Due to the growing level of violence in our world and the extolment of peace in Scripture, there is much debate among Christians regarding whether it is appropriate for a Christian to own weapons. However, a comprehensive look at the Bible offers insight regarding historic practices that inform this issue today.
We have the example of the apostles, who owned weapons. On the night Jesus was betrayed, He asked His followers to bring swords. They had two, which Jesus claimed was enough (Luke 22:37-39). As Jesus was being arrested, Peter sliced off the ear of one of the servants of the high priest (John 18:10). Jesus healed the man instantly (Luke 22:51) and commanded Peter to put away his weapon (John 18:11). Peter’s ownership of a sword was not condemned, only his particular use of it.
On another occasion, soldiers came to be baptized by John the Baptist. When asked what to do to live for God, John told them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages” (Luke 3:14). John stopped short of telling them to lay down their weapons.
And then there is David, who praised God “who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle” (Psalm 144:1). The Old Testament contains many other examples of godly men who owned and used weapons, usually in the context of warfare.
The Bible never forbids a Christian from owning a weapon, but it does offer some principles to consider. First, Christians are called to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:10). A Christian considering the purchase of a weapon should prayerfully consider if doing so would aid in peace-making.
Second, a Christian should only own a weapon for a purpose that would honor God (1 Corinthians 10:23). Using a weapon for hunting, military or law enforcement duty, or self-defense may honor God. Still, a person should reflect on his or her motives for owning a particular weapon.
Third, a Christian should abide by local laws, including gun laws. Romans 13 is clear that governing authorities are from God and are to be obeyed. Further, we are to pray on behalf of governing leaders who oversee our communities and nation (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
Ultimately, there is nothing sinful about owning a gun or other weapon. A weapon can be useful and even necessary in some contexts; at the same time, Christians should carefully consider their motive and purpose in owning a weapon, and local ordinances should be followed.