That was the question I had to “pass” on last Sunday in our Q-n-A time after teaching through Stephen’s martyrdom in Acts 7. It wasn’t because of a lack of an opinion or answer, but rather due to one thing: TIME! That question isn’t quickly answered, no, not even if I had taken an extra 10 minutes. Even though there were multiple questions around this theme, I felt it was impossible to do the question justice in our usual format. Thus, it’s here in my blog.
Fortunately, I did provide at least one key component to maneuvering through this issue — the Holy Spirit. After all, Jesus promised his disciples that in their hour of trial, his Holy Spirit would give them the words to say. So they weren’t to worry, but rather keep on witnessing, knowing God would fill their mouths at just the right time with the words necessary for a proper defense.
Of course, that doesn’t answer the question from the angle of physical violence. Yet, my point was that “defending ourselves,” generally speaking, is probably best answered situationally and prayerfully. While there are certainly some non-negotiable situations where we should defend ourselves and others, Stephen’s story (Acts 7), as well as Peter and John’s earlier (Acts 4-5) and James’ later (Acts 12), indicates there may be times when we don’t. When we do either is perhaps an on-the-spot decision.
It is to that end that I offer the following trusted links. They will break this issue out in more detail, give various scenarios and Scriptures, and help you sort through the options and opinions facing you. I’ve read through them myself, and enjoyed the similarities and differences, Yes, there will be some variance in these articles, and you will need to weigh what the Bible says and how the Holy Spirit leads in each situation so that you are acting with a clear conscience, a sober mind, a disciplined body, and a God-honoring heart.