What did Jesus mean when he said, “for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”

On this Memorial Day 2019 I began to reflect upon my 23-years in the U.S. Army. I have over those years seen many of my comrades in arms give the last full measure of devotion for this nation. While reflecting on their sacrifice I was reminded of Mathew 26:52:53 (KJV):

52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?

All of those who have fallen in war since the first Decoration, now Memorial, Day took up the sword to fight. From the Civil War, to WWI, to the beaches of Omaha and Iwo Jima, to the jungles of Vietnam, to Desert Storm and now Syria and Afghanistan. Christian men, and women, have stood up to take a stand against tyranny.

What does it mean to a Christian soldier when he reads the words of the Son of God about the sword?

In a previous article titled “How many times does the word ‘sword’ appear in the Bible?” I wrote:

The word sword has a special place in the Holy Bible. Most members of the clergy don’t present sermons on this important symbol to their flocks.

Perhaps it is time to revisit the different uses of the sword in the Old (Hebrew) and New Testament.

Bible Gateway lists a total of 406 passages in the Bible that have the word sword. Of these 373 are in the Old (Hebrew) Testament and 33 in the New Testament. From Genesis to Revelations the sword is used as both a weapon and metaphorically to bring Christians to the truth about God’s grace and his promise of life everlasting. But why the sword?

According to Knights Edge:

The sword was called by many the “Queen of the weapons”. There is a lot of merit in this epithet as the sword, throughout the ages possessed beauty in its many forms and the art with which it has been adorned. It took a lot of skill and sophisticated knowledge to make a sword and also, it took a lot of skill and knowledge to know how to wield the sword efficiently.

For Christians it too takes a lot of skill and knowledge to know how to wield the sword of God efficiently.

Was Jesus telling Christians to never take up the sword?

In Matthew 10:34-40 (KJV) Jesus said to his disciples:

34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.

As a Christian, who became a soldier of the United States of America, the words of Jesus have a great impact. The Son, like his Father, tasks us to fight evil, wherever it is found, even within our own families. We must fight evil using the sword, the words of God. This has become more and more clear as Jews and Christians are being persecuted globally.

I asked in my previous column: “It is time for a Ninth Crusade?”

Perhaps it is time for a Ninth Crusade to save Western Civilization. The only nation that can take on this task is a Christian nation, that nation is the United States of America.

For you see in America, in God we trust. Let us all be worthy of Him.

3 replies
    PHILIP E LEWIS says:

    Could be a little more complete in the treatment of this subject. Jesus also spoke of the sword as an item of self defense: “Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.” Luke 22:36. What Jesus was referring to in the other passage was using the sword/violence as a way of life. He did not say “never take up the sword”. That would be reading into His Words! Yes, our fight is primarily a spiritual one. But we are also enjoined in Scripture to protect others, rescue others (See Prov. 24:10-12), and care/provide for our own, which would include using force to protect them (1ti 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. ) Abraham received blessing from Melchizedek after “taking up the sword” against those who had kidnapped Lot and his family. So, it is not as simple as “never take up the sword”, nor should one think that God has called us to physical “pacifism”.

    • Dr. Rich Swier
      Dr. Rich Swier says:


      Thanks for reading and commenting. You are correct. The sword in the Bible is both a physical weapon and the word of God. Actually both are holy weapons against all forms of evil.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *