Commentary on Luke 22:35-38

35 Καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ὅτε ἀπέστειλα ὑμᾶς ἄτερ βαλλαντίου καὶ πήρας καὶ ὑποδημάτων, μή τινος ὑστερήσατε; οἱ δὲ εἶπαν· οὐθενός. 36 εἶπεν δὲ αὐτοῖς· ἀλλὰ νῦν ὁ ἔχων βαλλάντιον ἀράτω, ὁμοίως καὶ πήραν, καὶ ὁ μὴ ἔχων πωλησάτω τὸ ἱμάτιον αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀγορασάτω μάχαιραν. 37 λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν ὅτι τοῦτο τὸ γεγραμμένον δεῖ τελεσθῆναι ἐν ἐμοί, τὸ· καὶ μετὰ ἀνόμων ἐλογίσθη· καὶ γὰρ τὸ περὶ ἐμοῦ τέλος ἔχει. 38 οἱ δὲ εἶπαν· κύριε, ἰδοὺ μάχαιραι ὧδε δύο. ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ἱκανόν ἐστιν.  (WH/NA27/UBS4)

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.”  (ESV)

In verse 35 Jesus refers to his earlier instructions to his disciples (9:3; 10:4) when he sent them on missions where they were unequipped and depended on the hospitality of others.  The instructions of verse 36 envision well-equipped disciples.  The dagger or short sword was used by Jewish travelers for protection against robbers and wild animals (Josephus, War 2.8.4 §125; m. Shabbath 6.4) and so it is no surprise that the disciples already have two swords in verse 38.  Jesus’ reply to the presentation of the swords indicates that his words in verse 36 were not to be taken literally but to warn the disciples of upcoming tribulations.  The cited Scripture, Isaiah 53:12, is fulfilled shortly when Jesus is arrested as a criminal (transgressor) and executed (22:47-23:49).  Jesus’ arrest inaugurates the age, that extends through Acts, in which the disciples must be prepared.  If Jesus is treated this way then so will be his disciples.

Robert J. Karris further explains why the reference to the sword is not a call to the use of lethal force (Brown 716-717):

The reference to this destructive weapon must be taken in the total context of Luke-Acts and the immediate context of vv 38, 47-53.  Since Luke narrates in his Gospel that Jesus not only preached love of enemies (6:26-36) but also lived that teaching (9:51-55; 23:34), and since he narrates in Acts that Paul and other missionaries never use swords, he cannot mean by “sword” here a lethal weapon.  Since in v 38 Luke depicts Jesus’ disgust with the disciples’ literal understanding of his words in v 36 and since he reprimands the use of a sword in 22:47-53 and even heals the wounded person, Luke cannot mean by “sword” here a destructive weapon.  Rather “sword” is a symbol for crisis.  A paraphrase of the latter part of v 36 is:  Sell your mantle and buy trouble.

Sources

Barker, Kenneth L. ed.  The NIV Study Bible.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995.

Brown, Raymond E. ed. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1990.

Hengel, Martin.  Victory Over Violence and Was Jesus a Revolutionist? Eugene, Oregon:  Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2003.

Mays, James L. ed.  The HarperCollins Bible Commentary (Revised Edition).  San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2000.

Meeks, Wayne A. ed. The HarperCollins Study Bible. New York: HarperCollins, 1993.

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