Jesus On The Issue Of Swords

Jesus spoke on several occasions regarding swords. It seems strange He would encourage His disciples to sell their cloak and if they didn’t have a sword buy one.

“…he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one” (Luke 22: 36).

“Then they said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.’ And He said to them, “It is enough’.” (Luke 22: 38).

Yet, Christ rebuked Peter when he drew his sword and cut off the ear of one of the soldiers who came to arrest Him ((John 18:10).

To a casual reader this might sound contradictory. The explanation is found in the Greek word MACHAIRA translated “sword.” It did not refer to a large long Thracian weapon. It was a reference to a short curved bladed knife most men carried at all times like many do smaller pocket knives today. It was utilitarian. It was used to dress wild game, prepare it for cooking, and then served somewhat like a fork with which to eat. Persons traveling alone needed one. In the case of the disciples going together two were enough.

Christ wasn’t encouraging His disciples to prepare for combat but for open country survival.

On another occasion Christ said, “I did not come to bring peace but a sword” (Matthew 10: 34).

Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace and gives individuals peace not obtainable elsewhere. However, He knew the world would violently reject Him. He knew people would be divided over Him. This is a figurative statement revealing that in society and even in some families members professing faith in Him will often be disowned or disinherited.

As a sword separates what it cuts so faith in Christ will result on occasion in believers being separated from nonbelievers.

Ask a young person being ridiculed and left out by non-Christian friends what the sword means.

Ask the rising young Christian in business who refuses to go along with the secularist who designs a scheme to cheat clients what the sword means.

Ask the individual believer who will not compromise morally and go along with worldly actions what the sword means. It means separation.

Faith in Christ separates His followers from the world.

Another figurative use of the word sword appears in the account of the elderly Simeon saying to Mary, “…a sword will pierce through you own heart” (Matthew 10: 35). It is a summary expression for extreme mental and emotional anguish. In the crucifixion this was fulfilled.