Why Did Jesus Tell His Disciples to Sell Their Garments and Buy a Sword?

In Luke 22:36-38, Jesus told his disciples to sell their garments and buy a sword. This statement may seem puzzling at first, as Jesus was known for his message of peace and nonviolence. However, there are several possible explanations for why he made this statement.

Context Matters

To understand the significance of Jesus’ statement, it’s important to consider the context in which it was made. At the time, Jesus and his disciples were living in a time of political unrest and violence. The Roman empire was occupying Israel, and there were frequent uprisings against their rule.

Protection from Robbers

One possible explanation for Jesus’ command to buy a sword is that he wanted his disciples to protect themselves from robbers while they were traveling. In those days, traveling could be dangerous, as robbers would often attack travelers on the road. By carrying a sword, the disciples would be able to defend themselves if necessary.

Symbolic Meaning

Another possible explanation is that Jesus’ command had a symbolic meaning rather than a literal one. The sword may have represented spiritual warfare rather than physical violence. In other words, Jesus may have been warning his disciples that they would face opposition and persecution in their efforts to spread the gospel message.

Fulfillment of Prophecy

A third explanation is that Jesus’ command was meant to fulfill prophecy. In Isaiah 53:12, it says that the Messiah “was numbered with the transgressors.” By telling his disciples to buy a sword, Jesus may have been fulfilling this prophecy by preparing to be identified with those who use violence for political ends.

The Disciples Misunderstood

Regardless of the reason behind Jesus’ command, it’s clear that his disciples misunderstood its meaning. When they showed him two swords later on, he responded by saying, “That is enough.” This suggests that the disciples had missed the point of his message entirely.

The Importance of Context

This story serves as a reminder of the importance of understanding context when interpreting biblical passages. Without an understanding of the political and social climate in which Jesus lived, it’s easy to misunderstand his teachings and actions. By taking into account the broader historical context, we can gain a deeper appreciation for Jesus’ message of peace and love.


In conclusion, Jesus’ command to sell their garments and buy a sword is a complex issue with no easy answers. While some scholars believe that it was meant to be taken literally, others argue that it was meant symbolically or as a fulfillment of prophecy.

Regardless of its meaning, however, this story underscores the importance of understanding context when interpreting biblical passages. By doing so, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the message that Jesus was trying to convey to his disciples and to us today.