Summary: no soldier would go into a battle without a protection for his head
“The Helmet of Salvation”
OPEN: OK so we’re still in the book of Ephesians and we are down to the last two pieces of armor – we’ve done armored ourselves out. You’ll remember Paul is under house arrest as he is writing this letter and he’s looking at a Roman soldier(s) who are guarding him and using the armor that he is wearing as object lessons for his message.
Let’s talk about the helmet; no Roman soldier would go into battle without one. He’d be foolish if
he did. That’s true today as well – no soldier would go into a battle without a protection for his head. When a sailor hears the call “Battle stations” the first thing he does is grab his helmet. When a foot soldier hears the call “Heads Up! There’s in-coming!” the first thought on his mind is his helmet. If you want to survive in any battle, you’ll soon realize the importance of protecting your head. Roman helmets were made out of basically two things, leather with some patches of metal on it, pieces of metal or else those molded solid cast helmets, you know you've seen with the plums depending on what regiment, what function, what period of time you were involved in. The plumed helmet was used primarily for ceremonial purposes – much like a soldier’s dress blues. But, the a helmet was very important to protect the head. From what? Well from perhaps arrows flying around for one thing but primarily from what was known as a broad sword. There was not only the machaira, the little dagger - but there was also in the midst of a battle those who carried the broad sword which was from three to four feet long, longer than your yardstick, and it had a huge massive handle that you held with both hands like a baseball bat. And you just lifted it over your head and went around trying to create split personalities. That was the idea, you would be riding along on a horse and you’d be flailing away at some footmen down there. The broad sword was a tremendous weapon and you wanted to have a helmet to deflect a blow from a broad sword because it would deal a heavy, crushing, splitting blow to the skull. We’ve got lots of evidence of the effectiveness of the broad sward from archeological digs. Go to just about any ancient battle field and you’ll find skulls that have been split into two pieces – where a broad sword found its mark.
Now when Paul talks about taking up the helmet of salvation what’s he talking about? There are some who will take the position that it’s referring to salvation – in others he’s saying “Get saved” - “get born again” Some assume that it is the act of committing our lives to Jesus Christ. But there are a couple of problems with that view. He’s not saying – “now that you are in the army of the Lord- put on the helmet of salvation” – you get into the army by getting saved first. That’s already happened. I mean you aren’t even in the army unless you’re a believer, right? If you are taking a stand against the fiery arrows of the enemy – you already have to be on God’s side. If you’re not a believer, Satan doesn’t need to attack you, because he’s already captured you. Salvation itself can’t be the fifth thing you do to protect yourself from the attacks of the enemy. It has to be the first things you do. If you weren’t saved - you would be still be fighting against God – not Satan. He’s not giving instruction to unbelievers here – he’s talking to believers – so getting saved is not the issue.
So what is he talking about? Let’s let Scripture interpret Scripture for us.
But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thess. 5:8)
When Paul talks to the Thessalonians about the helmet of salvation – he calls it a helmet of hope.
In this verse, Paul very clearly points out that hope is our helmet. He is pointing out that there will be a day in the future where we will not suffer the wrath of God, but instead receive the reward of our salvation. The Thessalonians were discouraged because they thought they had missed the second coming of our Lord. They were moping about – commiserating about how bleak their future was and how miserable their lot in life and how bad things were and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. They had lost their hope. Their expector had expired. Their anticipator ran out of anticipation. Their hope had run out. Paul has written about this concept frequently when he wrote about our inheritance. It is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9) And that inheritance, that future glorification, is assured for every believer by the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to every follower of Jesus as a guarantee that we will one day receive everything that God has promised to us.