Tallit for a Sword
As always, we are, of course, going to provide to you a pure biblical perspective; however, in order to answer our audience fully, we must also spend a little time with the world. You will see how Jesus was not asking His disciples to arm themselves, but rather you will find that He was testing them when He told them to buy a sword. Furthermore, you will see how this was not just a test, but it was also a warning, one that should be taken quite seriously.
We hear too many Christians trying to use Luke 22:35-38 to justify the threat of violence, but we are here today to tell you quite honestly that you are very much in error. Much of the issue boils down to a single passage in the book of Luke and we tell you honestly that you have misunderstood its meaning and have effectively rejected our LORD and Savior, Jesus.
Hidden in Plain Sight
It is very easy to misunderstand the Gospel and Luke is no exception, especially chapter 22, verses 35 to 38, because as Gentiles, we lack a critical understanding of Jewish culture that is the key to understanding the true meaning of Luke 22:35-38.
35 And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.
36 Then said he unto them, 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.
37 For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.
38 And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.
Above is our questionable passage found in Luke 22:35-38, so what we need to do in order to fully understand this passage is to look up the original Greek, so to see which Greek words were used, as doing so often tells us more than the English translations.
Tallit for a Sword
The word “garment” was translated from the Greek word, “himation”. In ancient Greece, the “himation” was not just any sort of garment, as the Greek lexicon might have you believe; on the contrary, the himation was worn over clothes, like a cloak, and would have been the closest thing that the Greeks had to compare to the Jewish “Prayer Shawl”.
Let’s not forget that Jesus and His disciples were faithful Jews and would have, indeed, worn a “Prayer Shawl”, because they would cover themselves with it while praying. In Hebrew the “Prayer Shawl” is called a “tallit” and the Jews were commanded by God to wear them while praying, as is described in the book of Numbers 15:38 and in Deuteronomy 22:12.
Therefore, allow us to translate Luke 22:36 using what we have just learned:
Then Jesus said, “But now, he that has a purse, let him take it, and treat it as a beggars-bag: and he without a sword, let him sell his tallit, and buy one.
Now that we have this verse in proper context, we can easily see that Jesus was testing the faith of His disciples. We know this because Jesus effectively said to His disciples, “those without faith in me, go buy a weapon to protect yourself”, because in Ephesians 6:17 we learn that the true “sword” of faith is the word of God and with Jesus was the word:
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
In order to understand Luke 22:36 fully, we must now turn to Matthew 26:51-52:
51 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear.
52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
Here is a passage that must be overlooked, because upon reading it, one would immediately detect a contradiction, assuming that we can be counted amongst the lot of those who believe that Luke 22:36 is suggesting that one buy weapons for their personal safety. What we are failing to consider is that we are trading our tallit for a sword.
In other words, one is effectively trading ones faith for a weapon; therefore, in turn, one is literally rejecting the offer of Salvation and attempting to bring about ones own salvation by foolishly relying upon oneself. The Bible says that no man can save himself and if he tries to save his own life, he will surely lose it. Honestly, the word of God cannot be more clear.
When Jesus asked His disciples if any of them had a sword, at least 10 said “No” and at least 2 said “Yes” and they showed Jesus actual swords. They were Jewish and should have known better than to consider selling their tallit, as God commanded them to wear it. Not even they understood the reference and their chance is gone, but you can reconsider.
We are asking you to sell your sword and to buy back your tallit. Place your faith in the word of God, which is your greatest sword of all, and love your enemies as yourself. Be reminded that we have a mighty God and that He truly wants to fight in your place.
For it is written, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)