What is “The Full Armor of God”?
Most Bible believing followers of our Lord, Yeshua (Jesus) have been taught about God’s armor described in Ephesians 6. The visual model most often used to describe it is that of a Roman soldier. But would Paul, a Jewish Messiah follower focus his model on what was clearly in the natural an adversary to all who followed Messiah?
As a Pharisee, he was well-learned in the Hebrew Scriptures. Just as Yeshua (Jesus) brought a fuller understanding of the Scriptures to those He taught, so would Paul have done.
Eph. 6:14-17 lists this armor as ‘the belt of truth around the waist, the breastplate of righteousness, feet shod with the Good News of shalom, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.’
Let us now look at key passages from the Tanakh (aka Old Testament.) Isaiah 11:5 says, “Also, righteousness will be a belt around his loins, and faithfulness the belt around his waist.” Isaiah 52:7 says, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces shalom, who brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’” Psalm 28:7 says, “Adonai is my strength and my shield.” Psalms 91:46 says, “His faithfulness is body armor and shield.” Isaiah 59:17 says, “He put on righteousness as a breastplate and the helmet of salvation on his head.” Isaiah 49:2 says, “He made my mouth like a sharp sword. In the shadow of His hand He hid Me. He made Me a polished arrow. He has hidden Me in His quiver.”
A Roman soldier served a self-exalted sinful ruler who waged earthly war on his own behalf and purpose. Peter referred to Messiah followers as a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). A priest served The Holy God and his garments reflect the attributes and power of God alone, not ours.
Images carry subtleties that influence our perspective. When applying the referenced garments of those who engage in spiritual warfare using a foreign, even hostile worldly image, it is easy to misapply the purpose of our armor and fail to place all trust and confidence in God’s mighty power (Eph. 6:10) and forget that our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places (Eph. 6:12). It is so we can resist the temptation to wage war on our own worldly terms and stand in the promise and authority of God who rules, trusting in Him.
Let us look again at His armor.
Belt of Truth – Yeshua (Jesus), for He is the righteous one. Isaiah 11:5
Breastplate of righteousness – Isaiah 59:11
Feet shod with God News of Shalom – Yeshua (Jesus) said He was bringing Good News of shalom meaning wholeness, completeness, soundness, sufficiency, satisfaction, harmony, peace, holistic well-being, announcing ‘God Reigns!’ Isaiah 52:7
Helmet – salvation Isaiah 59:17
Sword of the Spirit – Me refers to Yeshua (Jesus). Isaiah 49:2
Shield – His faithfulness is a shield around us. Psalm 91:46
When we don’t know the Biblical foundation of the New Covenant Scriptures found in the Torah, Prophets and Writings (Tenakh/Old Testament) and know God’s perspective in what Paul knew and communicated, we will look for what is familiar and relatable to us who are distant from God and utterly sinful from the womb. We will miss the whole point and create our own ‘form’ (not based in truth) of righteousness. But there is no on righteous but the Lord Himself.
Phil. 2:6-11 says we are to have the same attitude that Yeshua (Jesus) Messiah had. “Who, though existing in the form of God, did not consider being equal to God a thing to be grasped. But He emptied Himself- taking on the form of a slave, becoming the likeness of men and being found in appearance as a man. He humbled Himself – becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Yeshua (Jesus) every knee should bow, in heaven and on the earth and under the earth, and every tongue profess that Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah is Lord – to the glory of God the Father.”
As His followers, should we do any less?
2 Cor. 10:3-6 says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly but powerful through God for the tearing down of strongholds. We are tearing down false arguments and every high-minded thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. We are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Messiah.”
So, how will we now understand and apply God’s armor?
All Scripture quotations taken from The Tree of Life Version