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the book of Ephesians, Paul writes his letter to the church at
Ephesus, giving them specific instructions in his absence.
Within this letter, Paul commands the church to put on the full
armor of God. Just what did Paul mean by such a command?
understand the meaning of the Paulís command, we need to see the
background of the command. Paul who was writing from Rome, as a
prisoner, wrote the letter. Paul was probably writing this
letter in the company of Roman legions who stood guard over
him. He would have seen these solders with their armor, swords
and shields, as they were present in the city of Rome. Paul is
writing this letter about A.D. 60, as a prisoner in Rome
awaiting trail before Caesar.
Paul addresses the letter to the saints at Ephesus and the
faithful in Jesus Christ. If you recall, from the book of Acts,
Paul spent 3-years in the city of Ephesus (Acts 20:31). His
ministry there was so successful, that the silversmiths who were
loosing money, because people stopped buying idols. The
silversmiths threatened Paulís life, because so many turned to
Christ. Turning to Christ, they no longer needed the idols of
Artemis (Diana) produced by their guild. At this point Paul
left the city, eventually returning to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem,
he was arrested; from there he was sent to Rome.
Rome, Paul was imprisoned 2-years, before his execution. In
Rome, while in prison, Paul wrote to the church of Ephesus.
Giving them instructions on being successful in their calling,
in his concluding remarks, Paul commands the church to put on
the full armor of God. Ephesus later became a stronghold of
Christianity; the Apostle John is buried in the city. Jesus in
Revelation commends the city for their adherence to doctrine,
and their willingness to test those who claim to be disciples in
(A.D. 96) (Rev. 2:1-7).
Ephesus in many ways was a model city of Spiritual war, which we
will examine as we go through the various aspects of the Armor
Paul uses the description of a Roman solder, to illustrate to
the Church at Ephesus, the need to put on the armor of God.
Paul who was a Roman citizen (Acts 22:28) by birth, would have
been familiar with the Roman legions, their weapons, and
authority. He uses this to illustrate a spiritual parallel for
the saints (Born-again believers). We are literally the army of
the Lord, occupying the physical world. Paul uses the picture of
a Roman solder to cast the vision, of who we are in Christ. We
are in every sense, a solder for the kingdom of God.
success of the Roman Empire was the reflection of the Roman
military and the discipline of its army. Paul lived during a
time known as the Pax Romana or Roman Peace. The peace
was the result of Roman military might, which established the
boundaries of the Empire.
Rome started out as a city-state, in what is known as Italy
today, in the year of 753 B.C. By the year 509 B.C., Rome had
become a republic, as its farmer-solders had conquered cities
and territories outside of Rome. The Roman military learned to
adapt their methods of warfare, improving on what their rivals
used, looking for ways defeat the obstacles.
For example in the Punic Wars,
the wars between Carthage and Rome, Carthage
the Mediterranean Sea with its naval ships. Rome captured one
of their ships and copied it, building their own navy to counter
Carthage. When they realized they could not out sail them, the
then developed away of ramming their ships, and locking them
together with a grappling device, called a Corvis (Raven),
creating a bridge between the ships, this allowed superior Roman
forces to board the enemy ship. Soon the advantage of Carthage
was lost. This allowed Rome to control the Mediterranean,
eventually leading to the conquest of Judea in 64 B.C.
Rome expected a great deal out of their army, and they organized
and trained their army composed of Legions for war.
the time Paul, Rome in A.D. 60, the Roman army was composed of
about 30 Legions,
numbered about 5000-6000 men per Legion. Each Legion was
divided into 10 Cohorts, composed of 480 men and each
Cohort had 6 centuries of 80 men, headed by a
training and discipline required of the Roman legions is
remarkable by event todayís standards.
pre-requisite for a member of the Roman Army was fitness, given
the long distances they were expected to march. They commonly
trained by running, chopping down trees and doing obstacle
courses. 3 times a month a legionary had to do an 18 mile route
march with 60 pounds of equipment, armour and weapons to carry.
It was common practice for a legion being readied for deployment
to spend the previous weeks in long field training drills, some
of which required that they build three field camps a day.
Requirements for non-legionary troops were not as severe. Roman
Legions in Imperial Rome were known to march with 66-100 lbs of
equipment per legionary at an average pace of at least 4.5
miles/hour for 5 hours and then building a fort for the night,
next morning they would take it down and start all over again
and even possibly fighting in the same day.
new enlistee was known as a Tirones, the first six-month
of their military life was used to get them into the condition
needed to be a part of the Roman army. The 4th Century A.D.,
Roman historian, Vegetius recorded what was required of
new recruits to the legions.
thing the soldiers are to be taught is the military step, which
can only be acquired by constant practice of marching quick and
together..." Tirones were also excercised in running, jumping
and swimming, carrying heavy packs and entrenching
camps..........We are informed by the writings of the ancients
that, among their other exercises, they had that of the post.
They gave their recruits round bucklers woven with willows,
twice as heavy as those used on real service, and wooden swords
double the weight of the common ones. They exercised them with
these at the post both morning and afternoon." Other weapons
training at this time also included the javelin, bow, throwing
stone, sling and 'martiobarbuli' - usually reconstructed as
weighted darts or small javelins. Tirones were also taught to
vault into the saddle.
fitness, the Roman soldiers trained to use his weapons and armor
in combat. Repeatedly they trained from 6:00 AM until Midnight.
Before battles they would spend weeks training, getting ready
for the war. This is the disciplined fighter of the physical
realms, Paul uses for the church to understand how we are to be
engaged in the Spiritual realms. We need to take the spiritual
life as serious as the Roman soldier took the physical military
Military imagery is not new in the New Testament; the Old
Testament is filled with military imagery also. The Lord is
called the Lord of Hosts, in the Old Testament; the
Hebrew word for hosts is
an army or host for military combat. Israel in the Old
Testament was literally, Godís army on earth. In the battle of
Jericho, we see the Lord appear to Joshua as commander of
Israelís forces, which are about to take the city of Jericho.
13 And it
came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his
eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His
sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him,
"Are You for us or for our adversaries?"
14 So He
said, "No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now
come." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped,
and said to Him, "What does my Lord say to His servant?"
15 Then the
Commander of the Lord's army said to Joshua, "Take your sandal
off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy." And
Joshua did so. Joshua 5:13-15
The war we
are in is very real, its not a metaphorical exercise, the war we
are in is taking place in the spiritual realms, all around us.
Throughout the scripture, this point is emphasized repeatedly,
we see Elisha surrounded and protected by the army of the
Lord, as the Syrian army tries to take him captive. David
typifies this relationship between Godís people, and their
position as Godís army. God used David a shepherd boy, who went
in the power of the Lord as an example for all us.
David went to visit his brothers, who were part of Israelís
army; they were facing the
Philistines and their champion Goliath. Day after day, for 40
days, Goliath would taunt the armies of Israel, daring someone
to challenge him. No one in the army of Israel had the courage
to fight such an awesome specimen of humanity. Goliath
described as being a warrior from his youth, stood
9 feet 9 inches tall.
4 And a
champion went out from the camp of the Philistines, named
Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 5 He
had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was armed with a coat of
mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of
bronze. 6 And he had bronze armor on his legs and a bronze
javelin between his shoulders. 7 Now the staff of his spear was
like a weaver's beam, and his iron spearhead weighed six hundred
shekels; and a shield-bearer went before him. 8 Then he stood
and cried out to the armies of Israel, and said to them, "Why
have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine,
and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and
let him come down to me. I Samuel 17:4-8
not understand how this can happen, how can someone just
challenge the people of God for 40-days and nothing be done.
You can hear the astonishment in his voice.
For who is
this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of
the living God?" I Samuel 17:26b
words get to Saulís ear; David is called before Saul, David a
shepherd boy wants to reassure the King and the armies of
Israel, not to fear. Because, he David will answer the challenge
of the giant armored man, he will fight him. (I Samuel 17:32)
David says to Saul, with confidence, confidence not in himself,
but confidence in the Lordís ability.
"Let no man's heart fail because of him; your
servant will go and fight with this Philistine."
David saw Israel as the Lordís army, he saw himself as a warrior
in the Lordís army. David trusted in the Lordís ability to
deliver the Philistine into his hand. David then convinces Saul,
how he a shepherd boy, will fight the Philistine. David is
upset, how someone can just challenge the armies of God.
convinced and tells David to go.
servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised
Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the
armies of the living God." 37 Moreover David said, "The
Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw
of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this
Philistine." And Saul said to David, "Go, and the Lord be with
you!" I Samuel 17:36-37
fits his armor on David, after trying it on, David rejects
Saulís armor, and instead he relies on the Lordís ability.
David is wearing the ďarmor of GodĒ, he does not need the armor
of Saul. After David collects five stones from the river, he
confronts Goliath who is indignant, with Davidís appearance.
How dare Israel match him with a boy? Donít they know he is
Goliath! Goliath understood the battle; he invoked the names of
his Philistine gods against David. David then replied for all
believers who wear the armor of God, versus the armor of this
world. God does not need the weapons and armor of this world,
for his battle.
45 Then David
said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword, with a
spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of
the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you
have defied. 46 "This day the Lord will deliver you into my
hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And
this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the
Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the
earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in
Israel. 47 "Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord
does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the
Lord's, and He will give you into our hands." I Samuel
point among many here is to rely on the power of God, not the
power of man. David was someone who trusted in the Lordís power
and strength. He understood the battle was not his but the
Lord. He, David was only a faithful warrior. Letís ask
ourselves the questions,
we rely on man?
we rely on the powers of this world?
we wait for the things of this world?
Paul in many ways was like David. The people of the world
because of his physical stature and appearance underestimated
him (2 Cor. 10:10). Paul saw himself as the Lordís warrior, who
was fighting giants; he was advancing the kingdom of God on
enemy territory. Paul staked out territory in the Ephesus, to
war against the enemies of God. When Paul is rejected by the
synagogue at Ephesus, he turns to the gentiles and pours himself
into 12 men at first (Acts 19:7). He spends the next two to
three years teaching and disciplining the people of Ephesus.
Paul like David understood the battle was the Lordís. He also
understood God did not need a military to win the battle. Paul
3 For though
we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God
for pulling down strongholds, 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. II Corinthians
Goliath defeated the minds of Israel, they looked on his outward
appearance, while David
to the Lord. David knew the battle was the Lordís, it had
nothing to do with appearance. Paul looked the same way at the
city of Ephesus; the battle was not of physical weapons, but
spiritual. Paul was at war in the heavenly realms, Paul, in the
power of the Lord, was pulling down spiritual strongholds.
it work? Was Paul able to battle the demonic realms, which
controlled the city? How did the people respond? The people
stopped buying the idols and they burned their occult books.
Peopleís lives were being affected as the Gospel spread through
the city.( Acts 19:23-38)
19 Also, many
of those who had practiced magic brought their books together
and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the
value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver.
20 So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed. Acts 19:19-20
Ephesus was not just an ordinary city, is was the Roman capital
of Asia. Paul
a strategic base of operations for the Gospel. Paul was
occupying enemy territory. Paul looked weak, but he was a
warrior, fighting a giant. Encyclopedia Britannica writes
regarding Ephesus at this time.
became under Augustus the first city of the Roman province of
Asia. The geographer Strabo wrote of its importance as a
commercial centre in the 1st century BC. The triumphal arch of 3
BC and the aqueduct of AD 4Ė14 initiated that long series of
public buildings, ornamental and useful, that make Ephesus the
most impressive example in Greek lands of a city of imperial
strategic in his warfare. He understood his battle was against
spiritual powers, the physical was merely the result of the
spiritual. The same was with Goliath, the battle was not
physical but spiritual. Goliath was not challenging men, but
God. Goliathís force was spiritual, demonic as he called out to
his gods, cursing David and the people of Israel. Israel was
the army of the Lord; David did not understand how no one could
see what he saw. Why were they so fearful? David had something
the others did not have. He had the Spirit of God, dwelling in
him, just like Paul, and like us who know the Lord.
Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his
brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from
that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah. I
Paul when he is writing to the Ephesians was awaiting trial in
Rome. He writes the
this group of people who came to know the Lord, about their
spiritual battle. Using the example of the legions, and
military of Rome, Paul wants to cast a vision of the battle
they, the church of Ephesus, are engaged in. The Holy Spirit,
through Paulís letter instructs all believers to put on the
armor of God, to prepare for battle.
on the Armor of God
Paul, who fights against the demonic realms, commands the church
what they need to do. He writes in his concluding remarks to
the saints at Ephesus. His final instructions for them, ďput on
the whole or full armor of GodĒ.
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.
Paul is concluding his message to the Church at Ephesus. The
epistle (letter) to Ephesus is divided into two parts.
the first part (Chapters 1-3), Paul instructs the church where
they stand in Christ. The Holy Spirit, is Godís down payment
(earnest) of their salvation, guaranteeing their redemption in
Christ (Eph 1:13-14). Paul declares who we are in Christ; His
blood saves us, having received the gift of salvation (Eph.
second part (Chapters 4-6), Paul instructs the saints, how to
apply their position in Christ. They are not to be passive
believers, they are to walk in the spirit (Eph. 4:1). When we
walk, we move forward, we are not static. So it is in the
Christian faith, we are to move forward, advance in our walk.
Our walk is based on the presence of Godís Sprit, who dwells in
us, because of our conversion (Part 1). Therefore, we are to
imitators of God (Eph. 5:1).
that said, Paul concludes with a command to this Church, which
he birthed in Ephesus. He tells them, if they are to be
successful, they need to be ďIn the LordĒ. Being in the Lord,
means we need to wear the armor of God. David was in the Lord,
he was wearing the armor of God, against Goliath.
Be Strong in
does not come from the world. We are to be strong in the Lord.
How is one strong in the Lord? Our strength in the Lord comes
through spiritual training, learning to trust the Lord. David
was strong in the Lord, because he had Godís Spirit; David
fought a lion and a bear before he fought Goliath. He knew
Like David, unless we move forward with our faith, we cannot be
strong. The Christian faith requires action for growth and
training. Paul in Ephesians tells the saints to ďwalk in loveĒ,
ďwalk as children of lightĒ and to ďwalk circumspectlyĒ. To be
strong, means to walk, move forward in our faith. Joshua
instructs the Lordís army, Israel to be strong by knowing the
Law (The Bible).
8 "This Book
of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall
meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do
according to all that is written in it. For then you will make
your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage;
do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with
you wherever you go."
be Strong in the Lord means to walk in His word, know his Word
and to trust His Word. Committing the Lordís word to memory,
doing what scripture says, not just reading the words is how we
become strong in the Lord. Notice the progression in verse 8,
meditate...night and day causes one to observe what is
written ďFor thenĒ, what follows? A prosperous way and
good success, which is to be strong (vs. 9). Scripture training
is the way to spiritual strength.
In the power
of his might:
Paul on the
outward appearance was seen as weak; David on the outward
appearance was a shepherd boy without armor. All throughout
scripture, we see weak people do extraordinary things.
Abraham an old childless man became the forefather of
nations. Gideon, a farm boy, defeats the armies of Midian
(Judges 8:4). Joseph the slave becomes head over all
Egypt. Daniel the Babylonian hostage becomes a ruler in
Babylon and Persia. Peter a fisherman becomes a leader
in the church. Paul a murderer, an enemy of Christ,
becomes the apostle to the Gentiles. What did all these people
have in common?
They operated in the power of his might. Through their
weakness, they learned to trust in the Lordís might. Many times
God is prevented from working in our lives, because we rely on
our might, our wisdom and our strength. God on the other hand,
loves to use what is despised in the world, because He is
glorified, through it. We need to learn to move in the power of
his might, not our own.
the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of
God is stronger than men. 26 For you see your calling, brethren,
that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not
many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things
of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the
weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are
mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which
are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to
bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should
glory in His presence. I Corinthians 1:25-29
When we are
in the Lord, and in his power, we then allow God to operate. We
need to learn to get out of Godís way.
Put on the
whole armor of God:
Paul who was
in Rome, surrounded by Roman soldiers commands, the church to
put on the Godís armor. The Greek word here is
which means to sink into, to clothe oneself. We are to be
complete in Godís armor, as opposed to being strong in one
aspect and weak in others. We are not to just learn the shield,
and not the sword. The armor is complete; we are to sink into
Godís armor. Why?
that you may
be able to stand:
If we fail
to put on the armor, we will not be able to stand in battle.
Satan, the devil wants to exploit our weakness, he looks for
areas to take us down, and so we cannot stand. A legionnaire
might have a sword, and be very good at it, but with out his
shield, and helmet, he is open to the darts and arrows, which
will stop him from standing. Therefore, we as warriors have to
learn, need to put on the full armor of God, and become
proficient in our ability to use the weapon. Each piece of
equipment had a purpose as we shall see.
word for stand is
which means to make firm, fix establish. We are to
our ground against Satan and his attacks. Satan does not want
the Christian to stand, but to fall. Satan has strategies to do
just that. He has devices, plans, stratagems for each person who
knows the Lord,
wiles of the devil:
Why do we
need to wear the full armor of God? So we can stand against the
wiles or schemes of Satan. The word for wiles is
meaning cunning arts, deceit, craft, trickery. Satan has a
method, he is not just idol, his goal is keep those who are
lost, lost, secondly his goal is to take authority away from the
saved, by making them fall.
fallen disabled saint is one less person, he has to worry about,
if we fail to put on the armor, Satan will exploit our weakness,
looking for our holes, setting a trap. The image of Satan is
not a person walking around in red leotards but a lion, looking