From Baptist Bulletin, March/April 2016, used by permission. All rights reserved. Read Part 1.
New Testament texts
Luke 22:35, 36, and 38 are the only direct New Testament statements about self-defense. Jesus had previously sent His followers on various missions with instructions regarding what provisions and equipment they were allowed to take with them. In sending out the Twelve, He permitted no staff, bag, bread, money, or extra shirt (Luke 9:3). When He sent out the Seventy, He disallowed purse, bag, and sandals (Luke 10:4). These were not, however, intended as permanent, normative commands for all believers for all time. That is clear since Jesus contrasts these earlier restrictions with what would be necessary after the Crucifixion.
In Luke 22:35, 36, and 38 Jesus explicitly commands His followers to take the sort of provisions they were previously asked to leave at home: “He who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack” (v. 36a). But now a new item is added to the list. They are told to buy a sword (machaira), even if they have to sell their cloak to do so (v. 36b). This was not a butter knife for their bread or a paring knife for peeling apples. The machaira was, as BDAG (Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament) defines it, “a relatively short sword or other instrument, sword, dagger,” which is most commonly referenced in the New Testament as an instrument for killing (e.g., Mark 14:43; Luke 21:24; Acts 12:2; 16:27; Heb. 11:37; Rev. 13:10). Read more about Self-Defense and the Christian, Part 2