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Close to the Heart

Ephesians 6:14b

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." (Proverbs 4:23)  The  breastplate obviously covers the heart.  Physically, the heart is a vital mechanical pump; but it is a metaphor for the part of us that holds desires and makes decisions.  We may think that we decide with logic and objectivity, but we don't!  The big decisions of who to marry, what job to accept and where to live - are not just the product of logic but the combination of what we want and what we can get.  The same process occurs in falling into temptation (James 1:13-15), so we know that

Shoes for the Tough Times

Ephesians 6:15

The painful and debilitating disease of 'trench foot' has caused more soldiers to leave the front line than enemy fire.  Napoleon's army suffered severely in the retreat from Moscow.  In World War 1 Allied forces were decimated around the Somme by feet that became so diseased that they were unable to advance.

Every Day Essential

Ephesians 6:16

Shields are designed to protect.  As the crab and lobster need a hard outer-shell to deter strong jawed fish, and the snail retreats into its shell, so human beings have developed all kinds of protective shields for physical protection.  Today's police riot shields imitate the Roman military 'scutum' (shield) although using different materials. The scutum was about 120cm high, made from curving thin layers of wood to form a semi-cylindrical shape 5-6mm thick (an early kind of laminated ply). The wood was covered with leather and edged with a bronze strip.

If the Helmet Fits, Wear it!

Ephesians 6:17a

Helmets are everywhere.  In the UK you must wear one on a motorcycle, on a building site, and when going to work underground.  Skydivers, cavers, rescue services and the military all know that once you lose control of your head, you lose everything.  The Roman army helmet (galea) which Paul was writing about was modified over time, like military kit anywhere - but the constant features were a metal dome to cover the head, an attached metal neck protection, metal side pieces to cover the jaw and sides of the face, and flanges to cover over the tops of the ears.  The helmet protected the brai

The Cut and Thrust

Ephesians 6:17b

This 'cut and thrust' is not about sharp business practice or 'positive driving'.  It is about an essential defence against the Evil One.  Most readers will never have held a sword, and certainly not used it as a weapon.  The Roman infantry gladius sword was about 60cm long, made of some sort of steel-like alloy.  Although the mounted officers would have a longer spatha sword (about 1 metre) this would be too unwieldy for the foot soldier.  The gladius was broad-bladed and double-edged for cutting and slashing, with a well-formed point for thrusting.

Emergency Help

Ephesians 6:18a

Modern warfare is highly dependent on telecommunications.  Ancient armies used more primitive signals (trumpet, flag, torch, fire or smoke - as well as human and animal couriers).  Without an interactive command structure, you lose the battle.  In this verse, Paul leapfrogs over millennia of communication methods and says that the hard-pressed soldier, even the one isolated in the thick of the battle, can personally call up the King for help.

In Mind and within Sight

Ephesians 6:18b

When you see, ..."with this in mind" we should ask, "what is the 'this'"?  Paul has just explained that the opposition faced by Christians is nothing personal to them.  But it is personal between the devil and the Lord.

Friends Who Really Help

Ephesians 6:19-20

Without talking to God, every Christian is at risk of being seduced, scared or swamped by Satan's schemes.  But this is not just about us, as individuals.  We are part of an army in which everybody looks out for each other ...

Essential Mentoring

Ephesians 6:21-22

Networking is not a new business strategy.  Tychicus was one of Paul's personal assistants, who was trusted to share Paul's news and encouragement around the churches (Colossians 4:7-9). This was classical networking.  Everybody felt that they were known and could get to know others better.  But this was not just a series of social encounters: the key communication was about Jesus.

A New Person at Work

Ephesians 6:23-24

Do you want peace, love, faith and grace?  At the end of this letter, Paul announces that they are freely available to every believer in Jesus.  Only one condition is needed to receive them - love for the Lord.  This closing benediction is a message from Father God and Jesus Christ to the Christians in Ephesus; and we need it too!  And not just us; we should know how to announce God's blessings to other people.  The warehouse storeman knows how to locate and supply component parts or completed products; the pharmacy dispenser knows how to give out prescribed drugs.  Of course, we do not 'ow