It's a pretty strained interpretation for anyone to think that Christ ever meant His followers to take up the sword in anything but self defense! But then again, Christians are pretty famous for straining Biblical truth. As far as I am concerned, sticking as close as possible to the most plain and obvious meaning of the words is the best way to go.
This has been a most interesting thread, even if it has wandered a bit from the original topic.
Which words, exactly? Unless you read aramaic you're reading a trasnlation, and translations usually get "flavored" by the personal experiences and judgements of the translators.
Then you'd need to know what version of the bible to follow. A lot was left out of it by the council of nicea because it didn't fit their idea of what the bible should be and say, or it didn't fit constantine's desires.
Then of course there's the king james version of the bible, or some other version....
I think you nailed it, AllHallows. Now - for your comments, Judge - The New Testament was originally written in Greek, not Aramaic. Odds are Jesus spoke both pretty fluently, as most of his disciples were bilingual. Please don't buy into the "Da Vinci Code" myth about the Council of Nicea arbitrarily choosing which books would or would not be in the New Testament. They did no such thing - we have most of their minutes on record. They were charged with creating a creed all Christians could agree to, deciding whether Arius of Alexandria was a heretic or not, and producing 50 copies of the New Testament for the Emperor Constantine, who did not even attend the Council except to welcome its members. So they wrote the Nicene Creed, which nearly all Christian churches still agree to, produced 50 copies (of which two, the Codexes Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, still survive), and, after intense debate, decided that Arius was indeed teaching heresy.
A generation later, the Council of Hippo created the first "official" list of the New Testament canon, but all they did was recognize the books that had been universally accepted by the church for over 250 years! Four of the very short books - Jude, II and III John, and II Peter - were not as widely known and had to be debated. Three other books - I Clement and the Shepherd of Hermas, and something called the Didache - were declared to be profitable for devotion but not Scripture, since they were not written or linked with the Apostles of Christ.
The books that are commonly said to have been "kicked out" of the New Testament were actually never a part of it. The Gnostic gospels and epistles were all written from about 150 to 400 AD, long after the Apostles were dead. They are historically inaccurate, doctrinally screwy, and in every other way inferior to the material that actually made the canon, aside from the fact that they are forgeries with the names of long-dead apostles tacked onto them in an attempt to win acceptance.
As far as the various versions and translations, if you take the time to read them you will find that most of them say pretty much the same thing. We have over 6,000 Greek manuscripts to work from, so it's easy to go to the original sources, or at least pretty darn close. As a matter of fact, textual critics say that the New Testament has been passed down with a textual purity of 99.8%. And of the handful of questionable passages that remain, not a one affects a major doctrine of the faith.
Pennywise, I never said Christ was not a peaceful leader. Let your faith rest in peace. What I am saying is that He loved people - enough to sacrifice Himself to save them from the sin that enslaves them. Tolerating sin is not love, but preaching hate against its victims is not love either. Christ calls us to walk a line between those poles.
Again, the Bible has a natural flow of interpretation. The laws that most people get so heated up about were created for Israel 3,000 years ago and were never meant to apply anywhere else. The Greeks did have a form of rough democracy, but they also had slavery and pedophilia and lots of other things we won't tolerate today. Several authors have argued quite successfully that it is Christianity that took the best aspects of Roman and Greek philosophy, gave them a guiding morality, and created Western Civilization as we know it today.
For both of you, I recommend James Kennedy's WHAT IF JESUS HAD NEVER BEEN BORN and Dinesh D'souza's WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT CHRISTIANITY? They answer several of your questions and comments far better than I could. Lee Strobel's THE CASE FOR FAITH is also exceedingly excellent.
Well, I have typed too long, and I have to go to work!