Thus far, the armor of God we’ve been studying has all been defensive. The girdle, breastplate, footwear, shield, and helmet all protect us. They’re essential in battle, but they’re not something we can use to attack and (with the exception of the shield) they’re not actively defensive either. This next piece of armor, though, is a weapon.
receive … the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph. 6:17, LEB)
Paul tells us exactly what we’re given as the only weapon included in this Armor of God. It’s called the Sword of the Spirit and it is the Word of God. Now it’s up to us to learn how to use the word as a sword.
Avoiding Word Confusion
There are two words in Greek for “word,” and we have to start by defining them if we want to avoid confusion. Just looking at the English, we would connect Eph. 6:17 with Heb. 4:12, which says, “the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit” (WEB). But these versus aren’t talking about the same thing.
In Hebrews, it’s talking about the logos (G3056). This word refers to a spoken word of intelligence, and it’s what’s used as a name for Jesus in John 1:1, 14. Reading on in Hebrews makes it clear that He’s being talked about in this passage as well (Heb. 4:13-16).
In Ephesians, on the other hand, the word is rhema (G4487). It refers to the spoken or written sayings of God, but isn’t used as a title for the speaker. So in Hebrews, the Word as a sword refers to Jesus cutting into people’s spirits and knowing them deeply. Ephesians is talking about wielding the word, or scriptures, of God as a weapon. Read more →
My parents tell me my first words were “Dada” and “duck.” I’m sure many of your parents also shared with your how excited they were when you first started talking, or perhaps you have kids of your own and eagerly waited for the first words to come from their mouths. We view first words as important, even on into adulthood when we meet someone for the first time. Based on the words people speak, we form ideas about their priorities, character, and motives.
We don’t know what baby Jesus’s first words were, but we do have four gospels that contain many words He spoke while walking on this earth. Looking at the first words each writer records Christ speaking gives us key insight into His character and priorities. Read more →
I’m a writer. I spend most of my day with words. I put them together, move them around, edit them out and put new ones in — all trying to find just the right combination to deliver information, move you to tears, make you laugh, or give you something to think about. So when the Bible describes Jesus Christ as “the Word,” I see that from a the perspective of someone who loves words and realizes how powerful they can be. I express myself best through written words, and that is also the main way God has chosen to express Himself to us.
Have you ever wondered why that is? Why did God make sure we had a written record of Him? in theory, He could have taught everything by speaking directly through prophets right up into the present day, much like He did for a good part of Biblical history. Even through there was a written record in the Torah, then the complete Old Testament and finally the canonized Bible, throughout most of history people simply didn’t have access to a written copy of God’s word. For the past couple thousand years or so, though, God has communicated to His people primarily through His written words.
I suspect part of this is because the church is now scattered over the entire world rather than concentrated in a single nation — God was expanding His family, and in the new church that Jesus Christ is building it simply isn’t practical or necessary to have His people going to a rabbi or prophet to find out what God wants. Now, every individual who has been called is given the opportunity to have a relationship directly with the Father and with the Word, and that relationship largely depends on us picking up God’s written word and asking Him to teach us.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Col. 3:16-17)
This is the same Greek word, logos (G3056), used to describe Jesus as the Word. Logos means an articulate expression of intelligence. When Christ is named the Word, it is in reference to His role as the One who reveals the intelligent thoughts of the God family. Here in Colossians, what we’re talking about is the words He spoke in His role as the Word.
These verses are telling us to look at every word that Jesus shared with us, and let those words dwell inside us along with the wisdom we need to understand His words. It’s telling us to share those words with others, and let them work a change inside you that alters your own words and deeds. When the word of Christ is in you, then the “intelligent expression” coming out of your mind and mouth will be a reflection of His intelligence.
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matt. 12:35-37)
This is another Greek word, rema (G4487), which refers to spoken words or commands. Instead of referencing the intelligence behind the words, it refers to the subject matter being discussed. It’s telling us that we will be judged, not just for the motivation behind our words, but also for the subjects we choose to speak about. Christ’s words in us are good treasures of our hearts, and with Him inside us the words we speak will become good, and glorify God.
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. (John 15:7-8)
Our relationship with the Word and the presence of His words in us makes it possible for us to glorify God with the fruits of our life. “The worlds were framed by the word of God” — so just imagine what an amazing work those powerful words can do inside of us! (Heb. 11:3).
Spirit and Life
It is vitally important that Jesus Christ, “the Word of life” (1 John 1:1), and the words that He taught become a part of us. Without a good relationship with the words of God, we will not be saved.
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:21-25)
The words of God speak to our hearts and spirits. They show us who and what we are and give us tools to change and grow. Jesus said, “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). Do we treat the word of God like that? Do we hold on to it and treasure it as a source of life and of the Spirit? as a key to intimacy with God?
For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it. (Deut. 30:11-14)
Paul quotes directly from this in Romans 10:5-10, leaving no doubt that this passage is relevant under the New Covenant as well as the Old. It’s like we talked about last week — God “is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:27-28).
As we become more and more like the Father and Jesus, our thoughts should be more like Their thoughts, our words more like Their words. We’ve been given a written record of how They think and speak, and we’ve been given His Spirit so we can comprehend what They are telling us (1 Cor. 2:10-12). The Word dwelling in us is an incredible opportunity to know and understand our creator.