A Biblical Perspective of Self-Defense and Civil Disobedience

2019 Edition


Barnes & Noble

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

  • 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)


A Biblical Perspective book cover

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.