A BIBLICAL RESPONSE TO THOSE WHO SAY WE SHOULD DISARM; TO THOSE WHO TEACH PACIFISM; TO THOSE WHO THINK THE BIBLE HAS NOTHING TO SAY ABOUT ARMS

Genesis 4:8-12: In this passage, Scripture records the first murder wherein Cain killed Abel. That Cain must have used some sort of weapon to kill Abel is evidenced by the fact Abel was bleeding (he was not strangled). Notice how God responded to the killing. He did not institute some sort of weapon-control, rather, He punished the one who committed the crime.

Exodus 20 and following: In God’s holy law, which He decreed at Sinai, nowhere do you see God outlawing weapons in response to the various crimes which He prohibited in His legislation. He always punishes the perpetrator. He never disarms the citizenry.

Exodus 22:2: In this verse, God declares that if someone breaks into your house at night and you kill him, you are not guilty of murder. This verse makes clear that you have a God-given right to defend yourself and to defend your family.

Deuteronomy 22:23-27: This passage deals with rape. Notice that verse 27 ends with the words “but there was no one to save her.” What is the implication of such a statement? The implication is that had someone been around to hear her cry out, they had a moral duty to intervene and protect her from being raped. To stand by would be immoral. We have a God-given right to defend not only ourselves, but also others.

Numbers 1: In God’s economy, He instituted an armed citizenry, not a standing army, in order to deal with the affairs of war regarding Israel. This is what the Founding Fathers of America envisioned for our nation. Even in Switzerland today, every home is furnished with a machine gun (one of the reasons Hitler chose not to invade Switzerland).

1 Samuel 13:19-22: The Philistines disarmed the Israelites. Weapon-control was instituted. No blacksmiths were allowed lest the Israelites arm themselves. A disarmed people is the sign of a conquered people. A disarmed people is the sign of an enslaved people.

Isaiah 2:1-5: Many, including the United Nations, take the latter part of verse 4 in this passage, which states “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks,” and try to say that God wants us to disarm. The context makes clear, however, that “swords will be beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks” when God rules, not when the United Nations or any other government of man rules.

Matthew 5:38-39: In this passage, Jesus is not denigrating the law of God in regards to one’s right to defend himself and others, rather He is repudiating the lex talionis – the law of retaliation, which said, “if someone messes you up today, you go back and mess him up five times worse tomorrow.” The Pharisees were even using the law of God to justify this mindset. Jesus is repudiating this personal vengeance which some sought to justify and participate in. He is not saying we cannot defend ourselves or others.
Vengeance belongs to God (Romans 12:19; Deuteronomy 32:35; Proverbs 20:22). We are not to avenge ourselves. If we see someone who needs our help during the commission of a crime, we have a God-given right and duty to intervene. If, however, the crime has been committed (past tense), we have no God-given right or duty to go and execute judgment upon the perpetrator. God will avenge. God will judge.
God has given the sword (a symbol of judgment) to the civil magistrate (Romans 13:4). If a crime has been committed, it is to be reported to the civil authorities and they have a God-given right and duty before God to execute judgment.

Matthew 26:51-52: Some try to say that this passage proves that Jesus was a pacifist and against guns. Quite the contrary. Where does Jesus tell Peter to put his sword? “In its place.” John makes it clearer: Jesus didn’t tell him to melt it down into a plowshare, rather he told him to put it “into the sheath.” The sword has its proper place. It is not evil. But Peter wanted to use it in an improper situation. Jesus came to earth to die. Peter would be abrogating the purposes of God if he intervened with the sword. As Jesus goes on to say in verse 11 of John chapter 18, “Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” Jesus was trying to teach His disciples that His Kingdom is not expanded through the use of force, rather it is expanded through the preaching of the Gospel and the discipling of the nations.
If someone wants to live by the sword, they will die by the sword, as Jesus says. In other words, he who uses the sword for improper purposes will die by it. It was improper for Peter to have used it in that situation. A criminal or a tyrant who uses the sword improperly will rightly die by it. But the use of the sword in a proper fashion, to defend one’s person or one’s family or one’s country, is not condemned by Scripture, rather Scripture upholds it.

God is not a pacifist. Jesus is not a pacifist. As Jesus said in the very next verse, verse 53, “Or do you think I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?” Jesus could have used force. The use of force; the use of swords was simply improper for the situation in which Christ was involved. He was supposed to die. He and the Father are not pacifists. He did not use force because he hat to drink the cup of the Father.

Exodus 15:3: This verse of Scripture declares the Lord to be a “man of war.” That God is not a pacifist is evidenced throughout Scripture. Even Jesus Himself, who is the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His person, and who has declared all that God is (Hebrews 1:3; John 1:18), drove the moneychangers out of the temple with a whip and overturned their tables (John 2:15). The book of Revelation defines Him as a King who does what? “Judges and makes war” (Revelation 19:11). The Scripture declares that Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). God’s character does not change. God is not a pacifist.
In closing, there are some who say that “we should not have guns; we should just trust God.” My response to those who say this is – “Let me ask you, do you have a lock on your front door?” They always say “yes.” I then ask, “Do you lock it when you leave or go to bed at night?” Those who live in the city always say “yes.” I then ask, “Why do you have a lock on your door? Why don’t you just trust God?”

Just because we have a lock on our door or a gun in our closet does not mean we are trusting in them to protect us with the same trust with which we’re to trust the Lord.

Rather, we simply see the wisdom and prudence of having such things in order to be good stewards in protecting our belongings and our families.

The psalmist understood that there was no contradiction. David said in verse one of Psalm 144: “Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.” He then said in verse two: “My lovingkindness and my fortress, my high tower and my deliverer, my shield and the one in whom I take refuge.”

The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates, Matthew J. Trewhella

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6 thoughts on “A BIBLICAL RESPONSE TO THOSE WHO SAY WE SHOULD DISARM; TO THOSE WHO TEACH PACIFISM; TO THOSE WHO THINK THE BIBLE HAS NOTHING TO SAY ABOUT ARMS

  1. “Scripture declares the Lord to be a “man of war.” That God is not a pacifist is evidenced throughout Scripture.”
    Yes, just as in Romans:, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore

    “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
    For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
    21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

    https://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2012/05/31/romans-13-in-context-sword-pacifism/

    Remember in the OT, Israel was supposed to have only God as their King. But they wanted to be like the nations and God gave them what they asked for.
    The eventual armed invasion of Canaan came 40 years after they were told, “See, I have set the land before you; go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to your fathers . . . The Lord your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you, according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, . .” Deu. 1

    Did they deliver themselves in Egypt? Did they lift a sword? How were they delivered from Pharaoh’s Army at the Red Sea?

    https://spurgeonwarquotes.wordpress.com

    1. Thank you, Mr. Snow, for the response. Obviously, I am not a pacifist.

      //“Scripture declares the Lord to be a “man of war.” That God is not a pacifist is evidenced throughout Scripture.”
      Yes, just as in Romans:, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. //

      This does not mean we are not to defend ourselves by waiting for the Lord to take vengeance. Verse 18 says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” We are not to get even with those that we think have wronged us.

      //20 Therefore
      “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
      If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
      For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
      21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.//

      If a man breaks into my home with the intent to rape or even murder my wife, surely I’m not going to offer him a drink! It would not be evil for me to use violence against him to protect my wife and family. I can offer him a drink while he is recovering in the hospital. I can forgive him and visit him in prison. I can love him without harbouring resentment. I can tell him that if he does not ask God to forgive him, then he will face the non-pacifist wrath of God.

      If we continue in Romans onto ch. 13 we find that the governing authorities do “not bear the sword in vain.” They are not pacifists. In fact, it states “For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” God, the non-pacifist, uses secondary sources (the non-pacifist governing authorities) to carry out his wrath.

      //Remember in the OT, Israel was supposed to have only God as their King. But they wanted to be like the nations and God gave them what they asked for.
      The eventual armed invasion of Canaan came 40 years after they were told, “See, I have set the land before you; go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to your fathers . . . The Lord your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you, according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, . .” Deu. 1
      Did they deliver themselves in Egypt? Did they lift a sword? How were they delivered from Pharaoh’s Army at the Red Sea?//

      I don’t think this is a good example. For 400 years they were disarmed and enslaved. The initiation of the Exodus starts when Moses kills a man, flees and then God calls him to lead the Israelites. When Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt they “plundered the Egyptians.” It doesn’t say they grabbed any weapons. However, during the 40 years, they defeated Amalek. Exodus 17:13 says “Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.” They either acquired swords from the Egyptians or made them. These are not pacifists!

  2. Regetius,

    Great post and I agree.
    I think that in Matthew 26 there is another example to be highlighted. Did not Jesus say that God would put 12 Legions of Angels at his command if it was His wish?
    Angels willing to fight to defend someone? Hardly a pacifistic God.

    //20 Therefore
    “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
    For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
    21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.//

    If a man breaks into my home with the intent to rape or even murder my wife, surely I’m not going to offer him a drink! It would not be evil for me to use violence against him to protect my wife and family

    I think, at least for me, this is what many people do not understand. I do not consider the criminal to be my enemy. They may not be a friend, they may be there to harm me or others; but that doesn’t mean I have any hostility toward them. I do not hate them, I simply refuse to be a passive victim to criminal acts

    Bob S.

  3. Confusion always accompanies the topic of pacifism [the rejection of bearing arms in war]. Almost immediately, the topic is changed to the homicidal rapist invading one’s home, which 99,?% of us (thankfully) have never experienced, while daily, Christians march of to war with their swords. The classic OT study, Yahweh is a Warrior, is written by Mennonite scholar, Millard Lind

    “If we continue in Romans onto ch. 13 we find that the governing authorities do “not bear the sword in vain.” They are not pacifists. In fact, it states “For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” God, the non-pacifist, uses secondary sources (the non-pacifist governing authorities) to carry out his wrath.”

    If you look at the link I gave on Romans 13, this is put in context. It does not say that the governing authorities are pacifists, but the agent of God and makes clear that Christians are called to be the light of the world, not the sword of the Lord.

    1. //Confusion always accompanies the topic of pacifism [the rejection of bearing arms in war]. Almost immediately, the topic is changed to the homicidal rapist invading one’s home, which 99,?% of us (thankfully) have never experienced, while daily, Christians march of to war with their swords. The classic OT study, Yahweh is a Warrior, is written by Mennonite scholar, Millard Lind//

      It helps to define your terms at the outset, instead of waiting until mid-discussion to accuse the other person of a red herring and obfuscation.

      I’ve always understood pacifism to be against all forms of violence; just like a vegetarian is against eating all meat and not just bacon.

      Regardless, even if most of us have never actually experienced a homicidal rapist in our homes, I still think I ought to be prepared for one. Just because it is rare that I would be in an head on collision with a bus, I think I’ll still wear my seat belt.

      I have a pacifist friend that thinks it is immoral to kill the homicidal rapist or even your typical intruder (which is less rare). How can I trust this man with my children? How can you love your neighbour if you aren’t even willing to protect them?

      As for Christians marching to war, so what? In Luke 3:14, some soldiers ask John the Baptist “’And we, what shall we do?’ And he said to them, ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.’”

      I don’t see John exhorting them to lay down their swords to pick up roses.

      Chapter XXIII
      Of the Civil Magistrate

      I. God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, has ordained civil magistrates, to be, under Him, over the people, for His own glory, and the public good: and, to this end, has armed them with the power of the sword, for the defence and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evil doers.

      II. It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate, when called thereunto: in the managing whereof, as they ought especially to maintain piety, justice, and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each commonwealth; so, for that end, they may lawfully, now under the New Testament, wage war, upon just and necessary occasion.

      The Confession teaches that defensive warfare is justified and a last resort for a nation.

      //If you look at the link I gave on Romans 13, this is put in context. It does not say that the governing authorities are pacifists, but the agent of God and makes clear that Christians are called to be the light of the world, not the sword of the Lord.//

      I think this is where the confusion is: no where am I saying that we are to advance God’s Kingdom by the sword. Zechariah 4:6: “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.”

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