Is It Biblical to Sue Someone?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Is it biblical to sue someone?  Is it permissible for Christians to sue other Christians?  What does the Bible say about believers who have disputes and whether they should bring each other to court to sue one another?

Lawsuits Among Believers

Apparently, the church at Corinth had a huge problem of division.  This was despite the fact that the church, the Body of Christ, is one body of believers who ought to be in unity with one another.  First Corinthians chapter 6 is where Paul directly addresses this issue.  Many in the Corinthian church were apparently in such dissension that they were actually taking each other to court rather than what God commands should be taken before the church or should be settled by a brother or sister between the disputing parties.

Church members sing the hymn, “Oh How I Love Jesus” while at the same time we do not show that we love one another.  Jesus told believers that we should love one another as He has loved us (John 13:34).  He commanded Christians everywhere, in a new commandment, that we should love each member of the body of Christ.  Jesus did not mean that we are to love only those who are lovable or those who deserve it but that we should love all members of His body (the church).  Jesus first loved us while we were still enemies and He loved us – the unlovable (Rom 5:8).  First John 3:14 clearly leaves no wiggle room for this command as John said, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.”  This is how we know that we have eternal life – that we love our brothers and sisters.  John states that this is the key indicator of this indwelling, eternal life; that “anyone who does not love remains in death.”

Is it biblical to sue someone

When we hate or fight with our brother or sister, we do not love Jesus

Christians Suing Christians

How we must grieve the Holy Spirit when we fight with one another to the point of taking each other to court.  How hypocritical when we sing church hymns about loving God but we don’t love the brethren.  These are irreconcilable to each other.  When we hate or fight with our brother or sister, we do not love Jesus.  Paul must have been sick to his stomach to find out that church members were suing each other in public courts of law and these disputes were harming the reputation not only of the church but of Jesus Christ Himself.

In 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 Paul writes to the Corinthian church:

If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people?  Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases?  Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!  Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church?  I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers! The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?  Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters.  Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

God Hates Division

Lets take this import chapter verse by verse and apply it to the question of whether it is right for Christians to sue each other.  In verses 1 Corinthians 1:1-3, Paul says, “If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases?  Do you not know that we will judge angels?” (1 Tim 2:12, Luke 19:12-27, Rev 20:4).

Paul says that it is a detestable thing to take matters between church brethren before a secular, worldly, ungodly court of law (v 1).  If there is a dispute between believers then these things should be brought before the church (the Lord’s people) and not before the world to decide (v 1).  Christ has told us that we will reign and rule with Him someday and will even judge angels and even the world (v 2).  God has said that we will be kings and priests and rule with Christ yet some Christians can not even settle matters within the church!

Paul was ashamed of such behavior saying in 1 Corinthians 1:5-6 that surely there must be someone “wise enough to judge a dispute between believers (v 6).  Rather than allow matters to be settled in church, “one brother takes another to court “(v 6).  Even worse, this is done “in front of unbelievers” so as to give the Church of Christ a black-eye and hurt the church’s reputation.  The world will see no difference between Christians and unbelievers and think, “why should we join a group like that which is no different from the world?”  The world must think, what duplicity – what hypocrisy!  And who could blame them for thinking this.  Jesus said that the world would know that we are believers if we love one another in John 13:34-34, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  Here Jesus said that “everyone will know that [we] are [His] disciples if we love one another.  Love is not suing one another. Love is forgiving one another and being willing to take wrong and not retaliating.

Christians Bringing Lawsuits Against Christians

Paul continues this theme of Christians suing Christians writing, “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?  Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters” (1 Cor 6:7-8).  Paul sees us who sue other Christians as having been “completely defeated already.”  He  says it is much better to “be wronged” or “rather be cheated” instead of trying to sue each other over something that could be settled between believers or, in the least, be brought before the church (1 Cor 6:4).

Paul bluntly associates these frivolous lawsuits with “wrongdoers [who] will not inherit the kingdom of God”(1 Cor 6:9).   Paul classifies this type of activity with “the sexually immoral…idolaters…adulterers…men who have sex with men…thieves…the greedy…drunkards…slanderers and swindlers” (1 Cor 6:9).  Get that!  Paul sees Christians who sue other Christians as no different than the immoral and idolatrous.  Ouch!  This is a very serious sin as far as God is concerned.  And these types of sinners “will not inherit eternal life (1 Cor 6:9).

Is It Biblical to Sue Someone: Key Takeaway

There is no room for justifying a Christian taking another Christian to court.  They do not love one another as Christ loved the church.  They do not love their neighbor as themselves.  They may not have even passed from death to life (John 3:14).   It defiles the reputation not only of the church but of Jesus Christ Himself Who is Head of the church.  God associates this type of sin with sexual immorality and this type of sin is committed by those who will not inherit eternal life (1 Cor 6:9).  The conclusion is that Christians are commanded to not sue one another but settle the issue in the church since Christians will be reigning with Christ someday.  How can they expect to reign in the coming Kingdom of God when they can not even settle issues with each other?   God forbid.

Was this article helpful to you today? You might also enjoy reading this one:

Christians Persecuting Other Christians


New International Bible (NIV)
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Image: Salvatore Vuono /

Share this post:  |  |  |  | Twitter

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

G Peter April 19, 2013 at 5:28 am

If a fellow christian does a criminal activity against you, don’t you think you should take the matter to the court?
Isn’t it appropriate to pursue a legal solution so as to protect our own rights, if they are denied by a fellow christian?
Acts chapters 21–22 talk about Paul being arrested and wrongfully accused of a crime he did not commit. Didn’t Paul use the Roman Law prevailing to protect himself?
I feel your article is covering up the actual truth and misleading..
thank you
G Peter


J Brown December 15, 2013 at 8:54 am

Dear Mr. Jack Wellman,

By the grace of God, I think you captured the issue very well and communicated the correct advice! One of the pillars of the Christian faith is “denying yourself and taking up your cross and following Christ” (Matt 16:24, mark 8:34, and Luke 9:23). So in DENYING MYSELF (my fleshly desires), I obey Jesus’ commands, even at my own expense. Thus, I’m willing to lose a perishable treasure in this world by not suing so that I can win the imperishable treasure that God has prepared for those who love and obey Him.

Jesus said, “do not resist an evil person” and when sued for your shirt, give them your coat also (Matt 5:39-40). That’s pretty straightforward and echoes the sentiments from 1 Corinthians 6. Therefore, God does not enjoy when we seek our own vindication in court or elsewhere but rather we should forgive all like Christ offered forgiveness (even at the cross). And true forgiveness won’t allow one to take his neighbor to court. All glory to God.


Jack Wellman December 15, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Thank you so much my friend. I knew a man who once picked up a hitchhiker in the middle of winter and he had no coat. That man asked him why…He referred to Jesus’ that if someone asks for your cloak (coat) give it to him. That man right on the spot trusted in Christ. That is the gospel. Thank you for your very encouraging words. That blessed me.


Michael March 9, 2014 at 11:23 pm

What about a Christian suing an unbeliever?


Jack Wellman March 10, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Thank you Michael for your question but I would say that it is better to suffer wrong than to sue anyone and leave vengeance or justice to God. Unless it is criminal and some party has harmed you in an unlawful manner, we should rather be quicker to suffer harm being innocent ourselves than to sue someone. It is all about the heart. Was the person criminally negligent? Was their intention? That would be the question I would ask first sir.


sarah July 17, 2015 at 10:51 am

Thank you for this information, I thought I remembered that we as Believers i Christ were not to sue others, but wanted to be sure that I could back it up with Scripture.
I was sad to see a lot of people yelling and being so hateful regarding a “reality show” that is being taken off the air and there is so much talk of law suits and yesterday a woman said she was a Christian but wow did she yell and curse people out. Then she said that she was going to write down the name of everyone who didn’t support this family on the reality show. That just shocked me, and while I knew that was an empty threat, I wanted to help her calm down and take a breath and encouraged her to look into what the Bible says about suing – be it a corporation, unbeliever, or fellow believer.
I hope she did look into it, I was so sad to see people who have crosses and “I <3 Jesus" on their FaceBook page, yelling at ladies who said they had been through abuse. It was just heart-breaking.


Jack Wellman July 17, 2015 at 11:32 am

Indeed Sarah. Thank you for pointing out the hypocrisy of this because many will hear the most horrendous words ever spoken (Matt 7:21-23) and if you read 1st John chapter 3 you can see who really are most likely Christians and who are false converts. Thanks for bringing this up.


Norma Evatt December 15, 2015 at 4:33 pm

If you are fired and there is slander involved, should you file a lawsuit.


Norma Evatt December 15, 2015 at 4:36 pm

If you are fired and slander is involved should you file a lawsuit if you are a Christian?


Jack Wellman December 15, 2015 at 6:18 pm

Thank you for your great question but that’s a question I believe only you can answer Norma. The Bible is not specific to that but I would consult with a pastor or some other trusted Christian mentor if you have one. Christians have rights too but Paul also said its better to suffer for wrong as this is pleasing in God’s sight.


Melissa January 29, 2016 at 1:03 pm

In these troubling times the patience of the saints is called upon, to the point of abandon. Don’t do it. Don’t abandon the faith. God says that vengeance is His and that He will repay. Believe Him. Cry to the Lord for justice, for there is none in this world. Going to court, to men, will not get you justice, and so we must do as Paul says and suffer the wrong done to us. Christ further instructs us to pray for those who use us in the most despiteful/hateful ways. This we must do to show the love of God, knowing that He loved us and forgave us, when we were undeserving. It is not easy, but we know where the easy road takes us.


Kerry February 9, 2016 at 6:08 pm

I have a big issue with a church pastor of my acquaintance. This is a lady who has massive physical disabilities of many years standing. 2 years ago, she injured her shoulder after stumbling at a local church with inadequate lighting. This lady, as I said, was already severely disabled and unable to walk well. She is suing the church for almost one million dollars. I believe that she is hoping to receive a large payout that will enable her to purchase a disabled friendly vehicle etc that will address all her pre-existing problems. I feel that I am standing in judgement of her, which is definitely not a Christian attitude. Am I wrong to disagree with her actions?


Jack Wellman February 9, 2016 at 6:48 pm

No, you are not wrong. The Apostle Paul rebuked the Corinthian church for taking one another to court and said, “Would it be better to suffer wrong than to take your brother into court!?” What a terrible witness. I am with you. What this woman is doing is wrong and the New Testament says it is precious in God’s sight to suffer for wrong and not seek revenge. She is not only taking her “brother into court” but many brothers and sisters in court and a whole church in fact. I believe it is a very serious sin to try and hurt the church because it is Jesus’ church as He is the Head.


Kerry February 10, 2016 at 6:20 am

Thank you for validating my opinon. The irony of it is that she has her own church and identifies as an ‘apostle’ as opposed to a pastor/minister. I am the lady’s carer, and feel I cannot continue in the role as it feels as if that would be agreeing with the lawsuit. I don’t know where I’m going to go with it as this is my job so it means taking a financial hit. However, I feel some issues are more important than my financial status.


Kerry February 10, 2016 at 6:20 am

Thank you for validating my opinion. The irony of it is that she has her own church and identifies as an ‘apostle’ as opposed to a pastor/minister. I am the lady’s carer, and feel I cannot continue in the role as it feels as if that would be agreeing with the lawsuit. I don’t know where I’m going to go with it as this is my job so it means taking a financial hit. However, I feel some issues are more important than my financial status.


Jack Wellman February 10, 2016 at 8:12 am

God will bless this decision my friend. This lady does not sound saved at all, although only God knows, but Jesus said you will know them by their fruit and all I see in her is fruit of the flesh.


James February 23, 2016 at 8:42 pm

I know full well that Christians should not sue other Christians. But what I’m confused about is whether or not it is right for Christians to sue unbelievers. I have long believed that this would be repaying evil for evil. I wished Hobby Lobby would have just forgave the federal government for forcing them to cover contraceptives. Aren’t we supposed to love our enemies? Doesn’t God say that vengeance is His?


Glenn Orrell March 13, 2016 at 8:29 pm

My mom is in a nursing home. One of my brother’s who calls himself a christian, and also his wife, went into my mom’s home and ‘cleaned’ her house and took tax documents belonging to a church, which she is the legal trustee of, and in which a someone from the church said my brother could destroy most of it except for 3 years worth – what happens went the IRS initiates an audit on the church? by law it’s required that they show 10 years of receipts and donations received and expenses. My brother took my mom’s jewelry box and plans to try to get power of attorney so they can use the money from her bank account to pay off her bills, then, to sell her home. Since it’s expensive to have her in a nursing home, he wants to put her in her house or my other brothers house, so that ‘we’ don’t loose the inheritance money from the house to a nursing home.
Call me ungodly or not of God, but i will take legal action against him for violating the law.


Jack Wellman March 13, 2016 at 9:47 pm

Hello Mr. Orrell. I think you are doing the right thing because it doesn’t sound like your brother’s is a Christian at all. How sad that they would do such a thing. I think this is not the same as a Christian suing another Christian but a Christian doing what they have a legal right to do against someone who appears to not be a Christian at all. I wouldn’t say you’re ungodly sir. You have every right as a citizen and a Christian to do what you’re doing. I would pray for these two as they need Christ or else….(Rev 20:12-15).


Samar September 17, 2016 at 3:49 am

In Luke 12:58 Jesus says if you are to go with your opponent before a magistrate make an effort to settle the matter on the way otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge and the judge hand you over to the constable and the constable throw you into prison . Isn’t this a hint that there is court and lawsuits that one can file against people who harm you ? And an acceptance from God that sometimes one should take this action ? I know that as a Christian I should forgive not seven times but seventy as Christ has said ! But what if your opponent is a relative who stole from you , took the bussiness that is so big and benefiting all the family to himself ? Did not pay taxes , destroyed the whole family for his greed do I leave him alone or do we take him to court ?


sherry November 1, 2016 at 11:02 pm

My husband and I found out recently that his employer was audited. They had been withdrawing $600 a month for the last 4 1/2 years for ‘rent’, which is about $30,000. The $600 apartment was supposed to be part of his wages, and he was only supposed to be taxed on it. When we figured it out we wrote them a letter asking them to pay us back, which they won’t. Do you think, Biblically, we can sue them? We sought legal counsel from an attorney, and found out that because it was wages withheld, that the law states that they have to pay back double. However, we found out when we read the paperwork, before signing, that the attorney was a dubious character as well. Several years ago, someone burned down our home, and the insurance wouldn’t pay, and was pursuing us like we were criminals, so we hired an attorney. Long story short, we were defrauded by two attorneys that we hired to help us. It seems to me that the reason Paul says that it is better to be defrauded is because, most of the world is evil, and your probably not going to get justice. I think that the Lord will reward us, if we pick up our cross, and live by His Word, and He will reward them for their wickedness. What do you think?


Jack Wellman November 2, 2016 at 8:34 am

I think it is your full right to sue and you are not sinning. The admonition to not sue one another is between those in the church as God hopes that they can work things out between brothers and sisters without having to go to court. As for the world, they are breaking the law and so you have every right to recover your losses. The Old Testament taught all about restitution.


Pamela Rose Williams November 2, 2016 at 12:44 pm

Hi Sherry,

I agree with my brother Jack. This employer stole from your husband and it is his absolute legal right to have those wages returned to him as soon as possible. They broke the law and the consequence is not only to pay him back, but I believe they may have to pay punitive damages as well. Get a lawyer and move forward.


Mary Beth November 12, 2016 at 3:00 pm

Thank you for your truth-filled post. We need guidance concerning an inheritance. My husband’s mother passed away from Alzheimer’s disease, and we believe his sister, the executrix and trustee, took most of the money before the mother died. She will not give us any bookkeeping even though the Trust, where all the money was held, specifically allows beneficiary to receive. A lawyer says we will have to file suit to get the accounting. The amount in question is several hundred thousand dollars. Should we pursue legal action or turn the other cheek? On a side note my husband was laid off from his oil industry job and unemployed almost a year during this time. Any advice is very greatly appreciated. Blessings in Christ. To God be all glory.


Jack Wellman November 12, 2016 at 4:41 pm

Thank you Mary Beth. I would get a lawyer and have them call your husband’s sister. It’s okay in this circumstance. This is not a church issue or a Christian verses Christian issue. It is a matter of doing what you have every right to do. As for your husband, prayers for him for a job.


Mary Beth December 6, 2016 at 12:06 am

Dear Mr. Wellman,

Thank you very much for your reply and your prayers. We are speaking to a lawyer and are prayerful for a loving outcome and we stand ready to forgive…but we would like the truth and restitution if God so gracious it allows.

May God continue to impart His wisdom and also many blessings to you and yours! Merry Christmas Season!


Deanna March 17, 2017 at 9:09 am

My Grandmother passed away this past November. Since I was a little girl she had constantly reminded me that when the day came she wanted me to have her wedding ring. It always felt uncomfortable to thing about but now that this has happened it has been a comforting thought to know that she left me with something so precious to her. My Uncle who is the executor of her will is denying me this inheritance. I know that i have a case and Im sure I would win. I cant believe i’m faced with the situation that I am in but unfortunatley my dads brothers has always been backwards. regardless I have always given them respect and made a point to still speak to them even when they haven’t done so in return. I’m so blindsided by my Uncles actions and extreemly hurt that he thinks he can take away my grandmas dying wish. Is it ungodly of me to take him to court over this? I am honestly really struggling with this thought. My family is encouraging me to do so. I thought I should reach out to his pastor first. Please any help is appreciated


Jack Wellman March 17, 2017 at 9:29 am

Hello Deanna. Although I can sympathize with you, I don’t believe it’s wise to go to court for your grandmother’s right. I think she’d be grieved to see that happen, so think of her. Also, your uncle doesn’t sound saved at all because believer’s don’t usually do such things. Pray for him (I can imagine that must be hard) and think of your grandmother and how she would feel if she knew this got dragged into court. I think you’re family is wrong but it is your choice.


Alexander September 29, 2017 at 8:02 am


Please can you help with some advice. I started a claim medical negligence claim before I was saved. Now I am saved and learning more about Jesus and forgiveness I personally do not wish to proceed with the case. The problem is I instructed the case on a ‘no win no fee’ basis and by completely halting proceedings will be liable to very high financial implications. The alternative that my solicitor has suggested is to reach a settlement with the other side, the effects on my health from the negligence has been independently proven.

Should I completely stop or reach a settlement?


Jack Wellman September 29, 2017 at 8:56 am

Hello Alexander. I would say that this applies to believers suing other believers, and not against non=believers. If you have had a judgment in your behalf and you did nothing wrong (which you didn’t) you are entitled to this settlement so I would not stop it based upon Romans 13:1-5. You are entitled and it has nothing to do with being saved or not. I would not stop this settlement because it may put you in debt for the rest of your life and you were the one who was medically neglected.


Robin May 13, 2018 at 2:11 pm

Hi Alexander,
Is it biblical for me to sue my doctor. I was told I had stage 3 Kidney disease but I was actually at end stage renal disease for over 6 months according to my lab works but the dr. maintained that I was stage 3. I ended up in the hospital with pneumonia, sepsis, high blood pressure and other complications and now I am on dialysis three times a week and will need a kidney transplant. Is it biblical bring a case against him?
Thank you.


Jack Wellman May 13, 2018 at 2:52 pm

Hello Robin. The admonition in the Bible is to not sue another brother or sister in Christ but that things would be worked out in the spirit of humility and equity, so this verse is not about suing others for criminal negligence, if this is what this doctor did (and it sounds like it is possible). Perhaps the doctor thought he was right and sincerely told you what he thought. This is a personal decision for you to make because we are not to sue brothers or sister in Christ, so the Bible is really silent about whether we can sue others, but I would think we could based upon our admonition to follow those in authority over us (Rom 13).


Bea August 23, 2019 at 9:36 am

If an estate is involved were it states in the will that a house is to be sold so it can be divided among siblings, however one of the siblings will not move out and has made a mess of the house, what can be done, it has been 10 yrs. can the executor take him to court to remove him?


Jack Wellman August 23, 2019 at 10:04 am

That I do not know. I would contact a lawyer about this, but yes, you have every right to take this to court and remove him. This is not sin and you have every legal right.


Kristine December 7, 2019 at 10:12 pm


I have had a fall at work which together with another headinjury has resulted in post commotio syndrome and a very long period of not being able to have a normal life or work. I am not sure when i will be able to work again or if I will be able to return to full time work. The insurance company disputes that the fall at work had any impact. Am I wrong to hire a lawyer and have the lawyer deal with it? I am not going to go to court, so the lawyer would be for dealing with the insurance company in trying to settle. I am not completely sure of my motives for this. I guess partly my motive is financial gain as I dont know if I will be able to return to full time employment again. I am really unsure whether I should hire the lawyer.

Best wishes, Kristine.


Jack Wellman December 8, 2019 at 9:01 am

Hello Kristine. You have every right to sue for your injuries and lost wages, so there is no sin in doing this my friend.


John vicknair December 11, 2020 at 11:27 pm

I have a neighbor that is building a dirt levy along our ajoining fence flooding my property. I took him to court and the judge ordered him to remove the dirt. His sister whom is 72 years of age keeps saying the bible says i cannot sue him. I know all of the scriptures relateing to this. Part of what he is doing is on his sisters property that adjoins me and part is where his land adjoins me. The man is 82 years old. His family will not stop his behavior. Im not trying to sue for money but to restrain him from doing this and recover my fees and cost. He has not removed the dirt and is adding more. I DO NOT want to be outside the will of God. I don’t think these people are christians but im not sure. I know im spirit filled and that theres NO WAY i would do this to someone. Please give me your opinion on weather or not i should take him back to court.


Jack Wellman December 12, 2020 at 9:57 am

Hello Mr. Vicknair. I see nothing wrong with taking them to court. The Bible verse about not suing one another was because other believers were dragging each other into court, so the context has nothing to do with your situation. Contact a lawyer. warn your neighbors you have hired a lawyer and proceed to protect your property rights. You are not suing other Christians over non-frivolous things as they were doing in the Bible. You have ever right to sue to protect your rights and not sin.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: