College & Career Class Lesson Summary, July 7, 2019
Sunday we finished Ephesians, believe it or not. We examined the remaining portions of chapter 6 and closed our lesson with a quick video of an animated summary of the entire letter. (Video is from The Bible Project and link will be below).
Paul opened the letter to the Ephesians with a reminder of their inclusion in the family of God, by their faith, and knowing that their lives is under constant attack by spiritual wickedness in high places (especially considering the pagan culture they came out of), Paul closes by equipping them with the necessary means to withstand the advances of this wickedness. He uses the imagery of military armor to describe how we ought to be prepared to face wickedness.
Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 6:12 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. 6:13 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. 6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 6:15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Notice in this section that Paul is not telling the Ephesians to make their best effort to stand or to try to stand, but Paul is writing to them that they stand. However, this standing firm isn’t something that the Ephesians are muster of themselves, but Paul says that their standing is in the strength of the Lord and the power of His might. It has already been declared in this letter to the Ephesians that Jesus Christ as resurrected to life and has therefore exerted His dominance over the principalities and powers that govern spiritual darkness.
Ephesians 1:19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 1:20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 1:21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 1:22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
To the Colossians, Paul writes of Christ,
Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
Colossians 2:15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
Therefore, knowing that Christ stands victorious over this evil, these Ephesians can stand in the power of His might and in so doing, they adorn the armor of God. This armor has a two fold purpose: resistance and proclamation.
We see resistance in the admonition to stand/withstand by arming ourselves with truth, righteousness, faith, salvation, the Spirit and the Word of God. We also see proclamation in having ourselves prepared with the gospel of peace. When thinking about this armor, we shouldn’t get too far into nailing down the details of the armor itself (as it is used allegorically for the real armor). However, it is interesting to think about the armor pieces and how they might relate to the individual aspects of what it is protecting. The spiritual world fights with spiritual warfare and therefore physical armor doesn’t do any good, hence why Paul isn’t using spiritual armor to depict a physical armor we are to adorn.
Girdle of Truth
A girdle is essentially a belt that would be used to cinch down one’s loose clothing in order to make it more feasible to accomplish tasks in life (i.e. going to battle). It is essentially what wraps the clothes and holds it together. In a spiritual sense, what is to wrap us together and hold us together is truth. In John 14:6, we have Christ proclaiming that He is the Truth. This is going to be the common theme of our armor – Christ. As Christ stands in victory, we are to stand in Him as HE is our armor.
Breastplate of Righteousness
This was a central piece of armor that essentially served to protect against the vital organs. A believer has some vital organs as well and although the actual breastplate wouldn’t cover all of these, it is the idea of a breastplate we are focused on. Paul shows a believer to have 3 major organs – the mind, the heart and the bowels. The mind is where discernment is made. The heart is where discernment is cemented/internalized (believed). (Romans 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.) The bowels is where mercy and compassion reside. (In those days, the seat of compassion wasn’t one’s heart, as we talk about it today, but was the bowels. The word that bowels comes from is the same word we get spleen from. The spleen is a filter of blood to keep blood clean. The believer’s bowels (mercy and compassion) is where we filter out the bad in order to promote the good and thereby, we keep our bond of peace in-tact.)
Colossians 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 3:14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
Righteousness is the armor of our minds, hearts and bowels. Jesus Christ is righteousness. When prophesying about Christ, Jeremiah wrote,
Jeremiah 23:5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
Shield of Faith
As the enemy’s assault can vary, the shield is something that you can wield and move around where necessary. For the believer, faith is what is our shield. When the enemies of Christ fire spiritual attacks against us, it isn’t our personal resolve that allows us to overcome their advances, but it is the fact that their artillery cannot penetrate a shield of faith. The onslaught can be overwhelming, yet standing in Christ allows us to be shielded by our faith in Him.
Helmet of Salvation
Salvation is not just the deliverance from calamity, but can also describe what you are delivered unto. Our salvation is not just deliverance from sin, but is deliverance unto the realm of God’s grace–a gift of eternal life whereby our life is truly abundant, in Him. The helmet covers the head for without the head, the body can do nothing. The head governs the entire body’s decisions, actions and movements. The believer’s helmet is of salvation — that salvation governs our decisions, actions and movements. In other words, our battlefield tactics in withstanding the fiery darts of the wicked are all a product of our salvation’s influence. It is poor tactics to make decisions apart from the salvation reality the believer enjoys. This means that all we have in Christ needs to be meditated on and at the forefront of our minds.
Sword of the Spirit
Some might conclude that this is an offensive weapon only, but it would only be if used offensively. However, one can arm themselves with a gun and only use it when defending themselves. The gun is not, by necessity, a weapon of offense. Therefore, this piece can serve both offensive and defensive purposes. The sword of the Spirit is called the Word of God. We have discussed this before on this site, but the Word of God is Jesus Christ Himself. The scriptures are very clear that Word of God is one of the names of Christ. The scriptures were inspired of God to be the record of how He brought mankind into existence and then how He rescued them through Christ. But, Paul is not talking about thumping the Bible here as the sword of the Spirit. This is holding to the message of God, Jesus Christ. From an offensive perspective, the Spirit will use the message of God to accomplish His purpose. This corresponds with having our shoes shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. As the Prince of Peace came into this world and through the death of Himself, He broke down the middle wall of partition between the peoples of the earth, and thereby making peace (Ephesians 2:14-15). As Jesus Christ came into the world and defeated the powers of darkness, we are to be prepared with this gospel to rescue others out of their clutches. Jesus Christ does the justifying of those of faith, but by our sharing of the gospel of peace, (Jesus Christ, the Word of God), the Spirit can go on the offensive to draw back those whom Satan has taken captive at his will.
Our spiritual fight, as we wrestle not with flesh and blood, is a fight of truth, righteousness, faith and salvation. Yet, are we to simply show up to the front lines? Is simply putting on this armor enough to prepare us for spiritual warfare?
Ephesians 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 6:19 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, 6:20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Without being too dogmatic about the word ‘routine’, it is similar to those who have a workout regiment daily in order to be accustomed to heightened levels of physical activity. Professional ball players usually have such routines in order to make sure when they take the field, they are strong enough and not going to get winded from running, and so on. For the believer, our preparation is through prayer. I struggle to call this a routine because I don’t want to give the impression that we are treating prayer as a check box on any given day’s list of tasks. Prayer is not a routine, from that perspective. However, to be “in shape” to not only bear the armor, but to be able to withstand attack, prayer is vital to the believer as it keeps the believer calm and at peace, experiencing the presence of God. Our perseverance on the battlefield can be greatly enhanced by our perseverance of prayer. And, we should also note that this isn’t just prayer for self, but prayer for our fellow believers as they are taking their stand against wickedness as well.
Ephesians 6:21 But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things: 6:22 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts. 6:23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 6:24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.
Tychicus was the letter-bearer to the saints at Ephesus. There is more to share of what Paul is going through that is not written in the letter, but Tychicus would take care to fill the Ephesians in. And, just as Paul opened the letter with grace and peace, Paul closes the letter in the same.
Here is the link to the summary of the letter to the Ephesians. I encourage you to watch it. I’ll be working on a summary booklet for the letter in the meantime.