That phrase, “He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword,” I wonder about that. Is it Biblical? I go searching. And I find that it is indeed.
In St. Matthew, in Chapter 26, when Jesus is arrested at Gethsemane, someone draws their sword and cuts off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus says, “Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (St. John has it slightly differently, naming the sword wielder as St. Peter and the victim as Malchus).
But in my search I find another quote from Jesus, again from St. Matthew, about swords, but this time he wields the sword, or he is the sword maybe. Not the lamb, not the peacemaker. What is this?
Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the 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 one’s enemies will be those of his household.’
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.
He is paraphrasing older Scripture here, from Micah 7:6. It’s a little scary, actually. I don’t quite comprehend it all, or maybe I’m just scared of having to face it.
But at least for now I’ll note that it doesn’t necessarily contradict his later saying, about living and dying by the sword. And, similar to elsewhere in St. Matthew, the Beatitudes, what Christ asks of us is really hard.