A Roman soldier, preparing for battle, would tie on a pair of sturdy, military sandals. A multilayered sole featured rugged hobnails, helping the soldier hold his ground and “stand” (Ephesians 6:11, Ephesians 6:13-14). Paul explains this military footwear with language from Isaiah 52:7, which celebrates the moment when a messenger brings the news that Yahweh’s battle on behalf of His people is won (Isaiah 52:8-10) and peace now reigns: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace” (Isaiah 52:7, ESV).
Review the eight times Paul highlights peace in Ephesians. Why does he use a detailed military metaphor when he is so interested in peace? Ephesians 1:2; Ephesians 2:14-15, Ephesians 2:17; Ephesians 4:3; Ephesians 6:15, Ephesians 6:23.
Paul celebrates peace as the work of Christ, “our peace,” the One who preaches peace “to you who were far off and peace to those who were near” (Ephesians 2:14-17, ESV), drawing Jew and Gentile together into “one new humanity” (Ephesians 2:15, NIV). By keeping alive the gospel story of Christ’s rescue and His creative work of peace, by celebrating His victory past and looking toward the victory shout in the future, believers shod their feet and stand ready for battle. Like the messenger in Isaiah 52:7, believers are messengers proclaiming the victory of Christ and His peace.
Paul, however, does not wish us to understand his call to arms as a call to take up military weapons against our enemies. That’s why he describes believers as proclaiming “the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). Nor does he wish believers to be combative in their relationships with others, since he has been emphasizing unity, edifying speech, and tenderheartedness (see especially Ephesians 4:25-5:2). The church is to “wage peace” by employing the gospel arsenal of Christian virtues (humility, patience, forgiveness, etc.) and practices (prayer, worship). Such acts are strategic, pointing toward God’s grand plan to unify all things in Christ (Ephesians 1:9-10).
|How does the following text help us understand what Paul’s military imagery should mean in our lives as believers? “God calls upon us to put on the armor. We do not want Saul’s armor, but the whole armor of God. Then we can go forth to the work with hearts full of Christ-like tenderness, compassion, and love.” — Ellen G. White, [Australasian] Union Conference Record, July 28, 1899.|