Paul’s military metaphor helps us see how to protect ourselves spiritually. The ancient Greek word for “whole armour” (panoplia) meant all of the equipment needed to be fully armed to wage effective warfare, including both defensive shielding and offensive weaponry. Paul was a Roman citizen, and Roman soldiers had a visible military presence in occupied lands.
In addition, Paul wrote his epistle to the Ephesians while in captivity in Rome and was likely guarded by Roman soldiers. So the Roman “whole armour” was likely what Paul had in mind.
The prophet Isaiah described the Messiah as having a breastplate of righteousness and a helmet of salvation when He would come to intercede for His people and save them (see Isaiah 59: 17 in the Bible) Paul wrote, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6: 11-17 in the Bible)
What Can We Learn from Paul’s Metaphor
Paul says, our greatest and most deadly struggle will be “not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, [and] against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6: 12) We can only withstand the evils which surround all of us by putting on the whole armor of God and be protected by keeping His commandments.
• Loins girt: When we have our “loins girt about with truth” (Ephesians 6: 14), we are prepared to move against evil. We prepare ourselves through personal worthiness, scripture study, and prayer.
• Breastplate: A breastplate protects vital organs such as the heart and lungs. Our righteous thoughts and deeds help keep up our spiritual vitality. “He who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come” (Doctrine and Covenants 59: 23).
• Feet shod: Our feet should be shod with the “preparation of the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6: 15). “Your feet represent your goals, objectives and actions in life.
• Shield: With “the shield of faith,” we can “quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (Ephesians 6: 16). Those flaming arrows rain down from all directions, and we need the faith and trust in the Lord that will keep us from the spiritual harm the adversary’s temptations would inflict.
• Helmet: The ‘helmet of salvation’ [Ephesians 6: 17) guards our thinking, reasoning and desires. If we focus our minds on Jesus Christ and His gospel, our thoughts can be kept pure and our eyes single to the glory of God.
• Sword: “The sword of the Spirit … is the word of God” (Ephesians 6: 17). The word of God is “sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4: 12), and the Spirit can “pierce even to the very soul” (Helaman 5: 30 in the Book of Mormon). As we study the Word of God, the power and peace of God’s Spirit will help us against false philosophies of the world and help us conquer the enemy of all righteousness.
“The putting off of the natural man makes possible the putting on of the whole armor of God, which would not fully fit before!” (Neal A. Maxwell).
We need to put on the whole armor of God, or we will be vulnerable to temptation in those areas where we have weaknesses and where we have failed to give ourselves the protection offered through keeping the commandments. The gospel of Jesus Christ was given to us to bring us peace and happiness and protect us from the destructive consequences of the sins of the world.
Dallas Jones, local leader for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some of the Article came from Come Follow me: New Testament, Ensign October 2019. Any questions call (231) 383-8359 or send an email firstname.lastname@example.org