I exhort you to get your Bible down from the shelf this week and take a half hour or so to actually look up the Scripture passages which will help you to comprehend fully one of the most important passages of the many letters of St. Paul to the earliest groups of Christians. It begins, Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (verse 11). This is very much like what Paul wrote to the Romans, Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep….the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light... (Romans 13:11,12).
Verse 12 of Ephesians 6 is a long one, and properly so, because it gives us the view of reality foundational to our lives as Christians in this world, the reality of which Jesus Himself was continually making His disciples aware (for example, see Matthew 16:17 and John 12:31). Colossians 1:13 and Ephesians 1:21, 2:2, and 3:10 also give us glimpses of the real existence of powers, rulers, authorities and principalities in heavenly places beyond the “flesh and blood” of our limited sensory experiences of the world we live in at the moment. Pondering these things makes us more fully aware, gives us insight into why it is so important to be nourished by the Lord’s flesh and blood: we very much need spiritual strengthening for the battles we wage against evil on a daily basis, in all of our little and large choices. Often, it is the little things that are the big things, when it comes to just how we choose to do what love asks of us in the midst of the nitty-gritty of life.
Keeping in mind the great promise found in James 4:7, Resist the devil and he will flee from you, we take seriously Paul’s encouragements in verses 14-17 concerning the protective armor with which we must be dressed: truth protecting our lower regions; righteousness as a breastplate over our heart and lungs; the gospel of peace keeping our feet moving safely along paths where the Lord walks with us; faith shielding us from temptations and despair; and our knowledge of our salvation (we have been baptized and sealed with the Holy Spirit!) keeping our minds, like a helmet would protect our brains, from discouraging doubt. And notice the one offensive weapon we are to take up: the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Yes! This is the very reason why we are undertaking this study of Ephesians! It is meant to be a sword in our hands, helping us to fight and resist the devil when he oppresses us. This sword is the greatest weapon of the Church, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail (see Matthew 16:18).
In verses 18-20 the power of prayer is emphasized (Take heed, watch and pray, Jesus tells us in Mark 13:33). In another of Paul’s letters from prison, he says, Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice! Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7). Some other Scriptures which are well worth looking up are Luke 18:1; Colossians 1:3 and 4:2; and Romans 8:26-28.
Scriptures which pertain particularly to verses 19 and 20 are Colossians 4:3; and II Corinthians 3:12, 5:20 and 6:11.
Blessings on your study this week, JC