by Dan Peters, D. Min.
It’s 3 A.M. You wake from a deep sleep to hear noises downstairs. Someone is breaking into
your house! What do you do? You reach for the phone, but it is dead. You go out into the
hallway. There in your living room is a man you don’t know! He turns to you and you see a large
knife in his hand! He says, “Go get your wife!” What do you do?
What should you have done? Would an alarm system have kept him out? Would a gun have
prevented him from hurting your wife?
Should Christians ever use deadly force to protect their family members? I have believed for
many years that law abiding citizens have “the right of the people to keep and bear arms,
(which) shall not be infringed.” This is part of the U.S. Constitution and seemed to me to be the
greatest human guarantee of all the other rights recognized on the Constitution.
Until the “Brady Bill,” however, it was all theory for me.
When I realized that efforts were being made to disarm law abiding citizens, I decided to go
ahead and buy a handgun for family defense. I bought a used Smith and Wesson 38 special and
began shooting targets with my oldest son at a local indoor range. I received training in handgun
safety and now keep my gun under lock and key in the house.
As a Christian gun owner I asked myself some questions: “Is it right for a Christian to defend his
family? Are lethal weapons in the hands of private citizens in keeping with the Bible?”
I discovered that the Bible has much to say about weapons. The word “sword” appears in over
400 verses in the Old and New Testaments.
The first passage I found that established the right of a homeowner to use deadly force was
Exodus 22:2-4: “If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood
be shed for him. 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. If the theft be
certainly found in his hand alive, whether it be ox, or ass, or sheep; he shall restore double.”
The Mosaic Law, established by God for the nation of Israel, provided for family defense by
stating that if a thief is killed during a nighttime theft, the homeowner is not liable for his death.
If he was breaking in during the daytime and the homeowner killed him, a murder has taken
place, and the homeowner is guilty. This shows us that the Bible does not support the use of
deadly force by individuals to defend property. It does support the use of deadly force by
individuals to protect the lives of family members. [Ed: not sure about the defending property
bit, there may be instances where deadly force is justified in defending property. Also, in this
instance, it is obvious that the person is a thief, because that is what he is called, as opposed to
a rapist or murder or man stealer or child molester, all of which present justifiable killing. If it
were not obvious that he were a thief, then he should be treated as a person of the worst
possible character and dealt with is the severest possible manner.]
Jesus assumed the right of a man to defend him family by the use of his arms in this quotation
from Him in Luke 11:21-22: “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.”
Peace in a man’s palace or home is the result of being armed, not disarmed.
Law abiding citizens, trained in the proper use of firearms, can only enhance the peace of our
communities. Armed homes are a deterrent to violent crime.
One of the most amazing passages I came across was the one in which we have a record of
Jesus instructing His followers to sell some of their clothes and buy a sword. When they
indicated they had two swords among the twelve of them, Jesus then said that it was enough, as
we see in Luke 22:36 and 38: “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….
And they said, Lord, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.”
Jesus did not prohibit his disciples from having lethal weapons, but instead made sure that at
least some of His disciples had them. He even suggested the method of funding for the purchase
of weapons. “Sell your garment” implies the fairly basic necessity of them being armed during
their travels. This cannot refer to a “spiritual” sword since a “spiritual” money bag and
knapsack and garment would seem to be stretching an interpretation to fit a preconceived idea.
Jesus stopped His disciples from using their weapons when He was arrested, as we see in
Matthew 26:47-52: “And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a
great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he
that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him
fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. And Jesus said unto
him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.
And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword,
and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up
again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”
Jesus upheld the right of His disciples to carry a weapon and held them responsible for their
proper use. He also warned that those who use a weapon take the risk of escalation of conflict.
But why did Jesus tell Peter to put his sword in its place? Jesus explained why His servants
didn’t fight in John 18:36: “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom
were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but
now is my kingdom not from hence.”
He didn’t say that His servants had no right to fight, He rather explained that because His
kingdom did not have its origin in this world His servants would not use physical weapons to
fight what is essentially spiritual warfare. We are not to attempt to spread the gospel by the
“sword.” Those who have attempted to spread the faith by the “sword” have always brought
shame to true Christians.
One verse that is used to teach pacifism and disarmament is Isaiah 2:4: “And he shall judge
among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into
plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.”
Does this verse teach us to disarm ourselves? No. This verse refers to the future. The Bible
teaches that the Millennial Kingdom of God on earth has not yet arrived. There will come a day
when the earth will have so much peace that we will no longer need our weapons. Until then,
we must be prepared to defend ourselves. We should now follow the command in Joel 3:10:
“Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am
“But didn’t Jesus say that we should turn the other cheek?” In Matthew 5:39, Jesus said: “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.”
This refers to the response of a Christian to less than lethal force. We should allow ourselves to
be misused and defrauded for the sake of peace. But this in no way contradicts the responsibility
of Christians to defend their loved ones from deadly criminal assault in a free society. Would it
ever be right for a Christian to take the life of another human being? What does it mean when the
Bible says “THOU SHALT NOT KILL?” Is the sixth commandment an absolute prohibition of
all killing? No! What is prohibited here is deliberate unauthorized murder, not legitimate self
The Apostle Peter wrote that believers should ot be murderers in I Peter 4:15: “But let none of
you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s
matters.” Personal premeditated murder is always a violation of the unchanging moral law of
Another question I asked myself was…
Is God a Pacifist?
He used a sword to block the access of Adam and Eve to the Garden of Eden after they sinned
(Genesis 3:24). He stood with a sword to block the way of Balaam and his donkey (Numbers
22:23). He appeared to Joshua as a military commander with a sword in His hand (Joshua
5:13-14). He wears a sword on His thigh (Psalm 45:3). He has a double bladed sword
(Revelation 2:12). He says that He kills in Deuteronomy 32:39: “See now that I, even I, am he,
and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that
can deliver out of my hand.”
God is not a pacifist. He has killed many, as in Noah’s flood, and is shown in the Bible as
having a sword and using it to bring justice and peace.
“Should government try to bring about peace by confiscating weapons from law abiding
citizens?” The only instance of disarming people that I could find [ed: actually, there are more
instances] in the Bible was in I Samuel 13:19-22: “Now there was no smith found throughout all
the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears: But
all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter,
and his axe, and his mattock. Yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, and for the
forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads. So it came to pass in the day of battle,that there
was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and
Jonathan: but with Saul and Jonathan his son there was found.”
I discovered in the Bible that weapons confiscation is a method used by “Philistine”
governments who seek to make slaves out of the people they rule.
The right to keep and bear arms is not only a basic American right. It is a right given by God in
this sinful world. It is assumed in the Bible.
The right to family-defense is presumed from one end of the Bible to the other. The idea that
Christians should support the disarming of law-abiding citizens is not in accord with God’s will
for this age. The disarming of the lawful will only leave the streets and our safety in the hands of
criminals and overworked police officers who cannot guarantee our safety.
While Christian people are authorized to defend their families, there is no Biblical basis for
personal revenge, hatred or political persuasion by means of arms. Christianity was never meant
to be spread by means of the sword. And while we do have a right to self defense, we must
decide when it is proper to use it. Difficult choices exist in this evil world. I hope that I never
have to use deadly force to protect my family.
If I do, I know from my study of the Bible that it is not wrong to use violence, if necessary, to
protect my family from violent criminal assault.
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that recognizes the right of a citizen to “keep
and bear arms” is in harmony with the teachings of the Bible and should be upheld by Bible
believing Christians. Therefore, legislation that has the effect of disarming law abiding citizens
should be opposed by Christians who take the Bible seriously.
Guns don’t KILL people….People do.