Ephesians 6, penned by the Apostle Paul, offers Christians a vivid imagery that encapsulates the spiritual defense against the enemy: the Armor of God. Amid the real challenges posed by the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil, Paul emphasizes the necessity of spiritual preparedness, using the metaphor of a Roman soldier’s armor to impart wisdom on navigating spiritual warfare.
Are There 6 or 7 Pieces of the Armor of God?
According to Ephesians 6 in the Bible, there are six pieces of the Armor of God:
- Belt of Truth (Ephesians 6:14a)
- Breastplate of Righteousness (Ephesians 6:14b)
- Shoes of the Gospel of Peace (Ephesians 6:15)
- Shield of Faith (Ephesians 6:16)
- Helmet of Salvation (Ephesians 6:17a)
- Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17b)
It’s worth noting that while there are six distinct pieces mentioned, Paul also emphasizes prayer (Ephesians 6:18) as an essential aspect of spiritual warfare, though it isn’t listed as a piece of the armor itself.
What Does the Bible Say about the Armor of God?
Paul’s audience in Ephesus would have been familiar with the Roman soldier – a symbol of might and order in the ancient world. By paralleling this imagery with the spiritual defenses available to believers, Paul made his teachings palpable.
- Belt of Truth (Ephesians 6:14a): Just as a soldier’s belt holds the rest of his gear in place, truth grounds believers. It centers the Christian life, keeping one anchored amidst the deceptions and falsehoods propagated by the father of lies.
- Breastplate of Righteousness (Ephesians 6:14b): A breastplate protects a soldier’s heart and other vital organs. For Christians, righteousness – especially that of Jesus – acts as this protection, shielding the heart from the moral assaults and accusations of the enemy.
- Shoes of the Gospel of Peace (Ephesians 6:15): On rough terrains, a soldier’s shoes keep him agile. Paul encourages believers to wear the “readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” It signifies being prepared to disseminate the good news and walk in the ways of peace.
- Shield of Faith (Ephesians 6:16): Able to extinguish the flaming darts, a Roman shield offers extensive protection. In spiritual warfare, faith acts similarly, quenching the fiery darts of doubt, fear, and temptation.
- Helmet of Salvation (Ephesians 6:17a): Protecting the head, a crucial part of the body, the helmet symbolizes the salvation believers have received. This knowledge guards their minds against spiritual discouragement and despair.
- Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17b): Unique in being both defensive and offensive, this sword represents the Word of God. It provides discernment and is a powerful tool against the spiritual world’s deceptions.
Beyond the Armor: The Power of Prayer
In Ephesians 6:18, Paul extends his metaphor, urging believers to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers. Prayer isn’t just another piece of armor; it’s the force that empowers the armor and strengthens the believer, providing direct communion with God.
How Do You Put on the Armor of God?
It’s not enough to know what the pieces of the Armor of God are. We are called to “put on” the armor. We are called to “wear the Armor of God”. But how do we “Wear the Armor of God?”
In this next section, we will go through the practical ways that we can “put on” God’s armor:
- Belt of Truth: This signifies embracing the truth of God’s Word and rejecting lies and deception. To “put it on” means to ground oneself in the truth of the gospel and to live a life of honesty and integrity.
- Breastplate of Righteousness: Righteousness here refers to the righteousness of Christ imputed to believers. Putting on this breastplate involves daily living in a way that reflects Christ’s righteousness, resisting sin, and seeking to live a holy life.
- Shoes of the Gospel of Peace: This involves being prepared to both live by the gospel and share it with others. Being ready to offer the message of peace and reconciliation to those who are lost is a significant part of this.
- Shield of Faith: Faith is trust in God’s promises and His character. To lift this shield means to actively trust God in all circumstances, using one’s faith to ward off doubts and fears that might arise from life’s challenges.
- Helmet of Salvation: This represents the assurance of salvation. To wear it is to constantly remind oneself of God’s saving grace, keeping one’s thoughts focused on the eternal hope and not getting discouraged by temporal troubles.
- Sword of the Spirit: This is the Word of God. Using it involves regular reading, meditation, and application of the Scriptures. It’s not just about knowing the Bible but actively using it in one’s life, both for personal edification and when confronting challenges to one’s faith.
In addition to these pieces of armor, Prayer (Ephesians 6:18) is emphasized as crucial. It’s the means of communication with God, seeking His guidance, strength, and wisdom in all things.
When discussing the Armor of God, scholars often stress the significance of cherishing the gospel truths represented by each piece and seeking the Holy Spirit’s power in applying them. For us, true protection in spiritual warfare comes not just from knowing or acknowledging these truths but from deeply valuing and delighting in them.
In conclusion, to “put on the armor of God” is to actively and continually cultivate a heart and mind that values, trusts, and applies the truths of the gospel in daily life. It’s a conscious effort to live out one’s faith, relying on God’s strength and guidance.
Confronting the Real Adversaries
Paul’s call to wear the full armor of God is rooted in the recognition of the real adversaries: rulers, authorities, powers of this dark world, and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12). These forces seek to undermine the believer’s faith, making the armor not only symbolic but also essential for every Christian.
The Armor of God, as elucidated in Ephesians 6, is more than a set of protective tools. It’s a lifestyle, a daily commitment to embracing truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God. As believers equip themselves with this armor, they find themselves well-prepared to face any spiritual challenge, standing firm in their faith.