Posted by: JohnO | April 23, 2007

Why did Jesus tell his disciples to carry swords? (1)

This is from Ben Witherington’s blog post. This is his defense of Luke 22.36-38, I don’t know if I agree with it yet, but I figured we could post it here, and we can benefit from it:

What about the famous text in Lk. 22.36-38 where Jesus seems to advise the disciples to go out and obtain a weapon? Again context is king here. Remember this is the same Jesus who: 1) advised that those who live by the sword will die by the sword and 2) who immediately put a stop to Peter’s violence against the high priest’s slave, and indeed reversed it’s effects by healing the man’s ear. So what is the meaning of this little story, taking into account the larger context of Jesus’ teaching? Vs. 37 is the key where Jesus quotes Is. 53.12—“he was numbered with the transgressors”. Jesus is saying to the disciples—you must fulfill your role as transgressors of what I have taught you!!! They must play the part of those who do exactly the opposite of what Jesus taught them in the Sermon on the Mount. The disciples become transgressors by seeking out weapons and then seeking to use them. This much is perfectly clear from the context for the disciples then go on to say “look Lord here is two swords”. They already have such weapons and Jesus responds in disgust to the fact that they are already transgressing his principles of non-violence by responding “that’s enough” (of this nonsense).

Clearly, Jesus knew that two swords would not be enough to hold off a Roman legion, so we must take his response as highly ironic not as straight forward. Either he says ironically “oh that will be plenty”, or more likely as I have suggested, he means “that will be enough” of this foolishness. Either way, there is absolutely no endorsement here by Jesus of his followers using weapons. Carrying weapons makes them fulfill the role of transgressors, as the citation of Is. 53.12 makes evident.

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Responses

  1. See a couple of comments on this subject here

  2. I must say that I find this highly misguiding, people who preach that Jesus was a Pacifest do not preach the truth.

    It is true that God, and thus Jesus, loves peace, and wants us to live in peace with one another, however Jesus himself shows us time when Peace is NOT the answer. An example of this is when Jesus whips those who are gambling in the Temple and using it as a Market Place, he even overturns the tables.

    Jesus instructs Christians to carry swords to protect ourselves and more importantly to protect others. He teaches us to Love our Neighbours, and to Love our Enemy. Tell me, if our enemy is trying to kill our neighbour, how do we show our neighbour Love by allowing them to die. We do not, it is our job to step inbetween our enemy with our sword drawn and declare in the Name of Jesus that we Love him, but if he doesn’t stop, we will kill him.

    Moses calls the Lord a Warrior, since Jesus is God, this means that Jesus is a Warrior, and when he returns he will deal death to countless millions of people, does this mean he doesn’t Love them? Ofcourse not! But in order to protect those who Love him, Jesus must do away with those who would harm them.

    When Peter draws his sword and cuts the High Priest’s Slave’s ear off, Jesus does not stop him and tell him to get rid of his sword, rather he tells Peter to return his sword to his sheath where it will be ready for use when it is once again needed, he demonstrates this by announcing that he can summon all the legions of angels to come and kill all those who opposed him, however he will not because it would run counter to God’s Will, and thus he warns his Disciples, that those who draw their sword in THIS situation will surely die by the sword, as they will be working COUNTER to God’s will.

    The old testament, which is God’s Testament is full accounts of God empower the Jews to Kill. So much so that each Jewish warrior was the match for 5 non-Jewish warriors.

    I will leave this off by saying that the Bible tells us their is a Time to Kill, and no the Ten Commandments do NOT say thou shalt not Kill, they say should shalt not MURDER, and there in lies the difference.

    Thanks for your time,

    May God Bless you and Keep you.

  3. Thank you for this good list of tough questions for those of us who are pacifists. Because your comment does not really have to do so much with this particular post. Therefore we will be moving this post to the “counter arguments” section.

    Please click here for anyone who wants to make comments on this.

  4. So where’s your scripture? You rely on personal belief, and rely on scripture too little. Christ wasn’t a pacifist but did he ever tell his Apostles to resist their oppressors? To be beaten for him, or killed for him is one of the greatest honor. You may defend yourself, but those that live by the sword die by the sword. Matthew 26:52 My God is bigger then any weapon you can create, Ecclesiastes 9:18 Wisdom is better than the sword. Isaiah 54:17 No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me,” declares the LORD. From Him, not you. He alone will exact judgment.

    Micah 4:3 depicts a ‘safe’ environment that God created by removing the weapons of war. Genesis 49:5-6 says to kill in anger is a terrible thing.

    “We do not, it is our job to step inbetween our enemy with our sword drawn and declare in the Name of Jesus that we Love him, but if he doesn’t stop, we will kill him.”
    -That is the EXACT same thing Peter thought, and Christ stopped him. Brother search your heart and ask God to give you compassion, forgiveness and to fill you with his Love. Nothing else matters.

    • Nope…Your wrong. Peter was wrong because Jesus was SUPPOSED to be crucified.
      if a guy tries to rape/kill your your five year old daughter,What are you gonna do? Pray or a pick up a kitchen knife?….Where is YOUR scripture?

      • Hi Tariq,
        Most 5 year old children have not yet begun school. It is the responsibility of the child’s legal guardians/parents/caregiver to ensure that the child is safe. If a person is directly caring for a child of this age and the child is attacked then one would have to wonder why the child was placed in a high risk situation. A child has a legal right to be kept safe from harm and people should always place their children in safe environments. Even if you do place your child in a loving and “safe” environment, things can and do go wrong. In that event, I think the first reaction of most people would be to take hold of the child very quickly and to escape the danger. If the attacker is stronger and faster than you (most women look after children and are weak and are not capable of fighting) and he/she has managed to take the child away from your grasp and he/she has overpowered the child, then most people would not try to attack the attacker because it would take a split second to break the child’s neck. If you think logically, you would never go into the kitchen to get a knife because the attacker would then believe that they have just cause to hurt your child in consideration of the consequences of a counter attack from a knife wielding parent! If you wanted to give your child the best chance of surviving the attack then you wouldn’t attack the person who has your child in their grasp (NB a bucket of ice cold water might be a better deterrent for rape than a knife by the way and even after throwing the bucket of ice cold water on the rapist the rapist may still think that it would be just to very quickly break your child’s neck).

        For those people who believe in God one can only reiterate what is written in the Bible. God has the power to give life and to take life away. The devil is powerful enough to kill people physically and to lead them to make the choice to sin against God. People can choose on their own accord to sin against God without even being tempted! God has resurrected people from death back to life. The devil/people/creatures/natural forces has/have never had the final say as to what age people reach before they finally die. Sooner or later everyone who has been given life winds up physically dying. It doesn’t matter how you die, it is physically painful and whether you are conscious or not your brain registers the pain that you experience in death. Attacked or not death hurts.

        God has healed people of their physical and mental wounds. I believe that God would completely restore the victim back to normal life (it would be as if the attack never took place) if someone who loves God asked God to do that for him/her in prayer. As a weak woman I would most certainly ask God for help and I would tell the victim to firstly plead along with me for the attacker to stop the attack, secondly to let the attacker know that they are forgiven and thirdly to ask God in prayer to forgive the attacker and to ask God to bless the attacker if God wills this to be done. If the victim was killed and didn’t come back to life, I would believe that God did not will for the child to have to suffer under the wickedness of this world for one moment longer. If I did everything to ensure the child was safe and something happened that was beyond my ability to change the situation without hurting anyone then I would not blame myself for the wicked deeds that other people commit.

        People who don’t believe in God’s saving grace would fight in this situation because couldn’t live with their guilty feelings if they didn’t at least try to save the child from harm. A Christian would trust fully in God’s saving power in this situation and accept the outcome of this attack as God’s will if they prayed about it. Some things happen which parents have no control over and I don’t think that any parent should feel guilty about or feel responsible for what other people inflict upon their children!

        I hope you read the Bible and that you gain understanding from what Jesus did for us all and what faith in God means.

  5. I thank God daily for sending those who are not pacifists to defend those of us who are. For truly without His sending them, we would be easy prey to all who’ve tried to wipe us out as seen throughout history. The pacifists are the first to go until someone who isnt a pacifist stands up and fights for us. Thank God for sending them. It’s easy to be a pacifist in a protected country. I pray for those in Iraq who are pacifists. Entire communities have been wiped out because they refused to fight. I thank God we do not have that problem in America or we would not be having this discussion right now. We’d all be dead.

    • I thank the good Lord in heaven for the wisdom in your view and the deep understanding of scripture as a whole that you have displayed in your post brother.

      One of the most incredible things about the word of God is it’s simplicity. While there are numerous passages that one can quote in defense of choosing to exercise their obviously God given and scripturally backed up right to be a pacifist, any honest person must admit that there are also many scriptures that clearly justify self defense and the use of violence in the defense of self and others without committing sin or being in violation of scripture.

      In order for those on either side of the issue to attempt to invalidate the views of the other, they must intentionally nullify large portions of God’s Holy word. I would like to give a solemn reminder to those in the body of Christ on both sides of the issue on to refrain from attempting to persuade others of their view by pretending that certain portions of scripture do not either exist altogether, or simply do not mean what they say.

      “Whosoever adds one word, or takes away one word from the scriptures” is in huge trouble! That is a paraphrase but everybody knows the scripture I am referencing. I will admit I do not understand the pacifist by any stretch of the imagination, nor can I relate to his logic or thought process in the slightest. I do however know that I can find a number of places in God’s word that appear to justify his action (or lack of). Do I dare attempt to shame him or even insinuate that he is error? Friends, I would submit to you that I dare not, nor he, I .

  6. Hey guys, I would really appreciate it if you added more scripture to your posts. Moses, I think your making a good point, but you need to add scripture so I can know for sure that what you say is the truth.

    Magnarr, you make some pretty good points but there will always be the “Turn the other cheek”(Luke 6:27-31, Matthew 5:38-42) aspect to this topic. You can’t really bump that out as far as I can tell.

    Lets start using a little more scripture eh?

  7. I don’t believe Jesus commanded pacifism, but rather to only fight when being led by God. At the return of Christ, his saints will fight — this is clear from scripture. Pacifists are anti-war, but conscientious objectors are opposed to war waged by humans. When our captain returns, we will fight.

  8. Do you believe that Jesus commanded you to “love your enemies?” Is it loving to end someone’s life?

    You say that we will be fighting when Jesus returns. I’m up in the air on this one. Do you have any biblical support for this assertion?

    Even if we do fight in the final judgment, for now we have a clear mandate from our lord on how to live–peacefully. Jesus says, “all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword” (Matthew 26.52). Paul says,

    Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath {of God,} for it is written, “vengeance is min, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coal on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

    • Just wondering, Jesus didn’t stop peter before he cut the ear off and I dont recall peter dieing by the sword in the bible. Plus the verse that talks about turning the other cheek has been so misused. It wasn’t intended to be struck again by that person, it was intended to cause the person to have to strike you with an open hand and in that culture that was an insult to strike with an open hand. The first strike was a back hand, and turn your cheek would cause them to have to strike with an open hand. Blessings.

      • Didn’t you notice that Jesus performed the miracle of healing to the right ear of the High Priest’s slave, Malchus (Luke22:50-51&John 18:1-11)? If Jesus rights what is wrong then you would know that Peter’s action would have been nullified by Jesus’ action and therefore no one would have been justified under the law to even, at the most, cut Peter’s right ear off. He did not kill Malchus and Malchus was no longer injured and therefore Peter didn’t even have to die from a wound from a sword. There is nothing written in the Bible about how Peter died.

  9. Greenleaf, maybe you would like to check out our Scriptures section

  10. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds…
    For we war not against flesh and blood, but against powers and pricipalities, ..spiritual wickedness in high places.
    I believe the message of nonviolence. The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force…doesn’t mean the physically violent, but the spiritually unstoppable! Heaven allows spiritual warfare, spiritual violence against the gates of hell. The gates of hell shall not prevail against the violent onslaught of the Christian warrior on his knees, violently attacking the kingdom of hell. But that is our only recourse to violence. Love your enemies, do good to those who despitefully use you. I think when Jesus said to love our enemies, that pretty much means don’t kill ‘em.

  11. I think that Isa 53:12 needs to be talked about more often when this passage is brought up. Ben W makes some good points that deserve fresh examination.

    Dustin

  12. Witherington’s interpretation is both the one I have been taught most of my life, and is the one I have come to personally adopt as I’ve come to be completely convinced that to be a Christian is to be against all forms of violence (being an amateur student of Church history has also been very helpful in this regard).

    The fact of the matter is that you will never find one place in the entirety of Scripture where a Christian has been called to take up arms or to use violence in any form. On the contrary, the clear witness of the New Testament is that by laying down our lives we show our obedience to God and live up to our high calling as disciples of Jesus Christ.

    You can bring up the Conquest of Canaan, and the wars which David fought, you can bring all those examples up, however these have no bearing on what it means to follow the Crucified and Resurrected Lord. There still remains the fact that Christians have never been ordered by God to take up the sword, and have very clear teaching by the Master Himself that we are to love our enemies, to pray for those who hate and persecute us, and that whoever lives by the sword will die by the sword.

    This cannot simply be an act of eisegesis here, because the clear and unanimous testimony of the entire ancient Church and of all the Holy Fathers is the same, and many of their statements can be found here on this blog. Even as late as the Council of Nicea, one who had cast aside his military belt but returned to military service is spoken of as “a dog returning to its own vomit” and that such an offense warrants expulsion from the Church and required demonstrateable repentance before one would be readmitted into fellowship.

    Even by the end of the fourth century we have someone like St. Martin of Tours who absolutely refuses military service saying, “I am a soldier of Christ, it is not permitted of me to fight.”

    I do not recall any Scripture that says the Saints will take up arms when the Lord returns, rather I am familiar with the Scriptures which teach that it is only God who can vindicate, and that He will exercise judgment upon the nations, that vengeance belongs to Him, He will repay. I cannot take up the sword, because such will always end in tragedy, however God–because He is God–can and will bring justice. And because He is a good, holy, and merciful God His justice will be far better than anything imagined by man. The great theme of the Revelation is just this, that ultimately–despite the trials and tribulations of this world–God will vindicate His Saints. The Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world is the One who has conquered all worldly powers and all governments and all dominions and principalities.

    But we do not hope for our enemies to be destroyed, as it is written, “I do not desire the death of the wicked man, but desire his repentance, so that he might live.” For the justice of God as revealed in Christ is a justice that reconciles sinners to Himself, it is that justice by which we who were enemies of God have become friends and children of God. That should be our great hope, to love our enemies and pray for them, to lay down our lives for them, knowing God will vindicate His saints even as He has vindicated His Only-begotten by raising Him from the dead; and to have faith the Same who has turned us away from our own destruction will act the same with those who hate us. We should pray for the salvation of our enemies, not their demise, and even more so, we should never rob from God His solemn role as the Judge of all flesh by taking up the sword to exact our own warped and sinfully corrupt notion of “justice”.

    Violence is the lack of faith in the Just God of our Salvation.

  13. Excellent points! Can I add just one theological guiding principle to what you have just said? There is no question that David and Joshua, etc., used violence and that this violence was approved by God. However, something remarkable happened with the advent of Jesus the Messiah. I think of it in terms of two massive events: outpouring of the holy spirit and resurrection.

    The spirit is promised to be poured out repeatedly in the Old Testament (Isaiah 32.13-18; 44.1-5; Ezekiel 11.17-20; Ezekiel 36.24-28, 33-35; 37.12-14; 39.25 – 29; Joel 2.28 – 3.2). Each of these mentions of the spirit being poured out is eschatological (it related to the events of the end of time). Furthermore, resurrection was also seen as corporate and eschatological (Daniel 12.2; Ezekiel 37; Isaiah 25). Even when John the Baptist spoke of the baptism of the spirit that Messiah would bring, he was thinking about the end-time judgment (not Pentecost). Furthermore, when Jesus spoke of resurrection he also thought of it as a corporate event and attached to it the phrase, “last day” (John 6.39, 40, 44, 54; Luke 14.14; John 5.28-29; 11.24-25). So the resurrection and the outpouring of the spirit are eschatologically grounded concepts.

    But, what if God, in his wisdom, decided to have an early resurrection? What if God, to show the world that his son really is the Messiah, raised him from the dead? What would that mean? Furthermore, when Jesus is about to ascend to the Father he tells them that they will be baptized with the spirit in a few days and to stay in Jerusalem. Where do the disciples’ minds instantly go? They think of the kingdom, to God’s bright future of ruling earth through a restored Israel led by his vice-regent, the Messiah. However, Jesus gently corrects this understanding by saying that the restoration of Israel is yet future (we don’t know the times or seasons) even so, the holy spirit will come soon. Here Jesus reaches into the future and pulls the spirit, an eschatological event, and promises that it will come early.

    So what are we to make of an early resurrection and an early outpouring of the holy spirit? There is a lot that could be said but I will limit it to just a couple of notions. Resurrection means that God has vindicated his servant that the promised judgment/restoration (i.e. the kingdom) is really coming and that Jesus will be the judge/king of the age to come. Furthermore, resurrection teaches us that the power of death has been broken. Satan has been defeated and Christ is the victor. But, how did he win? Through a remarkable defeat—the cross—Jesus emerges the conqueror. Jesus absorbs all the hatred and violence of a world peopled with radically depraved and vengeful creatures and in so doing he ends the cycle. The myth of redemptive violence is squelched and the king conquers without raising the war cry. What an example for us to follow? We are to take up the cross and follow his path of nonviolent, self-sacrificial, outrageous love.

    But, what do we make of the spirit? Why is the spirit of the kingdom here early? It must be so that we can live the lifestyle of the kingdom early, right? We are the future of humanity, the eschatological community, living the lifestyle of the future in the midst of this present evil age. We are those who have already beaten our swords into plowshares as a prophetic sign of the coming kingdom when all swords will likewise be melted down. We no longer study war but seek peace in every sphere of life. The rest of the world can get on board with this or find itself left behind in the ashes of a world that never made sense, never satisfied, never resulted in safety. The Christian community lives the life of the kingdom in the present in the power of the spirit because at one end, Jesus is resurrected, and at the other, he is coming again to establish God’s righteous rule for all.

    The Old Testament saints are not guilty for their use of violence, they are just outdated. To go back to that sort of morality is to tacitly insult the cross, ignore the resurrection, and empty yourself of the spirit: three things we dare not do.

  14. I would agree with the non-violent stance for many reasons (too many to mention in a short comment). But here are a few comments on some of the scriptures mentioned so far:
    The use of the sword by the Israelites seems to be a major justification for the argument of warfare by christians. But where did the swords come from? We have no evidence that God told them to gather swords when they left Egypt…in fact, Moses had to learn not to use the sword before he was even qualified to go back and deliver them. When they faced the Red Sea, with the Egyptian armies storming behind them, they were in fear…again, no evidence of swords or self-defense. Then, after the Red Sea, there is a brief comment from Scripture: “…and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore.” Exodus 14:30.
    Then, shortly afterward the Israelites have swords and begin fighting. Where did they get them? Obviously from the dead bodies of the Egyptian soldiers. Why didn’t God stop them? Because He knew they lacked the faith to fully trust in Him, therefore He would “go with them the second mile.” He would allow them to use the sword, but would make it clear that the victory in the battle was not due to their strength but to His protection. And that is exactly what He tried to teach them.
    All they had to do was to learn the lesson of faith, and put their trust fully in Him, realizing their own weakness and helplessness, and He would have defended them.
    The evidence for this assertion is shown in the battle that Jehoshaphat fought, 2 Chronicles 20:12, wherein he prayed: “O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.”
    How God must have longed for such a prayer of faith and finally it was made! What was His response? “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD.”
    This is how the Israelites gained the victory over the Egyptians, and this victory was now to be repeated. Every battle in the Old Testament could have been fought and won in exactly the same way.
    But once the Israelites took the sword of judgment out of God’s hands, they would have to administer it, in their own way. God would still guide them and try to stop them from going too far (ie. “an eye for an eye” instead of many eyes for an eye, as human revenge is often exacted).
    But a lot of God’s glory would be veiled in the Old Testament…hidden by the unbelief of men, and their actions of unbelief.

  15. I have one more comment regarding Jesus’ instruction to buy swords.

    What needs to be seen here is that since Israel picked up the sword, shortly after the Red Sea, there were two swords that defended them: first, the sword of the Lord, which is the word of God; and second, the carnal sword that they carried in their hands.

    Gideon expressed it well in his battle against the Amalekites when he exclaimed: “The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon!”

    Now Jesus is the “word of God” (the “word was made flesh”). Therefore He is the sword of the Lord. But He was about to be put to death. Without the sword of the Lord, Israel would be left with only their own sword…practically defenseless.

    It was this that Jesus was pointing to when He said, “he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.” In other words, “I, the only true defense of Israel, am about to be put to death. Therefore, woe to those who have no defense…let them buy a sword, for that is all they have left to defend themselves.”

    And how terribly was that prophecy fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies, about 40 years later.

    The disciples didn’t catch the lesson until after the crucifixion…but they did learn it in the end, for we never find them attempting to defend themselves with weapons or force ever again.

  16. Jesus’ disciples should have gone out and purchased the latest model of the AK-47. That would be funny. Hi hi Ha ha!! They would just wage war on Pontius Pilot and the Romans and kick their buts!

  17. The Hebrews of 180 years before Christ insisted they must use the best weaponery to preserve their faith and the practice of Judaism. They insisted that the Sabbath was no longer a day of rest, that they should kill on the Sabbath (see Mark 3:4 for Jesus comments). The Maccabees fought the Syrians oppressors (and made an alliance with the superpower-to-be, the Romans for extra ‘protection’. And apparently they preserved Judaism. The ‘wisdom prophet’ said their violence was “of little help” (Dan. 11:34) in the teaching of wisdom. The stories of Daniel & friends all teach that faithfulness to God does not require state or revolutionary violence. (And the visions teach that God will control of history, not the violence we do.) The leader of the opposition to the Maccabees/Hasmonians may have founded the Essenes who transmitted the focus on teaching good and letting the fighting to God and his angels to Jesus. Jesus contrasted himself to the shepherds/thieves who kill after the ‘feast of lights’ celebrating the Maccabean temple restoration (Jn. 10). Judus Maccabeus rode a war horse into the city, but Jesus took a donkey victory ride into Jerusalem.

  18. Perhaps it would be helpful to quote the background of the donkey ride into Jerusalem:

    Zechariah 9:9-10
    9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; And the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations; And His dominion will be from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.

    In other words, Jesus understood himself to be the one who brings an end to violence and the one who establishes peace in the world. Obviously this has not yet been accomplished but it will when the Son of Man returns. Even so, as we live in this violence-obsessed age, we (the church) can live as a prophetic example of what is yet to come. We are already at peace with God, with ourselves, with our families, and even with our enemies.

  19. Jesus’ meaning of weapons is “spiritual weapons”
    read Ephesians ch.6 sword of spirit means the word, HIS word is one of our most powerful weapons.
    also, it does NOT say that Jesus whiped anyone in the Bible, but He did get angry, anger is an attribute of God. we can get angry, we are to not sin in our anger.
    SUGGESTION: study your Bible

  20. There is nothing pacifistic in the faith that is required to stand and let our Father fight and protect us …Jesus set the example when He himself never took His defence into His own hands but said …” I could ask my Father to send legions of angels to my defence”Jehovah set the example himself when He protected His own on atleast 3 occasions 1) the flood 2) the freeing of the isrealites from Egypt.3) Joshua :stand still and see the salvation of Jehovah …Am I wrong to beleive that my Father will come to my rescue , ? Would our Father not leave our hands clean of blood …Would we not be infringing on His sovereign right , if we were to take anothers life? The Kingdom Is like a mustard seed ,the more of us following the example of Jesus the less violence there will be …Or are we going to keep impaling the Christ a new on this topic???Jesus died for what He beleived in He did not Kill for what He beleived in … should we not Live the Kingdom in all aspects not pick and choose…?

  21. We know that Jesus taught peace, and advocated a non-violent revolution where God was to be the one who brought vindication. So why were his disciples even carrying swords (2 swords according to Luke 22:38). So far, my best answer to this question is;

    It’s one thing for Jesus to surrender to a crowd of armed men quietly without a fight if His disciples were not armed or if He was abandoned before surrendering. It’s another thing that Jesus with armed men Himself whom were apparently ready to die fighting (Peter drew his sword) to disarm His own disciples and diffuse the potentially volatile situation then surrender. Jesus’ teaching that His Kingdom is not of this world is even more highlighted when He could’ve fought fire with fire but chooses instead to lay down and surrender quietly

  22. I really enjoyed reading this article, keep on writing such exciting stuff!

  23. A sword is a symbol used in several religious traditions for discernment. As you know, Jesus often spoke in parables and figures of speech. Cf. Ephesians 6:17 (…the sword of Spirit, which is the word of God). Also compare with the two swords of Matthew 26:52, which could be interpreted to mean “those who live by the (physical) sword of violence, will perish by the (spiritual) sword of their conscience.” Peace.

  24. The Anchor Bible translation of Matthew 10:34 reads

    “Do not think that I come to impose peace on the earth by force; I have come neither to impose peace, nor yet to make war.”

    The translator indicates that the word translated as “but” in this context means “nor” instead.

    He also notes that the Hebrew and Aramaic words for “sword” also means “war”, which makes more sense in the context of the rest of the section.

  25. I refuse to believe that Jesus wanted us to turn the other cheek while evil men kill your family. As long as you use guns as a last resort, i feel its ok to kill in self defense.

    It just does not make any sense to allow evil men to kill an innocent.

    • Charles, then why didn’t Jesus fight his death sentence? The whole gospel leading up to his death shows his miraculous powers that could defend any evil. In Gethsemane, Jesus even mentioned that his Father would send legions of angels to his defense if he asked.

      Look where our faith in violence has brought our countries? Don’t you think Jesus could look through the eyes of humanity and see what we have done to ourselves, and are about to do to ourselves?

  26. Some not bad posts overall, but I think that one possible explanation may have been overlooked. If you do not carry a sword (or in this case members of your group) then you become (can be seen as) victims of armed opposition to your beliefs. However if you are armed, but choose not to use those weapons, then you are no longer victims and the the courage of your convictions can be more clearly seen. It is a strong man who carries a sword but does not use it out of conviction rather than fear.

  27. The old testiment does indeed promote self defense when needed. However Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek. In Luke 22:37 Jesus goes so far as to tell us that even carrying a weapon is a sin when he tells his apostles to buy a sword so that they may fullfill that which was written “he was reckened among the sinners”. It is indeed a challenge to live our lives the way Jesus wants us to, however the reward is well worth the effort. Remember he who lives by the sword will die by the sword.

  28. I think a lot of this discussion seems to overlook a salient fact: the disciples were armed and Christ was apparently okay with that. When Peter cut off Malchus’ ear, Jesus did rebuke him, but it may have been more for the specific action than the fact Peter was armed. Some Biblical scholars hold that Jesus was telling Peter that he did not need the disciple to use violence on his behalf.

    Furthermore, the fact Jesus surrendered peaceably can be interpreted as non-violence or, more likely, it can be seen as acceptance of the inevitable. The arresting party included the temple guards sent by the Sanhedrin and a detachment of Roman soldiers. I don’t know about the temple guard but the Roman soldiers would have been members of the Tenth Legion, a well-armed, disciplined force with a leader experienced in combat: the outcome would have been a foregone conclusion unless Jesus was willing to invoke divine intervention. It would also have resulted in the deaths of most, if not all, of the disciples – something that was definitely not part of Jesus’ plans.

    This is not meant to imply we should not follow Jesus’ teachings of love and forgiveness or that we should not refrain from aggression, but a complete avoidance of violence, to the point that innocents suffer through one’s failure to defend, does not seem to me to be supported by the teachings in the Bible.

  29. Leo Tolstoy’s “The Kingdom of God is Within You” is a great read for anyone interested in issues of pacifism and Christ’s teaching. And please don’t let preconceived notions about Tolstoy or his views on private property deter you from reaping great benefit from his writings in the afrorementioned book.

    • I read it. It is an amazing read. It made clear to me, the path I should follow. I looked at disgust at what I had become. I was advocating the war in the Middle East as a holy war, but then I realized that holy wars can NOT be fought with physical weapons and in the end, we will physically die, but in doing so gain life. The actions of the disciples speak far louder than any words could. We should only fear that which can destroy the soul, but in the end we will die. Too many people think about the scripture but don’t feel it. Christ sacrificing himself and not striking down his enemies as he could have, defies the very essence of logic. Too many say they believe but their actions speak otherwise. What we have in society is an ‘Americanized Christianity’ where we attack what others do without realizing we do the same things we’re attacking. Let our lives be as an example unto others, but still preach so they may hear.

  30. I will love the potential murderer of my family as myself by stopping him with bullets…I would not allow myself to murder innocent people, I would thus murder myself first. I would therefore keep the 2nd commandment. Do you really think allowing yourself to kill people is loving yourself? Wakeup, you silly people.

  31. I like this argument because it captured the truth.It is wrong for xtians to kill or to own weapons.lt makes them of the world of which the are not.Neither Jesus nor the apostles killed in the name of self defence.Who laid the basis for that?

    • It is the result of Americanize Christianity. We see the aspects that we want to see but ignore that which defies our beliefs we are taught in society or by the church leaders.

  32. The main point on the pacifistic side is i see that those who live by the sword die by it. however if one is found to lay down his life for his friend it is a good thing, such as we see if your friend is being attacked to death do you stand their and watch him die? that contradicts Love. However you can pull out your sword step in and attack and fight off the attacker to protect your friend/family you will most likely die because of it yet we as Christians know we die physically but will we die spiritually because of it; that is where we should focus on this question are we condemned spiritually for fighting off an attacker to protect a love one?

    • Yes, salvation is a matter of grace not of works. We see ourselves as innocent and the others as guilty. Retaliate by standing up and resisting, but not by voilence.

      • I was considering buying a burner on the black market (no 2nd ammendment in my country) but I’ve now been convinced we should rely on God to defend us. I would only have used it when the nwo begins its persecution of Christians in earnest and even then, only when they bust in my door for not accepting the mark of the beast.
        I agree there is no greater honour than to die for Christ but my thinking was if I must die I would like to go out in a blaze of glory… I repent of this foolish thought now though as firstly, all glory belongs to the Lord, but more than that, I should be putting my faith in him and not in any weapon of this world. If I am protected by divine intervention praise God, if not praise him still…. He knows how long my days will be and I will die at the appointed time.
        Thankyou to those who have given me insight in to this, praise God for you and may his blessings be on you all.

  33. Jesus would not allow His human will, the disciples swords or the legions of angels stop Him from laying down His life for mankind. I believe the context of this passage is “different times call for different measures”. Jesus had earlier sent the disciples out with instructions not to take money, scipt, etc; now He tells them to take it and a sword. The first time, they were being sent among their brethren (close to home); post resurrection, they were to go “into all the world”. These two separate commissions carried separate circumstances. It most probably wasn’t just about defending against men but also against beasts as they traveled. I believe the sword was for “self defense” under certain circumstances not for launching an “Gospel offensive”. I know that we are to “compel them to come in” but that is a different story :). Since the majority of disciples died a martyrs death, such a defense had it’s limits but I have never heard that a disciple was killed by a wild animal or a robber either.

  34. Complete misinterpretation of this verse in Luke and Isaiah concerning the transgressors. The Lord was numbered among criminals, convicted as a criminal, and crucified like a criminal. He was hung between two thieves fulfilling the prophecy of being “numbered with the transgressors.” The disciples were not the transgressors as this misguided interpretation falsely teaches. God bless.

  35. I wish I had seen this blog earlier–it is now April of 2013. Such an interesting subject, and quite timely. My one comment is this: Christ never told us to take up arms–as Dustinmartry so rightly said–but instead told us to “lay down your life…” He did, however, tell us through his parable of the the “goodman of the house” that if the man had known that his house was going to be broken into, he would have PREPARED and PREVENTED it. This obviously speaks of self-defense of both the man, his family. My point is this: there is a HUGE DIFFERENCE between CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION and COMMON CRIMINAL ACTION AGAINST HUMANITY. Through His parable, JESUS CONDONES COMMON SELF-DEFENSE–hence the parable of the intruder.It is normal and not a sin to protect yourself and your family in a COMMON SITUATION. However, when an attack comes BECAUSE OF ONE’S BELIEF IN CHRIST (true PERSECUTION) we are TOLD TO LAY DOWN OUR LIVES, since our Leader and Forerunner, according to the Book of Hebrews, was our Example and went before us, accomplishing this first. HE HIMSELF gives us the power to love our enemies and to “lay down our lives.” EVEN IF WE DIE, IT “IS GAIN.” As a GODLY RESULT of this behavior (given to us supernaturally by the Holy Spirit) MANY HAVE, AND WILL COME TO THE SAVING KNOWLEDGE OF JESUS CHRIST. Jesus told Pilot, “MY KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD. IF IT WERE OF THIS WORLD, THEN WOULD MY SERVANTS FIGHT.” He then willingly went to the Cross–when He could have called 10,000 angels–and laid down His life for His brethren.

  36. Jesus didn’t want the Apostles to defend Him as He knew He must be hung with the thieves (transgressors) to atone for the sins of all…

  37. I also think that the sword was not intended to be used in order to harm other people because the apostles had been given permission by Jesus to perform miracles. They were merciful towards those that they had pity on and miracles always were performed to bring glory to God and to prove that God loves his faithful followers. If you have been given the power to perform miracles in Jesus’ name why would you need to hurt someone with a sword? Please see: http://www.biblicalstudies.com/bstudy/spiritualgifts/ch17.htm

    If you have ever gone on a hike you know that if you get off the beaten track it is handy to have something to cut a path through the undergrowth. A sword could be useful in cutting wood for a fire, cutting branches to make a simple shelter, to dig a hole in the ground to defecate in, to dig a hole in the ground to heat up stones which could cook a large carcass if it was covered with something to keep the heat in, to cut rope or twine to mend a net, the metal of the sword could be used to reflect the sunlight to signal someone from a distance and I can think of many more things that a sword could be used for in a situation where one has to travel long distances where there is no convenience store or inn to buy what you need. It is a great tool to have if you need to survive living in the wilderness/desert/bush/forest and is not something that has to be used to harm people.

    Many people who have taken part in the sport fencing know that a sword can be used to block a blow to your body and that you can block attacks without ever striking out at someone. If you have faith as large as a mustard seed you won’t need to draw a sword even to block an attack.

  38. Self defence means setting your home up so that if someone attacks you can use the escape route with your desired choice of transport to flee from the danger or go into an impenetrable room with its own supply of food/an emergency calling device/water/air/power etc., or put on a bullet proof vest and use bullet proof accessories, or put on chainmail to prevent being stabbed, or wear a chastity belt, or wear a silk undergarment to stop being pierced by an arrow, or wear rubber soles on your shoes to prevent electrocution, or place non injurious traps near your homes windows and doors to catch intruders, or design your home so that people can’t shoot through the bullet proof window and walls, or put up a wall and a moat around your home so people can get caught on camera trying to break in whilst ensuring that there is enough space between the wall and your home to give you all enough time to use the secret escape route and call the emergency number, or design a laser to track projectiles and to have something deflect the projectiles to a less damaging position, or set up a tracking system so that if movement is detected everyone in the house is signalled to go to the escape route or secret impenetrable room. I am sure people could think of many more things to do in order to escape danger but shooting someone is an attack and is not self defence. Any hunter would tell you that. So why not stop pretending to defend yourselves with guns and instead put on the amour of God (Ephesians 6:10-20)?


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