What does the Bible say about lawsuits / suing?

Question: "What does the Bible say about lawsuits / suing?"

1 Corinthians 6:1-8 definitely instructs believers to not go to court against one another. To demonstrate that Christians are not capable of forgiving each other and reconcile their own differences is to demonstrate spiritual defeat. Why would someone want to become a Christian if Christians have just as many problems and are just as incapable of solving them? However, there are likely some instances when a lawsuit might be the proper course of action. If the Biblical pattern for reconciliation has been followed (Matthew 18:15-17) and the offending party is still in the wrong, in some instances, a lawsuit might be the proper thing to do. This should only be done after much prayer for wisdom (James 1:5) and consultation with spiritual leadership.

1 Corinthians 6:4 states "If you then have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge?" The whole context of 1 Corinthians 6:1-6 is dealing with disputes in the church, but Paul does reference the court system when he says judgments concerning things pertaining to this life. Paul means that in matters of this life that are outside the church, that is why the court system exists. Paul is saying that church problems should not be taken to the court system, but should be judged within the church.

Acts chapter 21 starting with verse 26 talks about Paul being arrested and wrongfully accused of something he did not do. Then the Romans took him and in Chapter 22 starting with verse 24 we read, "The commander brought Paul inside and ordered him lashed with whips to make him confess his crime. He wanted to find out why the crowd had become so furious. As they tied Paul down to lash him, Paul said to the officer standing there, "Is it legal for you to whip a Roman citizen who hasn't even been tried?" Paul used the Roman law and his citizenship to protect himself. There is nothing wrong with using the court system as long as it is done with a right motive and a pure heart.

1 Corinthians 6:7 declares, "Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?" The thing Paul is concerned with here is the testimony of the believer. It would be far better for us to be taken advantage of, or even abused, than it would be for us to push a person even further away from Christ by taking them to court. What is more important, a legal battle, or the battle for a person’s everlasting soul?

In summary, should Christians take each other to court over church matters? Absolutely not! Should Christians take each other to court over civil matters? If it can in any way be avoided, no. Should Christians take non-Christians to court over civil matters? Again, if it can be avoided, no. However, in some instances, such as the protection of our own rights (as in the example of the Apostle Paul), it may be appropriate to pursue a legal defense.

Recommended Resource: The Freedom and Power of Forgiveness by John MacArthur.

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What does the Bible say about lawsuits / suing?