The Whole Armor of God
"Finally, my brethren be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness 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. 14 Stand therefore, having gird your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints--"
Beginning in Ephesians 5:21 and leading up to these verses there is a discussion of "submitting" and the relationships which exist between certain ones: "Wives submit to your own husbands" (5:22) and the relationship which should exist between a husband and wife (5:23 - 33). Chapter 6 verses 1 - 4 show that children are to submit to their parents and the relationship which should exist between children and parents is considered. Verses 5 - 9 show that bondservants (slaves) are to submit to their masters and the relationship which should exist between slaves and their masters
Verse 10 begins with the word "Finally." This word carries the idea that a conclusion to what has previously been written will be drawn. "Finally, my brethren," refers to "the saints ... and faithful in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 1:1). This conclusion is not only to the discussion of submission and relationships, but to the letter itself.
Let us now give consideration to the conclusion: "my brethren, Be strong in the Lord." Being strong requires more than entering the body of Christ. In Christ one must grow (Eph. 4:15). 1 Peter 2:2 "As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that that you may grow thereby,". "...Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." By the pure milk of the word one acquires knowledge to grow in favor with God and to "be strong in the Lord."
"Be strong in ... the power of His might." 2 Peter 1:3 "...His divine power has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue." Romans 1:16 "...I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes." The source of our strength "in the Lord" is His power - the gospel. We need strength to wrestle. Wrestle conveys the idea of "a contest between two in which each endeavors to throw the other, ... hold him down with his hand upon his neck;" (Thayer, p. 474). In our spiritual lives we are in that kind of contest with: Principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this age and spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
As brethren, we are under orders to: "put on the whole armor of God" (Eph. 6:11). Armor is for defense - any clothing or covering worn to protect one's person in battle. We are to wear the girdle of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shod with the gospel of peace, the shield of faith and helmet of salvation in order to be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
"Wiles" conveys the idea of trickery and deception. Such things cannot penetrate the girdle of truth. This is why it is very important to pay close attention to the details of every passage of Scripture. Being unaware of the significance of some detail or truth may leave one vulnerable to the devil's trickery or deception. Putting on the breastplate of righteousness helps one to withstand the devil's tricks and deceptions. By maintaining righteousness one is acceptable to God. In Acts 10:35 the apostle Peter said, "...In every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by him." Failure to maintain righteousness is sin. 1 John 5:17 tells us, "All unrighteousness is sin,...." In Isaiah 59:2 the prophet wrote, "...Your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you." To be righteous one must obtain forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38) in order to be reconciled unto God (2 Cor. 5:20 & 21). Righteousness is maintained by overcoming temptation. We are instructed in James 1:13 - 15 "Let no man say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death." If one allows the trickery or deception of the devil to penetrate his righteousness, his life in Christ will be destroyed.
In order to stand one who wrestles against principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this age and spiritual hosts of wickedness; needs to be properly shod with the gospel of peace. That may sound strange. However, this does not refer to peace with: The evil forces against which we wrestle. Romans 12:18 "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men." (wrestling against principalities is not wrestling men). The gospel is good news or glad tidings. We are to stand shod with the glad tidings of peace. This peace is peace with God. Romans 5:1 "...Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ." As soldiers of Christ standing in peace with God, we can conquer every foe. "Stand" (v. 11), "Having done all, to stand" (v. 13), "Stand" (v. 14).
"Above all, taking the shield of faith." Contrary to a popular idea, "above" does not convey the idea of most important of all. The Greek word translated "above" is defined as meaning "in addition to; over above" (Thayer, p. 233). Every piece of the armor of God is important. We cannot over stress our need to "put on" each piece. "The shield of faith " can "quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one." Faith can protect you when you are not immediately able to answer a question, refute a claim or expose an assertion. At such times the best response may be: "I do not believe it." Let what you do believe - your shield of faith - quench the fire of questions, claims and assertions which the "wicked one" will use to try to conquer you.
"And take the helmet of salvation." The helmet represents a Christian's assurance of mind regarding his salvation. 1 Thessalonians 5:8 Paul designates it "a helmet the hope of salvation." Verse 9 Paul writes, "For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake of sleep, we should live together with Him." Hope and assurance go together, Hebrews 6:11 & 12 "...we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises." Those in Christ stand in full assurance of salvation. Ephesians 1:3 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." Salvation is one of those "spiritual blessings." 2 Timothy 2:10 "...I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory."
What a wonderful God we have. He provides us with the perfect armor: To withstand the wicked one. To wrestle against principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this age and spiritual hosts of wickedness.
Our wonderful God also provides our armament - spiritual weapons. 2 Corinthians 10:4 - 6 "...The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strong holds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled." Ephesians 6:17 "...Take ... the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
"The Spirit" is not the word of God. The word of God is the Spirit's sword. We are to take it and: Pull down strongholds. Cast down arguments. Cast down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. Bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. And be ready to punish all disobedience.
Ephesians 6:18 "praying always with all prayer and supplication." Without the constant help of God we could not withstand the wicked one. By prayer: We express our hope of salvation and our faith. We acknowledge the gospel of peace. We maintain our breastplate of righteousness. In 1 John 1:9 we are promised, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." By prayer and supplication we comply with the requirement of truth in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 "pray without ceasing."
Only "brethren ... in the Lord" are instructed to "put on the whole armor of God." If you are NOT in the Lord: You cannot gain the victory over the wicked one. You have no protection against the devil. You will be unable to stand in the evil day. You have no armor to protect you against the trickery and deception of the devil. You have no weapons with which to conquer the wicked one. You have no spiritual blessing because Ephesians 1:3 tells us all Spiritual blessings are in Christ.
If you are not in Christ, Why? Jesus said it is wise to hear and do what He says (Mt. 7:24).
Matthew 11:28 He said, "Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." John 14:1 He said, "You believe in God, believe also in Me." Luke 13:3 He said, "...Unless you repent you will ... perish." Matthew 10:32 He said, "...Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven." And in Mark 16:16 He also said, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved;...." When you have done these things, "put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."
By Fred Shewmaker
From Expository Files 12.10; October 2005