Defending Ourselves in Persecution
Bible Text: 1 Peter 4:15 | Pastor: Daniel Stertz | Series: A Study of 1st Peter
On the night of the Passover when Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, He said this:
Luke 22:35-38 And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. (36) 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. (37) For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. (38) And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.
What did He mean by “buying a sword?”
I’m linking this in my mind with 1 Peter 4:15. The example we used was someone who might think he was doing God’s work by something like “blowing up an abortion clinic,” and then claiming he was persecuted when being hunted as a criminal. Peter says it is not persecution if we deserve it.
The question I’m thinking about is does Jesus mean we should protect ourselves from true persecution?
Think about that while considering some of the passages we have seen in 1 Peter. Read these Scriptures
1 Peter 2:19-23
1 Peter 3:9, 14, 17
1 Peter 4:12-14, 16, 19
There is a definite pattern here of the believer both expecting persecution & enduring it.
A question is begging to be asked, however. Is it right for a believer to defend himself with force, even lethal force?
As citizens we have the right to Conceal & Carry in many states, to carry a firearm to protect ourselves & our families.
Many churches have created security response teams & methods to deal with “crazed” people and gunmen; including having people prepared to shoot an assailant who is actively shooting people.
Is there a “line” to be drawn as to where we defend ourselves? For that matter, do we defend ourselves in court such as ACLJ & ADF do?
Back to what Jesus meant about buying a sword.
It appears there was a misunderstanding by what Jesus meant in the “change” that was taking place. Jesus seems to be using “metaphorical language.” Their first trip was short term but the future was something different. In that day a sword was standard equipment for a traveler because of highway robbers. When He said “enough” it may have been “enough of that talk.” If He meant “2 is enough” surely that was not enough to defend a dozen and especially against an army.
We also see when Peter tried to use one of those swords to take off someone’s head, but missed and got his ear, Jesus stopped Him & healed the servant.
We know when Paul was threatened with being beaten, he used the law to protect himself—his Roman citizenship was his protection. He even went on the offensive, like at Philippi when he was beaten and jailed.
So it would seem we are able to use the law when it is “on our side”. Whether that law is “in the courts” or laws allowing us to protect ourselves. But when it comes to official persecution the example of the apostles was to endure.
Acts 4:23-31; Acts 5:40-41
So we make a distinction between the individual attack & the government attack.
To be sure, we are still commended for “turning the other cheek.”
Matthew 5:11-12 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. (12) Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.