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Jesus’ One & Only Weapon

• Greg Boyd

This sermon explores John’s first heavenly vision where he is told to record what he sees and send it to seven churches. Part of this vision is a sword that comes from the mouth of Jesus, the only weapon that is ever associated with Jesus. Why is this symbol important? What does it mean? And what is the significance of it being his only weapon? The sermon answers these questions.

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In this set of verses, we read about John’s vision from heaven which serves as the source of the content for the book of Revelation. This sermon breaks down the symbolic meanings of these verses and then explores more extensively the central symbol of the sword coming from the mouth of Jesus. Let’s examine each of the verses:

Revelation 1:9:
In the reign of God, it is assumed that one will endure persecution, and this calls for patient endurance. Persecution and patient endurance are part of what we all should expect as part of our calling “in Jesus.” The word endurance refers to hardship that comes as a result of a goal. An athlete in training is an illustration of how this word might be used. The goal is fidelity and conformity to Christ, which means that we must develop habits that help us say no to things we might otherwise say yes to.

Revelation 1:10-11:
John was “in the Spirit.” Such an encounter recalls those of the Old Testament prophets (See Isaiah 6 as an example). The trumpet symbolizes divine majesty, and it introduces a spiritual world that is not normally seen in the physical world. Because the heavenly realm is beyond our brain’s capacity to think, the revelation is heavily symbolic and bizarre. The book was to be sent to seven actual churches, however the number seven also symbolizes completion, therefore meaning that the truths of Revelation apply to all churches.

Revelation 1:12-15:
These verses take us into this unusual world. The lampstands represent the churches which bear witness to the slain Lamb’s unique power. This is the power of cross-like love, where those who follow Jesus would rather die at the hands of enemies than use power available to them to kill enemies. In Zechariah 4, the prophet had a vision of a gold lampstand with seven lamps. When he asks, “What is this,” the Spirit replies, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” The reign of God doesn’t come about by human might or power, but by God’s Spirit.

“Son of Man” refers back to a human in Daniel 7 who is also a divine figure coming in the clouds. He is “in the midst” of the seven churches. But this Son of Man or Ancient One is different from humans (Read Daniel 7:9). All of this is meant to convey that Jesus is both God and man.

White hair is a symbol of wisdom and “eyes like flame of fire” corresponds with the description of a high ranking angel in Daniel 10. Jesus’ vision burns away all subterfuge, piercing truth of a person or of matter. “Feet like burnished bronze” references divine power. The symbol of “voice like sound of many waters” is rooted in Ezekiel 1:24 and 43:2, a reference to the sound of God approaching.

Revelation 1:16:
The “right hand” speaks of power and authority and the seven stars are the seven churches. Jesus holds up those seven stars. He is the one who is fully human and is in the midst of the seven churches while at the same time holding the angelic realm. Out of his mouth comes a two-edged sword, the only weapon mentioned, symbolizing the power of speech.

Revelation 1:17-18:
When John fell as though dead, we are reading about a common response to theophany or when angels appear throughout Scripture. Then Jesus says, “Do not be afraid,” after putting his right hand on John’s shoulder. This is the same hand that holds up the entire universe, and Jesus pronounces who he is. Jesus is the living one who is the eternal God, and is the one who died on the cross and rose again.

Greg concludes the sermon by asking, “Why is the symbol of the sword the only weapon?” It is the sword of truth because it slays lies. The reason why this is the only weapon is because deception is the core problem of human existence. This takes us back to the creation story when the serpent lied to Eve about the nature of God. Eve believes the serpent which results in a false imagination about the way that God and the world work (Read Genesis 3:4-6).

All sin is anchored in deception. When we are deceived, we do not see how reality works, and then we experience conflict, pain and woe. The lie creates a false reality, generating what we want, and these wants shape our choices. These choices will eventually lead us to crash up against reality.

The most fundamental thing that Satan does is deceive. If he can get us to believe a lie, he can convince us of all kinds of harmful behaviors. Jesus’ one weapon is the sword of truth that slays lies so that we will be shaped by truth and therefore live according to those ways of truth.

Our job is to submit ourselves to the truth so that the lies can be cut away. This requires discipline. We do this first by saying, “God, your will be done, not mine.” Second, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any lies that may hinder us.

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Topics: Discipleship, Non-Violence, Transformation

Sermon Series: Do Not Be Afraid

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Focus Scripture:

  • Revelation 1:9-20

    I, John, your brother who share with you the persecution and the kingdom and the endurance in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the spirit[d] on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamum, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”

    Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands I saw one like the Son of Man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire; his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and from his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining with full force.

    When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he placed his right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last and the Living One. I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever, and I have the keys of Death and of Hades. Now write what you have seen, what is, and what is to take place after this. As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

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2 thoughts on “Jesus’ One & Only Weapon

  1. Jerry says:

    Greg, powerful sermon! – Recapping what caught my attention.

    The sword, coming from Jesus’ mouth, as the spirit of truth John 16:13 exposes lies, [unreality], that if we are living in – it will only be a matter of time until we will bump up against the [reality] of truth.

    I have been rereading Comer’s book ‘Live No Lies’ this time following the footnotes and Greg you are referenced often.

    From page 158:

    We become freer to love or more enslaved to our flesh with each choice.

    Have a look at this from Greg Boyd, educated at Princeton and Yale. His book “Satan and the Problem of Evil” is the best case I’ve ever read against the ever-popular “God is in control” mantra. In his section on philosophy, he wrote this about spiritual formation.

    “Self-determining freedom ultimately gives way either to a higher form of freedom – the freedom to be creatures whose love defines them – or the lowest form of bondage – the inability to participate in love. We either become beings who are irrevocably open or irrevocably closed to God’s love. The former is eternal life; the latter is eternal death”. 190

    C. S. Lewis, another brilliant mind………[Interested? You’ll have to get Comer’s book!]

    1. Jerry says:

      Dan Kent mentioned, in his sermon, “The Gifts of God’s Grace” that he gets insights from Tim Mackie.

      I have been also following Tim, on YouTube in the series on Ephesians, Matthew, and the Gospel of John. While listening today this on the sidebar caught my attention.

      From N. T. Wright Clips: Tim Mackie on Revelation — Understanding Armageddon through a different lens

      The first part, in my opinion, was spot on in alignment with Greg’s sermon “Jesus’ One & Only Weapon”.

      The second part is a brief backdrop on the Three Falls.

      Tim ends with Divine Accommodation where he gives several plugs for Greg’s book https://reknew.org/tag/crucifixion-of-the-warrior-god/

      A little more on Divine Accommodation:



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