Double edged sword

Roman Gladius

The Roman soldier’s gladius was a double edged sword used for stabbing and slashing. It was highly effective in its day. The ‘double edged sword’ is also a metaphor used to describe God’s word and used several times in Scripture. Some references are explicit, others are implied, but all together they show something about God’s word that’s poignant.

How Scripture answers "How is the word of God a double edged sword?"

answer..God’s word is just like a double edged sword1,2,3,13 in that it convicts the believer while at the same time condemning the unbeliever2,5,6,7,10,11,12. It penetrates the soul4,8,11 and is the only means by which God’s will is known6. The word of God, or “sword of the Spirit”1, subsequently becomes the Christian’s sole offensive, proactive weapon for confronting sin and evil1,3,4.

Answer built on scripture-blocks below

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.

In all situations, take up the shield of faith which can put out all Satan’s flaming darts.  Put on the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God, making sure to always offer prayer in the Spirit.

Paul’s metaphor of the Christian’s armor to be used in the spiritual battle that is waged.

Scripture-block application to this question

The words of the Spirit (word of God) is like a sword – the offensive weapon for battle.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
The word of God is alive and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword in its ability to pierce and lay bare the thoughts and intentions of the heart/mind.

The writer is arguing the better things in Christ and encouraging the Hebrews to “strive to enter that rest” (vs 11), unlike those of their heritage that died in the wilderness due to their disobedience.

Scripture-block application to this question

God’s word is still relevant (e.g. “active”) to judge a person according to their obedience to God. Its effect is “piercing” or penetrating8.

And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.
To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: “The words of Him who has the sharp two-edged sword.”

A letter to the church at Pergamum, the third of seven letters written to the seven churches of Asia from Jesus.

Scripture-block application to this question

Jesus depicted as having a two-edged sword as a tongue (e.g. the words He spoke)13.

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

Jesus concludes His address to Pergamum with a call to repent or He will “war against them with the sword of my mouth” (vs 16).

He made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow; in his quiver he hid me away.
He made my mouth like a sharp sword; he hid me under His hand; he made me a polished arrow and hid me in His quiver.

Isaiah the prophet’s preaching to Judah around 700BC and the pending Babylonian captivity.

Scripture-block application to this question

As a prophet of God, Isaiah spoke God’s words as if His mouth were like a “sharp sword.”

From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.

From his mouth comes a sharp sword which will strike down the nations, ruling them with a rod of iron.  He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God.

The book of Revelation is what John saw and was told to write down (1:1-2). Using “in the Spirit” as a structural marker, the book can be sectioned into four visions in particular:

  • Vision One (1:9-3:22) – Jesus speaking to the seven churches
  • Vision Two (4:1-16:21) – Seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls of wrath; “one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls” introduces the last two (and therefore possibly connected):
    • Vision Three (17:1-21:8) – Babylon the Harlot
    • Vision Four (21:9-22:5) – Jerusalem the Bride

In chapter 19, John sees one called “Faithful and True” (vs 11) and “The Word of God” (vs 13) sitting on a white horse.  He is the one that “judges and makes war” with the unrighteous.  “And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.” (vs 21)

Scripture-block application to this question

One that appears to be Jesus uses His mouth (His words) as a sword to slay all those opposed to Him.

For by fire will the Lord enter into judgment, and by his sword, with all flesh; and those slain by the Lord shall be many.

By fire and his sword, the Lord will enter into judgment on all mankind, and those slain by the Lord will be many.

The closing words of Isaiah the prophet.  The “judgement” here could be the final judgement.  But there are also many indications in the immediate context that Isaiah is referring to the oft prophesied “latter days” with statements (e.g. clues) such as:

  • “gather all nations and tongues” (vs 18),
  • “I will set a sign among them” (vs 19),
  • “they shall declare my glory among the nations (vs 19),
  • “some of them also I will take for priests” (vs 21 xref 1 Peter 2:9).

All of these statements would be descriptors of first century times.

Scripture-block application to this question

Judgement, whether here final judgment or the judgment that came with Jesus’ appearance, will by the sword (His words).

In that day the Lord with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea.
In that day the Lord will punish the serpent (e.g. Leviathan) and slay the dragon that is in the sea with his hard, great and strong sword.
After several oracles/judgments on specific nations such as Cush, Egypt, Moab, Tyre, etc. in the preceding chapters 15-23, Isaiah seems to turn to a broader declaration of judgment on all mankind in chapter 24.  This begins a particular concentration of “in/on that day” declarations that are dispersed throughout chapters 24-27.  Often, but not always, these declarations are describing circumstances that are fulfilled in the first century and the coming of Christ and His kingdom.
Scripture-block application to this question

Isaiah prophesying a day that God slays Satan seemingly with His Word9,13 – “a day” either/both when Christ came in the flesh (John 1) or when He comes in final judgement.

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brothers, what shall we do? And Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.

When they heard these words, they were pierced in the heart and asked Peter and the other apostles what they should do [to be saved].  Peter told them that they each should repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ in order to receive two things: the remission of their sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.  This “gift” was the promise made for all that the Lord calls to himself, even those far off.

Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost where he recalled several prophetic statements from Joel and David (vss 16-36). By divine inspiration, Peter interpreted these statements to apply their fulfillment to Jesus and the ushering in of the “last days”. He also specifically refers to the “promise of the Holy Spirit” earlier – given by the Father to the Son (vs 33). More were continuing to be saved and they began meeting together as the Lord’s church (vss 41-47).
Scripture-block application to this question

The hearers of the gospel on the day of Pentecost were “cut to heart”2.

Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands, to execute vengeance on the nations and punishments on the peoples, to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron, to execute on them the judgment written! This is honor for all His godly ones. Praise the Lord!

Let high praises of God be on their lips, with two-edged swords in their hands in order to enact the judgment and punishment that’s written for the nations and all people, binding their kings with chains and their elite with shackles made of iron.

A short song of praise to God by “in the assembly of the godly” (vs 1). 

Scripture-block application to this question

“Two-edged swords” used in the metaphorical sense given the “swords in their hands” are to “execute on them the judgment written”.

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

An otherwise beautiful understanding of this passage in which the “godly” (vss 1,5) engage and similar to other, more explicit, prophetic passages5,6,7.

For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.’

We have come to share in Christ, but only if we hold fast to the end our original confession of faith.  Just as it is written in Scripture, ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.’

Letter to Jewish Christians that is calling on them to “hold fast” in spite of persecution.  The main argument is the “better” things that exist for them through Christ Jesus. Chapter three deals specifically with Jesus’ superiority to Moses himself (vss 1-6) and goes on to compare the followers of Moses to those of Jesus.

The writer here repeats a quote made earlier (vs 7) from Psalms 95:7-11. The writer goes on to explain (interpret) those who rebelled (vss 16-19) as those that followed Moses from Egypt but “provoked” God and “sinned”, thereby dying in the wilderness (vss 16-17).  As a result, they did not “enter his rest” since they were “disobedient”(vs 18), which is the same as “unbelief” (vs 19).

Scripture-block application to this question

Hearing God’s word can “harden” one’s heart, causing one to rebel against Him.

And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.
Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his [Jesus’] mother that He is designated for the rise and fall of many of Israel, and as a sign that will be opposed as a sword pierces through souls, revealing the hidden thoughts of the heart.

The infant Jesus is being presented at the temple to observe what was written in the Law of Moses (vss 22-24).  They encounter Simeon who was a devout Hebrew who had been promised that he would see “the consolation of Israel” (vs 25) before his death.

Scripture-block application to this question

Simeon testifys about Jesus and the “sword” that would pierce hearts (exact sentiment of Hebrews2).

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to peace but a sword! For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.
Don’t think that I [Jesus] came to bring peace on earth. I didn’t come to bring peace, but conflict (“a sword”).  My coming pits even family members against each other! The resulting conflict will be personal, even within one’s household.
Chapter 10 is Matthew’s account of Jesus sending out the twelve to teach.  He has given them “authority over unclean spirits so they could cast them out and heal every kind of disease and sickness” (vs 1).  However, he has warned them that they will be “like sheep surrounded by wolves” (vs 16) and that “Brother will hand over brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rise against parents and have them put to death” (vs 21).

Mark’s account (6:7-13) and Luke’s account (9:1-6) are much shorter.

Scripture-block application to this question

Jesus’ words were a “sword” in the sense they divided people between those that believed and those that didn’t.

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

In this context, it’s clear that the apostles would be persecuted because of the words they spoke (e.g. Jesus’ words).

In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
He held seven stars in his right hand, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword and his face was shining like the sun in full radiance.
The book of Revelation is what John saw and was told to write down (1:1-2). Using “in the Spirit” as a structural marker, the book can be sectioned into four visions in particular:

  • Vision One (1:9-3:22) – Jesus speaking to the seven churches
  • Vision Two (4:1-16:21) – Seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls of wrath; “one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls” introduces the last two (and therefore possibly connected):
    • Vision Three (17:1-21:8) – Babylon the Harlot
    • Vision Four (21:9-22:5) – Jerusalem the Bride
Scripture-block application to this question

A sharp, two-edged sword comes from Jesus’ mouth.

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