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But now... Luke 22:35-6

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Revised March 11, 2012

"But now..."

What did Jesus REALLY mean when He said to His disciples: “But now…”

Luke 22:35-36 (KJV): “And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”


Following is an excerpt from: The Cooneyites or "Dippers"
Published in 1910 by Canon Armstrong


We turn to the accounts given us in the Gospels and Acts (Matt. xxviii. 19, 20; Mark xvi. 15-18; Acts i. 4-8) of our Lord's parting missionary charge to the Apostles, and we do not find one word in them to lead us to suppose that He meant them to go out on the lines laid down in Matt. x and Luke x.

In fact upon the night in which He was betrayed He had distinctly revoked the orders He had then given to the twelve and the seventy.

In Luke xxii. 35, 36, we read: "And He said unto them, When I sent you without purse and scrip and shoes, lacked ye anything? And they said, Nothing. Then said He unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one."

Let us contrast two explanations of this passage. First hear what an old Presbyterian commentator (Barnes) has to say:

" 'But now' (v. 35). The Saviour says the times are changed. Before, he sent them out only for a little while. They were in their own country. Their journeys would be short, and there was no need that they should make preparations for a long absence, nor for encountering great dangers.

But now they were to go into the wide world, among strangers, trials, dangers, and wants. And as the time was near: as He was about to die; and as these dangers pressed on; it was proper that they should make provision for what was before them…They should now take money, as it would he necessary to provide for their wants in traveling, 'a sword'…

It should be remembered that these directions about the purse, the scrip, and the sword were not made with reference to His being taken in the garden, but with reference to their future life. The time of the trial in Gethsemane was just at hand. Nor was there time then, if no other reason existed, to go and make the purchase. It altogether refers to their future life. They were going into the midst of dangers. The country was infested with robbers and wild beasts. It was customary to go armed."

But Barnes is old-fashioned (he wrote in 1837!). Let us hear what an "up-to-date" critic has to say, "entrusted," moreover, with "the interpretation of the Scriptures" (see page 35). Hear what Cooney says:

Having stated that Peter "had backslidden in heart, and was about to backslide openly," he goes on: "Matthew xxvi and xxxiv show that the others were in the same condition, unaware that they had lost confidence in Jesus in some measure, and departed from the simple faith they had in Him and His way at the beginning.

See the 35th verse. 'And He said unto them, When I sent you without purse and scrip and shoes, lacked ye anything? And they said, Nothing," meaning when I sent you at the first when your hearts beat true to Me, and you provided for yourselves neither gold, silver, brass, food, or extra clothes, did I not move hearts to provide you with home, food, clothes, gold, silver, brass, or anything else ye needed, as ye became My destitute sent ones, and went forth seeking first the kingdom? (Luke xii. 31-33.)

"But now…now that ye are going to backslide, now that Peter is going to deny Me, and go back to his fishing; now that ye are all about to forsake Me and flee because that ye are fools and slow of heart to believe (John xxi. 2, 3; Luke xxiv. 25): he that hath a purse let him take it, and likewise his scrip, and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

Verse 38 shows that they had gone so far wrong as to provide themselves with two swords, which they were probably hiding from the eyes of Jesus, but He knew their hearts, and when they produced the swords, He said, 'It is enough,' meaning it is enough to show you have lost confidence in Me and My Father.

It is enough to prove your backslidden condition. When He told the backslidden disciples to take purse, scrip, and sword it was because they had the heart to do it—'He gave them the desire of their hearts and sent leanness withal into their souls,' etc."

Barnes' Notes on the Bible

But now - The Saviour says the times are changed. "Before," he sent them out only for a little time. They were in their own country. Their journeys would be short, and there was no need that they should make preparation for a long absence, or for encountering great dangers. But "now" they were to go into the wide world, among strangers, trials, dangers, and wants. And as the time was near; as he was about to die; as these dangers pressed on, it was proper that they should make provision for what was before them.

A purse - See the notes at Matthew 10:9. He intimates that they should "now" take money, as it would be necessary to provide for their wants in traveling.

Scrip - See the notes at Matthew 10:10.

And he that hath no sword - There has been much difficulty in understanding why Jesus directed his disciples to arm themselves, as if it was his purpose to make a defense. It is certain that the spirit of his religion is against the use of the sword, and that it was not his purpose to defend himself against Judas. But it should be remembered that these directions about the purse, the scrip, and the sword were not made with reference to his "being taken" in the garden, but with reference "to their future life." The time of the trial in Gethsemane was just at hand; nor was there "time" then, if no other reason existed, to go and make the purchase. It altogether refers to their future life. They were going into the midst of dangers. The country was infested with robbers and wild beasts. It was customary to go armed.

He tells them of those dangers - of the necessity of being prepared in the usual way to meet them. This, then, is not to be considered as a specific, positive "command" to procure a sword, but an intimation that great dangers were before them; that their manner of life would be changed, and that they would need the provisions "appropriate to that kind of life." The "common" preparation for that manner of life consisted in money, provisions, and arms; and he foretells them of that manner of life by giving them directions commonly understood to be appropriate to it. It amounts, then, to a "prediction" that they would soon leave the places which they had been accustomed to, and go into scenes of poverty, want, and danger, where they would feel the necessity of money, provisions, and the means of defense. All, therefore, that the passage justifies is:

1. That it is proper for people to provide beforehand for their wants, and for ministers and missionaries as well as any others.

2. That self-defense is lawful.

Men encompassed with danger may lawfully "defend" their lives. It does not prove that it is lawful to make "offensive" war on a nation or an individual.

Let him sell his garment - His "mantle" or his outer garment. See the notes at Matthew 5:40. The meaning is, let him procure one at any expense, even if he is obliged to sell his clothes for it intimating that the danger would be very great and pressing.

Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

He that hath no sword - Bishop Pearce supposes that the word μαχαιραν, sword, has been inserted here from what is said in Luke 22:38, as it is evident our Lord never intended to make any resistance, or to suffer a sword to be used on the occasion; see Matthew 26:52. The word stands rather oddly in the passage: the verse, translated in the order in which it stands, is as follows: And he who hath none, let him sell his garment and buy - a sword. Now it is plain that the verb πωλησατω, let him buy, may be referred to πηραν a scrip, in the former part of the verse: therefore if, according to the bishop's opinion, the word sword be omitted, the passage may be understood thus: "When I sent you out before, Luke 10:1, etc., I intended you to continue itinerants only for a few days, and to preach the Gospel only to your country-men; therefore you had but little need of a staff, purse, or scrip, as your journey was neither long, nor expensive; but now I am about to send you into all the world, to preach the Gospel to every creature; and, as ye shall be generally hated and persecuted for my sake, ye shall have need to make every prudent provision for your journey; and so necessary will it be for you to provide yourselves victuals, etc., for your passage through your inhospitable country, that, if any of you have no scrip or wallet, he should sell even his upper garment to provide one."

Others, who are for retaining the word sword, think that it was a proverbial expression, intimating a time of great difficulty and danger, and that now the disciples had need to look to themselves, for his murderers were at hand. The reader will observe that these words were spoken to the disciples just before he went to the garden of Gethsemane, and that the danger was now so very near that there could be no time for any of them to go and sell his garment in order to purchase a sword to defend himself and his Master from the attack of the Jewish mob.

Judea was at this time, as we have already noticed, much infested by robbers: while our Lord was with his disciples, they were perfectly safe, being shielded by his miraculous power. Shortly they must go into every part of the land, and will need weapons to defend themselves against wild beasts, and to intimidate wicked men, who, if they found them totally defenceless, would not hesitate to make them their prey, or take away their life. However the matter may be understood, we may rest satisfied that these swords were neither to be considered as offensive weapons, nor instruments to propagate the truth. The genius and spirit of the Christian religion is equally against both. Perhaps, in this counsel of our Lord, he refers to the contention about supremacy: as if he had said, Instead of contending among yourselves about who shall be the greatest, ye have more need to unite yourselves against the common enemy, who are now at hand: this counsel was calculated to show them the necessity of union among themselves, as their enemies were both numerous and powerful.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Then said he unto them.... That is, Jesus said unto them, as the Persic version expresses it:

but now he that hath a purse let him take it, and likewise his scrip; signifying hereby, that from this time forward, immediately after his departure from them, after his death, resurrection, and ascension, when they should be sent into all the world to preach the Gospel, it would be otherwise with them than before; that they should be reduced to great penury and distress, should neither have food, nor money to buy any with; and that they should suffer hunger, and thirst, and nakedness, and have no certain dwelling place, as was their case; see 1 Corinthians 4:11 and that they would not be received, and entertained in the manner they had been; and therefore it would be advisable, if they had any provisions, to take them with them in their scrips; or if they had any money, to carry it with them in their purses; for glad would they be to provide themselves with necessaries at any rate:

and he that hath no sword; the word "sword" is not in this clause, but in the next; it is only in the original, "he that hath not"; which, at first sight; looks as if the sense was, he that hath not a purse, or a scrip, to sell, and buy a sword with, let him sell his garment, and buy one: but, as De Dieu observes, the phrase, "he that hath not", is the same with "he that has nothing"; who is a poor man, and has no money to buy a sword with, let him part with his garment, which rich men, who had money, had no need to do; though the Syriac, Persic, and Arabic versions put the word sword, in both clauses;

he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy a sword; that is, if he could get one no other way. Christ here uses the common dialect of the nation, as Dr. Lightfoot observes. So on the feast of dedication of the temple,

"if a man had not any thing to eat, but what he had by alms, he must beg, or , "sell his garment", and take oil, and lamps, and light them (u).''

These words of Christ are not to be understood literally, that he would have his disciples furnish themselves with swords at any rate, since he would never have said, as he afterwards does, that two were sufficient; which could not be enough for eleven men; or have forbid Peter the use of one, as he did in a very little time after this: but his meaning is, that wherever they came, and a door was opened for the preaching of the Gospel, they would have many adversaries, and these powerful, and would be used with great violence, and be followed with rage and persecution; so that they might seem to stand in need of swords to defend them: the phrase is expressive of the danger they would be exposed to, and of their need of protection; and therefore it was wrong in them to be disputing and quarrelling about superiority, or looking out for, and expecting temporal pomp and grandeur, when this would be their forlorn, destitute, and afflicted condition; and they would quickly see the affliction and distress begin in himself. In "seven" ancient copies of Beza's, it is read in the future tense, "he shall take, he shall sell, he shall buy".

(u) Maimon. Hilch. Megilla Uchanucha, c. 4. sect. 12.

Vincent's Word Studies


He that hath no sword, etc

But sword is not governed by hath. It is too far off in the sentence. The meaning is, he that hath not purse or scrip (and is therefore penniless), let him sell his garment and buy a sword. So Wyc.

Geneva Study Bible


{m} Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

(m) He says all this using an allegory, as if he said, O my friends and fellow soldiers, you have lived until now in relative peace: but now there is at hand a most severe battle to be fought, and you must therefore lay all other things aside and think about dressing yourselves in armour. And what this armour is, is shown by his own example, when he prayed afterward in the garden and reproved Peter for striking with the sword.

People's New Testament

22:36 But now. Now has come a time of trial when all will be against you.

He that hath no sword, let him... buy one. Not to be taken literally, but a striking way of saying that enemies upon every side will assail them.

Wesley's Notes

22:36 But now - You will be quite in another situation. You will want every thing. He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one - It is plain, this is not to be taken literally. It only means, This will be a time of extreme danger.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

22:21-38 How unbecoming is the worldly ambition of being the greatest, to the character of a follower of Jesus, who took upon him the form of a servant, and humbled himself to the death of the cross! In the way to eternal happiness, we must expect to be assaulted and sifted by Satan. If he cannot destroy, he will try to disgrace or distress us. Nothing more certainly forebodes a fall, in a professed follower of Christ, than self-confidence, with disregard to warnings, and contempt of danger. Unless we watch and pray always, we may be drawn in the course of the day into those sins which we were in the morning most resolved against. If believers were left to themselves, they would fall; but they are kept by the power of God, and the prayer of Christ. Our Lord gave notice of a very great change of circumstances now approaching. The disciples must not expect that their friends would be kind to them as they had been. Therefore, he that has a purse, let him take it, for he may need it. They must now expect that their enemies would be more fierce than they had been, and they would need weapons. At the time the apostles understood Christ to mean real weapons, but he spake only of the weapons of the spiritual warfare. The sword of the Spirit is the sword with which the disciples of Christ must furnish themselves.



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