Paul urges believers to put on the whole armor of God in Eph. 6:10-20.
v. 10 – Be Strong in the Lord
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
v. 11-12 – Satan is Our Enemy
11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
We shouldn’t go around hating people anyway, athough there are evil people in the world. The thing to remember is that the REAL enemy is Satan. He’s a big fat liar. He lies, and lies, and lies – and people fall for it. He operates entirely upon lies, tricks, distortions of the truth, and betrayal. His purpose is to bring as many people as he can down with him.
44 [Jesus said to a bunch of rebellious Jews,] “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44).
Know who your enemy is! Because Satan really is out there. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (I Peter 5:8).
Because Satan is always out there working like a busy bee, we have to armor our spirit against him and his works!
v. 13 – Full Armor of God
13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
v. 14 – Belt of Truth, Breastplate of Righteousness
14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
stand firm… “to stand in military rank”.
the belt: The Roman soldier wore a strong, wide leather belt that held a lot of equipment including the scabbard that held a dagger and sometimes the gladius – the short sword — as well. Also ropes, rations sacks, canteens. There were also loops for throwing darts. Belt decorations could be badges of honor, rank, or of fought campaigns.
It’s the “belt of truth” because it holds weapons of knowledge and faith! We understand WHY we believe what we believe, and we are not afraid to acknowledge the truth.
The belt of truth... (aleitheia), refers to the Christian belt of truth, which is the truth of the Gospel message.
the breastplate... also called a cuirass, or in the 1st century a thelorica segmentata, or segmented armor. These armors were made of strips of iron that were joined with straps or hooks. It covered the chest and shoulders, and usually tied on at the sides to a back piece. The armor was pretty light for long marching, and protected against spears, missiles like javelins, and swords.
The breastplate of righteousness… Paul refers to this as the “breastplate of righteousness”, because when we live righteous lives the attacks of the enemy just bounce off our armor!
v. 15 – Sandals of Readiness
15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
And your feet fitted …”to bind with sandals”. The Roman soldier wore a heavy soled sandal that had metal studs on the bottom for good footing on uneven or slippery ground.
The Latin word is caligae. Remember the horrible Emperor Caligula? That was a nickname that he hated, but it stuck. It means “little boot”!
with the readiness …(etoimasia), the sandal is well-made, tough, and perfectly fitted to your feet. This way you can march great distances over a long period of time, without hurting your feet or getting crippled. All you have to do is stick on your sandals, and away you go! We must always be ready with our faith in case of attack, or an opportunity to witness.
the gospel of peace…the sandal was very much a shoe made for military campaigns, so it seems strange to put it together with “peace.” But this is what the gospel is: coming against the message of evil and violence with the message of love and peace – that are far stronger! We have peace and can carry the message of peace because the Holy Spirit gives us have a strong foundation and perseverance.
v. 16 – Shield of Faith
16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
the shield of faith … The Roman legionaaires carried a scuta shield. This shield had been around since the 3rd century BC. The Roman legions used it because it worked so well. This was not a small little shield, but covered the soldier from his knees up to his chin. It protected against spears and sword thrusts. Furthermore, soldiers could kneel behind their shields and be completely protected against oncoming arrows. If the arrows were flying from above, such as from city walls, groups of soldiers knelt down closely together and held their shields above them like a ceiling! They called this “turtling” or the “turtle,” literally like the hard shall of a turtle.
For the Christian, our shield is our faith. These are strong, big shields – and in community with others, we are completely protected from attack! Note though that WE have to lift our own shields. If we don’t bother to have faith, we won’t be protected.
to quench the fiery darts … These shields also protected against missles that are set on fire: usually arrows dipped in pitch and lit before being shot. The shields were wood but covered with thick leather, which did not catch on fire when hit. We need its protection!
v. 17 – Helmet of Salvation, Sword of the Spirit
17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
the helmet of salvation … Non-Roman soldiers had head protection, but it was usually cloth wrappings or leather. These were better than nothing, but the Romans could take a lot more pummeling because A) their helmets were made of metal! Bronze and iron is a lot stronger than cloth or leather. B) They had full coverage: not just the top of the head but also the cheeks and the neck. We are protected in the Spirit because we are saved!
and the sword of the Spirit … The Roman soldier’s go-to sword was the gladius. They weren’t very large swords, and we refer to them today as “short swords”. But this only made them more useful. Soldiers would use their sword to cut, chop, or thrust – on other words, his sword adapted to all sorts of battle situations. The swords were made of steel (the Roman Empire had the steel-making capability). So they were stronger and lighter than iron swords.
… which is the Word of God … Paul identifies the sword of the Spirit as the Word of God. Remember that he didn’t have access to a Bible, which hadn’t been written yet! For Paul, the Word of God was the OT, Jesus Christ Himself, and the words of the prophets. Now of course we have the Word of God as the Bible.
So our handy sword is the Word of God – the Bible, His words to us, our faith in Him, and supernatural strength and inspiration of the Holy Spirit Who dwells within us. The Holy Spirit strengthens us, inspires us, and keeps us safe when the Enemy is in our face. The Sword of the Spirit works in different ways – sometimes gently, sometimes strongly, sometimes with towering righteous passion. Whatever the attack calls for, God’s Spirit enables us to fight back!
v. 18 – Pray!
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.