Why Did Jesus Tell His Disciples to Buy a Sword?

Jesus is often referred to as the Prince of Peace, preaching love and nonviolence throughout his teachings. However, there is a passage in the Bible that has puzzled many scholars and believers alike.

In Luke 22:36, Jesus tells his disciples to buy a sword. This commandment raises many questions about the nature of Jesus’ teachings and what he meant by this.

Context Matters

To understand the meaning behind Jesus’ statement, it’s essential to look at the context in which it was given. At this point in time, Jesus was preparing for his arrest and crucifixion. He knew that his time on earth was coming to an end, and he was giving his disciples final instructions for what was to come.

In Luke 22:35-38, Jesus speaks to his disciples about how they will need provisions for their journey once he is gone. He says:

“When I sent you out without a purse or bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “No, not a thing.” He said to them, “But now the one who has a purse must take it, and likewise a bag. And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one.”

Jesus’ words here are not advocating for violence or aggression towards others. Instead, he is warning his disciples that they may face danger on their journey once he is no longer with them.

The Symbolic Meaning of Swords

It’s also important to remember that swords held significant symbolic meaning in biblical times. Swords were not just weapons; they represented power and protection.

Throughout the Bible, swords are often used as metaphors for spiritual battles and conflicts between good and evil. In Ephesians 6:17, Paul writes about putting on “the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit,” indicating that swords can be used as a tool to fight against evil forces.

By telling his disciples to buy a sword, Jesus may have been using it as a metaphor for the spiritual battles they would face after his departure. He was not instructing them to engage in physical violence but rather to be prepared for the spiritual battles they would face.

The Importance of Contextual Interpretation

The passage in Luke 22:36 is just one instance where the meaning of Jesus’ words can be misinterpreted if taken out of context. It’s essential to understand that the Bible is written in a specific historical and cultural context, and it should be interpreted as such.

Jesus’ teachings are based on love and nonviolence, and this passage does not contradict that. Instead, it’s an example of how context matters in interpreting biblical texts.


In conclusion, Jesus’ statement to his disciples to buy a sword has been misinterpreted by many as an instruction to engage in physical violence. However, the context surrounding this statement suggests that he was warning them of the dangers they would face on their journey after he was gone. Swords were also symbolic of spiritual battles and conflicts between good and evil.

As believers, it’s crucial that we interpret biblical texts within their proper historical and cultural context to fully understand their meaning. Jesus’ teachings are grounded in love and nonviolence, and this passage does not contradict that foundational principle.