Vol. 4, No. 1
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(Carolina Messenger, Vol. 8, #10, Oct. 2001)
This short article does not address all the issues of this controversial question. But, it does raise a point that those who are opposed to Christians bearing arms need to address.
The Greeks had two words for sword. The first was rhomphaia which referred to the great Thracian battle sword. This was a large offensive weapon. The second word was machomai which referred to a small sword or dagger. In our modern world the assault rifle would be the equivalent to the rhomphaia and the sidearm or revolver would be the equivalent to the machomai.
In Luke 22:35-36 we have the record of Jesus in the upper room referring to the limited commission (Matthew 10:5-11) and asking his disciples "when I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing?" They replied "Nothing." He then went on and "said ... unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword [machomai], let him sell his garment, and buy one." Notice when sending them to their own brethren in their own land, where they would be relatively safe, he told them to not take purse, (money bag), knapsack (clothes bag) or extra tunics, sandals, or staffs. But when he sent them to the whole world, where they would not be safe, to preach the Gospel to every creature, he told them that they would have to take purse, knapsack and a short sword which was used for self-protection.
It turned out that two of them were armed with the short sword at the Passover meal. We know this because they responded to his instruction to go out and buy swords if they didn't have any with "Lord, behold, here are two swords" (v. 38). It is interesting to note that Jesus didn't get offended by the fact that they had come to the Passover meal armed.
Now the important question for us today is, "What were the apostles to use their swords for?" While Luke does not record Jesus explaining what the purpose was, from other Scriptures and from the type of the sword he told them to go out and buy, we can find the answer.
First of all, unlike Mohammedism, Christianity was not to be spread with the physical sword but with "The sword of the spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:17). This sword is a spiritual sword because as Jesus' servants in this world 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" (Ephesians 6:12). This spiritual war sword is "the word of God" which "is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged 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).
Secondly, the sword he told them to go out and buy was the machomai which was a short sword used for personal defense. He did not tell them to go out and buy a rhomphaia which was an offensive weapon.
Why would Jesus tell his disciples to buy a weapon of personal protection if they didn't own one unless he meant for them to take it with them and use it if necessary? From this we can conclude that it is not only OK for a Christian to be armed with a form of personal protection, but that when a Christian is going where his life might be in jeopardy he is enjoined by Jesus to, in fact, go armed.
My Servants The Prophets,Vols. 1 & 2