There is a great deal of debate, both between Christians and non-Christians, as well as among Christians, as to whether or not purchasing a gun for self-defense is compatible with Christianity. On the one hand, self-defense is perfectly biblical, even when, in certain cases, it may have lethal results (Exod. 22:2-3). This alone should prove that owning a gun, in at least some cases, is defensible for the Christian. However, there is one verse in particular that is frequently abused by well-meaning Christians looking to (otherwise justifiably) use the Bible to legitimate owning a gun for self-defense.
“35 And He said to them, “When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” They said, “No, nothing.” 36 And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘And He was numbered with transgressors’; for that which refers to Me has its [h]fulfillment.” 38 They said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.””(Lk. 22:35-38).
Jesus is not stating that, as a rule, Christians should own guns. He is certainly not requiring it of Christians, as some have argued. John Calvin’s commentary on this passage is illuminating:
“36. But now let him who hath a purse take it. In metaphorical language he threatens that they will soon meet with great troubles and fierce attacks; just as when a general, intending to lead the soldiers into the field of battle, calls them to arms, and orders them to lay aside every other care, and think of nothing else than fighting, not even to take any thought about procuring food. For he shows them–as is usually done in cases of extreme danger–that every thing must be sold, even to the scrip and the purse, in order to supply them with arms. And yet he does not call them to an outward conflict, but only, under the comparison of fighting, he warns them of the severe struggles of temptations which they must undergo, and of the fierce attacks which they must sustain in spiritual contests. That they might more willingly throw themselves on the providence of God, he first reminded them, as I have said, that God took care to supply them with what was necessary, even when they carried with them no supplies of food and raiment. Having experienced so large and seasonable supplies from God, they ought not, for the future, to entertain any doubt that he would provide for every one of their necessities.”
Basically, John Calvin argues that the language is metaphorical. He assures Christians that they will soon experience serious persecution and that they ought to take the example of a soldier, who bears his arms and lays aside other cares (symbolized by the language of the selling one’s “cloak”), giving no thought to anything other than “fighting,” although as the Apostle Paul writes, the weapons of the Christian are not the weapons of this world (Eph. 6:10-20; 2 Cor. 10:1-6).
Indeed, in his commentary a few verses later, Calvin says that the disciples were guilty of being “stupid” for thinking that Jesus was referring to literal swords:
“38. Lord, lo, here are two swords. It was truly shameful and stupid ignorance, that the disciples, after having been so often informed about bearing the cross, imagine that they must fight with swords of iron. When they say that they have two swords, it is uncertain whether they mean that they are well prepared against their enemies, or complain that they are ill provided with arms. It is evident, at least, that they were so stupid as not to think of a spiritual enemy. As to the inference which the Doctors of Canon Law draw from these words — that their mitered bishops have a double jurisdiction — it is not only an offensive allegory, but a detestable mockery, by which they ridicule the word of God. And it was necessary that the slaves of Antichrist should fall into such madness, of openly trampling under feet, by sacrilegious contempt, the sacred oracles of God.”