Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. 2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. 3 And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece. 4 And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart. 5 And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them. 6 And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where.
Luke 22:35 And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. 36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and HE THAT HATH NO SWORD, LET HIM SELL HIS GARMENT, AND BUY ONE. 37 For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. 38 And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.
The twelve disciples (who were the Apostles) had been chosen by Jesus (Luke 6:12-19) earlier are being commissioned by Jesus in Luke chapter nine to go forth in their ministry. Jesus tells them what not to take on their journey but to go as they were emphasizing the simplicity and urgency of the moment. This happens to be early in the ministry of Jesus and after His generally welcomed ministry in Galilee.
Now in Luke 22:35-37 as time has passed and it is near the end of Jesus’ ministry something has changed. He refers back to His commission of them in Luke chapter nine and now tells them, “Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and HE THAT HATH NO SWORD, LET HIM SELL HIS GARMENT, AND BUY ONE. This was right after a time of communion or breaking bread at the Passover meal (Luke 22) and a time of intense prayer in Gethsemane (Matthew 26). Out of that holy and sobering moment came this new command.
Jesus tells His disciples to take a sword for defense in their travels. Jesus knew the times and conditions had changed and the sword had a role in that threatening culture among fallen men. It is the same word for a sword that the mob used when they came to apprehend Jesus and sword that Peter pulled out smiting off the high priests ear in Matthew 26:47, 50 – 54. Jesus told Peter to put his sword in its place, at his side. Using the sword in that situation would be undermining God’s plan of Jesus being taken to be crucified. If you use the sword for improper uses you will end up dying by it. Keep in mind Jesus had just told the disciples to arm themselves with a sword and the reason was to protect their lives not the life of the Son of God and Son of Man. It is the same word for sword that was used to murder the Apostle James in Acts 12:2. Swords were the weapons of the day.
We are now in a very sad and dangerous day that things have changed to the point innocent Christians practicing their faith in their churches need to be defended and protected. Evil has invaded the sanctuary from the 2015 Charleston shooting to now this most recent Sunderland Texas church shooting. There have been others through the years but not like these two evil rampages.
Many churches for years have forseen the evil and have practiced taking security measures but many still wrestle with the idea. I believe the Bible supports the idea and endorses self defense. Among the many civil laws God gave His people to establish their nation included self defense of their homes (Exodus 22:2). “If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him.”
It is not murder to defend oneself or your loved ones and property. If someone broke into a home at night and there is no way of knowing his intent and the intruder was killed, the one who killed him was NOT guilty of murder. This verse sanctions the homeowner to defend against a break in to their home. If in the process of doing so they kill the intruder, they were not guilty of murder in God’s eyes and there was no blood guiltiness or guilt for shedding the blood of the intruder.
Proverbs 24:11-12 calls us to intervene if someone is taken or threatened by a lawless murderer when no other workable solution is practical we are called to do all we can to intervene and stop it. We read, “If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; 12 If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?”
Deuteronomy 22:23-27 which deals with rape also gives added perspective when it has in view a woman who is raped and she calls for help and the verse says “and there was none to save her.” It is implied that if someone would have heard, there would have been a moral duty to intervene and protect her from being raped. To stand by and do nothing would be immoral.
God’s wisdom was behind Nehemiah’s authorizing God’s people to arm to protect themselves in Nehemiah 4:17-18, “They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon. 18 For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me.”
Judges 5:8 reminds us of what happens to a foolish people and nation that chooses to disarm! “They chose new gods; then was war in the gates: was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel?” They were exposed and vulnerable to their enemies because they had no weapons to protect themselves. Disarming lead to war in the gates.
Self defense is a biblical right. It is not the same as vengeance. Self defense is before a crime or in the midst of a crime. Taking vengeance is after a crime and taking justice into one’s own hands. Self defense being a Biblical right given to every individual is what made our nation’s Founders view it as an inalienable right or a God given right. The Framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights used this thinking in the Second Amendment’s “right to keep and bear arms.”