Going to War in the Shoes of Peace

Read together Ephesians 6:10-18 – 0 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints —   our yearlong study of this passage has brought us to vs. 15.  As those who are commanded to be strong in the Lord, and put on the whole armor of God, the apostle commissions us to “shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace” – What does this entail?

I.   The Shoes of the Soldier:  This might be an embarrassing question for some, but how many pairs of shoes do you own?  No doubt, we have more choices than any generation before us. In our modern world we have shoes for every occasion and activity – Shoes in every color and material. Just ask Ken. His store has rows and rows of athletic shoes for every sport. He assures me the right shoes make a difference.

  • That was certainly true for the Roman soldier of Paul’s day. The typical soldier wore protective leather sandals that often had pieces of metal or bone in the sole to increase traction. Some soldiers wore shin guard type leggings known as greaves that were attached to the shoes for added protection.
  • Battles and wars could be won or lost because of shoes. The success of the Roman legions was partly due to their ability to march for many miles over rough terrain. If a soldier was wounded in the foot, he could neither advance nor retreat. Enemies often placed sharp pieces of wood or stone pointing upward out of the soil to inflict just such an injury (1st century land mines). The shoes of the soldier was as much an essential part of his armor as his shield or breastplate.

 I.   The Shoes of Preparation: “having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace”.   The heart of this verse is the word, “preparation

A.  The Greek noun for preparation is hetoimasia (het-oy-mas-ee’-ah). This word appears often in the N.T in its verb form of “prepare” or “be ready”.  The original noun form literally denotes preparedness (the state of being prepared) and has the general meaning of readiness.

  • Matt 24:44 –  Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.  In this sense the admonition is to be prepared to act or equipped. In Titus 3:1 Paul urged Christians to be “ready for every good work”; “ready to do whatever is good” (NIV)
  • The word can also denote a willingness to act. Paul said he was “ready” to preach the gospel in Rome (Rom. 1:15).  He spoke of the willingness of the Corinthians to make a contribution to the poor as having a “ready mind” (2 Cor. 8:19) The Christian is called upon to be “ready” in both senses.  We must be both equipped and willing to act in the work of God.   

B.  How are we to understand the shoes of preparation in Ephesians 6:15?  In the analogy the soldier’s shoes make him ready for whatever comes. He must be ready to fight. A good pair of shoes allows the soldier to be ready to march, climb, fight, or do whatever else is necessary. Because he is wearing these shoes he is willing to go wherever his commander sends him. He has confidence. Let’s explore the application of this verse a little more.

1.  It seems that the best understanding is not that we prepare the gospel, but that the gospel (which Paul calls the gospel of peace) prepares us.  How does the Gospel of peace prepare us to fight?  What is he prepared for?

 II.  Prepared to Preach:  Some of the key words in this verse are also found in Paul’s statement in Romans 10 (Paul is discussing the rejection of Jesus by the Jewish people. Romans 10:14-1514 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!”  Paul is referring to the words of the O.T. prophet Isaiah as recorded in  Isaiah 52:77 How beautiful upon the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

A.  When viewed in this context many suggest that the shoes here refer to the eagerness and ability to preach the word.  Although I do not believe this is the best application of this verse, there is some credibility to this view.  The Christian must be “ready” to take the gospel to the lost, and speak about Christ to others.

1.  Peter says we must be “ready”.  1 Peter 3:15-1615 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.   Paul told Timothy “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” (2 Tim 4:2)

2.  In order to be ready to preach or teach other we must be familiar with the gospel. Those who evangelize and teach others are made more sure in their faith and are better able to withstand persecution and temptation. They are more prepared to face the enemy. The word abides in them and they do not sin.

 III.  Prepared to Stand:  Our best view of this command comes through recognizing the context. The context in Ephesians 6:15 is about standing firm (v. 13-14) and defending the faith against the attacks of the enemy. The soldier must have good shoes so that he can stand firm and not be moved.

A.  In fact, the word “preparation” can also refer to a prepared foundation or base. It is used this way in the Septuagint translation of the O.T. in Psalms 89:1414 Righteousness and justice are the foundation (hetoimasia) of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face.   

1.  I like the NIV rendering of our verse in Ephesians 6:   “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the gospel of peace as a firm footing” (Ephesians 6:14-15)

B.   The Christian can stand because he has the sure footing that is provided by the gospel of peace. How does the gospel give me the ability to stand and fight?  By being a gospel of peace.

 IV.  Prepared by the Gospel of Peace:  The message we know as the gospel is so simple that it can be grasped by young children (not many wise are called).  The good news (gospel) is that although we all have sinned against God and deserve His eternal judgment, God loved us and showed mercy by sending His Son to bear the penalty that we deserve. We receive God’s gift of salvation by faith, apart from any merit on our part. But the gospel is also profound and unfathomable (Like the ocean; a child can play at its shore, but the greatest whales cannot plumb its depth). One of the most profound aspects of the gospel is its impact on us. It brings peace. Whereas, because of our sin, we were enemies toward God, He has brought peace and reconciliation through the blood (death) of Jesus.

A.   He is Our Peace: We can easily trace the subject of peace throughout the Bible story from Genesis to Revelation. But look carefully at the words of Paul in Ephesians 2. In this chapter Paul speaks of two different kinds of peace which are brought about by the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. The first is “peace with God;” the second is “peace with men.”

1.   Early in Ephesians chapter 2 Paul tells us that through the cross of Christ Christians are now at peace with God. As unbelievers, we were unwittingly the servants of Satan. We were formerly “dead in our trespasses and sins,” walking not only in the “course of this world,” but also “according to the prince of the power of the air” (2:1-2). We once lived for ourselves, to do the desires of the flesh. (2:3). At this time, we were “separate from Christ” (2:12), but even more so we were enemies of Christ. We had no hope. “That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (Ephesians 2:12).

  • Ephesians 2:13-19 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. 19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
  1. The work of Christ at Calvary has reconciled us to God, through our faithful obedience to His word. He has become the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. (Heb. 5:9) The gospel is a proclamation of peace between God and man. We are now a part of His body.
  2. But the peace the gospel provides extends to His people as well. As Christians we are at peace with each other. The Jew and the Gentile are united in one body, and the wall of separation is broken down. All the social barriers that might separate people are dissolved among Christians. We are one in Christ.

B.  Sure Footing of Peace:  The Gospel message of peace (between God and His people) is the sure footing on which the Christian stands against the enemy. “If God is for us, who can be against us”  When we fully understand and believe the message of the gospel and appropriate that message to our lives, we will be able to stand against Satan’s attacks. He is a defeated enemy. He has no credibility or authority in our lives. If we are at peace with God, how can Satan disrupt us? This is not a once saved, cannot be lost sense of false security. It is the fruit of my faith in the power of Jesus’ blood to forgive every sin, and the power of His word to keep me in Christ. It is faith in the certain victory of Jesus’ resurrection. 2 Tim 1:12 – For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

  • Pulpit Commentary says… The idea seems to be that the mind is to be steadied, kept from fear and flutter, by means of the good news of peace – the good news that we are at peace with God; and “if God be for us, who can be against us?” The Roman sandal was furnished with nails that gripped the ground firmly, even when it was sloping or slippery; so the good news of peace keeps us upright and firm.  (from The Pulpit Commentary)  Robertson says… Readiness of mind that comes from the gospel whose message is peace.
  • Rom 5:1-2 – Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  The knowledge that God has justified me through Christ gives me the strength to stand against the accuser. It is God who justifies, who is he that is against us.’

 Conclusion:   When Paul came to Caesarea on his way to Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit revealed to the brethren there that if Paul proceeded to Jerusalem he would suffer at the hands of the Gentiles. The Christians there urged him not to go. His reply was “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”  (Acts 21:13) Because Paul had the peace of the gospel, he could stand against the enemy. He was not afraid.

Are you at peace with God?  Have you put on the shoes of the gospel of peace?