Posted on Jan 17, 2013
The Law Of The Sword
My last two columns which stated that my line in the sand has been drawn and I will NOT register or surrender my firearms, even if that makes me a lawbreaker (in the sight of government), have generated multiplied thousands of reader responses. And while the vast majority of these responses expressed complete agreement, there were several responses from professing Christians telling me that I was in violation of Holy Scripture for making such a stand.
As one might expect, some of my brethren argued the erroneous “obey-the-government-no-matter-what” interpretation of Romans 13. For the sake of the many new readers of this column, let me point out that my son, constitutional Christian attorney Timothy Baldwin, and I have co-written a pivotal book dealing with this fallacious interpretation of Romans 13 in a book entitled “Romans 13: The True Meaning of Submission.” This book takes the entire Word of God to show that nowhere does the Bible teach (including in Romans 13) that Christians should submit to unlawful government. In fact, just the opposite is taught: Christians often have a duty to RESIST unlawful government.
But perhaps the verse of Scripture that my slightly confused brethren quoted most in their attempt to rebuke me was Matthew 26:52, “Then said Jesus unto him [Simon Peter], Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” (KJV) This, they said, proves that Christians have no right to keep and bear arms if the government said it was illegal to do so. However, with all due respect, this interpretation is opposed to the overwhelming evidence of Scripture to the contrary.
In the first place, consider what Jesus said just a few moments before making this statement. Just before arriving in the Garden of Gethsemane (where the statement was made to Peter to “put up thy sword”), Jesus told his disciples, “But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.” (Luke 22:36 KJV)
After hearing Jesus’ command, the disciples replied, “Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.” (Luke 22:38 KJV)
Notice that Jesus plainly and emphatically told Simon Peter and the others to arm themselves. So emphatic was Jesus’ command that He told them if they could not afford to purchase a sword they were instructed to sell their clothes if necessary and buy one.
After hearing Jesus’ command to arm themselves, the disciples noted that already two of the disciples were carrying arms. Jesus’ response, “It is enough,” did not mean that only two swords (out of eleven men–Judas Iscariot had already left to betray Christ) was sufficient, for He had plainly commanded EACH MAN to arm himself. He was simply acknowledging that they clearly understood what He had just told them.
Ladies and gentlemen, the First Century Roman sword was the most efficient and lethal personal defense weapon in the world at the time. It is no hyperbole or injustice to language to say that the Roman sword was the First Century equivalent to a modern AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. It was designed to kill swiftly and efficiently. And Jesus commanded His disciples to buy and carry one!
Also note that the same word “sword” that is used in this passage is the same word that is used in Romans 13:4, “He (government) beareth not the sword in vain.” In other words, Jesus told His disciples to carry the same-type weapon that government soldiers were carrying at the time.
After this exchange, Jesus and His disciples walked to the Garden of Gethsemane where the events of Peter and the sword took place.
Simon Peter had already told Jesus that he was willing to die for him (yes, Jesus rightly predicted his denial, knowing how Simon would react to the events that unfolded in the garden), and when the armed soldiers from the High Priest (tantamount to the President’s Secret Service officers today) came to arrest Jesus, Simon Peter drew his sword in defense of his Master. He intended to cut off the soldier’s head, but the man ducked, and Simon cleanly sliced off his ear.
Notice that Jesus did not rebuke or chastise Simon. Remember when He sternly told Simon, “Get thee behind me, Satan”? No such rebuke is found here. And notice, too, that He did not tell Simon to “GIVE UP thy sword.” He said “PUT UP again thy sword into his place,” meaning into its scabbard. He fully expected Simon to retain possession of his sword.
It is also noteworthy that as Jesus was being arrested, the power of His voice totally overwhelmed the soldiers, which caused all of them to sway backward and fall to the ground. (John 18:6) This accomplished a couple of things: it caused every soldier in that garden to fully understand that theirs was not the preeminent power present. It also allowed His eleven disciples to leave unscathed TAKING THEIR WEAPONS WITH THEM, as the soldiers were either totally distracted by the surprise of what had just happened to them, or they were totally disinterested in attempting to disarm the disciples after this incredible demonstration of power against them.
But as Jesus had come to this earth to give Himself a ransom for sinful men, which meant that His betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion were all a part of God’s sovereign plan for His only begotten Son, Simon’s armed defense of Christ was not necessary. Jesus calmly reminded Simon of the legions of angels that were available for His defense, should He call on them. Then Jesus gave Simon the assurance that “all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”
And despite what you’ve heard so many preachers say regarding this verse, this was not a WARNING to Simon Peter; it was a PROMISE to Simon Peter.
What Jesus was doing was assuring Simon Peter that the tyrannical Roman and Jewish forces that were now using the sword against Him would one day themselves be destroyed by the sword, but that it would not be Simon’s sword that would be the one to do this. In other words, Jesus was stating a divine principle that tyrants and despots who unjustly rule with the power of the sword would one day be brought to the judgment of the sword.
Jesus’ statement had nothing to do with Christians disarming themselves in the face of tyrants; it had everything to do with God’s pronouncement of judgment upon tyrants who force their will on people by the power of the sword. He was saying, “Those who ruthlessly rule and govern by the sword will be brought to justice by the sword.” THAT is what Jesus said.
Did Jesus’ promise come true? You bet it did. A few years later, the Jewish nation was destroyed by the Roman sword; and a few years after that, the Roman nation was destroyed by the sword of the Goths, et al.
This promise to tyrants is repeated by the Apostle John in Revelation 13:10. Here Jesus inspired John to write, “He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.”
The context of Revelation 13:10 is unmistakable: those who put men into captivity by force shall themselves be put into captivity by force; those who kill with the sword shall themselves be killed with the sword. John then adds: “Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.” In other words, the victimized, terrorized saints can take comfort in the fact that God will send His judgment to the oppressors in the like manner in which they oppressed others.
What John said in Revelation 13:10 was a repeat of what He had heard Jesus say in Matthew 26:52. Jesus telling Peter to put up his sword has absolutely nothing to do with Christians willingly surrendering their arms to an oppressive government. Instead, it is a promise to oppressors that if you live and rule by the sword, you will die by the sword!
And since Jesus had commanded them to do so, we can assume that His disciples carried their own personal arms for the rest of their lives. Yes, yes, I realize that the disciples allowed themselves to be martyred for their faith. They CHOSE to not “accept deliverance,” (Hebrews 11:35) as did the famed missionary, Jim Elliott, who was armed at the time of his death, and, therefore, was fully capable of defending himself against the savages that attacked him, but CHOSE to not defend himself, and thereby accepted the martyr’s death. But these examples have nothing to do with the divine principle of lawful self-defense, which Jesus duly recognized in His instructions to His disciples.
Pray tell, how did Gideon deliver God’s people from their oppressors? By “the sword of the Lord and of Gideon.” How did Samson throw off the tyrants of his people? How did Barak and Jephthah defeat Israel’s enemies? By the sword! And note that each of these deliverers were commissioned and empowered by God to use the sword to destroy those tyrants that had ruled by the power of the sword. This was God’s promised judgment on oppressors for thousands of years before Jesus uttered this eternal truism in the Garden of Gethsemane.
The Second Amendment guarantee that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” is as much a sacred right as it is an American right. The principle of armed self-defense is rooted in both Natural and Revealed Law. That Barack Obama and Dianne Feinstein want to strip the American people of this right should be met with the most vociferous resistance, and that includes FROM CHRISTIANS!
Yet, all across America, pastors and Christians seem to be willing to sheepishly surrender their Second Amendment rights. Some are no doubt sincere; they are only reacting as their Christian mentors and leaders have told them is right to do. Others are no doubt using Scripture as a covering for their own cowardice.
But for those Christians who seek truth and genuinely desire to know how they should respond to this current attack against our Second Amendment liberties, my son, Tim, and I are in the process of producing a brand new book entitled “To Keep Or Not To Keep: Why Christians Should Not Give Up Their Guns.” This book is designed to equip Christians with the scriptural tools and knowledge they will need to make wise decisions about the defense of their family. We are working hard to have this book ready for release by early spring.
Readers may pre-order this brand new book NOW and thus be assured of obtaining the very first copies of what is sure to be a blockbuster book. To order, go to:
Keep Your Arms
And please remember that the book should be available by early spring.
I say once again: regardless of what laws are passed or not passed, I refuse to register or surrender my firearms–even if doing so makes me an outlaw. But as several readers pointed out to me: in such a scenario, I am not the outlaw; the ones who would try to disarm me are the outlaws. As I would not submit to a law that demanded that I surrender my spiritual sword (the Bible), neither will I submit to a law that demands that I surrender my physical sword (my firearms).
What Simon Peter told the Jewish leaders in Acts 5, after being ordered to surrender his preaching of truth, applies to any order of men that violates God’s eternal law–including the right of the people (including Christian people) to keep and bear arms: “We ought to obey God rather than men.” And so we ought!
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