Vss. 14 - 16 “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
Thus far, in viewing the soldier of the cross he has put on the girdle of truth, and the breastplate of righteousness. In verse 15 he is commanded to have his feet “shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.”
In ancient warfare the Roman soldier wore sandals on his Feet; they were securely tied across his foot, and up and around his ancles. The bottom or soles of the sandals were Laden with hob nails so as to give him sure or solid footing, whereby he could stand against the enemy. The sandals were light in weight, enhancing the movement of the feet, but once the foot was set down it served to anchor the foot, which as necessary in hurling back the vicious assaults of the enemy.
Let us ever keep in mind as we consider the Christian’s armor that we are studying the spiritual warfare which the saint is Involved in. Paul is a master in the use of similes, and never more so than in setting before us the Christian’s uniform by the use of that which was common to the military of his day. So in Vs. 15 we see that the sandal of the saint is “the Gospel of peace.”
Let us consider the word “preparation” in Vs. 15, and its Connection with “the gospel of peace.” This is the only place in the New Testament the word is used, and the thought has to do with the “stand” and “withstand” which Paul emphasizes in the immediate context, and upon which victory is contingent. The beautiful, light, and hob - nailed sandals would fail of purpose if the ground beneath the sandal - clad foot was loose and sandy. Thus, the soldier was to prepare a good base for his feet, digging down with his feet until there was solid earth in which to anchor his hobnailed sandals. This action would further strengthen his stand against enemy assaults. The batter in a base ball game digs his foot down, and assumes a stance that gives him the greatest ability against the perfected throws of the pitcher.
The spiritual application: the saint should be solidly anchored in the gospel, and ready for satanic attack. The enemy is sure to besiege the Christian, and if he is not on solid gospel ground, with his spiritual cleats cemented in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, he will surely fall. Speaking of the foolish man which built his house upon the sand, Christ says, “the Rain descended, and the flood came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that houses and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”
And speaking of the wise man which built his house upon the rock, says, “and the rain descended, and the floods come, and the winds blew and beats upon that house, and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock (Mt. 7:24 - 26).
Isaiah says, how beautiful upon the mountains are
the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publish peace.” (Is.
52:7). Paul quotes Isaiah (Ro. 10:15), but the thought in our study
(Eph. 6:15) is not so much related to one running with, or publishing
the gospel, as it is with one standing and defending the gospel when
under attack. The publication of the gospel is sure to meet with fierce
opposition and brutal attacks by the forces of wickedness. When these
attacks come we are to be fully prepared and ready to defend our
position, and to be successful in our stand against the determined foe
is to be clothed and equipped with the armour of God.
The Christian soldier is to be aggressive, but hot
antagonistic, he is to be militant; but not malicious. His enemies are
supernatural and invisible, and so it is, Paul says, “For though we walk
in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of our
warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of
strongholds” (II Cor. 10 3 - 4).
“Above all, taking the shield of faith. . ,” the shield spoken of is faith. “Above all,” means in addition to all else take the shield of faith. It does not mean that it is more important than any of the other items mentioned in the armour of God, but that it is equally indispensable, and after you have put on all else, take up the shield of faith, and stand.
The shield Paul has in mind is the full sized shield, the one which provides protection for the whole body. There were two kinds of shields in use during the days of Paul, one was the small shield worn on the arm, or held in the hand. The other was the body length shield which was common the field soldier on foot. The small round shield was a part of the armour of the horse Calvary.
It is seen from Paul‘s description of the saints warfare that the full length shield is the one he has in mind, for it is designed to stop the fiery darts of the wicked. The “fiery darts” were among the most deadly and dangerous weapon of the enemy. They served the purpose of a spear, but in addition they were dangerous to the supplies of the defending Army. So it was needful to have protection in the fullest against these incoming fiery darts.
The “fiery darts” were dipped in pitch or some other highly flammable substance, set on fire, and sent on its way toward the enemy with the power and skill of the trained soldier. The only way to counter, or defend one’s self against these incoming fiery Darts was to be skilled in the manipulation of the shield, turning it first this way, an then the other way, so as to catch and quench the fiery dart.
The Christian soldier’s faith in God provides him
with a shield whereby he is able to extinguish all the fiery darts of
Satan. The Christian’s enemies are vicious, and his supply of fiery
darts is ever replenished, and aimed with frightening expertise at the
defender of God’s word. Yet, there is no need to despair, for there are
two things we need to note about our shield of faith,
The helmet, of course provides protection for the
head, and that vital organ, the brain. It is with the mind that the
saint is constantly aware of his salvation in Christ. It is at the mind
Satan hurls fiery darts of doubt, dipped in the black pitch of
reasoning, and hurls them, hoping to land on target and burn out our
confidence in God. We need to remember that our shield is adequate
against these attacks, and faith in God is stronger than all the wisdom
of this world, “…and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even
our faith” (I John 5:’4)
The “Helmet of salvation” provides us with the
power to stay in constant grasp of the fact that God cannot fail. Thus
it is we are to take “the word of God,” that is, receive it as written.
The “sword of the spirit, which is the word of God,” is the only
offensive weapon included in the whole armour of God, yet this singular
offensive weapon is more than adequate against all the various and
powerful weapons of the enemy.