God cares about the spiritual health of people and wants them to learn the techniques of defense and confront Satan. The evil forces of the Devil are trying every day to attack people and take them away from God, but Jesus Christ gave people armor so that they had the opportunity to defend themselves from attacks. Paul presents six items of spiritual armor at the ending of his letter to the Ephesians. In Ephesians, these items are defined as follows: loins girt with truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shoes fitted with the gospel of peace, shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. A step-by-step analysis of several Bible passages makes possible a structural study of how exactly people in the fight against vice use the tools given by Jesus Christ. Peter’s epistle to the Ephesians concludes with an instruction to the scattered Christians, primarily targeting the elders. He writes that to maintain the firmness of the faith; it is necessary to beware of the Devil and resist him:
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Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
In this passage, Peter speaks of the importance of humility towards others and God. Without humility, a good deed cannot be performed; one can have no other virtue except humility and still be close to God. Satan can appear in the most unusual forms and weaken the Christian strength of people, but the will’s firmness will ensure everyone who believes in God an end to suffering.
Peter’s instructions were timely because members of the Church in the five Roman provinces of Asia Minor faced fierce persecution and needed support. Amid the adversity of that time, Peter encouraged the Saints to treat one another with love and tenderness. The first epistle of Peter refers to those New Testament epistles that are called the conciliar epistles. The epistle contains general and basic doctrinal guidance, although it was written considering the needs of a particular community and the dangers that threaten a specific fellowship.
Ellicott notes that the verb tense used in the first sentence assumes immediate attention from the reader. The roaring lion symbolizes Satan, who was transformed into such an image to terrorize people. He appears as a persecutor who knows no mercy. Meyer writes that as long as Christians remain faithful to their calling, Satan’s efforts are in vain. He can only watch in the form of a lion for those who can be devoured. The word “devour” is also interpreted to mean entanglement and confusion.
It should be noted that this verse is the first mention of the Devil in the letter, but this is not accidental because by depicting the conflict between the Devil and Christians, the author wanted to demonstrate an ongoing earthly battle with hostile human individuals and organizations. Still, there is little recent research on this passage, so it is advantageous to turn to classical translations and interpretations of the verse when analyzing.
The most understandable and close semantic meaning to the original text is Ellicott’s Commentary; he managed to briefly but clearly reveal the content of the keywords used. Problems arise with how to perceive the image of a lion; however, one should give preference to the opinion that the lion hides the image of Satan, eager to get to the souls of those who are not sure of faith. This passage does not mention pieces of the armor of God; however, to combat the evils of Satan, Christians are encouraged to remain sober and alert. The analyzed passage notes how the ability to appreciate God saves us from all that is evil in the world.
Paul was striving for the goal and honor of the higher calling of God, which is narrated in Philippians 3. He won many religious victories over the years and grew spiritually significantly; however, he did not consider himself to have achieved everything he intended to achieve. Moreover, he did not think about what was left behind, just trying to overcome the remaining distance:
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
By the time the Apostle Paul wrote Philippians, he had already walked his Christian path for almost 30 years. Paul never claimed to have reached the highest spiritual maturity but continued to strive for it. Paul relies on faith in Christ in Paul’s quest to get the prize. All that he once valued in Judaism and religiosity, he now considers useless compared to the knowledge of Christ.
The line comments in this chapter are notable for the absence of significant inconsistencies in interpretation. Ellicott writes that using the word “I” demonstrates to readers the Apostle’s unwillingness to associate himself with those who believe they have attained perfection. Ellicott interprets Paul’s phrase about forgetting what is left as that past achievements become the basis for future ones. Still, the Christian’s gaze should be directed towards the future, towards hopes. In the traditional sense, Paul is portrayed as an Apostle who wants to achieve perfection in his knowledge of God. Benson comments on the first sentence saying that Paul has already attained a degree of holiness that allows him to conformity the Master. In Benson’s interpretation, having reached the highest holiness, Paul continues the race. It is difficult to conclude which opinion should be considered the best. Both Benson and Ellicott have clearly explained the passages to readers.
There are no severe differences of opinion regarding the two analyzed lines in the translations of different theologians. Differences in interpretations, however, are essential because such disagreements between authors create a space for discussion. The activity of theologians should not be exclusively aimed at the formation of objective conclusions but rather the possibility of expressing reasonable assumptions, which may be challenged in the future.
After reading these lines, the reader should understand for himself that if the Apostle Paul did not manage to reach perfection during his long life spent in the service of God, then one should not be surprised at the gap between an ordinary Christian and Christ. As a protection from the dark forces of Satan, it is proposed to consistently and diligently improve in service of God. Only such a path of perfection can provide a Christian with an opportunity to draw closer to the Creator.
In Ephesians 6, Paul gives instruction, emphasizing the importance of obedience. Service should always be performed with good intentions and compassion for others. This chapter indicates the weapons for the fight against Satan. Among them are already noted the “belt of truth” and “breastplate of righteousness.” Christians are convinced that success without truth is almost impossible. Through the truth, everything that Christians believe in unites to become one indestructible whole. According to the Bible, the strength of people is in their unity; no one can happily exist outside of society. Lines 14-17 also mention other pieces of the armor of God:
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Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
This armor cannot be removed until the war against evil is over. Besides, during the war period, it is with tools help that victory will be possible. It is essential to note the relationship of the previously analyzed quotes with these lines. Every Christian has a responsibility to participate in the fight against evil. They must remember that Satan can take many different forms, such as the form of a “roaring lion.” Even when it begins to seem that victory is near, one cannot stop. Christians need to continue to improve in their service to God and practice humility, compassion, and patience.
Each commentator points out the sense of danger that is felt in this chapter. Matthew Henry writes that people should remember that the war is waged not only against human enemies but also against sinful human nature. In Henry’s understanding, the Devil has at his disposal innumerable ways to seduce the human soul. Matthew Poole writes that line 11 emphasizes the importance of covering up all poorly defended areas – a metaphor for human weaknesses. Satan intends to attack these weaknesses at the most unexpected moment. Those who are not confident enough in their faith may fall in this battle. However, Paul, warning about the dangers, still counts on a cheerful ending because he believes in the power of people’s faith. In this passage, one can most appreciate the value of Jesus Christ to Christians. His help serves as salvation for them; faith helps to cope with the most difficult temptations.
Thus, based on specific biblical quotations, it was possible to analyze how the use by Christians of the tools given to them by Jesus helps them fight against evil forces. Theological commentaries helped in understanding the essence of the fragments and contributed to their correct interpretation. This essay also contains brief conclusions about each of the analyzed passages, which is vital for understanding their meaning in a broader literary context.
Benson, Joseph. Benson’s Commentary of the Old and New Testaments. New York: T. Carlton & J. Porter, 1857.
Byrley, Christopher. 2017.“Persecution and the “Adversary” Of 1 Peter 5:8,” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 21, no. 3. N.p.: 77-98.
Ellicott, Charles John. A New Testament Commentary for English Readers. London: Cassell and Co, 1897.
Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete). Vol. 1. N.p., 1706. Web.
Meyer, Heinrich August Wilhelm. Meyer’s Commentary on the New Testament. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1884.
Poole, Matthew. Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible. Vol 3. Hendrickson Pub, 1985.
Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. The Pulpit Commentary. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Co, 1890.