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What does the Bible say about self-defense?"

Under what circumstances is self-defense appropriate?

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If you follow Jesus self-defense is newer a option. 

Luk 6:29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.

Luke 22:36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take [it], and likewise [his] scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

22:38 And they said, Lord, behold, here [are] two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.

Romans 13:4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to [execute] wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Ps 18:32 [It is] God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect. 

18:33 He maketh my feet like hinds' [feet], and setteth me upon my high places.
18:34 He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.

Ps 144:1 [A Psalm] of David. Blessed [be] the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, [and] my fingers to fight:

You need all scripture to be thouroughly furnished unto all good works.  And "turn the other cheek" is not a new teaching, and it doesn't negate all these other verses.

Lam.  3:30 He giveth [his] cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach.  

1 Kings 22:24 But Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah went near, and smote Micaiah on the cheek, and said, Which way went the spirit of the LORD from me to speak unto thee?

Job 16:10 They have gaped upon me with their mouth; they have smitten me upon the cheek reproachfully; they have gathered themselves together against me. 

16:11 God hath delivered me to the ungodly, and turned me over into the hands of the wicked.

Is.  50:6 I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.

Nonviolence according to Jesus


Jesus said, "Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account." Matthew 5.11


Jesus said, "You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: 'You must not kill; and anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court.' But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court." Mt. 5.21-22


Jesus said, "You have learnt how it was said: 'Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.' But I say to you, Offer the wicked man no resistance. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him." Mt. 5.38-41


Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy; But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those whose persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Mt. 5.43-46


Jesus said, "You will be hated by all men on account of my name; but the man who stands firm to the end will be saved. If they persecute you in one town, take refuge in the next; and if they persecute you in that, take refuge in another." Mt. 10.22-23


Jesus said, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell." Mt. 10.28


Jesus said, "If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it." Mt. 16.24-25


Jesus said, "I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Mt. 18.3


Jesus said, "See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven." Mt. 18.10


Jesus said, "anyone who wants to be great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave, just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve." Mt. 20.26-28

Jesus said, "You must love your neighbor as yourself." Mt. 22.40


Jesus said, "I was hungry and you never gave me food; I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink; I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, naked and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me . . . I tell you solemnly, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me." And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the virtuous to eternal life." Mt 25.42-43,45-46


Jesus said, "It is from within, from men's hearts, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within and make a man unclean." Mk. 7.21-23


Jesus said, "you know the commandments: you must not kill..." Mark 10.18


Jesus said, "when you stand in prayer, forgive whatever you have against anybody, so that your Father in heaven may forgive your failings too." Mk. 11.25


Jesus said, "if anyone has two tunics, he must share with the man who has none, and the one with something to eat must do the same." Luke 3.11


Jesus said, "No intimidation! No extortion! Be content with your pay." Lk 3.14


Jesus said, "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly." Lk. 6.27-28


Jesus said, "Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge, and you will not be judge yourselves; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned yourselves; grant pardon, and you will be pardoned." Lk 6.27


Jesus said, "why do you call me, "Lord, Lord" and not do what I say?" Lk. 6.46


Jesus said, "What is written in the law? What do you read there? He replied, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." "You have answered right," said Jesus "do this and life is yours." Lk 10.26-28


Jesus (on the cross) said, "Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing." Lk 23.34


Jesus said, "If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." John. 8.7


Jesus said, "I give you a new commandment: love one another; just as I have loved you, you also must love one another. By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples." Jn. 13.34-35


Jesus said, "Anybody who receives my commandments and keeps them will be one who loves me;" Jn. 14.21


Jesus said, "This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you." Jn. 14.22


Jesus said, "What I command you is to love one another." Jn. 14.27


Jesus said, "If they persecuted me, they will persecute you too; if they kept my word, they will keep yours as well. But it will be on my account that they will do all this, because they do not know the one who sent me." Jn. 15.20-21


Jesus said, "I have told you all this so that you may find peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but be brave: I have conquered the world." Jn. 16.33


Jesus said, "I have made your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and so that I may be in them." Jn. 17.26


Jesus said, "mine is not a kingdom of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, my men would have fought to prevent my being surrendered to the Jews. But my kingdom is not of this kind." Jn. 18.36

A difficult question, and one in which Christians may differ.

1.  God allowed his nation, Israel, to defend itself.  That much is clear. 

2.  God's preferred method of defense was for us to be still, and wait for His salvation.  And yet there were many times where He also commanded the Israelites to attack.  There were other times (Elisha and the surrounding Ammonites who were struck blind) when He did the entire defense, and no one was killed.  Gideon was commanded to attack.  David was commanded to attack.  Was that the times, or has God changed His mind about it?

3.  The Bible has texts which tell us to make our "swords and spears" into "plowshares".  There are other texts which tell us to do the opposite.

4.  Jesus told His disciples to "put up your sword", and at other times, He said to "sell your garment and buy a sword". 

What are we to do with this?  Especially when we realize that the Ten Commandments say "Thou shalt not murder" (not "Thou shalt not kill", as I was brought up with).  Just pulling out the texts that argue our preferred conclusion is not valid.  How does the Bible explain itself on this topic?

It is clear that there have been recent times where it took violence to prevent evil from swamping civilization.  No one would argue that resistance to Hitler was a good thing.  Or that resistance to the Japanese aggression was a good thing.  What are we to do?

I think people have a hard time understanding the meaning of words.  The words "self" and "defense" are stuck together and mean defense of one's person or interests   Most take self-defense to mean violence with fists, guns, tanks, swords and such, but how many here practice self-defense or to put in another way defense of self.  Defense of selfish ideas, defense of ego, defense of favored sins. I know I am guilty.   Do we act like Jesus when we defend our self? Defending others (not violence or force) cannot be called self defense because when you defend others you are not defending self.  If your neighbor is being bullied and you step in and speak up for that person and / or  take the beating to save your neighbor you are not defending self.  You are acting the way Jesus would have you act. 

Good point.

We are to always give a defense for the faith that is in us with meekness and fear.  But also we are to allow Jesus to fight our battles for us.  "The battle belongs to the Lord."  

Look into it study it out and find out the answer that is righteous.  

So what is the Bible's explanation for why Israel was to use violence to defend itself? Thank you for your opinion, but what explains that fact? Have you a reason for that belief that does not involve ignoring the Old Testament?
God told Isreal to fight to secure the promised land. Do you see any command in the new Testament to fight for land?

We are fighting a different war and our promised land is secured with spiritual weapons not guns and bombs.

What war are you fighting, is this wicked world your home?

The topic is not about fight for land but rather about self-defense.  It is a good question, at what point should we say this far and no farther.

Her is an example from the Bible that is not a fight over land. 

Genesis 14: 14 And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.

15 And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus.

I know you don't respond to me but may be you could give an out line of scripture.

When have I said I "don't respond to you, Bart?  I just did, above, when I said "good point".


Psalm 82:4 'Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.' 

Proverbs 24:11 'Deliver those who are drawn toward death, And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.'

Psalm 144:1 'Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight'.

Psalm 18:34 'He teaches my hands to make war, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.'

Ezekiel 33 "... 6 'But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman's hand.'

Genesis 9:5-6   5 And surely your blood, the blood of your lives, will I require; At the hand of every beast will I require it. And at the hand of man, even at the hand of every man's brother, will I require the life of man.  6 Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: For in the image of God made he man.

1 Chronicles 28:3 "But God said to me, 'You shall not build a house for My name, because you have been a man of war and have shed blood.'

1 Chronicles 22:8 But the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build a house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight.

Leviticus 24:16-17  16 'And whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the name of the Lord, he shall be put to death.  17 ' Whoever kills any man shall surely be put to death.

Exodus 20:13   You shall not murder.

Exodus 22:2-3  2 "If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed.   3 "If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt for his bloodshed.

Nehemiah 4 17 Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon.  18 As for the builders, each wore his sword girded at his side as he built, while the trumpeter stood near me. ... 21 So we carried on the work with half of them holding spears from dawn until the stars appeared. ....  23 So neither I, my brothers, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us removed our clothes, each took his weapon even to the water.

Esther 9:1-5 ...the Jews themselves overpowered those who hated them2 The Jews gathered together in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who sought their harm. And no one could withstand them, because fear of them fell upon all people.... 5 Thus the Jews defeated all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, with slaughter and destruction,

Luke 22:35-39 And He said to them, "When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?" So they said, "Nothing."  36 Then He said to them, "But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one37 "For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: 'And He was numbered with the transgressors.' For the things concerning Me have an end."  38 So they said, "Lord, look, here are two swords." And He said to them, "It is enough."  39 Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him.

Matthew 26:51-56   51 And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.  52 But Jesus said to him, "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword53 "Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels54 "How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?"  55 In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, "Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me.  56 "But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled."

John 18:10-11   10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus.  11 So Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?"

Psalm 44:6-7   'For I will not trust in my bow, Nor shall my sword save me.  7 But You have saved us from our enemies, And have put to shame those who hated us.'

Nehemiah 4:14  "Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses....  20 "At whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us." 

1Sam 17:47 '...the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD's."

Rom 12:19 'Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord'.

Luke 6:27-30 'But I say unto you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you,  28 bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.  29 To him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and from him that taketh away thy cloak withhold not thy coat also.  30 Give to every one that asketh thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.'

Proverbs 3:31-32  'Do not envy a man of violence, And do not choose any of his ways.  32 For the crooked man is an abomination to the LORD; But He is intimate with the upright.'

Proverbs 1:16 'For their feet run to evil, And they make haste to shed blood.'

Romans 3:15 'Their feet are swift to shed blood;'

And a salient quote found in another discussion on this on the Internet:  "Though we see sanction and even a qualified directive from Christ to possess personal weapons, we must remember three points. First, in the remainder of the New Testament, we have no further examples of believers taking up the sword. Secondly, the emphasis in the remainder of the New Testament is decidedly not geared toward the issues of physical self-defense or righteous use of lethal force. Rather, we see more emphasis on Godly living, suffering affliction and persecution for Christ, and grasping the precious doctrines of Christ and the Gospel.  Thirdly, possession of weapons and acquiring the skill to use them in self-defense is permitted but not required by Scripture."

Bart, this is not every applicable text, but an overview, showing some that seem to go one way, and others that seem to go the other way.  That is the point of this discussion.


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