God’s Word, an Instrument of Death

When I think of a sword, I think of a kid’s toy, but it is actually the past’s version of our gun: the feared weapon for much of history.

The sword comes up plenty in our Bibles. I stumbled across it when reading Romans 8 recently. Paul exclaims “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” (Rom 8:35) Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ! But what do our Bible authors want us to understand when they use the sword word? I think we need to define what sword means, starting with a word search across our Bibles.

 

“The pen is mightier than the sword”. Rubbish, absolute rubbish.

Now before all the mighty keyboard warriors start launching an assault at me to prove their point, let me explain.

Have you ever realized a word means something quite different to what you thought? For example, I thought grizzly was just another way of saying grumpy, but in fact it first meant grey-haired. Culture and word usage changed, altering the word’s original intent. It happens all the time in English, given the evolving and adaptable language it is.

I think this has happened with ‘sword’.

The sword comes up plenty in our Bibles. I stumbled across it when reading Romans 8 recently. Paul exclaims:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? (Rom 8:35)

Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ! But what do our Bible authors want us to understand when they use the sword word? I think we need to define what sword means, starting with a word search across our Bibles.

From our search we discover many, many references to the sword. The majority of passages help us see that the sword is used as the ancient killing instrument (e.g. Gen 34:26Num 14:3Judg 3:21-22Acts 12:216:27Heb 11:37). (You could argue it’s also defensive, but that defence is just the threat of death.)When I think of a sword, I think of a kid’s toy, but it is actually the past’s version of our gun: the feared weapon for much of history.

But how does this fit with the pen-sword battle?

Well, it is during our word search of sword that we stumble across Ephesians 6 and Hebrews 4, and it is here that I want to strike a blow in our pen-sword battle. With the contextual backdrop of the sword being the killing instrument, we see these passages with a new light:

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. (Eph 6:16-18)
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 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. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Heb 4:11-13)

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