Some years ago I wrote an article giving an outline of this passage. It was No 047 on this link. https://jimholbeck.blog/2011/11/23/047-outline-of-ephesians-69-24-spiritual-warfare/
Because this passage was discussed there at length, I will do a shorter treatment of these verses in this article. What Paul is doing in this passage is encouraging his readers to be strong in the Lord’s strength as they live in a hostile world.
COMMAND 1. TO BE STRONG IN THE LORD.
It is the Lord’s strength that is needed in Spiritual warfare! 6:10. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”
Paul uses here 3 of the most common words for strength or power in the New Testament.
- “Be strong” is [endynamoō; ἐνδυναμοῦσθε, a derivative of dunamis =strength]
- “Strength” is [kratos; κράτε= dominion or power]. It is the basis of our English words theocracy [the rule of God] and democracy [the rule of the demos, the people.]
- “Might” is [ischys; ἰσχύος] and here refers to mighty strength, God’s strength or power.
Paul is urging his readers to rely only on the Lord’s strength and not just on their own strength which he saw as being inadequate for spiritual warfare.
COMMAND 2. TO PUT ON THE LORD’S PROTECTION.
It is the Lord’s Protection that is needed in Spiritual Warfare!
“Put on the whole armour of God.” ”Put on” is ἐνδύω; endúō and can also mean “to clothe oneself with.” That is appropriate here for the putting on, or clothing oneself with, armour which God is able to supply. Armour is [panoplia; πανοπλία] meaning the total armour, both offensive and defensive. Paul was showing that it needed the whole armour of God to be strong in the Lord’s strength. Each and every part was necessary to win the battle.
The Reasons For The Command To Put On God’s Armour.
Paul wants them to understand the nature of the battle believers face. It is a spiritual battle against evil powers and personalities.
i]. The devil has strategies that have to be recognised and overcome. “that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” “Schemes” is [methodeia; μεθοδεία] which is the root of our English word “method”. It probably comes from a combination of “meta” meaning with or after, and hodos = a way. It refers to guile or trickery or evil strategies.
ii]. The real enemy has to be recognised. Paul is warning that behind the human attitudes and actions, there are spiritual forces at work for evil, Eph 6:11, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood” but
- against the rulers, [from archē; ἀρχή meaning first, for example, in power]
- against the authorities, [exousia; ἐξουσία] meaning delegated power or authority.
- against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, [‘cosmic powers’ is derived from one word, [κοσμοκράτωρ; kosmokratōr], where cosmos is the world and kratos means power.
- against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 6:12. [‘spiritual forces’ is one word pneumatika; πνευματικὰ. ] There are spiritual forces for good but there are also spiritual forces of evil in the heavenlies or in the spiritual realm.
Paul was encouraging his readers to be cognisant of the nature of the spiritual warfare they were engaged in and to look beyond evil people to the evil powers that were at work in or through them. Human strength and wisdom would be insufficient in such a battle.
COMMAND 3. TO TAKE UP THE WHOLE ARMOUR OF GOD.
Eph 6:13 “Therefore take up the whole armour of God “
The REASON FOR THE COMMAND. “that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” It is as though Paul was indicating that evil was inescapable in an evil world, but could be overcome by trusting in the power of God. It was a matter of standing, having first made provision for the battle.
- Eph 6:14 “Stand therefore,” [and the preparation required by the believer.] Paul’s words here show that prior preparation has to be made to engage successfully in spiritual warfare. In other words, he is saying “Stand therefore” having made the following preparation. He outlines that preparation in terms of armour,
- having fastened on the belt of truth, and
- having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
- Eph 6:15 and having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace, as shoes for your feet.”
Spiritual warfare can only be won by taking hold of all the armour God Himself provides.
COMMAND 4. TO TAKE UP THE SHIELD OF FAITH.
Eph 6:16 “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.” Faith shields against all the attacks of the enemy. Paul doesn’t specify here what form those darts take. But included among them would be the accusations hurled at believers by diabolos, the devil, the accuser.
COMMAND 5. TO TAKE UP THE HELMET OF SALVATION AND THE WORD OF GOD.
Eph 6:17 “and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” The writer of the letter to the Hebrews also described the word of God as a sword, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Heb 4:12. God’s word wielded as a sword is powerful and vitally necessary in spiritual warfare. So also is prayer. Believers are to have a prayerful, watchful attitude at all times, “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.” Eph 6:18.
Paul wrote about being watchful in 1Cor 16:13 “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” Peter also stressed the need for watchfulness and gave a reason, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1Peter 5:8.
No one is above the need for prayer. Paul knew he needed prayer support and was humble enough to admit it. He requested that they pray that he might be given the right words to speak and also the boldness to speak them, “and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” Eph 6:19-20. If the great apostle knew he needed prayer support, then how much more do we in today’s world. The situations may be different but the spiritual forces of evil at work then, are also at work in our world today and need to be overcome in the ways Paul commands in this epistle.
[Comments on the final greetings section of the epistle may be seen in article No 047 on this blogsite, mentioned above.]
A SUGGESTED PRAYER BASED ON EPHESIANS 6:10-24.
“Dear Lord, I need Your help to live for You. I want to be strong in the strength that only You can provide.
I put on the armour You have provided for me, so that I can have victory over everything that is opposed to You and to Your presence in me.
By faith, I put on the belt of truth around my waist.
I put on the breastplate of righteousness.
I put on the shoes of readiness to share the gospel.
I take up the shield of faith to extinguish everything the enemy hurls at me.
I place on my head the helmet of salvation
and I take up the sword of the Spirit, Your word to guide and strengthen me.
Fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that He may guide and lead me as I pray for all Your people.
Strengthen me to become the person You want me to be, that I might be doing Your will to Your glory, for the rest of my life.
I ask these things in Jesus’ name. AMEN!”
Blog No.341 posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Friday 10th January 2020.