A Biblical Perspective on Armed Self Defense

A Biblical Perspective on Armed Self Defensearmed self defense

by Home Defense Gun Staffer Bob

As a CCW instructor, I am asked a lot of interesting and thought provoking questions. Recently, I have been doing a lot of my classes for church groups, and many of the questions have centered on whether or not it is appropriate for Christians to use deadly force in the defense of their lives and the lives of their families, friends, and other innocents.

The answer is, unequivocally, yes it is appropriate for a Christian to defend innocent life. Not only is it appropriate, it is an obligation.

In Psalm 82:4 it says that we are to “Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.” In Nehemiah 4:14 we are told to “…fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” These passages show us that we are required by biblical principles to defend innocent life, be it our families or merely the “weak and needy”.

I Timothy 5:8 states that “…if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” What greater provision is there than the provision for the defense and safety of our loved ones?

Not only is an armed response to life threatening evil condoned in scripture, but skill at arms is presented in a positive light. We are expected to have the tools and to acquire the skills needed to fulfill our obligation in protecting innocents from the evil that is loose in the world. This is clearly demonstrated in Psalm 144:1 “Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war and my fingers to fight” and again in Psalm 18:34 “He teaches my hands to make war, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze”.

Luke (11:21-22) tells us that “When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.” This passage of scripture not only allows specifically for armed defense, but serves as a model for the Castle Doctrine (or perhaps the “Palace doctrine?”).

I want to be clear at this point that I only advocate the use of deadly force for the preservation of innocent life. I stress this strongly in all of my classes. I have never had a car that was worth a human life, and I have never had enough money to kill over. I know for a fact that the finest of worldly possessions does not have the value of the basest of human lives. I would not use deadly force in defense of property, but I would not hesitate to use it to save the lives of my children or anybody else’s children from a person of evil intent. Make no mistake, those people are out there these days, in droves.

This philosophy is supported by scripture, where we see clearly that murder is not permissible, but we also see that not all killing is murder. For example, Exodus 22:2-3 tells us that “If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. “ It is important to note that this passage is qualified in the next verse, “If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft”. We see that if the break-in occurs in light of day, deadly force is not automatically mandated. The point is that violence is not mandated simply to defend property, in the light of day it is possible to discern whether or not the intent runs deeper than mere theft. We can see in the order of today that thieves who would enter your home under cover of night most often have intentions that include violence, home invasions stand out in my mind. In the dark it must be assumed that there is a deeper level of threat and deadly force is an acceptable response.

The New Testament affords fewer references to arms and an armed defense. But Jesus does give us some insights into his thoughts on the matter:

And He said to them, “When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?” So they said, “Nothing.” 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 one. “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.” So they said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.” Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him.”Luke 22:35-39

We see that Jesus wished for at least some of the Disciples to be armed, presumably for the purposes of defense. It is Important to note that the sword was the assault rifle of the day, so Jesus not only wanted his men armed but well armed.

Even when Jesus allowed himself to be taken by the Pharisees, and stopped his disciples from using their weapons to defend Him, he did not condemn arms.

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. So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” John 18:10-11.

Simon Peter was told to sheath his blade, not to abandon or relinquish it. Armed defense, although appropriate at times, was not the order of the day. Jesus had other things to do on our behalf.

So, is it appropriate for Christians to keep arms for the purpose of defending innocent life from evil people? It most certainly is. God in his infinite wisdom has seen to it that we are cleared to use this option should it be necessary. There is no inconsistency in followers of Christ, while striving for peace, using arms when called upon to do so. The use of deadly force is, however, a huge responsibility which should not be entered into in any but the most pressing of circumstances.



  1. Weapons are not compatible with the message of Jesuschrist. If you think differently, well, its your decision.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Henry, did you not read the article? Your statement leads one to believe that to be the case or, at least, you must not have read it in it’s entirety.

    • Apparently you did not read the piece, you just insisted upon your own (misguided) beliefs.

    • Then why did the disciples carry swords? #readyourbible

    • Henry, weapons are compatible with the message of Christ:

      Luke 22:36 NLT “But now,” he [Jesus] said, “take your money and a traveler’s bag. And if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one!

    • christcrusader says:

      That’s your decision and opinion, Henry – but where’s your evidence?

    • I´m agree with Henry, guns and christianity are not compatible. You can cite hundreds of biblicals verse that talk about guns and self defense. But as I understand Jesus Christ has a lot more hierarchy of all of those cites when he explain his doctrine about love and forgiveness, give the other cheek, love the enemy. Jesus Christ predict a doctrine of love not compatible with lethal force or gun use. Some people fool theirself by believing gun use is allowed or permitted by christian doctrine, but since my point of view it is not, Jesus Christ is clear. Forgive and love. Jesus teach the love for God and your neighbor, not to kill your neighbor even in self defense too. He let his enemies kill him. He teach us with their example.

    • Totally agree with Henry.

  2. The bible also says in the ten commandments Thou shall not murder. It does not say kill like is taught to so many people it says murder. Their is a big difference between kill and murder, with murder you have ill feelings and malice towards the one you kill along with a motive. To kill means to end the life of another who is in intent to harm you or those around you for the purpose of justice or legal reason. We were also told in the Old Testament to wipe out the tribes of those who God deemed sinners and not just wipe them out kill all their livestock and demolish their idols and burn their houses to ash. This would have eliminated most groups in which the Nomadic Jihadist movement descended from.

  3. dave peeve says:

    Of course we must practice armed self-defense. If we don’t practice, we’ll be useless when the real time comes……

  4. You will find a message I delivered to our congregation 4 days prior to the incident in Charleston SC. It addresses “Turn the Other Cheek & Self Defense.” http://www.kingdomleague.org/mp3s-preachingteaching.html – you’ll find the notes as well as an audio message.

    Sadly most Christians are ignorant of the scriptures and tend to pick and choose scriptures. Ie. they neglect what happened to Ananias and Sapharia, Eleymas the sorcerer, or when Jesus made a whip, turned over tables, rebuked the ultra religious, or the Jesus found in Revelation (ie. Rev 19:11).

  5. Respectfully, I think you missed a key point in your discussion. Let me first state that I agree with you fully. I am not trying to be argumentative. I am simply pointing out that there is a piece of the puzzle missing in your article that I believe we should also keep in mind. You allude to it, but miss pointing it out when you mentioned Luke (11:21-22). The point is in the phrase “wherein he trusted”. The bible is clear on your points regarding self defense and defense of the innocent. However, it is also clear on the point of not putting our trust in our arms only. The point of Luke in the passage is to say that if you trust only in your own strength and arms, there is always someone bigger or stronger or better armed and that your trust is misplaced. Also, Psalm 44:6-7 says “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.”

    Bottom line is that whether we choose to be armed to defend ourselves or not, our trust is in the Lord, not the tools.

    Further, Christians are commanded not to be lovers of violence. In Proverbs 3:31-32 it says “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.” Also, in the famous garden passage you missed Christ’s point about living by the sword and dying by the sword. Christ’s call to not take up the sword at that moment addressed two themes in one sentence. A man who lives with violence in his heart, who thinks violence first, who jumps at the chance to commit violence rather than avoiding it and seeking alternative is destined to die in a manner that is commensurate with his heart attitude. If you seek violence, you will find it. Christ did not say you cannot defend yourself. The second theme is that Christ was on a path that was supposed to lead to his death on the cross as payment for the sins we commit. Fighting at that moment was not the proper thing to do. He says later: “Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” That was not the time or place.

    I only mention this because it’s often a side of the discussion that we can overlook and is often not properly addressed.

    • Barry; Very good points! The author of this article wrote it well, with intelligence and knowledge of the scriptures, yet left out the side you are trying to show.
      I am very thankful that by the grace of God I was born in the USA. The best place on this earth in my opinion. I’m very thankful to have the opportunity to own tools for self defense. Yet my hope, my faith and my desire, is to never have to use them in such manner. To be under the protection of Him Who Has all Power In Heaven and on Earth is the greatest blessing.

      I believe that keeping in context with the surrounding scriptures, Luke 11-21 , Jesus was referring to satan , and Jesus being stronger than satan coming to spoil satans house.

      I am thankful to have the right to defend my family with a weapon if necessary.
      I’ve never had to, don’t want to and my trust, faith and hope is Jesus will keep me from this.
      May God bless you all and keep you. May we be delivered from violence and evil men. In Jesus name. Amen.

  6. You made many good points I’ve used myself, but you are still reading with one eye on many of them. Read all the gospels as if they were one and they will fill each other in. When Peter strikes the servant, does He not rebuke Peter as well, saying He who lives by the sword, will also die by the sword. The number of swords Jesus confirmed that they brought is also of prophetic significance. Peter had one, and he struck the one who mocked, yet Jesus repaired the injury and restored the servant’s hearing. The are so many layers to how deeply this counts or what the second sword will be. Most of us are not priests, who own nothing that they fear losing, except their own lives, if even that. The owner of the house, or strong man, is the one that rules over the nations and men (the devil) and the tale is often told of Jesus himself as the thief who comes in the night, but again, so many layers and an entire reimagination of how to interpret these words as how they are meant and not how we wish to use them. Blessings be on you and peace while you are on your bed. -H

  7. Adam Teeter says:

    I see several misuses of Scripture in this article:

    Ps 82:4 is referring to the obligation of world leaders, not individuals (See 82:1)

    Neh 4:14 is written in the context of rebuilding Jerusalem. I’d have to do more study on it, but I’d have a hard time saying that this command is one that is to be applied to us today.

    The authors conclusion on 1 Tim 5:8 seems a bit of a stretch. The context suggests Paul is talking about widows and that their families should take care of them instead of the burdening the church. Perhaps defense and safety are provisions he might have included in this teaching, but these are hardly the greatest part of providing for our loved ones (providing Spiritually is no-doubt of greater importance, preserving their spiritual state rather than their physical one).

    I don’t think Ps 144 or 18 teach that all Christians are to own and be skilled with arms. Rather, I think they teach that God is the one who provides us skills to carry out His plans and that ultimately it is He who defends and protects us.

    The Authors application of Luke 11 to the Castle Doctrine is a gross misapplication of Scripture. From the context we see that Jesus is talking about His victory and power over Satan. This is a parable and has nothing to do with an individual defending home or property.

    The passage in Luke 22 is more difficult, but I do not think that Jesus was necessarily advocating His disciples use self-defense in the days to come. He rebukes Peter for such an act just a few verses latter in the garden and most of the teachings of the New Testament seem to prepare Christians to respond to persecution and hardship without vengeance or retaliation.

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