"Sell your cloak . . ."
The NT Scriptures actually leave us with a fairly clear statement on the use of defensive force. Jesus is teaching His disciples as He has done on other occasions. He is getting close to the completion of His ministry, and He is preparing to go to the cross. By reading Luke 22:35-38 we note the following:
Jesus is reminding the disciples that He has miraculously protected them and provided for their needs during the earlier missionary journey He sent them on. They can trust Him.
With His imminent crucifixion He warns them that there are some changes they should anticipate. The world that hated Him is going to hate them too. Going to the cross is not the final chapter. They need to plan on and prepare for adversity.
Among the provisions they need to acquire is a sword. It is not to be used in a military sense where everyone would be required to have one. Instead, when the disciples point out "Here are two swords," He says, "That is enough." Two swords among twelve men is not an aggressive call to arms. It is a defensive preparation.
Now, if we can defend our own lives, and we are instructed to love our neighbor as ourselves, we can also defend our helpless neighbor. For an answer to "Who is my neighbor?" read the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37). It is reasonable to conclude that Unborn infants qualify. (22)
Those who oppose a moral justification for force will proceed to argue that Jesus ordered His disciples to "put away" their swords after Peter had impetuously sheared away the ear of a soldier/servant (John 18:11), but by citing this as a proof text they pull Scripture out of context. When Jesus rebuked Peter it was because he was interfering with a foreordained plan. Jesus was going to the cross. Peter had been rebuked before for suggesting that "This [the cross] shall never happen to you" (Mt. 16:22-23). And he had not fully grasped the lesson.
This Scripture, to put away the sword, in no way abandons the concept of either being allowed to defend yourself or another innocent person from unjust aggression. Recall that it was only hours before this event took place that Jesus instructed the disciples to go out and buy a sword. Is the Son of God so vulnerable to confusion that within hours of directing the disciples to prepare for their future defense in one way, He then rebukes them in a manner meant to convey an opposite instruction? We think not!
Others have argued against using this Scripture by stating that the sword being spoken of by Jesus in Luke 22:26 is a "spiritual sword." But, again, this can only be deduced by taking the Scripture out of context. Is Jesus talking about a spiritual "purse, bag or sandals" in verse 35? Of course not! So why should we expect that He will switch from the physical to the spiritual when He tells them to sell their cloak if that is what they must do in order to acquire a sword. Can a spiritual sword be purchased for the price of a cloak?
"Ah," proclaims the opponent of force, "He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword," referring to Matthew 26:52. If defense to save a helpless victim is not intrinsically wrong, it is wrong because it will eventually accrue harm to the forceful defender, is their argument.
We dispute both the claim that this Scripture speaks to defense of self or another innocent person and the conclusion. If anyone can be said to be “living by the sword,” we argue that it is the abortionist who is paid by the head for each baby that he kills. To that end, Scripture appears to articulate a truth as far as abortionists David Gunn, John Britton, and James Barrett are concerned. Certainly they have lived by violent means. Their end appears to be the logical fruit of their labor.