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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

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Ephesians 6:10-20

All believers should know about the importance of wearing their full suit of armor every day so that they will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.



I. Be strong in the Lord and get dressed for the battle.
            A. Our fight is not against flesh and blood
            B. It is important to know what we are fighting against.
                        1. Rulers
                        2. Powers
                        3. World forces of this darkness
                        4. Spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places
II. How a believer is to dress daily in order to stand firm against the evil day.
            A. Loins to be girded in truth.
            B. Hearts to be protected by the breastplate of righteousness
            C. Feet prepared with the Gospel of Peace.
            D. A shield of Faith
            E. Our Heads are covered by the Helmet of Salvation
            F. Our only weapon is the sword of the Spirit (the word of God).
III. Be alert and pray in the Spirit at all times.
            A. Pray for all things in the Spirit.
            B. Petition for all the saints.
            C. Always be alert and aware.
            D. Pray for boldness and courage for all who share the gospel.

There is not a single person, outside of Christ, who has lived a full life and not felt like the world was against them at some point. This is the exact reason why all of us who believe in Christ should be fully aware of the spiritual armor that God has blessed each one of us with, for as Paul warns us in Ephesians 6:12 (NASB), our struggle is not against flesh and blood. If it were, we would be more capable of dealing with things in our own strength. Rather, our fight is against things that can only be defeated by the implementation of all the spiritual weapons that are provided to us by our Heavenly Father. It is in the verses that follow that we will discuss just how all of us can protect ourselves against the fiery arrows that the evil one launches toward the children of God, as well as how we can best help our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Don’t be fooled, there is not one of us that does not come into battle with the dark side. It is only in learning how to dress for battle daily that we can be assured of standing firmly in our faith no matter what this world and the dark forces within it have to throw our way!

Professor’s notes: The main theme of Ephesians is, of course, the disclosure of God’s eternal divine purpose, which is the uniting together and reconciliation of all things in and through the person and work of Jesus Christ. In God’s plan of reconciliation, Jesus Christ is at the heart and center of all that the Father wills. And at the heart and center of Christ’s work is his church. Christ as its Head has given the church an awesome responsibility and role as the redeemed organism by which he brings unity to this alienated, fragmented and fallen world. As the body of Christ, the church is to live out the purposes for which it was called. The church’s calling is to exemplify before the world the unity and love of reconciliation for which Christ died and rose. The gospel of God’s grace has bestowed upon believers a higher calling in Christ. Therefore, believers as a body and as individuals are to conduct themselves in this fallen world accordingly “in Christ” to his glory.


Paul, who once was Saul, is the author of Ephesians. Paul was formerly Saul until he had an encounter with Christ Jesus. Saul truly believed that he was a defender of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob until that fateful day when he encountered Christ on the road to Damascus.

There are many interesting details regarding Saul who became Paul that I believe add flavor to all of his letters as well as his personal story. “Saul of Tarsus was born in approximately AD 5 in the city of Tarsus in Cilicia (in modern-day Turkey). He was born to Jewish parents who possessed Roman citizenship, a coveted privilege that their son would also possess. In about AD 10, Saul’s family moved to Jerusalem. Sometime between AD 15—20 Saul began his studies of the Hebrew Scriptures in the city of Jerusalem under Rabbi Gamaliel. It was under Gamaliel that Saul would begin an in-depth study of the Law with the famous rabbi.” (http://www.gotquestions.org/Saul-of-Tarsus.html)
It is Paul’s extensive knowledge of the Old Testament combined with his persecution of the first believers that makes his preaching, his ministry, and his letters so passionate. Paul truly desired for people of all kinds to come to understand the message of grace and then continue to grow from that foundation.

It is obvious that Saul loved God by his devotion to studying the law and his willingness as well as eagerness to travel in order to bring followers of ‘The Way’ (One of the first names given to the early church) to court and to what he felt was justice. After Saul’s transformation into Paul, he considered himself to be the worst among sinners and the very least of all saints.

He is credited with writing a major portion of the New Testament and was recognized as an Apostle of Christ by the other Apostles even though he never walked with Jesus while Jesus was here on earth. Paul truly longed for the Jews and the Gentiles to understand that they were all now part of the same promise and should to act accordingly.

[6] to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, (Ephesians 3:6, NASB)

On Paul’s third missionary trip he ended up staying in Ephesus and ministering to the church there for almost three years.

This particular letter was written by Paul while he was being held as a prisoner in Rome. I think the most interesting thing about Paul’s time as a prisoner in Rome was the prison he was held in. As I mentioned earlier, Paul was a Roman citizen. This citizenship allowed him the opportunity to be held in a private room instead of a prison cell and he was watched over by a Roman soldier. Paul wrote this epistle (letter) somewhere between the year A.D. 60-62 and due to Paul’s captivity while it was written, it is often referred to as a prison epistle. One can almost envision Paul glancing at his fully dressed guard, realizing how referring to a Roman soldier’s full suit of armor would provide him with the perfect outline for all believers to fully comprehend how a warrior for Christ need to dress each day to stand firm in their faith.

The Epistle to the Ephesians truly highlights everything that a believer needs to know and understand in order to stand firm and grow in their faith. The first three chapters of Ephesians emphasize New Testament doctrine; that we are saved by grace through faith and not by works. The last three chapters walk us through the ways Christians should behave; to always be thankful for their immeasurable blessings in Jesus Christ which should also produce a desire to live in a manner worthy of such blessings. All Christians will go through various trials, tribulations and temptations of Satan. It is for this reason that Paul shares with believers the full and sufficient spiritual armor supplied to them through God’s Word and by His Spirit.

Be strong in the Lord and get dressed for battle

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. (Ephesians 6:10, NASB)

This verse alerts the reader that Paul is finishing up his letter by opening with the word finally. He has one last important piece of advice to give his readers. He wants to prepare them all for the battle he knows full well from his own experiences, we all will face. “We have one important need as we fight this war. It is the power of God. We ‘must be strong in the *Lord’. You cannot make yourself strong. God must give you strength. He must give it to you more than once. He must give it to you all the time. The *Greek word means ‘continue to let God make you strong’. Then Paul says ‘in the *Lord’, not ‘by the *Lord’, although that would be true. The strength comes from being united with Jesus. It comes from being ‘in Christ’. This is what Jesus taught (John 15:1-5). Apart from Jesus, the Christian can do nothing. So the strength that we have is in ‘his great power’. You could also say, ‘in the strength of his great power’.” (1997-2005, Wycliffe Associates (UK). http://www.easyenglish.info/bible-commentary/eph-lbw.htm).

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. ( Ephesians 6:11, NASB)

Paul uses the armor worn by Roman soldiers as an analogy that the readers of his day would be familiar with. He wants them to fully grasp how necessary this armor is for one to hold their position while under attack. The Greek word for schemes carries the idea of one who is clever, cunning and deceitful. The evil ones schemes include all sins, the lure of false idols, the teaching of false theology and religion as well as all worldly enticements.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12, NASB)

Some translations use the word “wrestle” in the place of struggle. Both of these words paint the picture of a type of hand-to-hand combat. Satan and his hosts often attack with trickery and deception. While these types of attacks are not truly hand-to-hand, they can truly make you feel like you are in a physical battle. I call these types of attacks “crocodile rolls” for the enemy comes at you swiftly with your greatest fears and if you are not prepared, you are sure to be taken under. Being prepared, you will have to use all of your armor to stand firm. Not many escape from a crocodile roll in real life!
The struggles we face, we are told will not be of flesh and blood, there are unseen spiritual forces at work. “If we do not guard our hearts, Satan has the ability to fill them with evil thoughts (Acts 5:3). If we do not “gird up the loins of our minds,” then Satan can blind our eyes and lead us astray (II Corinthians 4:4; 11:3). The Bible warns us that through some “snare,” Satan can take us captive to do “his will” (II Timothy 2:26). This snare is evidently the devil's allurement (temptation) to do evil. Of course, this does not teach us that Satan can force us to do his bidding against our own free wills, only that if we are not careful he can fool us or snare us through the “deceitfulness of sin” and the “deceivableness of unrighteousness” (Hebrews 3:13; II Thessalonians 2:10). Finally, the Bible clearly informs us that Christians, even in the 20th century, must not be ignorant of Satan’s “devices” (II Corinthians 2:11)” (A Study Of Ephesians, 2002 by Allan Turner, Allanita press, http://www.allanturner.com/eph_6.html)

Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you sill be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:13, NASB)

Paul simply reiterates the need for Christian soldiers to be prepared in their full armor so that when the evil day arrives, they will be ready and able to resist. The girdle, breastplate and shoes were items that the Roman soldiers wore at all times on the battlefield. The shield, helmet and sword were readily available should fighting begin. Every day since the fall of man has been evil. Our every day goal should be to stand firm against the enemy. The only way we can accomplish that is to be fully armed.
How a believer is to dress daily in order to stand firm against the evil day.

Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, (Ephesians 6:14, NASB)

This is the third time that Paul has called believers to stand firm. It is here that he begins giving more details on how we are to use our spiritual warfare. A Roman soldier dressed in a tunic of loose-fitting clothing that required a belt to be worn to cinch up the hanging material. (Exodus 12:11; Luke 12:35; 1 Peter 1:13) Often our lives can become loosely raveled and this is a reminder to stick to the truth, refraining from hypocrisy. The breastplate that the Roman soldiers wore covered their entire torso, sufficiently protecting their heart and other vital organs. This is a great analogy of how the righteousness of Christ protects the believer in spiritual battles. Without this righteousness, we are left vulnerable to the enemy of our souls, Satan himself.

And having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; (Ephesians 6:15, NASB)

The boots that the Roman soldiers wore had nails in them so that they had a better grip in the ground while in combat! The Gospel of peace allows the believer that same type of grip. When you are prepared with the Gospel of peace, you standing on a firm foundation. It is in our confidence of divine support that we are able to stand firm understanding that we are at peace with God and have nothing to fear. God is our strength and power. (Romans 8:31, 37-29)

in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (Ephesians 6:16, NASB)

This Greek word usually refers to a shield that is 2.5 x 4.5 ft. This shield was large enough to cover the entire soldier. It also had hooks on it so that the soldiers could stand together, locking their shield in place forming an invincible wall. In the same way, Christians can stand in faith together and move mountains. Our faith is a vital component as we are reminded that we are saved by grace through faith and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9)

“As faith is the grace by which all others are preserved and rendered active, so it is properly represented here under the notion of a shield, by which the whole body is covered and protected. Faith, in this place, must mean that evidence of things unseen which every genuine believer has, that God, for Christ's sake, has blotted out his sins, and by which he is enabled to call God his Father, and feel him to be his portion. It is such an appropriating faith as this which can quench any dart of the devil.” (Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Ephesians 6:1", “The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/view.cgi?bk=48&ch=6. 1832.)

And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17, NASB)

As mentioned earlier, Satan schemes. He is not opposed to trying to destroy the believer’s assurance of their salvation. In battle, a helmet is worn to protect your head. A helmet of salvation is meant to be worn so that you never forget that you are saved and therefore have nothing to fear, including the loss of your salvation!

The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, is an amazing part of our armor. It is by the word of God that Jesus battled Satan in the desert. (Luke 4:1-13) As far as the readers of this book would have understood the analogy of the sword being used for the word of God, one only has to take a look into the training of the sword for all Roman soldiers. “The Spanish gladius, a two-edged sword which was used by the Romans during Paul's lifetime, was two feet long and two and one half inches wide, and was designed primarily as a thrusting weapon. With it, the Roman legions were successful in conquering the world. A great deal of skill was needed to master the gladius sword. It has been reported that the Roman authorities thought it needful for their soldiers to train for up to five years before they ever saw combat. Often the sword the soldier practiced with was twice as heavy as the one he would actually use in combat. Developing the strength to wield the heavier practice sword enabled the soldier to use the gladius sword very effectively.” (A Study Of Ephesians, 2002 by Allan Turner, Allanita press, http://www.allanturner.com/eph_6.html)

“Likewise, “the word of God,” which is actually “sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12), requires practice if it is going to be used effectively. Therefore, in his instructions to Timothy, Paul wrote: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15). The skillful use of God's Word “belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14). When used skillfully, the sword of the Spirit pierces the heart (cf. Acts 2:37; 7:54). In order to defeat the enemy, the Christian soldier must learn to use the sword of the Spirit expertly.” (A Study Of Ephesians, 2002 by Allan Turner, Allanita press, http://www.allanturner.com/eph_6.html)

Be alert and pray in the Spirit at all times.

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, (Ephesians 6:18, NASB)

This verse reminds all believers of the importance of prayer. We aren’t simply to pray, we are to use all forms of prayer and we are to pray at all times. Giving thanks to God is a form of prayer. Talking to God about the troubles you face is a form of prayer. We are also informed here that it is okay and expected to present petitions before the Lord. It is by being alert to the battles we face against unforeseen evil forces that we learn to pray in the Spirit. We are to not only pray for ourselves, we are to pray for all the saints and others as well.

[19] And pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, [20] for which I am an ambassador in chains, that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:19-20, NASB)

Paul doesn’t ask for the believers of his day to pray for his physical comfort or well being. Rather he asks for them to pray for his boldness and faithfulness. It is truly his desire to continue proclaiming the gospel even to his own detriment!

“Observe, Paul had a great command of language; they called him Mercury, because he was the chief speaker (Acts. 14:12 ), and yet he would have his friends ask of God the gift of utterance for him. He was a man of great courage, and often signalized himself for it; yet he would have them pray that God would give him boldness. He knew as well what to say as any man; yet he desires them to pray for him, that he may speak as he ought to speak. The argument with which he enforces his request is that for the sake of the gospel he was an ambassador in bonds, v. 20. He was persecuted and imprisoned for preaching the gospel; though, notwithstanding, he continued in the embassy committed to him by Christ, and persisted in preaching it.” (Matthew Henry's six volume Complete Commentary, 1706, http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/ephesians/6.html


Application for Ephesians 6:10-20

In today’s world it is vital that believers get up each day dressed in their full suit of armor. The battles that Paul spoke of to the church in Ephesus are the very same battles we face today. Without being fully dressed, our fast paced world is certain to take us under.

When Paul speaks of the shrewdness of Satan, he is leaving nothing out. At all times, we must be alert and we must pray in times of duress as well as in times of blessings. Our faith is something that is meant to be shared for by sharing we strengthen one another much like the Roman soldier’s strengthened their defense by sharing their shields to form a formidable wall.

In recognizing the training that the Roman soldiers went through in order to use a sword, we should understand that we simply cannot read the bible here and there and be prepared in battle. As the Roman soldier had to train, so must we. Not a day should go by that we don’t pick up the word of God, described in this letter as the sword of the Spirit and do a little reading. It is in reading the word of God that we begin to hear God himself.

Our armor is designed to keep us focused on the truth, having confidence in our salvation and always being prepared to share the gospel with the world.

It is in discovering that we have been set free that we should share the glory of God with all who come into our lives. By being alert and always praying for others, we should be able to discern evil for evil and recognize where our light needs to shine.


Bibliography

A Study Of Ephesians, 2002 by Allan Turner, Allanita press, http://www.allanturner.com/eph_6.html
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Ephesians 6:1", “The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/view.cgi?bk=48&ch=6. 1832.

Duvall, J. Scott; Hays, J. Daniel (2012-05-08). Grasping God's Word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible (pp. 229-230). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Got questions ministry, 2002 - 2015, http://www.gotquestions.org/Saul-of-Tarsus.html

Matthew Henry's six volume Complete Commentary, 1706, http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/ephesians/6.html

The MacArthur Study Bible, 2006, Thomas Nelson


Wycliffe Associates (UK), 1997 - 2005, http://www.easyenglish.info/bible-commentary/eph-lbw.htm

© Wendy Glidden 2015
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