We have been learning that we are at war with an unseen enemy. We are in hand to hand combat with an enemy that wants to destroy us, but we have been empowered by God so that we can withstand all orderly methods/strategies of the enemy no matter what level that enemy is whether “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (verse 12). The empowering that we have received from the Lord is in the form of armor, and is composed of pieces, of which we are to take up the “whole” armor of God, not just one piece or two. These pieces include: the helmet, the breastplate, the belt, the shield, the sword, and the shoes.
Let’s review the pieces of armor that we have covered so far, namely the helmet, the belt, the shield and the sword.
The helmet was flashy, showpiece that was also durable, weighty and an impenetrable protection against the battle axes of the enemy. This is a picture of our salvation: Impenetrable and ornate. The helmet of our salvation is there to protect our thinking, for we have been given the mind of Christ. The helmet is one of wholeness, security, right thinking, renewal, a shield from destructive mindsets and emotions. It is a helmet that enables us to change our form and be transfigured from the earthly to the spiritual, from darkness to light.
The well-oiled, water-saturated shield is our first offensive weapon. Thus, is our faith. Our faith is offensive not defensive. It knocks our enemy off guard; it gives us a foothold on the battlefield. Remember, the shield of the Roman soldier covered them completely. Even so, each of us is covered completely by our faith, and not one of us is lacking in faith. But we need to keep our faith anointed with the Holy Spirit and washed with the water of the Word of God. After all faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Remaining in the Word and the refilling of the Holy Spirit will oil and saturate our faith so that the enemy’s deceptions will do us no harm.
Furthermore, we are equipped with the sparkling belt of truth. And this we found out is no ordinary belt, but rather, is the defining feature of a soldier. Whether on the battlefield or off, the Roman soldier was recognized because of this distinct belt. This belt even made the soldier walk differently, stand differently, and act differently. No one else walked or stood like a soldier, and no one else wore such a belt. This for the Christian is the belt of Truth, for the Truth makes us walk differently, talk differently, act differently. The truth is what sets us free. The truth is what distinguishes Christianity from all other religions of the world. Not only this, but the belt of truth is that upon which much of the armor is connected in some form or fashion, including the breastplate of righteousness and the sword.
The Roman soldier always wore his sword, for his sword and belt were intertwined so as to not be separated. Though most of Roman society could not wear a weapon in public, the soldier could. Even so, God’s belt of truth and His sword of the Spirit that is the Word of God are intimately linked and inseparable. There is no truth outside of God’s Word. When it comes to the Christian, this sword is of the Spirit and is the Word of God. But, the Word of God referred to here is not the entire Word (logos), but rather, a specific passage from Scripture (Rhema) for a specific situation, and is to be even more specifically used in warfare prayer. Yes, the whole Word is inspired, indeed, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, thouroghly furnished unto all good works,” I Timothy 3:16-17. But, in instances of praying, specific inspired passages of the inspired Word will be brought to mind by the Holy Spirit that are to be used as a sword against the enemy.
Putting on Our Shoes
Today, we are going to look at what we as Christians are to have upon our spiritual feet.
“Stand therefore having…your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace…”
Before we ever go anywhere, we get dressed, and a very important part of getting dressed is putting on our shoes. There are actually restaurants and other establishments that still put up signs that say, “No shirt, no shoes, no service.” Shoes are very important. And more important than that, is what kind of shoes you wear!
A Roman Soldier’s Battle Shoes
When a Roman soldier was not on the battlefield, he could still be recognized as a soldier. In our modern day everyone looks alike when not in uniform. If one nowadays is in the military or the medical field or is a farmer or waitress or a manager of a store or even a pastor of a church, everyone in their off time seems to dress the same. However, back in Paul’s day, that was not the case. So, how did people know that a soldier was a soldier even when on leave? His belt and his shoes.
According to researcher Stefani Hoss, “Only the hobnailed caligae and the belt can be defined as typical for soldiers, identifying them as milites [military] even when they were not wearing amour. While caligae were also worn by civilians, they are typical for soldiers. Literary sources and inscriptions describe soldiers’ expressis verbis as caligati or as serving in caligae. And the hobnailed boots and their wearers are also equated both in the Roman and Jewish literature at the time.” (“A Theoretical Approach to Roman Military Belts,” by Stefani Hoss, http://www.academia.edu/4849015/A_Theoretical_Approach_to_Roman_Military_Belts, page 320-321). “The military belt was decorated with elaborate buckles, metal plates, strap-ends and other attachments, which made it heavy, eye-catching and jingly. Together with the crunch of hob-nailed sandals, the jingling of the metal belt pieces must have given soldiers a distinctive ‘sound’, announcing their presence.” (The Roman Military Belt,” by Stefani Hoss, http://www.academia.edu/212354/The_Roman_Military_Belt, page 30).
In other words, before you even saw a soldier approaching, you heard him, from the jingling of his belt, the clanking of the inseparable sword, and the clacking of his hobnailed shoes.
The shoes a soldier wore were cleated, sort of like golfer’s shoes or baseball players. They also had a spike at the heal and the toe. In other words, these shoes meant business and were made for both stability on the battlefield and to be a weapon against the enemy. “One good kick with those shoes, and an enemy would be dead. Just a few seconds of stomping on a fallen adversary would have eradicated that foe forever!” (“Are You Wearing Your Killer Shoes?” by Rick Renner, https://renner.org/are-you-wearing-your-killer-shoes/).
As Christians who are at war, we are to make sure that we get the correct footwear on our feet, and Ephesians 6:15 tells us exactly what those shoes are.
“Stand therefore having…your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace…”
Just as the Roman soldiers tightly tied on their “killer shoes”, we too are to snugly tie on these cleated shoes for ourselves. No one else can put the shoes on for us. We do it, and we are to always be ready with our feet tightly fitted with these shoes. The Greek tense expresses this clearly. The shoes we are to put on are called “preparation.” However, another way to translate this word is “foundation or firm footing.” So, we are to put on the shoes of the firm foundation of the Gospel which also means “good news”. The Apostle Paul used this description of the Gospel elsewhere in Scripture including 1 Corinthians 3 where he explicitly states that there is to be no other foundation but that of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And it is this Gospel that brings “peace”.
Peace in both the Greek and Hebrew carries with it the powerful meaning of wholeness in every way including our bodies, our minds, our spirits and our finances. It is the absence of confusion and war. It is “Truly the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, fearing nothing from God and consequently content with its earthly lot, whatever it is” (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, by Spiros Zodhiates, page 520).
But this peace is not for our enemy. With our cleats we not only are held firmly in place doctrinally, be we can also use them to stomp on the evil that would steal, kill and destroy us. Greek scholar Rick Renner states, “…As the soldier used those spikes to kick and to kill his opponent, there is no need for you to ever stop moving ahead just because the devil tries to block your path. If he is foolish enough to try to get in front of you, just keep walking! Stomp all along the way! By the time you’re finished using your shoes of peace, you won’t have much of a devil problem to deal with anymore!” (“Are You Wearing Your Killer Shoes?” by Rick Renner, https://renner.org/are-you-wearing-your-killer-shoes/).
This is what we as Christians are to put on our feet. The firm foundation of the Gospel of wholeness in body, mind, and spirit, peace and not confusion is that in which we are to walk. For it is this Gospel of Christ that stabilizes us in every terrain no matter how treacherous, and steadies us on a very slippery, messy, litter ridden battlefield. When we are firmly founded on the Gospel and know that which we believe, we cannot lose our footing and thus, the enemy cannot knock us down. And even when not in a spiritual battle in our mind or in prayer or otherwise, when our feet are shod with the firm foundation of the Gospel of peace, people will know that we are different. Even as the Roman soldier when on leave strolling through town was still known to be a soldier because of the clacking of his cleats, we too ought to sound and walk differently than everybody else all the time and in every situation. Indeed, wherever we are, everyone should know that we are Christians.
Specific Word Studies:
hupodesamenoi, appears to be a 1st Aorist Middle Participle (aorist participle because of the sa, and middle because of the menoi
From hupodeo #5265, meaning literally, “to bind under” like sandals, slippers or shoes.
In this sense it means that sometime in the undefined past one bound her sandals to her own feet for her own self. In other words, “having shod one’s feet for one’s self.”
hetoimasia #2091, “Preparation, a basis, foundation, firm footing”
From hetoimos #2092, meaning “ready, prepared.” (Like just before a race, “ready, get set, go!”)
euanggelion #2098, meaning, “bringing good news, to proclaim or tell good news”
Eirene #1515 meaning, “peace” as the opposite of war, health, all kinds of good physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Hebrew equivalent is shalom #7965 which means, “wholeness, soundness, health, well-being, prosperity, absence of confusion and anything opposite of war.”
**Truly the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, fearing nothing from God and consequently content with its earthly lot, whatever it is” (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, by Spiros Zodhiates, page 520)
Josephus BellJud, 6:85, Juvenal, Satires 3.248, 16:25; Palestinian Talmud (Yerushalmi), Shabbath 8a and 20a
“A Theoretical Approach to Roman Military Belts,” http://www.academia.edu/4849015/A_Theoretical_Approach_to_Roman_Military_Belts
“The Roman Military Belt,” by Stefani Hoss, http://www.academia.edu/212354/The_Roman_Military_Belt
“Are You Dressed in the Whole Armor of God?” by Rick Renner, https://renner.org/are-you-dressed-in-the-whole-armor-of-god/
“Armor of God: Gospel of Peace,” by Dave Johnson, https://lifehopeandtruth.com/change/christian-conversion/armor-of-god/gospel-of-peace/
“Are You Wearing Your Killer Shoes?” by Rick Renner, https://renner.org/are-you-wearing-your-killer-shoes/