Ephesians 6:10-24 | Stand Firm
10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
- The ‘armor of God’ is first mentioned in Isaiah 59:17 and is actually the metaphorical armor which God wears in responding to the sin of man. God is on the offensive against sin to redeem and rescue man. Paul likely has this scripture in mind when he encourages us to clothe ourselves in God’s armor
- Just as Saul lent his armor to David to fight Goliath, so God makes his armor available to us in fighting our battles. We are reminded then that it is God’s armor, not ours, his strength, not ours, his power, not ours.
12For 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.
- The battles we fight are not physical but spiritual. Our struggle is against the powers of evil, which this world is soaked in and which corrupts our bodies with ungodly desires. Our struggle is against “the cravings of sinful man, the lust of our eyes and the boasting of our hearts” (1 John 2:16)
- This is why we must wholly depend on God’s power and strength, because we have no power in ourselves to fight against spiritual forces. Flesh cannot battle spirit, only spirit can battle spirit – so without the spiritual armor of God we are naked and exposed.
13Therefore put on the full armour 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.
- Paul says to put on the armor of God, before the day of evil comes, not when it comes. A prepared disciple is a protected disciple.
- ‘Putting on the armor of God’ is not an action in and of itself, but is simply being filled with the fullness of God through his word and Holy Spirit as Paul has been saying repeatedly throughout this letter (Eph 3:19, 4:13, 5:18). Putting on God’s armor is simply filling your heart and mind with God, and when we clothe ourselves in God we clothe ourselves in his armor.
- To stand – God’s desire for us is the same he had for Job, to stand as righteous and holy even when tested and buffeted by Satan.
14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
- Belt of truth – literally ‘gird your waist with truth’. To gird is to fasten around and prepare for something challenging. We gird ourselves and continually remind ourselves of the truth in Christ which protects us against doubt and falsehood. The value of Biblical truth should never be underestimated, as it provides for us a sure and solid foundation and holds all things together (as a belt does) in our faith. Those not girded and convicted in truth will become doubtful and weary when evil comes and darkness descends.
- Breastplate of righteousness – this is one of the pieces of God’s armor mentioned in Isaiah 59:17. Righteousness is God’s heartbeat, because he is fully righteous and knows he is wholeheartedly. The image of God wearing righteousness as a breastplate is a statement of him saying “I am righteous”, and so in giving it for us to wear we can claim the same thing through Christ. This is a statement and truth we need to remind ourselves of and believe wholeheartedly, that through Jesus we are righteous. Just as the breastplate protects the heart and vital organs, so God’s righteousness protects us against believing otherwise.
15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
- Disciples of Christ are to be prepared and ready to take the gospel of peace throughout the world
- Romans 10:15 “And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!””
- 1 Peter 3:15 “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have”
- Ultimately the church is to be on mission, we are strangers and foreigners with a message of peace. We are peacemakers, not fighters. In many ways the images here make the church look like soldiers of the UN (United Nations), clothed in armor but to bring peace.
16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
- As we persevere in life and keep the faith we defend ourselves against the attacks of evil.
- Arrows come down from the sky, so the image here is of a soldier raising his shield above his head and hiding underneath it. Likewise, we are to continually elevate our faith over and in our lives, which can become a challenge at times.
- The purpose of flaming arrows is to set their targets on fire, and this is the intention of Satan, to set our hearts on fire with evil. James describes the tongue as being set on fire by hell (James 3:6), so the intention of Satan is to corrupt our whole being and turn us once more into children of darkness.
17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
- Helmet of salvation – this is another piece of the armor of God mentioned in Isaiah 59:17. It cannot simply mean to know and remind yourself that you are saved because God has no need for that. Instead, this piece of God’s armour is a symbol of him as saviour. Just as a king would wear a crown, a priest would wear a turban, a saviour would wear a helmet – it is a symbol of who that person is. So when Paul shows us that we too can take up the helmet of salvation, it shows that God is using the church in saving the world. The reality is that God is saving the world through the church as we preach the gospel – we are God’s salvation army!
- Sword of the spirit, the word of God – this final piece belongs to God too since it is the sword of the spirit (the sword supplied by the spirit). Our one offensive weapon is the word of God, but crucially it is the spirit which reveals it to us and others. We are reminded that Jesus used scripture alone to ward of Satan whilst being tempted, and likewise when we submit ourselves to the spirit of God we are reminded of and enlightened to God’s word.
18And 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.
- Pray in the spirit – this is unlikely to mean praying in tongues as Paul has made no mention of supernatural gifts throughout his letter. Instead, I think it means to simply pray with a sincere heart, seeking to submit and be sensitive to the spirit. This we do on all occasions, so that we are never just praying with mindless words, but sincerely seeking the spirit as we pray.
- prayers and requests – the manner of our prayers is both talking and asking. As a child speaks with their parents, their speaking is a manner of talking (telling them something) and asking (requesting something). Our prayers need to consist of both.
- be alert – to persevere securely in our faith we need to continually be alert and not drift off into the weariness and slumber of little faith. Jesus warned his disciples the night before the crucifixion to not give into the slumber of temptation. Temptation and weariness can affect us all, so it is good that we keep on praying for each other that our faith might be preserved and strengthened
19Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
- Paul had no scriptures to preach from (except the Old Testament), for his letters and writings form the very scriptures we read and preach from today. Therefore, a major work in Paul’s life was the spirit giving him the right words to say as he made known the mystery of the gospel for the first time to many (Eph 3:5)
- fearlessly – Paul asks for prayer twice about this, likely because of the persecution and imprisonment he received from preaching the gospel. We should pray this for each other too, that we might be fearless against the rejection and potential persecution we may face against proclaiming the gospel.
21Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing. 22I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you.
- Tychicus was one of Paul’s regular companions who assisted him in his ministry.
- Paul’s heart here is to encourage the Ephesians and all else who would read this letter
23Peace to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.
- Love with faith – these two are mutual companions and cannot be separated. One cannot love God but have no faith in him, and likewise cannot have true faith but express no love. They must exist together as James expresses in his letter (faith and deeds). It is interesting to note that Paul mentions that these are ‘from’ God, in that our love and faith are truly a work of God in our lives.
- Undying love – incorruptible love. Our love for God is one that will endure into all eternity and will never spoil, fade or die out.
The church is to take its stand in this dark world and remain faithful by putting on the full armour of God, being strengthened by him through truth, righteousness, peace, faith and the word of God.