The Lord tells His people to put on the WHOLE armor of God, not just their favorite pieces. When reviewing this command, it is essential to understand each piece and its purpose; both in the spirit world and why Paul chose to use it for his model. In Ephesians 6:11, Paul tells the believer to put on the whole armor of God so that we can stand against the wiles of the devil. Then in verse 12, he gives us a picture of what is really going on in the spirit realm and the hierarchy of the enemy. Verse 13 simply goes back to his warning of why the believer should don this protection. This verse is basically a re-word of verse 11 which makes it very important. The pieces of armor are laid out in verses 14-17.
The following will give each piece a definition, its use, and its model as seen through the eyes of Paul, the Roman.
Affectionately called the “Belt of Truth”, Paul says to “stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth”. A person’s waist is the fulcrum point of the body. You may say it is their center. This said, our focal point or center of balance should be Truth. Since Jesus is the Truth, He needs to be the focal point or center of balance of the life of the believer. The allusion to “having your loins girt about with truth” is akin to putting on a belt. Paul’s allusion is to the Roman soldier putting on the belt they used for war. It was a very wide belt made of leather that was tied in several places so as to be secure. It had many loops to hold the machaira, scabbard, darts, ropes, and a rations sack.
In the same verse, Paul speaks of “the breastplate of righteousness”. The breastplate would cover the heart. Jesus’ righteousness covers our heart. Paul’s allusion to the Roman soldier allows the believer to see the importance of the real thing. The breastplate of the Roman soldier attached to the belt for security during battle. The bronze breastplate was first introduced by the Greeks. The Romans used it and latched it together with their back plate with leather straps. When the breastplate and the belt worked in unison, the soldier was fully protected for his vital organs. It is interesting that truth and righteousness work together in Christ the same way.
The feet were “shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace”. The only way to get the word out in their day was to go by foot. Paul was telling the believer to prepare to go with not just the gospel, but with the gospel of peace. Paul’s allusion to the Roman soldier shows the importance of the sandals they wore. On the bottom of the soldier’s sandals were metal tacks or cleats. This allowed them to stand firm when fighting. Do we stand firm when sharing the gospel?
The “shield of faith” is designed to “quench the fiery darts”. The believer’s faith is their shield. Believing that God says what He means and means what He says through His promises is only done by faith. Paul’s allusion to the shield is quite unique. The Roman soldier’s shield was about six feet tall and about two feet wide. On either side of the shield were hooks that allowed each soldier to hook to the soldier on either side of them during battle. This made a steel wall when marching. Combine this wall with the soldier’s sandals that were more stable with the cleats, and you have an impenetrable wall that moved in the direction needed while not allowing anyone or anything through.
The “helmet of salvation” is to protect your mind. Satan will attack the believer’s mind because he cannot get to their heart. Your salvation is his reminder that his attacks are useless. Paul’s allusion to the helmet of the Roman soldier was unlike those of the fighting forces around them. The Roman’s helmets had visors, chin straps, and came down to cover the back of their neck. The inside was lined with leather and the outer material was bronze casque for the soldier and iron alloy for the officers.
The “sword of the spirit” is the Word of God. God’s Word is sharper than any two-edged sword. While Peter wanted to use his sword, Jesus used His own and won. Paul’s allusion to the Roman soldier’s sword is fascinating. In Hebrews 4:12, the word used for sword is machaira. This is the sword invented by the Romans. Swords to this point were long and ornate. While these swords of old allowed the soldier to stand back and fight, the Romans machaira allowed them to get in close and fight while doing more damage to their enemy, quicker. The machaira was about 18 inches in length while the average sword was about 4 to 6 feet in length. The Romans perfected hand to hand combat by inventing the machaira. Paul’s allusion here is amazing in that if the believer wants to use God’s Word, aka the sword, they have to get in close. The believer has a better chance of leading someone to Christ if they can get in close rather stay at a distance.
Paul ends the armor with prayer in verse 18. It is not only fitting but necessary. We can put on all the armor we want to. However, if we fail to communicate with the one who represents the armor, it is useless and just extra weight. Amen!