Our Emotional Foundation
Remember the last time you had a rather serious fight with your wife or your boss or a good friend? I sense that most people react the way I do at such a time. I tend to feel that something serious is out of place and therefore the foundation has been pulled out from under my whole world. At the time I realize objectively that this is not an accurate appraisal, that most of my world is still intact and that chances are good that the battered relationship will be put back together relatively soon.
But it doesn’t feel that way, and the resulting emotional turmoil makes me feel ill-equipped to take on challenges. I usually look for some safe task to engage in until I get my emotional feet back under me again.
When my life lacks peace I feel like I am totally off-balance.
That is a picture being painted by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:15 in describing the third piece of armor. (A)nd having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace….”
Implements Not Armor
I might say as an aside that though we find “whole armor” or “full armor” in most translations, the terms do not paint an accurate picture. The Greek word in view is a compound word comprised of “all” and “implements.” “Implements” fits better with the belt and here with footwear, which we would not necessarily view to be armor.
The Meaning of “Preparation”
Scholars differ over the meaning of “preparation” or in some translations “readiness.” Vincent’s Word Studies makes a valuable observation regarding the Greek term, observing that “…in Hellenistic Greek it was sometimes used in the sense of establishment or firm foundation, which would suit this passage: firm-footing.”
His recommended translation “firm-footing” fits the context referring to footwear. This translation is also supported by the practice of Roman soldiers of putting nails through their shoes so that the sharp point sticking out the bottom would give them traction.
With this design they could also use them for golf. But I digress.
The next issue in understanding this verse has to do with whose peace is in view in Paul’s reference to the gospel of peace. Some commentators believe Paul is referring to having good shoes for taking the gospel out to unsaved people so that they might experience God’s peace.
A problem with this view is that the context is not dealing with evangelism but with our being equipped to defend against the schemes of the devil. Therefore, the footwear in view is not for running out to tell others about the gospel of peace. Rather, Paul seems to be describing the peace that the gospel provides for us, giving us firm-footing so that in our struggle with Satan he cannot push us off balance. The Bible Knowledge Commentary takes this position:
This verse does not speak of the spreading of the gospel, for Christians are pictured in Eph_6:10-16 as standing, not advancing. Instead this refers to a believer’s stability or surefootedness from the gospel which gives him peace so he can stand in the battle.
When Satan tries to throw us off balance by reminding us of past sin that places us under God’s judgment, filling us with guilt, we can direct our focus to the gospel of peace, which has addressed those issues. As Paul states in Romans 5:1, “ Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ….”
Other Contributors to Our Peace
The placement of this implement of battle in Paul’s description, coming after the belt of truth and the breastplate of armor, is significant. The gospel gives us peace with God, but that peace will be disturbed if our lives are not characterized by truth and righteousness. In other words, even though we have peace with God through imputed righteousness, our lives must also be characterized by behavioral righteousness in order to experience the peace of God in our hearts. A believer, one who has partaken of the gospel of peace, will be filled with anxiety and turmoil if he is living in sin. So Paul is saying here that for us to experience peace the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness must be in place, and we must also stay focused on our peace with God through the gospel. This will provide us with firm footing that will prevent Satan from throwing us off-balance.
Peace is priceless just in terms of enjoying life. It is absolutely essential when doing battle with Satan. With our mind characterized by truth, our behavior by righteousness, and having established peace with God through the gospel we will be equipped with the footwear of peace necessary to take on Satan’s assaults.