The Two-edged Sword Of The Son Of Man (rev. 1:16)

16 …and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength. (Rev 1:16)

As dozens of artists attempted to recreate this picture in their art works and mostly without much success, we are pointed to the awkwardness of John’s further description of the Son of Man – “from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword”. Sword is the ultimate symbol of armed strength and victory in the ancient world. There are many different kinds of swords. The swords that were two-edged were particularly deadly since they were able to cut from both side of the blade.

Understanding the genre of Revelation we know that the double-edged sword is a metaphor. The imagery is trying to convey that the mouth of the Son of Man wields great power, like that of a double-edged sword. It is able to wound and to slay the enemies. In 1 Enoch 62:2 we read:

And the Lord of Spirits seated him on the throne of His glory, and the spirit of righteousness was poured out upon him, and the word of his mouth slays all the sinners, and all the unrighteous are destroyed from before his face.”

The Second Temple literature and Bible has a number of passages showing that the mouth can be a very deadly weapon. In some places merely words slay, in other passages it is fire and sometimes it is the breath. In 4 Ezra 13:3 we read:

And I beheld, and lo! The wind caused to come up out of the heart of the seas as it were the form of a man. And I beheld, and lo! This Man flew with the clouds of heaven. And wherever he turned his countenance to look everything seen by him trembled; and with the voice that went out of his mouth, all that heard his voice melted away, as the wax melts when it feels the fire.”

The Son of Man has immense power in this depiction. Like in Daniel he comes “with the clouds of heaven”. His gaze alone makes things tremble. The sound of his voice makes things melt as if he is breathing fire. Though this is not a sword, the idea is the same. This angel-like being is powerful enough to destroy with his voice alone. Prophet Isaiah writes similar words:

“And He will delight in the fear of the Lord, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear; but with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; and He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.” (Isaiah 11:3-4)

Whether it is a double-edged sword in the mouth of the Son of Man, or his voice melts all things, or he strikes the earth with the rod of his mouth the effect it of this description is very intentional. The overall idea here is that this heavenly being described by John in verse 16 is full of power as evidenced by him holding the seven starts and a potent sword preceding forth from him presumably to assure the seven assemblies of their safety.

One very important but additional detail is that the sword comes out of his mouth. If we ponder this issue a little, we will be struck by this small, but extremely significant detail. Swords are always held by the hands of the worriers. To be precise, the sword is always held in the strongest hand (usually the right hand), signifying full control over the weapon.

The point in this text is not that the hands of the Son of Man are already full, but that the powerful sword under consideration here is God’s Words. The writer of the so-called Epistle to the Hebrews, who likely wrote before the Revelation was composed, put it this way:

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb.4:12)

There seems to be a little doubt that the Book of Revelation was composed at the time of persecution of early Christ-followers by the Roman government. The letter of Revelation was a right message at the right time. This apocalyptic message is a bright hopeful future amidst difficult times. When the fate of Jesus-worshiping congregations (both newly planted among non-Jews and those who already existed among the Jews) was not at all clear, John is shown what must soon take place. Before he is able to see all of the heavenly drama prophetically enacted he is already overcome by this heavenly being that he sees.

 

About the author

Dr. Eli Lizorkin-EyzenbergTo secure your spot in our new course “The Jewish Background of New Testament” - CLICK HERE NOW

You might also be interested in:

Join the conversation (98 comments)

Leave a Reply

  1. Van der Merwe

    The double edge Sword is also a Sword which cuts the enemy (demon spirit) attached to a human soul. A deliverance (exorcism) happens quicker when the double edge Sword is used. Deliverance should not take hours. With the double edge Sword it is quick!!!! (The Sword is the Holy Spirit) (You must be anointed with this Sword in the spiritual realm in order to use it)

  2. Anita M. Mundorf

    Excellent article. Love the Word coming from Messiah ~ He IS The Logos Word!

  3. DIAMAYOS

    The FORTUNE of OVERCOMING this World that Jesus Paid the Price For BLESS YOU ALL ALSO. Jesus said ‘I Overcame the World’ That is the FORTUNE He Obtained for You That NO ONE ELSE BUT THE LORD CAN PAY THE PRICE OF and FOR, You Can NOT PAY THE PRICE, It also reveals another point that If this world were a Prison and you were made to stay in that prison forever by some decree from someone say The Judgement of God, then the only way Out of the Prison is if someone Paid the Price for you to be Freed, Point being Jesus Paid The Price. The Blessed V. Mary says THERE ARE ONLY 2 PLACES FOR YOU TO GO, 1 HEAVEN 2 HELL, The 2 Edged Sword Represents THE SAME POINT THE BVMary is Referring to, That GOD Created it SO for there to be only Those 2 Places for Souls to Go To, For a Reason. 1 Edge of the Sword Represents HEAVEN the other edge represents Hell CONFIRMING so to Speak that which the BVMary says there are only 2 place to Go, Just bcos Jesus OBTAINED THE FORTUNE of OVERCOMING THE WORLD bcos HE PAID THE PRICE does NOT Mean that you will OBTAIN THAT FORTUNE if You Wont Live to OBTAIN IT YOURSELF, The SAINT LIVES TO OBTAIN THAT FORTUNE Bcos The SAINT UNDERSTANDS to LIVE Their Life By What GOD WANTS OF THEM, In ORDER TO OBTAIN THAT FORTUNE that The SAINT CAN NOT PAY FOR TO OBTAIN EITHER. Now say you have enemies and you want to defeat them well if your like samson you can do it that way but Jesus defeated them all by Overcoming Death that they inflicted upon him and he did not slay anyone to overcome what they did and caused to him. But to say to them The Fortune of Overcoming this world Bless You, is a 2 edge sword, to the saint know the chances of them receiving that fortune are high bcos they live the way they should by what God says and the Wicked know the chances of them Obtaining that Fortune are Low bcos they Dont live the way they should to obtain it. I Hope you obtain the Fortune of Overcoming this world that Jesus paid the Price for. one day you will find out if you do or you did not, that time comes after your short time here.

  4. Jacob Christiaan

    I do find it unusual to describe God’s word as sharper than any double edged sword, and in revelations from his mouth came a double edged sword with which to strike down the nations. I always read Revelations as Jesus striking down the nations rising up against Israel prophetically. Hebrews would the fit in more with the bifocuss of Jesus, Godwards and manwards. Also reflecting the prophet Isaias description of the Messiah, the Spirit of the lord one ruach cf one sword followed by the complementing spirit of wisdom and understanding / counsel and might / knowledge and the fear of the Lord. Interesting Jesus being the complete revelation of God. Complete as in the Chief cornerstone and the capstone again two in one. Also the beginning of the s’ma yisrael stand between the two in one witnesses as in last and first letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
    I believe God has a love for these two somes, he is echad overall. As in day one in, Adam and Eve, Jesus and the Bride of Christ. His name. Another one thing God has spoken, two things I have heard, that you o Lord are loving and have all power.