Is Buying A Sword About Self-Defense?

Why did Jesus tell his disciples to buy a sword? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Recently, a friend of Deeper Waters sent me a statement to comment on concerning the Zimmerman trial. What it was was the person saying that a man has a right to defend himself he used Luke 22:35-38 to make that point.

“35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

“Nothing,” they answered.

36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’[b]; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That’s enough!” he replied.”

There are some times when a preacher is said to have a good message but to have the wrong text. This is the same case here. I do hold to a person having the right to defend themselves. In the past, that was a sword. Today, a gun would be more appropriate. Therefore, my contention is not against self-defense.

However, to say I support self-defense does not mean that I support every Scriptural argument given for self-defense. I don’t think this passage is talking about that at all. After all, let’s consider that Jesus would have eleven men by his side since Judas betrayed him. These eleven men would have two swords between them to fight off a crowd? (And why would Jesus want the crowd to be fought off? In the text, we see him surrendering to them and condemning Peter for getting a sword out in the first place!)

What Jesus is talking about is the future coming time when the disciples will face great peril and they need to be men of courage, men that would be the kind who would normally use a sword. If Jesus had literally meant for them to buy a sword, then it is a wonder we do not see the disciples engaging in hand-to-hand combat anywhere throughout the book of Acts!

When Jesus says “It is enough”, do we really take him to mean that the two swords the disciples have will be enough for them to be prepared when the Roman army comes? Of course not! Instead, it is a matter of exasperation. Jesus regularly has a problem with the disciples taking him in a wooden literal sense. (Please keep that in mind many of you today who think that the best way to take Jesus is always the wooden literal sense unless there are other reasons not to. Jesus himself has several problems with that approach.)

The best lesson to get from all this is that the right message does not mean the right passage. I am not saying the Bible condemns self-defense. I am just saying that this is not the right passage to go to and when we go to the wrong passage, we end up causing harm to our position as we make it look foolish and have it so that some think when they dispute our false interpretation, they’ve shown the Bible does not teach this at all. Not only that, the worst part is whenever we have a false interpretation, we miss the true interpretation we are to get out of Scripture.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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7 Responses to “Is Buying A Sword About Self-Defense?”

  1. Dave Says:

    Nick,

    With the dispensational tribulation at hand, do you think the rapture is going to save the believer or should they just lay down and take their deaths? I know you are a hybrid preterist. Do you detail your hybrid deviations anywhere?

    Dave

  2. apologianick Says:

    I don’t think any dispensational tribulation is at hand, though doomsday prophets have always been among us. As far as I’m concerned, the great trib came and went. Here’s a little something I wrote on why I call myself a Preterist. http://deeperwaters.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/why-i-call-myself-a-preterist/

  3. Michael Shorter Says:

    Hey Nick,

    Im a young believer 22 years to be exact, and firstly i’d like to say Im glad to see you using your gift so marvelously. I see two different type of Christians, ones who take whats fed to them, and those who seek it eagerly (with counsel). I can’t quote a thousand scriptures nor am I solid in faith, God forbid, im nowhere close. But I am able to understand a majority of your context and see the importance of apologetics in Christianity, I only find it with well intent that I devout my time to such, not just to defend my faith to others but also to myself. With all that being said, I am looking for advice on diving deeper into the Word and apologetics. I really only see one option and that’s bible college, yet im already in college studying to be a engineer. Any advice??

    PS. Always been a dream of mine to be a Engineer/Architect/Carpenter. Do believe it to be me calling.
    Especially seeing how tough it’s been and how big of a dream.
    Sorry if you’ve previously spoke on this..

    Mike.

  4. Jason Says:

    Be an Engineer, Paul earned his living making tents while he preached the gospel. Meanwhile, in between times, read everything you can that would relate to apologetics.

  5. Dave Says:

    Mike,

    When you analyze the Genesis interpretations, make sure you read on both sides of the issues. The 17th century church is alive and well with museums, books, DVDs, and other non-peer reviewed “science” telling you that the earth was created before the stars, etc.

    The speed of light is a physical constant and nearby stars have been triangulated to 23M Light Years and the earth was not created in a “white hole”. See Reasons to Believe, Hugh Ross.

    Have fun,

    Dave Richards

  6. Michael Snow Says:

    So many Christians misuse this passage. Refreshing to see your clear exposition. http://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2012/06/17/two-swords-enough/

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