Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 6:14-17

στῆτε οὖν περιζωσάμενοι τὴν ὀσφὺν ὑμῶν ἐν ἀληθείᾳ καὶ ἐνδυσάμενοι τὸν θώρακα τῆς δικαιοσύνης καὶ ὑποδησάμενοι τοὺς πόδας ἐν ἑτοιμασίᾳ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου τῆς εἰρήνης, ἐν πᾶσιν ἀναλαβόντες τὸν θυρεὸν τῆς πίστεως, ἐν ᾧ δυνήσεσθε πάντα τὰ βέλη τοῦ πονηροῦ τὰ πεπυρωμένα σβέσαι· καὶ τὴν περικεφαλαίαν τοῦ σωτηρίου δέξασθε καὶ τὴν μάχαιραν τοῦ πνεύματος, ὅ ἐστιν ῥῆμα θεοῦ. Therefore, stand, girding your waste with truth and putting on the breastplate of righteousness and putting on the feet with a readiness of the gospel of peace, in all taking up the shield of faith, in which you will be able all the arrows of the evil one which burn to quench; and the helmet of salvation take and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

After having commanded his readers and listeners to resist and stand by taking up the full armor of God, Paul now defines the armor itself. He concludes, “Therefore, stand . . .” But how is one to stand? First, by girding the waist with truth. This participle, περιζωσάμενοι, “by girding,” involves one’s preparation. The Christian soldiers prepare themselves with the truth. Second, by putting on the breastplate of righteousness. One needs to have protective body armor in order to stand. Third, by putting on the feet with the readiness of the gospel of peace. Again, we have this idea of preparation, that the feet are to be prepared with the gospel of peace. The gospel, good news, forms the source of the preparation, and the content of the good news is peace. Fourth, by taking up the shield of faith along with truth, righteousness, and the gospel of peace. This shield will enable the Christian to extinguish all of the burning arrows being shot at them by the evil one. Furthermore, Paul instructs them to take hold of two pieces of equipment, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. Not only are they to stand by equipping themselves with truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, and faith, but they are also to receive salvation and the word of God. The sword of the Spirit is the word of God. This word, μάχαιραν, “sword,” refers to a short sword. In this instance, it highlights the power of the Spirit, which is defined as the word of God. God’s word is powerful, and it is one of the tools supplied in the armor. Christians receive salvation and the word of God as part of their armor.

Note the textual variant here. In τὰ βέλη τοῦ πονηροῦ τὰ πεπυρωμένα, the second τὰ is absent from several key witnesses (Papyrus 46, B, F, G, and the original hand of D). However, the rest of the witnesses include it (such as א, A, 33, 1739, the second corrector of D, and the majority text). Furthermore, if the article is omitted, then the following participle must be translated like a predicate adjective (“the arrows are burning”). It is most likely that the original text included the article and later scribes accidentally omitted it. Since its inclusion has early support, although not the earliest, and fairly wide support, and because the text makes no sense without it, we should include it as the best candidate for the original text. By including it, we translate the following participle as an attributive adjective (“the burning arrows”).

Therefore, stand by girding up your wast with truth, by putting on the breastplate of righteousness, by putting on your feet with a readiness of the gospel of peace, with all these things by taking up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to extinguish all the burning arrows of the evil one; and receive the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

When the devil is bearing down on you, will you be prepared? Will you be able to stand against the devil’s onslaught? God has provided all that we need to withstand the devil. Truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the word of God are all provided by the Lord so that we will be able to stand victoriously. But are we tapping into the very power of God by utilizing these resources? And not simply one resource, but we need them all. We are to put on the full armor of God, not part of it, and not most of it, but all of it. We need every part of God’s provision in order to be victorious. We cannot stand unless we are fully equipped. A football player who has all of his gear but forgot his cleats at home will not be able to win. He will not be able to stand his ground, his feet will be open to injury, he will not be able to sprint, and he will not be able to keep traction. By forgetting one small piece of his equipment, he effectively places himself into a losing position. If we want to beat the devil when he comes to attack us, we will have to be equipped with everything God has meant for us to have. God desires for us to win and he does not want us to be in a losing position, which is why he has provided all that we need in order to stand against the devil.

Aside from the need for the full armor of God, note the use of the short sword. It may have been a defensive tool primarily, but it was still used for offense. And we have all heard the saying, “A good defense is a good offense.” In what sense can the word of God be an offensive tool that we use as a defensive weapon? By learning the word of God, we are taking an offensive posture. By studying the word of God, we further equip ourselves in an active way for the purpose of being able to defend ourselves from the devil. Jesus was able to quote Deuteronomy to fight off the devil. Learning Scripture is an offensive, active tactic for being able to stand one’s ground defensively against the devil. It is absolutely vital that we learn Scripture by studying and memorizing it. Without it, we will fall, for we need the full armor of God. We might know the truth, we might be righteous as God declares us righteous, we might know and live out the gospel of peace, we might have faith, and we may be saved, but if we are not studying the word of God, we will not be able to stand. After all, it was Scripture that Jesus–Truth, the righteous one, the one who brought peace, the faithful one, the author of salvation–used to fight the devil.

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