In the Bible, there is the instruction to “put on the full armor of God.”
To the casual reader, this might seem like a call to arms or a provocation for military action.
Yet I don’t see this as a militant statement, but merely a memory aid to help people remember key items needed to prevail in spiritual conflict, namely: truth, righteousness, sharing the gospel, faith, salvation, and the word of God (the only offensive tool of the group).
Paul, in Ephesians 6:11-17, seems to be painting a word picture using the soldier of the day (which readers would have been most familiar with) connecting his essential gear with these key spiritual elements. Then, to recall Paul’s list of six items, readers needed only to envision a soldier in uniform and associate each spiritual element with its physical counterpart. For example:
- Belt: truth
- Breastplate: righteousness (that is, right living)
- Shoes: a readiness to share the gospel of peace
- Shield: faith
- Helmet: salvation
- Sword: the word of God (the spoken word of God)
It’s not about a physical fight (which many people have missed throughout the ages), but instead a spiritual conflict for which followers of Jesus must be prepared to engage in using: truth, righteousness, sharing the gospel, faith, salvation, and the Bible. This is what is meant by the metaphor of the armor of God.