Key text: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:10-11).
Lesson objective: To understand that believers are not left defenseless in this world against attacks from evil and hostile spiritual forces, but that every believer is commanded to wage spiritual warfare dressed in full spiritual battle attire.
Introduction:The free world is continually at war against hostile forces seeking political power and even world domination. Freedom-fighting forces are on search and destroy missions in order to curtail and squash the best-laid plans of dictators and terrorist organizations. But where one enemy outpost is crushed in one part of the world, behold, another lifts its ugly head in another. It’s like firefighters chasing arson fires all over the city — as soon as they put one fire out, three more rise up. Of course, freedom-fighting forces could just give up and say: it’s not worth it! However, the consequences would be more horrendous than the present solution! It would be like the fire department saying: let the arsonists have their way and let the whole city burn down!
To prevent the forces of chaos from reigning, nations need military power capable of defense and offense. A state of readiness, with the best technology available in strategic weapons, makes for a good strike force at a moment’s notice. Although our technology is new, the lessons of readiness are as old as Rome! The ancient world depended on it for its survival! Rome had conquered the world of its time by this very method. It took five years just to train one Roman legion in the logistics and art of war. No wonder Rome ruled the world!
Paul was a prisoner in Rome when he penned Ephesians, and he was accustomed to being chained to Roman soldiers. He even converted some of them to Christ! Paul knew of a greater battle taking place, not in the battlefield of flesh and blood but in the spiritual realm of evil adversaries (6:10-12). This is the most dangerous and deadliest battle of all. It’s a fight to the finish with the believer standing on solid ground, but on the edge of the slippery slope of temptation’s beckoning. Christians must hold their ground and not give an inch!
The good news is that the war was won at the cross of Calvary. But that does not mean that believers are completely out of harm’s way — the battles must still be fought. Believers have every assurance that they will prevail, but at the same time believers are warned that they still have a fierce fight on their hands!
Paul, Christ’s ambassador in chains, gives a stern warning and an imperative to put on the panoply of God (vv. 13-17). Panoply (Gr. panoplian) refers to the whole or complete battle dress, including every piece of armor that goes with it — the whole outfit! Paul had seen the Roman soldiers dressed in their full battle gear as they guarded him. If this was true in the material world, how much more important is a constant state of readiness in the spiritual world! Every believer, in order to be spiritually effective, must put on the complete outfit of spiritual armor that God has provided. Christians are to be dressed and constantly vigilant with truth, righteousness, gospel, faith, salvation and the word of God. With the full armor of God we are to hold our ground, defeat the evil spiritual forces of the enemy, and watch and pray (vv. 18-24). Amen.
Questions for Bible Study
Read the following verses and respond to the questions:
1. Ephesians 6:10-17
a. What imperative does Paul give in bringing his letter to a close? v. 1. What “mighty power” is Paul referring to? See 1:19-20.
b. How is one made “strong in the Lord”? v. 11a. What does Paul mean by “the full armor”? Consult the introduction of this lesson. Why does Paul give such a command to believers? v. 11b. See 4:26-27.
c. What reminder does Paul give of the kind of war being waged? v. 12a. Compare with 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.
d. Who are the true adversaries of every believer? v. 12b-d. How many of them are named, and where do they dwell? See 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2; Colossians 1:13; 2:15.
e. What does Paul emphasize for a second time? v. 13a. In preparation for what? v. 13b. With what outcome for the well-equipped believer? v. 13c, d.
f. What imperative to resist does Paul give? v. 14a. Identify and define the first piece of spiritual armor mentioned. v. 14b. Why does Paul compare this spiritual virtue with that part of the Roman uniform?
g. Identify and define the second piece of spiritual armor. v. 14c. Why the comparison with that specific Roman soldier’s item?
h. Identify and define the third piece of spiritual armor. v. 15. See Romans 10:15. Why the comparison with military footwear? What does Paul mean by the gospel of “peace”? See Ephesians 2:14-18.
i. Identify and define the fourth piece of spiritual armor. v. 16. Explain how this item was used in battle as described in the verse. In what ways it is analogous to faith?
j. What is the fifth piece of spiritual armor? v. 17a. Explain the comparison.
k. Identify the sixth piece of spiritual armor and explain the comparison. v. 17b, c.
2. Ephesians 6:18-24
a. Although it has no counterpart in the Roman soldier’s armor, what seventh “strategic weapon” does Paul mention? v. 18a. How and when is this to be done? Explain its importance.
b. What two requests does Paul make of believers? v. 18b. Why?
c. What does Paul ask for himself? v. 19. Why do you think he would ask for such a thing when he is in prison? Note: Paul is about to go before Caesar Nero and hopes to find there a great opportunity to witness for Christ, even at the risk of his own life! See 2 Timothy 4:16-18.
d. What kind of ambassador is Paul? v. 20. Explain the main thrust of his ministry. See 2 Corinthians 5:18-21.
e. Who is Tychicus, and what is his commission? vv. 21-22. See Colossians 4:7-9.
f. What three elements are included in Paul’s closing benediction? v. 23. Explain the importance of each one.
g. What other element is included here? v. 24. Who are the recipients of these blessings?
Respond to the following questions:
1. Now that you have studied Paul’s Ephesians letter, if you were asked to explain the “mystery of the gospel,” what would you say?
2. There are some “Christians” who see a devil in every corner and in every human problem. Their solution is to go from house to house practicing exorcisms everywhere they go. Do you believe that this is what Paul means by resisting evil spiritual forces?
3. There are other “Christians” who believe that the devil and his cohorts are nonexistent, and that devils, witches and occultic phenomena are nothing but old superstitions that have no part in reality. Do you believe that Paul is using superstition to scare naive believers into doing what’s right?
4. Sometimes Christians are so busy analyzing supernatural adversaries that they forget to focus on the spiritual full armor of God. Does God’s armor work? How do you know — have you tried it? Explain by personal results.
God has provided his church with an invincible spiritual armor. All we have to do is put it on and use it! God’s divine purpose is to gather all things under the headship of Jesus Christ. May we believers be the first in line to his glory! Amen.
Author: Lorenzo Arroyo