16 In every situation take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit—which is the word of God. (Christian Standard Bible)         In this passage, Paul continues talking about the armor of a Roman soldier.  He continues with the last 2 defensive items and then the 1 offensive piece of armor. 

         James Montgomery Boice wrote the following in his commentary on the Book of Ephesians regarding Eph. 6:16:

         “The Roman soldier had 2 kinds of shields. There was a small round shield that he would use in hand-to-hand combat when it was important for him to be able to maneuver easily, and the was a large oblong shield he would use when advancing into battle with other soldiers. This second shield, the one that Paul refers to here, was about four and a half feet long and about two feet wide and covered the soldier’s body completely. These advancing columns of a Roman army spread terror to an enemy.”

         Our faith should be like that.  It should accomplish at least three things:

(1.) It should cover us so that not a portion is exposed.

(2.) It should link up with the faith of others for a solid wall of offense, and

(3) Because it covers the whole person and links up with the faith of other believers, it should be able to strike down the fiery arrows hurled at us. This suggests to us that we are not alone in this battle. It is a. living faith. We must always walk by faith.

         The second piece of defensive armor is the Helmet of Salvation mentioned in first part of Eph. 6:17. The Roman helmet protected the head, always a major target in battle. C. G. Caldwell, writing  in the Truth Commentaries, writes the  following:

         “The Roman helmet was sometimes made of metal. It gave secure protection to the head from blows an enemy missile.” 

Concerning spiritual application, he further comments on this passage:

“The security of salvation is the result of God’s great grace towards us and although we can throw it aside voluntarily, the enemy can never strip it from us against our will.”

Other references in the Word of God include Isaiah 59:17. It was there that Yahweh, the victorious warrior, wears the “helmet of salvation.” In I Thessalonians 5:8, we read: But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled and put on the armor of faith and love, and a helmet of the hope of salvation. (CSB) Put on the helmet of salvation for protection and don’t let the lies of the Devil get into you head. You can say to him, “I am alive with Christ, redeemed, forgiven, reconciled, raised with Christ, and seated with Christ.”

Concerning the “Helmet of Salvation,” Jack Cottrell wrote the following,

“This identity and union with Christ the Victor are the “helmet of salvation,” which we confidently wear into battle with Satan and his angels. It is the presence of a power beyond our own, given to us by the Victor Himself. It is a power that guarantees us victory over even these supernatural enemies. This is a major part of the salvation that we already possess, and the armor we are wearing.”

The last piece of armor listed is the only offensive piece mentioned in this list. It’s called “The Sword of the Spirit.” The believer must, like the Roman soldier, take up the sword and engage the enemy.

The Roman sword was a short sword or dagger about 12 to 18 inches long and hung on the belt to be used in personal contact.  Jack Cottrell wrote the. Following about this passage,

 “In Paul’s list of spiritual armament, the sword represents the Word of God. Nothing compares to its power and essentiality in our spiritual warfare with evil spiritual forces. Second, identifying the sword as the sword of the. Spirit and the Word of God, emphasizes the divine origin of the truth of Christianity, the Biblical world view.”

In our next article, we are going to deal more with the importance of the Word of God in the life of the Christian.


Larry Miles is Co-Editor of Word & Work and attends Cherry St. Church of Christ in New Albany, IN.