Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
November 12, 1997
Last Updated :
February 25, 2018
Sword Incident In The Garden Of Gethsemane, Does Gethsemane Justify Christians Keeping And Using Weapons?, Was The Lord Condoning Violence By Christians?, Two Swords To Protect All Of Them?, "It Is Enough", Jesus Had To Fulfill His Father's Will, Malchus: The Depth Of God's Love Patience And Mercy, Love Your Enemies, By This Shall All Men Know, The Apostles Were Spared, Our Spiritual Warfare, Violent Religions: Islam And Roman Catholicism, Violence Is Not The Answer, Christians Should Not Ever Resort To Violence, We Are Not Of This World, Spiritual Weapons Of Our Warfare, As Lambs To The Slaughter, Obey And Submit To Higher Powers, Conclusion, Reading List
Continuing our discussion from part one, some people have questioned the incident which occurred in the twenty-second chapter of the Gospel of Luke -- which I shared with you in part one -- where after the Last Supper, Jesus instructed His Disciples to sell their garment, and to purchase a sword in its place. In response, we are told that the Disciples then presented Jesus with two swords, to which the Lord said "It is enough". This same story can be found in several of the other Gospels as well.
In our recent online discussions regarding the very tragic school shooting which took place on February 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a number of gun-owning Christians have pointed to this exact incident in the Gospels, and used it as their justification for owning and using firearms. So what is going on here? Is this really the message which we are supposed to understand from the incident in the Garden of Gethsemane? Was the Lord condoning Christians taking up weapons against their enemies? This certainly seems to be how the Phinehas Priesthood had interpreted these Scriptures during the mid-1990s when they engaged in acts of violence throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Well, to be honest, many years ago when I was still young in our Christian faith, and before I had gained more wisdom and understanding regarding God's Word, it did in fact seem to me that Jesus was condoning the Disciples possessing swords. You see, because I was not yet properly grounded in the Bible, I was not aware of what some other verses stated. As a result, I arrived at an erroneous conclusion. Furthermore, I would dare say that this is precisely what some of my Christian brethren are doing today, in regards to the Second Amendment and the American right to keep and bare arms.
However, thankfully, through the passage of years, and as a result of my continued study of the Scriptures, I have now gained some new insight regarding the lessons I believe we are supposed to learn from the incident in Gethsemane. You have to admit that if we just look at this incident on the surface, there is something a little strange about it. First the Lord tells His followers to obtain swords, and then He turns around and admonishes them to not use them. Why even obtain them in the first place then?
Think about this for a moment. At that time, there were the Twelve Apostles, not to mention the seventy other Disciples whom Jesus had sent out on the road to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom. Then, of course, the Lord had other followers such as the women. If Jesus really meant for them to arm themselves to the hilt so that they could defend themselves against their Roman and Jewish enemies, why would He tell them "It is enough" after they had only acquired two swords? Obviously, two swords would not have been enough to properly defend all of them -- not even the Twelve -- against a band of Roman soldiers, or against an angry mob. In fact, I also suspect that if they had just acquired one sword, the Lord would still have said "It is enough". Let me tell you why I feel this way.
First of all, we know from the Scriptures that one reason why Jesus prevented His followers from committing further violence in the Garden of Gethsemane, is because He had to fulfill God's Will by dying on the Cross. This is quite evident from the verses which I shared with you at the end of part one. But then we have Jesus healing the ear of the servant of the High Priest after Peter had cut it off. In doing this, Jesus was sending a clear message regarding the depth of His Father's love, patience and mercy for and with a lost and dying world; including for pagans such as the Romans who had a plethora of gods and goddesses. The act of healing Malchus would in fact reinforce one of the lessons that Jesus had taught them all along, which is revealed in the following verses:
"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;"
Matthew 5:44, KJV
"Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
Matthew 22:36-40, KJV
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
John 13:34-35, KJV
"This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you . . . These things I command you, that ye love one another."
John 15:12, 17, KJV
On a practical level, and possibly as a secondary reason, Jesus probably realized that the Apostles with their two swords were no match for the angry mob who had come out to apprehend Him. In fact, we know that once the mob had the Lord in their hands, the Apostles quickly fled the scene. So they weren't nearly as brave as they thought they were. Peter even went on to betray the Lord. Thus, by preventing more bloodshed on that night, Jesus had spared their lives so that they could go out into the world and fulfill their mission as His messengers.
However, I think that there is an even more valuable lesson which the Lord wanted to teach them by allowing the sword incident to occur in Gethsemane that night. That lesson had to do with the spiritual nature of their warfare, and the fact that they -- and we, by extension -- were not supposed to take up arms of any kind. In other words, new Disciples would be won, and the Early Church would grow, through the example of their love, dedication, perseverance and self sacrifice; unlike Roman Catholicism and Islam which would force people to convert at the edge of a sword centuries later. We all know about the so-called "Christian" Crusades and the various Inquisitions. I discuss these topics more at length in articles such as "Pontifex Maximus: Pagan High Priest to Roman Catholic Pope" and "Holy Qur'an and Islam: A Doctrine of Devils?".
As Jesus Himself had said that night "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?". So it is evident that the reason why He told the Apostles to purchase swords was not for matters of defense at all. It was to teach them the exact opposite. He had to demonstrate to them through an unforgettable, physical example, that violence was not the way or the answer. Love was, and is, the way. He obediently went to the slaughter, and some of them eventually went to the slaughter. Furthermore, some of our Christian brethren today are likewise going to the slaughter, such as in some Muslim lands. But our reward is coming.
This one incident in the Garden of Gethsemane aside, every other verse that is found in the New Testament indicates that we are not to resort to any form of physical violence in order to defend ourselves, or even to fight against any government which we deem to be ungodly. As some of you will already know, and as I have stated so many times before, we are constantly told in the Scriptures that we are not of this world and that our Kingdom is not of this world. Please consider the following verses which make this point so clear:
"If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."
John 15:19, KJV
"I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil."
John 17:14-15, KJV
"Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence."
John 18:36, KJV
"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,"
2 Corinthians 6:17, KJV
"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."
Colossians 3:1-2, KJV
"No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."
2 Timothy 2:4, KJV
"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
James 4:4, KJV
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."
1 John 2:15-16, KJV
"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city."
Hebrews 11:13-16, KJV
As we clearly learn in a number of the Epistles which are found in the New Testament, our weapons are of a spiritual nature, because our real enemies -- that is, the Devil and his demons -- are spiritual beings who influence the minds of men, including our own. Thus, we are instructed to put on the Armor of God, and fight the good fight of faith. This is our one and only real battle as citizens of the Kingdom of God. So please leave the wars of the world, and resistance to ungodly governments, to the children of the world, and have no part in it, because that is not what God has called any of us to do. Please consider the following verses:
"(For THE WEAPONS OF OUR WARFARE ARE NOT CARNAL, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 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 10:4-5, KJV
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;"
Ephesians 6:10-18, KJV
"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses."
1 Timothy 6:12, KJV
"Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."
2 Timothy 2:3-4, KJV
"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:"
2 Timothy 4:7, KJV
"Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin."
Hebrews 12:4, KJV
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
Hebrews 4:12, KJV
"Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:"
Ephesians 2:2, KJV
To reiterate one of the main points of this current article, we Christians are not supposed to own weapons of any kind -- such as firearms -- and we are not supposed to engage in the physical warfare of this present world. We are supposed to be peacemakers -- and not warmongers -- who strive to bring peace between God and man, by way of the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. We find further evidence of this Biblical truth in the following verses:
"For though we walk in the flesh, WE DO NOT WAR AFTER THE FLESH:"
2 Corinthians 10:3, KJV
"Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God."
Psalms 20:7, KJV
"If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men."
Romans 12:18, KJV
Let me also remind you that in Matthew chapter twenty-four, the Lord admonished His followers that when they saw the Abomination of Desolation standing in the Holy Place in Jerusalem, they should flee to the mountains. Jesus did not instruct them to stay and fight against their persecutors, that being the Romans. Consider the following two verses:
"When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:"
Matthew 24:15-16, KJV
So again we see that we are not supposed to engage in any kind of physical warfare against the world. That means not even against our own oppressive governments. To believe otherwise is to contradict what we are actually taught by Jesus and the Apostles. My friends, there are so many verses which support this pacifistic view that I cannot possibly list them all here. If Jesus was brought as a Lamb to the slaughter, and if we are to follow His example, how can we possibly justify lifting up a hand against those people who may persecute us now, or sometime in the future? We are to faithfully go to our deaths knowing that a glorious reward awaits those who die for the cause of Christ, just as those Saints did who are listed in that great record of Biblical heroes, Hebrews chapter eleven. Consider the following verses:
"Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints."
Psalms 116:15, KJV
"Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."
Revelation 2:10, KJV
Returning to the Phinehas Priesthood, based solely on what the Scriptures tell us, I am convinced that said group was sincerely misguided, just as I believe some of my Christian brethren today are also misguided regarding their intention to rise up against a tyrannical American government, should that day ever arrive. According to God's New Covenant in the New Testament, there is no way they can justify any violent actions, regardless of how wrong the current worldly systems may be. By changing men's hearts and spirits through their voluntary acceptance of Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, this is how we fight against the forces of Satan. Mental and spiritual change must come first, and physical change will hopefully follow afterwards.
Let me also remind you that according to the Scriptures, we Christians are supposed to obey the powers that be, because they have been placed there by God. If they are wrong, God will deal with them in His own chosen time. In fact, Jesus and the Apostles Peter and Paul clearly inform us that not only are we Christians supposed to submit ourselves to the ruling authorities of this present world -- or higher powers as the Apostle Paul refers to them -- but they also inform us that it is the government in authority which is supposed to bear arms, keep the peace, and punish the evil doers. It should be obvious to you that this includes dealing with the mentally unstable people who have engaged in horrible mass shootings over the past thirty years or so. These tasks are not the responsibility of the normal citizenry, and they are most certainly not the responsibility of we Christians. We are not supposed to take such matters into our own hands. Consider the following set of verses which confirm these various points:
"Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing."
Matthew 5:25-26, KJV
"They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's."
Matthew 22:21, KJV
"And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marvelled at him."
Mark 12:17, KJV
"And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's."
Luke 20:25, KJV
"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake."
Romans 13:1-5, KJV
"These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee. Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men."
Titus 2:15-3:2, KJV
"Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king."
1 Peter 2:11-17, KJV
According to the Scriptures, the only time we should disobey the laws of man is when they are in direct conflict with the Laws of God. For example, Jesus instructed His followers to preach the Gospel. As His modern emissaries, if the ruling authorities try to tell us to shut up, or to stop winning souls, that is clearly something by which we cannot abide. In such a case, we will have to do as Peter did in the Book of Acts and say the following. However, if we are going to do this, then we need to make sure that we are prepared in our hearts to endure whatever consequences may result from our decision to resist the system. According to your faith:
". . . We ought to obey God rather than men."
Acts 5:29, KJV
With these thoughts I will bring this article to a close. I trust that you have enjoyed it, learned something from it, and I pray that it has been a blessing in your life. If you have an account with Facebook, Twitter or Google+, I would really appreciate if you would take the time to click on the corresponding link that is found on this page. Thank you so very much! May God bless you abundantly!
For additional information, you may want to refer to the list of reading resources below which contain topics which are related to this article. All of these articles are likewise located on the Bill's Bible Basics website:
Civil Disobedience and Christian Persecution
Divine Protection: Do You Have Fear or Faith?
Don't Ever Underestimate Our Spiritual Enemy
God of Peace, God of War
Holy Qur'an and Islam: A Doctrine of Devils?
Killing, Murder and Military Duty
Oh Israel, Why Will Ye Die?
Owning Guns: What Saith the Scriptures?
Pontifex Maximus: Pagan High Priest to Roman Catholic Pope
School Shootings: The Second Amendment Controversy
The Children of God and Politics
The Fruits of Disobedience
The Royal Law: Thou Shalt Love
You've Got It Wrong: Submit and Live!