*Forms Of Apostolic Responses To Various Types Of Persecution*
1. AGAINST LEGITIMATE PERSECUTORS, pray always to be ready with spiritual assurance to suffer cheerfully with no offence (like the Apostles Act 4:23-25; 2Cor 6:3-10, and Stephen Act 7:54-60) but
(a). either *suffer victoriously and of good cheer* (as Paul did in Act 16:16-40),
(b). or if possible –
(i). pray and strategize for favour to obtain *legitimate counter defence* (as Esther and Paul did in Est 9; Act 18:9-18).
(ii). seek to *escape to where you still make Christ known* (as Christ taught in Matt 10:21-23 and the Apostolic Church did in Act 8:1-5; 9:23-25; 11:19-21),
2. AGAINST LEGAL STATE ENFORCEMENT,
(a). there is usually no way for armed struggle/resistance (as Christ cautioned Peter in Mat 26:51-54; and the Church in Rev 13:9-11),
(a). but there may be ways
(i). for *apologetic advocacy* for the Gospel (as Peter, Stephen and Paul did in Act 4:5-22; 7:1-53; 22:1-30; 23:1-11; 24:1-27),
(ii). for *strategic undercover favours* (as with Paul in Achaia Act 18:12-17; and in Jerusalem Act 23:12-35 or in Malta Act 27:41-11),
(iii). for *escape* to a place where the persecutors would not know or reach (like Paul and Peter did in Act 9:23-25; 12:1-17; and as the Church would be helped to do in the future final tribulation Rev 12:13-17).
3. AGAINST INJUSTICE, you could:
(a). *evoke State legal rights* to defend yourself (as Paul did by appealing to Caesar in Act 25:1-12); or
(b). *request State intervention* of the military or security operatives (as Paul did by reporting to Julius the Centurion in Act 27:29-32).
4. AGAINST ILLEGITIMATE INFRINGEMENTS OR CRIMINAL BRIGANDAGE, civil duty on you as citizen demands that such violations should not be aided and abated by acquiescence, but should rather be restrained and resisted as appropriately as possible:
(a). if limited to personal infringements you may decide to –
(i). either *suffer sacrificially by joyful forbearance* and hope of glory (Mat 5:11-12; 2Cor 4:17; Heb 10:34; Jas 1:2; 1Pet 1:6-7),
(ii). or *stand your ground* by combining self-defence measures with State Law enforcement redress as may be appropriate (as indicated by Christ in Luk 22:35-38; Mat 26:51-53).
*NOTE: From Christ’s teaching and caution to His Disciples in Gethsemane, armed resistance/warfare is a plausible deterrent or defence option (Luke 22:36-38). However, it should always be secondary and last option, because it cannot be guaranteed as a quick fix or sure solution, since armed conflict is bound by the boomeranging LAW OF THE SWORD – “all who bear the sword die by the sword” (Mat 26:50-53; Gen 9:6). “This requires the steadfast endurance and faith of the saints” (Rev 13:10).*
(b). but if extended beyond personal infringements into brigandage against citizens and communities, you have constitutional and natural duties as a citizen to *ensure security of life and property* through mobilization for citizen-defence and community-defence –
(i). either *by means of formal armed civil defence combined with State Law enforcement* redress (as Esther did in Est 9),
(ii). or *by means of armed local vigilante* (as Nehemiah did in Neh 4).
*IN SUMMARY,* depending on the nature/basis (e.g. legality, severity, criminality, authority) of the tribulation we face at any particular time, there are responses we may be prayerfully led by the Spirit to give. These options could be both:
the *PRIMARY response of SUFFERING on spiritual/congregational basis* as members of the Church or as Christians in particular –
*1. Ensure consecration,*
*2. Evangelize consistently,*
*3. Suffer sacrificially,*
*4. Hide/Run to safety;*
as well as the _SECONDARY response of SELF-DEFENCE on temporal/community basis_ as citizens of the State together with others who are not Christians –
5. Invoke Legal Rights,
6. Invite Law enforcement,
7. Involve State Authorities,
8. Mobilize Advocacy and even Protest against injustice,
9. Stand Your Ground against criminal homicide/genocide through Self Defence, Civil Defence and Defence Vigilante.
Grace to you.
I. U. Ibeme