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Sword of the Spirit

When you look at the chancel window you will see St Paul holding a scroll in one hand, with the other hand resting on a sword. Sword and scroll / book have long been symbols associated with St Paul. Some say they represent the letters that he’s written and his death by a sword. My little booklet “Symbols of the Church” says that these symbols are more closely related and come from Ephesians 6:17: “Take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Why Paul does not wear any of the other armour of God I don’t know. Even his feet are not fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace — unless you think that walking bare feet indicates that gospel of peace.

Some people today see the Spirit in opposition to the written word, but it seems for Paul that was not the case. Yes, he sometimes saw the Law in opposition to grace and the Spirit, but generally wrote that Law and Spirit together lead us to God. Often we do not associate the Spirit with the word of God, or as here more particularly, the Spirit with the word of God as revealed in the Bible. But it seems many of our Christian ancestors have made that connection.
It is the words of the Bible that convict us, that draw us closer to God; it is through these words that the Spirit works in us, that we are made alive to God.

That is one of the reasons we are responding to Bible readings in our services with the words: “Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church”—“Thanks be to God.” That phrase comes from the book of Revelation, where it ends each of the seven letters to the churches. After all, we read that all Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). The Spirit also makes that word relevant to us. “For the word of God is living 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.” Hebrews 4:12