24. The Footwear of Peace and the Shield of FaithRelated Media
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. (Ephesians 6:15-16)
How can we stand firm in spiritual warfare? When we became Christians, we gained an enemy. Satan and his demons desire to steal our peace and joy, kill our physical bodies, and destroy our witness and callings. In this final section of Ephesians, Paul addresses this war and how Christians must stand firm. We stand firm in the strength and power of the Lord—apart from this, we will be destroyed (Eph 6:10). But we also stand firm by putting on the full armor of God (Eph 6:11). Each piece must be firmly put in place. The armor of God refers to righteous character traits (cf. Col 3:12). Therefore, sin in the life of believers gives the devil a foothold to destroy us and others.
Previously, we looked at the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness. Each piece of armor not only represents character traits but also, through implication, how Satan attacks. The belt of truth reminds us that Satan is a liar and that he constantly uses deception. The breastplate of righteousness reminds us that Satan attacks our vital organs representing our mind and emotions and also that sin in general opens a door for him.
In Ephesians 6:15-16, we will consider the footwear of peace and the breastplate of righteousness, as well as its implications about Satan’s schemes.
Big Questions: How can believers stand firm by putting on the footwear of peace and the breastplate of righteousness? What do these two pieces of armor represent?
Believers Stand Firm by Putting On the Footwear of Peace
and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:15)
When Paul talks about “feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace,” he is picturing the footwear of a Roman soldier. They typically wore a half-boot with the toes uncovered and spikes coming out of the soles. The boots allowed “the soldier to be ready to march, climb, fight, or do whatever else is necessary.”1 The spikes specifically helped when hiking or on slippery surfaces.
Without the right shoes, the soldier’s feet were prone to blisters, cuts, and other problems which put him at a disadvantage in battle. The soldier’s shoes were very important—without them, he wasn’t ready to fight.
Similarly, there is appropriate footwear for believers to wear in spiritual battles. It is the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. As with the other pieces of armor, commentators are not unanimous on what this represents. It could represent several things, as outlined below.
Interpretation Question: What does feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace represent?
1. The readiness that comes from the gospel of peace represents appropriating the believer’s peace with God.
Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This is important because the enemy always aims to separate believers from God. It is God who gives believers the strength to put on God’s armor and the power to conquer the devil. Therefore, the enemy always seeks to separate Christians from the source of all that is good. Sometimes he uses lies to foster anger at God. He often begins by cultivating a wrong view of God. Believers start to believe that God doesn’t love them or want what’s best for them—that he just doesn’t care. Satan creates a caricature of God—a God of wrath but not a God of love, a God of judgment but not a God of mercy. However, God is all of these.
We must put on the gospel of peace by remembering that Christ died to bridge the chasm between us and God. He paid the penalty for our sins and gave us his righteousness so that we could know God and come into his presence. Jesus says, “I give them eternal life and this is eternal life—knowing God” (John 17:3, paraphrase). Christ died so we could come near God and have an intimate relationship with him.
In fact, Christ always strove to correct the disciples’ thinking about God. In Luke 11:13, he said, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Christ wanted the disciples to know that their Abba desired to give them the greatest gifts—and it’s the same for us. Do you know that our God wants to bless us, and that if we’re in Christ we’re at peace with him?
What is your view of God? Is he unloving, removed, strict, and overbearing? If so, you need to put on the footwear of peace—by recognizing that Christ removed the barrier between God and us. A wrong image of God destroys our footing. We cannot fight if we don’t see God as he is: our Father, our Abba, our friend, and our spouse.
Are you wearing the footwear of peace?
2. The readiness that comes from the gospel of peace represents having the peace of God.
Not only has God given each of us peace with himself, but we also have the peace of God. In John 14:27, Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” The peace Christ had while asleep in the boat during the storm, the peace that enabled him to go to the cross, he has given to us. It is not God’s will for us to live in anxiety, fear, and worry. Scripture says, “Do not be afraid,” “Do not worry,” and “Be anxious for nothing” (Phil 4:6). Christ has given us the promise of his peace.
If you are worried, anxious, and fearful, you have the wrong footwear for this battle. Our enemy is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). The lion roars to incite fear in his prey. Some believers are fearful about their future; others are fearful about what others think or say. Others are afraid of failure. These fears undermine the footing of Christians—our readiness for battle comes from God’s peace.
Therefore, God commands us to put on his peace. Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Paul also refers to the peace of Christ as clothing to be worn (cf. Col 3:12). As believers, we must let God’s peace rule in our hearts—not fear of failure, losing our jobs, or rejection. Satan wants to lead us as slaves through fear, but God guides us as children through his peace (cf. Rom 8:15).
Do you have peace in your heart? Or are you tormented by fear?
First John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” A good earthly father doesn’t want his children worried about food, drink, and clothing. He doesn’t want his children worried about their future. As much as he can control events, he does so for their good. It’s the same with our heavenly Father—except that, unlike our earthly fathers, he is all-wise and all-powerful. He wants us to know that he loves us and that he works all things for our good (Rom 8:28).
Are you wearing the footwear of peace, or are you wearing fear, anxiety, and torment?
Application Question: How can we put on the peace of God instead of fear and anxiety?
Philippians 4:6-7 says,
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
- If we are going to have God’s peace, we must reject anxiety and fear. They are not God’s will for us, and they are sinful. They say, “God, you are not to be trusted,” or “You are not in control.”
- If we are going to have God’s peace, we must learn to pray about everything. Prayer must become the atmosphere we live in. When we are not living in prayer (i.e. God’s presence), the storms of life will constantly frighten and overwhelm us.
- If we are going to have God’s peace, we must learn to give thanks in everything. When we complain, murmur, and criticize, we lose the peace of God.
3. The readiness that comes from the gospel of peace represents spreading the gospel.
The association of feet with the gospel is not uncommon in Scripture. Isaiah 52:7 says, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” In Romans 10:15, Paul says, “And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’”
One of our responsibilities in this war is to share the gospel with others. It is each person’s assignment. Second Corinthians 5:18-20 says:
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
In hand to hand combat, if one side is only playing defense, he will eventually be defeated. He must also attack. Our battle as believers is not just defensive; it is, in fact, primarily offensive. We are called to advance the kingdom of God by spreading the gospel everywhere in the name of Jesus. If you are not doing so, you won’t stand firm. The enemy’s offensive will eventually swallow you up.
Are you spreading the gospel? Is that your purpose at school, work, and home, and with family and friends?
Our feet must always be ready with the gospel. First Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
I think this also shows us how Satan attacks. He wants to attack our zeal for the gospel. He wants to quiet us. If we have lost our zeal, then we no longer are wearing the footwear of peace.
4. The readiness that comes from the gospel of peace represents peace in our relationships with others.
This is one of the major themes of Ephesians. Paul teaches the mystery of the gospel that God makes the Jew and Gentile one in Christ. Consider Ephesians 2:12-14:
remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,
Animosity between Jew and Gentile was a major issue for the early church. In Acts 6, the Jews neglected the Greek widows in the daily distribution while providing for the Hebrew widows. However, Paul said Christ is our peace—he has made us one.
Surely disunity is one of the major weapons the enemy uses against our churches. Sometimes he brings disunity through racism, as seen with the Jews and Gentiles in the early church. Sometimes he uses doctrine. What God means to equip and strengthen us, the enemy uses to bring division and discord. Most times, he just uses pride. Pride says, “My way is the only way, and it can’t be done any other way.” Churches divide over changing the color of the carpet, the music, the flow of worship services, and any other thing. The root of this is pride—”my way is the only way.”
In attacking the church, Satan seeks to bring division. Remember, Paul says in Ephesians 4:26-27 not to let the sun go down while we are angry, and not to give the devil a foothold. Christ is our peace.
Are you living in peace with those around you? As much as depends on you, live at peace with all men (Rom 12:18).
Application Question: In what ways have you experienced Satan’s attacks through division in your relationships—friends, family, co-workers, and church members? How have those experiences affected you and your relationship with God?
Are you wearing the right footwear for our spiritual war? Are you recognizing our peace with God? He loves us and cares for us. Are you being filled with the peace of God in your circumstances? Are you sharing the gospel—always prepared to give a defense of the hope that is in you? Finally, are you living at peace with all men, as much as depends on you?
Application Question: In what ways does the enemy constantly attack your readiness from the gospel of peace? How is God calling you to put on his footwear?
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (Ephesians 6:16)
The Greek word thureos, translated “shield,” referred to a large shield about two and half feet wide and four and a half feet high. It was designed to protect the entire body of a soldier. The shield was like a door—made of solid wood and covered with metal or leather. It was often dipped in water to extinguish the fiery arrows of the enemy.2
Armies often wrapped pieces of cloth around arrows, soaked them in pitch, set them on fire, and then shot them at the enemy. Upon contact an arrow would often “spatter burning bits for several feet, igniting anything flammable it touched.”3
Our enemy also shoots flaming arrows at us. He shoots the arrows of criticism, fear, covetousness, anger, depression, doubt, lust, and every other temptation. In order to stand firm, we must take up the shield of faith.
Interpretation Question: What is the shield of faith and how can believers take it up?
1. The shield of faith refers to trust in God’s person.
When Abram was struggling with fear, God said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” (Gen 15:1). Essentially, God said, “Trust me. I will protect you and reward you.” Our protection is God himself and we must trust in him.
Putting on the shield of faith means running to God when life is difficult, when life is good, and when life is mundane. Believers without the shield of faith will run to everything else before God. When in a trial, they will run to coffee, to cigarettes, to relationships, to pity parties, etc. However, when we’re wearing the shield of faith, we’ll run to God. He is our shield—therefore we must trust him.
Application Question: How can we learn to trust God more?
- Believers learn to trust God by knowing his character.
Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” In the ancient world, a person’s name was not simply what he was called; it referred to his character. The writer of the proverb says that knowing God’s character is a tremendous protection for us. The more we know God and who he is, the stronger we can stand in spiritual warfare.
At the same time, the less we know God and his character, the more prone we’ll be to believe Satan’s lies and stumble.
We must understand that God is perfect, all-knowing, all-present, and all-powerful. We must know that he loves us, cares for us, and wants the best for us. We must understand that he is sovereign and in control of all events—nothing happens apart from his watchful eye. If we don’t understand this, we will be prone to anxiety, fear, and anger. God works all things according to the purpose of his will (Eph 1:11).
- Believers learn to trust God by knowing his promises.
God has given us many promises to help us stand in spiritual warfare. Second Peter 1:3-4 says,
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
When tempted to fear, we take hold of Philippians 4:6-7—if we pray and give thanks in everything, the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds. When we feel like giving up, we hold on to Isaiah 40:31— those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. When burnt out, we take courage in Proverbs 11:25—those who refresh others shall themselves be refreshed. When weak, we hold on to 2 Corinthians 12:9—God’s power is made perfect in our weakness; therefore, we will boast in our infirmities and trials. When God seems distant, we hold on to James 4:8—if we draw near God, he will draw near us.
Are you taking up the shield of faith by holding on to God’s promises? God has given us many promises to help us to stand in the day of evil.
- Believers learn to trust God by faithfully walking with him.
The longer we walk with God, the more we will trust him. As we watch God part our Red Seas, defeat our Goliaths, close the mouths of lions, and use the evil intentions and actions of others for good, it enables us to trust him more.
Are you spending time with God—being in his presence? The less you are with a person, the less you will trust them. In order to be ready for this battle, you must live in the presence of God—walking faithfully with him.
What else does the shield of faith refer to?
2. The shield of faith refers to dependence on the body of Christ.
In ancient times, the edges of this shield were “so constructed that an entire line of soldiers could interlock shields and march into the enemy like a solid wall. This suggests that we Christians are not in the battle alone.”4
The enemy attacks from every direction, and we need one another to stand firm. Yes, doing so is a struggle since the church is not perfect, as God is. However, it is the means through which God chooses to impart his grace. He works through an imperfect body. If we don’t avail ourselves of the body’s resources, we leave ourselves more vulnerable to the devil’s attacks.
For this reason, Satan works overtime to pull people away from the church by accusing and condemning it. Yes, the church is full of sinners; in fact, it is full of both weeds and wheat (cf. Matt 13:24-30). However, every army is full of people with flaws, but without trust in one another, no army can stand.
Therefore, in order to put on the shield of faith, we must depend upon the body of Christ—just like Roman soldiers depended on one another.
Are you depending on the body of Christ? Are you confessing your sins to one another and praying for one another (James 5:16)? Are you speaking the truth in love to one another (Eph 4:15)?
3. The shield of faith refers to living a life of faith—a life of serving God.
In ancient Roman armies, the people holding the thureos—the large shields—were always at the front of the army. They were the front line. When they lifted their shields, they protected those behind them. This also allowed the archers to shoot arrows while under their protection. Therefore, to put on the shield of faith means to live a life of faith—serving God.
It means stepping out of our comfort zone to serve in a ministry. It means using our gifts to serve the church. When we do so, we’ll be criticized by others, and we’ll be attacked emotionally, physically and spiritually by the enemy. But as we stand firm against these attacks with the shield of faith, we protect others and help them grow as they benefit from our faith.
To never get involved, use our spiritual gifts, or build others up means to not use the shield of faith. In fact, those not serving, not involved, often aren’t the focus of the enemy. Why waste resources on somebody who’s not fighting?
However, the more serious we get about God—the more we pursue God and serve others—the more Satan will attack us. In some ways, we should find encouragement from being attacked—this means we are a threat. And if we are not being attacked by the enemy, we should be alarmed. Maybe, we are not in the battle.
Application Question: In what ways have you experienced more spiritual attacks when pursuing and serving God?
Are you daily taking up the shield of faith? Are you living a life of faith or a life of fear? Are you depending on the body of Christ, or are you independent? Are you on the front line or the sidelines? If we are going to stand firm, we must take up the shield of faith.
Application Question: What aspects of the shield of faith stood out most and why? How is God calling you to take up his shield?
How can we stand firm in spiritual warfare?
1. Believers Stand Firm by Putting on the Footwear of Peace
- As they appropriate the believers’ peace with God
- As they appropriate the peace of God
- As they share the gospel with others
- As they walk in peace with others
2. Believers Stand Firm by Taking up the Shield of Faith
- As they trust in God’s person
- As they depend on the body of Christ
- As they pursue and serve God
Copyright © 2016 Gregory Brown
Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ®, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked KJV or AKJV are from the King James Version or Authorized (King James) Version of the Bible.
All emphases in Scripture quotations and commentators’ quotations have been added.
1 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (p. 354). Chicago: Moody Press.
2 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (pp. 358–359). Chicago: Moody Press.
3 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (pp. 358–359). Chicago: Moody Press.
4 Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 58). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.