The Jews considered it an insult to be hit in the face. Jesus specifically mentions striking the right side of the face in Matthew 5:39.To the best of our knowledge of the Hebrew language, that expression is a Jewish idiom that describes an insult, similar to the way Westerners challenged one to a duel. Thus the principle taught in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:38-42 would seem to be that Christians should not retaliate when insulted or slandered since insults do not threaten a personal safety.
Jesus' personal nonresistance His arrest and at the cross was intertwined with His unique calling; it was God's will for Him to fulfill His prophetic role as the redemptive Lamb of God. During His ministry, however, He refused to be arrested because God's timing for His death had not yet come (John 8:59). Thus, Christ's unique nonresistance during the Passion does not mean he was against using self-protection.
The Bible records many accounts of fighting and warfare. The providence of God in war is exemplified by His name YHWH Sabaoth ("The LORD of hosts"--Exodus 12:41). God is portrayed as the omnipotent Warrior-Leader of the Israelites. God, the LORD of hosts, raised up warriors among the Israelites called the shophetim (savior-deliverers). Samson, Deborah, Gideon, and others were anointed by the Spirit of God to conduct war. The New Testament commends Old Testament warriors for their military acts of faith (Hebrews 11:30-40). Moreover, it is significant that although given the opportunity to do so, none of the New Testament saints--nor even Jesus--are ever seen informing a military convert that he needed to resign from his line of work (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 3:14).
Prior to His crucifixion, Jesus revealed to His disciples the future hostility they would face and encouraged them to sell their outer garments in order to buy a sword (Luke 22:36-38; cf. 2 Corinthians 11:26-27). Here the "sword" (Greek: maxairan) is a dagger or short sword that belonged to the Jewish traveler's equipment as protection against robbers and wild animals. A plain reading of the passage indicates that Jesus approved of self-defense.
Self-defense may actually result in one of the greatest examples of human love. Christ Himself said, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:14). When protecting one's family or neighbor, a Christian is unselfishly risking his or her life for the sake of others.
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