The issue of possessing deadly weapons is part of the broader discussion on self defense, especially lethal self defense that traces back to Exodus 22:2-3. There is no question that Christ instructed EACH of His disciples to buy a sword: “he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. (Luke 22:36) The sword was the deadly weapon of the day. Its logical counterpart today would be a firearm. It was carried in addition to another potential weapon; the staff (Luke 9:3).
So important was this instruction that He asked them to sacrifice a garment to buy one if need be. Since ALL disciples were to buy a sword, it follows that His instruction applied to their future ministry. The events that were to unfold that night required ONE sword only; when “they said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough” (verse 38)
So two of the eleven disciples already carried sword in His presence and with His consent. Their example and Christ’s command teaches us that faith in Him did not preclude us from carrying a deadly weapon, or by extension, taking reasonable precautions against risk in anything we do. Of course this does not mean we MUST carry a firearm today. It shows that if we do, it is reasonable, has biblical precedent, and should not be judged as “lacking faith” by others.
What do we learn when they came to arrest Jesus in the Garden?
“… Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” (John 18:10-11)
Matthew adds: “… for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?” ( Matthew 26:52-54)
Christ tells Peter He is willingly laying down His life, though He has the right to use sword and angelic legions to deliver Himself from this unjust arrest (Luke 22:51, John 18:11). We learn that those who are quick to resort to violence or use it improperly will die by violence (Matt 26:52). Not all violence is evil or unwise. America has almost a million armed police officers who in a sense “live by the sword”, yet only a minuscule percentage ever “die by the sword”.
Possession of weapons is never discouraged in Scripture. Weapons and skills with them can be good and useful. Christ would not have commanded His disciples to own a sword if it were otherwise. But as this example of Peter demonstrates, the sword is not always the appropriate response. There is greater protection than from the sword.
One real and tangible benefit from the possession of weapons is their deterrent value. God used the principle of “deterrence” when He established His law and statutes, along with the penalties for breaking them. The extensive studies of John Lott (author of “More Guns Less Crime”… http://johnrlott.blogspot.com/) confirm what we intuitively already know: Criminals are less likely to engage in crime the more they perceive their victims are armed, while “gun free zones” have become killing fields for the lawless. It is unlikely the death toll in Paris would have been so severe had a sizable percentage of citizens owned guns. As more law abiding citizens own guns, the chances of Americans dying in stadiums, shopping malls, in their homes, or as they attend church … decreases.
The inevitable conclusion therefore is the following: The aggregate cost of law abiding citizens NOT owning guns becomes the proximate cause for significant loss of innocent life and misery in our society today. Consider this: A deadly weapon in every home was probably the norm throughout much of history. In Palestine during the time of Christ, or during the time of ancient Israel, owning a sword was common. This fact alone would have deterred home invasion and made society safer.
It bears repeating; possession of weapons is never discouraged in Scripture. Christians who choose to own guns should not be judged by those who don’t, and vice versa.