Wielding God’s Truth

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

“We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments” (2 Cor. 10:3–4). Chief among these otherworldly weapons is the Bible. The apostle Paul exhorts us, “Take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17b).

Despite being described as a double-edged sword of the finest craftsmanship (Heb. 4:12), our appreciation for the power of this weapon is diminished because even the best of swords is no match for today’s modern arsenal of guns, missiles, and smart bombs. Nevertheless, at the time that Paul was writing, there was a special kind of sword that was the superweapon of its day. When Paul says the Bible can be likened to a sword, he used the term machaira, which is the title for this particular superweapon.

Being uneducated in swordplay, if we were to choose a sword with which to do battle, most of us would likely gravitate toward a large broadsword. After all, our American mentality often assumes that bigger equals better, so we might choose a massive sword like the Scottish Claymore. The Greeks had a word for such swords. It is rhomphaia, and it refers to a sword that is at least a meter long.[1] However, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul refers to the Bible as a machaira, which is a kind of sword so short that it might be mistaken for a dagger.[2] Of course, this begs the question, “How could such a short sword be the superweapon of its day?”

Greek soldiers practiced extensively to master the skill of using the short sword because the machaira requires great skill and precision to deliver a fatal blow. However, once mastered, the machaira gave the Greek soldiers a quickness and agility that could not be countered. Soldiers using the heavy broadsword simply could not parry fast enough to counter the Greek short sword. This new weapon revolutionized warfare in the ancient world and contributed to the rise of the Greek empire. Even in Paul’s day, it was a highly feared and respected weapon.

The machaira is an apt analogy for the Bible. Just as the machaira was only deadly in the hand of a master swordsman who spent considerable time familiarizing himself with his weapon, so also the Bible only becomes a superweapon in the hands of a Christian who has spent considerable time studying and familiarizing himself with the text. Moreover, Paul refers to the Bible as the rhema of God rather than logos. In his Complete Word Study Dictionary, Spiros Zodhiates notes that logos generally conveys “the expression of thought, while rhema stands for the subject matter of the word or the thing which is spoken about.”[3] Specifically, rhema is a spoken statement, and the “rhema of God,” according to Zodhiates, is based on “the doctrines and promises of God revealed and taught in the Bible.”[4] Thus, when Paul exhorts us to take up the sword of the Spirit, he calls it the statement/doctrines/promises of God, which only furthers Paul’s imagery of the Bible as a machaira—a precise weapon requiring great skill in handling.

We do not break the skulls of demons by broadly swinging our Bible. Spiritual warfare is not fought using broad and general statements. Rather, spiritual warfare is precise. Specific verses of Scripture espousing God’s promises and doctrines are used to defend and attack against different spiritual lies. God expects His people to be so familiar with His Word that we can readily call forth the exact statement needed to counter the spiritual lie at hand. Our lives are to be so saturated with the Word of God that we know exactly where to turn when facing any struggle or temptation. Indeed, this is precisely the example that Jesus set forth when He was enticed by Satan. Jesus did not battle Satan’s temptation by saying generally, “No, because the Bible says so.” Instead, He used specific verses of Scripture to refute the devil’s schemes (Luke 4:1–13).

Thankfully, we are promised help in this endeavor. If we will commit to studying and applying God’s word to our lives, then the Holy Spirit will help bring these specific statements/doctrines/promises of God to remembrance when we need them (Matt. 10:19). Jesus pledged, “When the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you” (John 14:26). Therefore, becoming God’s cultural influencers requires so familiarizing ourselves with God’s truth that we are capable of precisely applying it to spiritual lies.

This article comes from Heart of a Forerunner: How to Be a Relevant and Influential Voice in a Wayward Nation

Heart of a Forerunner

Download your free copy here.

Timothy Zebell

As a former missionary to Asia for twelve years and the author of several books, Timothy is passionate about helping people understand the relevancy of God's Word in today's world. His goals are to help Christians discern truth from error, empower Christians to speak into cultural matters with relevancy, and to help Christians capitalize on the opportunities that these matters provide for sharing the truth about God and His gospel message.
Posted in

Free Downloads


1. The Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament. s.v. “rhomphaia” G4501. Word Study Series. Edited by Spiros Zodhiates. Revised ed. Chattanooga, AMG Publishers, 1993.

2. The Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament. s.v. “machaira” G3162.

3. The Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament. s.v. “rhema” G4487.

4. The Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament. s.v. “rhema” G4487.


Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. Biblegateway.com.