The Surprising Answer to the Age-Old Question, 'Would Jesus Pack Heat?'

Jesus Christ has been called many names over the centuries — King of Kings, Lord of Lords, master, savior, the Great Shepherd.

How about Pistol Packin’ Preacher?


Mark Byron, a Christian, ponders the question of whether Jesus would ever own a firearm. After going through Old Testament sanctions of the use of force for the nation of Israel, in which Jesus as a member of the Trinity would have had a say, Byron turns to the New Testament. He lands on Luke 22:38, which says:

The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That is enough,” he replied.

Obviously Colt 1911 semiautomatic pistols were not available in first century Israel. But swords were available, and in that verse, Jesus doesn’t seem to have a problem with the disciples owning a pair of swords.

Actually, Jesus’ answer to the question of self-defense is quite a bit stronger than that. In that same chapter of Luke, Jesus is about to be betrayed by one of his own. Having just told Peter that he would deny knowing Jesus before the next dawn, Jesus turns on the teaching again.

35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

“Nothing,” they answered.

36 He said to 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. 37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’[b]; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That is enough,” he replied.


There are a couple of things going on here. In verse 35 Jesus is reminding the disciples of when He sent them out to teach in pairs. They went out with nothing, so that they could learn to depend on faith. But things are about to get tough for His followers, and Jesus knows it. He is telling them to be prepared for attacks on them, to the point of selling their cloaks to arm up. Most men of that era probably only owned one or two cloaks. This command was a big one. Sell half of your wardrobe so you can defend yourself. He is also hinting to them that they will have a new weapon at their side — the Sword of the Spirit. So Jesus’ advice is practical and spiritual at the same time, grounded in the present reality and the near future. It’s not pacifist in either meaning.

Jesus would probably not have packed heat, but as God in the flesh he had no need to. He commanded the waves. He allowed the crucifixion as fulfillment of His mission. At the same time, He commands his followers to be ready to defend themselves, physically and spiritually, and provides us a weapon for the latter.

And that’s our Sunday School lesson for the day. Let us pray.


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