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Luke 9:3 and Luke 22:36 seem to form an inclusio. In chapter nine, Jesus instructs the Twelve, "Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic." But in chapter 22, he tells 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."

What is being conveyed by this? It is strange that Jesus tells them to buy swords, but that two is enough. And just a couple verses later in 22:49-51 he has them put them away their swords. Why did Jesus have them buy swords then?

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Related question on Christianity: Why did Jesus tell His disciples to buy a sword? (Which probably needs serious help; if anything useful comes out of this question...) –  Caleb May 25 '12 at 8:49
    
@Caleb: why does it need serious help? –  Wikis May 25 '12 at 9:22
    
@Wikis: My quick review before cross-linked shown one answer that makes some sense and might be right but has no references backing it up, one that has tons of references but I couldn't make out what the main point really was, and one that was just thrown out there. Maybe I should have just said "help" rather than "serious help". –  Caleb May 25 '12 at 11:13
    
@Caleb: thanks. I like the accepted answer (obviously) but take your point about references. –  Wikis May 25 '12 at 11:20
    
I wonder if there is a third way besides these answers, buy I'm not sure what it would be. –  user1985 Jan 18 '13 at 2:25
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The way I always have read that is that Luke 22:36 is meant to be taken metaphorically: "Dangerous times are coming and you must be prepared." But as usual, the disciples don't get it. A possible parallel situation is:

Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”—Mark 8:14-21 (ESV)

In that case, Jesus wanted his disciples to think of leaven (and bread) in a metaphorical sense, but they re-interpreted his statement to be somehow related to their failure to bring lunch. Here, Jesus took a moment to turn the confusion into a teaching opportunity.

But in the upper room, Jesus didn't take (or have) the time to correct them. Perhaps part of the reason is that he knew what Peter would do when Jesus was arrested:

And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him.—Luke 22:49-51 (ESV)

Presumably if Peter knew that Jesus wasn't talking about real swords, he would have left his in the room or known not to use it against the guards. As for why Jesus was willing to have Peter remain in the dark, I'm not sure the text tells us. My speculation is that he wanted the disciples to think about it later and realize that his Kingdom was not established with swords and spears.


Recall that Luke also wrote the history of the early church (Acts) as it spread across the Roman Empire. Swords come into play only twice:

About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. (Acts 12:1-4 ESV)

and:

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. (Acts 16:25-27 ESV)

To Luke's readers, the idea that a kingdom could be established with two swords would be preposterous. If Jesus were speaking literally, we'd expect the detail to be paid off literally. And yet, the only time his followers used a sword was against the high priest's servant and Jesus clearly discouraged further violence. Luke likely included the saying about buying swords to demonstrate to his Roman readers that the church could not be a military threat to the Empire.

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I, too, have noticed how frequently Jesus and His disciples were on different wavelengths, so to speak. Another parallel situation is in John 4, where Jesus said to His disciples who had just encouraged Him to eat, "I have food to eat that you do not know about," which caused the disciples to wonder to themselves, "Hmm. Who gave Him food? Didn't we leave Him here at the well to rest up while we did a little grocery shopping?" Jesus did not have to hear them physically to know what they were thinking, so He said, "My food is to do my Father's will and accomplish His work" (cf. Ma 4:4). –  rhetorician Aug 5 '13 at 23:22
    
In Mark 8:14-21 there is a clear textual indication that the yeast and bread are metaphors: "leaven of the Pharisees" makes the metaphoric interpretation the only logical one. What textual indication do you have that the swords of Luke 22:36 are metaphorical? I see none, and I instead see a very clear indication they are not: the disciples are clearly pointing to literal swords, and Jesus' reply that they are sufficient confirms quite clearly that he was, in fact, referring to physical, literal swords. –  iconoclast Sep 24 '13 at 13:50
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@iconoclast: I've expanded on my answer. The immediate context does indicate literal swords, but it's impossible for me to fit that into the broad context of Luke's narrative. I'd encourage you to try your hand at an alternate answer if you disagree. –  Jon Ericson Sep 24 '13 at 16:21
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The important part of the passage is where Jesus says that he will be executed, numbered amongst the transgressors. The immediate result is that the situation will change. Whereas before they benefited from Christ's faith, NOW they have to provide their own resources through faith.

Missionaries will have their ministry confirmed by the turning up of finances, training etc.

Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”—Mark 8:14-21 (ESV)

God was with Jesus! That's to understand!

John 3:1-2 NET Now a certain man, a Pharisee named Nicodemus, who was a member of the Jewish ruling council, came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs that you do unless God is with him.”

Similarly, the teachings He gave them needed to be buttressed by what they would be given from Scripture :

Isaiah 55:1 NET “Hey, all who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come! Buy and eat! Come! Buy wine and milk without money and without cost!

Hebrews 4:12 NET For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow; it is able to judge the desires and thoughts of the heart.

................

So, Jesus had said "Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belt" (Matt. 10:9).  But, an interesting change of teaching by Jesus can be found in Luke when later on in his ministry he told the disciples to take a purse, a bag, and a sword.

"And He said to them, “When I sent you out without purse and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” And they said, “No, nothing.” 36 And He said to them, “But now, let him who has a purse take it along, likewise also a bag, and let him who has no sword sell his robe and buy one. 37 “For I tell you, that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘And He was numbered with transgressors’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.” 38 And they said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough,” (Luke 22:35-38).

..................

Why the change? It was because soon the disciples would be without Jesus and they would have to rely on God's provision through people, not through Christ, during their upcoming gospel work. 

[Source]

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The answer to this question requires a little B.C.E/C.E knowledge of history. As you may or may not be aware, from about 332 B.C.E to roughly 135 C.E, the Israelite world was under Greek/Roman rule. This period is historically known as the Hellenization period,where Greek/ Roman influence began to take over much of the Arabic, European,and Asia minor regions and cultures of that day. Among these were the Jewish cultures, who,in compliance with Greek/Roman rule,began adapting much of the ancient Greek/Roman theologies and philosophies into their own beliefs. One of these philosophical movements, called Cynicism, (founded by The Greek philosopher Diogenes), was a movement that began evangelism,where cynics would travel from town to town,teaching and preaching for people to abandon their fleshly desire for fame,fortune,and pleasure, for a life of virtuous living. These influences soon made there way into Christ era Judaism/Early Christianity,and,no doubt, is where Jesus acquired this inspiration. Also during this period, there were many Jewish Revolts against the Roman empire. Many of these revolts were headed by proclaimed " Messiahs" of the Jewish community( Judas,son of the bandit chief Hezekiah, Judas the Galilean,and Simon of Perea, to name a few). Messiah is a Greek derivative of the Hebrew word" Moshiach ", which simply means "anointed one". "The Messiah" was in reference to the Hellenistic Jewish expectation for a man who would be anointed by "Yahweh"(God) to free the Jews forever from foreign rule,and restore back the land to the Israelite. This was always assumed to be accomplished by force. Many revolting Jews were encouraged by their Rebel leaders(or Messiahs), to use violent force when deemed necessary to accomplish the cause.This is also why Jesus is quoted in Mathew 10:34 as saying "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword". Modern day teachings of interpretation for this scripture and others(like your Luke 22 scripture) suggest a non literal approach with spiritual warfare connotations. However during the early Christian era,these scriptures were taken quite literally.

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This answer would be greatly strengthened by citing sources. –  Daи Apr 1 at 21:34
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Yeshua's had taught his disciples to not resist an evil doer.

But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also (Mt. 5:39 NKJV).

This instruction did not change though he instructed them to buy swords; in fact, as we shall see, it plays perfectly into how he demonstrates and cooperates with Gods plan at this critical moment in his life. The swords merely help set the stage for this remarkable act of submission to his Father's will.

Luke 22:35-38 (NKJV) reads:

35 And He said to them, "When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?" So they said, "Nothing." 36 Then He said to them, "But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. 37 For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: 'And He was numbered with the transgressors.' For the things concerning Me have an end." 38 So they said, "Lord, look, here are two swords." And He said to them, "It is enough."

Here we find the only reason given for instructing them to take swords, ie. to fulfill that which was spoken of him: 'And He was numbered with the transgressors.'

How then is Prophecy fulfilled.
Matthew 26:51-56 (NKJV) reads:

51 And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. 52 But Jesus said to him, "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? 54 How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?" 55 In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, "Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me. 56 But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.

We see here how the sword helped set the stage and Yeshua's rebuke of Peter, makes it clear that it was never Yeshua's intent that the swords be used in his defense. He says, "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword . . . How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?" We see Yeshua's clear intent was to demonstrate that he will not allow power on earth to come to his defense. Scriptures must be fulifilled; It must happen this way.

We see also in his rebuke of Peter an even more profound indication of Yeshua intent. He says, "do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?" The swords which man can see, are a faint earthly parallel of the army of heaven which man cannot see, neither of which he calls upon or allows to come to his defense.

When the picture is all put together, we see that Yeshua allowed himself to be taken instead of being defended by either earthly force or heavenly force so that what was prophesied of him would be fulfilled--for "This that is written MUST STILL BE ACCOMPLISHED IN ME"--so he is taken prisoner and numbered among transgressors.

Take the swords out of the picture then he has no opportunity to not allow them to use them and no opportunity to point out that he could have called upon His Father to deliver him. Much would be missing from our knowledge.

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Just a note, Rom 13:4 teaches that the government, not individuals, are God's ministers who bear the sword, to avenge wrath on those who practice evil. –  Sarah Feb 20 '13 at 16:04
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Consider this passage a warning about the future. God will provide and protect them. Jesus was warning them that showing a lack of confidence in his teachings would undercut their efforts to spread the gospel and they would have to defend themselves in this regard. The two swords simply shows that the meaning of what he said was not understood.

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