Ephesians 6:14
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14-17) In this magnificent passage, while it would be unreasonable to look for formal and systematic exactness, it is clear that (as usual in St. Paul’s most figurative passages) there runs through the whole a distinct method of idea. Thus (1) the order in which the armour in enumerated is clearly the order in which the armour of the Roman soldier was actually put on. It nearly corresponds with the invariable order in which Homer describes over and over again the arming of his heroes. First the belt and the corselet, which met and together formed the body armour; then the sandals; next the shield, and after this (for the strap of the great shield could hardly pass over the helmet) the helmet itself; then the soldier was armed, and only had to take up the sword and spear. It is curious to note that St. Paul omits the spear (the pilum of the Roman soldier)—exactly that part of his equipment which, when on guard within, the soldier would not be likely to assume. (2) Again, since “to put on the armour of light” is to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ,” it follows that the various parts of the defensive armour are the various parts of the image of the Lord Jesus Christ; hence they are properly His, and are through His gift appropriated by us. Thus the “righteousness” is clearly the righteousness of Christ, realised in us (comp. Philippians 3:9); the sandals, which give firm footing, are the gospel of our peace in Him; the salvation is His salvation worked out in us. Only the sword is in no sense our own: it is the “Word of God” wielded by us, but in itself “living and powerful and sharp” (Hebrews 4:12).

(14) Your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.—There is here an obvious reference to two passages of Isaiah (Isaiah 11:5; Isaiah 59:17), “Righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins,” “He put on righteousness as a breastplate.” Truth and righteousness are virtually identical, or, at least, inseparable. Hence they are compared to the strong belt, and the breastplate continuous with it, forming together the armour of the body. Perhaps “truth” is taken as the belt because it is the one bond both of society and of individual character. But it is in the two together that men stand “armed strong in honesty.” In 1Thessalonians 5:8, the metaphor is different and perhaps less exact. There the breastplate is the “breastplate of faith and love”—that which here is the shield.

EPHESIANS

‘THE GIRDLE OF TRUTH’

Ephesians 6:14The general exhortation here points to the habitual attitude of the Christian soldier. However many conflicts he may have waged, he is still to be ever ready for fresh assaults, for in regard to them he may be quite sure that to-morrow will bring its own share of them, and that the evil day is never left behind so long as days still last. That general exhortation is followed by clauses which are sometimes said to be cotemporaneous with it, and to be definitions of the way in which it is to be accomplished, but they are much rather statements of what is to be done before the soldier takes his stand. He is to be fully equipped first: he is to take up his position second. We may note that, in all the list of his equipment, there is but one weapon of offence-the sword of the Spirit; all the rest are defensive weapons. The girdle, which is the first specified, is not properly a weapon at all, but it comes first because the belt keeps all the other parts of the armour in place, and gives agility to the wearer. Having girded your loins {R.V.} is better than having your loins girded {A.V.}, as bringing out more fully that the assumption of the belt is the soldier’s own doing.

I. We must be braced up if we are to fight.

Concentration and tension of power is an absolute necessity for any effort, no matter how poor may be the aims to which it is directed, and what is needed for the successful prosecution of the lowest transient successes will surely not be less indispensable in the highest forms of life. If a poor runner for a wreath of parsley or of laurel cannot hope to win the fading prize unless all his powers are strained to the uttermost, the Christian athlete has still more certainly to run, so as the racer has to do, ‘that he may obtain.’ Loose-flowing robes are caught by every thorn by the way, and a soul which is not girded up is sure to be hindered in its course. ‘This one thing I do’ is the secret of all successful doing, and obedience to the command of Jesus, ‘let your loins be girded about,’ is indispensable, if we would avoid polluting contact with evil. His other command associated with it will never be accomplished without it. The lamps will not be burning unless the loins are girt. The men who scatter their loves and thoughts over a wide space, and to whom the discipline which confines their energies within definite channels is distasteful, are destined to be failures in the struggle of life. It is better to have our lives running between narrow banks, and so to have a scour in the stream, than to have them spreading wide and shallow, with no driving force in all the useless expanse. Such concentration and bracing of oneself up is needful, if any of the rest of the great exhortations which follow are to be fulfilled.

It may be that Paul here has haunting his memory our Lord’s words which we have just quoted; and, in any case, he is in beautiful accord with his brother Peter, who begins all the exhortations of his epistle with the words, ‘Wherefore, girding up the loins of your mind, be sober, and set your minds perfectly upon the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.’ Peter, indeed, is not thinking of the soldier’s belt, but he is, no doubt, remembering many a time when, in the toils of the fishing-boat, he had to tighten his robes round his waist to prepare for tugging at the oar, and he feels that such concentration is needful if a Christian life is ever to be sober, and to have its hope set perfectly on Christ and His grace.

II. The girdle is to be truth.

The question immediately arises as to whether truth here means objective truth-the truth of the Gospel, or subjective truth, or, as we are accustomed to say, truthfulness. It would seem that the former signification is rather included in the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and it is best to regard the phrase ‘with {literally "in"} truth’ here as having its ordinary meaning, of which we may take as examples the phrases, ‘the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth’; ‘love rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth’; ‘whom I love in truth.’ Absolute sincerity and transparent truthfulness may well be regarded as the girdle which encloses and keeps secure every other Christian grace and virtue.

We do not need to go far to find a slight tinge of unreality marring the Christian life: we have only to scrutinise our own experiences to detect some tendency to affectation, to saying a little more than is quite true, even in our sincerest worship. And we cannot but recognise that in all Christian communities there is present an element of conventionalism in their prayers, and that often the public expression of religious emotions goes far beyond the realities of feeling in the worshippers. In fact, terrible as the acknowledgment may be, we shall be blind if we do not recognise that the average Christianity of this day suffers from nothing more than it does from the lack of this transparent sincerity, and of absolute correspondence between inward fact and outward expression. Types of Christianity which make much of emotion are, of course, specially exposed to such a danger, but those which make least of it are not exempt, and we all need to lay to heart, far more seriously than we ordinarily do, that God ‘desires truth in the outward parts.’ The sturdy English moralist who proclaimed ‘Clear your mind of cant’ as the first condition of attaining wisdom, was not so very far from Paul’s point of view in our text, but his exhortation covered but a small section of the Apostle’s.

This absolute sincerity is hard to attain, and still harder to retain. Hideous as the fact of posing or attitudinising in our religion may be, it is one that comes very easily to us all, and, when it comes, spreads fast and spoils everything. Just as the legionary’s armour was held in its place by the girdle, and if that worked loose or was carelessly fastened, the breastplate would be sure to get out of position, so all the subsequent graces largely depend for their vigorous exercise on the prime virtue of truthfulness. Righteousness and faith will be weakened by the fatal taint of insincerity, and, on the other hand, conscious truthfulness will give strength to the whole man. Braced up and concentrated, our powers for all service and for all conflict will be increased. ‘The bond of perfectness’ is, no doubt, ‘Love,’ but that perfect bond will not be worn by us, unless we have girded our loins with truthfulness.

It may be that in Paul’s memory there is floating Isaiah’s great vision of the ‘Branch’ out of the stock of Jesse, on whom the Spirit of the Lord was to rest, and on whom it was proclaimed that faithfulness {or as it is rendered in the Septuagint, by the same phrase which the Apostle here employs, ‘in truth’} was to be the girdle of his reins; but, at all events, that which the prophet saw to be in the ideal Messiah, the Apostle sees as essential to all the subjects of that King.

III. Our truthfulness is the work of God’s truth.

We have already pointed out that the expression in the text may either be taken as referring to the subjective quality of truthfulness, or to the objective truth of God as contained in the Gospel, but these two interpretations may be united, for the main factor in producing the former is the faithful use of the latter and an honest submission to its operation. The Psalmist of old had learned that the great safeguard against sin was the resolve, ‘Thy word have I hid in my heart.’ That word brings to bear the mightiest motives that can sway life. It moves by love, by fear, by hope: it proposes the loftiest aim, even to imitate God as dear children; it gives clear directions, and draws straight and plain the pilgrim’s path; it holds out the largest promises, and in a measure fulfils them, even in the narrowest and most troubled lives. If we have made God’s truth our own, and are faithfully applying it to the details of daily life and submitting our whole selves to its operation, we shall be truthful and shall instinctively shrink from all unreality. If we know the truth as it is in Jesus, and walk in it, that ‘truth will make us free,’ and if thus ‘we are in Him that is true, even in His Son, Jesus Christ,’ that truth abiding in us, and with us, for ever, will make us truthful. In a heart so occupied and filled there is no room for the make-believes which are but too apt to creep into religious experience. Such a soul will recoil with an instinct of abhorrence from all that savours of ostentation, and will feel that its truest treasure cannot be shown. It is our duty not to hide God’s righteousness within our hearts, but it is equally our duty to hide His word there. We have to seek to make manifest the ‘savour of His knowledge in every place,’ but we have also to remember that in our hearts there is a secret place, and that ‘not easily forgiven are they who draw back the curtains,’ and let a careless world look in. It is not for others to pry into the hidden mysteries of the fellowship of a soul with the indwelling Christ, however it may be the Christian duty to show to all and sundry the blessed and transforming effects of that fellowship.

But God’s truth must be received and its power submitted to, if it is to implant in us the supreme grace of perfect truthfulness. Our minds and hearts must be saturated with it by many an hour of solitary reflection, by meditation which will diffuse its aroma like a fragrant perfume through our characters, and by the habit of bringing all circumstances, moods, and desires to be tested by its infallible criterion, and by the unreluctant acceptance of its guidance at every moment of our lives. There are many of us who, in a real though terribly imperfect sense, hold the truth, but who know nothing, or next to nothing, of its power to make us truthful. If it is to be of any use to us, we must make it ours in a far deeper sense than it is ours now; for many of us the girdle has been but carelessly fastened and has worked loose, and because, by our own faults, we have not ‘abode in the truth,’ it has come to pass that there is ‘no truth in us.’ We have set before us in the text the one condition on which all Christian progress depends, and if by any slackness we loosen the girdle of truthfulness, and admit into our religious life any taint of unreality, if our prayers say just a little more than is quite true, and our penitence a little less, we shall speedily find that hypocrisy and trivial insincerity are separated by very narrow limits. God’s truth in the Gospel cleanses the inner man, but not without his own effort, and, therefore, we are commanded to ‘cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness, in the fear of the Lord.’

EPHESIANS

‘THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS’

Ephesians 6:14There can be no doubt that in this whole context the Apostle has in mind the great passage in Isaiah 59 where the prophet, in a figure of extreme boldness, describes the Lord as arming Himself to deliver the oppressed faithful, and coming as a Redeemer to Zion. In that passage the Lord puts on righteousness as a breastplate-that is to say, God, in His manifestation of Himself for the deliverance of His people, comes forth as if arrayed in the glittering armour of righteousness. Paul does not shrink from applying the same metaphor to those who are to be ‘imitators of God as beloved children,’ and from urging upon them that, in their humble degree and lowly measure, they too are to be clothed in the bright armour of moral rectitude. This righteousness is manifested in character and in conduct, and as the breastplate guards the vital organs from assault, it will keep the heart unwounded.

We must note that Paul here gathers up the whole sum of Christian character and conduct into one word. All can be expressed, however diversified may be the manifestations, by the one sovereign term ‘righteousness,’ and that is not merely a hasty generalisation, or a too rapid synthesis. As all sin has one root and is genetically one, so all goodness is at bottom one. The germ of sin is living to oneself: the germ of goodness is living to God. Though the degrees of development of either opposite are infinite, and the forms of its expression innumerable, yet the root of each is one.

Paul thinks of righteousness as existent before the Christian soldier puts it on. In this thought we are not merely relying on the metaphor of our text, but bringing it into accord with the whole tone of New Testament teaching, which knows of only one way in which any soul that has been living to self, and therefore to sin, can attain to living to God, and therefore can be righteous. We must receive, if we are ever to possess, the righteousness which is of God, and which becomes ours through Jesus Christ. The righteousness which shines as a fair but unattainable vision before sinful men, has a real existence, and may be theirs. It is not to be self-elaborated, but to be received.

That existent righteousness is to be put on. Other places of Scripture figure it as the robe of righteousness; here it is conceived of as the breastplate, but the idea of assumption is the same. It is to be put on, primarily, by faith. It is given in Christ to simple belief. He that hath faith thereby has the righteousness which is through faith in Christ, for in his faith he has the one formative principle of reliance on God, which will gradually refine character and mould conduct into whatsoever things are lovely and of good report. That righteousness which faith receives is no mere forensic treating of the unjust as just, but whilst it does bring with it pardon and oblivion from past transgressions, it makes a man in the depths of his being righteous, however slowly it may afterwards transform his conduct. The faith which is a departure from all reliance on works of righteousness which we have done, and is a single-eyed reliance on the work of Jesus Christ, opens the heart in which it is planted to all the influences of that life which was in Jesus, that from Him it may be in us. If Christ be in us {and if He is not, we are none of His}, ‘the spirit is life because of righteousness,’ however the body may still be ‘dead because of sin.’

But the putting on of the breastplate requires effort as well as faith, and effort will be vigorous in the measure in which faith is vivid, but it should follow, not precede or supplant, faith. There is no more hopeless and weary advice than would be the exhortation of our text if it stood alone. It is a counsel of despair to tell a man to put on that breastplate, and to leave him in doubt where he is to find it, or whether he has to hammer it together by his own efforts before he can put it on. There is no more unprofitable expenditure of breath than the cry to men, Be good! Be good! Moral teaching without Gospel preaching is little better than a waste of breath.

This injunction is continuously imperative upon all Christian soldiers. They are on the march through the enemy’s country, and can never safely lay aside their armour. After all successes, and no less after all failures, we have still to arm ourselves for the fight, and it is to be remembered that the righteousness of which Paul speaks differs from common earthly moralities only as including and transcending them all. It is, alas, too true that Christian righteousness has been by Christians set forth as something fantastic and unreal, remote from ordinary life, and far too heavenly-minded to care for common virtues. Let us never forget that Jesus Himself has warned us, that except our righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, we shall in no wise enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The greater orbit encloses the lesser within itself.

The breastplate of righteousness is our defence against evil. The opposition to temptation is best carried on by the positive cultivation of good. A habit of righteous conduct is itself a defence against temptation. Untilled fields bear abundant weeds. The used tool does not rust, nor the running water gather scum. The robe of righteousness will guard the heart as effectually as a coat of mail. The positive employment with good weakens temptation, and arms us against evil. But so long as we are here our righteousness must be militant, and we must be content to live ever armed to meet the enemy which is always hanging round us, and watching for an opportunity to strike. The time will come when we shall put off the breastplate and put on the fine linen ‘clean and white,’ which is the heavenly and final form of the righteousness of Saints.6:10-18 Spiritual strength and courage are needed for our spiritual warfare and suffering. Those who would prove themselves to have true grace, must aim at all grace; and put on the whole armour of God, which he prepares and bestows. The Christian armour is made to be worn; and there is no putting off our armour till we have done our warfare, and finished our course. The combat is not against human enemies, nor against our own corrupt nature only; we have to do with an enemy who has a thousand ways of beguiling unstable souls. The devils assault us in the things that belong to our souls, and labour to deface the heavenly image in our hearts. We must resolve by God's grace, not to yield to Satan. Resist him, and he will flee. If we give way, he will get ground. If we distrust either our cause, or our Leader, or our armour, we give him advantage. The different parts of the armour of heavy-armed soldiers, who had to sustain the fiercest assaults of the enemy, are here described. There is none for the back; nothing to defend those who turn back in the Christian warfare. Truth, or sincerity, is the girdle. This girds on all the other pieces of our armour, and is first mentioned. There can be no religion without sincerity. The righteousness of Christ, imputed to us, is a breastplate against the arrows of Divine wrath. The righteousness of Christ implanted in us, fortifies the heart against the attacks of Satan. Resolution must be as greaves, or armour to our legs; and to stand their ground or to march forward in rugged paths, the feet must be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Motives to obedience, amidst trials, must be drawn from a clear knowledge of the gospel. Faith is all in all in an hour of temptation. Faith, as relying on unseen objects, receiving Christ and the benefits of redemption, and so deriving grace from him, is like a shield, a defence every way. The devil is the wicked one. Violent temptations, by which the soul is set on fire of hell, are darts Satan shoots at us. Also, hard thoughts of God, and as to ourselves. Faith applying the word of God and the grace of Christ, quenches the darts of temptation. Salvation must be our helmet. A good hope of salvation, a Scriptural expectation of victory, will purify the soul, and keep it from being defiled by Satan. To the Christian armed for defense in battle, the apostle recommends only one weapon of attack; but it is enough, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. It subdues and mortifies evil desires and blasphemous thoughts as they rise within; and answers unbelief and error as they assault from without. A single text, well understood, and rightly applied, at once destroys a temptation or an objection, and subdues the most formidable adversary. Prayer must fasten all the other parts of our Christian armour. There are other duties of religion, and of our stations in the world, but we must keep up times of prayer. Though set and solemn prayer may not be seasonable when other duties are to be done, yet short pious prayers darted out, always are so. We must use holy thoughts in our ordinary course. A vain heart will be vain in prayer. We must pray with all kinds of prayer, public, private, and secret; social and solitary; solemn and sudden: with all the parts of prayer; confession of sin, petition for mercy, and thanksgiving for favours received. And we must do it by the grace of God the Holy Spirit, in dependence on, and according to, his teaching. We must preserve in particular requests, notwithstanding discouragements. We must pray, not for ourselves only, but for all saints. Our enemies are mighty, and we are without strength, but our Redeemer is almighty, and in the power of his mighty we may overcome. Wherefore we must stir up ourselves. Have not we, when God has called, often neglected to answer? Let us think upon these things, and continue our prayers with patience.Stand therefore - Resist every attack - as a soldier does in battle. In what way they were to do this, and how they were to be armed, the apostle proceeds to specify; and in doing it, gives a description of the ancient armor of a soldier.

Having your loins girt about - The "girdle, or sash," was always with the ancients an important part of their dress, in war as well as in peace. They wore loose, flowing robes; and it became necessary to gird them up when they traveled, or ran, or labored. The girdle was often highly ornamented, and was the place where they carried their money, their sword, their pipe, their writing instruments, etc.; see the notes on Matthew 5:38-41. The "girdle" seems sometimes to have been a cincture of iron or steel, and designed to keep every part of the armor in its place, and to gird the soldier on every side.

With truth - It may not be easy to determine with entire accuracy the resemblance between the parts of the armor specified in this description, and the things with which they are compared, or to determine precisely why he compared truth to a girdle, and "righteousness" to a breast-plate, rather than why he should have chosen a different order, and compared righteousness to a girdle, etc. Perhaps in themselves there may have been no special reason for this arrangement, but the object may have been merely to specify the different parts of the armor of a soldier, and to compare them with the weapons which Christians were to use, though the comparison should be made somewhat at random. In some of the cases, however, we can see a particular significancy in the comparisons which are made; and it may not be improper to make suggestions of that kind as we go along. The idea here may be, that as the girdle was the bracer up, or support of the body, so truth is suited to brace us up, and to gird us for constancy and firmness. The girdle kept all the parts of the armor in their proper place, and preserved firmness and consistency in the dress; and so truth might serve to give consistency and firmness to our conduct. "Great," says Grotius, "is the laxity of falsehood; truth binds the man." Truth preserves a man from those lax views of morals, of duty and of religion, which leave him exposed to every assault. It makes the soul sincere, firm, constant, and always on its guard. A man who has no consistent views of truth, is just the man for the adversary successfully to assail.

And having on the breast-plate - The word rendered here as "breastplate" θώρἀξ thōrax denoted the "cuirass," Lat.: lorica, or coat of mail; i. e., the armor that covered the body from the neck to the thighs, and consisted of two parts, one covering the front and the other the back. It was made of rings, or in the form of scales, or of plates, so fastened together that they, would be flexible, and yet guard the body from a sword, spear, or arrow. It is referred to in the Scriptures as a "coat of mail" 1 Samuel 17:5; an "habergeon" Nehemiah 4:16, or as a "breast-plate." We are told that Goliath's coat of mail weighed five thousand shekels of brass, or nearly one hundred and sixty pounds. It was often formed of plates of brass, laid one upon another, like the scales of a fish. The following cuts will give an idea of this ancient piece of armor.

Of righteousness - Integrity, holiness, purity of life, sincerity of piety. The breast-plate defended the vital parts of the body; and the idea here may be that the integrity of life, and righteousness of character, is as necessary to defend us from the assaults of Satan, as the coat of mail was to preserve the heart from the arrows of an enemy. It was the incorruptible integrity of Job, and, in a higher sense, of the Redeemer himself, that saved them from the temptations of the devil. And it is as true now that no one can successfully meet the power of temptation unless he is righteous, as that a soldier could not defend himself against a foe without such a coat of mail. A want of integrity will leave a man exposed to the assaults of the enemy, just as a man would be whose coat of mail was defective, or some part of which was missing. The king of Israel was smitten by an arrow sent from a bow, drawn at a venture, "between the joints of his harness" or the "breast-plate" (margin), 1 Kings 22:34; and many a man who thinks he has on the "Christian" armor is smitten in the same manner. There is some defect of character; some want of incorruptible integrity; some point that is unguarded - and that will be sure to be the point of attack by the foe. So David was tempted to commit the enormous crimes that stain his memory, and Peter to deny his Lord. So Judas was assailed, for the want of the armor of righteousness, through his avarice; and so, by some want of incorruptible integrity in a single point, many a minister of the gospel has been assailed and has fallen. It may be added here, that we need a righteousness which God alone can give; the righteousness of God our Saviour, to make us perfectly invulnerable to all the arrows of the foe.

14. Stand—The repetition in Eph 6:11, 14, shows that standing, that is, maintaining our ground, not yielding or fleeing, is the grand aim of the Christian soldier. Translate as Greek, "Having girt about your loins with truth," that is, with truthfulness, sincerity, a good conscience (2Co 1:12; 1Ti 1:5, 18; 3:9). Truth is the band that girds up and keeps together the flowing robes, so as that the Christian soldier may be unencumbered for action. So the Passover was eaten with the loins girt, and the shoes on the feet (Ex 12:11; compare Isa 5:27; Lu 12:35). Faithfulness (Septuagint, "truth") is the girdle of Messiah (Isa 11:5): so truth of His followers.

having on—Greek, "having put on."

breastplate of righteousness—(Isa 59:17), similarly of Messiah. "Righteousness" is here joined with "truth," as in Eph 5:9: righteousness in works, truth in words [Estius] (1Jo 3:7). Christ's righteousness inwrought in us by the Spirit. "Faith and love," that is, faith working righteousness by love, are "the breastplate" in 1Th 5:8.

Stand therefore: standing here (in a different sense from what it was taken in before) seems to imply watchfulness, readiness for the combat, and keeping our places, both as to our general and particular callings: if soldiers leave their ranks they endanger themselves.

Having your loins girt about with truth: having exhorted to put on the whole armour of God, he descends to the particulars of it, both defensive and offensive. We need not be over curious in inquiring into the reason of the names here given to the several parts of a Christian’s armour, and the analogy between them and corporal arms, the apostle using these terms promiscuously, 1 Thessalonians 5:8, and designing only to show that what bodily arms are to soldiers, that these spiritual arms might be to Christians; yet some reason may be given of these denominations. He begins with the furniture for the loins, the seat of strength, and alludes to the belt or military girdle, which was both for ornament and strength; and so is

truth, understood either of the truth of doctrine, or rather, (because that comes in afterward under the title of the sword of the Spirit), of soundness, and sincerity of heart, than which nothing doth more beautify or adorn a Christian. He alludes to Isaiah 59:17: see 2 Corinthians 1:12 1 Timothy 1:5,19.

And having on the breastplate of righteousness; righteousness of conversation, consisting both in a resolvedness for good, and repentance for evil done, which is as a breastplate (that piece of armour which covers the whole breast and belly) to a Christian; that resolvedness against sin fencing him against temptation, and the conscience of well-doing against the accusations of men and devils: see 1 Corinthians 4:3,4 1Jo 3:7. Stand therefore,.... Keep your ground, do not desert the army, the church of Christ, nor his cause; continue in the station in which you are placed, keep your post, be upon your watch, stand upon your guard:

having your loins girt about with truth; by which is meant the Gospel, and the several doctrines of it; see Ephesians 1:13; and to have the loins girt with it, shows, that it should be near and close to the saints, and never departed from; and that it is a means of keeping them close to God and Christ, and of strengthening them against the assaults and attacks of Satan; and is of great use in the Christians' spiritual conflict with their enemies; the girdle is a part of armour, and so considerable as sometimes to be put for the whole, Isaiah 5:27; and here it is mentioned in the first place:

and having on the breastplate of righteousness; in allusion to Isaiah 59:17, meaning not works of righteousness done by men, though these are a fence when rightly used against the reproaches and charges of the enemy, as they were by Samuel, 1 Samuel 12:3, but rather the graces of faith and love, 1 Thessalonians 5:8, though faith has another place in the Christian armour, afterwards mentioned; wherefore it seems best to understand this of the righteousness of Christ, which being imputed by God, and received by faith, is a guard against, and repels the accusations and charges of Satan, and is a security from all wrath and condemnation.

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ephesians 6:14. In what manner they accordingly, clad conformably to the preceding requirement in the πανοπλία τοῦ Θεοῦ, are to stand forth.

στῆτε] is not again, like the preceding στῆναι, the standing of the victor, but the standing forth of the man ready for the combat. Besides Isaiah 59:17, Wis 5:17 ff., see also Rabbinical passages for the figurative reference of particular weapons to the means of spiritual conflict, in Schoettgen, Horae, p. 791 f.

περιζωσάμενοι τὴν ὀσφύν] having your loins girt about. Comp. Isaiah 11:5. For the singular τ. ὀσφ., comp. Eur. Electr. 454: ταχυπόρος πόδα, and see Elmsley, ad Eur. Med. 1077. The girdle or belt (ζωστήρ, covering the loins and the part of the body below the breastplate, also called ζώνη, Jacobs, ad Anthol. VIII. p. 177, not to be confounded with ζῶμα, the lower part of the coat of mail) is first mentioned by the apostle, because to have put on this was the first and most essential requirement of the warrior standing armed ready for the fight; to speak of a well-equipped warrior without a girdle is a contradictio in adjecto, for it was just the girdle which produced the free bearing and movement and the necessary attitude of the warrior. Hence it is not to be assumed, with Harless, that Paul thought of the girdle as an ornament. Comp. 1 Peter 1:13.

ἐν ἀληθείᾳ] instrumental. With truth they are to be girt about, i.e. truth is to be their girdle. Comp. Isaiah 11:5. As for the actual warrior the whole aptus habitus for the combat (this is the tertium comparationis) would be wanting in the absence of the girdle; so also for the spiritual warrior, if he is not furnished with truth. From this it is at once clear that ἀλήθεια is not to be taken objectively, of the gospel, which, on the contrary, is only designated later, Ephesians 6:17, by ῥῆμα Θεοῦ; but subjectively, of truth as inward property, i.e. harmony of knowledge with the objective truth given in the gospel. The explanation sincerity (Calvin, Boyd, Estius, Olshausen, Bisping, and others) is, as expressive only of a single virtue, according to the context too narrow (compare the following δικαιοσύνη, πίστις κ.τ.λ.), and the notion, moreover, would merge into that of the following δικαιοσύνη, an objection which applies likewise to the explanation Christian integrity (Morus, Winzer).

τὴν θώρακα τῆς δικαιοσ.] Genitivus appositionis; comp. 1 Thessalonians 5:8; Wis 5:19; Soph. O. R. 170: φροντίδος ἔγχος. As the actual warrior has protected the breast, when he “θώρηκα περὶ στήθεσσιν ἔδυνεν” (Hom. Il. iii. 332), so with you δικαιοσύνη is to be that, which renders your breast (heart and will) inaccessible to the hostile influences of the demons. δικαιοσύνη is here Christian moral rectitude (Romans 6:13), inasmuch as, justified through faith, we are dead to sin and live ἐν καινότητι ζωῆς (Romans 6:4). Harless and Winzer understand the righteousness by faith, by which, however, inasmuch as this righteousness is given with faith, the θυρεὸς τῆς πίστεως, subsequently singled out quite specially, is anticipated. As previously the intellectual rectitude of the Christian was denoted by ἀλήθεια, so here his moral rectitude by δικαιοσύνη.Ephesians 6:14. στῆτε οὑν περιζωσάμενοι τὴν ὀσφὺν ὑμῶν ἐν ἀληθείᾳ: stand, therefore, having girded your loins with truth. In some few authorities στῆτε οὐν is omitted (Victor., Ambrstr.); in others the οὖν is omitted and στῆτε is retained ([824]*[825] [826], Cyp., etc.). ὀσφυς is accentuated ὀσφῦς by TR and Treg.; but ὀσφύς by LTWH. The aor. στῆτε may perhaps be best rendered, “take your stand,” the definite act being in view. The spiritual warrior who has kept his position victorious and stood above his conquered foe in one “evil day,” is to take his stand again ready to face another such critical day, should it come. The following sentences explain what has to be done if he is thus to stand. The aorists can scarcely be the contemporary aorists or definitions of the way in which they were to stand; for it would not be the mark of the good soldier that he left his equipment to be attended to till the very time when he had to take up his position. They are proper pasts, stating what has to be done before one takes up his stand. First in the list of these articles of equipment is mentioned the girdle. Appropriately so; for the soldier might be furnished with every other part of his equipment, and yet, wanting the girdle, would be neither fully accoutred nor securely armed. His belt or baldric (ζωστήρ or (later) ζωνή) was no mere adornment of the soldier, but an essential part of his equipment. Passing round the loins and by the end of the breastplate (in later times supporting the sword), it was of especial use in keeping other parts in place, and in securing the proper soldierly attitude and freedom of movement. The περιζωσάμενοι is better rendered (with RV) “having girded your loins,” than “having your loins girt” (with AV); for the girding is the soldier’s own act by help of God’s grace (cf. Luke 12:35 and the ἀναζωσάμενοὶ τὰς ὀσφύας of 1 Peter 1:13). The sing. ὀσφύς is used now and again in the LXX as the rendering of הֲלָצַיִם = the two loins, and so it is used here and in Acts 2:30; Hebrews 7:5; Hebrews 7:10. The ἐν in ἐν ἀληθείᾳ is the instrum. ἐν, perhaps with some reference to the other parts being within the girdle (Ell.; cf. περιεζωσμένος ἐν δυναστείᾳ, Psalm 64:7). But what is this ἀληθεία which is to make our spiritual cincture? It has been taken in the objective sense, the truth of the Gospel (Oec.). But that is afterwards identified with the sword (Ephesians 6:17). It is subjective truth (cf. Ephesians 6:9 above). But in what sense again? In that, says Meyer, of “harmony of knowledge with the objective truth given in the Gospel”; in that, as Ell. puts it, “of the inward practical acknowledgment of the truth as it is in Him” (Christ). But in its subjective applications ἀληθεία means most obviously the personal grace of candour, sincerity, truthfulness (John 8:44; 1 Corinthians 5:8; 1 Corinthians 13:6; 2 John 1:1; 3 John 1:1), as it is used also of the veracity of God (Romans 15:8). It seems simplest, therefore, and most accordant with usage to take it so here (with Calv., etc.). And this plain grace of openness, truthfulness, reality, the mind that will practise no deceits and attempt no disguises in our intercourse with God, is indeed vital to Christian safety and essential to the due operation of all the other qualities of character. In Isaiah 11:5 righteousness is combined with truth in this matter of girdingἔσται δικαιοσύνῃ ἐζωσμένος τὴν ὀσφὺν αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἀληθείᾳ εἱλημένος τὰς πλευράς—in the case of the Messianic Branch out of the roots of Jesse.—καὶ ἐνδυσάμενοι τὸν θώρακα τῆς δικαιοσύνης: and having put on the breastplate of righteousness. As the soldier covers his breast with the θώραξ to make it secure against the disabling wound, so the Christian is to endue himself with righteousness so as to make his heart and will proof against the fatal thrust of his spiritual assailants. This δικαιοσύνη is taken by some (Harl., etc.) as the righteousness of justification, the righteousness of faith. But faith is mentioned by itself, and as the ἀληθεία was the quality of truthfulness, so the δικαιοσύνη is the quality of moral rectitude (cf. Romans 6:13), as seen in the regenerate. The gen. is to be understood as that of apposition or identity, = “the breastplate which is righteousness”. In the analogous passage in 1 Thessalonians 5:8 the breastplate is faith and love, and with it is named the helmet, which is introduced later in this paragraph. In the fundamental passage in Isaiah 59:17 we have the breastplate and the helmet again mentioned together, and the former identified as here with righteousnessἐνεδύσατο δικαιοσύνην ὡς θώρακα.

[824] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.

[825] Codex Augiensis (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., at Trinity College, Cambridge, edited by Scrivener in 1859. Its Greek text is almost identical with that of G, and it is therefore not cited save where it differs from that MS. Its Latin version, f, presents the Vulgate text with some modifications.

[826] Codex Boernerianus (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., at Dresden, edited by Matthæi in 1791. Written by an Irish scribe, it once formed part of the same volume as Codex Sangallensis (δ) of the Gospels. The Latin text, g, is based on the O.L. translation.14. Stand] See last note. Here, as throughout the passage, the tense of this verb is aorist. A decisive act of taking a conscious stand, or a succession of such acts, is implied.

having your loins girt] Lit., and far better, having girded your loins (R. V.). The girding is the own act, by grace, of the regenerate will.

Your loins:—cp. Exodus 12:11; Job 38:3; Job 40:7; Psalm 18:39; Isaiah 11:5; Luke 12:35; 1 Peter 1:13. The well-fastened girdle kept together the soldier’s dress and accoutrements, and added conscious vigour to his frame.

with truth] Lit., “in truth”; and the “in” may very possibly keep its direct meaning; for the girded body is within the girdle. But this meaning would be conveyed in English by “with.”

Truth:—not “the truth”; a phrase which would decisively mean “the true message of the Gospel.” The absence of the article leaves us free to explain the word of the sincerity, reality, and simplicity of the regenerate man. For this use of the word in St Paul see e.g. 1 Corinthians 5:8; 2 Corinthians 7:14; 2 Corinthians 11:10; above, ch. Ephesians 5:9; Php 1:18. The grasp on revealed Truth is indeed all-important, but it must be made “in truth,” in personal sincerity, if it is to avail in the spiritual struggle. And this meaning of the word well corresponds to the imagery. Unreality, whether in trust or self-surrender, is fatal to the coherence of the Christian life. Meanwhile it must be remembered that the “panoply” is “of God,” and that “truth” is here, accordingly, a supernatural grace, that simplicity of attitude and action towards God, His word and His will, which is a gift of regeneration alone.—In Isaiah 11:5 “righteousness” and “faithfulness” are Messiah’s girdle.

having on] Lit., and far better, having put on; the same verb as Ephesians 6:11. The tense is aorist. The believer is summoned to a decisive renewal of his exercise of grace.

the breastplate] Cp. Isaiah 59:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:8. And see note above on Ephesians 6:11 for the apocryphal parallel.—The breastplate covers the heart. Here the heart in its figurative and spiritual sense (see on Ephesians 1:18, Ephesians 3:17) is in question; how to protect it and its action, in the great conflict.

righteousness] Cp. 2 Corinthians 6:7.—One leading explanation of this word here is Christ’s Righteousness as our Justification. According to this, the warrior is to oppose the Divine fact of Jehovah Tsidkenu (Jeremiah 23:6; cp. Romans 3, 4; Philippians , 2) to the strategy of the Accuser (Romans 8:33-34). But this class of truth falls rather under the figures of the shoes and the shield (see below). Here (in view esp. of Isaiah 59:17, where “righteousness” is Jehovah’s breastplate), it is better to explain it of the believer’s personal righteousness, i.e. his loyalty in principle and action to the holy Law of God. For clear cases of this meaning of the word (the root-meaning with reference to all others) in St Paul, cp. Romans 6:13; Romans 14:17; 2 Corinthians 6:14; 2 Corinthians 9:9-10; above, Ephesians 4:24, Ephesians 5:9; Php 1:11; 1 Timothy 6:11; and see Titus 2:12.

The idea is closely kindred to that of “truth,” just considered. But it is strictly defined by the correlative idea of Law. The believer is armed at the heart against the Tempter by definite and supreme reverence for the Law, the revealed preceptive Will of God. So Daniel was armed (Daniel 1, 6), and the Three (Daniel 3).

Here, as under the word “truth,” remember that the armour is “of God.” See note on “truth,” above.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:8 the breastplate is “faith and love.” There is no discrepancy in the difference. Loyalty to the Divine Law is inseparably connected with trust in the word of God and love of His will.Ephesians 6:14. [103] Περιζωσάμενοι, being girt about) that you may be unencumbered [ready for action]. Comp. Luke 12:35; Exodus 12:11; Isaiah 5:27.—τὴν ὀσφὺν ὑμῶν ἐν ἀληθείᾳ, your loins with truth) according to the example of the Messiah, Isaiah 11:5.—ἐνδυσάμενοι τὸν θώρακα τῆς δικαιοσύνηςκαὶ τὴν περικεφαλαίαν τοῦ σωτηρίου) having put on the breastplate of righteousness—and the helmet of salvation. Isaiah 59:17, And He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and placed the helmet of salvation on His head. The seat of conscience is in the breast, which is defended by righteousness.—τῆς δικαιοσύνης, of righteousness) Isaiah 11 already quoted. For often truth and righteousness are joined, ch. Ephesians 5:9. The enemy is to be vanquished by all things contrary to his own nature.

[103] Στῆναι, to stand, for the sake of fighting, Ephesians 6:14.—V. g.Verse 14. - Stand therefore, having girt about your loins with truth. The "stand" in ver. 13 denotes the end of the conflict; this "stand" is at the beginning. Obviously there must be a firm stand at the beginning if there is to be at the end. In order to this, we must fasten the girdle round our loins - viz, truth, here used in a comprehensive sense, denoting honesty; sincerity of profession in opposition to all sham, levity, hypocrisy; and likewise the element of "truth in Jesus" (Ephesians 5:21), the substance of the gospel revelation. We are to gird ourselves in truth, ἐν ἀληθείᾳ, establishing ourselves in that element, wrapping it round us; ἐν ἀληθείᾳ, literally, "girded in truth." And having put on the breastplate of righteousness. Comp. Ephesians 5:24, for at least one element of the righteousness - righteousness wrought in us by the Holy Ghost after the image of Christ. But a more comprehensive use of the term is not excluded - the whole righteousness that we derive from Christ - righteousness imputed and righteousness infused. Having your loins girt about (περιζωσάμενοι τὴν ὀσφὺν)

The verb is middle, not passive. Rev., correctly, having girded. Compare Isaiah 11:5. The principal terms in this description of the christian armor are taken from the Septuagint of Isaiah.

Truth (ἀληθείᾳ)

The state of the heart answering to God's truth; inward, practical acknowledgment of the truth as it is in Him: the agreement of our convictions with God's revelation.

The loins encircled by the girdle form the central point of the physical system. Hence, in Scripture, the loins are described as the seat of power. "To smite through the loins" is to strike a fatal blow. "To lay affliction upon the loins" is to afflict heavily. Here was the point of junction for the main pieces of the body-armor, so that the girdle formed the common bond of the whole. Truth gives unity to the different virtues, and determinateness and consistency to character. All the virtues are exercised within the sphere of truth.

Breastplate of righteousness (θώρακα τῆς δικαιοσύνης)

Compare Isaiah 59:17. Righteousness is used here in the sense of moral rectitude. In 1 Thessalonians 5:8, the breastplate is described as of faith and love. Homer speaks of light-armed warriors armed with linen corsets; and these were worn to much later times by Asiatic soldiers, and were occasionally adopted by the Romans. Thus Suetonius says of Galba, that on the day on which he was slain by Otho's soldiers, he put on a linen corset, though aware that it would avail little against the enemy's daggers ("Galba," 19). Horn was used for this purpose by some of the barbarous nations. It was cut into small pieces, which were fastened like scales upon linen shirts. Later, the corset of metal scales fastened upon leather or linen, or of flexible bands of steel folding over each other, was introduced. They appear on Roman monuments of the times of the emperors. The Roman spearmen wore cuirasses of chain-mail. Virgil mentions those in which the linked rings were of gold ("Aeneid," iii., 467). The stiff cuirass called στάδιος standing upright, because, when placed upon its lower edge it stood erect, consisted of two parts: the breastplate, made of hard leather, bronze, or iron, and a corresponding plate covering the back. They were connected by leathern straps or metal bands passing over the shoulders and fastened in front, and by hinges on the right side.

The breastplate covers the vital parts, as the heart.

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