Dressed For Battle - Purpose of A Soldier's Armor (Ephesians 6)

March 5, 2011 by marilyn   Comments (49)

The Belt Of Truth

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.” Ephesians 6:14
Roman soldiers wore a linen undergarment next to the skin, covered by a woolen one–piece tunic that came down to the knees. It was shaped like a “T” with a hole at the top for the head. It was sewn on two sides and generally had half sleeves. At times they were dyed, but most often they were the natural color of wool. The colored tunic was usually reserved for army commanders, the wealthy or those of the government status.

Over the tunic they placed a breastplate. At the bottom of the breastplate they wore a heavy belt made of connected bronze plates and leather with a buckle very similar to what we use today. This belt had one function. It served as the foundation on which the sword, dagger and metal apron were attached.

Application for us: Jesus Is Our Truth
This belt was foundational for battle. In short, it supported the weapons that allowed the soldier to fight. The belt is a reminder that Jesus is the foundation for spiritual battle. Jesus is theTruth that stands against the lies and deception of Satan. “Jesus is the Way, theTruth and the Life”,our very basis for life. To win our spiritual battles our fight must be anchored to the Truth found in Jesus alone.

The Breastplate Of Righteousness

“…with the breastplate of righteousness in place…” Ephesians 6:14
The typical breastplate used by the Roman legions fell into four categories. Some were made out of leather and some out of small interwoven brass rings. High ranking officers sometimes had breastplates produced from a single piece of molded bronze.

The design pictured here uses overlapping Bronze scales. The bronze scale armor was in two pieces and was sewn to a short leather vest. The two halves were tied together with short strips of leather in the back and in the front. Bronze, although not the strongest metal known in the first century, had the advantage of being lightweight.

In this era, when hand–to–hand combat was almost always necessary, soldiers had to balance protection with ease of movement. The discomfort of the breastplate around the neck was usually softened by a woolen scarf.

Application for us: Jesus Is Our Righteousness
The function of the breastplate was simple which was to protect the soldier’s vital organs. In close hand–to–hand combat the breastplate was essential for survival. No trained Roman soldier would venture into battle without it. If we start to believe that our own righteousness, effort, or good works can make us worthy of God’s protection, the advantage quickly changes to benefit our enemy. Our righteousness is worthless in the battle. We need to get our eyes off of ourselves and back on the provision of the cross and the righteousness that is found in our relationship with Jesus.

The Shoes Of Readiness and Peace

“…and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” Ephesians 6:15
The shoes worn by the Roman warrior generally came in the “sandal” variety. They had thick leather soles that were studded with small nails to provide stability in hand–to–hand combat. The sandals came up above the ankle and were held securely to the foot by extensive leather straps.

To survive cold weather climates, soldiers would fill the sandal with heavy wool or fur before lacing up. In some cases, Roman commanders would wear an early version of a boot. It had a thick leather sole and was either split down the front or on each side to allow entry. Straps were sewn to the back and wrapped up the leg to hold the boot securely.

Application for us: Jesus Is Our Preparation and Peace
Without his sandals, a soldier would not be prepared to fight and could be easily defeated. Paul tells us that our preparation for battle is the Gospel (TheGood News) of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. The work of Jesus here on earth brought us peace with God. This reconciliation through Jesus allows us to fight with boldness, confidence, perseverance and peace.

The Shield Of Faith

“In addition to all of this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Ephesians 6:16
The Roman army used small round shields and large rectangular ones. The large curved shield which Paul refers to in the Ephesian letter was about four feet tall and two feet wide. It was made of layers of laminated wood covered by linen and leather. A brass or bronze rim covered every edge as protection against sword attack. It was generally painted with traditional Roman symbols such as eagles wings and lighting bolts.

Shields were primarily used as individual protection, but could be overlapped to form a large wall of protection. As a walled city was being attacked by the Romans, archers along the walls would rain down flaming arrows. The Roman soldiers with overlapping shields could continue advancing toward the gates of the city despite the arrows.

Application for us: Jesus Is The Focus Of Our Faith
The only protection against the flaming arrows that rained down from the sky in ancient warfare was the shield. If used correctly, it was a trustworthy piece of equipment. If dropped, it became useless and the soldier’s fate rested with himself. We trust in Jesus alone as our shield. We cannot rely on our own abilities in this battle.

The Helmet Of Salvation

“Take the helmet of salvation…” Ephesians 6:17
The Roman army helmet was usually made of bronze, although iron and leather were also used on occasion. To protect the sides of the face, “cheek–pieces”, hinged to each side, hung down and were secured with leather straps under the chin. A “shelf” on the back of the helmet protected the neck and shoulders from arrows that fell from above.

At some point in the first century a bill was added to the front of the helmet along with bronze coverings above the ears. Occasionally, depending on the particular Roman army unit or rank of the soldier, the helmet might have been adorned with a colored horse hair crest. Typically, these crests were ceremonial and were usually not worn into battle. A leather liner on the inside made the heavy helmet a little more bearable.

Application for us: Jesus Is Our Righteousness
The helmet was essential for the survival of a soldier in battle. Paul in using the word “salvation” indicates that the helmet is a source of total deliverance. In Jesus, we find deliverance in every situation, spiritual, emotional, and physical. Jesus is our source, our guide, our “way out”. We cannot deliver ourselves.


The Sword Of The Spirit

“…and the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” Ephesians 6:14
The Roman soldier carried a small dagger and a large double–edged sword used for thrusting. The sword was usually about 24 inches long, and 2 inches wide with parallel sides. This particular weapon was developed after the Romans observed the effectiveness of the short sword in the hands of the battle–hardened Spanish mercenaries. Formerly, the Roman army used a much bigger “slashing” sword. This new shorter and more pointed “piercing” sword proved to be much more effective in close–quarter combat. In an era when almost any wound could be fatal, this short sword was the power behind the Roman army machine. The sword was always carried on the right side in a decorated wooden scabbard. The sword and scabbard were usually attached to either the belt or to a leather strap worn over the shoulder.

Application for us: Jesus Is The Word Of God
When used at close range by a skilled soldier, the sword was a deadly weapon. Paul tells us that the Sword represents the Word of God, the written picture of Jesus. Jesus is the living version of everything God wanted to say to mankind. God’s Word is a powerful weapon against our enemy when it's used under the Holy Spirit's Power and Direction.

Hello Dearest Marilyn....
Thank you for such an informed message...
I have studied much about Gods Armour.....
I have come to realize this....
Faith in God is our Armour....
If we love & Trust with all our Hearts ....
Then nothing can harm us....
I am Satan's main subject....
My Armour is Satan proof.....
May God Bless You sweet Sister in Christ....
Love & Blessings Sis Tina x

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