Monday, April 1, 2013

Armor of God: Explanation

Explaining Paul's Revelation about the Christian's Warfare in Eph 6:10-20


Paul writes to the Ephesian Christians (Eph 1:1), while in house arrest in Rome, (Acts 28). Ephesus's commercial and geographic significance of the Roman Empire because of the convergence of several trades routes surely increased the significance of communicating the pure gospel while also protecting Ephesus saints and church from current and impending spiritual attacks affecting individuals, the church along with the credibility and spreading of the gospel throughout the Asian province (Acts 19:18-20). These attacks includes false gods as evidenced with "temple for the fertility goddess, Dianna"—"one of the seven wonders of the ancient world."
Paul spent nearly three years in Ephesus during his third missionary journey, after an initial short stay while returning to Antioch on his second missionary journey. Consequently, his love and appreciation of the Ephesians runs deep as evidenced in his farewell to them (Acts 20:17-38), certainly he developed close friendships during these visits, including Priscilla and Aquila whom he first met in Corinth on his second missionary journey (Acts 18:1-2, 24-26).


Prudence demands knowing and understanding the enemy in warfare, thus the officers rely heavily on receiving intelligence information. The probability of victory increases dramatically once we identify, locate and assess the enemies' abilities. Consequently, God through Paul's writings, provides and intelligence report for the Ephesians; a common practice of God throughout the Bible. Paul's introduction of this epilogue with the Ephesians begins with "finally," differing from the rest of the letter.


Paul begins this passage regarding spiritual warfare identifying the source of our strength, or the source for the Ephesians to seek strength. Some scholars believe Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, directs the Ephesus' saints in Ephesians 6:10 to strength with "and in the might of his strength," καὶ ἐν τῶκράτει τῆς ἰσχύος αύτοῦ, by emphasizing Christ (1 Cor 12:29) as the only source of our strength, instead of God the Father. Most scholars in my research view the power source originating from all members of the trinity. Christ used this same power for overcoming resistance in miracles, believers have Christ and his resources. Additionally, the passive voice reminds of our complete dependence on Christ, our hope for victory mandates the aforementioned strength of Christ.
Additionally, Nehemiah provides a powerful example of forming a vision as well as the source of one's resources before confronting the enemy, as he did upon receiving news of the destruction of Jerusalem's wall (Nehemiah 1:1-2:10). This passage continues describing the enemy, while further specifying tools of defense and weaponry.
The supply list commences with the full armor of God (Eph 6:11). Paul then adds details regarding the Ephesian's enemy, the same enemy believers face today, warning them and us of evil's schemes. The enemy consists of rulers, powers, world forces of this darkness, spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places (Eph 6:11-12). Next we hear of the significance of the "full armor of God," girding our loins with truth, along with wearing a "breastplate of righteousness," and protecting our feet with preparation of the "Gospel of Peace" (Eph 6:13-15).
The preparation continues with the "Shield of Faith" to extinguish the evil one's flaming arrows, wearing the helmet of salvation, as well as grabbing the only offensive weaponry in the "sword of the spirit," defined as the word of God (Eph 6:16-17). Last, and certainly not least, wisdom instructs the Ephesians and us to pray at all times in the Spirit, while remaining on guard with "perseverance and petition for the all the saints" (Eph 6:18). This includes praying for Paul's spreading of the gospel despite living under house arrest in Rome (Eph 6:19-20).

Full Armor of God

Why do we need to dress in the "full armor of God" to stand against the schemes of the devil? Perhaps we should commence with inquiring of Paul's use of this illustration. The authors who address the latter, believe Paul uses this imagery because of his frequency with Roman guards., The imperative put on implies the believer's urgent responsibility of clothing themselves in the full armor belonging to God, instead of self or fellow man. The term hapla12 (πανοπλία) defines the combination of armor and weapons. Like an athlete, the soldier's strength of their physical core proves detrimental in battle.,

Stand Against the Devil

Christians, the Ephesus believers, battle the enemy, Satan and the demonic beings, as opposed to man or man's attributes. The devil and his demons are noted for deception in defeating Christians beginning with Adam and Eve in the Garden and as referenced by Paul in his second letter to the church in Corinth (2 Cor. 11:3). Harold H. Hoehner creatively and accurately describes this battle as a "spiritual conflict against the spiritual mafia". Spiritual mafia includes the "rulers and authorities," "powers of this dark world and spiritual forces of evil."

"In heavenly realms" occurs five times in the New Testament (c.f. Eph 1:3, 20; 2:6; 3:10), as Satan has access to this realm until about half-time of the Tribulation (Rev 12:9-10). Until his permanent casting out, Satan seeks to diminish the spiritual maturity and blessings of Christians in every and any way possible.
"In the evil day" (ἐν τῇ ἡμέρα τῇ πονηρᾶ) indicates an impending specific day, differing for each person "since a common contest is not implied, not a battle, but a πάλη, "wrestling,"" producing a dominating victory "the day of redemption."

The military phrase "stand firm" (Στῆναι πρός τίνα) signifies accepting the challenge of the enemy. The Holy Spirit through Paul's authorship of this letter, instructs Christians to avoid attacking the enemy. Rather "to stand" or "to resist" means to hold our ground, possible only when fully, and properly covered with God's armor (c.f. James 4:7). Just as we avoid attaching, we also avoid fleeing—thus urgently standing firm in the armor of God.
Paul repeats in verse 13 to put on the "full armor of God". The purpose of repetition in biblical Greek served to amplify a principle, similar to a mother calling a child by their full name: first, middle and last. This amplification includes the seriousness of Satan's and the demonic forces desire of maximizing their harm to each and all of God's creation. Prudence in God's wisdom mandates securing ourselves in the full armor of God!

Gird your Loins with Truth (Eph 6:14; c.f. Is 11:5; Luke 12:35; 1 Pet 1:13)

"Being girded about their loins, they have on the girdle, or waist-belt (ζωστήρ, ζώνη), which covers the groin and the stomach below the breastplate, the most vulnerable part of the body, the region of the hips and loins; this is the first and a very important piece (Isa. 5:27; 11:5; Luke 12:35; 1 Pet. 1:13). An ungirded soldier would be a contradiction in terms. The girdle kept the armor in place, formed in itself a part of the cuirass, and was also used to support the sword." Moreover, strips of leather hung down for bodily protection.
"The belt of truth" refers to subjective truth, including a Christian's honesty, morality, integrity, character and faithfulness. A Christian lacking any of these attributes quickly falls prey to the father of lies and deception.
The Holy Spirit continues coaching the Ephesians, "Put on the Breastplate of Righteousness," "(καὶ ἐνδυσάμενοι)" Here καί adjoins another piece. Ἑνδυσάμενοι* means putting on like a part of the clothes." This Roman designed hard leather or metal breastplate resembled today's bullet proof vest as it fit completely around the soldiers' torso, providing posterior protection. Righteousness refers to believers internalizing and continually seeking to practice Christ's sanctifying righteousness. The necessity of this protection arises from the enemies attack at the believer's heart, their daily character and actions (c.f. Isa 59:17; Ja 4:7). Absent our practical righteousness, Satan will defeat us with his accusations. We must remain submitted to Christ in everything!
Have you ever injured your foot? Stubbed your toe, or experienced inflamed tendons and ligaments in your feet? Standing firm, sureness of footing, mandate healthy feet. Consequently, Roman soldiers protected their feet with "shod," a hard, studded shoes. One might consider these a forerunner to today's steel-toed boots worn by mechanics, construction workers and others whose feet risk professional injury. Satan's and demonic attacks also target believers' ability to stand firm, however we find this protection in the "Gospel of Peace." The Ephesus believers and believers today find internal peace, peace of their heart, mind and soul, amidst spiritual battles when studying, internalizing and living the gospel.

Shield of Faith

The shield of faith (c.f. 1 Thess 5:8) "extinguishes all the flaming arrows (Ps 7:13, 120:4) of the evil one (Eph 6:16)."
"Faith, in its widest sense, constitutes this shield—faith in God as our Father, in Christ as our Redeemer, in the Spirit as our Sanctifier and Strengthener—faith in all the promises, and especially such promises as we find in Rev. 2 and 3 "to him that overcometh" (comp. promise to Ephesus, Rev. 2:7)"
This scutum "four feet long and two feet" wide, was effective for entirely covering the soldier; or the Christian, in this illustration. Leather and Linen covered the shield of the Roman soldier to absorb fiery arrows shot at them by the enemy. Additionally, this protected the soldiers' complete body. Significantly, only God's holiness serves as an effective shield (Gen. 15:1; Ps. 18:31; Prov. 30:5; 1 Pet. 5:9; 1 John 5:4), man must have faith in God. Man's self-righteousness, holiness, or dependence on his own wisdom and strength result in insufficiency (Rom 8:14–16, 31–39). Francis Schaefer eloquently states, "In this war if Christians win a battle by using worldly means, they have really lost. On the other hand, when we seem to lose a battle while waiting on God, in reality we have won." Faith in God's holiness prevents the fiery darts of destruction from penetrating and destroying the believer.

Helmet of salvation

The "Helmet of Salvation" refers to winning "in the name of Jesus." The head-covering helmet represents salvation in the "Messianic Kingdom," future deliverance or present safety. This helmet enables the soldier to look over the aforementioned shield of faith into the enemy's face, while adding perceived height and imposing power to the soldier.

Sword of the Spirit

The Sword of the Spirit represents the only offensive weapon mentioned in this passage for the believer's arsenal for battle. This refers to appropriate words of scripture spoken in a precise situation and time. The Spirit provides the sword of the Word. However, the believer remains responsible for engaging the Spirit through prayer, study and relational associations, so that they may have the right words available in their quiver when needed. Christ illustrated the power of knowing the Word three times to refute the enemy while tempted for forty days in the wilderness (Mt 4:1-11).


Paul concludes this passage emphasizing the necessity and power of prayer (Luke 18:1; Col 1:3; 4:2; 1 Thess 5:17), including remaining alert. The best, most powerful, response to the enemy's attacks exists in praying in the Spirit (Rom 8:26; Jude 20) on all occasions. Persistence (Acts 1:14) and thoroughness must be adopted in our prayers, both for ourselves and all the saints. Paul repeats "All" four times in this verse!
The believers were requested to boldly (2 Co 3:12) pray for Paul's effectiveness in making known the "mystery of the gospel," while avoiding contradiction. This request probably anticipates his forthcoming challenges and trials whereby he needed boldness. We too should humble ourselves and follow Paul's example of asking others to pray for us and our ministry, as well as praying for the ministry of others. Especially for those, who like Paul, are "ambassadors in chains."


Dr. Gene Getz effectively summarizes this passage, "To walk worthy of our great calling in Christ, we must rely on God's strength and protection." We, as evidenced by Paul's letter to the Ephesus believers, must remain fully suited in the armor of God for protection against the enemies attacks. These attacks, like all attacks, are unpredictable in timing, direction, method, strength and all other contributing factors except their source of origin.
Defeat will occur if we place any hope in our strength, wisdom or any other human faculty. Conversely, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit always prevail! We must rely completely, full faith, on their power, strength and wisdom. We do this by being in relationship with them through praying always for us and our fellow believers, studying and applying God's word, and standing firm before the enemy. We stand
firm with God as our protector, we do not attack the enemy, rather defend against his attacks by depending on God alone.
See Christ, Believe Christ, Achieve with Christ! 
Rick E. Meyer
See, Believe, Achieve Inc.

Boa, Kenneth, Sid Buzzell, Gene A. Getz, and Bill Perkins. Promise Keepers Men's Bible Study (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: The Zondervan Corporation, 1997.
Demarest, Bruce. The Cross and Salvation. Edited by John S. Feinberg. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1997.
Ferguson, Sinclaire B. The Holy Spirit. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996.
Getz, Gene A. Life Essentials Study Bible. Vol. 1. Nashville, Tennessee: Holman Bible Publishers, 2011.
Hoehner, Harold H. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 1983.
John Peter Lange, Philip Schaff, Karl Braune and M. B. Riddle. A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures. Bellingham, WA: Logos 5 Bible Software, 2008.
Meyer, Rick E. "Running on Faith." Running on Faith. October 22, 2011. (accessed 03 27, 2013).
Montague, George T. S.M. Holy Spirit: Growth of a Biblical Tradition. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1976.
Radmacher, Earl, Ronald B. Allen, and Wayne H. House. Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary. 4th. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1999.
Schaeffer, Francis A. The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview. Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1982.
Spence-Jones, H. D. M. The Pulpit Commentary: Ephesians. Edited by H. D. M. Spence-Jones. London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909.
Toussaint, Stanley D. "Acts and the Pauline Epistles." Class Notes. Dr. Stanley D. Toussaint, August thru December 2012.
Wiersbe, Warren W. The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996.

Running thru the Bible Subscription

No comments:

Post a Comment