Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And 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. (Ephesians 6:14–18)
Paul was writing his letter to the Ephesians while in chains, so a Roman soldier may have been standing next to him, decked out in his full armor. Paul employed this military imagery and also drew on the language of battles in the Old Testament, in particular Isaiah. For example, in Isaiah 11:5, the Messiah has righteousness as his belt and faithfulness as the sash round his waist. Righteousness is also his breastplate in Isaiah 59:17, along with the helmet of salvation. And the “feet fitted with the readiness…” hearken back to Isaiah 52:7: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news…”
Paul’s use of this imagery is much more memorable than if he had said, “Stand firm with truth, righteousness, faith, salvation, the word of God and prayer.” Indeed, I know of one minister who before she goes into a potentially fraught or difficult meeting, prepares by putting on each piece of armor, complete with the physical motions. By doing so she reclaims the Lord’s resources that she needs to stand against any evil forces while she seeks to usher in the gospel of peace and righteousness.
Paul’s instructions, as with his whole letter, are not just for individual believers but for us as a community. We are strengthened as we stand together, holding our shields of faith against the flaming arrows of the evil one. While doing so, we pray for ourselves and for all the Lord’s people, that we might stand firm in him.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for this journey through Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. May your words of truth permeate our beings, that we might bring you glory.