Ephesians 6:13-17; The belt and breastplate of God’s armor.

Class Outline:

Thursday April 21, 2022


The purpose of the armor of God is the same as God’s strength in us, to stand firm. Four times in this passage does Paul tell us to stand. This fourfold emphasis on the need to stand or withstand shows that the apostle’s concern is for Christian stability. Wobbly Christians who have no firm foothold in Christ are an easy prey for the devil.


A Puritan minister by the name of William Gurnall wrote a treatise call The Christian in Complete Armor. It covers these eleven verses only, but is three volumes and 1,492 pages in length. (no, I haven’t read it). In it he writes, “In heaven we shall appear not in armor but in robes of glory; but here they (the pieces of armor) are to be worn night and day; we must walk, work, and sleep in them, or else we are not true soldiers of Christ.” He continues to write that in this armor we are to stand and watch, and never relax our vigilance, for “the saint’s sleeping time is Satan’s tempting time; every fly dares venture to creep on a sleeping lion.” He goes on to evidence Sampson’s hair being cut by Delilah.


The pieces of the armor all refer to a gift given by God: truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, and the word of God. Every believer possesses these gifts, and no one possesses them more than another. However, possession of them without living in and through them, meaning, putting them actually into practice, will not enable us to stand firm against the enemy who is the devil and his dark army.


It cannot be emphasized too much that it is the application of the things mentioned that constitute being armored with God’s armor.


Also, as we saw last time, the actual pieces of human armor that Paul uses are metaphorical and should not be over emphasized. Evidence for this is that Paul doesn’t use the same language in referring to the armor of God in other passages. What Paul most likely has in mind is us being fully armored, whether it is in a reference to the breastplate and helmet only, or the armor is described with the one word “light.” Still, here in EPH 6:10-20, six spiritual gifts from God are highlighted: truth, divine righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, and the word of God empowered by the Holy Spirit. The meaning of the passage would not have been all that different if Paul said put on truth, righteousness, etc. without connection to the armor imagery. However, he didn’t use the imagery just to be poetic. This passage is obviously an appeal for human action.


So then, while we don’t get over-analytical with the pieces of armor listed, we also do not forget that we are to be what the image of the soldier reveals here - strong, ready, tense for battle, resolute. With an enemy, the devil and his angels, so powerful and having almost endless opportunities to assail us, it should not surprise us that we will find ourselves falling into different kinds of despair and melancholy about life; confused and without energy; wanting of true value and vigor for something important. It will be a fight some days to gain a level of contentment or even a modicum of peace. We must fight the good fight so that we don’t loose our stance as soldiers for Christ who are resolute and ready for any battle.


“He [soldier of EPH 6:10-20] stands before us an image of resolute conviction, of a mind made up.” [Findlay, The Epistle to the Ephesians]


EPH 6:10-14

Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,


The pieces of the armor in EPH 6:13-17.


Truth - know, believe, and readily apply all revealed truth.


Righteousness - living righteously or practical sanctification.


The truth is a gift from God. God gives truth to us and we are to learn and apply it to life.


The entire epistle is pervaded by the sense of the church’s need for intellectual conviction of the truth. Those to whom Paul writes were of the very beginning of the church, not having yet had a great deal of exposure to the truth, and they needed comprehension and conviction.


In the Greek, truth doesn’t have an article, so some commentators interpret it to mean truth inside of us or honesty as opposed to “the truth.” I doubt that we have to choose between these two possibilities. It would be incongruous for us to think that a believer had a firm grip on the truth but was actually dishonest within himself. He or she would have fooled us and been like the devil rather than like Christ.


Faith needs the truth as water needs soil to feed a garden.


COL 2:1-3

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf, and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.


Without the firm soil of truth, faith comes and goes with emotional swings and sentiments. Faith must have truth to look upon day after day, and more and more truth as times goes on through reading, listening, and study.


The faith of the religious pagan, of the progressive world saver and justice warrior, of the intellectual is constantly changing because they have no bedrock of truth. They have faith in one way of utopia and when that fails, they put their faith in another way of utopia. They have faith in global warming and they scrap that for faith in climate change. They have faith in Marxism and they scrap that for faith in socialism or nationalism. If a group of so-called Christians changed their faith to salvation by works, they would find few followers. Christians who know the truth, don’t often change it to accommodate the change in winds. We are not to be children tossed here and there by every wave.


The truth is that there are things in this world, material things; money, power, the beauty of nature, a love relationship, that will make us content for a time, but nothing here can fill us to the brim. As J.R.R. Tolkien put it, the reason is that our joy lies “beyond the walls of this world.” Our hearts are restless until they rest in God. Our only peace and fulfillment are found when we are united with God and that only happens through Jesus Christ and there is a truth to that that is as unchangeable as God Himself.


As a belt, truth girds the soldier for action. “Gird up your loins” means to prepare for action.


Righteousness is a gift from God. It is God’s very righteousness and it was given to us by means of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross where He wiped away the wrath of God from us. If you do not adore this gift then you should know that you must. That will only come from learning the truth about the matter.


Righteousness covers the broad category of doing right and practicing justice. It is a righteousness of standing and character.


Righteousness and faithfulness are the descriptions of the belt of the Messiah in ISA 11:5. We don’t have to really postulate how these relate to the truth, for the truth is obviously connected to both of them. If we don’t know from the truth what God’s righteousness really is, then we are hopeless to practice it. Faithfulness is loyalty and obedience, which is righteousness in practice, especially when there is great temptation to not be faithful. Doing right and practice justice has its different nuances in different areas. What does doing right, according to God’s definition, look like as a parent, a child, a member of the church, a worker, student, boss, teacher, authority in the state (police or government or soldier), community, etc.? All of us will find ourselves entering areas we’ve never been in before, like getting married, having children, starting a new job, joining a new church, and we are required to do what is right within them, and that, by God’s standards.


The believer has a righteous standing before God and so he lives his life based upon it. It is antithetical to life to stand righteous before your King and then run off and do unrighteous things. Not that we’re sinless, nor is any servant. But the faithful steward, if you remember, is faithful even when the master is away.


The breastplate in 1TH 5:8 is “faith and love,” and the helmet - hope. Faith, hope, and love.


1TH 5:8

But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.


The breastplate is also a reference to our righteous standing before God as it wards off Satan’s scheme of bringing up old sins, challenge God’s forgiveness, etc.


Satan is an accuser. Greek diabolos means slanderer. He accuses the brethren day and night (REV 12:10). But if we didn’t know we were being accused of anything, there would not be any need for us to claim righteousness in order to stand. We don’t know how, but somehow the failures and sins of the past, the poor performances, the lackluster efforts, all rush at our memories from time and time, and along with them, the question of complete forgiveness and perfect standing before God. To these our faith turns to that wonderful pronunciation from our Father over the empty tomb of His Son - “You are righteous before Me and I call you justified forever. Be free.” There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (ROM 8:1).