GNB 2.87

April 14, 2023


Therefore, put on the full armor of God. In so doing you will be able to stand your ground when the day of evil comes. After you have done everything you are able to in that day, you will be able to stand [before the throne of God with humble confidence.]” (Ephesians 6.13)

Stand firm then [strong in the Lord and in His mighty power- re. verse 10], with the belt of truth buckled around your waist and with the breastplate of righteousness in splendid array, and with your feet fitted with the readiness of 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 up the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which are the Word of God.” (Ephesians 6.16 italicized)


Yesterday and the day before I proposed for our “reflecting minds” that putting on the whole armor of God is the same as taking up the armament of God. Whereas the first three articles Paul speaks of (belt, breastplate and shoes) identify the clothing aspect and are akin to that which the priest would wear, the second three articles show the crossover of being a mighty warrior in the priesthood of all believers (shield, helmet, sword). I said yesterday we may be better able to grasp this image if we align the two lists in this way:

Belt of Truth with Shield of Faith;

Breastplate of Righteousness with Helmet of Salvation; and,

Sandals of Peace with Sword of the Spirit… which is “The Word of God.”

As we read the text from Paul’s letter to the Ephesian community of faith in Jesus as the Christ, we will see that the “helmet of salvation” and the “sword of the Spirit” are linked together with the phrase “which are (is) the Word of God.” The phrase “Word of God” was not intended to encapsulate the totality of scripture as we have it today. In truth, when Paul wrote this letter (and yes, I grant it is under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit), there wasn’t even a New Testament collection of writings. The gospels had not be written (which would mean, as I have called it, The Gospel of the Church: The Acts of the Apostles would be included among them). Most all the letters of Paul, Peter, James and John had not been written. And especially the Book of Revelation had not been written. All that was available was the Torah, the works of the Prophets and an oral tradition of the teachings of Jesus which the followers remembered and shared with any who would listen. Indeed, “the Word of God,” would have been the gospel message itself and the related affirming prophecies from the ancient Jewish writings as well as the work inspired by the Holy Spirit within the community of faith, the Church. In summation, “the Word of God was the inspired and prophetic revelations concerning Jesus who is the Christ as it relates to: salvation and sanctification. There is little wonder why the work of the early Church community and its leadership were seen as “threats” politically and religiously to that which existed in the world. Their work, and their “word,” was transformative far more than informative, transitional far more than institutional and definitive rather than merely subjective. Putting on the whole armor of God signified that the bearer was, in fact, prepared to “go into all the world and make disciples of all nations teaching them all that Jesus had said and done and with baptism bringing them into the community of faith where the unity and harmony of salvation and righteousness was most visible as the Kingdom of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

Linking the helmet and sword as “the Word of God” does not diminish or set aside the “shield of faith” as vital necessities for making disciples. It is as integral as it is to understand the linking of “sandals, or appropriate battle shoes,” and the gospel of peace. To go without one piece of the armor/armament of God would be like what happened to Achilles of Greek mythology. While he was “covered” head to toe by being “dunked” by his mother as an infant in the River Styx to protect him from harm should it arise, he was not fully protected. She had held on to his heel, or rather by the tendon just above the heel at the back of the ankle, to do so. This was his vulnerability and ultimately his downfall. So, too, then the disciple makers and prayer warriors of the Christ community of faith should not go out with less than being immersed, and well versed, in the full armor of God. To the world they are, we are, the representatives of the purpose of God on earth as we are in Heaven. We are meant to carry the truth about God’s desire, compassion and means of bringing His people under His wing. First, by His expression of presence. Second, by our expression of choice. And what then of the “sandals” as battle shoes of peace? Well, the scriptural affirmation is from Isaiah 52.7 (Paul quotes it in Romans 10.15) “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” The concept Paul brings to mind for the Ephesians is to “stand their ground.” A Roman soldier puts on what amounts to “snow chains” over his shoes except it is for digging in to the ground. Having done so, the shield and helmet and sword become fixed so that there is no retreat on their part; only that of the enemy. Are we fixed and fitted as the “mighty ones of God”? Are we ready to, as Paul declared, “stand when it is time to stand”? And isn’t that time now? We will be judged by man and God for our readiness, our preparedness and our response to the challenge presented by enemy. Do we know the truth to defend it and to defend with it? Do we know the presence of the Spirit in our heart, mind and soul bringing unity to the whole body, company and community? Do we gird ourselves with the choice of faithfulness and steadfastness to the cause and the call? Does the world know us? Does the world know Christ because of us? Will we eliminate the excuse the world will offer that “they never heard and never knew” when Jesus comes? And if we have done our task well, then the excuses are eliminated highlighting their fateful choice to disavow knowledge, align with the lie and suffer the fierce judgment of God whose desire all along was to love them and call them His own for all eternity. This is what stands among us, with us and before us!


O God, You have clothed us and fitted us to be Your people in the world. From the provision of sheep skins in the Garden to cover our “shame” to the blessing of the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room to declare Your “claim,” we are ready to enter into the world and let Your Will not ours be known. May it be so today in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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