DID JESUS TELL US TO BUY AND BEAR SWORDS?

DID JESUS TELL US TO BUY AND BEAR SWORDS? July 25, 2019

Many claim “yes,” he clearly did in the following passage: in Luke 22:36, Jesus tells us “he that has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.”

Based on this passage, wars have been started in Jesus’ name, blood has been shed in Jesus’ name, and killing has been done in Jesus’ name.

When challenged on this point, “sword-bearers” will typically point to Matthew 10:34 for further support, citing it for the proposition that Jesus told us He came “not to send peace, but a sword.”

But, is this a fair reading of Jesus’ words?

Does Jesus want us arming ourselves to commit possible violence of any kind?

Jesus famously told Peter to “put up your sword” when he struck the ear off a Roman soldier: “for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” Matthew 26:52. This is hardly a ringing endorsement for buying and carrying deadly weapons.

But what about Luke 22:36 and Matthew 10:34? Don’t they support the Christian sword? No, not at all.

Lets start with the Luke 22:36 passage along with the surrounding verses.

“And he said to them, ‘When I sent you forth without purse, and wallet, and shoes, did you lack anything?’ And they said, Nothing.  And he said to them, ‘But now, he that has a purse, let him take it, and likewise a wallet; and he that has none, LET HIM SELL HIS CLOAK, AND BUY A SWORD. For I say to you, THAT THIS WHICH IS WRITTEN MUST BE FULFILLED IN ME, “AND HE WAS NUMBERED WITH THE TRANSGRESSORS”: FOR THAT WHICH CONCERNS ME HAS  FULFILLMENT.’  AND THEY SAID, ‘LORD, BEHOLD, HERE ARE TWO SWORDS. ‘ AND HE SAID TO THEM, ‘IT IS ENOUGH.’” Luke 22: 35-38.

Here is the key point. Jesus told them to buy a sword SO THAT Jesus would have to be “numbered with the transgressors” in fulfillment of Isa 53:12. Carrying the sword makes us transgressors because, “He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword!” Matthew 26:52.

Arming ourselves WITH and putting our trust IN deadly weapons is what makes us carnal transgressors, particularly when our anticipated victims are our own family members as the passage suggests. Jesus ONLY ordered the disciples to buy swords so that they would soon expose themselves as “transgressors” in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy which said Jesus would be “numbered with the transgressors.”

Peter outwardly exposed himself as just such a “transgressor” a few moments later when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus. “And behold, one of them who was with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and smote the servant of the high priest, and struck off his ear.   Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put up your sword back into its place: for all those who take the sword shall perish with the sword.'” Matthew 26:52-53. Then Jesus showed His complete disavowal of sword usage by healing the servant’s ear.

Jesus never transgressed Himself by carrying or relying on the sword, but his disciples sure did, which is why He was prophetically numbered among them. This showed that all had sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, even His own disciples. There was none righteous, no not one. His violent enemies carried the sword as well as His violent disciples. The point is that Jesus alone was righteous, the only non-transgressor in the whole crowd. Since the Isaiah passage used the word “transgressors” plural, there had to be at least two sword-bearers present in His company, which is why Jesus said, “It is enough” when informed there were two swords present.

In no way can this above passage be used to support the claim that Jesus orders His disciples to carry swords in His name. Carrying a sword produces a transgressor, not a peacemaker.

As for the claim that Jesus came to “send us a sword,” let me ask two questions about the Matthew 10:34 passage which is quoted below:

“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be those of his own household. He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that takes not his cross, and follows after me, is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:34-38.

IS JESUS SAYING ABOVE THAT HE CAME TO BRING US A LITERAL- PHYSICAL SWORD TO GUT AND KILL ALL OUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS WHO WE MAY BE IN DANGER OF LOVING MORE THAN WE DO GOD?

OR

IS JESUS SPEAKING BELOW OF A SPIRITUAL SWORD WHICH WILL SEVER ALL IDOLATROUS TIES TO CARNAL RELATIONSHIPS WHICH WE HAVE WRONGLY PRIORITIZED OVER OUR LOVE FOR GOD AND NEIGHBOR?

I hope this is a no-brainer. Option 2 above is the obvious answer. Otherwise, patricide, fratricide and homicide would be rampant. Murder would be the mark of true Christians as they went about slicing, dicing and slaughtering their loved ones, all in the name of God.

When somebody claims to us that this passage suggests that we are to go buy swords, let’s immediately ask them, “How many of your household family members have you killed with the sword Jesus told you to buy at all costs?” Watch their jaws drop. Read the passage to them and show them that “gutting” enemy family members who oppose our faith is the immediate context of this passage, if of course we choose to read the passage literally rather than as the type of semitic rhetoric of which it clearly presents. 

No, Jesus is obviously speaking metaphorically here. He is using the sword as a symbol of the Lord’s inner workings in our hearts. The Holy Spirit CIRCUMCISES our heart by cutting away all the carnal connections and fleshly relationships which keep us from loving the Lord with all out heart, mind, soul and strength.

Do you know people who love their children more than God, their spouses more than God, their friends more than God? Sure, we all know many such others. Moreover, we ourselves have all idolized certain people and relationships over our love for God and neighbor. This toxic and idolatrous ties are the only thing Jesus cuts.

The only sword Jesus brings is the Hebrews 4:12 sword which divides soul from spirit, false motivations from true motivations,  and cuts to the core intent of the heart. Jesus’ sword is spiritual, metaphorical, and symbolic. It is not literal. He is the prince of peace.

About Richard Murray
Richard K. Murray is a practicing criminal-defense attorney from Dalton, Georgia where he lives with his wife Rita and their seven children: Sloan, Caleb, Micah, Abraham, Sarah, Ben and Annie. Richard has a B.B.A. and J.D. from the University of Georgia and a M.A. from Regent University School of Divinity. He has written several books, including: THE SPIRITUAL EYE OF THE TIGER THE POWER: Discovering the Real "Secret" of Life LIFT UP YOUR JAWBONE: Developing Samson-like Strength by Daily Confession THE JESUS MOOD: Discovering the Treasure of Imperative Faith GOD VERSUS EVIL: Sculpting an Epic Theology of God's Heroic Goodness You can read more about the author here.

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