on Ephesians 6 :17
Take the helmet of salvation - Or, as it is expressed, 1 Thessalonians 5:8, And for a helmet, the hope of salvation. It has already been observed, in the description of the Grecian armor, that on the crest and other parts of the helmet were a great variety of emblematical figures, and that it is very likely the apostle refers to helmets which had on them an emblematical representation of hope; viz. that the person should be safe who wore it, that he should be prosperous in all his engagements, and ever escape safe from battle. So the hope of conquering every adversary and surmounting every difficulty, through the blood of the Lamb, is as a helmet that protects the head; an impenetrable one, that the blow of the battle-axe cannot cleave. The hope of continual safety and protection, built on the promises of God, to which the upright follower of Christ feels he has a Divine right, protects the understanding from being darkened, and the judgment from being confused by any temptations of Satan, or subtle arguments of the sophistical ungodly. He who carries Christ in his heart cannot be cheated out of the hope of his heaven,
The sword of the Spirit - See what is said before on ξιφος and μαχαιρα, in the account of the Greek armor (Ephesians 6:13 (note)). The sword of which St. Paul speaks is, as he explains it, the word of God; that is, the revelation which God has given of himself, or what we call the Holy Scriptures. This is called the sword of the Spirit, because it comes from the Holy Spirit, and receives its fulfillment in the soul through the operation of the Holy Spirit. An ability to quote this on proper occasions, and especially in times of temptation and trial, has a wonderful tendency to cut in pieces the snares of the adversary. In God's word a genuine Christian may have unlimited confidence, and to every purpose to which it is applicable it may be brought with the greatest effect. The shield, faith, and the sword - the word of God, or faith in God's unchangeable word, are the principal armor of the soul. He in whom the word of God dwells richly, and who has that faith by which he knows that he has redemption, even the forgiveness of sins, need not fear the power of any adversary. He stands fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made him free. Some suppose that του Πνευματος, of the Spirit, should be understood of our own spirit or soul; the word of God being the proper sword of the soul, or that offensive weapon the only one which the soul uses. But though it is true that every Christian soul has this for its sword, yet the first meaning is the most likely.
on Ephesians 6 :17
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.
on Ephesians 6 :17
6:17 And take for an helmet the hope of salvation - 1Thes 5:8. The head is that part which is most carefully to be defended. One stroke here may prove fatal. The armour for this is the hope of salvation. The lowest degree of this hope is a confidence that God will work the whole work of faith in us; the highest is a full assurance of future glory, added to the experimental knowledge of pardoning love. Armed with this helmet, the hope of the joy set before him, Christ endured the cross, and despised the shame, Heb 12:2. And the sword of the Spirit, the word of God - This Satan cannot withstand, when it is edged and wielded by faith. Till now our armour has been only defensive. But we are to attack Satan, as well as secure ourselves; the shield in one hand, and the sword in the other. Whoever fights with the powers of hell will need both. He that is covered with armour from head to foot, and neglects this, will be foiled after all. This whole description shows us how great a thing it is to be a Christian. The want of any one thing makes him incomplete. Though he has his loins girt with truth, righteousness for a breastplate, his feet shod with the preparation of the gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit; yet one thing he wants after all. What is that? It follows,