Why did Jesus tell the disciples to buy swords?

Every time there is a mass shooting in America and a cry goes out for gun law reform, I invariably hear someone citing Jesus’ instruction to buy swords in Luke 22:35-38 as justification for violent self defence and legislative inaction. Interpreting it as such is problematic though.

Consider: what did Jesus say the two swords were “enough” for? Clearly the two swords were nowhere near “enough” to arm all eleven disciples. It’s doubtful the two swords would have been “enough” to defend Jesus against a “crowd” either, particularly one that included professional “officers of the Temple guard”. Two swords were however “enough” to fulfil the prophecy of Isaiah 53:12 according to Jesus in Luke 22:37.

That Jesus was probably thinking more in terms of prophetic fulfilment than self defence is underscored by the fact that, when Peter did try to defend Jesus with a sword, he was commanded by Jesus to put the sword away.


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