by Jeff Dominguez
Chapter 6:10-24 – The Armor of God
We have now come to the last part of this letter. And for his closing, Paul caps his message with this very beautiful line:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” – Eph. 6:10
Paul also uses this verse as a launching pad for his final discourse which is about SPIRITUAL WARFARE. And in this letter, he used the metaphor, the “Armor of God.” What does this mean? let’s explore.
I. The Whole Armor of God (vv11-18)
A. The Enemy (vv11-12)
Before we go to the Armor of God, let’s first discuss what Paul revealed in these verses (vv11-12).
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
In these verses, Paul revealed WHO we are wearing the Armor of God against. And according to him, we are wearing the Armor of God against the devil. Paul immediately followed this revelation by explaining that our true enemy is not one another, but the “rulers, authorities, cosmic powers over darkness, and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Although deep, these words are simply various references to the evil spiritual forces (some theologians believe that these are their ranks). Therefore, this teaches that the Armor of God is a spiritual armor that we wear for a spiritual battle against a spiritual enemy.
But you might be asking, how do we wear a spiritual armor?
B. Wearing the Armor of God (vv14-18a)
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…”
By the way, Paul presented the Armor of God, it is obviously a metaphor. To us, the modern readers, this metaphor may seem weird and odd because we hardly see a warrior wearing armor anymore. Even our top soldiers don’t wear one. But back in their day, a warrior wearing armor is a common sight. Therefore, when Paul used the armor as a metaphor, the original audience easily understood what he was trying to teach. But don’t be sad because God’s words are timeless and we can still understand what the Armor of God is. Let’s begin.
The Armor of God is made up of six pieces:
- The Helmet of Salvation
- The Breastplate of Righteousness
- The Belt of Truth
- The Shield of Faith
- The Sword of the Spirit
- The Feet of Peace
Upon careful study, it was revealed that these are not random metaphors. Paul specifically matched a particular piece of armor to a particular spiritual concept. Let’s discuss it from top to bottom.
The Helmet of Salvation
The Helmet is worn to protect the head. And in Paul’s time, the head symbolizes a person’s thought life. Therefore, the Helmet of Salvation protects a person’s thoughts, particularly regarding salvation.
As a Christian, have you ever doubted your salvation? If you did, then you’re pretty normal. Every Christian doubted their salvation at some point in their life. But what isn’t normal is for a Christian to continue doubting his salvation. And this is what the enemy wants to do. He wants us to doubt our salvation because doing so could potentially hinder us from pursuing the Christian life (because we will start to think that it’s useless because we aren’t Christian after all). That is why we need to wear the helmet of salvation.
We must stop doubting our salvation because remember, our salvation is based on the finished work of Christ on the cross (John 19:30). Salvation is a “free gift” that we simply receive by placing our faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior (Rom. 6:23; John 1:12-13; John 3:16; John 10:27-29). And as a gift, it is something that God won’t take back. True salvation can never be lost (John 10:29). In addition, our assurance of salvation shouldn’t be based on our feelings. As John said in 1 John 5:13,
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.”
Notice that John said that he wrote that letter for Christians to “know,” not feel, that they have eternal life. Therefore, we should base our assurance of salvation on God’s character of being faithful to His promises rather than our feelings. This is what it means to wear the Helmet of Salvation.
The Breastplate of Righteousness
As the name suggests, the breastplate is worn to protect the chest area. A soldier can survive being hit on the arms and legs, but if he gets injured in the chest area, it could be lethal. Therefore, this armor is very critical because it protects our vital organs. The breastplate then protects a person’s life.
Paul matched the breastplate to righteousness. Remember, perfect righteousness is God’s requirement to enter heaven (Matt. 5:20). And because we are all sinners, we all deserve to die (Rom. 3:23). But because of Jesus, we have the chance to enter heaven by placing our faith in Him. According to the Bible, when we trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior, His righteousness is being placed on our account, therefore enabling us to enter heaven:
“For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Cor. 5:21
Therefore, to put on the Breastplate of Righteousness means to put on Christ’s righteousness by trusting Him as our Lord and Savior. By doing that, even if we die, we are assured to live again. As Jesus said,
“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” – John 11:25
The Belt of Truth
This belt is not the same belt we know today. Aside from holding the breastplate, the armor belt is what carries the warrior’s weapon (particularly the sword). In other words, the belt is the centerpiece of the Armor of God. And since Paul compared it to the truth, then it means that the foundation of our spiritual protection should be the truth.
To wear the Belt of Truth means to be grounded in the truth of God’s words. And in Christianity, our ONLY source of knowledge about God is the Bible. This means that to protect ourselves, especially from the enemy, we need to immerse ourselves in the Bible. To put it simply, we protect ourselves from the lies of the enemy by knowing the truth of God’s words.
The Shield of Faith
Speaking of protection, Paul also speaks of a “Shield of Faith.” While the armor is meant for defensive purposes, the shield remains the primary defense of a warrior. It is what he uses to block almost every attack from the enemy. And in this armory, Paul compared the shield to faith. This means that our faith in God is still our primary defense against the enemy.
This revelation is actually comforting, for this means that we are not alone in our battle against the devil. When Jerusalem was about to be conquered by the men of Ammon and Moab, God told King Jehoshaphat to not be afraid because the battle is not theirs, but God’s.
“And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.” – 2 Chronicles 20:15
The same is true for our war against the devil. This battle is not also ours, but God’s. Again, our primary protection against the enemy is God; we simply need to have faith in Him.
The Sword of the Spirit
Out of the six, this is the only one that Paul revealed the meaning of. And according to Him, the Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Notice that this is also the only offensive weapon in the set. And as explained earlier, the Belt of Truth carries the Sword of the Spirit. Both of them are references to the word of God. If the Belt of Truth teaches us to be grounded on God’s words, the Sword of the Spirit on the other hand means that we should learn to use God’s words. Notice that as an offensive weapon, the sword is the only one in the set that needs training to be used properly.
I heard a popular saying among basketball fans that the best defense is offense. It means that the best defense is not preparing for the attack of the opponent, but not letting them attack you in the first place. I agree. And perhaps Paul is also thinking of the same thing. Since we are in a “war,” it is not wise to just let the enemy attack us. We should also do a counter-attack against them. The perfect example of this is the temptation of Jesus as told in Matthew 4.
In that story, we saw how the devil tried to tempt Jesus. And as we can see, for every attack of the enemy, Jesus will always counter by quoting the word of God. He would always say, “It is written…” This is how we wield the Sword of the Spirit. It is exactly what Jesus did. Notice that the devil also quoted the word of God in Matt. 4:6. But because Jesus knows to handle the word of God, He was able to counter that misinterpreted word of God with another passage with a correct interpretation. So again, we need to train ourselves in using the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, to wield it properly against the enemy.
The Feet of Peace
And last but not least is the Feet of Peace. Paul somehow explained that this is related to sharing the gospel (evangelism). In a war, the key to winning is not to defeat all the warriors on the opponent’s side but to conquer the enemy’s base. Therefore, this means that Paul is teaching us to conquer the enemy’s base. And we do that by sharing the gospel with the world.
The gospel is the devil’s worst fear. Through the gospel, we were freed from his Kingdom (Col. 1:13) and slavery (Rom. 6:16). Most importantly, the gospel set us free from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2). This means that if more people believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ, the weaker the side of the enemy will be and the stronger our army will get. Therefore, it is not surprising that the devil doesn’t want us to share the gospel. But it is all the more reason that we need to do so.
Extra: The Flaming Arrows of the Enemy
In the middle of his discourse, Paul used a metaphor to describe the weapon of the enemy. He called it, the “Flaming Arrows (or Darts) of the Enemy.”
In ancient times, the arrow is a very effective weapon, especially for long-distance attacks. Most especially, the arrow is very effective for sneak attacks. Unlike the gun which creates a very loud noise, a bow and arrow can also kill a target without making any noise. Therefore, this is the perfect weapon for our enemies for the Bible described their ways as deceptive and sneaky (1 Pet. 5:8). But according to Paul, our enemies are not just using arrows. They are using flaming arrows. What is the difference?
Well, if the arrow is used to shoot down a specific target, a flaming arrow is used to destroy the base of the target. In a way, the true weapon here is fire and the arrow is just the means to deliver it. Even if a flaming arrow misses, the flame that it carries will spread and still affect the target. So what does this mean? This means that the enemy doesn’t just want to kill us, but to destroy us. The use of fire also symbolizes the way sin destroys a person. It will start as a simple fire, but in time, it will grow and eventually destroy the whole place. This could be further interpreted, but Paul is simply pointing out that the enemy is serious in their mission to destroy us.
The Most Important Defense: PRAYER
“praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”
When discussing the Armor of God, the discussion usually just centers around the six metaphorical armors. But if we take careful notice, Paul concluded by saying that we should be “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (v18). He encapsulated the entire discourse about the Armor of God with prayer. This means that our last and equally important defense against the attacks of the enemy is prayer. Prayer is a spiritual discipline that the Bible is teaching ever since the Old Testament times and is emphasized greatly in the New Testament (1 Thess. 5:17). We can see in the life of Jesus that He was very prayerful. And whenever He is about to do a great thing, He would always pray first. Therefore, when we pray, we are connecting with God who is our best defense against the enemy. It also gives us peace because we know that nothing is impossible to God and no enemy can stand against Him. As Paul also said in Romans 8:31,
“If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Summary of the Armor of God:
First, the Armor of God is something that we need to constantly wear. Second, we need to wear the whole (or full) Armor of God. If we miss just one, it could give an opening for the enemy to bring us down. And lastly, the Armor of God is a spiritual protection in spiritual warfare against a spiritual enemy. The keyword is “spiritual.” Therefore, we need to be filled and constantly connected to the Holy Spirit. That is why Paul told us to pray always. Prayer is a very powerful arsenal in a Christian’s life. Not only does it protect us, but it will also allow us to do great things through the power of Jesus Christ.
II. Paul’s Closing Greetings and Remarks (vv18b-24)
“To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.
Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.”
As Paul closes his letter, he once again asked for the Ephesians to pray for him. Let us remember that he was in prison when he wrote this letter. But what is amazing is that despite being in Prison, Paul was able to minister to them and was also able to share the gospel. And as part of his typical closing, he prayed for peace, love (with faith), and grace to the Ephesians.
This ends Paul’s wonderful letter to the Ephesians. Again, it is one of his most excellent letters, especially for its uniqueness of having an exact balance of discourse regarding orthodoxy (right teaching) and orthopraxy (right application).
May this series help you to understand this letter and just like Paul intended, I pray that you now know who you are in Christ and how blessed you are in Christ, and therefore, live a life that is truly glorifying to Christ.
To God be all the glory forever and ever. Amen.
God Bless!! 🙂