Ephesians 6:17; The Sword of the Spirit – the two swords in Gethsemane.

Class Outline:

Sunday June 5 2022

EPH 6:10-17

Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.


The sword referred to is the Roman short sword (machaira), which was so important in battle, having less force than a large sword, but far more maneuverable and deadly in a skilled hand.


Before we can see Jesus or the apostles wielding this sword, and thereby put ourselves in their sandals, we have to be sure that we understand the phrase “sword of the Spirit which is the word of God,” as God has meant it. We know the Holy Spirit, and we have more discoveries about His ministries coming up soon. The sword must be explored in contrast to the world’s weapons of warfare and the Greek word Paul uses for “word” has some nuances. When we put them together, we will better understand.


“sword” - makaira (Roman short sword) = the one weapon of the Christian soldier. His skillful use of the word of God under the power of the Holy Spirit.


Paul’s use of makaira, as opposed to other swords he might have chosen to use, should be considered, but not overly played. Like all imagery, it is just a picture to help us understand a truth that can’t be put into a picture. The makaira is small and maneuverable. It is double edged (HEB 4:12) and pointed. The word of God is double edged, sharper than the finest razor, and it makes a point, so to speak, that can often sting. But we have to be careful, for the word of God can be used in the wrong way and for the wrong reason.


In the Garden of Gethsemane, a great multitude came from among the Jewish leadership with swords and clubs to arrest Jesus.


MAT 26:47-51

And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, came up, accompanied by a great multitude with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 Now he who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, "Whomever I shall kiss, He is the one; seize Him." 49 And immediately he went to Jesus and said, "Hail, Rabbi!" and kissed Him. 50 And Jesus said to him, "Friend, do what you have come for." Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him. 51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest, and cut off his ear.


In his gospel, written much later, John outs the “one of those” as Peter. But Luke reveals to us that all of them had the same idea. [hold here, we’re coming back]


LUK 22:49-50

And when those who were around Him saw what was going to happen, they said, "Lord, shall we strike with the sword?" 50 And a certain one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear.


Typically, Peter didn’t seem to wait for the Lord to answer before he acted (ready, shoot, aim).


The Lord’s response is famous. But I think its fame can prevent us from analyzing it.


MAT 26:52-54

Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. 53 "Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 "How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen this way?"


“All those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.”


In Gethsemane, Peter’s sword becomes a symbol of all the ways of man that seek to fulfill his desires and purposes.


Here, in this place, at this time, the physical sword becomes a symbol of all the ways that man tries to accomplish his own purposes.


There are a few striking pictures in this scene, and they are not by accident. God is revealing Himself and His way to us in the pictures all around us. Here we have a disciple of Jesus, a leading disciple, tightly gripping the sword of the world. He has it in his mind that this is the way to accomplish what is necessary. He is so convinced, that he feels that there is no need to hesitate and wait for the Lord’s reply to the question, which I’m sure didn’t come from Peter, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?”


The believer can be fooled into thinking that the world’s “sword” will accomplish the church’s purpose.


When I say “sword,” I do not only mean combat or even aggressiveness, but the whole realm of planning, scheming, doing, etc., by human reason rather than faith and dependence upon the word of God. Someone asked the Living Word what they should do and Peter didn’t wait for the response.


Secondly, Peter is not acting to do anything less than accomplish the fulfilled ministry of the first advent of the Son of God. I’m sure that thought doesn’t enter his mind, but that, in essence is what he is trying to do. He’s not trying to build a church or plan a sermon or educate a child or feed the poor. He is at the business of taking care of the first advent of the Messiah, the one event foretold from GEN 3:15 and the expectation and longing of every prophet of Israel who longed to see His day, and Peter is going to accomplish that. It is striking what he is trying to do.


I think this shows us that there is no part of the plan of God that we should attempt by anything other than faith in the revealed word.


It is not that we don’t use our God-given human reason. We most certainly think things through, and thoroughly, but always relying on, and remaining in the boundaries of, the revealed word of God.



Therefore, the sword we are told to take must a different kind altogether.



Gethsemane perfectly exhibits the difference between the sword of the world and the sword of the Spirit.


JOH 18:3-6

Judas then, having received the Roman cohort, and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Jesus therefore, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth, and said to them, "Whom do you seek?"  5 They answered Him, "Jesus the Nazarene." He said to them, "I am He." And Judas also who was betraying Him, was standing with them. 6 When therefore He said to them, "I am He," they drew back, and fell to the ground.


JOH 18:11

Jesus therefore said to Peter, "Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?"




He began his public ministry in the thirtieth year of his age, after the Messianic inauguration by the baptism of John, and after the Messianic probation in the wilderness—the counterpart of the temptation of the first Adam in Paradise.


That ministry lasted only three years—and yet in these three years is condensed the deepest meaning of the history of religion. No great life ever passed so swiftly, so quietly, so humbly, so far removed from the noise and commotion of the world; and no great life after its close excited such universal and lasting interest. He was aware of this contrast; He predicted His deepest humiliation even to the death on the cross, and the subsequent irresistible attraction of this cross, which may be witnessed from day to day wherever His name is known. He who could say, "If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto myself," knew more of the course of history and of the human heart than all the sages and legislators before and after Him.


His life was pure, pious, and powerful. So sure of His perfect holiness, He would confidently ask, “Which one of you accuses Me of sin,” knowing they could only lie. He associated with sinners so as to bring them higher and nobler through His redemption and truth. He condemned falsehood, especially false ideas about God, knowing full well it would cause His enemies to want His life. He taught the purest doctrine with an authority that no one had ever heard before.


Hated and persecuted by the Jewish hierarchy, betrayed into their hands by Judas, accused by false witnesses, condemned by the Sanhedrin, rejected by the people, denied by Peter, but declared innocent by the representative of the Roman law and justice who condemned Him regardless, surrounded by his weeping mother and faithful disciple, revealing in those dark hours by word and silence the gentleness of a lamb and the dignity of a God, praying for his murderers, dispensing to the penitent thief a place in paradise, committing His soul to his heavenly Father he died, with the exclamation: "It is finished!"  He died before He had reached the prime of manhood. The Savior of the world, a youth!  He died the shameful death of the cross, the just for the unjust, the innocent for the guilty, a free self, sacrifice of infinite love, to reconcile the world unto God. He conquered sin and death on their own ground, and thus redeemed and sanctified all who are willing to accept His benefits by faith and who could His example. He instituted the Lord’s Supper, to perpetuate the memory of his death and the cleansing and atoning power of his blood till the end of time.


The third day He rose from the grave, the conqueror of death and hell, the prince of life and resurrection. He repeatedly appeared to his disciples; He commissioned them to preach the gospel of the resurrection to every creature; He took possession of His heavenly throne, and by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit He established the church, which He has ever since protected, nourished, and comforted, and with which He has promised to abide, till He shall come again in glory to judge the quick and the dead.


1CO 11:23-26

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, "This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me."  25 In the same way He took the cup also, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."  26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.