For this first “bonus” session we come to the issue of spiritual warfare. This may not be something we consider much in the West, but is central to the thrust of Ephesians and hugely helpful for us to understand our own lives and context. In an Ephesian culture largely obsessed with magic & ‘powers’ to invoke, this letter concludes with a call to be strong in the one who truly has all power. This is always timely, but perhaps especially so in our current moment of so much uncertainty and potential for division, distraction and discouragement.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
- Do we think much about “spiritual battle”? If so, what comes into our minds?
- Into an Ephesian culture fascinated by spiritual powers & magic, why might v10-11 be a fitting climax & conclusion to this letter? (See e.g. 1:19-22, 3:16-20 for other references to power.)
- How does v12 compare to the way we usually think about life? In what ways might this prepare us for the next few months and the coming season of church life? (See 2:2 and 3:10 for references to the devil and spiritual powers so far.)
- How do v13-17 give us both urgency and confidence in our Christian life? How do these verses show us the splendour and sufficiency of Christ’s gospel?
- What do we think it will look like practically for us to “be strong in the Lord” and “put on the full armour of God” during the summer months and into the new year?
We’ve got a whole range of resources to help us get stuck into Ephesians this term.