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What does the Bible say about self-defense?"

Under what circumstances is self-defense appropriate?

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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

Luke 22:36.  What was the sword used for, the AR-15 of the day used for.

We have a right to defend our life, liberty and property. There is spiritual warfare going on. Right now in China the Christians are being terribly persecuted, killed and tortured. We should all be praying for our Christian brothers and sisters in China, which is a most wicked system under the spirit of communism, which has killed millions and millions of people and kept more than that in bondage. What a horrible system that has never worked anywhere on the earth, but has only brought misery and death, poverty and hatred and every vile work.

I find it interesting that the same people who freely use the Old Testament to justify the keeping of the Seventh-Day Sabbath (a practice with which I completely agree), tell us to swear off the Old Testament when it comes to this question.  Folks, the answer is not in ignoring the Old Testament, it is in finding what both the Old Testament and New Testament are saying.  Both are from God. 

And it is clear that, at times, God allowed and even instructed His People to use violence for defense.  Did Jesus overrule His own instructions during His time on earth?  Remember that it was Christ Himself who was interacting with Israel (according to Mrs. White), so it was Christ Himself who instructed the Israelites to protect themselves with weapons, and even to wipe out whole nations.  So what did it mean, and why did He command it?  Was it only for that time?  Was it only at the direct command of God, and only then? 

My point is that honest Christians can differ in their interpretation of these scriptures, and while it is fine for each of us to have our own beliefs on it, it behooves us in cases where the scripture is mixed, not to take the role of instructing others that if they don't share our exact belief, then they are wrong and misguided. 

Thank you for your eloquence.  In my walk with Christ before I knew Jesus, I have had humbling lessons on violence as a misguided youth.  I have also seen where people's violent and murderous ways have lead to there own death.  The assumptions made about police, soldiers, and most but not all firearms owners is misguided.  My time in the military was a lesson in what chaos and murder and how quick nations can fall leaving a vacuum for crime and criminals to consume the innocent.  I don't have a fascination with firearms as some would more than assume and it is the same with all of those I served with.   When I get to heaven firearms will not exist and that is a wonderful thing but the reality of violence is ever present in the world today.   I guess if we go by the logic given here, then when we call the police about a home invasion of armed intruders we need to ask for the police to come armed only with night sticks otherwise our faith is lacking.

Jack asked, "Did Jesus overrule His own instructions during His time on earth?"

The Bible quotes Jesus as saying, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." (Matthew 5:38-39 KJV)

So your response is that Jesus DID overrule His own instructions?  So how do you justify the many, many defensive and even offensive actions that Jesus Himself authorized in the Old Testament?  That He thought about it, and changed His mind?  That it was appropriate to that time, but not to His time on earth?  That it was okay because He specifically authorized it?  I'd be interested in your Biblical support for His apparent overruling of His past approach.

Jack said, "I'd be interested in your Biblical support for His apparent overruling of His past approach."

Seriously? My sole response is to quote the Bible and you ask for Biblical support? Well, I thought that Matt. 5:38 was not only Biblical but also self explanatory.

However, points to consider would be:

1. Much of what you refer to was when Israel was a theocracy - directly ruled by God. They were used by Him as the instrument of His punishment. That is not the case now.

2. You appear to be referring to corporate actions, not personal ones.

3. God dealt with the people where they were at that time. This goes back to the point about the Cities of Refuge being introduced as the Israelites had brought some things out of Egypt that God had to deal with.

4. As per point #1, "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." (Romans 12:19 KJV)

5. I refer you to: Gen.4:15; 15:1; Deut.32:35,41-43; 33:29; 2 Sam.22:3; Judges 11:36; Ps.3:3; 5:12; 7:10; 28:7; 31:2; 33:20; 59:9-11,16,17; 62:2; 84:9-11; 94:1; etc., Isa.34:8; 35:4; 47:3, etc.; Jer.51:6,11,36; Ezek.25:12-17; Mic.5:15; Nah.1:2; etc., etc.


Where does the Bible say #1?  Or is that your opinion?

Where does the Bible refer to a difference between corporate and personal, per your point #2?

Where does the Bible say that God has different rules for humans today versus the past, per your point #3?  Yes, the sacrificial system is gone, which is the only item I can think of (although in reality, the sacrificial system was about righteousness by faith, just like today).  What about “I am the Lord, I change not”?  And if human conditions made it necessary for Christ to allow defensive actions in His followers, is it then impossible for those conditions to arise again?  (Since your argument in point #3 is basically “the times called for it”)?


#1 - read from Exod.12:42 through to Acts 7:60. It is the account of Israel guided by God.

#2 - read from Exod.12:42 through to Acts 7:60. It contains the account of God dealing with Israel as a nation. Interspersed within this account are examples of God dealing with individuals, e.g. Joshua 7:10, etc.

#3 - Matt.5:38

Not very specific, are you?  You could have just answered, “read the Bible.  I’m sure it’s in there”.



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