The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
November 18, 2012


1) Ephesians 6:13-15 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes


Ephesians 6:13-15
by Tom Edwards

We closed our last lesson with Paul exhorting the brethren to put on the "full armor of God" in order to "stand firm against the schemes of the devil" (Eph. 6:11).  For our battle is spiritual -- rather than against flesh and blood (v. 12).  Paul then repeats the thought  to "Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm" (v. 13).  

To help in this spiritual battle, Paul exhorts the brethren to "Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS" (v. 14).  

The "loins" is that part of the body between the hips and the lower ribs, and which the dictionary refers to as being especially "regarded as the seat of physical strength and generative power." Notice, however, that the strength and protection we would infer from the previous passage is spiritual in nature and that which comes from God's word -- and what else can strengthen and protect us spiritually as the Scriptures can?!

The term "girded" is used literally, as well as figuratively, in the Bible.  The dictionary defines it as "1) to encircle or bind with a belt or band.  2. to surround; hem in  3) to prepare oneself for action.  4. to provide, equip, or invest, as with power, strength, etc." (Random House Webster's Electronic Dictionary and Thesaurus).  The Greek word that "girded" stems from is defined as "A metaphor derived from the practice of the Orientals, who in order to be unimpeded in their movements were accustomed, when starting a journey or engaging in any work, to bind their long and flowing garments closely around their bodies and fasten them with a leather girdle."  It is easy to see the practicality in this -- whether it was performed because of battle or work.  So, literally speaking, these long robes were pulled up and held up by wrapping a belt or band around the waist.  Compare, for example, Luke 12:37:  "Blessed are those slaves whom the master shall find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them."  Another example of this is of the Lord in John 13:3-5, when He girded Himself with a towel to wash His apostles' feet.  It is also easy to see how this term can be used figuratively to indicate a need for preparation.  For instance, consider 1 Peter 1:13: "Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (NASB 1977).  In a newer edition of the NASB (1995), "prepare" is used instead of "gird" in this passage.  Obviously, girding one's mind isn't talking about wrapping some kind of band around one's head. Rather, it figuratively indicates a need for preparation and action, as the verse goes on to show: "gird your minds FOR ACTION."  And in our passage under consideration (Eph. 6:14), what is to be used for girding?  The truth.  So this action of girding our loins with truth is also figurative, but it does stress the need we have for knowing the Scriptures and preparing ourselves with it.  

Do you think there is a reason why Paul begins with this particular metaphor?  Is it not because becoming a Christian -- as well as living as one -- starts with a knowledge of the truth?

In addition to having our loins girded with truth, the Christian is to also "put on the breastplate of righteousness."  A similar phrase is used in prophecy of the Lord in Isaiah 59:17: "He put on righteousness like a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head; And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing And wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle." 

The Bible shows a connection between righteousness and God's truth:  For in speaking of the Lord, the Psalmist declares, "...all Your commandments are righteousness" (Psa. 119:172).  And Paul states a similar thing with regard to the gospel: "For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH'" (Rom. 1:17).  So without God's word, a person could never become righteous.

The breastplate was a plate of armor for the front of the torso.  Roman soldiers often wore one that covered them from their neck to their hips, thus protecting the heart and other vital organs.  To put on a breastplate of righteousness, however, we must do more than merely hear the truth; we need to also practice it, as the apostle John warns: "Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous" (1 Jn. 3:7).  And since all of God's commands are righteousness (as we saw in Psalm 119:172), then to be righteous, we cannot ignore the Lord's instructions.  For how we live is an extension or a manifestation of who and what we are; and that is what the world perceives.  As William Barclay once said, "Words are no defense against accusations, but a good life is."  When someone once informed Plato that another had been accusing him of certain wrongs, the old  philosopher responded by saying, "Well then, we must live in such a way as to prove that his accusations are wrong."  This might also remind you of Peter's exhortation in 1 Peter 2:12: "Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation."  The apostle Paul placed great value in having this kind of righteousness: "More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ; and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith" (Phil. 3:8,9).

Paul then states in Ephesians 6:15, "and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE."  Part of practicing righteousness and being righteous is sharing God's truth with others.  It is an important duty in our service as a child of God -- and not merely an obligation, but also that which love and a concern for lost souls should prompt us to do.  Consider Jesus, for example, and His concern for the lost: "And Jesus was going about all the cities and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.  And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd.  Then He said to His disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest'" (Matt. 9:35-38).  A similar statement is made in Mark 6:34: "When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things."

Paul also had a love for lost souls, which we can see in the way he lived.  Notice, too, what one of his prayers was for them: "Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation" (Rom. 10:1).  And Paul not only prayed for their salvation, but had also shod his feet with the preparation of the gospel, so that he could take it to them -- and did so.        

The greatest thing we can give another is not money nor material things, but it is the truth of God's word.  Notice how Solomon speaks of this: "How blessed is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding. For its profit is better than the profit of silver, And its gain than fine gold.  She is more precious than jewels; And nothing you desire compares with her.  Long life is in her right hand; In her left hand are riches and honor.  Her ways are pleasant ways, And all her paths are peace.  She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy are all who hold her fast" (Prov. 3:13-18).  

Though Paul's desire was to depart this world and be with Christ, what did he also realize?  Philippians 1:24,25 shows the answer: Paul knew that his brethren needed help "in their progress and joy in the faith."  The true saving faith, which is through the gospel, is the only way to heaven.  Therefore, Paul was concerned about his brethren staying on that right course and strove to help them in that.

What do you think the connection is between "feet" and the "gospel" in Ephesians 6:15?  Is it not to express the idea of taking the gospel to others?  In giving His Great Commission to the apostles, Jesus states, "...'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation'" (Mk. 16:15).  God's word is meant to be taken into the world and shared with others.  It is not merely to be locked up somewhere -- hidden from lost sinners.  We can admire the early Christians who -- though driven from their homes, due to persecution -- continued to preach the same message wherever they went.  Luke speaks of this in Acts 8:1-4.  Think, too, about Philip in Acts 8:5: "And Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them."  Here was just one man who took the gospel to this city, and it appears that many there had their lives changed by that message and became Christians.  How wonderful it is to hear of all of these who had given themselves over to the Lord, and how important it is for us (who are Christians) to do our part in bringing the lost to Christ.  

In view of the need for salvation, winning others to Jesus is a very wise thing to do, and that is exactly what Proverbs 11:30 teaches: "...he that winneth souls is wise."  The soul-winner realizes that the soul is of more value than anything else in the world, which can be inferred from the Lord's statement in Matthew 16:26: "For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"

Because even one soul is important to God, it is not surprising to find Jesus taking the time to teach just one person the truth, such as the woman at the well (Jn. 4), Zaccheus (Luke 19:5), and Nicodemus (Jn. 3:1-21).  Isn't that something that one of the most often quoted Bible verses, John 3:16, was not first declared to a multitude of people; but, rather, just to one man, Nicodemus, who had come to Jesus by night.  

Another reason why a soul's value far surpasses that of all the wealth in the world is because everything in the world will eventually perish -- but the soul is eternal.  It will never cease.  

Unfortunately, many people often are blinded by material things and put that above their souls.  But we must remember that man's life is more than mere possessions.  Jesus speaks of this in Luke 12:15:  "...'Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions."  

That is easy to understand.  For instance, in focusing on just this earth-life and our relation to it, would you rather be dead with $1 million in your bank account or very much alive, but broke and having lost all your possessions in a fire?  That very well illustrates life on earth being about more than merely possessions. (Of course, the faithful Christian can always see death as a gain, but in this illustration we are focusing on just our relation to this earth-life.).  

Similarly, I once heard it expressed this way: "What would you rather have a $100,000 diamond or a mouse?"  I imagine everyone would rather have the $100,000 diamond as a possession.  But if the question were, "What would you rather be, a $100,000 diamond or a mouse?," you would probably now choose to be the mouse -- because then you would have a life, an existence you can experience, to be alive and to enjoy the day. You might even be very content at times -- especially after finding that piece of cheese.  So life is more than mere possessions.  And, above all, isn't it more important that we insure our souls with eternal life --  rather than deceive ourselves into thinking that true fulfillment is only in the possession of material things?

Everyone's soul is equally important; and we who are Christians need to be concerned with doing our part in helping others learn the truth.  And though we can easily tell others of God's plan of salvation, we should also want to better prepare ourselves with God's word if we want to be able to better communicate it to others.  As seen in our main text, we are to have our feet shod with "the PREPARATION of the gospel" (Eph. 6:15, emphasis mine).  This "preparation" is also implied in 1 Peter 3:15, where Peter declares, "but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence."  The phrase "always being ready" involves the necessary preparation.  So having "shod" our "feet with the preparation of the gospel" will enable us to be sure footed in making the right steps toward taking God's message into the world -- and perhaps reminding you of what the Lord did for David, as he figuratively expresses it in Psalm 18:33: "He makes my feet like hinds' feet, and sets me upon my high places."  Through his faith in God, David was made very sure footed and able to confront and withstand life's adversities.  And as God helped David, the Lord can also help us when we have His word in our lives.    

Though we need to increase our knowledge of the truth, this doesn't mean we must wait until we have perfect knowledge before we can teach others the plan of salvation. For instance, how much did the woman at the well (in Jn. 4) understand when she went into the city and began telling others about Jesus?   What she said also caused others to find out for themselves about the Lord.  ...And how much did Philip know about the Lord when he brought Nathanael to Him, as John 1:45,46 records?  (Many believe that Nathanael is the same person as Bartholomew, who became one of the Lord's apostles.)  ...And how much did Andrew know about Jesus when bringing Simon Peter to Him in John 1:40-42?  ...It was in the Arabian desert, very soon after his conversion, where Paul learned the gospel directly from the Lord, during about a 3-year period (Gal. 1:15-18); but even before that, he began teaching others with the limited knowledge he then had, immediately after his conversion, while he was still in Damascus (See Acts 9:18-22).  

I imagine you are glad and thankful for those people who helped you learn the gospel and become a Christian.  They each contributed toward a great blessing in your life, and one that can be fully realized in heaven itself.  

Paul calls the gospel a "gospel of peace" (Eph. 6:15) -- and it truly is!  For by it, we have  peace with God (Rom. 5:1); we have  peace with others (Eph. 2:15); and, thirdly, we have peace with ourselves (Rom. 8:6).  

As we think about feet shod with the preparation of the gospel, consider Isaiah 52:7: "How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, 'Your God reigns!'"

What better thing can we use our feet for than to take the Lord's message to someone? The importance of being reached with the gospel can be seen in God's explanation to Paul for why he would be preaching.  It was so that he would be able "to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me" (Acts 26:18).  

What greater blessings can we mortals have than to have our sins forgiven, to be delivered from Satan's domain to God's, and to have an inheritance in heaven -- where we will be blessed eternally with all the redeemed!  So let us put on that full armor of God, having our loins girded with truth, putting on the breastplate of righteousness, and having our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.  And added to that is the "shield of faith," the "helmet of salvation," and the "sword of the Spirit," which we will consider next time from Paul's letter to the Ephesians.


News & Notes

Let those of us who are Christians be remembering the following people in prayer:

Kay Babin is now home from her several-days stay in the hospital, due to what was originally thought a staff infection.  But that was ruled out by a specialist, though it is some type of infection.  She is still also in the healing process for viral meningitis. 

Shirley Young's gall bladder surgery went well.  But she has continued with painful fibromyalgia for several years. 

Doris Crews' knee replacement surgery also went well, and she is now receiving physical therapy. 

Pam MacDonald still has severe back trouble.

Clifton Trimble is in his 80's with heart trouble.

Bill Barfield has been several months in a hospital's step-down unit. 

Terry MacDonald is healing from recent surgery.

Cheryl Crews has chronic ailments.

Caleb Davis is now in Afghanistan.

Mozelle Robertson is a little frail at 92.

Wayne Murray is in a nursing home in Columbus, Mississippi.

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

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evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
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