About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
Buy A Sword -
Buy A Gun
Just prior to His arrest
Jesus gave this instruction to His eleven apostles.
"If you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one (Luke
22:36 NIV)." This verse
is consistently misappropriated by many Americans who defend their
constitutional right to possess and use a gun.
Although I am not an American I have absolutely no problem with
Americans, including American Christians, defending their right to bear
arms based on their constitution. Christians
aren't Scripturally prohibited from exercising their rights as a citizen.
The Apostle Paul exercised his right of Roman citizenship when he
said "I appeal to Caesar" (Acts 25:11).
I do, however, have a problem with using Jesus' statement to buy a
sword in defense of gun ownership. Once
we know why Jesus instructed His apostles to buy swords we'll know if His
instruction to buy swords has any relevance to the present day gun debate.
The very next statement
Jesus uttered after telling His apostles to buy a sword was a quote from
Isaiah 53:12. "It is
written: 'He (Jesus) was numbered with the transgressors,' and I (Jesus)
tell you that this must be fulfilled in me (Luke 22:37)." The
insertion of this prophecy into the conversation tells me two things.
First, the prophecy itself states that its fulfillment is in Jesus.
Second, Jesus associated the prophecy with His instruction to buy
The prophecy predicted
that Jesus would be numbered with the transgressors (NIV), or counted
among the rebels as the HCSB puts it.
Knowing who the rebels are in this prophecy explains why Jesus
instructed His apostles to buy swords and tells us if His instruction is
relevant to us possessing guns.
You might think the
rebels were the two thieves who were executed with Jesus but I think the
context of the Isaiah quote in Luke's account says differently.
Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be counted among the rebels
which Jesus connected with His instruction for His apostles to buy swords.
The thieves executed with
Jesus were not the rebels. The
eleven apostles were viewed as rebels by the Jewish leadership and the
soldiers who arrested Jesus because they possessed swords and especially
because Peter used his sword to cut off the high priest's servant's ear
In addition to the above,
Jesus asked those arresting Him, "Am I leading a rebellion (Luke
22:52)?" This question
raises the possibility that Jesus' captors viewed Him and the apostles as
rebels; one of many groups of zealots attempting to overthrow Rome's domination of the Jews.
The swords Jesus
instructed the apostles to buy were never intended to be used, neither in
an offensive or a defensive manner. The
swords were meant to make the apostles appear to be rebels in the eyes of
those arresting Jesus, thus fulfilling Isaiah 53:12.
Maybe you've never thought about it, but when Peter cut off the
servant's ear he was fulfilling prophecy.
He was one rebel Jesus was counted among.
Further to the above, the
pronoun "you" in the phrase "if you don't have a sword, buy
one" is a singular pronoun in the Greek text.
It's not a plural pronoun. This
means "any one of you who doesn't have a sword should buy one."
Grammatically speaking, Jesus was instructing each man to possess a
sword, but that never happened.
In Luke 22:38 the
apostles told Jesus that they already had two swords.
Jesus' response to them having two swords is vital in understanding
this passage's relevance to the present gun debate.
In verse 39 Jesus answered, "That is enough."
After telling each man they needed a sword Jesus said that two
swords among eleven apostles plus Himself were sufficient. I
ask, "Sufficient for what?"
That makes no sense. Two
swords among twelve men who would be surrounded by an army of soldiers
carrying both swords and clubs (Luke 22:52) are useless as a means of self
If Jesus expected His
apostles to use the two swords for defensive purposes He would not have
told them to put the swords away after Peter cut off the high priest's
servant's ear (Luke 22:51, Matthew 26:52). He
would not have replaced the servant's ear.
He would not have allowed Judas to kiss Him.
He would not have freely handed Himself over to the soldiers.
He would not have told Pilate that His kingdom was not of this
world, and therefore, His servants would not fight to prevent His arrest
by the Jews (John 18:36). Clearly,
these two swords were never intended to be used for any purpose but to
fulfill the Isaiah prediction that Jesus would be counted among the
rebels; His apostles who were considered just one of many groups of
Using Jesus' instruction
to buy a sword in defense of owning and using guns is simply bad Biblical
interpretation. It misrepresents
what Jesus said and His mission to be the Lamb of God, who through death
deleted our sin from the heavenly record.
I applaud my American friends for standing firm on their second
amendment right, but please, let none of us, wherever we live,
misrepresent Jesus as we exercise our rights of citizenship.