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dreamstime s 21348108 300When we are asked to do something or to believe something in regards to Scripture, we should always be like the Bereans and test everything against Scripture itself (Acts 17:11)... the whole of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If a person feels "led by the spirit" to speak, behave, or believe a certain way, they should test that spirit (1 John 4:1) to determine whether or not that spirit is in agreement with Scripture.

Let us take a journey together through Scripture and see what it says about the matter of the armor of G-d.  As we go, may we say, believe, and do what is right, be merciful in our speech and actions, and walk humbly with the Lord (Micah 6:8).

Included in this article are references to all verses in Scripture that include references to the armor of G-d. If you find a verse we did not include and think it should be, please contact the author.

Scriptural quotations are from the New American Standard Bible unless otherwise noted. Bolded text or other emphases in the Scriptural references are the author's.

 

Ephesians 6

Ephesians 6 is the reference to the "armor of G-d" that will likely be the most familiar to believers:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of G-d, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of G-d, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of G-d. (Ephesians 6:10-17)

 

This passage outlines the pieces of armor.  Christian tradition lists them in this manner:
  1. The belt of truth
  2. The breastplate of righteousness
  3. Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace
  4. The shield of faith
  5. The helmet of salvation
  6. The sword of the Spirit

 

We'll first consider the armor as a group, and then we can examine the individual components.

There are six pieces of armor. In Hebrew symbology six is the number of incompletion, imperfection, and, therefore, of man.  This implied imperfection does apply to the armor rather it applies to the wearer: mankind. There is only a single offensive weapon, the sword (the Word of G-d), which we see Messiah use when He is tempted by HaSatan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13).

 

Physical or Spiritual?

When we consider Messiah's temptation, we should be aware that it was a spiritual contest, not a physical one. This fits well with Paul's comments in verse 12:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

 

Since our struggle is not against flesh and blood, then we should think of armor for spiritual battle rather than armor for physical battle.  Paul's point that our struggle is against spiritual forces should guide us to the image of spiritual armor.

Let's examine both.

 

RomanromanArmor

It is interesting that the "armor of G-d" is often pictured by a Roman soldier's armor (watch this video on YouTube or click on the image to the right to enlarge it).  Paul was writing to the Gentile congregation in Ephesus, a city in the Roman province of Asia Minor.  They would have known the Roman soldier's attire and possibly looked at them as the embodiment of physical military power.

Before he lists the items of armor, Paul exhorts the Ephesians, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might." (Ephesians 6:10)  Paul may have intended to draw upon this physical imagery to encourage the believers in Ephesus to become spiritually powerful by putting on the armor of G-d.  This Roman equipment, however, is not spiritual armor.  What other, more spiritual armaments could we examine?

Israelite

Instead of a Roman soldier, we might ponder the alternate image of a Levitical priest: in this specific example, the kohen hagadol [the high priest].  He wears all the armor described in the Ephesians passage but, while it is still physical, this is "armor" for spiritual matters:priestArmor

  1. The belt of truth
  2. The breastplate of righteousness
  3. Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace (i.e. uncovered, walking in holiness, unguarded)
  4. The shield of faith (G-d is our strength and our shield: Psalm 28:7)
  5. The helmet of salvation- the miter (white, symbolizing purity) and the gold plate (also symbolizing purity) on which is written "Holy to YHVH."
  6. The sword of the Spirit- the Word of G-d

 

Let's examine each of the pieces in a bit more detail:


 

priestArmor

The first piece of armor on the list is the "belt of truth."  Consider the image of the high priest.  We might note the sash around his waist and think "that doesn't seem like much of a belt!"  Examining the Ephesians passage we do not find a "belt of truth" actually mentioned.  Instead, we find this: "Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH...". The "belt of truth" is simply the common phrasing and imagery used when discussing the armor of G-d.  The text of Ephesians 6 does not include those words nor does it even contain the Greek word for "belt" (zone- pronounced dzonay).  Instead, Paul's words translate literally as "girding the loins of you in truth."

When Adam and Chavah sinned, their sin uncovered them.  The first thing they did afterward was to try to cover their nakedness.  They saw the truth of their circumstances and attempted to cover themselves with fig leaves (Genesis 3:7).  That covering was inadequate, and G-d later gave them garments of skin (Genesis 3:21). The skins were a physical covering that pictured their spiritual fallen state. Adam and Chavah were uncovered as a result of sin so the opposite should be true: righteousness covered them before their sin.

In the case of the Levitical priesthood, Exodus 28:42 tells us that they are to have linen breeches upon their loins to cover their nakedness. Exodus 28 pictures a spiritual covering using the priests' linen breeches: a covering of G-d's righteousness!

Perhaps the ultimate fulfillment of that linen covering appears in Revelation 19-

It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. (Revelation 19:8)

 

Revelation 19:8 tells us the bride of the Lamb is given fine linen with which to clothe herself.  Note that she is not passively being clothed, but she is "to clothe herself."  The linen is "the righteous acts of the saints."

The linen/"righteous acts" which G-d gives us are the good deeds [mitzvot] of Scripture prepared beforehand for us to walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).  Scripture is Truth (John 17:17), so the bride is clothed in the Truth of G-d's Word.  Messiah is the Word of G-d made flesh (John 1:14), so we are clothing ourselves in Him!

This fits with Paul's encouragement to the believers in Galatia:

"For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." (Galatians 3:27)


 

Messiah also said that He is the truth (John 14:6). If we clothe ourselves with the truth, then we can again say that we are clothing ourselves with Him.

 

Messiah's Belt

Note that Paul's words in verse 14 are in all capital letters: "HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH."  The NASB uses the convention of capitalizing passages that are quotes from the Tanakh.  This passage is a quote from Isaiah 11.  That chapter provides an excellent description of Messiah that includes a description of a "belt."

Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, And faithfulness the belt about His waist. (Isaiah 11:5)

 

The Hebrew word translated here as "belt" is ezor.  Scholars alternately translate it as "girdle," "waistband," or "belt" throughout the Tanakh.  Messiah girds himself with righteousness and faithfulness.  When we clothe ourselves with Him, then His righteousness and faithfulness are upon us.

Observant readers will notice that "truth" is not mentioned in this Isaiah passage. The Septuagint translation of this passage, however, does include the word truth:

And righteousness will be tied around his loin; and with truth being wrapped around his sides. (Isaiah 11:5 -LXX)

 

Speaking of righteousness, the breastplate of righteousness is next on our list.

 


Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, (Ephesians 6:14)

 

The breastplate of righteousness is listed second among the elements of the armor. Again we see Paul's words in Ephesians capitalized indicating this is a quote from the Tanakh. Paul is referencing Isaiah 59. Isaiah 59 gives us the first Scriptural reference to a "breastplate of righteousness" and includes several references to the other pieces of armor as well.

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. (Isaiah 59:17)

 

The "He" in this verse refers to G-d. He puts on righteousness like a breastplate.  To the Hebrew minds of Isaiah's day, the breastpiece of the high priest is a visible picture of the breastplate of righteousness.  G-d has put on righteousness like the breastpiece He commanded for the high priest. The picture once again is that when we clothe ourselves with Messiah, we are putting on the righteousness with which He has clothed Himself.

 

The Breastpiecechoshen mishpat of the High Priest

Exodus 28 describes the high priest's breastpiece and calls it the "breastpiece of judgment" (choshen mishpat).  It is a unique linen garment that has four rows of three stones each of which represents a tribe of Israel.

Exodus 28 describes it this way:

"You shall make a breastpiece of judgment, the work of a skillful workman; like the work of the ephod you shall make it: of gold, of blue and purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen you shall make it. It shall be square and folded double, a span in length and a span in width. You shall mount on it four rows of stones; the first row shall be a row of ruby, topaz and emerald; and the second row a turquoise, a sapphire and a diamond; and the third row a jacinth, an agate and an amethyst; and the fourth row a beryl and an onyx and a jasper; they shall be set in gold filigree. The stones shall be according to the names of the sons of Israel: twelve, according to their names; they shall be like the engravings of a seal, each according to his name for the twelve tribes. You shall make on the breastpiece chains of twisted cordage work in pure gold. You shall make on the breastpiece two rings of gold, and shall put the two rings on the two ends of the breastpiece. You shall put the two cords of gold on the two rings at the ends of the breastpiece. You shall put the other two ends of the two cords on the two filigree settings, and put them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod, at the front of it. You shall make two rings of gold and shall place them on the two ends of the breastpiece, on the edge of it, which is toward the inner side of the ephod. You shall make two rings of gold and put them on the bottom of the two shoulder pieces of the ephod, on the front of it close to the place where it is joined, above the skillfully woven band of the ephod. They shall bind the breastpiece by its rings to the rings of the ephod with a blue cord, so that it will be on the skillfully woven band of the ephod, and that the breastpiece will not come loose from the ephod. Aaron shall carry the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment over his heart when he enters the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually. (Exodus 28:15-28:29)

Here is a chart of the stones:

NASB
Emerald
(Levi)

Topaz
(Shimon)

Ruby
(Reuven)

Diamond
(Zevulun)
Sapphire
(Yissachar)
Turquoise
(Y'hudah)
Amethyst
(Gad)
Agate
(Naphtali)
Jacinth
(Dan)
Jasper
(Binyamin)
Onyx
(Yosef)
Beryl
(Asher)

Notes about this chart:

  • We do not know if the "rows" are vertical or horizontal.  A horizontal arrangement is generally assumed.
  • Scripture does not indicate if the order of stones is right-to-left or left-to-right. Given the right-to-left structure of the Hebrew language, the order of stones it is usually viewed that way.
  • The passage does not tell us if the stones are given in order from the perspective of Aharon or of someone looking at him.
  • The Hebrew of Exodus 28 does not provide the order of the names to be written on the stones; however, the Targums (ancient Aramaic translations of Scripture) do include them. The names listed in the chart above are based upon Targum Neofiti which dates to the second century CE.

As Aharon (or the high priests that served after him) went before the Lord, then they were interceding on behalf of the Israelites. These indeed were spiritual matters and spiritual battles, and this is indeed a breastpiece ordained by G-d for such combat.

 


and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; (Ephesians 6:15)

 

The foot gear Paul describes is in all caps indicating once more a quote from the Tanakh:

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!" (Isaiah 52:7)

 

The leather sandals or bronze greaves (shin guards) of a Roman soldier are often used to picture for this piece of the armor.  Like the "belt" above, the description of this part of the armor does not mention a particular piece of clothing.  Instead, it says to have "feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace."

Let's examine each part of this phrase.

 

Feet

It is interesting that Paul would use the expression of feet being shod with this preparation. Why not our hands, arms, or some other body part? What is it we do with our feet that we do not do with any other body part? We walk! The disciple Yochanan had a few things to say about walking:

If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:6-7)

and this

The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. (1 John 2:4-6)

 

Shod

The Greek word here is hupodusamenoi which means "to bind under" as one might do a sandal.  Acts 12:8 uses this word when the angel says to Peter "Gird yourself and put on your sandals."  We generally don't protect our feet if we plan on taking a nap.  It is something done to protect one's feet in preparation for walking.

 

Preparation

The Greek word in Ephesians 6 is hetoimasia which means "preparation".  Ephesians 6 is the only part of the Apostolic Writings that uses this word.  The Septuagint uses this word in several places including Psalm 65:9 that speaks of preparation.  It just means "being prepared" or "readiness."

 

Gospel of Peace

"Gospel" comes from an Old English phrase which means "good news."  What is this "good news" of peace of which Paul writes?  Romans 5:1 provides a summary:

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2)

 

This news is indeed good! Paul also says in Romans chapter 5 that we were once enemies of G-d. Through Messiah Yeshua, we are no longer enemies of G-d but are part of His kingdom.

Summary

We should have our Messiah-like walk bound, protected, and underpinned by the readiness that comes from the good news of being at peace with G-d.

Next on the list is the shield of faith.

 


in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (Ephesians 6:16)

Shield of Faith

The shield of faith is listed fourth among the items of armor. If we examine our priestly example, it appears that he is missing this particular piece of armor. Or is he?

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, "Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great." (Genesis 15:1)

 

G-d says that He is a shield to Avram. In Deuteronomy 33:29 that same declaration of G-d being a shield is extended to Israel as a nation. Consider also the words of the writer of Hebrews:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

 

Faith is by its nature related to things that are not seen.  G-d declares that He is the shield of Israel.  Messiah tells us that no one has seen the Father (John 6:46) which fits well with the picture of an unseen shield.  The shield is present, but it is invisible.  As the prophet Isaiah once declared "no weapon that is formed against you will prosper..." (Isaiah 54:17).  It is because G-d Himself is our strength and shield (Psalm 28:7).

 

The Flaming Arrows

Paul describes the shield as serving to "extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one."  The "evil one" is likely Satan whose name means "accuser" (Psalm 109:6, Revelation 12:10).  His accusations may likely be those "flaming arrows" since James connects our speech and fire in James 3:5.  G-d is our shield against the fiery barrage of the evil one.

 


And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17)

 

The helmet of salvation is listed fifth among the items of armor. Again, Paul's words are in all caps once more indicating that we have a quote from the Tanakh.

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. (Isaiah 59:17)

 

Here again, Isaiah describes G-d's armor, and in this passage, He has a helmet of salvation on His head.

The Hebrew word for salvation is yeshua which is the Hebrew name of Jesus.  Isaiah describes G-d as having a "helmet of Jesus/Yeshua/salvation" on His head!  It appears that we are once again called to clothe ourselves in Messiah as we were with the "belt of truth."

This piece of armor is designed to protect our head.  Our head holds our mind which contains our thoughts.  We should set our mind on G-d's interests, not man's (Matthew 16:23).  We should be of one mind (Acts 2:46).  We should be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).  And we should spiritually appraise all things with the mind of Messiah (1 Corinthians 2:15-16).

In Romans 7 and 8 Paul writes regarding the mind and war:

For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:22-25)

 

In his inner man, in his mind, Paul joyfully concurs with and serves the Law of G-d. In his flesh, a different law (the law of sin) is waging war against the law of his mind (the Law of G-d) and making him a prisoner. Praise be to G-d that He (and we!) have been set free from the law of sin. Paul goes on to make some general statements in this matter in Romans 8:

For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:5-8)

 

The mind set on the flesh is death.  Paul tells us that we should have our mind set on the Spirit, serving the Law of G-d, which is a spiritual matter (Romans 7:14). Should we not have our mind protected by our Messiah, our salvation? He provided us with the perfect instruction regarding the Law of G-d. By observing Him and clothing ourselves with Him, we can walk (the "feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace") as He walked as Yochanan encouraged us to do (1 John 2:4-6).

 

The Example of the PriestShield of Faith

Speaking of the Law. Let us once again consider the image of the priest. That white miter cap he is sporting doesn't seem to provide much protection to guard his head, does it?.

Look more closely.

He has a gold plate on his head on which is engraved "Kadosh l'YHVH" or "holy unto the LORD" (Exodus 28:36). Isaiah 6:3, and Revelation 4:8 all describe G-d as Holy, Holy, Holy. In Revelation 3:7, Messiah is described as "He who is holy, who is true...". Again we see the picture of being clothed with Messiah Yeshua. He is truly our helmet of Salvation/Yeshua.

 


And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17)

 

The last piece of armor noted is the sword of the Spirit. So we should be wielding the Spirit as an offensive weapon to attack the plans of the enemy, right?

Not quite.

Paul tells us that the sword of the Spirit is the word of G-d. The phrase "of the Spirit" appears to describe ownership of the sword rather than an attribute of the sword. The book of Hebrews tells us about this sword:

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

 

Revelation again provides some connections between the Word of G-d and a sword:

In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength. (Revelation 1:16)

 

While all things are possible for G-d, it is unlikely that He meant He would have a two-edged stainless steel sword literally coming out of His mouth.  The blade probably wouldn't be much of a problem, but the guard would likely be too big. :) OK, seriously... out of mouths comes forth speech and words.  In this case, the Word.  Messiah says in the next chapter:

Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth. (Revelation 2:16)

 

The sword of His mouth is His Word, and it is sharper than any two-edged sword.

 

Let's go back to our priestly example.Shield of Faith

This picture shows our priest completely unarmed.  No sword appears to be present.  Or is it?

The sword spoken of is a sword for spiritual battles. Paul told us that at the beginning of this passage regarding armor (Ephesians 6:12). The sword is the Word of G-d. Where should we carry that Word? We should always have our Bibles with us, right?

Not quite.

The Psalmist tells us in Psalm 119:11 "Your word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you."

Romans 10:8 (quoting Deuteronomy 30:14) tells us "The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart..."

Most importantly: when Scripture describes the "New Covenant" in Hebrews 10:16 (quoting Jeremiah 31:31-33) we find this-

"THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART, AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM," He then says, "AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE." (Hebrews 10:16-17)

 

As members of this New Covenant, G-d has given us a Spiritual "concealed carry" license.  He has written His Law upon our hearts and our minds.  We are armed for battle, and the Holy Spirit brings to mind all the things which Messiah spoke (John 14:26).

Oh, yes, we are definitely armed.

 



How Does This Relate To Us Today?

  

Although we used the imagery of the high priest throughout this article to picture the armor of G-d, we have to admit that most of us aren't Levitical priests and likely none of us is qualified for the role of high priest.

Most of us aren't Roman soldiers, either, so how do these items described in Scripture relate to us today? What are they picturing for us?

As we found over and over again in each piece of the armor, we should "clothe ourselves with Messiah."  He is Truth, He is clothed with righteousness, through Him we have peace with G-d, He is our strength and our shield, and He is our Salvation/Yeshua.  His Word is the sword with which we can do battle against our adversaries, either inwardly or outwardly. He is our timeless armor for He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

By clothing ourselves in Him and walking as He walked, we can "do all things through Him who strengthens" us (Philippians 4:13).

 

 

 

 

 


This appendix provides a list of Scripture verses that reference the armor of G-d.

The Armor of G-d

Ephesians 6:11
Ephesians 6:13

The Belt of Truth

Ephesians 6:14

The Breastplate of Righteousness

Isaiah 59:17
Ephesians 6:14

Feet shod with the Gospel of Peace

Isaiah 52:7
Ephesians 6:15

Shield of Faith

Psalm 91:4
Ephesians 6:16

Helmet of Salvation

Isaiah 59:17
Ephesians 6:17

The Sword of the Spirit (the Word of G-d)

Ephesians 6:17
Hebrews 4:12

 

Torah Portion

בּחקתי (B'chukotai)

 

 

or view this week's triennial cycle reading.

Today is

Yom Rishon, 21 Iyar, 5779

Sunday, May 26, 2019

 

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