Were Jesus and His Followers Armed?

Were Jesus and his followers armed?  That’s the question for this week’s Readers’ Mailbag.  I had started to address the question when I realized that I had already said what I have to say as well as I could say it in my recent book Jesus Before the Gospels.  And so I will give that discussion here.  So, here’s the question and my response   QUESTION: What is the scholarly view on this subject: did Jesus himself, his movement and then early Christians walk around with weapons (swords, e.g.) to protect themselves, despite preaching the love for enemies? Do we have any historical evidence of how things looked like in this matter?   RESPONSE:  (Taken from Jesus Before the Gospels) In all four Gospels, at least one of Jesus’ followers is armed when he is arrested.   In the Synoptics, this unnamed follower draws his sword and strikes the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear (see Mark 14:47).  In John’s Gospel we learn that the sword-bearing disciple was Peter (John 18: 10).   Jesus [...]