Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Put on the whole armour.—The special emphasis in this verse is on “the whole armour,” or “panoply” (a word only used here and in Luke 11:22); not mainly on its strength or its brightness, as “armour of light” (comp. Romans 13:12), but on its completeness, providing against all “the wiles” and “all the fiery darts” of the Evil One, leaving no one point unguarded by a carelessness which may be fatal on all. In this it accords well with the general completeness and harmony of idea so characteristic of this Epistle.
To put on the “armour of God”—given us, that is, by God—is declared (by comparison of Romans 13:12; Romans 13:14) to be to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Hence its completeness corresponds to the divine perfection of His true humanity. We are “to grow up unto Him in all things” (Ephesians 4:15), to put on His image in all the harmony of “truth” and “righteousness,” of “peace” and “faith,” to receive and use His “salvation” and wield the spiritual energy of His “Word.”
The wiles of the devil.—The word “wiles” (used only here and in Ephesians 4:14) is an almost technical word for the stratagems of a skilful leader. It is notable that these “wiles” are ascribed to the devil, the “prince of the evil spirits” directing his hosts against the army of Christ; the actual “wrestling” of hand-to-hand struggle is with these evil spirits themselves. The word “wrestling” is, of course, not used technically, otherwise the counsel must have been (as in Hebrews 12:1) to divest oneself of all encumbrance. It is the personal grapple with the foe. Still it is possible that there may be some allusion to the “wrestling with the angel” of Genesis 32:24-29, though with a wholly diverse application.Ephesians 6:14-17. The word rendered "whole armor" πανοπλίαν panoplian, "panoply"), means "complete armor," offensive and defensive; see Luke 11:22; Romans 13:12 note; 2 Corinthians 6:7 note. "The armor of God" is not that which God wears, but that which he has provided for the Christian soldier. The meaning here is:
(1) that we are not to provide in our warfare such weapons as people employ in their contests, but such as God provides; that we are to renounce the weapons which are carnal, and put on such as God has directed for the achievement of the victory.
(2) we are to put on the "whole armor." We are not to go armed partly with what God has appointed, and partly with such weapons as people use; nor are we to put on "a part" of the armor only, but the "whole" of it. A man needs "all" that armor if he is about to fight the battles of the Lord; and if he lacks "one" of the weapons which God has appointed, defeat may be the consequence.
That ye may be able to stand - The foes are so numerous and mighty, that unless clothed with the divine armor, victory will be impossible.
Against the wiles of the devil - The word rendered "wiles" (μεθοδεία methodeia), means properly that which is traced out with "method;" that which is "methodized;" and then that which is well laid - art, skill, cunning. It occurs in the New Testament only in Ephesians 4:14, and in this place. It is appropriately rendered here as "wiles," meaning cunning devices, arts, attempts to delude and destroy us. The wiles "of the devil" are the various arts and stratagems which he employs to drag souls down to perdition. We can more easily encounter open force than we can cunning; and we need the weapons of Christian armor to meet the attempts to draw us into a snare, as much as to meet open force. The idea here is, that Satan does not carry on an open warfare. He does not meet the Christian soldier face to face. He advances covertly; makes his approaches in darkness; employs cunning rather than power, and seeks rather to delude and betray than to vanquish by mere force. Hence, the necessity of being constantly armed to meet him whenever the attack is made. A man who has to contend with a visible enemy, may feel safe if he only prepares to meet him in the open field. But far different is the case if the enemy is invisible; if he steals upon us slyly and stealthily; if he practices war only by ambushes and by surprises. Such is the foe that we have to contend with - and almost all the Christian struggle is a warfare against stratagems and wiles. Satan does not openly appear. He approaches us not in repulsive forms, but comes to recommend some plausible doctrine, to lay before us some temptation that shall not immediately repel us. He presents the world in an alluring aspect; invites us to pleasures that seem to be harmless, and leads us in indulgence until we have gone so far that we cannot retreat.
of God—furnished by God; not our own, else it would not stand (Ps 35:1-3). Spiritual, therefore, and mighty through God, not carnal (2Co 10:4).
wiles—literally, "schemes sought out" for deceiving (compare 2Co 11:14).
the devil—the ruling chief of the foes (Eph 6:12) organized into a kingdom of darkness (Mt 12:26), opposed to the kingdom of light.Put on the whole armour; get yourselves furnished with every grace, that none be wanting in you, no part naked and exposed to your enemies.
Of God; i.e. not carnal, but spiritual, and given by God: see 2 Corinthians 10:3,4 1 Thessalonians 5:8.
That ye may be able to stand; either to fight, or rather to overcome. He that loses the victory is said to fall; he that gains it, to stand: see Psalm 89:43.
Against the wiles of the devil: the devil useth arts and stratagems, as well as force and violence, and therefore, if any part of your spiritual armour be wanting, he will assault you where he finds you weakest. Ephesians 6:13; as being ready made and provided, and to expect and prepare for battle, and make use of it; and this supposes saints to be in a warfare state, and that they are in the character of soldiers, and have enemies to fight with, and therefore should be accoutred with proper and suitable armour, to meet them:
that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil; who is the grand enemy of Christ and his people, and a very powerful and cunning one he is; so that the whole armour of God should be put on, which is proof against all his might and craft, in order to stand against him, oppose him, and fight, and get the victory over him, which in the issue is always obtained by believers; for they not only stand their ground in the strength of Christ, and by the use of their armour confound his schemes, and baffle all his arts and stratagems, but are more than conquerors through him that has loved them.Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Ephesians 6:11. What they are to do in order to become thus strong, in connection with which the figurative discourse represents the readers as warriors (comp. 2 Corinthians 10:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:8; Romans 6:13; Romans 6:23; Romans 13:12; 1 Timothy 1:18; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7). The more familiar, however, this figure was to the apostle, the more freely and independently is it here carried out, although (comp. on τοῦ σωτηρίου, Ephesians 6:17) a reminiscence of Isaiah 59:17 (comp. Wis 5:17 ff., and thereon Grimm, Handb. p. 119 f.) underlies it.
τὴν πανοπλίαν τοῦ Θεοῦ] τὴν πανοπλ. has the emphasis. In the very fact that not merely single pieces of the armour (Luther: harness), but the whole armour of God is put on (“ne quid nobis desit,” Calvin), resides the capacity of resistance to the devil. If τοῦ Θεοῦ had the emphasis (Harless), there must have been a contrast to other spiritual weapons (for that no material, actual weapons were meant, was self-evident). Rightly, therefore, have most expositors kept by the literal meaning of πανοπλία, complete suit of armour of the heavy-armed soldier, ὁπλίτης (see Herod, i. 60; Plato, Legg. vii. p. 796 B; Bos, Exercitt. p. 192; Ottii Spicileg. p. 409); and the assertion (recently by Harless) that it here is equivalent generally to armatura (Vulgate, which was justly censured by Beza), is arbitrary and contrary to linguistic usage; even in Jdt 14:3, 2Ma 3:25, the notion of the complete equipment is to be adhered to. According to Polybius, vi. 23. 2 ff., there belong to the Roman ΠΑΝΟΠΛΊΑ shield, sword, greaves, spear, breastplate, helmet. But the circumstance that in the detailed carrying out of the figure, Ephesians 6:13 ff., not all these parts are mentioned (the spear is wanting), and withal some portions are brought in (girdle, military sandals) which did not belong exclusively to the equipment of the heavy-armed soldier, but to military equipment in general, can, least of all in the case of Paul, occasion surprise or betray a special set purpose. Whether, we may add, the apostle thought of a Jewish or a Roman warrior is, doubtless, substantially in itself a matter of indifference, since the kinds of armour in the two cases were in general the same (see Keil, Arch. § 158); but the latter supposition is the most natural, inasmuch as the Roman soldiery wielded the power in all the provinces, Paul himself was surrounded by Roman soldiery, and for most Gentile readers in a non-Jewish province the term πανοπλία could not but call up the thought of the Roman soldier. Even though Paul had, as we must suppose, the recollection of Isaiah 59:17 when he was employing such figurative language, this did not prevent his transferring the prophetic reminiscence to the conception of a Roman warrior (in opposition to Harless).
τοῦ Θεοῦ] genitivus auctoris: the πανοπλία, which comes from God, which God furnishes. Sense without the figure: “appropriate to yourselves all the means of defence and offence which God bestows, in order to be in a position to withstand the machinations of the devil.”
στῆναι πρός] stand one’s ground against; a military expression in keeping with the figure. See Kypke, II. p. 301. Comp. Thucyd. v. 104, and Poppo’s note thereon. The same thing is implied by στῆναι, with the dative, Hom. Il. xxi. 600. Comp. ἀντίστητε τῷ διαβόλῳ, Jam 4:7.
ΤᾺς ΜΕΘΟΔ.] See on Ephesians 4:14. The plural denotes the concrete manifestations, Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. i. 1. 11. Luther aptly renders: the wily assaults.
τοῦ διαβόλου] “principis hostium, qui Ephesians 6:12 ostenduntur,” Bengel.
 According to de Wette, we have here “a playful imitation in detail of 1 Thessalonians 5:8, in which use is made of Isaiah 59:17 (perhaps also of Wis 5:17 ff.).” An unwarranted judgment, inasmuch as Paul himself could here carry out more comprehensively his figure elsewhere thrown out in only a few outlines, and this he has done worthily and without attempt at play. An imitator, on the other hand, would here have assigned no other signification to the pieces of armour mentioned 1 Thessalonians 5:3 than they bear in that place.
 Of the manner in which Paul himself wore and wielded the πανοπλία τοῦ Θεοῦ, his whole labours and each one of his Epistles afford the most brilliant evidence; the latter especially in such outbursts as Romans 8:31 ff.; 2 Corinthians 4:4 ff., 2 Corinthians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 4:13 ff. Comp. also 2 Corinthians 10:4 f.Ephesians 6:11. ἐνδύσασθε τὴν πανοπλίαν τοῦ Θεοῦ: put on the whole armour of God. Further explanation of what has to be done in order to become strong enough to meet all enemies, even the devil. τοῦ Θεοῦ is the gen. of origin or source, = the panoply which comes from God or is provided by Him. To put the emphasis on the Θεοῦ (Harl.) is to miss the point and to suppose a contrast which there is nothing here to suggest, viz., with some other kind of panoply. The emphatic thing, as most exegetes notice, is the πανοπλίαν, the idea being that we need not only a Divine equipment, but that equipment in its completeness, without the lack of any single part. The fact that, in order to meet our spiritual foe, we need to take to ourselves all that God provides for living and for overcoming, is expressed in a telling figure drawn from the world of soldiery. The figure of the Christian as a warrior with his arms, wages, etc. (ὅπλα, ὄψωνια, etc.), occurs repeatedly in the Pauline writings (Romans 6:13; Romans 6:23; Romans 13:12; 2 Corinthians 10:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:8; 1 Timothy 1:18; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7). In briefer form the figure of the armour appears in 1 Thessalonians 5:8, and in its rudiments also in Isaiah 59:17; cf. also Wis 5:17, etc. πανοπλία is not armour simply (Vulg. armatura, Harl., etc.), but whole armour, the complete equipment of the Roman ὁπλίτης or “man of arms,” consisting of shield, helmet, breastplate, greaves, sword and lance; cf. Thuc., iii., 14; Isocr., 352 D; Herod., i., 60; Plato, Laws, vii., p. 796 B; and especially Polybius, vi., 23, 2, etc. The word occurs only once again in the NT (Luke 11:22). No doubt the Roman soldier is particularly in view. Paul, the Roman citizen, would think of him, and it was the Roman military power that filled the eye where Paul laboured and wrote.—πρὸς τὸ δύνασθαι ὑμᾶς στῆναι πρὸς τὰς μεθοδείας τοῦ διαβόλου: that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Statement of the object of the putting on of this panoply. The general sense of direction conveyed by the flexible prep. πρός when followed by the acc. takes a wide variety of applications. In this short sentence it expresses mental direction, aim or object, and local direction, against. The phrase στῆναι πρός belongs to the soldier’s language, being used for standing one’s ground, in opposition to taking to flight (Thuc., v., 104, and cf. Raphel., Annot., ii., p. 493). In Jam 4:7 we have ἀντιστῆναι with the dat. For μεθοδείας TWH prefer μεθοδίας. On this rare term, found neither in profane Greek nor in the OT, and in the NT only in the two occurrences in this Epistle, see on chap. Ephesians 4:14 above. The plural denotes the various forms which the μεθοδεία, the craftiness, takes, and is fitly rendered either stratagems (which brings out the fundamental idea of method or plan in the deceit) or wiles. The Rhem. gives deceits; Tynd., Cov., Cran., Gen., Bish., assaults or crafty assaults. The Devil, διάβολος, is mentioned here as the author and practiser of all subtle, malicious scheming. The malign powers of which he is the prince are noticed next.11. Put on] For the word, cp. Romans 13:12; Romans 13:14 (a close parallel); 1 Corinthians 15:53-54; 2 Corinthians 5:3; Galatians 3:27 (a parallel); above, Ephesians 4:24; below, 14; Colossians 3:10; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:8 (a close parallel). In 1 Thess. and Rom. (just quoted) we have, so to speak, the germs of the developed imagery of this later-written passage. In them, as here, the believer, already (from another point of view, that of covenant and possession) clothed and armed with his Lord, is exhorted so to realize and to use what he has that it shall be like a new clothing and arming.
the whole armour] One word in the Gr., panoplia. It occurs in N.T. elsewhere only Luke 11:22 and here Ephesians 6:13. In the Apocrypha it is not infrequent. Cp. esp. Wis 5:17 &c., a very close parallel here as regards the picture:—“He (the Lord) shall take His zeal as a panoply, and make the creature His weapon for the defeat of His enemies; He shall put on righteousness as a breastplate, and shall make true judgment His helmet; He shall take sanctity as His invincible shield, and shall whet severe wrath as His sword, &c.” These words may very possibly have been in the Apostle’s memory. But far more certainly he had present there Isaiah 59:16-17, itself the probable ground of the imagery in Wisdom.
The word panoplia admits no doubt of a looser application in usage; it may mean armour, complete or not. But its strict meaning, “whole armour,” is precisely in point here, where the stress of thought is on the one secret of spiritual strength; the need of Divine safeguard, and nothing less, for the whole emergency.
Cp. again 1 Thessalonians 5 and Romans 13 for parallels, or rather germs, of this passage. There, as here, the image of “putting on” is connected with that of “armour.” And in Rom. distinctly, and in 1 Thess. implicitly, the armour is seen to be reducible ultimately, as here, to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. St Jerome says here, “From what we read in the passage following, and from the things said in all the Scriptures concerning the Lord (our) Saviour, it most clearly results that by ‘all the arms of God’ … the Saviour is to be understood.”
of God] Supplied by Him, having been wrought by Him. For such a conflict nothing less will do than what is wholly His in origin and gift.
that ye may be able] It is implied that thus, while only thus, the militant Christian shall be able. No inadequacy in his equipment is to be feared.
to stand] The key-word of the passage. The present picture is not of a march, or of an assault, but of the holding of the fortress of the soul and of the Church for the heavenly King. Bunyan’s “Mr Standfast” is a portrait that may illustrate this page.—So again below, Ephesians 6:13-14.
wiles] Lit, “methods”; stratagems. The Gr. word occurs (in Scripture) only here and above, Ephesians 4:14 (where R.V. “wiles”). For the formidable fact of the deliberate and subtle plans of the great Enemy, carefully concealed but skilfully combined on weak points, cp. 2 Corinthians 2:11; 1 Peter 2:11, (where render “carry on a campaign against the soul”). In this respect, as in so many others, the Temptation of the Lord Himself is a picture of that of His followers; a series of veiled attacks, upon points thought weak, by the most subtle of created intellects.—In 1 Peter 5:8 the same Enemy appears acting, as he sometimes does, in another way; by violence and terror.
the devil] See on Ephesians 2:2 for considerations on his personality as recognized by St Paul. This designation (diabolos, accuser,) appears above, Ephesians 4:27, and elsewhere in St Paul, Acts 13:10; 1 Timothy 3:6-7, 2 Timothy 2:26; besides Hebrews 2:14. It is frequent with St Matthew, St Luke, and St John. In the LXX. it is the regular equivalent, though not the precise translation, of the Heb. Sâtân (the Adversary); e.g. Job 1-2; Zechariah 3:1-2. One of the terrible characteristics of the Adversary of the Son of God is the aim and effort to bring believing man into condemnation; hence his accusations of the saints. Cp. the Book of Job especially, and Revelation 12:10 (where, however, another word than diabolos is used). Nor let it be forgotten that his first assault on man (Genesis 3:5) was made by means of accusation against God, as grudging a good gift to man.Ephesians 6:11. Πανοπλίαν, the whole armour) Ephesians 6:13.—στῆναι, to stand) A word taken from the arena and the camp; comp. note on Matthew 12:25. The power of the Lord is ours.—μεθοδείας, the wiles) which he frames both by force and by craft. μέθοδος, a way opposite to the direct [straight] way, a circuitous road, which they take who lie in wait, 2Ma 13:18; whence μεθοδεύειν, 2 Samuel 19 :(27) 28, LXX. Esth. κεφ. μθ, concerning Haman: πολυπλόκοις μεθόδων παραλογισμοῖς, with manifold deceits of wiles [plans]. Chrysostom has used Μεθοδεία in a good sense in Homil. 4, de penit.: “We ought to be thankful to God, who through much discipline (διὰ πολλῶν μεθοδειῶν) cures and saves our souls,”—διὰ πολλῶν μεθοδειῶν, through the alternations of prosperity and adversity.—τηῦ διαβόλου, the devil) the chief of the enemies, who are pointed out at Ephesians 6:12. [The same who is called, Ephesians 6:16, ὁ πονηρός, the wicked one.—V. g.]Verse 11. - Put on the entire amour of God. Chained to a soldier, the apostle's mind would go forth naturally to the subject of amour and warfare. Put on amour, for life is a battle-field; not a scene of soft enjoyment and ease, but of hard conflict, with foes within and without; put on the amour of God, provided by him for your protection and for aggression too, for it is good, well-adapted for your use, - God has thought of you, and has sent his amour for you; put on the whole amour of God, for each part of you needs to be protected, and you need suitable weapons for assailing all your foes. That ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Our chief enemy does not engage us in open warfare, but deals in wiles and stratagems, which need to be watched against and prepared for with peculiar care.
Panoply is a transcript of the Greek word. Only here, Ephesians 6:13, and Luke 11:22, see note. In classical Greek of the full armor of a heavy-armed soldier. The student may compare the description of the forging of Aeneas' armor by Vulcan (Virgil, "Aeneid," viii., 415-459), and of the armor itself as displayed to Aeneas by Venus ("Aeneid," viii., 616-730). Also of the armor of Achilles (Homer, "Iliad," xviii., 468-617).
See on Ephesians 4:14. The armor is a defense against strategy as well as assault.
The devil (τοῦ διαβόλου)
See on Matthew 4:1; see on John 6:70. In Job and Zechariah used as the equivalent of Satan (hater or accuser, see on Luke 10:18), of a single person, the enemy of mankind. In the other Old-Testament passages in which it occurs, it is used to translate either Satan or its equivalent in meaning, tsar (adversary, distresser), but without the same reference to that single person. See Sept., 1 Chronicles 21:1; Esther 7:4; Esther 8:1; Psalm 108:6; Numbers 22:32. The Septuagint usage implies enmity in general, without accusation either true or false. In the New Testament invariably as a proper name, except in the Pastoral Epistles, where it has its ordinary meaning slanderous. See 1 Timothy 3:11; 2 Timothy 3:3; Titus 2:3. As a proper name it is used in the Septuagint sense as the equivalent of Satan, and meaning enemy.
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