“‘Put your sword back in its place,’ Jesus said to him, ‘for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.’”
Explanation and Commentary of Matthew 26:52
This was a confusing time for the twelve. At one point, Jesus had told them to bring a sword, but also that only two were “enough” (Lk 22:38). When Judas brought men to arrest Jesus in the garden, Peter, in his zeal, grabbed one of the swords and cut off the ear of the servant of the High Priest. It was after this happened that Jesus spoke the words here in verse 52. If Peter thought there would be an earthly military revolution, Jesus would put that assumption to rest.
His revolution was peaceful and bottom-up. It would be a quiet and slow revolution of love as more and more people would come to know Christ and his way through the ministry of the Church. Sadly, the Church in history has forgotten this a time or two and sought to use force to convert sinners to Christ. This is a blight on our history, and God will not look favorably upon it. To conquer the world, we must remain humble and serve like Christ, loving our God, our neighbor, and even our enemies as God reveals himself through the Church.
Regarding “the sword,” Jesus is correct that a life of violence and aggression, perhaps taking vengeance into one’s own hand, will end by violence, aggression, and vengeance. “Blessed are the meek” (Mt 5:5) means that we may be, and perhaps should be a people who have swords that we could use, but we keep them sheathed as we trust in God.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of Matthew 26:52
#1 “‘Put your sword back in its place,’”
There is a place for swords, and at this time it is a sheath. One application would be to keep violence and vengeance in the “place” where it belongs, in the hands of God, and of his agent, the state. This is the grace of God for us and why the writers of the New Testament called us to obey earthly authorities.
#2 “Jesus said to him,”
This was said to Peter who had removed the ear of the servant of the High Priest.
#3 “‘for all who draw the sword,’”
Those who take up weapons for violence are who he has in mind.
#4 “‘will die by the sword.’”
To be a violent person will naturally put one in danger of being killed by the opposition.
Expert Overview of Matthew Ch. 14-28
Biblical Translations of Matthew 26:52
“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”
“Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”
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.”
But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.