The Roman sword that Paul is referring to is the Gladius, from which we get the word gladiator, or swordsman. At the time of Apostle Paul it would have had a length of 26-28 inches and a weight of 700gms or 1.5lbs. It was sharpened on both sides and had a pointed tip. This sword was used for close combat fighting on a one-to-one basis. Training with the Gladius was intense and trainees had to use dummy swords that weighed about three times as much as the real thing. This was to strengthen their muscles and ensure that when they had to use the real sword it was so light in their hands that they felt invincible.
Paul makes it quite clear that the sword of the Spirit is the word of God. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that it is ‘alive and sharper than any two-edged sword’. There are two things that resonated with me about this sword.
Firstly, we need to practise with it regularly so that we become proficient in using it. No Roman soldier would be allowed on the battlefield unless he had proved himself capable of using it expertly. It was there to protect him and his comrades. How much effort do we spend on training with the sword of the Spirit (the word of God), the Bible? Are we half-hearted with it? Do we study it and put verses to memory? Do we know our way around it and can find passages when we need to? Or do we just depend on searching the Internet? The Bible needs to be used daily. The more we use it and study it, the easier it will be to find verses we need when the battles come.
Secondly, Paul is insistent in verse 17. He says ‘take’. It isn’t a suggestion. It isn’t a recommendation. It isn’t an encouragement. It’s a command. The Captain of our salvation commands us to take up the sword. We are to do so until we get to heaven. Those of us that have been involved in hand to hand combat with the enemy for the freedom of ourselves or a fellow believer know only too well how powerful the word of God is.
The enemy hates it and wants us to be bored with it and not use it daily, to let it sit on our bookcase or beside our bed, and become nothing more than an ornament. Don’t let him. The Spirit alone can show us how to use it effectively, and it’s ours to use under His guidance and leading. It isn’t used for defence, but for attack. The enemy is up close and personal and we can’t throw spears or fire arrows at him. We need a powerful weapon for close quarter fighting and this is it. So, let’s take it up, as commanded, and use it.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for the provision of the sword of the Spirit, which is the very word of God. You want me to be fully trained in its use, to use it daily and to make every effort to memorise verses of scripture, so that I can call upon them in times of need. Forgive me for the times I have failed to do that. From today onwards help me to cherish it and use it daily. Amen.
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