Does Jesus Command His Followers to Take Up a Sword?

Responding to an anti-pacifist web page

What authority has the Christian freeman to keep and bear arms ?

The Lord Jesus Christ gave very clear instruction to His disciples in the upper room after the Last Supper. They were to be sent on a mission, and were to take with them certain things - moneybag, knapsack, and sword.

The Command of Christ

And He said to them, "When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?" So they said, "Nothing." Then He said to them, "But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: 'And He was numbered with the transgressors.' For the things concerning Me have an end." So they said, "Lord, look, here are two swords." And He said to them, "It is enough." -Luke 22:35-38

Vine & Fig Tree Responds

And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear. {52} Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into its place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
Matthew 26:51-52

This text in Luke has been discussed here.

There are some among those who profess Christianity that advocate the disarmament of all but the police and military. They will not be swayed by the fact that the Constitution of the United States of America regards the right to keep and bear arms as a pre-existent prerogative of a free people. So be it. But then, how do they interpret our Lord's charge to buy a sword? Vine & Fig Tree advocates disarmament of all including police and military.

The Constitution is not persuasive. The Constitution does not mention Jesus Christ. The Constitution was written by people who took up arms against officers of the British Empire, a clear violation of Romans 13. We are not made free and secure by guns, but by God.

The Myth of "National Security."

Most commentators take Christ at His word concerning the inoffensive provisions:

That the situation in which Christ's apostles would find themselves after his departure would indeed be different from what it was before follows also from the words found in the highpriestly prayer (John 17: 11-13). From now on these men will have to take the initiative. They will need to cultivate courage to a degree not expected of them before. Making provision for missionary travels, such as taking along a purse and a traveling bag, will now be necessary. THE NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY; by William Hendriksen

When it comes to the sword, however, many commentators refuse to accept the words of Christ in the same sense. Small Sword Image

Jesus's words on acquiring a sword (v. 36) should not be taken literally; they are a sign of the conflict and opposition which the disciples will face. Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, Elwell; 1989 Baker

These instructions are most certainly not to be taken literally, as the disciples at that time seemed to take them. The Layman's Bible Commentary

The truth of a passage is not to be determined by a majority vote of "the commentators."

Why was it that before Christ's arrest the disciples had no need for "purse and traveling bag?" Why is that after Christ's arrest they would?

Why is there absolutely no evidence in Scripture that the disciples actually carried swords, and no evidence that they ever used them? Why were they in jail all the time? Why were they beaten so frequently? Why is there no record of them defending themselves against Jewish persecution using a sword?

Could it be that Jesus was making another point, which the disciples did not understand until after His resurrection?

John 20:9 For as yet they knew not the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.
John 2:22 Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.

Some popular objections are :  

A Butcher Knife ?

Some insist that the two swords produced by the disciples in the upper room were not swords at all, but rather knives. This argument declares that these were two specific knives to be used in the preparation of the Passover lamb - one to slit the lamb's throat, and the other to carve the roasted lamb. Before this time the needs of the disciples had been supplied by others. Their hosts would do the cutting and carving of the meat. Now they will have to do this themselves. This argument ignors the fact that the Passover lamb was but a foreshadow of Christ's Sacrifice, and that the shadow passes away when the reality has come.

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many... For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect... Previously saying, "Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them" (which are offered according to the law), then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God." He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. -Hebrews 9:27-10:10

Christ was not commanding His disciples to sell their garment to buy a butcher knife. The Greek word used here is commonly used to describe the short sword, the standard close combat weapon of the era.


Greek 3162. machaira
makh'-ahee-rah; prob. fem. of a presumed der. of Grk 3163; a knife, i.e. dirk; fig. war, judicial punishment:-sword.
Greek 3163. mache
makh'-ay; from Grk 3164; a battle, i.e. (fig.) controversy:-fighting, strive, striving.

If the knapsack and moneybag are to be taken literally, should not the sword be treated the same? Certainly, the disciples would need courage to face the events of the next 24 hours, but the admonition to sell one's cloak in order to buy a sword had to do with trials to be faced beyond the immediate future. Would the disciples need a moneybag and knapsack at Gethsemane? At the praetorium?

Notice that the command to take provision is referenced to their previous mission. They were being told that in the future they would not be received warmly as they had been before, but rather would be considered as transgressors. They were warned to provide proper equipment to deal with contingencies. Christ has given those who are His a commission -

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. -Matthew 28:18-20

This commission is in nature the same as the previous one - to preach the Kingdom of God. But, whereas He sent His disciples out unprovisioned in the former, He stipulates that provision for contingencies be made in the latter. The fact that He (and His) would thenceforth be counted as "transgressors" was well understood by the early church. They suffered great tribulation at the hands of both the religious and civil authorities of the day. They would have need of the things Jesus told them to acquire. Through their perseverance, and the power of God, the gospel of the Kingdom was spread to the ends of the earth.

No, it's not a knife. It's the same weapon brought by the Jews against Jesus:

And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.
Matthew 26:47

(As far as the Passover goes, the disciples observed the passover until AD70 and the destruction of the Jewish system.)

Notice that at least one disciple already had a sword:

And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.
Matthew 26:51  (actually, at least two swords were in possession of the disciples -- Luke 22:38)

Others may have had swords, and were ready to use them against Judas and the Jews:

When those around Him saw what was going to happen, they said to Him, "Lord, shall we strike with the sword?" {50} And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear.
Luke 22:49-50

Jesus denounced this act of "self-defense." (See top of page.)

John says that the one who used the sword was Peter

Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus. {11} So Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?"
John 18:10-11

Peter's use of swords to "defend" the Messiah was completely out of character with Christ and His Mission. Peter had already been rebuked for this attitude:

From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. {22} Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!" {23} But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." {24} Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. {25} "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. {26} "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? {27} "For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. {28} "Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."
Matthew 16:21-28

After His Resurrection, Peter better understood the teachings of our Savior (1 Peter 2:18ff.). The early church did not take up swords. As the web page at left admits, "they suffered" martyrdom (see highlighted portion).

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Prophecy Fulfilled

Some would argue for a literal interpretation of the sword, but that the sword was required only at Gethsemane - not to be used, but seen only as a fulfillment of prophesy.

Jesus said that two swords would be enough (v. 38), though these would hardly have been adequate to defend the entire group against an arresting party. Did he mean that the possession of the weapons would technically place him among transgressors, and thus fulfill the letter of the prophecy quoted from Isa 53:12 ? The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Moody Bible Institute, 1962

Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors. -Isaiah 53:12

Apart from the fact that the command to buy a sword was given in connection with a future sending out (apostello), the prophesy quoted from Isaiah is fulfilled AT THE CROSS, with Christ being crucified between two lawbreakers. It is at the cross that Christ poured out His soul unto death, where He was numbered among the transgressors, where He bore the sin of many, where He made intercession for the transgressors.

"For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: 'And He was numbered with the transgressors.' For the things concerning Me have an end." -Luke 22:37

Notice, please, that Christ Jesus says that the prophesy must yet be ACCOMPLISHED in Him. Was this completed at Gesthemane or the cross? Was the end, the goal, the purpose - His arrest - or His atoning death?

The argument for the sword as being necessary for the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy is false. The atonement on the cross fulfills the prophecy. The theological school that sees Peter's sword as being prophesied in Isaiah has molded the text to suit their assumption, ignoring the fact that the focus of both Isaiah and Christ Jesus is His crucifixion between two transgressors, shedding His blood at Calvary to discharge a debt not His own, paying the price for our transgression.


The Wycliffe Bible Commentary is correct in noting that "two swords would be enough (v. 38), though these would hardly have been adequate to defend the entire group against an arresting party." The web page at left does not seem to have an adequate suggestion as to why Jesus said two swords would be "enough." (As we have shown elsewhere, Jesus was actually saying "I've had enough" with disciples who didn't understand His mission, and couldn't stay awake long enough to suffer with Him).

Jesus cites the text from Isaiah. It is silly to say that it was not being fulfilled in the events that were transpiring in Gethemane. The entire process of being "numbered" among the transgressors includes His arrest, trial, and punishment.

And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. {52} But Jesus said to him, "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. {53} "Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? {54} "How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?" {55} In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, "Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me. {56} "But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.
Matthew 26:51-56

At the Cross Jesus said "It is finished." But he was arrested in Gesthemane, and "numbered among the transgressors," "that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." This argument does not deny the centrality of what happened at the Cross, but that was not the only place spoken of by Isaiah.

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A Figurative Sword?

Christian leaders of our day have no problem taking Christ's command to secure moneybag and knapsack literally. They are quick to admonish their congregations to provide for their family, and especially for the needs of the church. When it comes to the sword, however, these same men refuse to believe Christ meant what He said.

Jesus's words on acquiring a sword (v. 36) should not be taken literally; they are a sign of the conflict and opposition which the disciples will face. Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, Elwell; 1989 Baker

These instructions are most certainly not to be taken literally, as the disciples at that time seemed to take them. The Layman's Bible Commentary

Some say Christ was speaking of the "sword of the Spirit" mentioned by Paul in his Epistle to the Ephesians. In the passage cited, however, Paul is consistently metaphorical and self explanatory, i.e. "the breastplate of righteousness...the shield of faith...the helmet of salvation...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;" -Eph 6:14-17. Christ did not say "take the moneybag of tax exempt status, the knapsack of frequent flyer miles". He spoke of a literal sword.

Hendriksen appeals to verse 38 "It is enough." Those who reject the literal interpretation of the sword read a rebuke into this phrase.

"So 38. `They said, Lord, look here are two swords!' As if Jesus had been talking about the necessity of having and using literal swords! No wonder that his answer is curt and decisive: `He said to them, Enough of that !' This reply prevents any further conversation about that subject." THE NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY; by William Hendriksen

THE INTERPRETER'S BIBLE, Pierce & Smith 1952, dissents:

The disciples took Jesus literally and any hypothesis that they were mistaken is too subtle to be probable. 'It is enough' was His comment that their resources were adequate for their immediate needs.

as does Lenski in his INTERPRETATION OF ST. LUKES GOSPEL, p.1068

So Jesus tells the apostles to buy a Roman short sword, if necessary, even at the price of their outer robe. It is better to freeze at night than to be killed...(t)he language is not figurative...The injunctions are concrete and simply use specific examples to indicate a complete course of conduct.



No, Jesus was not talking about a figurative sword, but He was speaking figuratively about a literal sword. When He said sell your clothes to buy a sword, He didn't really mean to sell one's clothes and walk naked through Palestine with a literal sword, or even "the sword of the Spirit." When He said "you'll need a sword," He was only indicating that rough times were ahead, not that the disciples should literally buy and use swords.

Arguments about the words in this passage will probably not convince the unconvinced. It is a broader world-and-life-view that is playing on the text.

On another page I have excoriated John Calvin for his use of the sword against fellow Christians. Calvin was no pacifist, he was as much a murderer as Saul of Tarsus (the Apostle Paul). But Calvin agrees that this passage in Luke does not support the use of the sword:

In metaphorical language He threatens that they will soon meet with great troubles and fierce attacks; just as when a general, intending to lead the soldiers into the field of battle, calls them to arms, and orders them to lay aside every other care, and think of nothing else than fighting, not even to take any thought about procuring food. For He shows them -- as is usually done in cases of extreme danger -- that every thing must be sold, even to the scrip and the purse, in order to supply them with arms. And yet He does not call them to an outward conflict, but only, under the comparison of fighting, He warns them of the sever struggles of temptations which they must undergo, and of the fierce attacks which they must sustain in spiritual contests.

It was truly shameful and stupid ignorance, that the disciples, after having been so often informed about bearing the cross, imagine that they must fight with swords of iron. When they say that they have two swords, it is uncertain whether they mean that they are well prepared against their enemies, or complain that they are ill provided with arms. It is evident, at least, that they were so stupid as not to think of a spiritual enemy.

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Christian = Pacifist?

Christian pacifism has been around for a long time. Those who hold this position say that the teachings of Christ deny to Christians the use of force. This is patently false. While it is true that Christians are not to seek revenge of personal indignity, it is easily shown that God has ordained the sword in the cause of justice, in the defense of the weak, in judgment of wicked nations, and even in chastisement of His own people.



Pacifism may be false, but it is not "patently false." The outlines of Christian pacifism may be found here.

God has indeed "ordained" the sword, but those who use the sword are condemned by God. God sends evil, and judges those whom He sends to commit evil.

So David inquired of the LORD, saying, "Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hand?" And the LORD said to David, "Go up, for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into your hand." -2 Sam 5:19

God commanded Israel to execute the inhabitants of the Promised Land. They were guilty of crimes worthy of death. Their crimes polluted the land, and it was necessary to shed their blood to make atonement, and cleanse the land of their bloodguiltiness.

Leviticus 18:24-30 Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: {25} And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. {26} Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: {27} (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;) {28} That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. {29} For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. {30} Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God.

Numbers 35:33-34 'So you shall not pollute the land where you are; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it. {34} 'Therefore do not defile the land which you inhabit, in the midst of which I dwell; for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.'"

It is no longer possible to make atonement by shedding the blood of Philistines, Mexicans, or commies. The only blood with any efficacy is that shed by Christ on Calvary. Find out more here.

And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, "Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses." -Neh 4:14

Nehemiah 4:13 Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows.

These two verses can be justified based on the necessity to shed blood in cases of capital crimes. Such bloodshed can no longer be justified. There is absolutely no evidence that Christians in the New Testament were armed with their swords, their spears, and their bows at any time prior to Constantine's "conversion" and reign.

'O house of David! Thus says the LORD: Execute judgment in the morning; And deliver him who is plundered Out of the hand of the oppressor, Lest My fury go forth like fire And burn so that no one can quench it, Because of the evil of your doings. -Jer 21:12

There are many ways to deliver the oppressed from the oppressor (Job 29:17; Ps 82:4; Pr 24:11,12; 31:8,9; Isa 1:17; Lu 18:3-5). Use of lethal force is never necessary. It is better to give one's own life than take the life of another.

It is God who arms me with strength, And makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of deer, And sets me on my high places. He teaches my hands to make war, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze...
I have pursued my enemies and overtaken them; Neither did I turn back again till they were destroyed...
For You have armed me with strength for the battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me. You have also given me the necks of my enemies, So that I destroyed those who hated me. They cried out, but there was none to save; Even to the LORD, but He did not answer them. Then I beat them as fine as the dust before the wind; I cast them out like dirt in the streets. -Psalm 18:32-42

What is supposed to be the New Testament analogue to this passage? The Spanish Inquisition? Where do we see Christ and the Apostles employing this strategy?

David is operating under the "Holy War" paradigm, which called for Israel to cleanse the land by shedding the blood of covenant-breaking nations. That paradigm no longer holds.

I challenge the author of that web page to list one post-Cross example of justifiable sword-bearing and execution. It won't be the American Revolution of 1776.

Then Moses sent them to the war, one thousand from each tribe; he sent them to the war with Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, with the holy articles and the signal trumpets in his hand. And they warred against the Midianites, just as the LORD commanded Moses, and they killed all the males. They killed the kings of Midian with the rest of those who were killed-Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Midian. Balaam the son of Beor they also killed with the sword. -Numbers 31:6-8

More discussion of why the Holy War paradigm no longer applies is found here.

Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people...Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand." And he gave him a tithe of all. -Genesis 14:14-20

Kidnapping required the shedding of blood (Deut. 24:7).

The New Testament records the conversion of thousands (Acts 2:41; 4:4; 21:20). Surely their numbers were sufficient that when the apostles were kidnapped --

Acts 16:22-23 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. {23} And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely:

-- jailed on false charges -- oppressed and unfairly condemned (see verses above) -- they could have been sprung by thousands of well-armed Christians, just as when Lot had been kidnapped by a nearby civil magistrate.

No, God had other ideas:

Acts 16:26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.

Then Deborah said to Barak, "Up! For this is the day in which the LORD has delivered Sisera into your hand. Has not the LORD gone out before you?" So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men following him. And the LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army with the edge of the sword before Barak; and Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot. -Jdgs 4:14-15

Judges brought salvation to God's people. In this case, "The stars in their courses fought against Sisera (a Baalistic ruler)." (Judges 5:24) "The stars" refer to the angels. The angels are amazed at the salvation which Christ has brought (1 Peter 1:12; Ephesians 3:10). It is not brought about by swords.
God is not a pacifist !

The LORD is a man of war; The LORD is His name. Pharaoh's chariots and his army He has cast into the sea; His chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea. -Exodus 15:3-4

The word "pacifism" is derived from the Latin word for "peace." Jesus is the "Prince of Peace." If God is so crazy about war, and we are to be holy as He is holy, then why didn't Jesus say "Blessed are the warmakers"? Other than this one mysterious verse in Luke, spoken to a band of disciples who had shown themselves virtually incapable of understanding the Savior's teachings, spoken to a band of followers who were going to desert the Captain of their Salvation in mere moments, is there one other verse in the New Testament which encourages Christians to take up arms?
Christ revealed as Commander of the LORD's army ...

And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, "Are You for us or for our adversaries?" So He said, "No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, "What does my Lord say to His servant?" Then the Commander of the LORD'S army said to Joshua, "Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy." And Joshua did so. Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in. And the LORD said to Joshua: "See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. -Joshua 5:13-6:2

The "Lord's Army" revealed to Joshua is not something Christians can enlist in. There are no more "holy wars" after the Cross.

Jesus, as commander of the army of the Lord, took vengeance on Israel, according to His sermon on the Mount of Olives, and His revelation to John. (See J Stuart Russell, The Parousia.) The disciples never did this, nor are we to engage in similar Holy War. "Vengeance is Mine," saith the Lord.

assaulting moneychangers ...

Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, "Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!" Then His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up." -John 2:13-17

This anti-pacifist web page is now engaging in a typical strategy: throw out all kinds of verses which play on people's emotions, and smother any chance for thoughtful, critical analysis.

Jesus did not use lethal force to expel those who were polluting His House. This passage cannot justify using lethal force to defend your own house. A fortiori it cannot justify my stealing money from you to defend my own house (which is what the State does). Even more so, if some foreign dictator threatens to raise my gas prices, this passage cannot justify your confiscating money from me to retaliate against a foreign dictator by destroying a million peasants over whom this dictator arbitrarily claims "jurisdiction."

and Conquering King !

Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. -Rev 19:11-16

This passage refers to Christ's judgment of Israel. Christ used the Roman military to judge Israel. Any Christian who decided to take vengeance on the Jews would have been sinning. No Christians are recorded as having done so. This passage does not justify taking up arms in our day.
Most Christian pacifists cite Christ's words from the Sermon on the Mount, "turn the other your enemies" to justify their position. They conveniently ignore Biblical injunctions to defend the defenseless, uphold justice, provide for one's family, etc. One who truly seeks to do the will of God must find common ground in these seemingly incompatible mandates. As someone who has been going to court to "defend the oppressed" for over 20 years, I find no contradiction between attempting to persuade a persecutor or oppressor to stop his threatened violence, and following the commands of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount. I find "common ground" in these commands by leaving vengeance to God, and being willing to risk my own life in the defense of others. A gun-slinging machismo is not Biblical.

The Christians at the Elim Mission Station in Rhodesia were such convinced pacifists that, even within a few kilometres of Marxist Mozambique during a vicious war they refused to be armed. They had neither a fence nor dogs to protect them. They refused to allow the security forces to station some guards for their protection. When terrorists visited Elim the missionaries provided them with food and medical supplies. One fateful night ZANLA guerillas herded the 9 missionaries and 4 children onto one of the fields. Then in front of the parents they hacked the children to death. Then in front of the husbands they raped and tortured the women to death. Finally they brutally murdered the men. Yet so effectively had their pacifist doctrine neutralised them that there was no attempt at resistance. The men stood by and watched ruthless terrorists butcher their loved ones. Peter Hammond, SECURITY AND SURVIVAL IN UNSTABLE TIMES; Claremont RSA, United Christian Action; p.12

Jesus says we are to give food and drink (and, by extension, medical supplies) to our enemies. It doesn't sound like Mr. Hammond agrees with Jesus.

Anyone who thinks 9 missionaries and 4 children can ultimately defend themselves against an army is a fool. This kind of thinking was seen in Waco, Texas. I would rather die like Christ -- not "defending myself," but giving my life for my enemies' -- than die trying to kill others. Hundreds of thousands of Christians have been murdered in the pagan outposts of Africa. If a Marxist army wants to kill you and your fellow missionaries, you are dead meat unless God miraculously intervenes. Why bother killing a few Marxists on your way out?

There may have been "no attempt at resistance" using iron swords or M-16's, but obviously there had been intense spiritual resistance, or the Marxists would have allowed the missionaries to live. Marxists were confronted with the image of Christ, and they treated the missionaries as they would have treated Christ, and the missionaries followed Christ's example. "Neutralized?" I don't think so.

Who knows what seeds were planted by the deaths of those pacifist missionaries?

Read more: The Sinfulness of Anti-Pacifistic Abstractions

Did Christ wish His disciples to allow an aggressor to torture, rape, and murder without fear of being brought to justice? Shall the Christian offer no resistance when innocents are brutalized? Will you stand passively while your wife and children suffer atrocities at the hand of the wicked? If so, you have misunderstood Christ's intent. Lots of questions. See John Howard Yoder's book, What Would You Do If . . . . Did Christ wish His Roman persecutors to torture and murder the Sinless Son of God without fear of being brought to justice? Then why did He not put the fear of God into them with a hidden dagger, a violent outburst, or with the orchestrated resistance of thousands of His followers? Why did Peter tell us to "follow in His [pacifistic] steps" (1 Peter 2:21)? Shall the Christian offer no resistance when innocents are brutalized? We resist with the Word of God. We proclaim the holiness and mercy of God. We allow God to save our attacker, but we will not take the life of an attacker merely to preserve our own life. Will you stand passively while your wife and children suffer atrocities at the hand of the wicked? If so, you have misunderstood Christ's intent. Did Christ "stand by passively" while He suffered atrocities at the hand of the wicked? Fine, then so will I. And I hope I will be attacked because I am guilty of assaulting the gospel of violence preached by "Christians," Nazis, Marxists, and others who reject the teachings and example of the Prince of Peace.

Like a muddied spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked. -Prov 25:26

Jesus did not "give way" to the wicked just because He did not take up arms against a pagan empire. The one who refuses to follow the docile patriotic crowd obeying the orders of the murderous state is the one who stands his ground. Those missionaries in Africa demonstrated far more faith than the armchair soldier who insults pacifists and dutifully pays his war taxes. The coward who picks up a gun simply because Janet Reno orders him to is a dog and an adulterer who makes Christ puke (James 4:4; Revelation 22:15; 3:16).
Christ was addressing the attitude of the heart in His Sermon on the Mount. We are to go the "extra mile" in avoiding conflict. We are not to take personal insult or offense as justification for retaliation. We are not to hate those who despitefully use us. It is entirely possible, though not according to our fallen nature, to obey Christ in all these things.

One may ignore personal insult, yet retain Christian dignity. The Christian may uphold justice without demanding "an eye for an eye". One may defend the defenseless without undue cruelty toward the evildoer.

Christ was not just addressing the attitude of the heart. He was addressing concrete actions. Just as pacifists are accused of "spiritualizing" the sword in Luke 22, the pro-war crowd spiritualizes Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus says when a soldier in a Marxist occupational army orders you to carry his weapons for a mile, you should carry his weapons two miles. It isn't just acting like Emily Post when insulted, it means giving money and slave labor to anti-Christian guerillas who act on behalf of a despotic regime dedicated to overturning the rule of law.

It is taught among us that all government in the world and all established rule and laws were instituted and ordained by God for the sake of good order, and that Christians may without sin occupy civil offices or serve as princes and judges, render decisions and pass sentence according to imperial and other existing laws, punish evildoers with the sword, engage in just wars, serve as soldiers, buy and sell, take required oaths, possess properties, be married, etc... -Augsburg Confession Article XVI

There is no such thing as a "just war."

John the Baptists accurately prophesied the impossible requirements of God's Law to soldiers in his day:

And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man,
Luke 3:14

Christians repelled the invasions of the Moors and Turks, else Islam's doctrine of annihilation of the Infidel would have succeeded. During the Reformation era Christians with force of arms resisted antichrist forces and the gospel was restored. Oliver Cromwell's Christian "New Model Army" used the sword to depose a tyrannical monarchy and establish the first parliamentary republic placing even the Crown under the rule of law. As the "Black Regiment" preached liberty and resistance to tyranny from the pulpits of the colonies, American Christians took their muskets and sabers and established a Christian nation from which the gospel has been spread throughout the world.

Christians have faced antichrist forces throughout history. We shall do battle with the enemy till the Commander returns...

He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. -Rev 13:10

Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war...He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS... And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh. -Rev 19:11-21

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Last update - Saturday, Jan 9, 1999 - 9:38:42 PM
"Christians repelled the invasions of the Romans, else' Rome's doctrine of Man the Measure of All Things would have succeeded."

God sends Romans and Muslims to nations that think they're Christian.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: {4} (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) {5} Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Cromwell did not pull down strongholds, and the monarchy resumed power, later to give birth to the American revolution, and the death of a quarter of a million people.

The idea that Christ our Commander cannot carry out His Great Commission without resorting to arms is the doctrine of AntiChrist. The idea that His Glory must wait for a second coming is a denial that Jesus is the Christ. We explain why here. In a nutshell, it says that Christ was not made fully King. It says that the power of our muskets is greater than the power of the Holy Spirit to convert or the Hand of God to rescue.

Rejecting the pacifism of the Sermon on the Mount, Romans 12, and in 1 Peter 2, is the cause of tyranny and war in our day. Over the last century, those who do not believe in pacifism have murdered on average over 10,000 people every single day. Humanists have proposed murdering an additional 15,000 per hour in order to further their goals of global dictatorship. People who carry out the orders of the United Nations, as in Vietnam and the Gulf War, are people who lack the guts to be pacifists. It doesn't take much guts to depersonalize "the enemy" and pull the hi-tech trigger. It takes guts to go to the Cross. It takes faith to trust God while watching non-pacifists light fellow believers on fire.

Above all, it takes a "paradigm shift" to see through the myths of the principalities and powers of the Old Age.

That shift can begin here.

Jesus and Swords: John W. Whitehead Responds

The Christmas Conspiracy




Vine & Fig Tree

Paradigm Shift


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