The Whole Armor of God

Earlier in his letter to the Ephesians, Paul laid the groundwork to later teach about the whole armor of God. He used the Greek epouranios for Christ seated in heaven with authority over all principalities and powers, “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly [epouranios 2032] places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named” (Eph 1:20-21). He then qualified this as our salvation, “hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly [epouranios 2032] places in Christ Jesus … For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:5,6,8). We’re saved by sitting with Christ at God’s right hand—Him representing us before God as if we’re seated there.

Toward the end of his letter, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [epouranios 2032] places.” (Eph 6:11-12). We put on the armor by “putting on” Christ, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 13:14), “put on Christ” (Gal 3:27), “put on the new man” (Eph 4:24). We “put on” Him when we live after His example, commandments, and teaching. When submitting to His Son, God defends us against the devil as if wearing armor.

God’s defense likened to armor was also depicted in the Old Testament. With Abraham, “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield” (Gen 15:1), and also with David, “The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield” (2Sa 22:3), “But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me” (Psa 3:3), “The LORD is my strength and my shield” (Psa 28:7).

The individual pieces of armor that Paul lists are holistic—we must practice the sum of the parts to “put on” the whole armor and be successfully defended. And Paul had already taught about the parts in his letter leading up to this synopsis. Having “your loins girt about with truth” (v. 14), is learning the truth from Christ’s teaching, “But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus” (4:20-21). If we won’t hear and submit to the truth Christ taught, we lack this one piece and therefore don’t have the whole.

Having on “the breastplate of righteousness” (v. 14), is living righteously after the image of God in which we were created, “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (4:24). God’s Son created us to live morally righteous after His image—His example and teaching.

To have “your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (v. 15), is to keep the peace between Jews and Gentiles, “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (4:3). Christ is the peace between both, “For he is our peace, who hath made both one” (2:14). The “gospel of peace” is what He preached to both, “preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh” (2:17).

The “shield of faith [faithfulness]” (v. 16), is being faithful to Christ as He was to His Father, “because of Christ’s faithfulness” (3:12 NET). When the “fiery darts” of false accusations were hurled against Him, He simply trusted His Father to defend Him as a shield, “Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (1Pe 2:23).

The “helmet of salvation” (v. 17), is our hope of salvation when the Lord returns, “others which have no hope … unto the coming of the Lord” (1Th 4:13,15), “for an helmet, the hope of salvation” (1Th 5:8). It’s “the hope of his calling” (1:18), “one hope of your calling” (4:4). The serpent’s head and his children’s will be bruised, “thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen 3:15). The hope of the Lord’s return is our helmet that protects our head.

The “sword of the Spirit [breath], which is the word [rhēma 4487] of God” (v. 17), is “the washing of water by the word [rhēma 4487]” (5:26). It was when Christ “poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet” (Jhn 13:5), then gave them the rhēma, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you” (Jhn 13:34). The sword in the armor is serving. We “fight” our enemies by serving them as Jesus washed Judas’ feet.

Of course “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit [breath]” (v. 18), as Christ taught us “After this manner therefore pray ye” (Mat 6:9), and as Paul voiced two prayers earlier in this letter 1:16-23, 3:14-21. Salvation isn’t simply about believing some facts are true. We must be actively clothed with the whole armor of God to be defended against the devil and ultimately be saved.

Commit on the Name of the Son of God

“And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe [commit] on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.” (1Jo 3:22-23). To commit on the name of Jesus Christ is to be committed to everything invested in His name—all He commanded, all He taught, and all He lived and died for. And to “love one another, as he gave us commandment” is to love by the standard He defined, “Love your enemies” (Mat 5:44), “But love ye your enemies” (Luk 6:35).

Let’s try to imagine ourselves from God’s perspective for a moment. Your only begotten Son is most loved of You far above all else. But You also love the world so much that You willingly gave Your Son for their sins. You watched as He was horribly mistreated, shamed, and crucified. But You raised Him from the dead and seated Him next to You on Your throne. You gave Him all authority in heaven and in earth, and the name above all names. All You now demand of the world is commitment to Your Son—obey Him, be unashamed of Him and his words, and willingly suffer for His glory. However, people snub Him, disobey Him, and won’t stand for the things He lived and died for yet still expect You to save them! After shunning Your great love for them, they now want Your help but on their terms. How would you feel?

I watched a documentary recently about a Jewish woman who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War 2. She was 13 years old at the time and one of six children along with her father and mother. On the train to the camp she said her father prayed, and prayed, and prayed. But shortly after arrival her entire family had been executed except for her and her younger sister. Why wouldn’t God answer her father’s prayers? Could it be that he had snubbed God’s Son all his life yet now was crying to Him for help? The suffering of the precious people in those camps was absolutely horrible. Why wouldn’t God hear them crying to Him? In the Old Testament, when God’s people wouldn’t listen to Him, He wouldn’t listen to them: “And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day” (1Sa 8:18); “Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble” (Jer 11:14); “Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them” (Eze 8:18); “Then shall they cry unto the LORD, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings” (Mic 3:4).

Jesus declared, “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels” (Luk 9:26). And His words on the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mat 27:46; Mar 15:34). Trinitarians, however, confess that the Son is co-equal with His Father, denying His own words that God is His God. They deny His very words while dying for their sins! I was a Trinitarian for about 30 years, and have visited with many of them since, yet every one so far rejects His words on the cross. They want His cross but not His words.

John said, “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him,” but only when we’re committed to His Son’s name and when we’re loving each other in the manner He commanded. If we’ll listen to God’s Son, He will listen to us. But if we won’t listen to Him, why should He listen to us? He subjected His Son to terrible shame, pain, and suffering for us. When we reject the greatest gift He could give, why should He give any more? How can He give any more?

People ask God why it is He is nowhere to be found through all their difficulties, and why He seems to not care. But maybe a better question is to ask ourselves why we won’t listen to His Son? We listen when it’s convenient, comfortable, and beneficial, but when we must be shamed for Him, it seems we become ashamed of Him.

If we’re not part of the solution, we’re part of the problem. Just reflect for a moment on all the horrible evil, abuse, pain, misery, and suffering in the world right now. If we’re not committed to the name of the Son of God in agreement, obedience, and submission to everything He said, then we’re not part of the solution but part of the problem. We’re ultimately contributing to the evil in this world and helping make things worse! And if we’re making things worse by working against His Son rather than with Him, why should God help us when we’re in trouble? Why should He listen to us when we wouldn’t listen to Him? “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth [commits] in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jhn 3:16).