The Sword of the Spirit is The Word of God… How?

The Sword of the Spirit is The Word of God… How? August 18, 2023

Woman with Star Wars shirt exercising with blue and green light sabers
Sometimes for fun in my flamenco fitness classes, I fancy myself a double light saber Jedi. Will I ever get this confident with my Sword of the Spirit, which apostle Paul describes as the word of God? On this journey, with me, join, my fellow warrior-in-training. Credit: Coco Cabrel

“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:17 (NIV)

Recently, I saw a fancy sword on display at our oral surgeon’s office. It had a very fancy inscription on the blade; I couldn’t read it from a distance, and the letters didn’t look like the English alphabet anyway. Yep, waiting for my 17-year-old to have his wisdom teeth removed, I pondered the question: “Why do many swords – even from different cultures – have inscriptions on them?”


A handful of sword inscriptions, pun intended

According to, there was a longstanding tradition for Japanese swords to be inscribed with the swordsmith’s name. Research from the Swiss National Museum translates the inscriptions on many medieval European swords to be invocations to God – prayers to remind a knight of his purpose.

There’s a German executioner’s sword from the 1600’s, on display at the Cleveland Museum of Art, with an inscription that reads, “When I raise this sword, so I wish that this poor sinner will receive eternal life.” Wow. I have no words for that. Except maybe, “Yikes.”

Even fictional swords have inspirational names inscribed on them. For example, in The Lord of the Rings, we cheer for Thorin’s “Orcrist,” Bilbo’s “Sting,” and Aragorn’s “Anduril.”

But what about apostle Paul’s name for the sword in God’s full armor: “The Sword of the Spirit”?

And perhaps more importantly, what about Paul’s very specific description of this sword – as “the word of God”?

Were we really given a sword, the word of God, to swing around – and maybe even… use?



How can the Sword of the Spirit be the Word of God?

In Hebrews 4:12 (NIV), it is written:

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

First – some dictionary definitions because we’ve got a lot of words to, well, divvy up here.

Double-edged sword: The Britannica Dictionary gives us the literal and figurative definitions.

  1. (literal) a sword that has 2 sharps edges
  2. (figurative) something that has both good and bad parts or results

Word pair #1 ~

Soul vs. Spirit: The definitions of these 2 words are so close to each other in the secular dictionaries, I’m pointing you to the biblical distinction, as described by

“The soul is the essence of humanity’s being; it is who we are. The spirit is the immaterial part of humanity that connects with God.”

In other words –

  1. Each of us is a soul, and that soul exists in the body on earth and on its own after physical death; and
  2. Each of us may have spirit – that is, a relationship with God.

Word pair #2 ~

Joint: I’ll give you this definition off the top of my head as an anatomy professor. It’s the physical structure where 2 bones come together.

Marrow: Again, the anatomy professor in me will give you, specifically, bone marrow as the “filling” inside the cavity of a long bone, such as your thigh bone or upper arm bone; this filling contains fat cells plus precursors of blood cells.

Circling back around to our verse from Hebrews, apparently, the word of God can penetrate us like a physical sword and divide the things within us that work very closely together. The word of God can divide physical things such as “joints and marrow,” and the non-physical – the soul and spirit.

Apparently, the word of God is like a sword.

But sharper.


And the S/word of God does… WHAT???

The second part of our verse from Hebrews describes even more specifically what this super-sharp sword from God’s full armor, AKA the word of God, actually does. Quite plainly,

“… it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (see Hebrews 4:12 [NIV])

This is getting dicey, another pun intended. Let’s look at 2 more dictionary definitions.

Word pair #3 ~

A thought: According to the Brittanica Dictionary, a thought isan idea, plan, opinion, picture, etc., that is formed in your mind : something that you think of.”

An attitude: And here are 2 very close definitions of what an attitude is, also according to the Brittanica Dictionary:

  1. the way you think and feel about someone or something
  2. a feeling or way of thinking that affects a person’s behavior (italics mine)

And God judges these things as they arise, not from your mind, but from your heart.

Yikes, again. That cuts deep.


And the Holy Spirit gave us this sword – this word of God – to use?

This seems like quite a bit of responsibility to give to someone like me – someone more along the lines of a squire-in-training than a Japanese Samurai warrior or a German executioner.

Yet, this Sword of the Spirit, this word of God, was given to me as an integral piece of God’s full armor, on the morning of my baptism.

Someone must trust me enough. 

And who can I look to as my shining example of a Master Swordsman?



Reflective Response: Jesus as Master Swordsman

As I train with my Sword of the Spirit, the word of God, come and train along with me. Let’s use Jesus Christ as our perfect example of One who Wields the Sword.

  • In Matthew 4:1-11 (NIV), Jesus was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness,” where he fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. When he was incredibly hungry, thirsty, and probably weary and hardly able to think straight (I know that would be my physical and mental state), “the tempter came to him” with 3 propositions, 3 suggestions that must have sounded awfully enticing in those moments.
    • Every time, Jesus wielded the Sword of the Spirit against the devil by quoting the word of God:
      • “Jesus answered, ‘It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”” (v. 4)
      • “Jesus answered him, ‘It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”” (v. 7)
      • “Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”” (v. 10)
    • It only took 3 perfect swipes of the word of God for Jesus to get the devil to leave him. (see v. 11) #masterswordsmanship
  • Yet, in Luke 22:50-51 (NIV), we see that when a physical, human sword is used in violent retaliation (when one of Jesus’ followers cut off the ear of a servant of a high priest, coming to arrest Jesus) –
    • “But Jesus answered, ‘No more of this!’ And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.” (v.51)

And these are the differences between using the Sword of the Spirit to divide soul and spirit. This is the level of wisdom, truth, and grace it takes to be able to judge the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 

Hallelujah and amen.

About Coco Cabrel
Coco Cabrel, The Flamenco-Fit MD, uplifts professional women searching for Christian grace in their bodies and souls, even when life feels ungraceful to them. She uses her God-given gifts as a writer, speaker, dancer and teaching MD to share devotional stories, fun workouts with Flamenco flair, and effective courses that help to rise triumphant over hardship. You can read more about the author here.

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