35 And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” 36 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. 37 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.” 38 And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”
In Luke 22 there is this interesting passage. It often comes up whenever a mass shooting occurs especially when that shooting takes place in a church. The funny thing when I put this passage in Google I found plenty of people using it for justification for carrying their guns to church as if it were their Christian duty. But is it? Certainly seems like it at first glance. John Macarthur from Grace to You radio and television had a lot of great info on this passage.
Let’s put Luke 22 into context. Jesus is speaking to his disciples in the upper room, they’ve just had the Last Supper for Passover, and Jesus has instituted the Last Supper, the Communion service. Judas was on his way to betray Jesus, and His disciples were arguing on who was going to be the greatest. Jesus tells Peter that Satan wanted to ‘sift him like wheat’.
Trouble was brewing, and the Lord knew it was going to get worse.
Soon He would be arrested then crucified.
He reminds them of the time when he had sent them out before, then later when he had sent out the 70, they needed nothing. The Apostles had not experienced persecution before, but Jesus knew that would change. It was going to get dangerous to be Christian. In fact not too many years later most of the disciples would be killed. At this point it should be coming clear Jesus was not necessarily saying they should carry weapons he was using swords figuratively to illustrate how dangerous things were going to get for the disciples.
Peter tells Jesus they’ve got two swords, “it’s enough” He tells them.
A little later, Judas showed up with the High Priest to take Jesus into custody, Peter who misunderstood Jesus, asked “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” He then him took a swing at Malchus’s (the High Priest’s servant) head taking his ear off. Jesus stopped Peter “No more of this!” he said. He then rebuked Peter saying whomever ‘lives by the sword will die by the sword.’
So should we, as followers of Christ start packing weapons? We know we are not to use the sword to spread the Gospel. We don’t send in missionaries into the world looking like Seal Team Six. We know further as Christians we aren’t supposed to take up arms against our government no matter how oppressive it may become. But what carrying weapons for self defense? What about carrying a weapon to protect our families, or our Church family?
There is no way one could justify carrying weapons based on what we read in the Bible. However it seems there is no way one could use the Bible to prohibit weapons either. Let’s take a closer look at Peter’s sword:
The Bible translates the word ‘sword’ from the word ‘makhaira’. Generally a makhaira was a type of short sword with a single edge closely resembling a machete’. It’s often pointed out that this is not an offensive weapon and like a machete’ a useful tool. However tradition holds that Peter didn’t have a makhaira, but rather a sword named after the man whose ear he cut off, a weapon known as a Malchus sword. A Malchus sword is a very intimidating weapon.
No doubt Jesus already knew His disciples had two swords. Even though they never needed to use them, they likely carried their swords everywhere they went.
Are there some practical things we can take away from this?
Should we as Christians carry guns, or should your church have armed guards?
There is a history of churches arming themselves? Bryan Fischer from American Family Radio brought some facts to light. It seems carrying guns in church is not without precedent. ? While you cannot develop a doctrine from this but maybe we can take some suggestions.
Remember, of the 13, (12 disciples and Jesus), they had two swords, that means that 15.3% of the group were armed. Jesus said that’s enough. I wouldn’t say it’s a requirement that church members carry guns, but if they did only a small percentage of the congregation would be enough. In church, only carry for defensive reasons, and that being to protect the unarmed people in the church. The same applies to those who choose to carry in everyday life.
I think however it’s important to keep in mind, the teaching from 1 Corinthians Chapter eight concerning eating food sacrificed to idols. If it offends a brother or sister, or risks their salvation, it may be better not to be visibly armed. The same principal could be applied to potential visitors who perhaps don’t know the Lord. How would a church full of armed people look to them? Remember the Great commission, our prime directive is to ‘Go into the entire world and preach the Good News to everyone’. Nothing is more important.
Having armed guards or armed congregants is something each church should consider individually. What’s good for one church may not be good for the next. If your church chooses to have armed guards, it may be better for them to carry concealed if local laws allow it.
Here are Some suggestions for armed congregants. Different color ‘Hello my name is’ stickers could be used to designate those who are carrying concealed if your church desires it. Crossbreed Holsters makes excellent concealed carry holsters that allow dressier shirts to be tucked, they’re comfortable as well. There are similar holsters on the market. Always always always use a holster!
If you carry a weapon ALWAYS carry safely! Don’t be like this brother who accidently shot himself and his wife in church. Whomever is armed should be well trained and have plenty range time. Remember what Uncle Ben told young Peter Parker, “With great power comes great responsibility” (actually an old quote from Voltaire).
Every church should have a fire plan as well as an active shooter plan. There are some things that can make churches safer, such as bullet proof furniture, perhaps the pews can be replaced. There may be bullet proofing materials available for walls and windows as well. Ray Gano had a lot of good info especially having a trauma kit available in the event the unthinkable happens.
It’s important to realize these attacks don’t have any commonality to how they have been carried out. Note the differences in each attack:
Emanuel Kidega Samson, who sought revenge against Dylann Roof, entered into the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch Tennessee and then started shooting.
In Sutherland Springs TX, Devin Patrick Kelley parked his car at a nearby convince store and then walked to First Baptist Church in where he started shooting through the windows before entering the church.
In Las Vegas, we all know the story, gunman Stephen Paddock took up a shooting position on the 32nd floor of a nearby hotel where he shot up the crowd below.
At Umpqua Community College near Rosenberg Oregon it was reported that the gunman Chris Harper-Mercer asked his victims if they were Christian. If they replied they were, he shot them dead.
It’s almost impossible to plan for everything but there are some things you could do in the event the unimaginable happens. Warning as this next link employs the liberal use of secular language, but it’s full of good information.
An interview with Carol Cambridge, CEO of The Stay Safe Project yielded some useful suggestions. In her interview she offered advice about things you could do like hiding, and silencing your phone, if you run, do so in a zigzag pattern as it makes you harder to hit. She talked about how and where to hide, crouching as opposed to laying on the ground and only fight your attacker as an absolute last resort. She also emphasized active shooter training and offers classes as well.
One final thing to consider, it’s possible and likely there is demonic activity behind these shootings.
Be secure in your salvation. If it ever came down to it remember Who you belong to. If you can’t hide or run away perhaps it may be the time to remind you attacker Who he is really persecuting. If the time ever came, Be bold for the Lord. If you have a sermon deep inside it might be a good time to unleash it.
Your Hail Mary pass: Only as a very last resort, let me repeat, as a last resort, try casting out a demon from your attacker. If you have nothing else to lose it just may work.