Crossroad Bible Study

February 27th, 2009

Sword Drill

Posted by Alan Collins in Uncategorized  Tagged Luke 22:1-46

Reading this passage I found myself asking why would Jesus command His disciples around the passover table to sell their cloaks and buy swords? The disciples seem to take it quite literrally¬† saying that they had two swords already. Perhaps they thought this was the time when they were going to lead a rebellion against the Roman Government. Peter later used one of these swords to cut off the ear of a man who came to arrest Jesus. Jesus rebuked Peter for this. I was thinking perhaps the sword that Jesus is talking about here is Gods’ Word, the Bible. This is the primary way God communicates to us today and it is often refered to later in scripture as a sword. Another option is the Holy Spirit but that doesn’t fit with the frame, because you can’t “purchase” the Holy Spirit. What does everyone else think on this?

4 Responses to ' Sword Drill '

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  1.    Hannah Venable said,

    on March 3rd, 2009 at 8:26 am

    Alan, I was wondering the same thing!! At first, I assumed maybe Jesus just wanted them to use it for self-defense but you are right in saying that Jesus rebuked Peter when he did that.

    I hadn’t thought about the sword referring to the Word of God or to the Spirit. It seems like a stretch to me. But Matthew Henry, a puritan commentator, thinks that Jesus is referring to the Spirit. He states:

    “They [the disciples] must now expect that their enemies would be more fierce than they had been, and they would need weapons. At the time the apostles understood Christ to mean real weapons, but he spake only of the weapons of the spiritual warfare. The sword of the Spirit is the sword with which the disciples of Christ must furnish themselves.”

    I don’t know though. Ephesians hadn’t been written yet and so it is hard for me to believe that this is what Christ meant. Do you think that he wanted them to have a sword to fulfill what was supposed to happen? In other words, Peter was supposed to cut off that guy’s ear and through the miracle, the man later (probably) became a believer.

    Also, when Jesus says, “That is enough”, does that mean that two swords are enough or does it mean that that is enough of this conversation?

    Definitely a difficult section!


  2.    Alan Collins said,

    on March 4th, 2009 at 10:32 am

    I don’t think you can rule out the idea that the sword being referred to is the Holy Spirit simply because Ephesians 6 hadn’t been written yet. Remember that the word of the Lord is eternal and that God is unchanging.

    I am certain that God had not willed Peter to cut off the servants ear. Although in the fore knowledge that it was going to happen God may of used it to bring glory to Himself, just like he did with the sins of the Babylonians.

    Concerning Jesus’ statement “That is enough”. In Acts 1:6-7 Jesus doesn’t bother to correct the disciples who still see Jesus as a political messiah. Instead he realised that time was of the essence and proceeded to give the church for the great commission. Therefore, keeping in ind Jesus stand against Peter in Gethsemane we can be sure that Jesus didn’t mean “two swords should do it”, rather He was moving on in the conversation.

    So I’m still going along with the idea that Jesus is talking about the Bible or/and the Holy Spirit.

  3.    Hannah Venable said,

    on March 5th, 2009 at 9:24 am


    I certainly see the attractiveness in that position. I was reading up on John Calvin’s commentaries to see what he said about it. He agrees with you that Jesus is using metaphorical language but he doesn’t ascribe a particular function to the sword. Here is a quote:

    “And yet he does not call them to an outward conflict, but only, under the comparison of fighting, he warns them of the severe struggles of temptations which they must undergo, and of the fierce attacks which they must sustain in spiritual contests.”

    In other words, he uses the term swords to indicate how they will metaphorically have many spiritual battles to fight. “Things are going to be hard and you need to be prepared,” he might have been saying.

    You can read all Calvin’s thoughts on these verses here:

    It is easier for me to swallow that Jesus is using metaphorical language overall here and that he is not trying to refer to something specific with his use of sword. But I do think that it is hard to know for sure on these things.

    Thanks for dialoguing with me about this!


  4.    johncatmur said,

    on March 6th, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    Hi both, I reckon its unlikely that the sword reference was either ‘the bible’ (an anachronism) or the Spirit. Here’s why:

    The discussion is over being prepared as travellers to spread the gospel. It was common for travellers in the Roman world to carry swords for defence (note, not attack). So it fits culturally, even if we feel a little uncomfortable with Jesus sanction of any use of weapons. And if we say ‘it couldn’t be right cos Jesus elsewhere says turn the other cheek’, which of the two passages are we going to treat as authoritative, and why? Why not the other way round – that Jesus didn’t really mean us to turn the other cheek? Not easy.
    Paul’s ref to the Sword of the Spirit in ephesians is part of a string of metaphors, whereas Jesus shows no sign of speaking metaphorically here. We need to be aware what kind of literature and what modes of speech people are using in order to be faithful interpreters of God’s word.

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