Main Text: Ephesians 6:10-20
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 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. 13 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. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
Throughout Ephesians Paul has described the privilege, the wonder, and the responsibilities of life in Christ. Since chapter 4, he has been urging his readers to stand against the pagan lifestyle around them. Gross sins should not even be named among them, and they should live in contrast to the darkness. Their homes should reflect the unifying and self-giving character of the gospel. All of this requires effort, for the sin-twisted darkness is still present.
This last chapter is a summary and challenge. Those in Christ need to be prepared for battle, for right living does not just happen and opposition is certain. Paul wants to arouse the believers in Ephesus to action. He does this with the stirring use of battle language. He uses this metaphor to illustrate the aspect of the Christian life that resembles battle. Drawing from Isaiah 59, Paul motivates the believer for the battle with evil.
This chapter is a climax in the letter. Paul is taking the responsibility of Christians living in the world to a broader, cosmic perspective. The moral issues that he has addressed isn’t merely matters of personal preference, they are essential elements in a larger struggle between the forces of good and evil. We are no longer “in the world” and its system, we are “in Christ” and His ways and Kingdom.
Be strong against evil (verses 10-13)
Three imperatives are given to believers:
- “be strong” (verse 10)
- “Put on the whole armor of God” (verse 11)
- “stand” (verse 13-14)
Be strong: Paul has emphasized the power for living in Christ in this letter. This strengthening power is something that is continually done to Christians, not something that they do themselves. This is a life spent drawing on strength from Jesus. To be “strong in the Lord” means to know His strength and to draw closer to Him.
Put on the whole armor of God: This echoes the intentionality of Ephesians 4:24 “put on the new self”. Like choosing to put on clothes, we must choose to put on the new self and the armor of God. This is to put on the characteristics of God and is a furthering of Ephesians 5:1 “be imitators of God”. Only by taking on the characteristics of God can we be strong.
Stand: These instructions are relevant to the individual, but we must understand that Paul is talking to the church collectively to put on the armor and stand as one for Christ. To stand means to have strength, stability, and success in conflict. The conflict is with evil and the devil’s schemes. Evil rarely looks evil. It often appears attractive, desirable, and perfectly legitimate. The devil is a liar, into trickery, and the evil in our present age is a baited and camouflaged trap full of imitations. In the midst of this, we must stand strong as we “wrestle” while bringing about God’s Kingdom on earth. The kingdom that opposes God’s Kingdom is the kingdom of Satan.
The powers may rule darkness and evil, but we as Christians no longer live there – we are in Christ and evil powers are subject to Him. In the midst of this cosmic heavenly war (God’s way and plan for earth vs. Satan’s), we are to recognize our position in Jesus and act accordingly (1 John 4:1-6).
The armor of God (verses 14-20)
The armor described is that of a heavily armed Roman foot soldier. The armor is simply an analogy that Paul uses because of its Old Testament influence found in Isaiah. The meaning would not have been any different if Paul simply told us to “put on truth, righteousness, readiness and faith, and take hold of salvation and the gospel”. Association of specific parts virtues and their parts were never intended (1 Thessalonians 5:8).
The call to put on the armor of God - to put on Christ – to put on the new self -is a call to us that reaches farther than personal piety – it is a call to accept another view of the world. This call makes sense of Paul’s demand for unity and maturity in the church. The reality of what Christ has done for us has to be applied to every area of our lives – this is an act of our will and done with the help and power of the Holy Spirit.
Here is a summary of this gift of armor:
- Belt of truth: Jesus is the truth – therefore we must live in truth. Truth is opposite of our enemy.
- Breastplate of Righteousness: We do not stand in our righteousness but Jesus’, so live a life worthy of it.
- Shoes of readiness given by the gospel of peace: We must be alert, living wisely, and be agents of peace.
- Shield of faith: Our faith is not in our faith, but rather on the faithfulness of God that protects us.
- Helmet of salvation: God’s healing, wholeness, and restoration is the ultimate protection.
- Sword of the Spirit: The gospel message is the instrument by which power is shown.
Paul describes the attitude of those that put on the armor…”praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (verse 18). This does not refer to praying in tongues but is connected to other passages in Ephesians 3:16; 5:18. The Spirit communicates God to us and through Him we receive gifts and power from God to live the Christian life. The believer’s life is one large prayer to God!
Paul concludes by asking for prayer for himself – primarily for the advancement of the gospel. He saw himself as an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). The Kingdom of Heaven has us as its ambassadors the Church – individually and collectively. We speak, through action and word, the gospel of peace and love that contrasts the fallen world. Our very lives must stand in contrast to the darkness of the opposing kingdom.
Put on your armor, celebrate,
and invite others to join the winning side!
Apply to Life
This week, as you reflect on the message, think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing and fellowship as you open God’s Word together.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
Read: Ephesians 6:10-20
What does it mean to put on spiritual armor? How do we apply this individually and corporately as a church?
When you think about the war language that Paul is using here, what does he direct our attention to?
Take a moment to talk about each of the pieces of armor that Paul mentions and their significance to the life of a Christian:
- Belt of Truth
- Breastplate of Righteousness
- Shoes of Peace
- Shield of Faith
- Helmet of Salvation
- Sword of the Spirit
What is the role of prayer in the life of a Christian according to this passage?
End your time discussing areas of your life that you need boldness to proclaim with your words and actions the truth of the Gospel.
As Paul requested, take some time to pray over one another for those areas.