What does Ephesians 6:17 mean?
ESV: and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
NIV: Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
NASB: And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
CSB: Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit--which is the word of God.
NLT: Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
KJV: And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
NKJV: And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;
Verse Commentary:
Helmets are essential in battle. A helmet can protect against stones, hand weapons, projectiles, fists, impacts with the ground or other attacks aimed at the head. Soldiers knew one hit to the head could mean disaster in battle. For this reason, the helmet does more to put a soldier at ease than almost any other piece of armor. Paul associates the helmet in the armor of God with salvation. Salvation is ultimately the best protection against Satan, since nothing, even Satan, can separate us from the love of God in Christ (Romans 8:37–39).

In addition, Paul mentions "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." This is the first offensive weapon mentioned. The sword was used to kill and defeat enemies during attack. The typical Roman sword was not a long, cumbersome weapon. Rather, they were short-bladed, easy to draw, and quick in combat. Paul uses the term machairan here, which specifically refers to a short-bladed sword of this type. In the same way, God's Word helps to defeat our enemies during spiritual attacks. During the temptations of Jesus by Satan, Jesus used Scripture on all three occasions to overcome temptation (Matthew 4:1–11). Those who study and know Scripture can best "strike back" against temptation and prevent the Devil from knocking them off of their post.

It should also be noted that swords, as powerful weapons, are subject to misuse. A properly-wielded sword, used as the soldier has been taught, is a capable tool. But, a soldier who swings a sword wildly or carelessly is liable to harm themselves or others. The same is true of the Bible, the "sword of the Spirit." Improper, careless, or rebellious use of the Bible causes pain, harm, and spiritual damage.
Verse Context:
Ephesians 6:10–20 concludes Paul's practical application of Christianity with a famous series of metaphors. Here, he describes the ''armor of God.'' In this passage, Paul uses the allegory of a Roman soldier's basic equipment to show how the components of Christianity work together as we strive to serve God. The soldier's tools include a belt, breastplate, shoes, shield, helmet, and sword. In parallel, the Christian's implements are truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, and the Word of God. Christians are also given prayer. Just as a soldier's equipment is designed for their earthly battle, a Christian's equipment is meant for spiritual warfare.
Chapter Summary:
Paul gives specific instructions to children and fathers, stressing obedience and patience, respectively. He also directs servants to serve with sincerity and good intentions, as if they were working for Christ. Masters are warned not to be harsh: the same God who judges all will not give them preference over those they supervised. All Christians are called on to use the tools given us by God for surviving the attacks of the devil. These are imagined as pieces of a suit of armor. Paul ends this letter in his typical style, with prayer, blessings, and news about his plans.
Chapter Context:
Ephesians opens with three chapters of doctrine, followed by three chapters of practical application. This final chapter of Paul's letter focuses on specific ways Christians should live. It also summarizes the spiritual tools we are given by God, imagining them as a suit of armor. Paul pulls the same basic ideas from the rest of letter together, showing how Christians should live out their knowledge of what salvation in Christ really means.
Book Summary:
Ephesians follows a theme common in Paul's writings: connecting theory with practice. In this book, however, he goes into greater depth before making the transition. As a letter meant to be read by more than just the believers at Ephesus, this is an important look at how Christian belief should translate into Christian action. The first three chapters lay out spiritual ideas, the last three chapters show how these truths should be applied in the life of a mature believer. Paul focuses heavily on love, the unity of the Christian church, and the incredible value of our salvation through Christ.
Accessed 4/24/2024 5:47:48 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.