“A Two-Edged Sword,” Ensign, February 2017
“My word … is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of both joints and marrow.”
Swords were developed thousands of years ago as tools and weapons for thrusting and cutting. They evolved from daggers as material became more readily available (shifting from copper to bronze to iron), leading to longer blades and more widespread and versatile use.
Two-edged swords have been around about as long as there have been swords. A sword whose blade is sharpened on both sides is able to penetrate and cut at every contact point and with every movement. This means that it can be thrust more quickly and deeply and can cut more easily.
A two-edged sword:
Penetrates. Through the Spirit, God reveals things “to our spirits precisely as though we had no bodies at all” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 475). His word can also cut through culture, habits, biases, preconceptions, and doubts to speak to the innermost part of us, whether we are righteous or wicked. When people hear His word preached with power, they are often “pricked [or pierced] in their heart” (Acts 2:37) and desire to repent. In fact, the word of God has a more powerful effect on people’s minds than the literal sword (see Alma 31:5) and is one of the catalysts for developing faith (see Romans 10:17).
Divides. God’s word can separate truth from error and “divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil” (Helaman 3:29). It can help us identify the half-truths and complications that cloud our thinking by setting them up against God’s plain and precious truths.
Cuts in any direction. The word of God as revealed in the scriptures and teachings of living prophets is versatile and applicable in many situations for our blessing or condemnation, our edification, inspiration, instruction, or chastisement. And as we “treasure up in [our] minds continually the words of life” (D&C 84:85), the word of God is then “quick and powerful,” “lively and active” as we share it with others and apply it in our own lives.