A Biblical Perspective of Self-Defense and Civil Disobedience

2019 Edition

This book is not for casual reading or entertainment. It’s an in-depth Bible study for gaining insight on two very controversial topics.

Contents: Self-Defense

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A Biblical Perspective book cover

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  • Old Testament Background
    • Is Killing a Person Always Murder?
    • Capital Punishment
    • Use of Deadly Force
  • New Testament: Different Purpose and Emphasis
  • Jesus’ Responses to Danger
  • Jesus’ Teaching
  • The Apostles’ Responses to Danger
  • The Apostles’ Teaching
  • Godly Character
  • Peace Isn’t Always Possible
  • Application to Self-Defense
  • The Most Important Factor
  • Conclusions

Contents: Civil Disobedience

  • Old Testament Background
  • Submission to Authority
  • New Testament Examples
  • What About Revolt?
  • Civil Disobedience That Honors God
  • Conclusions

Charisma Connection Podcast

Listen to an interview with the author on Charisma Podcast Network, titled “Defending Your Family and Obeying the Government.” (28 minutes)

Read an Excerpt

Read an excerpt from Part Two, “Civil Disobedience.”

Product Formats

  • paperback, 6″x9″, 117 pages
  • ebook

Book Reviews

Amazon ratings and reviews

A review by O.W. Shumaker, author

Comments from Readers

(The following are responses to rough drafts of this book posted online)

  • “I just googled in and found your ‘A Biblical Perspective of Self Defense’ study. I didn’t expect to find such a well-balanced, biblically based analysis on my first hit. Well done!” T.L. [emphasis added]
  • “Having been in security and law enforcement for over 30 years and being a believer in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, [A Biblical Perspective of Self Defense] has been a topic of great interest and importance to me…. Your teaching [is] a source of wisdom, logic and balance … carefully considering each element in a thoroughly analytical biblical perspective…. I think it should be must reading for every Christian.” J.M. [emphasis added]
  • “I just read (most of) your excellent article on Christians and self-defense. I agree with the other comments that it is the most thorough and steady treatment of that topic that I’ve seen. Bravo.” J.L. [emphasis added]
  • “I have found several of your articles very helpful over the course of the last several weeks as I have been teaching a Sunday School class on issues relating to government, a biblical response to apparent godlessness in government, our involvement in government generally and similar topics. Having reviewed literally dozens of websites with material on these and related issues, I have found [A Biblical Perspective of Civil Disobedience] to be solidly biblically based, sound, insightful and coherent — quite unlike the diatribes and ramblings of many others.” R.S. [emphasis added]

Ebook Readers’ Highlights (first edition)

  • We must be trusting and dependent like little children toward Him, and He must be our strength and safety.
  • God also sanctioned the use of deadly force by an individual in certain circumstances.
  • God clearly authorized the use of deadly force by the nation of Israel and by individuals under certain conditions.
  • The New Testament, on the other hand, focuses primarily on repentance and spiritual development rather than physical existence.
  • If Jesus were a pacifist and opposed to any use of weapons, why would He instruct His disciples to have them (see Luke 22:36-38)? Jesus told Peter not to use his sword because (1) Jesus must be arrested, and (2) Peter was acting in the flesh rather than recognizing God’s will.
  • He instructed His disciples to get a sword, even if they had to sell their cloak to buy one. They had two swords among them, and Jesus said that was sufficient. He clearly was not opposed to the possession and use of swords, yet He indicated two swords were sufficient for the 11 disciples; they obviously were not heavily armed by today’s standards.
  • Jesus avoided an area because the people there would try to kill Him. He was capable of avoiding capture or escaping a mob, yet He chose to avoid danger this time.
  • By implication, it’s not wrong to fight about matters of this world.
  • Jesus took prudent measures to protect Himself from harm until it was time for Him to die.
  • The shepherd risks his life by combating wild animals that threaten the flock. A pacifist or fearful shepherd would soon have no flock.
  • … protection and defense are appropriate, especially when providing it for others but also for oneself.

Introduction to the Book

There are many church denominations today and many opinions about how to apply Scripture to daily life. Unfortunately, these differences have produced many controversies within the church throughout its history. Among these issues are self-defense and civil disobedience, with Christians whose spiritual maturity I respect on different sides of the issues.

Scripture shows we should follow the example of those who are more mature in the faith, but it’s also clear we each must decide what we believe. Because our personalities, spiritual maturity and beliefs govern our conclusions, it’s easy to understand why there are so many different Christian perspectives on important topics.

Many questions immediately come to mind when we think about self-defense. Should I defend myself and my family? What forms of defense are acceptable? Do I defend passively or aggressively? With or without force? Should I defend or protect others? Should I prepare for possible emergencies, such as storms, civil unrest, economic turmoil and political instability? What is my responsibility toward others in these situations?

Because so many factors influence our decisions on this topic, it’s not appropriate to assess whether someone in history or a different culture or circumstance should have defended themselves. Each of us must decide for ourselves.

Also, as we see major changes in our nation and the world in this post-Christian era, many Christians have questions and express concerns about what is happening. Much of this relates to the believer’s loyalty to government in an increasingly corrupt world, especially whether believers should ever disobey the government.

Shouldn’t Christians be model citizens and obey the law? What if the government passes laws that clearly violate our Christian beliefs or responsibilities? Or what if corrupt government officials abuse their authority and harass Christians for living moral lives, protesting what they believe are immoral practices or not supporting radical beliefs? Should we simply obey whatever the government demands, or are there biblical alternatives?

As I was pondering these questions, I talked with Christian friends and read many online articles by Christians, pastors and other Christian leaders, only to discover there was no consensus. Instead, there was strong debate among those with opposing positions. Most articles based their conclusions on select biblical passages, so their conclusions had limited value. Based on the way people wrote, I suspected their personalities determined their perspectives and they referred only to Scriptures supporting their views. It disturbed me for believers to use Scripture to justify their views, yet be hostile toward those who disagreed.

Because there were such diverse beliefs on these important topics, I decided to do my own research. I noted which Bible passages the writers cited and began looking for other relevant passages.

This book is the result of that investigation and in it I’ve tried to be as objective as possible. We’ll examine a broad range of relevant Scriptures, plus a few foundational topics that will influence our conclusions. The goal is to identify the scriptural position on these complex issues. I include the actual text of relevant Bible passages, not just give my interpretation, so you can reach your own conclusions.

12 comments on “A Biblical Perspective of Self-Defense and Civil Disobedience

Ra’Nic Arnold on September 28, 2017 12:16 pm

Show me in the Bible where Abraham, Isaac, or any others were confined to a mans point of view? They sought God first in all things. They did not rely on mans knowledge. We as a society, in the entire world relies on mans knowledge and the confines of it and it’s idolized, and God has shown us this. It is not Gods way, I don’t care what western church Christian society says. That is what the problem is in America this is why you have a up rising of people, saved or not, that are fed up with being ruled by mans crooked standards. Most unsaved people do not understand, they think its liberalism and flock to it. The “others” want status quo or the way it was before in America but that is impossible because we have a forward motion that can not be stopped, all prepared by God because He has His agenda, which was spoken by Him before the foundation of the earth. And we know this. I do not support the agenda of society, social, or government all are against God, they have no foundation in God. That’s why they don’t understand love, hope, joy, faith,peace, understanding, wisdom because they have no foundation in God or a relationship with Him.

David L Ferguson on October 16, 2017 5:45 pm

Your comment is great! Thank you for your view, which is now my official view. Scriptures said focus on eternity, not the here and now. With all the chaos, God is still in control, and “few” find Him. Thank you for your thought provoking, accurate input.

Okoro Uwadigwu on September 28, 2017 1:04 pm


Sheila on October 16, 2017 9:35 am

Great topic; especially in this time. The world today effects all of us because our love ones are involved in it.

Patrick Edward on October 16, 2017 4:04 pm

I agree with Ra’Nic Arnold. Trust no man, all man is a liar. I do not subscribe to man’s view of the world and its governments. A government “ordained by God” is a government that looks to God for principle, guidance and moral clarity. A government that tries to outlaw God’s laws and God himself is a government ordained by Satan. In America, we have a government that mocks God and the Ten Commandments. Obedience to such an entity is disobedience to God.

GILLE WAKJIRA on January 29, 2018 8:46 am

Good insight that challenges people.

Peter Haines on January 29, 2018 3:30 pm

There is no where to hide anymore, like Sodom. Even then Lot’s wife couldn’t follow simple instructions and stay with the others, who likewise didn’t see the need to help her. Were they selfishly thinking only of themselves while under pressure? In spite of the help of sent angels [we] still have to take responsibility of our actions and for our own around us. Arnold’s comments are a good start but way short of the practical side.

Peter Haines on February 7, 2018 7:42 pm

E book comments regards the use of swords: we have the right to defend ourselves. Jesus allowed them to have two with them and his response was because the situation did not justify their use since the nature of the arresting party was that he be arrested unharmed [to better make a ‘bloody’ good show on the morrow, they must have been licking their lips as they wrung their hands in anticipation.] Jesus stopped a situation that could have endangered those not in the prophecy being fulfilled, otherwise how could he report later to his father ‘I have kept them all…? No one’s life was at risk, that night.
Acting in the flesh?? They had not received the Holy Spirit yet and so the one who first promised to defend him meant it and would, others ran remember, and so the prophesy stood: Peter was not going to die and would still be alive by breakfast time, so to speak, when the cocks crow,Yes? Peter also had a name change [call on his life] remember.

Chikezie okezie on March 13, 2018 4:26 pm

Love this. Good article to read.

Chikezie okezie on March 15, 2018 2:55 am

Am a Nigerian, every body knew, seen killings of Christians in Nigeria and our government are doing nothing to protect the people. Many christains thinks, it tye will of God for them and their people who are be killed. I have not seen a supporting chapters and verses in the bible. So help help Larry

Larry Fox on March 15, 2018 12:45 pm

I’m grieved when I read about the severe persecution Christians like you in Nigeria are experiencing; we are spiritual family and what affects you affects all of us. To answer your question, I can’t find any scripture that says it’s God’s will for us to be killed for our faith, but several scriptures show it will happen.

As you know, Christians have been persecuted, imprisoned and killed since Jesus was crucified because they believed in him (Acts 7:59-60; 14:19). Jesus said all men will hate us because of him (Lk 21:17).

He also said we should love our enemies and do good to them, and pray for those who persecute us (Mt 5:44; Lk 6:35). The original apostles rejoiced because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for Jesus’ name (Acts 5:41).

We can rejoice in suffering for our faith because suffering produces godly character in us (Rom 5:3-5), and we share in Christ’s glory because we share in his suffering (Rom 8:17). Our present suffering is nothing compared with the glory God will reveal in us (Rom 8:18).

When we consider what Jesus suffered for us, we’re willing to suffer because we belong to him. This requires us to practice patient endurance and rely on God to do what is best for us and his kingdom. Just as Jesus endured the cross because of the joy set before him knowing what his death would do for us (Heb 12:2), we can focus on the eternal glory we give to God when we are persecuted and even killed because of him.

We can agree with what Paul wrote, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Php 1:21). We look forward to the time when there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, but that won’t happen in this life (Rev 21:4). Until then we can overcome persecution by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony, not loving our lives or shrinking from death (Rev 21:11).

I encourage you to be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power, and not rely on your own strength or ability (Eph 6:10). The following is from Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians and is relevant to you and other Christians around the world who are suffering severe persecution. Please notice the last sentence.

“We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.

“All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.” (1 Th 1:3-7)

Mecca Hawkins on December 11, 2018 9:15 am

I wasn’t really aware there was such a division in the body of Christ concerning self defense, but my eyes have been opened. This perspective has helped me shape and strengthen my position on the subject. I like how the question, “Is killing a person always murder?” is discussed and how the Author brings such clarity to the subject. I also found it very insightful to learn how we are to respond in a Godly way to our enemies. God gives us all a unique character and we must ask what He requires of us when it comes to self-defense. Excellent teaching!

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