Ephesiansby Robert M. Solomon
Paul now directs our attention back to the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12). This is where he started out in his letter, when he stressed that all our blessings from God are in Christ in the heavenly realms (1:3).
At the beginning of his letter, he showed that Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father in the heavenly realms (1:20), and by God’s grace and power, we too are seated there (2:6). Paul then brought his discussion “down to earth” to show how, in the light of what God has done for us, we should live and how the church should manifest both unity and purity in all relationships. The apostle now moves back up (“Finally”, v. 10) to the heavenly realms, where a spiritual battle is taking place.
In the heavenly realms are “rulers”, “authorities”, “powers”, and “spiritual forces” (v. 12). These are spiritual forces allied with Satan and battling against God and the church. The list introduces us to strong forces of darkness, and a rather frightening army. But we must also remember that Jesus is enthroned above this diabolical army (1:20–21), having disarmed them at the cross (see Colossians 2:15). We must thus be neither presumptuous (for “our struggle is not against flesh and blood”, v. 12) nor fearful.
We are asked to be “strong in the Lord” (v. 10), for His mighty power will deal with the forces of evil. We should stand our ground. Note the repeated use of the word “stand” (vv. 11, 13, 14): the image is that of a Christian army which stands faithfully as it does God’s will.
Satan’s forces will attack and his schemes include what Bible commentator E. K. Simpson calls the “twofold infernal policy” of “intimidation and insinuation”. With iron fist and velvet glove, Satan will attempt to destabilise the church, but the church must stand her ground against the charge of the enemy. She must do this by relying on God’s might and strength and by putting on the “full armour of God” (vv. 11, 13).
This armour is a spiritual one. As we wear the full armour, we will be completely protected against the wicked spiritual powers. This is all the more urgent because the days are evil (vv. 13; 5:16)—we cannot afford to be complacent or presumptuous.
Do Christians take seriously the threat of spiritual forces that are at work against the church? If not, why? What are the dangers of going to the other extreme and being obsessed with fear of evil forces? What would constitute a biblical posture towards evil powers?
Why is it necessary to put on the full armour of God? How does this underline the truth that we must fight the spiritual battle with God’s strength and might? What does standing our ground entail?