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Did Jesus mean literal swords in Luke 22:35–38?

July 31, 2019

35 And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” 36 He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” 38 And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”

–Luke 22:35–38, ESV

In the discussion of The future of gun control, Red Pill Latecomer suggested that Jesus was not referring to literal swords in the passage referenced above:

In fact, He said the time will come to sell your cloak and buy a sword.

Jesus did not necessarily mean it in a literal sense. The evidence is that the apostles responded “”See, Lord, here are two swords.” Jesus replied, “That is enough.”

Two swords are not enough for a battle. My Catholic study bible suggests that Jesus’ reply was in the manner of a weary sigh, brushing aside their focus on literal swords.

The most convincing and concise explanation for the verses that I’ve read comes from Pastor Doug Wilson in The Apostle Peter and Open Carry:

I believe that what Jesus is doing here is transparently clear, and it is equally clear that the disciples mistook His point entirely, and He has to tell them to drop it.

Jesus reminds them of the previous times they had been sent out on preaching missions, and how He had sent them out without any reserves, without any ordinary supplies. An example of Him doing this is found in Luke 9:1-6. Jesus is here reversing that pattern, teaching His disciples that this was a temporary measure while He was with them, and that now they must not forget to take their basic supplies. He mentions purse, knapsack, sandals, and swords. He says that the sword is important enough that they should sell their cloak if they need to. Better chilly than dead. This part of it is about their missions in the future (He is not talking about taking wallets, packs, sandals, etc. when they leave in a few minutes for Gethsemane). He is instructing them that they must learn to provide for themselves, unlike what He had told them to do on earlier missions. Things were different now. Among those ordinary provisions were swords for self-defense.

Christ was speaking about being prepared for that bad stretch of road north of Antioch, but the disciples interpreted Him as giving an immediate call to arms, a call to arm themselves against the powers coming against them that very night. This was not what He was talking about at all. Remember that they are going from this room, where they had produced the two swords, straight to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Peter was to use one of those two swords to chop off the ear of Malchus (John 18:10). Jesus, just a matter of hours after this, put the ear back on, and He did not say “Peter, non-violence is the way.” He rebuked Peter for yet again being the Satan that was trying to keep Him from finishing His appointed mission.

Note that this explanation is not a case of cooking up a kooky backstory.  Pastor Wilson is tying in relevant Scripture, not creating a narrative that changes the clear meaning of the text.

Also note that Wilson’s defenders argue that the reason Wilson so regularly substitutes chivalry (the parody of Christianity) for Christianity is because he is not a clear thinker or writer.  Whatever Wilson’s reason is for reliably substituting chivalry for Christianity when the topic is husbands and wives, it cannot be due to a deficiency of intellect or written communication skills.

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Post Information
Title Did Jesus mean literal swords in Luke 22:35–38?
Author Dalrock
Date July 31, 2019 8:53 PM UTC (3 years ago)
Blog Dalrock
Archive Link https://theredarchive.com/blog/Dalrock/did-jesus-mean-literal-swords-in-luke2235a38.6685
Original Link https://dalrock.wordpress.com/2019/07/31/did-jesus-mean-literal-swords-in-luke-2235-38/
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