Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.
Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.
- Paul tells the Ephesians to be strong in the Lord.
- The Ephesians were to be strong in the Lord’s strength.
- The Ephesians were to put on the entire armor of God.
- The reason for putting on the Armor of God was to:
- Withstand the schemes of Satan.
- Withstand the evil day
- Stand firm.
- Paul and the Ephesians were not fighting a physical battle.
- They were fighting again the rulers over the present darkness.
- They were fighting cosmic powers.
- They were fighting evil spiritual forces that were in heavenly places.
- The armor of God is:
- The good news of peace
- Word of God and prayer
- Paul uses individual infantry soldier weaponry clothing to describe the virtues of the Ephesians were of have.
- The good news of peace
- Word of God and prayer
- The Ephesians were to pray at all times.
- The Ephesians were to pray with prayer and supplication.
- The Ephesians were to keep alert with perseverance.
- The Ephesians were to make supplication for the saints.
- The Ephesians were to make supplication for Paul.
- The Ephesians were to ask that words to proclaim the gospel were to be given to Paul.
- The Ephesians were to ask that that Paul be given words to boldly proclaim the mystery of the gospel.
- The gospel is mysterious.
- Paul was an ambassador for the gospel.
- Paul was an ambassador in chains.
- Paul ought to speak boldly about the gospel.
- Paul sent Tychicus to the Ephesians so they would know how he was doing.
- Tychicus was Paul’s beloved brother.
- Tychicus was a faithful minister.
- Tychicus would tell the Ephesians everything about Paul.
- Paul sent Tychicus to the Ephesians for the purpose of him telling them everything about Paul.
- Paul sent Tychicus to Ephesians to encourage the Ephesians.
- Paul sent blessings of peace.
- Paul sent blessings of love and faith from God the Father and Christ Jesus
- Paul sent blessing of grace to everyone who loves Jesus with a love that is pure.
Paul is concluding his letter to the Ephesians. And as such he wants to conclude with an encouragement. He tries to help the Ephesians keep their struggle in perspective. He reminds them that, while they may struggle, they are not fighting a physical fight. Their enemy is not the rulers of Roman or their region. Their enemy is a spiritual enemy. The redeemed of all ages are engaged in that same battle. Since our battle is not a physical one rather a spiritual one our weaponry is different than the soldiers of Roman or the United States or Britain or any other country. Our weaponry is truth, righteousness, readiness given by the gospel, faith, salvation, the Spirit or word of God, and prayer.
Paul then goes on and asks the Ephesian to use these weapons in battle by praying for him. Paul’s mission of Christ was to proclaim the gospel to everyone he met anywhere he met them. So he asked the Ephesians to go into battle with him by praying that not only he but all the saints would be strengthened. The task was to proclaim the gospel. Paul wanted to know what to say. He wanted to speak it clearly and boldly.
The military has a term for something that increases the power of a unit. It is a, “force multiplier” Paul knew that when he proclaimed the gospel he would be more effective if he had a force multiplier, the prayers of the saints in Ephesus. Therefore, he asked them to pray for him that he would know what to say, that he would say it clearly and say it boldly.
As a soldier fighting a spiritual battle, Paul could still fight even though he was physically in chains and prison.
There is much that we can and should be upset with today. As such we may feel justified in taking up arms against evil governments. As examples, in the United State well over a million people are murdered every year by abortionist. They are protected and subsidized by the government. This is genocide unequaled in human history. Around the world Christian are murdered simply for being Christians are a rate of 5 per minute. Compare this to the early church. The estimated number of Christian martyrs in the early church varies widely. In the limited research I have done the numbers range from 3000 to 120,000 of Christians martyred from the time of Christ to 313, when Christianity was legalized. For the sake of argument let’s use the larger number. 120,000 Christians were martyred in 300 years. If we look at the 20th century approximately 45,500,000* Christians were martyred in only 100 years. So in one third less time over 379 times more Christians were martyred for their faith.
The statistics may and should anger us. They may even motivate us to pick up arms to “defend the faith.” But Paul says here we are not fighting flesh and blood. Our weapons are not swords, guns, knives and bombs. Our weapons are faith, prayer, the word of God, righteousness, truth, the gospel of peace, and salvation.
There may be those who say, “So you are saying we do nothing!” If that is your take away, then you do not understand the power of God. Those who think I am advocating inaction do not understand the power of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Preach it and proclaim it always and everywhere. That and that alone is what required of us. That and that alone is we should be doing.
We should not be surprised at persecution. We should expect it. We should even rejoice in it. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12). In 1 John 3:16 “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”
This is not always easy to remember. As the saying goes, when you are waist deep in alligators it is easy to forget you mission is to drain the swamp. Do not become distracted from the mission. The battle is not against flesh and blood but against cosmic power over this present darkness.
*Source World Christian Trend AD 30 – AD 2200 by David Barrett and Todd Johnson. http://www.gordonconwell.edu/resources/documents/WCT_Martyrs_Extract.pdf