Ephesians 6:17
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) And take.—There is a break here. We are said not to put on, but to “take” (or rather, receive)—a word specially appropriate to “salvation.”

The helmet of salvation.—The word here (as in Luke 2:30; Luke 3:6; Acts 28:28) rendered “salvation,” is not the word commonly so rendered in the New Testament. It is, indeed, not “salvation” in the abstract, but a general expression for “that which tends to salvation.” But it occurs in the LXX. version of Isaiah 59:17, which seems obviously referred to, “He put” a helmet of salvation upon his head.” In 1Thessalonians 5:8, where the breastplate is “of faith and love,” the helmet supplies the third member of the triad of Christian graces in “the hope of salvation.” Here the metaphor is probably somewhat different. The helmet guarding the head, the most noble and vital part, is “salvation” in the concrete—all that is of the Saviour, all that makes up our “state of salvation” by His atonement and grace—received in earnest now, hoped for in perfection hereafter.

The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.—In this we pass to the one offensive weapon of the Christian, “the sword of the Spirit”—i.e., given by the Holy Spirit—which, like the helmet, but unlike the rest of the defensive armour, does not become a part of himself, but is absolutely of God. The passage reminds us at once of Hebrews 4:12 : “The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword.” But there (as in 1Corinthians 14:26; 2Corinthians 2:17; Colossians 1:25; 2 Tim. 2:29) the original word is the larger and deeper word (Logos), signifying the truth of God in itself, and gradually leading up to the ultimate sense in which our Lord Himself is the “Word of God,” revealing the Godhead to man. Accordingly the work of the Word there, is that of the “engrafted Word,” “to divide asunder the soul and the spirit” within. Here, on the contrary, we have another expression (Rhema), signifying the Word as spoken; and St. Peter (in 1Peter 1:25) defines it exactly: “The word of the Lord endureth for ever; and this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” We cannot, of course, limit it to Holy Scripture, though we naturally remember that our Lord used the Scriptures as His only weapon in the Temptation. It is the gospel of Christ, however and wherever spoken, able to put to shame and to flight the powers of evil.

EPHESIANS

‘THE HELMET OF SALVATION’

Ephesians 6:17We may, perhaps, trace a certain progress in the enumeration of the various pieces of the Christian armour in this context. Roughly speaking, they are in three divisions. There are first our graces of truth, righteousness, preparedness, which, though they are all conceived as given by God, are yet the exercises of our own powers. There is next, standing alone, as befits its all-comprehensive character, faith which is able to ward against and overcome not merely this and that temptation, but all forms of evil. That faith is the root of the three preceding graces, and makes the transition to the two which follow, because it is the hand by which we lay hold of God’s gifts. The two final parts of the Christian armour are God’s gifts, pure and simple-salvation and the word of God. So the progress is from circumference to centre, from man to God. From the central faith we have on the one hand that which it produces in us; on the other, that which it lays hold of from God. And these two last pieces of armour, being wholly God’s gift, we are bidden with especial emphasis which is shown by a change in construction, to take or receive these.

I. The Salvation.

Once more Old Testament prophecy suggests the words of this exhortation. In Isaiah’s grand vision of God, arising to execute judgment which is also redemption, we have a wonderful picture of His arraying Himself in armour. Righteousness is His flashing breastplate: on His head is an helmet of salvation. The gleaming steel is draped by garments of retributive judgment, and over all is cast, like a cloak, the ample folds of that ‘zeal’ which expresses the inexhaustible energy and intensity of the divine nature and action. Thus arrayed He comes forth to avenge and save. His redeeming work is the manifestation and issue of all these characteristics of His nature. It flames with divine fervour: it manifests the justice which repays, but its inmost character is righteousness, and its chief purpose is to save. His helmet is salvation; the plain, prose meaning of which would appear to be that His great purpose of saving men is its own guarantee that His purpose should be effected, and is the armour by which His work is defended.

The Apostle uses the old picture with perfect freedom, quoting the words indeed, but employing them quite differently. God’s helmet of salvation is His own purpose; man’s helmet of salvation is God’s gift. He is strong to save because He wills to save; we are strong and safe when we take the salvation which He gives.

It is to be further noticed that the same image appears in Paul’s rough draft of the Christian armour in Thessalonians, with the significant difference that there the helmet is ‘the hope of salvation,’ and here it is the salvation itself. This double representation is in full accord with all Scripture teaching, according to which we both possess and hope for salvation, and our possession determines the measure of our hope. That great word negatively implies deliverance from evil of any kind, and in its lower application, from sickness or peril of any sort. In its higher meaning in Scripture the evil from which we are saved is most frequently left unexpressed, but sometimes a little glimpse is given, as when we read that ‘we are saved from wrath through Him’ or ‘saved from sin.’ What Christ saves us from is, first and chiefly, from sin in all aspects, its guilt, its power, and its penalty; but His salvation reaches much further than any mere deliverance from threatening evil, and positively means the communication to our weakness and emptiness of all blessings and graces possible for men. It is inward and properly spiritual, but it is also outward, and it is not fully possessed until we are clothed with ‘salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.’

Hence, in Scripture our salvation is presented as past, as present, and as future. As past it is once for all received by initial faith in Christ; and, in view of their faith, Paul has no scruples as to saying to the imperfect Christians whose imperfections he scourges, ‘Ye have been saved,’ or in building upon that past fact his earnest exhortations and his scathing rebukes. The salvation is present if in any true sense it is past. There will be a daily growing deliverance from evil and a daily growing appropriation and manifestation of the salvation which we have received. And so Paul more than once speaks of Christians as ‘being saved.’ The process begun in the past is continued throughout the present, and the more a Christian man is conscious of its reality even amidst flaws, failures, stagnation, and lapses, the more assured will be his hope of the perfect salvation in the future, when all that is here, tendency often thwarted, and aspirations often balked, and sometimes sadly contradicted, will be completely, uninterruptedly, and eternally realised. If that hope flickers and is sometimes all but dead, the reason mainly lies in its flame not being fed by present experience.

II. The helmet of salvation.

This salvation in its present form will keep our heads in the day of battle. Its very characteristic is that it delivers us from evil, and all the graces with which Paul equips his ideal warrior are parts of the positive blessings which our salvation brings us. The more assured we are in our own happy consciousness of possessing the salvation of God, the more shall we be defended from all the temptations that seek to stir into action our lower selves. There will be no power in our fears to draw us into sin, and the possible evils that appeal to earthly passions of whatever sort will lose their power to disturb us, in the precise measure in which we know that we are saved in Christ. The consciousness of salvation will tend to damp down the magazine of combustibles that we all carry within us, and the sparks that fall will be as innocuous as those that light on wet gunpowder. If our thoughts are occupied with the blessings which we possess they will be guarded against the assaults of evil. The full cup has no room for poison. The eye that is gazing on the far-off white mountains does not see the filth and frivolities around. If we are living in conscious possession and enjoyment of what God gives us, we shall pass scatheless through the temptations which would otherwise fall on us and rend us. A future eagerly longed for, and already possessed in germ, will kill a present that would otherwise appeal to us with irresistible force.

III. Take the helmet.

We might perhaps more accurately read receive salvation, for that salvation is not won by any efforts of our own, but if we ever possess it, our possession is the result of our accepting it as a gift from God. The first word which the Gospel speaks to men and which makes it a Gospel, is not Do this or that, but Take this from the hands that were nailed to the Cross. The beginning of all true life, of all peace, of all self-control, of all hope, lies in the humble and penitent acceptance by faith of the salvation which Christ brings, and with which we have nothing to do but to accept it.

But Paul is here speaking to those whom he believes to have already exercised the initial faith which united them to Christ, and made His salvation theirs, and to these the exhortation comes with special force. To such it says, ‘See to it that your faith ever grasps and feeds upon the great facts on which your salvation reposes-God’s changeless love, Christ’s all-sufficient sacrifice and ascended life, which He imparts to us if we abide in Him. Hold fast and prolong by continual repetition the initial act by which you received that salvation. It is said that on his death-bed Oliver Cromwell asked the Puritan divine who was standing by it whether a man who had once been in the covenant could be lost, and on being assured that he could not, answered, ‘I know that I was once in it’; but such a building on past experiences is a building on sand, and nothing but continuous faith will secure a continuous salvation. A melancholy number of so-called Christians in this day have to travel far back through the years before they reach the period when they took the helmet of salvation. They know that they were far better men, and possessed a far deeper apprehension of Christ and His power in the old days than is theirs now, and they need not wonder if God’s great gift has unnoticed slipped from their relaxed grasp. A hand that clings to a rock while a swollen flood rushes past needs to perpetually be tightening its grip, else the man will be swept away; and the present salvation, and, still more, the hope of a future salvation, are not ours on any other terms than a continual repetition of the initial act by which we first received them. But there must also be a continually increased appropriation and manifestation in our lives of a progressive salvation that will come as a result of a constantly renewed faith; but it will not come unless there be continuous effort to work into our characters, and to work out in our lives, the transforming and vitalising power of the life given to us in Jesus Christ. If our present experience yields no sign of growing conformity to the image of our Saviour, there is only too abundant reason for doubting whether we have experienced a past salvation or have any right to anticipate a perfect future salvation.

The last word to be said is, Live in frequent anticipation of that perfect future. If that anticipation is built on memory of the past and experience of the present, it cannot be too confident. That hope maketh not ashamed. In the region of Christian experience alone the weakest of us has a right to reckon on the future, and to be sure that when that great to-morrow dawns for us, it ‘shall be as this day and much more abundant.’ With this salvation in its imperfect form brightening the present, and in its completeness filling the future with unimaginable glory, we can go into all the conflicts of this fighting world and feel that we are safe because God covers our heads in the day of battle. Unless so defended we shall go into the fight as the naked Indians did with the Spanish invaders, and be defeated as they were. The plumes may be shorn off the helmet, and it may be easily dinted, but the head that wore it will be unharmed. And when the battle and the noise of battle are past, the helmet will be laid aside, and we shall be able to say, ‘I have fought a good fight, henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.’Ephesians 6:17. And take the helmet of salvation — That is, the hope of salvation, as it is expressed in the parallel passage, 1 Thessalonians 5:8. The helmet was for the defence of the head, a part which it concerned them most carefully to defend, because one stroke there might easily have proved fatal. Thus it concerns the Christian to defend his mind, courage, and fortitude against all temptations to dejection and despondency, by a lively hope of eternal life, felicity, and glory, built on the promises of God, which ensure that salvation to those disciples of Christ, whose faith continues to the end to work by love. Armed with this helmet, the hope of the joy set before him, Christ endured the cross and despised the shame. Hence this hope is termed (Hebrews 6:19) an anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast, entering into that within the veil. Hitherto our armour has been only defensive: but we are to attack Satan, as well as to secure ourselves. The apostle therefore adds, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God — Here the apostle calls the word of God the sword of the Spirit, because it was given by inspiration of the Spirit; and because the doctrines, promises, and precepts of it, are the most effectual means of putting our spiritual enemies to flight. Of this efficacy of the word of God, we have an illustrious example in our Lord’s temptations in the wilderness, who put the devil to flight by quotations from the Scriptures of the Old Testament. And if we would repel his attacks with success, we must not only take the fore-mentioned shield in one hand, but this sword of the Spirit in the other; for whoever fights with the powers of darkness, will need both. He that is covered with armour from head to foot, and neglects this, will be foiled after all.

We may observe here, with Beza, that all the parts of the complete armour of the ancients are elegantly introduced in the apostle’s account of the Christian’s complete armour. For there is, first, the military belt, called by the Greeks ζωστηρ, and by the Latins balteus. This covered the two parts of the breast-plate where they joined. The breast-plate was the second article of the complete armour, and consisted of two pieces; the one reaching from the neck to the navel, and the other hanging from thence to the knees. The former was called θωραξ, the latter ζωμα. Accordingly, in the parallel passage, 1 Thessalonians 5:8, the breast-plate is said to consist of two parts, faith and love. Next to the breast-plate were the greaves, which made the third article of the complete armour. They were called by the Greeks κνημιδες, and by the Latins ocreæ, and were made of gold, or silver, or brass, or iron, and were designed to defend the legs and feet against the strokes of stones or arrows. Thus Goliah had greaves of brass upon his legs, 1 Samuel 17:6. The fourth article of the complete armour was the helmet, which likewise was made of metals of different sorts, and was used to defend the head against the strokes of swords, and missile weapons. Add, in the fifth place, the shield, and the whole body is completely covered. But, besides the defensive armour, just now described, offensive weapons were likewise necessary to render the soldier’s armour complete; particularly the sword, to which, as we have seen, the apostle alludes, in speaking of the Christian armour. They had darts, likewise, or javelins, referred to Ephesians 6:16. This whole description, given by St. Paul, shows how great a thing it is to be a Christian: the want of any one of the particulars here mentioned makes his character incomplete. Though he have his loins girt with truth, righteousness for a breast-plate, his feet shod with the peace of the gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of hope, and the sword of the Spirit; yet one thing he wants after all. What is that? It follows in the next verse.6:10-18 Spiritual strength and courage are needed for our spiritual warfare and suffering. Those who would prove themselves to have true grace, must aim at all grace; and put on the whole armour of God, which he prepares and bestows. The Christian armour is made to be worn; and there is no putting off our armour till we have done our warfare, and finished our course. The combat is not against human enemies, nor against our own corrupt nature only; we have to do with an enemy who has a thousand ways of beguiling unstable souls. The devils assault us in the things that belong to our souls, and labour to deface the heavenly image in our hearts. We must resolve by God's grace, not to yield to Satan. Resist him, and he will flee. If we give way, he will get ground. If we distrust either our cause, or our Leader, or our armour, we give him advantage. The different parts of the armour of heavy-armed soldiers, who had to sustain the fiercest assaults of the enemy, are here described. There is none for the back; nothing to defend those who turn back in the Christian warfare. Truth, or sincerity, is the girdle. This girds on all the other pieces of our armour, and is first mentioned. There can be no religion without sincerity. The righteousness of Christ, imputed to us, is a breastplate against the arrows of Divine wrath. The righteousness of Christ implanted in us, fortifies the heart against the attacks of Satan. Resolution must be as greaves, or armour to our legs; and to stand their ground or to march forward in rugged paths, the feet must be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Motives to obedience, amidst trials, must be drawn from a clear knowledge of the gospel. Faith is all in all in an hour of temptation. Faith, as relying on unseen objects, receiving Christ and the benefits of redemption, and so deriving grace from him, is like a shield, a defence every way. The devil is the wicked one. Violent temptations, by which the soul is set on fire of hell, are darts Satan shoots at us. Also, hard thoughts of God, and as to ourselves. Faith applying the word of God and the grace of Christ, quenches the darts of temptation. Salvation must be our helmet. A good hope of salvation, a Scriptural expectation of victory, will purify the soul, and keep it from being defiled by Satan. To the Christian armed for defense in battle, the apostle recommends only one weapon of attack; but it is enough, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. It subdues and mortifies evil desires and blasphemous thoughts as they rise within; and answers unbelief and error as they assault from without. A single text, well understood, and rightly applied, at once destroys a temptation or an objection, and subdues the most formidable adversary. Prayer must fasten all the other parts of our Christian armour. There are other duties of religion, and of our stations in the world, but we must keep up times of prayer. Though set and solemn prayer may not be seasonable when other duties are to be done, yet short pious prayers darted out, always are so. We must use holy thoughts in our ordinary course. A vain heart will be vain in prayer. We must pray with all kinds of prayer, public, private, and secret; social and solitary; solemn and sudden: with all the parts of prayer; confession of sin, petition for mercy, and thanksgiving for favours received. And we must do it by the grace of God the Holy Spirit, in dependence on, and according to, his teaching. We must preserve in particular requests, notwithstanding discouragements. We must pray, not for ourselves only, but for all saints. Our enemies are mighty, and we are without strength, but our Redeemer is almighty, and in the power of his mighty we may overcome. Wherefore we must stir up ourselves. Have not we, when God has called, often neglected to answer? Let us think upon these things, and continue our prayers with patience.And take the helmet - The helmet was a cap made of thick leather, or brass, fitted to the head, and was usually crowned with a plume, or crest, as an ornament. Its use was to guard the head from a blow by a sword, or war-club, or battle-axe. The cuts will show its usual form.

Of salvation - That is, "of the hope of salvation;" for so it is expressed in the parallel place in 1 Thessalonians 5:8. The idea is, that a well-founded hope of salvation will preserve us in the day of spiritual conflict, and will guard us from the blows which an enemy would strike. The helmet defended the head, a vital part; and so the hope of salvation will defend the soul, and keep it from the blows of the enemy. A soldier would not fight well without a hope of victory. A Christian could not contend with his foes, without the hope of final salvation; but, sustained by this, what has he to dread?

And the sword - The sword was an essential part of the armor of an ancient soldier. His other weapons were the bow, the spear, or the battle-axe. But, without a sword, no soldier would have regarded himself as well armed. The ancient sword was short, and usually two-edged, and resembled very much a dagger.

Of the Spirit - Which the Holy Spirit furnishes; the truth which he has revealed.

Which is the word of God - What God has spoken - his truth and promises; see the notes on Hebrews 4:12. It was with this weapon that the Saviour met the tempter in the wilderness; Matthew 4. It is only by this that Satan can now be met. Error and falsehood will not put back temptation; nor can we hope for victory, unless we are armed with truth. Learn, hence:

(1) That we should study the Bible, that we may understand what the truth is.

(2) we should have texts of Scripture at command, as the Saviour did, to meet the various forms of temptation.

(3) we should not depend on our own reason, or rely on our own wisdom.

A single text of Scripture is better to meet a temptation, than all the philosophy which the world contains. The tempter can reason, and reason plausibly too. But he cannot resist a direct and positive command of the Almighty. Had Eve adhered simply to the Word of God, and urged his command, without attempting to "reason" about it, sire would have been safe. The Saviour Matthew 4:4, Matthew 4:7,Matthew 4:10, met the tempter with the Word of God, and he was foiled. So we shah be safe if we adhere to the simple declarations of the Bible, and oppose a temptation by a positive command of God. But, the moment we leave that, and begin to parley with sin, that moment we are gone. It is as if a man should throw away his sword, and use his naked hands only in meeting an adversary. Hence,

(4) we may seethe importance of training up the young in the accurate study of the Bible. There is nothing which will furnish a better security to them in future life, when temptation comes upon them, than to have a pertinent text of Scripture at command. Temptation often assails us so suddenly that it checks all "reasoning;" but a text of Scripture will suffice to drive the tempter from us.

17. take—a different Greek word from that in Eph 6:13, 16; translate, therefore, "receive," "accept," namely, the helmet offered by the Lord, namely, "salvation" appropriated, as 1Th 5:8, "Helmet, the hope of salvation"; not an uncertain hope, but one that brings with it no shame of disappointment (Ro 5:5). It is subjoined to the shield of faith, as being its inseparable accompaniment (compare Ro 5:1, 5). The head of the soldier was among the principal parts to be defended, as on it the deadliest strokes might fall, and it is the head that commands the whole body. The head is the seat of the mind, which, when it has laid hold of the sure Gospel "hope" of eternal life, will not receive false doctrine, or give way to Satan's temptations to despair. God, by this hope, "lifts up the head" (Ps 3:3; Lu 21:28).

sword of the Spirit—that is, furnished by the Spirit, who inspired the writers of the word of God (2Pe 1:21). Again the Trinity is implied: the Spirit here; and Christ in "salvation" and God the Father, Eph 6:13 (compare Heb 4:12; Re 1:16; 2:12). The two-edged sword, cutting both ways (Ps 45:3, 5), striking some with conviction and conversion, and others with condemnation (Isa 11:4; Re 19:15), is in the mouth of Christ (Isa 49:2), in the hand of His saints (Ps 149:6). Christ's use of this sword in the temptation is our pattern as to how we are to wield it against Satan (Mt 4:4, 7, 10). There is no armor specified for the back, but only for the front of the body; implying that we must never turn our back to the foe (Lu 9:62); our only safety is in resisting ceaselessly (Mt 4:11; Jas 4:7).

Take the helmet of salvation: salvation, for the hope of salvation, 1 Thessalonians 5:8. This follows faith, and is of kin to it. Soldiers dare not fight without their helmet: despair, to which the devil tempts us, makes us quit our combat; whereas hope of salvation makes us lift up our heads in the midst of temptations and afflictions. This likewise alludes to Isaiah 59:17.

The sword of the Spirit; either the spiritual sword, the war being spiritual, and the enemy spiritual, or rather the sword which the Spirit of God furnisheth us with, and makes effectual in our hands.

Which is the word of God; the doctrine of God in the Scripture, called a two-edged sword, Revelation 1:16 2:12; which enters into the soul, and divides between the most inward affections, Hebrews 4:12, and cuts the sinews of the strongest temptations, Matthew 4:4,7,10; and conquers the devil, while it rescues sinners from under his power. This relates to Isaiah 49:2. And take the helmet of salvation,.... Meaning either Christ himself, the Saviour; and so the Arabic version renders it, "the helmet of the Saviour": or the salvation itself, which he is the author of, and a well grounded hope of it; see 1 Thessalonians 5:8; the allusion is to Isaiah 59:17; and such an hope of salvation by Christ is a defence of the head against false doctrines; for the helmet is a piece of armour for the head; and it is an erecter of the head in times of difficulty, affliction, and distress; and it covers the head in the day of battle, when engaged with Satan, the enemy of souls:

and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; the word of God is compared to a "sword", for its two edges, the law and Gospel; the one convicts of sin, and cuts to the heart for it, and the other cuts down all the goodliness of man; and the Scriptures in general are a sharp sword, in convincing of sin, reproving for it, and threatening with wrath and ruin, in refuting error and heresy, and repelling Satan's temptations, and will be used in the destruction of antichrist: and this word may be called "the sword of the Spirit", because it is not carnal, but of a spiritual nature; and is used by the spiritual man; and because the Holy Spirit, as the Ethiopic version here expresses it, is the author of it; and which he furnishes the saints with, and teaches them how to make use of, and makes it powerful and effectual. So the Jews say (t), the words of the law are like to a sword, and speak of "the sword of the law" (u).

(t) Targum in Cant. 3. 8. (u) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 21. fol. 19. 1.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ephesians 6:17. We have to prefix not a full stop, as is done by Lachmann and Tischendorf, seeing that Ephesians 6:18 has reference to the whole from στῆτε onward, Ephesians 6:14-17 (see on Ephesians 6:18), but only a comma. Paul, namely, passes over from the participial construction into that of the verbum finitum, as at Ephesians 1:20,—a change to which he was drawn by the increasing vivacity of his figurative conception, which, moreover, induced him now to prefix the object (περικεφαλαίαν and μάχαιραν, Ephesians 6:17).

In natural sequence he brings forward first the taking of the helmet, and then that of the sword; because the left hand already grasps the shield (Ephesians 6:16), and thus after the taking of the sword there is no hand free.

τοῦ σωτηρίου] again genitive of apposition. The salvation, i.e. the salvation κατʼ ἐξοχήν the salvation of the Messianic kingdom, of which the Christian is partaker (before the Parousia, as an ideal possession, Romans 8:24[310]), serves, appropriated in his consciousness, to protect him against the assaults of the devil aimed at his everlasting life, like the helmet, which defends the warrior from deadly wounds on the head. As to the Roman helmets, see Lipsius, de milit. Rom. iii. 5, p. 122 ff. For the use of σωτήριον as a substantive, comp. Luke 2:20; Luke 3:6; Acts 28:28; frequently met with in the classics and the LXX.; see Schleusner, Thes. sub voce. Neither Christ Himself (Theodoret, Bengel) nor the gospel (Holzhausen) is meant. It is true that the word σωτήριον is not elsewhere used by Paul; but here it is explained as a reminiscence from the LXX. Isaiah 59:17.

ΔΈΞΑΣΘΕ] receive, namely, from God (Ephesians 6:13), who offers you this helmet.

τὴν μάχαιραν τοῦ πνεύματος] The genitive cannot here be appositional (in opposition to Harless, Olshausen, Schenkel, and older expositors), since there follows the explanation ὅ ἐστι ῥῆμα Θεοῦ, from which it is clear that the sword of the Spirit is not the Spirit itself, but something distinct therefrom, namely, the word of God (comp. Hebrews 4:12). Comp. also Bleek. If Paul had wished to designate the Spirit itself as sword, the explanation ὅ ἐστι ῥῆμα Θεοῦ would have been inappropriate, inasmuch as the word of God and the Holy Spirit are different things;[311] in Romans, too, πνεῦμα means nothing else than the Holy Spirit. The ΜΆΧΑΙΡΑ ΤΟῦ ΠΝΕΎΜ. is the sword, which the Holy Spirit furnishes (comp. τὴν πανοπλίαν τοῦ Θεοῦ, Ephesians 6:11; Ephesians 6:13), and this sword is the word of God, the gospel (comp. on Ephesians 5:26), the contents of which the Spirit brings vividly to the consciousness of the Christian, in order that he may defend himself by the divine power of the gospel (Romans 1:16) against the assaults of the diabolic powers, and may vanquish them, as the warrior wards off and vanquishes the enemy with the sword. Limitations of the ῥῆμα Θεοῦ, either to the commandments of God (Flatt), or to the divine threatenings against the enemies of the Christians (Koppe), are as arbitrary and inappropriate as is the explaining τοῦ πνεύματος of the human spirit (Morus, Rosenmüller), or by πνευματικήν (Grotius, Michaelis, and others; comp. already Chrysostom and Erasmus), which, according to Grotius, is to serve “molliendis translationibus,” but yet would have again to be explained by τοῦ πνεύματος in the sense of the Holy Spirit.

ὅ ἐστι] applying, according to the ordinary attraction, to ΤῊΝ ΜΆΧΑΙΡΑΝ. Olshausen, in accordance with his erroneous conception of ΤΟῦ ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΟς, refers it to the latter. So already Basil, contr. Eunom. 11, who proves from our passage that not only the Son, but also the Spirit is the Word!

[310] Hence Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:8 says: περικεφαλαίαν ἐλπίδα σωτηρίας, which, however, does not justify in our passage the explanation hope of salvation, given to it by Cajetanus, Calvin, Zanchius, Boyd, Estius, Grotius, Calixtus, Michaelis, Rosenmüller, Meier, Winzer, and others.

[311] It is true Olshausen observes that the Word as to its inner essence is Spirit, as the efflux of God the Spirit. But that is a quid pro quo; for the word would not here be termed Spirit (as John 6:63), but the Spirit, i.e. the Holy Spirit Himself. A like quid pro quo is made by Schenkel, namely, that the word of God is the most adequate expression of the absolute Spirit (John 4:24).

REMARK ON Ephesians 6:14-17.

In the exposition of these several portions of the armour of the spiritual warrior, it is just as unwarrantable to press the comparisons, by pursuing the points of comparison into such particular details as it may please us to select from the various uses of the pieces of armour in question (an error which several of the older expositors committed),—whereby free room is given for the play of subjectivity, and the vivid objective delineation of the apostle’s figure is arbitrarily broken up,—as it is, on the other hand, arbitrary to disregard the differences in the figures derived from military equipment, and to say: “universa potius armorum notio tenenda est” (Winzer, l.c. p. 14; comp. Moras, Rosenmüller, and others). The essential characteristic—the specific main point—whereby the pieces named are distinguished from each other in respect of that for which they serve, must be furnished by the nature of the comparison with the respective means of spiritual conflict; so that Paul must have been conscious why he here designated, e.g., δικαιοσύνη as the breastplate, faith as the shield, etc., namely, inasmuch as he looked at the former really from the point of view of the essential destination of the breastplate, the latter from that of the essential destination of the shield, etc. Otherwise his representation would be a play of figures, of which the separate images, so different in themselves, would have no basis in the conception of what is represented. To this there is nothing opposed in the fact that here δικαιοσύνη appears as the breastplate, while at 1 Thessalonians 5:8 it is faith and love which so appear; for the figurative mode of regarding the subject can by no means, with a mind so many-sided, rich, and versatile as that of St. Paul, be so stereotyped that the very same thing which he has here viewed under the figure of the protecting breastplate, must have presented itself another time under this very same figure. Thus, e.g., there appears to him, as an offering well-pleasing to God, at one time Christ (Ephesians 5:2), at another the gifts of love received (Php 4:18), at another time the bodies of Christians (Romans 12:1); under the figure of the seed-corn, at one time the body becoming buried (1 Corinthians 15:36 f.), at another time the moral conduct (Galatians 6:7); under the figure of the leaven, once moral corruption (1 Corinthians 5:6), another time doctrinal corruption (Galatians 5:9); under the figure of clothing which is put on, once the new man (Ephesians 4:24), another time Christ (Galatians 3:27), at another time the body (2 Corinthians 5:3), and other similar instances.Ephesians 6:17. καὶ τὴν περικεφαλαίαν τοῦ σωτηρίου δέξασθε: and receive the helmet of salvation. The construction changes here, as is often the case with Paul, and passes from the participial form to the direct imperative. There is no necessity, however, for marking this by a full stop at the close of the preceding sentence (with Lach., Tisch., and RV). δέξασθε is omitted by [838]*[839] [840], Cyp., etc., and becomes δέξασθαι in [841] [842]3[843] [844] [845] [846], 17, etc. The verb has its proper sense here, not merely “take,” but “receive,” i.e., as a gift from the Lord, a thing provided and offered by Him. The helmet required for the defence of the head is introduced both in Isaiah 59:17 and 1 Thessalonians 5:8. It is noticed before the sword; for, the left hand holding the shield, when the sword is grasped by the right, there remains no hand free to put on any other part (Mey.). τοῦ σωτηρίου is again an appos. gen, = “the helmet which is salvation”. In 1 Thessalonians 5:8 the helmet is not the salvation itself, as here and in Isaiah 59:17, but the hope of it. Paul’s usual term is σωτηρία. In Titus 2:11 he uses the adj. σωτήριος in the sense of “bringing salvation”. This is the only instance of his use of the abstr. neuter for σωτηρία. It occurs, however, in Luke’s writings (Luke 2:30; Luke 3:6; Acts 28:28, and in the LXX).—καὶ τὴν μάχαιραν τοῦ πνεύματος: and the sword of the Spirit. The gen. here cannot be that of appos. (although it is so taken by Harl., Olsh., etc.), for the following explanation renders that inept. It must be the gen. of origin, = “the sword supplied by the Spirit”.—ὅ ἐστι ῥῆμα Θεοῦ: which is the word of God. Some strangely make the refer to the πνεύματος, = “the Spirit who is the Word of God” (Olsh., Von Sod., etc.); but nowhere else is the Spirit identified with the Word. The is explanatory of the μάχαιρα, the neut, form being due to the usual attraction. In Hebrews 4:2 we have the λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ compared in respect of superior sharpness or penetrating power to a two-edged sword. Here we have the phrase ῥῆμα Θεοῦ, which is to be understood, in accordance with the proper sense of ῥῆμα, as the spoken Word, the preached Gospel, and this in its length and breadth—not in the commandments of God only (Flatt), nor in His threatenings alone (Koppe), nor even yet in the sense of the written Word, the Scriptures (Moule). The sword is the only offensive weapon in the panoply. But it is indispensable. For, while the Christian soldier is exhibited here mainly in the attitude of defence, as one who stands, in order to take his position and keep his ground, thrust and cut will be required. The preached Gospel, “the power of God” (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:18), is the weapon provided by the Spirit for meeting the lunge of the assailant and beating him back. With this the description of the panoply comes to an end. It has not followed the usual way, but has left out certain parts (spear or lance, and greaves, to wit), and has introduced others (the girdle and the sandals) which are not enumerated in Polybius’s list of the accoutrements of the man-at-arms. It has kept only in part by the Isaianic description (Isaiah 59:17), including the breastplate and the helmet, but passing over the “garments” and the “cloke”. Nor has it much more in common with the fuller description in Wis 5:18; Wis 5:20, which may also have been more or less in the writer’s mind—λήψεται πανοπλίαν τὸν ζῆλον αὐτοῦἐνδύσεται θώρακα δικαιοσύνης, καὶ περιθήσεται κόρυθα κρίσιν ἀνυπόκριτον. λήψεται ἀσπίδα ἀκαταμάχητον ὁσιότητα, ὀξυνεῖ δὲ ἀπότομον ὀργὴν εἰς ῥομφαίαν. It differs also in the application of the figures of the breastplate and the helmet from the briefer Pauline description in 1 Thessalonians 5:8. But the capacity of bearing a variety of applications, each as just in its place as the other, is the quality of all figurative language that is apt and true to nature.

[838] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.

[839] Codex Augiensis (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., at Trinity College, Cambridge, edited by Scrivener in 1859. Its Greek text is almost identical with that of G, and it is therefore not cited save where it differs from that MS. Its Latin version, f, presents the Vulgate text with some modifications.

[840] Codex Boernerianus (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., at Dresden, edited by Matthæi in 1791. Written by an Irish scribe, it once formed part of the same volume as Codex Sangallensis (δ) of the Gospels. The Latin text, g, is based on the O.L. translation.

[841] Codex Alexandrinus (sæc. v.), at the British Museum, published in photographic facsimile by Sir E. M. Thompson (1879).

[842] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.

[843] Codex Sangermanensis (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., now at St. Petersburg, formerly belonging to the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Its text is largely dependent upon that of D. The Latin version, e (a corrected copy of d), has been printed, but with incomplete accuracy, by Belsheim (18 5).

[844] Codex Mosquensis (sæc. ix.), edited by Matthæi in 1782.

[845] Codex Angelicus (sæc. ix.), at Rome, collated by Tischendorf and others.

[846] Codex Porphyrianus (sæc. ix.), at St. Petersburg, collated by Tischendorf. Its text is deficient for chap. Ephesians 2:13-16.17. take] Lit., receive, as from the hands of Another, who presents it to all His soldiers.

the helmet] Cp. Isaiah 59:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:8. See also Psalm 140:7. The head needs protection not only as a vital part, but as the seat of sight. The believer “looks up, and lifts up his head, as his redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).

salvation] The Gr. is not the common word so rendered, sôtêria, (which is used 1 Thessalonians 5:8), but sôtêrion, which occurs Luke 2:30; Luke 3:6; Acts 28:28. It is frequent in the LXX.; occurring e.g. Psalms 51 (LXX. 50) 12, 91. (LXX. 90) 16; Isaiah 26:1; Isaiah 59:17; Isaiah 61:10. If the difference between the two forms is to be pressed, it may be suggested that sôtêria tends to denote “salvation” (deliverance from judgment and sin) as it is in the Divine Person who saves; sôtêria, “salvation” as it is applied and received. But the difference often vanishes.

In Isaiah 59 the Divine Warrior wears this helmet; doubtless in the sense of His being the Worker of deliverance, clothed and armed, as it were, with His great purpose. The Christian warrior here wears it in the sense of his being the receiver and possessor of deliverance, clothed and armed in the victory of his Head. In 1 Thessalonians 5 “the hope of salvation” is the helmet: the sure prospect of the final and absolute deliverance (cp. Romans 13:11), a deliverance of which the present peace and victory of faith is but the outline or prelude, “covers the head” of the soldier. The two passages supplement each other; the hope is based on the actual possession of the thing in its present phase; the sense of possession is vivified by the hope.

the sword] The one offensive weapon in the picture. The fight is stationary and defensive, but it continually requires the thrust and cut of the defender. The assailant is himself to be assailed; the accusing tempter to be silenced. Cp. Hebrews 4:12 for the only other N.T. passage where the “sword” appears in spiritual imagery. There, as well as here, the “Word” is the sword-like thing. In the O.T., cp. Psalm 64:3; Isaiah 49:2.

of the Spirit] The great Conveyer of the “word of God,” as the Inspirer of the Prophets, under both O.T. and N.T. (above Ephesians 3:5; Hebrews 3:7; Hebrews 9:8; Hebrews 10:15; 1 Peter 1:11; 2 Peter 1:21) Thus the sword is of His forging; and as He works in the believer as the Spirit of truth (John 14:17), and faith (2 Corinthians 4:13), He puts the sword into his grasp and enables him to use it. See next note.

the word of God] The sure utterance of Revealed Truth. The Gr. word (as in ch. Ephesians 5:26, where see note,) is not logos but rhéma. Doubtless the reference is not to be limited to the very words of Scripture; for true conclusions from them, in the Creeds for example, are “utterances” of Divine truth. But the evidence of Scripture itself, as it indicates historically the principles and practice of the Lord and the Apostles in regard of the Written Word, is altogether in favour of interpreting the phrase here, as to its main and permanent meaning, of the believing use, in spiritual conflict, of the Scriptures; the Written Word, revealing the Living Word. It is true that when this Epistle was written, the Spirit, Whose work in producing Scripture was still in progress, was also speaking direct to the Church in other modes (see e.g. Acts 11:28; 1 Corinthians 14; &c.). But that this was a great passing phase of the Church’s experience is indicated by 1 Corinthians 13:8, and by the broad facts of history. And meanwhile both Christ and the Apostles appeal to the Written Word for proof and certainty in a manner altogether peculiar, and which calls for the close personal study of the Christian disciple.

Above all, observe that the Lord Himself, in His Temptation, the history of which should be compared carefully with this whole passage, uses exclusively verbal citations, written “utterances,” from the Scriptures, as His sword; and this immediately after His Baptism and the Descent of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16 to Matthew 4:11; Luke 4:1-13). No suggestion could be more pregnant than this as to the abiding position of the Written Word under the Dispensation of the Spirit.

With this verse the imagery of the passage gives way to unfigurative spiritual precepts. The writer is careless of literary symmetry, in favour of a higher order and beauty.Ephesians 6:17. Τοῦ σωτηρίου, of salvation) i.e. of Christ. Acts 28:28, note. The mention of the Spirit elegantly follows; and therefore, by comparing Ephesians 6:13, we have here mention of the holy Trinity.[105] The head is exalted and defended by salvation, 1 Thessalonians 5:8; Psalm 3:3-4.—δέξασθε, receive [take to yourselves]) what is offered [implied in δέξασθε, receive] by the Lord.—ῥῆμα Θεοῦ, the word of God) Matthew 4:4; Matthew 4:7; Matthew 4:10.

[105] Salvation = Christ: the sword of the Spirit, the word of God; so the whole armour of God, Ephesians 6:13.—ED.Verse 17. - And take the helmet of salvation. This is the head-covering (comp. Psalm 140:7). In 1 Thessalonians 5:8 we read, "putting on for an helmet the hope of salvation." The glorious truth that we are saved (comp. Ephesians 2:5, 8) appropriated, rested on, rejoiced in, will protect even so vital a part as the head, will keep us from intellectual surrender and rationalistic doubt. And the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. The sword supplied by the Spirit, the Word being inspired by him, and employed by the Spirit; for he enlightens us to know it, applies it to us, and teaches us to use it both defensively and offensively. Our Lord in his conflict with Satan, and also with the scribes and Pharisees, has taught us how this weapon is to be used, and with what wonderful effect. Paul, too, reasoning from the Scriptures and proving from them "that this Jesus whom I preach unto you is the Christ," or (going back to the Old Testament) the author of the hundred and nineteenth psalm, showing us how the soul is to be fed, quickened, strengthened and comforted out of God's Law, indicates the manifold use of the sword, and shows how earnestly we should study and practice this sword exercise, for our own good and the good of others. Take the helmet of salvation (τὴν περικεφαλαίαν τοῦ σωτηρίου δέξασθε)

Compare Isaiah 59:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:8. Take is a different word from that used in Ephesians 6:13, Ephesians 6:16. It is receive as from God. The meaning is the helmet which is salvation. The protection for the head. The helmet was originally of skin, strengthened with bronze or other metal, and surmounted with a figure adorned with a horsehair crest. It was furnished with a visor to protect the face.

Sword of the Spirit (μάχαιραν τοῦ πνεύματος)

See on Revelation 6:4. The word of God serves both for attack and to parry the thrusts of the enemy. Thus Christ used it in His temptation. It is the sword of the Spirit, because the Spirit of God gives it and inspires it. The Spirit's aid is needed for its interpretation. Compare John 14:10; Hebrews 4:12, in which latter passage the image is sacrificial.

Word of God (ῥῆμα θεοῦ)

See on Luke 1:37. See Luke 3:2; Luke 4:4; Romans 10:17; Hebrews 6:5; Hebrews 11:3.

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