1. The weapons are not literal but meant to capture the reader/hearer’s imagination to understand the great resources of God at our disposal
2. The armor metaphor comes from mostly the book of Isaiah, and partially from the average Roman soldier
Behind this text, is another group of passages that come out of the Old Testament. The armor metaphor is mostly connected to God as the divine warrior as we mentioned earlier from Isaiah. This is how we know that Ephesians 6 addresses issues of invisible demonic forces but also visible social justice issues.
3. The armor is first an image for the gathered church community, second for the individual Christ-follower
Ephesians is a letter that was written to a community as a whole… not to one person. So it’s important to recognize that the “church” is called to wear this armor primarily. Secondarily the individual Christ-follower is also called into this spiritual battle.
4. The tone of the passage implies an active pursuit of the powers… the church is on offense, not defense
Most people who read our passage imagine that the armor of God is supposed to be worn for mostly defensive purposes. The tone of the passage actually suggests that we are to stand our ground with a readiness to pursue our enemies. So, anywhere there is a sign of evil in the world, the church is called to name that evil and do something about it. We are not waiting until we are attacked, we are called to go out and undo the works of evil in our world!
5. The idea of warring against the powers is connected with God gathering up all things in creation… pointing to the hope of a restored earth that will be free from the bondage of evil!
Lets look at a passage in the same letter but a few chapters earlier…
With all wisdom and insight 9 he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. Ephesians 1.8b-10 (NRSV)
The victory of Jesus’ resurrection has set something in motion. At this time until Christ returns to put our world right, to usher in a renewed heaven and earth, he is “gathering up all things.” In other words, Jesus is taking back that which rightfully belongs to God, but has been under the rule of Satan in this fallen world.
We partner with God in this mission every time we pursue and undo the Powers of evil. Every time we help someone overcome the temptations that the powers of evil would like to lure them into, we partner with God in gathering up all things. Every time we do good to the poor, marginalized, sick, and victimized; we partner with God in gathering up all things. Every time we stand up against the abuse of God’s creation; we partner with him in gathering up all things. God’s ultimate goal is to “gather up all things” and the powers are set on fragmenting all things. Our invitation is to partner in God’s mission and to “put on” his divine resources to show the world that a better way is possible and a better world is coming.