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The Whole Armour by David Ireland


Ephesians 6:10-20  ¶Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 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 places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Please note there are 3 similar words in verse 10: ‘strong’, ‘power’ and ‘might’. (References taken from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.)

‘Strong’: (G1473 En-doo-nam-oo) from doo-nam-oo G1411 meaning enable or strengthen and from en G1722 which is a preposition meaning, in this context, to be in a state (of strength).

‘Power’: (G2904 Kra-tos) meaning vigour, dominion, might, power or strength. This is a root for some English words used to denote rule, dominion or authority e.g. auto-cratic (rule by one person), demo-cracy (rule of the people).

 ‘Might’: (G2479 Is-khoos) forcefulness, might, power, strength. In Nehemiah 8:10, in the Septuagint, the word strength is the same as used here in Ephesians 6:10 for ‘might’.  Nehemiah 8:10: “The joy of the Lord is our strength”

We can therefore see that the Apostle is encouraging believers to be strengthened inwardly in the Lord; the Lord is the source of our strength. Paul continues to reinforce the point with reference to the ‘power of his might’ or we might say dominion of his strength, but this strength is founded on the confidence we can hold in the Lord as a source of joy which brings strength inwardly. In other words we can be strong when we are taken up with the Lord and when he is our focus and his way is our aim; no matter what other circumstances may be present. It is worth noting, with interest, that the ’power of his might’ implies we have spiritual strength and power when we are ruled by or, similarly, surrendered to him. In other words when he has dominion over us we are strong in him.

In verse 11 we have a command with a reason.

The Command: put on God (i.e. the whole armour as Paul is using the word ‘whole armour’ as an idiom for God in this passage). The Reason: that ye may withstand the wiles of the Devil.

Two thoughts in the command: 1. God is spiritual armour. 2. We are to put him on.

1. God the spiritual armour:

The Lord is described here as ‘the whole armour of God’ the Apostle applies a simile in the verse before going on to explain the spiritual advantages of being consciously surrendered and clothed upon with God in the fullest sense; this theme is developed in verses 14-17. The phrase ‘whole armour’ is a single Greek word Pan-o-plee-a G3833. This is very similar to our transliterated English word ‘panoply’ which means the entirety of something. Therefore we understand we cannot have the helmet but not the breast plate, neither the sword but no shield. Indeed each aspect of the armour reveals some aspect pf God’s character.

Helmet, Salvation- Isaiah 12:2  Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.
Breastplate, Righteousness-Jeremiah 23:6  In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Belt, Truth- John 14:6  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Feet, Gospel- Isaiah foretold of Christ: Isaiah 52:7  ¶How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

Shield, Faith- God is both object and source of faith: Ephesians 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.

Sword, Spirit, Word- John 1:14  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

When we are filled with the fullness of God, surrendered to him then we receive the blessing of each of these wonderful aspects of his character, full assurance of salvation, his imputed righteousness and a desire to live, think and act as such, a knowledge of the truth and  a desire to spread the good news, a faith that is put in action by following and doing for God and a love to know and share his word. Dare any Christian go without the Lord? Moses once said to the Lord: “… And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.” Exodus 33:15. May that be our daily prayer.

Galatians 3:27 echoes this idea of ‘putting on’ Christ. The verse makes it clear that we ‘put on’ Christ by faith. The verse states: ‘As many of you as have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ.’ Let’s be very clear, the baptism indicated here is not water, it is baptism with the Holy Spirit; neither is it referring to a second blessing rather it is when one believes on the name of the Lord Jesus for salvation that they receive the Holy Spirit as the seal of the covenant. Water baptism is a sign of the covenant (the other sign is the remembrance table) which comes after faith. We ‘put on’ Christ before we are baptised, that is when we believe on him, not once we are baptised. The Apostle here in Ephesians 6:11 is reminding believers to ‘put on’ God besides in Ephesians 6:10 to surrender to and be ruled by God. Nobody would go out for the day without putting on their garments, nor would a soldier of Paul’s day gone to war without putting on their armour hence the implication here is we should not face the world without ‘putting on’ the Lord. This is achieved by faith, just as when we first believed by faith, and it underlines the daily importance of visiting the prayer closet and committing ourselves to the Lord; laying all on the altar, being fully surrendered to him. As the hymn writer put it: “High heaven that heard the solemn vow that vow renewed shall daily hear…”

2. The Reason:

Two thoughts in the reason: 1. Satan is methodical.  2. We are to stand against his methods.

‘Wiles’: (G3180 Meth-od-i-ah) is a compound of Meta G3326 meaning about/proximity and Hod-yoo-o G3593 meaning journey/travel. Our adversary has a way or method of going about things. Temptations, deceit, intimidation, threats, fear, doubt are typical methods used to demoralise, manipulate and paralyse us from serving our Master; refer to 2 Kings 18 and read of Rabshekah who absolutely typifies Satan’s tactics and behaviour towards the children of God. (Hezekiah began to get serious about God; the Jews were revived and returned to the Lord and the enemy did not like it and therefore tried to put the Jews down again. If we enter the battle, I suppose, Satan will be ready to put us down again. Hezekiah stood fast in the face of Tartan, Rabsaris and Rabshekah and spread the matter with all of its threats before the Lord and the Lord was faithful). May God give us more grace to be patient when we are tried or afflicted.

This description in 2 Kings 18 reminds us of 1 Peter 5:8 how our adversary ‘walketh about’. While the enemy is moving we are to be standing. Because the enemy seeks prey we are to be sober and vigilant; we are to resist him steadfast in faith. Our warfare is assured of victory the reason for our having the armour of our Lord’s presence upon us is ‘that ye may be able’. The implication is that when we are clothed upon with God we are able to stand against Satan’s methods. Fanny Crosby must have understood this when she penned: “I must have the Saviour with me, for I dare not go alone”. The success of our resistance to the enemy is directly proportional to our surrender to the Lord. The more we surrender to God the more God will do with us and through us. May the Lord bless these thoughts to our hearts for his great names sake.

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