The word "sword" appears hundreds of times in the Old Testament, but as one might expect, it appears only thirty-three times in the New Testament. After all, the Old Testament is filled with the history of Israel's conquests, and the horror stories of its being conquered. But in the New Testament, which focuses on the Prince of Peace, even thirty-three seems like a lot. Of course, Rome ruled over the Jews during the life of Christ, so one who is unfamiliar with the Word of God might assume those instances referred to Roman swords. And they would be correct in a third of the occurrences (Matt. 26:47, 55; Mk. 14:43, 48; Lk. 21:24; 22:52; Acts 12:2; 16:27; Rom. 13:4; Rev. 6:4, 8). But what about the others?
Well, two of them reference Old Testament saints (Heb. 11:34, 37). And, believe it or not, eight of them refer to the incident in which Peter cut off the ear of Malchus, the high priest's servant (Matt. 26:51-52; Mk. 14:47; Lk. 22:36, 38, 49; Jn. 18:10-11). One verse is a metaphoric prophecy of Mary's future agony of watching her Son die (Lk.2:35). Another refers to the fact that believers cannot be separated from God by the sword (Rom. 8:35), and still another is a general statement by Jesus saying that those who live by the sword will die by the sword (Rev. 13:10). Then there is the verse that describes the mortal wounding of the antichrist by the sword (Rev. 13:14). That leaves eight.
Believe it or not, six of the eight have to do with the Prince of Peace Himself, but all eight have to do with the Word of God. In Matthew 10:34, Jesus says, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." Jesus went on to describe how His followers would be viewed as enemies by their own families for preaching the Word (v. 35-36). We are told that the Word of God is "sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb. 4:12). It is this sword, the Word of God, that believers are to use in our battle against Satan (Eph. 6:17). Paul wrote that "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds" (2 Cor. 10:4).
Finally, in Revelation, John described his vision of Jesus as appearing to have a two-edged sword coming out of His mouth (v. 1:16; 2:12, 16; 19:15, 21). At His Second Coming, Christ will defeat the antichrist and his armies with the same voice by which He created the Universe (Gen. 1:3-26; Jn. 1:1-3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:1-2; Rev. 19:15). That makes me wonder. Because Jesus is described as the Word in the first chapter of the Gospel of John, does that make Him the Sword of the Lord? If so, what does that say about the six times the phrase appears in the Old Testament (Jud. 1:18, 20; 1 Chron. 21:12; Isa. 34:6; Jer. 12:12; 47:6)?
Perhaps that is a study for another time. In the mean time, arm yourselves; we are at war!