This is the seventh part in an eight-part series on “the armor of God” in Ephesians 6. It starts here.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Eph. 6:17)
Like the “breastplate of righteousness,” the “helmet of salvation” is first mentioned by Isaiah:
For He put on righteousness as a breastplate,
And a helmet of salvation on His head;
He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing,
And was clad with zeal as a cloak.
Some have said that connecting “salvation” to our “heads” implies that salvation is related to our theology or thought processes about God. That is true, in a sense. It is not our right ways of thinking that bring us salvation; it is our salvation that directs our thoughts to God. When we repent and turn to him, he enables us to become his children (John 1:1-14), and this amounts to a total reorientation of our life.
I am not sure whether a reader in Paul’s day or Isaiah’s day would have readily connected their “brain” or “head” with their thoughts. Regardless, I think it’s nearer to the heart of the metaphor to seek to understand the Jewish concept of salvation, and to see it as something that protects the most important part of us.
It is a very American problem to be preoccupied with “where someone is spending eternity” to the exclusion of the consideration of righteousness or even life. An interesting corrective to this has been noticed by better Bible scholars than myself:
- He “saved” us in Titus 3:5;
- We are “being saved” in 1 Corinthians 1:18, Acts 2:47, and elsewhere; and,
- We “will be saved” in Mark 16:16 and Acts 16:31.
“Salvation” as used in the Bible definitely includes a future state; but it also involves a state of wholeness on earth and in this present life. We should think of salvation as God’s protecting influence that begins with forgiveness and culminates in eternal communion.