SWORD AND GARMENT
BY: A. P. ADAMS
“And Jesus said unto them, ‘When I sent you without purse, or scrip, or 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. For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me. And he was reckoned among the transgressors; for the things concerning me have an end.’ And they said, ‘Lord, behold here are two swords;’ and he said unto them ‘It is enough.'”
The drift of this passage plainly indicates that there is a mystical or spiritual meaning here; purse, scrip, shoes, sword and garment are evidently symbols to set forth some hidden meaning, and are not to be taken in the literal and most obvious sense; in fact, if we take the passage literally there is but very little force or meaning to it; why should they literally take purse, scrip, and shoes now any more than formerly? Why should they sell their garments to buy swords? Christ would not allow them to use swords in his defense or in the propagation of his doctrines; his is the gospel of peace, of non-resistance and moral suasion, not of physical force backed up with carnal weapons; and furthermore, if Christ meant literal swords, “two” would not have been “enough.” If literal swords were so important to them at that time, that they had better part with their clothing than to be without one, the idea that “two” were “enough” for twelve persons would be ridiculous; it was enough of that kind of swords but that was not the kind that Jesus meant. It seems then, that there is a spirit to these words of Jesus, and only as we perceive this spiritual sense shall we get at the real marrow and pith of the passage. What then is the spirit of this word? First let us seek for the meaning of these symbols. The “purse” was for money, a pocketbook as we would say; the “scrip” was a large bag or satchel for carrying provisions or anything necessary for a journey; the “sword” is the symbol of the truth, “the word of God;” see Eph. 6:17 and Heb. 4:12; the “garment” indicates the outward covering or form, the uniform, the livery, the “colors,” as we often express it, under which one sails. (See Psa. 73:6; 109:18; Joel 2:13). Now let us apply these symbolical meanings to the explanation of the passage. But first let us notice the peculiar circumstances, surrounding the disciples. A change was about to take place; Christ had been with them for three years and a half, but now he was about to leave them. The prophetic word applying to that time was being rapidly fulfilled; the climax was approaching; Christ indicates this change when he says, then I told you to take neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes, nor weapon; but now take all of these especially the last, though you must sell your mantle to buy a sword. In plain language the thought is this. While Christ was with them they needed not to make much provision for the future; they could come to him with every question and difficulty and have it infallibly settled. He was the way, the truth, and the life. He was “the light of the world;” as long as they had Him with them they needed nothing more, neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes, nor weapon; i.e. they need make no provision either for their spiritual sustenance or defense so long as they had Him at hand to fly to. But what should they do now that he was about to leave them? “As long as I am in the world I am the light of the world; walk while ye have the light.” But what shall we do, Lord, when the light is gone? “Have salt in yourselves.” (Mark 9:50) “The water that I shall give you, shall be in you a well of water springing up unto life æonial.” “We have this treasure in earthen vessels,” but so long as we have it, even though the vessels be weak, we are safe. In other words, take purse, and scrip, and shoes, and, especially, sword; i.e. gird yourselves and make ready for the journey that is before you, until my return; for these words are to the church (the out called) throughout the gospel age. You will have no personal Jesus to go to; you will meet with difficulty, persecution, reproach, conflict. Be sure then that you take with you in your purse the legal tender of the kingdom, “gold tried in the fire.” Be sure that you take your scrip, provision for the future; take oil in your vessels with your lamps (Matt. 25: 4), or the light will not last you through to the coming of the heavenly Bridegroom. And let “your feet be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” for you have a long journey before you, and especially take “the Sword of the spirit which is the word of God.”
Nothing but the truth will keep us, in “this present evil age;” no matter about the livery, the outward form, let that go. If you have the truth, that shall hold you, and make you free. That the foregoing is the real spiritual meaning of this passage is still further confirmed by verse 37; “For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me. And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me, have an end.” What could keep them in the terrible trial of their faith that was before them, when Jesus was to be numbered with the transgressors, what could keep them but the truth? These things could only be understood and explained by a knowledge of the word. The only thing that could keep them from stumbling would be to view these events in the light of prophetic scripture; hence how needful that they have the sword, the truth. The church to-day generally thinks more of the garment than they do of the sword. The livery, the uniform, the trappings, the outward covering is more to the masses of God’s professed people than “the hidden man of the heart.” The cry of the many is for imposing edifices, an educated ministry, comfortable pews, elegant pulpits, numerical strength, wealth, popularity, etc., etc., rather than for spiritual power and heavenly light. They sacrifice the sword for the garment; the truth for appearances; the kernel for the husk. The nominal people of the Lord are like an army of gaily uniformed soldiers with wooden muskets and lead bayonets. A soldier had better make sure of a good weapon whether he has a fine uniform or not. Oftentimes is the true disciple called upon to give up the garment for the sake of the sword; he finds himself compelled, if he would follow Christ, to “go forth unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.” (Heb. 13:13; compare Ex. 33:7). Never mind, the outward forms perish, it is only the truth that endures; “For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass; the grass withereth and the flower thereof falleth away, but the word of the Lord endureth forever.” “And, thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment, and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed; but thou art the same and thy years fail not.” Truly, he that hath no sword had better sell his garment if need be and buy one.
SWORD AND GARMENT [A. P. Adams] 1