John 18:10-11 (NKJV) says: “Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?”
Was it right for Saint Peter to defend Jesus Christ with violence?
I personally don’t know the answer. But hopefully, through a healthy dose of pondering and feedback from all of you, we can come to some sort of conclusion.
Warrior Saints are a topic that may make some people uncomfortable. A holy killer? Is it even possible? After all, Matthew 5:5 (NKJV) says: “Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.” Well in the Orthodox and Catholic traditions, Warrior Saints are abundant and held in high regard. The most famous of these most likely being Saint George. (The one who killed a goshdang dragon, no big deal.)
In fact, the more you look into Catholicism, and especially Orthodoxy, the more Warrior Saints you are likely to notice. For some, it is subtly told. Many icons of Saint Phanourios depict him holding a cross and a sword, as well as wearing armor. However he holds the cross more prominently than the sword, and his armor may not even look like such to the untrained eye. For others, their profession as a soldier is boldly and loudly proclaimed, like in the iconography of Saint Philopater Mercurius. He is shown in armor and riding a rearing horse. He holds two crossed swords above his head and beneath the horse is a man struck-through with a lance. Even women can be Warrior Saints. And who is a better example than Saint Joan of Arc herself?
The violence or martial prowess isn’t what makes these men and women Saints. However, the fact that their warrior natures have always been shown, without hesitation, tells us that it played at least some part in their sanctification. In fact, many times in the Holy Bible, violence was God’s way of purifying, anointing, or crowning his chosen people. For example: David and Goliath, Sampson, and most of the Book of Judges. (More on those in a later article.)
All things, including warfare, work for God’s glory. Were the battles of the Old Testament merely a product of their times? Is the coming of Jesus Christ the signal for us to lay down our arms? Or is it possible to emulate the actions of David, Sampson, and Gideon in a Christ-Like manner? Matthew 10:34 (NKJV) says: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” Is this sword only to be held by Christ himself? Or are we to emulate his example here?
With this article, and the ones to follow it, I hope to explore how one can engage in spiritual warfare while also engaging in physical warfare. This is the first of a multi-part series, where we will explore warfare in a Christian context, the struggles of Warrior Saints, and what it means to take up arms for Christ.
So I will ask again: Was it right for Saint Peter to defend Jesus Christ with violence?