To sum up then [and to include any persons not covered in my comments above] take your strength from the Lord [and clothe yourselves] in the full protection He with His might maintains [for you]. And put on the full array of God's armour that you may be able to withstand the deceit of the devil [taking your stand in a comprehensive, battle-ready, way].
     For what we are up against is not flesh and blood, but we find ourselves opposed to entire régimes, against powers, against the current darkness in which the world's rulers operate, against the accumulated spiritual wickedness [that reaches] into the heavens. 
     So you can see why you should avail yourself of the entire armour God provides, because that is the way you can withstand when times are thoroughly evil and maintain your stand in the midst of that.
     Stand girded therefore, belt buckled up with truth, the breastplate of righteousness protecting you, and with feet shod prepared for walking with the good news of peace; don't forget to take hold of the shield of faith which you will need to neutralize the many flaming darts of the evil one. And protect yourself with the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit that is nothing other than the Word of God.
     With all spiritual vigilance maintain ongoing prayer at all times on all matters for all the consecrated, and include me in that, that I may be enabled to speak boldly in plain language so that what would otherwise be the mystery of the Good News might be made known. It is [as you know] for this cause that I am an ambassador in chains, so pray that I may say what I have to say boldly just as I should. - Ephesians 6:10-20/transliteration by Bruce C Wearne

Suit of armour

PICTURE: Natasa Grabovac/Unsplash

 

"It is a graphic illustration of how they are to be fitted for spiritual warfare – it is an array of protection provided by the Lord Himself and it is armour for a battle that is as subtle as it is persistent. It is given to enable the believer to resist; there are many temptations and provocations of the Evil One to contend with. The armour is given so resistance can be maintained from an outlook that is alert, fully aware that the times might turn nasty."

Paul has just covered the responsibilities that should characterise the on-going service of the family and household of God – marriage, parenting and nurture, children and those involved in master and servant relationships. 

Is it significant that Paul does not here venture into the marketplace? Nor does he give explicit guidance as to how his readers should respect and heed the civil authority, at least not here in this letter or collation of communications. It is a graphic illustration of how they are to be fitted for spiritual warfare – it is an array of protection provided by the Lord Himself and it is armour for a battle that is as subtle as it is persistent. It is given to enable the believer to resist; there are many temptations and provocations of the Evil One to contend with. The armour is given so resistance can be maintained from an outlook that is alert, fully aware that the times might turn nasty. 

Truth as a belt, breastplate of right-standing, shoes made for long-distance walking and even running in the way of the Good News, faith acting as a persistent shield. There is a helmet of salvation to be worn and a sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, to be at hand. This weapon is not just a military decoration; it is given to be used.

This is Paul’s New Testament exposition of what we read of the Lord on His way to victory in Isaiah 59. When we compare the two accounts we will discover that there is nothing Paul says here to coincide with what Isaiah saw prophetically as “the mantel of the Lord’s fury", or the “garments of His retribution". These are completely absent! Why?

The outfitted follower of the Lord takes up the entire suit of armour, those pieces which Paul says are “of God”, given to provide full protection and enable full evasive movement. We recall how David was immobilised by the armour given to him by Saul (I Samuel 17:38-40). The full armour of God as Paul describes it, facilitates the wearer’s movement and there is no mention of any piece that implies vengeance or retribution. We have heard Paul reckon with “anger” but that was to note it as an emotion fully within the responsibility of God’s “new man”: "Be angry [by all means] but do not sin, do not let the sun go down while you are still shaking with rage. Give no place at all to the devil" (Ephesians 4:26-27).

What are we to say about this? We can say that with the sacrifice of Jesus and His resurrection, Isaiah’s prophecy about God’s judgement upon sin “making many righteous” (Isaiah 53:11) has been completed and is declared successful. Peter at Pentecost declared God’s complete amnesty for all those who repent, those who are near and those far away! (Acts 2:21, 37-39). That is what those who would walk in the ways of the Lord are called to believe. Judgement has been lifted. We are covered by the Good News of the comfort of the Lord (Isaiah 40) and so we become the well-shod messengers of those bringing tidings of great joy (Isaiah 52:7): "It is [as you know] for this cause that I am an ambassador in chains, so pray that I may say what I have to say boldly just as I should."

The times will continue to be evil even until the end and the calling of those loyal to the Lord’s Christ is to stand, to make a stand truthfully, with integrity, peacefully, faithfully, redemptively, spiritually, prayerfully, boldly, in complete solidarity with the Lord and all of His holy ones. And Paul, referring to himself as “ambassador in chains” is earnestly seeking their prayerful support.

As “ambassador” he is not merely on a path that would proclaim God’s truth in order to safeguard Christians within the public legal order. His message is one of “justice, self-control and future judgement”, the self-same message he explained when held by Felix (Acts 24:22-27). Yes, and Luke tells us that when Felix heard this it worried him - deeply.

Correction - the final verse was left off the week's passage quoted; it has been added.