Misunderstanding Jesus: If You Don’t Have a Sword, Sell Your Cloak and Buy One


There’s much talk these days (and these decades) about second amendment rights in the U.S., the particular amendment that focuses on the right to bear arms. For those Christians who champion this right, one obvious goal is to find biblical support for the claim.

Many times, there is a naive perspective floating around that says something like this: “God said it; I believe it; that settles it.” If God “said it” in his word (the keyword being “it,” referring to bearing arms), then we are now authorized to practice it.

One of the main go-to Scripture passages for those who promote the private right to bear arms (and use those arms) is found in Jesus’ words in Luke 22:

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’; 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.

The highlighted portion contains the most important of words.

But what is really going on in the text here?

For starters, as we refer to it, this is Christ’s “passion week.” Jesus has just had his “last supper” with his closest friends and now he is to be betrayed by the infamous, Judas Iscariot. This is all headed towards the greatest act of self-sacrificial love ever known to humanity – the crucifixion of God’s son and messiah.

Jesus has just reminded his friends about an earlier expedition he had sent them on. In preparation, he had told them not to take purse, bag or sandals. Standing before his disciples now, he asks a simple question – Did you lack anything?

Their quick response was, “No.”

But the tables have turned of sorts. Jesus says it’s now time to take up purse and bag. Of even greater interest is that he replaces the word sandals with sword. If they didn’t have a sword, no problem. They could sell their cloaks to obtain one.

Hardship was coming; enemies were on the prowl. Grab your stuff and get ready for the attack; get ready to defend yourselves with sword.

At least that’s what it seems to suggest on the surface.

Yet, what many fail to do is to continue reading the Gospel narrative.

Jesus immediately quotes Isa 53:12: And he was numbered with the transgressors.

It’s interesting how this little statement about being numbered with transgressors is embedded within the context of Isaiah’s final servant song (52:13-53:12). Though originally the Isaiah passage spoke of the old Hebrew people within the context of their own collective suffering, we as the followers of Jesus identify the song as expounding upon the most gruesome of events in history – the crucifixion of God’s messiah, the holy and innocent one.

In this Isaianic poem, we are told the innocent messiah would be reckoned as a transgressor, or literally as a rebel. He was no transgressor; he was no rebel. He was right, good and innocent. Still, he would be counted as such.

This is what was taking place: Jesus’ words were employing a prophetic drama that would be integral in playing out his own sacrifice of self. However, what he was not doing was laying forth some kind of “command for all time” about weaponry that he expected his followers to embrace. These words were not arguing for personal self-preservation; they were not prescribing an opportunity to kill any intruder; they were not advocating retributive violence. Nothing of the sort.

If they were, then the cross means absolutely nothing!

Take up arms to defeat your enemies!

That’s the exact opposite message of the cross.

This becomes clear when Jesus’ friends say, “Hey, we have two swords!” Jesus responds with, “That’s enough.”

Were two swords really going to defeat the onslaught that was forthcoming? Really?! Two swords for a mob? Two swords when facing Rome’s contingency over the next couple of days?

Of course not.

I’m not quite sure of the body language and tone in Jesus’ statement, “That’s enough,” but I imagine a deep sigh and a looking up to the Father as if to acknowledge his friends just don’t get it.

Not only that, but if we dip into the other Gospel accounts, we find a rebuke when Peter actually does pull out his sword to lop off one of the soldier’s ears: “Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matt 26:52).

What was taking place is that those who were his closest friends were abandoning the ways of Jesus, invoking the ways of rebels and Rome, embracing violence through the sword. Hence, as the well-known suffering servant song went, Jesus was going to be counted amongst the transgressing rebels.

However, we are certain of one thing: In this atrocious act of capital punishment at the cross, the great evils of the age, the powers and authorities, would be disarmed (Col 2:15). Jesus did this not with a sword, not with a weapon, but with self-sacrificial love expressed in a bloody death.

And, as Isaiah expresses elsewhere, this was to propel us toward a new day and era:

They will beat their swords into plowshares
    and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
    nor will they train for war anymore. (Isa 2:4)

We still await that day, at least fully. The followers of Jesus can begin now. If we do, it would resemble the one we are named after. That’s exactly what our early sisters and brothers did. In the midst of grave injustice, great persecution, and the slaughtering of many, they maintained the perspective of self-sacrificial love. Read the stories in church history.

It’s difficult. I cannot even imagine – for Jesus or his early followers. But that is the call of the cruciform life shaped after the crucified one. I imagine the grace will be sufficient at the time it is needed.

There are many other Scripture passages worth considering on the topic of bearing arms. My great challenge here is that we stop mis-utilizing Luke 22. Those words do not empower Christians (Christ-followers) to bear arms. America might allow one thing, and we have to wisely and collectively consider what our government allows. But the words of Jesus in Luke 22 and the second amendment are not one and the same.

25 thoughts on “Misunderstanding Jesus: If You Don’t Have a Sword, Sell Your Cloak and Buy One

    • Ha, yes it was, at least in as much as it got me thinking how that one passage in Luke is continually mis-utilized. Michael was quoting it regularly. I had responded in a couple of comments on his FB threads, but thought I’d just turn things into a blog post.

  1. I disagree, I am also a pastor.
    If you saw a woman being raped or a child being assaulted, would you not think to try to stop the attacker?
    A gun is that exact same thought. Because it holds the power to stop an attack. Does God war against those that attack HIS people? Yes… Yes HE does.
    If HE told Peter to not use the sword it was to carry out God’s purpose and to be sacrafised for our sins. Either way I do mot see how one way of thinking or the other would cost us our salvation.

    • JT – Thanks for the comment.

      I think there is a difference between protective justice and retributive justice. We are called to protect. But I think we also need to recognize that protection does not have to be accomplished through violent measures of guns.

      Does God war? I think this concept is centered primarily in the OT and we know the OT is not the full story, it doesn’t give the full picture of who God is. It’s Jesus that does that. And we see Jesus’ message centrally focused in loving our enemies, not violently getting back at them; that we turn the other cheek, rather than retaliate; that he would even allow sacrificial death to himself rather than retaliate. This is a hard call & I don’t have all the answers to the practical, everyday questions. But it is our calling. And the early church loved this out well, even under Rome’s oppression.

      • I understand your view.
        As a Husband I am called to protect my family. A gun offerss that protection.
        A well minded man would have a gun… Because it is the great equalizer when faced with an unwarrented threat, if a husband does not have such weapon and fails his calling of protection due to not having this weapon then I would think he would have wished he could have had one and done all in his power to protect his family and not have them go through devastating and tramatic loss. A gun is most necessary as a Protector & we are called to orotect according to your statement.

      • There is a difference and that is the point… a point which you chose yo ignore in yourcarticlevto promote your own ideology. The passage DOES empower Christians to bear arms, a claim you deny with no proof. But empowerment for what purpose? For protection from mobs and rogue governments in evil times. That was what the disciples were left with as Jesus went to the cross. As Jesus said, it was a time when the prince of darkness would come and have his way for a season. Just like in WW1 and 2, and multiple dangerous times for Christians around the world, we must preach peace not war but be prepared to defend our families, the downtrodden and our fellow Christian’s, verbally and with the sword when necessary.

      • I dont believe Jesus was really the bastion of peace as Christians claim. If he was why did he threaten to murder a woman’s children because of her actions? Rev 2:23 This is not the words of a loving nor kind god. I truly think that if Jesus existed he only truly cared for the people of Israel. Sure he was willing to allow outsiders in but only once they recognized the alleged specialness of his community. Jesus likely preached the same tribalism that the Jews before did and when they compiled all the letters writings etc they distorted the message in an attempt to control people. It’s easier to herd submissive sheep then it is to tame lions.

  2. “For as lightning that comes from the East is visible eve in the Wes, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” MATHEW (24:27)
    “God has appointed me to remove the rift that has appeared between God and His creation and instead re-estabilish a relationship of love and sincerety between them. Likewise by proclaiming truth, bring an end to religious wars thus laying the foundation for peace, and reveal those spirtual truths that have become hidden.”
    Promised Messiah (a.s)

    Love for all, hatred for none.

  3. He was sending them out among the wolves and he meant for them to survive to carry his word of love to those who would hear it. It’s the old adage of “you have to break some eggs to make an omelet”. So don’t go out and hunt down alleged thieves but don’t let them endanger you and yours, protect yourself with a weapon if necessary.

  4. Wow! THE word sword means many things, even joy. “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send [or bring] peace, but a sword.” The text of Matthew’s Gospel in the Book of Kells alters gladium, the Vulgate translation of makhairan “sword”, to gaudium “joy”, resulting in a reading of “I came not [only] to bring peace, but [also] joy”.
    Can you buy joy? No! Jesus did tell them to buy a sword (why or was he just being sarcastic?) and he also told his disciple to put it away when confronted with swords. Luke 12:49-53
    I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? Hmm… what is your misunderstanding of the words fire and kindled? Spreading Joy? His Words are no longer spoken on earth? Is not this all part of the fullfillment, God’s will? Interpretations or sometimes words have two meanings.
    Christan: Death means Life in Heaven.
    Atheists: Life ends after Death.
    Reality: Everyone but you misunderstood what Jesus said.

    If only good people go to heaven and those people ‘proclaim’ themselves to be a liberal, like Jesus, who would want to go to heaven? lol

  5. Its truly disgusting to see our Christian faith be used as always to make us weak as Gods followers are to be STRONG. The vatican has a statue of St Ignatius Leola holding the Jesuit constitution whist trampling underfoot a Christian holding the Bible.. You all need to wake up and see what those in power have done to Christians.
    There will NEVER be a man without a sword or rifle because there will ALWAYS be a man there to try and take it! To the person that wrote in the way supporting mans anti-gun law.. Go to hell as that is the side you stand on along with the other men who are weak and hide behind false words and false faith.. You know where you will be when the lights go out in this world and it will not be by our Lords side.

  6. When Jesus used a whip to drive out the money changers in his father’s house
    Proved he believed in the use of violence against evil doers

  7. The swords were for travel and the road. Twisting this to be anything different is incorrect and feels stretched. There is no moral superiority to having ones family, nation, people, raped murdered persecuted and killed if we are led and guided to be protectors in the physical as well as the spiritual. The tool used for this has no bearing on its righteousness. Whether one uses a toothbrush or an AR15 is irrelevant, except that one is more effective in certain circumstances. We can still be meek and turn our cheek and pray for our enemies in 98% of incidents. Reserving the right to stand firm in the other 2% is not anti christ. Only the most domesticated of humans would ever deem it so. Training helps alleviate this hesitancy, and brings one into a state of mind and body capable of being a peaceful, spiritual, warrior.

  8. Unprovoked violence – No.
    Defensive violence – Yes.

    It’s common sense.

    And last I checked, Jesus hasn’t returned yet, meaning his followers remain under threat and have the God given right of self defense.

    PS- Don’t bring a sword to a gunfight.

      • Self defense is mentioned in the Old Testament. Exodus 22:2-3 “If a thief is caught in the act of breaking into a house and is struck and killed in the process, the person who killed the thief is not guilty of murder.

      • Thanks, Dixie. There are many things taught throughout the Hebrew Torah. I am not saying we throw out the proverbial baby with the bath water. However, we are called to read Torah in light of Christ and the new covenant. The teachings of Jesus are challenging – “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” (Matt 5:39)

  9. Everyone knows, or should know, by now who the enemy is. And what his agenda is.

    We receive a constant stream of “Christian” articles promoting demoralization, pacifism, weakness and cowardice. These are pushed to the top of Google search results. In most cases you can know with almost certainty an article is an enemy narrative simply if it’s pushed to the top of the search results.

    Another indicator is when the article doesn’t allow comments. And that’s the most amazing thing is this article – it allows comments.

    We don’t need an extrapolated, twisted intellectual narrative of Jesus’s words when we can clearly see it for ourselves. We are trust, obey, love, forgive, turn the other cheek etc – UP TO A CERTAIN POINT.

    I believe that is the overall message of this verse. As we all should know, Satan has a problem specifically with Christianity. As no other advice is dispensed to any other mainstream religion. Islam for example. Western Christian Civilization is being swarmed by welfare seeking, female seeking Muslims, given voting rights, and special laws. with nothing but contempt and destruction for Western Christianity. As the same time we see a full time stream of non-stop “Christian” articles from effeminate pastors or others we cannot verify promoting “tolerance” “non judgemental-ism” “turning the other cheek” acceptance of sin, condemning Christian “tribalism” (a hypocritical position), constant preaching about the good Samaritan and comparing love they neighbor while Christianity is being destroyed. Their advice? Lay down and be destroyed.

    KJV John 10:10″ “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:”

    KJV Ecclesiastes 3:8″ “A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

    How many people have been robbed, raped, murdered, and destroyed in the most horrific ways THAT WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED had all Western nations followed Jesus’s advice. Instead, this article, like the others, with an extrapolated twisted intellectual narrative – wants you to lay down and die with cowardice. Why? Because Jesus said so. The same Jesus who will return in the book of Revelations with fire and the sword.

    Do not believe this intellectual trickery my friends. It is our duty as Christians to fight evil. Not our duty to proclaim evil our neighbor as we lay down and die

    KJV Jude 1:4 “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

    Consult the Bible. Pray to God for discernment and discretion. Only the enemy, or a severely misguided misaligned confused or outright deluded Christian would write such articles.

    • Exactly. “Turn the other cheek,” has been so misinterpreted and misused to weaken those who don’t understand the Word and turn them into lazy, complacent and compliant sheep. Jesus had a specific purpose on this earth, not to overthrow governments (but He certainly will when the time is right), and as His followers our purpose is not to be crucified for the sins of the world but to defend righteousness and share His gospel.
      I don’t believe He meant for us to never protect our own lives or other’s lives when necessary.
      Thank you for your discernment and wisdom in your reply.
      Gods bless.

  10. The conversation is good and affords us an opportunity to share our opinions on what we have learned and come to believe. I too believe a text without a context being a pretext is more evident in many of these conversations. Of course we need to read all scripture in light of the rest of scripture. Theres something to be said about common sense not being very common. Out Lord God truly loves justice, mercy and kindness. Using the example of stopping a murder, rape or assault on your family is a good one to use. As a retired law enforcement I believe in the 2nd Amendment but understand its not scripture but rather part of our man written Constitutional rights .. which I personally feel are also from our Lord and God.

    On both ends of the spectrum 2 examples:

    1. If one was wronged, cheated, even robbed of value, slapped on the face, ridiculed or offended in one of many forms that doesn’t lead to their peril or death .. then yes turn the other cheek …

    2. If one had a daughter or even grand daughter being raped, and came upon this horrendous situation and a gun was necessary to not only stop the heinous act .. no sane person would argue the legitimacy of its use. So if that situation is true which is easily established then how can one use scripture out of context and even suggest they just may turn the other cheek in that moment. Of course no sane person would say by all means enjoy yourself. I dont mean to sound crude but suggesting that is crude in and of itself if not ridiculous.

    These are not meant to be all inclusive but to infer we have a choice to make and we do well to pray and do what the Lord leads us to do. I believe having a sword is necessary so I do. I also believe God can keep us safe as he did with Daniel, David and countless others as He so chooses. But common sense is often lost on a fool, but sadly also on those who are not fools but just act without common sense or “foolishly: as we all have in our lives. Id say to each .. pray about it and also remember much is what Paul has taught us as well.

    Peace my brothers.

    • Thanks for the comment, Mark. Yes, I wouldn’t call anyone insane if they used a gun in the midst of such an act. What I might recognize is the amygdala in the brain was firing off, shutting down the logical-thinking pre-frontal cortex, which then allowed for an impulsive act to take place. But, again, that’s not insanity.

      I think there would be a way to stop a rape without weapon. Typically if a perpetrator is caught, it causes them to stop the act. They may run, attack the person who caught them in the act, or something else. The perpetrator may have a weapon, so, what does one do? There are a host of scenarios to consider. But I’m not sure the use of a weapon is the necessary action in such cases.

  11. Your wrong- “the Lord is a man of war”! “If any man does not provide (defense) for his family,,, he is worse than infidel!!! “ Is that you ???

    • Thanks, Joe. I think we have to consider how to work with the passage in Exodus that says “the Lord is a man of war,” in light of Christ’s coming and revealing exactly what God is like. And I don’t think the statement of providing for one’s family has the idea of defending them by taking the life of another. Now, I am not negating the Lord’s judgment, whom he entrusted to the Son. But what I’m arguing is that we are not the ones to enact that judgment through the sword.

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