If someone were to ask you what Ephesians was about how would you respond?
Ch 1 is the glorious inheritance we, the saints, have in Jesus
Ch 2 explains how we get these spiritual blessing and what the Church is
Ch 3 is expounding Ch 1 and 2 where he explains how Jew and Gentile are brought into the Church
Ch 4 is how both parties are being brought together in unity by the HS
Ch 5 (and the first part of 6) is living out all that Jesus has done for us in unity and love in the church, family, and employment
Now, what do y’all think this last bit of ch 6 is about?
Its always struck me odd how Paul suddenly shifts gears to discuss Satan right at the end of the letter; a letter all about Christ no less;
I believe Ch 6 is about how we use the immeasurable riches Jesus brought us to defend ourselves (and our joy) in God in the midst of temptation or spiritual attack. It is not directly about Satan, and his tactics, but rather Christ and His (and now our) riches.
So with that view in mind, I hope to show it to you as we go through the text. So let\’s start:
What\’s it mean to “be strong in the Lord”?
To continually trust/obey even when you don’t desire to.
Are we strong in Him under our own power?
No. “..in the strength and power of His might”. Let\’s talk about His might for a minute.
How are we to be strong/continually obey Him?
Obviously by putting on the “whole armor of God”, we’ll get to what that means in a minute. But turn to 2 Corinthians 12:9 for me.
2 Corinthians 12:9
Given this verse, I present the question again how are we to be strong in the Lord?
By being weak. If we have any shot of fighting/gaining victory over Satan and temptation it must be by your weakness “for then you are most strong”. We are at our weakest when we think ourselves most strong/when we are most prideful of ourselves. But we are strongest when at our weakness for then we are brought to our knees to reliance on God.
How reliable and how grant are you resources in God to live for Him?
Flip to Ephesians 2:7.
The immeasurable riches of His grace are shown to you by God, in kindness, to make you strong; to make you endure in the faith.
So all that said, we will first examine who and why we are fighting then we will examine our armory.
Look at Eph 6:12
So who is NOT our enemy?
Flesh and blood. Literally, ordinary man.
So who IS our enemy?
Spiritual forces of wickedness. Literally, created spiritual forces of the air; as Paul wrote in 2:1-3.
Look at 6:13.
Briefly its worth noting that our translators could have said, “take up all the armor given to you by God so that you have the ability to resist/withstand the darkness of the night of the last days…” to contrast the truth/light of God and the darkness/evil of these spiritual forces. But anyhow,
For what reason are we to have our armor?
To stand/resist evil in these end times.
So now that we know our enemy and why we should “take up” the armor; let\’s examine the armor itself.
So what is this “whole armor of God”? Whats Paul referencing?
The Roman soldier and his armor? Are you sure about that?
Turn to Isaiah 11:5.
What do we have here?
The belt of truth. But that only one piece of armor right, Im just crazy.
Turn to Isaiah 59:17.
What pieces of armor do we have here?
Breastplate of righteousness and the helmet of salvation.
Here we have 2 pieces of the armor; not all of it, so maybe I’m just crazy right?
Turn to Isaiah 52:7.
What do we have here?
Feet made ready by the good news/salvation.
What are we missing the shield of faith and sword of the Spirit?
The shield of faith can be found commonly in the OT see Genesis 15:1, Proverbs 30:5, Psalm 91:4-5.
And the Sword of the Spirit can be found in Isaiah 49:2.
(In order of Study:
Isaiah 52:7 – Shoes
Isaiah 59:17 – Breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of Salvation
Isaiah 49:2 – Sword of Spirit
Isaiah 11:5 – Belt of truth
Genesis 15:1, 5 – Shield of Faith)
Now, I ask again, do you think Paul is referring to the roman solider in Eph 6?
If you are still unconvinced, turn to Eph 3:1. Paul writes, “For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for [or of] Christ Jesus…” While Paul was indeed a prisoner of Roman at this time he did not ultimately consider himself a prisoner of Roman but rather Jesus. It would seem Paul is more heavenly minded (particularly in this letter) than one might think. Moreover, this is not the first time Paul has referenced Isaiah in this letter (Eph 5:14).
Furthermore, I don\’t know if y’all had this same thought when reading Ephesians but it has always struck me odd of Paul to suddenly shift gears to write on Satan after he’s spoken of Christ for the past 6(ish) chapters. I believe he did not suddenly change gears at all, but rather changed his mode of language to explain Jesus Christ further; satan is more of a side-character than a main focus of Paul in tonight passage.
If you still remain unconvinced then so be it. I understand I\’m giving y’all a minority report on this passage; but I hope to further expound, and therefore convince you, on my reasoning as we go along and you’ll see why I think the way I do.
We’re gonna go out of order than what Paul wrote;
first, turn to Isaiah 52:7 again.
So what piece of the armor are we talking about here?
“the readiness (literally the foundation) given by the gospel of peace”.
What does Paul mean when he says “gospel of peace”?
Literally, he means the good news of peace/the ending of the war between man and God through what God has done on man’s behalf.
Which is what?
God sending Jesus to take the wrath of our sin upon Himself.
Most preachers, when speaking of the “gospel of peace” in Eph 6 will relate it to the great commission.
Which is what?
“GO…” when all of our passage tonight is about “stand/withstand” NOT “going” at all.
While in the application of Isaiah 52:7 would relate to the great commission; it does not directly relate to it in content.
With that said, who brought us the “good news of happiness”? Jesus.
Talk to me about this “good news of happiness”. We just covered, and have been covering, what the gospel is, but how is the gospel a message of happiness?
The good news is that salvation and peace have been brought to us but a sovereign/(as Isaiah puts it) reigning God who fought for us even while we were against Him to bring us back to Him through the perfect peace offering of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.
Let\’s dig deeper into that: How does Jesus Christ, and all that He did/is doing, cause us to be happy?
I’ve implicitly taught the idea of John Piper’s “Christian Hedonism” to y’all but today I finally have a really good text to teach it explicitly. The idea to Christian Hedonism is this: God is most honored/glorified when we are most satisfied/happy in Him. Christ didn’t die so that we would be saved and drudgingly walk through the rest of our earthly existence miserable in life with God but that we would live happily in holiness with Him now to eternity. When Paul reference this passage in Ephesians; I believe Paul is teaching that one of the best defends against Satan is a satisfaction in God and all that He is for us. These “immeasurable riches” that He gave us, as a child’s inheritance, are but a means to an end of being happy/joyful in Him. We don’t enjoy Him for the gifts He gives (mainly defense against Satan) but the gifts are given so that we can protect our relationship, and our enjoyment thereof, with Him.
IE the gospel brings us a joyful eternal salvation tonight Paul is showing the arms by which we defend our joy in God.
Turn to Isaiah 59:17.
Talk to me about this “breastplate of righteousness”. What is righteousness?
Right, proper, justified stating with God.
And how is righteousness attained?
Through Jesus. When the Sinner is saved Christ indwells within the now believer and God now sees and treats you as the son that you now are. It is His righteousness that brought you and keeps you.
So what’s a breastplate’s function?
To protect the body/vital organs; namely the heart.
So why is this apart of the believer’s armor? What\’s the connection between the protection of the heart and righteousness?
As David wrote, “Create in me a clean/pure heart, O God…” (Psalms 51:10). The heart is the root of our life. If our heart is pure/clean/devoted to God then all else will naturally fall in line with our heart. If we guard/protect our heart then our devotion to God is likewise protected.
“helmet of salvation”
So what does a helmet do? What’s its function?
Protect the head from a present or forthcoming attack
Ok, so “helmet of salvation” in what way does salvation help to protect the body? What do y’all think that means?
(Keep in mind every single piece of our armor is Christ Himself.)
Salvation is 3-fold. We have been saved; we are being saved and will be saved.
The past, we’re saved from the penalty of sin;
the present, we’re saved from the power of sin;
in the future, we will be saved from the presence of sin. This helmet is a defense against doubt from past, present sin and against future sin.
What a sword primarily used for?
Offense, tho it can be used for defense as well. This is the only piece of armor we have that is offensive.
So if the sword of the HS is the word of God, how then am I to use the word as an offensive weapon?
It\’s not so much merely having a bible but rather knowing it in the head and heart. “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (PS 119).
In temptation, we rely on its promises such as:
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, 2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him.
25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. 27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.
2 Peter 1:3-11
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
All of these promises come from God/His word; therefore we trust/have faith that we can rely on them in the midst of battle because the Lord is not a lair and will fulfill His promises.
So in our armor where would our sword be located on our person?
The belt. From this, we can infer that the Sword/Word is truth.
What is a belt used for?
To hold the gear. The truth binds our armor all together.
The belt of truth also comes from Isaiah. In Isaiah 11, God’s people, Israel, had turned their back on the light and chosen to live in darkness, spurning the Lord’s revelation. Yet God promised he would send a messianic figure from the line of David to deliver them. This coming King would wear righteousness as a belt around his waist and “faithfulness” as a belt around his loins (Isaiah 11:5).
The Greek translation of the Old Testament uses the same Greek word (aletheia) for faithfulness in Isaiah 11 that Paul uses in Ephesians 6, where our English versions translate it as truth. This messianic King will save his people and bring in the final blessing of peace — a peace that extends throughout creation (Isaiah 11:6–9). (The toxic effects of the fall, brought about by the first Adam listening to Satan’s lies, would be reversed by this second Adam and heir of the line of David, whose foundational qualities are truth and faithfulness.)
So according to 15:1, what/who is our shield?
In what way it God a “shield” to us?
In Ephesians, Paul is not saying that faith in itself has remarkable defensive power against Satan. Rather, he is saying that faith protects us from Satan’s attacks because faith takes hold of the power and protection of God himself.
Throughout the Old Testament, it is God, not faith, that is repeatedly described as our shield as we just saw in Genesis 15:1. In Ephesians, Paul is teaching us that faith becomes our shield in Paul’s imagery because it is the means by which we flee to God for refuge.
I quick note on this text in Genesis; I just wanted to read y’all one of my favorite passages in Isaiah that talks about God protecting, shielding, His ppl. (Kelsey toward the beginning of the summer you, in effect, asked on “Perseverance of the Saints” I submit to you the stars as proof of this doctrine of our’s).
Isaiah 40:25-26 Star On Top Left Hand
““To whom will you compare me, or who is my equal?” asks the Holy One. Look up and see! Who created these? He brings out the stars by number; he calls all of them by name. Because of his great power and strength, not one of them is missing.”
So given all of this, what does it mean that when Paul writes for us to “take up the whole armor of God”?
I think he’s saying to put on/take up Jesus. And that He is our defense against Satan/temptation.
We take up Jesus are His word, and His word is truth (John 17)
We take up Jesus\’ righteousness by His perfect life and death; His righteousness is our’s now
We take up the gospel of peace given to us/made ready for us by Jesus. He is our solid rock/ground on which we stand.
We take up the shield of faith/the faith, the will to trust provided to us by Jesus to defend our joy in God.
This is the main point of our passage tonight: to take all of Christ Himself into battle with us; to us, He is not only Lord and Savior but Fellow soldier and friend to us in the fight.
So how do y’all think Paul gained his “boldness” to preach the gospel?
Prayer. Definitely prayer.
What sort of things did he pray for?
All the Saints.
Here we have a brief lesson on the believers’ prayer life:
1 “all prayer and supplication” focuses on the variety.
2 “at all times” focus on the frequency
3 \”in the HS” focus on the submission to God
4 “keep alert” focuses on the intensely
5 “all perseverance” focuses on the persistence.
Y’all remind me, what is “the mystery of the gospel”?
That even the gentiles are apart of the Church. (Eph 3:6)
Tychicus was a convert from Asia Minor who was with Paul during his 1st imprisonment. it’s unclear if Tychicus was a faithful preacher of the gospel or merely a faithful helping hand to Paul in his trails. Either way, it is no small thing to have the Apostle speak so highly of this fella.
6:23 & 24
Here at the closing of the letter, we have a beautiful benediction that sums up the major themes of this personal letter; reminding the reader of the peace, life, and faith from God and Jesus.
I have a quick observation to share:
Flip to 1:1 & 2.
What do y’all notice in the start and end of this letter? What’s a major point of contrast between the two?
Grace to you and peace from God…
Grace be with all who love our Lord…
Paul, in essence, is saying that His letter/words are a form of God’s grace to His fellow believers. May our words be likewise to our fellow kin.