About your blog post. I commend you for a well-written and researched paper, and you’ve definitely put forth an idea I hadn’t yet heard. You have some valid points. It seems to me though, that a lot of times we tend to overthink these things. Not that I’m saying you’re wrong. I’m just saying I’m not sure that’s the point Jesus was making at that moment–or at least not the point His disciples would necessarily have understood Him to be making.
Jesus was talking about mundane things here–take a purse along, take the things you need, and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one (presumably because you’ll need the sword more). Clearly Jesus did not advocate for, and indeed commanded against taking on the Roman government. (This would have included the Priestly government, whose chief priests were at that time Roman appointees.)
The highways of the day, however, were haunted by violent men. That’s a different category from resisting the government. Rome didn’t seem to have outlawed swords in the hands of the common man, so there must have been some need to protect oneself from other than the government. The obvious thing then, is that the disciples might need to protect themselves against brigands and highwaymen as they spread the gospel. People did tend to travel in groups for protection, but it might be difficult to find a suitable caravan to join. Even if you did find just what you needed, a caravan without defenders would be no safer than a man walking alone.
BUT… why did Jesus say, “It is enough”? I think this may be pretty straightforward. He was giving them some earthly advice and now He had finished with that. He didn’t want to get into a discussion about how many swords, single or double-edged, whether they ought to have Burleigh or Strong-in-the-Arm manufacture, the merits and demerits of Damascus steel, etc. He’d given His practical instructions and now He wanted to move on to more important things. Basically, “Okay, enough about the side arms…”
So, that’s my take on it, for what it may be worth. Yours is a lot deeper and maybe better. Sometimes, though, the simple explanation eludes us because we’re looking for obscure meaning where the gospel writers were just relating the events and sometimes maybe even poking a bit of fun at their own expense about how silly and earthly-minded they’d been.
I thank you for your response. I think that position is answered in my blog post a bit. Consider these verses:
Mat 26:52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
Now the disciple that used the sword had actually done so from what would appear to be a defensive position to protect either himself or Jesus. But Jesus rebuked him for this by saying those that take a sword shall perish with the sword.
So if Jesus is rebuking them for doing what would seem to be taking up a sword to defend themselves then what can we conclude? Seems the command to take up the sword was not to be for defense purposes. We know that is true from what comes next:
Mat 26:53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
So Jesus is saying if He needed defense, He could pray and get twelve legion of angels. I don’t believe that Jesus is ever trying to keep His followers from harm but on the contrary it seems He puts them in harms way.
Hi Hewillcome2040. Nice blog. Keep up the good work!
Here at The Evangelical Universalist forum, I am often an advocate for the writings of my friend Richard Murray—an author, theologian, and criminal defense attorney in Georgia. (But, in fact, he and I do have our disagreements, for example, about eschatology.) Murray’s article, “SATAN: Old Testament Servant Angel or New Testament Cosmic Rebel?,” changed my life.
In his free ebook, God vs. Evil, Murray examines this question of Luke 22:35-38 on page 363, “QUESTION 62: DID JESUS TELL US TO BUY AND BEAR SWORDS?”
I think you and he are on the same wavelength.
PS I am thankful to the Lord for keeping this forum up and running! And many thanks to Jason, Cindy, and any other administrators and moderators involved.
I thank you for those links I went and read question 62. Mr. Murry did reach the same conclusion with regards to the Sword being a spiritual reference. I’m surprised that he didn’t equate that with the reference to the Word of God or take it further with why 2 of them were enough. If you read my article, you will see that I have taken the topic into that extended investigation. When we understand it more, it draws so many verses together.
HWC, I tend to agree with Cindy, that the sword was needed for self defense.
Mark 6:7 says “Then Jesus called the twelve to Him and began to send them out two by two giving them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing but a staff for the journey, no bread, no bag, no money…”
Luke 10:1 “After this, the Lord appointed 72 others and sent them two by two…” verse 4 “carry no purse or bag or sandals…”
According to these verses, they were already going out in twos with nothing but the Word/ Spirit of God. However, Jesus does not tell them to continue to do so, but instead, He instructs them to take a purse and sell their garments to purchase a sword. Buying a sword is the key thing here. One can’t buy spiritual knowledge.
HCW, In looking at the verses, I would have to disagree. Luke 22:35-38 “When I sent you ( in twos) without money, bag, sack and sandals, did you lack anything?” The answer to this question is no. They were already “killing” others offensively with the Word of God as you suggest. However, in verse 36, this is now not enough. It does not make any sense to say "But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a sack; and he who has no sword(Word of God), let him sell his garment and buy one( the Word of God). Neither does it make sense to say this sword was another with the testimony of God, "He who has no sword ( companion), let him sell his garment and buy one(companion).
Maybe they went out and hired some bodyguards, who knows? In any event, they needed self protection. These were violent times. I believe in self defense. If a criminal breaks into my house, I am not going to whip out the Bible and have a Bible study with the guy. The time for that was before he broke into my house. Now is the time to protect myself and my family.
Ok, then let’s take your approach and say that Jesus was advising protection. Why then did He previous say that when He sent them out did they lack anything? If they were not lacking protection, then why suddenly do they need protection? What changed from before?
Prudence is a virtue. It was simply prudent to be able to protect themselves. Really, just because it was not recorded that He said it on another occasion, does not imply that he did not. Jesus was a practical, rural peasant Jew and had plenty of common sense - in addition to being the smartest person who ever lived.
Yes, your points that “2 of them were enough,” and regarding the sending out of witnesses “two by two” are right-on.
But in “Question 62” Murray does reference Hebrews 4:12, to argue that “sword” is metaphorical for the word of God:
***For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.***Murray often contends that God is nonviolent, and wants us to be, too. That is not to say that we are to be victimized and defrauded by Satan, but that “Our struggle is NOT against flesh and blood,” and “The weapons of our warfare are NOT carnal.” Ephesians 6:12, 2 Corinthians 10:4.
For those that believe the swords are for protection, how to you square that position with these verses:
Rom 12:17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
Rom 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Rom 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Is it OK, to go to war? Should the US retaliate - for example - if North Korea, sends a nuclear missile towards Washington?
If the Las Vegas shooter, is busy killing people. And you had a gun and could save lives - by shooting him - would you?
It get’s into ethical or moral dilemmas. We should strive for peace. And try to avoid violence - at all costs. But if we have no choice - then what?
Well, I think the directive is to each of us personally that are in Christ. The United States is not in Christ.
As for this verse:
Mat 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
The Sword again is a reference to the Word of God.
Eph_6:17 And take the helmet of salvation,** and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
I believe God can protect each of us (that are in Christ) and if He has a purpose for calling you in this world then that is the purpose that is going take place and nobody is going to stop that from happening.
Consider that Paul:
2Co 11:23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
2Co 11:24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
2Co 11:25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
2Co 11:26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
2Co 11:27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
2Co 11:28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
2Co 11:29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?
2Co 11:30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.
2Co 11:31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.
God protects us until we serve the purpose He has for us as Christians. It doesn’t mean we wont suffer persecutions and all these other things but those things will not take away the purpose that God has for us and we will NOT die until that purpose as Christians is completed.
We do not know that Paul carried no sword, however against an angry mob, a sword wouldn’t be much help. In any case, whether or not Paul carried a sword, Jesus saw fit to advise His disciples to purchase one even if it meant selling that one’s cloak. The sword goes along with the purse and etc. The disciples didn’t require them on their earlier journeys but they WILL need them on subsequent occasions.
Regarding Jesus saying “I didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword,” this was a metaphor meant to warn His listeners that He would be a cause of contention and division even in the closest of relationships.
Regarding nations going to war, the idea that the USA is not “in Christ” is irrelevant. The man or woman who gives the order to launch a counter strike is a human being and either in Christ or not yet in Christ. If he is in Christ, is he thereby forbidden to come to the defense of his countrymen? Is it then immoral for a president who is a Christ follower to give the order to defend the nation? Or is it okay to give the order but not to personally pull the trigger? By this logic, if we’re to be consistent, all LEOs must be non-Christians and Christians must not ask to be defended by them, because that would be no better than sin by proxy. If the POTUS (or similar) is a Christian, wouldn’t it be hypocritical for her/him to accede to being accompanied by armed bodyguards? You see the logical extremes to which this extra-biblical doctrine takes us?
The sword is for self defense. It’s the only logical conclusion. If it offends your personal ethic, then don’t carry a “sword.” As for myself I’d never carry a sword except maybe as a costume accessory. I prefer a Shield. It’s much easier to conceal.