Why Did Jesus Ask for Swords?

Luke 22:36


He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one… The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “That’s enough!” he replied. (Luke 22:36-38)

On the night he was betrayed, Jesus commanded his disciples to buy swords. Do you know why? According to some discussion threads I’ve read, it was to show his support for gun ownership and relaxed gun controls in America!

I do not wish to wade into the quagmire of the US gun debate (and I won’t publish comments that do), but I do want to talk about the scripture above. It’s a good question: Why did Jesus, the Prince of Peace, ask for swords? And why were two enough?

Israel was a dangerous place for travelers. (Remember what happened to the traveler in the story of the Good Samaritan?) Yet on several occasions Jesus sent out his disciples without the usual travel essentials. They didn’t take money, extra clothes, or even a staff (see Matt 10:9-10). They certainly took no swords, yet God took care of them.

Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered. (Luke 22:35)

The disciples had traveled the length and breadth of Israel without harm or lack because the Lord was with them.

So why, on this final Passover night, did Jesus change his tune and tell them to get a purse, a bag, and a sword? Had God suddenly become unfaithful? Did the Lord decide he would no longer protect them? Of course not. Does Jesus want us to buy swords when we travel? I don’t think so.

So what was the deal with the two swords?

The answer is found in the verse I deliberately omitted:

It is written: “And he was numbered with the transgressors”; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment. (Luke 22:37)

Jesus wanted swords – and two was enough – so that the prophecy of Isaiah would be fulfilled, and that he might be numbered with the transgressors. When the temple guard came for him a few hours later, Jesus wasn’t holding a quiet Bible study. From their perspective he was conspiring with armed and dangerous men. Recall the dangerous moment on the Mt of Olives:

When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” (Luke 22:49)

The disciples wanted to fight! They wanted to use their two swords to maim and kill. One of them actually took a swing at poor Malchus and hacked off his ear. Of course, Jesus wanted no violence and he stopped them straight away.

But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him. (Luke 22:51)

What do we take from this? Did Jesus go to the garden looking for a rumble? I think not. The men who came to arrest him were armed with swords and clubs (Luke 22:52). If Jesus had wanted to cross swords with them, two would not have been enough.

Jesus wasn’t looking for a fight, but an arrest. It was all part of the plan. For the joy set before him he would go to the cross scorning its shame (Heb 12:2). But before that could happen he needed some transgressors or lawbreakers to help get him arrested. And the hot-headed disciples, with their pathetic pair of swords, were only too happy to help.

Because they had a pair of swords, Jesus was arrested. Because he was arrested, he was tried and crucified. Because he died and rose again, you can enjoy new life.

Happy Easter!


Enjoy this article? Why not sign up to our free email list and we’ll notify you about new articles as soon they come out. No spam, we promise.

Everything here is free thanks to the partnership of E2R Patrons.

39 Comments on Why Did Jesus Ask for Swords?

  1. Moses Kawuma // April 14, 2017 at 12:23 am // Reply

    Wow! I love reading what you write Paul! Keep up the great work.

  2. Wow! Thank you Jesus! Overwhelmed! Thanks for sharing Bro. Paul. God bless U!

  3. I agree with this assessment and have always kind of thought that your explanation was roughly the point of the buying swords. It makes me wonder though why bother when they were bent on arresting him anyway, unless maybe he was simply making sure they wouldn’t chicken out without having sufficient pretext. At the same time, Jesus makes a point of asking why they were arresting him now when so many times he was easily accessible in town and temple where they could have arrested him. Whatever the case, I am pretty sure he wasn’t advocating sword purchases with a future mind to American guns, haha.

  4. Thomas Morse // April 14, 2017 at 1:12 am // Reply

    Excellent! Jesus didn’t take a sword. Healed the man wounded by the sword Yet, the wanted to label Him as a rebel rouser, a trouble maker. So, they could have an excuse to kill Him. Interesting is the fact that they were the religious leaders of the day. They were the terrorists of their time.

  5. Brenda Mantooth // April 14, 2017 at 1:35 am // Reply

    So awesome – Teachers will tell you that often answers are found in the detail – Thanks – I didn’t know this and as a teacher I too love to learn ~

  6. I thought they were looking for him that night for the purpose of arresting him?

    • I guess Jesus wanted to make sure they did. He wanted to give them a prophetically-recorded pretext. We read about the Garden with Christian lenses, but consider how that scene would have appeared to the temple guard. Here was Jesus, the rebel leader so feared by their masters, with armed and violent men. If they had had any doubts about the righteousness of their arrest, Peter swinging a sword would have put them to rest.

      • Thanks, Paul, I think Peter chopping off the guy’s ear may be a picture of how the craziness of religious ways can “cut off” people’s ability to hear the gospel, but one touch from Jesus can fix it.

      • Marjorie // April 14, 2017 at 8:21 am //

        AMEN LPJ! I am so glad that many in the body of Christ ate starting to recognize religion for what it really is–deprivation and self-righteous. Steals so much joy from relationship with God. Goodbye to doom and gloom.

      • Me too, Marjorie. Thanks and Happy Easter to you and everyone reading this. 🙂

  7. You make Jesus sound pretty sneaky here Paul. I Like it! I especially like the part where He did it to fulfill prophecy. I don’t think He did anything haphazardly or without specific intent, including asking the Disciples to bring two swords. Like Joseph Prince says, “there are no insignificant details in the Bible”. Thanks for pointing this one out!

    • The one detail I haven’t figured out is where the swords came from. At the Last Supper Jesus says, “Go buy swords,” and almost immediately the disciples announce they have two. That was quick. Where did they get the swords? Did they have them already? I like to picture the swords as decorative items hanging on the wall and Peter, in his zeal to do what the Lord said, just grabbed them ripping off chunks of wall plaster. “That’s enough,” said Jesus. “Calm down. Don’t destroy the place.” But that’s just a wild guess.

      • This is really worth a thought,,,,,
        Peter could really had that level of Wildness… ☺ the lord is really an Orchestrator

  8. All I can think to say is, “Thank you Holy Spirit for teaching Paul Ellis and leading him into all truth and thank you Paul for letting him!!!” I have not a soul to talk to about these truths in my city so your site is my outlet. Paul you mentioned the Literal Translation Bible –is there one you would especially recommend ? HAPPY EASTER !

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Marjorie. I use Young’s and Green’s purely out of habit. I’m always open to the recommendation of good translations.

  9. Hey paul did u ever write up a article bout the “great falling away” ? Matt 24 And also “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,” ‭‭II Thessalonians‬ ‭2:3‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
    Sincerely, Pete Hanson

    • I talk about the man of lawlessness and provide a verse-by-verse commentary of Matthew 24 in my new AD70 book.

      • Trevor Lovegrove // April 15, 2017 at 12:38 am //

        Talking of which. Your new book is not available from Amazon in the UK. Have you any ideas to get around this problem? Many thanks.

      • If you are referring to the paperback, that hasn’t been printed yet and won’t come out until September. The Kindle version of AD70 is on Amazon’s UK branch here.

  10. Randy Murray // April 14, 2017 at 5:17 am // Reply

    Hey Paul………when will AD70 be out in written form? I gotta hold a book in my hand. Thanks…..love E2R…….I don’t like to be labeled but I would call myself a “new covenant dispensationalist”………which is, in itself, an oxymoron of sorts. So I often disagree with your positions on some issues but I find your approach to many “difficult” scriptures absolutely delightful. Keep up the work!

  11. Sharon Dickman // April 14, 2017 at 5:31 am // Reply

    Wow!!! Wow!!! Wow!!!!

  12. Hmm, interesting thought on the sword for that night, but I always took those words for the time to come. That things were about to get rough and dangerous after Jesus left ( Coliseum anyone? ), and he was warning them ahead of time to be more prepared, and that the comment back about swords the disciples had was more of a side thought, but it does fix the next sentence better. I’ll have to think on that one.

  13. Prince Biesu // April 14, 2017 at 8:02 am // Reply

    Thank you. Happy Easter to you also. I am always blessed with the gospel you preach. God bless your ministry. I have searched on YouTube to get your sermons but did not get one. Why? Will love to watch your sermons. I love you and Joseph Prince very much.

  14. WELL DONE. Comment on the seventy being sent before Lord’s face to where He was about to come.Going without the natural necessities of journeying, told not to talk to anyone along the way (raise doubt due to lack of natural source for journey) The had to trust in OUR Lord for supply of all necessities. Very intimate place of relationship. In that trust on the natural satan fell like lightening as he had no strategy that would work against JesUS’ purpose. In that trust nothing will harm US not even scorpion and snakes when having no footwear.
    Rely not on own understanding. . . .

  15. Adriaan Hattingh // April 14, 2017 at 7:34 pm // Reply

    Excellent Paul! You teach me so much about “proper” bible study ☺ Happy Easter to you and your family

  16. Now that you point out what the swords were really for, it adds a timely message to Peter’s mistake. We so often take what God says and we add, “He, therefore, must have meant us to do X.” I can see Peter thinking, “If he didn’t mean for us to attack, why did he give us swords?” Thinking in the flesh, he couldn’t imagine that having a couple of swords was to insure that Jesus get arrested. We Christians make this mistake all the time. I call it an “Ishmael.”

  17. Interesting thoughts. I am pretty sure the soldiers intended to arrest him whether they had swords or not. My guess is that they needed at least one sword so that the ear would be cut off and Jesus could perform one last witnessed healing miracle before he died. I’m not sure why two swords, but I noticed Jesus stopped them from bringing more than that. I imagine every disciple would have picked one up if Jesus hadn’t discouraged them from thinking they each needed one.
    Praise God it all happened exactly the way it did! Happy Good Friday to you all!

    • If there had been no swords and no violence, Jesus would not have been “numbered with the transgressors.” He would’ve simply been with a bunch of guys. In the Garden Jesus chided the religious leaders for coming out for him “with swords and clubs as you would against a robber” (v.52). They treated Jesus as a lawbreaker.

    • The miracle was an act of kindness and mercy toward Peter too! Now there was no evidence what-so-ever against Peter’s onslaught. Only Jesus could and was arrested!

  18. Robert kinyua // April 15, 2017 at 8:27 am // Reply

    Great goodnews paul; Because he died and
    rose again, you can enjoy new life.
    Happy Easter too!

  19. Just possibly there is a relationship between the power of the Word = Spirit! Take the “S” from Spirit and add it to the front of “WORD” and we have “S”WORD upholding and bearing all things by the “S”WORD of LORD”S POWER Heb 1:3. John 1:1 In the beginning was the Spirit , , , , , and the Spirit became flesh. Still is flesh: as OUR inward dwelling Spirit. When Holy Spirit comes upon as yesterday “a dove” is it not a metaphor for the invisible power of God resting Upon US today, We now have the “S”WORD” and a reference to the ear. an ear cut off and renewed. Again a metaphor renewed to hear what Spirit is saying to “US” as He did to Jes”US”, “the Spirit of truth”. Truth is not aggressive, it is convicting, if spoken with calm, peaceful but forceful “AUTHORITY” then the renewed ear, Cutting off the distractions of what the world is saying. Now our born again renew creation engages freewill to accept or reject discipline unto correction?. The Let Him who HAS an EAR let Him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To him who overcomes. That messy thing called obedience kicks in. The firstfruits seed after Lord’s own kind are being watered with the word as I write this to produce sons that manifest Jes”US” also in mortal flesh!

  20. Earl Hendricks // April 16, 2017 at 1:50 am // Reply

    You continue to enlighten me on passages of scripture I have often wondered about. Thanks Paul!!

  21. Happy Easter , Paul! The egotistical thinking and behavior of some of my country’s Christian leaders boggle my mind : ) The way some of them react would make you think the U.S. is the only country to whom God has shown His favor… qwasy , foggy thinking to say the least. I’m so thankful for one particular Aussie living in New Zealand

  22. The two swords were necessary. I remember a big debate at church about this years ago, so many different theories it was so funny. We all walked away with our own thoughts. I just thought well, he needed help to the cross; he never sinned and still never sin; he knew Peter was hot headed, but passionate. I’ve always said it, no one is smarter and wittier than Christ. He is all together lovely.
    Great topic.

    Happy Easter ye all

  23. Hi Paul,
    Could the sword be Jesus Himself. The event that was going to take place was so heavy for the the disciples to just take and they needed to believe what He told them the time He walked with them. Could the disciple have a religious mindset that they failed to understand what He was meaning…..Friends am just meditating and am not giving my conclusion.

    • Chris you got me to thinking ! Jesus is the Word and the Word is sharper than a two edged sword, but I tend to agree with Paul as to Jesus’s motivations. If you notice throughout scripture, the Pharisees and Roman soldiers, and anyone who tried to come against Him in general, seemed to have a fear of Jesus that they didn’t comprehend within themselves, but they had to resort to trying to trick Him into making mistakes. He wasn’t easy to mess with and they probably sensed they needed a very good reason to arrest Him! In order to give them a good reason, as Jesus said, He needed to be counted as a transgressor. Those people were thinking with the mind of man and Jesus was thinking with the mind of the Spirit. His ways are so far above ours! As innocent as He was, He had to appear guilty in order to go to the cross and fulfill His mission.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.