...Arm Yourself with the Sword of the Spirit... Eph 6:17


Ephesians 6:11-12 – Put On the Whole Armor of God

18 May on Logos VOD Commentary, New Testament, The Sword of the Spirit   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


By coincidence, I just wrote a blog post over at Live the Word Apparel titled “4 Tips for When Fighting in This Spiritual War“. The post focused on fighting the schemes of Satan, who is in control of the authorities of the world. But mainly in being strong in the Lord and in His might. We can’t win this war alone. We must trust in God and have faith in Him when battling the enemy. And the best way to fight against the spiritual forces is spiritually, not through our human methods and reason. When you read the passage all the way through you’ll notice the whole the armor that we are to put on is spiritual. They may have worldly labels.  But by no means are we really using a sword or wearing a belt. The whole armor of God consist of;

  • Belt of TRUTH
  • Breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS
  • Shoes Readiness given by the Gospel of PEACE
  • Shield of FAITH
  • Helmet of SALVATION
  • Sword of the SPIRIT (which is the Word of God)


Clearly we are to arm ourselves spiritually to fight this spiritual war, and because we are to trust in God at the same time, there’s an obvious connection. God is Truth. He is Righteous. He gives us Peace. We have Faith in Him. Through Him we have Salvation. And we obey His Word.

This passage is one of those passages jam-packed with information and theology. So, let’s read what others had to say.


HCSB Study Bible

Three times Paul called for believers to stand against the Devil’s schemes, the spiritual battle that takes place against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.

Henry Morris Apologetics Study Bible

wiles. The word “wiles” is equivalent  to “strategy”. The devil is “the god of this world, “the one that “deceiveth the whole world” (2 Cor 4:4; Rev 12:9). He can appear as “an angel of light” and yet is a “roaring lion…seeking whom he may devour” (2 Cor 11:14; 1 Pet 5:8). In our own strength  we are no match for him at all. Not even the archangel Michael could rebuke him on his own (Jude 9). We can only stand against him if we are “strong in the Lord” (Eph 6:10)  and wear “the whole armor of God”. We need not be “ignorant of his devices” (2 Cor 2:11), the very first  of which is to cause us to doubt God’s Word (Gen 3:1,4) and then disobey it (Gen 3:5-6). It is evident that he has been extremely successful with this device considering especially the modern widespread distortion of the Genesis record of creation and earth history, followed by wholesale rebellion against all God’s commandments, and finally by the rejection of His great love in the sacrifice of His Son.

darkness of this world. The curtain of the invisible is slightly opened here to give us a brief glimpse of the tremendous spiritual forces arrayed against the people of God. God created “an innumerable company of angels” (Heb 12:22), and apparently at least a third of this host of spirits have followed Satan in his long war against God and His people (Rev 12:4,7). These are organized into a great hierarchy of principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world. We dare not be without God’s whole armor when wrestling against such powers. Nevertheless, “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” and “they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (1 John 4:4; 2 Kings 6:16). If we “resist the devil”, using God’s armor, then he and his minions “will flee from” us (James 4:7).

1599 Geneva Bible Patriot’s Edition

Secondly he declareth that our chiefest and mightiest enemies are invisible, that we may not think our chiefest conflict is with men. Against men, which are of frail and brittle nature, against which are set spiritual subtleties, more mighty than the other by a thousand parts. He giveth these names to the evil angels, reason of the effects which they work: not that they are able to do the same of themselves, but because God giveth them the bridle.

John Wesley’s Notes on the Bible

Verse 11. Put on the whole armour of God – The Greek word means a complete suit of armour. Believers are said to put on the girdle, breastplate, shoes; to take the shield of faith, and sword of the Spirit. The whole armour – As if the armour would scarce do, it must be the whole armour. This is repeated, ver. 13, because of the strength and subtilty of our adversaries, and because of an “evil day” of sore trial being at hand.

Verse 12.   For our wrestling is not only, not chiefly, against flesh and blood – Weak men, or fleshly appetites. But against principalities, against powers – The mighty princes of all the infernal legions. And great is their power, and that likewise of those legions whom they command. Against the rulers of the world – Perhaps these principalities and powers remain mostly in the citadel of their kingdom of darkness. But there are other evil spirits who range abroad, to whom the provinces of the world are committed. Of the darkness – This is chiefly spiritual darkness. Of this age – Which prevails during the present state of things. Against wicked spirits – Who continually oppose faith, love, holiness, either by force or fraud; and labour to infuse unbelief, pride, idolatry malice, envy, anger, hatred. In heavenly places – Which were once their abode, and which they still aspire to, as far as they are permitted.

Constable’s Notes (Net.Bible.org)

If we want to obey God and resist the devil, we are in for a struggle. It is not easy to become a mature Christian nor is it automatic. It takes diligent, sustained effort (cf. Phil. 2:12-13). This is part of our human responsibility in progressive sanctification.

This struggle does not take place on the physical level primarily, though saying no to certain temptations may involve certain physical behavior. It is essentially warfare on the spiritual level with an enemy that we cannot see. This enemy is Satan and his hosts as well as the philosophies and feelings he promotes that people implement. Stott refuted the view that the principalities and powers are only structures of thought, especially embodied in the state and its institutions.

Some commentators believe that Paul described four different orders of angelic beings here. Probably the four terms used of our spiritual enemies in this verse do not identify four separate kinds of adversaries as much as they point out four characteristics of all of them. “Rulers” stresses their authority and “powers” or “authorities” their strength. “World forces of this darkness” or “powers of this dark world” point to their wide influence in the world, and forces “of wickedness” or “spiritual forces of evil” relate to their evil character. They operate in the heavenly realms (Eph 1:320; Eph 2:6; Eph 3:10). Presently Satan and his hosts have access to God in the sense that they can communicate with Him but not in the sense that they can coexist in fellowship with Him (cf. Job 1—2).

The idea that certain demons have special authority over specific territories comes from Daniel 10:13 where we read that the “prince [Heb. sar, head, official, captain] of Persia” withstood Michael, one of the “chief princes [same Hebrew word].” It is impossible to know whether all demons have territorial authority and whether all territories have demonic heads because we do not have sufficient revelation. Clearly some demons have territorial assignments, but it seems unwarranted to conclude that all of them do.

“Nowhere in the NT do we find a territorial view of demons. Jesus never casts out a territorial demon or attributes the resistance of Nazareth or Jerusalem to such entities. Paul never refers to territorial spirits, nor does he attribute power to them—despite the paganism of cities where he established churches.”

John Armstrong refuted from Scripture several of the teachings of some modern deliverance ministries. He wrote the following.

“In the face of growing citizen militia groups, committed to arming themselves in order to defend personal freedoms, it seems ironic that the church has forgotten that she is spiritually armed for an entirely different battle. As the church, in response to various culture wars, increasingly turns to numerous battles ‘with flesh and blood’ rather than to the primary battle with ‘the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places’ (Eph. 6:12), one must wonder if we have forgotten the teaching of the New Testament itself.”

Net.Bible.org Notes

tn BDAG 752 s.v. πάλη says, “struggle against…the opponent is introduced by πρός w. the acc.”

tn Grk “blood and flesh.”
tn BDAG 561 s.v. κοσμοκράτωρ suggests “the rulers of this sinful world” as a gloss.
sn The phrase world-rulers of this darkness does not refer to human rulers but the evil spirits that rule over the world. The phrase thus stands in apposition to what follows (the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens); see note on heavens at the end of this verse.
tn BDAG 837 s.v. πνευματικός 3 suggests “the spirit-forces of evil” in Ephesians 6:12.
sn The phrase spiritual forces of evil in the heavens serves to emphasize the nature of the forces which oppose believers as well as to indicate the locality from which they originate.
tn The term ἀνθίστημι (anqisthmi) carries the idea of resisting or opposing something or someone (BDAG 80 s.v.). In Eph 6:13, when used in combination with στῆναι (sthnai; cf. also στῆτε [sthte] in Eph 6:14) and in a context of battle imagery, it seems to have the idea of resisting, standing firm, and being able to stand your ground.

Ephesian Studies

its reliance. Clothe yourselves with the panoply, the armour cap-à-pie of our (τοῦ) God; personally accepting and appropriating the defense which is already yours in Him; with a view to your being able, as you thus shall be, aye, even you, to stand against the stratagems, the subtle “methods” (μεθοδείας), the calculated crafts and combinations, of the devil, the diabolos, the dread “Accuser” of the followers of his great Adversary, Christ, always lying in wait for their unreadiness and failure.

Because our wrestling, the hand-and-limb encounter of our Christian life, is not against flesh and blood, that is, against merely human opponents; no, for even when we have to meet hostility or actual cruelty from men, there are deeper and darker powers behind them ; but against the principalities, against the authorities, against the world-rulers of this darkness, beings permitted a mysterious empire over the human “world” in its “darkness” of ignorance and sin ; against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places; the powers which carry on their dark campaign in the vast unseen, as it were the “birds of the sky” (Matt. 6:28), hovering over the landscape of humanity.

Such are the beleaguering forces, represented in their chiefs, which surround the children of God; at Ephesus then, in our modern life today. Who shall solve the riddle of their existence, and of its permission? Is it not a deeper thing than created intelligence can deal with? But are we not surrounded, in nature as well as in the spiritual world, with problems innumerable “going off into mystery” where no thought can really follow, but which nevertheless are problems raised by fads? Our wisdom is to grasp the facts, and to meet them along lines of certainty, and to leave the ultimate enigma safe in the hands which alone can hold it, while meantime they are holding us. If these revelations of an invisible host around us, bent upon our calamity, do nothing else for us, they may at least render the inestimable service of driving us home, as for our very life, to personal dealings with our Personal Deliverer. He can indeed face for us the dreadful personalities marshalled in the shadows that surround our life.

And now, to Him the Apostle bids us come. For is it not to Him? We shall read, in the splendid picture, of this thing and of that as our protection. But reduced to its essence, as Jerome remarked long ago, the “panoply” means—Jesus Christ. The soldier, in other words, appears before us made strong for a victory which is otherwise impossible—by his relation to his Lord. He is safe, he is successful, because he is spiritually right with Christ in God-given “truth” and “righteousness”; because he is sure of Christ beneath his feet as “the equipment of the Gospel of peace” for his own soul; because he finds Christ the mighty buckler against the fiery volley when he uses Him in “faith”; because he “covers his head in the day of battle” with Christ as his assured “Salvation”; because Christ speaks through “the Word of God,” and so makes Himself His servant’s sword to cut the “accuser” down; because “prayer in the Spirit” grasps Him, and holds Him fast. Yes, here, to the last hour of our conflict and our siege, and here only, lies our victory. It is He, not it. It is the all-sufficient Lord, “objected to the fiend,” while the believer stands safe behind Him.

“Not me the dark foe fears at all,
But hid in Thee I take the field;
Now at my feet the mighty fall,
For Thou hast bid them yield.”

Ephesian Studies: Expository Readings on the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Ephesians.

Barnes Notes on the New Testament

Eph 6:11. Put on the whole armour of God. The whole description here is derived from the weapons of an ancient soldier. The various parts of those weapons-constituting the “whole panoply”-are specified in Ephesians 6:14-17. The word rendered “whole armour,” (πανοπλιαν, panoply,) means complete armour, offensive and defensive. See Luke 11:22. Romans 13:12, 2 Corinthians 6:7. “The armour 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 men 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 armour.” We are not to go armed partly with what God has appointed, and partly with such weapons as men use; nor are we to put on a part of the armour only, but the whole of it. A man needs all that armour 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 armour, victory will be impossible.

Against the wiles of the devil. The word rendered “wiles” μεθοδεια 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 here rendered 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 armour 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 deceive 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 to pleasures that seem to be harmless; and leads us in indulgence, until we have gone so far that we cannot retreat.

  •  “of God” Romans 13:12, 2 Corinthians 6:7

Eph 6:12. For we wrestle. Gr., “The wrestling to us ;” or, “There is not to us a wrestling with flesh and blood.” There is undoubtedly here an allusion to the ancient games of Greece, a part of the exercises in which consisted in wrestling. 1 Corinthians 9:25, and following. The Greek word here used-παλη-denotes a wrestling; and then a struggle, fight, combat, here it refers to the struggle or combat which the Christian is to maintain-the Christian warfare.

Not with flesh and blood. Not with men. Galatians 1:16. The apostle does not mean to say that Christians had no enemies among men that opposed them, for they were exposed often to fiery persecution; nor that they had nothing to contend with in the carnal and corrupt propensities of their nature, which was true of them then as it is now; but that their main controversy was with the invisible spirits of wickedness that sought to destroy them. They were the source and origin of all their spiritual conflicts, and with them the warfare was to be maintained.

But against principalities. There can be no doubt whatever that the apostle alludes here to evil spirits. Like good angels, they were regarded as divided into ranks and orders, and were supposed to be under the control of one mighty leader. Ephesians 1:21. It is probable that the allusion here is to the ranks and orders which they sustained before their fall, something like which they may still retain. The word principalities refers to principal rulers, or chieftains.

Powers. Those who had power, or to whom the name of powers was given. Milton represents Satan as addressing the fallen angels in similar language :—

“Thrones, dominations, princedoms, virtues, powers.”

Against the rulers of the darkness of this world. The rulers that preside over the regions of ignorance and sin with which the earth abounds. Ephesians 2:2 Darkness is an emblem of ignorance, misery, and sin; and no description could be more accurate than that of representing these malignant spirits as ruling over a dark world. The earth-dark, and wretched, and ignorant, and sinful-is just such a dominion as they would choose, or as they would cause; and the degradation and woe of the heathen world are just such as foul and malignant spirits would delight in. It is a wide and a powerful empire. It has been consolidated by ages. It is sustained by all the authority of law; by all the omnipotence of the perverted religious principle; by all the reverence for antiquity; by all the power of selfish, corrupt, and base passions. No empire has been so extended, or has continued so long, as that empire of darkness; and nothing on earth is so difficult to destroy. Yet the apostle says that it was on that kingdom they were to make war. Against that, the kingdom of the Redeemer was to be set up; and that was to be overcome by the spiritual weapons which he specifies. When he speaks of the Christian warfare here, he refers to the contest with the powers of this dark kingdom. He regards each and every Christian as a soldier to wage war on it in whatever way he could, and wherever he could attack it. The contest, therefore, was not primarily with men, or with the internal corrupt propensities of the soul; it was with this vast and dark kingdom that had been set up over mankind. I do not regard this passage, therefore, as having a primary reference to the struggle which a Christian maintains with his own corrupt propensities. It is a warfare on a large scale with the entire kingdom of darkness over the world. Yet, in maintaining the warfare, the struggle will be with such portions of that kingdom as we come in contact with, and will actually relate

  • to our own sinful propensities-which are a part of the kingdom of darkness;
  • with the evil passions of others-their pride, ambition, and spirit of revenge-which are also a part of that kingdom;
  • with the evil customs, laws, opinions, employments, pleasures of the world-which are also a part of that dark kingdom;
  • with error, superstition, false doctrine-which are also a part of that kingdom; and
  • with the wickedness of the heathen world—the sins of benighted nations—also a part of that kingdom. Wherever we come in contact with evil-whether in our own hearts or elsewhere-there we are to make war.

Against spiritual wickedness. Marg., “or wicked spirits.” Literally, “the spiritual things of wickedness;” but the allusion is undoubtedly to evil spirits, and to their influences on earth.

In high places, ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις, “in celestial, or heavenly places.” The same phrase occurs in Ephesians 1:3, Eph 2:6, where it is translated, “in heavenly places.” The word (επουρανιοις) is used of those that dwell in heaven, Matthew 18:35, Philippians 2:10; of those who come from heaven, 1 Corinthians 15:48, Philippians 3:21; of the heavenly bodies-the sun, moon, and stars, 1 Corinthians 15:40. Then the neuter plural of the word is used to denote the heavens; and then the lower heavens, the sky, the air, represented as the seat of evil spirits. Ephesians 2:2. This is the allusion here. The evil spirits are supposed to occupy the lofty regions of the air, and thence to exert a baleful influence on the affairs of man. What was the origin of this opinion it is not needful here to inquire. No one can prove, however, that it is incorrect. It is against such spirits, and all their malignant influences, that Christians are called to contend. In whatever way their power is put forth-whether in the prevalence of vice and error; of superstition and magic arts; of infidelity, atheism, or antinomianism; of evil customs and laws; of pernicious fashions and opinions, or in the corruptions of our own hearts, we are to make war on all these forms of evil, and never to yield in the conflict.

  • “flesh” “blood and flesh”
  •  “against powers” Romans 8:38
  • “world” “The rulers of this dark world”
  • “spiritual wickedness” “wicked spirits”
  • “high places” “heavenly”
  • “places” “in heavenly things”