Posted Oct 28, 2017 by Michael L. Brown

As expected, the response to my article “Since When Did Jesus Get Connected to Guns?” was fast and furious, especially from those who failed to read the article.

Many adamantly defended their right as Christians to defend themselves, while others pointed to the Second Amendment, despite my stating explicitly that “I am not questioning our right to defend ourselves” and that my article was not “about the Second Amendment.”

Others pointed to Luke 22:35-38, where Jesus apparently told His disciples to go out and buy swords, telling them they had “enough” with the two they had on hand. For these readers, this was justification for carrying guns for self-defense (again, I never questioned someone’s right to own a gun for self-defense).

Some readers went even farther, suggesting this was the way to avoid persecution in the future. As Aaron H. posted on Facebook, “It's because we value life and recognize God is a giver of life, we protect ourselves, and give warning to would be persecutors, we won't stand for it, so we can have life. . . . Whenever we are disarmed, we are slaughtered.”

Yes, he explained, “Martyrdom is a romantic fantasy. History tells us, first is disarmament, next it's our Bibles, next it's our lives. It does not matter if it's guns, or swords. If guns did not exist, we'd cling to our sword or spears, and our Bibles.”

Another wrote, “The issue Dr. Brown is you cannot split our freedom to worship and our freedom to bear arms they are interconnected and they are supposed to be. Some people do not like this idea because they believe Jesus is a pacifist, He is not.”

So much for Jesus calling us to turn the other cheek (Matt 5:38-42). So much for Him saying that it is the meek who will inherit the earth, the peacemakers who will be called children of God, and the ones who were persecuted for righteousness who are blessed (Matt 5:5, 9-12). So much for Him teaching that the world would treat us the same way it treated Him (Matt 10:25; John 15:18-20).

So much for Peter writing that we should follow our Savior’s example, noting that “when He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten” (1 Pet. 2:23). And so much for Paul explaining that “it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake” (Phil. 1:29).

That was for the old days. Now we have guns! No one will persecute us.

To repeat: I respect the purpose of our Second Amendment and I do not oppose our right to self-defense. And I am not advocating new gun control laws. Despite the somewhat ferocious response to my article from some quarters, those were not my issues at all. I was simply questioning the cultural phenomenon here in America – in particular, in some geographical parts of the country – that associated the gospel with guns.

Of course, I knew that readers would point to Luke 22:35-38, which is why I also cited it in my article, suggesting that it was the wrong passage to use in support of gun ownership.

To review the context, Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, about to be betrayed, when He had this dialogue with His disciples.

“When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.”

 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. 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.”

 And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”

A very small minority of scholars believe that the real agenda of Jesus was the violent overthrow of Rome and that this passage hints at His real strategy. But not only does this go against the entire testimony of the New Testament and early Church, it also makes no sense contextually – unless you believe that Jesus was saying that eleven disciples armed with two swords were ready to take on the armies of Rome.

Others say that Jesus was simply telling them that the days ahead would be much more difficult than in the past, because of which they would need swords for self-defense. But if that was the case: 1) Why were two swords “enough”? 2) Why did Jesus rebuke Peter just a few minutes later for using his sword against the soldiers who came to take Him (Luke 22:49-51; Matt 26:51-52; John 18:10-11)? 3) Why didn’t the disciples use their swords to fight against their persecutors in the book of Acts?

Using the logic of some of those who believe that being armed is the key to avoiding persecution, why did the apostles merely pray together for boldness to preach and for miracles to be wrought through Jesus’ name when they were threatened (Acts 4:24-31)? Why didn’t they plot a strategy of fighting back with their swords? Wasn’t this what Jesus was telling them to do in Luke 22?

The fact is that the passage in Luke 22 says nothing about self-defense, other than noting that two of the disciples carried swords, something that was not uncommon for Galileans to do to protect themselves from thieves. That would be the equivalent of a Christian today having a gun at home in case of a home invasion. So if you want to use Luke 22 in that context, I wouldn’t argue with you. (In other words, some of the disciples had swords; some of us have guns.)

But, as many scholars recognize, Jesus was being ironic with His disciples, saying to them, “Look, the Scriptures teach that I will be numbered among the transgressors, the lawbreakers. So, we better make it look good. We need some swords!”

When they took him seriously and literally, saying, “Lord, we have two right here!” He replied by saying, “Enough with this!” As rendered in the HCSB: “‘Lord,’ they said, ‘look, here are two swords.’ ‘Enough of that!’ He told them” (Luke 22:38).

As Robert H. Stein explained in his Luke commentary, “The disciples misunderstood Jesus’ words in 22:36 by interpreting them literally, and their lack of understanding is most evident at this point. . . . Clearly two swords were not enough for any planned armed resistance. Jesus’ words are best understood as breaking off further conversation as in Deut 3:26, i.e., ‘Enough of this [foolish] conversation.’”

In sum, then: 1) For the umpteenth time, I’m not disputing the importance of the Second Amendment or our right to self-defense, nor do I have a problem with churches having good security; 2) I am disputing connecting the gospel with guns; 3) I am pointing out that Jesus’ words in Luke 22:35-38 should not be taken literally as a call for all of us to go out and buy guns.

That being said, if you made it this far and read the article in full, I’d love to hear your response.

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Naomi Shubert posted a comment · Nov 04, 2017
I think the disciples did misunderstand, but I think the idea of irony goes against the whole mood and tone of the passage. Jesus concerned for his disciples and the imminent destruction and chaos coming upon the Jewish people and his own death and the immediate aftermath. As an older mother I am very aware of my mortality and concerned for the wellbeing of my child. This is a deathbed concern to be understood on a human level. He would not be with them on a physical level to protect them. If we forget the humanity of Jesus ( let this cup pass from me etc), we do not see the victory that follows in all it's fullness. And which is ours too, even if in this life we suffer loss and defeat and have fears over ours and our childrens' safety. Let's be clear, swords or guns will never adequately protect us. And some of us may lay our lives down willingly as martyrs and others of us may fight ( as happened in Europe) and be killed by an overwhelming enemy - but it is our faith and our acting within the confines of Heavens will on earth, not our will, which gives us any victory in this world.
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texasaggie posted a comment · Nov 03, 2017
I think Jesus knew he had to go to the cross and the swords he recommended in Luke 22 would help insure that and fulfill prophesy. He didn't exactly seem shocked that two of them had swords already. And the commandment is, after all, "Don't Murder" not "Don't Kill". On the other hand, it is hard to get people saved if we kill them first. I have to say that so many Jesus people and free people with guns in Houston are probably why we had so little looting during the flooding from Hurricane Harvey. I understand what Dr. Brown is saying though.
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Rose posted a comment · Nov 03, 2017
I find it hard to imagine Jesus being "ironic" with His disciples and using the two swords as props to make Him look like a bad guy. I don't know, it seems deceptive to me, and of course He is not deceptive at all. Even if He was "joking" about the swords, it just seems like a stretch. He was giving instructions about what to bring, why wouldn't the swords be taken seriously along with everything else???
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DLM posted a comment · Oct 31, 2017
Weapon ownership has absolutely nothing to do with Salvation! It's not an indicator of my walk in Faith. It doesn't show the depth of my love, compassion and obedience to the one true God. Now, the use of the weapon may be a good indicator of my Faith
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Mike on the Wall posted a comment · Oct 30, 2017
Psalm 82:4 Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked. Proverbs 24:11 Deliver those who are drawn toward death, And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter. Ezekiel 33 "... 6 'But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman's hand.' Exodus 22:2-3 2 "If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. 3 "If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt for his bloodshed. Nehemiah 4 17 Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon. 18 As for the builders, each wore his sword girded at his side as he built, while the trumpeter stood near me. ... 21 So we carried on the work with half of them holding spears from dawn until the stars appeared. .... 23 So neither I, my brothers, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us removed our clothes, each took his weapon even to the water. Ok -- Several scriptures say self defense is ok // even with a sword or gun (today) However, Murder and blood shed intentionally not allowed. If you live somewhere where you have reason to be concerned about crime, this would be similar to legally carrying a weapon to defend your family, even when running daily errands to the store. Esther 8:11-12 11 By these letters the king permitted the Jews who were in every city to gather together and protect their lives -- to destroy, kill, and annihilate all the forces of any people or province that would assault them, both little children and women, and to plunder their possessions... Psalm 144:1 Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight: Psalm 18:34 He teaches my hands to make war, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze But how do we reconcile: Psalm 44:6-7 For I will not trust in my bow, Nor shall my sword save me. 7 But You have saved us from our enemies, And have put to shame those who hated us. Here is a warning: If you find that you have anger or self-control problems, owning weapons is unwise. The believer is to be "not soon angry, no brawler, no striker" (Titus 1:7). Lamech is an example of someone who should not own weapons (Gen. 4:23f). Rom 12:19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.
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F4PhantomGIB posted a comment · Oct 29, 2017
Hello Dr Brown I read both articles with keen interest. As a new follower of Christ I had taken the whole issue at face value: Of course we have the right to self defense and to use whatever weapons are necessary. Or do we, I thought after reading your articles. I think the root cause of your premise, Since when did the Gospel become connected with guns, may be found in the right to self defense. Our Founders wrote that we were endowed with certain unalienable rights endowed by our Creator. Does God grant us a right to self-defense? If so does God place any limits on that right? I don't know. Thank you for a very thought provoking series of articles. I look forward to your thoughts. Sincerely F4PhantomGIB
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Bguptill posted a comment · Oct 28, 2017
Btw, if I could offer an alternative reason evangelicals connect God & guns it is because we are more connected to the mindset of the founders (most of whom who were dedicated believers). The Declaration of Independence says we are “endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights. In practice this means government doesn’t have the authority to limit or take away a God-given right. It’s not Biblical, it’s civic. Carrying a gun was considered by the founders a civic duty, not a spiritual mandate. We should have the same view. Guns have nothing to do with the gospel, but everything to do with guarding society against tyrannical influences.
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Bguptill posted a comment · Oct 28, 2017
John 18:8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.” Jesus tells the to bring two swords (which they were bearing openly, they didn’t leave them at home). Then Peter cuts off an ear, and Jesus heals the priests servant Malachi’s and tells Peter not to defend him. In fact, Jesus could have called 12 legions to defend him. Jesus Himself gives the reason for the swords in John 18:9 - the defense & safety of the disciples. Being armed, they wanted to avoid a fight, and so they heeded Jesus’ recommendation to take him only & not the disciples. I don’t believe the gospel should be connected with guns. I don’t think guns have any relevance to scripture, just as the swords were a tool that served a purpose and were neither good nor bad unless they were used for good or evil purposes. Clearly, God used the Old Testament Jews to make war against nations (guns would be used in today’s war) on a regular basis. God doesn’t say “make war, but eschew the sword.” The sword is not relevant, just as the gun isn’t relevant, but is a tool used by either the good guys or bad guys. I agree, there is no reason to connect the gospel & guns. NO LINK. This goes both ways... not only is it not linked, it is not unlinked (or prohibited) by scripture.