Civil Disobedience and Christian Persecution Part 3
Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics

Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
May 27, 1998

Last Updated :
July 9, 2012

Apostle Paul Was The Exception, Abide In Your Calling, David Koresh And Branch Davidians, Don't Bear Arms Against Enemies, Flee From Persecution And Capture, The Spiritual Nature Of Our Warfare, Submit To Your Captors And Don't Resist Arrest, Peter's Sword And Events In Garden Of Gethsemane, There Is No Scriptural Foundation For Christians To Engage In Civil Disobedience, God Will Deliver Us If He Desires, Examples Of Miraculous Intervention: The Apostles Are Freed From Prison, We Ought To Obey God Rather Than Men, Count The Cost And Be Prepared To Pay The Price For Your Stand Of Faith, Do Not Purposely Antagonize Your Unbelieving Enemies, A Line Drawn In The Sand, Beware: Don't Harm The Lord's Prophets, We Are The Apple Of God's Eye, Four Quaternions: Peter Is Delivered From Prison, Paul And Silas Are Set Free By God's Earthquake

Continuing our discussion from part two, allow me to point out that Paul was obviously an exception to the rule. Not all of us -- and in fact, very few of us -- are destined to appear before presidents, prime ministers, kings and queens. The vast majority of us must content ourselves with having a more humble ministry; that is, reaching the common people; many of whom are considerably more receptive than the rich, pompous rulers of this current world. As the New Testament plan makes very clear, we are each to abide in the calling wherein we have been called by the Lord, as we can see by the following verses:

"Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation: But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand."
Romans 15:20-21, KJV

"Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called . . . Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God."
1 Corinthians 7:20, 24, KJV

"For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you. For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as though we reached not unto you: for we are come as far as to you also in preaching the gospel of Christ: Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men's labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly, To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man's line of things made ready to our hand. But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth."
2 Corinthians 10:12-18, KJV

"But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision."
Galatians 2:7-9, KJV

Regardless of the level and scope of our particular calling and ministry, if Satan has his way with this world, we all may face serious persecution in the days ahead. If and when that occurs, exactly what kind of resistance are we supposed to offer to our enemies? Are we supposed to take up arms and defend ourselves like some of the so-called Christian militia groups have determined to do? In particular, I am reminded of the tragic events surrounding David Koresh and his followers -- the Branch Davidians -- which occurred at their compound outside of Waco, Texas in 1993. I discuss that incident in more detail in the series called "Heaven's Gate, Suicide And Other Death Cults". To say the least, it did not end well for the Branch Davidians.

As I have already clearly demonstrated in this and in other articles, my personal conviction is that we are not supposed to take up arms and defend ourselves against our enemies. I also believe that Christians who do so greatly err in their understanding of the Scriptures. Consider the following wise advice that the Lord offers us in the Gospel of Matthew:

"But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come."
Matthew 10:23, KJV

"When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes."
Matthew 24:15-18, KJV

In accordance with the Lord's teachings, in the Book of Revelation, the Apostle John likewise informs us that the woman fled from the face of her persecutors, as we see by this verse:

"And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days."
Revelation 12:6, KJV

Thus we see that if it is at all possible for us to escape persecution and capture, then we should by all means do so. The longer we can maintain our freedom, the better; for in so doing, the Lord may be able to use us to reach more of His lost hungry sheep in these Last Days. As the old saying states, "He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day". I discuss this same topic in the article entitled "He Who Fights and Runs Away: Choose Your Battles Wisely". While it's indeed true that we are all involved in serious warfare, Scriptures such as the following make it quite clear that we are engaged in spiritual warfare, and not in actual violent, physical warfare:

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;"
2 Corinthians 10:3-5, KJV

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
Ephesians 6:10-12, KJV

"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses."
1 Timothy 6:12, KJV

"Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."
2 Timothy 2:3-4, KJV

"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:"
2 Timothy 4:7, KJV

"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
Hebrews 4:12, KJV

However, despite our best efforts, eventually, due to their advanced technology and the tight grip which they already have on our lives, our enemies will catch up with some of us. The verses that I shared in part one make it perfectly clear that the devilish leader who the Bible refers to as a Beast, will make war against and will wear out the Saints of the Most High. Eventually, some of the Lord's children are going to get tired of running; and some of us are going to get caught. Whether such verses refer to the Jews of Israel, or to Christians worldwide, remains to be seen. Exactly what do the Scriptures advise us to do if and when this happens? The following verse provides us with the perfect example:

"He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth."
Isaiah 53:7, KJV

As I point out in a number of other articles, Jesus did not resist arrest once the unbelieving Jewish mob had caught up with Him. He knew that the time had come for His betrayal and Crucifixion. When Peter did offer resistance by cutting off the ear of Malchus, the servant of the high priest, what did Jesus do? He healed him as one of His final acts of love and forgiveness. At the same time, He used the incident to teach a valuable lesson to Peter. That lesson -- as I have already made plain -- is that we are to wage a spiritual battle, and not a physical one. Consider the following verses:

"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."
Matthew 26:51-52, KJV

"Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?"
John 18:10-11, KJV

If you personally adhere to a political philosophy of civil disobedience, allow me to ask you a question: Where in the Bible do we find even one of the Lord's Prophets, Apostles or Disciples resisting arrest, or taking up arms in order to fight against the powers that be? From the Prophets of the Old Testament, to the Disciples of the Book of Acts, to the aged Apostle John who was exiled on the isle of Patmos, we see that they had such great faith in the Word and Power of God, that they accepted all things as coming from His Hand; exactly as Paul states in the following verse that is found in his Epistle to the Romans:

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
Romans 8:28, KJV

These brave pioneers of our faith knew that no matter what happened to them, and no matter where they were sent, God was still with them; and He would deliver them from their afflictions if He so desired. Just look at the examples we find in the Book of Acts. God's children are so important to Him, that if they haven't yet finished the job that He has given them to do, He will find a way to deliver them; even if it has to be through miraculous Angelic Intervention, as occurred in the case of Peter and the other Apostles in Acts chapter five. Consider the following verses:

"Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned, and told, Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within. Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow. Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people. Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men."
Acts 5:17-29, KJV

Please take note of the Apostles' bold statement in the final verse above: "We ought to obey God rather than men". It may interest you to know that, to my knowledge, other than Jesus Himself, who constantly had run-ins with the self-righteous religionists of His day, this is the only Scriptural example we find in the New Testament where the Disciples demonstrate open defiance, and resist the powers that be. Personally, I interpret this particular incident to mean that the only time that we should resist the powers that be is when they try to prevent us from witnessing our faith to others. Furthermore, please notice that this was verbal resistance. The Apostles did not go out and join the radical Zealots, who were intent on overthrowing Rome, and deposing Rome's puppet, King Herod.

However, I also hope that you realize that you should only do this -- that is, take such a bold stand of faith -- if you personally have the faith to endure the consequences which may result from your act of open resistance to the authorities. In other words, as the Scriptures inform us, you must be prepared to count the cost before taking any action which you may later regret. Consider the following verses:

"If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men."
Romans 12:18, KJV

"Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing."
Matthew 5:25-26, KJV

"And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."
Luke 14:25-33, KJV

In short, if you are not prepared to suffer possible police brutality, or be locked up unfairly in a prison cell with drunks and other questionable or even dangerous characters, or be expelled from your school, or be fired from your job, or be kicked out of that foreign mission field, then it is probably in your best interest to obey that police officer, school principal, boss, shopping mall manager, immigration official, or whoever it is that is telling you to peddle your pamphlets and preach elsewhere.

As you may already realize, while we Christians should not purposely go out of our way to antagonize our enemies, in this day and age when the forces of antichrist are becoming more widespread -- even within the so-called Christian USA -- this is quickly becoming unavoidable. Satan will not be content until he has totally silenced us. So what are we supposed to do? Should we just cower in fear and go quietly in the night? Should we just hide our light under a bushel?

As Peter and the Apostles demonstrate in Acts chapter five, sooner or later we have to draw the line. After all, we owe our allegiance and our obedience first of all to the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords. While the human governments of this world may accuse us of breaking their laws, the fact of the matter is that by persecuting us, and preventing us from doing our job as faithful witnesses and ambassadors for the Lord, they are the ones who are breaking God's Laws. As such, they better watch out; because He is taking notice; as we see by the following verses:

"Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm."
1 Chronicles 16:22, KJV

"Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure."
Psalms 2:1-5, KJV

"Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm."
Psalms 105:15, KJV

"For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye."
Zechariah 2:8, KJV

"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
Matthew 25:40, KJV

"Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God."
Acts 5:34-39, KJV

It may interest you to know that in Zechariah 2:8 above, the word "apple" is derived from the Hebrew word "babah", which is pronounced baw-baw'. This Hebrew word actually refers to the pupil of one's eye. In other words, when the people and the governments of the world purposely persecute and harm the children of the Lord, it is just like poking their finger in God's very own Eye! Ouch! We have all had this happen to us at one time or another, and it is definitely not a pleasant experience. It is our natural reaction to protect our eyes, either by blinking, or else by putting up our arm or hand in order to block the approaching danger. In like manner, it is the Lord's natural reaction to swat down those who would dare to harm His children. Sometimes, He may allow them to carry out their plans against us, for whatever His reasons, but eventually He will also punish the evildoers.

We find another wonderful example of the Lord's miraculous deliverance in Acts chapter twelve where, after beheading James, the brother of John, evil King Herod has Peter thrown into prison. Herod's obvious intent is to also behead Peter in order to please the antichrist Jewish Elders. As occurred in the previous incident, the Lord again sends one of His special Celestial Agents to confound the rulers of Israel, as we see by the following verses:

"Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews."
Acts 12:1-11, KJV

In the previous verse group, the word "quaternion" is derived from the Greek word "tetradion", the pronunciation of which is tet-rad'-ee-on. To fully comprehend what precautions were taken to ensure that Peter did not escape from prison as he did during his earlier incarceration, consider what Thayer's Greek English Lexicon states regarding this word:

----- Begin Quote -----

"A guard consisting of four soldiers (for among the Romans this was the usual number of the guard to which the custody of captives and prisoners was entrusted; two soldiers were confined with the prisoner and two kept guard outside). Four quaternions of soldiers would be used to guard one all night, one for each of the four night watches."

----- End Of Quote -----

Whether or not Herod had actually heard of Peter's earlier escape from the common prison of the Jews, we really do not know. However, the fact that he had Peter placed in chains and properly guarded by sixteen soldiers during the course of the night shift, does seem to indicate that he was not about to take any chances. Despite these ridiculous human precautions, once again the Lord fulfilled His Word, as it was revealed by King David about one thousand years earlier:

"The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them."
Psalms 34:7, KJV

Perhaps Peter was pondering this very verse when he said "Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod." One final, excellent example of the Lord's Deliverance of His children can be found in Acts chapter sixteen. In this chapter we are informed that due to their causing a public disturbance in Philippi of Macedonia as as a result of preaching the Gospel there, Paul and Silas were thrown into prison. To make sure that they did not escape, Luke -- the author of the Book of Acts -- informs us that Paul and Silas were also placed in the stocks.

As the Angel Gabriel told Mary in chapter one of the Gospel of Luke "For with God nothing shall be impossible." Imagine the surprise of the prison guard when a great earthquake hit the prison, and Paul and Silas -- as well as the rest of the prisoners -- were set free. Clearly, it is an exercise in futility to try to stop the servants of the Lord when God is still not done using them yet. Please read the story below:

"And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house."
Acts 16:23-34, KJV

Please go to part four for the conclusion of this series.

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