Belt and Breastplate
MONDAY September 18
Belt and Breastplate
How does Paul imagine believers beginning their preparation for the battle against evil? Eph. 6:14; see also 1 Pet. 4:1, 1 Pet. 5:8, Rom. 8:37–39.
Paul’s warning of an intense battle (Eph. 6:13) prepares readers for his final call to stand (his fourth, compare Eph. 6:11, 13) and is a detailed call to arms (Eph. 6:14–17). Paul describes the action of “girding up one’s waist” (compare Isa. 11:5). Ancient, loose-fitting garments needed to be tied up around the waist before work or battle (compare Luke 12:35, 37; Luke 17:8). Paul imagines the believer suiting up in armor as would a Roman legionnaire, beginning with the leather military belt with its decorative belt plates and buckle. From the belt hung a number of leather straps covered with metal discs, together forming an “apron” worn as a badge of rank for visual effect. It served the essential function of tying up the garments and holding other items in place.
Truth is not the believers’ own; it is a gift of God (compare salvation in Eph. 2:8). It is not, though, to remain abstract, a distant asset without any transforming impact on their lives. They are to “put on” God’s truth, to experience and use this divine gift. They do not so much possess God’s truth as God’s truth possesses and protects them.
Paul next urges believers to put on “the breastplate of righteousness” (compare 1 Thess. 5:8). Like the belt of truth, it is of divine origin, being part of the armor of Yahweh in His role as the divine warrior (Isa. 59:17). The body armor used by soldiers in Paul’s day was made of mail (small, intertwined iron rings), scale armor (small, overlapping scales of bronze or iron), or bands of overlapping iron fastened together. This body armor or breastplate protected the vital organs from the blows and thrusts of the enemy. In an analogous way, believers are to experience the spiritual protection offered by God’s protective gift of righteousness. In Ephesians, Paul associates righteousness with holiness, goodness, and truth (Eph. 4:24, Eph. 5:9), thinking of it as the quality of treating others justly and well, especially fellow church members.