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.
Understanding And Applying the Text
Paul wants to conclude with encouragement. He wants 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 Rome or their region. Their enemy is a spiritual enemy. The redeemed of all ages engage in that same battle. Our battle is not physical, but spiritual. Our weapons differ from those of Rome, the United States, Britain, and other countries. Our weapons are powerful. They are truth, righteousness, faith, salvation, the Spirit, God’s word, and prayer.
Paul asks the Ephesians to use these weapons by praying for him. Paul’s mission was to proclaim the gospel of Christ to everyone he met anywhere he met them. He asked the Ephesians to pray for him and the saints that God strengthen them. Paul’s task was to proclaim the gospel. Paul wanted to know what to say. He wanted to speak in clear bold language.
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. That force multiplier was the prayers of the saints in Ephesus. So, he asked them to pray for him. Pray that he would know what to say. And that he would say it clear bold language.
Although Paul was imprisoned, he could still fight as a spiritual soldier.
There is much that can and should upset us today. As such we may feel justified in taking up arms against evil governments. For example, in the United States abortionists murder people every day. Trans-sexual activities mutilate children to further a sexual ideology. The government protects and celebrates them. The government subsidizes their evil actions. This is genocide unequaled in human history. Around the world Christians are murdered 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. The numbers of Christian martyrs range from 3000 to 120,000 the resurrection to 313. That was when Rome legalized Christianity. 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 almost 380 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 takeaway, 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 God requires of us. That and that alone is what we should be doing.
Persecution should not surprise us. 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 your mission is to drain the swamp. Do not become distracted from the mission. The battle is not against flesh and blood. It is 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