and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God, praying always with all prayer and supplication.
Each Roman soldier carried several weapons. The standard javelin was a long-distance weapon, although sometimes an additional short-distance javelin was also carried. Each soldier carried a spatha, or gladiator sword, as well as a smaller, lighter one. The belt held a side dagger, and inside the shield were five lead-weighted darts called plumbatae.
These darts were barbed and could quickly kill a man or a horse. However, the barbs caused such excruciating pain that anyone hit by them was immediately incapacitated. For this reason, the plumbatae were often refered to as “fiery darts.”
The Roman soldier, therefore, actually carried a private arsenal, not just a weapon. It was imperative that he knew his weapons well, was able to make split-second decisions as to which one to use, and had the coordination to switch from one to the other.
The sword of the Spirit is the only truly offensive weapon that Paul mentions, and the imagery is strong and clear. If the Ephesians were to effectively use their arsenal, they had to know it and know it well. They would have to discern what part of it to use when, as Christ did when Satan tempted Him in the wilderness. The enemy was defeated when very specific words were used to counter the enemy’s specific attacks.