Jesus's refusal to be defended by the sword at his arrest plays a significant role in popular and scholarly understandings of Jesus as a committed pacifist. Of the four NT accounts, the Gospel of Luke offers Jesus's most forceful and unequivocal rebuke: “No more of this!” (Luke 22:51 NRSV), translating ἐᾶτε ἓως τούτου. Such a translation, however, is tendentious and misleading, seemingly the result of a twentieth-century translational bias that has exerted enormous influence on subsequent biblical translation and interpretation. An analysis of Luke's lexical usage, grammar, and context rather suggests that, instead of rebuking his disciples, Jesus is reminding them of the divine plan to which Jesus must not only submit, but which he must actively carry out. In Luke's narrative framework, Satan has received permission to sift the disciples in the present hour of darkness, and the disciples must not interfere with the divine permissio. This apocalyptic reading allows the words ἐᾶτε ἓως τούτου their more natural force: “permit until this,” or, more pointedly, “allow the arrest to continue.” The subsequent healing of the high priest's slave guarantees the continuation of the plan and expresses Jesus's control over the situation more than his presumed compassion or love. The implications for Christian ethics are considerable: Jesus may have been a “pacifist” but not in the way one might think.

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