Posted by: jobelenus | April 22, 2007

Matt 26.52

Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.

It seems to me that this verse should settle the matter. Jesus rebukes Peter for using his sword to defend Jesus. Plain and simple. If we are to use the sword, military might, in *any* manner at all, you would think defending Jesus or his name would be the best place to do it. Yet Jesus stands against Peter, to deny him that ability.

If we can’t use the sword to defend the honor of our Lord – why could we use it to defend our own honor? Don’t we put ourselves into his submission, such that he is more important than ourselves? Furthermore, why would we defend a country, or the honor of that country, that he is going to come and destroy at his return?

Do not use the sword, or you will be destroyed by the sword.



  1. I think that many would see this specific incident as an isolated special occasion (Jesus is about to be arrested and crucified). What I mean is that, Jesus had to be arrested here so he would be able to suffer/die/be raised. I think someone could read this “put up your sword into its place; for all those who take up the sword tonight will perish by the sword.” The allternative is to read this as a maxim “all those (Christians?) throughout time from now on who take up the sword will perish by the sword.” The problem with this statement is that this has not come true in all cases. There are plenty of people who employed deadly weapons for a living (military/police/security employee) and lived a long time afterwards and then died of natural causes. Is Jesus speaking about some eschatalogical sword here (Rev 19)

    Revelation 19:14-15
    14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.

    Then again, perhaps, this should be taken like a proverb–a general truth that applies over time in most cases but not in every situation (a truism).

  2. I definitely think it is an “eschatalogical sword”. As you expressed, not everyone who has taken up the sword have died by a sword. Jesus obviously would know that even in his time. So, like you said, this isn’t a ‘truism’ – but rather a theological statement of judgment upon warmakers, when we are supposed to be peacemakers.

  3. You also have the arguement that Jesus had instructed his disciples earlier to get the swords. Why did he say that? Well, it doesn’t seem like they were for the use of fighting off the dozens of soldiers that were about to surround them…their swords wouldn’t have been enough

    • THe swords ere not to fight roman soldiers,but to defend themselves against robbers.They were evangelizing in other cities. On the way someone would try to rob them.Thats why he told them not to take money..Jesus aint a pacifist.God commanded Israelites to fight with other nations.when Jesus met the roman soldier he didnt tell him to quit.He told him he had lots of faith.

  4. Luke 22.36-38

  5. Perhaps, Jesus had them to bring swords in order to teach them something significant. In this case the swords may function as an object lesson demonstrating the futility of using violence to protect oneself.

  6. I agree, I think that the reason that Jesus asked them to get swords was to prove a very vital point as seen in the Matt. 26 passage, that those who live by them will die by them.


  7. Jesus meant exactly what he said. Stop trying to justify war. Jesus was into peace. Period.

    If you truly believe in Jesus, you have no reason to fear death even if that means not striking back.

  8. “Me” – we’d like if you could use your real name. Not to offend, but pseudonyms seem to be a place of hiding on the internet. None of our comments are in any way a justification of war. As you might have noticed, this entire blog goes toward documenting the issue and handling the arguments commenly brought to the table.

  9. There is no way Jesus wanted his apostles to carry swords; indeed, he emphasizes in this passage that for one of his apostles to carry a sword will make the apostle a TRANSGRESSOR of the Good News, not a messenger.

    In my 40 year walk with God, He has convicted me over time that ‘the exception proves the rule’ such that He desires us to be pacifists and non-violent across the board, without exception . . . except in those RAREST of times when (just possibly, maybe) in-the-moment necessity will cause Him to conclude that an aggressive, passionate, physical response is appropriate. (Ah, the beauty of paradox and ambiguity, both being inextricably interwoven into the fabric of the Kingdom!)

    God has literally used the Kenny Rogers song ‘Coward of the County’ to bring this message of ‘only in rare, justified circumstances’ home for me (pull it up online and listen to the lyrics some time: it is thought-provoking).

    It obviously takes discernment and sensitivity to God’s presence and will to know when one of those ‘rare’ situations might arise; the fact that an appropriate situation will, in fact, be rare is why we see Jesus overturning moneylending tables in the Temple once and only once, and why we NEVER see him act in a physically aggressive way towards a fellow human being. (The woman named marr who stated in her comment on the main thread that Jesus WHIPPED the money lenders doesn’t know her Scripture: Matthew 21:12 says only that Jesus overturned physical objects, tables and chairs. He was venting righteous anger, but still his nature prevented him from taking that anger out on the living, person or animal.)

    With respect to this passage (Luke 22:35-38), context is everything. Jesus has just finished dealing Peter a ‘low blow’: prophesying that Peter will deny him three times in a matter of just a few hours (before the cock crows to signal the dawning of the next day). This serious Truth, no doubt uttered by Jesus with heartbreaking solemnity, HAD to have silenced the room and dumbfounded all who were gathered, leaving in its wake an incredibly awkward and uncomfortable silence.

    Yet Jesus, the fountainhead of all compassion, has no intention to cause Peter more humiliation or pain than is absolutely necessary, so within moments he diffuses the awkwardness by ENTIRELY changing the subject. He states good-naturedly, “When I sent you out without purse and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” Imagine a collective sigh of relief as the apostles rush to embrace this new topic of discussion. The reality Jesus has referenced had to have been one of the most awesome confirmations they had personally experienced: that they went forth with no money or possessions, which most people would think was just INSANE, yet lo and behold they genuinely never lacked for anything! Amazing! A good memory! Smiles and nods all around.

    Peter, of course, is probably still too numb to say much, but at least he is grateful Jesus has directed the attention of everyone else away from his blazing red face. Jesus lightens the mood further by saying (with playful sarcasm), “but now, let him who has a purse take it along, likewise also a bag, and let him who has no sword sell his robe and buy one.” Guffaw: a robe is far more important on a daily basis than a sword; of course Jesus isn’t being serious.

    He continues, with self-deprecation (because I’m sure it bothered him how much emphasis others placed on ‘fulfillment of Scripture’ when all that mattered to HIM was the Good News itself), “For I tell you, that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘And He was numbered with transgressors’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.” And the apostles, catching on, said, “Look, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them (probably more than slightly chagrined that any of them actually HAD a sword on their person when he was only teasing), “It is enough.”

    We forget that Jesus had a huge and gregarious personality, many of the things he said to make a point were exaggerated and not meant to be taken literally, and that part of the purpose of the last supper was for him to enjoy one last time of intimacy, relaxation and camraderie with his friends. Yes there was serious talk, but it wasn’t ALL serious.

    Christian writer Madeleine L’ Engle notes in her book ‘Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith & Art’ that Jesus had a raucous sense of humor and that the written Scriptures have lost a lot of Jesus’ humor and flippancy:

    “Many of the parables make sense only if we realize that Jesus was telling a funny story to make his point, a funny story that was supposed to be greeted with a laugh . . . And what about exaggeration for effect? Jesus wasn’t afraid of hyperbole (intentional exaggeration). What about the camel going through the eye of the needle? Or the man with the beam in his own eye who doesn’t see the mote in his brother’s? And people accuse ME of exaggerating!”

    For example, Jesus no doubt rolled his eyes and laughed sardonically as he flipped Caesar’s coin back to its owner and said, “Give to Caesar’s what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.” His point was: God does not give a damn about money or institutional politics or worldly government structures, and neither should you! It is all ‘much ado about less than nothing,’ as Shakespeare might say if he were alive today.

    So, for what it is worth, this is my take on this passage. Thanks for listening.

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