Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Ephesians 6:14 - 6:20

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Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Ephesians 6:14 - 6:20

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

The individual pieces of the armor and their use:

v. 14. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness,

v. 15. and your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace;

v. 16. above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the Wicked.

v. 17. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God;

v. 18. praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints

v. 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,

v. 20. for which I am an ambassador in bonds; that there in I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

The battle of the Christians is not only a matter of having all the pieces of the divine panoply on and in their proper place, but also of making the proper use of them for defense and offense. The apostle addresses the warriors of the Lord: Stand, then, having girded your loins with truth. As soldiers that are ready to meet the onslaught of the enemy they shall stand upright, firm. Just as the ancient soldier held his clothes together about his loins with a girdle, in order to prevent their hindering his free use of his limbs, so the Christian, the soldier of God, puts on the girdle of truth, of moral purity, of the righteousness of life. Only he that is a Christian in deed and in truth will engage in the battle with all seriousness; only he will gather up the matters of every-day life and hold them together without hypocrisy, lest he be hindered in the great battle. As the soldiers of old wore a heavy breastplate to secure the chest with its vital organs against any disabling wound, so the Christians wear the breastplate of the righteousness of life, that they may do no one any wrong, but rather may be desirous of serving all and doing good, lest someone accuse their conscience that they have not lived righteously. Truth, righteousness, the free and open confession of the Gospel, these three things make a Christian ready for the warfare against the spirits of darkness. And another necessary point is not forgotten: And having shod your feet with the preparedness of the Gospel of peace. As the military sandal protected the feet of the ancient soldier against the rough spots in the road, and made it possible for him to move forward with a quick and certain step, so the Christians should always be ready and prepared to proclaim the Gospel of salvation in Christ. See Isa_52:7. In the midst of the fierce battle in which he is engaged, the Christian has peace with God, and is able to impart this peace to others as well. Rom_5:1. And this very message with which they have been entrusted gives to the Christians all the more cheerful courage for the continuation of the fight which Satan is waging for the possession of his soul.

The parts of the panoply mentioned till now are those of the protective armor, which here come into consideration only as they shelter the person of the individual Christian. But God's armor includes also weapons of defense and of offense: in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith, with which you are able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the Evil One. Just as the warrior of old used a large shield to cover his whole person, to render him safe especially against the arrows and darts which the enemies might shoot, so saving faith in Christ Jesus as the Savior of the world renders the believer secure against all the fiery darts of the devil. The ancients sometimes made use of arrows and small spears that were impregnated with pitch or some other inflammatory material, set on fire before they were discharged, and inflicting ugly wounds. Thus the temptations of Satan will greatly harm the Christian in his faith and spiritual life, unless he meets them with the calm assurance of the forgiveness of sins through the mercy of God in Jesus Christ. Against this certainty all the ammunition of the devil is unable to make any headway.

And finally the apostle writes: And the helmet of salvation take, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. With the helmet the ancient soldier protected his head against cuts and strokes from above, while he, in turn, made use of a sword to thrust at the enemy and conquer him. The Christian has received from God the helmet of salvation, the certainty of final deliverance, the hope and expectation of the future life which is above in heaven, for whose sake we believe in Christ and suffer everything, without which we could not endure the strokes which are aimed at our head and are intended to take away our life. And with the sword of the Holy Spirit, with the Word of God, the Christians can overcome and definitely conquer all the spirits of evil. As Luther writes: "Here it is not enough that we defend ourselves against the devil with faith and hope as our shield and helmet, but we must also draw the sword and go for him with such insistence that he must fall back and flee, and we thus obtain the victory over him. " Since the Word of God is this weapon, it behooves us to make use of it at all times and to this end become acquainted with it both by means of public preaching and by earnest Bible study at home. Cursory reading must be supplemented by careful memorizing of proof-texts and strong passages. Only in this way shall we be able to make the proper use of the Word of God as a true weapon of offense at all times.

The apostle now adds a few words of prayer and intercession, with special reference to his own case: With all prayer and supplication praying at all times in the Spirit, and watching thereto in all perseverance and supplication, for all saints. Prayer also belongs to the armor of the Christians as a very essential part, since it accompanies all their doings. They are in constant communication with God, in petition, praise, giving of thanks. They have not only their own needs in mind, but make supplication for others as well. They pray not only in times of great crises in their lives, but at all times, being always in the fellowship of prayer with the Lord. In the Spirit they pray, for He it is that gives them power and guides their unlearned tongue to utter such words as will express their needs. Therefore the Christians are also constantly alert and vigilant; they do not permit a single opportunity to go by which might be a special hint to them to bring matters to the attention of the heavenly Father. Their supplication thus becomes an intercession as a matter of fact; they pray for all the saints, they remember all the believers in their daily prayer, especially in the Lord's Prayer. They are persevering in their supplications, importuning the Lord with their ceaseless crying, as Jesus Himself taught them, Luk_11:5-13; Luk_18:1-8. Prayer and supplication map not be a lost art in many parts of the Christian Church, but it certainly seems to be lacking in fervor and in confident trust, to judge by the results.

Paul asks the prayers of the Ephesian Christians also for himself: And for me, that to me may be given utterance in opening my mouth, in boldness to make known the mystery of the Gospel, in behalf of which I am an ambassador in a chain, that in it I may speak boldly, as it is my duty to speak. Paul wanted the Christians to intercede for him that he might be given the right word at the right time, Mat_10:19, that he might open his mouth with all frankness, without fear of unpleasant consequences. For his one object was to make known the mystery of the Gospel, whose frank proclamation indeed calls for courage such as man cannot give to himself. In the interest, in the service of this Gospel he was a prisoner; but even in prison or as a prisoner he wished for opportunity to preach the Gospel committed to him, since he felt that obligation resting upon him, 1Co_9:16. It was not only the fact that he must speak, but especially the manner how he was to speak that concerned the apostle. Although he was an ambassador in chains, yet he felt the need of representing his Lord worthily: surely a shining example for all ministers of the Gospel.