Then said Jesus to him, Put up again your sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
Put up again thy sword into his place. We need not suppose that our Lord intended to give any general directions concerning the use of the sword. The question of the lawfulness or unlawfulness of warfare cannot even be connected with our Lord's expression to St. Peter. Our Lord's words strictly fit the occasion. "Resistance at that time would have involved certain destruction. More than that, it would have been fighting, not for God, but against him, because against the fulfilment of his purpose." It is rather strange to find St. Peter with a sword. No doubt he had anticipated a conflict, and therefore provided the weapon. It is not likely that he knew how to use the sword, and he evidently slashed with it very dangerously.
I. THE SHEATH IS NOT ALWAYS THE PLACE FOR THE SWORD. We may wish that it could be kept there, but while human nature is what it is; while society finds it needful to guard itself against itself; and while nations will press claims against other nations, the sword can neither be kept in its sheath nor turned into a ploughshare. We can see three types of persons who must still, on occasion, take the sword out of its sheath.
1. The executioner, who carries out the decisions of the law in relation to criminals, disturbers of the public peace, who have been fairly tried and honourably condemned.
2. The vindicator, who must take the sword out of its sheath to avenge public wrongs, ill treatment of ambassadors, etc., as lately at Manipur.
3. The defender, who meets the foe who would rifle his home or imperil his nation's liberty.
II. THE SHEATH IS ALWAYS THE PLACE FOR THE CHRISTIAN SWORD. The "weapons of our warfare are not carnal." We triumph by submission, not by resistance. "In whatever other cause it may be lawful to use carnal weapons, it is not wise or right to draw the sword for Christ and his truth" (Plumptre). Christ's law is "Resist not evil." Christianity has found a strange, but a triumphant, method of dealing with evil. It lets it do its worst. This was our Lord's way. He yielded, gave himself up, endured, let evil show itself fully; and the consequence is, the whole world knows how utterly bad and base evil is. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.