with, but again, tolerance is not condoning something. It is simply acknowledging someone’s right to believe differently than we do, or hold to certain beliefs or practices that we may not agree with, and by the way, having every right to do so. Of course Christians recognize that many of the things they see people do are sin, but those same believers should also recognize that they also sin (Rom 7; 1st John 1:8, 10), so casting stones is not our business. The Apostle John writes about a time when, one by one, they dropped the stone. This, after the woman caught in adultery was brought before Jesus, but Jesus would not condemn her, and neither did the Jews because they were not without sin. Jesus did tell the woman, “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11), but my question is, “Where was the man? Why wasn’t he brought before Jesus? Isn’t that a double standard?” What the Jews were doing was to try and trap Jesus. If He said to stone her, the Jews would have turned Him into the Roman authorities because “It [was] not lawful for [them] to put anyone to death” (John 18:31), however if Jesus had dismissed the stoning, the Jewish religious leaders would have accused Him of breaking the Mosaic Law, however Jesus came to fulfill the law…and the New Covenant, is a Covenant of Grace. The Old Testament laws were fulfilled in Christ and He is the end of the law (Gal 3). When we are asked what does the Bible says about something, we don’t offer our personal opinion, but we offer the Word of God, but Jesus never forced Himself on anyone, nor did He cram religion down anyone’s throat, so anyone that does that is not being biblical, and in fact, they’re doing more harm than good because this an drive them away. It is the Word of God that has effectual power to save (Rom 1:16; 1st Cor 1:18), and we certainly do not. Anything we can talk someone into, someone else can talk them out of.


The Apostle Paul’s very last letter before he was martyred contained commands for Timothy to not hold anything back in the Word of God, writing, “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching (2nd Tim 4:1-2). The word “charge” is an imperative command, and in the same tone as Paul who told the Corinthians, “I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one” (1st Cor 5:11), but doesn’t mean we don’t respect people. We must treat them with respect when we’re talking to them or talking about them, because some of such were we (1st Cor 6:11). We make a poor imitation of the Holy Spirit in trying to convict people of their sins…and besides, the Holy Spirit’s more interested in the sins we commit than those of others! Of course, it’s good and right to make sure the Body of Christ remains as pure and possible. What church would want a practicing thief to be the church treasurer? Who would want an adulterous man giving an engaged couple premarital counseling? The church has clear admonitions to instruct, correct, rebuke, and teach where and when it is necessary. God will hold church leaders responsible for their negligence of church discipline (Matt 18:15-20), however church discipline stops at the curb. Jesus never told the disciples to go out and “reform the world” but to make disciples of all people (Matt 28:18-20), but even that is not a “forced conversion,” but a calling by God (John 6:44). It’s not an external reformation of society but an inward conversion that shows external evidence. It is being salt and light, but holding the light in someone’s face that hurts, and too much salt ruins just about anything.


Christianity is not a set of rules, regulations, or laws. It’s not so much a religion as it is having a personal, saving relationship with Jesus Christ, and it’s not intolerant but truthful to say that Jesus is the one and only way (John 14:6). I rejoice that there is at least one way (Acts 4:12). Jesus says whoever comes to Him will not be turned away (John 6:37-39), and whoever believes in Him will be saved (John 3:16; Rom 10:9-13), but the gospel includes repentance and faith, which is exactly how Jesus described the gospel (Mark 1:14-15), and there is no other way to enter the kingdom than through Jesus Christ (John 6:44; Acts 4:12, 16:30-31).

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is host of Spiritual Fitness and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

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  • Brian K

    “Jesus never forced Himself on anyone”
    The people on the receiving end of his whip at the temple would disagree.

    • Jack Wellman

      That was against only those who were bilking people out of money and using the Temple as a den of theives, so you approve of that? I stand by that. Jesus never forced Himself on anyone. Your Scriptural reference is completely irrevelant and out of context making your supposition a pretext.

      • Brian K

        OK, so when you say “Jesus never forced himself on anyone”, what exactly do you mean? I pointed out a clear example of the use of force.

        • Jack Wellman

          I mean that Jesus never went up to anyone and forced them to either convert or go to hell on the spot. Jesus told the truth about heaven and hell but never was forceful, rather He said to pray for those who hate us and bless those who curse us. He never protested, He never tried to force Himself on others to believe in Him, rather He said, whoever comes to me can recieve eternal life. I wrote this for “Bible thumpers” so that they would understand that Jesus said it is by the love we show to one another that people will know we are His disciples (John 13:34-35), not by finger-pointing. Does that make sense my friend? Thank you.

          • pud

            Bullshit. The entire premise of your absurd cult is BELIEVE OR DIE!

            Grow up jack…stop lying

          • pud

            You KNOW absolutely NOTHING of this to be true..NONE…not a single word of it. It’s a FICTIONAL STORY! There is NO evidence of his very existence! Hello?

          • Rex

            Hi Jack. You and Iain demonstrate remarkable tolerance of atheistic scorn, which is in keeping with the purpose of this blog. “Pud” has done you a service in making this possible. Is this for real, or is ‘Pud’ some kind of ‘rent-a-Joker’ so Batman and Robin can be public heroes?

            “Brian K” accepted your your justification of Jesus’ violence just a little too easily. (Isaiah 53:9) prophesies that Jesus would do no violence, but clearly he did. The justification is a side issue, especially in light of Church history.

            Let’s be honest Jack, the Spanish Conquistadores indeed forced the native South Americans to convert on the spot, and then slaughtered them anyway. The Catholic Church also forcibly converted Jews. Either they were ‘being like Jesus’ in which case Jesus and his Church have no claim to being tolerant, or they were acting without Jesus’ permission, in which case the Catholic Church is a false Church. I look forward to your reply, my friend.

          • pud

            You will get no reply. Jack, like all the fully invested indoctrinated religious lunatics, is too far gone to consider reason and logic. If they were to ever consider the arguments against their cult, see clearly the falsehoods they subscribe to…they would have nothing. They would wither on the vine and be more in need of mental health services than they already are.

          • Rex

            Hi pud. Jack might very well reply, and so might Iain, I hope they do. However you have missed my main point.

            By using immoderate and disparaging language against Christians who are conspicuously polite and non reactive to your provocations, you are actually making them more believable, and yourself less believable. This blog is about tolerance, and you show none. They do. Are you a secret Christian deliberately giving atheists a bad name by playing mind-games?

            Your reply indicates you’re capable of more effective communications than simple mud-slinging. Mud sticks, but it sticks on the thrower’s hands too. If you’re a genuine atheist or agnostic I suggest reading the Bible and collecting some real ammunition. You will find some good stuff in it too, but you can always ignore that, just as they ignore the bad bits. Be honest, and as far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
            Kind Regards, Rex.

          • pud

            No, I will not be tolerant. I wouldn’t be tolerant of Nazis if I lived during the 1930s. I’m not tolerant of Muslims and Sharia Law. I’m not tolerant of child abusers, liars, cheats or people who deceive others. Therefore I will not be tolerant of these lunatics that represent an apocalyptic death cult, theocracy, child indoctrinating center and vocal advocates against science, reason and secularism. They deserve nothing but contempt and ridicule until they are defeated and cast into the dust bin of history with all the other deranged, primitive, delusional belief systems. Religion is the enemy, it poisons everything and has no place in the 21st century. Tolerance is nothing but passive endorsement.

          • Rex

            Good reply pud, I agree with some of your points, but not all. Religions are handy for social control. A lunatic in a religion ostensibly about love, is a far less dangerous lunatic than one in a revolutionary political party. There’s a ‘lesser of two evils’ factor.

            Some things are intolerable I agree. Jesus taught that we must tolerate beatings as if they came from God, and these will earn us a place in heaven. (Matt 5:10). I don’t think so either! However they had to discipline slaves in those days, so of course Christianity became a polluted religion. Neither should fundamentalist Shariah Muslims be allowed residency AND four wives. Immigrants should be made to sign a promise they will only practice and preach those bits of their religion which do not breach our democratic laws. The 19th C. Mormon polygamists were shut down.

            You appear to be honest, so I’ll continue. Wording your opinions too aggressively can destroy your effectiveness. Diplomacy tells us we catch more flies with honey than vinegar. I follow Theodore Rooseveldt’s approach, when he said ‘speak softly and carry a big stick’. I’ll even quote a Catholic source, Niccolo Machiavelli, who coined the term ‘iron fist in a velvet glove’. Get a glove, pud.

            My iron fist is the philosophy of “honesty”, without which nothing stands. NIHIL UTILE QUOD NON HONESTUM.
            Christianity is hamstrung on the honesty issue, because Pope Gregory the great, later sanctified, in 600 AD wrote a list of seven deadly sins and cardinal virtues that didn’t include dishonesty or honesty! According to Greg you can lie your head off and still be a saint.

            When religion’s incoherences are studied out, the truth emerges. But don’t be too keen to force your ‘lunatics’ out of their personal asylums. They may turn on you. As Malcolm Muggeridge said, ‘tread softly for you tread on people’s dreams’.
            Kind Regards, Rex

          • pud

            I don’t tolerate child abuse and nothing is more abusive then to infiltrate and destroy a childs mind.

            There is very little that separates ISIS from an American christian. They are (chirstians) not passive by choice but because secular law keeps them in check. Once they have the power back as they did for a thousand years they will be right back to burning people alive and torturing them to save their victims souls.

            If you could gently reason with them there wouldn’t be any more of them. They need to be shamed, ridiculed and confronted out of existence. If you could use their book against them they would throw them all in the trash but you can’t…they suffer terminal cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias.

            We (the free world) didn’t stomp out fascism with kind words, understanding and tolerance did we?

          • Some of the churches have been involved in child abuse. The Royal Commission into child sexual abuse in Australia showed this. It wasn’t just the Catholic church but also Protestant ones, including some Fundamentalists.

          • pud

            No. All churches and all religions are abusive to children..every single one of them. They indoctrinate them, brainwash them, tell them false stories about the nature of reality. They do not teach children how to think rather they indoctrinate them as to what to think. Every single religion does this to perpetuate their cults

          • Doug Barron

            Hmm, pud; a fellow who won’t show his face, and constantly refers to child abuse? The guilty dawg is barking! What form of child abuse do you favor?

          • Rex

            Hi pud. Maybe you’re the cutting edge of opinions that need saying strongly, when old Mr. Nice Guys just mumble. The Church’s seven deadly sins say that anger or wrath are sins but anger at injustice is not a sin. As the Englishman Lord Acton said, ‘all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing’. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
            Kind Regards, Rex.

          • Jack Wellman

            Thanks for trying. Pud needs prayers for sure.

          • Rex

            Hi Jack. I have no problem with anyone being angry at what they see as injustice, just as long as they remain in control of themselves, open-minded, and their definition of justice includes equality of human rights.

            I’ll leave the praying for others to you. An omniscient God can be taught nothing he doesn’t already know, and he doesn’t negate anyone’s freewill.

            Kind Regards, Rex

          • Alex Voon

            Thanks for this comment on (Isaiah 53:9) prophesies that Jesus would do no violence, but clearly he did. How would you describe Jesus’s actions in the temple whipping?

            The justification is a side issue, especially in light of Church history. The Catholic Church forcibly converted Jews and Gentiles. During the Inquisition they kill people who contend against their doctrines and rulership. Clearly the Catholic Church is a false Church and their doctrines are false. True followers of Christ always suffer persecutions in submission to God’s way and they do not resist using violence.

          • Rex

            Hi Alex. First, look at the total Gospel context, all the ‘whipping verses’ where Jesus was involved. The first is (Luke 12:45-48) where Jesus gives permission for slaves to be flogged for deliberate offenses like ‘flogging other slaves’. Notice that Jesus also allows punishment of slaves who’d erred ignorantly (vs48). ‘Forgive them Father for they know not what they do’ for some unexplained reason isn’t applied to whippings! (Explained later.)

            There’s no doubt Jesus was talking about real whippings, not some kind of symbolic hell, because he makes a whip and uses it. (John 2:15).

            The next scenario sees Jesus himself being whipped (Luke 23:16); (Mk 15:15); (Matt 27:26). Much agony was made of this by film-maker Mel Gibson who exploited the guilt without explaining that Jesus himself used and advocated whippings. Half-truths are useless, worse than outright lies!

            One possible explanation is that Jesus was demonstrating the law of sowing and reaping, ‘he who lives by the whip (sword) shall die by the whip (sword)’ (Matt 26:52). It seems a harsh and self destructive way to teach a correct truth, but didn’t he die to save all? That is the only way I can fit all these verses into an orthodox Christian context.

            From a wider cultural context, ‘Hippie Heretic’ blogger Chuck McKnight and I have agreed that Jesus must have factored in Rome’s interests in order to be allowed to preach. It wasn’t possible to feed the world without slavery in Jesus’ day, and forty percent of persons in the empire were slaves. Rome couldn’t have the control methods needed for the worst slaves denied them. Either that, or Rome had direct political input into the Gospels and NT when they were finalized by Eusebius about 450 AD.

            I am more a heretic than Chuck however, and suggested that Jesus cooperated more fully with Rome: but not as far as Paul who enlisted Satan to teach blasphemers to respect God. (1Tim 1:20). I only mention Paul here because the obvious interpretation of (1Tim 1:20) is that Paul simply had the two blaspheming Christians flogged.

            The existence of slavery explains why there’s so much acceptance of violence in the N.T.. In using the whip in the temple, maybe Jesus was setting an example satisfactory to Rome. Can you think of any other bases to cover?

            I hope this has been a little help Alex. All the best, Rex.

          • It’s not just the Catholic church that has false doctrines. Isn’t it all false?

          • Alex Voon

            No, not all are false.
            Though there are many false doctrines in today’s churches, the bible is still the correct true doctrine of God.

    • Alex Voon

      Jack is right. Jesus left those who rejects Him to their own business and told His disciples to do the same and kick off their feet’s dust. Jesus whip those selling doves in the temple, and He began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought, calling them den of thieves (whose motive is to gain money by selling things in the temple or His church). This is serious, Jesus demands His (church) people not to do any sort of business in the temple (church), even buying and selling things used for sacrifice and offerings. Jesus is saying, “My Father’s law is Strictly No doing any sort of business in My church. My Father abhor this”. Jesus will never force a person to accept Him. But Jesus use force to rid anything that defiles His church. How did Jesus manage to drove out people in the temple alone is my question.
      John 2:15 – And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.

      • Brian K

        Right, he left those who reject him to their own business, except the ones he drove out with a whip. Just like his love is unconditional as long as you meet certain conditions.

        • Rex

          And selling doves in the temple is not okay, but killing them is. Was Jesus’ real agenda demonizing money and Jewish commerce, so that Rome encountered more destitute Jews to enslave?

  • Iain Lovejoy

    Thanks for that. It’s good to see someone setting out clearly what “tolerance” actually means. Too many people think it means not being allowed to disagree with people or say that you think what they are doing is wrong. This tends to mean either people talk about “tolerance” when being decidedly intolerant of anyone who doesn’t share their views, or others objecting to or abandoning tolerance in the name of religion in a misunderstanding of either what tolerance is or what religion is for.

  • pud

    The buybull is FICTION!

    ” It’s not so much a religion as it is having a personal, saving relationship with Jesus Christ”

    Only the clinically insane and small children have invisible imaginary friends. You CANNOT have a “relationship” with something that IS NOT PRESENT!

  • pud

    Demonstrate the existence of your magic kingdom….waiting

  • pud

    When Superstition Shackles the Mind….watch lunatics…then stop being slaves to this nonsensical absurd cult that has such a grip on you


  • See Noevo

    “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.
    But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses.
    If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church,
    let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
    – Mat 18:15-17

    • “…tell it to the church”.

      What use is the church? I wouldn’t trust a priest or a pastor with anything, The church is an anachronism.

      • Jack Wellman

        And we are supposed to trust just what you said?

        • Sex abuse has been quite bad in the churches. That’s why I don’t trust pastors, though many are not engaged in such practices, but you never know which one’s are.

          Some pastors break confidences (though they shouldn’t) so there is another reason why I don’t trust them. Although many pastors keep confidences, you just don’t know which ones are going to break them.

  • Evermyrtle

    We have all sinned and come short of the “Glory Of GOD!}
    Judge not that ye be not judged, for with what judgment ye judge, ye will be judged!!
    He that hath no sin, cast the first stone!!

    What really gets my goat, is that so many people think that other people’s sins are worse than their own sins!

    • pud

      There is no such thing as “sin”

    • Sin is a religious construct. We don’t believe in sin. Evil, yes! sin, no!

  • pud


    Deuteronomy 17
    If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing his covenant; 17:3 And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; 17:4 And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel; 17:5 Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.

    Hypocrites, liars, frauds

  • pud

    Kill everything in the whole town! Tolerance

    2 If you hear it said about one of the towns the Lord your God is giving you to live in 13 that troublemakers have arisen among you and have led the people of their town astray, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods you have not known), 14 then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly. And if it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done among you, 15 you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. You must destroy it completely, both its people and its livestock. 16 You are to gather all the plunder of the town into the middle of the public square and completely burn the town and all its plunder as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. That town is to remain a ruin forever, never to be rebuilt.

    • good point Pud. The bible is full of intolerance.