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The Whole Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.


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10. my brethren—Some of the oldest manuscripts omit these words. Some with Vulgate retain them. The phrase occurs nowhere else in the Epistle (see, however, Eph 6:23); if genuine, it is appropriate here in the close of the Epistle, where he is urging his fellow soldiers to the good fight in the Christian armor. Most of the oldest manuscripts for "finally," read, "henceforward," or "from henceforth" (Ga 6:17).

be strongGreek, "be strengthened."

in the power of his mightChrist's might: as in Eph 1:19, it is the Father's might.

11. the whole armour—the armor of light (Ro 13:12); on the right hand and left (2Co 6:7). The panoply offensive and defensive. An image readily suggested by the Roman armory, Paul being now in Rome. Repeated emphatically, Eph 6:13. In Ro 13:14 it is, "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ"; in putting on Him, and the new man in Him, we put on "the whole armor of God." No opening at the head, the feet, the heart, the belly, the eye, the ear, or the tongue, is to be given to Satan. Believers have once for all overcome him; but on the ground of this fundamental victory gained over him, they are ever again to fight against and overcome him, even as they who once die with Christ have continually to mortify their members upon earth (Ro 6:2-14; Col 3:3, 5).

of God—furnished by God; not our own, else it would not stand (Ps 35:1-3). Spiritual, therefore, and mighty through God, not carnal (2Co 10:4).

wiles—literally, "schemes sought out" for deceiving (compare 2Co 11:14).

the devil—the ruling chief of the foes (Eph 6:12) organized into a kingdom of darkness (Mt 12:26), opposed to the kingdom of light.

12. Greek, "For our wrestling ('the wrestling' in which we are engaged) is not against flesh," &c. Flesh and blood foes are Satan's mere tools, the real foe lurking behind them is Satan himself, with whom our conflict is. "Wrestling" implies that it is a hand-to-hand and foot-to-foot struggle for the mastery: to wrestle successfully with Satan, we must wrestle with God in irresistible prayer like Jacob (Ge 32:24-29; Ho 12:4). Translate, "The principalities … the powers" (Eph 1:21; Col 1:16; see on Eph 3:10). The same grades of powers are specified in the case of the demons here, as in that of angels there (compare Ro 8:38; 1Co 15:24; Col 2:15). The Ephesians had practiced sorcery (Ac 19:19), so that he appropriately treats of evil spirits in addressing them. The more clearly any book of Scripture, as this, treats of the economy of the kingdom of light, the more clearly does it set forth the kingdom of darkness. Hence, nowhere does the satanic kingdom come more clearly into view than in the Gospels which treat of Christ, the true Light.

rulers of the darkness of this worldGreek, "age" or "course of the world." But the oldest manuscripts omit "of world." Translate, "Against the world rulers of this (present) darkness" (Eph 2:2; 5:8; Lu 22:53; Col 1:13). On Satan and his demons being "world rulers," compare Joh 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Lu 4:6; 2Co 4:4; 1Jo 5:19, Greek, "lieth in the wicked one." Though they be "world rulers," they are not the ruler of the universe; and their usurped rule of the world is soon to cease, when He shall "come whose right it is" (Eze 21:27). Two cases prove Satan not to be a mere subjective fancy: (1) Christ's temptation; (2) the entrance of demons into the swine (for these are incapable of such fancies). Satan tries to parody, or imitate in a perverted way, God's working (2Co 11:13, 14). So when God became incarnate, Satan, by his demons, took forcible possession of human bodies. Thus the demoniacally possessed were not peculiarly wicked, but miserable, and so fit subjects for Jesus' pity. Paul makes no mention of demoniacal possession, so that in the time he wrote, it seems to have ceased; it probably was restricted to the period of the Lord's incarnation, and of the foundation of His Church.

spiritual wickedness—rather as Greek, "The spiritual hosts of wickedness." As three of the clauses describe the power, so this fourth, the wickedness of our spiritual foes (Mt 12:45).

in high placesGreek, "heavenly places": in Eph 2:2, "the air," see on Eph 2:2. The alteration of expression to "in heavenly places," is in order to mark the higher range of their powers than ours, they having been, up to the ascension (Re 12:5, 9, 10), dwellers "in the heavenly places" (Job 1:7), and being now in the regions of the air which are called the heavens. Moreover, pride and presumption are the sins in heavenly places to which they tempt especially, being those by which they themselves fell from heavenly places (Isa 14:12-15). But believers have naught to fear, being "blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places" (Eph 1:3).

13. take … of God—not "make," God has done that: you have only to "take up" and put it on. The Ephesians were familiar with the idea of the gods giving armor to mythical heroes: thus Paul's allusion would be appropriate.

the evil day—the day of Satan's special assaults (Eph 6:12, 16) in life and at the dying hour (compare Re 3:10). We must have our armor always on, to be ready against the evil day which may come at any moment, the war being perpetual (Ps 41:1, Margin).

done all—rather, "accomplished all things," namely, necessary to the fight, and becoming a good soldier.

14. Stand—The repetition in Eph 6:11, 14, shows that standing, that is, maintaining our ground, not yielding or fleeing, is the grand aim of the Christian soldier. Translate as Greek, "Having girt about your loins with truth," that is, with truthfulness, sincerity, a good conscience (2Co 1:12; 1Ti 1:5, 18; 3:9). Truth is the band that girds up and keeps together the flowing robes, so as that the Christian soldier may be unencumbered for action. So the Passover was eaten with the loins girt, and the shoes on the feet (Ex 12:11; compare Isa 5:27; Lu 12:35). Faithfulness (Septuagint, "truth") is the girdle of Messiah (Isa 11:5): so truth of His followers.

having onGreek, "having put on."

breastplate of righteousness—(Isa 59:17), similarly of Messiah. "Righteousness" is here joined with "truth," as in Eph 5:9: righteousness in works, truth in words [Estius] (1Jo 3:7). Christ's righteousness inwrought in us by the Spirit. "Faith and love," that is, faith working righteousness by love, are "the breastplate" in 1Th 5:8.

15. Translate, "Having shod your feet" (referring to the sandals, or to the military shoes then used).

the preparation—rather, "the preparedness," or "readiness of," that is, arising from the "Gospel" (Ps 10:17). Preparedness to do and suffer all that God wills; readiness for march, as a Christian soldier.

gospel of peace—(compare Lu 1:79; Ro 10:15). The "peace" within forms a beautiful contrast to the raging of the outward conflict (Isa 26:3; Php 4:7).

16. Above all—rather, "Over all"; so as to cover all that has been put on before. Three integuments are specified, the breastplate, girdle, and shoes; two defenses, the helmet and shield; and two offensive weapons, the sword and the spear (prayer). Alford translates, "Besides all," as the Greek is translated, Lu 3:20. But if it meant this, it would have come last in the list (compare Col 3:14).

shield—the large oblong oval door-like shield of the Romans, four feet long by two and a half feet broad; not the small round buckler.

ye shall be able—not merely, "ye may." The shield of faith will certainly intercept, and so "quench, all the fiery darts" (an image from the ancient fire-darts, formed of cane, with tow and combustibles ignited on the head of the shaft, so as to set fire to woodwork, tents, &c.).

of the wicked—rather "of the EVIL ONE." Faith conquers him (1Pe 5:9), and his darts of temptation to wrath, lust, revenge, despair, &c. It overcomes the world (1Jo 5:4), and so the prince of the world (1Jo 5:18).

17. take—a different Greek word from that in Eph 6:13, 16; translate, therefore, "receive," "accept," namely, the helmet offered by the Lord, namely, "salvation" appropriated, as 1Th 5:8, "Helmet, the hope of salvation"; not an uncertain hope, but one that brings with it no shame of disappointment (Ro 5:5). It is subjoined to the shield of faith, as being its inseparable accompaniment (compare Ro 5:1, 5). The head of the soldier was among the principal parts to be defended, as on it the deadliest strokes might fall, and it is the head that commands the whole body. The head is the seat of the mind, which, when it has laid hold of the sure Gospel "hope" of eternal life, will not receive false doctrine, or give way to Satan's temptations to despair. God, by this hope, "lifts up the head" (Ps 3:3; Lu 21:28).

sword of the Spirit—that is, furnished by the Spirit, who inspired the writers of the word of God (2Pe 1:21). Again the Trinity is implied: the Spirit here; and Christ in "salvation" and God the Father, Eph 6:13 (compare Heb 4:12; Re 1:16; 2:12). The two-edged sword, cutting both ways (Ps 45:3, 5), striking some with conviction and conversion, and others with condemnation (Isa 11:4; Re 19:15), is in the mouth of Christ (Isa 49:2), in the hand of His saints (Ps 149:6). Christ's use of this sword in the temptation is our pattern as to how we are to wield it against Satan (Mt 4:4, 7, 10). There is no armor specified for the back, but only for the front of the body; implying that we must never turn our back to the foe (Lu 9:62); our only safety is in resisting ceaselessly (Mt 4:11; Jas 4:7).




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