Day 1

Being strong in the Lord

Ephesians 6:10-23

Standing on victory ground – Ephesians 6:10

Paul concludes and summarizes his letter by drawing together aspects he has covered in his letter and making connections with wider scripture through the image of an armed soldier. This is perhaps the most well known section of Ephesians, it is often used in talks aimed at children because of the vivid illustration of a Roman soldier. Many a youth leader has relished dressing up with a cardboard shield and a plastic helmet. However, this is a passage for mature Christians facing up to the reality of Christian life in a hostile environment. Paul is not exaggerating for effect, what he describes is what all Christians will experience through a life of discipleship and the means by which they will be able to remain faithful. What the enemy would most desire is that Christians should not take this seriously and think the measures Paul describes are not really necessary. While a Roman soldier in full battle gear would have been a common and well understood image to his Gentile readers Paul is primarily drawing upon Old Testament passages that describe the armour of Yahweh (God, the absolute being, the “I Am Who I Am.” Exodus 3:14) Isaiah describes the Lord being displeased there was no justice and no one to intervene, ‘so his own arm achieved salvation …. He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.’ Isaiah59:16-17 Paul also draws upon Isaiah’s prophesy about the forthcoming Messiah, ‘With righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked; Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.’ Isaiah 11:4-5

Paul changes his simile for Christian life from a walk, which he uses widely in his letters to the ability to stand. Behind this is the notion that Christiana are to be like a regiment of soldiers who hold or stand on the ground that has already been won. Christ has already won the victory over evil, death and sin through his death, resurrection and ascension. The Christian is not able to be victorious over sin and spiritual evil in his or her own strength but must rely and draw upon the strength of the Lord. ‘I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know …. his incomparably great power for us who believe. The power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ Jesus from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.’ Ephesians 1:18-21