Ephesians 6:17: The Sword of the Spirit: Part One


  • The sword that gives life
  • The sword that transforms character


In Pilgrim’s Progress in the Valley of Humiliation on Christian’s journey to the Heavenly City he encounters Apollyon, i.e. the devil. Here is how it went:

Apollyon:  Whence come you, and whither are you bound?

Christian: I am come from the city of Destruction, which is the place of all evil, and am going to the City of Zion.

Apollyon:  By this I perceive thou art one of my subjects; for all that country is mine, and I am the prince and god of it. How is it, then, that thou hast run away from thy king? Were it not that I hope thou mayest do me more service, I would strike thee now at one blow to the ground.

Christian:  I was born indeed in your dominions; but your service was hard, and your wages such as a man could not live on, for the wages of sin is death; therefore, when I was come to years, I did as other prudent persons do, look out, if perhaps I might mend myself.

Apollyon:  There is no prince that will thus lightly lose his subjects; neither will I as yet lose thee. But since thou complainest of thy service and wages, be content to go back; what our country will afford I do here promise to give thee….

[Christian resists him and warns him….]

Then Apollyon straddled quite over the whole breadth of the way, and said, “I am void of fear in this matter: prepare thyself to die! for I swear by my infernal den that thou shalt go no farther; here will I spill thy soul.” And with that he threw a flaming dart at his breast; but Christian had a shield in his hand, with which he caught it, and so prevented the danger of that. Then did Christian draw, for he saw ‘t was time to bestir him; and Apollyon as fast made at him, throwing darts as thick as hail; by the which, notwithstanding all that Christian could do to avoid it, Apollyon wounded him in his head, his hand, and foot. This made Christian give a little back; Apollyon therefore followed his work furiously, and Christian again took courage, and resisted as manfully as he could. This sore combat lasted for above half a day, even till Christian was almost quite spent. For you must know that Christian , by reason of his wounds, grew weaker and weaker.

Then Apollyon , espying his opportunity, began to gather up close to Christian , and wrestling with him, gave him a dreadful fall: and with that, Christian’s sword flew out of his hand. Then said Apollyon , “I am sure of thee now”; and with that he had almost pressed him to death, so that Christian began to despair of life. But as God would have it, while Apollyon was fetching his last blow, thereby to make a full end of this good man, Christian nimbly reached out his hand for his sword, and caught it, saying, “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy; when I fall, I shall arise”; and with that, gave him a deadly thrust, which made him give back, as one that had received his mortal wound. Christian perceiving that, made at him again, saying, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us”.
And with that, Apollyon spread forth his dragon’s wings, and sped him away, that Christian for a season saw him no more.’

Here we see a wonderful picture of the Christian engaged in battle and how by the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, the Christian is able to resist the devil and not be destroyed in the valley of humiliation.

This is the next piece of armour to which Paul turns our attention in Eph. 6:17, ‘and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.’ It has often been pointed out that this next piece of the armour is offensive as well as defensive, and that with the Word of God we not only ward off the devil’s attacks but do damage to his kingdom. Today as we look at the sword we want to see that God’s word is a sword that gives life, transforms character.