Year B – Proper 16 – Ephesians 6:10-20

Ephesians 6:10–20 NRSV –    Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 6:12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 6:13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 6:14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 6:15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 6:16 With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 6:17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 6:18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. 6:19 Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 6:20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.

Summary – In this final passage of Ephesians Paul exhorts believers to live in faith. He uses a creative metaphor of being fully dressed in the armor of a warrior or soldier. He teaches that our true battle is not against other human beings but against the dark spiritual forces that lurk behind the actions of people, “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” In order to stand and do battle in this way, we need weapons that are spiritual and so we must put on the “armor of God.”

Insight – Dress for success . . .  In some sports you get suited up and when you put on the shoulder pads, a helmet and knee pads you feel a lot more secure. Even putting on a nice leather jacket, boots and gloves on a motorcycle gives you much more security. In the spiritual realm we can also get suited up and dress for spiritual success. He leads us through a sequence of spiritual armor: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shoes, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Each of these is another way of saying stand firm in your faith in the Word of God. Just like putting on the right uniform for a sport, we have greater confidence when we remember the protection given by the armor which armor is simply knowing who we are in Christ and believing the Word. As a result we can “pray in the Spirit,” which is praying according to the Spirit’s leading and according to the Word of God. This is a major way we overcome the darkness.

Catechism – What is the sword of the Spirit? The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God.

Discussion – What are some ways the spiritual forces of darkness are at work in the world today? In what ways can we fight them?

Prayer – Father and God, we thank you that through Christ Jesus we have the victory over the spiritual forces of wickedness since you disarmed these at the cross. Grant to us the faith to stand firm in the Word of God and to pray effectively in the Spirit. In Christ’s name. Amen.