Taking up the Sword?

Taking up the Sword?


The Bible makes a distinction between “taking up arms” and “bearing arms.” Understanding this difference has wide implications on the political situation today.

There have been modern cases of misuse of weapons by police, even what appears to have been manslaughter or murder. On the other hand, there have been modern cases of lawlessness manifested in widespread looting and criminal activities. And at the same time, there have been massive protests that attempt to delegitimize the police altogether.

In Europe there has been a new outbreak of terror attacks by Islamic extremists, and then violent protests when police have intervened to stop those terror attacks. In Armenia and Azerbaijan, there is cross-cultural fighting, with intervention from Turkey.

Despite the fact that all these events are very complex and difficult to understand, it is worth noting a few biblical principles in trying to make a discernment.

Yeshua (Jesus) warned His disciples, “All who take up the sword will die by the sword” – Matthew 26:52. Armed rebellion is not the way to bring the kingdom of God. “Taking up the sword” in this context is using weapons without submission to the legally ordained police or army. It is using weapons to overthrow the government.

Principle of Submission to Legitimate Authority

The scriptural principle is that power must always be submitted to legitimate authority. Weapons are a kind of power and they must be submitted to a legal government.

In the time of the destruction of the Second Temple (the generation of Yeshua’s disciples), bands of zealots rose in rebellion against the Roman Empire. Although those efforts seemed patriotic, Zionistic, and Messianic, they were not of God. There were wars and rebellions in the generation both before and after Yeshua. They can be compared to the rebels in the time of Jeremiah who