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EPHESIANS - Chapter 6 - Verse 14

Verse 14. Stand therefore. Resist every attack—as a soldier does in battle. In what way they were to do this, and how they were to be armed, the apostle proceeds to specify; and, in doing it, gives a description of the ancient armour of a soldier.

Having your loins girt about. The girdle, or sash, was always with the ancients an important part of their dress, in war as well as in peace. They wore loose, flowing robes; and it became necessary to gird them up when they travelled, or ran, or laboured. The girdle was often highly ornamented, and was the place where they carried their money, their sword, their pipe, their writing instruments, etc. See Barnes "Mt 5:38"

and Mt 5:39-41. The" girdle" seems sometimes to have been a cincture of iron or steel, and designed to keep every part of the armour in its place, and to gird the soldier on every side.

With truth. It may not be easy to determine with entire accuracy the resemblance between the parts of the armour specified in this description, and the things with which they are compared; or to determine precisely why he compared truth to a girdle, and righteousness to a breast-plate, rather than why he should have chosen a different order, and compared righteousness to a girdle, etc. Perhaps in themselves there may have been no special reason for this arrangement, but the object may have been merely to specify the different parts of the armour of a soldier, and to compare them with the weapons which Christians were to use, though the comparison should be made somewhat at random. In some of the cases, however, we can see a particular significancy in the comparisons which are made; and it may not be improper to make suggestions of that kind as we go along. The idea here may be, that as the girdle was the bracer up, or support of the body, so truth is fitted to brace us up, and to gird us for constancy and firmness. The girdle kept all the parts of the armour in their proper place, and preserved firmness and consistency in the dress; and so truth might serve to give consistency and firmness to our conduct. "Great," says Grotius, "is the laxity of falsehood; truth binds the man." Truth preserves a man from those lax views of morals, of duty, and of religion, which leave him exposed to every assault. It makes the soul sincere, firm, constant, and always on its guard. A man who has no consistent views of truth, is just the man for the adversary successfully to assail.

And having on the breastplate. The word here rendered "breastplate" —ywrax—denoted the cuirass, (Lat., lorica,) or coat of mail; i.e., the armour that covered the body from the neck to the thighs, and consisted of two parts, one covering the front and the other the back. It was made of rings, or in the form of scales, or of plates, so fastened together that they would be flexible, and yet guard the body from a sword, spear, or arrow. It is referred to in the Scriptures as a coat of mail, 1 Sa 17:5; an habergeon, Ne 4:16, or as a breastplate. We are told that Goliath's coat of mail weighed five thousand shekels of brass, or nearly one hundred and sixty pounds. It was often formed of plates of brass, laid one upon another, like the scales of a fish. The cuts on the opposite page will give an idea of this ancient piece of armour.

Of righteousness. Integrity, holiness, purity of life, sincerity of piety. The breastplate defended the vital parts of the body; and the idea here may be, that integrity of life, and righteousness of character, is as necessary to defend us from the assaults of Satan, as the coat of mail was to preserve the heart from the arrows of an enemy. It was the incorruptible integrity of Job, and, in a higher sense, of the Redeemer himself, that saved them from the temptations of the devil. And it is as true now that no one can successfully meet the power of temptation unless he is righteous, as that a soldier could not defend himself against a foe without such a coat of mail. A want of integrity will leave a man exposed to the assaults of the enemy, just as a man would be whose coat of marl was defective, or some part of which was wanting. The king of Israel was smitten by an arrow sent from a bow, drawn at a venture, "between the joints of his harness," or the "breastplate," (margin,) \1 Ki 22:34; and many a man who thinks he has on the Christian armour is smitten in the same manner. There is some defect of character; some want of incorruptible integrity; some point that is unguarded—and that will be sure to be the point of attack by the foe. So David was tempted to commit the enormous crimes that stain his memory, and Peter to deny his Lord. So Judas was assailed, for the want of the armour of righteousness, through his avarice; and so, by some want of incorruptible integrity in a single point, many a minister of the gospel has been assailed and has fallen. It may be added here, that we need a righteousness which God alone can give—the righteousness of God our Saviour—to make us perfectly invulnerable to all the arrows of the foe.

{b} "girt" Isa 11:5

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