The Provision: The Armor of God
Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm (6:11a)
In order to take advantage of the strength of God’s might, a believer must also put on the full spiritual armor that He supplies (cf. 2 Cor. 10:3–5). Enduō (put on) carries the idea of once and for all, of permanence. The full armor of God is not something to be put on and taken off occasionally but is something to be put on permanently. It is not a uniform to wear only while playing a game and then to remove when the game is over. The armor of God is to be the Christian’s lifelong companion. It provides believers with divine power from “Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” (Jude 24).
Paul was probably chained to a Roman soldier when he penned the words of Ephesians, and looking at the soldier’s armor, he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to see in it the analogy of God’s spiritual provision for our battle with Satan and his angels (vv. 14–17). As the apostle explains in those verses, the believer’s armor equips him beyond the initial facts of the gospel. It is living the obedient, Scripture-dominated, Spirit-empowered life that enables us to stand firm.
To stand firm (from histēmi), when used in a military sense, had the idea of holding a critical position while under attack. The intent of the exhortation here is not unlike that of our Lord to the embattled church at Thyatira, whom He commanded, “hold fast until I come” (Rev. 2:25).
The Enemy: Satan
against the schemes of the devil. (6:11b)
The enemy against which we need God’s strength and armor is Satan, the devil. Because he is God’s enemy, he is our enemy, and the only way he can attack God is through us. We can therefore be sure that he will seek us out and attack us with his schemes.
Methodia (schemes), from which comes the English method, carries the idea of craftiness, cunning, and deception (see also 4:14). The term was often used of a wild animal who cunningly stalked and then unexpectedly pounced on its prey. Satan’s evil schemes are built around stealth and deception.
In modern times a strange phenomenon exists. Along with increased disbelief even in the existence of the devil there is also increased demonic/occultic involvement—both of which play into Satan’s hands.
Scripture is clear about Satan’s very real and personal existence. He was once the chief angel, the anointed cherub, the star of the morning, who sparkled with all the jewels of created beauty—until he rebelled against his Creator and tried to usurp His power and glory (see Isa. 14:12–17; Ezek. 28:1–10; Rev. 12:7–9). He first appears in Scripture in the form of a serpent, as he tempted Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:1). Jesus not only spoke about Satan (Luke 10:18; John 8:44; 12:31) but spoke with him (Matt. 4:3–10). Paul, Peter, James, John, and the writer of Hebrews all speak of him as a personal being (Rom. 16:20; 2 Cor. 2:11; 1 Thess. 2:18; Heb. 2:14; James 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:8; Rev. 12:9). We see him opposing God’s work (Zech. 3:1), perverting God’s Word (Matt. 4:6), hindering God’s servant (1 Thess. 2:18), hindering the gospel (2 Cor. 4:4), snaring the wicked (1 Tim. 3:7), appearing as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14), and fighting with the archangel Michael (Jude 9). He brought sin into the world and the whole world now lies in his power (1 John 5:19).
The Bible refers to the devil by such personal names and descriptions as “the anointed cherub” (Ezek. 28:14), “the ruler of demons” (Luke 11:15), “the ruler of this world” (John 16:11), “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2), and numerous others. He is identified as the great dragon, a roaring lion, the vile one, the tempter, the accuser, and the spirit working in the sons of disobedience. Fifty-two times he is called Satan, which means “adversary,” and thirty-five times the devil, which means “slanderer.” This fallen archangel and his fallen angels who became demons have been tempting and corrupting mankind since the Fall. They are an evil, formidable, cunning, powerful, and invisible foe against whom no human being in his own power and resources is a match.
Evidence of Satan’s great power and deception can be seen in the fact that, despite God’s miraculous deliverance of Israel from Egypt, His immeasurable blessings, protection, and provisions in the wilderness and in Canaan, His chosen people repeatedly fell for Satan’s seductions, worshiping the hideous and demonic idols of paganism. After all of the predictions of the Messiah given in the Old Testament and after Jesus’ preaching, teaching, and miraculous healings, Satan managed to induce Israel to reject and crucify her own Messiah! In the last days his final deception of Israel will be to persuade her that the antichrist is instead the Christ (see Dan. 9:26–27).
In our own day the world is rushing to accept such demonic deceptions as the woman’s liberation movement, which denies God’s order for the family; the new morality, which is no morality; and homosexuality, which is total perversion of sexuality. The proliferation of pagan and apostate Christian cults and religious/philosophical isms experienced by no other age in history reflects the work of “seducing spirits” and “the doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1). Even in the name of Christianity, Jesus’ deity, miracles, resurrection, atoning sacrifice, second coming, and judgment are denied. The church is being seduced away from Scripture by liberal theology, psychology, mysticism, and even the occult.
All of these things are but manifestations of the schemes of the devil against mankind. In every confusing and deceptive way he can devise “the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they may not believe and be saved” (Luke 8:12). On another occasion the Lord warned that “false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Matt. 24:24).
The schemes of the devil include the propagation of individual beliefs and life-styles that corrupt and damn. They include evil national and international policies and practices that deceive and destroy. They include the doubts placed in believers’ minds to lead them away from trust in their holy and loving Father. They include temptations of God’s children to immorality, worldliness, pride, self-reliance, and self-satisfaction. They include slander, ridicule, and persecution of His saints. The apostle John summarizes the attack points of the devil with the exhortation in his first epistle: “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world [Satan’s present domain], the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father” (1 John 2:15–16).
Our Spiritual Warfare
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. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Some time ago I came across the statement “A man never forgets his first girlfriend.” I do not know whether that is true or not—I suppose it is—but it is equally true, I am sure, that a preacher never forgets his first sermon.
I preached my first sermon when I was thirteen years old, and the text I preached on was the one to which I have now come in this verse-by-verse exposition of Ephesians. I preached that first sermon with visual aids. I played football at the time. So I brought my football equipment into the pulpit and held it up as I developed the parts of the sermon. When I talked about the “breastplate of righteousness” I held up my shoulder pads. When I talked about the “helmet of salvation” I held up my helmet. So it went through the other parts of the Christian soldier’s armor. I can visualize how that sermon went, because I had my notes taped to the back of the pieces of my uniform.
It has been almost thirty-five years since I preached that sermon, and in all those years I have preached on these great verses only one other time—in a special series of Sunday evening messages. That strikes me as unfortunate because it suggests that the warfare in which we are engaged as Christians is relatively unimportant, when actually the opposite is the case.
The opposite was obviously the case for Paul. These verses are the culmination of this book, and the point on which they end is that each Christian is engaged in a great spiritual battle and must equip himself for it.
Our Contemporary Problem
Many Christians today would judge the teaching of these verses unimportant. They would encourage us to think positively and peacefully, as if there were no spiritual battles at all. They see Christianity not as an entrance into warfare but as an exit from it. They see it as the solution to our problems. If you are sick, Jesus will make you well. If you are discouraged, Jesus will make you happy. You get the impression from those who talk like this that to believe in Jesus is to enter upon a smooth path and to enjoy smooth sailing.
Another approach to the Christian life does not so much deny the reality of spiritual warfare as insist that, although it exists, it is all over and done with in a certain sense. Watchman Nee’s study of Ephesians entitled Sit Walk Stand is an example of this. The title of that work is both an outline of Ephesians, as Nee sees it, and an expression of Nee’s theology of the Christian life. Christianity begins by sitting with Christ in the heavenly places (Eph. 2:6), that is, resting in Christ’s achievements. It continues by walking out the Christian life (Eph. 4:1, kjv), that is, living Christianity practically. Finally, it involves standing on ground Christ has already won for us (Eph. 6:11, 13–14). Nee emphasizes that, because of Christ’s victories, our warfare is always a defensive rather than offensive struggle.
There may be some truth in that. But what bothers me is that this thinking has been carried over into expressions of what it means to live the Christian life which suggest that there is nothing (or at least very little) for us to do as Christians. “Let go and let God,” some say. That is, the battle is not ours; it is God’s. So just let go; let God do the fighting. At the most, you need only stand your ground. It is true, of course, that Paul does use the word “stand.” He uses it four times. But when he speaks of our armor he speaks not only of defensive armor such as our helmet, breastplate, and shield, but also of our offensive weapon, our sword. And whether or not he is thinking of fighting offensively or defensively, he is thinking of fighting against the most powerful and cunning foes.
In my opinion the proper balance is struck in the first two verses, which contain two commands. First, “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (v. 10). Second, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (v. 11). We are reminded by this combination of commands that we are unequal to the battle. We have no strength; our strength must come from the Lord. Nevertheless, endued with his strength we are to fight these spiritual forces arrayed against us.
John R. W. Stott shows the inevitability of this struggle, given: (1) the purposes of God expounded in the first five chapters of Ephesians, and (2) the existence of a devil who is opposed to those purposes. Stott writes, “Is God’s plan to create a new society? Then they [the hostile spiritual forces] will do their utmost to destroy it. Has God through Jesus Christ broken down the walls dividing human beings of different races and cultures from each other? Then the devil through his emissaries will strive to rebuild them. Does God intend his reconciled and redeemed people to live together in harmony and purity? Then the powers of hell will scatter among them the seeds of discord and sin.”
As Stott shows, the very fact that Paul follows his beautiful and uplifting portrait of peaceful Christian homes and happy Christian relations (in Ephesians 5:22–6:9) with this stark description of warfare indicates that even these things will not be achieved without conflict. Clearly the victories of the Christian life are to be achieved by a relentless and lifelong struggle against evil. And even then they are realized only to the extent that we avail ourselves of God’s armor.
I love the way William Gurnall, that great seventeenth-century Puritan, approached it. He wrote a book of nearly 1,200 double-column pages (my edition), entitled The Christian in Complete Armour: A Treatise of the Saint’s War Against the Devil. But that is only the short title! It continues: “wherein a discovery is made of that grand enemy of God and his people—in his policies, power, seat of his empire, wickedness and chief design he hath against the saints—[and] a magazine [is] opened from whence the Christian is furnished with spiritual arms for the battle, helped on with his armour, and taught the use of his weapon, together with the happy issue of the whole war.”
In more recent days D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones has made a similar though not equally long attempt at exposition. He has published two books on these verses: The Christian Warfare, which contains twenty-six studies on verses 10–13, and The Christian Soldier, which contains twenty-six additional studies on the section as a whole.
Our Invisible Foe
When I approach these closing verses of Ephesians I think of the cartoon that was used on the record jacket of the hit Broadway musical My Fair Lady. If you think back to that musical and to the advertisements for it, you will recall the design in which a heavenly being (God, although he looked a great deal like George Bernard Shaw, the author of the play on which My Fair Lady was based) was controlling a puppet (who was Henry Higgins, the chief male character in the play) who, in turn, was controlling Eliza Doolittle (the chief female character). The point was that just as Higgins imagined himself to be manipulating Eliza, making her into the “fair lady” he saw her being, so also was God (or George Bernard Shaw) manipulating Higgins.
This is the kind of relationship the apostle Paul has in mind as he begins his description of the nature of the struggle that faces Christian people. He has told us to “be strong in the Lord” and to “put on the full armor of God.” Now he tells why this is necessary. He says, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (v. 12).
When Paul says that we do not struggle against flesh and blood he is not, in my opinion, denying that we do at times actually struggle on the human level. It is obvious that we do. He is saying that our struggle is not just on that level. We do have a physical, visible struggle. But over and above that, over and above what we see, there is an invisible spiritual struggle going on against the devil and his forces. We cannot see the devil or his legions. Yet, as Peter says, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). If we are to be successful in this battle, we must be alert to it and equipped to use the armor that is needed.
Right here we have something that sets Christianity off from the philosophies of our world. The world of our day is secular; that is, it operates only within the categories of this age. And it is materialistic, which means that it considers as real only what it can see or touch or measure. For our contemporaries the world is a closed system. That is why talk about the devil is hardly regarded as serious. People still talk about God, of course. He gets some respect out of deference to religious traditions. But the devil? “You can’t be serious! A little man in red underwear with a tail and horns? Is that your enemy? He and his little demons?” People laugh at any suggestion that our warfare is spiritual and, on a more serious note, accuse us of neglecting the real battle which in their opinion should be waged against such tangible things as poverty, oppression, hunger, and various forms of injustice.
We do not want to deny for an instant that those are real problems or that we should do all we can to alleviate or abolish them. But we ask: If the real problems of this world are merely material and visible, how is it that they have not been solved or eliminated long ago? Algernon Charles Swinburne called man “the master of things.” All right, then, let him master them! If he cannot—and it is perfectly evident he cannot—let him acknowledge that it is because forces stronger than himself stand behind what is visible. Let him acknowledge that our struggle is not merely against flesh and blood, which we see, but “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
I like the way Paul repeats the word “against” in this sentence. It is not the way one is supposed to write, of course. If one of our modern editors had gotten hold of Paul’s manuscript, I am sure he would have deleted the repetitions. He would have taken out three occurrences of “against,” so the sentence would read: “against the rulers, the authorities, the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (And there might even have been some additional shortening!)
But I think Paul knew exactly what he was doing when he repeated that word; and what is more to the point, I think the Holy Spirit had his own clear purpose when he directed the writing. It is a way of saying with emphasis that in the warfare in the Christian life Christians are really “up against it.” It is not just a string of things that we should be concerned about. There are enemies and we must fight against them. We must fight against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Our Field of Battle
How are we to understand the nouns that occur in this passage: rulers, authorities, powers, and forces? Some have taken them as if they are ranks in Satan’s army. At the bottom you have spiritual forces, mere demons. Over these are powers. Powers are governed by authorities, and above these are rulers. Presumably the devil is over all. Or they reverse it: first rulers, then authorities, followed by powers and forces. I do not think Paul is doing that. I think he is using terms which take the powers that are arrayed against us together. The distinction is not between the supposed levels of demonic authority but rather between the various areas of life over which they exert an evil influence.
When Paul talks about rulers, is it not the case that he is thinking about the devil’s control of certain regions? A ruler governs a certain territory, a certain portion of land. In human terms, one ruler presides over England, another over France, still another over the United States, and so on. Apparently, the demons also operate that way. In fact, they would have to because, unlike God, they are not omnipresent. That is, they are not everywhere at once as God is. They are finite creatures, though of great power; so they must be in one place or another. When Paul speaks of them as rulers he is probably thinking in this way, regionally. We know, of course, that in some areas of the world the power of Satan is very strong and obvious. In other places, particularly places where the gospel of Jesus Christ has gone, it is comparatively weaker.
What about authorities? Authority is not the same thing as rule. Mother Teresa exercised no physical rule, but she had great authority. Authority has to do with values. So when Paul speaks of authorities he is saying that the values of our culture, as well as specific territory, are demonically controlled. We need to see that the dominant values of our culture—the “me first” philosophy, pleasure for its own sake, materialism, and other things—are not Christian but are controlled and manipulated by Satan for his own base ends. We are to be at war against them.
Power concerns control. So the powers are those who control what people think and do. I relate this to the secular media, which control so much of our contemporary moral ethos. But not just the media! It also refers to powers that stand behind even these very powerful figures.
The final words make clear that Paul is not just thinking of particularly evil men and women, like Hitler, who somehow control others for their own dark designs. He is thinking rather of “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” The emphasis here is upon the evil of this spiritual control. It would be possible to have a holy, beneficent power. In fact, that power exists. It is the power of God in which the Christian is encouraged to be strengthened (v. 10). But the spiritual forces against which we struggle are not holy or beneficent. They are wicked and destructive.
The Christian’s warfare is not merely a struggle between truth and falsehood, good and evil, as most people would understand those comparisons. There is a philosophy of history that looks upon struggle between truth and falsehood as being essentially good since, so the thought goes, that is the way progress comes. Truth and error struggle, and truth wins. One philosopher wrote, “Who ever knew truth to be bested in a free and open encounter?” Similarly we are to suppose that good inevitably triumphs. But this is not the case. Truth is often bested. Evil does win. Error and evil will carry the world into a new dark age unless Christians stand firm.
Our Means of Success
But not in our own strength. Martin Luther had it right when he wrote in one of the best known of all hymns:
Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right man on our side,
The man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth his name,
From age to age the same,
And he must win the battle.
We will study precisely what that means in greater detail. But I am sure even at this point that you can see that everything that is given to us to make our victory possible is from Christ. Is it truth (v. 14)? He is the truth; he is the one who said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Is it righteousness (v. 14)? He is our righteousness. Paul writes, “Christ … has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30). Is it the gospel (v. 15)? The gospel is the gospel of Christ (Mark 1:1). Is it faith (v. 16)? It is faith in him (Gal. 2:20). Salvation (v. 17)? Christ is our salvation; he achieved it by his death on the cross (Acts 4:10–12). Even prayer is by the channel that he has opened up for us (Heb. 10:19–20).
Not one of us can stand against the spiritual forces of evil in our own strength—not even for a moment. But in Christ we can fight on to victory.
11. Put on the whole armour. God has furnished us with various defensive weapons, provided we do not indolently refuse what is offered. But we are almost all chargeable with carelessness and hesitation in using the offered grace; just as if a soldier, about to meet the enemy, should take his helmet, and neglect his shield. To correct this security, or, we should rather say, this indolence, Paul borrows a comparison from the military art, and bids us put on the whole armour of God. We ought to be prepared on all sides, so as to want nothing. The Lord offers to us arms for repelling every kind of attack. It remains for us to apply them to use, and not leave them hanging on the wall. To quicken our vigilance, he reminds us that we must not only engage in open warfare, but that we have a crafty and insidious foe to encounter, who frequently lies in ambush; for such is the import of the apostle’s phrase, the wiles (τὰς μεθοδείας) of the devil.
11 Paul follows with another imperative that explains how to be strengthened: “Put on” the complete armament that God supplies. Armament, or armor (panoplia, GK 4110), refers to the total equipment—offensive and defensive—that a heavily armed Roman infantryman wore. In its other NT use, the word probably refers to literal armor (Lk 11:22), but armor or weaponry as a metaphor also occurs elsewhere (Ro 13:12; using hopla, GK 3960, however). Parallels using soldiers’ equipment or weapons for their spiritual counterparts occur in other places as well (see, e.g., Isa 11:5; 59:17; Wis 5:17–21; Ro 13:12; 2 Co 6:7; 10:4; 1 Th 5:8). Perhaps the ubiquity of Roman soldiers in Paul’s world suggested its application, though the details are entirely biblical (so Perkins, 144). These soldiers were amply armored and, when working together, were virtually invincible in the first century AD. How obvious a parallel to God’s invincible resources for believers!
Paul explains the purpose of the divine armor for believers: so that together as the church they have the capacity to stand in the face of the devil’s schemes. The devil (diabolos, GK 1333) opposes God and the church as their chief adversary—a characterization used commonly in the NT (recall 4:27). Though the Greek word methodeias (GK 3497) can have a neutral meaning, “tactic” or “technique,” here it means “schemes” (NRSV, “wiles”) and conveys the sense of “deceitful craftiness”; it is the term Paul used earlier to describe those who seek to undermine the church’s unity (“scheming,” 4:14). No doubt the connection is intentional. Human schemes to divide and corrupt the church owe their ferocity and effectiveness to the devil’s behind-the-scenes stratagems. On such “wiles,” Chrysostom wrote, “The devil never openly lays temptation before us. He does not mention idolatry out loud. But by his stratagems he presents idolatrous choices to us, by persuasive words and by employing clever euphemisms” (cited in Edwards, 207–8). Satan will look for footholds wherever he can find them (cf. 4:27). Though he was defeated at the cross (Col 2:15), the battles still rage until God’s final victory. Only the armor God provides will enable the church to stand against this formidable onslaught. That the church too often falls prey to divisions and sins results from its failure to heed Paul’s call to arms.
11 To resist those forces their natural strength and resolution will not suffice. The “panoply of God,” spiritual armor, is necessary. The word “panoply,” which occurs several times in the Septuagint, is found once only in the NT outside our present passage—in the parable of the strong man armed in Luke 11:21–22, where one who is even stronger comes and strips him of his “panoply”—“his armor in which he trusted.” It denotes a complete outfit of personal armor, for defense and for attack.
“Though we live in the world,” says Paul to the Corinthians, “we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (2 Cor. 10:3–4). But there it is not body armor that Paul has in mind, but siege engines, with which he intends to “demolish arguments and every lofty structure that is raised against the knowledge of God,” with the aim of “taking every design prisoner and subjecting it to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
Here it is the “wiles” of the devil that have to be resisted. These may be even more subtle than the “human craftiness and trickery which schemes to lead people astray” against which a warning has been sounded in Eph. 4:14. One of the devil’s wiles has already been mentioned in this letter: it is his readiness to exploit strained relations and angry feelings between believers so as to damage their personal or corporate welfare and witness (Eph. 4:27). To be forewarned about the nature of his wiles is to be forearmed against them.
6:11 / Put on is a common expression in Ephesians and Colossians used, as has been seen, in the context of baptism (4:24; Col. 3:10, 12). The aorist tense indicates that the author is thinking of a specific time or situation when this took place in the believer’s life. “This would fit a baptismal occasion when the new Christian is ready to step out in his new venture of Christian discipleship” (Mitton, p. 220). Stand, as noted above, was a common theme in the catechetical instruction of the early church.
The believer’s equipment is the full armor of God (tēn panoplian tou theou)—full in the sense of adequacy and quality and not completeness, since there were other items that a “fully armed” person would require for combat. What is included here, however, is all that the believer needs to stand against the devil’s schemes. Methodeia, from which we derive the English words methodical, planning, inquiry, and so on, also means “cunning, subtlety, and scheming cleverness”—hence devil’s schemes or “wiles” of the devil (rsv). The language is quite similar to another exhortation in Scripture: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).
11. the whole armour—the armor of light (Ro 13:12); on the right hand and left (2 Co 6:7). The panoply offensive and defensive. An image readily suggested by the Roman armory, Paul being now in Rome. Repeated emphatically, Eph 6:13. In Ro 13:14 it is, “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ”; in putting on Him, and the new man in Him, we put on “the whole armor of God.” No opening at the head, the feet, the heart, the belly, the eye, the ear, or the tongue, is to be given to Satan. Believers have once for all overcome him; but on the ground of this fundamental victory gained over him, they are ever again to fight against and overcome him, even as they who once die with Christ have continually to mortify their members upon earth (Ro 6:2–14; Col 3:3, 5).
of God—furnished by God; not our own, else it would not stand (Ps 35:1–3). Spiritual, therefore, and mighty through God, not carnal (2 Co 10:4).
wiles—literally, “schemes sought out” for deceiving (compare 2 Co 11:14).
the devil—the ruling chief of the foes (Eph 6:12) organized into a kingdom of darkness (Mt 12:26), opposed to the kingdom of light.
Ver. 11.—Put on the entire armour of God. Chained to a soldier, the apostle’s mind would go forth naturally to the subject of armour and warfare. put on the armour, for life is a battle-field; not a scene of soft enjoyment and ease, but of hard conflict, with foes within and without; Put on armour of God, provided by him for your protection and for aggression too, for it is good, well-adapted for your use,—God has thought of you, and has sent his armour for you; armour of God the whole put on, for each part of you needs to be protected, and you need suitable weapons for assailing all your foes. That ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Our chief enemy does not engage us in open warfare, but deals in wiles and stratagems, which need to be watched against and prepared for with peculiar care.
11. Put on the full armor of God in order that you may be able to stand firm against the crafty methods of the devil. The question might be asked, “In view of the fact that by means of the two marvelous deeds mentioned above it has become clear that the power of God in Christ is infinitely superior to that of Satan and his allies, need we be so concerned about the onslaught of the prince of evil?” The answer is: “Assurance of this superiority, however, does not diminish the seriousness of any given conflict on any ‘evil day’ nor give certain assurance of victory in any particular battle” (Roels, op. cit., p. 216). I find myself in complete agreement with the words quoted, and wish only to add that, looked at from the angle of man’s responsibility, it is even possible to say that not only this or that particular battle but the entire war will be lost unless we exert ourselves. It is true that the counsel of God from eternity will never fail, but it is just as true that in that plan of God from eternity it was decided that victory will be given to those who overcome (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, etc.). Overcomers are conquerors, and in order to conquer one must fight!
Moreover, the war must be waged strenuously, for the foe is none other than ho diábolos, that is, the devil (Matt. 4:1, 5, 8, 11; John 8:44; 1 Peter 5:8; Jude 9; Rev. 2:10; 12:9; 20:2). It is clear that the apostle believed in the existence of a personal prince of evil. Paul was writing to people most of whom before their rather recent conversion to the Christian faith had been in great fear of evil spirits, as is true also today among pagans. It is almost impossible to appreciate how widespread, haunting, and overwhelming is this dread of demons which one encounters throughout heathendom. How did Paul counteract this fear? Did he say what many are saying today, namely, “The world of evil spirits is one huge untruth, a mere figment of the imagination”? He did not. Instead, without accepting paganism’s demonology or animism, he, nevertheless, emphasizes the great and sinister influence of Satan. So do the other inspired writers. What they all say in describing the power of the devil can be summarized somewhat as follows: Having been cast out of heaven, he is filled with fury and envy. His malevolence is directed against God and his people. His purpose is, therefore, to dethrone his great Enemy, and to cast all God’s people—in fact, all people—into hell. He walks about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. He has a powerful, well-organized army (as will be shown in a moment), and has established an outpost within the very hearts of those whom he aims to destroy.
Also, his methods, says Paul, are crafty (see on 4:14). They are the schemes of the deceiver. Of this fact believers are not ignorant (2 Cor. 2:11). Now this expression “crafty methods” will be no more than a hollow sound unless we give scriptural content to it. Some of these clever ruses and vicious stratagems are the following: mixing error with just enough truth to make it appear plausible (Gen. 3:4, 5, 22), quoting (really misquoting!) Scripture (Matt. 4:6), masquerading as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14) and causing his “ministers” to do likewise so that they “fashion themselves as apostles of Christ” (2 Cor. 11:13), aping God (2 Thess. 2:1–4, 9), strengthening people in their belief that he does not even exist (Acts 20:22), entering places where he is not expected to enter (Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4), and above everything else promising people that good can be attained through wrongdoing (Luke 4:6, 7).
In view of all this, therefore, it is clear why, in the name of his Sender, the apostle issues the mobilization order: “Put on the full armor of God.” Leave nothing out. You will need every weapon. Do not try to advance against the devil and his host with equipage from your own arsenal. Rather, say with David, “I cannot go with these, for I have not proved them” (1 Sam. 17:39). Such weapons as trusting in human merits, in one’s own erudition or mental acumen, in seclusion from the world, in the invocation of saints and of angels, in the theory that sin, sickness, and Satan do not exist, etc. will not avail in “the evil day.” Therefore, “put on the full armor of God, forged by him and furnished by him. Put it on, equip yourselves with it so that you may be able to stand, not to stand idle but in the battle to stand firm, to hold your ground against the devil’s crafty methods.”
 Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul to the Galatians and Ephesians (pp. 334–335). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
 Bruce, F. F. (1984). The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (pp. 403–404). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
 Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 357). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.