Commentary Collapse: The Armed Apostles

Wherein Jesus instructs his apostles to go about armed for their personal protection: 

And he said to them, “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.” (Luke 22:35-38 ESV)

Wherein the apostles are now going about armed. (just incase anyone thought the "sword" was metaphorical in the above text):

While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. (Luke 22:47-51 ESV)

There's a lot going on in these passages about the use and non-use of violence by Christians in certain circumstances. I'm not addressing any of it here.

The only point I want to make is simply that Jesus clearly instructed the Apostles to go about armed, and that they clearly followed that instruction. That's just the plain reading, and really should be a minor, uncontroversial point of fact. 

But then, when I start cracking open big-name commentaries on Luke 22, I see commentators jumping through hoops to dismiss the idea that they should carry actual swords, and insisting that Jesus was only being figurative. Why? I see zero evidence of this in the plain reading. Quite to the contrary. 

I have my suspicions as to the cause, though.  Fear. Fear of sounding like a Crusader. Fear that the the Sword of the Spirit would be left on the nightstand. Fear of being thought impious or common among one's peers. Mostly I see a knee-jerk reaction to the sins and brutality of the middle ages. I get it. But, still...

What the text says, and what we should take from it are two different discussions.  Let's not pretend.